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May 08, 2006

The price and the gain...

All the folderol about whether A.D. Huesing was justified in firing pig-plant opponent Dawn Marner is a side-show, detracting attention from the point everyone needs to notice and remember.

East Moline Mayor John Thodos, when he contacted A.D. Huesing about a fax Ms. Marner sent, engaged in an act of petty vindictiveness against someone who not only exercised her rights as a citizen, but, gasp, did so effectively. In making the call to Ms. Marner's employer, Mr. Thodos revealed a side of his character that voters should remember if and when he once again goes asking for their support.

There's unlikely to be an opportunity to vote against Robert Imler, the exec from RiverStone (which owns the land where the pork processing plant would be built) who also made a call to A.D. Huesing -- he doesn't play elective politics. Suffice it to say that his rather mushy explanations aside, his call was on a level with Thodos'.

The calls apparently got them no place, at least originally. Ms. Marner said she was asked about use of the company fax to send two letters, said she had done so and was not disciplined. I suspect, without knowing, she was told something on the order of "you have every right to do take part in civic life, but please don't involve us."

Then, of course, she did exactly that by using her new knowledge to publicly denounce the tactics of Thodos et.al. That apparently was a step farther than A.D. Huesing was willing to go with her, given that she was, she said, fired without explanation after being questioned about the meeting at which she revealed her employer had been contacted, and the resulting newspaper stories.

Whatever the rights-and-wrongs of the firing -- and that is essentially the business of Marner and her former employer -- it seems clear that Thodos et. al. did what they could to get her in trouble for commiting the sin of opposing them. Give her points for shining a light into that dark little corner of political life in the Q-C.

Not so surprising, is it, that so many people prefer anonymity when speaking on public issues here?

Posted by jcb at May 8, 2006 07:26 PM


It's a dark corner all right, and one that the common folks suspect is there but rarely see. Back in the day we used to call it the "good ol' boys" network. Probably a very similar bunch.

It seems the econ-dev crowd just cannot get over the fact that some people actually do NOT think the suits know better than everyone else how things should go.

It was a clever ploy to try and smear the anti-slaughterhouse people as racist, but tricky, considering that more than anything, the governmental/business attitude about it reeks of classism.

Posted by: Tesla at May 9, 2006 09:29 AM

I have some disconnected thoughts about this:

1. First, let me say that I have no opinion about the pork plant. I probably would have an opinion if it was to be located closer to where I live and/or if I was unemployed.

2. jcb, I'm surprised that you have just now discovered that our local politicians are petty and vindictive. You really must try to keep up.

3. I don't think it is fair to draw conclusions about Marner's firing. Due to company policy, Huesing's side of the story cannot be told. This gives Marner the opportunity to spin this to her advantage. But this is the type of story the press loves----underdog fights evil corporation and wins!

4. You frame the story of Marner's firing as the consequence for her "sin of opposing (Thodos, et al.)". Let's get real here. The pork plant is a multi-million dollar enterprise, with billions in tax dollars on the line. Did you (or Marner, or her cohorts) really think Thodos, et al. would just roll over for a few vocal activists with that kind of moolah at stake? I don't know Marner, but I would say that her "sin" was hubris or passion or emotion or the righteousness of her cause that made her do a really stupid thing like faxing from her office and implicating her employer into her activist camp. Marner just isn't a convincing victim.

5. One last thing. Marner should have known that if you're gonna play hardball with the big boys, you have to bring your A game----Marner didn't. Now she will do her activist business at Kinkos, as she should have from the beginning.

Posted by: paladin at May 9, 2006 05:04 PM

Oops, one more thing---the Marner firing is distracting attention from the point everyone needs to notice and remember---Thodos is the duly elected representative of the people, and Marner----isn't.

Posted by: paladin at May 9, 2006 07:54 PM

She used a companies asset for something other then company gain. She could have been fired, she did get fired. So what. She gambled. She lost. If you want to play in the big leagues, get a bigger bat.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 9, 2006 08:48 PM

John, you hit the nail on the head, as you do so often.

The actions of Thodos and Imler are anti-democratic, chills civic participation, and reveals the rather ugly sense of noblesse oblige of too many local leaders.

When those in positions of influence and power take it upon themselves to intimidate, threaten, or otherwise harrass ordinary citizens, journalists, or others who dare to oppose their plans or question their authority, it should be roundly condemned, as you have properly done.

It's ugly, it's unfair, and it most certainly is a factor in why, if anonymity is an option, people choose it when discussing politically charged issues online.

Many can say it's cowardly to be anonymous, and there certainly is nobility in writing under your own name, but when the consequences are this serious, it's understandable why otherwise responsible people don't wish to have their names associated with their views.

By framing the petty and rather juvenile actions of Thodos and Imler as what it is, bullying, you are taking a stand on the right side of this issue.

If this sort of thing is quickly and loudly condemned when it appears, and if those who engage in it are properly shamed and called to account, then perhaps someday it will be safe to come out and express opinions freely without fear of retaliation.

After all, isn't that supposed to be one of the bedrock principles this country was founded upon?

Posted by: the great decider at May 9, 2006 10:11 PM


If you think telling the truth is a "character flaw," I suggest the D/A implement "Ethics Training."

Imagine the fit "media elites" would have if Mayor Thodos was caught using city equipment for personal use. The hypocrasy is amazing!

Posted by: KateNelson at May 10, 2006 09:45 AM

Please don't paint all eco dev and political leaders with the same, broad brush. Some understand that they represent the people who elected them or who pay their salaries. And remember that there are times when civic leaders cannot divulge everything they know about a project without endangering the project. I never understood the us against them when "them" referred to local government. Hey, we live here too, and we have to live with the consequences of the development we bring in.

Posted by: freda at May 10, 2006 10:01 AM

Paladin --Whatever is there in this post that suggests I "just now discovered" that politicians can be petty and vindictive?

Katenelson -- Not only did I NOT say telling the truth is a "character flaw", I didn't mention "character flaw" at all.

If you find that the call reveals an admirable side of the mayor's character, then you should certainly take that into consideration if you should have the opportunity to vote for him.

Re: "media elites" and "hypocrasy", whatever passed between Marner and her private employer is, as I said, essentially between them.

A city official using city equipment for private business would be between the official and his employer, which is the public and therefore public business.
I'm fairly sure, though that not even the elitist of mediums would see much a story in the occasional personal call, fax or email.

Posted by: jcb at May 10, 2006 01:54 PM

My apologies jcb---you know I love ya man, and I should have used one of these:----->;-) after my "just now discovered" comment.

Posted by: paladin at May 10, 2006 03:29 PM

I'd wager half of these callous commenters who airily dismiss Marner's firing as just desserts would scream like a stuck pig if they got fired for a similar offense.

What if one of them was caught printing a flier for their kid's school play or something on the company copier and got thrown out on the street?

Would they then appreciate people saying they had it coming?

This is really no different. After all, the actions of an employee don't have anything to do with their employer. A.D. Heusing can't be tarred as being anti-hog plant because an employee used their fax.

Firing in this instance is massive over-reaction and in my view, a cowardly act whereby Heusing chose to throw an employee under the bus rather than risk annoying those in power. Shows you how much they value their employees. Not much.

Posted by: Tid at May 11, 2006 10:28 PM

Come on, John...how on earth was this vindictive on Thodo's part? What on earth did he have to gain from her getting fired? You make it sound like he made the call with the intention of getting her fired.

Why he made the call, only he will know. It sounds quite plausable to me that he was trying to determine if the fax was a personal, or company, position. This would be a quite fair and logical call to make.

Personally, I just don't see where he would stand to gain, in any way, from getting her fired - even if he were a vindictive guy, which he is not.

As most have stated, let's keep our eye on the ball - it appears as though 1,000+ jobs are not coming to the QC area and will be heading to Galesburg. What a shame in a community that all of us know needs a boost!

Posted by: havinfun at May 12, 2006 07:51 AM