Another Pathetic Voter Turnout Print
News/Features - City Shorts
Tuesday, 13 March 2001 18:00
• A mere 10,562 of the 63,236 regis- tered voters in Davenport (17 percent) bothered to vote in last week’s election. Davenport residents had more at stake in the election than other Scott County residents, as they got to winnow down the list of candidates for alderman-at-large in a primary, as well as choose a sheriff. Almost as disheartening was that 18,618 of 106,254 registered voters (18 percent) in Scott County took the time to cast ballots in the sheriff’s race. Small towns didn’t fare very well, with 370 of 2751 registered (13.4 percent) voting in Eldridge, and 141 of 845 (17 percent) in Bluegrass. With absentee ballots and the polling stations open for long hours, there was no excuse not to have voted.

• A new study by the Justice Policy In- stitute reports that more inmates were put in federal prisons during President Clinton’s regime than under George Bush and Ronald Reagan combined. The total state, federal, and jail population has increased about 673,000 since 1993, compared with an increase of about 448,000 during Reagan’s eight-year tenure. Today about 2 million people are behind bars in the United States – an all-time record. An additional 4.5 million more are on probation or parole. The most dramatic increase has been in the number of federal prisoners. Under Reagan, the number of federal prisoners grew from 24,363 to 49,928. Under Bush, the number increased to 80,259 by 1992. That more than doubled to 147,126 under Clinton. About 58 percent of federal prisoners are there for drug offenses. The authors of the study blame the massive increase largely on savage drug laws, many passed during Clinton’s administration. Laws setting mandatory prison sentences, coupled with increased spending for new prisons and law-enforcement officials, are also a factor. You can see the report for yourself at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Web site at (http://www.cjcj.org).

• Kris Eitrheim of Davenport, an assistant professor of theater at St. Ambrose University, has received a meritorious-achievement award from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (ACTF) for scene design on the October 2000 production of Antigone. Previously, he was awarded another Kennedy Center honor for design in The Crucible. The award is a special citation given for one or more aspects of a production that has been presented on a home campus. About 60 certificates of merit were presented in an eight-state region in which nearly 200 productions were entered.

• A bill allowing local officials to bar children under the age of 14 from riding a bike without a helmet coasted through the Iowa Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill faces opposition from people who feel government shouldn’t be dictating such things to parents, and those who say that city governments already have the power to adopt bicycle-safety requirements. It’s estimated that less than 12 percent of Iowa children ages 5 to 14 wear bicycle helmets. Safety experts say helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent. If the bill was enacted, there would be no statewide requirement or penalties. The bill now goes onto the full Iowa Senate.

• Illinois Governor George Ryan has vetoed legislation that would have allowed two state universities to study industrial hemp, a biological relative of marijuana that some people eyed as a potential cash crop for Illinois farmers. In his veto message, Ryan said he has always tried to support the state’s agricultural industry but cited several concerns with Senate Bill 1397, including that the bill wouldn’t require researchers to try to develop a hemp plant without the psychoactive ingredient known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC in marijuana and hemp is what produces a “high.” The bill would have permitted researchers at the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University to study hemp production, including how well it would grow here in the Midwest.

• It might take up to two years for the state of Illinois to hire a new manager for the state’s troubled child-support-check-distribution center. Illinois had initially hired the office of DuPage County Circuit Clerk Joel Keagann to operate the new system, but he opted not to renew his contract after a meltdown of the child-support-check system in which checks were delayed or lost after Illinois started a new centralized distribution system in October 1999. The state has been running the center with the help of a consulting firm since June. The delay in hiring a new manager could last between 18 and 24 months – and might not take place until after the 2002 election for governor.

• Judges have been selected for the 11th Annual Literary Arts event of the Quad Cities Senior Olympics. Poetry will be judged by Richard Stahl, an English teacher at Davenport Central High School for 34 years and author of the books After the Milk Route and Under the Green Tree Hotel. David R. Collins, a retired English teacher and award-winning author of more than 75 books, will judge nonfiction. Julie Jensen McDonald, author of more than 25 books, will judge the fiction category. The event offers writers ages 50 and over an opportunity to compete in the three literary categories. For more information about this event and others in the Quad Cities Senior Olympics, call (309)786-7375, stop by any area Hy-Vee store after April 15, or look on the Web at (http://www.qcseniorolympics.org).

• The Bi-State Regional Commission is currently reviewing the final draft of the 2025 Quad Cities Long Range Transportation Plan. The plan, which is a federal requirement for any metropolitan area of 50,000 or more residents, looks at projected population and employment numbers, roadway networks such as river crossings, highways, and public transit, and sidewalk improvements. The plan might be approved on March 28. You can see a copy at the Bi-State Regional Commission Web site at (http://www.bi-state-ia-il.org/), along with lots of other interesting information about the commission and its work in the Quad Cities. There’s also a place where you can order aerial photos of the area.
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