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Feature Stories
The Pension Time Bomb: Why Public-Sector Retiree Benefits Need to Change, and the Barriers to Meaningful Reform PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 08 November 2012 05:00

[Note: Commentary from the Reader's editor, published on this topic, can be found here.]

A riddle: What do you get if you add $209 billion to $54 billion to $15 billion?

If you answered “a lot,” you’re correct and not particularly inclined toward math.

If you answered $278 billion, you’re adept at arithmetic and correct, if literal-minded.

If you answered the respective unfunded liabilities for Illinois’ state-run pension funds, its retiree health-care system, and its pension bonds, you’re correct and probably cheating.

And if you answered “a time bomb,” you’re probably most correct. Because while the numbers are important, they’re constantly changing and open to interpretation, and the most important aspect of them is their magnitude. Whether it’s cast as an $83-billion pension problem or a $278-billion benefits issue, the sheer size of it shows that it can’t be solved with tinkering.

 
Quad-City Water Lore: Contest Winners from the Bettendorf Public Library; Event November 5 PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 12:04

As part of its yearlong “Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility, & Compassion” program, the Bettendorf Public Library held a water-themed essay, poetry, photography, and songwriting contest. Several winners will perform their entries at the “Quad-City Water Lore” event on Monday, November 5, at 7 p.m. in the Bettendorf Room at the library (2950 Learning Campus Drive). A reception begins at 6:30 p.m.

They will be joined by Bucktown Revue emcee Scott Tunnicliff, Rock Island Lines creator Roald Tweet with Chris Dunn, former Quad Cities poet laureate Dick Stahl, turtle expert Mik Holgersson, riverboat pilot Harry “Duke” Pelton, and Quad-City Times columnist Alma Gaul. Musical entertainment will include the St. Ambrose Bee Sharp men’s a cappella ensemble, the Quad-City Ukelele Club, Dwayne Hodges, and Jon Eric.

Thanks to the Bettendorf Public Library for its permission to allow us to publish the winners below.

 
Cops Say Legalize Drugs. One Tells Why PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 15:55

Tony Ryan says his organization has an effective tool in the war on the War on Drugs: a T-shirt.

It reads: “Cops say legalize drugs. Ask me why.” And people do.

Ryan served 36 years in Denver, Colorado’s police department before retiring in 2003. He’s now a member of the board of directors of LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP.cc). The 10-year-old organization, he said, has 50,000 members, ranging from current and former law-enforcement officers to prosecutors to judges.

The former cop (who retired as a lieutenant) said that although he never worked in narcotics, he watched the effects of drugs – and drug enforcement – firsthand in Denver’s poorer neighborhoods. “I saw a lot of drug activity,” he said in a phone interview last week. “I saw the damage that is done by drug use and drug addiction, but I also saw the damage that’s being done by the country’s policy – in those days the War on Drugs. ... I’m of the mindset ... that the damage that has done ... is worse than what the drugs themselves cause.”

Ryan will speak at and participate in an August 1 forum organized by Iowa state-representative candidate Mark Nelson. The event will be held at 7 p.m. at Central Perk (226 West Third Street in Davenport).

 
“Brady and Harrison Acquired a Voice”: Davenport’s Hilltop Campus Village Thinks Small (and Big) to Reinvent Itself PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 05:59

Hilltop Campus Village Director Scott Tunnicliff. Photo by Joshua Ford (JoshuaFord.com).

Walking through the commercial area of Davenport’s Hilltop Campus Village last month, Scott Tunnicliff picked up trash. The garbage far outstripped his ability to carry it – two hands and a few pockets – but Tunnicliff persisted.

Similarly, the Hilltop Campus Village organization (of which Tunnicliff is director) has over the past three years spiffed up its neighborhood in lots of little ways that seem mostly cosmetic: crosswalks, banners, and decorative streetlights.

There are nine new streetlights on Harrison and 16th streets (installed in the past two years and funded by grants), and they and the crosswalks do serve a safety purpose, designed to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. But these improvements, along with 50 banners on Harrison and Brady streets, are nonetheless modest changes.

Still, said Kelly Wallace – owner of the two-year-old Estate Sale Shop in the old McKay Music building at 1326 Brady Street – they hint at renewal. “The little amenities that we’re seeing make a big difference,” she said. “That type of visual as people drive through gives the impression that it is something that’s being revitalized. Many times, it starts with a flower pot full of beautiful flowers.”

 
Enter the Reader’s Winter 2011-12 Photo Contest! February 6 Deadline PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 29 December 2011 08:18

Back in the fall of 2008, we opened our photo contest to pictures of babies and pets. We had previously held themed contests but in a rare generous mood offered a reprieve, with the threat that our next one would feature the categories “ethos,” “riboflavin,” and “Kierkegaard.”

Lucky for you, the powers that be have memories like sieves; when we brainstormed ideas for the resurrected photo contest, those were strangely omitted.

Instead, our three categories for the winter 2011-12 contest are “attraction,” “resistance,” and “ambivalence.” The deadline for entries is February 6, and the rules are below. We plan to publish the winners in our February 16 issue.

(Oh, what the hell: If you want to enter something in “ethos,” “riboflavin,” or “Kierkegaard,” be our guest.)

 
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