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The Shrinking Gambling Pie: Jumer’s Boosted the Local Casino Market – but It Can’t Hide the Quad Cities’ Decade of Decline PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 05:28

It’s long been an article of faith with me that the seemingly perpetual growth in the number of state-sponsored gambling outlets is poor public policy. Common sense says that the amount of money people will spend on these games has a ceiling – one that we’ve almost certainly reached by now.

If that’s correct, then further expansion of legalized gambling is a fool’s errand, as the money generated by it won’t increase meaningfully. Once gambling has reached a saturation point in a region, revenues will just get shifted from gaming company to gaming company and state to state and local government to local government.

But like all articles of faith, I had no proof for my hypothesis. So I decided to test it, and the Quad Cities market seemed like an excellent laboratory.

What is now the Isle of Capri casino in Bettendorf opened in April 1995 – making us a three-casino community. (I’ll refer to the casinos by their present names throughout this article.) We now have almost two decades of gaming information with the three-casino marketplace, and a handful of variables allow us to see what happened here when this happened there: the December 2008 move of Jumer’s from downtown Rock Island to Interstate 280; the recession that hit in 2007-8; new casino competitors in eastern Iowa in 2006 and 2007; and the 2012 introduction of video-gambling machines in Illinois outside of casinos.

What I found didn’t exactly support my hypothesis of a Quad Cities gambling pie with a fixed size. Rather, the data suggest there are ways to add new customers to the local gambling market – but that the pie has nonetheless been shrinking for a decade.

The Forest for the Trees: Lessons from Newspaper Coverage of the Benton Mackenzie Trial and Rock Island County Government PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 05:40

The July 9 Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch article announcing a verdict for Benton Mackenzie on drug charges began like this: “Even as the 12 jurors shuffled into the courtroom to announce their verdict, Benton Mackenzie could already sense his fate. Guilty.”

As storytelling journalism quickly establishing a mood and then getting to the point, it’s pretty good.

Yet with the basic facts of the case never in dispute, the verdict had long been almost a foregone conclusion because of a pre-trial ruling in May – which the Illinois-based newspapers mentioned in trial coverage but didn’t actually cover. Judge Henry Latham ruled that Mackenzie couldn’t claim he grew marijuana out of medical necessity to treat his cancer.

The Quad-City Times, on the other hand, did cover that ruling, and did a decent job explaining the precedent behind it.

But the Benton Mackenzie coverage from both entities, while voluminous, overlooked or ignored frameworks in which daily events could be understood, processed, and put into a more-meaningful context. The story is ultimately not just about one man with terminal cancer facing a criminal trial. Nor does it merely illuminate the general issue of medical marijuana.

Rather, it’s a heart-wrenching, complicated example of something larger: how the justice system deals with an area of rapidly changing law – one that is itself chasing a swift change in public attitudes following decades of calcified prohibition policy.

Video: Mayor Gluba Hosts Roundtable on Housing Immigrants in Quad Cities PDF Print E-mail
Local News
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 31 July 2014 08:41
On Monday July 14, 2014 Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba hosted a roundtable discussion at the Davenport Public Library. The purpose of the meeting was to address the influx of migrant children coming in from Central America into the United States and how a Quad Cities based "Caring Cities" campaign could assist.

The meeting was approximately 50 minutes long. This video has been edited down to 17 minutes.
In attendance and identified on the video are:
Mayor Bill Gluba, City of Davenport
Glenn Leach, Davenport Catholic Diocese
Mike Reyes, League of United Latin American Citizens
Cheryl Goodwin, President Family Resources
Mr. Ortiz, Outreach and Community Enrollment Coordinator for Community Healthcare
Rick Schloemer, Scott County Housing Council
Stephanie Lynch, Doctoral Candidate University of Iowa
Amy Rowell, Director of Moline World Relief
Byron Brown, Retired ARMY, CEO at TGR Solutions

[Note: Not every individual seated at the table is identified by name in the video. We are happy to update this story with any missing participants.]

Enter the Reader’s 2014 Short-Fiction Contest: I’m with the Banned! Deadline September 2! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 17 July 2014 12:53

For our 2014 short-fiction contest – co-sponsored by the Bettendorf Public Library – we’re celebrating banned and challenged books. Our 20 prompts are all drawn from famous (and sometimes infamous) novels that school boards, governments, or other arbiters of taste and morality didn’t want people to read.

The deadline for entries is September 2.

We’ll publish winners and favorites in the September 18 issue of the River Cities’ Reader – just in time for Banned Books Week, which this year runs September 21 through 27.

We’re also planning an event featuring readings of winning and favorite stories at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 25, in the Bettendorf Room of the Bettendorf Public Library. More details will be announced later.

Squeezing the Craft-Alcohol Industry: How Archaic Booze Regulations Hinder Small Producers PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 10 July 2014 05:39

Steve Zuidema, the co-owner and brewmaster at Davenport’s Front Street Brewery, called the byzantine state laws regulating alcohol distribution “laughable now. But getting them changed is going to take some lobbying and some money, because I think the distributors have a great lobby.”

He was talking about the Iowa Wholesale Beer Distributors Association, and for proof of that organization’s influence in the state legislature, look at the situation faced by the Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire.

If you’re wondering what beer distributors have to do with producers of distilled spirits, you’re on the right track.

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