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911 Whitewash? Leaders Say the Transition to Consolidated Emergency Dispatch in Scott County Has Gone Well. It Should Have Gone Better. PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 10 November 2011 11:00

(This is the first of two articles on the Scott Emergency Communications Center. This piece focuses on implementation problems with emergency-response consolidation. The second part will deal with the price tag and to what extent taxpayers have gotten what they were promised.)

Let’s start with the metaphors.

We’re roughly six months into the transition to a consolidated Scott County emergency-dispatch and -records system, said Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin on October 6. “This is the part of the movie where ... the anxiety is. Then there’s the resolution at the end, and there’s a happy ending. We’re at that point where we’re going to be focusing on what the issues are.”

“In a crawl/walk/run category, we stood up and got wobbly,” said Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn, also on October 6. “But we’re still standing. But we’re not walking yet. But we’re pretty much not crawling, either. So we’re working our way forward, and we hope to get to running. And I think we’re going to get to running; we’re not there yet.”

The Scott Emergency Communications Center (SECC) brings under one roof – at 1100 East 46th Street in Davenport – what had been four dispatching centers, serving Scott County’s 12 municipal and county law-enforcement agencies, 16 fire departments, and five ambulance services.

All those agencies are now using the same radio system, and law-enforcement agencies are also using a single record-keeping system – both of which allow for improved interdepartmental communication. Agencies went live with the system from early April through early May.

Still to come – probably early next year – is the consolidation of each organization’s dispatchers into a single dispatching entity, and the separation of call-taking and dispatching functions. The latter of those is expected to shave 30 seconds off the time it takes to dispatch emergency responders.

And late next year, Medic EMS will decide whether to fold its dispatching operations into SECC or just continue to have its dispatchers working out of the SECC building.

By the standards of local government, the project is complicated. “It takes a good solid year to iron out” issues and difficulties, said SECC Director Brian Hitchcock, who previously oversaw consolidations in Ashland County, Wisconsin, and McHenry County, Illinois. “Every one of those has issues and bugs that have to be worked out. ... We all wish it could happen overnight.” He noted that every consolidation takes a different amount of time to work through, but that the one-year estimate runs through next April.

The consolidation – recommended by a 2006 study and put into motion by a December 2007 intergovernmental agreement – is also expensive, with capital costs of roughly $28 million. The building itself cost $7.31 million. New portable radios for all agencies cost almost $7 million, purchased without a formal bidding process. Installing a “central electronics bank and associated communications gear into and around the 911 center” cost more than $1.6 million, Hitchcock said. And the dispatching and record-keeping software that has been so problematic cost $2.7 million.

(Don't) Talk to the Animals: Comedian Tim Bedore, October 28 at the Establishment Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 07:58

Tim Bedore“A guy once sent me this story,” begins comedian Tim Bedore. “He had a great muscle car from the ’60s, and he had it all waxed and polished to this beautiful shine, and he had it parked under a tree. And this squirrel started dropping nuts onto his hood, over and over again.

“He finally moved the car underneath a different tree, because he wanted to keep the car in the shade and not ruin his perfect wax job. But after he did, the squirrel jumped over to the other tree, and started dropping nuts on the hood. It could’ve dropped them anywhere, but it had to drop them onto the hood of his car. It was a purposeful thing.

“Now, biologists could probably come up with some explanation for this. It liked the sound. Or it thought the car was an enemy. Or,” Bedore suggests, “it just wanted to piss off a human. I mean, why not just go to the simpler explanation?”

The Top Censored Stories of 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Project Censored   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 05:40

Project Censored annually publishes its list of the year’s top “censored” stories. “We define modern censorship as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass-media outlets,” its Web site states. “On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions).”

Put differently, these 25 stories represent the most important news that Project Censored felt was under-reported over the past year.

Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution, by Mickey Huff and Project Censored with an introduction by Dr. Peter Phillips, is available (along with more detailed media analysis and sources for these summaries) at The book is published by Seven Stories Press.

(1) More U.S. Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

In 2010, for the second year in a row, more U.S. soldiers killed themselves (468) than died in combat (462). “If you ... know the one thing that causes people to commit suicide, please let us know,” General Peter Chiarelli told the Army Times, “because we don’t know.” Suicide is a tragic but predictable human reaction to being asked to kill – and watch your friends be killed.

Fall 2011 Best of the Quad Cities: Deadline Extended! PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 14:15

For years, we’ve asked our readers to complete Best of the Quad Cities ballots with dozens of categories. We’ve always been gratified by the response, but we’ve often felt that something was missing – the obscure, the unconventional, the idiosyncratic.

For the fall 2011 Best of the Quad Cities, we’re scrapping the traditional popular-vote format and allowing nominations by Twitter, video, and essay.

Our “winners” this time around will be the nomination authors – the people who offer the most creative, the most authoritative, and the most compelling arguments and anecdotes in the 20 categories listed below covering the areas of arts, culture, and entertainment; night life; shopping and services; and people. (Each submission should cover only one category, and you’re welcome to submit in as many or as few categories as you want.)

In the interest of getting more entries, we've extended our deadline. All entries must now be received by 5 p.m. Central on Friday, December 2. Our Best of the Quad Cities issue will be published on December 22.

Submission Guidelines

Twitter: Include the hashtag #BestQC followed by a space and the category number. Example: “This is my best argument for the best art exhibit, and I’m making sure that it’s 140 characters or fewer. #BestQC 7” (For some sample submissions, visit

Video: Submissions must be two minutes or less. Post to your favorite video-sharing service and send a publicly accessible link to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with “Best of the Quad Cities” as the subject line. Include your name and a daytime phone number in the e-mail. If you want, also post a link in the comments of this article. Be sure to specify the category in the video or its posted metadata. (For a sample video submission, click here or here.)

Essay: Submissions must be 200 words or fewer and sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with “Best of the Quad Cities” as the subject line. Include your name and a daytime phone number in the e-mail. You may paste your essay into the body of the e-mail or attach it as a text, RTF, or Microsoft Word document. Alternatively, you can post your essay on some publicly accessible corner of the Web and send a link to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it using the same rules as above. (If you want, also post a link in the comments here.) However you choose to submit, be sure to specify the category.

Fall 2011 Categories

1) Local band
2) Local venue that books the best bands
3) Local venue with the best sound system
4) Local stage production
5) Local stage performance by an individual
6) Local visual artist
7) Art exhibit
8) Educational exhibit
9) Local festival
10) Best-kept Quad Cities secret for arts, culture, and entertainment
11) Place for drinks
12) Bartender
13) Waiter or waitress
14) Place to meet people that isn’t a bar
15) Place for a first date
16) Place to dance
17) Locally owned store with things you can't find at chains
18) Antiques/collectibles/resale store
19) Auto service
20) Place for a wedding reception

Expressions of Survival: The Quad City Phoenix Festival and Christian Care's "Walk the Walk" Raise Funds for Domestic-Violence Awareness PDF Print E-mail
Local News
Written by Mike Schulz   
Friday, 29 July 2011 06:00

(A sidebar about Christian Care’s August 6 “Walk the Walk” event can be found here.)

Quad City Pheonix Festival organizer Emily JawoiszA celebration of survival in the face of seemingly unbearable hardship, August 7’s Quad City Phoenix Festival – taking place in Rock Island’s Schwiebert Riverfront Park – will find local performers, artists, self-defense instructors, and guest speakers raising funds for area shelters, halfway houses, and domestic-violence awareness programs. And as the phoenix is a mythological bird that famously rises from the ashes to become a newer and stronger version of its previous self, the festival’s name, says organizer Emily Jawoisz, is perfectly apt.

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