I don't know how many public officials or candidates have ridden the Davenport buses recently, but they should. I did recently and learned a lot while talking with the drivers and the riders. More was learned when discussing the problems with other Davenport citizens who don't take the bus.

If we want to make Davenport thrive, improvements must be made. I've already begun working on a public-private partnership for heated bus shelters. However, the hours and days have to be expanded. Some people haven't taken jobs because of the limited transportation. I know some ministers who'd be happy to see new faces at the services. Meanwhile, stores and entertainment centers would see a boost in sales, and Davenport would see more revenue from sales taxes.

Nearly 5,000 people ride daily. That is a lot of commercial activity.

We know the City of Davenport wants to attract young professionals and has steadily been improving the downtown area partly with that intent.

There are great minds in this city. Let's use them to find solutions. We have the money if we use financial resources smartly. Perhaps Scott County and Rock Island County can team up for a regional transportation authority.

We need a public transportation system that will take people from where they live to where they work and where they want to spend time. The bottom line is that we have a good system now, but we can and must make it better.

Bob Babcock
Davenport

Upon reading your article "What Next for the Blues Fest?", here are my thoughts:

First, in the early years, the Blues Fest mainly booked local and area acts. Many good musicians rehearsed for hours to give excellent performances for very small compensation. There was no admission at the gate, the festival bands pleased the crowds, and, thanks to selfless musicians and organizers such as Jason Stuart (now of Cobalt Blue), the thrill was definitely there.

Then the fest grew, and many more-expensive national acts were booked, thus replacing most of the local acts. At some point, a local band pretty much had to win an Iowa Blues Challenge to be accepted as a Blues Fest act. Most of the good performance times (later in the day) were given to the national acts. Featuring more local blues musicians and bands would definitely be in alignment with the Mississippi Valley Blues Society's charter of fostering education and keeping the blues alive. So why not book more local acts, but pay them better for their efforts and support?

It is never wise to spend more than you are bringing in. So why not scale back? Make the fest a day shorter until it builds. Many excellent and supportive local musicians that have been edged out of the festival could be resentful. It may not be easy to win back their support and participation, but it's worth a try. Let's begin by hiring and even honoring local musicians such as Jason Stuart who helped build the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest.

Every article I've read concentrates on the negative effects of weather, flooding, and lax fundraising. Yes, these are important, but as restructuring of the fest occurs, others factors need to be considered.

The thrill may be gone, but just for now.

Larry Huntley
Local Blues Fest participant and fan of the blues

Just a few words to express my enjoyment of Ms. McCarthy's recent article. I couldn't agree more with what was said. My only regret is being not sure what to do about it. While Ms. McCarthy has pushed in the past for people being more involved with the political process and learning more about what's going on, I can also see where time commitments for work and family severely limit many for participating as much as they would like or could like. The economy is not anywhere near as good as some would think. I feel we're financially suppressed on purpose to make it that much harder to watch over our interests in government. My only suggestion would be to stop watching political ads and the news and start looking for alternative parties and candidates. I know this is not always easy, but I believe the vote is the only real recourse citizens have to promote real change. And that will change when and if they go to an all-digital voting system. Hackers are getting into everywhere. It's all but impossible to keep them out. Our elections will be become completely meaningless.

I could go on and on, so don't get me started ... . Or maybe it should be that more people should get started.

Thanks again for being at least one honest source of information.

Terry Hansen

After reading your article about Iowa's gas tax, I thought of one thing the article never mentioned. If the tax shortfall is bad now, it will get even worse as electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf gain in popularity. I feel that the owners of these vehicles are cheating the state, as well as those who own gasoline-powered vehicles.

Instead of tax breaks, electric-vehicle owners should pay a surcharge on their registration. This way, everybody will pay their fair share of maintaining the infrastructure, as I have done with every car I've owned since 1972.

Pete Hess
Davenport

Like most people, I was stunned to hear about the Edward Snowden incident and PRISM. That whole story was like an upside-down Escher painting. Snowden eventually immigrated to one of the most totalitarian, repressive nations on the planet. Isn't that just the craziest thing?

The disclosure of federal eavesdropping was a revelation that certainly grabbed our attention. Just think: At this very moment my every keystroke is being monitored. And if I get a phone call the NSA might find out that Maria wants to get back together again, but just for tonight.

Seriously? I could give a damn about Big Brother. The government can read my mail for all I care. The Snowden affair was compelling news, yes, but the only people who should really be concerned are terrorists and drug dealers. Possibly the governor of Illinois.

Open Letter to the Scott County Board of Supervisors:

Recently you decided to delay the public hearing on the request by Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) to build a fertilizer-manufacturing facility in close proximity to Walcott from August 2 to August 28. The reason given for the change of date was to give OCI more time to produce a full presentation and to arrange for more company officials to attend the hearing. This is very accommodating of you.

How much time will OCI be given for this presentation - half an hour, a whole hour? Conversely, how much time will individual citizens be allowed to speak - two, possibly five minutes? Will the citizens of Scott County be given an extra four weeks, as OCI has, to make a studied rebuttal to its presentation? This would only be fair.

After the resignation of the Reverend Keith Ratliff as the president of the Iowa/Nebraska Conference of the NAACP, which followed the National Board's decision to support gay marriage as a civil right, I have been asked by several members of the media if I intend to stay on as education chair for the Iowa/Nebraska Conference of the NAACP.

I do not mean to diminish the issue, but over the past few years, the advocates of marriage equality and the opponents of same-sex marriage have, through their actions, asserted this is the only issue that matters.

Period.

As education chair of the Iowa/Nebraska conference of the NAACP and as a former director of the Des Moines School Board, I have witnessed Iowa's academic crisis, especially the urban academic crisis, worsen to a near state of emergency. Yet, most Iowans remain ignorant of the important data and proposed solutions to these solvable problems while the body politic and the media refuse to report, and at times, even acknowledge the severity of this crisis.

Congress passed and in December the president signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without due process.

Upon quick inspection, it violates the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Founders must be screaming from their graves.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley voted for it.

Federal court Judge Katherine Forrest issued a preliminary injunction that bars the government from enforcing section 1021 of the NDAA's "Homeland Battlefield" provisions that permits indefinite military detention of U.S. citizens.

At his Eldridge town-hall meeting, I asked the senator if he was aware that a federal judge overturned a portion of legislation he just voted for.

He was not.

Much has been published about the penalties imposed upon (now former) Rock Island State's Attorney Jeff Terronez for purchasing alcohol for an underage girl.

"He who makes judgment without hearing both sides, though the judgment be just, is himself unjust." (Ancient legal maxim.)

The Illinois Constitution states: "All penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship. No conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. No person shall be transported out of the state for an offense committed within the state."

We should, first, look at the seriousness of the offense. Have there been others who have purchased alcohol for her? Has she purchased alcohol for herself? How serious was the purchase of alcohol by this offender? Was it merely part of many instances when she acquired alcohol? Is this young girl more mature than her years?

Candidates brought forward by the GOP and the Democratic parties represent their parties and the special interests that fund them, not you and me. These candidates must conform to one of the two, usually diametrically opposed, political platforms. This candidate-selection process gives us fiction-based polarizing campaigns, a failed education system, trillions in public debt, and a tax system for special interests.

Candidates should represent the people who elect them. That's how the U.S. House of Representatives is supposed to work - members represent the voters from geographic districts within each state. We should be voting for individual candidates, not a political party.

There is a process that does allow citizen representatives to be selected by the people in their local district. These candidates are not associated with any political party and will limit themselves to two terms. Go to GOOOH.com to learn more.

Serving in Congress should be an honor, not a career.

Billy D. Clifford
Austin, Texas

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