• The City of Rock Island says that May 3 is the date that tolls will be removed from the Centennial Bridge. It's hoped that by the time the tolls come off the 63-year-old bridge, construction should be finished on the on-ramps in Rock Island and Davenport, which have been reconfigured to safely accommodate more traffic. The bridge, which is currently owned by the City of Rock Island, will become the property of Rock Island, Davenport, Illinois, and Iowa under a joint agreement signed by all four governments. According to data from the Centennial Bridge Commission, the bridge took in an average of $210,000 a month in tolls in 2002 and currently carries about 17,000 vehicles each day. Traffic is expected to double when the tolls come off. It's hoped that the extra traffic will help relieve congestion on the Interstate 74 bridge, which is used by about 75,000 drivers daily. Rock Island has already begun planning a no-tolls party. As part of the deal, the lights adorning the Centennial Bridge will have funding for at least 40 more years.

• Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed House File 216, which allows the Department of Public Safety to disseminate "intelligence data" beyond the traditional law-enforcement boundaries. The law took effect on Wednesday, April 9. The bill was brought forth by the Department of Public Safety and is supported by Iowa Homeland Security Advisor Ellen Gordon, who is also the director of Emergency Management. The bill allows intelligence data to be disseminated to an agency, organization, or person for an official purpose and to protect a person or property from a threat of imminent serious harm. The department must maintain a list of the agencies, organizations, or persons receiving the intelligence data and the date and purpose of the dissemination. An agency, organization, or person receiving any intelligence data may only re-disseminate the intelligence data if authorized by the agency or peace officer providing the data. Public-health agencies, fire-service personnel, emergency management and response personnel, homeland security entities, and agricultural-enterprise agencies are all examples of potential recipients for relevant threat information.

• According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), there are more than 2 million Americans incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails, the highest ever recorded. The report states that an estimated 12 percent of those incarcerated are African-American males between the ages of 20 and 34. Previous DOJ reports have calculated that 28 percent of African-American men will be incarcerated during their lifetime. Overall, one in every 142 U.S. residents is now in prison or jail. Despite the overall increase in U.S. state and federal inmates, the report noted that California experienced a 2.2-percent decrease in its total prisoners in 2002. The report attributed the decline to the passage of Proposition 36 in 2000, which mandates that nonviolent drug offenders be sentenced to probation and treatment instead of prison. Today's inmate population is roughly four times what it was in the mid-1970s, and nearly twice what it was in 1990. About 25 percent of U.S. inmates are incarcerated on drug-related charges. The report, "Prison & Jail Inmates at Midyear 2002" can be found at (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/pjim02.htm).

• Citizens Against Government Waste has announced Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) as its April 2003 Porker of the Month for adding $98 million in funding for an Ames agricultural-research station to President Bush's request for supplemental war funding for operations in Iraq and for homeland security. According to Harkin, these funds are crucial to combat bioterrorism in the form of animal diseases. The Citizens Against Government Waste is an interesting group, and its Web page at (http://www.cagw.org/) contains a great deal of documentation on the wastes of our government.

• A draft copy of Davenport's cable-franchise agreement and the regulatory ordinances can be found on the "Latest News" page of the city's Web site at (http://www.cityofdavenportiowa.com). Two public information workshops, one held April 9 and one to be held on April 30, were scheduled for public input. The April 30 meeting will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 226 West Fourth Street. If you can't attend but would like to submit ideas for consideration, please submit them to the above address, to the attention of the Legal Department.

• The application deadline for the 2003 granting cycle of the Rauch Family Foundation I, Incorporated, is May 1. Applications can be obtained at the Rock Island Public Library or through the foundation office at (309)788-2300. The goal of the Rauch Family Foundation I is to enhance the Rock Island community through projects and programs of qualified not-for-profit organizations. Albert and Lester Rauch, longtime residents of Rock Island, established the foundation as an expression of their gratitude to the community that nurtured their lives.

• The day many of us dread, April 15, the day federal income taxes are due, will have passed by the time you read this. However, you can educate yourself for the future by firing up your Web browser and learning about the tax freedom movement at (http://www.givemeliberty.org/) and at (http://www.losthorizons.com/comment/tax_connections.htm). More mainstream efforts to reform the tax system can be found at Americans for Fair Tax at (http://www.fairtax.org/) and the National Taxpayers Union at (http://www.ntu.org). You can get fired up about corrupt government is at Tax Payers for Common Sense, at (http://www.taxpayer.net/).

• The City of Davenport has celebrated Arbor Day with a tree planting for 24 consecutive years. This year is no exception. Mayor Charlie W. Brooke will officiate the planting of a Tulip Popular Tree on April 25 from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. The tree is one of 50 that will be planted to complete the tree-planting phase of the re-forestation of the Grand Allee at VanderVeer Park.

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