Official or political, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's message in the Quad-Cities on Monday was much the same as it was when he was here last week: It's mostly House Democrats who are standing in the way of resolving the state's financial woes.
The governor made a stop Monday at the iWireless Center in Moline to speak to members of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce. Rauner praised Senate Democrats, even more so than last week, and said they want a balanced budget and a deal to end the two-year old budget impasse.
"I applaud them for that," he said. "I'm cheering for them."
Rauner has long focused on House Speaker Mike Madigan for much of what is wrong in Springfield. He didn't as harshly take on the Democratic leader as in the past, but the point was the same. He said there is "real reluctance to do anything."
Steve Brown, a spokesman for Madigan, responded by questioning Monday whether Rauner wants a deal himself. He accused him of derailing a deal in the Senate and said that Madigan is open to a deal but that it must be "balanced."
The governor's stop Monday was his second in the Quad-Cities in less a week. This one was an official visit. Last Tuesday, Rauner was in Rock Island for what he described as a political event — not paid for with taxpayer funds.
Critics called the visit last week the unofficial kickoff of his 2018 campaign. Rauner denied that, saying he was simply trying to communicate with Illinoisans. But whether it was this week or last, Rauner emphasized changing the political equation in Springfield.
"The biggest thing you all can do is reach out to members of the ... House Democratic caucus," Rauner told the chamber members.
In fact, there is only one Democrat left in the Illinois Quad-City House delegation: Rep. Mike Halpin, of Rock Island. Democrat Mike Smiddy was ousted last election, with Rauner supplying much of the money to target him.
Before Rauner's visit Monday, about 100 people gathered outside the iWireless Center to protest him. Many were from area labor unions.
A succession of speakers accused the governor of being dictatorial and failing to negotiate in good faith. They said schools, human service agencies and working people have been hurt by the impasse and, in a common refrain, they repeatedly told him to "do your job."
One speaker, Carlene Erno, a state worker and Quad-City area union leader, chided Rauner for recent television ads paid for by a group allied with him. "Quit spending money on stupid commercials, wearing flannel and holding duct tape," said Erno, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Local 2615. "Do your job."
In addition to the Quad-Cities, Rauner also was making a stop in Peoria on Monday.
A Davenport father and son and a Muscatine woman have been charged in federal court in connection with robberies at two Davenport credit unions over a seven-month period.
David Scott Denney, 33, is charged with three counts of bank robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Kevin S. Denney, 59, and Cynthia Ann Niebuhr-Hartley, 31, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank robbery and bank robbery.
A preliminary hearing for all three is slated for Wednesday. The Denneys remain in custody, and Niebuhr-Hartley was released on a personal recognizance bond.
The case against the three was unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court, Davenport, according to court records.
According to the federal complaint:
On Aug. 11, a man walked into Ascentra Credit Union, 1515 W. 53rd St., presented the teller a demand note and made a verbal demand for money.
The man placed $3,930 in cash into a drawstring backpack and fled on foot to a nearby neighborhood. A witness interviewed during a neighborhood canvas said the man got into a white SUV.
Surveillance video from a nearby business also captured the vehicle, a white Dodge Durango, drive into the area shortly before the robbery and leave shortly after.
On Nov. 18, a man walked into Vibrant Credit Union, 3801 N. Brady St, presented a demand note to the teller and made off with $5,980 in cash. The man was driven to the credit union by another person in a dark-colored, first-generation Ford Escape.
He fled on foot with the money in a drawstring backpack that appeared similar to the one used in the Ascentra robbery.
On March 28, the credit union was again robbed by a man who verbally demanded all the money from the drawers of two tellers. Surveillance video showed the man driving a 1997-2003 white Dodge Durango SUV.
He made off with about $14,631 in cash from the two tellers and placed the money into a drawstring backpack.
Prior to the robbery, a witness noticed a suspicious looking man, wearing gloves and staring at the credit union, inside the white Dodge Durango in a parking lot across the street. The witness took two pictures of the vehicle.
The Dodge Durango was later located behind an apartment in the 600 block of West 63rd Street on April 3.
Police searched the apartment, which was occupied by the Denneys, and found two stacks of cash in plain view and a large wad of cash in David Denney’s pocket.
During an interview with police and the FBI, David Denney confessed that he robbed the credit unions and that Kevin Denney was the getaway driver and a knowing and willing participant in the Ascentra robbery.
He further told police that Niebuhr-Hartley drove the getaway vehicle — a blue Ford Escape — during the first Vibrant robbery and that he paid her $400 for her participation.
Kevin Denney told police that he knew his son was going to rob Ascentra and drove him there before the robbery in his Dodge Durango. He said he dropped him off across the street and drove to the neighborhood behind the credit union to wait.
He said David Denney paid him for back rent and back car payments with proceeds from the robbery.
Kevin Denney denied having advance knowledge of the two other robberies but had an idea David Denney was going to commit other robberies. He further said his son gave him money a few days after the first Vibrant robbery and he presumed the money came from robbery.
Kevin Denney said he helped his son count the money that was taken from the second Vibrant robbery and he used some of the money to pay bills.
On April 4, Niebuhr-Hartley told police that David Denney, whom she met online a couple years ago, approached her in fall 2016 and asked her to be his driver for an unspecified activity.
Niebuhr-Hartley said she eventually learned that David Denney was going to rob a bank and she was willing to participate.
She admitted that she drove him and parked at a nearby business north of Vibrant the day of the first robbery. Niebuhr-Hartley also said she was involved in the planning of the second Vibrant robbery and agreed to be the getaway driver for 25 percent of the robbery proceeds.
The two tried to coordinate a date for the robbery but were unsuccessful. Niebuhr-Hartley said she learned that the credit union was robbed when she received a news alert on her cellphone. She said she knew it had to be David Denney and was angry that she did not get to participate, according to the complaint.
DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad signed bills into law Monday that ban texting while driving and allow tougher steps for curtailing drunken and drugged driving in Iowa.
The governor said he was disappointed the Legislature did not adopt an outright ban on using hand-held devices while driving. But he said action to make texting while driving a primary offense and establishing the option of make drivers arrested for or convicted of impaired driving to participate in twice-daily sobriety monitoring — and requiring them to install ignition interlocks — will change driving behaviors.
“Together, these two bills, which passed with strong bipartisan support, will make an impact on improving highway safety in our state,” Branstad said in signing Senate File 234 and Senate File 444 with law officers, public safety advocates and legislators on hand to watch.
Drivers still will be able to use hand-held devices to make phone calls or check GPS directions. But beginning July 1, they can be pulled over by police and face a $30 fine for using them to write, send or view an electronic message.
“We truly are making a difference, and I think when people begin to realize how distracted they are when they’re driving, when they’re using their electronic devices, hands-free is going to be a much easier argument to make in the future,” Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan said.
During the legislative debate, proponents called it a bad idea to take your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel while driving but applauded the incremental progress after Iowa’s traffic deaths rose from a five-year low of 317 in 2013 to 403 in 2016.
“This is a vast improvement over what we’ve got, and I think it will serve the purpose,” Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, the bill’s House manager, said after Monday’s ceremony.
Iowa currently is one of five states that classify texting while driving as a secondary offense for adults, meaning police are not allowed to pull over a driver unless they suspect another violation also has been committed. Iowa has a texting ban for young drivers. SF 234 eliminates the provision that prohibits an officer from stopping a driver solely for texting.
“I’m confident that this bill will help send a message to drivers in our state: eyes on the road driving,” said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who said she would keep pushing for a ban on hand-held devices while driving.
The other law, SF 444, allows local jurisdictions to require drivers arrested for or convicted of impaired driving to undergo twice-daily sobriety monitoring.
The program is modeled after initiatives in South Dakota and other states. Under the law, local authorities could decide to place an offender in the program as a condition of bond, pretrial release, probation, parole or a temporary restricted license. The offender would be allowed to function in a job free from incarceration if he or she abstains from using alcohol or drugs for the sanction’s term.
An offender in the program also would be required to have an ignition interlock, which prevents a car from being started if the driver’s breath reveals he or she has been drinking.
A separate provision provides that texting while driving would be evidence of reckless driving in the event of a fatal crash. A driver who struck and killed someone would commit a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000.
Branstad said the sobriety program holds “great promise,” given that a third of impaired driving fatalities are caused by repeat drunken driving offenders.
“This program is designed to address those Iowans who have repeatedly made the terrible decision to drive while intoxicated,” he said. "We like this program not only because it has proven results in South Dakota, but also because it puts the burden of the cost on the offender not on the taxpayer."
The chairman and CEO of Arconic Inc. has abruptly left the company, Arconic officials announced Monday.
Klaus Kleinfeld agreed to leave his job as a result of a challenge from the company's largest shareholder, Elliott Management Corp.
Arconic, which split off from Alcoa Inc. last year, operates Arconic Davenport Works in Riverdale, the 10th largest employer in the Quad-Cities, according to Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce data.
According to an Arconic news release, Kleinfeld stepped down after its board of directors learned he had sent a letter directly to a senior officer of Elliott Management without consulting the board. This was a case of "poor judgment," the company said in a prepared news release.
Shares of Arconic climbed 79 cents, to $26.69 in trading after the announcement.
In January, Elliott Management launched a campaign to oust Kleinfeld, 59, citing the company's lackluster stock performance, missed profit forecasts and inefficient spending during the nine years he headed the firm.
In a prepared statement, Elliott Management called the departure "long-overdue" and a "necessary first step on a path to a new, stronger Arconic."
"Unfortunately, the Arconic Board appears determined to remain an obstacle to that worthy goal," the statement continued. "The Board continues to insist that shareholders trust its judgment and defer to its wisdom in shaping the future of Arconic. But at this critical juncture, Arconic shareholders simply cannot afford to trust this Board’s judgment in shaping the future of our company."
Elliott Management officials also took issue with the characterization that Kleinfeld's letter was a matter of "poor judgment."
"To be clear, the letter read as a threat to intimidate or extort a senior officer of Elliott Management based on completely false insinuations, a threat that we took seriously and about which we immediately and privately informed the Board," the statement said. "This is highly inappropriate behavior by anyone and certainly by the CEO of a regulated, publicly traded company, in the midst of a proxy contest."
On its website, Arconic defended Kleinfeld, noting he presided last year over the change that divided Alcoa, the aluminum producer based in New York, from Arconic, the product manufacturer that makes aluminum, titanium and nickel parts for planes, cars and electronics. The company also created more than $8 billion in stock market value since 2009.
David P. Hess, an Arconic board member who worked for United Technologies Corp. for 38 years in many leadership roles, was named interim CEO. Most recently, Hess was executive vice president and chief customer officer for Aerospace, and also was president of Pratt & Whitney. Patricia Russo was named interim chairwoman of the board. She was lead director on the Arconic board since it separated from Alcoa Inc.
A Davenport man accused of conspiring with his son to steal money to pay a bond to get the man out of jail in a sex abuse case in Rock Island County has pleaded guilty in Scott County District Court.
Steven T. Malone, 46, will be sentenced May 24 on charges of first-degree theft, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and third-degree burglary, a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to a written plea agreement filed in Scott County, prosecutors will dismiss an additional charge of conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony at sentencing.
Prosecutors also say in the plea agreement that if incarceration is recommended, they will ask that the sentences run at the same time, for a total of up to 10 years.
Malone also must pay $95,000 in restitution, according to the plea agreement.
On Jan. 13, Malone appeared in Rock Island County on two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, according to court records. Bond in that case was set at $200,000. He posted 10 percent, or $20,000, on Jan. 14 and was released from the Rock Island County Jail, according to court records.
Malone, while still in jail, conspired with his son and co-defendant, Brandon M. Stroyan, 25, to steal bail money from a barn in Davenport, according to an arrest affidavit filed by the Davenport Police Department.
According to the affidavit, Malone told Stroyan how to break into the barn, what time to do it and where the money was located. He wanted the money, according to the affidavit, so that he could bond out of jail on the sex abuse charges.
Approximately $80,000 to $100,000 was taken during the burglary, according to the affidavit.
Malone and Stroyan are on a recorded Rock Island County Jail phone call discussing the burglary and theft, according to the affidavit.
Malone remained in the Scott County Jail on Monday in lieu of bond. The Rock Island County charges are still pending.
Stroyan was charged with first-degree theft, conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony, and third-degree burglary.
A plea hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
A third person, Alexis Farnum, 21, was charged with conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony. According to court documents, Farnum conspired to hide the remaining money stolen from the barn.
A hearing in her case is scheduled for April 25, according to court records.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., raised $341,700 for the first quarter of this year and was closing in on $1.7 million in the bank, according to new financial filings, a warning sign to any Republican who may be planning to challenge her next year.
Bustos, who is expected to seek a fourth term next year, is on the Republican Party's initial target list for 2018. The Moline Democrat won her race handily last year. But President Donald Trump also narrowly won there and those split districts are where Republicans, at least in this part of the election cycle, are focusing efforts.
The House Democrats' political arm also put Bustos' district on their list to watch in case they need to help out.
Of the $341,700 in contributions, Bustos raised nearly $238,000 from individuals and more than $103,000 from political action committees in the first quarter, which ran from Jan. 1 through March 30.
Financial reports for the quarter were due to the Federal Election Commission this weekend.
Bustos, whose Republican opponent last year had little money, spent far less in the last election cycle than she did in her 2014 race. And because she surpassed more than $3 million in contributions, that allowed her to conserve a lot of money.
Her nearly $1.7 million in the bank is four times what she had in cash on hand at this point in the 2016 election cycle. Two years ago, she had about $419,000 in the bank.
Bustos, who spent much of last election cycle traveling to help other Democratic candidates, had considered a run for governor next year but decided against it. She also has taken a leadership position with the House Democrats, as co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
The 10th annual Record Store Day — the official national holiday honoring local record stores and their products — is this Saturday. Join in the musical celebrating at Quad-City record stores. Along with record releases and all-day deals, live music is planned from acts such as Speaking of Secrets, Dead Forms, The Right Now, Bill MacKay, Archeress and Haunter from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Ragged Records, 418 E. 2nd St., Davenport. Additionally, check out Co-Op Records, 3737 Avenue of the Cities, Moline. For more information, recordstoreday.com.
9 a.m. Saturday, Ragged Records. Free
2. Putnam photo shoot
The Putnam Museum & Science Center, 1717 W 12th St., Davenport, is hosting a second free community-wide photo event this weekend, a project celebrating the museum's 150th anniversary. During the first event, more than 1,200 people participated by having black-and-white portraits taken. All the portraits will be displayed in the Putnam’s Grand Lobby through the year and will then be part of the museum's permanent collection. For more information, visit putnam.org.
Noon to 3 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Putnam Museum. Free
3. Baked's grand opening festival
The Quad-City's newest brewery is officially opening this week. Baked Beer & Bread Co., 1113 Mound St., Davenport, is unveiling its restaurant and brewery with a four-day festival. The event, billed as 420 Fest, kicks off Thursday with a dinner in the theme of "The Great Gatsby," plus live music from Liz Moen and Harsh Times. Shows are set for Friday and Saturday with a brunch planned on Sunday morning. For a full lineup and tickets, visit bakedbeerandbreadco.com.
Thursday-Sunday, Baked, $15-$80
4. Layers of Maquoketa
The inaugural Layers of Maquoketa, a five-day celebration of the city's people, history, places, art, businesses and more, kicks off Tuesday and wraps up Saturday with a downtown festival, including performances by school jazz bands, a grand opening of the renovated downtown, a pancake breakfast at Maquoketa Caves, Hurstville Interpretive Center Earth Day activities in the Green Space, food vendors, a show by the Coronado Car Club and retailers open until 8 p.m. For more information, visit layersofmaquoketa.com.
Tuesday-Saturday, venues in Maquoketa, Iowa, prices vary
5. Tale of a tin woman
The Black Box Theatre opens its latest show, "The Tin Woman," this weekend. "The Tin Woman" tells the story of a woman who receives a heart transplant and her meeting with the family of the donor. Along with performances this weekend, you can see "The Tin Woman" April 27-29 at the Black Box Theatre, 1623 5th Ave., Moline. For tickets, call 563-284-2350 or visit theblackboxtheatre.com.
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Black Box Theatre, $16
6. St. Ambrose Shakespeare project
The St. Ambrose Theatre Department is taking on one of William Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies this weekend. You have three chances to see the student production of "Richard III" as part of the college's ongoing Shakespeare Project, at the Galvin Fine Arts Center, 518 Locust St., Davenport. Tickets: $13 for adults, $11 for faculty/staff/alumni/senior citizens, $9 for non-St. Ambrose students and $8 for groups. Admission is free for St. Ambrose students. To buy tickets, call 563-333-6251 or visit sau.edu.
7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Galvin Fine Arts Center, $8-$13
7. Rock at RIBCO
The Obsessed, a hard rock group from Maryland, returns to town with openers Karma To Burn and Fatso Jetson this weekend at Rock Island Brewing Company, or RIBCO, 1815 2nd Ave., Rock Island. For tickets, visit ribco.com.
9 p.m. Friday, RIBCO, $18
8. Scavenger hunt on wheels
Grab your bike and join the Spring Scrabble Social Ride for an on-wheels scavenger hunt around the Quad-Cities. The ride, which falls on Earth Day, kicks off at Happy Joe's Pizza Grille, 2900 River Drive, Moline, and follows a route with stops at surprise locations leading to clues. Proceeds go to the Children's Therapy Center of the Quad-Cities. To register, visit scrabblesocialride.com.
Noon Saturday, Happy Joe's Pizza Grille, $25
9. Let's get musical
Looking for an upbeat night of tunes? See Calliope Musicals, billed as a psychedelic party folk band from Austin, Texas, this weekend. The show, with opener Paper Bird, is set for Friday at the Redstone Room, 129 N. Main St., Davenport. For tickets, visit rivermusicexperience.org.
MINNEAPOLIS — A doctor who saw Prince in the days before he died had prescribed oxycodone under the name of Prince's friend to protect the musician's privacy, according to an affidavit unsealed Monday.
The document is one of several affidavits and search warrants unsealed in Carver County District Court as the yearlong investigation into Prince's death continues.
The documents don't say where Prince got the fentanyl that killed him, which was obtained illegally and not by prescription. But they do shed some light on Prince's struggle with addiction in the days before he died. Oxycodone was not listed as a cause of Prince's death.
Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park home on April 21. Autopsy results showed he died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic drug 50 times more powerful than heroin.
According to the search warrants, authorities searched Paisley Park, cellphone records of Prince's associates, and Prince's email accounts to try to determine how he got the fentanyl.
A search of Prince's home yielded numerous pills in various containers. Some were in prescription bottles that were under the name Kirk Johnson, Prince's longtime friend and associate. Some pills in other bottles were marked as if they were a mix of acetaminophen and hydrocodone — but at least one of those tested positive for fentanyl, meaning it was counterfeit.
The documents suggest Prince was struggling with an addiction to prescription opioids. Just six days before he died, Prince fell ill on a plane and made an emergency stop in Moline as he was returning home from a concert in Atlanta. First responders revived him with two doses of a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
One affidavit says Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg, who saw Prince April 7, 2016, and again on April 20, admitted to authorities that he prescribed oxycodone for Prince the same day as the emergency plane landing "but put the prescription in Kirk Johnson's name for Prince's privacy."
Authorities also searched Johnson's cellphone records, to see who he was communicating with in the month before Prince died.
Messages left with attorneys for Schulenberg and Johnson weren't immediately returned Monday. Schulenberg has an active medical license and is currently practicing medicine in Minnesota. His attorney, Amy Conners, told the AP last week that there are no restrictions on his license.
Investigators haven't interviewed either Johnson or Schulenberg since the hours after Prince died, an official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
While authorities have the power to ask a grand jury to investigate and issue subpoenas for testimony, that step hasn't been taken, the official said.
Prince did not have a cellphone, and authorities searched multiple email accounts that belonged to him, as they tried to determine who he was communicating with and where he got the drugs that killed him, according to the search warrants. The search warrants don't reveal the outcome of the email searches.
The documents say some of the drugs in Prince's bedroom were in a suitcase with the name "Peter Bravestrong" on it. Police believe Bravestrong was an alias that Prince used when he traveled. The suitcase also contained lyrics for the song "U Got the Look" that appeared to be in Prince's handwriting.
Investigators have said little about the case over the last year, other than it is active. The official who spoke to the AP said the case has taken investigators to Illinois and California, as authorities have interviewed friends, family and any potential witnesses, including the flight crew and hospital staff that were present when Prince overdosed on the plane.
CORDOVA, Ill. — Exelon Generation operators returned the Quad-Cities Generating Station Unit 1 to full power Sunday, successfully completing a scheduled refueling outage at the nuclear plant that began in late March.
During the outage, more than 1,600 workers from local unions worked with station employees to perform inspections and maintenance activities that could not be completed while the reactor was online.
Many of the additional workers lodged in area hotels, shopped in local stores and patronized nearby restaurants, providing a significant and welcome economic boost to the Quad Cities region.
“Without passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act last year, this would have been the last Unit 1 refueling outage at Quad-Cities Station,” said Bill Phillips, Business Representative for Local Union 15. “Now that the bill has been signed into law, we expect these good-paying jobs to be around for another decade, supporting local businesses and generating millions of dollars for Illinois’ economy.”
Quad-Cities Station in Cordova, Ill., generates nearly 1,900 megawatts of electricity, enough for more than 1 million homes.
A good Monday to all. Another pleasant day is on tap for the Quad-Cities along with continued flood concerns.
Here are the weather details from the National Weather Service.
Today will be sunny with a high near 73 degrees and a low around 47 degrees.
Tuesday brings a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 p.m. The high will be near 73 degrees. South winds will gust as high as 25 mph.
Showers and thunderstorms are likely Tuesday night. Skies will be cloudy with a low around 56 degrees. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent with new rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
And that brings us to area rivers and streams.
A flood warning is in effect until Wednesday for the Wapsipinicon River near DeWitt.
Early today the river was at 11.71 feet and holding steady. Flood stage is 11 feet with moderate flooding.
The Wapsi is expected to rise to 12 feet Tuesday morning then fall below flood stage Wednesday.
At 12 feet water is affecting residences and some businesses along the river between Wheatland and Calamus.
Also a flood warning is in effect until Thursday for the Rock River near Joslin. Earlier today the river was at 11.87 feet and rising. Flood stage is 12 feet. Minor flooding is forecasted.
The Rock is expected to rise above flood stage this morning and continue rising to 13 feet Tuesday morning, then fall below flood stage. on Thursday.
Flooding is affect of unprotected agricultural land and Lundeen's Landing Campground.
Flood watches are in effect for the Rock River at Moline and the Cedar River near Conesville.
The Rock is expected to rise above flood stage (12 feet) and continue to rise to 12.2 feet Tuesday evening, then fall below flood stage Wednesday evening.
The Cedar is expected to rise above flood stage (13 feet) this morning and continue rising to 13.7 feet Tuesday morning before falling below flood stage Wednesday morning.
2. John Deere Road update: Head-to-head traffic
Work on John Deere Road is ongoing in preparation for head-to-head traffic on the westbound lanes. All the temporary barrier wall has been set and the appropriate traffic control devices have been put in place for head-to-head traffic which is scheduled to begin today.
• Westbound (heading north) I-74 exit ramp for eastbound John Deere Road will close at about 10 A.M. Once this ramp is closed, drivers will need to follow to posted detour in order to reach eastbound John Deere Road.
• Traffic signals will be shifted starting at 7 p.m. Traffic signals will be moved starting at the 70th street intersection and the intersections will be moved heading to the west.
• During the hours of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. drivers should take caution that the eastbound traffic signals may be offset from the lanes of travel. Drivers are urged to be extra cautious at this time.
• Traffic will be shifted head-to-head beginning at 10 p.m. tonight. At this time, traffic will be paced from the I-74 interchange into the new head-to-head configuration. This will necessitate stopping all north and south traffic on 41st, 53rd, 60th, and 70th streets for about 10 minutes while the traffic shift is occurring. Once all the necessary traffic control devices are in place, workers will allow the north and south traffic to flow freely.
This traffic switch is weather permitting.
• Also, on 53rd Street, 44th Avenue will be shut down today. This shutdown is scheduled for 14 days, weather permitting.
3. Progress report: Kimberly Road/Division Street widening
• Traffic routed head-to-head in the northbound lanes of Division Street between 38th and 40th streets maybe re-opened, but long-term closure of the southbound lanes (late May/early June) should be set this week.
• Also beginning today travel will be reduced to one westbound lane of travel on Kimberly Road between Wilkes and Division Street.
• Drivers will also see the installation of temporary traffic lights in the coming week. Please pay attention when traveling through this intersection in the coming weeks. Consider an alternate route if you are able.
4. Brady Street project status
• Work will continue in the two left/west lanes of Brady Street between River Drive and Locust Street through May 1.
• Beginning today additional lane reductions will occur on 2nd Street west of Brady Street for installation of a stormwater pipe. Westbound traffic on 2nd Street will not be permitted through the intersection. Work should be completed by Saturday.
• On or about May 1, work will flip to the two right/east lanes of Brady Street, with an anticipated full project completion date of June 3.
• Vehicles parked in temporary no parking zones may be ticketed and towed.
• Drivers and pedestrians traveling through the area should be mindful that travel is being permitted on milled surfaces. The transition between adjacent surfaces is approximately 3 inches. Reduce your speed when traveling into, on, or off of these milled surfaces. Pedestrians should be wary of tripping hazards
5. Curb work brings lane closures in Clinton
The city of Clinton reports that beginning at 7 a.m. today, curb ramps will be constructed at every intersection on North 4th Street from 1st Avenue to 7th Avenue North.
There will be intermittent lane closures on North 4th Street during this construction. This work should take about 2 weeks, weather permitting.
Also, 13th Avenue North between Mill Creek Parkway and the landfill will be closed for emergency repairs beginning at 7:30 a.m., today and continuing through Friday at 3:30 p.m.
This road will be closed to all through traffic.For more information, call 563-244-3423.
6. I-74 bridge washing under way
Intermittent nighttime lane and ramp closures began last night on the I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River in Bettendorf.
The bridge rehabilitation and cleaning project requires intermittent nighttime lane and ramp closures in both directions of I-74 between U.S. 67, Grant Street, and State Street in Bettendorf and Seventh Avenue in Moline until July 3.
• The lane and ramp closures will occur when work is taking place from8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday nights through Friday mornings.
• When the River Drive on-ramp to westbound I-74 in Moline is closed, detoured traffic will enter I-74 at the Seventh Avenue on-ramp.
• When the State Street on-ramp to eastbound I-74 in Bettendorf is closed, detoured traffic will enter I-74 using the Grant Street on-ramp.
A Moline structure fire that left heavy damage early Sunday remains under investigation.
Moline firefighters responded to 1715 9th St. about 4:44 a.m. According to a news release from Battalion Chief Todd Allen, firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from a garage/workshop addition in the back of a two-story residential-over-commercial building.
Crews made quick entry into the garage area and found heavy fire in the addition, with some parts of the roof collapsed.
The fire spread into the main two-story structure through void spaces in the walls and caused heavy damage to a common attic space between the roof and the second-floor ceiling. The fire burned through the roof. Firefighters worked quickly to get water into the void space to contain the fire.
A car in the garage was a total loss.
The fire caused about $150,000 to property and contents of the building. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The Rock Island Fire Department and the Moline Second Alarmers assisted Moline Fire Department crews.
Family Resources will hold its annual Opening Doors Gala on Friday, April 21, at the Waterfront Convention Center, Bettendorf.
The event is the agency’s largest fundraiser of the year, with more than 300 guests. Money raised will support all Family Resources programs, including counseling, group foster care and services for survivors of domestic or sexual abuse.
Gala attendees can enjoy a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, dinner and both live and silent auctions. Jim Mertens, of WQAD, will be the master of ceremonies. Dress is cocktail attire with black tie optional.
Additionally, during the evening, a client who received support from several of the agency’s programs and recently committed to attend college on a football scholarship will speak.
Table reservations and individual tickets are available at www.famres.org. For sneak peeks on auction items, visit Family Resources on Facebook or Instagram.
Family Resources is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1849 to strengthen children, families and individuals by providing quality services that engage community resources to create effective solutions. Family Resources offers services in Cedar, Clinton, Des Moines, Dubuque, Henry, Jackson, Lee, Louisa, Muscatine and Scott counties in Iowa, and Rock Island County in Illinois.
IOWA CITY — After beating the odds throughout his collegiate career, it rates as a chance Cole Croston considered too good to pass up.
The Iowa offensive lineman is doing what he can to attract the attention of NFL scouts who are preparing for the league’s three-day draft beginning April 27.
Ultimately, the hope is to hear his name called and follow in the footsteps of his father, Dave Croston, a third-round choice of Green Bay in 1987 after completing his Hawkeye career.
Cole Croston has already earned a degree in finance from Iowa, but continues to train in Iowa City in preparation for the upcoming draft.
He participated in Iowa’s pro day last month, has talked with a few teams and hopes that five years of work in a Hawkeye system has positioned him for an opportunity at the next level.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,’’ Croston said. “If it doesn’t work out, I have a finance degree from the University of Iowa and I should be able to get a job somewhere. When draft day comes around, either it happens or it doesn’t and you get picked up by somebody. That’s the goal — an opportunity. That’s all I want.’’
Croston’s numbers at Iowa’s pro day may have helped position him for that opportunity, either as a later-round draft choice or a free agent signing.
He recorded a 32.5-inch vertical jump, a number that was better than any of the offensive linemen who participated in that event at the NFL Combine, and he turned times in the 40-yard dash and three-cone drill that would have rated among the top 15 of Combine participants.
“I’ve heard from some teams. They’re interested in talking to me and I’m interested in talking to them,’’ Croston said. “I just want to see where it can lead. It’s a lot like when I came to Iowa.’’
Croston arrived in Iowa as a walk-on, the son of a former Hawkeye who was willing to work and willing to do what it took to work his way onto the field.
He has added nearly 90 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame during his college career, arriving from Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School at 225 pounds and weighing in at pro day at 314.
He moved into the lineup in 2015, starting 10 games on Iowa’s Rose Bowl team.
Last season as a senior, Croston earned third-team all-Big Ten honors despite being limited to eight starts because of a lower leg injury.
“I’ve been able put on good weight and continue to compete and move the way I want to,’’ Croston said. “I’ve had to earn everything that I’ve earned here and I feel like that shows that I’m willing to put in any work that I need to put in at the next level.’’
Satisfied with his pro day numbers he hopes ultimately lead him to the chance to join a collection of eight Iowa offensive linemen who have been drafted since 2010, Croston believes his understanding of the Hawkeyes’ zone-blocking schemes can also be a benefit moving forward.
“Iowa linemen are prepared well. History shows that. I’ve learned a lot in my time here and I hope I can put that to use,’’ Croston said. “I hope it can lead me to a chance. That’s what I'm working toward.’’
When it was passed in 2013, backers of Iowa's business property tax reform law said it would be a boost for Iowa's economy, that it would help businesses expand and create new jobs. But as the four-year-old law has become a target amid the state's revenue struggles, critics say it has failed to live up to the hype. Instead, they say, it left the state cash-strapped and has done little to boost the economy.
The wide-ranging reform law, years in the making, was a high priority for Gov. Terry Branstad. He had complained for years the state’s commercial property tax rates were among the highest in the nation. When he signed the bill in June of 2013, after it received bipartisan support in the Legislature, he hailed it for the things that were to come.
"This tax relief bill will put more money in the pockets of Iowa families and make it easier for Iowa businesses to invest and grow in our state," the governor said at the bill signing ceremony at Hawkeye Ready-Mix Concrete in Hiawatha.
The law had a lot of parts, but its centerpiece was a provision that changed how much a commercial and industrial property’s actual value was subject to taxation, lowering it from 100 percent to 90 percent. Already, residential properties see about half their assessed value exempt from taxation, and business owners had complained they were being treated unfairly.
In addition, the law provided a business property tax credit that was aimed at helping Main Street enterprises.
Those two things together led to a lower tax burden of $15.7 million in Scott County for taxes paid in 2016/17, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue.
But has it worked? Has it helped the economy?
The governor says it has.
"Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds believe that implementing the largest commercial property tax cut in Iowa’s history in 2013 has made a real difference on our Main Streets and in our communities,” said spokesman, Ben Hammes. “Iowa continues to experience the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years and there is no doubt that businesses small and large benefit by a lower tax payment on property.”
Critics of the law scoff at the notion that changes to property taxes have boosted the economy. They say a lot of things go into a business's decision whether to expand or locate here.
“I would be doubtful that it had much of an impact on economic growth,” said Peter Fisher, research director for the Iowa Policy Project, which criticized the proposal when it was in the Legislature. He said that much of the benefit is going to retailers, including larger ones based out of state, as well as other businesses whose operations are driven by local market conditions, not tax policy. Big boxes, he says, are getting a good deal, but he adds: “It’s hard to see any of that benefiting Iowa.”
In the Quad-Cities, the economy has bumped along since the law was passed.
The average unemployment rate for Scott County in 2013 was 5.6 percent. That dropped to 4.6 percent this past year. But that decline has come as the size of the labor force has shrunk, not more people being employed. In fact, the number of people employed in the county has shrunk by 400 on average between 2013 and 2016.
Statewide, the economy has performed better. The jobless rate dropped from 4.7 percent in 2013 to 3.7 percent in 2016. But, unlike in Scott County, the number of people employed in the state went up from 2013 to 2016 -- by about 40,000 to 1.638 million people.
Henry Marquard, director of government relations for the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, which backed the law, said the tax changes help. He said it is important for Iowa to compete with other states that are improving their tax climates. “We’re continuing to see all of these states we compete with step up their game, and it’s important that we keep up,” he said.
Marquard said he believes Kraft Heinz’s decision to build a new plant at the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center was partly attributable to a better property tax climate.
Defenders of the law say that it has improved Iowa's competitiveness with other states. A study of commercial property tax rates released last year by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence said Iowa's rankings improved after the law was passed.
For example, for a commercial property with a value of $100,000 Iowa's property ranked 22nd highest in the country. The year before, it was ranked 10th highest.
For a property with a $1 million value, Iowa ranked 9th highest; The year before it was 5th.
Critics of the law say there's more to making a state attractive to business than just the tax climate, and property taxes are only a piece of that.
Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University, dismisses the idea there was an impact on the state’s economy. Instead, he said, there was just a shift of the tax burden.
“The advantages have accumulated to the commercial sector but were offset to the disadvantage of the taxpayers at large. It’s a zero sum game,” he said.
He added, "The transfer to commercial property owners comes at the expense of spending those dollars on public programs, which do tend to have a higher multiplier effect."
As for Iowa’s low jobless rate, Swenson said the state has traditionally been well below the national average.
Local impact varies
Property taxes are the lifeblood of local government. They are the revenue source mayors and aldermen have the most control over, and their rise and fall guide budget-making.
Local governments have extraordinary sway over property taxes, and that can have an impact on how state tax policy rolls out.
Take Frontier Management, Corp., the owner of the Best Western Plus Steeplegate Inn in Davenport. The hotel is one of two the company owns in Iowa. The other is in Dubuque.
Dan Huber, the company's chief executive, said the commercial tax break was welcome. But, he noted, that in Dubuque the assessment on the hotel there spiked significantly in 2015. The company appealed, but it still ended up being higher. That higher assessment, combined with a slightly higher tax rate, led to a nearly $16,000 tax increase over the year before.
That was more than the benefit gained by the reduction in the amount of the commercial property's value subject to tax.
"The work that the legislature did to provide relief is very, very welcome, and as a small business we appreciate it. But at the same time, when your assessed values and so on are going up and up, it can certainly negate some of the work that is done in the legislature," he said.
Deere and Co.'s Davenport Works on East 90th Street is another example of how local changes can have an impact on individual properties. Taxed at just 90 percent of value instead of 100 percent, Deere's tax bite under the new system against the old system, results in a $94,000 savings from what it would have been otherwise. But the City of Davenport re-evaluated all its commercial properties in 2016, and for Deere that will result in a 20 percent increase, to about $29 million, in assessed value for the 2017/2018 tax year.
"For Deere, the 10 percent commercial property rollback has been completely offset by higher assessed property values," said Ken Golden, a Deere spokesman.
For their part, local governments say their budgets have come under greater pressure because of the property tax reform law. The state is reimbursing for lost commercial and industrial tax revenues. But it isn't paying local governments for revenues lost because of the law's changes to apartments and similar multi-residential properties.
The law is changing how those properties are being taxed, so that by 2022 they'll be treated the same as single family homes.
"It makes it difficult for us to keep up with the pace of growth we’re having," said Brandon Wright, the City of Davenport's finance director. "The result of that is a tighter and tighter budget every year."
Tax cut back in the crosshairs
This year, the property tax law has become much more controversial because of the state's financial struggles.
Three times since the fall, the state has revised downward its revenue expectations. That included a report in March in which the Revenue Estimating Conference said income for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, would fall $131 million short of expectations.
That means the state will likely draw from reserves to balance the budget.
Already, Democrats and other critics say the state is shortchanging education and other priorities, and the property tax reform law, along with generous business tax credits, have taken important dollars off the table. “The impact has clearly been we’ve been struggling to finance basic services,” said Fisher, of the Iowa Policy Project.
In the face of such shortfalls, there is talk about overhauling existing business credits, and some lawmakers have said the 2013 reform law should be reexamined, too.
Meanwhile, the legislature faces pressure from local governments who already are fretting the state will back off reimbursing them for the lost revenues from the 2013 law. Branstad's office, though, stressed that the governor has committed to replacing those revenues -- and that it stands by policies aimed at making it easier to run a business in the state. "Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds remain focused on policies that will create an even better environment for our job creators to provide more job opportunities for Iowans," Hammes said.
A man convicted in the Davenport murder of a well-known Quad-City bartender during a robbery in 1983 will get one more opportunity to have his latest petition for post-conviction relief heard after the Iowa Court of Appeals kicked it back to Scott County District Court.
B. C. “Basil” Pendleton, 57, of Waterloo, and Daryl Louis Hollins, 58, of Davenport, each were convicted in separate trials for the murder of 56-year-old Carol Stinger during a robbery of the St. Louis House, a Davenport tavern.
Pendleton has filed for post-conviction relief at least three times. The first two times occurred in 1989 and 2002. Both of those petitions were denied and the decisions were upheld on appeal.
His latest petition for post-conviction relief was filed in September 2013. In that petition, Pendleton claimed he had an affidavit from a witness at his trial who claimed he was recanting his trial testimony because it was all a fabrication. Pendleton also claimed he had a second piece of evidence for his case, an unsigned affidavit in which one man recanted his 2003 testimony to police, although it was never offered at trial. In view of this alleged new evidence Pendleton wanted his conviction for murder overturned.
After a hearing on Oct. 23, 2014, Scott County District Judge Mary Howes summarily dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief at the State’s request saying that the second piece of evidence was immaterial since the man never testified at trial. She also said that while the first piece of evidence is material to the case, it is unlikely that it would overturn the jury’s guilty verdict as there were other stronger witnesses in the case.
But according to the Iowa Court of Appeals, it does not appear that Pendleton got the chance to argue against the summary judgement. Also, the record of the hearing before the Court of Appeals was incomplete.
So even though the Court of Appeals said in its ruling that Howes could rule to dismiss the petition once again, it still goes back to District Court for another hearing, which has been set for Jan. 19, 2018.
The robbery and murder
At 12:45 a.m. August 18, 1983, Pendleton and Hollins, both then 24, walked into the St. Louis House, a tavern located at 402 W. 2nd St., Davenport.
Hollins, armed with a gun the two men had purchased that night at another tavern, planned to rob the St. Louis House, according to testimony from the case.
When the two walked in, they found Stinger, who was alone behind the bar and who had worked at the tavern for six months.
According to court testimony given by Tawana Harris, who at the time lived with Pendleton, Pendleton told her he was taking cash from the registers when he heard a shot and looked to find Hollins standing over Stinger’s body.
Frank Lingard, the owner of the tavern, was walking in an adjoining door and saw the two men running north on Ripley Street.
He found Stinger behind the bar, but didn’t know she’d been shot until, while calling police, he noticed a pool of blood forming on her clothes. Stinger, who had been a popular bartender in the Quad-Cities for 35 years, had been shot once in the chest. She was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Mercy Hospital.
According to testimony in Pendleton’s trial, Stinger was shot because she saw their faces during the robbery.
The men ran away with about $400 and two guns they found behind the counter.
Pendleton and Hollins were indicted on murder and robbery charges Jan. 31, 1984. Pendleton already was in the Scott County Jail at the time of the indictment and had testified during grand jury proceedings.
Hollins was captured in San Francisco and returned for trial.
Pendleton had a chance to serve a 25-year-prison sentence in the case as part of a plea agreement to plead guilty to first-degree robbery and testify against Hollins. Pendleton initially agreed, telling Scott County District Court Judge Margaret Briles that he was not armed during the robbery. He said as they left the bar he heard a shot and found out later that Hollins had shot Stinger.
But the next day, Pendleton changed his mind, according to court documents, as he was afraid he would be killed by a prison gang if he testified against Hollins, who allegedly was a member of the Almighty Unknown Vice Lords. “That put fear into my heart,” Pendleton told Judge Briles.
The St. Louis House had been around for 137 years at the time Stinger was killed. In its early years, it was a favorite stopping place for farmers who hauled produce in from the country in horse-drawn wagons and usually stayed in Davenport overnight before making the long, slow trip home.
Bill Davis who was the county attorney at the time the murder occurred, said that since the transcript of the hearing was not made part of the record of appeal, the court was lacking what Howes used in making her decision.
"I'm sure she did it right," Davis said of Howes.
The St. Louis House was torn down not long after the murder.
Both men were convicted and sentenced to a prison term of life without the possibility of parole.
Hollins currently is serving his time in the Clarinda Correctional Facility, according to Iowa Department of Corrections online records.
Pendleton is housed in the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.