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Just pick a date, man.

Get this — Rock Island County Board is set to vote Tuesday on whether it should vote in July about actually doing something about this festering courthouse distraction that, for years, has robbed far too much attention from actual governance.

To be clear, county board members aren't voting to begin a timetable. They're not setting July 18 as a drop-dead date for the small, vocal preservationist faction hoping to salvage the tumbledown county courthouse.

No, county board members will merely decide whether, come July, they will actually, seriously consider this tiresome hindrance to reason. It's as if these officials forgot that decision-making was an implied requirement of holding elected office. 

Tuesday's vote is, for all practical purposes, can-kicking by parliamentary decree. And perhaps the saddest part is, should the resolution to maybe do something some day actually pass, it would count as progress.

This piece of legislative ineptitude is a far cry from what county board members initially debated early last week. The draft that moved through the county board's Governance, Health and Administration Committee would have established July 18 as a meaningful date. It would have directed the Public Building Commission to retain funds for the courthouse's demolition and, should the building remain unwanted by any right-minded investor, require an up or down vote from the county board.

This new iteration does basically nothing, and that's by design. It's yet another stalling tactic, one befitting only of an elected body incapable of serving its function. Any right-thinking member of the county board on Tuesday should introduce an amendment that gives the measure back its teeth and force the entire body to grapple with it in full public view. 

Those wishing to save the old courthouse are throwing anything they can find at the wall and hoping it sticks. They've pitched a sales tax increase in a county that, just this past year, shot down a proposal to better fund its Sheriff's Department. They've sought general funds for a rehab in a county that struggles to provide fundamental programs.

And, now, they've successfully convinced sympathetic county board members to back legislation that accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Let's be frank. Rock Island County doesn't have $20 million to sink into a vanity project masquerading as historic preservation. For years, the old courthouse has unnecessarily dominated Rock Island County government. Lawsuits have been threatened. Courts have hashed it out. Time and again, the private sector has shown absolutely zero interest in the building.

Any rational person would conclude that all the evidence supports the courthouse's demolition. And that's precisely why the preservationist crowd are, yet again, stalling. 

But emotion, not reason, is calling the shots. County board members who don't appreciate Chief Judge Walter Broad's meddling can't admit defeat. Their preservationist allies are too engrossed to realize that roads and social services outweigh their pet project. 

This whole protracted squabble carried a whiff of myopia throughout. This past week's watered-down resolution, designed to accomplish as little as possible, has thrust the entire fiasco into the ridiculous.

For years, Rock Island County neglected its courthouse, allowing it to fall into disrepair. For years, a faction of county board members have held hostage Rock Island County in service to a small, vocal minority. For years, the courthouse spat has diverted attention from the issues that truly matter to most county residents.

It's time that Rock Island County board members serve their purpose and give the courthouse's demolition an up or down vote. The taxpayers have waited long enough. 

Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Matt Christensen, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander and community representative John Wetzel.


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