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031618-MALLARDS-TOLEDO-WALLEYE-030

Quad-City Mallards players listen to the national anthem before their game at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline on Friday, March 16, 2018.

Andy Abeyta Quad-City Times

Thumbs up to Scott Mullen, who's working his tail off to keep hockey in the Quad-Cities.

The Quad-City Mallards will call it quits after next week, ending a two-decade run for ECHL hockey here. The team was bleeding cash, ownership said. It's a legitimate loss to the region, even for those whom themselves aren't into the sport.

Minor league sports are a significant part of how a community such as this defines itself.

But Mullen, executive director of the TaxSlayer Center, immediately hit the pavement, fielding calls from potential team owners and talking to other leagues about potentially calling TaxSlayer Center home.

A quasi-public entity, TaxSlayer Center's financial viability is most certainly of concern to Moline taxpayers. This year's addition of arena football certainly helps the effort. And the presence of hockey, even if at the junior level, would be better than nothing. 

Thumbs down to city officials in Sibley, Iowa, who have no respect for free speech. 

OK, we admit Osceola County's seat is a little far afield. But sometimes, certain things are so egregious that they;re begging for a good ol' public shaming. 

Local man Josh Harms says his hometown literally stinks, so much so that he devoted a website to Sibley's "horrible rotten-blood and stale-beer odor that hangs over the town." Harms' website cautioned would-be residents about the city's odor, wafting from a pork processing plant, and suggested no one move there until City Hall figured it out. 

Sibley officials didn't take too kindly to Harms' digital criticism. They threatened Harm with lawsuits should he continue operating his website, Should You Move to Sibley, Iowa, or discuss it with the media. And that's when the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa stepped in.

This week, a federal judge blasted Sibley City Hall for stomping on Harms' First Amendment rights. Criticizing the government is, after all, whole point of this thing we call a republic.

The city must pay $20,500 in attorneys' fees for Harms and write him a $6,500 check for its attack on his free speech, under the ruling. It must also provide First Amendment training to city staff and issue a written apology.

Going forward, the fine people of Sibley should elect officials who actually care about that whole freedom thing. As it stands, the stench of drying pork isn't the only reason people should think twice before moving to Sibley. 

Thumbs down to mucking up the U.S. Census.

President Donald Trump's administration would rather pretend the people it doesn't like don't exist. And, to that end, it's announced a pair of significant changes to the 2020 Census that could fundamentally skew the results in the name of politics.

The addition of a citizenship question is bound to reduce participation. It's a move that could cost communities in both red and blue states millions in funding when local population numbers go under-reported. The other rolls-back what would have been a new addition to the Census in 2020, questions about sexual orientation. Never have researchers and government officials had a good grasp on the size of America's LGBTQ community. Instead, researchers have had to base studies on rough estimates.  Such information would provide an important snapshot into the country's make up. 

But, in modern America, keeping one's political base happy is all that counts, even if it means pretending millions of others simply don't exist. 

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