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Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up ... to the news that mussels in the Mississippi River that were moved out of the way of the Interstate-74 bridge construction project appear to be faring well.

Monitoring of the relocated mussels, including three federally endangered species, "indicate that individuals are doing fine and there is no abnormal mortality from the relocation," Kristen Lundh of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said.

Officials have not been able to monitor the mussels that are in the construction zone.

Four years ago, crews relocated about 140,000 mussels, a massive undertaking that involved divers and on-shore crews that were tasked with sorting, marking and cataloguing mussels. Those markings enabled divers to follow up on their welfare.

We're happy to hear this good news. Mussels aren't just protected, but they are valuable because they monitor and purify aquatic systems, as well as feed on algae, plankton and silts. The mussels will be tracked periodically through 2031.

Thumbs Down ... to questions that appear to have been raised by officials at Muscatine Community College over a play called "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead." The 2004 play is a re-imagining of characters from the "Peanuts" comic strip as teens.

Production of the play was stopped after a college dean expressed concerns about it, according to emails that were reported in an article this week by the Gazette in Cedar Rapids.

The college's president, Naomi DeWinter, said the play was suspended because the campus is largely closed due to the pandemic. And, according to the Gazette, she rejected a proposal to do the play via Zoom because of a lack of technical staff.

DeWinter didn't mention any content concerns, but theater instructor Alyssa Oltmanns, who is part of the LGBTQ community, said her dean, Jeremy Pickard, did.

"He said he worried that ‘if you do this play, I’ll get phone calls to my office because this isn’t the "Peanuts" they are used to’," Oltmanns said. The Gazette said Pickard did not respond to requests for comment.

The college needs to be transparent about why production of this play was stopped. It sure looks like there was more to it than just technical issues and a mostly empty campus.

The potential for objections over a play is not a sufficient reason to call it off.

We should note that Oltmanns wasn't deterred. The play will be presented as a community theater performance benefiting Clock, Inc, an LGBT+ community center in the Quad-Cities. It will be recorded through Zoom with broadcasts at 8 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21.

Thumbs Down ... to the state of Illinois for failing to effectively enforce a three-year-old law aimed at making sure businesses that get tax breaks work with minority- and women-owned vendors.

The Better Government Association said this week that since the law went into effect, 119 companies got $150 million in tax benefits but did not submit any reports about how they are working with minority- and women-owned firms; meanwhile, of the 61 businesses that did file reports, three-quarters of them did not provide the data the law was supposed to collect.

The BGA reporting said this was a failing of both the Rauner and Pritzker administrations.

This should outrage legislators who passed the law, not to mention the people of Illinois who have a right to expect that businesses getting tax breaks live up to the obligations attached to those benefits.

Thumbs Up ... to the Source Book Store. A downtown Davenport treasure for decades, the Source has a new owner, 23-year-old Carter Brown, who was taking ownership of the book store Thursday, according to an article this week by Thomas Geyer.

The book store has been owned by the Pekios family for 80 years, first by George Pekios, an immigrant who came to America when he was 10. He opened the store out of his East Moline home in 1939, then moved to Davenport, where the book store has been for decades. It's been in its present location since the late 1970s.

The Source's ownership has passed through the generations, with George's grandson, Dan Pekios, purchasing it from his father, Robert, in 1999. Dan has decided to move on, and now, the store is in Carter Brown's hands.

We were thrilled to read there won't be many changes to the store's look. The Source Book Store is an institution, a haven for readers and a constant in a downtown that's changed a lot over the years. We urge our readers to support the store and its new owner.


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