It’s admittedly difficult to get your head around Illinois’ recently passed Future Energy Jobs Bill – a massive, long-gestating piece of legislation that touches on many aspects of energy policy.

Yet the legislation is worth exploring. It will be a major change in Illinois energy policy when it takes effect on June 1. And it’s an instructive study of the give-and-take of the legislative process – a case that was absolutely green and utility-friendly, but one that might not be nearly as kind to consumers as has been promised.

2016 Winter Guide

The River Cities’ Reader’s 2016-17 Winter Guide – featuring more than 1,300 events through March – is on stands now. Pick up a copy today!

If you think about the type of person likely to raise backyard chickens in the Quad Cities, you might conjure a vision of somebody similar to Liz Smith. With philosophical and practical motivations and a love of animals, she did her research and educated her city’s leaders.

2016 Fall Guide

The River Cities’ Reader’s 2016 Fall Guide – featuring more than 1,300 events through November – is on stands now. Pick up a copy today!

In 2006, Western Illinois University approved its master plan for a Moline riverfront campus, boasting that “this new location will host an initial enrollment of 3,000 students.”

Last year – with two of three planned construction phases complete – Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (WIU-QC) had 1,531 students.

On the surface, this looks pretty bad. There was no equivocation in that enrollment statement, and the numbers aren’t even close.

When Bob Murdock died on June 6, the outpouring of shock and grief was stunning. Many of us knew him as the stalwart bartender at Blue Cat, but these remembrances testify that he was so much more.

2016 Summer Guide

The River Cities’ Reader’s 2016 Summer Guide – featuring more than 1,400 events through August – is on stands now. Pick up a copy today!

In his annual “state of the judiciary” speech to the General Assembly in January, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark S. Cady highlighted a new initiative.

“Three counties – Johnson, Linn, and Scott – are collaborating with Georgetown University on juvenile-court pilot projects,” he said. “These projects seek to eliminate racial disparity in the juvenile-justice system and its adverse consequences to our state.”

On April 7, three of the five Scott County Supervisors – Carol Earnhardt, Jim Hancock, and Tom Sunderbruch – approved a stunningly short-sighted change to the Scott County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) that allows for spot zoning anywhere in the county’s unincorporated areas. Supervisors Diane Holst and Brinson Kinzer respected the community-at-large’s wishes and voted against the change in the spirit of true representation.

The county’s current Agricultural Preservation Zoning District prevents spot zoning – developments that don’t conform to the surrounding land use – on any agriculture property outside city limits. But the three supervisors provided the necessary votes to begin the approval process for a new zoning designation called an Industrial Floating Zone (IFZ) to skirt that protection. April 7’s vote was the first of three readings over the next four weeks that will change the CLUP to allow the county and Quad Cities First – the economic-development arm of the Quad Cities Chamber – to market prime farmland for a “megasite” (1,000 acres or more) to potential industrial operators.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority established 17 regional marketing groups – including Quad Cities First – to help attract industrial development to Iowa, and it’s offering marketing grants of up to $50,000 per project. The fund expires in November, so the pressure is on to get the IFZ passed before that deadline. (See

The Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation – a partnership of Scott County, the City of Davenport, the Quad Cities Chamber, and MidAmerican Energy – owns and operates the Eastern Iowa Industrial Park, but it’s running out of sites to market, and none is large enough to qualify as a megasite. Ergo the Industrial Floating Zone, which by circumventing current protections for prime farmland will open up the entire unincorporated county to potential industrial development.

And this is precisely what makes the Industrial Floating Zone so egregious. Most counties and municipalities allocate specific acres of property for site certification as a megasite. Certification criteria demand that qualifying properties have infrastructure already in place. With the IFZ, this is not the case. It’s all up for negotiation, and no surrounding properties are protected from the intrusion, leaving an entire rural community economically insecure going forward. And county residents can bank on their tax dollars paying for necessary infrastructure as part of the incentives used to entice an industrial operation here.

Gary W. Moore had lots of dots to connect about his father’s life. The problem was that, for many years, Gene Moore refused to talk about them.

Gary W. MooreGary Moore will be participating in a handful of local events related to his 2006 book Playing with the Enemy as part of the Scott County Reads Together program April 12 through 15, and you can get a sense of the connections from the hardcover’s subtitle: A Baseball Prodigy, a World at War, & a Field of Broken Dreams.

Gene’s story itself is fantastic, but so is the tale of the book’s becoming – with a curious son and a reticent father, and with tantalizing bits of information finally put together into a narrative that’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

There was, for example, the January 1949 letter to Gene from the Pittsburgh Pirates minor-league baseball system, promising to “give you every chance and our ablest assistance in making a capable ball player.”

Gary Moore found the letter when he was 12, and it aligned with other things he’d heard.

He remembers visiting his father’s hometown of Sesser, Illinois, when he was seven or eight, and a man stuck his head out of the bar and asked if he was Gene’s kid. A group of older men pulled him into the bar and talked to him about his dad.

In a phone interview last week, Gary Moore recalled telling his father: “They said you were the greatest baseball player to ever play” in Sesser. He continued: “My dad kind of laughed and shrugged and he said, ‘This town has 700 people in it. If you’re the best baseball player in the town, that really doesn’t mean much.’”

When Moore was about 16, an older cousin was talking to him about baseball uniforms. “He said, ‘When your dad came home from his first season with the Dodgers, he gave me his jersey. I wore that damn thing until it just fell apart.’ I looked at him and I said, ‘My dad never played baseball for the Dodgers.’ And he said, ‘Go home and ask him.’ I went home and asked my dad and he just kind of shrugged and said, ‘Don’t pay attention to him.’”

Moore said that as he got older, he was increasingly unwilling to accept those dismissals. But his father was equally stubborn. As a teenager, Moore said, he demanded: “‘Tell me about that letter you got from the Pirates.’ And he said, ‘I told you never to ask me about that again.’ And that was it; he just shut down.”

That’s one set of dots. Gary Moore knew his father was a good baseball player who’d gotten a look from at least two major-league baseball organizations.

The other dots are smudgy. There was a visit to the Moore home by a German man in 1959 – when Gary Moore wasn’t yet five. “I don’t remember any details other than ... my sister and I hiding behind a chair and giggling,” he recalled. “I think I was laughing at his language; he talked different than anybody I’d ever heard before.”