I would like to submit a counter-proposal to the riverfront hotel casino complex now being lobbied for by Isle of Capri interests with the City of Davenport. That is: Develop the Hotel Blackhawk as the axis for a casino convention center complex. Erect the casino adjacent to the Blackhawk, which is already owned by the Isle of Capri, bond the two buildings to the convention center, and we have developed a win-win situation. Convention bookings would increase as the center would be easier to market. Increased convention center activities would likewise increase casino revenues. By doing this, downtown Davenport would become a destination point rather than just a distraction stop.

The trophy would be to return the downtown riverfront to its rightful owners, the citizens of Davenport.

If development is focused on the north side of River Drive, everyone prospers. Developers can build knowing that no one will build in front of them. Not now. Not ever.

On the other hand, if building occurs on the river's edge now, more projects will be proposed. To say no to those builders would be unfair. Let's be fair and make the rules the same for everyone. That is very pro-business. It has worked in Chicago, St. Louis, and New Orleans, where their waterfronts have remained open, clear, and free for the public.

I believe the majority of our citizens would prefer that Davenport attain country- and worldwide reputation through culture and education as icon-ized by the riverfront Figge Art Musuem rather than the Isle of Capri gambling casino.

R. Josef Hofmann
Former Davenport Levee Improvement Commissioner

Save Grant Elementary School

In the Douglas Park neighborhood there's a school named Grant Elementary School.

This structurally sound building is in excellent condition. In fact, there were thousands of hardworking taxpaying citizens who voted by referendum several years ago to bring this historic school up to code and modernize Grant, Lincoln, and other schools with air conditioning.

The citizens who reside in the Douglas Park neighborhood stand opposed to any and all efforts on the part of the Rock Island School Board and the administration to close Grant School. Citizens past and present remember old Grant School - which was built in November 1909 where the present school now stands. In February 1911 a new building was built.

This school is five years short of being a century old; for 95 years Grant Elementary School has served the three Rs to this community. Grant maintains a historic presence in the lives of thousands of citizens in District 41 and, particularly, the citizens of the Douglas Park neighborhood.

This is my opinion, and of course I speak as a layman on this point but - let me also say - an informed layman.

The Rock Island-Milan School Board, via District 41 administration, is clearly exercising de facto eminent domain, exercising power as if legally constituted by the taxpaying public. Furthermore, the power or right of a state or sovereign to take private property for certain purposes upon payment of compensation but without the owner's consent.

Now we as taxpayers know without question that Grant School is supported by public tax revenue dollars. In fact, it is the people's school. Consider this my friends: How could the Rock Island-Milan School Board, the school administration, appointed committees, and commissions put up a for-sale sign on property the public owns?

Let's look at this matter from an educational/economic point of view. For example, let's use 500 taxpaying homes in the Douglas Park neighborhood as a real example.

Five hundred homes times $800 equals $400,000. The 500 taxpaying property owners in the Douglas Park neighborhood pay $400,000 every tax period or more. Now, you tell me: Who are the real owners of Grant Elementary School? Taxpayers will tell you, and rightfully so, that they're the owners of this historic landmark.

It is important that education seek the welfare of the people and recognize our attempts to solve our economic, cultural, technological, and scientific problems. We look to the schools to set an example by their efficiency and their sense of responsibility in the use of public funds.

My neighbors, we cannot allow this unjust action to take place. Policies that are counter to the educational well being of our kids must be opposed without fear. As the old saying goes: "Policies that do not meet the needs or interest of the community are like nails without a head. Once you hammer them in, they're hard to remove." Nevertheless, it's our duty to stop these types of policies that affect our kids present and future journey through school.

In the introduction to the Foundations of American Education (1969), James A. Johnson et al. said: "The schools of the United States profess to the ideals of democracy. Emphases are placed on the importance of education for the survival of democracy, equality of individual opportunity, and the rights and dignity of all individuals. These ideals have not been fully attained, yet progress is being made."

It is the world of the present and the future that makes it important to fight for every child to be first in education and first in opportunity.

I will conclude my friends and neighbors with this quote from James Russell Lowell: "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet the scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown stands God, within the shadow, keeping watch above his own."

Johnny L. Ellis
Rock Island County Board

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