Somebody should familiarize Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley with Aesop’s Fable “The Farmer & the Viper,” which famously ends with a snake biting a man who showed it kindness: “Did you not know that a serpent in the bosom, a mouse in a bag, and fire in a barn give their hosts an ill reward?” In other words, you knew I was a snake.

If you paid attention to the Davenport Promise proposal, the arguments in favor of a 1-percent sales tax for school construction in Rock Island County will sound familiar: This is the way we can be competitive with surrounding areas; this is the way to attract and retain residents; this is what we need for the future workforce.

There are three key differences, however: The Rock Island County proposal - which is on the April 7 ballot - is easy to explain and grasp; the vote will be held in a Democratic and union stronghold; and it involves a new tax, rather than shifting an existing one.

The first two factors should work in favor of the referendum, and it will almost certainly get more support than the Promise, which only garnered 39 percent of the vote on March 3.

But the sour economy hasn't put voters in a giving mood. The Illinois General Assembly in 2007 allowed counties to seek a sales-tax increase for school construction; eight of 10 referenda have failed.

The leaders of the Rock Island County Kids First organization - the primary force pushing for the sales-tax increase - said they are concerned about the Promise results, but they also highlighted the differences.

Included here are the responses we received to our economic-growth questionnaire, which was sent to 20 representatives of local governments and economic-development organizations.

Reader issue #685 As it moves toward the biggest reinvention of the city since the creation of The District in 1992, Rock Island is also working to make itself Artist Central in the Quad Cities.

Mike and Mark Creger of M and M Hardware Mike Creger, at the front counter of M&M Hardware in Rock Island, warned a customer this past Friday: "I need big bucks from you."

The total: $2.73.