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Iowa News Analysis: A Davenport Perspective

posted on August 22, 2008 at 3:52 PM

Paul Yeager: Mark Ridolfi is Editorial Page Editor for the Quad City Times and John Beydler is the Quad City Editor for QC Online and a columnist for The Moline Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus. Gentlemen, welcome to the program tonight. News is breaking out of Davenport tonight, you're going to have the presumptive nominee about four days before he becomes the nominee, Barack Obama is going to come to Davenport. John, why do you think that is?

John Beydler: It's on the way to Colorado from Springfield where he's going to appear with his Vice Presidential candidate. It's a tip of the hat to the Quad Cities and Iowa certainly plays an important part in getting his campaign rolling successfully and he's from Illinois, this is a major media market, it's a very logical place for him to stop to say thank you.

Paul Yeager: Same thing, Mark? Do you think that's the case? Or do you think he's announcing Tom Vilsack as his Vice President starting that tour?

Mark Ridolfi: I'm not sure Vilsack's going to make that final cut. It's going to be a real exciting event. He's always drawn big crowds in the Quad Cities, 40%, almost 50% of the caucus delegates from here. So, he comes in here with a strong base. He's got many of those Edwards supporters online now. So, I think it's going to be one big ride to Denver.

Paul Yeager: Now, he is the Senator from Illinois, the junior Senator to Dick Durbin. How has he been as a Senator since he started campaigning, John? Has he been here much to be a Senator? Or is he just strictly campaigning?

John Beydler: He's strictly campaigning these days. I think his voting record in Washington is that he's missing most votes. Any remarks he's made about issues that are local have tended to be pretty perfunctory during the campaign.

Paul Yeager: Let's talk about some local issues of interest. The smoking ban has been one that's been talked about widely. Illinois went to it the first of the year.

Mark Ridolfi: Right, and those smokers came rushing over to Iowa.

Paul Yeager: Did that really happen, Mark?

Mark Ridolfi: There were certainly smokers I talked to who would experiment with the Iowa bars trying that out but now that the law has changed everything has settled back down again.

Paul Yeager: That was something that went on, it was initially something talked about in the casino industry, John, that the casinos in Illinois are banned from having any smoking and all the casinos in Iowa do have smoking. Have we seen any indication yet in any revenues dropping off since there was a spike in the last couple of months?

John Beydler: No, you can't really look at the revenues on either side of the river or the attendance at the boats on either side of the river and see any kind of definite trend. The revenue in Illinois was down after the smoking ban went into effect, it's down over here too. The general trend, especially on the Illinois side of the river, for gambling revenue has been at a steady drop for the last couple of years and it's been that way with the Davenport boats as well especially since the Iowa City casino opened. But between the economy and other factors you can't really point at this numbers and say smoking caused anything.

Paul Yeager: Let's talk about the political aspects of it. There's a couple of groups, there's one in Clinton called Cobra, there's also a bar owner from Davenport, both are running for political office. Is that the reason for their candidacy or are they saying that it's other issues?

Mark Ridolfi: Well, certainly that's what Joe Sturgess over at the Rusty Nail in Davenport, that's what got him excited and out there because he's protecting a business and that message is resonating in the community. Where that goes from here and whether that can get reversed it looks like we're not going to have a special session this year which would be one of the first places to come back but I'm sure we'll be talking about it in the legislature next year.

Paul Yeager: And one thing that special session didn't happen was talking about flooding. The Mississippi at least in the Quad Cities was still high, it was high twice this year but it was the other rivers around Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and that's who is getting a lot of the attention, The Rebuild Iowa Commission. Does The Rebuild Iowa Commission mean anything to the Quad Cities?

John Beydler: Not so much as it does the rest of the state because the Quad Cities is pretty much rebuilt. The park out front here still needs some sod and stuff but Davenport has done a good job of planning over the years, I think, I live in Davenport, to maintain the kind of openness to the river that's really good and they very intelligently moved some buildings out, they have built new stuff, they protected the stadium. Even a big flood like we had the second time this year doesn't really mean that much to Davenport.

Paul Yeager: They've made it more green space, they've made it more -- the '93 flood was really a big lesson for this region.

Mark Ridolfi: As was 2001, we learned it well and now it's a space that can be recovered well after the flooding. You had talked about Rebuild Iowa, they've got all these committees, they've got more than 120, 130 people involved which is a really smart public process. Only 15 of those are from the Quad Cities area.

Paul Yeager: So, again, a representation issue. Mark Ridolfi of the Quad City Times, John Beydler from the Argus and Dispatch, I appreciate you gentlemen for coming in tonight. Thank you very much.


Tags: Council Bluffs Davenport gambling history Iowa news tourism


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