State Sen. Mike Jacobs questioned the background of his Republican opponent, Bill Albracht, during a candidate's forum Tuesday night at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Rock Island.
Democrat Cheri Bustos, of East Moline, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, also attended the forum although a prior commitment kept Rep. Schilling away. But it was the sometimes heated debate between Sen. Jacobs, D-East Moline, and Mr. Albracht, of Moline, that was centerstage.
At one point, an audience member asked if Mr. Albracht, retired from the military and Secret Service, would divulge personal information.
"There's things I did that are still classified to this day," Mr. Albracht said. "I'm sorry; it isn't going to happen."
Sen. Jacobs responded, saying he thought Mr. Albracht could release information about himself, adding "I would like to see those files.
"I just don't see how you can go in the world and not give up your records," Sen. Jacobs said.
"You FOIA'd (Freedom of Information Act) everything in my house. You FOIA'd everything in my office. You FOIA'd every one in my family," Sen. Jacobs said. "You sent a letter against my brother-in-law, who is a police officer, and you tried to get him fired.
"I think you ought to come clean, because there's questions about how and when you left the Secret Service," Sen. Jacobs said.
Mr. Albracht said there were no questions about his Secret Service career.
"I went out with the highest honors, and the military with the highest honors," Mr. Albracht said.
"I guess I could be offended by your slander, but I'm considering the source," he told Sen. Jacobs. "And considering your background in the Senate, Mike, I wonder."
Sen. Jacobs also responded to Mr. Albracht's claims Monday that Sen. Jacobs will follow party orders and support a plan that could lead to big property tax increases for school districts to cover teacher pension costs.
"I would never cost-shift pensions to local communities," Sen. Jacobs said. "And, really, I think he (Mr. Albracht) ought to retract that and apologize for it."
Mr. Albracht replied, "Yeah, no thanks on that."
Instead, Mr. Albracht emphasized lower taxes, saying Sen. Jacobs voted to raise state income taxes by 67 percent. Small businesses are swimming in red tape because of overregulation, he said, and reform is needed in worker's compensation, public unions and state pensions.
"I think the organization of unions is an absolutely wonderful thing," Mr. Albracht said. "The negotiations have gotten corrupted for government unions.
"If the taxpayer is not at the table, the system is corrupted," he said. "Unions are good, but the collective bargaining aspect has to be straightened out."
Sen. Jacobs said Mr. Albracht says one thing but does another.
"Not only is Bill (Albracht) opposed to labor unions for police, firefighters and teachers, he doesn't believe in unemployment benefits as we know them today," Sen. Jacobs said. "I just find it ironic -- a gentleman who had no labor endorsement telling me what's good for labor."
Sen. Jacobs questioned where Mr. Albracht would make state budget cuts, saying a great percentage of state spending goes towards pensions and schools. That leaves about 20 percent of the state budget that could be cut, Sen. Jacobs said.
"I don't know how you're going to take kids who don't have health insurance -- or Medicaid people who are blind or disabled -- and kick them off the bus," Sen. Jacobs said. "I don't understand it."
Mr. Albracht said he wants to go after fraud and corruption.
Ms. Bustos stressed her support for education and transporation along with national security. She criticized Republicans and a budget proposal by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan that she said included $12 billion in Pell Grant cuts.
She also said Amtrak is an essential service for the area that would bring jobs and money. And she said she supports diplomacy and economic sanctions against Iran if it doesn't comply with restrictions on its nuclear weapon program.
"We need to make sure that Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East and our friend, that we do everything we can in helping Israel stay safe," she said.
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 11, the 345th day of 2013. There are 20 days left in the year. 1863 — 150 years ago: The message of Abraham Lincoln, read in congress yesterday, is published in full in our paper today, with a new proclamation relating the terms upon which states can return to the union. 1888 — 125 years ago: An appropriation has been made by congress for the improvement of the upper Mississippi River with $200,000 set aside for the portion of the river between Keokuk and the mouth of the Illinois River. 1913 — 100 years ago: Work of remodeling First Swedish Lutheran Church at 4th Avenue and 14th Street was nearly completed. 1938 — 75 years ago: An unexplained outbreak of tularemia (rabbit fever) in the state has Illinois public health officials puzzled. Ten persons have died, and 243 are officially reported ill with the infection. 1963 — 50 years ago: A dramatic, multi-million dollar riverfront improvement project for the downtown area of Rock Island was unveiled at a meeting of 200 civic leaders at noon today. 1988 — 25 years ago: For several supporters of the Dispatch Goodfellow/Argus Santa program their donation is a year long project. Emma Pugh and Anne Persinger spent a good part of their spare time this year knitting forty pairs of mittens and slippers.