Editorial: Great news for region


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Posted Online: Oct. 08, 2012, 12:16 pm
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
The folks in and around Thomson must have been tempted to do cartwheels when U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., brought news that the sale of their state prison was final.

Heck, if we could, we'd join them. The 1,100 federal jobs that the empty Thomson Correction Center will bring when it reopens as a federal lockup will be good, not only for this Mississippi River town an hour north of the Quad-Cities, but for the entire region. The state prison has sat largely empty since it was built for $140 million in 2001. The wrangling over its sale to the feds has lasted some three years.

The economic impact of opening the state-of-the-art facility for its intended purpose will be huge. Besides construction jobs, the spinoff jobs throughout the region created by the presence of those well-paid federal prison workers will be substantial.

We applaud Sen. Durbin for persuading President Obama to do an end-run around the House subcommittee chaired by a Virginia Republican lawmaker who had been holding up the sale because of differences with the administration about terrorism detainees. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., insisted on obstructing the deal despite the fact that Congress had barred Guantanamo Bay prisoners from being transferred to U.S. soil, including to Thomson. In short, it couldn't happen. Surely Rep. Wolf knew it.

Still, on Tuesday, he clearly remained unhappy with the deal.

"President Obama's unprecedented directive to Attorney General Holder to circumvent Congress to purchase Thomson prison is deeply troubling," he said.

What we have long found to be "deeply troubling," however, is that the U.S. Congress so easily can be circumvented by the whims of a single member, despite repeated efforts led by a member of his own party, U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, to change his mind.

Indeed, Rep. Schilling probably didn't make himself any new friends among congressional leadership by pushing the sale. We applaud his efforts to keep the sale alive. Certainly the 17th Congressional District lawmaker didn't deserve the poke in the eye delivered by Sen. Durbin during his visit to Thomson on Tuesday, though it probably was not surprising. The Senate majority leader energetically is backing longtime family friend, Cheri Bustos, Rep. Schilling's Democrat opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

But the insertion of politics couldn't spoil the party, nor diminish our gratitude to Sen. Durbin, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for pushing ahead with the "court-guided friendly condemnation" that completed the sale.

Gov. Quinn clearly was happy, and for good reason: His cash-strapped state really could use the money.

Of course, the state having the check in hand doesn't mean the prison will open.

Congress still must appropriate money next year for construction work required to bring it up to federal standards and to hire staff. It won't be easy to get the Thomson prison at the front of the line while other states are awaiting similar funds.

But that is a fight for tomorrow.

For now, let's celebrate this victory and then prepare for the next.


















 



Local events heading








  Today is Thursday, July 24, the 205th day of 2014. There are 160 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The Rev. R.J. Humphrey, once a clergyman in this city, was reported killed in a quarrel in New Orleans.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rock Island Citizens Improvement Association held a special meeting to consider the proposition of consolidating Rock Island and Moline.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The home of A. Freeman, 806 3rd Ave., was entered by a burglar while a circus parade was in progress and about $100 worth of jewelry and $5 in cash were taken.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The million dollar dredge, Rock Island, of the Rock Island district of United States engineers will be in this area this week to deepen the channel at the site of the new Rock Island-Davenport bridge.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Argus "walked" to a 13-0 victory over American Container Corporation last night to clinch the championship of Rock Island's A Softball League at Northwest Douglas Park.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Immediate Care Center emergency medical office at South Park Mall is moving back to United Medical Center on Sept. 1. After nearly six years in operation at the mall, Care Center employees are upset by UMC's decision. The center is used by 700 to 800 people each month.








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