Cheers & Jeers

Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2012, 6:00 am
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
Cheers to the army of organizations working to brighten the holidays for kids in need, including one of our personal favorites, Bikes for Brains.

Maybe it's the memory of the joy we felt when Santa brought us our first two-wheeler countless Christmases ago that makes us such big supporters of the program begun by Sheila Burns of the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education and Sandy Seeley-Copley, proprietor of Queen's Parlor cosmetology salon in Moline.

With the help of Steve DePron, owner of Rock Island's Bike & Hike, and other organizations, more than a thousand Q-C kids have gotten bright shiny, shiny new bikes who never otherwise would have. But though the operation gets help from places like Amhof Trucking in Eldridge and Walmart, the public's support still is vital to ensure that no child is turned away. Every $50 raised buys a bike, training wheels and a helmet.

Help create memories for these kids as lasting as ours. But hurry. Bikes for Brains has less than a month to raise $7,000-$8,000, so send donations of any size today to ''Bikes for Brains,'' c/o Queen's Parlor, 171 19th Ave., Moline IL, 61265.

Jeers to a public pension system for part-time Rock Island County Board members that is even more inappropriate than we had believed.

Thanks to a report Sunday by staff writer Eric Timmons, we learned that some members of the county board who participate in the taxpayer-funded pension plan say they don't meet the requirement that they put in 1,000 hours of work each year to qualify for it.

Despite that, the county puts thousands of dollars a year into the individual pension plans of county board members who join the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Last year RICO contributed to IMRF pensions for 14 of the 25 county board members, costing taxpayers $64,599.

The hours they worked estimated by some board members wouldn't even have met the lowest standard of 600 hours per year required by the Illinois Pension Code.

IMRF officials may take a look at the apparent disparity. Good. But whether it does so or not, the report offers fresh evidence that RICO officials should consider discontinuing a perk that we believe the county had no business offering in the first place.

Though voters did not turn out most incumbent board members Nov. 6, they did vote overwhelmingly in support of reducing the size of the county board. There's a lesson there and in Sunday's pension plan report.

Cheers to a Quad-Cities philanthropist extraordinaire and a guy who knows how to put the fun in fundraising: Happy Joe Whitty.
Last week he hosted his annual holiday party for special-needs children at the i wireless Center in Moline. It takes a platoon of helpers to pull it off but, as always, Mr. Whitty was the driving force.
These parties are one of the ways that he has followed through on a vow he made when he opened his first Happy Joe's in the Village of East Davenport to assist kids with special needs if the restaurant was a success. Many years and several stores later, he continues to keep the promise.
"I made a deal with the 'Big Guy' upstairs, and I wasn't about to back out of that deal," Mr. Whitty said. "My mother always said, don't take something without giving something back."
That's a wonderful lesson and a great example for all of us.
And the best way to salute such generosity is to emulate it. This holiday season, vow to help someone and then follow through.

Jeers to the folks out there who are finding such humor in the demise of Hostess Brands.

There's nothing funny about the direct loss of 18,500 jobs, yet many are making light of the bankruptcy of the company.

We'll leave it to others to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the apparent death of Hostess, the company or its employee unions, or both. Our thoughts instead are with the workers and their families who face a holiday season jobless in an economy where new ones are hard to come by.

They are the 200 people at Hostess in Peoria who spent Thanksgiving wondering what they'll do next. It's an awful blow to those workers, their community as well as the companies and their employees who supply services and goods to Hostess.

Ask the folks who were hard hit when the bakery in Davenport was shuttered after 76 years when Interstate Bakeries Corp. went into bankruptcy. They'll tell you there's nothing funny about it.

Given the nationwide reaction to the potential loss of the junk Hostess makes, it seems certain that somebody, somewhere will soon make Twinkies and Ho Hos, and the like. But it won't be the people who have done so for years.

And that's a terrible shame.


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