Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Thomson prison

Thumbs Up ... to the decision to remove the federal prison at Thomson, Ill., from a list of quarantine sites to monitor inmates entering the prison system for their health.

A bipartisan, bi-state coalition of federal lawmakers raised concerns about the designation by the federal Bureau of Prisons, arguing that without testing each of the prisoners, new inmates could more rapidly spread COVID-19 at these quarantine sites.

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., worked with Sens. Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on this issue. The lawmakers announced the Bureau of Prisons' decision on Monday, and we want them to know we appreciate their work.

Thumbs Up ... to Quad-City area officials and event organizers who are thoughtfully examining their operations in the face of the pandemic. This week, officials decided to close the public swimming pools in Davenport and Moline for the summer; decisions about pools in Rock Island and Bettendorf were pending.

In addition, organizers of the county fairs in Rock Island and Mercer counties have called off their events for this summer. The Backwater Gamblers also postponed its summer season.

These are all painful choices. They are painful for the organizers and the public.

There is a great debate about the extent to which this country should ease its COVID-19 mitigation measures, especially when it comes to the jobs and livelihoods of Quad-Citians. But these questions also extend to the summer fun that makes the Quad-Cities such a great place to live.

We appreciate the thoughtfulness and care all these officials and organizations have brought to this important task.

Thumbs Down ... to the delay by Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration to check out a complaint that the coronavirus was spreading at a Tyson Foods pork plant in Perry, Iowa. The complaint was filed April 11, but the agency didn't contact the plant until April 20, according to an Associated Press report.

Tyson said it had taken steps to protect workers, and the agency declined to inspect the site, the AP reported. There was a subsequent outbreak at the plant.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said safety regulators acted appropriately by choosing not to inspect, but U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, has called for an investigation.

Meat packing plants have been hotspots across the country. We're bewildered why it took so long to even contact the company. This isn't about some minor issue, but a complaint related to a pandemic that's sickening thousands of Iowans and killing hundreds of them.

Thumbs Up ... to the Food Rescue Partnership of the Quad-Cities, which just won recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The partnership, an initiative of the Scott County Health Department, links area restaurants and food stores with agencies that distribute food to the needy.

The idea is to find a place for food that otherwise would be thrown away. Nineteen establishments take part in the program.

The EPA award was for work the partnership did in 2018, but the coalition is still having a big impact today. During the week that Iowa's governor shut down dine-in service at restaurants because of the coronavirus, the partnership helped divert 4,000 pounds of food, a huge increase over the average of 100 pounds per week.

As Alma Gaul reported, since it began keeping track in 2017, the group has diverted 52,000 pounds of food to people rather than landfills.

Thumbs Up ... to Margarita Mojica for winning a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of 10 teachers in grades 4-8 to be so honored in Illinois.

Mojica, a teacher at Glenview Middle School, was surprised when colleagues and students notified her of the award earlier this week. But as we learned from Jim Meenan's reporting, this was probably no surprise to anybody who works with Mojica or attends her class.

"Margarita changes the trajectory of kids in our community," District 37 Superintendent Kristin Humphries said. “She believes in kids and shows them what’s possible with themselves."

In her class, "Mojica makes a point to celebrate her students' cultures — and the culture of others," according to Golden Apple, a non-profit. She also co-founded a program called "One by One", which helps students of color graduate and succeed.

Statewide, there were 730 nominations of 4th-8th grade teachers. That Mojica was among the 10 selected is a testament to her work.


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Thumbs Up ... to the state of Illinois for its $25 million grant program aimed at fast-tracking construction projects. The grants, which were announced earlier this week, will go to local governments and be between $500,000 to $5 million.

In early April, after President Trump said he intended to fire Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, co-wrote a letter to the White House asking for an explanation.

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