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Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
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Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up … to the Democrats in the Illinois House who have spoken up so far and said they won’t vote for Mike Madigan for another term as speaker.

Madigan has come under increasing pressure since the ComEd plea deal this summer, and this week a close associate and others were indicted on new charges.

Madigan denies wrongdoing, but more Democrats are lining up to say that they won’t support him to be their leader. Gov. J.B. Pritzker also put additional pressure on Madigan this week.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Madigan doesn't have enough votes to win another term, but only if all these Democrats stick to their commitments and vote against him when the time comes.

Madigan has time to try to turn the tables, and we can’t imagine the pressure these lawmakers are under. We believe it's time for Madigan to go, and more House Democrats should commit themselves to opposing him. We hope Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, will join these brave legislators and publicly commit to opposing him.

We have urged Halpin to oppose Madigan in the past. And while we know that isn’t an easy thing to do, we don’t recall a time that is more ripe to break Madigan’s iron grip on the state.

Thumbs Up … to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s 27-year record of casting votes in the Senate without missing a beat. That streak ended this week, as Grassley quarantined after being exposed to someone with COIVID-19. He subsequently tested positive.

The 87-year-old Republican said Wednesday on Twitter that he felt good, and he thanked all who had sent along good wishes.

We certainly wish the senator a speedy recovery, and we applaud him for his streak of 8,927 votes without a miss.

The last time Grassley missed a vote was in 1993, during the Iowa floods.

The senator has always taken pride in his vote streak, and we think it is worthy of praise, too. Showing up to vote is a basic expectation that constituents have of their representatives. That Grassley has taken it so seriously over the years is to his credit.

Thumbs Down … to the apparent creation of a macabre betting pool at the Tyson Foods meatpacking plant in Waterloo. The pool, according to a lawsuit, was aimed at guessing the number of workers there who would come down with COVID-19.

The lawsuit was filed by the families of Tyson workers who died this spring from the disease.

Tyson suspended at least two managers and has launched an investigation into the new allegations. The inquiry is to be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Tyson plant in Waterloo has been a source of controversy since the pandemic began. About 1,000 workers there tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, state regulators have been criticized for not doing enough to protect workers there and at other places across the state.

A week ago, the ACLU of Iowa and other organizations filed a complaint saying the Iowa Occupational Health and Safety Administration has failed to do its job.

In June, the agency investigated the Tyson plant but declined to issue a citation.

News reports are rife with workers saying they still feel it’s not safe to work at these plants, but they show up because they need the job.

The allegations in these instances are disturbing, and the investigations are certainly warranted. At the end of the day, we hope they result in workers being protected and treated with respect — and that those who put them in harm’s way and see them as fodder for sport are punished.

Thumbs Up … to the Rock Island County Board for a fiscal 2021 budget that includes a 1% property tax cut.

The small reduction – which would amount to a $10 savings for somebody with a home with an equalized assessed value of $100,000 – is a welcome change from past years when the board increased property taxes.

Citing the county administrator, our Sarah Hayden reported this week "the county was able to offer the 1% tax cut, balance the $35 million general fund budget and bring down a $5.4 million shortfall by allocating some operating expenses to the jail lease levy, moving some salaries to the liability fund levy, using a few hundred thousand dollars in reserves and factoring in additional income from recreational cannabis sales taxes of about $500,000 annually." The sale of the Hope Creek Care Center this year also contributed, she reported.

The county’s part of a homeowner’s tax bill amounts to about 13%, so a taxpayer’s bottom line will also depend on what’s happening with other units of government.

Still, we’ve been critical of the board for past property tax increases. It’s only fair to give praise when the board offers some relief to taxpayers who already pay too much in real estate taxes.

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