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Thursday, May 24, 2012 09:34 pm

Letters to the Editor 05/24/12

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ROBBING STATE WORKERS
I am a normal Illinois state government worker. I didn’t get my job because I knew someone. I got my job because I took a test, got an A, went to an interview and the person interviewing me saw something in me they didn’t see in the other applicants. I did give up pay increases to save the state money when they were in crisis with the promise the state would put a small share of the money they saved into the Illinois State Pension Fund.

Our state legislators stole that money and used it most likely to appease the people who funded them into office. They stole this money.....why are they not in jail?

Somewhere along the line a past governor decided to put on a state hiring freeze. State workers retired and no one was hired to replace them. This put an even bigger burden on the normal Illinois state government employee because they were now required to pick up the slack for retired workers. Now after 33 plus years on the job and the expected ability to retire with barely 50 percent of my salary in a couple of years, they want to force me to work until I’m 67 (for a total of 49 years), pay extra to cover the money they stole from the pension fund, reduce the amount of money I receive when I retire (which is against the Illinois Constitution), and start paying more for health insurance.

People of Illinois, please don’t be fooled. This is not a new “ethical” state government at work. Robbing more money from the people who have already been robbed is not ethical. Don’t make the rest of us do the time, we didn’t do the crime.

Derek S. Lindsey
Springfield



CLOSE WAREHOUSES
Supporters of institutional living are using scare tactics in a desperate attempt to sway public opinion against Gov. Quinn’s brilliant plan to close state institutions. They are talking about people losing their jobs, residents being turned away with nowhere to go and families being separated. Don’t be fooled.

My interest is for the residents of the Jacksonville Developmental Center. The Arc of Illinois is standing by these families to make sure they have a meaningful and successful transition into community living. No one will be “evicted.” In fact, we have been working with the Illinois Department of Human Services on a comprehensive transition plan that will ensure a person-centered planning approach. Each person will receive an evaluation and ultimately be moved into a community setting that is personalized to empower people with disabilities to live an independent, safe and happy life, whether it’s living alone or with a small group, 24-hour care or a more independent lifestyle. They enjoy going to church, going out for ice cream and spending time with family and friends. Each plan is customized according to their individual needs.

While the history of Jacksonville Developmental Center is fascinating, that is not a good reason to keep people with disabilities warehoused and existing within an antiquated system. The days of segregating people with disabilities are long gone and to suggest that they should remain institutionalized and not be given the opportunity to thrive in a community setting is insulting. We work with countless families, some whose loved ones have been labeled with the most severe disabilities, who have moved from an institution to a community home and flourished. People with disabilities want and deserve the same opportunities we all do. It’s time to stop selling them short and disregarding their potential. It’s time to get real about the amazing opportunities and dreams that are attainable by living in a community.

Tony Paulauski, executive director
The Arc of Illinois
Frankfort



CASINOS CREATE CRIME
Gambling revenue promises are rarely met. Gambling interests are pushing for a vote on a massive expansion bill during the final days of the legislative session. SB 1849 legalizes 11 more casinos, including a city-owned casino in Chicago and six racetrack casinos.

During the past 21 years, legislators legalized riverboat gambling, off-track betting, dock-side gambling, advanced deposit wagering, Internet lottery, and video gambling. With all that gambling revenue coming in, why does the state have such a large backlog of unpaid bills?

There would be little concern about how much gambling we have in Illinois if it were not for the social problems and costs that gambling creates. Casinos do not just shift crime from neighboring regions, but create crime, according to a study by Professors Grinols and Mustard. For every $1 of revenue gambling interests indicate is being contributed in taxes, it costs taxpayers $3 or more in social welfare, criminal justice and regulatory costs. The average cost to society per pathological gambler per year is $13,586.

One purpose of the bill is to attract Illinois residents to gamble. The presence of a gambling facility within 50 miles roughly doubles the prevalence of problem and pathological gambling, according to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. The rate of pathological gambling is significantly higher among minorities and low-income individuals.

Governor Quinn, who has continually opposed slot machines at racetracks, has said the state cannot gamble its way to prosperity. Call your legislators (217-782-2000) and the governor (800-642-3112) and ask them to vote no on SB 1849.

Anita Bedell, executive director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems
Springfield


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