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IN DEFENSE OF HONOR
It's Thursday, I made my usual trip to the office newsstand to pick up my weekly Illinois Times. As usual, I started with the "Letters" section. I quickly became engrossed in a letter titled "Blood on their hands" by Robert Waldmire [June 10]. My "humor alarm" went off midway through the second paragraph. The leftwing mindset quickly floated to the top and carried though to the last. The "far-right, jingoistic ideologues" sprang forth from the ever-present liberal talking points pages. And I knew, without a doubt, Waldmire had been drinking from the eternally liberal waters of the Left Coast.
I have no problem with agreeing with Waldmire on the issue of senseless torture. The intelligence of the torturers was highlighted by the fact that they were stupid enough to photograph their senseless behavior. That said, the actions of a handful of morons hardly provides evidence of a "dishonorable war."
It would seem that Waldmire's life experience with the military is somewhat lacking. Having spent three years in the Army and four years in the Marine Corps spanning a period from October 1975 through July 1983, I assure you his understanding of what constitutes an "honorable" or "dishonorable" war is seriously short of reality.
My point can best be defined by my experiences of a recent trip. This past Memorial Day weekend, my wife and I made our annual pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., to renew our commitment to keep alive the POW/MIA memory. I had the opportunity to chat with veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
One conversation stuck in my mind more clearly than the others. One veteran was there for the dedication of the World War II Memorial. Having jumped into Normandy on D-Day, he commented on the criticism they received for the U.S. waiting so long to come to the aid of Europe.
He told me how astonished he was to listen to the news and the complaints today asking why we were in such a hurry to go to war. As he saw it, Saddam Hussein and Adolph Hitler were of the same purpose, destroyers of those that opposed them, oppressors of those too weak to stand up for themselves, and rewarders of anyone who assisted them in their evil plans.
For those who oppose the use of force to subdue those who seek to control their little corners of the world, "too fast to action" and "too slow to action" is all the same. It's just another opportunity to whine and cry and repeat catch-phrases invented by those doing their thinking for them.
BLOWING THE HORN
Illinois Times accurately reported that my proposed Sangamon County whistleblower law went over "like a lead balloon" at our County Board meeting in December [Pete Sherman, Dec. 31]. Nevertheless, the board did not kill the proposal, sending it instead to the board's Civil Liabilities Committee for consideration.
Fortunately at the committee, chaired by Craig R. Hall, R-New Berlin, cooler heads prevailed. Lawyer Tod A. Lewis, an expert on whistleblower laws, told the committee that better than 95 percent of federal and state whistleblower lawsuits are against government contractors, as opposed to employees. He gave examples of actual cases in which whistleblower lawsuits uncovered contractors defrauding government.
With the assistance of Assistant State's Attorney James Grohne, the committee wove my county whistleblower ordinance into a comprehensive ethics resolution that also contained the provisions required by the new state ethics act and other ethics provisions. Because of Hall's leadership, this resolution won the unanimous approval of the bipartisan committee at a special meeting in May. Then, on June 8, the resolution passed our full county board.
Sangamon County now becomes the first downstate county and only the 10th local government in our state to pass this progressive legislation. The county whistleblower ordinance, like its federal and state counterparts, rewards and protects the whistleblower while punishing the wrongdoer. It adopts the provisions of the state whistleblower law for Sangamon County, providing a time-tested mechanism for our county to recover money wrongfully taken from it. The wrongdoer must pay triple damages and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000, from which the whistleblower is rewarded.
My hat is off to the Civil Liabilities Committee; those board members who initially criticized my proposal, but were big enough to keep an open mind and in the end vote for it; and to all our county board members, who voted unanimously for the comprehensive ethics package containing my county whistleblower ordinance.
County Board Representative
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT NEEDED
The recent idea to stop wasting money on school busing has generated a large number of reactions, mostly based on emotion rather than facts. People want to make this a racial issue, but it is not. It is an economic issue. It is time to take a more rational approach to the subject. And yes, this letter will probably not be considered politically correct.
The original court order was supposed to improve racial integration, not student or school performance. It was assumed that racial integration would improve all schools. That did not happen. Money spent on busing was money that could not be used to improve the schools. As the schools failed in their goal of providing a quality education, people who could afford to do so left the public school district for the various other alternatives such as the surrounding suburbs, Catholic, Lutheran, Montessori, and even home schooling.
The people that opted out of Springfield School District 186 were not the poor, but the upper-middle class and affluent. They voted with their feet and their wallets. Most them also happened to be white. These are the people who know the value of a good education. These are also the people who get involved in the schools and provide the parental support at home.
This left 186 with some of the middle class and the poor, both black and white. The results are obvious. Use 186's own school reports and statistics. Sit down and chart the number of poor (in the economic sense) students using economic data (I used the number receiving free lunches as a substitute for actual family income data) against the level of success or failure of each school. Then plot the same data against racial lines. See which factor most closely item matches school performance. Every time I have done this it becomes obvious to me it is not a racial issue but an economic issue. Schools with students from poor families have poor school performance.
I don't know why this is.What I do know is that the public schools can produce good results if both the student and the parents are involved. If the way to get parents more involved in the learning process is to go back to neighborhood schools, then let's try it. It doesn't look like it could hurt anything. At least then we'll be able to spend the money we're wasting on busing to possibly improve the schools a bit.
In April 2002, the Chicago Tribune reported Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, in a private meeting with Gov. George Ryan and others, resisted cutting pork-barrel projects and said, "That's my money; you can't touch it." The story cited "several witnesses to the closed-door encounter" as sources. Last week, Illinois Times repeated the quote, which it attributed to the Tribune, in a story about the state budget [Todd Spivak, "Room for pork," June 10]. Illinois Times failed to note that Madigan called the Tribune story inaccurate. Although the Tribune did not publish a correction, the newspaper later acknowledged in a story that Madigan denied ever referring to tax revenue as "my money."