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Thursday, July 8, 2004 12:08 pm

letters 7-8-04

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail:


While your article on Robert Pulliam was interesting, I also found it insulting because of one of your references to James H. Matheny as a "gadfly" [David Brady and William Furry, "Hero or hellion?" June 24].

As it had also praised him as a "great orator," I found the ending paragraph to be inappropriate. If you would have checked the historical facts, [you would have found that] James H. Matheny was a deputy clerk of the Supreme Court, a prominent Springfield lawyer, a circuit-court clerk, and a lieutenant colonel of the Illinois Infantry during the Civil War, and twice-elected judge of the County Court of Sangamon County. He was the best man at Abraham Lincoln's wedding.

As he was regarded highly and held many respectable positions, I feel that your choice of words was beneath Mr. Matheny's dignity and totally inappropriate.

Complete accuracy in journalism should always be the first objective for the sake of the descendants of James H. Matheny. In the future, I would appreciate it if you would refrain from unsubstantiated judgments when discussing those who were the truly honorable people of Springfield's past heritage.

Jane Matheny-Callan


I would like to apologize for Robert Pulliam's behavior on behalf of the people of Illinois, although the sordid details of his life here were unknown to me!

John Schultz
(Great-great-great-great grandson)


Responding to my critique of the way John Hay residents were forced out of their apartments and the whitewashing of the community mural "Corporate State: 1984" for the Abraham Lincoln President Library and Museum ["Dishonoring Lincoln, big-time," July 1], people have challenged me to come up with some "positive suggestions" of atonement that, to some extent, can help restore the reputation of the city and the soon-to-be-dedicated library. Although these decisions need to be made by East Side residents, I have two suggestions to start the discussion:

• All families who were evicted from the John Hay Homes in the 12 months preceding its closing should be compensated $10,000 each for the trauma they and their children suffered and for the loss of personal property they incurred when it was piled out in the street during the eviction process. How humiliating this must have been, not only for the parents but also, and especially, for the children looking up to them for protection. Residents have now told me that the one-day record for evictions was not 11, as I stated in my original commentary, but an incredible 33. This, essentially, is a crime against humanity. One would have thought this would make a front-page story in the State Journal-Register or on Channel 20, similar to a tornado striking Springfield and leaving 33 families homeless. Not a word was said.

• Artist John Yancey should be commissioned to re-create his now-famous mural "Corporate State: 1984" at its original location. The eight students who originally participated in the creation of the mural, who are now in their 30s, should be sought out and invited to be involved in its resurrection. The mural would be a tourist attraction in its own right.

Should the city fail to respond positively to these and other community recommendations by Sept. 1, I suggest that East Side residents consider the following actions: Seek national and international publicity for their story, especially through the hundreds of black-owned newspapers and magazines in our country, and through hundreds of progressive Web sites available on the Internet; organize a black boycott of the dedication of the presidential library and consider a "March for Justice," including picketing and leafletting the downtown area; and invite progressive black celebrities and politicians to examine this shameful case and get involved in the cause.

I hope that these suggestions are enough to get the ball rolling. Let the process of reconciliation begin.

Mike Townsend


Congress defeated the president's energy bill last year. But, as usual, this inflexible administration will not take no for an answer. President George W. Bush is now promoting a handful of smaller energy bills that, taken together, are just as bad as the one defeated by Congress.

Different bills would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pave the way for the building of nuclear reactors, allow more air pollution, and probably lead to future wars over oil by increasing our dependence on foreign imports.

We should not sacrifice our children's future. It's time to promote renewable energy.

Liana Green

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