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Thursday, May 19, 2005 07:06 am

letters 5-19-05

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

“YARD TO NATURE” NOT “YARD TO YARD”

I am sure that most of the people promoting the Yard to Yard Challenge are well-intentioned. I am not so sure that it will result in an improved environment for Springfield. The use of the word “yard” is unfortunate. The most common definition of yard is “the grounds immediately surrounding a house that are usually covered with grass.” Grass is usually the problem.

The usual lawn care comes at a high cost to the environment. Thirty percent of the water consumed on the East Coast goes to watering lawns, 60 percent on the West Coast. Eighteen percent of municipal solid waste is composed of yard waste. The average suburban lawn receives 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland. More than 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually. Per hour of operation, a gas lawnmower emits 10 to 12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto, and a Weed Eater emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more. And where pesticides are used, 60 to 90 percent of earthworms are killed. Earthworms are important for soil health.

There are alternatives. One is the native grass lawn, just as the name implies, made up of grasses that are native to the area. They are typically very well adapted to that area, so they don’t require as much maintenance and as much in the way of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Or one could eliminate grass entirely and plant hardy drought-resistant plants. I removed all the grass in my front yard more than 15 years ago and planted a variety of flowering and nonflowering plants. Not a drop of water is needed, and it is always green!

I do keep a small lawn in the back for playing games and cavorting with my grandson. No pesticides — grass clippings are the primary fertilizer, and I water only in extreme drought conditions. However, there is no way to make the transition in one summer as the Yard to Yard Challenge requires.

Lawns can do much good such as absorb and hold water, which helps reduce storm runoff and improve water quality. Lawns also have a significant cooling effect, provide oxygen, trap dust and dirt, promote healthful microorganisms, prevent erosion, and filter rainwater contaminants. However, it is very important to keep aware of the costs to the environment in the typical all-American lawn.

Perhaps “yard to yard” should read “yard to nature.”

Alex Casella
Springfield

SOMETHING DOES INDEED SMELL

After reading Todd Spivak’s article in this week’s Illinois Times [“The return of Hunter Lake,” May 5], I now know why poor Hubert Smith is being hounded out of his house, which is owned by City Water, Light & Power on property planned for Hunter Lake, a project that has been in the works since 1965.

His is the only house that is in good enough condition to be saved, so they have to think up other excuses to get him out. For instance, they claim that there is an odor in the house caused by the 15 dogs he keeps. These dogs are strays that he takes very good care of. Smith claims that there is indeed an odor but that it is not from the dogs but rather from the old, moldy carpet, which the previous property manager would not allow him to remove. It is also from an antiquated heating system in the house. Smith is due to be evicted on May 31 — and we now know that it is because plans are going forward to build Hunter Lake.

Beni Kitching
Springfield

FRIST OFFERS FAIR COMPROMISE

The proposal Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist sent to his Democratic colleagues last week could not have been a more fair compromise to end Democratic obstruction of President George W. Bush’s highly qualified judicial nominees. Frist’s proposal would guarantee Bush’s nominees a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor while allowing all senators an opportunity to have their say through a guaranteed 100 hours of debate. This is a reasonable resolution to the Democrats’ unprecedented use of the filibuster against Bush’s nominees and will ensure that the filibuster remains intact for use against legislation.

One nominee, Janice Rogers Brown, grew up as the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers and became the first African-American woman to serve on the California Supreme Court. In 1998, Californians reelected her with 76 percent of the vote, and the majority of senators support her nomination for a federal judgeship, but Democrats are standing in the way of her receiving an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. A fair up-or-down vote for highly qualified judicial nominees is too important for Republicans to stand by as Democrats sacrifice decades of Senate tradition for partisan gain.

Douglas R. Turner
Springfield

BEING ALL THEY CAN BE

The Salvation Army salutes the residents of Sangamon County, the army behind the Army, comprising thousands of volunteers, advisory organizations’ members, and donors who give valuable time and generous donations, enabling the Salvation Army’s day-to-day ministry, 365 days of the year.

Grounded in mission-minded dedication, the Salvation Army continues to adapt to an ongoing mission for a new century of services: adult rehabilitation, emergency housing, programs for women and children, family services, seniors, emergencies and disasters, community-care ministries, service clubs, service units, and world services.

For 125 years (119 years in Sangamon County), our neighbors have helped Salvation Army officers, soldiers, volunteers, and donors, who continuously strive for the biggest change in society by serving the smallest among us. This year, Gen. John Larsson declared 2005 the International Salvation Army Year of Children and Youth. Salvation Army ministries to children and youth are as varied as the communities served. From after-school tutoring programs to music lessons, from boys’ and girls’ clubs to sports leagues and summer camps, the means change constantly, but the mission never varies: reaching children by serving them.

Thank you for your gifts of time and resources to further the mission of the Salvation Army to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination. Your extraordinary contributions have made 125 years possible. Together, we will continue to help the neediest of the needy for the next 125 years.

Capt. Deon Oliver
Capt. Michelle Oliver
Capt. Jessica Lofu
Springfield

A QUESTION FOR PAT QUINN

Regarding Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn’s letter to the editor [May 12], please confirm or dispel the following: “If you remove agriculture subsidies that hold the price of corn down, extracting ethanol from corn actually costs more than refining gas from oil.” I’ve heard that more than once over the years and am still wondering whether any credible source will openly recognize it as truth or reject it as myth. Ask Pat or do the research on your own, if you will. I’m probably not the only one waiting to know.

John Levalley
Austin, Texas

BAD NEWS FOR PRO-LIFE MINISTRIES

The Illinois General Assembly is currently considering House Bill 2492, an unnecessary piece of legislation that imposes the nation’s toughest restrictions on the use of ultrasound. If passed into law, pro-life ministries would be negatively affected, and their ability to use ultrasound machines to reach out to women in crisis pregnancies would be made more difficult and more expensive.

This bill is being pushed by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. They claim to be concerned about health effects of ultrasound exposure for women and their developing fetuses. But there is no evidence to substantiate such a concern. Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said of diagnostic levels of ultrasound: “There is no evidence that these physical effects can harm the fetus.”

If Planned Parenthood is sincerely interested in the well-being of women and their unborn children, why aren’t they promoting legislation that would deal with the health risks to unborn babies posed by alcohol and tobacco?

In short, there is no empirical evidence pointing to the need to protect women and babies from ultrasound exposure — yet there is undeniable evidence that when abortion-minded women view their babies through ultrasound, the vast majority choose life. This is no time to make Illinois the harshest state in the nation in regulating this life-affirming technology.

David E. Smith
Senior Policy Analyst
Illinois Family Institute
Glen Ellyn

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