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Thursday, July 7, 2005 09:01 pm

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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

DECK CHAIRS ON THE TITANIC

Whoopee! The U.S. Senate just finished its “work” and passed some national energy legislation. Just what exactly was accomplished by this august body? I think an apt metaphoric description would be: The lookout on the Titanic yells, “Iceberg! Dead ahead!” — and the captain immediately responds, “Rearrange all deck chairs!” At a time when the survival of the nation, if not the planet, begged for a quantum shift in energy policy, the Senate gave us “Adjust the widgets.”

Even the Washington Post, in its prescient Sunday editorial “Lost Energy,” recognized the monumental banality of this enormous 85-12 exercise in self-congratulatory futility. A “lost opportunity,” they called it. Throw money at more-of-the-same, business-as-usual, lobbied-to-the-hilt methods of energy production (more coal, oil, gas, nuclear power) that got us into the many environmental, economic, and foreign-policy fixes we currently find ourselves. Avoid the controversial (aggressive energy efficiency and conservation, increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards), no matter how desperately needed they are. Explain to the public, “It ain’t perfect, but we had to do something.” Thank heaven these people are United States senators — and not surgeons.

While many in the Senate and the media are busy spinning the effort as progress, it’s important to remember that you are “moving forward” by pitching over a cliff.

The real energy issues, their causes and effects that confront and threaten us today, once again went largely ignored. Global warming? The “sense of the Senate” — it’s real! Actions proposed? Do nothing. The energy war for Iraq, claiming tens of thousands of lives, both American and Iraqi? Not even mentioned. How many body bags per gallon does your civilian Humvee get? The well-documented fact that the United States wastes 22 to 44 percent of all the electricity it generates? Uh, what was the question?

Oh yes, $10.1 billion subsidies for more nuclear plants.

Even some of the cheerier aspects of the Senate’s action — a modest commitment to more renewable energy, for example — are likely to be stripped away in conference committee with the pro-energy-industry House members. If the Senate mentality on energy is still stuck somewhere in the 19th century, the House mentality is breathtakingly Neanderthal. The concept of “extract more, no matter who owns it; what’s ours is ours, and what’s yours soon will be ours as well” isn’t really much of an energy “strategy” to be proud of. And we’re going to export our “democracy” to the Iraqis?

David A. Kraft
Director
Nuclear Energy Information Service
Evanston

THE GOVERNOR’S RECORD

Let’s look at Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s record for working families:

• He raised the state minimum wage of $6.50 an hour — something that helps families put food on the table and brings money to all of our communities.

• He extended health insurance for the first time to 74,000 working parents, with two-thirds of the tab paid for by the federal government.

• He invested in our children by expanding the Illinois food program to tens of thousands of kids in child care.

• He further invested in the education of our children by expanding preschool for 8,000 at-risk children. That’s good for all of us; studies show that for every dollar spent on early education, taxpayers save $17.

The governor deserves a lot of credit for his hard work for working families, and I’ve rarely seen an elected official get less credit for what he’s done. So let’s give credit where it’s due: Thank you, Gov. Blagojevich, for fighting for working families.

Helen Miller
President, Local 880
Service Employees International Union
Chicago

ADAMS HOUSE SHOULD BE SAVED

Recent publicity regarding the Margery Adams House indicated that it is not historic [Linda Hughes, “Tearing down the house,” June 23]. I cannot agree with that assessment. I was vice chairman of the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary Planning Committee and performed the lead role in rehabilitating the house in the 1990s. I researched a lot of material on the Adams family and the Adams House as the work progressed. There are 14.5 linear feet of records donated by Miss Adams in the Illinois State Historical Library covering her family. The Adams House, built in the 1850s, has both architectural and historical significance.

The front section of the Adams House was constructed using heavy timber frame technology; a pre-Civil War type of construction. It is a solid, substantial structure using four-by-four beams fastened with wooden pegs. The house is now completely insulated and has a modern heating and air-conditioning system. There are very few mid-19th-century farmhouses in the Springfield area with as good an appearance and integrity as the Adams House. The house is not in a state of disrepair.

The second historic reason for saving the Adams House is the local history connected to the structure. The Adams family’s pear orchard and Margery Adams herself are still remembered fondly by visitors. The orchard has turned to nature; Margery Adams is gone, but the house, after 147 years, is still standing. It is solid and should last many, many more years. Having Margery Adams’ name on the property is fine; however, her house is the icon noticed as you drive down Clearlake Avenue.

Tom Coulson
Rochester
 

TOUR WAS A GREAT SUCCESS

Thank you for your coverage of the Springfield Historic West Side Neighborhood Association home tour. The Illinois Times write-up by Marissa Monson [“West Side stories,” June 23] was by far the best I’ve seen. The tour was a great success.

Annet Godiksen
Springfield

ANOTHER APOLOGY IN ORDER

I am writing in response to your editorial in which Illinois Times  proclaimed that “Durbin was not misunderstood” and that his real problem is that he “was telling the truth” [Fletcher Farrar, “Reporter at large,” June 30].  

 Please recall that the people at Guantánamo Bay are al Qaeda terrorists who at the time were being interviewed to extract terrorist information about future attacks.  Please forgive me if I don’t feel sorry for terrorists and I do for innocent Americans.

 Secondly, although one can try to complain that the U.S. military was too forceful in getting this vital information, to still compare that behavior to Hitler and Pol Pot is unacceptable.  Not only is it untrue, it also creates a great advertisement campaign for terrorist training camps.  It is the terrorists who should be compared to Hitler instead.

 Senator Durbin apologized and retracted his remarks. I believe your paper should, too.

Clint W. Sabin
Springfield

ONE OF VAN DER LOO’S FANS

If I am a Marion van der Loo “groupie” [see Dusty Rhodes, “Discord at the Symphony,” June 30] because I admire her extraordinary ability to teach; her understanding of the essence of the musical scores she conducts; her mastery of numerous languages; her ability to know just when to encourage, reproach, or commend the singers; her dedication to the members of the symphony chorus — then so be it! Count me in.

Ann Smallwood
Symphony Chorus Member  

CATHOLICS: SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT

Too many so-called Catholics are trying to speak for the church today. They want to pick and choose what to accept. Pope Benedict XVI is the true spokesman for the faithful. This pope is going to be even tougher than John Paul II. First, forget about women priests or married priests. If Jesus wanted a woman priest, he would have chosen his mother. She would have been one of his apostles when he chose the 12. This Holy Father will tell those pick-and-choose Catholics, “If you’re not happy, move on.” With over a billion Catholics in the world, they won’t be missed. So if you are a Catholic and don’t want to go by the rules, shape up or ship out.

Danny Faulkner
Springfield

CORRECTION

Former Illinois Symphony Orchestra musical director Ken Kiesler earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting. His academic degree was described incorrectly in a story last week [Dusty Rhodes, “Discord at the Symphony,” June 30].

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