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Thursday, June 19, 2003 02:20 pm

Your Turn. . . 6-19-03

Illinois Times contributor Jack Clark--author of our original detective serial, The Highway Side--has been named a 2003 Shamus Award finalist for his first Nick Acropolis novel, Westerfield's Chain (St. Martin's Press). The Private Eye Writers of America has been awarding the Shamus to detective novelists for the last 22 years. Past recipients include Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, and Sue Grafton. This year's winners will be announced at October's World Mystery Convention in Las Vegas. Chapter five of The Highway Side is on page 23. To read past chapters, check out our Web site at www.illinoistimes.com.

Say it loud, say it proud

Ms. Rhodes:
I have read today's article in the Illinois Times ["Justice Delayed," June 12]. Please note that I did not vote "present" on Chief Harris' contract. I voted NO. I remember it specifically, and I have verified this in the [City Council] minutes of March 7, 2000.

Thank you.
Cecilia Tumulty
City Clerk
[Former Ward 5 alderman]

But didn't we already declare victory?

To the editor:
Let's hope the war in Iraq doesn't make the Hundred Years War between France and England look short!

Donald E. Palmer

Welcoming a new ERA

Illinois is just one of the states involved in the national campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment. And as Illinois Times has already noted ["Return of the ERA," February 27], ERA advocates met with success when the Illinois House voted 76-41 in favor of passage, and the Senate Executive Committee voted ERA out of committee by a margin of 8 to 5. Alas! The Illinois Senate has not brought it to the floor for a vote.

The embers of action are glowing. There had been disagreement on whether ERA advocates needed to start the ratification process over again. No matter: we remain confident of the act's ultimate passage. Remember, in 1982 70 percent of states voted in favor of ratification; that is, 35 states. A 75 percent extraordinary majority was required; that is, 38 states.

On March 12, 2003, the ERA was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress as House Joint Resolution 37 by cosponsors Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and James A. Leitch (R-IA). To date there are 204 cosponsors; 218 are needed for it to move out of the Congress and into the statehouses. Listed as supporters are Illinois representatives Judy Biggert-R, Jerry F. Costello-D, Danny K. Davis-D, Rahm Emanuel-D, Lane Evans-D, Luis Gutierrez-D, Jesse L. Jackson-D, Bobbie Rush-D, and Jan Schakowsky-D. Would you be willing to contact your legislator?

How do I plan to spend my summer vacation? You guessed correctly: I will be doing grass-roots lobbying for simple justice--ERA.

Mary E. Reljic
ERA Task Force 2001-2004

The Rock Island line

To the editor:
On Friday, June 6, the National Park Service designated the Rock Island Trail as a National Recreation Trail. Quite an accomplishment, considering that almost to the day 23 years earlier the Illinois legislature was debating whether or not to sell this Illinois state park.

As a student at Illinois State University, I became an advocate of the trail when I read about its challenges in an Illinois Environmental Council newsletter in 1975. In a nutshell, neighbors opposed converting the former railroad right-of-way into a hiking and biking trail from Alta to Toulon. Legislators opposing the trail threatened to sell it. When the legislature appropriated a symbolic $1 to demonstrate its intention to develop the trail and allow volunteers to carry out the work, then-governor James Thompson stepped in and stopped the volunteer work.

The Rock Island Trail provided my freelance writing career with a couple of articles in the Illinois Times in the early 1980s: "Unhappy Trails" (April 3, 1981) and "Trails and Tribulations" (November 29, 1984).

Friends of the Rock Island Trail tell me today those Illinois Times articles kept the issue alive. Department of Conservation director David Kenney even traveled to visit me in person to talk about Illinois trail issues. My state senator wrote me a letter stating how the articles clarified his thinking to support the trail.

Eventually compromises were reached and the trail was developed, officially opening in 1989.

I visited the Rock Island Trail last fall, and I found what the proponents had predicted nearly 25 years earlier had became a reality--the trail was an amenity to be treasured. On a sunny autumn Saturday, the trail was busily used by families, walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and nature lovers. In Alta, construction workers were banging away as they built upscale single-family residences probably worth just a little bit more because of their proximity to the trail. A small restaurant had sold refreshments to trail users near the same point in 1979, when environmentalists gathered to protest the closing of the trail.

At Mile 2 is the Kickapoo State Recreation Area, where stairs lead off the trail to a secluded picnic area under two giant oaks. A short trail leads to deep-orange prairie and deep-blue sky. Farther along, the Bicycle Inn Restaurant in Dunlap is open, and Princeville is busy. In Wyoming, I come across the revitalized Stark County Scenic Drive. The former depot is now brightly painted red and serves as the trail office and museum. It's easy to think that perhaps the stationmaster has just stepped out for a moment, as carts, tags, invoices, documents, and other artifacts remain. The railroad bridge over the Spoon River near Toulon still stands, overcoming the vandalism that nearly destroyed it in 1983.

Today, trails are thriving in Illinois:

• At Tunnel Hill State Trail near Vienna, visitors can walk or bike through a 540-foot-long tunnel built in 1871 and cross over numerous scenic bridges and trestles.

• A new limestone surface on the Hennepin Canal State Trail offers a heritage hike from Bureau Junction to Rock Island on the Mississippi River.

• The Grand Illinois Trail loops 475 miles between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. In fact, more than 150 bicycle riders are completing the whole route in mid-June. The Complete Grand Illinois Trail Guidebook by Todd Volker will soon be published.

Although the Rock Island Trail is linear, its designation as a National Recreation Trail seems to bring my personal journey with it full circle.

Joe Taylor

"Globalization is the real killer"

I read your Peoria piece on the Web site ["The War at Home," April 10]. Very interesting: kudos to you for getting out and producing an article based on the real world.

Globalization is the real killer, I believe, and we've seen nothing yet. Yes, we're seeing manufacturing jobs vanish. (Mexico, where I live, is seeing jobs vanish too--there is always a country that will provide workers cheaper.) But next it will be the white-collar jobs. For instance, British Telecom is planning to relocate its entire call-center business to India.

My own son, 16, is a brilliant computer programmer. He also plays a mean guitar. What do you think I'm advising him? Go to university and study computer technology? No bloody way. It won't be long before 90 percent of programming is done in India for a dollar an hour. I think his guitar will be a better source of long-term income.

Heaven help today's school leavers, for they are going to be well and truly screwed.

Best wishes,
Clive Warner
Monterrey, Mexico

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