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Thursday, April 13, 2006 02:44 pm

Letters to the editor

In and around Springfield

We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length, and clarity. Send letters to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

CHRISTIANS, CONSERVATIVES PLAY DIRTY I just read the article “Culture Wars” [R.L. Nave, April 6]. I was happy that a new generation of GLBTQ students is paving the way for other open-minded students at UIS. I am also angry that the conservative students continue to show intolerance, only to backtrack when they’re caught red-handed. As a former UIS student and facilitator of SASSI (now the Queer-Straight Alliance), I’ve witnessed the Society of Conservative Students and the Christian Student Fellowship play dirty by mocking other meaningful causes. They do it not out of necessity but to cause more problems in an extremely immature fashion. Instead of making their voices heard in a civilized manner, SCS and CSF attack the moral character of those who work hard to make UIS a safe, diverse environment for GLBTQ individuals. What bothers me the most is that these two conservative groups — and the conservatives who take part in the madness — don’t take full responsibility for their actions. Both back themselves into corners by stating they “meant no harm” and were “being humorous.” The people involved knew what they were — and are — doing when encouraging fellow students to spread ignorance. The least they can do is admit to their part in the war between GLBTQ and conservative students. I am so very proud of the new generation of GLBTQ students — and allies — for standing up for themselves. These people will truly make a difference at UIS, a place that’ll always need a lesson in equality and diversity. Shermeeka Mason Rochester, N.Y.

SYSTEM NEEDS REFORM ON BOTH SIDES Let me tell you about “tort reform.” Sometime again, the insurance companies pooled all their money and hired expensive lobbyists to generously spread that money around in the form of trips, tickets, vacations, and perks and convince the various legislatures that the tort system was out of control and needed reform. Their version of reform was to limit their liabilities and raise premiums. They then used their record profits to further invest in the public-relations machine, indicating that we need more “tort reform.” What it has done is embolden the insurance companies to simply stiff deserving plaintiffs. For instance, my client, let’s call him George, after recently having a lens implanted in his cornea, was struck from behind at a stoplight on the afternoon after the aforementioned implantation. The force of the impact dislodged the recently implanted lens and caused George to retrace his route to the doctor’s office (having just left from a checkup). The force of the impact also caused severe shoulder pain for several weeks. The wrongdoer’s insurance company paid for the property damage to George’s car. When George requested $1,000 because the impact caused the lens to dislodge and because of the shoulder pain, the insurance company said, “No, nothing.” [The insurance company denied the request because George’s doctor didn’t charge him for the second visit.] Upon George’s filing a lawsuit for the maximum amount in small-claims court, the insurance company hired an attorney and then ridiculed George and said his case was worth nothing and offered 5 mill (a half-cent). The point is, the tort system needs reform on both sides. The news about outrageous rewards for slight injuries is headline news because it happens so seldom. Think about it: Who do you personally know who got hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars for little or no injury? I’m sure it happens, but it is rare. Insist that the tort system be made fair for people like George who was perfectly willing to settle for $500 — and indicated that to the insurance company on several occasions. He just wanted something because somebody knocked the crap out of him and sent him to the doctor. William T. Panichi Attorney at law Springfield

BE PROUD OF THE ILLINOIS GUARD Last week, I returned from a weeklong trip to Iraq, where I visited our Illinois citizen soldiers serving there in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. We currently have nearly 1,000 soldiers serving in Iraq. The purpose of my visit was to see firsthand their living conditions, assess the progress they are making, and, most important, to gauge their morale. I visited soldiers from Illinois Army National Guard units based in North Riverside, Urbana, Urbana, Effingham, Litchfield, Lawrenceville, Crestwood, Milan, and Beardstown. While no denies that Iraq is still a very dangerous place, where many challenges still remain, let me tell you what I observed in meeting with and talking to these great Illinois Guard soldiers who answered their nation’s call to duty. Despite the danger and challenges, to a man and woman they are proud of what they are doing for their country. To talk about all of the fine work and accomplishments of these brave and patriotic Illinois Guardsmen would take too long, but here are some notable examples. Our medical company based in Crestwood is running the medical clinic for a huge logistics base and is the first-line sick call for the forces there. They have done extraordinary work and have improved inventory-management practices and reduced shelf stock from a 45-day to a 15-day supply, eliminating expired medical supplies. The more than 450 members of our infantry battalion are providing base and area security for a large Marine logistics base. Although these soldiers from units in Urbana, Effingham, and Litchfield are in a very dangerous area of the Sunni Triangle, they patrol their sector daily and have built a level of trust and cooperation among the local Iraqi population. The engineers from Lawrenceville, stationed at a forward operating base, are helping to build Iraqi bases and are now turning parts of their sector to the Iraqi Army. Fewer than 50 soldiers from our Milan-based artillery unit are in charge of a huge base along the Iraq-Kuwait border. They serve as the “mayors” of this base, which is the crossing point for units and convoys transiting into and out of Iraq. It was both awe-inspiring and humbling to see what these amazing Illinois citizen soldiers are doing in Iraq under very trying conditions. The people of Illinois can be justifiably proud. Randal E. Thomas Adjutant general Illinois Army and Air National Guard Springfield

OUR NATIONAL LEGACY AT RISK The hot issue at hand seems to be the debate over illegal immigration in the United States, and people on whose backs this great country was built seem to be losing the battle. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents came to this country in search of the American dream — some by choice and some so young that they had no choice. The malls we shop in, the schools we learn in, the churches we worship in, and the buildings we conduct business in all have a piece of the “illegal immigration” within their walls, and there will never be any escaping it. These workers have shed their blood, sweat, and tears in the midst of a hot summer day or freezing-cold night to do the jobs that “legal” Americans would not. In Southern California and Florida, they’ve stayed in the fields and orchards for 20 hours a day, picking the fruits and vegetables that so many of us throw away when our kids tell us they do not like them. And let us not forget the workers employed in dingy, unsafe factories to produce a button or a zipper or, even worse, clean the insides of an animal that was slaughtered for our fancy five-course meal at a five-star restaurant off the floor. These jobs — all jobs that our average “legal” immigrant would never dream of touching — may be too tedious or too disgusting but are graciously accepted by fellow immigrants to provide for their families. And I wonder who was it that defined immigration into this great country as illegal? Simply because we have not obtained a visa or some red-tape document that gives us “permission” to enter a country that was built on immigration — this makes it illegal? Should we be knocking on the doors of every individual — other than our Native American friends and African-American friends who were forced to give up their land and who were forced here through slavery — and ask them for their papers or green card? Perhaps they should be considered felons. Christina Martinez-Romero President, National Image Inc. Central Illinois Chapter Springfield

CORRECTION The correct number for Thirsty’s Playground on Wabash Avenue is 217-787-7273. The number was incorrect in last week’s “Now Playing” column.
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