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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 01:34 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.
THINGS ARE TURNING AROUND 
Much of what Rod Helle says in his commentary “Caging the beast” [July 6] is true and profoundly tragic. The United States does spend more on armaments than all the other nations of the world combined. The Bush neocons got away with it by labeling it “defense” spending. All the millions spent on “defense” were not enough to prevent the attacks on our troops in Somalia or on the U.S.S. Cole or on the World Trade Center or the constant attacks on our troops in Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed since the coalition forces became their protectors? Where in the world are the gigantic enemies of America that require such obscene expenditures for military hardware? Coalition forces were able to crush Saddam Hussein’s armies as though they were Boy Scout troops; most were smart enough to throw down their arms, get out of their uniforms, and melt into countryside. Will Iran be Bush’s next target, or maybe North Korea? Americans elected an immature frat boy as president, handed him the world’s most powerful force of arms, and then stood back and let him play as though they were his own tin soldiers. Thankfully Americans are beginning to awaken to the sickening morass that George Bush has led us into. And here is where Rod Helle has lost me. Americans are coming to the realization that Bush has led us away from the true American democratic principles upon which this great nation was founded 230 years ago. We are opening our eyes to Bush’s failed concepts and are asking, no, demanding of candidates for political office that America turn back to the rule of law and to the basic precepts of the United States Constitution as envisioned by our founding fathers. America has sunk to the depths under George W. Bush, but we are climbing out of his pit of imperialism and will once again become a nation that Americans and peoples around the world will look up to and admire. We are on our way up once again. Charles Skibbens Decatur
HELLE’S HEALTH REPORT
It must cause Rod Helle severe depression, massive indigestion, and high blood pressure to live in the United States. Once again, he is tossing around his opinion like it is the truth. He even throws in some quotes to help rattle his little saber. Helle basically says our society would collapse without our looting and pillaging of weaker nations and raping the natural world. And which countries would those be? This spits in the face of all veterans and troops that never made it back. America hasn’t invaded a foreign nation just to take what we want or need. The United States has been the one to stand up against tyranny and thuggery since our nation’s onset. Sure, history is not pretty or nice, but pretty and nice get you conquered. Our nation has witnessed what happens when others, not to mention the United States, have failed to act or played the neutral side. Protecting our national interests and citizens is the utmost duty of our government. However, not everyone agrees how this is performed, and that is your right. But that right was given to you by our troops and is protected by our troops. To categorize all our troops as “country destroyers” is a lie and reeks of cowardice. Bad things happen in war, and atrocities have occurred. But the whole force is not guilty — [the responsibility falls] on individuals and groups of troops. And they should be punished accordingly. Also, to compare our military and government to the Weimar Republic (the government that preceded the Nazi regime) and Soviet Politburo is ridiculous and simply a pathetic attempt at grandstanding to grab the reader’s attention. Chris Callahan Springfield

DUMPING THE HOMELESS ON THE POOR
I have never written a letter to the editor but felt compelled to do so in light of the recent articles in the paper concerning homelessness and the proposed homeless shelter and service center that the Salvation Army hopes to build [see R.L. Nave,         “ ‘Major’ change,” July 6]. One would hope that Springfield, the capital of Illinois, would be a progressive city receptive to learning about the problems confronting the homeless population and working toward a solution in our community. However, some city residents and at least one alderman seem to stereotype the homeless population as bums and undesirables. This only leads to furthering the oppression of this population. Homelessness can be the result of mental illness, drug/alcohol dependence, past criminal activity, and many of other socially unacceptable behaviors. However, these groups are not the only people who find themselves homeless. Individuals and families, with and without children, become homeless for a variety of reasons. Job loss through downsizing, astronomical medical bills regardless of insurance coverage, and disability or death of a breadwinner are also some factors that can lead to homelessness.  Letters protesting building a center at J. David Jones Parkway were abundant. Few of the area residents wanted a homeless shelter and service facility in their neighborhood. In addition to not wanting “undesirables” in their neighborhoods, they cited a lack of resources in the neighboring area as a reason to keep this shelter out of their backyards. The Salvation Army lost the bid for this property, and now the media reports that they are considering the Goodwill Industries site on North 11th Street. Thus far I have not seen one letter to the editor rebuking this location. Is this because most of the people who live in the area of North 11th Street are the poor, the working poor, and renters rather than homeowners? Do their voices not count, or do they better understand the problems facing the homeless and as a result choose not to object to a service designed to help the less fortunate being located in their back yard? The 11th Street site may be a good location as it is close to medical facilities, mental-health facilities, and bus lines. However, is it the best location to house people who are trying to overcome drug and alcohol addictions and address mental-health needs and the other factors that may be associated with their homelessness? These factors, not only location, need to be considered. Gail Mayer Sherman

THE RIGHT TO VISITATION
R.L. Nave’s article, “Deadbeats or dead broke” [June 22], focused on one of the important factors necessary to raise a child whose parents are not living together: child support. Another equally or possibly even more important factor is developing a loving and healthy relationship with both parents. For noncustodial parents (usually fathers) this can only be achieved during their periods of visitation with their children, sometimes as seldom as every second weekend. The article left a misleading impression by quoting me asking why the state should provide custodial parents free lawyers to collect child support. The balance of the quote, which Nave left out, was: “. . . when noncustodial parents get no help from the state in enforcing their visitation rights.”
I am a strong supporter of the state’s programs to assist custodial parents in collecting child support. But the state should also assist noncustodial parents in enforcing and obtaining their and their children’s equally important right to spend quality time with their children. In fact, the two go hand in hand. A recent U.S. Census Bureau study showed that noncustodial parents receiving regular visitation were much more likely to pay child support than those who did not. Sam Cahnman Springfield
THE RULES APPLY, BOTH WAYS
Boy, I agree 100 percent with Nina Bain about not having children if you can’t support them, but she should check the parental guide about the rules [“Letters,” July 6]. I think she qualified as a parent too — and should have taken her own advice. I quote her letter: “The law should read: ‘are you financially able to support a child without government help, government assistance or loans for the rest of your life?’ ” I gather she knew that she could not support a child on $375 a month long before she got pregnant. The rules apply to both genders. Betty Moake Girard
DON’T READ THIS, MR. FAULKNER I am not addressing this to Danny Faulkner because there is no talking to people like him [see “Letters,” June 29]. As long as his house is nice, there is no problem. And this is why some neighborhoods are like they are: attitudes like Mr. Faulkner’s “Hey, my place is nice; somebody else needs to fix the problem.”
The way I see it, if you like your neighborhood you will do anything to keep the thugs and drug dealers out and talk to the right people if you have problems. Good luck, people living in the neighborhood across from the Pillsbury mill — it sounds like you are on your own. You will never see anything come into the Pillsbury mill area until things are cleaned up. LaDonna McClanahan Springfield
WHAT TO DO WITH FLAG-BURNERS?
Tim Thornton made some very good points in his defense of our right to burn the flag [“Letters,” July 6]. This simple act of defiance should be protected, if for no other reason than we live in a free country. He is exactly right: If I feel the only way to express my disappointment with our current leadership is to burn the flag (because they are already trampling all over it), then I should have that right. People’s emotions have prevented them from seeing what they are asking for. What do we do with these criminals when they burn the flag? Do we set up reeducation camps for those who can be forced to follow the crowds? What about repeat offenders? A firing squad at dawn? Where does the control over us subjects end? What right will be banned next? Maybe our right to self-defense, our right to be secure in our persons and property — oops, those have already been assaulted. The Bill of Rights was designed to restrict the power of the government over the people. We now find the government trying to pass amendments to restrict the power of the people. This is just fundamentally wrong and should be vigorously opposed at every turn. Name withheld by request Buffalo
VANDALS ARE AT IT AGAIN
My wife and I, on July 4, visited Union Square Park, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the Old State Capitol. The quilt exhibit at the library was a delight. The design creativity and quilting skill in the creation of each were tremendously impressive. Each quilt was beautiful. The Old State Capitol had a display of portraits of all Illinois military personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. The portraits are pencil drawings made by Cameron Schilling, an Eastern Illinois University student. He had drawn portraits of several soldiers for their funerals at his father’s funeral home. This is when he got the idea to draw portraits of all the fallen American heroes. The portraits will be presented to the families at later date. Looking at each, studying the facial characteristics and the ethnic diversity of the youthful faces in the portraits, puts a lump in the throat and tears in the eyes. Reading the names, hometowns, military information, and description of death causes a rush of emotion — heart-wrenching sadness, anger, and shame for our country for allowing the ill-advised Iraqi war and deep sympathy for the young men and women whose lives were wasted, as well as sympathy for their families. The Union Square Park and the renovated Union Station are an outstanding complement to the ALPLM. The park’s configuration, structure, and landscaping and, of course, the Abe Lincoln sculpture are fantastic. But, sadly, there always seems to be a few senseless individuals who delight in defacing beauty. Skateboarders have already left their signature black scuff marks on the cream-tinted concrete walkways. First they vandalized the marble in the rear of the museum, and now this. When they are caught, the punishment of the criminals must be severe enough to deter other intellectual midgets from future defacement of private and public property. Confiscation of the implements of vandalism, lengthy home confinement, and public service seems appropriate. Serious consideration should be given to making the parents of the vandals liable for the cost to repair the damage. John D. Kolaz Springfield
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