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Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006 12:52 pm

Letters to the Editor

In and around Springfield

Retired principal Barron Robinson and drum major Andrew Dambrauskas conducted Springfield Southeast High School’s Spartan Marching Band while band director Michael Baier was away on his honeymoon. To make a donation to the marching band, call Baier a
Photo by Eugene Knox

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.

I was intrigued by Rich Miller’s analysis, as usual, of the positive or negative coattails of an incumbent president or governor in a midterm election [“Incumbent disadvantage,” Sept. 7]. In his column he studied state legislators’ and congressmen’s avoidance of the unpopular governor and president while campaigning to avoid being tarred and thus hurt in their chances of winning. I can certainly imagine how an unpopular president might discourage voters from supporting Republican state legislators, but I am unable to see how voters’ anger at Gov. Rod Blagojevich could affect their support of Democratic congressional candidates.

While some Illinois voters, Republican, Democrat, and independent, might personally dislike Blagojevich, would they be hurting, more than helping, themselves if they allow that dislike to distract them from the primary goal of removing President George W. Bush’s base of support in Congress? The voter should keep in mind that the governor deals with an essentially distinct legislative agenda for the state, different from the national agenda addressed by a member of Congress.

Looking at the race for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 19th District here, which includes a substantial portion of Springfield, one sees a vast difference between the two candidates with respect to their chief executives. John Shimkus, the incumbent Republican congressman from the 19th, is so closely aligned with President Bush that a vote against Shimkus is a vote against Bush. In contrast, Danny Stover, Shimkus’ Democratic challenger, as a congressman will function far outside Blagojevich’s legislative arena; failing to vote for Stover because of dissatisfaction with Blagojevich, and allowing Shimkus to continue legislating Bush’s failed policies, is akin to shooting oneself in the right foot because of dissatisfaction with one’s left foot.

I hope Illinois voters will not fall victim to apathy because of their frustrations with the 2006 candidates for governor. It would be wise for voters to take time to learn about the challengers in their congressional districts by reviewing their Web sites and by considering sensible alternatives to the current “Bush-rubber-stamping-do-nothing” Congress.
Kay Marie Philon

As the smoking ban becomes reality, it makes me wonder if city and county officials have a plan B. I’m not talking about a variation or exceptions to the new law, either. What is the plan if sales-tax revenues do decrease as a result of the ban? If they have, has the plan been made public?

Have they even considered how they will recover the loss in revenues? In simple terms, they will need to implement a new replacement tax, raise existing tax percentage, or lower their spending. Because most government entities just can’t seem to not spend, taxes will be adjusted. That means taxes will be raised in some manner to recover the loss. Of course, it will probably be called something other than tax.

Everyone supporting the ban did know this was a possibility, right? Obviously, everyone will also support the idea of a tax increase too, right? Who is going to lead the movement for tax increases? Increasing or proposing or supporting a new tax is nearly instant sentence to be ousted in the next election!

So the fun will continue even after the ban is enacted. As the anti-smoking advocates cheer about their new law, will they be cheering if and when a new tax is proposed and implemented?
Jeff Davis

I appreciated the article “Home on the range” [Julianne Glatz, Sept. 7]. As a child, my family visited one of those large commercial chicken farms. Seeing those poor birds cooped up in little wire cubicles was sickening. I can’t think of a crueler way to treat an animal. Then, when I was living in Arkansas, I heard from Tyson factory workers about the awful conditions they worked under. Both situations argue against buying those convenient bags of chicken breasts. So after reading your article, I rushed out to Food Fantasies and bought a free-range chicken and a dozen eggs. The chicken is in the Crock-Pot as I write.
Karen Soltys

Reading about the lives of chickens in Illinois Times prompts a memory from a few years back when I worked at a bed & breakfast that tried to foster a farmhouse atmosphere as part of the décor [Julianne Glatz, “Home on the range,” Sept. 7]. I was chosen to be chief chicken wrangler despite my zero knowledge of them; their chores added to my varied caretaking duties.

At the time of this incident, we had two older hens that could be left to their own devices but a smaller group of four females and one male that were barely out of chickdom, if that, and were still caged for their own protection. Daily, I would take their cage out to a nice spot; remove the bottom tray for cleaning, giving them access to fresh grass and insects; then place the cleaned bottom tray on top of their cage. This last step was because the sun moved so fast and I was so immersed in other duties, only remembering the chickens long after the shade of a tree had passed. But I could count on the tray to provide enough shade that they wouldn’t roast in the sun before I got to them.

This one morning I thought I should try to water the landscape. The area was divided into zones. I turned on one of the zones, not bothering to look to see how it was watering as the sprinklers were already properly set. The chickens were set, the watering was going, and I went on to whatever new chore needed doing.

A good 10 minutes or more passed by when it suddenly dawned on me that the zone I had activated was the same zone where I had set the chickens! I jumped up and took off running, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be too bad; remembering the bottom tray on top of their cage to protect them from the sun would now protect them from the sprinkling. As I rounded the corner of the main building, I saw in fact, it couldn’t have been worse. Rather than a gentle overhead sprinkle raining down on their covered cage, a high velocity torrent directly from an intense sprinkler head was strafing their cage every few seconds as it swept the area, the cage full in its path.

I raced to the cage and found the four hens huddled in the furthest corner of the cage, sopped and shivering, and the lone rooster, all 5 inches of him, behind them, with wings spread fully out tip to tip trying to shield them from the torrent! His head was turned, his sharp eyes watching the menacing hose of water as it came again and again. What a trouper! He was soooo soaked and soooo trying to do his job! I never saw a braver little buddy.

We don’t think of these beings with their tiny brains as capable of chivalry and bravery and such and surely it was no doubt less chivalry than possession; these were his girls! Still his actions, automatic as they may have been, seemed chivalrous and brave to me.

Later, as the group matured, I also noticed that as they all foraged during the day, while the hens busily bent to feeding and hardly came up for air, the rooster, by contrast, rarely bent his head but stood ever bolt upright, neck stretched, always on the alert for sign of trouble.

There’s more to chickens than roasting and Buffalo wings.

Still, as we all know, nothing gets out of here alive, and in time he grew to be less a buddy than a bully, attacking anyone he saw repeatedly. I also read that a rooster needs eight to 10 hens to prevent “the girls” from damage in overzealous mating, so though I never witnessed it, I can presume that his four girls would eventually have been run ragged. As it happened, I left the employ and only heard later that a stewpot awaited him because of his aggression toward guests and employees.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my chick story.
Chris Gilbert

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