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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 09:46 pm

Letters to the Editor

Untitled Document We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.
HE REPRESENTS THE BEST OFTHESJ-R What is the State Journal-Register   thinking by letting Paul Povse go? He is one of the finest, nicest people in Springfield and a great credit to the newspaper. For 37 years, he has served as features editor and columnist. He’s won the admiration and respect of this community. He represents the best of the State Journal-Register. This is a very bad start for Gatehouse Media. They are making a huge mistake. Molly Schlich
Springfield
CUT BACK ON GOVERNMENT VEHICLES As an Illinois taxpayer, I think that it is time to stop the personal use of government cars. I know a state employee who has a secretary of state car, state-police car, and state-police motorcycle in his yard at all times. I would like to know why some people are furnished with government cars that they drive to and from work. If we disallow all non-business-related use of these vehicles, we could not only save gasoline but save buying so many new cars. Robert E. Calhoun Sherman
NEEDLESSLY DYING FOR OUR RIGHTS The tragic events in Virginia should serve to remind us of the Illinois Mental Health Code and Confidentiality Act. These statutes are a legalistic nightmare that overemphasize the “civil rights” of the mentally ill at the expense of their treatment needs. One of the many concerns is the “right” of a suicidal or homicidal patient in a hospital to refuse necessary treatment until the patient has actually cut his wrists or assaulted another person. This provision deprives sick patients of prompt and at times lifesaving treatment, prolongs hospitalization, increases costs, and creates serious physical and emotional risks for patients and for already overburdened nurses and     mental-health workers who labor  courageously in Illinois mental hospitals. Working with the mentally ill is difficult enough. It has become much more difficult. How will we recruit qualified personnel to work in our   hospitals if they are not permitted to treat patients? Many staff members, especially in state hospitals, have become so intimidated by legal harassment that they are afraid to act decisively on a patient’s behalf, believing it safer to do nothing in an emergency than run the risk of legal attack. Another rule restricts commitment only to physically dangerous patients. This deprives necessary treatment to thousands of mentally ill individuals who do not fit this narrow legal definition of commitability and who will be returned to their families, jailed, or thrown back on the mercy of communities that in no way are prepared to deal with this type of disturbed individual. Families of patients suffer as much  as their disturbed members, yet the code disregards the family’s agony and       neglects their right to see that one of their loved ones receives prompt and adequate treatment. The present controversy over the code is sadly reminiscent of a similar  situation several years ago when the Legislature was considering lowering the drinking age. Civil libertarians, with the help of the liquor industry, made the issue a civil-rights one. However, those of us who work with alcoholics on a daily basis felt that the grave public-health consequences of a lowered drinking age far outweighed the issue of rights. The Legislature failed to heed the advice of professionals who worked with alcoholics and voted to lower the drinking age from 21 to 19. The rest is history. Similarly, with the Mental Health Code, the Legislature disregarded the warnings and concerns of individuals who work directly with the mentally ill in favor of a small group of civil libertarians who want to guarantee to the mentally ill the right to be insane, the right to share their suffering with their families and neighbors, the freedom to commit suicide and other destructive acts, the freedom to wander the streets, pursued by imaginary demons, easy  victims of all the brutalizing forces that prey on the helpless in today’s society. A small group of lawyers succeeded in “protecting” the mentally ill from the very health-care givers who offered them some chance of recovery. Freedom with sanity is not freedom. It is slavery. Alex J. Spadoni, M.D. Joliet
BARACKOBAMA’S FIRST CONCERN During the Democratic debate, the  candidates were asked what each would do if he or she just learned that two American cities had been struck by Al Qaeda. All of the candidates who answered, including Barack Obama, responded that they would first make sure of their facts, then work as swiftly as possible to retaliate, to discover what happened, and to create a situation in which it wouldn’t happen again. There was a difference, though in Obama’s reply. His first thought wasn’t for revenge. The first [thing] out of his mouth, his first thought, was to start working to get an emergency response to the people affected. This is a whole different kind of attitude. I think that if someone dropped a bomb or a hurricane [hit] in this general neighborhood, it would be a really nice change to have someone sitting in the Oval Office whose first thought would be to be genuinely concerned about the possibility that I might need some help.
Dianne Lee
Glen Carbon

WHATILEARNEDFROMTHEBIRDS I have always thrown my scrap bread and such out to the birds to feed them. They are living creatures and have to eat. My neighbors and I have talked about how, in the last few years, there have been fewer and fewer cardinals and songbirds and a tremendous influx of blackbirds, crows, and grackles. They move in and chase the birds that were consider nicer and more desirable out. And they eat and they eat and they eat. And once a year, usually in the spring, they have baby birds like themselves so there are more of them. I got a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed. Within no time we had dozens of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue. Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table . . . everywhere. Some of the birds turned mean. They would dive-bomb me and try to peck me, even though I had fed them out of my own pocket. Other birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on and around the feeder, and in the tree branches overhead, and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food. They even got to know me and would fly in low and wait when they saw me come outside, just expecting food, whether I had any or not, such as when I was just walking out to my car. They even watched me through my kitchen window. My neighbor complained that he was being inconvenienced by the birds’ moving over to his property and the extra amount of bird poop on his car. After a while, it was unpleasant just to try to sit on my deck any more, so finally I took down the bird feeder, and in a week most of the birds were gone. I cleaned up their mess. Soon the back yard was like it used to be — quiet, serene, and no one demanding their “rights” to a free meal. As a 19th-century poet said, you can learn a lot from watching nature. Our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, and free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen. Others come in and try to take advantage of the gravy train as well. This is a country that punishes those who work, try to get an education, try to take care of themselves, try to do things the “right” and traditional way. Like the flowers, the birds neither reap nor sow; some at least give back to us with their song and their beauty. Then there are others that merely exist — they had their own songs and actions and characteristics but for the most part contribute nothing. It’s a give-and-take situation — we give, and they take. Maybe it’s time for all of us to take down the bird feeder. Jean Stables Decatur
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