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Wednesday, June 13, 2007 01:02 am

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.
WRONGABOUTTHELAW ANDTHEACLU Robert Huck’s recent letter lambastes the American Civil Liberties Union for laws that he asserts give children an absolute right to control all aspects of their mental health treatment [May 24]. Mr. Huck is wrong — about the work of the ACLU and the law in this area. The ACLU has a long history of working to improve the services provided to children with psychiatric disabilities by federal, state, and local governments. The ACLU of Illinois, for example, challenged understaffing and substandard conditions at state mental-health facilities serving children, forced the state to rewrite unfair and arbitrary rules in a program that funds residential placements for mentally ill children, and negotiated substantial improvements in mental-health programs for foster children. We believe these improvements are good for the children under state care, and help society by getting treatment to individuals in need of care. Contrary to Mr. Huck’s assertion, teenagers in Illinois do not have an absolute right to refuse treatment for psychiatric disabilities. Indeed, Illinois law strikes a reasonable balance between the need for parents to participate in decision-making concerning their children’s mental-health treatment and the desire to protect the rights of teenagers. Current law, for example, grants parents the ability to inspect a teenager’s mental health record if the teenager is informed and does not object; even if the teenager objects, parents may still review the record if the patient’s therapist concludes that there are no compelling reasons to deny access. There are some reasons that denying access might be appropriate — if the parent’s review would, for example, reveal information about issues such as incest or physical abuse that endanger the youngster’s safety. Even in the rare circumstance where access to the some information in the youth’s record is denied, a parent has the right to know the youth’s diagnosis, treatment needs, services provided, medication, and other key information. The real problem with Illinois’ approach to psychiatric disabilities is not the law but the underfunding and mismanagement of essential programs. Our state lags far behind much of the rest of the country in its failure to create and maintain decent community mental-health programs for our most vulnerable citizens. The ACLU of Illinois stands ready to join with parents and mental health professionals in an effort to reform this broken mental-health system. Benjamin S. Wolf Associate Legal Director ACLU of Illinois
TIMEISNOWFOREDUCATIONFUNDING The Illinois General Assembly is still in session, and that is good news for public education and especially for students in every part of our state, whether they live in rural, suburban, or urban communities. Generations of children living in areas of the state lacking property wealth have been cheated out of their basic right to attend a great public school. The time is now to end this devastating discrimination. This must be the year we stop applying annual Band-Aids to education funding and address the long-term needs of public education. This General Assembly must seize this opportunity to pass legislation that ensures that from now on every Illinois school district has the resources needed to provide a high-quality education to every student. We urge the members of this General Assembly to summon the courage to vote to help students, to boost local communities that have suffered under the current funding system and to strengthen the Illinois economy. We urge them to invest in excellence by passing legislation that makes Illinois the land of opportunity for every student everywhere in the state. It’s the best investment opportunity in town.
Ken Swanson, President
Illinois Education Association

 

PET OWNERS THANK DICK DURBIN
The Humane Society of the United States would like to thank and congratulate U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin for passing legislation in the U.S. Senate to protect the food supply for people and their pets. After the massive pet-food recall, Durbin introduced the Human and Pet Food Safety Act (S. 1274), which would require the Food and Drug Administration to set processing and ingredient standards for pet food, strengthen labeling requirements, establish an early-warning system and mandatory recall authority for contaminated human- and pet-food products, improve oversight of foreign foods, and take other steps to help prevent needless deaths and illnesses. The Senate swiftly approved, by a vote of 94-0, similar legislation that Durbin offered as an amendment to a broad bill regarding the Food and Drug Administration. Two-thirds of American households have pets, and these members of our families deserve safe and unadulterated food, as do people. We are grateful to Durbin for working to ensure food safety for all, and we urge the full Congress to quickly pass this legislation.
Michael Markarian
Executive vice president
Humane Society of the United States
Washington, D.C.

QUITRAISINGOURTAXES Someone please explain to me why I should continue to pay my taxes? While the taxpayers are going broke with high electric rates, $3 gas, and soaring food prices, our elected state officials do nothing. Well, not quite nothing. They did find time for $400 doorknobs, $900 urinals, and $2,000 personal desks. Talk about a waste of my taxes! Let us not forget about Emil Jones’ wife and son getting jobs with the state. Isn’t that supposed to be against the law? It is most certainly unethical. And to add insult to injury, they give themselves a massive raise. For what? Just what have they done to deserve a raise? It’s time for our legislators to quit wasting our tax dollars and get down to taking care of the people of this state. We have homeless, unemployed, working-poor families, disabled, and uninsured. Where is their representation? Talk about taxation without representation! Our illustrious legislators should be ashamed of themselves. I just don’t see how they can sleep at night. If I had a CPA who wasted my money like our state officials have, I would fire them on the spot. Legislators, go home! Spend my tax dollars by moving the homeless into the Capitol and the Executive Mansion. At least that will help the needy. And I’ll get representation for my taxation. Don Miller Jacksonville
SUPPORTS MATTHEW SHEPARD ACT I am writing to let you know of my support for the Matthew Shepard Act. This law is not special treatment. It would make sure Americans across the spectrum — black or white, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, male or female — are protected. It comes down to ensuring that no American may be targeted for violence because of who they are. Not only would it include sexual minorities, but would also include the disabled.
By not passing this law, we are excluding members of our society from the everyday protections all citizens deserve. Jessica Neighbors Springfield
IBOUGHTGREENEGGS Congratulations, Springfield. The people are supporting the farmers’ market in a big way. I attended Saturday and some vendors were selling out of vegetables. With all the health stuff in the news lately and buying stuff grown nearby being stressed so much, this is good news. As always, every week they have more and more. This is good news. People of Springfield must be eating healthier as well as supporting local producers. I got a dozen eggs with greenish shells. That is right: green eggs. Apparently, some chickens lay them that way. They just don’t get to market as much. Wow. I remain your imaginary friend. Patrick Johnopolos Springfield
MUSTHAVEBEENAMOCKINGBIRD I was catching up on back issues of Illinois Times after being out of town for a couple of weeks. I’ve also been catching up on e-mails. The letter in the May 17 issue on the analogy between bird feeding and illegal aliens from a Decatur reader caught my eye — it looked familiar. Now I know why: there are striking similarities, some word for word, with an e-mail sent to me on May 9.
Dick McLane Springfield
Editor’s note: After we received Mr. McLane’s letter, we verified that the letter we published was similar to anti-immigration messages published elsewhere, including by various Web logs, and circulated widely on the Internet. While we welcome letters from our readers, the content should be original.
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