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Wednesday, June 25, 2008 03:31 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.
BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY In his letter to the editor [June 12], Steve McGrew made an extremely convincing argument about the advance of medicine since the Civil War. Only a few minor errors caught my attention. It was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, not Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, that McCoy gave Kirk the antique reading glasses as a gift on Kirk’s birthday. Moreover, in II Kirk was an admiral; in IV he was demoted to captain after commandeering the Enterprise to rescue a resuscitated Spock from the ill-fated Genesis Planet. I don’t know why I remember all this; I haven’t seen any of these movies for more than a decade. And I try to hold myself back from being so nitpicky (aggravating, I know), but “resistance is futile” (grin). Live long and prosper, Mr. McGrew: “The human adventure is just beginning.”
Thomas W. Yale

IS THIS THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS? The two “crystal skull” articles in the June 12 issue are a major step down from the levelheaded, intelligent articles that normally lead the weekly issues [C.D. Stelzer, “The kingdom of the crystal skull”]. While I understand the commercial potential of the tie-in to the current blockbuster film, I cannot help but think you’ve ventured open-eyed into the tabloid wars. I would have expected such a story to be the screaming headline on a grocery end-cap exposé rag. The article about Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, with its wide-eyed acceptance of his self-reported exploits, put me in mind of another European adventurer, albeit a semifictional one. I refer, of course, to Karl Friedrich von Münchhausen, also known as Baron Münchhausen. The other article, on “Illinois Jones,” was a mishmash of New Age silliness without even a twitch of the reporter’s eyebrow.
This was not worthy of Illinois Times.
Charles Clark
DRILLING IN ANWR POINTLESS In response to Kim Rogalin’s letter [June 19], there are several reasons why drilling in ANWR is pointless and probably even counterproductive. • The U.S. oil companies are not members of OPEC — they can sell the oil that they produce in the U.S. for any price they want. They sell it at the prevailing price because they are capitalists and don’t care about the people or President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” As proof of this, Venezuela, even though it is a member of OPEC, has sold oil below market in the past. • According to some people who have investigated the current oil prices, somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of the increase is the result of speculation. The current junta removed regulations on commodity and futures trading, and the price has risen steadily since. • The proven reserves in ANWR are minuscule in relation to U.S. consumption and would have no effect on oil prices. • The oil companies have had record profits and lower taxes for the past several years, yet their budgets for exploration have actually been reduced, and most of their windfall has been used to buy back their own stock and eliminate competition within the industry. The reason for this is simple: They know there is no more cheap oil. There has not been a refinery built in the U.S. since the 1970s; the oil companies are not investing in infrastructure for something that does not exist. • Finally, and sadly, this is mostly just another cynical ploy by the oil companies and their spokesmen in Congress to transfer the cost of a project to the taxpayer while retaining the profit for the oil companies. Remember, those are public lands and giving the oil companies sweetheart deals won’t lower the price at the pump. In fact, the taxpayer will probably end up paying for most of the cost of the drilling through tax credits and accelerated depletion allowances. Brice Brinkman Springfield
SHS COULD BE NEIGHBORHOOD CATALYST Comments by Fletcher Farrar about continuing Springfield High School’s current location are thought-provoking [see “Building the new Springfield High School,” May 29]. With the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and neighborhood groups discussing how to keep residences and entice businesses to reinvest in and near historic Downtown Springfield, the Medical District needing incentives for start-up ventures, the landlocked convention center wanting to expand, and pockets of once-fine family neighborhoods face safety and decreasing property value concerns, let’s look at Springfield High School to be the catalyst. Rebuilding a Springfield High School campus could be just the opportunity needed to begin a central-city rebirth. An outdoor sports stadium east of the SHS campus could not only add aesthetics to a major gateway but be utilized by residents and tourists alike. With a cost-sharing arrangement with SMEAA, Springfield can host major conventions during weekends and during breaks, as well as statewide tournaments, and still meet SHS sports needs. An intergovernmental cooperative effort will be most cost-effective, centered around updating and expanding SHS. The impact will go a long way to revitalize downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. How about involving SHS students who live near the medical district with the medical-district institutions to get a head start in their careers? Wouldn’t the hospitals love the no-cost medical internships that would result from the close proximity? Build a new state-of-art classroom facility and bring in the administrative offices to occupy the older facility. Analyze and compare what the school district is spending to bus students to the center of town as opposed to a location on the far-southwest side. [Staying at the current location] would be clearly more cost-effective. Many once-fine family neighborhoods have reached such a degree of deterioration that the areas are negatively affecting tourism, besides threatening the property tax base. Even with the cost of fuel rising, without a major motivational effort like this a significant turnaround for residential home ownership will never happen. Realistically, few private developers will begin any project to revitalize individual structures within the central city without the realization of a government commitment to eliminate nearby blighted areas. The domino effect is undeniable. The park district should join in. It can do more for the central city than anywhere else. Let’s begin strategically locating green spaces for a better sense of neighborhood, promoting residential infill, pride in home ownership, and security. The city should then encourage mixed-use projects to be built around these small parks. The Enos Park facelift is a start, but these improvement costs pale [in comparison with] the tax dollars going into other parks on the edge of town. Establish green space in the central parts of the city and you will receive a return with an increase in property values and tax dollars.
Springfield has not seen any real population growth over the last half-century. It’s time to face reality: We must begin to redirect efforts from eliminating our rich agricultural assets [and] focus on how to improve what we already have. Redevelopment in the central city also reduces the cost of delivering police, fire, and all other governmental services. Keeping Springfield High where it is may just be a good place to start a city rebirth. Tony Leone Springfield
ON URBAN PLANNING AND DESIGN Fletcher Farrar’s column regarding a new Springfield High School was an excellent treatment. For example, his point about studies and activities related to urban planning and design makes good sense — for several reasons. A noted architect/planner in the Boston area, Kevin Lynch, has written a publication titled What Time Is This Place? (The MIT Press, 1972). In the appendix is a description of an approach he uses with graduate students. It could be modified for high school.
Gordon Hoke Springfield
When is Barack Obama’s [former] church going to lose its tax-exempt status? The so-called ministers of this church [Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago] are openly supporting Obama’s candidacy for president, which is a violation of federal law. Makes one think that he and his church might be exempt for other reasons?
Justin Seward

USE LESS CORN FOR SWEETENER There is much talk about the increased demand for Illinois corn and the possible reduced yield this year. There is another consideration. We use a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. It is not a healthy ingredient in much of our food. I have an idea. Why not drop the corn syrup and use the corn for feed, ethanol, and taco shells? Patrick Johnopolos Springfield
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