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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 12:57 am

Letters to the Editor

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.

CONDITIONS AT RUSHVILLE

This is an alert to the taxpaying public concerning an obscure Illinois civil law called Title 59 Commitment, which detains citizens released from prison. Those who fall under this law are taken to the Department of Human Services Detention and Treatment Center at Rushville. There 300-plus so-called sexual offenders are detained, some under maximum-security prison conditions.

Most need treatment emotionally, mentally and psychologically. Others are beyond change. Still others were model prisoners while serving time in prison. Some are born-again Christians. But all sex offenders are lumped together without any individual consideration, except for a previous psychological review.

Hearings and travel to court for these fellows involve 10-15 hours on the road, only to appear before a judge who has already made up his mind to give a continuance. The fellows are handcuffed and shackled on these trips to their hearings. Urinal bottles are used during travel.

Therapists at Rushville are dysfunctional and non-professional. Group therapy is horrid. Health care is very poor. Eight residents have died in four years. Recreation has been cut from 35 hours per week to 10 hours per week. Food is poor, resulting in health problems like diabetes and heart attacks.

The Illinois civil law is a game with illegal amendments added to it. Individuals held in Rushville are cut off from going on with their lives with their parents, wives and children who are waiting for them to come home.

B. Jean Arnold

Chatham

NO BLANK CHECK BAILOUT

The Congressional bipartisan consensus is clear. A blank check should not be handed over as requested by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve as a bailout to the financial industry. The Illinois Association of Minorities in Government (IAMG), a 21-year-old nonpartisan advocacy organization, understands the need for federal intervention to buy troubled investments to prevent sheer market collapse.

However, we concur with the bipartisan consensus that a $700 billion blank check with no Congressional oversight could denote fiscal irresponsibility, especially when it comes at the taxpayers' expense. As many Americans are, IAMG is concerned that the complexity in determining the value of the assets involved in the bailout may end in the federal government paying more for these assets than what they are worth, which appears to benefit financial institutions.

Although a bailout is needed, it must be understood that it comes on the backs of taxpayers, many of whom are already cash-strapped. Hence, it is incumbent upon the federal government to restore confidence back into the financial system, via a bailout plan devised through calculated risk. Why is this important? Like many Americans, IAMG's members struggle with the constant rise in the cost of living and many face uncertain job security and no monetary work-related increases to reflect the rise in the cost of living.

As a result, IAMG supports both presidential candidates' proposed bailout plans. They include reimbursement measures for taxpayers should the bailout prove successful, financial assistance to homeowners having difficulty in fulfilling their mortgage obligations, a bipartisan board to offer oversight on the bailout, and limits on any federal money earmarked as compensation to Wall Street executives.

These conditions offer the beginning of a bailout plan that could result in market confidence and a robust, healthy economy.

Jonathan Lackland, executive director

Illinois Association of Minorities in Government

Springfield

SHIMKUS ON WRONG

SIDE OF LONGWALL

The recent rise in the commodity price of coal and the prospect of longwall mining has given pause to landowners negotiating their mineral and surface rights with coal companies. The price of Illinois coal has reached toward the $100/ton mark. This comes while the proposed use of the longwall mining method can double the amount of recoverable coal from beneath what is now prime farmland. Together these forces contribute
a value of coal that can exceed a million dollars per acre of recoverable coal.

The longwall method of mining adds to the mix by contributing almost immediate subsidence of land surface by as much as five feet or greater, in what is now highly productive cropland. Current mining rules provide little or no assurance that the mining companies will restore the surface damage caused by subsidence.Where once mineral rights were seen as a secondary land value, if the mining of the coal diminishes the agricultural value of the surface, farmers and landowners are taking a second look at the prices they may consider for those rights.

Because Illinois mining rules cannot be more stringent than federal rules, legislation to protect prime farmland
against subsidence mining damage must come from Washington. U.S. Representative John Shimkus
has been quoted as saying that citizens who want federal legislative changes made to protect Illinois prime farmland from coal mining subsidence should get
the law changed. Unsaid is that those citizens would need Congressman Shimkus' support to get that protection from Washington. Shimkus has strong support
from the mining interests and he has shown no concern over the possible damages to agriculture and farmers caused by mining.
Mary A. Bates
Hillsboro

A FINE ART FAIR
On behalf of the board and staff of the Springfield Art Association, we wish to thank the greater Springfield community for supporting the SAA's 20th Annual Edwards Place Fine Art Fair, a milestone in our rich 95-year history. Many thanks also to the more than 90 artists from around the United States who displayed and sold their works of art on the historic grounds of Edwards Place for the community's education and enjoyment. We would like to thank Fine Art Fair Chair Ann Robert and Co-chair Lee Hallman, the 10-member Fine Art Fair Committee, our event volunteers and the SAA staff. Lastly, we would like to thank Platinum sponsors Mr. and Mrs. William Schnirring, Olive Garden, Midwest Family Broadcasting, BOPI and Corbin Design for their generous support as well as the additional 87 sponsors who enabled the Springfield Art Association to present this vital outreach event for the community!
Angie Dunfee, executive director

Springfield Art Association

Springfield

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