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Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 11:49 am

Letters to the Editor

Reader offers a creative alternative to the proposed $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes.

Miller time

I enjoyed Dusty Rhodes’ column about the amazing and amusing political reporter and columnist Rich Miller. She captured the essence of Rich — irreverent, foul-tongued, flawed and incredibly insightful and competent.

I met Rich in 1993, when I was drawing locally-oriented political

cartoons for Illinois Times. He asked if I’d draw cartoons for his then-new publication, Capitol Fax. For several years, I drew “Faxtoons” for Rich and often enjoyed his shaggy, smoky, opinionated company where there was beer and good live music. Unlike newspaper editors, who sometimes killed or requested edits to cartoons they thought might be too offensive, Rich only complained when he thought my cartoons were too timid. During the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, he published a cartoon of Democratic candidates Roland Burris and Dick Phelan standing naked in the snow — full buttocks exposed. Not sure who else would have done that, but Rich saw the cartoon’s humor and its point (an emperor’s new clothes sort of thing).

Beyond his tolerance for bare butts and biting commentary, Rich is simply a unique journalist. Who else has the same passion for — or knowledge of — Illinois politics? As one former state rep once told me, “We all read Rich Miller. He doesn’t get everything right every time, but lots of times, you read his column and say, ‘How did he know that? Nobody’s supposed to know that, but that’s right on target!’”

Dusty’s piece on Rich Miller was also on target. Like Rich has done to so many Illinois politicians, Dusty poked fun at him while simultaneously recognizing his brains, his uniqueness and his sheer audacity.

Mike Cramer


Tax toilet paper

On Wednesday I heard politician Jeffrey Schoenberg on the local TV news state that he proposes taxing cigarettes another $1 per pack. Apparently he wants Illinois to be literally smoke-free. Does he believe that raising the tax on cigarettes will cause smokers to quit or move to some other state that doesn’t penalize their inhabitants?

He said that by adding a tax of $1 on a pack of cigarettes the state will raise a gazillion dollars or some preposterous amount. I was laughing too much and didn’t catch the actual figure.

I propose that the Illinois lawmakers pass a tax on toilet paper which would easily solve all of Illinois’ financial woes. It’s obvious by the passage of the smoking ban last year, that assholes far outnumber smokers in our great state.

Danny Matthews

Mt. Pulaski

Inadequate investigations

It is not a matter of improving investigations, but a matter of being willing to recognize deficiencies [see “Inspecting the DHS inspector general,” IT, Jan. 8]. An investigation only involves records available unless other parties are questioned. In other words, our medical records appear different from those presented to the Illinois Department of Public Health, and incomplete medical records may not reflect problems.

We entered complaints against a long-term care facility which were clearly documented in records. IDPH will see red as black when they are unwilling to “find” a deficiency and I assume DHS is the same. I appealed to the human rights agency and received a reply three years after Mother’s death. Hardly timely. I was hoping for intervention.

Were you aware that the Illinois Ombudsman program has its own interpretation of federal regulations for the federally funded program? Federal regulations clearly indicate that all inquiries or complaints, regardless of the source, should be investigated. Illinois interprets that to mean if “a court-appointed guardian is pleased with care, the care is fine.” Court-appointed guardians sometimes stand to benefit from a death of the ward and often are no more than a mercenary with little concern and no affection for the ward.

Among other deficiencies, Mother complained of sexual threats which are documented in records as “mental aberrations.” However, after losing all abilities and 20 pounds in five weeks, she was finally admitted through ER for rehydration with a pubic area wound. The wound was not investigated. My investigations showed three other complaints to IDPH of sexual assaults with no findings.
If you don’t wish to find any wrongs, you won’t.

Paul La Bounty

Greeley, Colo.

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