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I have just finished reading your article on the proposed abolition of the Board of Education [Rich Miller, "Dodge ball," Feb. 5]. My mind is boggled by the effrontery of our current governor. I had great hopes for this fellow -- after all it took 26 years for the Dems to come up with a winner. . . . I thought we were in tough fiscal times, and if this is truly the case, how in the world can we afford this extremely expensive proposal? I remember just how expensive it was to take apart the Illinois Department of Public Aid, Mental Health, Rehabilitation Services, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to form the new Department of Human Services and IDPA: new buildings to rent, telecom lines to run, new furniture, new equipment, moving costs, new staff . . . .
Frankly, I can see only one reason for this creation -- the governor's greed. The agency will be under his control, thus allowing him to co-opt federal money meant to go to the children of Illinois. Will this money be used to fund his really important agenda of "social change," that is, wildflower gardens, exporting more state jobs to Chicago, more homes for his family, more vehicles for him, his wife and his staff. . . . or will this money be used for what it was intended for -- to purchase current textbooks, upgrade literacy programs, and upgrading schools? I can only hope that it is the latter rather than the former, but, based on his first year in office I fear that my hopes will be dashed again by the man who has already indicated that he has little regard for Illinois taxpayers.
Jayme Carter Lebshier
RAIL STORY OFF TRACK
Job Conger's otherwise informative "Happy rails" article begins on a misleading note by referring to Amtrak as "the government's money-losing passenger rail service" [Jan. 29]. This could easily be interpreted as suggesting that Amtrak loses money because it is a government-run operation, when in fact, no inter-city rail passenger service in the world makes a profit, regardless of by whom operated.
It is no more reasonable to emphasize Amtrak's lack of profitability than it would be to emphasize the unprofitability of the national highway system, the inland waterway system or the national aviation navigation system -- or for that matter, the unprofitability of the entire commercial airline industry from its inception to the present time (if you doubt this, ask investment guru Warren Buffet).
All such assertions are factual, but none-the-less grossly misleading because such facts demonstrate our collective bookkeeping incompetence more than document the social worth of transportation. Direct revenues generated by transportation facility operation rarely cover total identifiable costs of providing that transportation service. But society as a whole would suffer grievous harm if such transportation services did not exist.
J. Howard Harding
ANNUAL BBQ STILL SMOKIN'
Thank you for your article on the Knights of Columbus annual Bar-B-Cue [Bob Cavanagh, "Annual Knights barbecue drew tens of thousands," Feb. 5]. We would like to thank Dr. Joe Link for recalling his fond memories and Cavanagh for the photo and pertinent facts of the Bar-B-Cue picnic and drawing, but I need to clarify the closing comments.
The annual Knights of Columbus Bar-B-Cue is alive and well. This has been and still is a regular summer event in the Springfied area and now is entering its 83rd consecutive year. The news of our demise is greatly misstated.
What we have done over the years is to scale down what used to be a multi-day event to a single afternoon. We used to coordinate our event to coincide with the Illinois State Fair. We changed that to the last Sunday in August.
We began inviting neighboring K. of C. Councils to participate in our drawing back in the late 1920s. The article mentioned 46 participating
K. of C. Councils from Illinois cities. Last year, 160 K. of C. Councils from Illinois participated in the drawing.
In addition to our Sunday afternoon festivities with bands, entertainment, swimming, games, food and beverages, we publish a 100-page program sponsored by local clergy, businesses and state and local political figures.
Our eldest committee member is Jack McCue, 86 years of age and still very active. Jack recalls helping his father on the Bar-B-Cue grounds in the very early years.
Lee J. Buhrman
K. of C. Cooperative Bar-B-Cue
REASON FOR HOPE
Rich Miller's article, "Pride and Prejudice" [Feb. 5], was sincere and thorough in his coverage of gay rights issues and how they're being used as a weapon by the Republicans and treated like a hot potato by Democrats. I'm tired of the lack of backbone in both parties, as I believe most Americans are. But I did a double take and went back to see if he really did use the word "liberal" to describe Springfield (twice). When I think of Springfield, I think of the time a high school girl was terrified when her classmates found out she was gay and proceeded to stigmatize her. I think of my employer, where I never used the word "us" in discussing my home life and if my partner became hospitalized, I would have to lose my job to take that time away to be with her.
Springfield is changing. We have the gay rights anti-discrimination bill and that is wonderful. We have some intelligent, progressive people working hard to change things here and that is reason to hope.
Name withheld by request
I really enjoy Grace Smith's column. It's the first page I turn to when I pick up Illinois Times.
When he's not hunting for treasure, Mike Taylor, author of "A navigational interlude" in last week's Illinois Times, still teaches motorcycle safety. IT regrets the error.