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Thursday, April 28, 2011 03:20 pm

Letters to the Editor 4/28/11

Going green, Jerald Jacobs and Hunter Lake

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GOING GREEN

Your article, “Renewing your home with solar and wind” [by Karen Fitzgerald, April 21] seemed interesting, but I wanted to tell you the real story about trying to go green.

I’ve wanted to go green for many years now, either wind energy or geothermal, but due to the cost of a system I have not been able to afford it until now. I own some land in the country and I planned to build a home this year. My plan was to possibly put a geothermal heating and cooling system in, which would cost $15,000-$20,000.

I know I would qualify for tax incentives through the federal government for a portion of that amount, but I’ve now decided against the system. Besides the system being expensive to purchase, I found out through my local tax assessor that just for me having this system on my property, he will be increasing my property tax assessment an additional $15,000, which equals an additional $400 more per year to Sangamon County.

So why would anybody want to  go green and help global warming, etc., if you’re just going to be taxed to death for it?

Robert Thompson
Springfield



NO PROMISES

While I tip my hat to Jerald Jacobs for his hard work in campaigning for a position on the school board, I must set the record straight on his guest commentary in last week’s IT [see “Indifference beat me at the polls,” Guestwork, April 21].

Much like his rhetoric throughout the campaign, his claim that the teachers union was promised anything from me is patently false and irresponsible. I respect the collective bargaining process too much to make such statements.

While overheated statements and accusations may play well to Jacobs’ Tea Party friends, they don’t lend well to actual governing. Even in my role as board president, I still represent only one vote of seven on the school board. The insinuation that I can somehow “give” the teachers a raise on my own shows a distinct lack of understanding of how the process works.

When it comes to discussing terms of employment with the teachers, I am guided by weighing the critical front-line services the teachers provide our children and our community against the financial condition of the district. This will be accomplished through direction from the full board combined with mutually respectful discussions with our teachers and their leadership.

I am proud that my campaign had the support of working families and their unions, who number in the tens of thousands in Sangamon County. I will conduct myself in the same fashion I have in the last four years, by listening to all the people I serve and acting on behalf of the common good of the Springfield community.

Bill Looby
Board of Education member
Springfield Public Schools



STOP HUNTER LAKE

After 46 years of plotting and failure, after being told three times by federal regulators from the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations that the project is a turkey, Hunter Dam is still alive and well in the minds of those who want to spends tens of millions of dollars the city doesn’t have on a project we don’t need.

Backed by large engineering firms who stand to make millions on the deal, proponents forge ahead with a new plan to blow tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-do the environmental impact study the city has thrice failed to complete properly. First they were told their study didn’t even bother to consider any alternatives. Back to the drawing board. They submited a new plan that, instead of addressing what Springfield actually needs, just priced all of the alternatives out of existence to make Hunter Dam look like the only choice. Again, the feds weren’t buying – the city was told to determine water need and compare the alternatives to the need. When they did, Hunter Dam came back as the most expensive alternative and by far the most environmentally destructive, despite skewed data that made the alternatives look more expensive and time consuming, and Hunter Dam less costly.

When the EPA conducted its public hearing, it came to light that the city and the EPA were planning to violate the phosphorus standard, that the city still had no plan to deal with sewage problems in Hunter Lake from other communities that border it, and that the city still had never explored the extent to which the gravel pits are connected to the aquifer or the river, which would obviate the need for another lake if they could be accessed.

Proponents of the dam claimed it would take just as long to get permits for wells or gravel pits. Chatham didn’t think so, and proved it, building an entire water plant and wells and pipelines, ready to go online soon.

Days after that hearing, CWLP officials were called to the Army Corps office and told that their plans and studies were still inadequate. This secret meeting was hidden from the public for months, until January of this year in fact. The city “voluntarily” put its permit application on hold. At a time when Springfield lacks money for vital services like firefighting, proponents of Hunter Dam are again pushing an extravagantly expensive, outdated project, even though there are better, cheaper alternatives. The aldermen should move to stop it now, and move ahead with cheaper, cleaner gravel pit and groundwater alternatives.

Donald J. Hanrahan
Mechanicsburg

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