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Thursday, July 7, 2011 03:29 am

Letters to the Editor 07/07/11

Year round gambling at the fairgrounds is a bad bet. Both racetrack casinos in Indiana have declared bankruptcy. Statistical analysis of racetrack casinos has shown that when slot machines are introduced at racetracks, betting on horses decreases 20 percent to 40 percent. Slot machines account for 90 percent or more of the revenue at racetrack casinos, according to information from the Illinois Church Council on Alcohol and Addiction Problems.

People who gamble and their families will suffer if the state fairgrounds is transformed into a land-based casino. The state fairgrounds could have 900 video gambling and slot machines if the governor signs SB 744. The bill also allows virtual table games on slot machines. Local people could gamble and lose their homes and life savings at the fairgrounds.

Many people are already struggling financially. Families need the money they have for groceries, car payments, rent or house payments, gasoline and clothing. Someone in your family could become addicted to gambling if the state fairgrounds becomes a year-round casino.

I know of senior citizens in Sangamon County who cannot afford it, but who are already going on a bus to the Peoria casino to gamble. These seniors and others will gamble more often at a fairgrounds casino that is open every day.

Gambling will not solve the state’s or the city’s financial problems, and it’s not right for politicians to rely on low-income and vulnerable people to gamble and lose.

Rev. Shaughneysy Small

I am personally acquainted with one of the people who was arrested during this “Summer sweep” [see “Police arrest 60 on drug war anniversary,” by Patrick Yeagle, June 30]. She is a criminal justice student and mother of four who was fingered by a junkie who was looking to curry favor with the cops. She spent four days in jail because she had no names to give to the cops. They also demanded an outrageously high bail because she was alleged to deal heroin.

I have been this woman’s tutor for three years. She works hard, and she struggles with the responsibilites of work, school and family, and then to have this stress heaped on her — imagine trying to focus on reading a chapter and taking a test with this hanging over your head. The unfairness of it infuriates me.

I have every confidence she is going to be exonerated — but now she has a felony arrest on her record. She is going to have to pay out of pocket for a lawyer to defend her against these bogus charges. After she gets her degree she is going to have to explain this arrest at every agency where she interviews for a job.

This woman has never been in trouble before. Are the police at all ashamed for what they are putting this woman and her family through? Or do they see her life as collateral damage in the war on drugs?

Shawna Mayer

I read your article, “New push for reusable bags,” by Rachel Wells, with interest [June 23]. I bought my first cotton bags in 1989, at Kmart. I still have them. When I first took them to the grocery store, the clerks would want to put my purchase in plastic, then place it in the cloth bag. It took them a long time to get it.

I have continued to add to my collection of cloth bags over the years. My favorite is a hemp bag I found in Santa Fe. It’s lighter but stronger than the cotton bags. My least favorite reusable bags are the woven “recycled plastic” bags. The straps break, the seams come apart, and as yet, I’ve found no way to repair them. I do have one from Springfield Area Arts Council that has held up over the years, so perhaps it’s a quality issue. I do strongly encourage everyone to use reusable bags for shopping, but if a recycled bag is made poorly, what’s the point in having it? It will be discarded eventually, anyway.

By the way, reusable bags aren’t just for groceries. I take them into department stores, hardware stores, just about any store.

Kate Hawkes

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