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Thursday, April 15, 2004 08:23 pm

Letters 4-15-04

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com

DO YOUR JOB, JOHN

John Schmidt's ignorance about the prosecution of domestic-violence cases is appalling [Dusty Rhodes, "No protocol, no dough," April 1]. Casey Gwinn, city attorney of the highly acclaimed prosecution project in San Diego, Calif., believes that having a protocol and a cooperative relationship with law enforcement and the domestic-violence program effectively reduces domestic-related homicides, decreases the severity of assaults, and protects the victims and their children by enforcing orders of protection. Gwinn's project in San Diego has been so successful over the past six or seven years that President Bush has chosen to replicate it in 12 other places. The incidence of domestic homicides goes down when prosecutors actively prosecute domestic battery, repeat assaults, violations of orders, and stalking.

Domestic homicides take a terrible toll on communities. Schmidt should follow the numbers. There were 11 domestic homicides in four years in Springfield. These affected approximately 1,485 family members, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, and schoolmates. According to national sources, the expected average value of lost earnings that those victims would have contributed to society was $713,000, so Springfield lost at least $7.8 million dollars in business revenue. Each domestic homicide costs each law-enforcement agency approximately $50,000 to respond and investigate, which is equal to the personnel time of one full-time officer. So those 11 murders cost the Springfield Police Department $550,000.

The Sangamon County state's attorney's record on effective prosecution of domestic-violence cases is dismal at best. His lack of commitment to engage in meaningful efforts with law enforcement and Sojourn is frustrating.

Thanks to the Illinois legislature over the last 10 years, Illinois has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws with respect to domestic violence. We do not need more laws. We need prosecutors who are educated about issues and who set up practices and procedures (protocols). We need prosecutors who support the efforts of law enforcement to fight crimes of violence. We need prosecutors who take seriously their duty to uphold and enforce the law.

Cheryl Howard
Executive Director
Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence


FOR THE RECORD

Thanks for the generous coverage of my efforts to save architecturally and/or historically worthwhile buildings. Todd Spivak produced a fairly thorough and well-written text ["To the rescue," April 8].

Some comments:

While I've made some noise about preservation and have been involved in some restoration projects, the true preservationists in Springfield have been Carolyn Oxtoby, Denny Polk, Bud Farrar, the Gerbers, Dick Hart, and the late Doug Brown, among others, each of whom have heavily invested time, money, and effort in saving multiple significant structures. And Wally Henderson's major role in the restoration of the Old State Capitol places him in a preservationist pantheon.

Ted Day has been the most active volunteer on the Judge Taylor project, but many others have contributed in various ways, including the former Historic Preservation Association of Springfield, Tom Bundy, Fred Prillaman, David Parker, Faith Logan, and Dennis Christensen.

Rather than "battling the city for control of the [Judge Taylor] property," Save Old Springfield has been working with outstanding cooperation from the Building and Zoning Department and the Code Enforcement Division.

Many Springfieldians would join me in questioning the characterization of the Bunn Warehouse as an "eyesore [whose] rehab would have cost millions." This was one of a small minority of Springfield buildings to be listed -- for both its architecture and its history -- on the city's historic-sites registry by City Council ordinance. It also was deemed eligible, by the staff of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Although the Judge Taylor House is the first preservation-rehab project I've headed, I previously teamed with Dick Hart and others in developing German Settlers Row on West Cook.

Jerry Jacobson
Save Old Springfield

BUILD A SAFE HOUSE

Thank you for highlighting the plight of the Bishop family's struggle with lead poisoning [Todd Spivak, "Lead alert," April 1]. This is just one example of how families in our own community struggle with unsafe housing conditions and the devastating effects, particularly on the children. As the Family Selection Committee Chair for Habitat for Humanity Sangamon County, I often find that while people are familiar with the Habitat name, they are not aware of the three simple criteria for homeownership. Perhaps the Bishops, or other families like them, would be interested in applying for our homeownership program.

To become a Habitat homeowner, you must meet the following guidelines:

1. Currently living in substandard housing and/or paying more than half of your income in rent,

2. Able to make a monthly mortgage payment but unable to quality for a conventional bank home loan,

3. Willing to partner with Habitat to complete monthly classes on homeownership, budget counseling, and 250 "sweat equity" hours (per adult in house over the age of 18).

Although the homeownership program does not provide an immediate solution to one's housing problem, more than 50 families in Sangamon County alone have been able to realize their dream of homeownership.

If you would like to find out whether you might qualify for the homeownership program, or if you are interested in volunteer opportunities with Habitat, our next informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at Walnut and Edwards. You can also call the Habitat office at 217-523-2710 for more information.

Karen Davis
Family Selection Committee Chair
Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County


WHEN EVERYBODY'S GAY . . .

I am writing in response to William Fromm's letter ["Lifting the curse," March 18]. I did agree with some points of his letter; however, I am compelled to argue against his view of same-sex marriage: "On the issue of homosexuality, if marriage for same-sex [individuals] is allowed, within 100 years the earth will be devoid of human beings." This claim is preposterous. In order for this scenario to play out, every single human being on the planet would have to be homosexual (and just waiting for that all-too-important legalization of gay marriage), and science's advances in the reproductive field would have to be reversed.

Perhaps Mr. Fromm has been hiding under a rock somewhere, but we here in the 21st century know that heterosexual intercourse is no longer necessary to procreate. Now, just for the sake of argument, let's say that everyone suddenly turns homosexual and science is lost and forgotten. I'm fairly sure that there would be homosexuals having heterosexual sex in order to have children. This would probably be for the sheer pleasure of raising children as opposed to an effort at keeping the human race alive. But we needn't even take it so far. Given that there are heterosexuals in existence and science is alive and well, we needn't worry just yet about the survival of the species.

Amanda Hagney
Springfield

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