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DON’T PIN DNR CUTS ON BLAGOJEVICH
I am a Republican election judge in LaSalle County, but I know how to be fair and honest. Gov. Rod Blagojevich did nothing to the Department of Natural Resources but inherit problems from the Republican governor [Rich Miller, “Trouble at DNR,” Feb. 3]. He didn’t create the mess. If DNR had met its mandated fiduciary duty, maybe, just maybe, there wouldn’t have been any layoffs.
The comment about slashing staff from 2,300 to 1,700 is highly misleading. There was an early-retirement program initiated by then-Gov. George Ryan and the Legislature. Those folks represented the people of Illinois during that era, and that’s what the people wanted at that point in time. So don’t make it appear that staff was ruthlessly slashed for political reasons by Blagojevich.
Retired DNR employee
GIVE OBAMA A BREAK — HE’S NEW
I was baffled by Fletcher Farrar’s criticism of Barack Obama for not taking a stance on the Iraq war [“When will Obama find his voice on Iraq?” Jan. 27]. He has only been a U.S. senator for about one month, and the debate about whether to go to war was lost about two years ago. That is when Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq, giving the president authority to take preemptive, unilateral military action against Iraq, when and how he deems necessary. This bill was opposed by only 133 representatives and 23 senators. The purpose of Obama’s meeting with the military veterans was to discuss their benefits or lack thereof.
Considering that President Bush was re-elected with slightly more than 50 percent of the vote, Obama may have chosen to focus on the reason for the meeting without alienating half of those in attendance with an anti-war dialogue. I would be more interested in our senator’s opinions about the potential for war with Iran. I wonder how many more thousands of American soldiers and innocent foreigners will be injured and killed as our president proclaims that “freedom is on the march” with a goal to “end tyranny in our world.”
ANOTHER SPRINGFIELD ATTRACTION
I would like to compliment Illinois Times for the outstanding and entertaining journalism of Dusty Rhodes. Although I enjoy reading her little opinion columns (e.g., the “New Year’s baby” story), it has been her hard-hitting news work that brought me back to reading Illinois Times for news again.
Like the many exceptional cultural events we enjoy in Springfield, the writing of Dusty Rhodes provides an ingredient that nudges this city well into the “livable” column. Original rock, public and community radio, live jazz, outstanding symphony and ballet companies — all that and a big-city investigative reporter. We are lucky.
Some of our local leaders may need to just come and go, but we will all be well served if Dusty Rhodes stays on the beat for years to come. Thanks, Dusty Rhodes! Thanks, Illinois Times!
NEIGHBORHOOD SUPPORTS BARRICADE
I live at 431 S. Wesley St. You recently published an article in your paper in which a resident of our neighborhood, Ted Smith, suggested the need for a road through what is basically my neighbor’s and my driveway [Fletcher Farrar, “Tear down this barricade,” Jan. 13]. The reason we don’t want a road here is because there is not enough room between the houses for a road to be safe. It’s not the noise or traffic — Lord knows Wesley Street is busy enough — it’s a safety issue for our children. My neighbor has two small children, and many other neighborhood kids play in this area.
When I first moved here, the city property directly behind my house was covered in six-foot-high horseweed and had multiple campfire spots, and, considering the fact that my daughter found $60 in cash lying on the old railroad hill, I would say it was a popular drug-dealing area. My wife and I have worked very hard to clean up this area, which belongs to the city, and make it a safe place for our family.
I would like to say that I love my country, did my time in the Navy and Persian Gulf, and am a registered voter. This is a democracy, and, like it or not, the majority of people in my neighborhood do not want a road through this area.
THE U.S., IRAN, AND IRAQ
I’m thankful for people such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who is taking his duties seriously and keeping us, the represented, represented [John Nichols, “Bush fighter,” Feb. 3]. I’m thankful also for the [Feb. 3] commentary of Rod Helle: What indeed is happening to the country?
In the 1960s there were convulsions in Iraq as people holding democratic ideals and attempting to create a representative government were thwarted. Several of these key people were assassinated. Saddam Hussein was later supported by the CIA in a coup that left him in control of the country. This origin of Baathist Iraq is not often commented on by even the “liberal” media. Questions arise: Was the motivation for installing Saddam the same as that for the recent invasion and removal of him? What was going on in Iran at around the same time? Some may remember a coup that restored Reza Pahlavi as the shah.
Iran and Iraq went to war in the 1980s. Who provided both countries with ammunition, military hardware, and logistics? Who sold both nations chemical weapons? Who later urged the Shia in Basra to revolt against Saddam, then offered no aid while they were slaughtered? Whose ambassador responded, “Your internal matters are of no concern to us” when Saddam indicated he was ready to invade Kuwait because he claimed the Kuwaitis were stealing his oil?
Ah, now there’s a word. Which two countries hold a considerable amount of the world’s oil reserves?
STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In this country, whenever there is the mere mention of a proposal for national health care, like the ones that all major Western industrialized countries have, the cry goes up: “Socialized medicine!” It is also said that Americans would never accept such a Canadian-style system. They believe we’re too attached to choice of coverage and care to embrace such a monolithic system.
Well, as it is now, Americans are particularly vulnerable to financial catastrophe as a result of the fact that fewer and fewer Americans are insured and many are underinsured, something that Canadians, Brits, Germans, and French don’t have to worry about. So what if such a system means rationing? We have rationing now. The system is broken, and the only way to fix it is a single-payer system, Canadian-style.
CONSUMERS BEAR RESPONSIBILITY
With regard to the article concerning mortgage lending in the subprime arena, several items are worthy of consideration [Rich Lord, “Penalizing homeowners,” Jan. 27].
In our practice, we do not in any way condone questionable lending activities. As registered loan officers with no affiliation with Ameriquest Mortgage Co., we have on occasion suggested to consumers that a loan may not be in their best interest. Sometimes they take this advice, and sometimes they want to go ahead. Whatever happens, it is their decision.
All lenders, be it for a mortgage, an installment loan, or any type of loan, place great emphasis on risk. The dominant question in approving a loan is “Will we be repaid by the borrower as they agree to do?” Lenders attempt to answer this question by examining the financial background of the borrower, specifically the credit history.
If a borrower who applies for a loan brings a solid credit score to the lender and a significant equity investment, a lender will feel more comfortable in making this loan, compared with a borrower who has a questionable credit background and little or no equity investment. Therefore it is reasonable that the borrower who is stronger should be rewarded with a lower rate and the borrower who has had financial issues should pay a higher rate.
The premise for this development in America is that people often do not save funds for a down payment or possess an “I want it now” outlook. This situation is not necessarily associated with any subsection of society or limited to specific geographic areas. There are clients who want to purchase high-dollar value properties in desirable areas who have credit issues.
The consumer has a responsibility in this. One does not have to accept a loan with terms that are not appropriate for a given situation. The article included an interesting quote by a borrower: “I wasn’t sure that I should do it.” That should be a signal to the consumer that a thorough evaluation of the transaction would be in order before proceeding.
In refinance transactions, a federal law known as right of rescission provides the consumer with a three-day period in which the loan can be canceled. In Illinois, consumers must complete a form for refinance mortgages that shows there is a net tangible benefit for going forward with the loan. If there are terms that do not work for your situation or if the loan does not provide a solution to your dilemma, why proceed?
One item in the article as stated is at best misleading. It was stated that 4 percent of subprime loans are in foreclosure. The opposite of that is 96 percent are in good standing. There will always be a percentage of loans in foreclosure status in both prime and subprime markets. The important factor is that one does not go into foreclosure status for being late on one payment. Typically, to get to foreclosure, a borrower has to be at least four to five months late and unwilling to work with the lender. A mortgage lender will make every reasonable effort to avoid foreclosure, which can easily cost the lender more than $10,000.
An interesting fact in the article that is directly applicable to Illinois was the statement that some state regulations have the effect of increasing the loan cost. In Illinois, that is an understatement. Due to regulations, the State of Illinois has made the capital market inaccessible to many potential borrowers. The stifling laws have made loans under $50,000 almost impossible to accomplish for people who have had credit issues.
Relative to adjustable rate mortgages, rates cannot be increased without reason. The rate is connected to an index such as LIBOR, COFI, or T-bills. As the economy moves, the rate can change. Regulations limit the change to 2 percentage points in one year and 6 percentage points over the life of the loan. The rate on an adjustable-rate loan is typically fixed for two or three years. A smart consumer in the subprime market will be working diligently to keep payments current. Commonly 12 to 18 months of consistent payments will allow enough improvement in the consumer’s credit score to for the loan to be refinanced into one with a lower rate.
In the end, the loan program for which a consumer will qualify is solely determined by the actions of the consumer. Pay your bills on time, do not overextend, and use good financial sense, and you will be eligible for the best terms.
State Street Mortgage & Loan Co.
WHEN LIBERALS TURN CONSERVATIVE
When I was growing up, liberalism to me represented more choice, more freedom, and above all taking risks in order to make things better. The recent outcry of liberals against George W. Bush’s Social Security plan makes me rethink these values. His plan is criticized as being “too risky.” Too risky? Are liberals now afraid of change? Or do they oppose the plan because of who said it?
I’m not suggesting that Bush’s plan is flawless, but how about some better ideas instead of simply dismissing it under the assumption that “everything is fine, leave it alone.” Liberals could learn a few things from Bush.
HYPOCRITES AND LIARS
Much has been made by commentators and pundits from all avenues of the political spectrum about the role morality and values played in the 2004 election and it’s apparent that one of those values is concern for the life of the unborn fetus, a cause taken up by the disingenuous “pro-life” movement.
However, it seems as if the concern of most — but certainly not all — “pro-lifers” for human life ends at birth, when this mortal coil really gets tricky and fraught with danger.
How do I know “pro-life” concerns end at birth? Easily: Pro-lifers voted en masse for George W. Bush, the butcher of Fallujah and Baghdad and the maestro of murder and mayhem for at least 100,000 Iraqis killed by coalition forces. As reported in a very recent research study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Maryland, and reported in a British medical journal, many of those thousands upon thousands of victims were children and women.
Where’s the “pro-life” outrage? I don’t see Right to Life contingents marching alongside anti-war, pro-quality of life groups like the Sierra Club, United for Peace and Justice, and SEIU. Why is it that the dominant elements of the Republican Party, the political agency for the so-called religious right, are pro-life/anti-woman and pro-execution, even if that means executing innocent and/or poorly defended prisoners of the state? Pro-lifers, why is it acceptable for the government to slice and dice essential public services, services imperative to improve the quality of life for low-income children, while, at the same time, Bush’s tax cuts enrich the coffers of the elite? These are glaring and inhumane contradictions on the part of “pro-lifers” and the “religious right.”
Also, why the lack of concern? Is one American fetus really worth 10,000 Iraqi civilians? Are white babies that much more important in the minds of the “pro-lifers” than brown or black babies? Aren’t we all God’s children?
The deceivers and manipulators should not be allowed to dictate the terms of life and liberty so let’s call these self-righteous, self-serving “Apocalyptics” appropriately: smug and arrogant frauds and cheats. Better yet, let’s use biblical terms: Like the self-serving priests, opportunistic political officials and greedy money changers who crucified Christ for defying their authority and embracing society’s disenfranchised, disadvantaged, and disposable, they are hypocrites and liars.