Kudos to Hamos

If you’re reading this on your way to work, call Julie Hamos when you get off the train, bus or el and thank her.

As chair of the mass transit committee in the State House of Representatives, she was responsible in large part for the transportation bill that was approved last week.

Rep. Hamos has the ability to take a problem, dissect and analyze it and see it through to resolution. Her firmness and focus, her unshakable belief in what the future of mass transit should be and whom it should serve is something that will benefit us all – from those whose livelihood depends upon the CTA to those who just want a convenient lift to a Cubs game or to the museum campus.

She has helped us find a way to abandon our dependency on cars; now we have to develop the will. We need Julie Hamos in Springfield, fighting the good fight for all of us.

Suffredin for State’s Attorney

Our endorsement for State’s Attorney in the Democratic primary election goes to Larry Suffredin, Cook County Commissioner and Evanston resident.

As an attorney, Mr. Suffredin has experience at the trial and appellate levels in both criminal and civil cases – a diverse rather than monochromatic career. He has been criticized for continuing to lobby in Springfield while serving on the Cook County Board, but we feel he has adequately answered that criticism. While serving as commissioner, a part-time job, he voted “present” on matters before the Board when he felt there was a conflict of interest with his lobbying practice.

He says he would take a strong stance against the possession of handguns – a position he has espoused consistently and publicly for many years. He promises to expand community outreach in order to better understand what types of crime are plaguing Cook County neighborhoods.

Acknowledging a climate of distrust of law enforcement among the county’s minority populations, he says he plans to address the department’s woeful lack of diversity: Of the nearly 950 attorneys, he says only 7 percent are African American and 4 percent Hispanic. Larry Suffredin has the strength, dedication and compassion to lead this office. He deserves your vote on Feb. 5.

Vote ‘Yes’ on the RETT Referendum

The City has placed a referendum question on the Feb. 5 ballot that asks the residents of Evanston to increase the rate of the real-estate transfer tax by $1, from $5 to $6 per $1,000 of value of real estate. The $5 would continue to go into the General Fund, the City’s main operating budget. The $1 would be split between the fire and police pension funds.

Nobody likes a tax increase, and in this real estate slump another cost tacked on to selling a house is one more worry. Yet in the long run we believe most will find an increase in the transfer tax a welcome effort to lessen the blow of a property-tax hike.

We wish it were not so, but Evanston has a lot of heavy lifting ahead – not just to keep our (as it sometimes appears) evanescent quality of life from disappearing altogether, but to address a $140 million shortfall in the fire and police pension funds – a legacy, it seems, of poor judgment on several levels.

This increase is just one of many ways the City must find to address the pension-fund debt. Call it an imposition; call it an exit fee; but if your house is still standing and you and your family are safe, call it one way to help pay a debt that is owed in more than just dollars.

Obama for President

In the Democratic primary election, we endorse Senator Barack Obama for president. Our Illinois Senator wants to unify the country for the common good, putting aside the “friends versus enemies” mode of politics and offering hope that we can be a better country than we are now.

Sen. Obama makes us believe that restoration of our principles is not just necessary but possible. He makes us believe that we can work together and forge solutions to problems that have dogged our country for years. While some question the extent of his experience, we believe he is both intelligent enough and savvy enough to surround himself with knowledgeable and forward-thinking advisers.

Vote for Barack Obama on Feb. 5.