Regulate and Educate Rather Than Incarcerate
In order to meet a state budget deficit, Governor Quinn and legislators are considering draconian cuts to programs in education, pensions to educators and social services. With Illinois already ranking almost dead last in funding for public education, teacher pension funding already running a deficit in the billions due to lack of mandated allocations in previous years, and social services in need of expansion due to economic conditions, we need to look elsewhere for cuts in spending.
With a prison population already exceeding safe limits and expanding at a rapid rate due to the incarceration of primarily non-violent drug offenses, especially in the category of the possession or sale of small amounts of marijuana, it is logical that reduction of funding for prisons be examined closely. Each year, it takes more money to keep a juvenile in a detention center or an adult in the Cook County jail or a state prison than the annual cost of tuition and living expenses at the private college I teach at – Columbia College Chicago. Such a reality is both ridiculous and counterproductive.
The answer is twofold. First: Educate, don’t incarcerate. It costs less both in the short run as well as in the long run. How do you make a living with a resume that includes having a criminal record?
Second, regulate marijuana as alcohol is regulated. Prohibition did not work except for those making money as a result of the illegality of alcohol – the criminal networks and those fighting the criminal networks.
Chicago streets ran red with blood as a result of turf wars, police were corrupted and people died from alcohol spiked with harmful ingredients.
The current war on drugs has achieved similar results, with no reduction in the use of illegal drugs. Let the state regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana, diverting money from criminals into the state coffers to meet state needs.
To teach abstinence as the sole way to interact with a society overflowing with drugs has been no more effective than to teach abstinence as the sole way to interact with the reality that we are sexual beings. Yes, establish more drug-treatment facilities for those who abuse drugs. However, a realistic and effective drug education program must also teach citizens, especially youth, that ideally they should not use drugs, but if they choose to use them, how to use them wisely.
–Louis Silverstein Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Dept. of
History, Humanities & Social
Sciences, Columbia College Chicago
Wilson Thanks Electorate
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the voters of Evanston for their overwhelming support in electing me Evanston Township Assessor during this spring’s elections.
Additionally, I would like to thank all those friends, family and area residents who volunteered their precious time to help me spread my campaign message and get me elected; without their hard work and dedication to the idea of responsible government, this would not have been possible. While I will not take office until January of next year, I plan to spend the interim educating myself on the detailed functions of the Assessor’s office and further outline ways in which the office can be more accessible and accountable to area residents.
I am aware that the Cook County Assessor is moving to close several satellite offices, as cost-saving measures in these poor economic times. One of my first challenges will be to work with the County Assessor‘s office to address any possible vacuum created in this down-sizing measure to make sure that the needs of payers of property taxes in our area are met. My website, BonnieforEvanstonAssessor.com. will continue to be available so taxpayers can e-mail me their ideas for the Assessor’s office and suggest ways in which I can better help them when I take office.
Thank you again to the voters. I look forward to working as a team with Evanston Township Supervisor Patricia Vance and the Evanston Township trustees (the City’s aldermen) and the office of Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. I especially look forward to becoming an advocate for Evanston taxpayers.
— Bonnie Wilson, Evanston
Wilkinson Piece Said It Right
Congrats to Charles Wilkinson for a wonderful and inspiring piece this past Wednesday. I have often looked for a way to put into words the way I feel about my Catholic feelings and he did it for me.
That said, would I agree with him about “choosing to be a Catholic”?
Not sure about that. But, there is no doubt that without questioning, I would not consider myself a rational person able to exercise God-given intelligence.
Considering the presidents who have spoken at Notre Dame in the past, having Barack Obama speak should be a source of pride for Catholics if they have open minds and realize that everyone does not believe as they do. Respect for the office and the man should be the only criterion, since it has been lacking for so many years, in my opinion.
Developer Welfare First In Evanston
In a move disguised as economic development, the City of Evanston has decided to use our future tax dollars to bolster the return on investment to a private developer to an obscenely “healthy” 13.8 percent.
Mere citizens are left to struggle with a disastrous economy that has brought annual returns on investments to negative double digits while fueling job losses and foreclosures (with minimal chances of any pay increases to those who are lucky enough to be employed). Taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, we are promising future property tax dollars of $1.9 million, along with future sales-tax incentives of close to $3 million, just to guarantee the financial health of the developer of 1890 Maple.
While incentives for certain economic development may be warranted, I find this particular handout of tax dollars to be extremely distasteful. If the City were truly concerned with economic development, they would be looking for creative ways to encourage new businesses to come to an increasingly desolate downtown Evanston, and offer incentives to keep existing businesses alive. Instead, we are still bowing to the developers of residential projects that offer the greatest rate of return to the developer, while increasing the glut of available housing.
n Christopher Ernst
and seven weeks ago, City fathers brought forth on their constituents a new notion, conceived in liberality and predicated by the presumption that all are not rated their equal.
Now we are enraged by a great domicile tor, testing whether that notion, or any notion so conceived and so predicated, can long endure.
We are met in zoning battle about that tor.
We have come to abdicate a portion of that re-zoning to a final resting place, refuting those who here waived old lines so that that notion might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
For, in a larger sense, they cannot deviate – they cannot confiscate – they cannot fallow – zoning this ground without our approval.
Previous councilmen, living and dead, who struggled here, have constructed zoning far above present unsanctioned power to add or detract, and government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this dearth.
n Robert Bagby
Reader Responds to Dinges Letter
I am writing in response to a letter by Barnaby Dingers published in the April 29 issue of the Evanston RoundTable, titled “Lessons Learned.” First let me start by commending your son who is doing an absolutely admirable service to our country.
At the end of your letter you stated, “If I can help create jobs and business on Evanston‘s West Side and help its parentless and abused youth, I will have accomplished two of the main purposes of my mayoral campaign.” Let me say I find that statement both ignorant and offensive. As a product of Evanston‘s West Side and a college graduate, I can attest to having two parents who love and care for me, and I know many other youth and young adults my age on the West Side who have the same. Whether you believe it or not, we on the West Side of Evanston do have parents and guardians who care for us and love us and are on our side doing what they can.
If you have such in interest in helping “parentless and abused youth,” your focus as a mayoral candidate should have been to help all the “parentless and abused youth” in Evanston. While there are likely parental issues on the West Side, there are also parental issues throughout the Evanston community. Your mission as mayor should have been to help the Evanston community as a whole and not just one side or neighborhood or one group of people.
Until you have experienced life on the West Side or in a community other than your own or talked to a large population of youth on the West Side or throughout Evanston, it might be best to not make such ignorant and offensive statements. I think the right mayoral candidate was chosen.
n Carmen Francellno
Sidewalks Are for Pedestrians, Not Bikes
As I have written in the past, I am very concerned about bikes on the sidewalks and have contacted both my incoming First Ward alderman, Judy Fiske, and our beat policeman, Officer Ron Blumenberg, with suggestions for remedying this serious problem. Both were immediately responsive. Officer Blumenberg said that the police get a lot of calls about bikes on sidewalks.
I feel renewed urgency because a few days ago I was almost hit by a bike, and, a second later, the cyclist did run into a man on the sidewalk, and then she fell off her bike. It happened very quickly. I was near the corner of Davis and Chicago, looking into a store window, and a second after I turned to move out onto the sidewalk again, a young woman came whizzing east on Davis. I felt the air rush past me, and thought, “Had I stepped out one second sooner, she would have hit me.” I turned to follow her progress and saw her run into the man. He did not fall but she did, though luckily did not hurt herself — or him.
I went up to her and put my hand on her back (she seemed a little stunned) and said, “There is no bike riding allowed on the sidewalks.” She said, “There isn’t? I’m sorry.” I pointed out the sign, which was indeed very hard to notice. Of course she should have known better, but like many of the cyclists I’ve seen on the sidewalks, she was young and not thinking, and had intended no harm — but this is how serious injuries can happen. In addition to possible injuries to people –especially the elderly, infirm, and little children — dogs are also in danger from sidewalk bike-riders, as numerous dog-walkers have told me.
I suggest that we have large signs on the beginning and end of each block in our Evanston downtown, like the ones Rogers Park has on each of their blocks along Sheridan, that make the law plain and warn that violators will be fined. The fines should be increased. NU students need to be educated as much as possible that while they are allowed to ride on campus, they are not allowed to do so downtown. Perhaps there should be larger signs right as they enter downtown from campus. A special effort should be made to ticket offenders on the downtown streets. Officer Blumenberg suggested that it also would help to have stores have signs in their windows.
— Cornelia Maude Spelman