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posted: 9/1/2012 5:00 AM

Put people to work cleaning public areas

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I was a standby juror at the Cook County circuit court in Rolling Meadows on Aug. 13. The experience gave me a good feeling. Everyone connected with the Jury Assembly Area was pleasant and made me feel welcome and important.

But one thing really concerned me: the filth and lack of maintenance in the parking facility, especially the stairwells. And I'm thinking -- with all the people collecting money from, or being supported by, the state of Illinois -- why do we have such a mess in our public buildings? How about rather than welfare, we call it "workfare." You get a check and you do something for it like clean up or paint something. That sounds fair.

And rather than an unemployment benefit, perhaps it should be called "Something To Do While You're Looking For Work." There's plenty of work to be done; we just need the people to do it. And, hey, they have the time, no?

How about all those incarcerated in our jails and prisons? Getting three squares a day. No rent payments or other living expenses while they're paying back their debt to society. Aren't they creating an even bigger debt? This could be great payback time. And they can start with a broom or a paint brush.

We have got to harness this labor resource and start fixing up our infrastructure and at the same time give people a sense of pride that they are doing something positive. And all of you who are littering and making the mess, please clean up your act because I'm sure there's no way any of the above solutions will ever be reality.

Bill Holtane

Des Plaines

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