Editorial Roundup: Illinois
Chicago Tribune. July 6, 2021.
Editorial: For our most vulnerable, will you release the money, Gov. Pritzker?
On paper, the proposal is Public Act 102-0017, a 'úvertical'Ě and 'úregional'Ě project stuffed into the state's capital spending bill with a $25 million price tag.
In reality, the proposal is hope.
A.E.R.O. Special Education Cooperative, headquartered in a low-slung building in Burbank with smaller locations scattered throughout the southwest suburbs, is a school cooperative that works with 11 districts to provide education, therapy, care - hope - to roughly 700 students ages 3 to 22 who have fragile, complex cognitive and physical challenges.
Most of the students require constant supervision. Some have been diagnosed with autism. Some are nonverbal. Some have traumatic brain injuries. Some cannot walk or stand on their own. Their progress is marked by simple goals - pushing a button on a remote control, clapping their hands, washing a dish. They are our most vulnerable.
At A.E.R.O.'s Burbank location, they climb off buses for summer school and head to classrooms where they receive therapies for speech and movement and interact with patient, smiling teachers. But their school building isn't designed for them. The classrooms are small and cramped. Many of the kids need to move around. To sit on a therapy ball. To pace. To deal with their anxieties.
They need a new school where they can have space for their wheelchairs, a gymnasium, a playground, a lunchroom, soft lighting. The teachers and aides who maneuver around desks and sit at makeshift cubicles need room too.
Led by Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, lawmakers in Springfield approved $25 million total in the last two rounds of capital spending for a new facility that would be built on the old Queen of Peace grounds, an all-girls Catholic high school that closed in 2017. Taxpayers from this middle-class community, through those 11 school districts, have committed another $25 million.
All the project needs now is Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
James Gunnell, executive director of the cooperative, has been working on the concept of getting all the kids, including those in an emotional and behavioral challenged group A.E.R.O. serves, under one roof for years. He's worried that delays in state funding could frustrate local taxpayers and deflate enthusiasm for the project.
While the money has been appropriated on paper, twice, it's up to Pritzker to decide which projects in the capital bill actually get the spigot turned on. This one should be at the top of the list. If the money flows, groundbreaking could begin this fall with a fall 2023 opening date.
It's not right that the state spends capital dollars on pickleball courts and dog parks when projects like this one are waiting. Capital bills get stuffed with pork and pet projects that then compete against worthy projects like this one. There should be no competition.
Will you release the money, governor?
Champaign News-Gazette. July 7, 2021.
Editorial: Rep. Mary Miller chooses to go with chaos
The conservative member of Congress from Coles County has made a disappointing choice that will define her career and any run for re-election.
U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, a freshman Republican from Oakland, appears to be running for a second term in Congress, although she doesn't know against whom or in what district. COVID-19 and late 2020 Census data has delayed the process of redrawing Illinois' congressional districts.
But Miller has made one decision that will help define not only any re-election campaign but her standing as a member of Congress and her fitness for office. She has opted to hold a fundraising event Thursday in Effingham featuring another freshman lawmaker, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
Of all the Republican officeholders and thoughtful conservatives Miller had to choose from, she opted to appear with one who already has been removed from two important House committees for espousing conspiracy theories and suggesting on social media that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be shot. In the past, she's made bigoted comments about Jews, Muslims and African Americans.
At the time she had her committee posts removed, Greene expressed regret for some of her more outrageous remarks. Since then, however, she has continued to pick fights with House Democrats, including oddly personal attacks on Democratic Rep. Marie Newman of Chicago, whose congressional office is across from Greene's. Greene posted a sign outside her office that read, 'úThere are TWO genders,'Ě presumably a message to Newman's daughter, who is transgender. Greene also allegedly accused one of her colleagues of 'úsupporting terrorists and antifa.'Ě
Miller's 15th Congressional District is by far the most conservative in Illinois - Donald Trump won it with 72 percent last year - and Greene undoubtedly will be a big draw at Thursday's event and will help replenish Miller's campaign treasury.
But in terms of advancing thoughtful conservative values and civility in government, and in finally helping to repel the damaging myth that the election was stolen from Trump, Miller has chosen chaos over contemplation.
She is doing her district and her country a disservice by promoting Greene and driving more loosely based, ideologically suspect wedges among the broader electorate.
Arlington Heights Daily Herald. July 9, 2021.
Editorial: Illinois' first death-free day is worth celebrating, but it doesn't signal the end yet
It's too bad Illinois towns depleted their fireworks displays over the weekend. Because on Monday, the state had another momentous occasion to celebrate: the first day since March 16, 2020, in which it recorded zero COVID-19 deaths.
It's been 475 days, folks. And that is definitely something to get excited about.
But as with the Fourth of July, our recording of the first zero day in the pandemic does not signal its end.
The Revolutionary War didn't fall apart for the British until October 1781 at the Siege of Yorktown. To be sure, our Declaration of Independence set a course for our emancipation from British rule, but it didn't end it outright.
So celebrate this milestone, but don't be fooled into thinking the first zero-death day in the COVID-19 pandemic means it's all over.
According to our Jake Griffin, the state health department the very next day reported 16 more deaths, most of them in Cook County.
And from Friday to Tuesday, 1,221 new cases were reported.
Some 421 people were in hospitals on Tuesday, being treated for COVID-19. Ninety-eight of them were in critical care.
While the seven-day case positivity rate in Illinois is nowhere near its high watermark of 13.2% in mid-November, the current 1.1% rate is higher than it's been in a month.
That is headed in the wrong direction. It's cause for concern and could be a sign that we're not showing enough concern about the virus anymore.
Close to 23,300 people have died from this disease in Illinois, and nearly 1.4 million Illinoisans have been infected.
Some 63.7% of eligible people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but just 56.1% of those eligible people are considered fully vaccinated. We hope that those who've gotten their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in the past four weeks end up getting their second dose. Not getting that second dose, renders you much less protected than getting both.
The Daily Herald is no longer covering the pandemic as closely as we had in previous months, but we are providing regular statistical breakdowns that tell us which way this thing is heading.
We're following the path of the Delta variant. We've noted that almost all new cases of COVID-19 are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated.
The proof is there if you choose to accept it.
So revel in the knowledge that we've managed to go a single day without losing a single soul -- but for the sake of all of us do your best to ensure that we are able to string together a long list of them.