The Northwest Herald offers this week’s thumbs up and thumbs down:
Thumbs up: To the McHenry County College Board of Trustees for freezing the district’s tax levy for a second straight year. This should be the standard for taxing bodies as property taxpayers continue to get squeezed despite stagnant wages for the private sector. The $62.2 million budget does reflect an overall decrease in salary, which is any school district budget’s biggest expense.
Thumbs down: To the state of Illinois, which according to a recent study ranked No. 44 among states in the quality and community-based nature of its services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hundreds of people in McHenry County and across the state are on a waiting list for placement in group homes, but only about 10 are placed each year. Low funding levels and late or inconsistent payments from the state make it impossible for these homes to meet the demand for services. This is unacceptable, and we need to do a better job funding these organizations to make sure this vulnerable population can receive the care they need.
Thumbs up: To District 155, which set a new record with its composite ACT score of 23. While test scores certainly aren’t everything, the ACT scores are a sign that students are being prepared for college.
Thumbs down: To Gov. Pat Quinn for continuing to pass the blame for problems taking place under his watch. This time, Quinn is deflecting blame for hiring practices in the Illinois Department of Transportation. An investigative report found IDOT circumvented anti-patronage regulations and improperly hired 255 people to midlevel “staff assistant” positions in the past 10 years. Quinn blamed IDOT. Ann Schneider, the former transportation secretary who resigned in June, said Quinn’s office recommended the “vast majority” of candidates and she felt pressured to hire them. The misuse of staff assistant positions dates to 2003 – before Quinn became governor – but the Office of the Executive Inspector General said in its report the process accelerated in 2010 and 2011, after Quinn took office.
Thumbs down: To the NFL for its substandard preseason games. The league requires teams to play four exhibition games before the start of the regular season – and makes season ticket holders pay full price for their team’s two home games. Fans then are treated to games such as the one the Bears played Thursday night, when none of the starters on offense or defense played, and many of the second-teamers didn’t either. The quality of the games just aren’t up to NFL standards.