Thumbs-up: To two local veterans who were recently recognized. On Dec. 1, Missy’s Veterans of Valor gave McHenry veteran Ralph Coules an electric motor scooter. The Vietnam veteran was injured in a 2011 crash, and the scooter will help him get around better. Another Vietnam veteran Ted Biever of Lake in the Hills also was recognized this week for more than 20 years of work at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Biever has helped countless veterans throughout the years, and was honored Friday at a retirement party in Woodstock.
Thumbs-down: To jumping the gun. We were taken aback last week to read the comments of a Chicago activist who called plans to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois “a gangsta move worthy of Al Capone.” The Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, of New Hope Baptist Church, told the Chicago Tribune the law would lead to white corporate exploitation of minority customers, according to The Associated Press. There’s one main problem with that line of thinking – there is no proposal on the table to oppose.
There are several groups that oppose legalized marijuana on more practical grounds, and while we think it is fair to consider if state policy will have a disproportionate negative affect on any demographic subgroup – and even to suggest lawmakers don’t have a great track record in that regard – it’s undoubtedly premature to say a law that doesn’t even exist in bill form is oppressive, racist or anything else. Let’s keep Livingston’s concerns in mind in case this issue actually proceeds, but it’s way too early to write off an idea that’s still being brainstormed.
Thumbs-down: To crossing the line. Count us among the many who refuse to tolerate comments such as the ones state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, made last week during a floor debate on overturning a veto of a bill that would increase the state’s liability in lawsuits from family members of people who died at the Quincy veterans home during a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Kifowit responded to support of the veto from House GOP Floor Leader Peter Breen by saying she’d like one of his loved ones to be infected, mistreated and ultimately die.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration should be criticized for the way it bungled the Quincy situation, and find it absolutely unacceptable that more than a dozen veterans died of a disease that should’ve been preventable on the state’s watch. No amount of court-ordered payments will bring those heroes back to life.
We understand Kifowit, as a Marine veteran, is especially sensitive to veterans’ issues. But she could have made this point any number of ways without going too far, and that kind of discourse won’t ever help make real progress in Springfield. We’re glad she apologized – eventually – and that Breen said he accepted, but here’s hoping the next session won’t come close to this level of vitriol.