Thumbs-down: To attorneys who are trying to seek a gag order in the AJ Freund case. We need more transparency from the McHenry County court system, not less. Andrew Freund and JoAnn Cunningham pleaded not guilty Friday to first-degree murder charges and other allegations tied to their 5-year-old son’s death. Public defenders asked for the judge to issue a gag order barring investigators and attorneys from speaking to the media. The judge hasn’t ruled on the matter yet – but barring any kind of public access to the case would be a mistake. Sealing documents and banning cameras and reporters from the courtroom does not serve the public. Everyone deserves to know the details of the case so we can learn from it.
Thumbs-up: To the Chicago Cubs for taking swift action this week to indefinitely ban a fan who appeared to flash a white power hand sign behind TV analyst Doug Glanville during Tuesday’s broadcast. The Cubs announced the ban in a statement Wednesday after a review of the fan’s social media accounts, according to Crane Kenney, the team’s president of business operations. “An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism,” Kenney said. “Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field.” Racist behavior has no place in society, and we commend the Cubs for taking a public role in the discussion.
Thumbs-down: To the continued march toward more taxes and fees. This week, the Illinois Department of Revenue announced this week that Illinois collected $1.5 billion more than it expected in tax revenue in April. It also announced that they were increasing their projection for tax revenues the state would receive in the next fiscal year by about $800 million, largely because of improved economic conditions. More people are working and earning money both through wages as well as stock dividends and other forms of income. Although this is welcome news, it seems to have done little to slow the march toward plans to raise more tax revenue, be it from taxes on tobacco, plastic bags, gasoline, income tax changes or other means. In fact, this unexpected windfall is a tremendous gift, and one that should make it easier to produce a balanced budget with moderate spending cuts, rather than start a new fiscal year with a raft of tax and fee increases for Illinois residents.