Category Archives: Editorial/Opinion

Guest Editorial: Report at Beginning of 97th General Assembly

Guest editorial by state Sen. Chris Lauzen 25th District
I am generally a gullible person, typically believing what people tell me. Age is tempering my natural inclination by teaching me that it is wiser to watch what people do, rather than to immediately believe what they say.

I hope that I am not being naive to be encouraged by several developments within the swamp of Springfield events. My constituents can barely endure discussing the state’s current political and financial situation. They avert their eyes from the train wreck. They shake their heads, throw up their hands, and finally stick out their tongues. They instinctively realize that bankruptcy is the most severe failure of financial trust. And, Illinois is bankrupt.

Our problems have not gone away just because the governor, the ruling majorities and voters seem to be in denial. But, the election is over. Even with a staggering 67 percent income tax increase that is driving employers with jobs and seniors with assets out of Illinois, our appropriations staff has calculated a projection that shows our deficit of unpaid bills will triple within five years at our current spending and borrowing patterns. (Call my office at [630] 264-2334 if you would like a copy).

Days after the election, I went to visit Quinn’s budget director and his chief of staff, who both are friends. I gave them three sheets of paper detailing nearly $6 billion of annual spending cuts and revenue increases, and asked for five to 10 minutes with the governor to discuss them. I have called more than eight times to follow up, but no word back. Maybe they don’t need help …

Here’s what encourages me. Republicans in the Senate realize that the situation is so serious that there is no room for playing games. They won’t be offering just one “spending cut” plan, but rather three, i.e. Senator Kyle McCarter’s plan, a Caucus Consensus, and one at the same spending levels where we were the last time we were paying our bills in 30-45 days.

There is also a growing maturity among “middle-management” Senate Democrat leaders. Senators John Sullivan and Heather Steans are competent, hard-working and less partisan appropriations chairmen. Senator Don Harmon is a smart bond attorney who understands the harsher realities of financial markets and enjoys the confidence of the clever Senate President John Cullerton. Even Speaker Mike Madigan has shown, by his recent actions of meeting with minority leadership in the House, that if we don’t tackle pension and hospitalization benefit levels for current state employees and teachers, the former $33 billion savings account for rank-and-file teachers in the Teachers Retirement System will vaporize to zero and taxpayers will be further exhausted.

The dark shadow on a horizon of hopeful but difficult potential solutions is the lack of truthful information coming from the governor’s own Budget Office. Remember how “lottery money will go toward education” and “tollways will be freeways when the bonds are paid off?” Well, now we’re expected to believe that Governor Quinn has cut $3 billion from state spending when, from his own Budget Report to New York bond bankers in January 2011, state spending has increased from 2009 to 2011 by $1.3 billion. Not a cut, but rather an increase in spending.

He and his local enablers said that the crippling 67 percent income tax increase would go to pay off our past due bills. However, if that is true, why is Quinn proposing an additional $8.5 billion in borrowed debt? Instead, the tax increases and borrowing are actually going to prop up continued gluttonous state spending that he guaranteed to the public employee unions during the campaign.

Legislators who voted for the tax increase cost my typical constituent family approximately $1,000 each year that they simply don’t have. There’s only one response remaining for any responsible public official: “Show me the spending cuts.”

Springfield, show me the cuts!

Letter: Elburn Fire Department helped us during blizzard

I want to thank Elburn Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan and his entire department for their hospitality, and commend them for their commitment and professionalism during the blizzard.

I was one of a group of “refugees” that were stranded after arriving late at the Metra station or were simply forced to abandon their vehicles. All of the fireman were extremely welcoming and helpful during a storm that required their full attention. I can only hope they know our appreciation for the use of their fire house, the food and gallons of coffee.

Thanks again to the entire department.

Dennis O’Sullivan

Letter: A thank you to Kane County

I would like to take this time to thank the hard-working men and women of Kane County for their efforts during this recent snowstorm.

The employees of the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, the dispatchers of KaneComm, the plow drivers of KDOT, IDOT and all Township Highway Departments, local fire departments and the Good Samaritans who volunteered their services by snowmobile all deserve thanks and praise. During the most difficult conditions, they all worked in a coordinated effort for the safety of those in need of assistance under very difficult circumstances.

Many roads were impassable, and a vigil was kept on all who were stranded or were taken to staging areas and warming stations. I would also like to thank the owners of the BP station at Route 47 at Route 72 for allowing those stranded along Route 47 to stay warm at
their place of business.

Many members of the Sheriff’s Office worked double shifts to guarantee your safety, and if you know any of the people who bravely performed these duties—or if you see them in passing—please thank them for the long hours they worked for your benefit.

Also, this is a reminder of the importance of having a full tank of gas, a cell phone, ice scrapers and blankets in your vehicle during the winter months. Please travel safely during the remaining winter months, and in the event of future blizzard conditions we ask that you not drive unless it is absolutely necessary.

Sheriff Patrick Perez
Kane County

Letter: Local road maintenance deserves praise

This past Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday produced the most severe snow emergency in over a decade. We awoke at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning to the news that all roads in Kane County were closed with drifts of four to six feet reported.

However, when we awoke the following morning, the roads had been cleared. And apart from the height of snow piled beside them in many places, we were able to go about business as if it had never happened.

Those responsible for road maintenance are no strangers to criticism when things go awry. In this circumstance, they are clearly deserving of high praise for what must have been an unseen, heroic effort.

John and Carol Clulow

Letter: A thank you to the village of Sugar Grove

Great job, Sugar Grove.

Last Wednesday night, at the height of the white-out, a Sugar Grove police officer came to the aid of a stranded motorist at the corner of Denny and Bliss.

That officer was out in that extreme weather for at least an hour and a half, securing the safety of the person in the car. The village of Sugar Grove made sure they posted information on their website immediately, and they got their e-mail alerts (every Sugar Grove resident can sign up for these) out immediately on what decisions the municipal offices in town had made (i.e., fire department was a warming center, schools closed, library closed, and what the plowing procedures were for the public works employees).

Compared to many towns seen on television, Sugar Grove plow drivers, who do a great job in regular weather conditions, did an outstanding job under such extreme conditions. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make sure our lives were not inconvenienced and kept us safe during that brutal storm.

Pat and Dan Graceffa
Sugar Grove

Letter: A thank you from the Elburn & Countryside Food Pantry

On behalf of the Elburn & Countryside Food Pantry Board (which is comprised and supported by members of St. Gall Catholic Church, Community Congregational Church and Elburn Hill Church, all of Elburn; Grace Lutheran, Lily Lake; and St. Peter & Paul, Virgil), we want to sincerely thank all those individuals, fraternal organizations, Scout troops, schools, churches and businesses who so generously gave both food and monetary donations to the Food Pantry during 2010, and especially this past holiday season. We received an outpouring of donations in a time when the need has been the greatest.

Thanks to the community’s generosity in support, volunteers and donations, we have been able to meet the hunger needs of our neighbors. Thanks to all for the outpouring of support of the Elburn & Countryside Food Pantry.

Rita Burnham
Board President
Elburn & Countryside Food Pantry

Letter: Driving doesn’t require someone to be book smart

I’ve heard talk again about how teenagers should be required to earn a “C” average in order to get their driver’s license, and I disagree with this. I’m a good student with a strong grade-point average, and I know that driving doesn’t require someone to be book smart.

The way a student performs in school also does not have anything to do with how well he or she can drive. Driving is something that, once you learn how to do it, you continue to practice it for the rest of your life. Many other things learned in school don’t stay with you as long.

Driving is something that becomes easier as you do it, and you develop habits that make it easier and easier as you do it. But learning isn’t like that. Some people have a harder time learning and, if they have a job, it just makes it that much harder for them to do things like work, because they can’t get anywhere in addition to not being able to learn easily.

Also, what about those people in the past who may have dropped out of high school or did not obtain a “C” average? Do they get their driving privileges taken away too? This would only be fair—but it would be a huge disaster, since lots of people would get their license taken away.

I do not think it is a good idea to require someone to obtain a “C” average to be eligible for a driver’s license.

Nick Stollard
Kaneland High School

Editorial: No surprise, Kaneland area works together

It came as no surprise that the community came together before, during and after last week’s historic blizzard that dumped more than 20 inches of snow on the area.

In the days following the storm, the messages began to arrive, telling numerous stories of local firemen, police officers, public works employees and citizens working together to help those stranded as the blizzard shut down roadways and shut in residents.

Elburn Herald reporters Lynn Meredith and Keith Beebe learned of numerous instances of pure community service; and we continue to learn of more each day as more e-mails and letters to the editor arrive.

Whether it was Elburn snowplow driver Andrew Stratton, who, while clearing the streets saw an elderly woman lying at the end of her driveway and brought her inside her house, calling and waiting for the paramedics to arrive, or the 20 stranded people brought to the Sugar Grove Fire Department to wait out the storm, or the Metra train-riders who immediately became stranded as they reached the stop in Elburn and were taken to the Elburn fire station, there are many examples of people helping each other when in need.

“The cooperation of the Fire Department, the Police Department, the village employees, those who ran the plows and those who didn’t was awesome. That’s the small-town feel. You can have a small town even in a large city. Small town is an attitude,” Elburn Village President Dave Anderson told us.

The examples of that small-town attitude abound, and while it is more apparent during emergencies like the blizzard of 2011, it lives on during everyday activities.

It lives in the service efforts of children in the community, like this week’s story about 9-year-old Elburn resident Blythe Lundberg, who turned her birthday party into a day of service, volunteering for Feed My Starving Children in Aurora.

It lives in the service efforts of countless adults and organizations in the community, who take up many of our pages week in and week out.

Thankfully, it does not require a dangerous situation to bring out the best in those who live and work in our community. Also thankfully, when a dangerous situation does arise, we can all rest assured that those small-town, service-minded values will make the difference between people acting as spectators and people acting as servants.

Editorial: Elburn Herald’s coverage of 3 of the biggest snowstorms

As the storm begins to leave the area, those of us at the Elburn Herald are in similar situations to many of you—stuck at home, with little to no ability to leave. With press time approaching, the final portion of the process of putting this edition together are being done remotely, from our homes and with intermittent Internet connections.

Assistant Editor Ben Draper put together a recap of our coverage of previous storms, and a common theme of those events are how the community came together to help those in need.

We are certain that more of those stories occurred Tuesday night and Wednesday, as the storm raged through the area and roadways closed down. We intend to write about them as soon as full communication and travel is restored. Until then, read below and see how the Kaneland area has responded in the past.

“The big snow”—1967
From the Feb. 2, 1967 issue of the Elburn Herald
In January 1967, the largest single snowfall occurred in northern Illinois.

Locally, residents trudged through the snow to deliver milk to those with babies and insulin to those with diabetes.

A dozen cars were left buried on Route 30 when they were abandoned, as more snow was dumped on them by the passing snow plows.

Six truckers spent the night in the Elburn Community Center, with cots furnished by Don Henderson, while Mrs. Leslie Howard, Mrs. E. T. Samuelson and Mrs. Virg Stonecipher provided sleeping bags.

The local farmers united throughout the week to clear out snow.

“It was a grand snow, and its challenges were met in a grand manner—with verve and determination. We would be happy to see more such challenges in modern life,” according to the Elburn Herald.

“Record snow fall and high winds”—1979
From the Jan. 18, 1979 issue of the Elburn Herald
On Jan. 13, 1979, more than 20 inches of snow was dumped on the Kaneland area.

High winds made drifts reach rooftops, and locals were seen sledding off them.

The president declared Kane County, along with 21 other counties, as emergency areas.

Multiple buildings had roofs collapse, including the Country Kitchen and a bin at the Elburn Co-Op. Allen’s Hatchery lost an entire building.

The Elburn Herald also reported a lot of community support, much like the 1967 snowstorm.

Neighbors helped each other the best they could.

“Already proclaimed the worst winter ‘old timers’ can remember, the outlook is bleak with more snow promised for (the upcoming) weekend. This generation will perhaps be able to rival our grandparents stories if walking to school over frozen drifts as high as hedge rows as they in turn relate the blizzard of ’79 to their grandchildren,” according to the Elburn Herald.

“Storm of ’99 initiates winter”—1999
From the Jan. 7, 1999 issue of the Elburn Herald
On Jan. 1-3, 1999, 22 inches of snow enveloped the area. To make matters worse, temperatures plummeted in the days after the storm to -20°.

Residents of the Meadows apartments were trapped in their building when the contractor in charge of plowing their lot pushed the snow in front of the main entrance. Luckily, no emergencies were reported.

The drifting snow made it impossible for mail carriers to do their duties during the storm.

But days of warnings beforehand left most of the area prepared—snowmobilers and sledders were ready to take advantage of the copious amounts of snow.

Elburn’s Public Works department was heavily credited with handling the snow very well.

With more snow forecast the following week, Elburn Village President Jim Willey was quoted as saying: “Please keep the faith. Our common enemy is the snow, not each other … stay calm and work with us to clear all the snow from both our streets and driveways.”

Letter: Blessings abound through Holiday Spirit

On behalf of the Holiday Spirit Committee, we would like to thank this community for its overwhelming response to those in need. As our population grows and changes, it is especially inspiring to witness old and new neighbors coming together to help one another in a small-town way.

Due to continuing economic hardships, the number of families who requested assistance increased again this year. And yet, thanks to your generosity, we were able to help all who needed support: 63 Kaneland families, including 141 children.

Holiday Spirit provided each family with gifts for every child and a gas gift card. It would be impossible to share with you the many additional ways our families were blessed by the outpouring of love from strangers. For the hat-and mitten trees that collected warmth for little hands and faces, and the Thanksgiving basketball camp that raised money for Holiday Spirit, we are incredibly grateful. For the civic groups, churches and classrooms who helped meet the wishes on a child’s Christmas list, we are humbled by your thoughtfulness. For the families that bought presents for a needy family instead of each other, we are inspired by your selflessness. To the groups that sponsored toy drives, stuffed stockings and looked for deals all year long, we thank you.

It is truly amazing to step back and count all the blessings we have in our community. Together, we made a real difference in the lives of hurting area families. Thank you.

Carol Alfrey, Nicole Pryor
The Holiday Spirit Committee

Letter: In defense of Scout Park

They say that hindsight is 20/20. Evidently the current mayor of Elburn has concluded that open space and small parks are not important now that our village has stopped growing and our property values are in decline. However, just a few short years ago, the Village Board was primarily focused on comprehensive planning, especially with controlling growth.

A previous Village Board decided to purchase and set aside a small park for the future. This board carefully considered the purchase, believing it was also securing the corner of what could become a future municipal campus.

That lot, now called Scout Park, was paid in full with funds that came from developer contributions, not from our village property taxes. Selling it now at a time that will most certainly create the maximum loss on the village’s investment is short-sighted.

And blaming others for trying to do the right thing under a different set of challenges than those faced today is just plain petty.

Dr. James L. Willey

Letter: Illinois legislators unwilling to listen

With unemployment near 10 percent and no end in sight for home foreclosures, many Illinois lawmakers seem to be disconnected with reality.

Calls, e-mails, faxes and letters in opposition to an income tax increase flooded their offices for weeks, to no avail. During the final hours of the past legislative session, lawmakers decided to place a much heavier tax burden on Illinois families.

In lieu of cutting pork spending, Springfield lawmakers opted to continue to increase the insatiable demands of our growing state government.

Here are a few examples: $1 million to provide cable TV to prisoners; $6 million for the Museum of Broadcast Communications; $100 million to create an airport in Peotone; over $78 million for horseracing interests; almost half million for programs for homosexual and transgender senior citizens; $3 million to Easter Seals (Chicago/Joliet regions,); tens of thousands of our tax dollars to out-of-state universities; and the list goes on.

They are essentially taking much-needed resources away from family budgets instead of governing responsibly.

Too many legislators are unresponsive to the will of the people—the very people they represent. Illinois voters would do well to remember this lame duck session in the next election cycle.

David E. Smith
Executive Director
Illinois Family Institute

Guest: Thrilled, disappointed with Girl Scout story

I was thrilled when I saw the Elburn Herald article, which featured the sale of Girl Scout cookies. As a Girl Scout leader in the Elburn/Maple Park area, I understand the importance of the organization to girls and young women, and how the sale of cookies help with setting goals, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

I was disappointed that your paper did not feature a local Girl Scout from your readership area of Elburn, Maple Park, Sugar Grove or Kaneville. Currently, there are 30 Girl Scout troops in your readership area. It would have been nice if you had selected a girl from a local troop to feature rather than a girl from Geneva. When I open my local paper, I want to read about my community and the citizens who live here.

Denise Blaszynski
Girl Scout leader

Letter: To the Sugar Grove Library community

The Sugar Grove Public Library Board of trustees, along with the staff of the Sugar Grove Library and the Friends of the Sugar Grove Library, have decided that a referendum for operating funds not be on the April 2011 ballot, due to difficult economic times for the patrons and residents of Sugar Grove.

We feel strongly that we must recognize the economic strains on our community. The decision to wait until there is a more opportune time to run a successful referendum campaign addresses the financial constraints of our residents and the community understanding of how those additional library dollars would be useful.

There are many that wish the library could, and would, offer more to the community in terms of hours, collections and services. There are many that are without the resources to help financially support paying more for the library. Therefore, in good faith, we will postpone our desire to raise revenues for operating our library. At this time we are doing our best at providing hours and services while we work to balance keeping expenditures lean and library experiences rich.

We invite you to visit the library, patronize The Book Nook Cafe and support our Library Friends fundraising efforts.

Art Morrical, Sabrina Malano,
Julie Wilson, Robert Bergman,
Bill Durrenberger, Sheree Novotny,
Joan Roth
Sugar Grove Public Library
Board of Trustees

Guest editorial: The political blame game isn’t solving anything

Below is a guest editorial from Kaneland News Bureau Editor Sarah Arnold and the members of the Krier Editorial Board, all students of Kaneland High School.

Stop pointing fingers and start thinking of solutions. A shout-out to all government officials, company heads and the general American public: although it may be entertaining, is playing the blame game really solving anything?

This past year in politics has been filled with turmoil—whether it was oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, top secret government documents disclosed onto the web or the never-ending education budget battle here in Illinois. Headlines like these not only exposed the front pages for their newsworthiness and impact on our society, but it seemed like half of the time, they were simply written proposals on who is to blame for what happened.

The Gulf of Mexico oil leak is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The actual explosion, which in-turn caused the leak, occurred on April 20, 2010. In the weeks that followed, a frenzy of news stories and allegations were released following the developments of the disaster. Obviously, BP was in the limelight for the incident, considering it was their oil rig. But as soon as May 1, more specific accusations were issued. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said that maybe the explosion was an act of “eco-terrorism.” Sarah Palin used Twitter to imply that environmentalists are to blame for the spill. Executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton appeared at congressional hearings and blamed each other. Even Obama joined the game, saying “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak, and BP will be paying the bill.”

Now, don’t get us wrong—we’re not trying to say no one deserves the blame. Because in reality, someone had to do something wrong for the leak to happen in the first place—but if all those government officials and celebrities spent as much time thinking of ways to fix the leak as they did trying to figure out whose fault it was, we’d be further along to cleaner oceans.

In another arena, the exact same predicament is happening in Illinois—in fact, at Kaneland. But instead of an overload of oil, we have a shortage of money in our education system.

Last year, we went through a round of budget cuts that outraged many parents and students alike. The estimated general funds deficit in Illinois was $11.6 billion in 2010, with K-12 education one of the areas in need of greatest help. At Kaneland, projected expenditures were reduced by $4.3 million. The budget cuts Kaneland proposed listed things to be removed such as middle school sports, over 15 high school clubs, the fifth grade music program, the elementary outdoor education program and all of the after-school activity buses. Undoubtedly, no one was happy. But, somehow, the general consensus appeared to be that the Kaneland Board of Education was to blame—that, or all the administrators in the District offices, just because they were the ones who had to make the propositions.

It’s not only Kaneland suffering massive cuts. It’s actually the majority of public high schools in the state of Illinois, and so it’s basically impossible that our Board or administrators are responsible. What they were responsible for was proposing a plan—a plan which made them take the heat; a plan they only had to propose in the first place because Illinois has no money.

Whether it was a lack of knowledge about the budget deficit or just ignorance, fingers were pointed and many infuriated parents and community members showed up at Kaneland board meetings to argue the cuts, stating their children would suffer from them.

Well, that’s pretty much inevitable.

The anger is understandable, but the blame isn’t. Not very many of these concerned people showed up at the board meetings with alternate ideas to the budget cuts—they were mostly critical remarks and comments. (To those people who did pitch ideas—you deserve more credit than you were given, even if the idea didn’t go over well.) If no one had anything better to offer, well, it’s simple—they shouldn’t censure the original offer in the first place, or the people who came up with it.

There truly is no quick fix to this problem, so the budget cuts and proposals will probably continue for a while. Illinois is currently in the process of trying to raise taxes on everything from income to property, and even that won’t close the gap. That’s why people need to not only start coming up with ideas, but also learning how to compromise. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats, who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s about our education, our public services: our future.

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois has recently developed a budget forecasting tool. If the government doesn’t enforce any long-term changes soon, their model projects a deficit of $29 billion by 2030—a pretty bleak future. At Kaneland, the projected budget deficit for just next year is $1 million. Determinations about what to cut are still being made; the initial cost-reduction plan will be presented on Feb. 14.

If that’s not a wakeup call, well then we really don’t know what is.

Blaming is human nature, whether we like it or not. But it’s also something that can, and should be, cut back on. No one likes budget cuts. No one likes our taxes being raised. No one likes compromising.

But placing blame isn’t going to change an outcome: compromising and coming up with practical solutions will. (Cough, Springfield, cough.)

Editorial: Help improve your community, join a Kaneland advisory committee

One of the measures of the strength in a community is how involved its members are in public activities.

The Kaneland community is a community of communities, tying together numerous villages from Maple Park to Montgomery. It is often difficult to keep in mind that actions taken in one municipality can have a profound impact on another miles away, yet because of the mutual connection to Kaneland, that is the case.

Additionally, it can be difficult for residents without children attending Kaneland to feel that connection to the district or to the communities in which they are connected because of their shared school district.

Yet, even if a Kaneland resident has no children attending the district, they are impacted by the district’s decisions, and should therefore have a place at the table when it comes time to impact those decisions.

In addition to its elected School Board positions, Kaneland offers other ways for interested volunteers help steer the district’s future. Kaneland has a Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) and Finance Advisory Committee (FAC), and the district is currently seeking community members to fill out their ranks.

The CAC’s mission is to advise the Kaneland administration and School Board on educational and other, general issues that come before the district.

According to a Kaneland release sent out Tuesday, CAC members study and discuss various issues that come before the district, reporting their results to the School Board. The committee also advises School Board members in regard to school and district policy, and they serve as a facilitator to help foster cooperation and communication between the district and the communities.

The FAC serves a very similar function as the CAC, except that it is focused specifically on financial matters.

“In preparing to add members to these committees, please know that the selection committees will seek representation from the various attendance areas within the Kaneland community,” Tuesday’s release stated. “We seek a cross section of opinions and educational perspectives with a general ability to work constructively with others.”

Regardless of your political views or if your opinions align with any particular individual or group, your input and advice is valuable to the Kaneland School District. And since the decisions made by Kaneland affect everyone—no matter what Kaneland community you call home—we hope to see a significant response of interested individuals to their call for more members.

This is true whether or not you have children who are currently Kaneland students.

“More than 50 percent of Kaneland households have no school-aged children in them, and those households should be represented on this committee,” the release said.

The best way to make your community stronger is to get involved in it, and if you are searching for a way to give, we hope you contact Beth Sterkel at the Kaneland School District main office, at (630) 365-5111, ext. 109, or by e-mail at Applications are due Tuesday, March 1.

Letter: Editorial was irresponsible, lazy

Your editorial about the tax increase was irresponsible, lazy and self-indulgent. Is it responsible journalism to engage in inflammatory writing and call all legislators pigs and drug addicts, especially in light of recent events in Arizona?

What kind of example does this set for someone in middle school or high school? Would you stand in the same room face-to-face with Senator Lauzen and Representative Hatcher and call them pigs and drug addicts? Do you really think they spend the money on themselves in some sort of political orgy?

It is easy journalism to point the finger of blame at someone else. But as the old saying goes, when you point the finger of blame, three fingers are pointing back at you. For decades, we, the citizens, have asked that affordable education be maintained or improved, criminals be sent to prison, highways be maintained, mental health facilities be maintained, highways be patrolled, and on and on. Where should we have spent less? You neglected to say.

At the same time, we have said to our legislators that we do not want to pay for state services. If you ask us to pay, we will vote you out of office. So the legislators have obeyed us. To avoid angering us by raising taxes, they have for years even borrowed money from our pension funds and other places, insuring that matters would become worse down the road (now).

If we had not been so selfish ourselves, we might have allowed a smaller tax increase years ago that would have kept us solvent and even … just maybe … allowed for some property tax relief. Now it’s too late for a small tax increase, and we cannot even get lower property taxes out of the deal.

It’s not the legislators; it’s us. We wanted a free lunch. The only good news is that even at 5 percent, our income tax will still be less than that of most states. And with your future editorials, how about trying to enlighten instead of inflame us? Tell us where money is being wasted instead of insulting all legislators.

Jonathan Berg

Letter: Speaking out against high-capacity firearm magazines

What hunter needs a high-capacity magazine—a clip that holds more than 10 rounds—like the one a gunman used to shoot 20 people in a matter of seconds in Arizona? These magazines are for killing a lot of people fast.

The United States Constitution guarantees to our citizens the right to keep and bear arms. At the same time that we can all acknowledge this basic right, I believe that we should also be able to come together to develop reasonable, common-sense laws designed to ensure that the right to bear arms is exercised safely and responsibly.

The assumption that more guns reduces crime is a fantasy. According to the Violence Policy Center (, the highest gun-death rates are:
1. Louisiana, with 46% gun ownership
2. Mississippi (54%)
3. Alaska (61%)
4. Alabama (57%)
5. Nevada (32%)

The lowest gun-death rates are:
50. Hawaii (10%)
49. Rhode Island (13%)
48. Maine (13%)
47. Connecticut (16%)
46. New York (18%)

More guns do not equal less crime. Contact Congressman Randy Hultgren ( and tell him to sign a bill that outlaws the sale of high-capacity magazines.
Chrisi Vineyard
Oswego, Ill.

Editorial: Like giving a drug to an addict

No one can deny that the state of Illinois is in the midst of a financial crisis, and no one can legitimately claim that a solution exists that is simple or easy to implement.

There is no purely painless way to overcome the years of mismanagement at the state level.

In addition to the state’s specific problems, the struggling national economy has added fuel to a long-burning fire, and now we find ourselves with high unemployment, a state budget gap in the billions, and state payments that were due months ago that still remain unpaid.

One would hope that the average thoughtful person would look at the crisis and immediately begin to think of ways to reduce spending and limit the state’s liabilities in the least impactful way possible. One would hope that the debate would focus on how deep the cuts can go without causing unnecessary damage or hardship to the public.

Instead, the state legislature worked until the middle of the night Tuesday night/Wednesday morning to pass a 66 percent individual income tax hike and a 46 percent corporate income tax hike; making sure their votes got in before the next batch of legislators were sworn in mid-day Wednesday.

Also included in this wonderful, late-night slap in the face is a spending increase cap—yes, that’s a spending increase cap—of 2 percent per year from now until 2015.

In addition, the tax hike is retroactive to Jan. 1, so everyone has been paying this tax without realizing it for a couple of weeks already.

In other words, the state has spent itself into a massive, unsustainable, borderline insurmountable budget deficit, and the answer that came out of Springfield was a massive tax increase and associated spending increases.

If the problem is spending, how exactly does more spending solve the problem?

Like an addict approaching their rock bottom, the state’s leadership is simply in denial of the cause of their problems. They believe the problem is a lack of state revenue, not of state over-spending.

But even if that view is valid, seeking more revenue by increasing the personal income tax rate from 3 to 5 percent and the corporate income tax rate from 4.8 to 7 percent is not the way to go.

If you want to increase state tax revenue in an environment of near-10 percent employment (beyond 10 percent in some locales), you might try and create a tax and regulatory structure that would lead to more businesses hiring more workers, and would lead to more workers having money to spend on goods and services, as opposed to taxes.

With the increase in workers and economic activity, the total tax revenue would begin to climb, state revenues would increase; and combined with a significant reduction in state spending, the state could begin to rebuild a fiscally responsibile foundation.

Rather, the pigs feeding at the trough realized the amount of their slop is dwindling, and instead of cutting back on how much they consume, they simply increased the size of the trough.

How long until their tax revenue gains begin to fall again, as higher unemployment occurs because businesses either close up shop entirely or head for other states and those with jobs have less to spend.
What are our addicts in Springfield going to do then?

A tax increase of some size would have likely had a legitimate place in a rationale solution, but only when combined with real, and significant, spending cuts. If the public saw that our representatives in Springfield were serious about changing the ways of the state government, they would certainly be more willing to deal with some of the pain necessary to turn our collective ship around.

But now, with a past-midnight vote on the eve of a new legislature taking office, with a plan that will massively increase both an individual’s and a company’s tax burden while at the same time guaranteeing more state spending, not less, our state politicians have proven that money and power are the ends and cowardice is the means.

It may be time to consider voting everyone in Springfield out of office, whether they voted for this tax increase or not.

If they voted for it, they either do not know or do not care about how real-world economics work. If they do not know, they are unqualified for office; and if they do not care, then they are part of the core problem Illinois has faced for years.

If they voted against it, then they failed to stop a trainwreck from occurring and need to be replaced, because the opposition proved as effective as not existing in both stopping this particular vote, as well as the years of bloated spending that created this mess.

It is not enough for the opposition to stand on the sidelines and complain after the fact; they need to develop the solutions, build public support for it, and then use that momentum to defeat any attempt to continue the spending-spree this bill allows.

Political party no longer matters in Illinois; there are only those who are part of the Springfield “machine” and either actively promote its existance or allow it to perpetuate by their failure to act appropriately.

We need new individuals, from both parties, who will represent both sides of the philosophical spectrum while doing the people’s business, rather than the partisans who are more interested in their own money, power and political prospects.

Take the drug away from the addicts; vote them all out.

Letter: Happy New Year from downtown Chicago Democrats

Majorities in 99 out of 102 counties voted for his opponent, however Governor Pat Quinn declares that he has a mandate to raise our taxes. If the state of Illinois spent what we currently sacrifice in taxes prudently and ethically, the governor and his enablers in the legislature might be able to make their case against my assessment that we are “taxed enough already.”

Illinois Medicaid eligibility levels substantially higher than averages, grants for favorite pork projects like Oswego Park District’s purchase and bulldozing of perfectly good and property-tax-paying homes, and unsustainable public employee pensions are all examples of cuts to unnecessary government spending that have not been made. It is no secret that public employee unions provided the money and manpower to get Quinn elected; now “to the victors to the spoils”—at your expense—during already difficult times for most taxpaying families in Illinois.

During the election, Pat Quinn claimed that he had cut state spending by $3 billion. This is false—some people would say it is a deliberate campaign lie. According to a report (that I would be happy to provide you) that his own Budget Office sent last summer to New York bankers and bond rating agencies, Quinn has actually increased spending $1 billion. I would think that he would be embarrassed by a $4 billion error, and that the establishment press would scold him every time he lied. Did you know that Quinn promised the state’s employee union that there will be no layoffs for them for the next two years? He did accept their endorsement and did cash their campaign contribution check.

You would think that Governor Quinn would be “forced” to cut spending now that he is once again ensconced in power for four more years and our situation is so desperate for schools, social service agencies and anyone else who does business with the “Springfield Syndicate.” But, you would be sadly mistaken. The folks whom Chicago and our public employee unions put over the top will pump themselves up with anywhere between 33 to 75 percent income tax increases, sales tax on services, gambling expansions, and cigarette tax increases. Even Obama, Pelosi and Reid finally recognized that they could not raise taxes without the risk of tanking a fragile economy.

Governor Quinn and his enablers think that there’s no problem that more of your money (going to them) won’t solve.

The tragic problem with their misguided solution is that your money is running out. You know the foreclosure statistics. You understand that one-out-of-10 Illinoisans who can’t find a job with 10 percent state unemployment can’t pay more in income, sales and other taxes. You recognize that employers are hemorrhaging jobs out of the state, and seniors (who can) are fleeing with their assets. So, who re-elected these same incompetent and irresponsible politicians?

Where your money will go:
It’s not fair and balanced for my typical constituent family which makes $45,000 to 55,000 in household income to pay more in taxes to support individuals making $70,000, $80,000, $90,000, to over $100,000 in public employment. It’s not right to taxpayers and even rank-and-file teachers and state employees who are making $35,000 to $60,000.

People can argue: “Chris, it’s rude for you to talk about people’s pay and for some to envy what others make.” However, citizens and voters are supposed to represent the constitutional “board of directors” for the operation of their self-government. If we don’t talk about it, we will seethe in resentful silence. This is the primary consequence to the politics of redistribution of wealth rather than policy priority to grow the state’s economy and strengthen our global competitiveness. But, it is our choice and the consequence of whom we elect.

I campaigned on six very specific budget resolutions that would produce $4 billion to $6 billion of annual savings and increase revenue. Meaningful cuts are not being discussed, so I will vote “No” on a tax increase that will severely inflate the state government spending bubble. No fiscal discipline and restraint. No accurate disclosure of accurate financial information from leaders of the executive and legislative branches. More Medicaid spending, high public employee salaries, out-of-control public employee pensions, lots of dissembling and wringing of hands—but just like the old battle hymn, “Government spending growth in Illinois keeps marching along”.

Senator Chris Lauzen
25th District

Editorial: Free flow of ideas includes opinions you may not like

From time to time, we receive negative feedback for why we “allowed” a letter to the editor to be published in our paper. Usually, that feedback follows the publication of a letter in which the author takes a position out of the ordinary.

While we welcome all feedback—especially negative feedback, because that helps us re-evaluate what we do and why we do it—it is also important that we make clear our decision-making process for letters to the editor.

When it comes to choosing which letters are published and which are not, at no time do we evaluate the philosophical position taken by an author. If we agree or disagree with a position taken is irrelevant to the decision whether or not to publish a letter to the editor. If we predict that a position taken by a letter’s author may be popular or or not has no bearing on the decision.

Put simply, the opinions taken by the author of a letter to the editor in our publication do not impact the likelihood of that letter being published.

The act of publishing a reader’s opinion is not an act of endorsing it, nor is it an act of shedding light on a viewpoint just so it can be refuted in the future.

Rather, the act of publishing opinions—both those we agree with and those we do not—is an act of giving a voice to those who wish to speak. Our responsibility is to protect those voices—especially those that may be perceived as unpopular or controversial—and ensure that there is a free forum for public speech in our newspaper.

If an opinion in a published letter to the editor is built on faulty logic, that is apparent in the reading of the letter, and most often, someone will write a response as a letter to the editor—and that will be published as well.

The same philosophy holds true for the comments published on our website, Each story and each letter to the editor invites the public to comment, and those comments are published directly below the story or letter in question. Again, we do not evaluate the point of view or point being made when deciding whether or not to allow a comment to be posted.

For both published letters and online comments, what we do evaluate is whether or not a letter attacks someone personally, if it states an incorrect fact, or if it crosses the threshold of libel.

Beyond that, however, letters and comments are a free forum to allow members of the community to share their opinions how they see fit. Unpopular views may be debated, and faulty lines of logic may be countered, but is that not the point of a forum that promotes a free and open exchange of ideas?

God forbid the day when we, or any other media outlet, begins to make publication choices based on the outlet’s agreement or disagreement with the opinion itself.

Letter: Thanks from the Elburn & Countryside Community Center

American Bank and Trust, American Family Insurance, Amy’s Wild Hairs, A Salon, Country Automotive, Curves of Elburn, Creative Beginnings Learning Center, Dallas Peters of Critchell, Miller and Petrus, Da Capo Music Studio, Division One, Escapar Farm, Elburn Herald, GTP Activewear, Leyden Electric, Mid-Town Martial Arts Studio, Napa Auto Parts, Old Second Bank and Paisano’s Pizza and Grill.

Thank you all for your generosity and also for your expressive ways of decorating. Many comments were made throughout the evening on how different and unique each one was. Each and every tree and wreath was bid on and won by someone during the Christmas Stroll. Approximately $1,500 was raised, which will help the Community Center continue to provide a place for activities for the community.

Thank you very much for all your help.

Patrick Leyden, Dan Hannemann,
Kathy Johnson, William Brauer
and Clara Stonecipher
Elburn Countryside
Community Center
Board of Directors

Letter: Relay For Life kick-off set for Jan. 13

Want to make a difference in the fight against cancer? Join us as we kick off the 2011 American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Kane County.

The Open House Kick Off event will be held Jan. 13, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Christ Community Church in St. Charles. A short, spoken program will begin at 6:30 p.m. We need individuals to form teams of eight or more friends, co-workers or cancer survivors to help fundraise and join us at the event on June 24-25 at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva.

Relay For Life is an overnight event full of entertainment, meaningful ceremonies, and opportunities to fight back against this disease that takes too many lives. Please join us at this year’s kick off and learn how you can make a life-saving difference, meet some new friends, and have a lot of fun.

We cannot save lives and create a world with more birthdays without the support of our community. We encourage you to join with us. Together our time, talents and enthusiasm will help make this year’s event a success.

For more information about Relay For Life, please call the American Cancer Society at (630) 879-9009, ext. 3, or visit

Marta Wells,
Sue Kass Novy
2011 Relay For Life
of Kane County Chairs

Letter: In defense of the Second Amendment

A letter by a Kaneland High School senior in the Dec. 30 issue of the Elburn Herald requires a reply. Here are a few points on the wisdom of private ownership of firearms, as guaranteed by our Constitution Second Amendment.

The young lady believes that possession of a gun, legally or illegally, almost guarantees that person will kill someone. She says it is “unnecessary” for anyone to own a gun. It is “unnecessary” for anyone to own a Corvette, too; hundreds of people have been killed in them. But should Corvettes be made illegal because a few have been misused?

She believes “only people with authority should have guns.” This was the law in Communist Russia and Nazi Germany, where those governments held all the firearms. Ask a refugee from the Soviet Union or a survivor of the Holocaust how that worked for the benefit of the public. Our Second Amendment was drafted to protect the people from just such a perversion of government authority. The Second Amendment isn’t there just to protect the right to hunt ducks.

Several years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times printed a study reporting percentages of Illinois firearm owners cards held in the several Chicago-area collar counties. The highest percentages were in towns in western Kane County. That’s right, Cheryl—right here … over 50 percent. Coincidentally, these were towns with the lowest crime rates. I asked a long-time Elburn police chief and life-long resident about this fact. He replied, “Why do you think criminals don’t come here? Do you think an over 50 percent chance of being shot committing a burglary isn’t a deterrent?”

What anti-gun people don’t understand is that gun ownership by citizens makes the whole community safer from crime, because the criminal does not know who is armed and who is not. His choice? To pursue his criminal career in a place where guns are illegal; a place where honest, law-abiding people have surrendered their weapons, naively believing the police can protect all of them all of the time.

If you don’t feel safe living here, I suggest you move to a city where you will feel safe—a city with strict anti-gun laws; a city where no private citizens can own a gun, therefore where no one ever gets shot. I suggest Chicago, Detroit, New York City or Washington D.C. And because you will want your new neighbors to feel safer with you living near them, place this big sign on your door: “this is a gun-free home.” Your neighbors will indeed be safer, because your house will be the first one the criminals will hit.

Dennis C. Ryan

Editorial: Share 2011 with your hometown newspaper

Why read newspapers?

With national newspaper readership on the decline, that is a question everyone related to the industry is trying to answer; whether that be for marketing purposes, in an attempt to reinvent themselves, or simply to reaffirm why they do what they do.

While many media mega-corporations hired consultants or created internal positions for this purpose, spending immense amounts of money trying to find the answer, local media outlets with real connections to their community need to look no further than their own pages.

Every community experiences situations full of inspiration, and every community shares in the heartache suffered after a terrible tragedy or loss, and every community needs to know how its tax dollars are being spent and what those who represent them are doing.

All of those things can be found in the pages of the community newspaper that actually cares about its community. It is becoming a rarity, as newspapers of all sizes are folding or merging into larger and more-bloated corporate entities. Just a couple of years ago, it was the corporate-level decisions that were made for a “community paper” from well outside that community. Now, with the general-economic struggles adding to the already-existing large-media struggles, the actual editorial decisions themselves are made from well outside of the community.

When these media outlets try to be local when they are not local themselves, they find themselves in a quandary. International and national news consumption is migrating from newspapers to cable TV and the Internet, and they are spread too wide and not local enough to actually be a hometown paper for anyone.

And that is exactly why local, hometown weekly newspapers are needed.

Unlike those distant corporate media entities, hometown papers like ourselves and like the Kendall County Record newspapers to our south are actually part of the community. We share in your joys and success; and we are with you through your moments of struggle.

We are there to share in your stories of inspiration, like “‘Miracle’ Meagan,” a story we printed in January about an Elburn family whose baby daughter beat all the odds when she survived after being born with a rare condition that led doctors to expect a tragic ending before Meagan’s personal story ever had a chance to begin.

We are there to share in your grief, like when we all experienced the passing of Leon Gramley, a community servant in Kaneville; and Bruce Conley, a community servant in Elburn who served everywhere in the area.

We share in your hopes, like when we were there every step of the way as the Kaneland Knights football team made its run toward state; and we share in your defeats as the team fell just short of a trip to Champaign.

We are there in the board meeting rooms, and we are there as the children of the community take the stage.

As 2010 comes to a close, we hope you take a moment to look through our website,, and remember the ups and downs our community experienced.

So, why read newspapers?

After you take a look at all the moments we experienced together this year, we hope that answer becomes apparent, and that the question transforms into: Why wouldn’t you read newspapers?

Happy new year, and we look forward to sharing even more moments with you in 2011.

Letter: Issue with editorial regarding the Kaneland IGA vote

Unfortunately, your Dec. 16 editorial on the Kaneland School District IGA vote in Sugar Grove repeats a simplistic and politically popular but factually inaccurate point of view about the benefits and burdens of new growth on School District tax rates.

Under the state tax cap structure, taxes for existing residents will rise higher and faster without new growth than they will with new growth. This little known fact was publicly admitted by Julie Ann Fuchs, Kaneland’s Assistant Superintendent for Business in an article in the Kane County Chronicle newspaper on Dec. 3, where she stated that lack of growth, not growth, is one of the reasons the district needs a tax levy increase.

At a time when the home building and construction industries remain mired in their deepest depression (not recession) since 1929, municipalities and other agencies such as school, park, fire and library districts all need to find ways to lower costs for new homebuyers and stimulate job creation and economic development, not further restrict them through excessive fees. Total fees in Sugar Grove now exceed $40,000 per home—a clearly unaffordable and unsustainable level.

The issues of impact fees and the benefits and burdens of new growth are both complex and nuanced and don’t lend themselves to simplistic sound bites or handy political catch phrases which tend to pit existing taxpayers against future taxpayers. The development community remains ready to constructively engage with all municipalities, the School District, and all other agencies which charge impact fees to restructure them in a fair but affordable way reflecting current economic realities.

Renewing a deeply flawed, one-size-fits-all agreement for one agency such as the School District when all the towns in the district have different and unique locations, economic development prospects and growth goals is not a wise decision.

The risk is not as you claim in your editorial, that developers will attempt to pit one town within Kaneland School District against another. The risk is that the development community will bypass all the towns in the Kaneland School District and develop in other towns and school districts who understand the benefits of growth to existing residents and structure realistic fees to encourage it.

Marv Bailey
Crown Community Development

Letter: It’s about time for gay civil unions

Gay civil unions in Illinois will happen within the next year when Governor Pat Quinn signs the bill and the law goes into effect next June. It’s about time.

Gay and lesbian couples have been denied their rights for far too long, and it’s something that needs to change. The issue has hit home for me because my own grandmother is a lesbian, and she can’t marry her long-term partner. They’ve been together for almost 10 years now, and they do all the things a married couple would do, but they can’t get married.

Why not? Because people have an outdated sense of morality. When two people love each other and support each other, that’s a beautiful thing, no matter what.

Yet, the legislation is controversial. Many people have been opposed to this bill because they say it’s a move toward same-sex marriages. That’s true, but there’s nothing wrong with that. To want to be married is a traditional thing. To want to promise to be there for another forever, to take legal responsibility for them, to want to be a permanent and stable relationship—these are all good things for society. It’s ironic that we’re trying to stop people from doing these things.

The next step for Illinois is same-sex marriages, and I hope they get around to legalizing that soon.

Zoe Wilson
Kaneland High School

Letter: Kaneland should stay with block schedules

In the 2012 school year, Kaneland High School will be switching to an eight-period schedule. They will switch because by doing this, they think students test scores will rise. Another reason is that they want us, the students at Kaneland, to focus on our core classes and not so much on electives.

But in my opinion, I don’t think the eight-period day will work out as Kaneland plans. There are kids at Kaneland who are failing classes now on the block schedule, and an eight-period day will make it twice as hard on the students.

Another reason why I don’t think this is the best idea is because kids who participate in Kaneland athletic teams will have trouble getting their homework and study time in.

Finally, an eight-period day at Kaneland is a bad idea because STEN will no longer be available. There are some students who depend on STEN and who go to to their teachers to get extra help. Without STEN, it will be very difficult for some students.

All in all, I don’t think this will benefit Kaneland. Test scores won’t rise, and more students will be doing poorly in classes. Kaneland is better off staying with the block schedule if they truly want their students to do well.

John Pruett
Kaneland High School

Letter: We need to rethink our gun laws

The fact that people are eligible to apply for guns and legally buy and own them is something I do not agree with. It’s outrageous.

Just because someone meets the requirements to own a gun doesn’t mean they don’t have some underlying desire to commit a crime. Let’s just say that a person with a clean record, who has never been in trouble, and who has always been viewed as respectable in the eyes of the law, obtains a gun license and buys a gun, and then goes out and kills someone with it. Then what? It was legal for that person to have that gun, and who knows if they won’t just cry “innocent” and say it was an accident that it went off.

I think only people with authority should have guns, but the way they use them should be limited. I don’t agree with police officers having the right to shoot someone who is running from them, but that is beside the point.

Another reason you shouldn’t be able to own a gun is due to children being at risk of finding it. Kids often find this “thing” they think is a toy, bring it to their friend’s house and then tragedy occurs. It’s a scary thought that the situation could have been prevented in the first place.

Owning guns is not a life-or-death situation. Or maybe from another standpoint, it is. If people want to go hunting, then the designated hunting grounds should have the guns available there to rent while hunting. Keeping guns off the street is the best idea ever for so many reasons.

Another possible issue that could come up is someone knowing you have a gun and where you keep it. Then they tell someone about your gun and they tell someone and before you know it, you can’t find your gun. You wouldn’t even know the weapon you have was stolen. In all reality, if a crime is committed using the gun stolen from your home, then the investigation will lead right back to the gun owner: you. That sounds like too much to lose for something so unnecessary to own.

Cheryl Gaston
Kaneland High School

Editorial: Merry Christmas

With the continuing struggles of the economy and personal, business and governmental budgets continuing to tighten, we approach the Christmas holiday with a significant amount of stress that risks undermining why it is that we celebrate the season.

There are plenty of reasons stress can intrude on our holiday cheer—both personal and public—but there are even more reasons to overcome those stressors and be uplifted as we enter into the final days before Christmas.

This week’s edition alone can give an example of that—a lawsuit filed against the village of Elburn and another suit filed against the Kane County Board chairman will certainly add to the stress experienced by all involved parties—yet there are also examples of people coming together and rising above the things that bring people down.

The membership of Christ Community Church banded together to provide a million meals to those in need; nonprofit organizations offering their thanks for support that came at a time when most are financially stretched so thin that any level of giving can be difficult to accomplish.

It is easy to forget that we receive more than we give when we serve our fellow man; and for those suffering during the season, we hope you find your path to peace and happiness.

For those of the Christian faith, we hope you can rely on your faith during this holy time to renew your spirit and be uplifted as this year begins to close and the new year approaches.

For those of differing faiths or no faith at all, we hope you can rely on loved ones and your community during this season for that sense of renewal.

Both paths lead to a connection with our fellow man, and therefore, a desire to serve each other. We hope that becomes the ultimate Christmas present each of us can give to each other—ourselves.

Letter: Thank you, Mid-Town Martial Arts

The Elburn & Countryside Community Center would like to thank Rich Temmerman and his students from The Mid-Town Martial Arts Studio. The $715 that was raised at the Black Belt Demonstration during the Elburn Christmas Stroll and donated to the Community Center is a very welcome and appreciated gift.

Thank you all for your support of the Elburn & Countryside Community Center.

Patrick Leyden, Dan Hannemann,
Kathy Johnson, Bill Brauer and
Clara Stonecipher
The Elburn & Countryside
Community Center Board of Directors