Open Letter To Mayor And City Council Regarding
New Storm Water Fee Increase

Dear Mayor and Council

Resending this with updated totals and added information as it is obvious from today's Herald & Review none of you read this before. 

I was disappointed to read you are seriously considering yet another fee increase for residents of Decatur via the new storm water fee. After raising water rates repeatedly, not repealing the "temporary" taxes in the form of utility taxes, cell phone taxes, home phone taxes, increased cable franchise fee and our escalating property taxes I have to ask when is it enough? Our city is reducing in size yet you continue to spend more money. How much is enough? As residents we only have so much money on which to live on. When watching the council meetings it seems City Manager McCrady's favorite thing to say is we need to be "looking at this revenue stream".

The city's creation of ACES and ordinance violations has obviously seen a massive amount of fine money go directly to the city vs formerly going to the County or State for the same violations. I laughed after watching the thing one day and reading an article in the Herald & Review where a City spokesman claimed it is a "revenue neutral" court.

Anyone who watches it and listens to the fines plus court costs knows that is a misleading statement. It was created to keep money in the City's coffers. Now we have the poker machines the State passed and the City is getting its cut of that money from those. Our fine City collected nearly $26,000 in revenue for the month of August, up from $22,000 for the month of July and it is growing while showing no signs of slowing down as more and more establishments get the machines.

I have to ask how much is enough? We currently have and have had the highest unemployment rate in the State with no signs of slowing down, yet you want to take more from our residents? (March 2014 report shows $52,081.38 in gambling revenue for our city)

Discontinue the $50,000 per year contribution to the EDC since we now have former EDC employee Pat Hoban working for the city, add that to the poker machine tax revenue and we are at nearly $700,000 a year in revenue that can be found without increase the burden on residents to do the work you claim you need yet another new "revenue stream" for. This is nearly 1/2 of what you claim to need or will raise by adding yet another fee to residents.  This does not include the revenue generated from changed misc violations to ordinance violations which keeps 100% of the fine money in our city. Do the right thing and DO NOT PASS THIS FEE!

After reading the proposed fee also, I find it unfair in its wording that you are going to assess a fee on residents based on hard surface area, which one would assume the footprint of house and buildings and paved area at 4500 square feet on properties under 1 acre? That is pretty big area for many of the properties in Decatur including my own.

Furthermore when assessing a fee for storm water generated are we not going to be billed when it does not rain for 2 months? I find it unfair to pay for something that I am not generating on a area that I do not have. To estimate areas to be taxed on or assessed a fee is without a doubt unfair taxation of residents and I would hope someone would challenge it.I would hope as a council you consider opposing this and any other fees that are suggested to you and start bringing the Cities spending in line with our revenue we currently have just like the residents of the City have to do.

Here is a detailed listing of taxes and fees that I alone pay to the city. 

City of Decatur---------------------$ 415.56
Listed above is my section of property taxes for the city of Decatur in 2013.

$1.16 per month if my municipal telecommunications tax on my home phone=$13.92  per year.   $3.75 per month is my municipal telecommunications tax on my cell phone=$45 per year.  69 cents this month was my municipal tax on utilities charge=$8.28 per year.  $4.86 per month to Comcast for franchise fee which is paid to Decatur=$58.32 per year. 

I travel extensively and rarely home and spend much time eating in local establishments. Conservatively I spend $500 a month, 2% food and beverage 2and 1/4% tax =$21.25 per month=$255 per year.  This does not include any other purchases I make such as clothing and please note the $500 spending is very very conservative estimate. 

$415.56+13.92+45+8.28+58.32+255=$796.08 I pay to the City already per year on top of paying all of my bills and not including any other taxes or fees I may incur from the city per year. How much is enough?  I am one resident who has taken the time to put it in black and white for you to get the point across. HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? 

$796.08 paid to the City in taxes and fees. How much is enough?


Dan Calhoun-resident, voter, taxpayer
Decatur Illinois 62521

Posted 4/19/14

The Possible Demise Of The Library As We Know It?

Dear Editor:
If all the rumored and proposed actions affecting the Decatur Public Library at its present location come to past, the results could be devastating for those of us who have and continue to support the library’s operation.   
The alleged plans to again repurpose the building originally designed and built for a Sears Roebuck department store in 1966, which, became the new site for the library as it is today, does not bode well.  The purchase-lease-or other means of acquisition  by the Macon County Building Commission and/or others, will only be another disaster perpetrated clandestinely without the community having been given the opportunity to discuss the intent, to question the process, explain the reasoning and as a result vocalize their opinion.
The statements reportedly made by various individuals that “in ten-years the library will not need a building per se because books will be all digital and electronically available”, exhibit a limited understanding and a short sighted attitude about what our library is all about.
A lot of money (an estimated 8.2 million), obtained from local industries, area foundations, many private citizens, much sweat equity and other means of local support went into making this 130 North Franklin site what it is today.   
The library has had a rollercoaster ride over the last century and a half, through various configurations from the Carnegie building to the present Sears facility.  The up and down ride might  also describe the intermittent success and possibly remissive attitude of some past and present administrative and leadership entities.  
Lately there seems to have been several occurrences of meetings conducted without proper public notification of intent.  These were dressed as executive sessions.  Had these been open meetings the media could have been present therefore lifting the “clandestine” label describing the get-togethers.  That’s one straight-forward, honest and simple way the rampant rumors and misinformation can be alleviated.
Decatur has incurred the loss of too many assets.  Just one recent example is the closure of the Illinois Department of Employment Security local office.   This was eliminated in spite of our high level of unemployment.
It is time for honest leadership.  With impunity please discontinue the suspect negotiations and let the taxpayers in on your secrets.  We look forward to the next board meeting on Thursday, April, 17, 2014 at 4:30 in the library board room.

Bil Larrick         
Former library employee and 
present local history-room volunteer Decatur

The Governor Should Pay His Own Way Between 
Home And State Capitol

To the Editor:
The primary elections are over and the advertisements for the general elections are in full swing. The sorry mess the Illinois government finances are in is a prime subject. 
So, here are a couple of suggestions on that subject. The state of Illinois provides and maintains, at a considerable expense, a suitable building in the state capitol in Springfield, to house the governor and his family. Our current governor chose to reside elsewhere, which is his right. However, I do not believe we are obligated to provide transportation to the capitol. So let the governor pay for his own transportation from his home to the state capitol in Springfield.
Also, forget the proposed surtax on millionaires. I would respect any millionaire who contributed to charity. However, I oppose government demanding an extra share, so they can choose who gets it.
I am sure there are many more ways to save money in the government. History indicates that if we give politicians more money, they will just spend it on more programs.

Eldon Clements

Tribune Makes Reader Homesick For Hometown

To The Editor:
After being a long-time citizen of Decatur, left Decatur in 1961 to accept employment with the U. S. Signal Supply Agency in Pasadena, Ca. 
I left many memories of my birth and growing up years in Decatur behind. 
Past to recent issues of your Decatur Tribune has brought back many of these set aside memories. 
For this, I appreciate and applaud,
as well as thank you and your staff for my being able to enjoy such memories. And, by the way, I can personally relate to many of the site pictures shown in the various issues of the Tribune. 
My being a current two year Commander of American Legion Post #44, Monrovia, Ca., subordinate to the Elegant 18th District of American Legion Area 6 applaud your concern and display of such for our country's military and their families and their sacrifices made for "God and Country". 
I, in opinion, personally feel that your newspaper has done a magnificent job in this respect and in addition, to the total coverage of Decatur's daily life and its related events. 
Finally, reviewing the Decatur Tribune leaves me home sick. 
My lasting thanks to you and your staff and one of my sisters-in-law, Margaret Mary Finfrock, a sister to my late wife, Patricia Ann McEvoy Sweeney, for her making it possible for me to receive such a fine newspaper, the Decatur Tribune.
Earle D. Sweeney  
LTC, USAR (Ret.)  
 Duarte, Ca.  

Mitchell Is A Nice Person -- As Long As You Don’t 
Ask Him To Help

Dear Editor:
I agree with the points about Rep. Bill Mitchell. In 2006 I had a problem with a large company, that can out donate all local voters of Macon County lumped together. The company was Verizon phone service. 
I live in arural area. We do not have the same utility easements for utilities as in the city. There are, for most part, an easement for phone lines and a separate easement for electric companies. I have copies for both companies, for this property. There is no connection between the companies’ easement rights, as claimed by a Verizon person. 
Verizon buried a phone line in my dirt access way. The Verizon person advised me that he asked a neighbor if he could run the line down that part of our land. The neighbor advised he could. That may be considered ID theft. 
Verizon didn’t acknowledge the signs. The site was clearly marked with a sign that had our address on the “No Trespassing” signs. When this happened, I found my padlock and chain had been cut and the gate left open. 
In Nov., 2006, I went to Mr. Mitchell, our elected state representative to represent the voters and citizens of this district. 
Remember how they beg and tell all the great things they can do if only we would vote for him? 
The only winner is the company getting paid for running the advertising. I explained the problem. He advised me, -- well what does a padlock cost? 
Where do you think he went for a solution? To the Verizon Lobbyist, and where do you think that left me? 
I advised him about being in Verizon’s pocket, It upset him a bit, and naturally he denied etc. 
There is a web site that list corporations that donate way more than most voters can. But you are paying for it in their fees. It’s in their budget that way. 
You can see under this system, voters are only pawns because  once elected, they are in.   
Even Adam Brown (no relation) appears like Mitchell. As one politician put it, laughingly—“fella it’s a fact of life”. 
You vote, but the politicians and corporations get the benefits. That was during GTE phone rate hike. 
I believe it was Mitchell, that said he would only run for one or two terms. But time changes. 
In my opinion, it is time for Mitchell to go and Adam Brown also. We need somebody to represent all the voters, not just special interest groups. This two party system stinks. 
It’s like buying a new car where, if you never had to go back to have it repaired, the dealer is wonderful. 
If you have never had reason to try to get Mitchell to help, he’s wonderful. He is a very nice person, just don’t ask him for help. You lose. 
I was a union member for over 20 years and a union steward for two years. I was a Democrat precinct committee person for a couple years.  
  I am now an independent voter – the politician that is in --vote’em out.  One term is long enough.

Dudley Brown 

Mickey Rooney Fondly Remembered For His 
Love Of Animals

Dear Editor,
Screen legend Mickey Rooney, who passed away recently, may be best remembered for his roles in Boys Town, National Velvet, the Andy Hardy movies, and more than 200 other films, but here at PETA and the PETA Foundation, we most fondly remember a video he and his wife Jan made for PETA in which they talk about their rescued dog, Digby, and rescued macaw, Cookie.
The couple took in Digby when some friends didn’t want him anymore. “He’s been in heaven ever since,” said Jan. 
The couple’s scarlet macaw, Cookie, came from their veterinarian. She had been abandoned, very ill, on the vet’s doorstep, but had completely recovered by the time the video was made and is seen perched in a spacious, tropical plant-filled aviary with another macaw companion.
“It’s right” to adopt homeless animals, said Rooney. “More people should do it—adopt animals from their nearest pound.”
He stressed that people shouldn’t let age deter them from adopting. “Remember, any age, any place, anywhere. It’s never too late to love—to give love to our animal friends.”
If you have the time, energy, and resources to care for a four-legged friend, please take Mickey’s advice and visit your local animal shelter.

Alisa Mullins
PETA Foundation
Norfolk, VA 

The Drug Cartels Are Laughing At Us

Dear Editor:
A friend thought you’d be interested in my letter 
The drug cartels are laughing at us as we keep drugs illegal to insure their profits stay high to fuel our enemies in our own hemisphere toward the destruction of our own country. 
Usually this is by our own police and greedy officials who are rapidly destroying our U.S. Constitution with compete impunity. They are confiscating our guns, too in order to prepare us for planned slavery and death. 
We should not stand for this and we should stop it now, just as our founding leaders did who built this great country. We must band together and fight tyranny and demand the enforcement of our Constitution and Bill of Rights and to preserve our heritage - Now! 

Ed Nemecheck 
Landers, CA 

Columns and “Letters To The Editor” are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily the opinion of the Decatur Tribune editor and publisher, staff, or advertisers. 

The Letters To The Editor Above Were Posted April 15, 2014

HB 5485 and Minimum Manning Removes
Local Control of City Budgets

Dear Editor,
I read with interest Mr. Devaney’s position on HB 5485 (Minimum Manning for Fire Departments).  Existing labor law does not currently mandate cities to negotiate over the minimum manning numbers for fire departments.  If it did, then HB 5485 wouldn’t be necessary.  The City of Decatur has never been found to be in violation of existing labor law regarding its resistance to negotiate manning levels of the Decatur Fire Department.  Mandating these types of negotiations will only increase the amount of taxpayer resources spent on expensive arbitrations and legal proceedings.
HB 5485 is an attempt to begin the process of putting the staffing of city departments in control of a third-party arbitrator.  I acknowledge that this bill only pertains to fire departments, but if successful, other public employee unions will be lining up to have the same rights for their workers. Control of city budgets should be left in the hands of locally elected officials who are directly accountable to their citizens and not unknown, third-party arbitrators.

Mike McElroy, Mayor
City of Decatur

Beware of Politicians Who Use Firefighter Manning Requirements As a Scare Tactic

Thanks for the opportunity to correct the flagrant errors made over firefighter minimum manning standards and legislation pending in Springfield.
Rather than express knee-jerk opposition to firefighter safety legislation spelled out in House Bill 5485, it would be helpful if Mayor McElroy, Mr. Osborne and the Decatur Tribune took the time to study and understand the facts about manning negotiations for first responders.
It is important to know that Representatives Adam Brown, Bill Mitchell and Sue Scherer have voted to provide firefighters the ability to negotiate and advocate for safe staffing levels - not legislation that forces cities to pad the firefighting rolls.  Some politicians are frantically opposing this legislation by deceptively threatening tax increases if the legislation is enacted.
Instead these legislators chose to ignore the negative attacks ginned up by political lobbyists and cast their vote in favor of their constituents and the first responders who protect them.  The vote was not a partisan exercise – they joined 61 other legislators on both sides of the aisle.
This is not a matter of tax increases, it is about preventing local politicians from wasting precious taxpayer dollars in court instead of focusing on bargained solutions to provide effective emergency response.
Everyone understands that split seconds can mean the difference between life and death when firefighters respond to fires and other hazardous emergencies.  But the number of trained firefighters responding to a call is every bit as critical as the speed of the response. 
Minimum manning standards are the most crucial “working condition” ingredients in a firefighter collective bargaining negotiation.  Rapid response is futile if there is not sufficient manpower to effectively conduct firefighting and rescue duties. 
Politicians are trying to confuse the issue by falsely equating minimum manning negotiations to the potential of local tax increases.  It’s a scare tactic that’s completely unsupported by years of bargaining over the issue in many communities across Illinois.
Many collective bargaining agreements across Illinois have included minimum manning provisions without hardship to the fire department or the local government itself.  Many municipalities have been able to negotiate substantial firefighter benefit reductions at the bargaining table by agreeing to minimum manning provisions.
Unfortunately, there are a handful of communities that refuse to adhere to existing labor law and negotiate over this critical issue.  This shortsighted approach has continuously been reversed by the courts but has resulted in the loss of millions of tax dollars to the legal process.
It is unfortunate that people like Mr. Osborne have chosen to reflexively condemn public servants like Mr. Brown, Mr. Mitchell and Ms. Scherer without considering the health and welfare of the people most affected: the taxpayers and the first responders who serve them.

Pat Devaney, President
Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
Springfield, IL 

Posted 4/9/14

Some Information On Bears And Deer In Fairview Park 

Dear Editor:
From 1943 to 1961 I lived with my parents at 954 N. Fairview, three blocks north of Fairview Park. In my early days there was no organized little league baseball, etc. Therefore, I spent a lot of time in Fairview Park.
The hill at the very east end of the park next to Fairview Avenue, across from the cemetery, was fenced in and contained a family of five or six deer. On the west side of that hill, at the bottom, was a heavy bar fence area containing two bears. That area is now a small parking lot that at one time more recently contained a red caboose. Some time in the early 1950's the deer were moved to a fenced in hill area north across the road from Dreamland Lake. The east end of that hill contained a heavy bar cage, concrete pad, and two caves for the bears. Your picture at the top of page 32 of the March 26, 2014 edition of your fine newspaper is that bear pen. That picture was taken at the northeast corner from the road that is no longer there.
The deer and bears were probably among the first inhabitants when the Scovill Park Zoo was created.
South up the hill along the east side of the road that is no longer there, towards Dreamland Lake, was a rogue court. 
Rogue is a refined version of croquet. The rogue players had their own club and were very irate when we rode our bicycles across their playing surface.
I remember the train well, having ridden it several times. It was located in the flat area northwest of pavilion number one. It was halfway between the restroom building west of pavilion number one and the current skate board complex. 
The east and north side is the current main road. The south side curves to the north and contains parking areas. Up the hill to the west is pavilion number two.
My parents read the Tribune for over thirty years and I am continuing that family tradition.

Dwayne Collins

Thank You To 34 BABES Volunteers For Dedication

Dear Editor:
On behalf of Dove Inc.’s Beginning Awareness Basic Education Studies Program (BABES), I would like to thank the 34 BABES Volunteers for their dedication.   
These volunteers provide a six week program in 21 Macon and DeWitt County schools to over 1,700 students in grades K-3rd.  Through the use of puppets volunteers help children learn and develop positive living and coping skills. 
These skills will be a foundation for future choices students will make as adolescents and adults.  
This program would not exist without our talented volunteers. 

Sandy Laesch, 
BABES Program Coordinator
Dove Inc.

‘Bright Idea’ For Light Bulbs Not So ‘Bright’

Dear Editor:
If you like your light bulbs, you can't keep them. (This promise was honest.)
Almost two-thirds of the public was not aware that as of Jan. 1, 2014 it's now illegal to manufacture or import our traditional incandescent bulbs in the United States.
CBS News reports the "alternative" costly, mercury-filled compact fluorescent lights are manufactured in China and incandescent factories in the U.S. are now kaput.
The last U.S. incandescent light bulb factory closed in September 2013 leaving some 200 well-paid people clocking in at the unemployment line, GE News stated.
One of the stated purposes of the 2007 act was to move the country toward a "greater energy independent and security." 
Horse puck. 
The CFL bulbs contain mercury and explosives. I know I have seen it and several others who have witnessed this mishap as well.
It used to cost as little as $25 to equip a house with 100 light bulbs while it now cost about $500 to do so. The whole thing smells as if it were put together by the administration and the president of GE.
Remember voters this has the potential to be a serious 2014 election issue representing more government meddling and increased costs, loss of American jobs and the elimination of choice.
This will provide China and GE extreme profits, most of which will never be taxed by the USA. Remember this brainstorm was hatched by Obama, GE and Red China.
  I was born and raised on a farm four miles east of Maroa, along with many other Welges.

Ed Welge
Payson, AZ

A Reminder Of Some Good Things To Eat
And Do This Summer

Dear Editor:
The summertime is just around the corner and time for children to entertain junk food. I want to remind them that before they indulge in their favorite item on the junk food agenda to first eat all that is on their plate that Mom fixes them. Mom and Dad, it wouldn't hurt you to take a lesson from this also.
Fruits and vegetables are also good snacks in place of these items. And for a conclusion to an evening or afternoon one might take to reading a good book. There are many good ones out now besides the always renown true classics. Take the younger children to the library once or twice in a two week period and set down and read with them at home. It is a pleasing interlude from television or the movies. Also it is a good substitution for the computer.
Also in the afternoon or weekends or in the evening enjoy physical activity of playing some type of ball (basketball, baseball, football, jogging, etceteras). Croquet or badminton are good side lights.
On the weekends and through the week a time or two church should come into play. The good Lord has His hand in everything.

David R. Baker

Letters Above Posted 4/8/14

‘Way We Were’ Article Stirred Memories

Dear Mr. Osborne:
I have really enjoyed the articles and pictures of the memories of the way we were. 
I have some memories of the small places. Romano’s Pizza was previously a store that sold bakery goods on Wood Street, and the alley down from old St. Mary's that had a small grocery store that sold a lot of penny candy.  I also have memories of the Den Chili Parlor on Jasper and William, Freddy's Pool Hall on Jasper, the drug store at the corner of Jasper and Wood, an ice cream store in the middle of the block in the 1200 E. Wood.
Who could forget VanZetti Bakery and their luscious cream horns and the nut bread they made at Christmas time?
Then there was Regal Roller Rink. I celebrated my 13th birthday there.
As a child I spent a lot of hours at the train depot. My great uncle would walk me down there and we would sit for hours watching the trains come and go. 
I rode the trains a lot when I got older. I took the train to Chicago to take the test for my nurses degree. 
My husband and I took the train to Chicago and spent the day at the train station for fun. On our way back home, the train was pretty much empty. We were invited by the employees to join them for cake and coffee. It was a farewell party. We were on the last train to carry passengers. 
I failed to write down the date and I can't find it anywhere. I was so thrilled that we were the last to ride. 
I still love to hear the whistles of the freight trains coming and going late at night and early in the morning. I am 74 years old. 
I wonder if there are trains in the after life, I sure  hope so. Thank you for letting me share my memories with you. 

Judy Reynolds

Banning Drive-Up Liquor Windows Passes In Advisory Referendum 

Dear Editor:
Well I see that the drive up liquor windows advisory referendum passed. Congratulations David Daker. You finally did it. At one point I thought you had given up. 
I remember one letter saying we would no longer hear from you once it became apparent that it didn’t get on the referendum the last go-around. It being an assumption on my part that you were a man of your word. 
Next thing I know the editorial pages were once again reflecting your sentiments on the subject. I thought of your crusade just this weekend sitting at a traffic light and seeing a drive up window at a donut shop. I thought how could anyone use this kind of connivance knowing that donuts are not good for you. With obesity out of control in this world and the health problems it brings with it, my gosh. 
I  drove by a well-known hamburger franchise and the line at the drive up was out of control with traffic being affected and people buying unhealthy food for themselves and I hope not their children. 
I am with you Dave. Let’s take this crusade further by voting to close all drive through establishments because it is clear the welfare of those that use them is not in play here but to separate them from their money and surely not for anyone’s well being. 
Anything can be argued for any reason and some people do just that because they can. 
I am reminded of things that are dropped from our language because they no longer serve a purpose, such as door knob, they are handles. Bench seat in a car, there are none anymore. How about mind your own business? Not just for you, Dave, but for the public in general. There is no mind your own anymore and why? Because we don’t and we don’t have to. It is easier to mind other people’s business than our own. 
For the record I don’t use either a drive through for food or drink and it doesn’t bother me if someone else does. 
Now my wife has been known to use the window at the Pharmacy. I am working with her on that because we all know what comes out of those windows.  
To all, enjoy your donuts.  

Rocky Daniels

Primary Elections Are Waste Of Taxpayers Money

Dear Editor: 
I believe primary elections are a gross waste of taxpayers money and that money can be much better spent for improving governmental services. I was a local election judge for several years and commonly less than 15% of the listed voters vote in primaries. The cost of holding a primary election is the same as a presidential election. 
The only true benefits of primaries is the cost saving for political parties. The election judges are paid of course and suppliers sell materials.  
Also, most polling places are rented. Perhaps the local media will publish the actual cost to taxpayers for any election. Thank you. 

Bob Minks

‘Anyone Else’ Is Better Choice Than Rodney Davis

Dear Editor,
In a Public Policy Poll, Rodney Davis lost to "any Democrat" by  47%- 42%.
That's a pretty good indication of the job he's done representing the 13th Illinois Congressional District in the United States House of Representa-tives.  We hired him to do a job that he just hasn't done.  
Suppose you were running a business and hired someone to manage it.  That person turns in the lowest productivity ratings in history and then chooses to shut down the company for a couple of weeks.
What would you do when that person's contract came up for renewal after two years?
Rodney Davis's contract is up for renewal next November.  
I agree with the people who were asked in the poll--- "anyone else" seems like a better choice.

                                       Dianne Lee

Above letters posted 4/1/2014

Defeated Candidate Accepts Blame For Not Being 
Able To Reach And Convince More Voters

Dear Editor:
I entered the Democratic Party primary for U.S. Congress because I felt that each of my two opponents lacked an analytical, principled, and democratic approach to addressing the severe crises that face our government and society. 
That impression was amply confirmed by their statements and tactics throughout the campaign, exemplifying what I have called the politics of “evasion, obedience, and triviality.”
I appreciate the support of those who were convinced by my philosophy and views, and I accept the blame for not being able to reach and convince more voters than I did. Unfortunately, the general election offers a dismal choice to conscientious voters. Our social crises demand broad, creative, and non-violent struggle if our nation is to have anything that can be called a just and humane future.
In our rich nation half of working families are classified as low income, and there is an effective unemployment rate of at least 15%. Our elites have for seven decades attempted to rule the world by force as our society decays and collapses from within. We are saddled with a monstrous for-profit healthcare system and a public educational system that billionaire “philanthropists” covet in terms of both profits and indoctrination.
If this continues, a clear majority of Americans will lead lives of unrewarding struggle and intermittent desperation, and traumatic social and environmental breakdowns will become increasingly frequent. At that point the notion of individual freedom will have become all but meaningless. We are compelled to use the freedoms we still have—in solidarity—before they disappear.

David Green

Thanks To Person Who Returned Billfold

Dear Editor:
I would like to thank the wonderful person that brought my husband's billfold to our house at 9:00 p.m. Sunday night. Said she found it under her car. I would like to know where. He had gone to Kroger. Must of fallen out of his pocket.
All money and credit cards were not touched. What an angel!
We do have honest and great people in Decatur.
My husband just had open heart surgery Dec. 4. It was the first time he was out by himself. Must have had billfold on his lap and it fell out.
Would love for her to call us so I could thank her for her troubles. She would not take a reward.
Thank God for her and God bless her. 

Mary Lee Brown

Make Your Voice Heard 

Dear Editor: 
People in the Decatur area have an opportunity this spring to weigh in on a timely and important topic: health care.
For months, the news has been buzzing about changes in our health care system, like the Affordable Care Act and health insurance exchanges. As millions of Americans begin to take a more active role in their health care, now is an important time for everyone with health insurance to make their voices heard.
From February through April, health insurers conduct a survey called the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), which is mailed to select people with health insurance, including those enrolled in an individual plan, an employer-sponsored plan and Medicare. Responding to the survey by mail or phone is one way you can become part of the broader effort to improve our nation’s health care system. Responses are kept anonymous. 
Survey responses help the government and insurance providers identify ways to better serve people and improve the care they receive. The government and insurers want to make sure that people in the Decatur area receive good medical care from doctors they trust. The CAHPS survey is one tool used to achieve this goal.
The CAHPS survey is an important opportunity for Americans to have a say in how health care changes in the years ahead. I encourage people in the Decatur area to respond to the survey, as this one simple step can help improve health care for all of us.

 Charles Ettelson, MD, FACS
Market Medical Director for UnitedHealthcare in Decatur

‘God’s Message’ To The Decatur City Council

Dear Editor:
This is God's message to the Decatur City Council:
Your gas tank is full and it didn't cost anything to fill it up.
The "carp barrier" invention is cute, but if He wants fish in the lake, there will be fish in the lake.
When you get done building your golden calf downtown, He would appreciate if you would get busy helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, improving human relations and taking care of the children and elderly. (His work.)
Please remove the "invocation" from your meeting  agenda. It serves no purpose. 
God doesn't attend meetings He isn't invited.
God wants the people of Decatur to know He loves Decatur, because of the wonderful houses of worship, which are the best part of the city.

His humble servant,
Dennis Kreher

* * * *

Letters Above Posted 3/25/14

‘Protesting’ Putin’s Actions A Familiar Response

Dear Editor:
The Rhineland is a part of Germany bordering France. After being beaten in World War I France and England by treaty forced Germany to agree it could not remilitarize (that is station German troops on that part of Germany soils) - to keep Germany army as far from France as possible. Hitler came to power in 1933. In 1936 he broke the treaty and sent German troops into the Rhineland but ordered that if France and Britain showed they would resist German troops with force, then the Germans should retreat. We can only guess what such a defeat might have done to undermine Hitler's position in Germany. Certainly it would have reflected badly on him and his policies.
Guess what? France and Britain lacked the will to enforce their own treaty and they did nothing but "protest" what Hitler did.
The U.S.A., France and Britain guaranteed if the Crimea or any other part of Ukraine was invaded they would protect Ukraine (guarantees signed by both Presidents Clinton and Obama). We have done nothing but "protest" what Putin did.
Next, students, fast forward to 1938.
Hitler is riding high in Germany. He is persecuting Jews and other minorities. Czechoslovakia borders Germany. Its borders were set at the end of World War I and included some territory called Sudetenland which had been part of the old German empire. Hitler wanted to reconstitute the old German empire. He claimed the Germans in that part of Sudetenland were being abused. It was of course a lie - a pretext for aggression. 
France and Britain guaranteed Czechoslovakia's borders. Their leaders met with Hitler at Munich, Germany. They agreed to dismember Czechoslovakia and give the Sudetenland to Germany. Britain's leader went home to London and proclaimed "Peace in our time", that is, no war with Germany. Next year, 1939, HItler invaded Poland, then France, then anyone else he chose.
Putin claims Ukraine is abusing Russians who live there. He has sent troops into the Crimea. The U.S.A. and France and Britain agreed to protect Crimea borders. We aren't doing anything but protesting.
Do you think we will continue to have "peace in our time"? By the way, how much of this stuff about Germany and Hitler did you learn in school? Do you think any of our leaders stayed awake in that class?

John E. Fick

Biggest Watch Retailer In Nation Was At Train Station

Dear Editor:
My husband, Dewey Rankin is retired from Western Union. This article was in his quarterly newsletter. I thought you might like to see it:
If you were in the market for a watch in 1880, would you know where to get one? You would go to a store, right? Well, of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than most of the store watches, you went to the train station! Sound a bit funny? 
Well, for about 500 towns across the northern United States, that's where the best watches were found.
Why were the best watches found at the train station? 
The railroad company wasn't selling the watches, not at all. The telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in the railroad station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. It was usually the shortest distance and the right-of-ways had already been secured for the rail line.
Most of the station agents were also skilled telegraph operators and that was the primary way that they communicated with the railroad. They would know when trains left the previous station and when they were due at their next station. And it was the telegraph operator who had the watches. As a matter of fact they sold more of them than almost all the stores combined for a period of about nine years.
This was all arranged by "Richard," who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the East. It was a huge crate of pocket watches. No one ever came to claim them.
So Richard sent a telegram to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with the watches. The manufacturer didn't want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he could sell them. So Richard did. He sent a wire to every agent in the system asking them if they wanted a cheap, but good, pocket watch. He sold the entire case in less than two days and at a handsome profit.
That started it all. 
He ordered more watches from the watch company and encouraged the telegraph operators to set up a display case in the station offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all the travelers. It worked! 
It didn't take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train station to buy watches.
Richard became so busy that he had to hire a professional watchmaker to help him with the orders. That was Alvah. And the rest is history as they say.
The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods. Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago - and it's still there.
Yes, it's a little known fact that for a while in  the 1880s, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train station. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck! Bet you didn't know that!
Thanks to Nick Vitone, Manchester, NJ for sending this article to us.

Irene Rankin

Above Letters Posted March 18, 2014

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Park Board Should Realize That Higher Prices 
Drive Golfers Away

Dear Editor:
The price of golf in the past years has increased 3 times at about 30% each time.  It just made  players mad, many stopped playing in Decatur or just quit all together.  After Nelson was closed golf at the remaining courses was either price prohibitive or user unfriendly to the older, slower, and novice player.
The H&R article on golf states that, “The city’s population is declining. Income is growing slowly.  Unemployment is rising.” 
Think about it.  The number of rounds has fallen from a high of 180-190,000 rounds to 75-80,000 rounds.  That is a decrease of around 59%. 
I play in a 9-hole late league, with a rare 18 hole round in Decatur.  I used to play 3-4 18 hole rounds a week here.  I usually play outside Decatur now.  If they expect the young up and coming Young Guns to make up the difference in rounds and sales, Good Luck.  They would probably all get fired for missing that much work.
There was a car dealer that came to town that succeeded because of volume as opposed to price.  With that in mind, at $42.00 a round w/cart, 75-80,000 rounds equals $3.15-3.36 million in income.  If the price is dropped to $35.00 w/cart and only 13% of the lost rounds are brought back  to 100-120,000 rounds income goes to $3.5-4.2 million.  The cost is basically static so $400-800,000 more revenue.  Each course could be repriced according to lack of play or increase desired.
The roads run out of Decatur as well as in.  So if the Park Board wants to bring people in, then thought of fees and value needs to be compared to availability within an hour’s radius.  
Don’t get confused people, play for enjoyment.  Higher prices don’t equal more enjoyment!

Anthony Clark

EHS Auditorium Should Be Named After Shirley Kistler 
Dear Editor:
  I just read the latest article about the school district's naming the Eisenhower auditorium. As usual the school board is in another controversy. I have been upset with District 61 for their naming of parts of Eisenhower for quite awhile.
      This goes back to the late 60's. I believe that in 1966, when I was a student there, the gym was named for Brian Stockwell. Brian was on Eisenhower’s (1964?) state winning baseball team and was the first student from Eisenhower to die in the Vietnam war. A plaque was installed in the front hall of the gym. 
Later, when Coach Bob Witt died, they re-named it for him. While I understand how a coach trumps a student over the name of the gym, it is still  hard to accept. 
As for the auditorium, I'll take the name of a teacher who taught there for 30+ years over a short term superintendent any day.
     I was friends with Brian and friends with Bob until his death. My family  continues to be friends with Shirley.
Naming the auditorium for Supt. Davis just added to the disappointment of many a EHS student. Shirley Kistler is the obvious choice for the auditorium, but the school board...well what can you say. 

Patrick Durnil

Remember Efforts Of Women Who Overcame
Tremendous Obstacles

Dear Editor:
As our nation prepares to celebrate Women’s History Month in March, we should remember the extraordinary, trailblazing efforts of women who overcame tremendous obstacles to enter and succeed in the workforce.
One of those women was Illinois resident Myra Bradwell, considered by many to be America’s first woman lawyer. In 1869, Myra Bradwell was denied admission to the bar on the grounds that she was a married woman. She challenged the ruling and went on, with the help of two other women lawyers, to draft and pass Illinois legislation prohibiting gender-based employment exclusion. It was the first anti-sex discrimination law in the country.
Since that time, women have come a long way. In the legal field, the number of women lawyers has grown from five in 1870 to some 330,000 today. One out of three lawyers is female, and female enrollment in U.S. law schools is almost 50 percent.  Simultaneously, women in all fields have made tremendous advances.
We all owe a debt of gratitude, not only to those first  Illinois women lawyers who shaped the course of history, but also to women “pioneers” everywhere whose courageous actions helped paved the way for the opportunities we now enjoy.

Paula H. Holderman
Illinois State Bar Association

FairTax Act Has Been Tied Up In Committee 
For Over 10 Years

Dear Editor:
In his recent book, Extortion, Schweizer explains "How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes and Line Their Own Pockets".
It's all legal.  Their rules make it so. The (1) extremely complex income tax code and (2) equally complex regulatory rules/laws enable all of this.  Small wonder "We the People" can't get Congress's attention any more.
The FairTax Act, HR25, tied up in the House Ways and Means committee for over 10 years, has never been voted on.  (The FairTax would be unbelievably good for America but that's the subject of other letters to the editor.) 
It can't be considered by the full House until approved by this committee.  Get the picture?  
Rep Dave Camp, as committee chairmen before him, simply has not allowed the FairTax legislation to see the light of day.  Most representatives and senators like this situation. They love the complex income tax code which FairTax would replace (annihilates the IRS too!).
Representative Aaron Schock is a member of the Ways and Means committee and therefore co-conspirator in this.  He has not acted to bring the FairTax Act up for consideration/vote either.  
Contact him and ask about it. Better yet, vote for a challenger in his primary.

Glen E Terrell
Arlington, TX 

Time For Senator Durbin To Be Replaced

Dear Editor:
  Elections are here again. There is a candidate campaigning for U.S. Senator opposing Senator Dick Durbin.  His name is Doug Truax USMA92.
Doug is a fresh face, not part of our political problem in America. He is a young conservative who has firm principles. He lives in Downers Grove in same neighborhood and house for 12 years.
  He graduated from West Point and Army Ranger School and an Army Veteran.  His background gives him credibility in the military and foreign policy arena.
Doug has been active in "Almost Home Kids" , a community-based charity for children, who are medically fragile and helping them to be reunited with their family. He is also active in his church.
He has a family, married for 21 years and has 3 children.
  He started a successful Oakbrook strategic risk consulting firm that  empowers employees by controlling their healthcare costs, benefits, retirement plans and business risks. Since working at his healthcare -related company, he has become an Obamacare expert.
  According to "Numbers U.S.A."- www.CongressGrades.org, they re-corded all actions for Dick Durbin in the Senate and were calculated as a "D-".
He has 32 years of baggage . Time to move on Senator Durbin.
June Innis

Letters Above Posted 3/11/14

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