The Decatur City Council has a lot to deal with these days. I hear a lot of complaints about the horrible condition of our roads, especially the state routes through our city. Citizens who complain should remember that the condition of state routes is due to state negligence and the council should not be blamed for those roads. Also, the city council will have to make a decision on whether or not to “opt out” of approving a marijuana dispensary in our city.
There’s a growing debate for and against the dispensary brought on by the legalization of marijuana by our state’s General Assembly earlier this year. State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker) was the only one of the four members of the Illinois House and Senate who represent Decatur to vote to legalize it, which I still find shocking. Now elected councils and aldermen in communities across the state are deciding whether to have a legal marijuana dispensary in their community.
There are two sides to every issue, but in this case, the basic reason for Illinois legalizing pot is about extracting more money to feed a ravenous state appetite for spending and not giving any thought to cutting back some programs that have been proven totally worthless — because of political affiliation. How will council vote?
As I told Brian Byers on WSOY’s City Hall Insider hour recently, if I was still on council as mayor, this vote would be an easy one — “opt out” — because the argument in support of it are based on faulty financial projections, impossible to keep promises and extreme damage to the efforts to build our workforce in Decatur. Also, there is no doubt a black market will offer lower prices on the street and the state will realize no gain — just more expense in fighting drug addiction and setting a horrendous negative example for young people.
The Illinois Sheriffs Association is campaigning against cities “buying into” spreading this plague across our communities. Check out the association’s ad on page 15 of the print edition, which should be a wake-up call for anyone who is undecided how to vote. About all members of the law enforcement community are against more marijuana in our community because they know the problems it will create. When it comes to listening to those in authority about what is good for a community, I will trust the judgement of those who lay their lives on the line in protecting us every day instead of those who pass legislation out of greed and try to make “something good” out of it.
When the Decatur City Council votes in the near future, the members should vote to “opt out” simply because it is the right thing to do for the safety and continue forward thrust of Decatur. Decatur should not sell its soul for a promised few bucks. That’s not what the Decatur I know is about. We’re better than that!
• POTHOLES: One of our letter writers in recent days has made the tongue in cheek suggestion that, if the potholes aren’t going to be fixed, then maybe drivers are going to have to use pot to endure driving over our roads! We do newspaper trucking within 100 miles of Decatur and last week, the Tribune driver had a terrible time in less populated areas towards the northwest. The reason: detours because of so much road work going on — resurfacing, bridge replacement, etc.
When he told me that, I took a look at the IDOT map showing where state road construction was taking place — and Decatur’s name wasn’t even on the map! Where Decatur was looked like the middle of the Sahara Desert — no symbols showing road construction or rebuilding. Decatur and Macon County are in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Region 4, District 7, and I called that office in Effingham on Friday, asking what road projects were planned for us.
The person with that information was not in the office, but the person answering the phone, who was very pleasant, took down my questions and indicated the one who responsible for the district, would get back to me with the information — but it might take serveral days. I haven’t heard as I’m getting this edition ready to go to press, but it’s only been a few days. We need to know what projects to make our state routes smoother and safer are in the works and when we can expect them to be started. When I receive that information, I will let you know and, since I haven’t received it in time for this week’s edition I should have something by next week.
It shouldn’t take very long to find out what’s ahead for Decatur and Macon County in state road construction — especially if there is very little. We need our state roads fixed in order to make our community safe — and save repair bills for our vehicles. Illinois Department of Transportation, Region 4, District 7