CONGRATULATIONS to the Decatur St. Teresa Volleyball Team that won the Class 2A State Championship Saturday! Our community and area have so many exceptional athletes in all sports and when a local school wins — we all win! A special “well done” to the coaches, players, fans and everyone who had a part in bringing the championship trophy home to our community. Decatur Tribune Sports Editor J. Thomas McNamara was there to capture the win in photos and story on pages 13 and 16 of the print and online editions.
• SCOTT REEDER has an interesting column on page 3 of the print and online editions about what impact the state’s massive gasoline tax increase is having on small businesses — especially Illinois service stations located close to the border of neighboring states. Those businesses are losing customers because they are heading across the nearby state line to cheaper gas prices on the other side of the border.
• TUESDAY’S Decatur Board of Education meeting was scheduled to be held in the auditorium at MacArthur High School, 1499 West Grand Avenue. The board was scheduled to meet in Closed Session first and the Open Session was to start at 6:30 PM. Actually, whether it is the school board or the city council, there are specific reasons for meeting in Closed Session. The board, in issuing the change of location for its regularly scheduled meeting indicated it was meeting in “Closed Executive Session to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, disciplne, performance or dismissal of specific employees of the public body, and discussion of collective negotiating matters between the Board and representatives of its employees…” Since the Closed Session began at 4:00 PM, 2 1/2 hours before the Open Session, even with a break, the board had a lot to discuss in private — all perfectly legal. District #61 and the Decatur Federation Of Teaching Assistants (DFTA) will be involved in a mediation session Thursday, November 21, 2019. Let’s hope something positive comes out of that session for the sake of everyone concerned.
• FORMER Decatur School Board member Barry A. Buttz has a letter to the editor on page 2 of the print and online editions giving his view of the current board of education and its president — and it is not to applaud them for their efforts but to point out, with his opinion, the present board has taken DPS “to the brink of the abyss”. Ouch!
A few community leaders have told me privately that they feel the board of education could have done a better job of handling the public relations aspect of the negotiations. I don’t disagree although I know from experience that any board leaders have to walk a very fine line when negotiations are underway or what they do and say can be misinterpreted.
• OUR STATE Rep. Dan Caulkins says that stronger ethics reforms are needed to put a stop to political corruption in Illinois. Caulkins said that on the final day of the fall veto session, the Illinois House of Representatives passed several ethics reform measures that “do not fully address concerns over recent federal indictments and ongoing political corruption in Illinois”. Asking legislators to adopt more stringent ethics measures is like asking foxes to form a commission to “ethically” control their killing of farmers’ chickens. It’s laughable. How does “ethics reform” take place in a public body that, for the most part, has no ethics?
Caulkins (R-Decatur) supported the ethics reform measures, but indicated that stronger reforms are needed to put a stop to the culture of corruption. “The Democrat majority filed legislation in the middle of the night in a last-minute attempt to provide cover for their members, while refusing to take any votes on our ethics reform package that was introduced weeks, and in some cases, months ago,” Rep. Caulkins said. “The legislation passed today should only be considered a small, first step on the path to ending political corruption in our state. While I reluctantly supported these watered-down bills, much more needs to be done to clean up the mess in Springfield.” House Joint Resolution 93 creates the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to review Illinois’ ethics laws and lobbyist registration requirements. The Democrats’ resolution postpones the final report of the Commission until March 31, 2020, after the Primary Election. Senate Bill 1639 requires lobbyists to disclose if they are elected officials, if they lobby a local government that requires registration, and requires the disclosure of who a sub-registrant lobbyist is hired to help lobby.
“I find it rather disheartening that legislation needed to bring sunshine and transparency to the process was filed under the cover of night, giving legislators and the public little time to review or ask questions about these watered-down reforms,” Caulkins said.
The way the “ethics reform” bills were passed, sounds pretty “unethical” to me, Dan — but I’m really not surprised.