CITY BEAT: BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WILD AND CRAZY DRIVERS!

 

Editor Paul Osborne

     Phil Romano was telling me a few days ago about nearly being run over by a car as he was crossing the street downtown on his way to the post office! Phil said he was walking in a designated crosswalk and the driver of the car had his mind somewhere else as he waited for the traffic signal to turn green and kept moving forward hitting Phil! Phil yelled at him and then started beating on his hood to get his attention!      

     The driver also received a torrent of angry words (it’s unusal for Phil to get angry) and still didn’t acknowledge that a pedestrian was being hit by the car he was driving! Finally when the driver came out of his coma and saw (and heard) Phil, he pulled up and asked him if he was hurt. Phil told me that what hurt the most were his hands — from beating on the car’s hood trying to get the driver’s attention.

     So, if you see a car pull up next to you with twohand prints deeply embedded in the hood, give the driver special attention because he probably isn’t paying any attention to his driving or the road. Maybe it is just me thinking this, but there seems to be a lot of crazy, rude, inattentive and downright mad drivers on the roads these days.

     • WALKING across North Franklin Street at the designated crosswalks in front of the downtown post office is downright dangerous at times. Unless a pedestrian watches his or her timing cars heading up North Franklin Street arrive at that crossing within seconds of the traffic signals at Main St. and Franklin, or South Park and Franklin, changing to green.

     As I’ve mentioned before, it’s like the start of the Indy 500 as drivers blast through downtown like they want to grab the lead by the time they get to Eldorado! I got so disgusted in trying to cross at the crosswalk the other day that when the “Indy 500” started with cars quickly heading my way, I stood at the side of the road and made “slow down” motions with my arms! Guess what? They all slowed down!

     However, I don’t think I’ll try that again. My suit would not look good with tire tracks on it. Actually, I’m not sure why the drivers are speeding on Franklin or on Main Street, the other artery through downtown Decatur. The traffic signals are synchonized and if a driver speeds he or she is going to hit a lot of red lights to speed away from. That’s also the irritating part. Some drivers will weave in and out of traffic to race up Franklin and then have to stop at the next signal! That’s crazy…and hard on vehicles.

     Maybe I can get a part-time job as flagman at Macon Speedway on Saturday nights. I should be good at it since I’ve practiced on North Franklin Street — and lived to write about it!

     • THERE really seems to be a lot of “road rage” in varying degrees these days. I was heading south on Main Street in my possessed car “Christine” the other day and, believe it or not, a fully loaded 18-wheeler was weaving in and out of traffic! I was driving at the speed limit and the driver of the 18-wheeler had his truck right on the bumper of my car, He was so close, I could almost see the facial expressions of dead bugs on the grill of his truck in my rear view mirror!

     As we started to cross the memorial bridge over Lake Decatur, the truck driver whipped his rig into the next lane and passed me and then whipped back in my lane! He kept doing that, weaving in and out of cars, as we entered Route 51 South heading out of Decatur! I’d never seen a driver of a tractor/trailer rig so aggressively wheeling in and out of traffic!

     • I’VE HEARD some pretty frightening stories from local residents of what they have encountered on the roads in recent weeks in terms of careless and crazy driving. Maybe the pandemic caused people to get in their vehicles and take all of their frustrations out on other drivers! The world is dangerous enough these days with COVID-19, political unrest and some mean spirited people wanting to do harm to others.

     Using an 18-wheeler, or any other vehicle, to release frustrations and anger is way beyond foolish — it is very dangerous. I encourage everyone to drive with some common sense. A calmer, more alert, attitude will save lives —maybe even your own!

     • THE MACON County Health Department has announced that it has switched from reporting COVID-19 case totals and demographic details from a daily to a weekly basis. The reports will be released each Friday and will contain totals for the prior week. As of last Friday’s release, the Joint Crisis Communication Team (CCT) reported that the total number of Confirmed Cases in Macon County Since Start of Pandemic: 11,002 Number of Newly-Confirmed Cases Since Last Release: 5 Number of Confirmed COVID-Related Deaths Since Last Release: 0 Total Number of Confirmed Cases in Macon County Since Start of Pandemic: 11,002 confirmed cases in Macon County since the start of the pandemic as 11,002.

     • I CAN’T help but notice that the most recent COVID-19 chart indicates that the highest number of infections (1695) in Macon County is from the 20-29 age group, with the second highest (1642) from the 30-39 age group with the third highest (1612) from the 40-49 age group. It is apparent the highest number of infections are from young through middle-age residents. It’s surprising that 1,154 infections are in the 10-19 age group. There’s been 206 deaths from COVID-19 among Macon County residents since the pandemic began.

     As I wrote last week, vaccinations in Macon County are among the lowest numbers in the state. Almost two-thirds of Macon County residents have not been vaccinated — far below the state and national average. With that high a number of unvaccinated residents and many refusing to wear a mask as recommended to unvaccinated residents, if a variant raises its ugly head later this year, it is not a stretch to believe that our county will be hit hard because of the low number of people who have been vaccinated for whatever reason they give. I hope that I am wrong.

     Anyone who chooses not to be vaccinated should wear a mask. More COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Data can be found by going to the following link: http://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccinedata?county=Macon COVID-19 Testing Locations: • Crossing Healthcare: Drive-through testing located at 990 N. Water St. o Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.- noon and 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. (appointments are strongly encouraged, but not required) o For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit crossinghealthcare.org/COVID19 • SIU: Patients should call (217) 872-3800. • HSHS Medical Group: Drive-through testing by appointment only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4965 Lost Bridge Rd., Decatur, IL o Registration through MyChart is required for testing.- Non-HSHS Patients can visit: HSHSMGCovidTesting.org to set up an account – HSHS Patients can visit: HSHSMGCovidTesting.org or their MyChart account • Memorial ExpressCare (Two Locations) o 3131 North Water St. Decatur, IL o 4455 US-36 East Decatur, IL – Both locations are offering rapid COVID-19 PCR testing for symptomatic individuals or individuals with a doctor’s note. • CVS: Visit www.cvs.com • Walgreens: Visit www.walgreens.com • Vero Clinics: www.veroclinics.com

     • SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN — Howard G. Buffett, who announced last month that he would be running for Macon County Sheriff in the 2022 election, issued a statement over the weekend that he was suspending his campaign and I was surprised to read it.

     Here’s the complete statement that Buffett sent to members of the news media: “Illinois’ new police reform legislation, HB 3653, changes the eligibility requirements for running for Sheriff and, as currently written, it is open to interpretation whether I meet those eligibility requirements. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office has also endured two and a half years of uncertainty due to disputes over the outcome of the 2018 sheriff election. When I consider these two factors, I have concluded that it is not in the best interest of the community or the sheriff’s office to enter into a 2022 campaign that could bring additional uncertainty and potential for dispute to the election process.

     “Therefore, absent clear confirmation that my extensive experience and training in law enforcement, including the time I served as Sheriff, are sufficient to meet the requirements of HB 3653, I am suspending my campaign for Macon County Sheriff.”

     Obviously, Buffett is well qualified to serve as sheriff if elected — and was our sheriff after he was appointed in 2017 following the retirement of Thomas Schneider. He completed the final 14 months of Schneider’s term. Jim Root, who was determined to be the duly-elected sheriff through a long court battle will finally assume the position later this month. Present sheriff Tony Brown has announced his plans to retire following the court decision declaring Root the winner of the 2018 election.

     Buffett’s decision to suspend his campaign certainly makes it an easier path for Root to run for re-election as he would have faced Buffett in the Republican Primary Election. The “political moves” by the governor and a majority of the politicians in Springfield are going to reach a point of being so anti-law enforcement that qualified candidates and applicants for law enforcement positions at county and city levels will be difficult to find.

     • GOVERNOR BROKE PLEDGE — Actually, I’m being kind to Governor J.B. Pritzker by writing that he broke his pledge and not using the phrase “lied to the people” when he signed partisan state legislative redistricting maps drawn by Democratic lawmakers in Springfield. Pritzker had said when he was campaigning for the office that, if he was governor, he would veto any redistricting map that was drawn up by partisan lawmakers.

     Well, the Democrats drew up the map and Governor Pritzker refused to veto the highly partisan work and signed it. As Congressman Rodney Davis pointed out, even the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board in a recent editorial wrote: “Illinois Democrats hold a statehouse supermajority, every statewide office and a state Supreme Court majority. That sounds like a monopoly on power. But with voters starting to revolt against the state’s fiscal woes and political corruption, Democrats are now working to further entrench their power.

     “Late last week Democrats jammed through new state legislative maps that combine 14 Republicans in the Illinois House into seven districts. That means seven GOP incumbents are guaranteed to lose in party primaries. Republicans will also lose their incumbent advantage in seven districts. No Democrats were combined in the same House districts. “…Two weeks ago, Mr Pritzker reaffirmed his campaign pledge to veto “an unfair map”—read his lips. We hope he keeps his promise. In any case, the gerrymander is certain to be challenged in court because Illinois Democrats redrew the legislative maps based on Census Bureau population estimates, rather than granular data from the 2020 count. Data from the 2020 count won’t be available until late this summer due to pandemic delays.”

     Last week, U.S. Rep. Davis (R-Ill.) and state lawmakers held a two-day, four-stop tour where they visited communities across central Illinois that have been carved up by Illinois Democrats to protect and maximize their own political power. Joining Rep. Davis were State Representatives Avery Bourne, Dan Brady, Tim Butler, Dan Caulkins, Brad Halbrook, Mike Marron, and Mike Murphy and State Senators Jason Barickman, Steve McClure, Chapin Rose, and Sally Turner. The two-day, four-stop tour took Rep. Davis and state lawmakers to gerrymandered neighborhoods in Savoy, Normal, Decatur, and Springfield.

     I’ve been around and written about politicians about all of my life and they usually justify telling lies so they can be in a position “to do good things for the people who elect them”.

     Many politicians I know, and have known, believe “political lies” are not the same as “regular lies”. Remember when we were kids and sang “liar, liar, pants on fire”? The market for new pants (maybe fireproof ones) has to be high in Springfield and Washington D.C.

     • BY THE WAY, don’t make the argument that what some Democrat officeholders do is no worse than what some Republican officeholders do. Lies, false pledges and misleading statements are not unique to either party. Comparing what one party does to the “no worse” argument for the other party is silly. Citizens have a right to expect those they elect to talk and do right whether it is in local government or any other place where we elect people to represent us. Those who lead us should not be “no worse than…” They should be “better than that…”

     • SUMMER has finally arrived — a week before the first official day of summer on the calendar! Wow! Starting last week, we’ve already had some scorchers! Thank goodness for air conditioning! When I was a kid we just had a fan — which blew hot air around the room. That’s all some residents still have in 2021! Some residents don’t even have a fan!

     • FATHER’S DAY is coming up on Sunday. Happy Father’s Day to all of the great fathers including those no longer living, but living on in our memories. My “Viewpoint” this week on page 3 of the print and online editions of the Decatur Tribune is about my father — and the way he still influences my life even though he passed away nearly 20 years ago.

     • I JOIN Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. for the City Hall Insider portion of his Thursday program at 7:00 a.m. each week.

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