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home : opinions :   May 29, 2016

9/11/2013 10:44:00 AM
Column: Choosing your standard

Jeff Dankert
NT Reporter

Some citizens argued the city of Peru should seek bids instead of renewing a five-year contract with Total Environmental Service Technologies Inc. to manage water and sewage plants.
Their basis for argument, state municipal code, is a good one. State law requires Illinois cities to seek bids on contracts of more than $20,000.
But if you rely on state law to support your argument, especially when your argument is loud and proud, you are obligated to apply other applicable state laws to avoid double standards and hypocrisy.
The other applicable statutory words immediately follow the $20,000 bid requirement. Cities can enter into a contract without advertising for bids, by a vote of two-thirds (super-majority) of aldermen.
This was applied at Monday’s council meeting with a 7-1 vote, comfortably nestled within the confines of legality.
There is a subtle difference between the two parts of this law. The first part is a requirement and the second is an option. If this option is inappropriate for the TEST Inc. contract, it might be in appropriate for any contract and state law should be revised,
Let’s consider another example of standard-choosing, U.S. government pronouncements to make war, a current event in the making with U.S. crosshairs trained on Syria.
War-making and its conjoined twin, propaganda, are the birthplace of double standards. U.S. leaders often use “terrorist” or similarly frightening phrases such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “mushroom clouds on the horizon” when preparing to make war. This propaganda is useful in energizing nationalist fervor for war.
How do we define an act of war? Is one act on one morning an act of war? Exactly 12 years ago, U.S. leaders called it war when 19 men, mostly from Middle Eastern countries, hijacked commercial planes and flew them into buildings, killing nearly 3,000 people on the East Coast.
The hijackers had ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who cited U.S. support for Israeli military aggression, U.S troops in Saudi Arabia and sanctions against Iraq, among others, as reasons for the attacks.
Within the borders of the United States, these reasons were barely mentioned or considered, replaced by war drums, face-painting and chest-beating. We hardly considered that others around the planet might consider previous U.S military actions as “terrorism.”
The Iraqis knew this terror from 1991 until 1998 when, after the Gulf War, U.S., British and French warplanes patrolled Iraqi skies to prevent Iraqi planes from flying.
How might U.S. citizens describe seven years of foreign warplanes flying overhead? They might describe it as terrifying. But other citizens’ response to U.S. military aggression, as terrorizing as it has been on its very face, is not part of the discussion.
Quite clearly it should be, if we are to uphold the same values we proclaim when making the case for war.
The Syrians have known terror at the hands of their government as the U.S. stood by as an ally. They surely know it now under the angry stare of the most powerful military on the planet.

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

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