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home : opinions : columns   May 24, 2016

8/20/2013 11:05:00 AM
End of summer notebook cleanup

Craig Sterrett
NT News Editor

It’s still summer, though the schools are sending kids back to class early so the sports teams theoretically will have better preseason practices and the rich folks can have long “winter” and spring breaks.
Since this week’s supposed to be one of the hottest ones of the season, you’re likely to be a bit less patient than usual.
So it’s a perfect time to share some opinions in short Twitter-style bursts that won’t test your patience.
As of this writing, the governor still had not signed a bill to change of some interstate highway speed limits to 70 mph. He needs to sign it. Traffic is already going 73, and that’s a safe speed on lonesome, very-rural stretches of interstates such as I-80, 180 and 39. Cities can request lower speed limits when the freeway passes through their territory.
I disagree with making it illegal to hold a cell phone to your ear while driving in Illinois. If you’re out on Interstate 39 and have no cars or trucks within a half mile of you, holding a cell phone to your ear briefly will be no more distracting or dangerous than fiddling with a CD changer or hollering at the kids in the backseat. The law will succeed in selling a lot of voice-activated cell phone accessories and probably make some people buy a new car just for the technology inside. Me, I’ll just stop using the phone while I drive. I’m not going to help bring in tax revenue by purchasing more stuff from some company that already bills its customers ridiculous amounts and reaps giant profit. Plus, it will restore the car as a sanctuary from the world.
What’s next? Do we need laws to stop people from fooling around with their GPS, reading a map, eating tacos or eating a bowl of cereal while they drive?
The man convicted of murder half a century ago at Starved Rock State Park in St. Louis Canyon has another parole hearing coming up soon. Stories are flying around as the hearing nears. Here’s the deal: If Chester Weger did it, he should never, ever get out. Period. If he didn’t do it, he should get out of prison right away. I should hope people making the decision on that don’t consider age or whether he’s a danger or whether his health care will be costly if he is kept in prison. Unless they know he didn’t do it, he has a sentence to serve.
Speaking of sentences, how is it that politicians like Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife or white-collar criminals who steal hundreds or thousands of dollars from their campaign funds (investors) or from corporations and their investors get sentences that only amount to 2½ years, yet some poor kid who boosts a car or commits a crime to make ends meet might get 5-10 years? Plus if white-collar criminals have a good enough lawyer, they can say the booze made them do it, go into rehab and shorten the sentence further.
On the political scene, there are a lot of people getting involved in creating revisionist versions of history these days.
Because the Democrats as well as old-guard and newer more conservative Republicans have a huge disagreement over the government’s role in people’s lives, and there’s an even greater division of opinion and fear of President Barack Obama’s social agenda and health care, the practice of demonizing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is growing into a huge fad. The argument goes, Roosevelt pushed socialism as a possible solution to the Great Depression and it didn’t bring the nation out of the Depression, we’re all paying for it still today, and FDR paved the road to ruin.
Most of the programs FDR started are gone now, though Social Security still is with us and indeed there are programs modeled after his alphabet-soup of programs. Argue all you want, but most of you were not there and didn’t live through that time. Jobs programs like the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps were needed.
There were hardly any jobs, and the nation had plenty of infrastructure and national parks and state parks projects just waiting to be completed.
Presidents have their strengths and weaknesses so painting a picture of any of them in broad, hateful strokes is ill-advised.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or

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