Over the past two years, the State of Illinois has neglected Northern Illinois University to the tune of $120 million. Illinois has the second highest rate of abandonment of college-bound high school students in the nation. Illinois owes $16 billion to vendors. The state has $250 billion in pension debt. The state has near junk-bond rating status.

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The reason for Illinois’ predicament is simple — decades of political incompetence and corruption. To feel better, we occasionally send a governor to prison.

Doug Baker, president of Northern Illinois University. | Provided

In 2013, as NIU searched for a new president, the FBI and other regulators were searching NIU. NIU’s vision was scrambled, finances were a mess and student enrollment was in decline. My two-degree alma mater was in a state of crisis.

When I participated in a round of interviews for the new university president, I asked myself if any of the finalists could help right the ship. Doug Baker was and remains that person. In hiring Doug Baker, the board of trustees made a great move for NIU and for the future of higher education in Illinois.

As Doug Baker and the Board of Trustees made critical corrections with haste, Baker and his team made administrative errors — with eyes wide open. With the OEIG report in hand, instead of a quick and bold admission, there was hesitancy at Altgeld Hall — as squeamish communication experts got their say. NIU has corrected its errors.

Money is not the issue. The visioning and financial management services were necessary — and would have been paid regardless of how they were classified. In my opinion, given the mess NIU was in, Baker acted for the greater good. Only in Illinois, however, can we waste three years investigating what box was checked on a personnel form while state politicians push us to the brink of economic ruin.

Peter Burchard, Geneva

Still crowded

So the Chicago area leads the U.S. in population loss. You could have fooled me with all that darned traffic out there.

Matt C. Abbott, Edgewater

Trump contradicts own statements

Who will be the first to say, “Mr. Trump, you have the right to remain silent. Please?”

One can be reasonably confident that half the country would appreciate relief from the president’s inability to maintain a consistent alibi, a policy narrative or a linear train of thought. Mr. Trump contradicts his statements mere days after making them. This begs the question of whether adult attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder could be considered grounds to trigger Section Four of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which governs succession due to the incapacity of the chief executive to execute his duties. The way the Republicans salivate over those parts of the Constitution they approve of, Congress might want to consider getting their heads around a strategy that could contribute to their political survival.

Lawrence Keenan, Edgewater

Where are the billions?

As horrible as the attacks in The United Kingdom were this past weekend, London will still had fewer murders this week than Chicago, even though it is twice as large as our fair city.

What happened there is called “terrorism” and our leaders are willing to spend billions to stop it. So what should we call what happens in the Windy City, particularly in Austin and Englewood every day, and where are the billions to stop it?

Don Anderson, Oak Park

Enough is enough

It’s been widely report, and not denied, that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law met with the Russian ambassador during the election seeking to establish a direct line of communication with Putin/Kremlin from within the Russian Embassy in Washington. Was this to solicit money for his troubled real estate empire?

At the very least, it was a conflict of interest and a meeting he didn’t report to the proper authorities. At the worst, it was tampering with the election on behalf of a foreign government and treason.

When is enough enough with Trump, his family and the billionaires around him ruining the country while they line their pockets at our expense?

Tom Minnerick, Elgin

Making us less safe

Britain’s Theresa May and America’s Donald Trump sure know how to ignore the elephant in the room when it comes to terror attacks. After the third one in England in 75 days, May promoted stricter regulation of the internet which she claims is a ‘safe space’ for terrorists, without offering a shred of evidence such a draconian restriction of freedom would prevent a deranged person from driving over pedestrians. Equally delusional, Trump used the latest attack to trumpet his travel ban of Muslims from six predominantly Muslim nations that hasn’t a prayer of passing the constitutional smell test and is oblivious to the reality most such attacks are conducted by long term residents, even naturalized citizens.

The elephant, a Tyrannosaurus Rex actually, is that America, with British and French support and cheerleading, has been relentlessly bombing seven Muslim nations, arming Islamic radicals to help their effort to overthrow the secular regime of Bashar Assad, and, get this, selling hundreds of billions in weaponry to Saudi Arabia, which works relentlessly to spread Wahabism, the austere version of
Islam that provides theological foundation for the very terrorism we claim needs eradicating.

It doesn’t take much insight to understand the West has little sincere interest in ending violent attacks such as recent ones in London and Manchester. They serve the war party which uses them to further restrict our freedoms, solidify their grip on power, maintain perpetual war and pour billions into their coffers from arms sales to the very folks enabling violent attacks.

Our own government is making us less safe … and we’re paying them to do it.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn