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Monday letters: CTA's normal state revenues are not a 'bailout'

Sun-Times Media

Back in 1983, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that provided clear, consistent funding for transit in Northeastern Illinois, including the CTA. That mix of sales taxes and other statutorily specified revenues has funded the CTA operating budget for the last 31 years.

In 2016, the CTA is counting on the state to do what it has always done, no less and no more.

Some have recently — and mistakenly — suggested that CTA’s 2016 spending plan requires a “bailout” from Springfield. That’s simply not true. As we have for the last 31 years, we are budgeting in the same way as our partners at Metra and Pace: according to the law that spells out how tax dollars are assigned to the region’s three transit agencies.

Dollars from sales taxes and Chicago real estate transactions are absolutely critical to keeping buses and trains running. Roughly half of CTA’s funding is public funding allocated through a statutory formula; the remainder comes from our fare boxes and other system-generated sources like advertising. Reflecting the vital role public transportation plays in the region’s and state’s economy, state funding for transit has historically always been provided to CTA, Metra and Pace in a predictable manner, assuring riders that the service will be in place for the long-term. A stable, reliable statutory formula that does not have to be renewed each year has allowed more than 1.6 million riders each day to know they can count on the CTA.

CTA does not need, nor is seeking, anything beyond following the letter, and the spirit, of the 1983 legislation.

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the CTA has achieved financial stability after years of massive deficits and “doomsday,” scenarios, while spearheading unprecedented investments to modernize the entire system. Simultaneously, CTA has reduced costs and increased efficiency—with the savings redirected to maintaining service and holding the line on base fares, which have been frozen for the last five years.

In short, CTA has kept its end of the bargain. We ask that Springfield do the same.

Dorval R. Carter Jr., president, CTA

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Court case raises many questions

In Mark Brown’s stories about alleged fraud in a personal injury case where the plaintiff’s lawyer is accused of knowing about a jury question that indicated he was about to lose his case and also that he told the court clerk not to tell his opponent about the questions, there are a couple of flies in the ointment that indicate a more serious problem. The judge’s clerk has consistently denied under oath that she told plaintiff’s counsel the content of the note. She also denies that plaintiff’s counsel told her to “hold off” on calling defense counsel. You write that defense counsel was notified of the existence of a jury question less than 30 minutes later and that he later went to the courthouse. He then signed a settlement agreement, presumably in open court and right in front of the judge.

Is it plausible that the judge herself did not tell defense counsel that there was a question? Why would she withhold that information from him? Then comes the good part. The judge accepts a settlement, dismisses the case and then, at defense counsel’s urging (it is reported), she allows the jury to continue deliberating.

What? The case is dismissed. What possible legal ground could the judge have for letting a jury continue to deliberate a case that had been settled? Was defense counsel so powerfully persuasive in asking for continued deliberations (it’s just implausible that he didn’t know about the contents of the question at that point) that the judge did something that no other lawyer has ever heard of? Allow a jury to continue deliberating after a settlement? What’s going on here?

In your articles, you make it seem like plaintiff’s counsel is the guilty party. How could that be when, whether or not he knew the contents of the question, his opposing counsel must have learned of it when he arrived to court and before he settled? It just doesn’t make sense and it irks me to see the integrity of plaintiff’s well-respected counsel impugned when — regardless of what he did or didn’t tell the judge’s clerk — his opposing counsel would have known exactly what everybody else knew when he signed his name to a settlement agreement.

You say that yet another hearing into this matter is scheduled for December. Does anyone intend to ask the judge how she came to be so persuaded by defense counsel that she let a jury keep going even though the lawsuit was over?

Leonard L. Cavise, professor of law emeritus, DePaul College of Law

Sign the budget

The responsibility of the governor is to govern, not to act like the CEO of company. The state did not reach this financial situation in the last 12 or 15 years. If I remember correctly, when Roland Burris was treasurer, he expressed concern about the financial status of the state. We have had more Republican governors than Democratic governors.

Therefore, this is a shared responsibility between both parties. The state budget is separate from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s personal agenda. Therefore, the state budget should be signed.

Rauner wants the people to blame the Democrats for what is happening now, but Rauner should look in the mirror as to who is really at fault. Dr. Martin Luther King said injustice to one is injustice to all.

I am asking God to continue to provide the necessary guidance to the Democrats and any Republicans that are standing up for the people.

The lottery started as a way to help the schools. In my opinion, the schools receive less money. If the money is used for capital improvements for the schools, then that is not the same as education for the schools, in my opinion. Now we are being told that we can only receive $600 if we win the lottery. Does the state intend on honoring the IOU? It might be time to stop playing the lottery.

Money does not buy integrity, respect or trust. They must be earned. I am grateful knowing that God’s agenda is not the same as Rauner’s agenda. We the people of the state of Illinois deserve better than this.

Patricia Watkins, South Deering

Missing the mark

The Nov. 12 Sun-Times story “Cupich says Church needs to be more open to new ideas” reports about Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich’s Nov. 11 luncheon speech at DePaul University.

Cupich said the leaders of the Catholic Church must not only teach but also listen to and learn from the laity.

He then gave an example, a story he heard while attending last month’s synod at the Vatican: A boy receiving his first communion returned to his seat and divided his communion wafer with his parents who had married outside the Church.

Cupich said that he didn’t “think there was a person in the room who would have condemned this young boy for committing a sacrilege or in some way told him he did something wrong.”

Cupich’s story and his conclusion about the church needing to be more open and receptive to new ideas miss the mark in his example.

The young, innocent boy truly did nothing wrong in sharing his communion wafer with his non-church wed parents, but his parents, by swallowing their shares of the wafer, committed a sacrilege. Or does Cupich approve of the parents’ behavior, in spite of church teaching, as an example of his new openness?

Dennis M. Dohm, Oak Lawn