This week our newly elected governor proclaimed that the rule of law and our constitution are based on “some vague language that we have now.” He has also declared that the entire Illinois Supreme Court is corrupt because the justices accept contributions to support their elections to the bench – elections required under our state’s Constitution. This, astonishingly, from a man who gladly accepted more political money than any candidate in Illinois history.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Rather than comment on this incredible turn of events, the Sun-Times has pivoted the conversation to an intellectual discussion of judicial merit selection. While that may be a worthwhile topic, how can this newspaper’s editorial voice fail to condemn such reckless and damaging allegations unsupported by evidence – especially when they come from our state’s highest elected official who already sees fit to offer all of the wisdom he has gained through 90 total days of government service?
That Gov. Bruce Rauner disparages our courts’ elected judges for upholding the most sacred principle of democracy, fidelity to the rule of law, is deeply troubling. American government was intentionally designed to require checks and balances when it comes to the crafting, passage, approval and judicial review of laws. We purposefully do not have a CEO in charge that makes all the decisions and expects his subordinates to carry them out or suffer the consequences. The stakes are simply too high to entrust the entirety of our government to the wisdom, or lack thereof, of one person.
Democracy permits all of our citizens to agree or disagree with the high court’s decisions. Its seven justices are men and women duly elected by their fellow Illinoisans (as was Rauner) and have long and distinguished careers. It is outrageous, irresponsible and anti-democratic for Rauner to smear them as dishonest for doing their duty to the constitutions and laws of the United States and Illinois. The last thing our state needs right now is a demagogue as its leader.
John D. Cooney
president, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Wasted tax dollars
Why is Gov, Bruce Rauner using taxpayer dollars to fight his crusade with Illinois labor unions? It’s been reported that only a handful of state employees object to paying fair share union dues, so why is the governor expending the state’s limited resources, expending money on his team of lawyers and taking up the court’s time on this issue? Not only has Attorney General Lisa Madigan refused to support his initiative to overturn the state statute which allows fair share union dues, but his own appointed comptroller, Leslie Munger, has refused to comply with his executive order to withhold payment of union dues. Our governor presents a blank check from the taxpayers to fight this issue over union dues while at the same time proposing drastic cuts to social services, public transit and child care for working parents. If those handful of state employees object to paying union dues, shouldn’t they be challenging the state law instead of the governor?
Richard Rioux, Barrington
Step up to plate
Are you one of Chicago’s multimillionaires who have the heart to do something good for the city and it’s underprivileged youth? Reading how Gov. Bruce Rauner revoked a $169,000 grant from the Teen Reach program means some kids in the city no longer have a safe haven, after school program to keep them off the streets for a few hours, to help with homework, and to become a better person. For 17 years that program served the kids in this community, how many lives did it save in a city where the bullets fly into playgrounds and homes? Come on Chicago, I know there is a person, or people, capable of this generosity. Will someone step up to the plate and do the right thing?
Scot Sinclair, Gurnee
Not a turnaround
In response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” for Illinois:Cuts to public employee pensions are equivalent to a massive tax on Illinois’ middle class.Cuts to public services, especially to Medicaid, are equivalent to a massive tax on Illinois’s working people and low-income families. Forcing Medicaid recipients into managed care is a form of privatization, which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Privatization generates no efficiencies or savings to the taxpayer.Right to work laws do not strengthen the economy. They merely cripple organized labor.Prevailing wage laws and union wages in general lift the wage floor for a region and a state. Rauner wants to cut those also. He proposes to take money out of our pockets and break unions, the only power base left to workers. Unions help fight economic inequality and genuinely empower working people.Minimum wage laws lift families out of poverty and take families off food stamps. Illinois’s minimum wage should be at least $15 per hour.Many companies take chances with the health, safety, and even lives of their workers. To gut workman’s compensation laws and call it “reform” would be cruel and hypocritical.Bruce Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda is a recipe for poverty and pain for most Illinois citizens. Even if you are not directly affected by these cuts, your community will be impoverished. This is austerity economics. Such policies do not create a vibrant economy. Just the opposite. They punish the poor, squeeze the middle class, and reject the obvious solution to state budget problems: We need to tax Illinois’s own 1 percent.Illinois’s current flat tax is brutally regressive. Currently, low-income and middle-income households pay tax at a much higher rate than do wealthy households. Illinois’s budget crisis, (as in many states,) is the result of unfair, regressive tax policy. The solution is to tax the wealthy families progressively, so that they end up paying tax at the same rate as the rest of us. Search on-line for Tax Fairness: A Solution to State Budget Problems written by Good Jobs First and the Keystone Research Center for information about how this would work.
Mary Shesgreen, Elgin