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Thursday letters: Canals and rivers never meant for recreation

Recreational boats float down the Chicago River.

As a retiree from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, I’d like to respond to Tuesday’s editorial “Clean Water and Polluters Don’t Mix.” The public must understand that the local waterways are commercial and a conveyance of wastewater away from Lake Michigan. They were never meant to be recreational, and attempts to convert them to that purpose is lunacy, even with disinfection at the Calumet and O’Brien Plants. Singling out the Chicago River is unjust. What about the Milwaukee River, the Potomac in Washington, D.C., and the East River and Hudson River in New York?

As for Olympic Oil, that company and all other water reclamation district tenants should be held liable for contamination from their parcels.

Fred J. Wittenberg, Evanston

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Promote small donors in politics

Cook County Clerk David Orr’s recent letter (“To restore democracy, overturn Citizens United ruling”) painted a grim picture of big money in politics and raised potential solutions at the federal level. In Cook County, however, we don’t need to wait several years — or longer — for the U.S. Congress to act in the interest of ordinary citizens, rather than catering to lobbyists of big business and billionaire campaign donors.

Small-donor empowerment programs, already enacted in New York City, provide matching funds to candidates who opt to take only small donations. Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has voiced support for such a system in the county, and other board members should follow his lead.

Let’s prove there’s truth to the cherished principle of one person/one vote, starting in Illinois with our most populous county.

Keith Watson, Logan Square

CPS managers pay too generous

It is amazing that Chicagoans are so indoctrinated that they accept dictates like the latest from the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Kids have to suffer more cuts to pay wealthy people to manage CPS? Huh? The CPS crisis is a class crisis, where the wealthy prosper from the pain of the poor and working class.

Edward D. Juillard, West Beverly