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Letters: Offer our young people opportunities

Last Friday I concluded the funeral of a young man who was shot and killed at 79th and Laflin on Jan. 13.

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At the service, which was filled with young folks, especially brothers from the blocks, I challenged them to help me stop this self-inflicted genocide. I begged them to stop the killing and stop letting social media be the vehicle to create chaos in the streets. I challenged them to not end up in caskets like this young man, and not put anyone else in one. I was very direct and perhaps very hard on them. I also told them that in them was greatness, potential, and possibilities. In them were dreams and promise, and we needed them.

At the end of the sermon I asked if there were any brothers there who were willing to come forward and make a commitment to change and to help bring peace to our communities and more than 100 came forward, many of them with tears in their eyes and asking me to please help them.

I can get them in one of our GED classes and I can get them in one of the activities or programs in our The Ark, our youth center, but with all the programs and jobs cut I cannot offer them the opportunities needed to make that change, jobs are needed to allow them to provide for themselves. See we can’t just tell our young people to stop selling drugs or being involved in gang life and have nothing else to offer them.We’re told that Chicago has the largest gang population than any major city, so what are we doing to offer these brothers an alternative except county hospital, county jail, or county morgue.I’ve written a letter to the governor and the mayor, and am saying to all of Chicago, if we are not offering our young people opportunities to survive and succeed then we are in fact the greatest promoters of gangs and violence. So what do I tell these brothers now?Rev. Michael L. Pfleger, Faith Community of Saint SabinaViable transit needed

I write about Nathan Bomy’s article “Millennials lacking the drive to drive,” (Jan. 20). As young adults ditch driver’s licenses at a startling pace, it is more important than ever to have a viable public transportation system. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, one in four households in Chicago was “carless” compared with 10 percent across the country. We know that one of the reasons millennials move to our City and region is our robust transit system. A recent study quotes the Bureau of Labor Statistics as finding that as of last year, millennials were the largest generation in the U.S. work force. They heavily rely on and expect public transportation.

Debt-strapped recent grads can save up to almost $11,000 in our region annually by switching their commute from a car to taking Chicago Transit Authority, Metra commuter rail and Pace Suburban Bus. For those residents with cars, Chicago was cited as among the least expensive cities for car insurance in a report by, due in part to the fact that our public transportation system may help keep cars off the road, leading to fewer claims.

In 2014, Metra saw its second-highest ridership numbers. If all of the Metra trains stopped running, it’s been estimated we’d have to add 29 lanes to the region’s already congested expressways. Alarmingly, our region has a backlog of more than $19 billion in unmet capital needs; this as we know that more than 60 percent of commuters from outside Chicago’s downtown to the Loop use transit. In 2014, CTA “L” ridership reached a 50-year high. Pace Suburban Bus’s innovative Bus-On-Shoulder routes have grown more than six fold since 2011. The RTA system provides more than 2 million rides each work day.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that over the past two years Chicago has led the nation in corporate relocations to our city. Mass transit is a major reason these companies and their millennial employees are moving to the Windy City. This is why states like Texas, Utah and California are investing heavily in it. “High tech” cities also are investing in transit to keep or attract millennials. Investment in transit yields returns of $4 for every dollar invested nationally and we have found similar economic development benefits throughout our region. Where mass transit goes, economic development grows!

Kirk Dillard, chair, Regional Transportation Authority

Critical point

The 2016 election will determine whether the United States of America remains a democracy or becomes a plutocracy. If the Republicans win the presidency and maintain control over Congress, we will see the privatization of Social Security. Members of the billionaire class are rubbing their hands in glee. If this program is privatized, $2.5 trillion will become available for the stock market gamblers to make even more money for themselves. Hardworking Americans who have earned their Social Security will then depend on speculators who do not care about anyone but themselves.

What will happen when those vital earned funds are gone and millions of Americans have no retirement income? There are only so many jobs for greeters at Wal-Mart and table cleaners at McDonalds.Americans need to go to the polls in November and vote to protect our democracy, our futures and the futures of our children. We can’t allow our nation to fall under the control of those who care only about increasing their incomes,no matter how much they have now, and no matter how hard it is for the rest of us have to live.I will leave corporate welfare, our failing infrastructure, our atrocious tax policies , the privatization of schools, and other threats to our society to another day.I implore Americans to vote in November to protect our middle class and our democracy. We may never have another chance.Karen Wagner, Rolling Meadows