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Wednesday Letters: Stop inflicting irreparable harm on our state

Illinois State Capitol building
The Illinois State Capitol. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Police officers are equipped to deal with many difficult, dangerous situations. But there are some things we rely on other professionals to do, like keeping kids off the streets with after-school programs, provide coaching to at-risk families to prevent child abuse and neglect, or provide counseling to runaways and troubled kids who break the law.

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But the inability of our state leaders to agree on a state budget has left kids, and law enforcement, in the lurch. Last week, I testified before a committee of the Illinois House of Representatives to drive home the point that funding must be found immediately for key Department of Human Services programs like Teen REACH, Healthy Families/Parents Too Soon, Redeploy Illinois, and CCBYS.

Without state funding, too many of the community-based agencies that provide these services have been forced to drastically reduce the number of children served — or close their doors completely. At this point, we will most certainly see long-term damage to our state’s human services infrastructure.

We must stop inflicting irreparable harm on our communities over political disagreements. Springfield, it’s time to end this budget impasse and get working on restoring the damage.

Tom Weitzel, chief,

Riverside Police Department

Decriminalization’s shortcoming

The dramatic statistical drop in the number of Chicago drug arrests at a time when Chicago shootings and homicides are significantly increasing is evidence of the shortcoming of drug decriminalization. While decriminalization of the purchase, sale and use of drugs is better than drug war, and saves adults who willingly choose to engage in that activity from criminal records, incarceration and other expensive, taxpayer-funded punishment and penalties, it does not stop the violence. Street violence is most directly associated with illegal markets, prohibition-inflated prices and deadly gang competition for control.

Just as with American’s Great Experiment with booze Prohibition, drugs must be legalized, vendors licensed, and products controlled, regulated and taxed in order to stop the “Al Capone’s” from shooting each other and innocent bystanders. It’s better that government and legal vendors make moderate drug profits than that street gangs and foreign drug cartels make enormous ones.

Taking some profit out of drug sales not only makes a taller and more solid wall than even the Donald Trump can build, it can dramatically curtail Chicago violence that should be Chicago’s No. 1 priority.

James E. Gierach, Palos Park

Will democracy prevail?

The Lucas Museum’s continuing, fascinating scenario offers something for everyone. As expert group dynamics specialists know, subgroups are the nucleus of cohesive groups. Furthermore, preservation and development have often experienced a contentious relationship. In this case everyone, regardless of position, is proclaiming what is thought to be best for our city. There are myriad proponents and opponents of the plan to build the museum on Chicago’s lakefront. Among the recent suggestions is that the museum be built using space now occupied by McCormick Place.

Whether keeping the lakefront free and open to the public (according to the vision of city planner Daniel Burnham a century ago) is better for Chicago than creating this museum there is anyone’s guess.

If democracy is what’s best for the most, it remains to be seen whether democracy will prevail.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View

Rally around

At a time when our government structures are so overburdened, why can’t Chicagoans (and especially Friends of the Parks) use their leadership to rally around a significant private and public initiative which will bring new and future vitality to the region?

This billion-dollar investment will improve the lakefront, create new jobs, and create a new cultural and tourism attraction for the region. But most importantly, it is new and incremental private investment. Stop throwing away opportunities to other more proactive states and cities.

Put away your pettiness and create a positive compromise, and better outcome for Chicago. These are once-in-a-generation opportunities we should all be proud to seize upon.

Thomas Lacny, Western Springs