LETTERS: Stop making key Chicago decisions behind closed doors

SHARE LETTERS: Stop making key Chicago decisions behind closed doors

The future of the Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary next to South Shore Beach in Chicago is uncertain amid plans to build a championship golf course. | Thomas Frisbie/Sun-Times

As one of the hundred thousand or so South Side residents who will be affected by the proposed re-purposing of Jackson Park, I’m writing to beg for big change, change on a scale neither the Obama Presidential Center, the Park District nor the mayor have imagined.

I want the city to stop doing business as usual. I want an end to top-down decision-making that affects our lives in fundamental ways. I want an end to forcing us to pay for decisions that are made without our input.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

I’ve lived in Chicago for 51 years and every decision, whether to close schools, sell street parking rights, give contracts to waste haulers, or close roads and turn half of Jackson Park’s acres over to private interests, has been done behind closed doors. “Trust us, you’ll love it,” is the mantra.

In the case of Jackson Park, my neighbors and I have been begging for over a year to see plans that show environmental impact, traffic flow changes, realistic community investment prospects, and a host of other matters. We’re accused, instead, of seeking to deny the South Side the golden opportunity to host the Obamas’ private foundation, of opposing change to the park that would give almost all of it south of 63rd street to a PGA golf course, and we’re told to trust the city because they will do the right thing.

We’re told that when they close two major roads, traffic in the neighborhood streets will increase by as much as 400 percent, but not to worry about congestion and pollution: we can trust them to deal with that.

We’re told that when they plow under the nature sanctuary to make room for a golf hole at 71st Street, they will create a better sanctuary elsewhere. Will it be on the lakefront? Who will pay for it? No answers, except, “Trust us.”

Chicagoans are Charlie Brown. The city, the Park District, and even, in this case, the Obama Presidential Center, are Lucy van Pelt. Trust us, trust us, this time, we really won’t take the football away. We won’t leave you flat in the mud while we help ourselves to your wallet to pay for what we’ve decided.

But I’m ready for real change. I’m ready for the neighborhoods to hold the football, and for the city to show up with full details of what they propose. When they’ve done that, and we have a chance to evaluate the plans and veto them if they don’t meet our needs, then we’ll give them a chance to kick.

Sara Paretsky, Hyde Park

Time to act on guns

We do not need another set of excuses explaining yet another act of Second Amendment Terrorism. NOW is the time to discuss this. NOW is the time for Congress to reach across the aisle. NOW is the time to put Americans first. And first of all, Americans want some common sense gun laws.

Here are some ideas:

1. Don’t sell military or law enforcement grade weapons to civilians. Hunters don’t need automatic weapons, large capacity magazines, or armor piercing bullets to kill a deer or duck. And for the noise? Amazon sells sound-cancelling headphones at reasonable prices. No need for hunters to use silencers.

2. Do background checks before anyone buys a gun. Maintain a universal database of people who shouldn’t own a gun (eg domestic abuse, convictions, mental illness, no-fly list) that gun dealers could use. I never complained that my employer was infringing on my rights when they insisted on a background check. By not having universal background checks, a gun owner is infringing on MY right not to be killed in a senseless act of second amendment terrorism. If I have to get fingerprinted to get a Securities license, surely someone getting a gun should get fingerprinted, too.

3. Help diagnose — and then treat — those with mental illness. Universal health care would be a good start.

4. Treat guns like cars. Require training, take a test to get a license, show proof of mental stability, renew the training periodically, require registration, require transfer of registration if you sell it, charge a fee for registration. (And don’t destroy that registration after a year.) Similar to car insurance, require gun owners to carry insurance on their weapons.

5. Only allow those who serve(d) in the armed forces or law enforcement to have the right to “keep and bear arms.” They are the only ones who are/have been part of a “well-regulated militia” so should know how to properly handle those arms. You want to carry a gun? Enlist in the military or become a law enforcement officer.

Do I think that the problem will go away entirely? No. If someone really wants a gun, they’ll figure out how to obtain one illegally. A person following all the rules could still commit an atrocious act. Am I suggesting that we take guns away from everyone? No. What I am suggesting is that America apply some common sense to gun laws. It can’t hurt, can it? Americans are tired of seeing innocent people killed by Second Amendment Terrorists. We’re tired of the excuse that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Send your “thoughts and prayers,” then take your hands out of the NRA’s pockets, reach those hands across the aisle, and put Americans first.

Allison Longenbaugh, Naperville

Tough talk

Our fake president, Donald Trump, is calling Bowe Bergdahl’s sentence “a complete and total disgrace to our country and to our military.” That is pretty tough talk coming from a draft dodger.

Martin Nicholson, Niles

No moral compass

I find it not only ironic but hypocritical that people are coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct that go back years and can’t be substantiated, but our president, who openly and on video bragged about being able to grope women because of his fame, was still elected! Not only that but careers and lives are being destroyed without due process. Shouldn’t the leader of our country exemplify good moral standards? It definitely shows the mindset of those who elected him — they have no moral compass.

Judith Reed, Mount Prospect

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