Illinois is failing as a partner in providing human services

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner | Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, file photo

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As the largest private funder of human services across the state, United Way and its partners have invested in individuals and neighborhoods — supporting youth, providing job training, helping the elderly and those with disabilities, and connecting individuals to physical and mental health care. In all of these efforts, United Way has played a parallel role with the state to build a strong human infrastructure in communities across Illinois.

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We are part of what was once a public-private partnership. However, our public partner has recently abdicated responsibility for individuals and families who need and benefit from strong community support. Twenty-two months of a state budget impasse and hundreds of millions in unpaid bills have left community resources depleted and directly damaged the social and economic fiber of neighborhoods across the state.

A recent statewide survey of human service agencies conducted by United Way of Illinois shows significant damage to service delivery just three months since agencies were given a small stop-gap funding “reprieve.”

We know that committed, stable investment in our young people and in training for living wage jobs is key not only to solving social challenges like poverty and violence, but also to growing our economy. The lack of urgency from the state in passing a full and adequately funded budget — stopgap measures are band-aids — is nothing short of negligent given rising violence in our metro area, population decline and the loss of jobs and talent we’re experiencing in Illinois.

Some may see this funding crisis as an opportunity to roll back the state’s responsibility for community well-being — to let the private sector step in. But that’s impossible. According to the same survey data, 9 out of 10 service providers have been unable to replace even 25 percent of the loss in state funding. United Ways and other organizations, along with generous Illinoisans, are doing their best on the private end of this partnership, but cannot plug the hole left by the magnitude of the state funding gap. Nor is it our role to do so. We need our public partner to resolve their issues and get back in the business of ending violence, putting people to work, enrolling students in state schools and making Illinois a great place to live.

Wendy DuBoe, president and CEO

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago

Pope has hope

The pope has hope. He and Cardinal Blase Cupich are hopeful and urgently seeking ways to interrupt and reduce Chicago’s outrageous violence. It’s pathetic to watch our youth throwing away their potential for a fulfilling life.

There is an obvious concern among all civilized citizens, regardless of their religion, to end, or at least significantly reduce, our city’s preventable violent crime.

Passover and Easter are celebrated closely this year, and there is much similarity between Catholics and Jews. In fact, they have more in common than some people might imagine. The Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah, means “the hope.”

So, there is much reason for all of us to embrace the pope’s noble concept of hope.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View


I cannot believe you printed that drivel from Robert Reich in your Monday issue. That was one of the stupidest articles I’ve ever seen in a newspaper in my many years of reading them. You should apologize to your readers.

Michael J. Higgins, Willowbrook

Airport albatross

Once again, the Illinois Department of Transportation is trying to take the comatose albatross known as the South Suburban/Peotone airport off of life-support and make it fly. IDOT put out a call for private developers.

As someone who has lived under the shadow of the proposed Peotone/South Suburban Airport for 32 years and has devoted more hours to fighting it than I care to think about, I’m appalled that the media still try to reduce the arguments against the airport to the fact that local people don’t want to lose their property.

The real issue is that the airport is not needed and will fail, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. This is what happened at the MidAmerica airport near St. Louis, after IDOT promised it would great 24,000 jobs. It didn’t. It was a fiasco.

The only way private developers will build and operate the airport is if massive amounts of taxpayer money are used to entice them to do so. In other words, if they are given $100 million worth of land now owned by the state of Illinois, or if that land is leased for a song. Developers will also demand staggering tax breaks and other incentives. Of course, the real corker will be that, as previous potential developers demanded, the state of Illinois must guarantee the bonds sold to finance building the airport. This means that when the airport fails, the taxpayers will pick up the bill.

George Ochsenfeld, Monee

Not presidential

President Donald Trump is apparently being viewed as more presidential for having rained down numerous cruise missiles on Syria before he and his advisors could be sure as to who was responsible for the chemical attacks. Increasing the U.S. role in Syria seems reckless, especially given Russia’s heavy involvement there, when nothing positive has happened for the United States in the Middle East for a long, long time.

Mary F. Warren, Wheaton

We’re deluding ourselves

We are the United States of Amnesia and love the self righteousness of attacking for “humanitarian” reasons. Without conclusive proof of Assad’s role in the use of chemical warfare other than a cursory and an ideologically laden investigation, we rained death down upon Syria because we have such a pristine record in recent history of deciding we must drop bombs on the evil doers. The thousands of innocent civilians we have killed from Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen are testament to our ” humanitarianism” that no one in the world is deluded enough to believe but us.

Edward David Juillard, Morgan Park

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