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Pass Fair Elections Act to fix broken Illinois

If the state does not pass a budget by July 1, Illinois will become the first state to have a junk bond rating. | Seth Perlman/AP file

Illinois has never been more broken than it is today. For over two years, our lawmakers have been unable to agree on a permanent budget, which negatively impacts the lives of everyone living in the state. At a time in which voter turnout rates in our country are among the lowest in the developed world and our leaders in Washington, D.C., threaten many of our core values, Illinois must be a beacon of democracy and end this destructive practice of ineffectiveness and partisan fighting.

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To make matters worse, wealthy donors and special interests are pouring money into our political races like no other time in our state’s history. How can we justify a system in which over $150 million was spent on political races in 2016, while social services are being cut and schools remain underfunded? How can we sit idly by when over $75 million has already been contributed to the gubernatorial race by just three individuals with 18 months remaining before the 2018 election?

What we can do is to pass reforms that will provide an alternative to unlimited campaign spending, limit special interest control in Springfield, and allow people from communities across Illinois to run for office. It is time for our politicians to start listening to the needs of their constituents, and not just the whims of their political donors. It is time to stop the poisonous campaign ads that flood our airwaves during election time. It is time that Illinois pass the Fair Elections Act (SB1424), a bill strongly supported by Common Cause Illinois and recently passed by the Illinois Senate, which would create a small donor public financing system for elections.

If we want to find justice for our communities, we must make changes to the core of our broken system. Passing the Fair Elections Act is the first step in allowing ordinary people to become the change that we so desperately need. If you believe that Illinois deserves better, please join me in contacting your state representatives and urging them to pass SB1424.

Brian Gladstein, executive director,

Common Cause Illinois

Sen. Duckworth lacks on the home front

It’s nice to see that an Illinois representative in Washington cares about his home state. Rep. Peter Roskam is seemingly stepping into the void left when Mark Kirk lost his re-election bid. With Donald Trump threatening to gut funding to The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, it is imperative we have strong voices in the capitol to ensure our drinking water stays protected. But where is Sen. Tammy Duckworthless? If all of our politicians in D.C. would unite in a common goal, we would have a greater chance of keeping critical funding alive for the Great Lakes.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake

Animal abusers deserve incarceration

It was appalling to learn about two toy poodles being dropped five floors from a tower in Oak Lawn. This was clearly an intentional act meant to severely injure, maim and kill the helpless dogs. The perpetrator of this cruel crime will hopefully be apprehended, prosecuted and imprisoned. Violent and vicious animal abusers will only be deterred if they realize that they will be severely punished and incarcerated in jail for their inhumane and dastardly behavior.

Brien Comerford, Glenview

Diversifying jury pools wastes victims’ time

The news that Illinois counties (Peoria, Rock Island, St. Clair, Sangamon, Winnebago) are starting a program to make sure minorities are well represented on juries reeks of affirmative action and discrimination. The fact that two felony cases were halted because of underrepresentation is unjust to the victims of the crime. The only thing that the government should ensure is that an individual has the opportunity to serve on a jury if they want (i.e. making sure that no one is preventing them). However, making juries more diverse sounds like quotas, thus inevitably discriminatory like affirmative action. The money and time used for this program could be better spent by helping law enforcement do their jobs.

Mike Mannard, Schaumburg