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LETTERS: Just say ‘I’m sorry’ when talking to cancer victims

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. | AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Thank you for your editorial prompted by Sen. John McCain’s recent diagnosis and the misplaced good intentions of people using words like “fighter” and “tough.”

As a three-time cancer survivor, may I also point out the inappropriate advice sometimes given about the importance of a positive attitude. You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, most likely enduring difficult treatment and, for some, it is difficult to feel positive.

Allow cancer patients to feel whatever emotion they are feeling. Everyone’s cancer experience is different, and they need to take this journey in a manner that best suits them. Just say. “I’m sorry.”

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

Set high standards of decency for public workers

Recently, we all learned of a longstanding practice of sending racist and sexist emails among high-level employees of the City’s Water Department. These emails insulted the very people whom the Department is supposed to serve — the people of Chicago, who drink, cook and wash with the water, and who count on our government to ensure its safety and availability to every corner of this city. Our health and economic well-being depend upon it.

You didn’t need to read many of the exposed emails to get the general drift. They were disgusting, crude, juvenile and outrageous. It’s the kind of material that would get a junior high school student sent to the principal’s office. But in the Water Department, it appears that the higher-ups ignored the practice and did nothing to put a stop to it, or even encouraged it.

This sad situation raised two questions in my mind:

First, why the Water Department? And second, how do we change the attitudes that allowed this degrading and disrespectful behavior to flourish unchallenged for so long?

To the first, it appears that there was absolutely no moral leadership to challenge the racist atmosphere in which these emails arose. Where were the supervisors — at each level — to insist that such language, behavior and actions are unacceptable? Some of the management have already been removed — not for sending racist messages, but for failing to put a stop to them, or to discipline the perpetrators. Their inaction contributed to a hostile and corrosive workplace atmosphere for the Water Department employees — Latino, black, female, and gay, for instance — who were targeted by the emails.

Second, what can be done about it? Yes, a few people at the top have been removed from authority. But a code of conduct and a culture of respect needs urgently to be developed in this and all city departments. Such a code cannot simply be imposed from above. A deep discussion within the offices, departments and management teams should be a first step in uncovering these kinds of “jokes” which imply threats, intimidate co-workers, and degrade members of the public whom we serve. Let’s have that conversation and set new, high standards based upon decency, respect, and equal treatment for all — our co-workers and our clients. That’s a conversation that should begin today.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), chair, City Council Latino Caucus

Don’t diminish America’s history

Is the Trump administration morphing into an investment opportunity instead of one serving the people? With such foreign and domestic ties tethered to family members, sycophants and unknowns — I am offended to have to finance such an enterprise with my taxes over the medical needs of the American people.

Such confusion over financial ties erodes my confidence in the United States role with our traditional allies. President Donald Trump’s enterprises are laden with perks for family members and properties — all used under his prestigious moniker. Even golf courses are used in the enterprise each weekend with tee-offs bearing the Trump name — or often just playing by himself.

Past administrations were never so public. As his enterprise continues leaving many of our lifelong allies in the rough, I wonder what direction they think the United States is headed in? With financials cloaked, our health care threatened and allies confused as to his allegiance — will he dodge impeachment, create fire sales, or seek a political pardon? The results could be disastrous.

The United States is a bastion of world hope; don’t diminish our history — enhance it.

Vincent Kamin, Loop

Trump is hiding something

President Donald Trump has just admitted he has something to hide. He states, “If the states won’t provide voter registration information then they must be hiding something.” He should know, because he won’t provide his tax returns — because HE’S hiding something!

Edwina Jackson, Longwood Manor