Lake View community will pay steep price for courtroom closures

SHARE Lake View community will pay steep price for courtroom closures
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Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, with County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, answers questions after the announcement of the MacArthur Foundation grant for the county justice system. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

I strongly encourage Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Timothy Evans to employ all measures within their authority to keep the courtrooms at 2452 W. Belmont Ave. open. The East Lake View community was highly alarmed when media reports last week indicated that closure of these courtrooms was likely to become part of a wider budget resolution.

In the past five years our community — which includes Wrigley Field as well as many iconic homes and businesses — has seen violent crime escalate in recent years, while the number of local police officers has diminished. Armed robberies, sexual assaults, carjackings, and other serious crimes that once were rare now appear in local crime reports with startling frequency. The perpetrators of these acts are regularly prosecuted in the courtrooms at 2452 W. Belmont Ave. with the necessary presence of complaining witnesses and court advocates.

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Closure of these courtrooms will have a devastating, exacerbating effect on our community’s already declining safety. Cases would likely be assigned to the Grand & Central courthouse, to the Leighton Courthouse, or to the 2nd Municipal District Courthouse in Skokie. Complaining witnesses, who are by definition vital to a successful prosecution, are far less likely to travel such significant distances to testify. Their absence will require the dismissal of many prosecutions, releasing perpetrators back into our community unscathed. Similarly, court advocates will be unlikely to travel to courthouses many miles from our community and will be unable to emphasize the urgency of justice to the court.

The decision before President Preckwinkle and Judge Evans is not merely a fiscal one. It is one that directly impacts the security of our community and the administration of justice against those who would threaten it. I urge them to work together, with our community, and with the greater Lake View area to determine an alternative solution which would allow these courtrooms to remain in operation.

Michael J. Zink, president, East Lake View Neighbors

Buck stops where? 

Tina Sfondeles’ story in “The hardest working paper in America” was an eye-opener (“Rauner task force urges rebuilding of Quincy vet home, email suggests blame shift” — May 1). Her reporting on the blame game associated with the deadly outbreak of legionella pneumonia at the Illinois Veterans Home made me nostalgic. Nostalgic for a time when the buck stopped somewhere.

Don Anderson, Oak Park

No honor for Trump

The concept of awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to Donald J. Trump makes my head spin. To review, this is a man who wants to upgrade and expand our already massive arsenal of deadly weapons.

He’s a world leader who is threatening to blow up the Middle East by blowing up the Iranian nuclear agreement. And by pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord he’s done nothing to safeguard our planet and its inhabitants from an apocalypse far worse than international terrorism.

He doesn’t like NATO, he rails against the United Nations and he cozies up to some of the world’s most diabolical leaders, including Vladimir Putin.

He threatens global economics with the implementation of tariffs and the withdrawal of U.S. participation in trade agreements. What’s more, his anti-immigration policy inarguably smacks of racism and xenophobia.

Now what part of all this sounds like someone worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?

Bob Ory, Elgin

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