I see that Chicago politicians have voted in favor of a civilian police oversight ordinance. I have lived in this city for 60 years and its politics never cease to amaze me.
There are thousands of shootings in this city every year that has destroyed the reputation of this great city. In my humble opinion, the problem is not police misconduct, but more drugs and illegal firearms. Elected officials should focus on solutions to those problems, not the police.
Most police officers in this city are honest and hard-working. They are being stigmatized by the actions of a few bad apples. How is this oversight committee going to affect how police do their jobs when every microsecond of their words and actions is being reviewed and critiqued by people who have likely never done their job? At times, police have to make split-second decisions on matters that sometimes may make the difference between life and death.
I fear that such over-scrutinizing may make police less aggressive in protecting the community.
Antonio Acevedo, West Town
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Protect the elderly and disabled who rely on SSI
More than 250,000 of our fellow Illinoisans are older adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to get by on a mere $794 per month in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. We witness this struggle in the lives of hundreds of clients every year. SSI tops out at about three-quarters of the federal poverty line. That simply isn’t enough to keep a roof over your head, food on your table, and shoes on your feet.
Worsening the problem, under current law, SSI beneficiaries are legally prohibited from having even modest emergency savings, pushing seniors and people with disabilities even deeper into poverty. Long-outdated asset limits have been stuck at $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples for more than three decades, intentionally preventing people from providing modest personal safety nets for unexpected expenses or hardship. Updated for inflation, those limits would be $9,500 and $12,675 respectively today.
The program likewise punishes family and community safety nets. The “in-kind support and maintenance” rule ensures that a bag of groceries from family to help someone have food through the month, or a place to stay to help get off the street, can trigger a one-third reduction in SSI income.
Illinois’s older adults and people with disabilities deserve to live with dignity and security. Congress has a once-in-a generation opportunity to update this program and ensure a fairer, more just society, by passing the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act of 2021 or including its provisions in the reconciliation bill being negotiated in Congress.
Shame on us if we let three decades of neglect of our neighbors, our friends, and our families continue.
Caroline Chapman, Amy Marinacci and Thomas Yates
Legal Council for Health Justice
Carbon fees and climate change
The city has unveiled its strategic plan for transportation that, while met warmly, leaves residents wondering how we will pay for it. Meanwhile, lawmakers in the nation’s capitol are building the next budget reconciliation package, poised to help overhaul infrastructure. This budget reconciliation, however, has larger stakes than the quality of our roads and public transportation.
Democrats have recently suggested this bill will address not just transportation infrastructure, but also include a methane fee and a border import fee for high-polluting goods. This dances around the larger question of a domestic carbon fee and dividend policy, a likely precondition needed by the World Trade Organization to make a carbon import tax viable. More importantly, a price on carbon is the best tool out there to help us reduce our emissions overall, and reduce the impacts of climate change.
If the reconciliation includes carbon pricing as outlined in Sen. Dick Durbin’s bill (America’s Clean Future Fund Act), we’ll not just have access to federal funds to help make Mayor Lightfoot’s ambitious transportation plan a reality. We’ll also secure a cleaner, safer, and cooler future for everyone.
Michael Holler, Montclare
The Olympics and nationalism
The great Jewish-American scientist, Albert Einstein, once called nationalism “ the measles of mankind.” Einstein knew that nationalism — extreme pride in one’s nation — played a major role in causing both world wars. Like measles, Einstein realized that nationalism could be highly infectious and take the lives of millions of people.
Let countries express their nationalism through non-violent competition in various athletic events. We should be thankful that, after much consternation caused by the pandemic, the Olympic Games will continue in Tokyo.
Peter Grafner, Edgebrook
Vaccination lotteries misuse money
Instead of having a raffle for people who are just now getting their COVID-19 vaccinations, why doesn’t the governor put that money into education?
Where did he ‘find’ this money, and why can’t it be appropriated to programs that deal with children? Why do people have to be rewarded for doing something that the majority of people did because it was the right thing to do?
Janice Montgomery, Clearing