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Suing gangs won’t end the drug trade — only legalization will

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan is another idea that belongs on the junk pile, like so many failed drug-prohibition ideas before it.

A shuttered store on Chicago’s South Side displays a “No Gang Loitering, Police Order” sign on Aug. 13, 2021.
AP Photos

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced her support for an another anti-violence initiative predicated upon the idea of “taking the profit out of drugs” to be implemented by suing gangs to recover drug-dealing profits.

It’s another idea that belongs on the junk pile like so many failed drug-prohibition ideas before it.

Aside from legitimate concerns regarding the validity of the gang-member computer base and the constitutional right to freedom of association, it won’t work.

Figuratively speaking, ambition puts water and drugs into the tea kettle, prohibition flames under the kettle turn the water into steam and drug profits. Capturing some steaming profits by suing gangs might capture some accumulated profits, but so long as prohibition flames continue to roar under the tea kettle, the violence associated with profitable, illegal and unlicensed drug markets will continue.

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Like catching a criminal after the killing, recovering drug profits after accumulation comes too late. The prevention solution, endlessly avoided by politicians, is to take the profit out of the illicit drug business by legalizing all drugs, reducing drug prices, and enabling the power of government to license, inspect, tax and require labels. That solution removes significant profit, reduces violence and prevents accidental overdose.

James E. Gierach, Palos Park

Pedro Martinez and ethnicity

In the wake of the selection of Pedro Martinez to head the Chicago Public Schools, politicians and others who opine for a living go immediately to Martinez’s ethnicity, pondering whether it is a good thing for CPS, and/or for the mayor’s political fortunes, for a Latino to be in charge of the city’s schools.

What serious people think would be a more relevant question — whether it is a good thing for a man who does not have an education degree and has never held a teaching position to head the CPS — pales to the point of insignificance when compared to the only trait that seems to matter about anybody nowadays, his or her race or ethnicity.

The debate regarding Martinez’s qualifications is yet another instance of the ironic failure of those who most piously profess to oppose racism to see anything beyond race.

Mark M. Quinn, Naperville

As a doctor, I know: Vaccines work

I eagerly got in line to receive my COVID-19 vaccination. As hospital faculty, I was fortunate to be among the first to receive an inoculation that I, and the vast majority of doctors, see as the best way to end this global coronavirus pandemic. I will also gladly get the booster shot if the scientific experts decide it’s necessary and when it’s my turn.

This virus is not going away without more people getting vaccinated to stop the spread. Widespread vaccination is key to the eradication of COVID-19. By getting vaccinated, I’m not only protecting myself, but also my family and my patients. I would encourage each and every person to talk to their doctor about the vaccine.

Let me tell you why I did not hesitate to get my shot: Vaccines work.

We have proven vaccine success stories for combating deadly diseases such as polio, measles and smallpox. And now we have one FDA-approved vaccine for fighting the current deadly disease and two others with emergency use authorization that are likely to gain full approval soon. All three have gone through rigorous scientific testing, including safety evaluations and regulatory processes before public release.

There is a light at the end of tunnel. If you are unvaccinated, talk to a doctor. We are ready to answer your questions and help you understand the importance of vaccination.

Regan Thomas, MD, president of the Illinois State Medical Society

Aldermanic automatic pay raise

The Sun-Times Editorial Board wrote recently that it’s a bad time for an automatic aldermanic pay raise. I say anytime is a lousy time for an automatic pay raise. Our fearless aldermen don’t have enough backbone to face the music in voting for a pay raise, that is, if they really even deserve one.

Likewise, the city seems to be making a habit of raising fees annually based on inflation, notably the city sticker and the even more egregious property tax. Nothing like a good gimmick to avoid taking controversial votes and decisions.

Mario Caruso, Lincoln Square