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Even the playing field for taxis, ride-hailing services

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Kudos to Marlen Garcia! Her Friday column correctly outs the Uber/Lyft threat to abandon a major market for what it is: a clout-heavy bullyboy shakedown.As she correctly states, while we can thank them for identifying a demand, should they leave, others will be quick to provide the service.

The real solution here is to even the playing field for ride-hailing and traditional taxi drivers. Why should folks who have been earning and honest buck providing a service to chicagoans have to operate at a severe disadvantage. Loosen the strictures on taxi drivers, require common sense assurances from ride share drivers. Should Uber and Lyft leave, perhaps some sixteen-year old will develop an app to download for free so drivers could eliminate the company skim.

D. DeGregorio, Lemont

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Invest in infrastructure

One of Illinois’ strongest assets is its infrastructure. From providing safe drinking water and clean sanitary and storm water to keeping our economy moving through our roads, bridges, aviation and mass transit, our infrastructure literally carries our state to success.

During Infrastructure Week in late May, the Underground Contractors Association strongly supported the theme of “Infrastructure Matters.” We see the signs all around us.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, Illinois Section (ASCE) gave an overall grade of C- in 2014 for infrastructure: a D+ for roads, transit and wastewater, drinking water at a C- and navigable waterways a D-. The drinking water disaster in Flint, Mich., and similar concerns in Galesburg show why we need to pay for infrastructure improvements regularly over time to prevent calamity.

How? The SRF, a federal-state long-term, low-interest loan program for funding safe drinking water and clean water, needs a return to funding highs of the early 1980s. The state’s motor fuel tax has been 19 cents per gallon since 1991, and needs to be raised after 25 years of stagnation. The billions of dollars of state road funds diverted to other purposes must stop, and there will be a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall where you can help make that happen.

Infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economy because it creates and supports jobs, provides opportunity and keeps us competitive in an increasingly global economy. Poll after poll shows we’re willing to pay more for safe water and transportation infrastructure. Public health and safety shouldn’t be compromised. Contact your legislators and urge them to make infrastructure investment a priority in Illinois.

Michael Wiedmaier, executive director,
Underground Contractors Association of Illinois,
Itasca

Eradicate drugs

Chicago violence will not be reduced until drugs have been eradicated. It appears that drugs are THE major factor in the violence saturating this city, to ignore this fact is to sanction it, to dig out the drugs will be a major problem.

Edwina Jackson, Longwood Manor