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LETTERS: NEIU has handled funds for speeches appropriately

Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Obama, delivers the commencement address for Northeastern Illinois University's graduation ceremony at the UIC Pavilion, Monday, May 8th, 2017 . | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

We were disappointed to read the Sun-Times’ July 2 WatchDog report, which leads readers to believe that funds at Northeastern Illinois University have been inappropriately managed during a time when the university is struggling through a state budget crisis.

The story begins by stating that more than $260,000 has been spent on speakers since 2005. Put aside for a moment that a more accurate number (when you subtract payments from charitable donations, student fees and ticket sales) is only $168,673 — which averages to about $14,000 a year, or $1.40 per student. Put aside the fact that the fees paid are either at or far below the market value for the caliber of speakers invited to Northeastern. What’s most troubling is that the university, which has gone without a state appropriation for more than two years, is being criticized for its spending during the 10 years before the budget crisis even started when it was in a more financially healthy position.

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

Inviting notable speakers is not unusual at colleges and universities. Northeastern has paid modest fees to speakers who inform and provoke thought before audiences that include students and members of the public. We appreciate watchdog journalism, but not the way the facts were presented here. The focus should be on more important issues, like the state budget and the future of our students.

Mike Dizon, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Northeastern Illinois University, North Park

Better no budget at all

Oh, joy. Illinois has finally passed a budget after two years of childish political gamesmanship. Illinois taxpayers again are being socked in the jaw. Already paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation, Illinois now needs to take more of our money to pay for decades of mismanagement.

I really wish this budget had failed, causing Illinois to achieve junk-bond status and the state to declare bankruptcy. Maybe only then our elected leaders would be held responsible for the mess they’ve thrown at our feet. There is no way out of this mess until the people responsible are removed from office.

Scot Sinclair, Third Lake

Rauner made his bed, and now he’s lying in it

When Gov. Bruce Rauner assumed the governorship 30 months ago, he unleashed an unprecedented assault on students, pensioners, working and non-working poor, state vendors, private and public union workers — ultimately all 13 million of us. He told the legislature he wouldn’t pass a budget till he got a laundry list of non-budgetary items like term limits and union givebacks passed. Today, after 870 days, all Rauner is left with is a paint-splattered reputation from his own hand. A bi-partisan coalition of decent, responsible legislators gave Illinois a budget to begin turning back on the state services Rauner shut down.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

More taxes bad for Illinois

More Taxes! The State of Illinois is on the road to doom. Why do we elect a governor when the speaker of the House clearly has more power? Illinois is kicking a larger can of financial doom down the road. The same people who mishandled state funds in the past will handle the new funds moving forward. Bad.

Mark Wilkins, Bronzeville

Supt. Johnson falls behind on preventing gun violence

For starters, I was never a big fan of former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. I do, however, notice that the media and politicians do not hold our current Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to the same standard as his predecessor. Johnson deployed 1,000 extra police officers over the weekend, yet Chicago still had over 100 shot and 14 killed. Why is that?

Mike Rice, Jefferson Park