December 1, 2004


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Intolerance does not increase with property values
I commend the efforts of the Black-White dialog and its willingness to create dialog between individuals. Dr. Clay and others have devoted a good deal of their time to these conversations during the past years. It is good to see that in these challenging times, we keep the discussion alive.

But it should be said that such dialog occurs every day and it is every day that we as individuals are involved personally in the dialog. With our neighbors.  With the parents of the friends of our children. With citizens waiting in line, crossing the street, buying their groceries, waiting for the train. We are bound by our common experience, our common frustrations, and our common desire to improve. We want our children to succeed and our parents to be well in the retirement. 

Outgoing District 97 Board President Ade Onayemi referred to anecdotal evidence that intolerance has risen with property values and I am greatly concerned. It implies that we have become intolerant as our property values have increased.  This is an absurd proposal and I hope that statement was taken out of context.  Disparity in income has existed for some time in this village and continues to do so. This difference in income is not new, and neither is the fact that the public schools educate all comers. 

There is no evidence that the price of homes has anything to do with the social issues that the school boards face. Rather it is more likely that the social issues are more closely related to the tightening economic circumstances affecting jobs, interest rates and taxes. The solution is greater focus on the involvement of the community and indeed the parents, Superintendents Fagan and Bridge, principals and staff are pursuing that avenue. 

Oak Park is known for open housing, good educational opportunities and citizen involvement and we need to rededicate our efforts to continue to earn this reputation. In my experience it is not self-actuating. I know many that do this every day, in their social efforts, their charitable work and their giving. But we need to recognize that an important facet of the equation is to continue to recruit, include and promote residents new to the community. This is the greatest challenge and one which poses the greatest obstacle to a culture of tolerance and inclusion. We must be engaged and passionate in our involvements in civic life. Further, we must seek to be engaging to those most able to become involved.

The issue is not that we need greater minority involvement, because numbers involved are not necessarily an indicator of effectiveness in tolerance. Rather, I propose that we are better served by more effective use of the time of everyone involved. 

Thus while I applaud the forum created by the BWD, I also applaud the efforts of the members of the community who donate their time and their efforts to keeping Oak Park the kind of place that creates an opportunity for diversity to thrive.  There are no magic solutions and we must affect tolerance through our daily actions and decisions. Willingness is not enough. One must act. If we are not part of the solution, we become the problem and I, along with many with whom I have had the privilege to know and with whom I have served, have dedicated our efforts to effecting solutions, will continue to do so, and will remain optimistic that by seeking solutions to challenges, we will find them. 
Mas Takiguchi
Oak Park

Shop locally and make an investment in your community
It's that retail intensive time of year again, and no doubt you are being bombarded from all sides to start your holiday shopping NOW! Yes, it does start earlier each year; there's now no pause between Halloween and Christmas. What is up with these stores? Can't they stop rushing the season?

As a retailer I can tell you that the answer to that question is an emphatic NO. No one likes to start Christmas two months early, but here's a little retail secret; it's our biggest time of year. Of course that's no secret, but do you realize that for many small retailers (and some big ones, too) that this season accounts for 40 percent of our yearly income? That means we have about one sixth of the year to do almost half of our business. If we can get another week or two in there to sell Christmas stuff, you bet we're going to try. Especially with the last few years we've all been having.

No doubt you've been hearing for years about all the trials and tribulations the retail giants have been going through. So-and-so A is up for sale, so-and-so B is projecting record low profits (and the actual numbers ended up even lower) and so-and-so C is reorganizing. So, you can imagine how well the retail Lilliputians are doing. Small local stores are finding that the odds that were previously just stacked against us are now nearly impossible to beat. Our store has been open six years, and I've lost count of how many locally owned businesses have closed in just our neighborhood. That's the most drastic outcome; it doesn't tell you how many of the local owners are still operating hut haven't taken a consistent paycheck in years. You may have heard that a local favorite, C. Foster Toys, is closing at the end of the year. What a huge loss that will be. You may not shop there every day, but that store filled a niche, served a need, and added to the character of the village you live in. That its services will probably only he replaced by Toys'R'Us or Target or (worse yet) Wal-Mart is a crime. (Fosters customers please remember stores like Red Wagon in River Forest and Hobbytown are still here!)

The economy is very tough for everyone, consumers and businesses alike; it's not likely to get much better very soon. Your shopping dollars are precious, and you have to use them wisely. Please as you consider the best way to use them, consider this. You live in a community that is rich in many ways. Right now you have choices in where you can shop, not to mention charming areas in which to do it. If you choose to give your dollars to the malls and to the big box stores and the online catalogs, you are casting your vote to empty the store fronts in your own community. The small businesses here chose this area because they like you. It's that simple. We small retailers have designed our stores for you, stocked the merchandise you want to see, find new merchandise we think you will like, and understand your financial ups and downs. We will go out of our way to serve your needs and wants, and will do it in a personal and hospitable way. We are your neighbors, your friends and acquaintances; our kids go to school with yours. We cannot survive without you, and your lives within this community would be much bleaker without us. This season, please, consider the valuable resources just outside your front door. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES.
Lisa Stern and Maribeth Shor
Kate's Garden

D97 should leave the Mann school trees alone

I'm not a political person and although I enjoy your newspaper I've never written a letter to the editor before. But the issue of the Mann School trees has got my dander up. In your paper and a major Chicago area daily, School District 97 states it will cut down the trees because the mulberries are slippery, they shed their leaves in autumn and provide no shade, and they and the other trees just shouldn't be there. What a shameful bit of hogwash! Mulberries drop their fruit in July, when school is out. If Supt. Fagan is concerned about children slipping in the fall when the leaves fall and become wet from rain and morning dew, he should have them all swept from the sidewalks! Shade? Trees drop their leaves. Is the tree (there's only room to plant one) they plan to plant going to be artificial? They also mentioned planting shrubbery after cutting down the trees. You never plant shrubbery near a grammar school playground because it invites the worst kinds of crime against children!! Their final reason is very sad, sad indeed coming from the school district in a Tree City. To Supt. Fagan I say: Please leave the trees alone. Please let the neighborhood residents enjoy their trees. The school district is in "red ink," so please spend your money on the children not the parking lot landscape.
Lynda Clark
Oak Park

Mann mulberries offer thanks
This Thanksgiving, we, the trees at the Mann School parking lot, are thankful for Michelle Piotrowski, Penelope Egerter, Joy and John Michel, Ben Mildenhall, Carolyn Righeimer, Les Golden, the Helsel family, the Moerschall family, Lauren Totten, and all the others who are trying to persuade the Oak Park village trustees and the board of District 97 not to cut us down this Christmas vacation. Please, for our sake, don't give up trying. We want to live to see another spring.

Interpretation of the whistles of the wind through the tree branches by:
Jordan Rosenbaum and children Kevin and Joshua
Oak Park

Letter writers misrepresent Catholic teaching
I am writing to express my disagreement with the misrepresentation of Catholic teaching contained in the Nov. 24 VIEWPOINTS letters from Kathleen Furore, Peggy Studney and George Uslenghi. (The bigoted anti-Catholicism of Marty Hackl does not deserve a response).

I will not attempt a point-by-point rebuttal of their obfuscation of Catholic teaching on the pre-eminence of the abortion issue vis--vis the other issues that they mention. It will suffice to deflate Mr. Uslenghi's hyperbolic statement, "I wish to point out to Mr. Wemhoff that the number of children killed or damaged by inadequate medical care probably exceeds the number of abortions in the United States."

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy organization, reported last year that there were 1.31 million elective abortions in the US in 2000. The World Health Organization reports that in that same year the total U.S. mortality from birth through age 19 was 55,127. This means that the number of children killed in utero by abortion exceeded those killed by infection, neglect, cancer, gunshot wounds, motor vehicular trauma, suicide, congenital malformation, abuse, accidental poisoning, drug overdose, spontaneous premature birth and all other causes by a factor of 24 to 1. In other words, one year's abortion harvest kills approximately the same number as all of the infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary school students and adolescents who have died from every other cause since 1980.
Chris Clardy, M.D.
Oak Park

D97 will have to address growing number of autistic students
Will our search consultant for superintendent candidates ask their reaction to the latest District 97 statistics which indicate a growing number of students with autism ("Search consultant gathers input for new superintendent," Sept. 29)?

Autism affects 1 in 166 U.S. children according to a January 2004 flyer of Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. The flyer, supported by Department of Health and Human Services, states, "1 out of 6 children are diagnosed with a developmental disorder and/or behavioral problems." According to New Scientist (Sept. 2003), boys outnumber girls 10 to 1. Illinois' State Board of Education reports a 1,535 percent increase in autism from 1992-2002 for ages 3-21.

The Food and Drug Administration's recent list contains 30 vaccines with mercury. Boyd Haley, Ph.D., chairman of University of Kentucky's Chemistry Department has researched the relationship between vaccines' thimerosal (49.6 percent mercury) and autism. At the April 25, 2001 hearing before Congress' Committee on Government Reform, he stated, "We compared the vaccines with and without thimerosal from the same source, the same type of vaccine, and those with thimerosal present were remarkably much more toxic?#34;over 10 fold to 100 fold more toxic than those without thimerosal.. .The MMR vaccine was as toxic as the vaccines with thirnerosal, but there is no thimerosal in the MMR..."

Although MMR's vaccine package insert has no listing for thimerosal, the culture medium components, as with all vaccines, remain secret. Haley remains critical of other vaccines' ingredients?#34;neurotoxic aluminum, which enhances mercury's effects, and formaldehyde.

Vaccine manufacturers have yet to produce individual ingredient safety studies. Why, as a society, do we condone injecting vaccines' toxic materials into our children?
Barbara Alexander Mullarkey
President, Illinois Vaccine Awareness Coalition

WJ article poorly organized, incorrect, and un-contest worthy
Seeing the headline "Two D97 parents announce candidacies for April board vote," (Nov. 24) I looked to see who was running. Silly me! A sub-headline followed (Incumbents silent on whether they'll seek re-election. Filing open through late January.) The sub-headline was factually incorrect (one of the incumbents had said he wouldn't run again) and obscure (it was tied to a minor point in the 18th paragraph). Starting into the story, I thought I missed the names of the two announced candidates and reread the first couple of paragraphs.

After not finding the names in my second go-through, I continued reading and found out about school board election results from 2001 and speculation about an unknown person who may have had District 97 school board member Marcia Frank pick up candidacy forms for him/her, but I still didn't know the names of the candidates.

In the fifth paragraph I discovered the name of one of the candidates. Over the next eight paragraphs I did learn something about Julie Blankemeier along with the address of Holmes School (ZIP Code omitted), and some mildly titillating information about her brother.

Then in the thirteenth paragraph, I first learned that Vic Guarino was the other announced candidate. 

Will you be submitting this article in one of those professional journalism contests?
Morris Seeskin
Oak Park

With nowhere else to go, secession is Oak Park's only option
In reply to Mike Malec's reply to my letter ("OP shouldn't secede?#34;you should leave," Nov. 24):

I would leave if there was someplace to go but there is no America?#34;an empty land because it was stolen from natives?#34;to go to. So we have to secede.

Why do right-wingers always want to send people they don't like to small pitiful Commie countries? (And why are you still hung up on Communism?) Why can't I go to somewhere nice?

Maybe people in Oak Park have it good but plenty of others in this country don't.

If the people keep voting like they are, no one will have it good here but the very rich (like next year).

Just because you were born someplace doesn't mean you have to be an uncritical jingoist?#34;if our ancestors felt that way, no one would have come here!

Paul Porter
Oak Park

Disappointed Democrats shouldn't sit on the sidelines
Dear Mr. Crowe:
I share the emotions expressed in your Nov. 24 column ("Democrats need to learn that values count"). Post-November 2, I also concluded that I had been "emotionally worked up" to an unhealthy extent. But I hope you, and the many others like you, will reconsider your decision to "sit on the sidelines" for the next four years.

First of all, it is not true that "Bush has a mandate to do whatever he wants."  As Mr. Bannor wrote last week, 52 percent of the vote is no landslide. And we cannot even be certain that Bush won by that margin, given the thousands of legitimate voters who were disenfranchised directly or by unreliable voting machines which provided no auditable paper trail.

It is also important to consider that Bush was elected for a variety of reasons. Many who voted for Bush disagreed with him on his policies regarding the environment, the economy, tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations and so on, not to mention the war in Iraq, which a plurality of Americans now consider a mistake.

Bush has a mandate only if those of us who disagree with him move to Canada or "sit on the sidelines" as you plan to do. Please do not grant him a second victory with your silence. Your intelligence, dedication and ability to communicate are needed more now than ever to reshape the Democratic Party so that we can win next time.

Those of us who voted against Bush must find a way to persevere without harming ourselves in the process. Let's remember the words of second-century Rabbi Tarfon: "It is not for you to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it."
Judith Alexander
Oak Park

Let 2005 be a year for politely addressing persons with a disability
As we approach this holiday season I do hope that everyone would take a moment to think about how they feel when they are addressed in a polite way, and then think about how they feel when they are rudely addressed. I then ask them to think about how they address a person with a disability or their condition. Persons with a disability can and prove to be a part of the community in which they live. A simple thing such as saying that one is a person with a disability versus a disabled person, or he has a learning disability versus he's learning disabled or he uses a wheelchair versus he's wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair.

Why not make the year 2005 the year in which we will treat all persons with the same respect and actions as we would like to have shown to us. Persons with a disability can be an active part of the community in which they live but they do need to feel that the community in which they live sees them as part of that community.

We also need to remember that not all persons with a disability will have a disability which can be spotted right away and an increasing number of disabilities are those in which the disability is not able to be seen.

Want to know how to get more information on how to use correct language when describing a person with a disability or their disability? Contact an agency that serves these persons and get their help.

Again, may 2005 become the year in which a person regardless of age, disability or anything else is made to feel welcomed to be an active part of the community in which they live? This will take everyone's participation.
Joel H. Sheffel
A Person with a Disability 
An Advocate for "Preferred Terms" to be used in regards to Persons with A Disability.

If you think we're better off with Bush, you need professional help
The 2004 presidential election has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the educated, hard working, blue collar Americans. We find ourselves slowly recovering from an election that was won based on moral values rather than politics. Let's be honest, folks, America under George W. has been awful, and it's hard for me to see the values in someone that has lied to 300 million people.

In last week's WEDNESDAY JOURNAL the letter written by Mr. Bolen really hit a nerve that I've been trying to get over. In his rant he attacked Democrats, Bill Clinton, and all things not conservative. Mr. Bolen, can you honestly contest that we are better off now than we were with a Democrat in office? I think not. Rather than discuss both sides of the Clinton White House, you chose the negative. Yet under Bush the negatives outweigh the positives two-fold, and if you don't agree with me I recommend seeking professional help. Let's look at the facts shall we. Under Bush, 2.1 million jobs lost, not bad; 1.6 trillion dollars in debt, okay getting better; an unnecessary war with Iraq that is solely based on cleaning up daddy's mess (George Sr.). So far I'm voting for Bush he sounds like a real "moral" person.

During the Clinton era, we had a surplus in the economy, lower unemployment rate, a balanced budget, and positive world view. Your rant was focused too much on foreign policy, and not on how things are at home. I really enjoyed "The U.S. destroyed Saddam Hussein, offering Iraqis a free nation." That was a tearjerker especially since Saddam was such a threat to the United States, he had no weapons and no links to 9/11. If you don't believe me read the "9/11 Report" and get your facts straight. The world view of the United States is one of disrespect and unable to be trusted all thanks to your President from Texas.

The icing on the cake came when you attacked Democrats for using Hollywood, and not knowing what we stand for. Well, let me educate you on what I stand for as a college democrat: I believe in the working class, the bettering of my fellow man, balancing the budget, rolling back the Bush tax cuts, creating jobs, tossing the Patriot Act and No Child Left Behind, restoring relations with Europe, and re-establishing the United States as a country who leads in positive ways.

The next four years will be tough on the United States, as George W. continues to ruin our country in any way he can. But there's hope, my friends, because in 2008, once all of our post Bush clean up work is complete, we can rejoice once again.
Anthony J. Loconsole
Oak Park Democrat

There should be no tolerance for immature liberals
Given the extremely left-wing slant of the WEDNESDAY JOURNAL's editorial policy, it is obviously not reasonable to expect those liberal contributors to VIEWPOINTS to be sufficiently mature to express themselves in a rational, coherent, and intelligent manner instead of continuing their trashing of President Bush, his policies and actions, and of the American voters who chose to reelect him to a second term by an overwhelming majority of the popular vote.

There is no place for any tolerance of people who refer to Bush supporters as rednecks and hillbillies or with those who have no loyalty to their country and say that they are ashamed to be Americans. There is an ideal solution for these dissidents and I would recommend that they avail themselves of it. Even your favored candidate who lost the election (in case you are not yet aware of that fact) advised unification and an end to the divided condition and rancor that has been prevalent in this country far too long. Susan Cross
Oak Park

We're stuck with four more years, but we can be polite
Like Peggy Studney, I hoped to retire President Bush and Vice President Cheney on election day. Unfortunately, that did not happen, and now we have them back for four more years.

While I object to many of the actions and policies of the Bush/Cheney administration, I also would like this country to return to a more cordial political discourse where Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives alike can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

I therefore must state my objections to Mrs. Studney's categorization of President Bush as a "self righteous, war mongering president," Vice President Cheney as "demented" and their supporters as a "scurrilous band of neo-cons." Also, unlike Mrs. Studney, I am still proud to call myself an American.
Michael J. Murphy
Forest Park

The election question: What went right?
I was baptized a Democrat and a Roman Catholic in this blue state of Illinois. I voted with the national majority.

Since Nov. 3 the print media and TV have been obsessed with the question: "What went wrong?"

The question should be: "What went right?"

The answer is: "The vote is an affirmation that abortion is bad." Abortion is bad for the victim and for society. The vote is an affirmation that the marriage of a man and a woman is, was and always will be good for society and it should not be trivialized.

The affirmation of these values does not translate into bigotry or hatred of the minority vote.
William McNichols
Oak Park

Goss is just one more Bush yes-man
We read daily in the news that Bush's partisan appointee, Goss, is shaking up the CIA. Logically one would think that Goss would be firing those responsible for giving bad information to the Bush administration about weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately they are being promoted and the honest men and women in the CIA who had the interests of the American people at heart are to be purged.

In a memo (obtained by Douglas Jehl of the New York Times), Mr. Goss chillingly says, "We support the administration and its policies in our work. As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."

Silly me, I thought the CIA was to provide the objective truth so that the best course of action could be taken to assure America's safety. But Goss forbids any sharing of knowledge that doesn't conform to what Bush and his neo-conmen want to hear. That's exactly what got us into this Iraqi quagmire.

Bush's purge of the CIA should clarify for anyone who still has any doubts that Bush did not go to war as a last resort, after weighing all the evidence. Indeed it is now apparent Bush doesn't even want to hear evidence that doesn't conform to his pre-emptive war doctrine. Bush went to war in Iraq as soon as he could line up enough weak, unprincipled people, such as Tenet, that would tell him what he wanted to hear. Now it won't take so long for the next war. They will all be yes-men.

Bush's inability to admit mistakes, hear contrary views, and reflect on the great costs of this unnecessary war to the American people does not make me feel safer. It scares me to the bone.
Fran Sampson
Oak Park

OP should take the progressive step of nixing indoor smoking
As a longtime resident of Oak Park, I encourage my fellow citizens to urge the village trustees to join the States of New York, California, Florida, the city of Minneapolis and the country of Ireland to make Oak Park workplaces, including restaurants, completely smoke free.

Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogenic. Each year in Illinois approximately 3,000 people die from the effects of second hand smoke. While this may seem like a small step it can have an enormous impact on health care costs as well as the general health of our population. Studies have shown that where smoke-free environments are mandated, shifting the culture in the direction of healthier behavior, fewer young people take up smoking and many long-time smokers quit.

As a progressive community our village needs to take a strong stand for the health of the public, restaurant workers and our children. It's good for our health and good for business.
Pat B. Allen
Oak Park

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