By Ken Trainor
It's the Wednesday before Election Day. Time for some endorsements.
First and foremost, I endorse voting in local elections.
As I wrote back on April 29, 2009: "The combined total of votes cast for Oak Park village president [in the 2009 local election] was roughly 6,000. The total for River Forest village president was roughly 2,700. In towns of 50,000 plus and 11,000 plus respectively, those aren't very impressive numbers. You could safely conclude we live in two pretty apathetic towns.
"But just five months earlier in the U.S. presidential election, no less than 28,886 Oak Parkers cast a ballot. That's almost 23,000 more voters. 23,000! More than half of the residents of Oak Park voted in the national election. Slightly more than 1/10 voted in the local election.
"In River Forest, the proportions were similar. More than half the town (c. 6,100) voted in November (2-1 in favor of Obama). In April, that number dropped by roughly 3,400."
If you're not that well educated on the issues — or you think local elections are beneath you or you simply find local governance boring — you can still read our endorsements from last week and bring the list into the polling booth. Our reporters, editors and publisher spent countless hours talking to all the candidates. That must be worth something.
So I endorse voting.
I also endorse:
* The District 97 referendum. If you want better-than-average schools, you have to pay — unless you have proof of gross incompetence and massive wasteful spending (anecdotal evidence is not enough).
* Raising taxes when necessary. If you want adequate services, you have to pay for that, too. Eliminating wasteful spending will never eliminate a budget deficit. Merely cutting, in other words, doesn't cut it. You have to do both.
* The No-Fly Zone over Libya. Since we've got this absurdly inflated military capability (which the so-called budget watchdogs never want to touch), this seems like a limited, relatively legitimate use for it — in stark contrast to, say, invading a country (say, Iraq) for a reason that doesn't exist (say, WMDs) and still being mired there eight years later (sacrificing thousands of young lives). Somehow it doesn't surprise me that the Republicans are speaking out against the former but still support the latter.
* The abolition of the death penalty. Our flawed criminal justice system will never be able to prevent innocent people from being condemned to Death Row. Enough said.
* Butler winning the NCAA Tournament, giving hope to the Cinderellas of the world and allowing newspapers to run the headline: (The) Butler Did It!
* Higher gas prices if that's what it takes to get our attention and kick our addiction to oil.
* Regular public readings of the growing list of major environmental disasters (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the nuclear catastrophe in Japan) — a list that will only lengthen — until it finally gets through even the thickest of our thick skulls that our planet is in peril.
* Saving the only inhabitable planet in the known universe.
* Chris Kleronomos selling all his buildings on Harrison Street and fading into a well deserved retirement.
* Building something at the corner of Lake and Forest — as long as it's not ugly and doesn't feature another burger joint, cellphone store or dry cleaner.
* OPRF either dumping its unnecessary lawsuit against village hall or reimbursing taxpayers for all the legal fees in this case (both sides) through a reduced tax levy. (If they don't, taxpayers should sue them.)
* Reducing the minority student achievement gap, the income gap between the rich and the rest of us, the CEO-employee salary gap — pretty much all gaps.
* Devoting one of the Lake Theatre's screens to showing a classic film every week.
* Spending more of our tax dollars on NPR — and requiring anyone who opposes this to listen to All Things Considered for the first time.
* Requiring Tea Party members to take a test on the U.S. Constitution, devised by a bi-partisan committee of constitutional experts, then publishing the results. If you fail, you have to shut the hell up for one election cycle.
* A handgun ban in Oak Park and a saner reading of the Second Amendment.
* Affordable housing, wider bridges over the Eisenhower, eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, park upgrades in Oak Park, eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, parking upgrades in Oak Park, eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy, restoring Unity Temple, and more active community support for our Hemingway legacy.
You can't vote for all of that next Tuesday, but please do vote.