Having been through an election recently, where thoughts of the USA and freedom and choice were a common issue and commentary, we need to think about those terms as we concern ourselves with this public smoking issue.

Coming from a family where both parents smoked (at some time) and one passed away due to cancer, you’d suspect I would be pro ban. I am not. We as a nation of people that claim to be concerned with our right to freedom and choices, cannot allow pressure from any group to control the choice a private business owner makes for their establishment. What we can allow is this: Posted at entry that this establishment allows smoking by patrons in designated areas only. Anyone opposed to or allergic to smoke is advised to enter at their own risk. Instead of people saying they should be able to sue a restaurant because they were subject to smoke, a parent that chooses to bring their child in should be liable for subjecting their child to second hand smoke having full knowledge that the danger exists. To tell a business owner that he cannot choose to allow smokers is absolutely the opposite of our country’s belief. As a business owner I should be allowed to serve a smoking public if that is my choice. I don’t make you choose to eat here or enter my establishment. You are free to eat and drink where you choose, as I should be to run my establishment. Business owners also do not force people to work there, and again, they should only have to inform applicants that smoking is allowed and they agree to employment knowing full well that the consequences if any as a result of smoking are not to be held against the employer.

If you value your right to choice and freedom we cannot allow the anti-smoking bans to gain speed and sprout like weeds across our nation. If you really want to complain about something, make the issue parking, or the incredible lack of it. It’s not just an issue in Oak Park, but a major problem in Chicago too! With all the taxes we pay, why do we have to pay for parking anywhere? Lastly, if you don’t like drinking alcohol, do you hang out in bars? If you didn’t like Bush, did you vote for him? If you don’t smoke, then don’t go there; many people are willing to take the chance, that’s their free choice.
Daniel Schitkovitz
River Forest

This realtor is the other Peggy
I have been a realtor in this community for the last 9 years, and love every minute of it. As a professional with a “semi” public face, I have been careful to keep my political opinions private so as to maintain the integrity my work demands.

As fate would have it, I am not the only Peggy Studney in town. Lately, more and more people have come to me assuming that I am the one who contributes regularly to the editorial pages of this publication. I am not.

I want to assure my clients, and all FC Pilgrim’s clients, that I will continue to serve their needs to the best of my abilities without discussing politics, religion or any other sensitive issues.

I admire my mother-in-law’s political activism (yes, there is a connection between the two Peggys) and respect her devotion to the causes she holds dear. But we are indeed two different individuals, and it is time you knew it. I am proud to be an American and to live in a land where people are free to openly express their viewpoints.

From now on, to avoid further confusion, I will go by my full name of Peggy Tew Studney.
Peggy Tew Studney
Realtor, FC Pilgrim

Thanks to D97 for serving up the veggie burgers
I’d like to say thank you to District 97 for having the vegetarian burger at lunch on Wednesday, December 1. It is a much healthier choice than the hamburgers that the schools usually serve. A lot of people were disappointed with the hot lunch on Wednesday, but I’m a vegetarian so I thought it was a good choice. I noticed some people threw their lunch away without touching it, but maybe they should have given it a try. My friend, Waylen, tried the veggie burger and he thought it was actually pretty good! Maybe if the principals and teachers would encourage everyone just to try it, they might like it.

Another good thing about having a vegetarian lunch is we saved some animals. No cows were killed for that lunch. I hope District 97 has more vegetarian choices in the future.
Theresa Egan
Mr. J. Turek’s 5th grade class
Longfellow School

There aren’t just Republicans here, but Greens, too
Jim Bowman’s column (“Republican Poll Watching,” Dec. 1) raises some interesting points.

When I started voting in NYC in the 1960’s there were four political parties that held primaries, and ten or more parties on the ballot in the general election. Multiple parties were allowed to back the same candidate, a practice called fusion, which still exists today. Senator Clinton is beholden to three parties that backed her.

In the 1960’s in NYC, the Democratic Party had become too corrupt and entrenched. Consequently the Liberal Party and the Republican Party (yes, I said “liberal” and “republican” in the same sentence) combined efforts and elected Mayor John Lindsey, who established for a few brief years, Camelot, in NYC.

Jim Bowman, whom I have known for several decades, talks about an election judge who was surprised that there are Republicans in Oak Park. The judge in question would probably be even more surprised to find out there are Green Party members in Oak Park, and not only that, but in the last two general elections, the Green Party received more votes in Oak Park than the Republicans did, for the 8th district State Representative seat.   

The reason for this seems to be two-fold: The six-term incumbent State Representative in the 8th District, who is a Democrat, is almost totally out of touch with most of his constituents and he was fined $80,000 for not reporting his campaign funding. He is so bad, that in a three-party race, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Pioneer Press endorsed the Green Party candidate, who is my wife, Julie Samuels. To be fair, the other two candidates were at a disadvantage, as my wife, unlike the other candidates, actually wanted to discuss the issues with both the papers and the public (see www.juliesamuels.com).

If the Democratic Party is going to be a party with high standards, it should consider encouraging a qualified candidate to run in the primary of 2006 against the incumbent, Calvin Giles. In this year’s primary a promising challenger, James T. Smith, did run and he received almost half the vote in the suburbs despite a lack of Democratic insider support.
Bruce Samuels
Treasurer, Greens of Oak Park

Secession is not the solution
I’d like to respond to a letter I read in the VIEWPOINTS section of the Nov. 10 issue, “Election shows Oak Park should secede” by Paul Porter. Mr. Porter stated in his essay that he strongly believes Oak Park should secede from the United States of America due to the outcome of the national election. Since Oak Park is a very liberal community and, according to his article, 78 percent of the voters turn out was for Kerry, he feels that we are not being represented. Mr. Porter suggests we do what the south did back when Lincoln was elected president. The southern states could not live with a president that conflicted with their views and way of life, so they in turn quit from the union. He believes Oak Park should do the same.

First, I think Mr. Porter needs to take a couple of deep breaths and think about what he is saying. I understand the anger and frustration he is feeling, but he is crossing the line from expressing dissatisfaction to a rant. He should cool down and not let his anger speak so much in his letter.

I found what he was saying to be very interesting but I was turned off by the way he said it. One line from his letter that I found to be way too abrasive was “…the rest of the country of yahoos and rednecks voted for stupid…”

Like I said before I am upset too with the outcome of this election, but those words are childish. I think the essay would have been stronger and more influential if he left that name calling out. I think that a truly serious article could get the point across without using silly stuff like that. Truly, if he wants to secede, he should write a more thought out, less rambling essay, with no kiddy stuff. Perhaps then it might go some where.

I liked the idea, I really did. However, I think his proposal is more comical than a serious plan of action. At the end of his letter Mr. Porter wrote “P.S. I AM SERIOUS!!!” That alone is pretty funny. I did like that he put his thoughts out on paper for all to see.

Yes, Oak Park is a very liberal town and yes, we almost all voted against Bush. And it is such a sad shame that the rest of the country couldn’t see what a terrible state George W. Bush and his administration have left this country and the world in. But there’s no way this little community going to break off from the rest of the nation and form their own country. It’s crazy.

I think Mr. Porter wrote this a little too soon after the election and sounds a little too gung-ho. I have written about Mr. Porter’s letter, but not the main idea in it. I must say the idea sounds very appealing, but all in all I think it’s not a good one.

Like I have mentioned, I do not think George Bush has in any way helped our country or the world. He has proven a poor leader. All he really has done is got the United states involved in a war, and I think this war is unnecessary and a waste. I am upset with the people who couldn’t see George Bush’s short comings and I wonder why they didn’t see it. The southern states are especially to blame but I am not going to call them “hicks” or “rednecks.” I think that only causes more problems. We need to pull together as a country.

We should work together to try to help everyone in our nation. I don’t think the liberals and conservatives fighting is going to help anyone, anywhere. Maybe I am being an idealist, but that’s what I believe. I don’t like this ranting and raving from both political views. What good has it done?

So, seceding won’t do anything really. Actually quitting the union is just that, quitting. I think we need to pull together. Mr. Porter mentioned that seceding would be a symbolic act, and that aspect makes sense. I like the idea of doing something symbolic to represent the discontentment I and others feel. Strong actions like that can make a big difference.

If Oak Park seceded we would get a lot of press attention. But not enough to change anything. We’d probably be a laughing stock and the more I think about it the more it sounds funny to me.

I agree some big symbolic action would maybe help, but I don’t think seceding is a productive way to do it. I personally don’t know what to do. I give Mr. Porter some credit for speaking up even if his plan is a bit absurd. I think that it would not help. If Oak Park quits the nation it won’t do anything on a larger scale. The conservatives would probably be glad to get rid of all of us liberals.

Oak Park is nothing like the south during the Civil War. No one depends on us for food or resources. We are too tiny. It’d be a waste of time. And to review some history the south didn’t accomplish anything by seceding. They didn’t free themselves from the president they didn’t agree with; if anything they got him shoved down their throats even more. They started a war, the most destructive war America has ever been involved in. Secession causes more turmoil, more fighting. Most liberals don’t Like Bush because he’s such a cowboy, always ready for a fight, guns drawn. So, why pick another fight? Seriously, what good will that do?

But still the idea of expressing discontentment in the place we unwillingly find ourselves is a good one. Maybe on a larger scale a secession would work. However, I still believe the nation needs to pull together. Our system of government is really tearing itself apart. Nothing will ever get done to help the common people if politicians are rich crooks looking for their own personal gain. That’s the real problem, it’s not just George Bush. The problem is much larger, too large for me to even begin to fathom a solution; I don’t have the answers.

But I think instead of all this fighting between liberals and conservatives, people should examine the government as a whole. Thinking just liberal or just conservative can be so blinding. Look at it all critically. Maybe you will see neither party is right or wrong. Maybe you’ll see the problem goes much deeper. Division is not the solution.
Max Bjornson
Oak Park

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