When Oak Park and River Forest school children begin their state mandated moment of silence, we hope they pray fervently for an end to insanity in Springfield. We’d go further and urge school children south of Washington Boulevard, that would be the 4th Senate District, to pray that their state senator, Kimberly Lightford learns how to respect the U.S. Constitution as it applies to separation of church and state.

Eliminate euphemisms. Moments of silence in public schools, mandated by the state, are school prayer. Plain, simple, unequivocally, unacceptably. That Lightford, a state senator representing south Oak Park, introduced this abhorrent legislation is an embarrassment and one that ought to have consequences come the next election. We will remember this and we will do more than pray for Lightford’s defeat.

That this is the piece of legislation that Illinois politicians can unite behind in a season when they can’t fix the CTA, can’t pass a budget, can’t fund schools, can’t get beyond the utter futility of political pettiness, is pathetic and hilarious. This, then, is how far Springfield has fallen.

Back in the real world where educators and parents and students do their jobs, we have yet another intrusion by state government into an area where it has no business, where there was no problem in search of a solution. There is not a single public school educator who sought the confusion and division that mandatory prayer will bring. 

Mark it down: We applaud Gov. Rod Blagojevich for having the moral sense to veto this bill. He lost on the override but, in this single instance, he did the right thing. We also express our respect for Sen. Don Harmon, Oak Park’s other state senator, for being one of just nine Illinois senators to vote against this bill.

Let the legal challenges to this ill-advised legislation begin.

Modest start on Madison

Well, it is better than a public storage facility.

Go ahead, call us optimists. But it wasn’t many years ago that Oak Park’s village government tried to peddle its land at Madison and Highland and the only bidder wanted to construct a building full of storage cubicles.

This time around, the only bidder wants to construct a four-story mixed use project with retail, and surprisingly, office condominiums. Sure, we’re disappointed that only one bidder came forward. But we are not surprised.

As we have noted multiple times, Oak Park frittered away years of a spectacular development climate with loony self-indulgence. We preferred bickering to problem solving. And now, in two ways, we pay. The market for new development is very soft and is likely to stay that way for a time. And Oak Park’s reputation as a fruitful destination for developers is very soft and it is likely to stay that way for a time.
The way back is to actually build things. Maybe we won’t build everything we’ve dreamed of, but they can be substantive projects, well crafted, accomplished in collaboration. It is a start.

Sixth grade hoops

Sixth grade is a great time to play basketball. With sixth graders. It is a great time to learn the game, to learn the lessons of the game, to enjoy the camaraderie of classmates. It isn’t, as a River Forest family seems intent on proving, the time to launch a basketball career. The family wants their child playing with the seventh graders. The school superintendent, wisely, has said, “not yet.”

There is time for the pressure and the exhilaration of busting out as a basketball star. Sixth grade isn’t it. Let the kids play. The best kid will still shine.

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