The state fair is in his blood
To the editor:
Thanks for the state fair stories ["Our Fair City," August 14]. From the age of 7 to 13, I always went away for a few weeks of the summer to spend time at my grandma's house in Somalia, MO . . . home of the Missouri State Fair. Since then, I have had state fairs "in my blood."
I lived in Springfield from 1971 through 1991 and went to the fair every year. Most of the time I would take a day off work to attend. I would get a lemon shakeup and see the "butter cow."
I left Springfield when Governor Edgar laid off a bunch of state workers. We moved to the northwest corner of Arkansas in 1992 . . . home to Wal-Mart's headquarters . . . and then toward Little Rock in 1998. Up until 1995, I had always remembered the Missouri State Fair as being bigger than the Illinois State Fair--until we returned to the Missouri fair in 1995. The Illinois fair is definitely larger. I suppose I was remembering through the eyes of a seven-year-old.
My youngest son has now picked up my old habit, grabbing a shopping bag to collect the free stuff the vendors give away. The Illinois State Fair is a fun time for the entire family. I returned to Springfield last year and again this year just for the fair.
"Please care next year"
Last Thursday night, we were leaving the Ethnic Village and were walking along the avenue heading toward the main gate. Fireworks were blasting off behind us, Abe towered in front of us, and I suddenly saw what sat at my feet. My eyes took one big sweep. I noted the fair organizers did the right thing--they made sure we had many garbage cans available to put our trash in. So why was the street littered with trash and debris?
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The beauty of the fireworks was broken by my disappointment and rage. I wanted to shout, "Look at this mess! What is the problem? Is everyone so lazy they can't carry their garbage ten feet--make that five feet--to the nearest trash can?" Then I looked to the statue of our beloved Abe, hometown hero, the man who struggled to preserve this land we call home. As the glistening lights showered down behind us, my rage turned to sorrow.
Why is there no respect? Why is there no pride? I watched my fellow citizens walk through a filthy haze until my daughter reminded me she needed to go potty.
Four days later I write and share, and I'm asking, pleading with you, to please care next year . . .
Mrs. J.B. McDonald
Words from a "worried citizen"
To the editor:
What was the reasoning behind the breakdown of the Illinois State Lottery ["Fired," August 7]? Was it to help fix the budget? Exactly how will merging the Lottery with Revenue help the budget?
As writer Pete Sherman points out, the move alone will cost millions. The Lottery has its own budget and has nothing to do with the budget crisis. Plus, it's lost many positions to early retirement that have gone unfilled. Despite the vacancies, the agency continues to operate quite well (understaffed as it is).
The "pink" slips that were handed out to a select group of people had no rhyme or reason. They weren't upper management, middle management, or lower management--they were regular workers "protected" by AFSME. Single parents, married parents, single people earning $20,000 to $40,000 a year. While most of them got job offers from Revenue, some were demoted.
This helps the budget? The state then turned around and filled a deputy director's position that had been vacant for 10 months. That person will likely be making over $100,000 a year. Is this a budget management tactic? The people who've had to take pay cuts to avoid being laid off are now wondering when the next round of budget cuts will come along and they'll be booted out the door.
One can only wonder about the logic at work, especially when it's assumed everyone at the Lottery is a Republican. Or is it because a Republican owns the building that houses Lottery?
The people on the hit list were not what you would call political players. The big wigs, the people in management, know the game. They know going into it that any change in administration can lead to their ouster. They know it and accept it.
But to mess with the little people, simply because they may have been on a "list" of person granted political favors in the past seems very vindictive. Yes, there is a "list," but most of these people do not make big bucks. They can say it's not personal, but it seems very personal.
And it isn't just the Lottery. The Department of Education is being affected too. The closing of the Secretary of State facilities also affects the public. They will have to take an entire day off work just to go to a driver's license facility.
How much did it cost to retain an attorney to find all the "dead" jobs? How much will flowers on the interstate cost? What kind of deal was cut between AFSME and the new administration?
A worried Illinois citizen
Heeding Thomas Paine
Last year the White House discretely released its benign-sounding "Nuclear Posture Review." Rumsfeld casually announced plans to consider arming "bunker-buster" bombs with nuclear payloads.
Meanwhile, Bush--who refuses to even pronounce the word "nuclear" correctly--announces his euphemistically named "Healthy Forests Initiative." Who does he think he's fooling? He should call it what it is: the "Healthy Forest Products Industry Initiative."
While this un-elected "aministration" (Bush doesn't pronounce the "d") continues spewing its stream of doublespeak, its talk radio attack dogs shout down any criticism with derision and hostility.
Is it any wonder the world is reacting with disbelief and horror, witnessing these brazen, nature-hating thugs defiantly imposing their will on the planet?
The right-wing is riding high now as its goosestepping, small-minded minions praise its greatness. But history will judge this latest incarnation of America harshly.
While Bush is the object of idolatry to many, others see him as a colossal embarrassment--a two-bit, tinhorn, self-righteous, war-mongering, mediocre madman--just a hustler for the Pentagon and its war department industry, which is really now in control of America's destiny.
Damn the torpedoes, damn the Bill of Rights, damn the Constitution, damn the will of the world's peoples.
Surely, the founding fathers would be hard-pressed to find the words to adequately express their outrage and alarm.
The right-wing knows no shame, but to this American they are a blemish and shameful stain on the nation's record. I'll forgive these enemies of the planet--after they're hanged!
We would do well to heed the words of Thomas Paine: "The duty of the true patriot is to protect his country from its government." If ever it needed protecting, it is now.
No nagging doubts
Let's put away our nagging doubts. Let's put away our suspicions of being manipulated. Let's put away our disappointment at being lied to by a president who is being told what to say or not to say. It has happened before with presidents and their advisors. Let's put away our defenses of being right or wrong in our stand on the election (elected or appointed), or the war (preemptive or illegal), or the current domestic and foreign policies coming out of the administration. Let's put aside the stinking economy, the daily death of our troops in a sustained occupation, the news about corporate scandals tied to big business and oil contracts linked to administration officials. Let's put it all behind us.
In order to get us moving forward, President Bush should conduct a wide-open, no-holds-barred open press conference, where the Washington press corps could clear the air of all the questions that have backed up over these long months. If the "Buck Stops Here," then our president needs to address the nation as the down-to-earth man he portrayed in the last election. If he sold us a bill of goods that needs to be tossed in the trash, or if it's worth recycling, most of us would like to know from the man himself. Of course, that is if he can speak for himself.