WATCHDOGS LAID OFF
Unbelievable. GateHouse Media executives, owners of the SJ-R, rake in hundreds of thousands in bonuses while laying off staff and outsourcing other newspaper functions [see “Parachutes get more golden at GateHouse,” by Bruce Rushton, March 15]. And what do we subscribers get? A less local, less personal, inferior product. Chris Britt, a Springfield original who I didn’t always agree with, was let go for a lot less than GateHouse CEO Michael Reed’s bonus of $750,000. Now there are fewer watchdogs available to keep an eye on abuses of individuals, government and business. Fewer to look out for the public interest.
Fear not, the corporate beasts have been well fed. I’m sure the layoffs and corresponding bonuses will translate into job creation.
I read with interest the recent account of the crash ratings in the daily newspaper. The new rating system stresses the severity of the crashes, which in some cases puts the improvement money to good use. But it may leave other intersections, such as MacArthur and Lawrence, with definitely correctable crash problems out of the safety funding pot of money.
The severity rating system rates a fatal crash at 25, a bad injury at 10 and a possible injury or property-damage-only crash at 1. This system favors the intersections in higher speed areas. The intersection of Sangamon Avenue and Dirksen Parkway most likely has a higher injury problem because of the higher speeds and a lack of capacity during heavy traffic periods, which results in irritating delay. It is not unusual for drivers to speed up to try to beat the red light, thus entering the intersection too late, causing a crash with a high potential for bad injuries or worse. Constructing dual left turn lanes for the heavy turning movements would alleviate this problem but would be probably prohibitively expensive due to the gasoline stations on three of the corners, hemming in the intersection. This lack of available right-of-way may have been a factor when the latest improvement was designed and constructed due to cost restraints.
I agree with the new rating system to a point. However, there must be a correctable problem at the location that can be done at a reasonable cost. Also, correctable problems at intersections or other locations with numbers of crashes much higher than normal should still be addressed. Crash data need to be examined by a trained professional to verify the accurateness of the location and type of crash data and to determine the probability of a cost-effective improvement. Errors in reporting and coding do exist and can skew the data enough to change the ratings.
Tyre W. Rees
Tyre Rees is the former Springfield traffic engineer, now retired.
[See: “Time to graduate? Constitutional amendment would ditch flat income tax,” by Patrick Yeagle, March 15.] Illinois is a shriveling old giant squid, desperately reaching out for more money from fewer and fewer people and businesses, and the stranded impoverished consumer residents who have fewer and fewer dollars in their disposable income accounts because their employers won’t increase their wages to stimulate the economy. Businesses are voting with their employees’ wallets in Illinois, and the world oil cartels are thrusting and twisting the knife we all know as the price of gas. It’s too sad.
SeaWorld’s first veterinarian, the late David W. Kenney, will be remembered by many for transforming wildlife into profitable commodities. Kenney recognized how fascinating dolphins and orcas are, but rather than appreciating them in their rightful environment as scientists like Jacques Cousteau did, Kenney took ocean-dwelling animals and relegated them to life in cramped SeaWorld tanks.
SeaWorld accountants may have cause to mourn this man, but for animal advocates, conservationists, and most importantly, for the orcas, dolphins, sea lions and other animals who lost everything for SeaWorld’s profit, Kenney’s passing is at best bittersweet.
Countless animals have lived in misery and died too young at SeaWorld. But given all that we now know about how poorly sea animals fare in captivity, the tide is clearly turning. More and more people are staying away from marine theme parks that treat intelligent and feeling animals like wind-up toys expected to perform on command.