Effective Feb. 17, you will have to dial a 10- or 11-digit phone number for all local calls (cell phones may not require a 1 before the area code). The affected area runs from the Wisconsin border and Iowa border to the west, down past LaSalle and Kankakee to the Indiana border to the east. The problem, of course, is that we are running out of phone numbers. Im sure there are several different approaches that could be used to solve this problem. The following are three examples:
1) Splitting the affected area into different area codes (meaning some areas would have to change their area code).
2) Issuing a different area code to cell phones.
3) Blending the area codes and forcing everyone to dial the area code for all calls.
When the area code change took place in the Chicago area, they chose option 1, and some of the businesses caused an uproar over having to reprint business cards, invoices, etc., in which case I understand the reluctance to split the area codes geographically. However, several years after the fact, it appears it is no longer an issue.
In the case of option 2, when you dial a cell phone number, you usually recognize by the prefix that it is a cell phone, which would make it much easier to determine the area code. It would also allow exiting seven-digit phone numbers for cell-to-cell calls as well as land line to land line. You would only have to dial an area code when calling a land line from a cell or when calling a cell from a land line. This is somewhat of a compromise.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (not the phone company) has decided to pursue option 3. The ICC is a board of four members and a chairman, all appointed by the governor. Three of the members are listed as Democrat, while the party affiliations of the other two are not given (it is illegal to appoint more than three members of any single party to the board). The Democrats are currently in control of the board, and the current chairman of the ICC is former Rockford Mayor Charles Box.
OfficeSpringfield: (217) 782-7907
OfficeChicago: (312) 814-2859
Apparently, they have come to the conclusion that you are not capable of causing the same kind of uproar that wealthy corporate business owners are capable of. They are probably right.
Just remember, this is NOT a temporary solution; it is permanent. You will suffer the minor inconvenience of dialing the extra few digits for the rest of your life (or as long as you live in northern Illinois). In a few short years, the problem will grow worse. Your immediate neighbor may be in a different area code, while someone in an entirely different town shares the same area code as you. Every time you pick up the phone to dial, you can thank the Illinois Democrats for choosing the temporary financial benefit of the wealthy elite in exchange for yet another inconvenience in your already hectic life.
Joshua West is a Republican precinct committeeman in Rockford.
From the Feb. 21-27, 2007, issue