Guest Column: Resolutions for 2003
By Stanley Campbell
I resolve to work on the following issues in the upcoming New Year:
1) Urban sprawl. Its time we organize on a county-wide level to stop the spread of urban sprawl. Developers are organized and get local communities to bid against one another, especially for those big-box stores (lots of sale tax receipts). I will try to organize citizens who want more green space, farmland and fewer parking lots.
2) I will try to talk our city out of a gambling boat. Casinos are a great temptation to city officials because they get a cut of the take right off the top. Unfortunately, the take is taken from people who can ill afford to gamble. Sure, a lot of us might visit a casino for its entertainment value. But 80 percent of gambling revenue comes from compulsive and addicted gamblers. Is it any wonder that its so difficult to get Gamblers Anonymous information posted at Illinois gaming establishments? Is it any wonder that Illinois so miserly supports counseling for the addict? The harm a riverboat will do to the surrounding area population will not match the revenue the city gets in the long run. I also resolve to use honey instead of vinegar to fight the casino.
3) The alcohol industry should pay for the destruction it causes in our community. In our desire for easy access to alcoholic products, we give little thought for those 15 to 20 percent who are physically and mentally addicted. We care little for those who drop all their money and their lives into a bottle. Compassion is not our strong suit. But the industry knows they can make mucho dinero from the alcoholic. And when I say profits, its in the billions.
Locally, hard times create more alcoholics, which really creates more profits for liquor. A bar on Seventh Street is a license to print money, and it does so off the weakest links in our community. Sure, these places pay sales taxes to the city, but the revenue comes nowhere near the costs in destroyed lives and dilapidated neighborhoods brought about by this industry. Im talking about the worst bars in town. You know where they are, but do you know how much they cost you?
Police have to come heavily armed when they enter some of these establishments. That costs us taxpayers money. Its a free ride for those bars, and its time they start to pay. And the worst offenders should be shut down.
4) And finally, I resolve to help make Seventh Street a safer, cleaner neighborhood. This is a lovely area of town with a wide variety of people. I think the best restaurants in Rockford are on Seventh Street and Broadway, and Im going to encourage more people to shop, visit and live in this area of town.
Those are a few of my resolutions for the coming new year. I hope you resolve to get more involved in your community and do something good for the least of those in our midst. Happy New Year!
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.