View From the Right: The Rockford Jail Mall a.k.a. West side development

View From the Right: The Rockford Jail Mall a.k.a. West side development

By Judy Howard

What a concept! Only our Rockford mayor and his associates could have dreamed this one up. “Develop” the River District and the west side with the anchor of a downtown jail. We voters/taxpayers have approved increased sales tax to fund this new $40-plus million jail, downtown on the west side of the river. And now our city fathers have decided we should also “develop” West State Street to attract tourists into our beautifed downtown. New tourists will want to see the new jail, perhaps even wave at the inmates.

As taxpayers being forced to fund the downtown “development,” we voted “no” on the jail referendum, and we’d like to suggest a Jail Mall be designed. Combine commercial “development” with the multi-block new jail building. The upper floors of the jail could be “developed” for jail offices, courtrooms and cells, while the ground level could house eating places and a few department stores. How about some fast-food restaurants for those on a tight a schedule, as well as Marshall Field’s and, maybe Tiffany’s to accommodate higher spenders like private attorneys and politicians? These “developments” would also attract west-side tourists.

Today, the downtown area has vacant buildings, a bus depot, some parking lots, a few small businesses, the Public Safety Building (jail), and a summer hot dog stand. Most of these are on the opposite side of the street from the proposed jail “development.” After spending millions of taxpayer dollars, tourists could be directed into Rockford down West State Street past expensively “developed” greenspace, intersections and newly constructed buildings straight into downtown Rockford where they will feast their eyes on the newly “developed” exorbitantly expensive jail complete with a shopping mall.

If the tourists travel far enough east, they will view our river with the senior citizen center, library and some commercial buildings. Entrepeneurs could rent fishpoles complete with bait to tourist families. Who needs a park district-proposed carousel? Or maybe I should ask, “Who can afford a carousel?”

Other cities will surely follow suit, locating their new jail/Jail Mall downtown to attract tourists. I have been downtown several times to the Public Safety Building. If we want to attract tourists to our Jail Mall, we will have to “develop” some kind of direct-to-jail-facilities walkway, perhaps overhead so tourists are not frightened.

Let me ask you: How many of you readers expect to visit downtown, entering from West State Street, after our multiple millions of tax dollars have been spent to beautify it?

U.N. political deceit—oil for food

Even Dr. Hans von Sponeck, former UN coordinator directing the Oil for Food (OFF) program admits the selling pitch that the OFF funds pay humanitarian needs for Iraqi people as a result of U.N. sanctions is just not true. (American Free Press, “U.N. gets Rich off `Genocidal’ Sanctions on Iraq,” Christopher Bollyn, 1/06/03) Millions/billions of OFF funds get nowhere near Iraqi people’s pockets. In fact, only $174 gets to the needy party.

Denis Halliday resigned in 1998 after serving only two years as U.N. coordinator for “humanitarian” aid. He described the sanctions as “nothing short of genocide perpetrated by the very organization founded to protect the human sovereignty of its member nations.”

With this being the case, why are we obligated to get the U.N.’s blessing before going into Iraq? When AFP asked Mark Clodfelder, State Department, about U.N. Compensation Commission (UNCC) consuming 25 percent of the so-called Iraqi OFF program, he told the reporter, “I’m not talking to you anymore.” The UN doesn’t even have any committee to monitor the Security Council.

Are we polite or just plain stupid? Forget about getting U.N. permission for anything.

They are too busy putting money in their pockets.

Judy Howard is a wife, mother and grandmother who is politically active in our community.

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