View From the Right: Who’s running the show in Rockford?

July 1, 1993

View From the Right: Who’s running the show in Rockford?

By Judy J. Howard

Why have we become known as the “homeless capital of the nation”? Our failed government schools, still unable to graduate literate children, want more money, and our city fathers, using an increased crime rate for an excuse, want more money to build a larger jail. Who’s running the show, and what are their motives?

Thanks to Rep. Chuck Jefferson, who hosted the Rockford Public Library Legislative meeting 10/16, we were told frightening facts about the life (and death) of our city. Rockford Mayor Scott’s Human Services Dept. representative, Jennifer Jaeger, told us we get “an inordinate number of parolees”—900 this past year released to our city. Mayor Scott himself, in his testimony before the invited legislators, said he knows we get the “largest number of discharges from the Department of Corrections (DOC),” who are not Rockford natives. (Boy, I am so glad I took my recorder along to this conflab.)

As expected, after WNTA, the only truth-telling media source in Rockford along with The Rock River Times, released these comments, Mayor Scott and State’s Attorney Paul Logli (campaigning for his Logli Litigation Legacy a.k.a. LLL) made feeble attempts to erase these truths reducing the number of released parolees to 780+ and reminding us that we, Rockford law-abiding voters/taxpayers, send a lot of people to the DOC. No explanation yet for the jump in the “Average Daily Inmate Population” from—2.2 percent growth in 1997 to +28.9 percent in 1998. What happened?

“It takes a village to raise a child” preachers, led by Rev. Steve Bland, are supporting the $110 million jail referendum because $2.1 million will be used for “alternative programs.” This does not compute. $110 million to build the jail, but only $2.1 million for the “alternative programs,” so vote for it? Are these “alternative programs” classes teaching inmates how to read, fill out job applications, get to work on time and be a responsible employee or parent? Life and responsibility skills that should have been taught by responsible parents?

If the LLL supporters had divided the total cost into what is actually needed for the bricks and mortar from salaries for more policemen, probation officers, judges and State’s Attorney office staff along with the “alternative programs”, we law-abiding voters/taxpayers may have been willing to consider it. With $30 million, we can pay all the extra salaries plus around-the-clock court hearings.

In December, 1998, Eric Schlosser of Atlantic Monthly wrote an article describing the flourishing “prison-industry complex.” He quotes Marc Mauer, author of The Race to Incarcerate, saying “no other society in human history has ever imprisoned so many of its own citizens for the purpose of crime control.” Yet the number of people imprisoned for violent crime has decreased since 1995. “Politicians,” he writes, “both liberal and conservative, have used the fear of crime to get votes.”

Is this what we are seeing in Rockford? Is this just a vote-getting phenomenon to keep certain politicians in office? Mauer describes in his book what is happening here and across the nation. Yes, it’s a big industry in which not only politicians flourish but also certain architects and contractors. We have reaped here in Rockford what we have allowed to be sown with the tragedy of our forced integration public school lawsuit where children still graduate illiterate, thus leading to a life of crime. Also Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, where working taxpayers are forced to redistribute their wealth to non-working, yet voting, drug and alcohol addicts has failed. It’s time to clean up our act and find out who is running the show!

By the way

For those of you who can vote for David MacKay for county board member, DO IT! He has the common sense needed for this job. He even wants the court system to be “working more than six hours a day.” Use your common sense and vote for David MacKay.

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

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