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New columns: Across the aisle and in the gallery–Duckett, Sweeney and Gdowski
Posted By Brandon Reid On October 21, 2009 @ 12:00 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
Editor’s note: Welcome to a new column! As with anything new, the process has had its glitches, mainly mine. To Ms. Duckett, Mr. Sweeny and Ms. Gdowski, please excuse the delay in the appearance of your columns, but politics has put me into the land of backlog. To our readers, we are experimenting with the length, and Mr. Sweeney came up short because of the realization of how much space these columns would take up in print. Hence, we post them online for this edition. My apologies to all, and I hope you enjoy the more voices from our community!—Frank Schier, editor and publisher
From the Democratic side of the aisle
The Think Tank
By George Anne Duckett
Winnebago County Board Member (D-12)
I can’t believe it, folks, but…I’M BAAAAAAAAACK! Yes, the “Think Tank” is back, and I have been thinking more than usual. I want you all to remember this is an opinion and not fact.We will have fun, and, I hope, have a few laughs. Don’t hate—participate! I want you readers to call me, or send me an e-mail (gaduckett @ msn.com ) about your thoughts. I promise I will consider writing your thoughts, but you have to take ownership and not give me some hairbrain name. OK, let’s get started.
I have written this column about six times in the past month. I decided to submit it to Frank Schier (editor and publisher of TRRT) earlier this week. Guess what happened? I lost the darn thing in the computer. Yes, I forgot to save it. Well, it is one hour before my meeting with Frank, and I am determined to be in the paper next week. I also decided to do this column with Nancy Gdowski, a long-time friend (her column follows John Sweeney’s column on this page).
Nancy got mad at me a couple of years ago and stopped talking to me. Well, our mutual friend, Cheryl Box, died, and we realized we do not have the luxury of ending friendships. We decided to cherish every friend we have, and I can say we are both better for that decision. Nancy and Frank are on my list of WHITE friends, and I like to make a joke out of that fact—since many black and white folks consider me a racist. Well, I’ve got a LIST of friends, and I bet some of you don’t have one.
What about “Rockford Raps,” folks? You know, the Saturday morning program on WNTA. I started listening to it more after Rockford Ald. Venita Hervey (D-5) and Nancy had their little “Rap Session.” Oh, I forgot, Nancy was politely cut off by Venita and accused of some things I thought were unfair. Poor Venita, I think she had some (mental) pause moments that surprised her listeners. She blurted out some comments that caused me to call in and state my opinion. Well, I think we all better call “Rockford Raps” when we agree or DISAGREE.
I keep hearing these radio personalities talk about the religious leaders, political leaders, NAACP, Rainbow Push, Democratic Party, Republican Party and speak about— what these people or groups do not do and how ineffective they are!
Excuse me, you Saturday morning communicators, but…what are you doing? I do believe it would be fair to hear from each one of you. Remember that Bible saying about throwing the first stone? Help me understand!
I was so mad at the Winnebago County Board meeting the other night because I think ethics is one of the committees lacking in our governmental structure, locally. I hear people talking about nepotism, hiring and appointments of political contributors, contracts favoring friends and contributors and the complaints go on and on. Maybe it is time to look into these accusations further. Some people think that’s part of politics and government, but I would like to think we are better than that. Help me figure this out, folks, because I am getting ready to complain BIG TIME.
I was listening to WNTA the other morning, and I really miss Chris Bowman. Chris and I did not always agree, but I sure liked the way he presented his case when it came to local issues. He sure was not afraid to discuss his opinion, and allowed you to express your opinion without cutting you off or going into a break. If he did have a break, he sure would let you come back on the air and finish you thoughts.
I went on a vacation to Maryland, Virginia and D.C., and I must say, it was great. I enjoyed my grandchildren and my children, who are now all older than 40. My children have reversed my role, and now I am the child. They swear I can’t remember anything, they know more than I do about life, and who needs my opinion? I can’t wait until these ME-first adults get my age. I hope I live long enough to enjoy what their kids have in store for them.
I have noticed some new leadership in the community, and I would just like to share these names with some of you. I know everyone will not agree with me, but I think it would be interesting to see if you readers can add to the list and even say why these people are leaders. I know African-American leadership is supposed to be hard to find in Winnebago County, but sometimes you can find diamonds right in you own back yard. Here goes my list of new leaders, please send me yours:
Norma Joseph—NAACP; Sidella Hughes—NCNW; LaVonne Sheffield—superintendent of Rockford Public School District 205; Lisa Jackson—Operations Committee, Rockford Public School District 205; Bishop John Senter—religious leader/community activist; Ovester Armstrong—religious leader/community activist; Linda Patterson—AKA, president; Aprel Prunty—Delta sorority/community activist; Apostle Brown—religious leader/community activist; Tommy Meeks—TV personality/community activist; Frannie Owens—community activist; and Vicki Richard—community activist.
Looks like I ran out of space and time. I’ve got more, so read more next week.
From the Republican side of the aisle
By John F. Sweeney
Winnebago County Board Member (R-14)
Unquestionably, we are in crucial times for our community, our country, and our world. The economy has seen major transformations that have been sobering for businesses, local and state government, and families all over the Rock River Valley.
Personally, I still have faith in American ingenuity and determination, even though most of the news in 2009 has not been good. A couple of things that come to mind.
For starters, our federal government spent a MASSIVE amount of money it didn’t have, and that makes me very nervous. My son, who currently loves life as an 8-month-old, has yet to ever earn a paycheck, but his generation will start of their working careers a trillion dollars further in debt than when my generation began (and that’s if he started work today).
This is on top of the fact that our federal government is also trying to “reform” our health insurance industry, and the Congressional Budget Office says these “reforms” will come at a very high price, literally. I don’t see how our Congress is going to reform anything without addressing our tort system. Furthermore, it certainly won’t help our local economy if the federal government imposes staggering fees on individuals and families who choose to not purchase, or already cannot afford to purchase, health insurance.
Now that that’s been said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a bit of positive news for our local area, and a good example of local government being forward-thinking.
An ordinance allowing for the development of wind farms on agricultural land is going to be voted on, and, it is hoped, passed, by the Winnebago County Board.
There are those who believe our region could and should be a destination for alternative/renewable energy projects, and I am certainly one of them. This wind farm ordinance is a step in the right direction toward domestic energy production. It means millions of dollars in private investment to our region, and it also increases our tax base. And finally, JOBS. Many local working men and women will see a paycheck because of this type of project, and that’s crucial in this unfriendly economy.
From the gallery
The Think Tank Two
By Nancy Gdowski
Hi, everyone! Many of you know me as a local activist, of which I am very proud. Many of you, I hope, will get to know me. Since this is a “Think Tank,” you may or may not like everything I have been thinking about, but it may get you to exercise your own critical thinking skills. Here goes!
First of all, congratulations to President Barack Obama (D) on winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The president said this was a very humbling honor. It seems ironic this honor comes at a time he is agonizing over whether to send more troops into Afghanistan. This honor is not only humbling, but carries with it a lot of responsibility and burden.
Well, it is certainly nice to see the City of Rockford is finally taking care of the Churchill Park residents who are still trying to recover from the trauma of two “100-year” Keith Creek floods. Didn’t the first flood occur in 2006 and the second flood 11 months later in 2007? I am sure these residents would have liked our city leaders to work as fast for them as they did giving more taxpayers money to the MetroCentre. Just a thought! By the way, I was thinking about the Alpine Dam. What is the status of that project?
Speaking of water, I am wondering when I can expect the water in my home will be safe. It still causes staining! I would just like to know where our $89 million water project money is going.
How many of you are still wondering how many skyboxes Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) has sold for his employer, the MetroCentre? Let me see if I have this correct. Doug Mark is the duly-elected alderman of the ward in which the MetroCentre is located. He now abstains from voting on any issues pertaining to the MetroCentre—although it is still in his ward, and the City of Rockford funds it. Isn’t he an employee of the City of Rockford, since he is an alderman, as well as an employee of the MetroCentre? So, whom does he represent, since he still can lobby his fellow aldermen? Does he represent the citizens of the Third Ward regarding the MetroCentre? No, he can’t, because he abstains from any votes regarding the MetroCentre. So, although the MetroCentre is in his ward, he cannot vote for one of the major city tax-funded venues in his ward because it conflicts with his other employment at the Metro Centre.
Are you following this so far?
It is my understanding Mark gets $85,000 per year, plus a bonus, plus benefits. So, I think he should tell us how many skyboxes he has sold. Add that to the part-time salary he makes at Rockford City Council and he appears to be doing well.
Mark just can’t represent his constituents regarding the MetroCentre. Life sure is tough when there are special allowances made to certain officials.
Kudos to all of the agencies involved busting up a major drug ring in Rockford. Our hat’s off to you! These drug dealers made a lot of money at the peril of this community. Many of their “customers” have heroin/crack-cocaine habits to the tune of $300 a day.
One of the officials said Rockford is an “open-air market” for drugs. He also said drug addiction leads to theft, robberies, prostitution, property crime, and domestic violence.
And City Hall says crime is down! Oh, that’s right—we are cutting back on police, fire, and public works to reduce the budget. Oh, well, I guess cutting back on these basic services will put the community in peril again. But don’t worry, we will still get that riverwalk and mall removal on schedule. No cutbacks there!
Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t all government pensions funded separately on our property tax bills? So, why does City Hall keep saying they come out of the general fund?
Also, City Attorney Patrick Hayes told fire union official E.J. DiLeonardi, during the public comment section of a City Council meeting, not to negotiate in public. But isn’t Rockford’s mayor negotiating in public when he is asking everyone to take a 7 percent cut? While it is commendable of Mayor Morrissey to give back 3 percent of his pay, I think he should give back 7 percent like he expects everyone else to give back.
Saw that Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg and the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, Public Employees Division, worked out a contract. This is a three-year contract addressing the economic/budget crunch, but is able to be reopened next year for pay increases for the remaining years. Both parties worked together and came up with a solution. Why can’t we do the same in Rockford? Loves Park worked with their unions, while again our unions are forced into arbitration. It is my understanding the unions in Rockford have made concessions, but Rockford’s Mayor issued an ultimatum.
According to Ald. Carl Wasco (D-4), Mayor Morrissey is saying, “…it’s his way or the highway.” (When did Carl Wasco suddenly see the light?) The Loves Park Police Department just filled two openings with U.S. Marines who are Iraq War veterans. What a difference in mayors. Please note: Loves Park residents don’t pay city property taxes!
You have heard of student mentors or new teacher mentors, etc. Well, I was thinking we should have a mayor mentor. Maybe Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg could mentor Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. It couldn’t hurt! Rockford might have a new and improved, kinder, gentler, and wiser mayor.
I was listening to U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on a cable news show. She spoke about a “national value-added tax.” Translation: a national sales tax.
Now that ought to really get the economy going—another tax. Usually, a value-added tax is used in the context of replacing the income tax. But this would be in addition to the income tax.
Speaking of the Executive Branch and Congress, with our very own President Obama, and our senior U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) (who is also the Senate Majority Whip), shouldn’t we be pushing harder for more things for Rockford? We are, afterall, the third-largest city in Illinois. The squeaky wheel always gets the oil, and we should be squeaking even more and louder.
Then, maybe we will finally get the Morgan Street Bridge either replaced or completely renovated instead of “studied to death.”
One thing I have noticed since I first came to Rockford more than 20 years ago: people here are either too polite, scared or just don’t want to speak up and be counted.
Having worked in the Chicago City Council for more than 10 years, I learned quickly you sometimes have to get into people’s faces. Otherwise, you will be left behind. And many times, I feel Rockford is left behind! Rockford is a city that has so much potential and is not tapping into that potential. But that is another thought for another “Think Tank Two” on another day.
Think with you next week!
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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