Letters to the Editor

 

Robots can be dangerous

Face it — this whole robotic science movement has me frightened. We have all seen how robotic “arms” manufacture autos on the assembly lines. They are very dangerous should a live worker get in a robot’s way.

Last week, according to NOVA (PBS-TV) scientists have created a more flexible “arm” designed after the no-bones trunk of an elephant. They have also used the wisdom of evolution to copy the stability of certain animals (think mountain goats) to create machines that can carry military equipment over rough terrain — something tanks and present-day haulers cannot do. The program also featured hamburger-sized drones that have the capability to circle something (like a skier lost in the mountains) and are much more reliable than helicopters. Should the programmer shut down one of these mini-robots, the others will automatically rearrange themselves to make up the loss. Are these bugs thinking?

When one imagines this in the far future — not so.

In present-day Swedish nursing homes, the patients are assigned robots (just the upper half of a human body) to each room. These robots converse with the patient, and can regularly take their vital signs and relay them back to the main nursing station. The patients really like them, and furthermore, their relatives are assuaged from the guilt of having to visit grandma. Cost? About $6,000.

In a robotic research lab out East, pre-schoolers were privately placed in rooms with cheerful, friendly robots, and they quickly connected verbally, even had a few laughs. Then, behind a one-way glass window, the programmer pulled the plug. The reaction of the tot was immense! It was as if a parent or a pet had died. The conclusion was that a small child cannot discern the difference between living people and robots. Could that also be true of the elderly? And when this artificial intelligence becomes even more sophisticated, will we also prefer our robots?

Just because robot scientists can “go there” does not mean they should. Robotic science, in a very real sense, demeans humans. There are simply too many evil people in this world to trust this advancement. Think of what they can, and no doubt will, do.

Alice Kaczmarek

Rockford

 

Response to Village Administrator Tim Savage and trustees

The article in the Rockford Register Star, “My View,” on Jan. 18, 2015, by Machesney Park Village Administrator Tim Savage, Jerry Bolin, trustees Kate Tammen, Tom Yoe and Erick Beck, is not telling the whole story. Approximately three years ago, the Village of Machesney Park had the opportunity to trade the park north of the quarries along Highway 251 on the north end of Machesney Park for approximately 10 acres of land south of the quarries, which included one enclosed salt shed, one open salt shed, one heated building that would have housed any and all equipment the Village owns, one nice office, approximately 10 acres of land, and a small house that could have been used for storage or other Village uses.

Savage will tell you the property is contaminated, and this is not true; the lower half that is not used floods from time to time, but it does not affect the 10 acres for the trade. If the property is contaminated and it is not, then Savage should have done his job and made them clean it up. All the village uses the park for now is a dump site. This would have saved the taxpayers $140,000 to build a salt shed that was built in a very inappropriate area. It would have saved the residents $900,000 to buy the Penney’s property and all costs to update the property and all costs to update the property, which could be in the millions. It may even be possible to make this trade and save the residents money today. There are many jobs in the village that should have been outsourced and many that should be outsourced that are not.

Why does the Village not use the TIF to fund out lots in front of the mall instead of trying to fix up an old rundown Penney’s building? What a waste of taxpayers’ money. To my recollection, the TIF by the Lowe’s building comes due this year, and how are Mr. Bolin and Mr. Savage going to pay for this TIF? If it were not for the article in the RR Star on the purchasing of the Penney’s store, I would be willing to bet you the residents would still not have known about this purchase. I am tired of getting half-truths from Village Hall raising taxes without notifying the residents. I am tired of this mayor, village administrator and board spending taxpayers’ money foolishly. If Bolin and his group feel so strongly about the Penney’s project, put it on a referendum and let the residents decide, not six lonely political people. I have talked to many village residents that are so disgusted with the people at Village Hall, they want nothing to do with them. The closed-lip and closed-door policy that Bolin and his group have, who knows what surprise comes next, and how are the residents to know what is going on in the village when Jerry Bolin, Kate Tammen, Tom Yoe, Erick Beck and Tim Savage do not communicate with the residents to let the residents know what is going on?

When I was mayor, one of the biggest complaints I had about Tim Savage was his communication skills. He had meetings with the trustees unknown to me. A good example of this was when he met with the trustees about the utility tax behind my back because I was against the tax. And I found out about his meetings with the trustees the Friday before the Monday meeting when the board was going to vote on it. I immediately contacted the press, and they got the message out, and about 70 residents attended the meeting protesting the new utility tax. I received many phone calls and letters protesting this tax, and I passed them on to the board members, and as usual they paid no attention to the residents and passed the utility tax anyway. In my opinion, this has been the mind frame of this administration since elected and hired personnel think they know everything and the residents know nothing. This mind frame must stop, and this administration needs to start listening to the residents and as far as the view in the RR Star on Jan. 18, 2015 by Savage, Bolin, Tammen, Beck and Yoe sent in that attacked me. I do not care; I am used to it by this mayor, Savage and most of the trustees. The Penney’s purchase is very bad for the economy and residents of Machesney Park, and they should not buy Penney’s.

Tom Strickland

Machesney Park, Illinois

This letter is a response to the guest column by Tim Rollins entitled “The Age of the Trolls” from Feb. 4.

 

Rollins has questions to answer

Although I have great respect for investigative journalists, I have never said I was one.  Instead, I am a taxpayer who believes academic education is vital to the lifeblood of our society. Instead, I am a retired teacher, a plain Jane but not a simple one! I have taught 6-12th grade English, ESL, French, science, drama, and speech to gifted and below average students from privileged and impoverished homes. All of my teaching experience was in the public school sector so I do feel qualified to speak and write as a concerned citizen for the grim state of public education in Rockford. It’s not just a whim or fanciful notion because I also was one of the top 10 teachers in Illinois for Those Who Excel so I know about excellence and relevance in the classroom.

Of course, I was chagrined to be called a troll when a leprechaun speaks more to my Irish roots. I just happen to be wise enough to understand the double entendre of calling me an Internet troll and the disfigured Norwegian spirit. But, this aged troll’s voice will not be silenced by such a public figure as Mr. Rollins, who is afraid of criticism even when it was not directed at him or his wife.

Demeaning others is what you do, Mr. Rollins. I choose to question and analyze the problems that loom in this district and will continue to speak and search for the Truth.  Now, I will give substance to what you have characterized as innuendo by me.

Fact #1:  Children sat in the classrooms at Riverdahl with coats, hats, and gloves on and the parents were not contacted.  Specific facts on Jan. 7 WREX broadcast.

Fact #2:  A third-grader at Rolling Green Elementary was denied a school lunch and given crackers.

Fact #3:  Under Dr. LaVonne Seffield, one person, Mark Bonne, a part-time secretary, Vince Vitale as Audio-Visual specialist & Amber Ellis as a copy writer were the entire  Communications Staff. Now, we have two PR firms on retainer:  KMK Media and GrahamSpencer, as well as Earl Dotson, as the Chief of Communications. Cathy Bayer, Mary Kaull, and Emily Trott were hired from the RRStar as district employees, although Ms. Trott works in another department. Now, the district also employs Alan Leon, Jennifer Thompson, Monica Cordon, and Angela Lundine, which doubles the size of the past department. Unfortunately, it was impossible to attain a current list employees in the department on line so we had to call the department which was reluctant to give the names and duties of the employees.

Fact #4:  46 grams of suspected heroin were found at Jefferson High School and

parents weren’t notified for three weeks. Talk about the lack of communication!

Fact #5: Six different schools have concerns about issues of SPED violations with 504 Plans.

Fact #6:  Not only was the CFO of District 205, Cedric Lewis, released, but Pete Keffer, tireless worker under Lewis, was released just before Christmas.

Isn’t it interesting that Tim Rollins, Jude Makulec, and Mike Harner are running unopposed for the school board elections in April?  Was there advance information released by the press?  What has the REA done to promote other candidates to protect the balance on the board and advocate for the teachers and the citizens? Now, this aged troll could wax on and on about the inequity of salaries among the paras, janitors, and food service employees compared to the inner sanctum salaries of administrators at the board office, but that’s another column.

Isn’t it curious that the Rockford Register Star fails to print the truth that the above television stations have broadcast? What does that say about the lack of investigative journalism in this town?  Also, I have always put my name on what I write and have never sought anonymity with a nom de plume.  Wise up, Mr. Rollins, you have attacked the wrong public citizen because I do not fear you, your wife, your money, or your political and legal machinations!

Why would I make things up? My status as a retired teacher frees me from fearing the loss of livelihood for being a whistle blower. Cover-ups are rampant throughout District 205 because of the arrogance of power and misuse of public funds. The problem is that the general public does not know what they should know to be outraged.

But this aged troll’s voice will not be silenced by a public figure such as Mr. Rollins.

Jane Hayes,

WEE and REACT

 

Ogle County Christmas tree recycling program a success

Thank you to all who were involved in this year’s Christmas Tree Recycling Program.  Approximately 620 trees (about 15.5 tons) were collected and chipped into mulch and diverted from local landfills.

Since the start of this program in 1999, about 330 tons of trees have been recycled and made into a beneficial material.

Drop off sites were located in seven communities throughout the county.  On January 10th, high school Future Farmers of America clubs from Byron, Forreston, Oregon and Polo volunteered their time and braved the frigid conditions to pick up trees at the curb in nine towns.  The students and advisors delivered the trees to sites where they were later chipped into mulch.

The Ogle County Solid Waste Management Department wishes to thank the following groups for their role in collecting and chipping the trees and making this program possible.

Byron Forest Preserve District, City of Byron, Byron High School FFA, Lichty’s Landscaping Service, Village of Forreston, Forreston High School FFA, Village of Leaf River, Oregon Park District, Oregon High School FFA, Flagg-Rochelle Park District, City of Rochelle, Polo High School FFA and Morgan’s Tree Service.

Paul Cooney

Ogle County Solid Waste Mgmt. Dept.

 

Voter ID laws make good sense

It’s hard to imagine that Democrats want people to vote without producing a photo ID. They must want to make it easier than to steal our most privileged and prized opportunity to determine our political future.

It is also disturbing that Democrats want more easy access to the polls, such as more absentee voting and same day registration. Do these also make it easier to cheat?

They claim that poorer people are being excluded from our election process. Can they find any that don’t have driver’s license or similar ID? If some are driving without a license, maybe they should be excluded.

People that can’t put themselves out a little probably don’t deserve to vote, especially when considering our brave members of the military who fought and died to keep our country self-determined.

Michael A. Smith

Rockford, IL

 

Vaccines didn’t save Disneyland workers

Vaccinated workers at Disneyland caught measles. The measles vaccine did not prevent them from catching measles. Doctors say that vaccines give group immunity. How can a vaccine give group immunity if it doesn’t give an individual immunity?

Doctors say that vaccines are statistically safe. That means vaccines won’t harm a majority of those who are vaccinated. It also means that vaccines are statistically unsafe for a minority of the population. The flu shot never matches the current year’s flu so it offers no immunity from flu. The only states that require vaccinations by law are West Virginia and Mississippi. Other states allow a philosophical objection. School districts write their policy.

A caller to the Alex Jones radio show said he works in a hospital. He refused the flu shot. Refusers are required to wear a different color employee badge. The caller said that those that took the flu shot got the flu.

The batch of flu vaccine that shipped three weeks ago caused more problems than earlier batches. Humans don’t build antibodies against viruses until the 18th month of life. Reactions occur when the third round of childhood vaccines are given at 18 months, Paul Joseph Watson of infowars.com reports.

Forrest Snavely

Rockford, IL

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