Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013, 2:09 pm

Cheers & Jeers

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Cheers to our dedicated readers who are anxious to get involved in the legislative process by writing to their new congressmen and state lawmakers. Many of you have called to say that you haven't seen the "Where to Write" box which frequently appears on these pages recently.

You're correct. It hasn't run. That's because we currently are working to obtain addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for several new lawmakers who now represent the Illinois Quad-Cities area in Congress and the Illinois General Assembly. Those new leaders or their staffs, including U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, (our most frequent contact information request) have promised to share them with us as soon as their offices are open for business.

And we promise, as soon as we get them all, to share them here. Thanks for asking, and for caring enough to get involved.

Jeers to that fickle dame Luck, who proved to be no lady for a dead million-dollar Illinois Lottery winner.

Police are investigating the apparent killing of Urooj Khanm, the owner of small chain of Chicago dry cleaners, who turned up dead the day after the state issued him a check containing six zeroes for winning a scratch-off game.

His death originally was attributed to natural causes, but an anonymous tip, reportedly from a relative, led law enforcement to conduct further toxicology tests only to discover he had died from a fatal ingestion of cyanide.

The circumstances of the case and the mystery surrounding who, if anyone, did it, has captured worldwide attention. Whatever the end result, we suspect a made-for-TV movie already is in the making.

It's not hard to see why. Chicago's police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told Chicago media that this was the first such case he'd seen in 32 years as a cop. "So I'll never say that I've seen everything," he said. Us either.
Folks who knew the deceased say he was a good man who intended to give some of his winnings to charity. That makes this story even sadder.

"Too much luck is bad luck," the old German proverb says. At least in the case of Urooj Khanm that appears to be true.

Cheers to the University of Illinois Springfield for using modern technology as a tool to enlighten America's citizens during this 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

If you believe as we do that Benjamin Disraeli was right when he said, "A University should be a place of light, of liberty, and of learning," you too will celebrate news that U of I at Springfield will be offering a free online course focusing on the document that declared slaves in rebel states were free and thus changed the course of American history.

The university said the online course "will explore what happened in the United States before emancipation, how emancipation worked once it was proclaimed and what happened in politics, economics and society in the years afterward." There are no requirements to get in and no credits to be earned for the massive open online course (MOOC), which begins Jan. 28, and can be registered for at https://uis.coursesites.com/.

But we suspect those who take the class will take away a better understanding not just of the world in 1863, but the one we live in today.

Jeers to three members of the new General Assembly who were sworn in Wednesday for ensuring that Illinois begins another legislative calendar year under an ethical cloud.

That's how many sitting Illinois lawmakers are facing criminal charges as they purportedly work to represent their constituents. You'd expect that to be old hat in a state that has sent so many of its politicians -- including the previous two governors -- to prison. No wonder so many want to switch the state motto to, "Illinois, Where Our Governors Make Our License Plates."

Of course, as the trio of lawmakers facing federal charges including bribery, bank fraud and trying to bring a gun on an airplane, can attest, governors aren't the only politicians who can spend time in state and federal prisons.
So have congressmen, lawmakers, Chicago aldermen and a host of staffers from all levels of government.

It doesn't help our current bad reputation that one of the three, Derrick Smith, was reseated in a body that tossed him out just a few short months ago.
Some might argue that the other two defendants shouldn't reflect badly on the state because the charges they face are unrelated to their official duties. That's a distinction without a difference.

Shouldn't we hold our elected officials to the highest standards in their professional and personal lives? (Pause for derisive laughter, here.)