Posted Online: Feb. 08, 2013, 2:31 pm
Cheers & Jeers
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
Cheers to the folks who usually do the cheering. We'd do a cartwheel and a few handsprings if we could to honor the spirited Rockridge High School cheerleaders who last weekend captured second place in state cheerleading competition among small schools.
The squad from Dwight barely edged the gang from Rockridge: The team from the Taylor Ridge-based school tallied 87 points out of 100, and Dwight 87.20.
We're in awe of the athleticism, training and energy required to compete at that level. If you think cheerleading today is simply pompon shaking, and shouting, climb out from under that rock. It is a sport in every sense of the word. That makes competing at the level of these Rockridge athletes all the more impressive. Hats off to these talented tumblers and coaches Joey Stanforth and Gail Kuster.
Rockets! Rockets! Rockets!
Jeers to Gov. Pat Quinn for choosing politics over leadership in his state of the union address. Instead of detailing a specific, tough plan for coping with the No. 1 crisis facing Illinois -- pension debt -- he delivered a speech more appropriate to the hustings than the seat of power in a government facing tough challenges.
While what he said about things like creating jobs, ending conflict of interest voting and an open primary was welcome, his speech also included one very bad idea: raising the state's minimum wage to $10 per hour. It's a business- and job-killing proposal that lawmakers should quickly reject.
Better still, they should not even waste time on debating the issue and instead do what the governor failed to do Wednesday: Directly attack the more than $95 billion pension funding hole crippling Illinois. Sadly, Gov. Quinn appears to have thrown in the towel, giving only mild endorsement to an insufficient bill by Senate President John Cullerton that nips around the corners of the problem, without getting to the heart of it.
"Do we want, in the years to come, a prosperous Illinois where working people continue to have good jobs, where businesses thrive, and where all our children have a world-class education?" Gov. Quinn asked. "Or do we want to stop the progress and watch our economic recovery stall?"
The governor endorsed the latter Wednesday. Too bad.
Cheers to state Reps. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, and Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, for leading on a concealed carry bill. There is additional urgency to creating a reasonable method to provide Illinoisans with a constitutional right already available in every other state; if lawmakers do not act soon to do so, the courts have said they will.
While Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's request for a full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is pending, there is no reason for lawmakers not to go ahead with doing the right thing. The bill introduced by Q-C lawmakers is a careful and measured attempt to do so. Rep. Smiddy said. "This is an opportunity for gun rights advocates to finally play a role in shaping firearms policy in Illinois." He's right. Indeed, we were pleased to learn that the new state lawmaker was included on a panel appointed by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon to talk about gun policy. His presence suggests that her working group is more than merely a vehicle to pass aggressive restrictions on guns.
As for concealed carry, Rep. Verschoore wonders, "Why do 49 other states have this and Illinois doesn't?" Why, indeed?
Jeers to Illinois budgeters who continue to live down to expectations. The most recent egregious example comes courtesy of a story by Mike Billy of the Illinois Network.
It turns out lawmakers have taken to temporarily nicking cash from charities working to prevent child abuse, end childhood cancers and help our military.
Mr. Billy found that the state has been sweeping some of the money taxpayers donate to such causes via state income tax return checkoffs. In 2010, the amount of such giving that temporarily ended up in the General Fund totaled $434,000. In 2011, such sweeps totaled $1.1 million. That money was paid back, but there is no requirement that it must be.
Proponents say there is no harm done if there is no delay in the charity getting the money it's entitled to. Perhaps, but what an awful way to do business.
Springfield resident Tom Williams provides this apt analogy: "If you mailed a bill to the electric company and the lady at the electric company took it home and spent it on something else that would be theft. If you are making a charitable contribution to someone, that is where the money should go."
The law doesn't prevent such transfers and sweeps, but common decency should.