Why Can’t Civil Rights and Religious Freedom Exist Side by Side?
On the Feast of the Holy Family, 2009, I preached the homily for the 10:30 Mass at St. Mary’s. I was aware that the Iowa Supreme Court would be making a ruling in less than seven weeks on the issue of “gay marriage,” and I was quite sure that they would rule under the equal protection of the law clause that you cannot deny a person the right to marry on the basis of their sex. Hence, “gay marriage” would be legal in Iowa.
I knew that many “religious” leaders would again repeat the tired clichés about allowing gays to marry would “destroy marriage” and would be a “horrible assault on the integrity of the family” etc. ad nauseum. None of this made any sense to me. So rather than take a top down position, I opted for a bottom up position. I stayed for coffee and doughnuts after Mass several Sunday’s before and asked people that I knew who had been married twenty-five years or more if they thought gay marriage in Iowa would have a bad effect on their marriage. Typical answer, “Are you nuts? Whatever they do, one way or the other, isn’t going to bother us!”
So in my homily, on the feast of the Holy Family, I stressed that it is not gay marriage that is a threat to marriage and the family; the real threats to marriage and family are war, poverty and unfaithfulness. Granting full civil rights to gays and lesbians should not be threatening to us. If we are really concerned about marriage and family life, then we need to focus on eliminating war and poverty and encourage fidelity.
Someone was upset over my homily and complained to the pastor and I believe also the bishop. After nearly twenty-five years of preaching, I was allowed only one more homily on the twenty-fifth anniversary of my ordination. I have not been officially banned from preaching, however.
So I am gratified that one year after the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled, the sky has not fallen in; the Chicken Little’s have gone on to squawk about something else (or have they?) I was pleased to read the front page article on Tuesday’s Quad City Times: Same sex marriages celebrate first year. It is nice to know that Pat Carroll-Spurgeon and Connie Spurgeon-Carroll can enjoy the same civil rights as any other committed couple. It is a shame that Illinois State Representative Deborah Mell must go to Iowa to marry her partner Christin Baker.
I am appalled that the Catholic Church and other conservative denominations want to pass a “Defense of Marriage” amendment to the constitution that would take away others civil rights and trample the religious freedom of the Metropolitan Church, Episcopal Church and Lutheran Churches to bless same sex unions.
Arthur C. Donart, Ph. D.
Tea Party’s Focus
The response to the Tea Party has been incredible. Patriots are worried about the direction our great country is headed. The Tea Party’s primary focus is to turn the clock back on taxing, spending, and return to a smaller, less intrusive government.
It has reached the point where we don’t really own/control our property anymore. With the high real estate taxes, it sometimes feels we really just rent it from the government. The government now requires we purchase permits to do most improvements. Last fall in the city of Freeport, I put less than one square of shingles on the front porch of my rental house. A building inspector asked if I had a permit to put on the shingles. I was honest and said ‘no.’ He then put a “stop work” order against me, made me buy a permit for $22, and pay a fine of $50. What a lawbreaker I am for repairing my own property. He then informed me that even if I purchased a permit, and paid my fine, I still could not proceed because I was not a licensed roofing contractor. What! It is my property. Why can’t I work on my own property? (Update: now landlords can roof their own properties if they jump through the proper hoops.)
No wonder there are so many vacant properties in Freeport. Isn’t it wonderful to know we have another bureaucracy to pay for, another building inspector to protect us, and from what? Ourselves? I had 35 rental units in Freeport. I transformed several drug houses into respectable living quarters. I started selling them off a couple of years ago because of all the new red tape. I am down to only five units and the house mentioned is for sale for 20 % less than what they are taxing me.
In order for me as a landlord to do most any work over $100, I must register in Freeport as a contractor, cost: $220 and $110 every year there after; get a permit for most all jobs over $100, cost: $22 per project. A new state law dictates I must take a “Lead safety class”, cost: $175 to $300, then register with the state, cost: $300. Then I must have either $1million liability insurance or workman’s comp even though I have no employees, cost: $1000. Total cost: $1700!
Or, I can go to Stockton, Lanark, or Lena where I have had some units and never worry if the inspector is going to fine me. Bottom line . . . government is too intrusive and growing.
Of new jobs, 40% are government jobs compared to only 28% in the private sector. So who is going to pay for the new government jobs? You and I of course. Keep an eye on Greece’s financial collapse as union and government workers outnumber the private sector. That will be the future of the USA if we don’t reduce government now!
I must give Mayor Gaulrapp credit for taking a pay cut. Now, if he can only persuade some of the other entities to do the same. The rest of us in the private sector have all had to make cuts.
Let’s come together and vote the tax and spenders out this November. Join us at the Stephenson County Tea Party May 13th, 7 PM at Dietz ‘s Old School Apartments, Lena IL. - 111 E. Mason St. by Dollar General. All fiscally conservative Americans are welcome, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or ph. 815-369-4334
Looking for a Picture
Next year will be the 50th anniversary celebration of Timber Lake Playhouse. A committee is already at work planning a great year of celebrating this artistic venue in our county. One of our projects is to have a beautiful 2011 calendar with full page photos of scenes from productions during the past 50 years.
However, we have a problem in finding a good picture to represent the opening show “Teahouse of the August Moon,” which opened on June 28, 1962. At that time we did not have a professional photographer and what pictures we had vanished when fire destroyed the first playhouse.
We would appreciate any pictures you might have of that production, or for that matter, any production of the very first season that could be reproduced and used as one page in our calendar. If you find photos of that time period, please contact Melissa Parsons at the playhouse box office, 815-244-2035. We hope that someone can assist us in finding a good picture from that 1962 season.
2011 Timber Lake Playhouse
50th Anniversary Committee
Methane a Hazard
In a recent ABC news release, BP (British Petroleum) admits that “ a methane gas bubble caused the explosion” that resulted in the oil rig fire and oil spill, which is fouling the waters of the Gulf, adjoining states and the economies of all in that area and, thus far has been unable to stop the leakage.
Methane is part of the two million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from manure, also. Manure lagoons (such as the 210 million gallon capacity one proposed for the mega dairy under construction near Nora, IL) “are greater point sources of emissions” (Dr. Kendall Thu, University of Iowa). Methane advances greenhouse gasses twenty one times that carbon dioxide.
Toxic: 7/2007. Shenandoah Valley, VA: Scott Showalter, attempting to unplug a manure pit drainpipe, was overcome with odorless methane, passed out in seconds and fell, face first, into 18” of manure slop and drowned. Tragically, his 24 year old hired man, Scott’s wife and two daughters, 11 and 9 years old, all perished attempting to rescue Scott.
Winchester, IN-3/10. Manure liner leaked and methane built up under the liner, floating huge gas bubbles in the 21 million gallon lagoon (note: 1/10th the size of the proposed lagoon near Nora) -some bubbles as high as 20 feet tall. Neighbors very worried that the methane could explode. The ruptured liner may cost $200,000 to replace-money the dairy owner doesn’t have, so he filed for bankruptcy.
So, neighbors to the proposed Nora mega dairy are not needlessly worried. They face either toxic methane or hydrogen sulfide, explosion hazards, gagging odors or leaks into the drinking water aquifer. Hopefully, the Court of Appeals will agree with the neighbors.
Emotional & Inflammatory
When I read the article, “An Open Letter to President Obama”, I truly hoped someone would respond to address the tone and inaccuracies in the article. I was disappointed in Don Siedenburg’s response and in the publisher’s reaction to that article. All three are emotional and inflammatory and do little to inform.
The piece by Mr. Pritchett shows up his strength as a speaker and a writer. He has the power to “charge up” his audience. This quality has been useful in his career as a motivator in the corporate world. He has reached his goal here, to prove he is “scared” and has frightened scores of other people; people who are not informed of the facts and gullible to emotions. Nearly all of this article is opinions and “glittering generalities,” with no empirical evidence or facts. The emotional tone is stirring, using loaded phrases like “extremists who hate America” and “if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe...” What facts or evidence are there for these fears? There are none stated.
For the sake of brevity I will only address the first few accusations in Mr. P’s article. He claims he knows nothing about Obama “after months of exposure.” Why? The President has written two autobiographies and there have been scores of others written about him. There is no reason for his ignorance on the subject of Obama’s life. There is evidence, hard evidence of his background; a birth certificate, and documents that support what he has said about his mostly American childhood as well as hundreds of people who knew him, witnesses to his story. Mr.P asks how Obama paid for his education. Even Fox News came up with the answer to that: he had loans which he paid off with the proceeds from his books. And “no visible signs of support” for his lifestyle? This one is almost laughable. Doesn’t Mr. P know that a Chicago lawyer working for a HUGE law firm makes quite a bit of money? Even his later career as a Professor at the University of Chicago earns a pretty good salary, especially when one has a wife who is also a Chicago lawyer. The facts simply defy any serious “fears” about Obama’s background. Yes, he might be considered a liberal, (although some in his own party don’t think so.) But the FACTS of his life are indisputable by logical people and accepted by all reputable news sources.
I disagree with Mr.Siedenberg’s jump to the “racism” theory, and I dislike his inflammatory remarks about “riots in the streets.” However, Mr./Ms. Publisher, disagreeing with the President doesn’t make one a racist, but having no evidence or facts for fearing him does make one wonder about the origins of this “fear.”
I assume Mr. Siedenberg believes that the article by Lou Pritchett falls short of enlightening or informative. Because of its lack of facts and its purely emotional tone, I would agree that a good descriptive word for this piece is drivel.
Does Mr. D. Siedenburg really believe that if a minority candidate runs for office, that those who do not vote for him/her are prejudiced?
I believe a vote for a candidate should be based on qualifying knowledge and experience of the position, and demonstrated ability.
I believe the lack of the above is what Mr. Pritchett’s “Open Letter to the President” was making reference to.
Thank you for printing Mr. Pritchett’s letter.
Lawrence L. Schafer
Response From Mr. Siedenburg
I would like to make some corrections to my hastily prepared e-mail regarding Lou Pritchett’s letter to the editor. First of all, I misspelled “ofted” and “dribble,” which should have been “offed” and “drivel!” Secondly, I did not notice that his letter was written on May 14, 2009 and that Mr. Pritchett is associated with the Tea Party movement.
Had I seen this data, I would not have bothered to respond since I would have assumed Mr. Pritchett is also a “birther,” believing President Obama was not born in this country. Surprisingly, after all this time, Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck have not disproved President Obama’s claim of legitimate USA citizenship.
As for your comments, of course, I believe in truthful fact based on freedom of speech. However, in a close look at Mr. Pritchett’s letter, he claims he did not know anything about President Obama. Can I ask what rock Mr. Pritchett was under all this time without being too childish?
My remarks about the loss of the electric power grid in the event of an assassination and government disruption comes from the following quote in the dallasblog.com on March 22, 2010:
“China researchers have published a paper on how to attack a small U.S. power grid sub-network in a way that would cause a cascading failure of the entire United States. Since Americans have become hopelessly dependent upon the power grid system, which makes us vulnerable if our electricity and lines of communication have been wiped out. So when China reveals in an obscure academic paper that Beijing knows how to harm the U.S. power grid system, Americans have a legitimate right to worry!”
What a better time to attack our electric power grid during all the confusion that would take place with an attempt on President Obama’s life. I do not think I have to explain what the loss of the electric power grid would do to our way of life!
Hopefully, this letter reaches you and your readers.
Reference publisher’s comment (5/5/10 Letters to Editor), “You have conveniently not mentioned that a majority of the votes cast to elect our nation’s first black president were cast by white people.”
President Obama received only 43% of the white vote.
Publisher’s Comment . . .
Only 60% of the votes cast for Obama considered themselves white which in itself is a very loose term. Many people who are considered white by “American standards” would instead call themselves arabs or hispanic or white hispanic. The numbers are unreliable as it is a subjective question.
Obama rather decisively won the Iowa primary, if that helps get a sense of perspective on this, and 92.7% of Iowa’s population is white according to the U.S. census bureau.
According to the below CNN exit poll, 43% of whites surveyed voted for Obama, and they made up 74% of the sample.
So, given that 131.2 million total votes were cast in the 2008 presidential election, that would imply that 41.7 million white people voted for Obama, or about 60% of the 69.4 million people who voted for him.
The Pearl City Cub Scout Pack 27 held its 46th Annual Spaghetti Supper April 13. We would like to thank all of the people who came and supported our supper, and the MANY businesses that made generous contributions to the supper.
We hold the supper at the pearl City School, and would like to thank the school for allowing us to use the building and all of the staff that helps us prepare for and serve the meals.
Thanks also to the PC American Legion Post 1014 for sponsoring the PC Cub Scouts for over 50 years. We had a successful supper, which allowed us to send the scouts to summer camp and provide them with the necessary books and materials for the next scouting year.
Thanks again to the many individuals and businesses that continue to support scouting!
Pearl City Cub Scouts Pack 27
Guest Commentary . . .
Had Enough Yet?
By Jane Carrell
He said he would have a “transformational” presidency. He certainly has. Barack Hussein Obama has awakened a sleeping America, and if only 33% of Americans oppose his regime of wealth transfer, corporate takeover, appointment of leftists and declared communists to positions of high visibility, and apology for the nation’s leadership role in the world community, then he has transformed us. We used to be asleep. We felt powerless at the onslaught of political correctness that grips our broadcast news and academia.
We watched elections stolen from rightful winners in Washington state (2004 - Governor Christine Gregoire) and in Minnesota (2009 - Al Franken, U.S. Senator). We watched the hard won 1996 welfare reforms rolled back by the Democrat Congress in the February 2009 stimulus package. States are once more rewarded for increasing their welfare caseload.
We watched the ban of federal funds to ACORN, a wonderful exercise in political and social judgment, rescinded when (OMB) director Peter Orszag ordered federal agencies to resume funding the group in a March 16th memo. That provision of the 2010 federal budget had been declared unconstitutional by the District Court for the Eastern District of New York. (surprise!).
We learned in late April that Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, a “nonpolitical” office of government, provided HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the health care vote an economic report, which indicated that President Barack Obama’s health care “reform” law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers. Sebelius’s staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken. “A copy had also been sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” says an unnamed HHS staffer, “and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary’s office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report.”
The report, according to FIRST THINGS, “shows that medical costs will skyrocket, rising $389 billion [over]10 years. 14 million will lose their employer-based coverage. Millions of Americans will be left without insurance. And, millions more may be dumped into the already overwhelmed Medicaid system. 4 million American families will be hit with tax penalties under this new law. Of course, these were ALL things that President Obama and Democratic leaders assured us would not happen.” Ahhhh, true government OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE AND FOR THE PEOPLE! Has it ever been this good for America?
Americans (a word that has been replaced by “World Citizens” in a new Social Studies book reviewed in the state of Texas) are a patient and forgiving people. But our patience is at an end. The party in power appears not to care that Obama is leading us off the edge of a cliff. We face unfathomable debt, and the prospect of a jobless future for our children and rationed healthcare for our parents. If you’ve had enough, join the party - the Tea Party - and tune in to right wing talk radio. GET OUT OF OUR HOUSE (GOOOH.com) is a plan to replace every sitting member of the House. It’s looking better and better to me.
Jane Carrell attended her first Tea Party event in Rockford a year ago, and is a board member of the Northern IL Tea Party. Jane can be reached at N.IL.TeaParty@gmail.com, or call her at 815-708-2723.
Instead of a letter, I wish I could send you a picture. Last February, after Judge Ward ruled in favor of 42 acres of manure to be stored over the origin of the Apple River, less than 4 miles away from Apple Canyon State Park, by AJ Bos/Traditions Investments LLC., a photo was taken in Elizabethtown, Il. Elizabethtown is near the SE tip of Illinois. It is also in a spring and karst filled region. For all you karst debaters, please refer to your Illinois State Geological Survey- February 2004, by C.P. Weibel. Now check the legend on the map. When you compare NW Illinois to the SE tip of Illinois, there is a major intensity of springs and karst where we live; while SE Illinois is karst, but definitely less “karsty”. Elizabethtown is located just off the Ohio River.
The photo, taken in February, 2010, is of a sinkhole that appeared suddenly out of nowhere, located at the bottom of the municipal sewage treatment plant in Elizabethtown. The contents of this pond went down the sinkhole beneath the clay liner. If you call the mayor or their local paper, they will verify that this happened.
According to that photo and map, our reasons for fighting this improperly and illegally sited mega-dairy anywhere in NW Illinois are only renewed.
A picture paints a thousand words…
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
She is a talented young lady and I admire her. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago) is the sponsor of Senate Bill 3695, and I serve as her chief co-sponsor on the legislation. It passed the House unanimously on May 4th. It passed the Senate May 5th and is on the way to the Governor. Amendment two to the bill provides the funding we need to avoid the proposed laying off of 464 state troopers and the closing of five State Police District Headquarters including ours in Pecatonica.
Where will the money come from? What most people don’t realize is that the Illinois State Police currently don’t receive one dime from the tickets they issue. When you are issued a citation by the Illinois State Police (519,000 were issued last year), 44% of the fine you pay goes to the county or municipality in which the citation was issued. Out of the remaining 56%, an administrative fee is paid to the Circuit Clerk.
Susana’s legislation carves out of local government’s 44% a portion equal to the Circuit Clerk’s fee that will now be dedicated to the State Police. That portion is expected to total approximately $22 million.
The argument that you are taking money away from local government pretty much goes out the window when you realize that the 464 troopers that will be saved is about one quarter of the State Police and will keep the agency proactive rather than reactive so, therefore, the number of tickets issued should make up the difference. Here’s the deal folks, the Illinois Supreme Court will not allow us to raise the bond for a minor traffic offense above $75, so we need to find the money for the troopers from within the fine, we can’t add it on. Complicated? Yes. Good legislation? Absolutely.
I wish more than anything I could share with you a very bright picture for Illinois’ financial future. It’s simply not there. The reality is that we can’t continue to “kick the can down the road”, which I agree is an overused phrase. For Illinois it’s “tax and borrow”.
My good friend and mentor Bill Black (R-Danville), who is retiring at the end of this term much to the regret of all members of the House, shared with me some great information which should inspire us all. The fix is available; it’s up to us to grab it. Bill suggested we follow the example of our neighboring state, Indiana, and its Governor Mitch Daniels. When asked to explain why Indiana is virtually exploding with positive economic development, Governor Daniels is alleged to have simply said “Illinois.”
In three years, Governor Daniels has raised his state’s bond rating to AAA, the best in the nation, which establishes his credibility. By contrast, Illinois’ bond rating is now the second worst in the nation.
I was able to obtain a copy of a recent speech that Governor Daniels delivered on March 24th to the Economic Club of Indiana. His theme is so simple and makes so much sense. He talks about building the best sandbox in America – providing incentives for business by creating an Economic Development Corporation and getting rid of old state bureaucracy which seemed to him to have no sense of how to build business. Indiana increased tax credits for research and development. The state instituted a “buy Indiana” policy. The total focus is on generating more capital for business, which creates jobs.
You owe it to yourself to get online and read that speech. The web site is www.indiana.gov, click on “about the Governor”, go to multimedia, and go to speeches. I wish I could motivate each of my 176 colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly to read it and apply that philosophy. I am ashamed of where Illinois is with “tax and borrow and spend”. We owe you so much more.
As always, you can reach me, Sally or Barb at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at email@example.com. You can also visit my website at www.jimsacia.com. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.