PART III — Joseph O’Neal was twenty-seven years old when he died by hanging at the Carroll County Courthouse on May 16, 1873. He’d been born at Steubenville, Ohio but came west with his family during the Civil War to Chicago, then to Clinton, Iowa.
We need to elect Rich Morthland as our state representative for the 71st District this November. I recently read that he was the only person on the Rock Island County board that stood up and objected to proposed pay raises for county officials, managed to get a special meeting, and an agreement to freeze pay raises until 2014.
That was absolutely the right thing to do in these tough economic times. I think Mr. Morthland displayed the right kind of fiscal leadership that we desperately need in our state legislature!
The Kraft Building - Fantastic!
Recently I toured the Kraft building in downtown Mount Carroll. On the drive over I noticed that several buildings have been remodeled and the downtown area looks like there is life in it once again.
I am extremely impressed with the job that the Mount Carroll Community Development Center, Mayor Bates, Town Council members, Loescher, Randy Stadl, and all the volunteers have been doing. This building looks fantastic! Our community is going to enjoy the benefits of having a very tastefully decorated, and highly professionally remodeled job done. When I spoke with Lou Schau and John Sweich I mentioned that it appears that their remodeling work inspired other building owners to go ahead and remodel their buildings. Some utilized funds made available by the city through a revolving loan, others put money out of their own pocket.
It has been my experience that a neighborhood, or in this case a small town main street, that is suffering from what is called “economic obsolescence” (run down) that it just takes one building owner to lead the way to begin the rejuvenation trend. Well, in this case it was the entire community of Mount Carroll, through the efforts of those mentioned above who initiated this re-birth of our downtown.
Kudos to all involved, for your foresight, for your courage, and for your compassion for our way of life.
Now, the infrastructure is coming into place for creating opportunity for our citizens and for tourists. What a glorious thing commerce is. We sometimes forget how truly wonderful it is. On one side we have entrepreneurs endeavoring to provide products and/or services and on the other we have consumers looking to satisfy wants and needs. A commercial district is where our community comes together and provides all with opportunity and satisfaction. What makes Mount Carroll so special in my heart is that we also get an opportunity to visit with our entrepreneurial neighbors and discuss light topics and simply enjoy our shopping so much more than in the rush and bustle of the impersonal mall type setting. In a real sense, it is where the heartbeat of our community is best heard and felt.
Thank you all so much for your efforts. I would recommend to every Mount Carroll citizen, indeed to all Carroll County citizens to visit Mount Carroll’s main street and say hello to our enterprising and civic minded entrepreneurs.
John H McConnel Jr.
Mount Carroll Township
The Fourth Verse
Someone sent me an e-mail of a Marine veteran named “Louis” singing the fourth verse of The Star-spangled Banner at a recent Tea Party rally. It was fantastic!
Didn’t know there was a fourth verse? Neither did I. Most people hear only the first. Here’s how it goes:
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
This brave vet had a special reason for resurrecting the fourth verse. He doesn’t agree with our president, who says we’re not a Christian nation and quotes the Koran but never the Bible. As Prof. Charles Kesler said in a Hillsdale College lecture last February, “President Obama agrees with his former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, much more than he let on as a presidential candidate. His famous speech on that subject doesn’t hide his conclusion that Wright was correct – that America is a racist country. Hence, not “God bless America” but “God damn America.”
Louis knows what’s atop the Washington Monument: the words Laus Deo (Latin for Glory be to God.) He remembers the first words of George Washington’s prayer for America: Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection.”
Watch the video yourself at http://www.thefoxnation.com/culture/2010/06/07/watch-marine-stuns-crowd-tea-party and see how electrified the audience became when they heard him. They were expecting the usual rendition but, one by one, as they heard “heav’n rescued” and “praise the Power” and “In God we trust,” they spontaneously began to stand, quietly and proudly, with their hands over their hearts. By the time he finished, they were all cheering and jumping with genuine patriotic enthusiasm. Many were crying!
Why don’t we follow his example and start singing this verse exclusively at all sports and patriotic events? After you hear him, I think you’ll agree that we should. Urge your local civic leaders, school officials and veterans’ organizations to follow his lead. Every revolution needs some music to inspire it.
Pearl City, IL
The Things That Truly Matter A Graduation Message
by John Whitehead
“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
I have a lot of sympathy for graduating high school and college seniors. The world around us is a mess, and this next generation is not going to have an easy time navigating it.
Those coming of age today will face some of the greatest obstacles ever encountered by young people. They will find themselves overtaxed and struggling to find worthwhile employment in a debt-ridden economy on the brink of implosion. Their privacy will continually be violated by the emerging surveillance state. They will be the subjects of a military empire constantly waging war against shadowy enemies and on guard against domestic acts of terrorism, blowback against our military occupations in foreign lands. And they will find that government no longer exists to serve them but to be served by them.
It’s a dismal prospect, isn’t it? Unfortunately, we who should have known better failed to guard against such a future. Worse, we neglected to provide our young people with the tools necessary to survive, let alone succeed, in the impersonal jungle that is modern civilization.
We brought them into homes fractured by divorce, distracted by mindless entertainment, and obsessed with the pursuit of materialism. We institutionalized them in daycares and afterschool programs, substituting time with teachers and childcare workers for parental involvement. We turned them into test-takers instead of thinkers and automatons instead of activists. We allowed them to languish in schools which not only often look like prisons but function like prisons, as well—where conformity is the rule and freedom is the exception. We made them easy prey for our corporate overlords, while instilling in them the values of a celebrity-obsessed, technology-driven, Godless culture. And we taught them to believe that the pursuit of their own personal happiness trumped all other virtues.
We botched things up in a big way, but all is not lost. Not yet, at least. Faced with adversity, this generation could very well rise to meet the grave challenges before them, bringing about positive change for our times and maintaining our freedoms, as well. The following will hopefully help them on the journey that awaits:
Be an individual. There is a reason you are alive. You are a unique person. You are not like everybody else. You can be different. You can stand out. Don’t go with the flow. And don’t relegate yourself to simply being one of the masses. For all of its championing of the individual, American culture advocates a subtle conformity. Young people are sedated by the flatness and predictability of modern life. “You can travel far and wide and have a difficult time finding a store or restaurant that is even mildly unique,” writes Thomas More in The Care of the Soul (1992). “In shopping malls everywhere, in restaurant districts, in movie theaters, you will find the same clothes, the same names, the same menus, the same new films, the identical architecture. On the East Coast, you can sit in a restaurant seat identical to that you sat in on the West Coast.” In other words, repetition is the death of individuality, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Resist the corporate state. Don’t become mindless consumers. Consumption is a drug. It makes us unaware of the corruption surrounding us. As Chris Hedges writes in Empire of Illusion (2009):
Corporations are ubiquitous parts of our lives, and those that own and run them want them to remain that way. We eat corporate food. We buy corporate clothes. We drive in corporate cars. We buy our fuel from corporations. We borrow from, invest our retirement savings with, and take our college loans with corporations and corporate banks. We are entertained, informed, and bombarded with advertisements by corporations. Many of us work for corporations. There are few aspects of life left that have not been taken over by corporations, from mail delivery to public utilities to our for-profit health-care system. These corporations have no loyalty to the country or workers. Our impoverishment feeds their profits. And profits, for corporations, are all that count.
Realize that one person can make a difference. It’s always been the individual—the ordinary person doing extraordinary things—who has made a difference in the world. Even Mahatma Gandhi, who eventually galvanized the whole of India, brought the British Empire to its knees, and secured freedom for his people, began as a solitary individual committed to the idea of nonviolent resistance to the British Empire.
Help others. We all have a calling in life. And I believe it boils down to one thing: You are here on this planet to help other people. In fact, none of us can exist very long without help from others. This is brought home forcefully in a story that Garret Keizer recounts in his insightful book Help: The Original Human Dilemma (2004). Supposedly in hell the damned sit around a great pot, all hungry, because the spoons they hold are too long to bring the food to their mouths. In heaven, people are sitting around the same pot with the same long spoons, but everyone is full. Why? Because in heaven, people use their long spoons to feed one another.
If you want to help the country, you need to learn your rights. It’s easy to complain, throw up your hands and just accept the way things are. Unfortunately, for all the moaning and groaning, very few people take the time to change the country for the better. Yet we’re losing our freedoms for one simple reason: most of us don’t know anything about our freedoms. Lest we forget, America is a concept. You have to earn the right to be an American, and that means taking the time to learn about your history and the courageous radicals who fought and died so that you and I could live in a free country. At a minimum, anyone who has graduated from high school, let alone college, should know the Bill of Rights backwards and forwards.
Speak truth to power. Don’t be naïve about those in positions of authority. As James Madison, who wrote our Bill of Rights, observed, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.” We have to learn the lessons of history. People in power, more often than not, abuse that power. To maintain our freedoms, this will mean challenging government officials whenever they exceed the bounds of their office.
Don’t let technology be your God. Technology anesthetizes us to the all-too-real tragedies that surround us. Techno-gadgets are merely distractions from what’s really going on in America and around the world. As a result, we’ve begun mimicking the inhuman technology that surrounds us and lost sight of our humanity. If you’re going to make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to pull the earbuds out, turn off the cell phones and spend much less time viewing screens.
Give voice to moral outrage. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Tragedies abound. Genocide is occurring in Darfur. AIDS is ravaging Africa. Countless millions of people around the globe languish under authoritarian regimes. At home in America, some 14 million young children go to bed hungry every night. Homeless people litter the streets. There is no shortage of opportunities to stand up for the less fortunate and those who are oppressed.
Cultivate spirituality. When the things that matter most have been subordinated to materialism, we have lost our moral compass. We must change our values to reflect something more meaningful than technology, materialism and politics. As Martin Luther King Jr., standing at the pulpit of the Riverside Church in New York City in April 1967, urged his listeners:
[W]e as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
We didn’t listen then, and we still have not learned: Material things don’t fill the spiritual void. Unfortunately, our much-vaunted culture of consumerism and material comforts has resulted in an overall air of cynicism marked by a spiritual vacuum, and this generation of young people is paying the price. For example, at least one in 10 young people now believe life is not worth living. A 2009 survey of 16- to 25-year-olds by the Prince’s Trust found that for many young people life has little or no purpose, especially among those not in school, work or training. More than a quarter of those polled feel depressed and are less happy than when they were younger. And almost half said they are regularly stressed and many don’t have anything to look forward to or someone they could talk to about their problems. No wonder many young people have such a pessimistic view of the future. But that can change. As King said, we have to start putting people first.
Pitch in and do your part to make the world a better place. Don’t rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
Finally, you need to impact your government, be part of the dialogue on who we are and where we’re going as a country. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your political ideology is. These are just labels. If you have something to say, speak up. Get active, and if need be, pick up a picket sign and get in the streets. And when civil liberties are violated, don’t remain silent about it. Take a stand! The only way we’ll ever achieve change in this country is for this generation of young people to say “enough is enough” and fight for the things that truly matter.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
The Budget, where does it really stand today? Both sides of the aisle in Springfield are blessed with talented and remarkable staff. Our senior “budgeter”, Kent Gaffney, has laid out some facts that explain it in simple terms: “First there is the appropriated amount which is contained in the budget bills that were passed and sent to the Governor. Second is the amount that will actually be spent by state government. This includes the required payment to Illinois’ pension systems and ‘transfers out’ to local governments, both of which are mandated by law. What is unknown at this time is whether the Senate will pass the pension bonding plan and how the Governor will utilize his Emergency Budget Act Powers.”
You will recall that prior to leaving Springfield on May 7th, the House passed a bill allowing the Governor to borrow $3.8 billion in order to make the afore-mentioned pension payment. Action in the Senate is pending. I am adamantly opposed to more borrowing because it continues to dig the hole deeper.
The Emergency Budget Act gives the Governor the authority to make significant cuts and allocate moneys as he sees fit. Yes, it gives him authority to even tap programs such as domestic violence, child sex abuse, aid for the developmentally disabled, etc., etc. The appropriated budget passed by the legislature does not include some important and very substantial expenditures such as “transfers out” to local governments, the FY 2011 pension payment, and the amount to be held in reserve by state agencies.
Here is where the craziness enters - the pension payment must be made whether or not the Senate passes the legislation to borrow the money. Approximately $6 billion dollars in FY 10 bills remain unpaid. Our own Malcolm Eaton Enterprises in Freeport is owed nearly $2 million. When the $6 billion in FY10 unpaid bills are added to the projected $4.2 billion shortfall in the FY11 budget the deficit totals $10.2 billion. We must pay our local governments as mandated, so the deficit will actually be far greater than the $10.2 billion. This is absolutely nuts.
You mark my words, here is what will happen: we’ll muddle along through the summer. The Governor has the Emergency Budget Act of 2011 to allow him to rob Peter to pay Paul. No one had to take the hard votes to cut entitlements or raise taxes (that helps us to get reelected you know). Shortly after the election, though, there will be a huge awakening. Governor Quinn or Governor Brady will inherit a monster. Then and only then will this monster be addressed. You are right to call and demand that we fix this problem. I am a loud voice, but I am still only one vote of 118 in the House. It turns my crank every bit as much as it turns yours.
We will be scheduling our mobile office to be in your community soon.
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.