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January 2009 Archives

Well, it's official. Criminal charges against Rod Blagojevich are still pending, but he is no longer governor after the Illinois state Senate voted 59-0 to remove him from office and disqualify him from running for office in the future.

After the events of recent weeks, it's not really a surprise that he was removed, although the unanimous vote was debatable.

What do you think of Blagojevich's behavior in recent weeks, with his media blitz and his speech before the Senate on Thursday? Are you happy he is gone? What do you expect from his replacement, Pat Quinn?

On Wednesday, the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board denied Edward Hospital's plan to build a hospital in Plainfield.

When the proposal was first made, Edward CEO Pam Davis was told that her project would be approved if she agreed to use certain contractors. She refused, and the rest is history. The project was denied, denied again, and now denied a third time.

During the hearing Wednesday, an Edward official accused the board of bias, which the board vehemently refuted.

Do you think the planning board has made this personal, or is it just the wrong project at the wrong time?

What do you want to discuss about Naperville or Illinois? Start a discussion and see where it leads.

On Tuesday, Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel gave his State of the City address. The full text of the address is linked to The Sun's story on this site. What did you think of what the mayor said? What is your opinion of the state of the city?

By Chris Magee
Night editor

On Wednesday a federal judge ruled that the Illinois law requiring a moment of silence in public schools is unconstitutional, ruling that it crosses the church and state divide.

I didn't like the law myself, but for different reasons than those cited in the ruling. It's not the constitutional basis I question, but the necessity of the law itself.

My problem with rulings in all church vs. state cases is that I don't believe the Constitution mandates a separation of religion from public life. The full text of the amendment is as follows:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

What this amendment says is that Congress cannot establish an official state religion for the entire nation, nor can it prevent people from exercising their own individual religions. The United States had just finished fighting a war of independence against a nation that had one state religion and persecuted all others. That was the reason why the ancestors of many of our founding fathers came here. They still wanted religion in their life and their government, but they wanted to be able to choose which one.

But the meaning of this amendment depends on whether you tend to view the constitution from a strict constructionist or an activist perspective. The first believes that the document means what it says and nothing more. The second believes that the document is a framework whose meaning can change over time as the situation changes.

Debating the true meaning of the written word is fine when you're talking about poetry or song lyrics or even theology. But the law should be clear. The law means what it says. There are not multiple meanings. I am a strict constructionist; I get upset when I feel the Constitution is being misinterpreted whether or not it fits my personal beliefs.

I don't believe the Constitution forbids a moment of silence law, but that's not why I'm against it. I believe the Constitution allows religion in public life, but that doesn't mean it's always a good idea. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. I don't support the moment of silence law because I don't think it accomplishes anything.

I remember when this law was passed, those who advocated for it were spinning it to try to say that these busy students would be taking advantage of this minute of silence to be still and quiet and reflect on their lives.

Give me a break.

It is a rare child who has such a strongly developed spiritual side that he would be silently reflecting before the beginning of the school day. Sending text messages? Sure. Joking around with friends? Definitely. But getting more in touch with God or nature? I don't think so. These aren't young Thoreaus out on Walden Pond grappling with the spiritual secrets of the universe. Young children aren't going to get any benefit out of reflection time.

I think religion is great, and I believe a sincere belief in a higher power and a set of moral codes can make someone a better person. But I also know you cannot force it on someone. Making them be quiet or asking them to pray isn't going to accomplish anything if they are not receptive. There are a few children of deeply religious families who will have at adopted a religious mindset. They don't need a special prayer time at school because they will find the time if it is important to them. For everyone else, it's just a dumb waste of time. As St. Paul said, "When I was a child, I thought like a child." Adults can't expect children to take these adult concepts seriously.

This moment of silence could actually be counterproductive to the purprose for which it was intended. What happens to those who talk? Are they punished, in essence punished for not being mature enough to pray? Do the students for whom it's a joke make fun of those they see praying? Are they labeled "that weird Jesus kid?" That's how kids are; they latch on to anything different and make fun of it.

Everyone comes to religion in their own time and circumstances. It is a matter for families to tackle on their own. The public school system has no business getting involved.

Going against the recommendation of city staff, the Naperville City Council on Tuesday unanimously decided to allocate $7,500 to continue the court fight against the purchase of the EJ&E Railway by Canadian National.

City staff had recommended against continuing the fight because CN had agreed to pay for 67 percent of mitigation costs at the Ogden Avenue crossing in Aurora, which was the main concern of the city.

However, council members argued that it was important to support the other municipalities in this fight, since Naperville might need their support on its own issues in the future.

Councilman Jim Boyajian referred to the fight to stop the sale as "a wasted effort," yet he still voted for the proposal. Is it still worth fighting, or should the city cut its losses and accept defeat as many other communities have done?

***UPDATE***
The Adolph Hammerschmidt mansion, at 432 E. Chicago Ave. in Naperville, has been torn down as of about 9 a.m. Friday.

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Naperville's Adolph Hammerschmidt mansion, the subject of extensive debate in the summer, is now scheduled for demolition as early as Friday.

The home, built in 1893, was sold after the death of one of its owners to Susan Wilkie, who unknown to the seller was engaged to marry Realtor Chris Cobb. When Cobb decided to demolish the house, many residents protested in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to have it declared a landmark. Cobb agreed to resell the home to someone willing to save it if he received the same price he paid, but he found no takers.

What are your thoughts on the impending demise of the 115-year-old residence?

On Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office as our 44th president. There is a lot of excitement and talk of change and a fresh start in the country. However, it should also be remembered that 46 percent of the country voted for someone else. That being said, it's in everyone's best interest that Obama do a good job and get our economy back on track. Whether you voted for him or not, hoping for the president to fail is short-sighted.

Maybe not since the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt has there been such high expectations for an incoming president - perhaps too high. Do you think the Obama administration can live up to the hype? What are your expectations for the Obama presidency? How much of his platform do you think he will actually be able to accomplish?

Over the last few years as the price of gasoline steadily crept upward, most Americans tried to modify their lifestyle to cut down on these rising costs. Some people began to carpool, some purchased more fuel-efficient cars, some began to plan their trips better or ride bikes or walk for short trips.

Now that gas is down around $2 or even below, have you reverted to your old bad habits? Do you slam on the gas again when the traffic light turns red? Or have you maintained these gas-saving habits you picked up when gas was high? Do you think the mindset of Americans has changed for good, or will it fluctuate with the price of gas?

On Wednesday a morning commuter train to Chicago was stopped and searched, with the passengers removed from some of the cars, because a man got on in Naperville with a gun.

The man was located and identified as a Secret Service agent. The ticket agent said the man asked questions about security, said he had a gun, but never identified himself or gave any reason for his questions. The Secret Service agent gives a very different account, claiming he identified himself as an officer and never asked about security.

In the end, no one was hurt, but many people were frightened and hours late to their destinations. What do you think about the situation?

There is a story in Sunday's Sun about a protest by the Humane Society at area Petland stores. The society claims that Petland gets its puppies from puppy mills, which are breeding factories where the dogs have no life but to be constantly bearing puppies. The Humane Society advocates that potential pet owners get their dogs from a shelter instead. Petland denies the allegations and says that its dog breeders are carefully screened.

What we'd like to know is if you pet owners have noticed a difference in pets you get from pet stores as opposed to those you've gotten from shelters or private parties? Have you had an especially good experience with one or the other? Or a bad experience with one of them? Share your stories here.

In an attempt to help close the $11 million budget deficit, the city of Naperville laid off 20 employees and eliminated 23 vacant positions Thursday. The city would not reveal specifically what positions were eliminated, but did say that the police and fire department were included in the cuts.

The city said the cuts would comprise 5 percent of its workforce and would save $3 million for the year.

What do you think of these cuts?

Nothing complicated here. Is there anything on your mind not covered by our existing topics? Talk about it here.

It's been a year since the statewide smoking ban went into effect. After a year to observe its effects, what do you think of the law? Smokers, have you changed your behavior since the ban, besides the obvious? Have you cut back on smoking or stopped going out? Are you used to it by now? Business owners or employees, how has it affected your business?

Naperville Potluck

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2008 is the previous archive.

February 2009 is the next archive.

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