Emma Royko of Naperville is still one of the guys. She's just not part of their team.
Since kindergarten, she has played soccer, basketball and baseball with a group of neighborhood boys she has grown up with.
But, at age of 8, the tow-headed tomboy's being told "no girls allowed." It's not the boys who are banning her, though, it's the adults.
Wheatland Athletic Association no longer will allow her to play alongside her male teammates in recreational basketball and baseball leagues. Also, Heritage Family YMCA wouldn't allow her to play basketball with the team this winter after allowing her to do so the previous season. And the Naperville Park District already has accepted her team into its "premiere" soccer league this fall, but indicated it can play only if Emma doesn't.
Why is this happening?
"Probably because I'm a girl, and they have girls' leagues," Emma said. "But most of my friends are on that (boys) team."
"They say, 'Eventually, she's going to have to play with the girls. She can't always play with the boys,'" said her mother, Cindy Royko.
Do you agree with these organizations' decisions? Is age 8 too early to start seperating boys from girls when it comes to sports teams? Why should it matter anyway - if Emma is at the same skill level as her male buddies, shouldn't she be allowed to play sports with and against them?
June 2009 Archives
Emma Royko of Naperville is still one of the guys. She's just not part of their team.
In his 14 years as Naperville's mayor and liquor commissioner, George Pradel has never revoked a local bar or restaurant's liquor license.
Which begs the questions: is that because city officials and police tend to go easy on nightclub and restaurant owners because of the copious tax revenue their businesses generate? Or is it because the downtown nightlife district -- despite its rowdy reputation in some quarters -- is comparatively trouble-free?
Articles from the Naperville Sun library and anecdotal evidence suggest that out of the thousands of people visiting the downtown area on a typical Friday or Saturday, 1 percent or fewer are arrested for assault, battery, property damage or other crimes related to alcohol consumption there.
Still, the city's 32 liquor-licensed establishments and their employees can be held legally liable for indulging their patrons by "over-serving" them and, in some instances, conjuring their darker sides.
"We're constantly telling them we don't want them to over-serve," Pradel said of local tavern and restaurant operators. "Our police check all the time to see that people aren't being over-served. The owners could be in deep trouble" for that if, for example, a patron should become involved in a drunken-driving crash, he said.
"I think our city is very fortunate that we have such responsible owners of the bars and restaurants that serve liquor," Pradel said. "I know it's hard times, but we really put the clamp on people, and if they're over-serving, we're going to be taking them to court."
What do you think? Do you think Naperville bartenders to a good job at monitoring patrons' alcohol intake? Do you think that downtown Naperville's nightlife promotes fun, safe socializing - or is it becoming an area that draws more debauchery out of people than other areas?
And furthermore - do you think bartenders should be held liable if a patron drinks too much - or should that be something that simply falls under the category of "personal responsibility?"
Voice your thoughts - they might be published in The Sun this week!
By Chris Magee
There's a childish game called "chicken." where two people ride straight at one another, in a car, a bike, whatever, to see who flinches and gets out of the way first. Designed as a test of courage and bravado, it is really just a good way to get hurt.
Illinois politicians are playing chicken right now with the budget. The problems are real - there's a $7 billion deficit. Governor Pat Quinn wants to raise taxes to plug this gap, and Republican and many Democratic legislators are refusing, so Quinn is threatening to take away funding from just about every social welfare program in the state to make up the difference.
Quinn knows if he targets the popular programs, the ones most people think we need, he is likely to get some action on his proposals. You're not going to find too many people in favor of eliminating drug treatment programs and battered women shelters.
Of course, the legislators can't allow themselves to be blackmailed, so they're playing hardball. They're not going to give in to threats and pass a tax increase they don't believe in.
Caught in the middle are these social services - shelters, treatment programs, food pantries, just about every fashionable cause you can think of - and they don't care who wins the game of chicken. They just want to have the money to keep doing their jobs.
In the last few weeks The Sun has received letters from seemingly every agency within 25 miles that will be affected by these cuts. Many have run in print already and many more are scheduled for publication in coming days. Each of these letters explains the valuable work these groups do and details all the cuts that will have to be made July 1 if the legislators don't find that money.
No one wants to take away funding from these agencies, but it could very well happen despite everyone's well wishing. In this game of chicken, if no one flinches, the two sides will collide in the middle and it will all come crashing down.
Unemployment in Illinois is over 10 percent now. Some estimates say state budget cuts could result in 200,000 additional job losses in our state. Is this the way to get out of the recession? Laying off employees, putting the junkies on the street, leaving those who have lost their jobs without anywhere to turn for help?
Yes, the Republicans have a point. The state needs to try to make other cuts before taking the easy way out of a tax increase. But there isn't $7 billion worth of fat in the budget. New revenue will need to be found.
No one wants to pay more taxes, especially in an economic downturn. But sometimes something is too important not to fund. Should the governor and legislators who got us into this mess by spending money like drunken sailors be held accountable? Absolutely. But groups that had nothing to do with the problem shouldn't be the ones to pay for the mistakes.
Chicken is a stupid game. It's time for our leaders to grow up and make some adult decisions before it's too late. As I write this, there are seven days until time runs out. The time for grandstanding and scoring political points is long gone. Now is the time to get serious and solve these problems.
A story in Monday's paper tells of a group of Naperville Twitterers who got together to meet in person after only speaking online up to that point.
Twitter is being sold as the next big thing, but a lot of people (including your moderator) are still skeptical. Do you Twitter? If so, what are the reasons to use it? How is it better or different than other social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace? Do you think it will last or is it just a fad?
After hiring a search firm to get input on the criteria to look for in a superintendent to replace Stephen Daeschner, District 204 announced Wednesday it will appoint Deputy Superintendent Kathy Birkett to the position.
Some of us at the Sun saw similiarities between this move and the recent search for a Park District executive director. In that situation, the board searched the whole country to find someone, hiring Daniel Betts who was brought in but never seemed to fit and was soon gone. The next time around, the park board looked closer to home and hired Ray McGury, who seems a much better fit.
Similarly, the District 204 board hired Daeschner after a large search, but when he left, they decided to find someone who was already in the area and was familiar with the situation this time with Birkett.
Should our community groups and organizations look closer to home more often when looking for leadership instead of thinking the best candidate is going to be found elsewhere?
And what do you think of the Birkett promotion?
An article in Wednesday's Sun tells of how many families are cutting back on day care or removing their children from the facilities entirely because of the economy. Presumably they are either trying to save money or have lost their jobs and therefore are able to take care of the children at home.
How are you adjusting your child care spending in the economic downturn? Have you reduced or eliminated daycare? Have you found other ways to take care of your kids, like having a relative watch them?
Sun crime beat reporter Bill Bird wrote yet another story recently about a series of vehicle burglaries, this time 20 vehicles on the southeast side broken into and valuables like cell phones and iPods taken.
I say broken into, but since all the vehicles were unlocked, a criminal doesn't have to be especially skilled to pull off one of these crimes.
Every day there are a few car burglaries on The Sun's police blotter, with hundreds of incidents reported in a given year. In a surprising number of the cases, the vehicles were not locked, and valuables were in plain sight.
Lock your doors and hide your valuables. This isn't hard to figure out. Why do our residents have so much trouble following these common-sense steps to protect their property?
An article in Tuesday's Sun reports that Naperville's commuter stations are reporting large gains in commuters riding their bikes to the train station. The city has made efforts in recent years to make the streets more bike friendly, but do you think Naperville is a bike-friendly city? Can you travel around safely and find a place to park your bike? What are some of the dangers and safe routes you have found?
Fawell Dam in McDowell Grove Forest Preserve helps regulate the DuPage River to control flooding both above and below the dam. In Sunday's paper the Sun looks at how the dam works and profiles a man who works to clean up area rivers. What are your thoughts on the Fawell Dam and the city's flood preparations? Do you use McDowell Grove as a recreational facility?
Talk about whatever's on your mind here. But not pensions. We have that one covered.
Neuqua Valley High School student Rodney Boyd Jr. says he was given a raw deal by not being allowed to run for senior class president. Though he was class president sophomore and junior years, the class council sponsors, whose endorsement is needed to run for the office, refused to approve him, citing a drop in performance.
Boyd ran a write-in campaign and believes he received a large number of votes, but the school refused to count them, though Boyd says write-in votes have been counted before.
On Monday Boyd's parents appealed to the school board to either redo the election or to count the write-in votes, but the board didn't budge.
Do you think Boyd's votes should have been counted, or as the district said, the student council devised its own policies and it is up to the council to modify them?
By Chris Magee
Below is the text of an e-mail that was recently forwarded to me by a relative.
"President Obama is surprised that veterans do not want to pay their own
medical expenses. Here is Obama's response when he backed off from his
decision to let the military pay for their war injuries.
"Bad press, including major mockery of the plan by comedian Jon Stewart, led
to President Obama abandoning his proposal to require veterans carry private
health insurance to cover the estimated $540 million annual cost to the
federal government of treatment for injuries to military personnel received
during their tours on active duty.
"The President admitted that he was puzzled by the magnitude of the
opposition to his proposal. 'Look, it's an all volunteer force,' Obama
complained. 'Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and
accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice?
It doesn't compute.'
"'I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their
country,' Obama continued. 'I wasn't asking for blood, just money. With the
country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I'd have thought
that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the nation's
deficit. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow
"I guess OBAMA just doesn't get that the American people love and appreciate
our military guys and gals who lay their lives on the line so we can lay our
heads down at night in peace.
"That's because he is not an AMERICAN at heart. That much is obvious. Why
in the world people voted for him I'll never know, but we all will surely
pay the price and rue the day that he took office. America is getting
change but not the change they were looking to get."
Now, it should be obvious to anyone who follows politics that there's not a politician in the world who would make these kind of statements. If he had, it would have dominated the 24-hour news cycle more than Drew Peterson ever did and it would have ruined his career. But just to make sure, I looked it up on factcheck.org, and of course it is a hoax.
As the factcheck.org site says, the quotes are made up and the health care proposal is misrepresented. It would seem obvious that this is a hoax, but millions of people are forwarding this. My relative who sent it to me must have believed it, as did the person who sent it to her, as did the person who sent it to that person, etc. And they're sending it to everyone on their mailing list.
The Internet is a beautiful thing, but this is an example of the dark side. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Millions of people who know just enough about the Internet to use e-mail forward things like this to everyone they know, yet they don't know how to check the facts of the e-mails they receive and possibly don't care. Most people would not knowingly spread a lie from person to person, but they think nothing of spreading these lies through e-mail.
This isn't about whether you like Obama or not. It bugs me when people form their beliefs for the wrong reason. Millions of people didn't vote for Obama in 2008 because they were convinced he was a Muslim who studied at a madrassah, based on some e-mails that were passed around. Sure, an intelligent voter won't vote on hearsay like this, but millions do anyway. E-mails like this will stick in people's mind and come 2012, many will be using information like this to make their decision when they step into the voting booth.
Most of us probably have that one friend or relative who falls for every one of these chain e-mails that get passed around the Internet and sends them to everyone on their mailing list. You can point them to the fact-checking sites but it doesn't seem to make a difference. Spreading false information like this caters to the worst elements of American politics. It's OK not to like the president or other politicians. But at least do it for the right reasons.
The DuPage County Board has been discussing a plan to create areas for workforce homes in unincorporated areas of the county. The homes would be targeted toward people like police officers, firefighters, teachers and others who may want to live near the community they work in, but not be able to afford homes in that area.
Those areas that would be affected near Naperville include Mill Street north of Bauer Road; homes northwest of Ogden Avenue from Wright Street to Charles Avenue; some of the streets south of Hillside Road around Julian Street; and the area around Old Plank Road and Naper Boulevard.
Opponents claim that the "workforce" includes everyone who brings home a paycheck, and all deserve equal protection through local zoning codes. Some have noted that the zoning amendment would eliminate the applications process that enables planners to scrutinize new building projects individually.
Also opposing aspects of the measure are the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference and some municipalities that take exception to a slackening of property dimension rules and setbacks, the additional use of septic systems and wells, the potentially undesirable mix of housing styles, and what William Heniff, Lombard's community development director, called "a de-facto rezoning of the neighborhoods."
The County Board has delayed a vote on the issue so residents can have a chance to learn more and offer comments.
Here is a link to the Sun's most recent article on the subject: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/1605167,affordable-housing-DuPage_na060309.article
What do you think? Does Naperville need affordable housing? Do you have a problem with this proposal? What would your concerns be if it is approved?
The Naperville City Council recently granted a $49,050 grant to fix up the Ogden Mall, at the northwest corner of Ogden Avenue and Naperville Wheaton Road, as part of the Ogden Avenue Site Reimbursement Grant Program.
The grant funds are being used to help reimburse property owners for qualifying sign, building facade and landscape improvements made to their sites.
According to the grant application, the landscape improvements will "enhance the landscaping at the three main parkway entrances to the mall as well as throughout the perimeter." The landscaping will include installing or replacing parkway and perimeter shade trees and the parking lot will be screened with shrubs and ornamental grasses.
Do you think this is a good use of tax money? Are there other areas along Ogden Avenue you'd like to see fixed up or otherwise improved?
On Sunday night the Illinois House voted against a 50 percent tax increase that Gov. Pat Quinn insists in necessary to help the state close its budget gap, which is estimated at $12 billion over two years.
Quinn and other officials have warned that if the tax increases are not approved, the state will face severe cuts in education and health care spending, among other items. Top lawmakers said without new tax dollars, available money would fall about $7 billion short of covering government expenses in the coming fiscal year. They warned of possible state employee layoffs and cuts of up to 50 percent in the programs Quinn says he wants to keep intact.
Republicans have said they want to see spending cuts before considering any new taxes.
Quinn also said until a balanced budget is approved, he won't sign the $28.3 billion statewide capital construction bill, which includes money for widening Route 59 in Naperville.
Quinn was planning to meet again with legislators on Monday, but it is unclear if a deal will be reached.
What do you think about the budget situation? Does the state just have to grit its teeth and make the cuts, or are these programs we need to sacrifice to save?