Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Illinois is our home, but we want it to be better ]]> Lead story image

Someone asked me the other day if I hated Illinois. I was more than a bit taken aback. Illinois is my home. During my long newspaper career, I’ve lived in Texas, Iowa and Nevada, but in each of those states I felt like a visitor. But in Illinois, I know I belong. I grew up on a grain and livestock farm south of Galesburg. I obtained a master’s degree from one this state’s fine universities. I lived in Rock Island and neighboring communities for 10 years and have resided in the Springfield area for 15. This is where I met … ]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:49:03 -0500 <![CDATA[ Why Ukraine matters to America ]]> Lead story image

Ever wonder why we should concern ourselves in Ukraine with a “quarrel in a faraway country between people about whom we know nothing?” The words, infamously, are those of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, indulging his people’s yearning for peace in 1938 and fortifying himself to make a last-minute deal with Adolf Hitler over Czechoslovakia. It is a myth that history repeats itself. But it is no less a truth that those who do not learn from history are likely to make avoidable mistakes. Not always the same mistakes — sometimes even worse mistakes. What we learned from the Munich … ]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:20:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Slots at horse tracks good for state economy ]]>

In response to the SouthtownStar’s Oct. 26 article, “Proponents say video gambling a win-win,” how is it possible that there are now mini-casinos on every corner but a fully licensed and regulated racetrack cannot have slot machines? Horse racing has been in existence for more than 100 years in Illinois, creating thousands of middle-class jobs that go along with its agribusiness. However, it’s now on life support because 16 other states that allow slots at their racetracks are luring our horsemen, who are taking their horses and teams to other states such as Indiana where the purses are higher and … ]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 20:49:03 -0500 <![CDATA[ Crime victims and their families deserve greater voice ]]> Lead story image

When my sister, her husband and their unborn baby were brutally murdered in April 1990, my world fell apart. It will never be the same. There will forever be a void in my life and a hole in my heart. There is simply no closure for such a horrific tragedy. My sister, Nancy Bishop-Langert, and her husband, Richard, were shot and killed in their Winnetka home. Nancy was three months pregnant with their first child. Their convicted killer was just 16 when he took their lives. The thought that he came to my sister’s funeral with his parents still haunts … ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:12:04 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Illinois Democrats’ latest ploy — no ID needed for early voting ]]> Lead story image

I dropped by my local courthouse last Monday and voted early. Before stepping into the county clerk’s office, armed sheriff’s police had me empty my pockets and step through a metal detector. After I entered the Sangamon County clerk’s office, a cheerful worker told me I didn’t need any identification to vote early this year. Hmmm, they don’t trust the public to enter a public building unarmed, but when it comes to voting they’ll take anyone’s word at face value. This year, and for the Nov. 4 election only, the Illinois General Assembly has suspended safeguards the state has in … ]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:11:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ What’s with our fascination with celebrities? ]]> Lead story image

The first celebrity I ever encountered in person was Nellie Fox, the Hall of Fame second baseman for the pennant-winning Chicago White Sox of 1959. I was 11 when my father took our family of 10 to the Back of the Yards Carnival one warm summer night. On the way in, my old man pointed out a group of nicely dressed men at 47th Street and Damen Avenue, gathered around a shiny car whose dome light was on. Seated inside were the All-Star second baseman and Mrs. Fox, talking through the open window to the others. I rushed up to … ]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:12:30 -0500 <![CDATA[ Varjavand: A controversial plan to deter rising income inequality ]]> Lead story image

Numerous books have been written about economic inequality, especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, but none has received as much attention from the academic community as “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty. The depth and breadth of analyses presented in this book, published last year, as well as detailed data on income inequality since the 18th century are destined to make this book a classic. Piketty argues, along with many other economists, that income inequality is not inherently bad — as long as it is not intense and works for the common good of … ]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:14:27 -0500 <![CDATA[ Shaw: Trying to get the governor candidates’ stances on major issues ]]> Lead story image

One of television’s hottest dramas is playing out daily here in Illinois. No, it’s not “The Good Wife,” “Shameless” or “Chicago Fire,” and “Breaking Bad” isn’t coming back with a Windy City setting. I’m talking about the rock ‘em, sock ‘em, neck-and-neck race for governor, starring Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, Republican nominee Bruce Rauner and a deluge of attack ads they’ve been bombarding us and each other with for months. Curiously, the ads borrow heavily from the worlds of cartoons and literary fiction — genres where political campaigns don’t typically get their broadcast ammunition. In one TV commercial the Rauner … ]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 02:18:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Teachers should stop ‘flopping’ on the job ]]> Lead story image

As an English teacher, I have never had to consult either a calendar or a wristwatch to know when the last week of the semester arrived. The more reliable indicator was when colleagues started telling me, one by one, how severely overwhelmed they were by final exams and grades. I didn’t get it. After teaching a few years, you pretty much knew what was required and by what date. So I built a “cushion” into my schedule to make certain that everything would be completed even if an unanticipated event occurred. Not because I was some sort of industrious overachiever. … ]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 02:18:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ How Illinois voters next month can help crime victims ]]> Lead story image

From the moment the world was exposed to the now-infamous video of NFL player Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee during an elevator ride, domestic violence in our communities has made headlines across the nation. Americans learned that domestic violence is a real, existing threat that lives in their neighborhoods. The problem exploded out of the shadowy corners of our private spaces into the public sphere. People are asking all kinds of questions. Why does she stay? What causes domestic violence? Where did the NFL go wrong? But for some of us advocates, the most inspiring question we can hear … ]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 02:18:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: State has no answers on budget for college aid program ]]> Lead story image

So how many of your dollars are being spent on providing free college educations for state workers? We don’t know — and that should outrage you. We know that in past budgets, the state has spent $5 million on the program known as Upward Mobility. But if you take a careful look at this year’s state budget, you’ll find that the program has been “zeroed out,” meaning that it appears the state no longer is spending a dime on the program. But appearances can be deceptive, especially when it comes to Illinois government. A quick look at the Department of … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:21:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Resolving an epidemic of plagiarism ]]> Lead story image

As a former employee of a term paper mill, I usually can tell when someone is attempting to disguise another person’s writing as their own, rather like one of those computer hackers hired by the FBI to help catch other hackers. I’ve long since been reformed, following my youthful stint as a hired pen working in Chicago for Term Paper Research, based in Boston, for which I earned up to $4 a page writing essays for college students. In my defense, it was 1970, and I was only 21. And my boss assured me that the work was as legal … ]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:15:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Illinois’ culture of political cronyism alive and well ]]> Lead story image

In Illinois government, it’s often not what you know but who you know that gets you hired or lands you that lucrative contract. It has been that way under Republicans and under Democrats. Jobs and contracts are divvied out after every election like the spoils of war. It is part of Illinois’ culture of “cronyism” that allows the politically connected to prosper at the expense of the rest of us. Cronyism comes in all stripes. It may be a politically connected company getting a handout from the state. Or it could be an unqualified person getting a job just because … ]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:14:46 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: U.S. economic recovery mostly skips Illinois ]]> Lead story image

For every new job created in Illinois since January 2010, two people have signed up for food stamps. That’s just sad. OK, it’s pathetic. And this is happening during a period that has been labeled as an “economic recovery.” But the fact of the matter is that Illinois has lagged far behind the rest of the country in recovering from the Great Recession. The number of private-sector jobs in the state has dropped by 5,900 since the first of the year. Only Illinois and Alaska among the states has seen a drop in the number of nongovernmental jobs this year. … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:15:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ Shaw: Pension crisis hits Cook County suburbs, too ]]> Lead story image

Unless you’ve been living in the Deep Tunnel, you’ve probably heard that the state of Illinois is facing a daunting public employee pension crisis and Chicago schools and city government are tiptoeing around similar fiscal land mines that could blow up in the faces of retirees and taxpayers. Unfortunately, there’s more pension peril that you may not have heard much about, even if you’re following the story. A recent Better Government Association investigation found the tentacles of the pension problem reaching far beyond Springfield and Chicago to suburban Cook County, where underfunded pension funds threaten numerous municipalities. Dozens of pension … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:14:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: More accepted to U of I saying ‘no thanks’ ]]> Lead story image

More often than not, when students receive an admission letter from the University of Illinois, they opt to attend another university. That’s a sad state of affairs for Illinois’ flagship university. The U of I is a terrific school. My father graduated from its Urbana-Champaign campus 54 years ago with a degree in veterinary medicine, I received a master’s degree from its Springfield campus in 1988 (when it still was called Sangamon State), and my niece graduated this year from the U of I with a bachelor’s degree. So I value the university and want to see it succeed. But … ]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:19:27 -0500