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Cubs Charities helps kids with Down sydrome

Phoenix Rice plays ball pool Gigi’s Playhouse Hoffman Estates 2008.  |  Files

Phoenix Rice plays in the ball pool at Gigi’s Playhouse in Hoffman Estates in 2008. | Files

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:32AM

Rick Telander’s column two Sundays ago, “Charity more about what Cubs can get,” was misleading, unfair and, in my case, deeply hurtful.

I am the founder of GiGi’s Playhouse, one of the charities referenced in Mr. Telander’s column. He implied that the support Chicago Cubs Charities have given to GiGi’s Playhouse is politically motivated. This is completely inaccurate. The Cubs Charities have supported GiGi’s Playhouse since before the Ricketts family took ownership of the Cubs and before there was a hint of a request for public funding for Wrigley Field. This number doubled when the Ricketts family took over the team in 2009 and had absolutely nothing to do with Wrigley Field renovations, but everything to do with providing resources and support to individuals with Down syndrome.

GiGi’s Playhouses are Down syndrome awareness and education centers that provide programs to individuals with Down syndrome, their families and the community. Our programs are offered at no cost to our families — something we could not do without support from generous organizations such as the Cubs Care Charities.

For the last four years, I have attended the Cubs Care grants luncheon, where Cubs Charities have donated more than $1 million to dozens of organizations helping thousands of people in our city. There is no hint of public money when we get together to celebrate the Cubs giving back.

I know these grants are only part of the Cubs giving and that they are the largest private donor to the Chicago Park District and a major supporter of the Chicago Libraries Summer Reading Program.

On behalf of those less fortunate, I would like to thank the Chicago Cubs for decades of helping those in need.

Nancy Gianni, founder and CEO,

GiGi’s Playhouse Inc.

Vote for pension amendment to send message to legislators

Your recent editorial about Amendment 49 correctly pointed out that, when it comes to public pension increases, the horse is already out of the barn. However, that does not mean we shouldn’t resolve to stop perpetuating bad practices. A higher vote requirement to pass benefit increases would discourage additional unfunded pension liabilities and help us avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Given the billions of dollars in fiscal damage caused by years of legislators voting through incremental benefit increases without accounting for the funding to pay for them, we should have put such a barrier in place long ago.

By requiring a higher threshold to pass pension increases, the amendment would require legislators to accept a greater level of accountability and also make it more difficult for politically powerful special-interest groups to secure questionable benefit “sweeteners” for their members.

Perhaps most importantly, the vote on Amendment 49 will be interpreted as a referendum on voters’ desire to make pension reform a priority. Our state’s fiscal situation is dire and will continue to worsen until our elected leaders address the unsustainable pension obligations that weigh heavily on Illinois taxpayers.

This November, voters should send a message to their legislators and vote “yes” on Amendment 49.

Doug Whitley, president and CEO,

Illinois Chamber of Commerce

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