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Don’t crowd jails with minor offenders

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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Updated: March 2, 2013 6:53AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to follow Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s recommendations to put 150 to 300 more police officers on the street, doing so by not replacing officers engaged in what Ferguson calls “administrative tasks.” The Chicago Police Department has asked the mayor to take a careful approach to Ferguson’s plan, and the Cook County public defender also asks that the mayor study this complex problem from multiple viewpoints before acting.

To the extent that more officers on the streets lead only to more arrests for nonviolent offenses, this will lead only to more jail overcrowding and more pressure on the county to comply with the federal Duran Consent Decree, an agreement governing jail conditions that took effect in 1982. Duran has cost taxpayers millions in attorneys and monitoring costs. An increase in incarcerations for nonviolent, misdemeanor offenses would negatively impact an already overburdened system.

Abishi C. Cunningham Jr.

Cook County public defender

Only bullies cut Medicare

If House Republicans plan to use the “fiscal cliff” showdown to hold working people, seniors and the disadvantaged hostage with demands of benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, then they’re nothing more than schoolyard bullies.

The nation’s most important family protection programs serve millions of Illinoisans. Cutting their benefits, increasing eligibility ages and slashing funding would place the burden on these vulnerable individuals, employers and state governments who would end up picking up the tab. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the cost of increasing the Medicare age fully to 67 would be two times as much as the net savings to the federal government. Proposed changes to the way Medicaid is funded would cut federal support to Illinois’ program by $27.8 billion over 10 years.

Voters rejected these policies in the last election and embraced a different plan: Fix the economy, stop lowering tax rates for the wealthiest Americans and Wall Street and close loopholes these millionaires exploit to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Jorge Ramirez, President,

Chicago Federation of Labor

Michael Carrigan, president, Illinois AFL-CIO

Armed forces political correctness

As an Army veteran, I am mystified by the political decision to assign women to combat units. We do not allow our young women to compete with our young men in basketball, track and swimming for the obvious reason that they are physically unable to provide serious competition. Washington, however, would allow our young women to compete against the young men of other nations in combat to the death! This is political correctness on steroids.

James M. Hayes, West Rogers Park

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