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The real Illinois tollway cheats

An unmanned Illinois Tollway toll collectiplaztakes funds from motorists heading eastbound I-90 from Route 31 Elgin. (Phoby Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

An unmanned Illinois Tollway toll collection plaza takes funds from motorists heading eastbound on I-90 from Route 31 in Elgin. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times)

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Updated: March 8, 2013 7:39AM

In 1953, when the Illinois General Assembly created the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, it was to borrow money to build highways. The tolls were intended to pay off those bonds. Then the roads were to become freeways, maintained by the gasoline tax.

Let’s all keep in mind that the first of the Illinois toll roads were to become freeways in 1973. These roads should have been paid off 40 years ago. So I have to ask: Who’s cheating who?

Bryan Ceglarek,

Jefferson Park

Give us freeways

I disagree with your opinion about the toll cheats. In my view, anyone who can stiff them has my blessing. Do you remember that they were supposed to become freeways? But they won’t kill the golden goose. And for that matter, there are only about four or five states that have as many or more tollways than we do. Many states have zero tollways.

Gregory Brania, Lyons

Is filibuster here for good?

Have we now permanently ensconced the practice of filibustering as a way of life for both political parties in the Senate?

In the past few years the American people have seen how it has inhibited, stupefied, and literally paralyzed its members from conducting their office as they were sworn to do.

Senators on both sides of the aisle hide behind it.

It allows them to conceal their support or opposition to proposed legislation. It assures that their next campaign for re-election will still be, in part, enshrouded in perceived secrecy.

Opposition to its discontinuance or even reform remains strong by both political parties because it has become a haven for incumbents and a refuge for perpetual, political scoundrels.

And Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has just perpetuated the paralysis. Who needs a leader when the Democratic Party has such an iconic follower?

James D. Cook,


It’s all money and politics

In regard to Mark Brown’s column on Feb. 5 on the UNO political machinery, I totally agree with Mr. Brown’s observations and have expressed my concerns about UNO schools since their inception.

It’s all about money and politics. They care nothing about the kids’ education. All they care about is putting money in the politicians’ buddies pocket.

To prove this look at the Edwards school on 48th and Karlov. They have higher test scores than most if not all of the UNO or charter schools plus Edwards is overcrowded with 1,500 kids! Most classes have at least 30 kids per class where as UNO and charter schools have probably a max of 15 kids. They say the money to build these schools is coming from grants from the state and federal government but in reality its really coming from OUR taxpayer money!

I don’t care how they sugar coat it we are spending millions and millions for these schools when they could remodel the existing schools for a fraction. This most likely would not put any money in their pockets! I would love to see continued investigative reporting on the CPS, UNO and Charter schools and where they are spending the money to run these schools and who is benefitting from it: the kids or the contractors and politicians?

Bob Frederick, Gage Park

Second Amendment ranting

Whenever the subject of any form of gun control comes up, we are inundated with rants from Second Amendment supporters about their rights. Yes, the Second Amendment does confer on every American citizen the right to keep and bear arms. However, that right, as is true of every right, is not unconditional.

We have the right to freedom of speech, for instance. But as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said many years ago, the right to free speech does not give one the right to shout fire in a crowded theater. Much the same thing can be said of the Second Amendment.

The original intent of the Second Amendment allowed American citizens to carry a one-shot musket, and then only as a member of an armed militia. The framers of the Constitution did not and could not have anticipated the advances in weapons technology that enable an individual to wreak as much destruction as an entire battalion of musket-bearing professional soldiers of their era.

It is altogether reasonable that the Congress of the United States limit the ability of its citizens to kill, injure and maim their fellow Americans. If it is my constitutionally protected right to blast away at a theater of moviegoers with a 100-hot barrel of ammunition, then shouldn’t I have the right to keep and bear chemical or biological weapons as well?

Ultimately, the question is, where we draw the line.

Joseph P. Dorchack, Bolingbrook

We need neighborhood schools

This letter is to support a simple notion that every kid in Chicago deserves — a neighborhood school option. It seems this choice continues to dwindle, yet charter and private school resources thrive. I’ve been a South Loop resident since 2005. I moved into this neighborhood because I saw the thriving mix of culture, education and close access to the Loop. I was single at the time. Today, I am a married mom of two and active in the neighborhood. I see dozens of other parents, strollers and children running around the larger South Loop area.

Last summer, I learned that the current Jones High School was at risk of being demolished. I joined other parents, community leaders and the alderman to stop this move. The first thing I did? Pour through census data. The numbers show that the larger South Loop/West Loop/Bronzeville/Chinatown areas DO have the population to support a neighborhood high school. We were told by CPS to find data to backup our request to keep the old Jones building as a neighborhood school.

We did what they asked and were never invited to any other meetings or panel discussions conducted by CPS or the mayor. Apparently, this move wasn’t good enough as the mayor and CPS announced that yes, the old Jones building would be saved, however, it would simply join with the new Jones building (which was paid for with our tax dollars) and continue its selective enrollment setup.

I find it ironic that the mayor believes that offering more selective enrollment options will keep parents in the city. Not true. I don’t know many parents who are willing to crisscross the city to send their kids to school, let alone try to have their children meet up with friends who live across town.

No, Mr. Mayor. The truth is, the increase of selective enrollment schools also increases the likelihood that many of us will be leaving the city in the next few years. I refuse to put my children through testing or a lottery to get into a ‘“good public school.” The rigorous studying and testing, in my book, should be reserved for college applications. Here’s another question, what if my children are B average students? Then what? What options do they have for schools if they are out of the selective enrollment pool?

The real estate market is picking up and many of us are holding on to condos and town houses, waiting to sell them and decide where we live long term. The decrease in neighborhood schools will continue to drive a major tax base away to the surrounding suburbs.

Blagica Bottigliero, Near South Side

Time for action on global warming

Perhaps it is a sign that the changing of the guard for President Barack Obama’s Cabinet coincides almost exactly with the 100-day anniversary of Superstorm Sandy’s devastating landfall. Along with the countless personal tragedies in its wake, Hurricane Sandy ushered in a shift in our discourse on global warming — increasingly outspoken and widespread acknowledgment that the time for action is now.

Two of the president’s Cabinet members recently championed the need for U.S. leadership on global warming. Outgoing Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said, “We have a moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change . . . the world’s poor and those yet to be born. We don’t want our children to ask, ‘What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?’ ” incoming Secretary of State John Kerry called global warming “a life-threatening issue.”

President Obama, who had similarly strong words in his inaugural address, should heed the crescendo of advice around him by moving forward with the first-ever limits on carbon pollution for new and existing power plants.

Seth Berkman, Lake View

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