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Non-athlete students need coverage, too

Peter B. Bensinger former Administrator DEA answers mediduring Chicago Crime Commissipress conference announcing Cartel leader JoaquGuzman Loeras new Public Enemy

Peter B. Bensinger, former Administrator of the DEA, answers to the media during the Chicago Crime Commission press conference announcing Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera as the new Public Enemy No. 1 at the Union League Club, Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, February 14, 2013. | Ting Shen~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 15, 2013 6:14AM

I enjoyed your article “Big talkers” in Friday’s Sun-Times. It’s nice to see decent press given to non-athletic competition in collegiate events. It seems as though there is a lack of emphasis on the academics in our world today. Everything is sports, sports and more sports.

John Rusnak, Calumet Park

Bad medical marijuana bill

Monday’s Sun-Times editorial on marijuana has unfortunately presented mostly fiction and not facts. The bill pending in the Illinois Senate is not the most restricted medical marijuana legislation; it is the only law proposed that allows a medical marijuana cardholder to drive immediately after smoking marijuana while removing the tests that would be able to detect marijuana use — blood and alcohol tests, which is current law.

The Illinois Chiefs of Police and Illinois Sheriff’s Association have been so alarmed by these provisions that they have written the governor, secretary of state and other public safety officials because the proposed legislation imposes a standard of impairment test that may be accurate for alcohol but does not work for marijuana, according to safety specialists at the National Highway Transportation Safety Board.

In addition, the amount of marijuana allowed per cardholder every two weeks, 2.5 ounces, provides 183 joints every 14 days — almost 12 tons will hit the streets in Illinois every two weeks. The Sun-Times mentions certain conditions for which marijuana would be available — cancer, Crohn’s Disease and MS; however, all three of the national associations — American Cancer, MS and Crohn’s Disease — oppose using smoked marijuana as medicine. So does the FDA, which has found marijuana has a high potential for abuse, does not meet standards for medical treatment and is unsafe even under medical supervision. They are the experts; we should listen to them, not anecdotal stories from individuals at the risk of serious damage to public health and public safety and endangering our children and our highways.

Peter Bensinger, former administrator,

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,

former director,

Illinois Department of Corrections

former chairman, Illinois Youth Commission

Pets are therapeutic

A conscientious and compassionate May 12 editorial regarding pet dogs and cats providing health benefits for their human guardians was indisputably compelling. Canines and felines are invaluable companion animals that have been proven to be physically, emotionally and spiritually therapeutic for millions of pet owners. They give us unconditional loyalty, camaraderie and empathy. Dogs and cats are virtual godsends, and that’s why criminals who abuse them must be imprisoned.

Brien Comerford, Glenview

Improve office of inspector general

Many changes are needed to improve the Chicago Office of the inspector general. Some believe more money and authority in the IG’s hand will fix our problems. The IG under David Hoffman had the trust of most city employees, making his leadership successful.

I suggest the following immediate changes. First, place a retired judge to review all incoming complaints. Let an independent juror determine if an investigation is warranted, completely free of the mayor’s office.

Make sure the IG takes the time to immediately take statements from those making complaints while the evidence is fresh and useful.

Make sure the IG has access to all department’s databases without their knowledge. Most investigations by the IG are known by everyone.

Make sure all employees receive the exact same treatment and discipline for same offences. Fire employees tipping off investigations and stop the whistleblower retaliation. Reimburse city employees legal fees when wrongfully prosecuted.

Investigate hearing board decisions and city attorneys who fail to properly defend IG investigations, many times putting bad employees back to work. Stop allowing city workers to retire rather than face prosecution for their criminal activities. Stop commissioners who routinely overlook IG recommended discipline for connected employees.

If the IG will not follow up on a complaint, they should admit it and allow the complainant to explore other options before the statute of limitations expires. Most employees feel the IG has failed to stop the rigged promotions despite the Shakman Decree. IG monitors have no clue who the players are, and lack resources to investigate. The IG should also keep staff on call round the clock including weekends. Corruption is a full-time business in Chicago and so should the inspector general.

Patrick D. McDonough, Uptown

Crack down on truancy

Truancy is an issue throughout the United States because it has been found to be directly connected to academic achievement, lower levels of self-esteem, career ambitions, and behavior, as well as a significant link between truancy and crime. Education is both a right and a responsibility. As a community, it is important that we address the issues of truancy and inform our youth of the opportunities that may arise from remaining in school. Truancy and chronic absence, specifically in the early grades, is a strong predictor that children and youth may be at risk of a whole host of negative outcomes. High truancy rates impact the individual youth, their family, and their community. It is important that all of us emphasize the benefits of staying in school. Raising awareness and bringing attention to the issue is the first step in developing a future for the next generation to succeed.

Dawn Kelly, Dubuque, Iowa

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