THUMBS UP! To all of the graduates, high school and college, celebrating this spring. This past weekend saw graduations at Millikin University, Eastern Illinois University and Richland Community College, plus other colleges and numerous high schools. This weekend, students from Decatur’s MacArthur and Eisenhower high schools will graduate. Students have earned a celebration; just do it in a responsible manner.
THUMBS UP! To the annual Memorial Day tribute held at Greenwood Cemetery to honor those who have fought and continue to fight for this country. About 350 students from nearby French Academy, aided by faculty and volunteers, placed small flags in the area where 571 Civil War veterans are buried and also laid a wreath at the Grand Army of the Republic statue to commemorate veterans past and present for their service.
THUMBS DOWN! To Gov. Pat Quinn and congressional candidate David Gill for an appointment that looks more political than anything else. Gill was appointed by Quinn to a job in the state’s Department of Public Health, earning a little more than $127,000 a year. Gill, who was narrowly defeated in a run for Congress in November, had said he might run again. The same day Gill’s new position was announced, Democrat Ann Callis announced she was quitting her job as a judge and would challenge Republican Rodney Davis in the next election. Was Gill given a job so he wouldn’t run for Congress again? Quinn says the appointment was based on merit, not politics. But, in Illinois, things are usually exactly what they appear to be.
THUMBS UP! To the 75th annual NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet, which honored students for academic and athletic achievements and for being good citizens. The event also featured a keynote speech from Judge Lisa Holder White, who praised the group’s work but said more needs to be done. She said work needs to be concentrated on youth to “lead the lambs home. We have some lost sheep, and we have to go get them.”
THUMBS DOWN! To the Illinois General Assembly, which once again, is waiting until the last minute to consider some serious legislation. The legislative session is scheduled to end a week from today, but the issues of pension reform, concealed-carry rules for guns, same-sex marriage, hydraulic fracking, gambling expansion, the state’s budget and others are still unresolved. Some are moving through the legislative process, while others appear to be stalled. The General Assembly has been “in session” since January, although this group takes more breaks than any body outside of Congress. Last minute votes on issues are not fair to taxpayers, who are often left in the dark about the effects of legislation until after it’s approved.