Sound-off 9/16

September 15, 2013 

Greedy again

I can't believe that the East St. Louis firefighters have the nerve to ask for another big raise when the city's funds are so limited. With 54 firefighters, they have more than enough for 27,000 residents. This sweetheart contract was initiated in 2006 before the present leadership was there. These firefighters work one day and are off two, which let's them have their regular jobs. With their demands, taxes may have to increase, which would not affect the firefighters since they do not live in East St. Louis.

Why no followup?

Just weeks ago at a press conference regarding the drug scandal involving St. Clair County judges and others, U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton said that the charges were just the tip of the iceberg and that more arrests were eminent. What's happened? From what I know of Wigginton, he isn't one to back away from an investigation -- unless he has been instructed to do so by his superiors. One has to wonder if the downstate Demo- crats are so fearful of damage from an ongoing investigation that they've call upon some "big dogs" to make this go away. Maybe Wigginton can explain.

Gloves, anyone?

In the article Sept. 8 it says something about never fear, the school lunches are safe. I found it interesting that in all the pictures, not one person had a pair of gloves on and not one person had a hair net. I thought this was supposed to be mandatory while working around food. You might want to talk to the public health officials about what's going on.

Good sports all

I was a spectator at the Althoff-Belleville West football game and I want to commend the West players for a great game and their conduct on the field, but I'd also like to commend the Althoff Crusaders for their spectators' behavior during the game. I felt the Althoff kids and their families and the administration did a great job patrolling the fans. Those children know how to behave and you can tell it's due to the sportsmanship conduct.

Not-so-quick action

Why is it that Belleville had the building that burned downtown demolished immediately, but two and a half months after Liv-Rite burned down, nothing has been done?

Can't we encapsulate?

I have a question for Belleville regarding its famous hole in downtown. It seems to be the major sticking problem of getting that hole filled is the removal of asbestos. I would like somebody to explain what are the dangers of that asbestos being airborne? How about all the people attending the chili fest downtown. Has some of this asbestos circulated and contaminated everybody's lungs? If a park is going to be put there, why do they have to remove the asbestos? Why not encapsulate it?

Veterans slighted

On Sept. 7, the Caseyville VFW Post 1117 celebrated its 75th anniversary with a short program and dinner for its members and invited guests. Caseyville Mayor Len Black, the clerk and four trustees chose not to attend and did not even respond to the RSVP. Thanks to the two trustees who did attend, but how sad and what a slap in the face to our veterans from our village officials.

Waste in plain view

Illinois Sen. Kyle McCarter says he wants to cut waste, fraud and abuse so he can keep facilities like Murray Center in Centralia open. He should begin by looking at waste, fraud and abuse at Murray Center. Why does it take 120 acres to care for 275 residents at a cost of $149,000 a year per resident? It costs $41 million a year to operate this facility. How about goats and sheep to mow the lawn there?

Military not welcome

I am retired military and I've lived in Belleville for 13 years now, and I've yet to feel like the people who live in Belleville are welcoming of the military. Proof of that is the proposed crime prevention initiative, collecting $25 from all renters. There are military here who are on duty who are renting and if the city were really concerned about the military, it wouldn't be doing this.

Where was attorney?

I was reading the BND editorial about the $500,000 deal Centreville got into and got nothing in return. Where was the city attorney when this deal for formulated? What did he have to say about it?

Name the contractor

It appears the old Alcoa site in East St. Louis is about to get covered by two feet of dirt in a project sponsored by the EPA. I wonder who owns the land where the dirt will be hauled from?

Pay raise disparities

I saw in your paper recently that the Harmony-Emge District 175 School Board unanimously approved a new two-year contract for teachers and that they get a pay freeze the first year. Wow. I wonder why Superintendent Pam Leonard got a 30 percent pay increase?

Past time to get tough

Regarding the article Friday about Belleville and the U.S. attorney going to get tough on crime: What took so long? Any criminal who uses a gun in the act should be jailed at least 25 years.

Aldermen block way

Fairview Heights Aldermen Scott Greenwald and Linda Arnold have consistently tried to eliminate the building of Miracle League ball field in Moody Park for special needs children. How can they live with themselves?

Unfair to firefighters

The Belleville Fire Department does a yearly inspection of businesses in the city. This is a very important function, preventing fires. But let me continue, the business inspected then receives a bill in the mail. Depending on the square footage this could range from $50 to $100 each inspection, per year. Where does these funds go? I don't know but I assume it goes to the Fire Department and public safety. My problem with this is that the city is using the most respected profession, our firefighters, to collect a tax. Our firefighters risk their lives to save ours. This is no different than using little girls to sell overpriced cookies. Our city is such a money-grabbing entity, it makes me sick.

Dispatchers needed

Bring back the Caseyville Police dispatchers. It is impossible to reach the Caseyville Police Department for simple questions or needs. If you call the department, you get a recording advising you to call a Belleville number. If you call that number you get another recording. If you finally get through, the operator has no idea what you are talking about because he or she is not in the city. The phone number 911 was designed as a "speed dial" to your local police dispatcher, not as a central dispatch system that dispatches to over a dozen departments. If Mayor Len Black does anything during his term, it should be bringing back the dispatchers.

Feeling the pressure?

The BND editorial "Murder case compromised" had one key point: A guilty plea in the death of Yoko Cullen was being accepted by prosecutors because of an accused judge's connections. If the elected prosecutor is so vulnerable to local insider pressure, God help people who seek justice around here. Please name the politician masquerading as a prosecutor and his bosses who cut this deal.

Leak looks fishy

We've hit the big time with our own St. Clair County WikiLeaks-like scandal. How exciting! Someone set up an anonymous website and is posting County Board documents on it. It was so compelling that it conjured up the ghost of Chairman Mark Kern. His apparition actually made a statement. That should tingle your spider senses. My guess is the Democratic machine is responsible for this "leak site," with a frame-up of a board Republican or two soon to follow. Remember those annoying noisemakers who wanted to run the money-pit? The laugh's on you, guys.

Put on some pants

Collinsville has a no sagging pants ordinance, but what about no pants? My neighbor comes outside in his boxer shorts without a shirt on to get his newspaper in the morning right when the school bus full of kids is going by. Still wearing his boxers only, he then sits on his front porch to read his paper. Please, neighbor, put some clothes on.

Don't insult sailors

A letter writer stated that a group of Illinois legislators love to spend money like a ship of drunken sailors. There are more than 3,000 sailors on each of the three cruisers on which I served, and I never knew any sailor who behaved like an Illinois legislator. When we ran out of money, we stopped drinking and returned to our ships. Please stop denigrating drunken sailors.

Sports gets lost

Not sure that just slapping a good portion of your Saturday sports news onto the back page of your Local news section is very effective communication. Worse than the challenge of "looking for a needle in a haystack" this is more like, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" You can do better.

Find the connection

Excellent BND investigative reporting of wasteful spending of taxpayer money yet again in St. Clair County. Unemployed worker training this time, and the story had the usual "not available for comment" from public officials, plus some surprises if you read between the lines. Why would Democrats spend money at a privately held corporate interest like Vatterott College? They want profit and that makes them evil. Southwestern Illinois College, on the other hand, is run with government cash by our local first lady Georgia Costello. Why not spend the money with her? And if people are looking for a career path, the local first lady earns, or rather is paid, north of $150,000 per year. I urge the BND reporters to dig a little deeper and find the Vatterott connection.

Protection racket

The Labor Day BND lobbyist story reads like a "Sopranos" episode. The is the classic protection racket in action. Humble elected servants of the public sit on mountains of taxpayer cash in Springfield. Places like Southwestern Illinois College and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville come with their hand out seeking their chunk. To protect the sweet flow of cash, they are told to pay dues to local law firms and former humble public servants. These people are like Tony's capos making weekly collections. Unfortunately, the dues are also paid with taxpayer money. The classic line in the article comes from SIU President Glenn Poshard: "We have to keep the legislature alerted to the bills that are passing through." Huh? The legislature doesn't know what it is voting on?

Overpaid for the job

So why is Belleville paying a $70,000 sergeant to drive around in an unlicensed vehicle and issue parking tickets? It is my understanding that golf carts are not authorized by Illinois to be driven on streets and highways, but you'll see Sgt. Craig Stafford driving throughout the area placing parking tickets on cars.

New use for school

If there is a difference in opinion about building a 30-bed unit for mental health patients at Touchette Hospital, why not purchase Centreville grade school? The school is 1.5 miles from the hospital. This is the beginning of the second school year the building has been closed. The school district has been maintaining the building. It would be a good value, with room to grow.

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