Voice of the People, Nov. 04

Where to focus

A lot of people are telling you what to do. This will tell you what not to do, which is just as important.

Your quest is admirable, but let's take off the rose-colored glasses. Government in Illinois is lost. Until we put an end to gerrymandering or institute term limits you can be assured that you'll get only lip service from politicians.

Politicians in Illinois, Cook County and Chicago are serious only about their power and perks. Don't waste your time and effort on public-sector happy talk and "investments." Focus on personal, family and community projects and corporate-sponsored initiatives.

End your illusions about solutions from Springfield or City Hall. Get to work where you might be able to do some good with people who don't put their self-interest first.

Michael Tulig, Northbrook

School choice

The closing of 47 elementary school programs for nearly 12,000 students shows just how badly Chicago Public Schools are faring despite receiving record amounts of state and federal money. Pouring more money into failing schools has been the strategy for public education in Illinois for years, and the results are unacceptable.

Perpetually giving more and more money to schools that are not educating their students adequately and preparing them for the future has been the policy for years; CPS students deserve better.

Illinois needs to give families the freedom and resources to choose what schools will best serve their children's needs.

Why shouldn't education money follow the student for every student in Illinois? Every student in our state deserves the freedom and power to choose where he or she can get the best education.

School-choice programs like vouchers give students the freedom and the opportunity to get the best education possible. Indiana and Wisconsin are improving test scores and student achievement through school-choice programs. Illinois cannot afford to wait any longer for school choice.

— Joshua Dwyer, director, Education Reform, Illinois Policy Institute, Chicago

Corporate aid

Visiting from California, I was heartened to see your campaign. I call my idea, not only for Chicago but for the nation, Corporate Patriotism.

American corporations are flush with cash, outlandish executive compensation packages and huge profit margins. Their shameful tactics to squeeze workers and stockholders are well-known.

Paying workers more and increasing dividends is only the beginning. These companies are uniquely positioned to build factories, train workers, fight crime, provide health care and distribute healthful food. Instead of taxing corporations and then redistributing to the needy, let's inspire corporations to forgo some of their profits and provide jobs and benefits.

To encourage more onshore manufacturing, redirect some public funding for education into private trade schools that actually train students for employment. Encourage innovation in producing a 50-cent T-shirt, a $5 pair of shoes and a $20 tire. Develop partnerships between housing agencies, developers and manufacturing corporations to provide affordable and nearby worker housing. Encourage the fast-food industry to use its vast distribution and marketing capabilities to bring healthful foods to the food deserts. Divert employee heath-care contributions to on-site health clinics and wellness centers. Divert the lobbying efforts of defense companies toward federal funding to help local law enforcement deal with drug gangs.

Government cannot solve these problems without the active support of the corporations that have the money and the lobbying clout.

Ken Dalena, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Combating addiction

I believe addiction is at the core of much of the violence and poverty in this city. And I propose to fight it head-on by opening a free clinic that combines good therapy and the use of a medication, Vivitrol, that cancels the high of opiates. This is a successful treatment. Heroin addiction is an epidemic, and it's bringing our city to its knees.

I hope to save our beautiful children and fight back in a nonjudgmental, disease-oriented approach.

Kathy Bettinardi-Angres, Chicago

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