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Lipinski lacks congressional clout

Are Forest Park’s representatives in Washington doing a good job? Are they effectively wielding influence and power on our behalf, or are they coasting on the job? One measure of effectiveness indicates that Dan Lipinski, representing Illinois 3rd Congressional District, is extremely low in the congressional pecking order.

The website www.congress.org gives a power ranking to each member of Congress. The formulas for the rankings were developed by a group of academics and congressional staffers using measures such as amount of time in office, position on committees, casting of crucial deciding votes, and involvement in substantially shaping legislation. While their rankings do not tell the whole story, they do give a strong indication of a member’s influence.

Generally members from the majority party rank higher, as do longer serving members of either party. With these effects in mind, how do Forest Park’s representatives stack up against the other 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives?

Luis Gutierrez (D-4th Dist.) representing a narrow strip of the village, ranks 55th. Danny Davis (D-7th Dist.) representing most of the village north of the Eisenhower comes in at 170th. Lipinski (D-3rd Dist.) representing most of the village south of Harrison ranks a disappointing 324th. Of all 237 House Democrats Lipinski ranks 231st; in the bottom 3 percent of Democrats.

Lipinski’s low ranking is not explained just by his being relatively new to Congress. Among the 41 representatives first elected in 2004 with him, Lipinski ranks 21st, the lowest ranking Democrat of the lot.

Those troubled by Lipinski’s abysmal power ranking, not to mention his support of Bush’s failed Iraq policy, his ultra-conservative stance on social issues, and the blatant nepotism of how he obtained the Democratic slot on the ballot in 2004, should consider supporting Mark Pera, who is challenging Lipinski in the Democratic primary on Feb. 5.

Frank Hansen
Forest Park

Watching the kids

During the Sept. 24 village Council meeting, a couple of commissioners suggested utilizing the public basketball courts at the Community Center. It was brought up as a possible solution to feed the ongoing need for after-school activities for our kids. Soon the dialogue between the mayor and all the commissioners became a finger pointing exercise in “who’s responsible” for the well being of our youngsters? Is it the schools? Park District? Village?

Make no mistake; finding activities for young people is a problem of the ages. My Boomer peers and I complained there was “nothing to do” when we were of that age group. Most of us survived with a mixture of sports, band practice, scouting, the park system and the library.

But times have changed and much of that old mixture is gone. With the loss of the basketball courts and open soccer field at the Park District, and except for the skate park and tennis courts, the “do-it-yourself” sports are pretty much gone. Scouting has become something of a lost cultural artifact (but kudos to Pat Doolin, Brian Sullivan and others for starting a new Cub Scout Pack this year). Even organized music has suffered as the culture of music has changed. Today’s rock, rap and urban music don’t bridge well with the jazz and classical tunes of most academic music programs.

So who exactly is responsible for watching our kids and the trends that influence them? Well actually it’s Mayor Calderone.

Most people don’t realize that Forest Park has a Youth Commission and like the police department, it falls under the jurisdiction of the mayor. At his behest, the Youth Commission is supposed to be doing the watching and trending.

Here is the mission statement and current members of our Youth Commission as taken from the village website:

“The commission, together with advisors, shall carry out a comprehensive program of youth welfare and activities, organize various agencies, and volunteer organizations to participate, and to recommend legislation to facilitate its policies.”

Mary Win Connor, Eric Connor, Lisa Whalen, Tom McNamara, Mary Hofmann, Kila Bell-Bey, Tim Ryan.

As one who reads the paper, I haven’t seen much Youth Commission activity, so I downloaded their latest agenda. Here it is:

Forest Park Youth Commission

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006, 7 p.m.

Howard Mohr Community Center

1) Call to Order, 2) Feb. 20, 2006, Visit to Ronald McDonald Children’s Hospital, 3) New ideas, 4) Adjournment.

Like most taxpayers, I wondered about the money being spent in the name of our kids? I searched the village budgets and over the last eight years, almost $20,000 has been allocated to “Youth Activities” with a whopping $8,000 in the last two years alone. In other words, $8,000 since the last Youth Commission meeting (January 2006).

Where is the money going and why all the finger pointing? Mayor Calderone, you’re in charge, you tell us.

Steven Backman
Forest Park

Teachers deserve raise

As a former PWHS teacher I am appalled that the district would sink to this level (“High school administrators ask unions to take pay cuts,” Oct. 3). Proviso teachers are among the hardest working and lowest paid high school teachers in the suburban area. These teachers deserve a pay hike not a cut. They have families to support just like everyone else.

Why should they suffer because Mr. Fields, especially, went out of his way to spend, spend, spend? The football stadium lights were not needed and the bleacher seats could have been maintained, etc. As for the Proviso Math and Science Academy being Dr. Gilchrist’s folly, the district did not need this school. The other two schools offer AP classes and accommodate honors students more effectively than the academy does. I know for a fact that two young brothers who were home schooled for grade school took a proficiency test in mathematics and placed out of algebra and into geometry, but because they chose to go to the academy they had to repeat algebra. Had they gone to either of the other two schools they would have been accelerated and been able to advance to higher level courses. This deflates the idea of the academy being the “best” in my opinion.

Virginia Donohue
Lombard

Poor impression

An 80-year-old friend of mine took the Blue Line from his home in Chicago to the Desplaines terminus. He planned to take a cab from the station to my home.

The first driver he approached refused to take him-reason unknown. The second driver accepted his request for service. However, after passing up our block and going a block beyond, my friend noticed the mistake. The driver said he could take him around the block or else he could get out there and walk a block.

This is not “Small Town Charm,” this is “Big City” rudeness.

Roger Wilson
Forest Park