Fair
72°FFairFull Forecast

Editorial views on the news of 2013

What We Thought

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 4:52 p.m. CDT
Caption
Sheriff Michael Harn
Caption
Bill Wescott
Caption
Aaron Sitze
Caption
(AP)
George Ryan
Caption
Shawn Ortgiesen
Caption
Rita Crundwell
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Dixon Mayor Jim Burke
Caption
Jim Sacia
Caption
Nathan Woessner
Caption
Ray Niesewander
Caption
Wil Booker

As 2013 draws to a close, we offer a sampling of the Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board’s editorials that appeared on this page during the past year. Happy new year, one and all!

Graduation conflict ends; thanks – Public high schools in Rock Falls and Sterling have agreed to no longer conduct their graduation ceremonies at the same time. We thank school officials for making this common-sense change. – Jan. 2

Zemke's advice is worth taking: “Vote every time” – Former Sterling Alderwoman Mae Zemke, who died this week, was passionate about local government and voting. Her legacy would be honored if more people took her advice and voted regularly. – Jan. 11

Salute to a caring educator – A former leader at Sterling Public Schools, who died over the weekend, will be remembered for his lifelong passion for education. We salute former Superintendent Wil Booker. – Jan. 22

Effective use of grant money helps residents – Sterling city leaders deserve credit for winning a federal housing grant and using it effectively. Many neighborhoods, and lives, have been improved. Well done. – Jan. 25

Pilot project proves cameras’ value; make them permanent – Thursday marked the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s pilot project to allow news cameras and video recordings in Illinois trial courtrooms. The experiment has proved cameras’ value. Their presence in courtrooms should be made permanent. – Jan. 26

Turning pain into a purpose – A police chief and two legislators from the Sauk Valley helped win approval of Erin's Law. Children will be better protected against sexual abusers because of it. Congratulations to them and to the law's namesake, Erin Merryn. – Jan. 29

Horse-and-buggy government needs greater public scrutiny – Townships have been around since Illinois’ horse-and-buggy days, when transportation was difficult and hyper-local government was a necessity. Transportation has long since improved. It’s time to scrutinize townships to consider whether counties could take over their duties. – Feb. 2

Sentence fits the crime; bravo! – A major milestone in the prosecution of Dixon's former comptroller has been reached. Rita Crundwell’s nearly 20-year prison sentence fits the crime. However, other prosecution, restitution, and prevention milestones lie ahead. – Feb. 15

Government pays its debts – that's news! – Three cheers to the Ogle County Board for paying off its Judicial Center debt 10 years ahead of time, thus saving taxpayers $2.7 million in interest. – March 7

Release contract details before approval, not after – Negotiators for Dixon teachers and school officials eventually will reach a tentative contract agreement. At that point, the tentative contract should be released to the taxpaying public. It's the public's obligation, after all, to pay for it. – March 12

100 new jobs? Bring 'em on – We welcome SGS Refrigeration, and its 100 or more new jobs, to the Sauk Valley. May this cooling equipment manufacturer grow and prosper. – March 15

Project’s goal: Improve the city through better neighborhoods – A yearlong project to encourage better neighborhoods in Sterling has great potential to improve the community. We encourage churches and the general public to become involved. – March 16

Pry open those contracts – We oppose the hide-and-seek approach of public bodies toward newly negotiated employee contracts. We support a bill to guarantee contract transparency. – March 21

Voters should opt for savings – Municipal electrical aggregation appears on the ballot in Dixon and other communities. We see no downside. Other area communities already reap the benefits. Vote yes. – April 6

Time to hire interim city manager – After using a city credit card for thousands of dollars in personal purchases, Dixon's director of public works, personnel and engineering, Shawn Ortgiesen, should resign. An interim Dixon city manager should be hired. Then, the city should focus strongly on what form of government to adopt after its latest scandal. – April 10

Help a river help our region – The designation of the Rock River Trail as part of the National Water Trail System is no small achievement. We encourage local leaders and entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the benefits. – April 13

Credit-card scandal exposes city's flaws – Dixon's flawed commission form of government has allowed a second city employee to use tax dollars for personal purchases. The lack of accountability is shocking. A new form of government must be recommended soon. – April 17

Admiration for official; frustration with system – A local drainage district that has only one functioning board member is an extreme example of what can happen when government units established many years ago are not reassessed, updated, or consolidated. The question must be asked, Is there a better way? – May 7

Better feedback, better city – One goal of the new Rock Falls mayor is to seek more feedback from the public. With that greater sense of public opinion, Mayor Bill Wescott hopes to be more responsive. We applaud Wescott's goal, and we hope he is successful in achieving it. – May 11

Integrity, honesty lacking in music program scandal – The IHSA has punished the Oregon High School music program for violating music contest rules. The episode is a learning opportunity for students and adults alike. – May 14

A contract worth inspecting – Dixon residents have been given the opportunity to review a public employee union contract well before the city council takes final action. We applaud such transparency. We encourage the public to inspect and comment upon the document. – June 22

A donation to remember – The estate of a late Morrison businesswoman donated more than $100,000 to the Whiteside County government. Such generosity doesn't happen every day. The county should publicly and permanently honor Margaret Haines. – June 27

The rehabilitation of George Ryan – Free at last to come and go as he pleases, former Gov. George Ryan faces the legacy of a corrupt politician who served time in prison. In his remaining years, Ryan ought to take up the cause of political and governmental reform. He certainly would speak from experience. Perhaps fellow Illinoisans would listen to him. And he could partially repair his tarnished reputation. – July 10

Hearts go out to Prophetstown over ruinous fire – As Prophetstown residents adjust to life after eight downtown buildings were destroyed by fire, the hearts of many area residents go out to them. Area firefighters deserve praise for their effective response. – July 18

Sandy survival of 6-year-old was miraculous – After the earth swallowed 6-year-old Nathan Woessner, an amazing sequence of events saved his life. Could it be just luck? – July 19

No mistake about it; system broke – Does anyone in Dixon – except for a couple of council members – think that the municipal government overhaul should be anything short of a major shakeup? – July 20

Community gets fine addition, and a lesson – Heritage Crossing was envisioned with a clear "understanding" that Dixon taxpayers would not be on the hook for construction costs that grant funding couldn't cover. It didn't turn out that way. – Aug. 3

Voters will judge whether officials budgeted wisely – Rock Falls city officials defended their travel and convention costs, which are higher than in larger municipalities in the Sauk Valley. Is such spending appropriate, or excessive? That's why we have elections. – Aug. 7

“Whiteside 16” taught a lesson; compliance left up to the voters – Sixteen Whiteside County Board members broke the Illinois Open Meetings Act last year, as determined by a Public Access Bureau attorney. Whiteside voters must ensure that County Board members learned their lesson. – Aug. 15

State's attorney conflict defeats public interest – When public interest consistently loses to political expediency, it's time to reform the system. Re-writing the job description of state's attorney could help. – Aug. 17

Wind farm lawsuit can stall project – Opponents of Green River Wind Farm have, predictably, exercised their right to seek judicial review of the Lee County Board's approval of the project. Even if their arguments are not strong, the plaintiffs could have time on their side. – Aug. 27

Simple change could clarify meetings law – Should members-elect – those who were voted into office but have yet to be sworn in – count in determining whether the public should be allowed into a meeting? We think the Open Meetings Act needs to make clear that they should be counted. – Aug. 30

Twin City Joint Fire Command an excellent idea – Rock Falls and Sterling city councils are on the verge of combining the administrative functions of their fire departments. We praise city officials for their efforts to work together, save money, and improve efficiency. – Sept. 6

Another year, another finalist for top teacher – The Oregon School District has put together an amazing string of nominees for Illinois Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to the latest statewide finalist, Aaron Sitze. – Sept. 11

Leaving job early breaks trust with voters – The 89th District state representative will resign after serving 9 months of a 2-year term to pursue a new political opportunity. Jim Sacia's decision deprives constituents of his experience and breaks faith with them. – Sept. 14

Needs vs. wants: The $40 million dilemma – The city of Dixon has serious financial needs, which the nearly $40 million recovered in the Crundwell scandal can help alleviate. But some of the people’s wants should receive careful consideration. – Oct. 12

Display policy a wise move – Lee County is considering a policy that sets forth guidelines to govern displays on the courthouse grounds. Allowing a longstanding Nativity scene to continue, as well as opening the door to other displays in an unbiased manner, is a wise approach. – Oct. 17

Salute to a "full, vibrant life" – In the passing of Raymond H. Neisewander Jr., the Sauk Valley lost an influential and active business and community leader. We offer our condolences to his family, friends, and Raynor colleagues. – Nov. 1

Crundwell questions remain; let's have answers – Dixon residents need to learn everything possible from the sad, difficult, and expensive lesson that is the Rita Crundwell scandal. Mayor Jim Burke’s decision to cease answering questions about Crundwell does not serve the public interest. – Nov. 2

Retired, but not retired – When public school superintendents can retire, draw inflated pensions, and then rejoin the public school work force, something's not right. The entire system needs an overhaul to promote fairness, responsibility, and sustainability. – Nov. 12

Twisters' impact spreads beyond disaster zones – Sons and daughters of the Sauk Valley were in harm's way when tornadoes struck Illinois on Sunday. Let area residents continue to show heart-warming generosity toward the victims. – Nov. 21

Distressed Coloma Township needs intervention – Who will intervene in Coloma Township, a distressed government that has lost its way? Elected township officials must shoulder the responsibility, or resign and be replaced. An awakened public must hold them accountable. – Nov. 23

Delays make justice elusive – By the time Nicholas Sheley is tried for the killings of four people in Rock Falls, nearly 6 years will have passed. That is not our idea of justice. – Dec. 12

"Fiscal responsibility" and the Ogle sheriff – Michael Harn promised “fiscal responsibility” while campaigning for Ogle County Sheriff in 2010. Some of his spending decisions since taking office seem out of step with that pledge. The Ogle County Board must exert more stringent oversight. – Dec. 21

Previous Page|1|2|3|4|Next Page

More News

 

National video

Reader Poll

This question is on the Nov. 4 ballot in Paw Paw: "Should the village of Paw Paw adopt an ordinance permitting and regulating the keeping of chickens within the village?" How would you vote?
Yes
No