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Local Editorials

Editorial views on the news of 2017

Jim Morin, MorinToons Syndicate | Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning
Jim Morin, MorinToons Syndicate | Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning

As 2017 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!

Sex trafficking must be fought, ended. An eye-opening SVM story last weekend raised awareness of sex trafficking across the Sauk Valley. After greater awareness must follow a greater effort to stop this inhumane form of modern slavery. — Jan. 7

What happens when voters pick the wrong man. The saga of Michael Harn, the former Ogle County sheriff convicted last month of felony theft, contains sobering lessons for voters and elected officials alike. – Jan. 14

Tough airport choice awaits. Dixon leaders face a dilemma about whether to keep the city airport open. Professional guidance from the new city manager form of government will help them to choose wisely. – Jan. 21

Voters’ impact felt in school decisions. In Dixon and Sterling, voters have given guidance and financial wherewithal to their school districts, and students will end up with a better environment for academic and athletic pursuits, at a cost the public is willing to pay. – Jan. 28

Lee jail is a problem that must be solved. A sense of urgency has arisen over the Lee County Jail’s chronic noncompliance with state standards. The problem must be solved sometime. The sheriff and county have devised a less costly, more comprehensive solution. Voters face an important decision on April 4. – Feb. 11

Budget rancor threatens more local bystanders. A local domestic violence program is the latest to be shorted by Illinois’ continuing budget crisis, threatening vital services to hundreds. Will Illinois’ political “elephants” ever stop fighting, so the “ants” can be spared further peril? – Feb. 18

Rock Falls is busy creating its own future. The city of Rock Falls is moving forward with a broadband internet plan that will take speed and service to the next level. This is a revolutionary move forward during the city’s 150th anniversary year. – Feb. 25

Exploiting “our most precious resource.” Chronic shortfalls in state funding have forced hefty tuition increases at Sauk Valley Community College. Young people, our most precious resource, are forced to shoulder heavier financial burdens because of Illinois’ budget impasse. – March 4

Severe weather didn’t wait; don’t wait to prepare. Buying a weather radio and signing up for weather text alerts are two ways to become prepared for spring storms. – March 11

Decision good for Morrison, not for drivers. Morrison will continue to have a steady stream of U.S. Route 30 traffic going through town, after IDOT abandoned a project to bypass the city as part of a proposed 24-mile, four-lane highway from Rock Falls to Fulton. We hope all parties concerned can make the best of it. – March 18

Answer the call; vote “yes” for county jail. We’re convinced that the public should support a sales tax to pay for a new Lee County law enforcement center in the April 4 Consolidated Election. – March 25

Democracy on autopilot not a good thing. Local elections need voter participation as much as national elections. Informed citizen guidance helps local governments work correctly and holds elected officials accountable. Be sure to vote Tuesday. – April 1

Better message, better results: A new Lee jail. Tuesday’s successful referendum to finance a new Lee County jail benefited from lessons learned from 2016’s failed effort. Let’s hope the design and construction of the new facility also benefits from lessons learned from the outdated jail it will replace. – April 8

Oberweis’ bill imperils public’s right to know. Legislation to allow the dissemination of public notices on only the internet in Illinois is a radical departure from the proven public notice system that all other states use. As a result, the public’s right to know would suffer. The bill should be defeated. – April 22

Twin reasons why every vote matters. Recent examples at the ballot box and in city hall in the Twin Cities of Sterling and Rock Falls demonstrate the importance of one vote. – April 29

Discontinuing pamphlets the right way to go. If the state wants to save money, it should stop mailing millions of pamphlets to voters whenever there’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot. A bill to make that happen is under consideration in the Legislature. We say, approve it. – May 6

Voters want more than pols will give. Automatic voter registration is nice, but it fails to address other problems with Illinois’ election system that relentlessly fuel voter apathy. – May 13

Easy leaf disposal and clean air, too. Maybe a municipal leaf vacuum would be the solution to Rock Falls’ controversy over a proposed ban on leaf burning. It could be a twin win for residents – easy leaf disposal and clean air, too. – May 20

Remember the doughboys this Memorial Day. World War I, which America entered 100 years ago this spring, led to the deaths of dozens of Sauk Valley area servicemen. Please keep them in mind this Memorial Day weekend. – May 27

Assault on reporter assaults right to know. As they interview newsmakers, reporters represent the public. When a newsmaker assaults a reporter, he is really assaulting the public’s right to know. Such behavior is intolerable and must not be repeated. – June 3

Good Samaritan deserves praise and thanks. We join the community in praising a Good Samaritan whose actions stopped an out-of-control vehicle on a busy Dixon street. – June 10

Make Dixon Theatre the best it can be. A concerted effort to boost coming attractions at the Historic Dixon Theatre should help the 1920s-era facility to fulfill its role as a cultural anchor for the region. – June 17

Try something different at Lawrence site. We call on the city of Sterling to embrace the plan proposed by the Greater Sterling Development Corp. to jump-start riverfront redevelopment at the decrepit Lawrence Brothers building. – June 24

Generational divide emerges over tattoos. Two audiences – residents of today and the next generation – will be impacted by a decision on whether to allow a tattoo studio in downtown Sterling. We await the city’s decision and the message it will send. – July 1

Sharing the pain of a budget solution. Taxes are going up for individuals and businesses as the historic Illinois budget impasse ends. We call on state leaders to never again hold Illinois hostage to destructive political brinksmanship. – July 8

Mentoring works – let’s have more of it. Congratulations to mentorship programs in the region that help young people on their odysseys through life. – July 15

Looking back at the birth of Rock Falls. Water power and an entrepreneurial spirit helped to launch Rock Falls 150 years ago. The enterprise was a success, despite early misgivings by a certain newspaper. At any rate, we congratulate Rock Falls on its sesquicentennial, and we encourage the public to take part in all the fun. – July 22

School land deal: Practice what they teach. Dixon School District officials and board members could have done a better job explaining and justifying their surprising decision to buy $1 million worth of land. – July 29

They kicked the can down the road – again. Funded by jarring income tax increases, the Illinois budget put in place by the Legislature last month contains no real reforms and fails to address many underlying problems that won’t go away by themselves. Illinois must do better. – Aug. 5

Trying again to hire, keep a good manager. The Dixon City Council must move forward with its mandate to effectively implement the city manager form of government as demanded by voters who were shocked by the Rita Crundwell scandal. After Cole O’Donnell’s firing, city leaders must do a better job finding the right professional to make it work. – Aug. 12

Really, President Trump? Really? President Donald Trump’s instincts aren’t serving him well in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville. He needs to step back, listen to people wiser than himself, adopt an attitude of conciliation and compassion, and adjust his moral compass accordingly. – Aug. 19

Next generation depends on today’s teachers. As the new school year dawns, a good resolution is for parents – and the community at large – to support local teachers as they shoulder the responsibility of educating today’s students. The Sauk Valley’s next generation depends on it. – Aug. 26

Coincidence or trend? Dixon city leaders need to find some “good fits” soon for city manager and public works director so that the restoration of public confidence in post-Crundwell Dixon city government can move forward. – Sept. 2

“Always remembering 9/11 in our hearts.” A poignant statement on a gas station marquee reminds Sauk Valley residents of the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Preventing future catastrophes must always be on our leaders’ minds. – Sept. 9

Blagojevich hasn’t learned his lesson yet. Illinois’ felonious ex-governor needs to work harder to show that he’s learned his lesson, if he ever expects to be released before 2024. Rod Blagojevich’s lack of contrition, evident in a magazine interview, will work against his chances. – Sept. 16

Coping with the worst that can happen. We support first responders as they deal with their feelings in the aftermath of Monday’s murder-suicide in Dixon. We commend Dixon law enforcement leaders for their proactive methods of caring for their officers. – Sept. 23

A fate worse than death? A plea agreement next week in a Missouri murder case could spare the life of Nicholas Sheley, who has never before admitted any guilt in his June 2008 killing spree. But it might also expose Sheley, in his mind, to a fate worse than death. – Sept. 30

New manager: An insider, or an outsider? In weighing the attributes of two city manager finalists, Dixon City Council members will ultimately have to decide whether they prefer an insider or an outsider to take the reins of government. Their choice will have widespread ramifications. – Oct. 7

Primary races attract a crowd. Candidates are coming out of the woodwork to run in the March primary. Voters will need to be alert and watchful as they evaluate prospective nominees. – Oct. 14

Rest area upgrades? Put travelers’ safety first. We encourage the traveling Sauk Valley public to put on their thinking caps, go to idot.illinois.gov, take IDOT’s survey on roadside rest area upgrades, and help the state make its rest areas better. We believe in putting safety first. – Oct. 21

New city manager’s contract raises questions. While Dixon City Council members voted unanimously to hire the city’s police chief as city manager, the vote was split regarding the liberal terms of his contract. Appearances of favoritism and cronyism should give city residents pause. – Oct. 28

A well-deserved honor for Wahl Clipper. A high honor paid by one of America’s largest retailers is a feather in a Sterling manufacturer’s cap. We offer our congratulations to Wahl Clipper and our best wishes for its continued success. – Nov. 4

“Pamela’s law” needs to be enacted soon. Legislation that would give Department of Children and Family Services workers the same protections granted to police officers and firefighters should be considered and enacted swiftly, in the wake of the brutal attack on a local DCFS worker. – Nov. 11

Professional process yields new top cop. Forming a nine-person advisory hiring committee to help select a new Dixon police chief was a smart idea. Such a professional selection process allows the cream of the crop to rise to the top, and that’s all anyone can ask. – Nov. 18

Thanksgiving observed with heavy hearts. We offer our condolences to relatives and friends of the Timothy and Melissa Shaw family, whose six members died in a Lost Nation fire on Tuesday. – Nov. 25

Bogus state fee exposes sneaky lawmakers. Illinois lawmakers weren’t satisfied when they passed an income tax increase over the governor’s veto. They also snuck in a new fee for collecting local sales taxes. It doesn’t get any sneakier than that. – Dec. 2

This primary, voters will have an actual voice. On county, regional and statewide levels, Sauk Valley residents will have some real choices when the primary election takes place in March. It’s not too early for voters to resolve to play an important role in the outcome. – Dec. 9

Tax break, however small, is welcome. Getting a small break on taxes, while their city keeps plugging away at underfunded pension obligations, is a win-win for Sterling taxpayers. – Dec. 16

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