Category Archives: Editorials

Editorial articles written by the administrators of My Social Jacksonville.

Our View: Jennings the Right Choice for South Jacksonville

These are crucial times for our country, as a whole, and our community, on the local level. Now more than ever, citizens need to be able to look to their elected leaders, not as figureheads placed upon a pedestal of worship, but as neighbors who have stepped forward to faithfully serve the best interests of the community. Specific to South Jacksonville, residents need to move beyond the scandal of the final months of the Jumper administration and the continued distrust and uneasy feelings of the interim Waltrip administration.

South Jacksonville residents need to believe that their Village President is someone that they may approach with a problem, large or small as they may be, and walk away from the conversation knowing that their concerns have been taken to heart and will be addressed appropriately and promptly.

Members of South Jacksonville’s Board of Trustees need to have someone sitting in the Village President’s office and at the center of the group during meetings that they trust to always be forthcoming with information and work with them to lead the village, rather than working to serve the interests of themselves or close friends.

The community needs to know that their Village President fully understands all applicable laws, either on their own or with the ability to admit when they do not have an answer and the humility to be able to ask for help, rather than drive ahead blindly without the proper information.

South Jacksonville needs leaders, not heroes, in Village Hall. While it may be “heroic” to stand against blatant corruption and wrongdoing, it is not so to continue to have such a complex that one is always looking for ways to bring attention to themselves. An appropriate balance of commitment to service and respect for others must be found by a community’s top executive.

While we commend current Village Clerk Dani Glascock for her service since taking office, we do not feel that she possesses the right balance of qualities that the Village of South Jacksonville needs in a Village President. Certain actions over the past twelve months lead us to believe that she lusts for power for reasons of personal pride and perceived status, rather than wanting to lead the community out of the mess of the last two-plus years with grace, poise, modesty, and civility. There are certain concerns about Glascock’s ability to adhere to the guidelines of her position as Village Clerk and a seeming willingness to overstep boundaries and actively participate in duties and roles that do not – or, rather, should not – involve the Clerk’s office that give us questions about her political motives and ability to properly lead the community for the next four years. There are additional doubts as to her ability to not bring personal vendettas and hypocritical opinions of others to a potential term as Village President.

Harry Jennings brings law enforcement experience and a no-nonsense approach to the table, free of the emotional or mental baggage that plagued the Jumper and Waltrip administrations over the last four years. His willingness to serve both his country, as a member of the military, and his community, as a police officer and, most recently, a member of the South Jacksonville Ethics Commission and an elected Precinct Committeeman, shows that he has his community first in his heart.

Next – and this is by no means something that should be overlooked by any potential voter on April 4th – we believe that Harry Jennings as Village President is an absolute must for the community at the present time. It is, in our view, vital that South Jacksonville fully separate itself from the prior administration that put the village into such a constant and, often, negative spotlight in the press. At one time, South Jacksonville was viewed by outsiders as a “jewel of Morgan County”, but, at the present time, it does not feel that the description is the same. It is time that a leader be chosen to return the village to that status. It is time to approach the next four years with eyes that are not clouded by rage and vengeful views over wrongs, real and perceived, of the previous four years.

It is for these reasons that My Social Jacksonville is proud to endorse Harry Jennings in the April 4th election for South Jacksonville Village President.

Leak of Police Chief Administrative Leave Story Shameful to Waltrip Administration

This is a reprint of the remarks that MySocialJacksonville.com administrator Colby Huff made before the Village of South Jacksonville Board of Trustees at the regularly-scheduled meeting held on February 2, 2017.

Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Senators Durbin and Duckworth, Vote “NO” on DeVos Nomination

The following is a letter that Colby Huff, owner of MySocialJacksonville.com, sent to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth on Thursday, January 19th, 2017.

Continue reading

Our View: Legislator Paycheck Withholding Needs to End

Welcome to Day #526 without a full-year budget in the State of Illinois.

It is truly mind-blowing, isn’t it?

It is amazing to consider that the individuals that we have chosen to represent us in Springfield have not been able to put together a comprehensive spending plan to fund the fifth-largest state in the nation in over eighteen months. It is important to remember, however, that the process isn’t as simple as many would like to believe.

Fingers are being pointed from both sides of the political aisle at the other side. Democrats claim that Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” is inherently bad for everyone but the wealthiest citizens of Illinois and that his demands for reforms aren’t “budget issues”. Republicans, in turn, put the blame on House Speaker Michael Madigan and his ironclad grip on the floor of the House for over thirty years. It is the opinion of this writer that both sides are right… and both sides are wrong.

The finer details of each party’s arguments aside, the simple fact of the matter is that this is no longer a political game to be waged between two very intelligent, but entrenched, individuals. It never was a game, in the literal sense of the word, but it can be argued that there is a bit of a “game” to be played by both sides when it comes to the process of negotiating a budget, in a normal year.

However, as we approach Christmas and a heightened sense of uncertainty for tens of thousands of state workers and millions of run of the mill Illinois citizens who depend on their service each day, the urgency for Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, House Minority Leader Durkin, Senate Minority Leader Radogno, and Representative Greg Harris to spend every minute available to work out an agreement for the good of all Illinois residents.

Stuck in the middle of the mess, however, are 173 other elected officials who have been unfairly judged and criticized by their constituents… and unfairly meddled with by the Illinois Executive Branch. It is most certainly not a popular opinion, but these rank-and-file Representatives and Senators are wrongly being told to come to work on behalf of the citizens of Illinois without being paid for their time.

Former Comptroller Leslie Munger, a Republican, took a strong stand earlier this year to decide that legislator compensation would be put into the same ever-growing stack of bills to be paid by the State of Illinois. Newly-elected Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, has pledged to continue that policy, unless ordered differently by a court of law. While this writer can appreciate the message that both the former and now current Comptrollers were trying to send, it has reached the point of becoming unfair to 173 people who have little to do with the position in which Illinois currently finds itself.

The blame for the current budget impasse is not on the rank-and-file lawmaker. People such as C.D. Davidsmeyer, Sam McCann, Avery Bourne, Sara Wojcicki-Jimenez, and Tim Butler can go to work in Springfield and give speeches on the floor of their respective chambers until they’re blue in the face, but the truth is, they have no power in the process of making a budget until one is presented to them for a vote. Currently, those five individuals – and 168 other colleagues – are being paid six months or more behind schedule. They’ve done nothing to deserve that, when the blame for the lack of a full-year state budget firmly rests on the shoulders of Governor Rauner, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leaders Durkin and Radogno, and – as of late – Representative Harris. Until these five people are able to get their heads together and compromise on a bill for the rank-and-file to vote on, nothing can happen. That’s how it works, folks, and we’re aiming our hate and vitriol at the wrong targets, when we criticize people outside of these five individuals.

Now, in the midst of the ongoing fight in the budget sandbox, six Democratic lawmakers have filed suit against former Comptroller Munger and the State of Illinois in an attempt to force their paychecks to be given on time. This is not what residents of Illinois need or deserve right now. Now, on top of significant delays in social service payments, employee incentive compensation, travel reimbursement, aid to college students, and repairs to our infrastructure, Illinoisians will have to foot the bill to defend the state against a lawsuit that never should have been necessary in the first place.

Comptroller Mendoza, do the right thing for the lawmakers that have nothing to do with the budget process until a proposal is presented to them for a vote. Release legislator paychecks on time, just as you do for thousands of other State of Illinois employees. Don’t penalize the many over the actions of the (very) few.

My Social Jacksonville Comments to VOSJ Board of Trustees 3/24/16

In the event that I am not allowed to deliver the full remarks below (I anticipate needing about seven minutes, rather than the usually allotted five), I have published them here for the public to review. – Colby

 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board –

Thank you for allowing me to speak tonight and to present what is not going to be a popular opinion. I had hoped to avoid these comments, but I’ve waited long enough and don’t see anything that tells me I shouldn’t make them.

It has been nearly a year since April 2nd, 2015. On that date, this community awakened and finally – for the first time in years – spoke up about what was bothering it, as a collective. I stood at this podium and openly called for three different people to leave their posts as officials of this Village and point-blank told one more that they would be leaving their post after the following Tuesday’s election. He did and they did, not that long afterward. I thought on that night that things were finally going to move forward on the right track.

For the most part, they did… but there are glaring problems that still linger and can no longer be waved off as “the new administration just needs some time.”

President Waltrip, despite what I am about to say, please know that I have a lot of respect for you and the position into which you were placed last summer. I don’t envy you and would not have wanted to touch it with a ten-foot pole, myself.

It is grossly disappointing, however, to continue to hear whispers from this building that the transparency so obviously desired by the residents of this community has not yet been achieved. It is disheartening to hear about decisions being made without bringing each member of this body into the know before those decisions are called for a vote at the next meeting (the A&W debacle, for example, and at least one Trustee being blindsided by the news of the development). It is exceedingly frustrating to have heard from multiple sources that at least one member of this body has said behind closed doors, “Oh, the public doesn’t know what they want” or – even more distressing – “I’m tired of hearing people bitch” (with apologies for the language, that was a direct quote).

It is even more disappointing – and, quite frankly, alarming – to hear stories of board members feeling that they are continually being disrespected by certain Village staff members who may – or may not – have uttered the words, “The Trustees are just bodies in a chair; they don’t make the decisions, we do.”

Really?

Perhaps I missed something (I do, admittedly, have a very short attention span and a lot of things bouncing around my head at any given time), but I seem to recall that we – the people – being entrusted by not only Village ordinance, but also the Illinois and United States Constitutions, to elect our leaders make to the decisions. I recall accusing former President Jumper of running this Village like it was his own little kingdom and we were nothing but peasants to him. How shameful must you feel, even when you won’t have the courage to admit it publicly, to know that that feeling is once again rising among at least a handful of your neighbors? The people who elected you did so believing that you were all honest people who were going to do the will of the people… not the will of Mike Elliott, Kem Wilson, Stacy Pinkerton, Steve Waltrip, John Gotschall, and Paula Stewart, independent of our thoughts. If you don’t like hearing our thoughts, our opinions, there is a very easy option for you to take – resign your seat. There are others who would very much like the opportunity to serve and would not take it for granted.

To certain Village employees, I would like to remind you that you do not serve an elected term – you serve an appointed one, at the will of the Village President and, by proxy, the residents of this Village. Your time in your public servant position can end just as quickly as it began. We demand respect, just as you demand it from us. When we call you, whether it is something as inane as checking a balance on our account with the water department or something as immediate as a crumbling wall alongside a Village sidewalk, we do not expect to be cursed once you are off the phone with us. We do not expect a passing of the buck, when it comes to getting something fixed. (How long has the gazebo project sat unfinished? How much of last summer went by with the open field alongside the pavilion being blocked off?)

Our community took a massive punch in the gut, twenty days ago. For the first time in its history – and, according to a Trustee with whom I spoke on the way to Officer Fitzgerald’s graveside service, the first time in the history of Morgan, Scott, and Cass Counties (*EDIT* Please see below) – we lost one of our first responders in the line of duty. Chief Hallock, I can’t even begin to imagine or comprehend the grief that you, your officers, and other people close to Scot in his professional life went through and are still coping with. I can’t – and won’t – try to imagine what his family is dealing with. My heart continues to ache for everyone involved and I hope to do the best that I can to honor Scot when I wear his badge number as my bib number in next week’s Lincoln Presidential Half-Marathon in Springfield. As devastating as Officer Fitzgerald’s loss was, I saw great things come from it in the days afterward, in the way that our community and so many others responded. It is my hope and prayer that we continue to honor Scot with each day and give thanks for the interactions that we each had with him.

The allegations and uproar that have arisen from that day, however, are – once again – alarming. I know which member of the Board made the call about a non-Police Department employee driving a marked squad car. I understand the concern that was raised. In my opinion, it was – and still is – a valid one. I also do understand – and let me make that abundantly clear, before I’m accused of not supporting our police officers – I do understand the frustration and anger that you expressed in your letter to the board, Chief Hallock. Yes, the timing of the question could most certainly have been better. However, I am disappointed that you would choose to call into question the integrity and ability of that Trustee to serve as a leader over the concern they raised.

Simply stated, Chief, the actions of Richard Evans – approved or otherwise by former President Jumper – set a really bad precedent, in many instances. Public perception is a very real thing, particularly given the events investigated and reported upon by the Illinois State Police. While I will grant that the public would most likely not take any serious note or concern about the Village employee in question driving a marked squad car on March 9th, previous incidents must not be overlooked and, I believe, policies in this regard must be changed. There should be, at best, a limited list of less than a handful of people authorized to drive a Village of South Jacksonville police vehicle who are not sworn officers… and, frankly, those people are seated before me this evening.

A final note… in the course of my employment, I have regular contact with certain elected and appointed officials in the City of Springfield. Since Officer Fitzgerald’s passing, I have been approached by a number of alderman – Ralph Hanauer, Chuck Redpath, Kris Theilen, Herman Senor, and Jim Donelan immediately come to mind – as well as the city’s Corporation Council, Jim Zerkle (and his wife), and Mayor Jim Langfelder, expressing their condolences to our community. I thank you for the opportunity to pass along those condolences this evening.

Thank you.

 

 

*EDIT* It has been brought to my attention that the information given to me about area first responder deaths in the line of duty was not accurate. MCSD Deputy Craig Dowart was killed in the line of duty in 1994 (and, of course, has a section of Route 104 between Jacksonville and Waverly named in his honor), Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Hazen Maltby died in a traffic accident while on duty in 1976, and Illinois Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Pete Lackey was also killed in the line of duty in 1972. I offer my sincere apologies to the families and friends of these men.