- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Updates to add fourth editorial from Southern Illinoisan.

EDITORS:

NEWS DIRECTORS:

The Associated Press would like to request your help in assembling the weekly Illinois Editorial Roundup. Due to several factors, it has become more challenging to find fresh, original editorials on member websites. We would very much appreciate if you could take a few minutes to submit editorials that you would like to share with other members. They can be sent to our main email address, [email protected] Please use “Editorial Submission” as the subject line.

Please remember that we try to use editorials with appeal and interest for a statewide audience, and that not all submissions can be used. If you have any questions, please contact AP-Illinois News Editor Hugh Dellios at 312-920-3624 or [email protected] Thank you.

The AP-Illinois

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October 13, 2014

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan

Get the facts, fight to recover

It wasn’t that long ago that a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence.

There isn’t an adult on your block or in your community whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer.

Cancer still kills entirely too many of us, our friends, neighbors and family members.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer alone will kill more than 40,000 Americans this year. That’s worth noting because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when much attention is focused on those who survive cancer.

All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the American Cancer Society and the brave men and women who have fought this disease not only for the amount of money they have raised for research, but for raising awareness.

The research is vital, but the awareness is equally important.

How important is awareness?

Again, according to American Cancer Society figures, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis.

Ninety-nine percent. That cannot be ignored.

As we reported in the special Breast Cancer Awareness section printed on pink paper and published last week, the American Cancer Society’s work in Southern Illinois is benefiting from patients who are becoming more educated about the disease, and by extension, more empowered in their treatment and recovery.

Education and empowerment are important keys to fighting cancer. Recovery should be the ultimate goal — one more easily attained through knowledge and personal responsibility.

It is clear, anecdotally and statistically, that the type of education Johnson spoke about saves lives.

Hopefully, the lessons that have been learned in the fight against breast cancer will carry over to other health threats such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

Research and advancements in diagnosis and treatment have made diabetes less deadly than it once was. Significant progress also has been made against heart disease.

We need to take these lessons of education and empowerment to heart . literally.

It’s good for all of us.

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October 12, 2014

The (Champaign) News-Gazette

The politics of scandal

The best defense is a good offense.

Gov. Pat Quinn went on the attack last week, dropping his past apologies over a state anti-violence initiative while charging that his Republican critics on a legislative audit commission are conducting a “witch hunt.”

The dramatic change in tone reflects Quinn’s naturally aggressive nature as well as the political necessity of blunting Republican attacks on his scandal-ridden 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

As far as tactics go, it’s the smart move. With the Nov. 4 election just a few weeks away, Quinn’s counterattack on the GOP and its response not only changes the subject from policy to politics but helps to persuade voters the dispute is just another partisan scrum they can safely ignore. In terms of public policy, however, the defense offered by Quinn and two former top aides of the failed $55 million program can only reinforce public cynicism about how state government really operates.

Republican legislators, including local state Sen. Jason Barickman, have charged that Quinn intended to flood millions of dollars into poor Chicago neighborhoods to win votes from the residents there.

Before last week, administration officials denied that claim, suggesting their plan to reduce incidents of violence was good but the implementation was flawed.

Reacting to the audit earlier this year, Quinn professed to be so disturbed about how the program was run that he dismantled Shaw’s agency.

Despite Republican efforts to wrap this issue around Quinn’s neck, it doesn’t appear to have gained traction with voters who’ve grown accustomed to incompetence and corruption in government. Polls show the race is pretty much a dead heat, with Quinn showing recent signs of surging into the lead. That’s the way it sometimes goes in politics.

But it’s not just the audit commission that is examining this abuse of taxpayers dollars. State and federal prosecutors also are taking a look at what happened, their subpoenas for public documents drawing recent attention in the news.

They certainly won’t act by Election Day. When and if they do act, the “witch hunt” defense won’t fly.

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October 12, 2014

Chicago Sun-Times

Help families deal with risk of gun violence

Relatives are generally the first people to notice when someone can’t be trusted with firearms. But under Illinois law, they can’t do a darn thing about it. Let’s change that.

Last month, California became the first state to allow family members to petition a judge to take guns from a close relative who has become a serious risk for gun violence.

The law went on the books after a 22-year-old Santa Barbara man with no criminal background went on a shooting and stabbing spree last May that killed six people. His family had warned authorities he was becoming violent, but neither the family nor police had any right to confiscate the man’s weapons.

The new law allows a judge to order guns removed for at least 21 days, and the order can be extended for up to a year. Like restraining orders for domestic violence, the law builds in legal protections. Cops can’t just grab the guns; they must go before a judge with evidence supporting their request. Gun owners would have a chance to show a judge they are not a risk. And if someone files a false claim to get a gun confiscated, he or she faces a misdemeanor charge.

Such a law in Illinois wouldn’t do a thing to keep guns out of the hands of gang members and common criminals. But it could prevent some suicides and mass shootings.

Currently, if people are admitted to mental health facilities or convicted of felonies, their Firearm Owners Identification Card can be revoked. But that is of no help for family members who see a relative drinking more, using drugs more, saying scary stuff and acting suicidal - and who has guns.

The National Rifle Association opposed the California law, but sheriffs, emergency room doctors and mental health workers supported it. Similar groups in Illinois have started to discuss legislation here. They should push it through.

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October 11, 2014

Belleville News-Democrat

Party leaders in Springfield have different ideas

If the polls are right, Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon isn’t going to win her bid to be state comptroller — and her fellow Democrats probably won’t be crying many tears if she loses.

Simon doesn’t march in step with her party, and we say that as a compliment. Like her father, the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon, she seems more interested in things that are good for the public rather than the politicians. For instance, while the most successful politicians are fund-raising machines, Simon told our editorial board last week that raising campaign cash was the worst part of the job for her: “Fund raising is not compatible with democracy.”

Simon brought up several other topics on which she disagrees with her fellow Democrats:

She supports the effort to reform the redistricting process in Illinois so legislative districts are drawn in ways that benefit the people of Illinois rather than the gerrymandering that benefits the party in power. She said her party “doused” the amendment to keep it off the ballot.

She wants term limits for legislative leadership posts such as speaker of the House, long held by Michael Madigan. Voters have no say in who holds these powerful positions, and term limits are needed to keep a check on that power, she said.

Also, Simon is pushing to revamp the state’s economic disclosure form for lawmakers and other officials so that it actually would have meaning. The current form, about 40 years old, is so vague that the Better Government Association said 85 percent of the Cook County officials who filled them out answered every question as “not applicable.” That bill could get a vote in the House during the November legislative session.

These are all worthy ideas; it’s too bad for the public that they don’t play well in ethically challenged Illinois.

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