- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sept. 17, 2017

The Quincy Herald-Whig

We the people should celebrate U.S. Constitution: 230 years and still going strong

Constitution Day generally passes with little fanfare each year. None of the trappings of a major holiday — fireworks displays, local and national celebrations — is accorded to Sept. 17.

The Fourth of July, which celebrates our Declaration of Independence, receives considerable attention, as a significant date in our nation’s history certainly should. However, we wish there was more celebration on the day devoted to the U.S. Constitution.

Eleven years after the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain, there was no president, no Congress and no Supreme Court. Then, on Sept. 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met to sign the document they had created.

“We the people …” was more than just the introductory phrase to that remarkable document. It spelled out the revolutionary idea that ultimate power resides in this nation’s citizens, and not its government.

In just over 4,000 words, the Constitution set forth a new form of government. A republic with three co-equal branches of government was formed to provide checks and balances against abuses. The legislative branch was created so that in one chamber the representation was based on population, while the other chamber offered every state equal power.

Four more years would pass before the first 10 amendments to the Constitution spelled out personal and individual rights. That landmark is noted on Bill of Rights Day, Dec. 15. Other amendments have been added as the nation has grown and changed.

On this 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s signing, the United States is the pre-eminent world power as much for its ideals as for its military and economic might. Those ideals of individual liberty, personal freedom and the responsibilities of citizenship still shine.

Most important, it is incumbent on those who know this simple, yet powerful document to pass along that knowledge so that the Constitution will survive for another two centuries. Its framers clearly recognized that new threats to freedom arise with each new generation.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the signatories, hinted at the challenges ahead when asked whether the convention had decided on a republic or a monarchy. “A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin said.

It is true that the U.S. Constitution has guided and shaped this nation. But we, the people, are the only ones who can ensure that it remains the law of the land.


Sept. 15, 2017

Belleville News-Democrat

Saggy pants ban was nothing butt a public embarrassment

Collinsville city leaders just made a move to get off a top-10 list: stupidest city laws.

Seriously, they regularly get calls from school civics students about why they passed an ordinance in 2011 outlawing sagging pants. The calls come because they are listed on dumblaws.com.

But no more. The Collinsville City Council on Sept. 11 repealed Ordinance 4429, which imposed a $100 fine for those whose pants were “falling more than three inches below the hips (crest of the ilium) causing exposure of the person or the person’s undergarments.”

While occasional public embarrassment over their bluenose rule might have prompted the repeal, suspicious minds think other forces were at work. Maybe the plumber’s lobby? Maybe our aging leaders were worried about their deteriorating gluteal muscles allowing 2-inch gaps to slide past the 3-inch mark, or about undone waistbands after a particularly big meal?

Collinsville police will not suddenly find themselves putting away their rulers, finding more free time to chase bank robbers and run speed traps by the ketchup bottle water tower. They never bothered enforcing the silly law to begin with. Not a single ticket in six years was written to anyone showing off their Sean Johns, Calvin Kleins or Fruit of the Looms, or to anyone going commando.

Thank goodness. That ticket would have opened up an ACLU dream case and well-founded claims of racism.

So the civics students will need to move on to other topics. Hmm… Maybe they could study the ethics of elected leaders getting freebies from city contractors or using taxpayer accounts for personal gain.

Lessons to be learned there.


Sept. 15, 2017

(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

Farewell to elephants, kings of the circus

It was in early November 2001 when the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus saw the perfect opportunity for a stunt in the suburbs.

The circus was in Rosemont for its annual appearance at the Allstate Arena, and one of its star elephants, Bo, had sniffed out a box of doughnuts brought for the TV crews filming rehearsals.

He took his 10,000-pound self over to the table and scarfed down doughnut after doughnut, until the box fell empty onto the floor.

In this brazen act of thievery, his handlers saw the perfect photo op. So on Friday, Nov. 9, Bo lumbered up to the Krispy Kreme drive-through near the Allstate. He peered inside, smearing the glass, and nodded eagerly when his trainer asked, “Do you want some doughnuts, Bo?”

Ringling Bros. is gone now; its tigers, monkeys and junk food-loving elephants either are retired or have been sold to other circuses.

And by Jan. 1, elephants will no longer be allowed in any circuses performing in Illinois. The state is the first to ban elephants from circuses and similar traveling shows, a victory for animal welfare activists who have been protesting it for years.

Whether you view this as an unnecessary and sad turn of events or are relieved that these animals will no longer be forced to perform, it is the end of an era for all of us. And worth some reflection, if only to honor the hundreds of elephants who’ve been put on display for us over the years.

Ringling Bros. is gone but the smaller circuses remain, and in Illinois, anyway, will carry on minus the pachyderms. The Kelly Miller Circus was in Elk Grove Village this week, the last time it will include elephants. The circus says it will retool its show for next year, and return to Illinois without elephants. We hope it will bring new ways to delight and entertain suburban families.

Katy Dolan Baumer, secretary for the Elk Grove Lions Club, which sponsors the circus as a club fundraiser, is a little skeptical.

“Who knows if they (the circus) will come back?” she told reporter Chacour Koop. “People are buying tickets (now) because they know it’s the last one with elephants.”

Maybe. But for generations, people have crowded beneath the Big Top, to be entertained by the clowns and their little dogs, the beautiful trapeze artists, the handsome young daredevils, the death-defying aerialists and the guy who shoots himself out a cannon.

But nothing drew us like those animals. Beautiful and awe-inspiring, so close you could almost reach out and touch them. Watching them interact with humans was thrilling, coupled with that electrifying touch of fear.

The elephants were the kings of the circus animals. That chapter has closed and the elephants walk away. Long live the kings in their new world outside the realm of doing tricks to entertain humans. And long live the circuses that for more than a century have turned the exotic into family-delighting magic.

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