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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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Does Darren Bailey want to help Chicago? His previous contempt says otherwise. – Chicago Tribune



Darren Bailey’s suggestions for how to “fix” Chicago leave me to wonder if he has spent even 24 hours in this city. But I’ll leave that in favor of an issue that many Chicagoans may know nothing about. Specifically, his support for H.R. 101 leads to the conclusion that he is unfit to lead the sixth most populous state in this country.

In early 2019, Bailey acted as a chief co-sponsor of a bill that urged Congress to eject Chicago from the rest of Illinois and make the city the 51st state. Never mind that the Admissions Clause of the Constitution expressly states, “No new state shall be formed … within the jurisdiction of any other state.”

What Bailey and his co-sponsors, all Republicans, wanted to do was rip the economic engine out of the state.

H.R. 101 went nowhere in the Illinois House and died when the session ended in early 2021. But who’s to say that the motivations behind the bill aren’t still alive and well in the minds of Bailey and others? Wouldn’t Bailey as governor have the type of influence and power to accomplish what Bailey as state senator could not? These are fair questions to ask the man who is seeking to lead our state.

Before the Bailey plan to fix Illinois by cleaning up Chicago is seriously considered, I humbly suggest that Bailey the candidate must address his demonstrated contempt for the city that I and millions of others call home.

Bailey called Chicago a “great” city in his op-ed (“Chicago’s struggles are many, but we can restore its greatness,” Aug. 1), which it most certainly is, but that statement stands in stark contrast to his legislative attempt to have Chicago evicted from Illinois like a tenant who refuses to pay rent.

In his inaugural address in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln told the Southern states, “Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them.”

As surely as Lincoln’s words applied on the eve of the Civil War, they apply in equal measure to Chicago and the rest of Illinois today. And unless Bailey can say as much, he has no business putting himself forward as the leader of this state.

— Robert Lincoln Harris Jr., Chicago

Republican candidate for governor Darren Bailey wrote an op-ed that was filled with misinformation. His solutions to Chicago’s troubles are simplistic and out of date.

He starts out his op-ed with an indictment of the education city kids receive at Chicago Public Schools. His solution to this problem? School choice. In other words, private schools. Most private schools in Chicago are religion-based. Giving tax dollars to kids for tuition to these schools goes against the First Amendment. He never mentions the lack of preschool that most kids in Chicago experience due to a lack of resources. When kids start kindergarten behind their peers in the suburbs, how do they ever catch up?

Then Bailey takes on crime as if Chicago is the only city experiencing this problem. Homicides and shootings are actually down in 2022 from what they were at the same time last year, according to Chicago news media. He complains about the elimination of cash bail, which does not go into effect until January. And no one is defunding the Chicago Police Department.

Finally, he bemoans the fact that Illinois is a high tax state and that many businesses are leaving the city of Chicago. Has he heard about Google buying the Thompson Center? Does he realize that low tax states have some of the worst schools in the nation?

I applaud the Tribune for publishing an op-ed from a major party candidate for governor. But readers should know this is the same man who said the horrors of the Holocaust don’t compare to those of abortion and had to be escorted out of the Illinois Senate for refusing to wear a mask, which Senate rules required at the time.

— Jan Goldberg, Riverside

Educating children is a daunting and extremely challenging task regardless of the location of the school. A quick review of Illinois Report Card data reveals that at the elementary and junior high school in Darren Bailey’s hometown of Louisville, Illinois, 12% and 10% of students met expectations in 2021 in English language arts and math, respectively. These scores are far lower than the state average and lower than that of Chicago Public Schools.

Vouchers are not the answer as they divert funds from public education, lack accountability are noninclusive, and they have not demonstrated better academic outcomes.

In Illinois, we are fortunate to be a diverse state. Our elected officials have a duty to support our public institutions across the state. Bailey would benefit from seeing this as an opportunity for growth and unity rather than a tool to divide and separate as the need for improvement is evident in rural, suburban and city communities.

— Patti Palagi, retired public school educator, St. Charles

Ken Griffin, chief executive of the giant hedge fund Citadel, has contributed nearly $50 million to congressional Republicans in this midterm election cycle. Stephen Schwarzman, CEO and chairman of hedge fund Blackstone, has contributed $20 million to Republicans. Democrats trail in high-level donors.

Most people make no political contributions, and most of those who do contribute give $100 or less. This means that one or a few ultrawealthy big donors can buy more political speech than millions of ordinary people, which is why they frequently get their way on tax policy, labor law and its enforcement, and trade deals. This helps them get richer while so many ordinary people struggle.

If participants in a candidate debate could purchase extra time, the debate would be considered rigged in their favor.

When superwealthy individuals and corporations can purchase vastly more political speech than ordinary people, the system is rigged in their favor.

Large contributions should be replaced by public funding of election campaigns if we want to end politicians’ indebtedness to big donors and have government decisions based on merit and the public interest.

— Richard Barsanti, Western Springs

Join the conversation in our Letters to the Editor Facebook group.

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.



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