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Assault weapons ban demanded at Downers Grove vigil -Feb 19 covered the vigil at the Downers Grove train station. Read it here!

Sommerkamp said protecting children from gun violence must be a priority.

“Our children are begging for the help, and that alone is the biggest responsibility we have – that is to protect the most vulnerable among us,” she said. “Common-sense gun legislation has to become reality in this state and across the nation to stop this senseless killing.”

As the mother of two students who attended Downers Grove North High School, Sommerkamp said she could not imagine “the anguish of the families in south Florida that lost their children on Valentine’s Day to yet another terror attack in a school.”

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This I Believe OR Sommerkamp Position Paper

I’m tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Let me outline my beliefs and make them perfectly clear:

1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I have an immense moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while people are starving to death, freezing to death, and dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. A healthcare system should require everyone to chip in. It’s impossible to create a system devoid of flaws; but, I haven’t heard an argument against healthcare for all that makes “let people die because they can’t afford it” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be less expensive, everyone should have access to it, and I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t have to be free, (though it is in other countries, so I don’t get why the US can’t do it) but there’s no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

4. Fair wages, lower property taxes, progressive income tax, affordable education, and the wealthy paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating income inequality. Somehow believing that makes me a “communist”.

5. I believe in funding sustainable energy. People currently working in coal or oil get retraining, particularly people over 50 so they can keep good jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue using coal and oil.

6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a livable wage. No one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multi-billion dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, and the minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours a week and live.

7. LGBTQ people should the same rights as everyone else. Period.

8. I believe in political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. As Maya Angelou said, when we know better, we do better. If someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate or less hurtful than the one you’re using, you know better. Why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person?

9. I believe undocumented immigrants who come to the US are not “stealing” jobs. The employer is hiring illegally. There are more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than detaining children, splitting up families, and ending DACA. We should welcome more refugees. People have been terrorized, forced to leave the land they know as home with little more than the clothes on their backs, with the hope of staying ALIVE. Too many don’t make it and it’s not their fault. I hope someone takes us if the worst happened.

10. I believe some government regulation is necessary especially when greed is the driving force in our society. We NEED regulation to prevent environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods/medical equipment. I don’t trust those making the money to ensure their products/practices are really SAFE. Regulations give consumers recourse if they are harmed. It is common sense that when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies regulate themselves, the latter is not the best choice.

11. I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I can’t get over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past. Read. Learn.

12. I am not interested in coming after any blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible gun policies, including background checks. Checks that MIGHT save a life, maybe a toddler’s life, from the hand of someone who should not have a gun.

13. I believe in the separation of Church and State. I am incensed when legislatures try to make Scripture into law. I’m not “offended by Christianity”, I’m offended at being forced to live by one religion’s rules. Be a Christian but don’t force it on me or mine. The idea that my not agreeing with your religion somehow discriminates against you is twisted.

14. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than people think and desperately needs to be addressed. Folks with privilege — white, straight, male, economic — need to start listening even if they don’t like what they’re hearing. That way we can start dismantling everything causing people to be marginalized.

15. I believe women should be treated equally. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men, should make their own individual healthcare decisions, and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you work 80 hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all the money. It means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome in order to save money.


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Knock on Doors

A canvassing I will go, A canvassing I will go…  I enjoy going for my evening walk to talk to voters and listen to their concerns. Evenings like this are perfect weather-wise, not too hot – not too cold.

Recently, I’m hearing from voters their property taxes are too high. That’s nothing new!

Also, people did not like having their children used as pawns in the recent school funding measure that was vetoed by Governor Rauner. The Illinois Senate overrode the veto and with a few tweeks the House did the same Monday. After missing only two payments to Illinois schools funding should be in order now.

Time to go out and find out what’s on the people’s minds tonight. If you live in the 47th District, I will knock on your door before the primary. I want to hear what’s on your mind and how I can best serve you in the Illinois House of Representatives.

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Seems Gov. Bruce Rauner has been barking up the wrong tree.

Seems Gov. Bruce Rauner has been barking up the wrong tree.

Rauner has built his political career, such as it is, by bashing Chicago for the woes of Illinois. He stomps around Downstate stirring up resentments, telling the people of smaller cities and towns that the big bad city is sponging up their money and playing them for suckers.

This hasn’t worked well for the governor. He has little to show for his first 2½  years in office. But he’s playing the game yet again in his opposition to a bill that would overhaul the way schools are funded in Illinois, complaining speciously that it is a “Chicago bailout.”


Now comes news, though, that Rauner may have it all backward. If anybody is “bailing out” anybody, it’s the northeast counties of Illinois, with the mighty engine of Chicago at their hub, bailing out the rest of the state. On Monday, a 2015 study was released that shows Cook and the other suburban counties get less money back from the state than they give — 80 cents or less for every dollar —  while almost all Downstate counties get back more than they give — as much as $2 or more for every dollar.

Cook County, that is to say, is “bailing out” Sangamon County, and Lake County is “bailing out” Wayne County, and DuPage is “bailing out” Jackson, and Kane is “bailing out” Union, and Will is “bailing out” St. Clair, and Kendall is “bailing out” Crawford, and McHenry is “bailing out” Hardin.

Why don’t we try a different tack? Let’s move away from this useless debate about who is bailing out whom. It will always, for one, be inconclusive.

The study made public on Monday, conducted by the General Assembly’s Legislative Research Unit, concludes that there are “clear” regional differences — any way you cut it — between who gives and who gets from the state. But the authors acknowledge they looked only at certain pots of money, including individual income taxes, sales taxes, lottery proceeds, estate taxes, insurance taxes and federal matching payments for state Medicaid payments. The authors did not look at sources of revenue, such as corporate income taxes and utility taxes, that they could not break down neatly by county.

If the “bailout” blame game is unending, it also misses the point. Illinois will never get its mojo back until it moves forward as a whole, not as a collection of feuding parts. No corner of the state wants to be short-changed, but the needs of all corners are not the same. If, for example, more Medicaid money flows downstate because more people need Medicaid downstate, so be it. That’s not a bailout. That’s fairness.

By the same token, state education funding should be targeted more toward school districts that have little taxable property wealth or serve large concentrations of kids who live in poverty. That’s not a bailout. That’s only fair, too.

We disagree with Rauner that the education funding formula bill he vetoed, Senate Bill 1, is a “bailout” for Chicago. The Chicago Public Schools still would receive only 16 percent of the state’s funding for education while teaching 19 percent of the state’s public school kids. And the governor’s amendatory veto, which threw in various new demands out of the blue, served only to further vilify the big city. In truth, as even several downstate editorial boards have argued, Senate Bill 1 represents a historic chance to reform school funding, easing decades of financial inequities.

We only wish that the House, like the Senate, had the votes to override the governor’s veto, though that is unlikely. A vote is set for next week.

If Rauner persists in talking about “bailouts,” let’s be clear what that means. People living in the Chicago area get back only 80 cents on every dollar they deliver to Illinois. They are picking up much of the tab for most of the rest of the state.