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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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Why the American Flag is Folded Thirteen Times

As a kid at YMCA day camp, being chosen to fold the flag at the end of the day was the best!! Like any skill it takes several times to get it right especially for an 11 year old. First you have to catch the flag and not let one tiny bit of it touch the ground, think about the size of an average 11 year old! That’s quite a responsibility! Then there’s a holder and a folder. After a while I could fold a flag SO tight! I was proud to teach other campers when I became a counselor! Yes, Anne Sommerkamp worked at a summer camp in my teens. Insert jokes here__________.

I’ve known how the 21 gun salute was determined (adding the individual digits of 1776) and knew the flag was folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the widow at the burial of a veteran. BUT I didn’t know the significance of each fold. A friend from high school who served in the Marine Corps posted this – but I have a few problems with a few things. I will address those at the end because for the most part this is fascinating.

“Have you ever noticed on TV or at military funerals that the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times?

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation’s motto, “In God We Trust”. After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today. There are some traditions and ways of doing things which have deep meaning. You will see many flags folded in the coming weeks, and now you will know why.”

I love our flag, I love our country, I am fighting for VA funding to keep 29 veterans a day from committing suicide and to prevent veterans from becoming our largest homeless population. So with utmost respect for veterans and Old Glory I would like to insert a few facts.

BUT concerning the sixth fold –but the words “under God” were added to the pledge of allegiance in 1956 when the country was in the throes of the Red Scare and McCarthyism.

The current motto national motto, “In God We Trust,” was developed by a later generation as well. It was used on some coinage at the height of religious fervor during the upheaval of the Civil War.

In July 1776 after signing the Declaration of Independence – “E Pluribus Unum” (“from many, one”) was the motto founding fathers John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all agreed. The three took the motto to Congress where is was passed and became the official motto of the land.

The three men also worked in consultation with artist, Eugène Pierre Du Simitière, to approve our national symbol, still in use today, of an American bald eagle clutching thirteen arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. Fun fact to know and tell….

In other words, “In God We Trust” is a legacy of founders, but not the founders of the nation. As the official national motto, it is a legacy of the founders of modern American conservatism — a legacy reaffirmed by the current Congress.

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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.