Thumbs up: To the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce for meeting its 500-member goal. What is truly impressive about that feat is that it was accomplished with the addition of 100 new members last year. Not all of the new members are new businesses; some have been going it on their own for a while and decided to take advantage of the chamber’s opportunities for networking and publicity. But for a chamber in a city the size of Sycamore to add 100 new members in a stagnant business climate is an achievement worth applauding.
Thumbs down: Once again to our state legislature and the governor for their inability to address the state’s public pension crisis. As a result, Standard & Poor’s rating services has lowered Illinois’ credit rating. The New York-based agency said Friday that the rating on the state’s general obligation bonds was downgraded to A- from A. The agency says the outlook is negative. Standard & Poor’s credit analysts say the downgrade reflects what the agency sees as the state’s “weakened pension-funded rations” and lack of action on reform measures to improve the state’s worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. Illinois has a $96 billion pension deficit. It appears our representatives in state government are content to see Illinois continue to dig an ever deeper financial hole for the citizens of Illinois.
Thumbs up: To leaders in the 23rd Judicial Circuit for pressing forward with plans to allow news cameras in local courtrooms. DeKalb County is among the 28 counties statewide to join the Illinois Supreme Court’s pilot program on extended media coverage in county courthouses. Although some have reservations about allowing cameras in, courtrooms are public spaces, their proceedings are in public, and reporters should be allowed a reasonable way of documenting the proceedings with still and video photography. Judicial leaders have formed a committee to thoughtfully craft local rules within the state guidelines that offer protections for jurors, victims of sexual assault and police informants. We applaud their initiative and look forward to navigating these new processes together.
Thumbs down: To the Indian Creek District 425 school board, whose members declined to answer questions about the contract extension they awarded to their superintendent. Rather than defend their decision themselves, the school board circulated a letter written by Justino Petrarca, a lawyer with the school district’s Chicago-based law firm. Petrarca can have whatever opinion he likes; he was not elected to make decisions for the school district. The school board members are the ones who voted to give Superintendent Pamela Rockwell a contract extension that includes 6 percent annual raises and a $15,000 retirement bonus. The school board decided to vote on the contract at 8 a.m. the day after Christmas. They are the ones who should be talking.
Thumbs up: To the Sycamore Park District for planning some fun and interesting events to celebrate their 90th anniversary. Last weekend they held a Geocaching Treasure Hunt that sent participants across nine Sycamore parks. About 50 people took part in the search for items hidden by park district officials. The district will host a bicycle rally June 8 at the Sycamore Park Sports Complex and an ice cream social July 14 at Wetzel Park. They also are planning a fireworks show in the summer or fall. Sounds like a fun year ahead.