Thumbs up: To the DeKalb Public Library. Library staff built a display about author Alexander McCall Smith to try to win a visit from the popular writer. McCall Smith has a doctorate in law and is an expert on medical law and bioethics, but became a fiction author after winning a writing contest. He wrote “44 Scotland Street,” “Portuguese Irregular Verbs,” “Corduroy Mansion,” “Max and Maddy,” “The Sunday Philosophy Club,” “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and many more titles for adults and children. He’d likely delight local residents if he does indeed visit. Local library leaders should learn by Feb. 3 if they won the contest.
Thumbs down: To money clouding the court’s impartiality. The justices on the Illinois Supreme Court have received almost $3 million in campaign contributions from parties on both sides of the plan to change pension plans for Illinois government workers. Thomas Kilbride, the court’s chief justice, received most of that money, but only one of the justices did not take cash from groups connected to the law. Although judges maintain that politics would not factor in the court’s decision if it is called to rule on the issue, it certainly doesn’t look good.
Thumbs up: To predictions of an improving employment picture in 2014. Statistics show that Illinois is gaining about 6,000 jobs a month, and locally more businesses are supplying local employment authorities with job applications for the public. DeKalb County’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in November, and although the statewide rate of 8.7 percent is above the national average, if businesses really do begin hiring and expanding again, things will continue to improve.
Thumbs down: To a pessimistic view for 2014. In a recent AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll, 70 percent of Americans said they lack confidence in the government’s ability to make progress on the nation’s problems in the next year. When it comes to the issues people said are most important to them, 80 percent want the government to spend a significant amount of effort working on them, but 76 percent predict that effort will result in no real progress. With all of the grandstanding and infighting that goes with politics, the view is understandable. Perhaps if the nation’s leaders – who are always fretting over pleasing voters – want a better reputation, they should spend less time finger-pointing and more time coming up with concrete results.
Thumbs up: To a long, full life. Marie McKenzie, who was Grand Victorian Meridian Senior Living’s first resident when it opened in 2003, turned 100 this week. During a birthday party Grand Victorian hosted for her Monday, she confided that the secret to her long life was being social. McKenzie said avoiding being alone all the time is one of the reasons why she is alive and well today. Her family visits her two to three times a week. “I love my family very much, and I try to do the best I can for them,” she said. It’s an idea many DeKalb County residents can take to heart as we start a new year.
Thumbs up: To DeKalb and Sycamore firefighters who partnered with Target last month to purchase Christmas gifts for children of veterans and active service members in need. A total of $1,800 was spent on 14 local children identified by the DeKalb County Veterans Assistance Commission. The money was leftover from donations and shirt sales held earlier in the year in support of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois Warrior Program, which purchased a 2013 Chevy Silverado for Army Spc. Charles “Chaz” Ligon. Yet another good deed done by our local firefighters.