Thumbs up: For justice being served in a nearly five-year-old robbery case. After a three-day trial this week, a DeKalb County jury on Thursday convicted Eric Bernard, 31, of armed robbery in the 2009 holdup of Associated Bank in DeKalb. Bernard, who has past felony convictions, could be eligible for as many as 75 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for March 20. The trial, which was years in the making because of the pre-trial motions filed by Bernard himself, was conducted publicly and both sides had the opportunity to make their case. Both of the gunmen in the 2009 robbery now have been found guilty, while the woman who testified she helped Bernard and his accomplice the day of the robbery, has yet to learn her fate. The gunmen that day made off with $6,000 – a paltry sum compared with the damage they caused.
Thumbs down: To a lack of debate. Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign spokeswoman said Friday there are no plans for the governor to debate his lone challenger in the March primary. Perhaps Quinn’s campaign doesn’t feel it needs to take challenger Tio Hardiman’s request for debates seriously; Hardiman, an anti-violence activist, lacks party backing and name recognition, and his campaign in the last quarter had only $550 to fight Quinn’s $4.5 million war chest. But the state is not in a healthy place, and the people of Illinois deserve a chance to make an informed choice of who they would like to see on the November ballot.
Thumbs up: To District 428 for keeping the public informed about the Jan. 14 incident at Cortland Elementary School, where odors from the landfill made people sick. On Thursday, a consultant hired by the district publicly discussed his report on the incident in a public forum at the DeKalb High School auditorium. Geoff Bacci, a certified industrial hygienist from Aries Consulting, found that it was the odor from the landfill that made people feel sick that day – not any dangerous landfill gases. He also made some suggestions about bus procedure and communication with Waste Management, which operates the nearby landfill. The district is doing what it can to keep the public informed and its bringing in outside experts is one way they are showing that they take the matter seriously.
Thumbs up: To our local young musicians. Seventeen DeKalb High School students and 15 Sycamore High School students were selected to participate in the annual Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Festival in Peoria last month. Band, orchestra and choir students were put through a rigorous audition process to earn the honor. “It is a unique and exciting opportunity for high school musicians that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said SHS band director Ken Goodman. We congratulate these talented students.
Thumbs down: To resilient invaders. If only these frigid temperatures were at least killing some of these invasive and troublesome pests. Alas, that’s not the case, etymologists and other experts say. The emerald ash borer spends winter as a larval pest, and there’s too much snow to freeze the ground hard enough to kill burrowing pests like the corn rootworm beetle. At least it’s largely safe for ice skaters and ice fishermen.