Thumbs-up: To perseverance. Zoe Vicich, 14, has been collecting pop tabs for four years to donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities so families have a comfortable place to go when their children are in the hospital. Zoe’s goal is to collect 1 million pop tabs. So far, the count is at 62,000. A lot of kids would have given up the cause after a year or two, but not Zoe. She says if more people get involved, she can get there. To help Zoe in her quest, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thumbs-down: To Medicaid fraud. Illinoisans are familiar with the jokes about dead people voting here, but it turns out that they’re receiving Medicaid subsidies as well. An auditor’s report released Thursday showed that the Illinois Medicaid program had paid out $12.3 million for medical care for 2,850 dead people, including at least one who died in the 1980s. State officials say much of the money can be recovered, but this is a troubling example of how susceptible entitlement programs are to fraud. If something so simplistic can flourish so long, what other fraudulent practices are continuing unchecked?
Thumbs-up: To Keith Mokry, the 14-year-old Somonauk eighth-grader who represented DeKalb County this week in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He didn’t make it to the semifinals, but just getting to the Washington, D.C.-area for the nation’s largest spelling bee was an accomplishment. At the regional level, Mokry and Sycamore Middle School student Matthew Rogers were pitted against each other in a marathon spell-off that attracted national media attention. We congradulate Mokry on his perseverance and his good attitude. “I feel good,” Keith told Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Dahlstrom after learning he missed the national semifinals cutoff by two points. “I know I worked hard for this, and it’s a cutthroat thing. They’re cutting 280 kids down to 40.”
Thumbs-down: To packing the ballot. Illinois could have as many as seven statewide referendum questions on the ballot in November. Some could effect actual change, including proposals to amend the state constitution to implement redistricting reform and limit lawmakers terms to 8 years. But four “advisory” questions that will have no practical effect are also being pushed. Critics say these advisory questions are actually aimed at mobilizing the Democrat voter base. Regardless of their intent, if politicians want to effect change, they do not need a meaningless public survey. Make it part of your platform, win election, and do it.
Thumbs-up: To sharing history. It was difficult for Shirley Hamilton-Nehring to donate her historic home to the Ellwood House Association in 2012. “It’s kind of painful,” she said Thursday, when the house was opened for public tours for the first time. But Hamilton Nehring’s donation of the house once owned by the Ellwood family, historic DeKalb royalty, expands the offerings of the Ellwood House Museum, which includes other buildings on the Ellwood estate. “It’s a significant addition of history to the community,” Mayor John Rey said.