Still Watersthe em spaceWhere They StandBy the Numbers,

How We Stack UpWhat's Up With That?


Parking tickets need a little easement

By Mike Fak

[AUG. 3, 2001]  The handling of the handicapped-parking situation by citizen ticket writers is causing a schism in our community.

No, it is not a chasm between those who are disabled and those who are not. The monumental gap, and thus animosity, between handicapped individuals and "normal" citizens isnít being caused by those insufferable individuals among us who are too insensitive to honor handicapped-parking places. It isnít being caused by the countless numbers of individuals who have received legitimate handicapped-parking privileges but should not have them. It is being caused by handicapped individuals giving tickets to other handicapped individuals for minor infractions of parking in designated areas ó infractions that the trainers of ticket writers have stated are not what the job should entail. Couple this with a city administration that wonít allow a police chief to make decisions on whether a ticket is valid or not, and you end up with the situation we are now in.

It seems that tickets are being written for having wheels just a few inches over a yellow line. Forgive me, but my son who is handicapped and learning to drive might be guilty of this infraction. Donít for a second tell me that he should pay a $100 fine. Tickets are being written for handicapped-parking cards being blown off a rearview mirror onto a dashboard or a seat of a car. Can you honestly tell me this is the essence of the handicapped-parking laws and regulations?

Changes need to be made in the "real" world. That quoted word is from an intolerant school administrator, not me. But in order to make changes we need to come together as one. Creating a war between those who are and those who are not isnít going to help either side. Creating a war between those who are handicapped and those who are also handicapped will guarantee that the handicapped cause in Lincoln will grind to a halt.

Recently, a contractor working on the Mutual Bank building, which has been dormant for several years, was written up for having his vehicle in a handicapped-parking spot in a lot that isnít open to the public. One of the jobs the contractor was doing inside the structure was building a handicapped-accessible bathroom on the first floor of the building. A bathroom, by the way, that isnít required by the law that is the law.

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Our mayor has refused to allow our police chief to use his discretion in throwing out some of these tickets. Tickets that I promise you will be thrown out of court in a heartbeat.

The result is tales such as the ones in Mondayís Courier of people whom the laws were created to protect and give convenience to, having to fight for justice. Is this what we want the city to become? A war zone between those who legitimately park in handicapped-access areas and still receive $100 dollar fines and a city administration that gives a quote to the Pantagraph that "the law is the law"?

The mayor has been quoted as saying the city lost $10,000 in fines last year due to the previous chiefís decisions to throw out many of the citations. In the event they are anything like the cases mentioned in the Courier, they should have been torn up, because they are not deserving of adjudication. Instead we find citizens needing to take the time out of their day to argue the injustice of their tickets. All the while we tie up the police chief, mayor and city attorney, who has recommended these tickets go in the wastebasket anyway. I canít believe we all donít have something better to do with our time.

The complete, entire and total purpose of the handicapped-parking laws in this nation is to create a deterrent to scofflaws from parking in the closest areas to a storeís entrance, reserved for those among us who need a little help. Nothing else is important. Nothing else is what the law was intended for.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fak's commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 


Police protect us.
Why donít we protect them?

Another state law that doesnít make any sense

By Mike Fak

[JULY 16, 2001]  The LDN recently ran an excellent article by Lynn Spellman regarding the financial plight of Sheriffís Deputy Bob Spickard. Spickard, charged with battery and official misconduct while on duty, was exonerated of the charges by a jury of his peers in less than an hour. The costs Deputy Spickard faces defending himself are the kind of expense that for all working stiffs might take years to repay. That is flat-out wrong.

There is the possibility Deputy Spickard didnít do this whole affair the right way. Perhaps if he had gone to the County Board and asked for representation or simply asked the judge to appoint a public defender to represent him, Spickard would not be facing the monstrous attorney fees he now is faced with. That, of course, is easy for you or me to say. We were not facing the loss of not only a job but a career. We were not facing the possibility of being sent to jail to be among the very individuals we have spent our adulthood placing in incarceration. Can you really fault the deputy for erring on the side of caution? I canít. I know you canít either.

The point that really frustrates me about this whole affair is that a county officer, while performing his duties, was charged with criminal malfeasance by an individual and has to personally foot the bill to prove he acted according to the law. Regardless of the fact that state law says this is correct, I beg to differ.

Officers, whether city, county or state, should not have to pay their own court costs and attorney fees to defend themselves while performing their duty. Especially after they have been found not guilty.

It has been brought to light that city and county officers have the option of purchasing insurance to protect themselves from such financial duress, but is that the way it should really be? Are we not asking these people to protect us, place their lives on the line if need be for lousy pay, and then by Illinois law have the nerve to tell them: "By the way, if someone brings charges against you that a jury states are false, you are on your own financially." This is flat-out wrong.

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Now I want it clear that I am not blaming the County Board for not making this coverage automatic. I am not blaming the sheriff either for not making insurance protection a requirement. Who I am blaming is the Illinois legislature that doesnít see that officers of the law need basic, required protection from the expenses brought on by lawsuits, especially those that are adjudged inappropriate. I am blaming a union that doesnít think from Day One that insurance protection in a day and age of frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit should be a part of every negotiating session. I am blaming an Illinois governor who just made a big deal out of awarding medals to many brave Illinois police officers but also doesnít think they deserve to have mandatory insurance protection to prevent what just happened to patrolman Spickard. I have to ask those award-winning officers how long an attorney will represent them if the only collateral they have is one of those medals.

Deputy Robert Spickard performed his duties on July 29, 1999, as his training dictated. He was charged with criminal battery and official misconduct but was found not guilty in the time it takes to eat a sandwich. For his life to be under financial duress because of this just isnít right. It just isnít.

Tuesday night the County Board will vote on whether to assist the deputy and his family with the expenses he incurred due to this lawsuit. It may not be required by law for them to do anything in this matter. Regardless of this fact, I hope the board offers at least some financial assistance. Itís the right thing to do.

[Mike Fak]

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fak's commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 


The em space is a staff writer's commentary section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and beyond.

ó Mary Krallmann


Itís not always as late as you think

For a heart-pounding minute I thought I had overslept to a ridiculous degree on the very day when it was especially important to be on the job because a co-worker planned to be gone. When I woke up, the unforgiving red digits on the clock plainly indicated it was later than late.

I rushed to the kitchen to see what time it was there. The same ó past 2 oíclock. The thought of a power outage crossed my mind, but the numbers on the bedroom clock would have been flashing in that case.

By the amount of daylight, I knew it couldnít be 2 a.m.; it had to be 2 in the afternoon.

It was unthinkable. I remembered impressing on myself the night before that I must get up and get going when the alarm came on and not treat it as the usual advance warning with another half hour or so of rest allowed. To have slept clear through the morning after all that was a major breach of acceptable behavior.

It was also an uncomfortably familiar feeling. On Sunday morning I had awakened just before the alarm but, in momentary confusion, had to assess exactly which day it was and when I had to get up to do what. Instead of sleeping later on Saturday, I had followed a more regular wake-up schedule in order to attend a funeral service, so Saturday felt like Sunday, but the next morning was Sunday nonetheless and required the same pattern of events again.

Suddenly the facts fell into place. I had gotten up early on Sunday as planned, and Iíd been to church ó the fourth trip in four days. All the music practice was done, the funeral was done, the regular Sunday service was done, and it was still Sunday, not Monday! I had just fallen asleep after eating lunch.

Relieved that Monday morning was still hours away, I went back to bed for a while to think things over.

When I had turned the corner near the fairgrounds on my way out to church one of the previous evenings, all the tents in readiness accented the contrast of the fair and the funeral. As a hymn says, "In the very midst of life Death has us surrounded."

Iím used to that concept, reflected not only in the life and death of individuals but also in the history of communities, organizations and patterns of living. For me, the sense of nearness to dying is strengthened by the fact that Iíve spent most of my life in rural and small-town mid-America. An aging population with fewer young people is the kind of society that I know.

For me, the surprise is not so much that thereís death in the midst of life but that thereís life in the midst of dying.

I take it as a given that everyone is going to die. For some it will be sooner and for some later. Itís just a matter of time. I donít regard that as an ultimately gloomy prospect. Heaven is a destination far more wonderful than the best of fairs.

For the time being, the amazing thing is that in spite of accidents, illness and ordinary deterioration, thereís still life. Some people who had young families 25 years ago are gray-haired grandparents today, but it isnít time to write everyone off just yet.

The morning after the funeral there were people in church. Only one man had been buried. Although many of the members are retired, a family with 2-year-old triplets and an older sibling sat upstairs. The bulletin announced that a new pastor would be installed the next Sunday, and he was on hand to meet people. The future held promise.

As life hurtles along, sometimes we get overly concerned about what appear to be negative prospects. With a re-evaluation, sometimes itís not too late after all.

[Mary Krallmann

 

Where They Stand

Where They Stand is a commentary section that poses a question about a specific issue in the community. Informed individuals present their position with facts, opinions or insights on the issue. The following commentaries have been printed, unedited, in their entirety, as they were received. If you have further comment on the issue, please send an e-mail message, complete with your name, address and telephone number to ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com.


 

By the Numbers

Population estimates in Logan County
30,798 Total population, 1990
15,380 Rural population - 49.9%, 1990
15,418 Urban population - 50.1%, 1990
2,875 Projected births, 1990-1998
2,736 Projected deaths, 1990-1998
3,143 Persons below poverty level - 11.8 %
258 Average marriages per year
135 Average deaths per year

Alexis Asher


Logan County high schools: 1960-2000
1962 Middletown High School consolidated with New Holland
1972 Atlanta High School became part of Olympia School District
1975 Elkhart High School consolidated with Mount Pulaski
1979 Latham High School became Warrensburg-Latham
1988 New Holland-Middletown High School consolidated with Lincoln Community High School
1989 San Jose High School consolidated with Illini Central (Mason City)

Alexis Asher


Lincoln High School history

1859

Lincoln School District

5

School buildings in 1859

1

"Grammar school" in 1859

1

High school teacher, Mr. January, in 1859

1870-71

Central School opened

1898

High school building started

1900

High school dedicated, Jan. 5

$20,000

Cost of new high school

1920

Election authorized community high school District #404

1958

Dedication of new Lincoln Community High School, 1000 Primm Road, in auditorium, on Nov. 9

Alexis Asher


How We Stack Up


This feature of the Lincoln Daily News compares Lincoln and Logan County to similar cities and counties on a variety of issues in a succinct manner, using charts and graphs for illustration.

Racial makeup of selected Illinois counties

 



What's Up With That?

 

 

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