em space, Where They Stand,
How We Stack Up,
Up With That?
tickets need a little easement
3, 2001] The
handling of the handicapped-parking situation by citizen ticket
writers is causing a schism in our community.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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"?
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.
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.
(not for publication):
to Fak's commentary:
Why donít we protect them?
Another state law that doesnít make
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
[to top of second
column in this commentary]
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.
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.
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.
(not for publication):
to Fak's commentary:
space is a staff writer's commentary section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and
Itís not always as late as you think
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
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.
amount of daylight, I knew it couldnít be 2 a.m.; it had to be 2 in the
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
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
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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estimates in Logan County
||Rural population -
||Urban population -
||Persons below poverty
level - 11.8 %
||Average marriages per
||Average deaths per
County high schools: 1960-2000
High School consolidated with New Holland
High School became part of Olympia School District
High School consolidated with Mount Pulaski
High School became Warrensburg-Latham
High School consolidated with Lincoln Community High School
Jose High School consolidated with Illini Central (Mason City)