em space, Where They Stand,
How We Stack Up,
Up With That?
to be an American…
or at least a ‘Lincolnian’
6, 2001] Central
Illinois continues to amaze me. Ever since Sept. 11, I have seen
nothing but giving hearts and unselfish attitudes in the people
around me. This Sunday, I had the opportunity to witness not only
the giving of time and money to families in New York, but the humble
attitude of Lincolnites in giving to their neighbors.
was reported, this past Sunday was the Lincoln auction for the Red
Cross Disaster Relief fund. Dozens of people showed up, not only to
give their money but to give their time and efforts. Tirelessly,
these volunteers gave as much as two weeks of their time to the
nationwide cause to help victims of the terrorist attacks in New
York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. This, however, was not what
touched me that day.
in the auction, I had the opportunity to speak with Philip Carver,
one of the volunteers, who pointed me in the direction of what he
thought (and I agreed with him on this) was the highlight of the
auction. It was a framed poster of a print by Allan Albaitis
entitled "Return to Glory."
The painting is of a burning
building and firemen lifting a ladder to an upper window. Streaming
from the window is a billow of smoke and fire that blends into an
American flag where it touches the top of the ladder. Against the
building is what at first glance appears to be the shadow of the
firemen. Upon closer examination, however, it is actually a photo of
the Marines lifting the American flag on Iwo Jima.
picture’s beauty and simplicity amazed me. This was not the photo
we are all so familiar with of the firemen raising the flagpole in
front of the remains of the World Trade Center. It was just a
picture of men doing what was needed to save lives.
What was most
awe-inspiring was that this print was not made in response to the
"Attack on America" or the subsequent "acts of
heroism." The copyright date on the poster was 1997. Albaitis,
himself a veteran Las Vegas firefighter, looked at firefighters and
realized — long before America did — that they are modern-day
Of his piece, he writes, "As are all of my firefighter
pieces, ‘Return to Glory’ is meant to convey the emotional
intensity and unswerving dedication of the men and women with whom I
have been blessed to work." More on Albaitis’ work can be
found on his website, http://www.fireart.com.
[to top of second column in
my story is not over. I said that this would be about the giving
spirit of Lincolnites. And that it is. You see, this poster was
purchased and donated by one of our own firefighters on behalf of the
Lincoln Fire Department.
When, at last, it was put up on the auction
block, the bidding was furious. Two people wanted that poster. I don’t
know why the man who did not buy it wanted it. I don’t know if he
had a deeper purpose or just wanted it for his home. But William
Dahman was the man who would not give up. He bought the poster for
When I spoke with him afterward, he said that he was not alone.
He said he knew of many people, mainly firefighters, who were going to
pitch in to buy this poster, including Dr. Robert and Linda Shaffer.
Dahman said that he and many others had helped move the donations into
the gym on Saturday, had seen the poster, and knew exactly where it
belonged. At Old Joe’s.
Joe’s is a bar on Sangamon owned by retired firefighter and chief
Joe Poppish. According to Dahman, many of the local firefighters like
to go there to relax. "Old Joe’s has been there for 50
years," he said, "and it’ll be there for 50 more. And that
picture will hang there."
have only lived in Lincoln a few months, but it really makes me proud
to know that there are people in this town not only thinking of those
far away in this time of need, but thinking of each other. The men of
the Lincoln and Logan County fire departments know that heroes are not
only found in times of crisis and cities of international stature, but
they are found here — in the cornfields of Illinois — every day.
Airlines, flags, prayer and the law
5, 2001] I have been watching all the events that have
entailed since the World Trade Center fell before our eyes and have
noticed several strange and, in many cases, troubling issues coming
before our eyes and ears.
will tell you what stories have concerned me, and please let me know
if you agree or have found other issues that you find out of place
in the times we live in.
airline industry will receive $5 billion in free federal funds plus
an additional $10 billion in low-cost federal loan guarantees. I
find no fault with helping an industry crippled by the events of
Sept. 11, but question why the CEOs of these airlines continue to
receive $4 million to $12 million a year in salary. In an industry
that has laid off 130,000 employees, would not a significant pay cut
by these executives have been appropriate? Could anyone say that
cutting their pay from $12 million to $6 million would cause one of
these executives to have to go on food stamps. All the Fed has
stipulated in giving the billions is that CEOs of airlines don’t
give themselves a raise for two years. Is that some type of hardship
to an agency that has lobbied against the type of security actions
that may have prevented their planes from becoming human bombs?
years ago, a national aeronautic safety committee headed by Vice
President Al Gore had on the table requirements that all luggage be
X-rayed, curbside check-in be stopped, and no baggage should be
placed on a plane unless that person also is on the same plane. A
dozen other security measures to ensure passenger safety in the air
were recommended by the committee. The airline industry lobbied
against these recommendations, stating they would cause hardships
and delays in their flights. Gore made sure that all the
recommendations were never approved. Two days after the
recommendations were thrown in the wastebasket, $600,000 in airline
industry political contributions made their way to the Democratic
Party to re-elect the president. Doesn’t all of this sound wrong?
[to top of second column in this
that bastion of truth in the news, has directed all their anchors to
not use the word "terrorists" in their description of the
terrorists (I will use the word) or their activities, because these
sick people have not been found guilty in a court of law. Are they
serious? Do they expect me to ever watch their programs again?
is it that 80 percent of American flags are made in China? In a
country that continues to export our jobs to other parts of the
world to save a corporate buck, can we not have just one thing so
simple and inexpensive as an American flag made in America? Maybe
not. Our special forces, the Black Berets, have been getting their
berets from China because they are 50 cents cheaper than a U.S.
version would be. I personally have been forced on many occasions to
buy items not made in this country. But I will promise you that my
flags will always have a U.S.A. label on them, or I won’t have one
why is it that in the last three weeks in a country that sings
"God Bless America," and pledges one nation under God at
every event imaginable, in a nation that has a national day of
prayer, a state day of prayer and city mayors throughout the land
declaring a community gathering for prayer, that we still tell our
children it is illegal to pray together in school. How does this
concept make any sense?
after Sept. 11 we all are a little different than we were the day
before. I’m a little sadder. A little more disheartened. And, it
seems, a great deal more confused than ever.
(not for publication):
to Fak’s commentary:
company, Illinois American,
tells city to butt out
4, 2001] A
few years back I wrote an article suggesting the city of Lincoln
exercise the right of eminent domain and purchase the water company.
Critics scoffed that I didn’t know what I was talking about and
that there was no such opportunity for the city to regain control of
this local utility.
about three months later the city of Peoria began proceedings to do
just that, and I didn’t hear from anyone who thought I was crazy
from that day on.
a few years later, Lincolnites find themselves again in the midst of
a sale of the water company to another mega-corporation. This time
the potential purchaser has its base in Germany.
am not an isolationist, but somehow mailing our checks to German
businessmen just doesn’t seem right to me. In a country that
continues to dissolve national ownership of skyscrapers and major
corporations into holdings of foreign entities, can we not say no at
least to local utilities being owned by foreign interests?
I like the idea of being able to catch the owner of a utility on the
street corner and give that person either the praise or criticism I
believe the company’s business practices deserve. Personally, I
like the idea of the owner of a water company sitting next to me at
a community function and seeing that person become involved in the
community. Again, personally I like the idea of seeing the utility
owner stand in front of the community and explain why a new higher
rate for water is justified.
of this will happen once a German corporation takes over our
utility. We will be lucky if ever the day comes where anyone in the
corporation’s hierarchy even visits this town.
what happened a decade ago when Lehn and Fink was bought out by a
British corporation. In a moment the factory was closed, jobs lost
and buildings turned over to pigeons, based on decisions made by a
board of directors 4,000 miles away. I am quite certain the new
owners won’t just shut down and leave, but I have to ask what
incentive is there for them to provide better service, improve
infrastructure and maintain equitable rates for usage to a small
town of strangers on the other side of the world. I don’t see any;
maybe you do.
[to top of second column in
Bates, the city attorney, is an intelligent, meticulous man. His
statement that the franchise agreement bears a right of first refusal
clause allowing the city to step in on the purchase price is good
enough for me. The question then needs to be asked if we as a city
should take back our own utility. Yes, I know the skeptic in you asks
how the city could afford, let alone run, a water company with all the
other financial drains, such as a massive sewer project, already being
argued before the council. I will answer those valid questions with a
few of my own.
of the asking price, does not the fact that a foreign investor finds
the possible return on investment lucrative enough to purchase
something half a world away tell you that the business deal is a good
investment? Why should we let a foreign corporation make that profit
instead of the city of Lincoln? Why should we see a further erosion of
state and federal corporate taxes as money goes to the governments of
other countries instead of the United States?
have one other question. Where does our present water company owner,
Illinois American, come off with the nerve to tell us to butt out of
their affairs? The rights of the people of this city to become
concerned and involved, if we wish, in the continued selling and
escalation of the price of our utility is our right. Look it up if you
want. The information is in the city, state and federal codes between
the topics on democracy and self-rule.
(not for publication):
to Fak’s commentary:
is the em
space, a staff writer’s section with observations about life experiences in Logan County and
elsewhere. Enjoy your visit.
Smiles behind the screens
Knot all tied up
day I saw an incoming typo, the "Untied States." I couldn’t
resist sharing it and told the editor.
recently attended a ball during a weekend event with re-enactments from
the Civil War era. "Oh no, untied states," she said. "I
thought that was all a done deal years ago."
Someday comes fast
after a local city council meeting, LDN received a report labeled
"Sewer line someday." When the file reached my screen from
another computer, the subject line had been extended to say, "Sewer
line someday/ Tues," indicating when the report should run. It was
Tuesday then, so the story went right in.
the subject line another way, I thought the diagonal mark could have a
meaning like it does when someone writes "secretary/treasurer"
to refer to the same person. It would have been good news indeed for the
Campus View residents if "someday" for the sewer line would have
been Tuesday. They can only wish for such speedy scheduling. As the
article said, they "may get a chance to hook onto a city sewer line,
but not in the immediate future."
An LDN staff
member gathered her things and started to leave after posting for the day.
Walking away from her desk, she heard something fall and turned back to
see what it was.
that her cell phone had flipped out of her book bag and landed on another
desk behind a divider. In spite of the side trip, the phone was OK.
mailing from a growing address book caught up with someone in the office.
A message to John, intended for a local writer, was accidentally sent to
an out-of-town relative with the same first name.
from the office was, "Are you going to have something for me
the reply came from John, the relative.
what?" he said.
Old-fashioned tourist trap
an LDN writer visited Mackinac Island, where "every third store is a
fudge shop" and transportation is by actual horse power, bicycles and
on foot. Workers with power hoses clean the roads regularly. She said it
was a "tourist trap with horse manure!"
How to start the day
work one morning, an LDN staffer saw this message in large letters on her
screen, "It’s now safe to turn off your computer."
Squeaky wheels get grease
taking off early one afternoon, someone in the office reported an ailing
mouse. The manager’s response was waiting in the mailbox the next
"I called the doctor,"
the message said. "He made a house call and said it [the mouse] was
very sick. I don’t know if he was going to treat it or remove the body
and bring in a new one."
viewer remarked that it’s odd how newscasters end their regular programs
with a line such as, "See you tomorrow."
the workers in the studio don’t actually see the people on the other
side of the screen.
Computer gets the last laugh
When I turned on my home
computer Saturday evening to try to clarify something I’d written
earlier, the usual green lights came on and there was a sort of groaning
in the box, but nothing showed up on the monitor. After a number of
attempts without success, I gave up. It appeared to be the end of smiles
behind that screen.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)