Still WatersBirdís-Eye View,  the em spaceWhere They Stand,
  By the NumbersHow We Stack UpWhatís Up With That?

Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.  Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.

Ryanís decision leaves more unanswered than answered

By Mike Fak

[FEB. 6, 2001]  Half full? Half empty? That is a question that a lot of LDC proponents are asking themselves after Gov. George Ryan officially gave the news of a massive downsizing for the Lincoln Developmental Center. Yes, the news is better than just pulling the plug on 250 residents and 700 employeesÖ but not by much.

In a classic fit of gubernatorial pomposity, Ryan refused admittance to his press conference to anyone except the waiters. Excuse me, I mean the reporters. I get those two occupations confused since many in both occupations simply write down what someone tells them without asking any intelligent questions regarding the authenticity or actuality of the words.

Yes, only reporters were allowed to transcribe the governorís diatribe. Of course, why would it be considered proper to let others into the press conference, such as the parents of residents or perhaps representatives of the employees? What do they know about what they want? Gov. Ryan is in charge of their lives as well as their childrenís. He, like the Wizard of Oz, is all-knowing. What a shame he also is not all-caring.

The governor says that only 100 residents, moving into community-integrated homes, will remain at LDC. The homes, at a great deal of taxpayer expense ($6.25 million to be exact), will be replacing the cottages that already are set up like a community home. Thereís a real savings to the state. The cottages, as well as the rest of the buildings on the 75-acre plot formerly known as Wyattís Grove, are to be used forÖ Sorry, no one said what was going to happen to them, and of course, no one asked.

Perhaps the state will allow them to deteriorate. That way, in a decade or so the community homes can be closed because they are adjacent to an abandoned ghetto. Perhaps they will be maintained by state employees so that doesnít happen. But is that a good use of tax money and manpower either?

Ryan stated he was downsizing the facility based on the requests of parents of residents. This, of course, is not true, but no one asked the governor for a list of these complainants. There has been only one disparager compared with dozens of parents who want the center to remain home for their children and wards. Geez, a golden opportunity to catch the guy in his own stink went right out the window on Monday.

Ryan stated that CILAs are the future of mental health care, and of course they are. But since they are not here yet, and human beings in a place they have called home all their life areÖ Couldnít we do this gradually over the years? The ARCís own website states there are 271,000 Americans waiting for group homes, with 6,800 of them being in Illinois. How about filling the needs of those waiting for proper residency before pushing into CILAs those who would rather live just up the block from these homes.


[to top of second column in this commentary]

Continuously Ryan talked about how terrible LDC was in care to residents. It never made his conversation that five state institutions have a higher rate of negative incidence than LDC, including Jacksonville, where LDC residents have been unceremoniously shipped off to in the past few months.

Ohhh, for just a question or two to have been asked about that.

The governor went on about how LDC has had problems for two decades. I assume he means receiving high accolades just 10 years ago as a model health care facility is a problem. Actually if youíre a governor trying to close a place, I suppose that is a problem. No comments about this ambiguity in the governorís statement came out of the peanut gallery either.

The papers, of course, followed the verbatim article with negative quotes about LDC from every organization that has never visited LDC except for the Free Willy Foundation. What a shame that a quick blurp by Sen. Bomke that he questioned Ryanís statement regarding parental support for the closure was placed in print and then dropped. Wouldnít it have been fun to ask the senator if he believed the governor lied. That would have been a good story to read.

Gov. Ryan again promulgated his own agenda by saying whatever he felt like saying. No one gave the other side a chance to counter his spurious remarks. Fair and balanced reporting? I havenít seen it yet on LDC, regardless of what people in the business say. You see, in the world I live in, when someone says something stinks, I ask, "Compared to what?" A fair comparison of all 10 state-run institutions, which only was briefly touched on by the State Journal-Register, shouldnít have taken three months to appear. But then, at least someone did their homework. Better late than never, I suppose.

Yes, this column is pro-LDC. I am not a journalist, you see; I am a commentator. I have been asking some of the questions, however, that no one else deigns important enough to bring to this story. I will until the man in Springfield leaves and LDC stays.

[Mike Fak]


Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fakís commentary: 

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Scathing story of state ineptitude
and injustice effectual

By Mike Fak

[JAN. 30, 2001]  Just when you thought we didnít have a winterís precipitation in Hades to salvage LDC, a story comes to light that should make us all regather our collective wills and push forward with our objections to the governorís "prepaid" decision to close the center.

The budget cuts, some $500 million by the governor, not only placed our own major employerís situation in jeopardy but also sounded the death knell for other such institutions across the state.

One of the most tragic stories regarding the executive guillotine of statewide human services had to be the decision to close the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago. This facility, primarily focusing on young men and women who do have basic life skills, was deemed nonessential by Ryan in last monthís budget-trimming nightmare. The institution, which offered such services as an education as well as physical and emotional therapy, with a long-range goal of community placement for its graduates, was advised that it was to be closed and its students moved to other suitable area facilities. This is where the story became ugly.

The Department of Health and Human Services had begun to ship out the residents before a hearing on a stay by the local union came before the Cook County circuit judge. The destinations of the residents were nothing near what had been promised by DHHS. Close to home? How about a young man being sent 250 miles away from his elderly mother. Proper facility? How about that same 21-year-old man, who has a high school diploma and was getting ready for a community home, being sent to a nursing home for severely handicapped senior citizens. A nursing home that had no physical therapy program nor means to allow him to do anything but wait out the rest of his life.

While this was happening, there wasnít a word from the ARC, nor the Equip For Equality coalitions. Too small a cause? Just one small fish when there is a whole lake full of fish to fry in Lincoln? Who knows? We havenít heard from them to tell why they ignored this human rights issue.

All seemed hopeless. And then this past week, Celeste Garrett of the Chicago Tribune brought this scathing story of state ineptitude and injustice into the public forum with a pair of headline articles regarding the treatment of the residents of the Chicago center. It didnít tell the story of the center, it told the story of the people involved. The story brought to tens of thousands of Illinoisans the same type of story that residents and parents of LDC have been facing with far less notoriety. Did Garrettís story have power? You bet it did! Was it the truth? Absolutely. Did it have any effect on the Chicago institutionís residents? Thank God it did.


[to top of second column in this commentary]

In Tuesdayís State Journal-Register, an article by Jeff Druchniak sayings that Ryan had reversed his decision to close the Chicago Rehabilitation Center flashed off the paper like a Roman candle.

The power of a major newspaper to find the humanity in a story and bring it to center stage had done more than all the letters and calls and petitions of hundreds of concerned Illinoisans. In the limelight of a statewide audience, Ryan and DHHS were shown up as having no souls nor conscience. The heat was too much even for an I-donít-care, lame-duck governor like Ryan to ignore.

   The lives of dozens of special souls were given a second chance because a reporter delved into the body of the issue rather than just continued to write down what everyone told her. Garrett made a difference that only someone in her special circumstances could do. She did more than just write a story. She helped people who needed help when everyone else just wrote words and then went home.

LDC is in these same dire straits as the Chicago center was. There is still one chance, one opportunity to save the institution. All it will take is one Chicago Tribune reporter or one reporter from the lawmakerís digest, the State Journal-Register, to bring out the humanity of the individuals in this story and give the residents a chance to live their lives as they would want.

The story is still lying there on the ground just waiting to be picked up. Oh for just one white knight to enter the foray.

[Mike Fak]


Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fakís commentary: 

Rousing rally, comparative analysis, growing House support give hope

By Mike Fak

[JAN. 14, 2002]  I broke a cardinal rule of journalism Saturday. Itís OK since Iím not a journalist. That rule is someone reporting a story should not become part of the story. Accordingly, I shouldnít have spoken to the crowd at the LDC rally and then written an article as well as preparing a report for Channel 15.

I understand the concept quite clearly and agree with it just about most of the time. But not this time. Not this Saturday.

The people at LDC, through their union, felt I should be among the political figures, resident guardians and community leaders who were given a few moments to help employees of the beleaguered institution realize that they are not alone in their fight to keep the institution open. If I were asked to speak a thousand times at this rally, I would have said yes just as many.

In the event you feel my observations are now biased or jaded, I will, as always, leave that up to you. This is what I saw. This is what I heard. Most importantly, this is what I felt.

I felt like I had gone back in time to an old fashioned 1960s union rally. Aggressive words used to excite an audience to become part of the rhetoric filled the auditorium that day. To some on the stage, I could sense a discomfort. This wasnít a quiet "meet the candidates" forum. This was an old-fashioned "You take my job over my dead body" kind of gathering. In 20 years, I have never seen the likes in Logan County.

I sat on stage between more political candidates than you can shake a stick at. There were Davis and Bomke and Wright. There were even Klingler and Brady and Mitchell on the folding chairs around me.(*) Yes, I should say their full names, their party affiliation and where they live, but I feel like breaking another rule of proper reporting today.

Most important in my mind was the fact that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Vallas was there. The man got up and stated for the record that as governor he would fix LDC and keep it open. The political correctness of the statement was, of course, self-serving but the repercussions could be immense. To date no candidate for governor has come out from behind the curtain to even acknowledge the LDC issue. Vallasí comments may cause those more timid than he to realize a block of voters is awaiting their input now, not come next spring.

State Rep. Jonathan Wright advised us that a full 96 percent of the reportable observations at LDC ended with positive conclusions. Wright stated that was an A in his book. It is in mine as well. As I sat next to Jonathan I constantly felt bad that he will be lost to us so soon as our state representative.



[to top of second column in this commentary]


I listened intently as AFSCME Deputy Director Roberta Lynch reported on how other institutions and community homes in a 50-mile radius have been faring in fulfilling their state-mandated mental health residency requirements. I was shocked to hear of bathrooms with no toilet paper or soap, of defective sprinkler systems and smoke alarms with dead batteries. I listened as reports of poorly trained staff and improper medication safeguards came from her speech. I have always wondered why there has been no comparative analysis made as to how LDC stands among its peers. Here was the telling information I have been so dearly trying without success to obtain myself.

As I listened to Lynchís report, I became angry at the media. Throughout this entire story, only what has been spoon fed to the press has made the news. WhyI have to ask, hasnít anyone in the media sought this information out themselves. Isnít another rule of journalism to ask questions and to seek both sides of a story. Are all the reporters, especially in area television, simply now like waiters, who write down what they are told without a single question or effort to go farther.

I hope others at the rally walked away with the same feelings I did. I can base it on nothing substantive, but it seems that it is becoming "en vogue" for politicians to come to the aid of LDC. That is what it is going to take to keep the center open. We as residents of Lincoln can do just so much. A united General Assembly taking up the cause is the only true means of winning this battle. I think I saw the birth of just that this past Saturday.

[Mike Fak]


*Ed. note: Officials referred to are Mayor Beth Davis, Logan County Board Chairman Dick Logan, Illinois Sen. Larry Bomke, and state Reps. Gwenn Klingler, Dan Brady, Bill Mitchell and Jonathan Wright.


Reply to Fak (not for publication):

Response to Fakís commentary: 

Birdís-Eye View

So what else happened in 1809?

People commonly know that Feb. 12 is the day of Abraham Lincolnís birth, even without seeing it marked on the calendar. Itís less common for people to know the year without looking it up first.

A standard encyclopedia article indicates that the American president who lived from 1809 to 1865 is regarded by many people as coming from a background of poverty, since he was born in a log cabin, but Thomas and Nancy Lincoln lived as many frontier families did in those times.

More detailed accounts indicate that their son Abraham was born on a bed of poles covered with corn husks. A young neighbor woman who assisted said that the birth was about like normal, and the child was born "just about sunup on Sunday morning." He was named after his paternal grandfather. The family was then living at a site known as Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Ky.

The Illinois that Lincoln would later represent in Congress was not yet a state. The act that made Illinois a territory separate from the Indiana Territory was approved by the U.S. Congress on Feb. 3, nine days before his birth.

In Washington, D.C., Thomas Jefferson was completing his second term as president. He was succeeded in that office by James Madison, the fourth president, about a month after Lincolnís birth.

The U.S. population, which had been about 5.3 million at the 1800 census, was approaching the 7.2 million recorded in the 1810 census.

Steamboat travel was beginning in the East.

Conflict leading up to the War of 1812 with Britain was also beginning. In 1809 New England governors refused to send militia to enforce certain economic sanctions.

On the frontier, the westward movement of white settlers conflicted with Native American interests. William Henry Harrison made an 1809 treaty with tribes in the Indiana Territory, where he was governor, and the Shawnee leader Tecumseh started to set up a defensive confederacy to resist expansion. Cherokees began to explore the Arkansas River valley, as they were being pushed out of lands in the South.

In Europe, the French under Napoleon were at war with Austria in 1809. Napoleonís soldiers were entering Vienna when the composer Franz Joseph Haydn died.

The composer Felix Mendelssohn was born in Germany that year, and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire, England. It was also the birth year of William Gladstone, who was prime minister of Britain four times.

Karl Bodmer, a European artist born in 1809, came to America during Lincolnís New Salem years and worked as an illustrator for German Prince Maximilianís expedition up the Missouri River. Bodmer made detailed sketches of Native Americans and their activities.

Both the frontiersman Kit Carson and William Travis, a lawyer who became commander for the Texans at the battle of the Alamo, were born the same year as Lincoln.

Carson, like Lincoln, first lived in Kentucky. Later he worked as a teamster, cook, guide and hunter for groups exploring the West, including Gen. Fremontís expedition to California. Carson also served in the Mexican War, the Civil War and as an Indian agent in New Mexico.

Travis, who appealed for assistance at the Alamo, reported being attacked by increasing forces under Mexican Gen. Santa Anna. Declaring "I shall never surrender nor retreat," Travis died there along with almost 200 other defenders. By that year, Lincoln was serving in the Illinois Legislature.

The American writers Oliver Wendell Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe were others of continuing fame who were born in 1809. Holmesí birth was in a Cambridge, Mass., house that had historical associations with the Revolutionary War.

Charles Darwin, an Englishman who became an evolutionary biologist, was born not only in the same year but also on the same day as Lincoln. Both Darwinís mother and Lincolnís mother died before their sons were 10.

Among the prominent Americans who died in the year of Lincolnís birth was Meriwether Lewis, known for exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. He had been a personal secretary for Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Paine also died in 1809. His pamphlet "Common Sense" had helped influence popular opinion in 1776 and led the way for the Declaration of Independence.

Decades later "a new birth of freedom," as the Gettysburg Address described it, became Lincolnís legacy.

[Mary Krallmann]

Where They Stand

Where They Stand is a commentary section addressing specific issues in the community. Informed individuals present their position with facts, opinions or insights on the issue. The material is posted unedited, in its entirety, as received. If you have further comment on the issue, please send an e-mail message, complete with your name, address and telephone number to

Local teacher announces her candidacy for regional superintendent of schools

By Jean Anderson, candidate

[OCT. 31, 2001]  My name is Jean Anderson and I am announcing my intent to be a Republican candidate for the office of Regional Superintendent of Schools for Logan, Mason, and Menard counties.

I am a graduate of Lincoln College and Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois, Springfield). I have a Masterís Degree in Educational Administration and hold the Type 75 certificate, both requirements for the position of Regional Superintendent. I am currently employed by Lincoln Elementary District #27 Schools as the eighth grade Language Arts teacher at The Lincoln Junior High School, a position I have held for the past seventeen years. I also serve that school as its Discipline and Attendance Officer.

A member of the First United Methodist Church of Lincoln, I was its organist for over 22 years and currently serve on the Board of Trustees. I am chair of the Communications and Bargaining committees and treasurer of the Lincoln Elementary Education Organization, and also belong to the Illinois Education Association, the National Education Association, and the Lincoln Junior High School Parent-Teacher Organization.

The daughter of Lincoln residents Paul E. and the late Helen Musa Rankin, I have resided in Lincoln and Logan County for my entire life. My husband of thirty-two years, Mike, is a Logan County Highway Department employee. We are parents of Jonathan Anderson, Director of Instrumental Studies at The Victoria College, Victoria, Texas; and James Anderson, a kindergarten teacher at Mt. Pulaski Grade School, Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. My sister, Susan Rohrer, and her family also reside in Lincoln.

Although I am a political novice, I believe I would be an effective Regional Superintendent. For one, I am a strong written and oral communicator, due to many years of teaching and music performance. I have a working knowledge of school law and the many issues educators currently face. Having spent seventeen years in the classroom, I am very much aware of the concerns felt by today's teachers. I have received formal training in negotiations, employer/employee team building, and conflict resolution, and have served as chief negotiator for our district's bargaining team. Our last three contracts have been settled amicably, without mediation or work-stoppage. In addition, I am organized and work well both independently and in group situations.



[to top of second column in this section]

Teacher recertification is an important new issue in the education field. I am currently serving as a member of my district's Local Professional Development Committee, a group responsible for overseeing and assessing the state-required recertification requirements of our teaching staff. I received training for this position through the Springfield Regional Office of Education. Part of my duties as Regional Superintendent will be to provide local training for the teachers of Logan, Mason, and Menard counties, and assist them in the recertification process. I also plan to work with local school districts that want to become Providers, a designation that allows them to bring on-site training for their staff rather than sending them to another location for training or paying an outside group for facilitating the process.

When elected, my intention is to continue in the professional and dedicated manner of our current Regional Superintendent George Janet. Not only has his leadership been outstanding, the fact that he is a resident of this county has been a definite advantage for all Logan County citizens, and he has represented the Republican party well. I believe that it is advantageous for this tradition to continue. Therefore, I feel that my party affiliation, my residency in this county, my strong ties with area schools and school personnel, and my knowledge and dedication to current issues make me a strong contender for the position of Regional Superintendent.


Jean Anderson


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


Lincoln School District


School buildings in 1859


"Grammar school" in 1859


High school teacher, Mr. January, in 1859


Central School opened


High school building started


High school dedicated, Jan. 5


Cost of new high school


Election authorized community high school District #404


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


Whatís Up With That?


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