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Letters to the Editor

Lincoln Daily News publishes letters to the editor as they are received.
 The letters are not edited in content and do not necessarily reflect 
the views of Lincoln Daily News.

Lincoln Daily News requests that writers responding to controversial issues address the issue and refrain from personal attacks. Thank you!


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Letters to the Editor
Lincoln Daily News
601 Keokuk St.
Lincoln, IL  62656

Letters must include the writer's name, telephone number, and postal address or e-mail address (we will not publish address or phone number information). Lincoln Daily News reserves the right to edit letters to reduce their size or to correct obvious errors. Lincoln Daily News reserves the right to reject any letter for any reason. Lincoln Daily News will publish as many acceptable letters as space allows.

Is paying to fill business space good?       Send a link to a friend

For years and years we have had the Dollar Store in Lincoln. For perhaps a decade the Dollar General has been a part of our retail economy. This winter we have added the Family Dollar as well as the Dollar Tree to the Lincoln landscape. I suppose we could knick name ourselves "Bucktown" or maybe even "Silver Dollar City," but since both those names are taken, let's not. We could put up a sign at the city limits saying, "The buck stops here," but since Harry Truman already used that, I suppose I should just leave the puns alone.

The mathematics of the city giving a half mil in order to receive a 10-year commitment from both Dollar Tree and Goody's Family Clothing to stay in business and thus generate more sales tax revenue than the city's initial investment has been dwelt on enough. Allow me, if you will, to take a peek on the other side of the buck

I have always loved the thinking of our forefathers when they placed the pyramid on the dollar bill. Ben Franklin was given the job of creating the back of the U.S. greenback, and I believe he came up with a dandy idea. Looking at the pyramid, it's quite obvious that the top isn't resting yet on the base. Ben wanted to show us all that the job of building America wasn't done yet. The Latin phrase "annuit coeptis" in translation means "providence has favored our effort." The Latin phrase below the pyramid, "novus ordo seclorum," translates to "a new order has begun." Geez, it seems Ben Franklin knew the city council was going to decide to go out on a limb to fill two huge holes among our abandoned retail business locations.

It will take time before anyone can define for certain whether the council decision was mathematically correct. Although the Dollar Tree seems to be going great guns, there is always the question of economic redundancy of same-product sales. Same-product sales transferred from one retailer to another do not increase tax revenues.

Goody's, being a clothing retailer of many popular apparel brands, could be the difference. That franchise, carrying the most popular clothing and shoe brands America wants to buy, offered at low margins, could be a mall buster. Since Goody's hasn't opened yet, let's stick with the Dollar Tree and the nonmathematical benefits of that store's opening.

Both my wife and I have all our family members living out of town. Because Sharon is considered a nice person, all of them from time to time visit our home and thus the city of Lincoln. For years I heard remarks about Woodlawn Road. To these outsiders the potholed, tar-filled, cold-patch street signified to out-of-towners a problem with Lincoln. Jake, a brother-in-law, once stated, "The main drag in this town is horrible."

Four years ago Woodlawn was resurfaced, and without a comment from me, not only Jake but several other family members remarked how nice the street now was to travel on. Ah, the effects of appearance on a city.


[to top of second column in this letter]

For years, I cringed every time I drove past the pigeon hotel at the corner of Route 10 and Woodlawn. The defunct Heritage Inn restaurant sign seemed ironic to me. Is that what the city's heritage looks like? It's gone now, and for many of us a vacant lot is so much more appealing than the building.

I believe that having a huge retail structure empty on our main business drag was not beneficial when potential new business people quietly inspected our town. The opening of two national chain stores with more than $3 billion in sales last year does, I believe, make a potential candidate to opening a business in Lincoln perceive us in a much better light. Could those two stores cause another retailer or perhaps a small manufacturer to inquire about possibly joining our town? Time will answer that, but I believe we have a better chance with those two retailers in place than without them.

There is no question that the Dollar Tree is in competition with not only the other dollar stores but grocery stores and Wal-Mart. What effect the Dollar Tree is having on competitors is obvious if you are a discerning shopper. Prices on many goods have gone down at other stores. The savings are not going to cause a yacht dealer to find Lincoln a bastion of new discretionary savings and open a "Boat-Mart," but they are real and they do add up. Just multiply the five or six or 10 bucks you save a week buying essentials and multiply it by 52 weeks. Nice little raise, isn't it.

Another factor is cost versus usage. A simplified explanation would be perfume compared with paper towels. Now perfume is fairly expensive, so it is used modestly. Paper towels, on the other hand, are inexpensive at about a buck a roll. Now paper towels are two or sometimes even three rolls for a dollar. Now we have something we consider so cheap that we use them more and buy more, creating added sales not only for Dollar Tree but for the competitors who have moved their prices lower in order to remain competitive. There are hundreds of items, of course, that can fall into the paper towel category, so there is the potential for a modest overall increase in total city sales tax receipts. If we spend tax dollars and receive lower prices on consumables, there must be a cost savings and benefit that, again, won't show up in tax receipts.

Competition is great for consumers, but it is hard on a retailer's bottom line. In order to keep competition thriving, it is our job to shop all the retailers who offer what Dollar Tree does. Sales increases that offset lower margins will keep these retailers of consumables healthy. It also means good times for all of us shoppers.

I have to go now, I just spilled my coffee. I might use a whole roll of paper towels to clean up this mess.

Mike Fak


(posted Feb. 28, 2004)

Law and grandparents' visitation       Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

My husband and I live in Oklahoma, and after our daughter's death in 1994 during childbirth, we were granted final orders for visitation from the state of Texas in February 2000. When the father moved to Illinois, our orders were registered in the state of Illinois.

After Supreme Court Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald struck down grandparents' visitation rights in the state of Illinois, the father of our grandson went to court in Rock Island, Ill., and the judge had to uphold the Supreme Court's decision, so our orders were set aside.


[to top of second column in this letter]

We encourage all grandparents who find themselves in the same situation as we are to support the House Bill 3959, to please call, e-mail and even write their state senators and members of the state House of Representatives.

For more information about HB 3959, go to www.legis.state.il.us/ and you can read the full text of the bill.

We are devoted to continuing our relationship with our grandson that we had since birth until our orders were struck down in Illinois.


Robert and Oleta Meadows

Oklahoma City, Okla.

(posted Feb. 28, 2004)

Prison sentence seen as just and fair          Send a link to a friend

To the editor:

I'd like to express some feelings regarding the letter published recently in Lincoln Daily News from Christopher Doak, the young man from Maroa who was sentenced to a prison term for reckless homicide in the deaths of three local people in a car crash in rural Maroa in August 2002.

At first, the letter seemed to be a humble apology to those families affected by the senseless tragedy. I initially thought it rather brave for this young man to express his regret about what he did and the incomprehensible sorrow he has caused.

However, the last few sentences in that letter made me shake my head. To think that Christopher Doak thinks of his prison term as a hindrance in his ability to be "productive and helping others" is sickening. He was not "helping others" that Friday evening in August 2002 when he plowed through a stop sign and annihilated three innocent people, as well as the lives of those who loved them.

Perhaps Mr. Doak feels that rather than a prison sentence, the punishment for reckless homicide should be an extended lecture circuit? Or perhaps some community service to tidy up his mess?


[to top of second column in this letter]

Mr. Doak begins his letter stating that he has accepted responsibility for that car crash. He ends it by whining about being in prison.

Mr. Doak, if you truly had accepted responsibility for what you have done, you would accept your sentence as a just and fair punishment -- some would say even lenient -- and realize that while you will be out and about in approximately 10 to 12 years, the Camfield and Marsh families have been sentenced to life without their loved ones. Seems to me, when you compare the two situations, you got the better end of the deal.

You end your letter stating, "Dealing with the emotions of this responsibility is a living hell!" I wonder how your suffering stands up to that of Jerry and Abby Camfield and their family, as well as Becky Marsh and her three sons and their families. I can only imagine that the hell they live with each day would make your suffering seem pale in comparison.

Karla Denzler


(posted Feb. 26, 2004)

The right person at the right time      Send a link to a friend

The first time I had a conversation with Rob Orr was seven summers ago. Well, it wasn't really a conversation. Rob was conversing with me. I, on the other hand, was just ranting.

My partner at the time, Bill Haak, and I were getting the old Doty's Jewelry store in the Arcade ready for our antiques store. It was a day when I was writing six checks to six different entities that my carefully crafted business plan had not realized would need my largess. It was just after balancing a new checkbook with all kinds of withdrawals but not one deposit that Rob walked through the door.

Rob was dropping off a chamber membership package and was enthusiastically trying to get the store to become a member. I cannot recall my exact words, but they were something along the lines of: Why should I give you any money? What the heck will the chamber do for me? and on and on till I flopped the packet on the counter and told Rob I would think about it. Still polite, Rob said he would stop by another day. I am quite certain as he left the store that he must have felt he had just met the biggest donkey in Logan County.

To close out this story quickly, Rob did persevere and come back, Bill and I did join the chamber, and the legend of my being a "firm keister" grew in the business community.

Over the years I would see Rob on occasion. Always a polite young man, he would drop a few proverbs my way, and I would gruff something back at him.

I followed Rob's business efforts as we all did in the paper. Not always certain he wasn't just crazy, I continued to admire the fact that he was trying hard to rejuvenate downtown structures and businesses. We never developed a friendship, but I always thought highly of his hard work ethic and the way he carried himself

Six weeks ago I read that Rob was hired on an interim basis to fill the EDC job, and my economically deprived spirits picked up. Here was someone who actually knew what it was like to be in business accepting a job to promote and help create business.

This week I spent over an hour with Rob, and now my spirits are more positive than they have been in years that the right person at the right time is our economic development director. The only thing that could further boost my morale is if the word "interim" is removed from his job description.


[to top of second column in this letter]

I could tell you specifics of the things Rob and I talked about during that hour, but besides running out of column space, I would prefer he communicate directly with you. I sincerely hope he will use the available media to share with you the ideas and ideals that he shared with me this past week.

I want you to see that he knows what it's like to build business dreams in Lincoln and Logan County. Rob knows what it's like to have a great day at the cash register as well as what it's like to stare out a storefront window and ask the Lord where the customers are that day. He has personally experienced what it's like to restore old structures like the Depot and the Avery and Comstock building. He has dealt with the encouragements and the disappointments of being an entrepreneur as well as a retailer. Most of all, he knows what it's like to work 60 or 70 hours a week, as he did at The Restaurant at the Depot, chasing a dream of making a better life in a town where he has invested his efforts and his money.

Rob understands the balance between retail and manufacturing. He is aware that affordable housing is an element of economic growth and that a community working together can achieve great things. Rob also appreciates and understands the needs of those of us who have already made the maximum commitment of having a retail business or factory right here, right now.

I asked Rob to define his job, and his simple two-word answer is better than anything I could have come up with if I used up another 50 column inches. Rob defines his position as "job broker." Those two words carry more power and hope for this city and county than any others I could imagine.

Mike Fak


(posted Feb. 25, 2004)

Related articles in Lincoln Daily News

Brady pledges support for new university president       Send a link to a friend

Monday it was announced by the board of trustees at Illinois State University that Dr. Al Bowman will be named president of the university.

I want to extend my congratulations to Al and Linda Bowman on being selected for such a prestigious and important position. Not only have they given over two decades of service to Illinois State University, its students and faculty, they have the institutional knowledge that will help forward the university at this time.

In my 12 years in the Illinois General Assembly, I have been pleased to have worked with four university presidents, each of them fitting the unique role and providing a unique form of leadership at the necessary time. I firmly believe that there is no one better suited to fill the role of presidency at Illinois State University than Dr. Al Bowman.


[to top of second column in this letter]

At this time, he possesses the skills necessary to enhance and motivate the faculty. He has the determination to recruit top-quality students and challenge them to meet their highest potential. He has the ability to ask people who have benefited from Illinois State University to invest in its future through contributions to its endowments.

We are struggling under very difficult times financially, and it is critical that we have leadership like Al Bowman and the rest of the administration and faculty on the campus at Illinois State University.

I pledge my full support in working with Dr. Bowman as he pursues academic excellence and achievement for Illinois State University.

Sen. Bill Brady


(posted Feb. 24, 2004)

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