deptheader-lettersYes: public ownership of water company

For the last several months, I have served on a committee established by the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria to explore the question:  “Will public ownership of a water company benefit the people of Central Illinois?” After much research, it is abundantly clear to me that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

About 85 percent of municipalities in the United States own their water companies. Some manage the day-to-day operations, but in many instances, the public entity contracts with a private water company to manage the system. Regardless of the method of management, it is important for ownership to be in the hands of the public for many reasons.

Public ownership allows for control of the water rates and for such rates to be reasonably related to the costs of expenses for the service area. Our water rates are much higher than necessary and reflect costs not associated with Peoria. Public ownership would mandate public notification and input for water treatment changes that could affect water quality and public health; such notification and input does not happen now. How many people were aware of the switch from chlorine to chloramine?

Conservation of our water is important for future generations. Customers should be incentivized to reduce water usage; that is not a priority for a private water company that wishes to maximize profits.

There is no question that there is profitability in owning the water system. It is estimated that Illinois American realizes approximately a 9 percent rate of return on its investment. Such profits should be used to improve solely our Peoria system with any excess dedicated to other pressing municipal needs, not to increase the dividends to investors.

Our forefathers sold our water company at a time when funds were needed and Illinois municipalities could not constitutionally incur debt. But they were uncomfortable enough with that decision to predicate the sale on the ability to revisit that decision every five years and to repurchase if they so desired. That contractual right has been upheld by the courts in a legal struggle I participated in as a former member of the Peoria City Council. It will soon be time for the City to determine if it wishes to exercise its due diligence and determine the cost of public ownership. They owe it to the public to do so.

Gale Thetford, Peoria

Trump destroys hope and optimism

I welcome Ray LaHood’s Views and Perspectives in Community Word. I respond here to some of Mr. LaHood’s column in the January 2017 issue.

Mr. LaHood stated that “…we look to 2017 with hope and optimism.” I cannot live without hope, but I am not optimistic. The overarching reason is Donald Trump’s statements, actions and personality. Many of his statements are untrue (if he is ignorant of the evidence) or lies (if he knows the evidence). An example is his claims that global climate change is a “hoax,” “bullshit,” and “nonsense.” These claims are disturbing if untrue or if lies.

Mr. LaHood identifies four big national problems. He did not include two that I put at the top of my list: global climate change and the extreme unequal distribution of income and wealth.

Mr. LaHood said that Jan. 20 is “. . . the day we renew our commitment to democracy . . .” I did not hear that commitment from Donald Trump on Jan. 20 or since from him and his closest advisors. For example, consider their pronouncements on curtailing the freedom of the press.

Mr. LaHood closed with “The truth is if the President is successful; America is successful.” I label that a falsehood, not a truth.

Herman Brockman, Congerville

Gut health

It was good to read about the research into the gut microbiome being done at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (February issue of Community Word).

My battle with colon cancer included abdominal surgery. Whenever the body is violated in that area, infection remains a concern. I was unfortunately one of the unlucky ones who developed what the doctors at the Mayo Clinic informed me was, “not common, but also not uncommon.” I underwent a second procedure when the surgeon, rather than put me on a regimen of antibiotics, cut a port. This provided the ability to drain the infection several times a day. The medical team at the Mayo Clinic explained to me the advantage of not using antibiotics, as they also kill good bacteria. They went on to speak of the advantages of a diverse set of natural probiotics, such as those found in yogurt, in the digestive system as a key component for a healthy and a strong immune system.

Chris Stevens, Bradford  

In solidarity with our American ideals

On Jan. 21, I stood with almost 2,000 protestors at the Gateway Building here in Peoria. As you know, we were just a small number of the four million strong Women’s March, which brought people together around the world to rally in support of American ideals: human rights, justice, liberty and equality for all people. Being part of such a crowd provided a moment of hope and solidarity in the midst of the overwhelming dread that many of us felt as we faced the prospect of a new administration and Congress bent on pursuing narrow-minded policies built upon fear and profiteering rather than rationality and compassion.

One month on, it seems that our worst apprehensions are coming to pass. The Trump administration and Congress have begun the assault on the righteous, caring, and responsible nation that America aspires to be. And as Trump attempts to close our borders and antagonizes our nation’s friends, our foreign enemies look to take advantage of his rhetoric and actions to advance their own interests around the globe. All the while, Congress has commenced dismantling the protections and support for workers, the poor and elderly, students, the environment, and nearly every other group and entity except corporations and the wealthy.

But there are some rays of hope. A robust and growing number of Americans are doing everything they can to thwart these changes through civic action. But we need to do more to preserve the best that our nation offers. And we need more people to join the fight. I urge you – for the sake of our nation’s future, the well-being of our fellow citizens and people around the world, and our own dignity – to grow the movement begun at the Women’s March by continuing the fight against the dangerous discourse and policies emanating from the White House and the halls of Congress. I look forward to standing with you at protests, joining our names together on petitions and letters, running for office and voting for one another, and otherwise fighting to preserve and extend the opportunities, protections, and ideals that are at the very heart of our nation.

In solidarity,

Jeffrey Kosiorek, Peoria  

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