Representative Zalewski Continues Call for Tougher Gun Laws

http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/tragic-murder-shows-need-for-stronger-gun-laws/

The tragic murder of nine–year-old Tyshawn Lee described by Frank Main and Stefano Esposito once again highlights the urgent need for stiffer penalties for convicted felons who choose to ignore our laws and terrorize our communities.

The accused murderer of Tyshawn had no fewer than three arrests for carrying an illegal weapon and was released on parole at the time he lured a child into an alley and executed him.

Regrettably, this is just one in a long line of heartbreaking instances of horrific violence that can be prevented if the General Assembly and Governor choose to strengthen our gun laws. House Bill 5714 expands the definition of “armed habitual criminal” (an an offense that carries a severe penalty) to include people caught twice possessing illegal guns. House Bill 6193 permits a judge to determine whether a gun offender should be subject to Illinois’ truth-in-sentencing laws when imposing a sentence.

Your article demonstrates that, once again, our criminal justice system remains unacceptably flawed by rigid rules that punish defendants who need rehabilitation while turning a blind eye to the true threats to our communities.

I will keep fighting for a balanced approach that aims to truly serve a state in need of comprehensive criminal justice reform.

Michael J. Zalewski, state representative, 23rd District

Keep the townships

Earlier this year the Governor’s Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates released its final report providing 27 recommendations on how to lower property taxes through consolidating layers of government and reducing the number of financially burdensome unfunded mandates.

While many of these proposals are well intended and appear clear cut, we believe that the elimination of Townships would only lead to potentially higher taxes and stretch the already strained resources of municipalities.

In our communities, the loss of the services provided by Hanover Township would have a negative impact on the quality of life for many of our most vulnerable residents. We do not believe our residents would be better served if each municipality expended the resources to create their own food pantry, senior center with the transportation, or youth after school programs and therapy, among other needed services. If Hanover Township was consolidated into Cook County, many of our residents have concerns regarding the county’s ability to deliver these services in a cost effective and responsive manner.

The years of mismanagement from our leaders in Springfield have left too many of our residents out in the cold when it comes to taking care of their needs. Local government, like Hanover Township, is reliable and efficient in ensuring there are no gaps and that no one falls through the cracks in service delivery. We have worked hard to create cooperative programs, increase efficiencies and in the past, reduced redundancies. We will continue to work with our local governments to serve our residents in the most cooperative way possible.

Local government consolidation deserves serious consideration but losing the high quality services provided by Townships that our residents need would be a disservice to the taxpayers and would not be in the best interest of our communities.

David Kaptain, mayor, Elgin

Rod Craig, mayor, Hanover Park

Terry Gavin, council member, Elgin

Rosamaria Martinez, council member, Elgin

Raymond H. Deyne, trustee, Bartlett

Michael Baumer, trustee, Streamwood

Michael Gaeta , trustee, Hoffman Estates

Rich Janiec, president, Streamwood Park District

Blame the people

I totally disagree with Laura Washington’s March 7 column blaming the GOP for creating the so-called Trump monster. The American voters are responsible for Mr. Trump’s popularity. I will further state my opinion that Trump has bifurcated the Republican party to a point of no return for this coming election.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park

Value the teachers

Turned on the hopeless little screen yesterday to see former Bears coach Lovie Smith being introduced as the new University of Illinois football coach in a special live news event. The thought occurred to me if we’d see a live news event of the fabled Land of Lincoln flagship school introducing a great scholar or researcher. Nah. The United States doesn’t value scholarship or research. That’s why Lovie gets a $21 million deal (before incentives) while the professors who do the real work of the institution and society get the scraps. Maybe we should change Lovie’s job title to “Professor of Future Concussions.”

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn