Award-Winning Editorial

Reprinted with Permission: The Regional News, Thursday, January 29. 2009

Hope is Calling

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear; unity of purpose over conflict and discord.  On this day, we come to proclaim an end to petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics.

President Barack Obama in his inaugural address asks that We the People of the United States meet the challenges facing our nation with the same timeless virtues of courage, honesty and integrity that guided our Founding Fathers in the face of common danger at the dawn of this republic’s history.  Although those challenges and the policy tools with which we meet them may be new, President Obama said “those values upon which our success depends – honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old.  These things are true.”

What’s true for the nation at large holds true for us, here at home in Palos-Orland.  How shall we heed the call?  We, this newspaper serving this community since 1941, founded during an even darker night of American history than the shadows that are now gathering, we softly and tenderly submit a few suggestions.

See, on the portals . . .

Waiting and watching out for you and for me, the highest duty of local government is to protect the public health and safety of the community. To that end, we urge the governments of Palos-Orland to heed the wisdom of NAMI Southwest, the League of Women Voters of the Palos-Orland Area and other voices urging them to work together with health-care providers, clergy and others to broaden equal access to affordable mental-health services for all residents.  We commend Orland Park, which now offers public-information forums aimed to help those in need and encourage the village to both broaden its efforts and liaise with Palos Park and Palos Heights to get on board.  A safe and sane world, in which anguish and despair are treated with kindness and care, begins at home. 

For the public safety, we cite all three local police departments for their commitment to warning citizens of any-and-all threats to the public safety from severe weather warnings to community crime alerts of break-ins, scams and other crimes victimizing homeowners and other residents under their protection.  Please keep helping us help you to serve and protect the lives and property of our readers and their neighbors. 

Turning to public finances, earnestly tenderly, we implore the village of Orland Park to consider Peace over war or rumors of war: To cease eminent domain condemnation legal proceedings and return to negotiations with George Gee to determine a fair equitable price to purchase his Orland Plaza shopping center to complete the Main Street Triangle development.  Weigh the costs of war versus peace; act accordingly as wise custodians of taxpayer dollars.  Caring stewards of the People’s hard-earned money do not use it to enrich attorneys, squander it in legal bills and court costs.  We whisper patience, kindness. Line up a developer first.  Assure us that well-loved stores such as Randy’s Market and Lange Lee II restaurant will find a home in any downtown triangle that these hard times have stalled.

Why should we tarry; why should we linger?

Palos Heights, what a testament that Bob Straz is the mayor of a town in which developers are willing to pay a $100,000 donation to rezone a vacant parcel of land in order to build a bank. And what to do with this money freely and openly given and accepted?  Add it to the city’s accumulated surplus of $2.6 million to sit in banks, where it does no real good but earn interest?  Or use some of the funds to make public improvement to better the life of the community?  As in the days of FDR and the Great Depression, not so far from the worst fears of many today, spend to give purpose to volunteers and work to the jobless.  Civic improvements on the proposed art park, a beloved but aging pool, and commercial and residential beautification efforts.  The Palos Lions Club, Friends of the Literacy, the League of Women Voters’ Go Green campaign, all more good causes, as is the planned anniversary gift from the Palos Heights Woman’s Club to Lake Katherine – Mr. Mayor help let this garden bloom!  As soon as possible, in its time and season, starting this spring.  Please.

The planned trolley service circling Palos Heights and Trinity Christian College, an idea by its president, supported by both sides in the mayoral campaign, is another wonderful idea we encourage, no matter whom its author.  And let this planned route also take us to the possibility of student dormitories for Trinity on the land the college leases along the Calumet-Sag Channel.  So they can come home, from student housing in Worth to their college town of Palos Heights, A College Town USA.  And to foster the development of a campus town, a commercial area of shops and eateries serving students and others along Ridgeland Avenue at Route 83. 

Time is now fleeting; the moments are passing.

A few suggestions, humbly submitted as we take this moment of Hope, with Faith that our readers Love these communities as much as we do.  At the end of this first month of a new at the start of a new administration in Washington, D.C., let us make new beginnings in the work we are in to make this a better life, a wonderful life for you and for me.  With malice toward none, charity for all, as Lincoln said, in this great country, the last, best hope of mankind.

A Lincolnesque figure himself, our new president said it so well on Jan 20: “In the words of Scripture the time has come to set aside childish things.  The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirt; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. “

“Softly and Tenderly,” words and music by Will. L. Thomson, 1880.

Photo from Public Domain (Goodfree photos.com)

Published in The Regional News in January, 2009.