Here are excerpts of editorials from newspapers around Illinois

May 18, 2020

(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

Pritzker must rally support behind pandemic plan

Living and working as we do in Chicago’s suburbs, as you do, we are sympathetic to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency directive and to the state’s conservative economic reopening plan.

The Chicago metropolitan area is a hotbed of the novel coronavirus -- one of the worst in the nation, in fact -- and we have as much at risk as anyone.

By the same token, it is clear that the public’s resolve is beginning to splinter in the face of long-term isolation, widespread unemployment and deepening threats to livelihoods small and large.

Is this splintering being exploited by cynical political factions? No doubt, to some degree. This is the nature of cynical political factions, even when universal public interests are at stake.

But the growing unease cannot be attributed solely to that.

The Northwest Municipal Conference has expressed reservations. The Naperville Park District has filed suit. DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties want revisions to Pritzker’s plan.

These are not all populists and reactionaries. They don’t all come with political axes to grind.

They reflect a growing unease, whether legitimate or not.

There is a real concern among the people, not just about their health but also about their way of life. This is a natural concern, a human concern, and it needs to be addressed a little less with lectures and a little more with empathy.

All and all, we think the governor has done an admirable job of confronting the enormous threat of a worldwide pandemic, the greatest challenge Pritzker and our generation have ever confronted.

He has been proactive, on point, up front, unrelenting, unafraid and unabashedly organized. He recognized early on the magnitude of the peril we face. His response no doubt has saved lives and heartache.

But as the governor, his role must go beyond rule setting and policy execution. His duty, more on this issue than any other he’s ever faced, is to rally the public behind him.

Our response to the pandemic cannot be effective without public support. The governor’s response cannot be effective without it. The public health depends on it.

We know. Easier said than done.

But that’s the mission. That’s the job that must be done.

We recognize the governor must, at times at least, grow weary from the apparent thanklessness of his endless burden. But now is not the time to shrink from history’s call.

This Wednesday, the General Assembly returns to Springfield under unique and consequential circumstances.

A place to start, in this quest to rally the public, is with legislative ratification of his emergency decree and his reopening plan. To rally the public, the place to start is by rallying the public’s representatives.

This is no small task. But then, Pritzker ran for office to do, as he said, big things. None are bigger than this.

We wish him well in the endeavor.


May 17, 2020

The (Champaign) News-Gazette

Coming attraction: It’s back to Springfield for long-absent members of the House and Senate

The legislature’s scheduled return to Springfield this week sets the stage for what will be one of the most historically odd sessions ever.

It will be a truncated gathering in the middle of a pandemic with Illinois in a state of economic devastation and a battered budget plan to pass in a heartbeat.

If that doesn’t lay the groundwork for another Illinois-style fiasco, it’s hard to imagine what would.

At the same time, there’s another issue that has sparked considerable conversation, even some humor: Will all legislators submit to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s conduct pledge that includes agreeing to wear masks as a safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus?

Word is that a handful of Republicans are resisting the request of Minority Leader Jim Durkin to toe the line. No masks for them, they say. Will the dissenters be admitted to the session?

Not that it matters much, but dissenting Republicans ought to go with the program. The House and Senate have institutional rules that require deference from members, and this time, masks are one of them. If they wish to speak truth to the lockdown power supported by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon, let them do so through the masks.

Of course, majority Democrats aren’t interested in providing a platform for Pritzker critics to take potshots at the governor’s increasingly unpopular lockdown that has claimed the state’s economy as collateral damage. At the same time, they don’t want to have to defend it publicly, either. So it will be interesting to see how the warring parties approach the matter.

The big issue, of course, is passing a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The collapse in state revenues has complicated matters severely, the reality being that Illinois doesn’t have the money to meet its current obligations and won’t have the money to support desired spending for the new fiscal year, either.

This is a conundrum for spendthrift legislators. If past is prologue, they will spend money the state doesn’t have in the vain hope that it will all work out. That’s the approach that has reduced Illinois to effective bankruptcy.

The good news is that incumbent legislators have been, and probably will continue to be, easily re-elected as a reward for their budgetary malpractice. So why not more of the same? Between complacent voters and gerrymandered legislative districts, lawmakers in both parties have little to worry about in a political sense. Policy wise, it’s another story.

Fortunately for them, the pandemic provides legislators a perfect excuse for doing little. So they probably will pass a budget and hit the road.

If so, it will leave Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot unhappy. Desperate for more revenue, she wants quick approval of plans for an already-authorized Chicago casino, a surefire revenue gusher. But other interests have complicated her efforts — that always happens when the subject of expanding gambling comes up — and they’re likely to gum up the works.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that legislators have another concern — lockdown protests that could generate negative feelings for the governor and his supporters. The natives are clearly getting restless — for good reason — and legislators want no part of that.

So the action plan is for inaction — in Wednesday, out Friday, passing another deficit budget that dumps much of the responsibility for making cuts, and all of the responsibility for the lockdown and its horrendous consequences, on the governor.

Expect many profiles this week in Springfield, but no profiles in courage.


May 17, 2020

The Quincy Herald-Whig

Cooler heads must prevail as next phase approaches

While we wait to hear whether the state will move to the next phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan later this month, we are being serenaded on all sides by a chorus of increasingly erratic voices.

First, we have a few things to make clear. No one -- repeat, NO ONE -- actually enjoys that schools, businesses, concert venues, sports arenas, theaters and more have been forced to close in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. No one gets satisfaction from people’s livelihoods being torn apart. No one is happy to see their family, friends and neighbors struggle.

No one.

Even so, it seems more and more people are losing sight of that fact. A growing number of protesters and defenders of Pritzker’s stay-at-home order have taken their vitriol to hyperbolic extremes on social media, apparently casting aside any notion that we all are in this together. Supporters claim those opposing the governor’s orders just want others to die to keep themselves from being inconvenienced. Protesters claim those defending the order are trying to usher in Soviet-style communism. Neither group has shown any reluctance to make their attacks personal, stooping to name-calling and worse.

Otherwise-respected members of this community have turned into children, hurling taunts at each other instead of listening to what their friends and neighbors have to say and working together to find a path forward.

We are now less than two weeks from the possibility of moving to the next phase of the state’s plan on May 28. This is crucial time that could be spent making sure distancing recommendations will be followed, putting in place plans to reduce occupancy and keep safe once doors are opened.

Instead of joining forces to make sure as many people and businesses are safe, however, the temptation of taunting one another on social media is leading too many astray.

The options before us right now are basically three-fold. We can follow the plan and get ready to move forward later this month. We can try to take legal action against the state. Or we can act in open defiance of the order.

The first option offers the safest results for the most people, and ultimately it offers the safest results for businesses.

The second option, legal action, offers little recourse. Yes, we can file lawsuits, and yes, a judge might issue a stay. But the suits will not be heard completely, nor will they be finally adjudicated for months, wasting time, effort and money for all involved.

The third option, going it alone, has the potential to inflict substantial long-term damage to people and businesses. Yes, we can declare we will not follow the order and open our doors without limitations. While putting employees and customers at risk, it also endangers businesses, who face the loss of professional and other licenses, not to mention the cancellation of insurance policies for acting outside the good graces of the state.

There is admittedly no win-win scenario here. The only truly positive path forward is the one that does the least amount of harm to the most people. While we still hope that in concordance with moving the state to the next phase Pritzker breaks the state into smaller zones and allows more local decision-making, even if he doesn’t, we still believe a judicious, phased approach to reopening is best.

We all must also realize that a post-COVID society likely will look far different than anything we are used to. Instead of fearing that, however, we can unleash our imaginations and look for new and creative ways to conduct our culture. We might not ever be able to go back to the way things were, but we have to ask ourselves, do we have to?

If you’ve ever wanted a chance to help build a better world, one of the greatest opportunities of our lifetimes is now before us. Before you post another meme or wade into another comment war, think about whether you’re offering a positive contribution or simply stirring the pot.