THUMBS UP TO… a magical run. Marquette Academy’s baseball season lasted until the last possible day of the season. Only four teams in each class are lucky and talented enough to play on Saturday in June at Peoria’s Dozer Park, and although the Crusaders had hoped to be playing for the championship trophy, the school’s second ever berth in the third-place game is surely reason enough to celebrate. After all, the school hadn’t advanced that far since 1999.
We try to cover as many high school teams as possible in the sports section, and it’s difficult to praise all the worthy accomplishments here on the editorial page. But this particular group of Marquette hardballers showed remarkable resilience, overcoming deficits three different times in the state tournament alone, and all season long has made the entire Marquette community proud. The school still waits for its first team state championship, but they’re all winners in our book.
THUMBS DOWN TO… an upsetting trend. Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn has been calling attention to the fact the number of vehicle-related fatalities in the states is “going in the wrong direction,” a fact he repeated at the recent Illinois Bike Summit. Indeed, after the number of deaths in vehicle crashes didn’t exceed three digits in 2015, it was 1,078 in 2016 and 1,098 in 2017. It’s little consolation to know this reflects a national trend — a slow climb after what appeared to be prolonged improvement — it just underscores the importance of finding a solution.
To his credit, Blankenhorn plans to organize some sort of summit later this year to consider if there’s a way to leverage state resources to try to get things moving back in a more favorable course. We’re anxious to see what experts he brings to the table, and more so what ideas they might have: road design, traffic laws, police patrol, driver regulations and more, all ideas should be considered.
THUMBS UP TO… putting it on paper. The news might have gotten overlooked amidst a flurry of end-of-the-year activities, but it was something of a relief last week to learn the Ottawa High School Board and the district’s teachers’ union agreed on a new contract to run through the following three school years. Teachers had been working without a contract for roughly two years, but with the end of the fiscal year looming June 30, both sides found the motivation to get everything resolved.
Labor strife is difficult in any profession, but there are added layers of complications when students and taxpayers are involved. Memories of the last Ottawa High faculty strike are still raw and rough, and so we assume there’s a lot of contentment knowing things should be relatively calm for the next several years. Hopefully that will give administrators time to see the actual implications of a new state funding formula and the 2020s will be a decade of labor peace and uninterrupted education.
THUMBS DOWN TO… an abbreviated sentence? Count us among those hoping President Donald Trump was just speculating during public remarks last week about the possibility he might commute the federal prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The president seems to agree with the ex-governor’s assertion that he’s only in prison because his political enemies seized an opportunity to punish him for, in his own words “the routine practices of politics and government,” according to his essay in The Wall Street Journal.
This, of course, is nothing new from Blagojevich, who has persistently refused to acknowledge the depths of his corruption, the repeated violations of public trust and the detailed work of dozens of dedicated law enforcement professionals as well as the many layers of the justice system that have given his case all the consideration it is warranted. Blagojevich’s conviction was a victory for the people of Illinois, and his sentence should stand as a warning to all folks who think playing fast and loose with the rules is just how politics gets done. Illinois has a lot of cleaning up to do, and letting Blagojevich skate early would send exactly the wrong message.