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OUR VIEW: Discussing the problem might bring solutions closer

THUMBS UP TO… putting it on the table. It’s not clear that any immediate solutions sprang from last week’s Illinois Valley Community College roundtable discussion about the ongoing opioid crisis, but we salute everyone involved for trying to move things forward by organizing the event. Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti moderated the conference, which also included those involved with government, social service, medical and public health agencies.

What we especially liked to hear was the many speakers who explained how mental health issues contribute to drug addiction, which means treatment and education deserve priority over simple punitive measures. When people feel more comfortable seeking help than they do worried about the stigma around addiction, and when those of us who aren’t trapped in the cycle have more empathy than derision for those who are, then perhaps we might as a community be able to break free from the way these drugs devastate lives and families.

THUMBS DOWN TO… callous attitudes. Nearly every week it seems we’re reporting on a serious vehicle collision. Far too frequently these reports involve a fatality. The silver lining is the occasional opportunity to make note of attempts to prevent future tragedies, such as last week’s story about La Salle County getting approval for $189,000 in federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds for the intersection at Route 23 and County Highway 5, also designated as North 18th Road and known as the Leonore Blacktop.

That intersection was indeed the site of a fatal crash almost two years ago, and we’re glad to see a governmental partnership taking proactive steps such as rumble strips, warning lights and signs reminding turning traffic that Route 23 vehicles don’t have to stop. What we’re not enthused by is the people who brand this as a waste of money because there’s no guarantee another careless driver won’t look past the new warnings. That may well be true, but what purpose does government serve if not to strive for public safety? And this seems a common-sense approach to guarding against another preventable death.

THUMBS UP TO… a solid match. We’re not in the habit of commenting on the suitability of every member of every local governing body, but we’re making an exception for last week’s appointment of Brenden Donahue to the Ottawa Elementary School District board. Donahue, who also is a corporal with the Ottawa Police Department, served 13 years as the school resource officer working with OES schools. He will serve the remaining year of a term before considering campaigning for a full four-year stint.

Donahue’s experience working inside the district’s schools will serve him remarkably well as a board member. As an active member of the police department and veteran SRO, his insight on matters of school security will be most welcome at a time when those issues are widely discussed. But he’s also a district taxpayer and the parent of a child who soon will be an OES student. We’re glad he offered his services at this time and hope he fits well with the rest of the board and district administration.

THUMBS DOWN TO… misleading language. There has been far too much debate about the country’s federal immigration laws to tackle in this brief space, but one specific detail seems worth examining. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives was considering two immigration reform bills, one of which became known as the compromise option. And while that might be technically true, voters might need to dig into the details a bit to learn that the compromise is between the center and hard right groups of House Republicans — neither option involved Democrat support.

It’s hard to blame the lawmakers themselves here. After all, if folks are making a compromise, even with colleagues on their own side of the aisle, then calling it that seems fair. So perhaps it falls on the media — we’re including ourselves — to be more diligent about contextualizing remarks as opposed to simply parroting. If the Democrats don’t feel they should vote for either option, that’s fair, too. We just want readers and voters — and again, ourselves — to remember that not all compromises are bipartisan, and it’s important to split those hairs in the name of understanding.

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