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Local Editorials

OUR VIEW: Lands of opportunity in Ottawa, Marseilles

THUMBS UP TO… done deals. Last week held great news for nature lovers along the Illinois River, as Ottawa’s Daphne Mitchell donated 25 wooded acres at the far end of East Main Street to The Conservation Foundation while the Marseilles City Council traded 14-acre parcels with Nucor Tubular Products. Both deals should end up net positives for people who enjoy using the great outdoors, and we’re thrilled to see civic leaders embrace such creativity.

The Ottawa parcel will proceed to a lease between the city and Foundation, eventually leading to city ownership as well as eventually adding trails and shelters — “forever open and free from development,” Mayor Bob Eschbach promised — while Marseilles will trade its land on the south side of the river for a north side chunk that can accommodate a boat launch and perhaps 44 parking spaces and a concession building with restroom. They’re not making any more land, as the saying goes, so it’s always wise to make use of the resources we already have.

THUMBS DOWN TO… ignoring a clear sign. We’d like to think that in 2018 people could embrace some sort of common courtesy, but that certainly must not be the case with respect to parking spaces set aside for people with physical disabilities. Otherwise, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office wouldn’t have had to send its police officers to dozens of shopping malls throughout the state looking to catch people parking in such spots without the proper placards or license plates.

The issue isn’t weak penalties — flouting these rules can cost hundreds of dollars and lead to license suspensions and revocations — but that enough people think they can get away with breaking the rules because whatever they have to run into the store to grab quickly is more important than the well being of a person who truly needs the spot. The state has been running this Black Friday crackdown for a dozen years now, which means there’s still a lot of people who think the law just doesn’t apply in their case.

THUMBS UP TO… looking at Lincoln. It might be tempting to say there’s enough Abraham Lincoln memorabilia to go around, what with the statues and murals and school names and pennies in our pockets, but we’ve still got a little love for the effort to place new reproduction photographs of the Great Emancipator in courthouse buildings all around the state. The Illinois Judges Association, the Judges Foundation, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Bar Foundation and the Illinois State Historical Society, financed placement in most counties as a celebration of the state’s bicentennial.

The picture was taken after Lincoln won the nomination to run for president, which is important because it still connects to his sterling reputation as a lawyer and, when needed, a judge. He argued cases in Ottawa before the debate that launched his national trajectory. Speaking at the ceremony accepting the portrait, Presiding Appellate Justice Robert Carter profoundly underscored the significance of this effort: “He’s been the example for lawyers in this state of an attorney we want in our courts. He’s the kind of attorney judges expect in terms of honesty, integrity and regard for the rule of law.”

THUMBS DOWN TO… bridges (perhaps) too far. We’re completely on board with the Federal Communications Commission’s goal of eliminating unwanted telephone calls and text messages. Just think about how much time you’ve wasted listening to a recorded voice pitch insurance savings or free cruise tickets, or the worry that even deleting a spam text message will somehow unleash a phone-crippling virus.

One measure the FCC plans to pursue is creating a national database of disconnected and reassigned phone numbers, hopefully helping businesses who don’t know their customers have new contact information. That’s great. But we’re concerned about plans to give wireless carriers largely unchecked power to block and filter messages. Certainly there’s a problem to be solved, but we hope the FCC and Congress work together to adopt sensible regulations with strong regard for unintended consequences.

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