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Local Editorials

OUR VIEW: Ottawa business success the product of cooperation

THUMBS UP TO… a combined effort. It would be easy to write a few laudatory lines about the success of DropTank, the startup fuel rewards coordination program we featured in a front-page story last week because of the growth of its Ottawa office. And those paragraphs would be fair — it’s a great success story. But we wanted to make extra sure to note all the other businesses that have in some way contributed to the success thus far to showcase the benefits of cooperation and, most importantly, believing in and backing someone with a plan.

David VanWiggeren created DropTank in 2012, using prior corporate experience to launch a third-party provider. The business started in the basement of Caitlin Law Firm — which makes sense because VanWiggeren met his wife, Christina Caitlin, in college. After opening a main office in Burr Ridge in 2014, DropTank set up a satellite location at Ottawa’s Bridal Elegance. When space became an issue, the company worked out a deal to open in unused second-floor space at the downtown First National Bank of Ottawa building. Local contractors were involved, and the decor includes work of local artists. It will be interesting to see where DropTank goes from here, and important to remember the many people involved in getting it this far.

THUMBS DOWN TO… jumping the gun. We were taken aback last week to read the comments of a Chicago activist who called plans to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois “a gangsta move worthy of Al Capone.” The Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, of New Hope Baptist Church, told the Chicago Tribune the law would lead to white corporate exploitation of minority customers, according to The Associated Press. There’s one main problem with that line of thinking — there is no proposal on the table to oppose.

There are several groups that oppose legalized marijuana on more practical grounds, and while we think it is fair to consider if state policy will have a disproportionate negative affect on any demographic subgroup — and even to suggest lawmakers don’t have a great track record in that regard — it’s undoubtedly premature to say a law that doesn’t even exist in bill form is oppressive, racist or anything else. Let’s keep Livingston’s concerns in mind in case this issue actually proceeds, but it’s way too early to write off an idea that’s still being brainstormed.

THUMBS UP TO… copious choices. We’re not telling anyone who to support at the ballot box, but it was good news to see so many people willing to serve in city leadership for Streator by filing nomination paperwork last week. Incumbent Mayor Jimmie Lansford will stand for re-election against challenges from former City Council member Siobhan Elias and current member Jo Scarbeary. Council incumbents Tara Bedei and Brian Crouch will each seek another term, with challenges from former candidates Toni Pettit and Will Price.

There won’t be a primary, which is find because this is a perfectly reasonable ballot size. If Scarbeary wins, he’ll give up his council seat, and it’s good to know if that happens there will be others ready to take his place. We’re hoping to see ballots similarly stocked when filing closes on Monday, Dec. 17, for bodies like the Illinois Valley Community College Board as well as city councils in Ottawa and Marseilles. These are important jobs, and contested elections not only give voters a choice but also force important issues into the public square.

THUMBS DOWN TO… crossing the line. Count us among the many who refuse to tolerate comments like the ones state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, made last week during a floor debate on overturning a veto of a bill that would increase the state’s liability in lawsuits from family members of people who died at the Quincy veterans home during a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Kifowit responded to support of the veto from House GOP Floor Leader Peter Breen by saying she’d like one of his loved ones to be infected, mistreated and ultimately die.

We have routinely criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration for the way it bungled the Quincy situation, and find it absolutely unacceptable that more than a dozen veterans died of a disease that should’ve been preventable on the state’s watch. No amount of court-ordered payments will bring those heroes back to life. We understand Kifowit, as a Marine veteran, is especially sensitive to veterans’ issues. But she could have made this point any number of ways without going too far, and that kind of discourse won’t ever help make real progress in Springfield. We’re glad she apologized — eventually — and that Breen said he accepted, but here’s hoping the next session won’t come close to this level of vitriol.

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