Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on February 18, 1991 · 8
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 8

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Monday, February 18, 1991
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Chicago tTtibusie . ; FOUNDEDJunelO,1847 ' , ' ' JOHN W. MADIGAN, President and Publisher , JACK FULLER, Editor l LOISWILLE. Editorial Page Editor COLLEEN DlSHON, Associate Editor F. RICHARD ClCCONE, Managing Editor N.DONWVCUFF, Deputy Editorial Page Editor DOUGLAS E. KNEELAND, Associate Editor DENIS GOSSELIN, Associate Editor 8 Section 1 Monday, February 18, 1991 SCIENTIFIC Ira" Gs? Ridding big rigs of radar detectors To anyone who has ever glanced in the rear-view mirror to see an 18-wheeler bearing down at 80 m.p.h., it can't be good news to discover that more than half the trucks on the road have radar detectors. These expensive devices have only one purpose: to enable drivers to break the law without getting caught Police monitoring vehicles have found that trucks with detectors are far more likely to exceed the speed limit by a big margin than trucks without them. It's particularly alarming to learn that fully half of the trucks carrying hazardous chemicals also carry radar detectors. For months, U.S. Transportation Secretary Sam Skinner has been considering a proposal to ban radar detectors on all commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce. Not many ideas would have such certain benefits for highway safety. It's a proposal that deserves speedy adoption. Advocates of radar detectors, a group consisting almost entirely of detector owners and manufacturers,, offer solemn excuses for their use. They say that radar detectors help law-abiding drivers monitor their speed, that they prevent innocent motorists from being mis takenly nabbed because of faulty police radar. In fact, law-abiding drivers have a cheap and simple means of monitoring their speed the speedometer. It has the virtue of being helpful even when the car isn't being monitored by radar. And it's ludicrous to claim that radar detectors protect against police errors, since staying within the speed limit is no protection against such mistakes. And if breaking the law isn't the point, why do some radar-detector companies promise to pay any speeding tickets the buyer receives? Truckers working under chronic time pressures over long distances may think they deserve some latitude on the speed limit But the cost in death and injury is too great to tolerate. The American Trucking Associations have recognized as much, endorsing the proposed ban on radar detectors. "The only reason you'd want to have them in a truck is to drive faster than you ought to," said president Tom Donahue. Any vehicle 'traveling too fast is a hazard, but a speeding 40-ton tractor-trailer is a tragedy waiting to happen. Ridding the cabs of radar detectors would avert a lot of these tragedies. . Voico of tho pcoplo Reduce the firepower on the streets Jim Bakker's sins and sentence For abusing the faith of those who believed in him, Jim Bakker may have earned the biblical punishment of having a millstone tied around his neck and being thrown into the sea. ; But he didn't deserve the 45-year prison sentence slapped on him by a federal district judge who apparently thought of himself as an avenging angel. Wisely, an appeals court has now thrown the sentence out. Along with his wife, Tammy Faye, Bakker developed one of the most successful "televangelism" ministries of the 1980s. In conjunction with that the Bakkers also developed a related business, a Christian theme park and resort known as Heritage USA, which they marketed to viewers on a time-share basis. This empire began to crumble in 1987, after disclosures that Jim Bakker had 'had sex with a former church secretary and then used $265,000 of the ministry's money to buy her silence. And in 1989, Bakker was a convicted of 24 federal counts of fraud and conspiracy for bilking viewers of $158 million for vacations that the oversubscribed Heritage USA could not have provided. "Those of us who do have a religion are sick of being saps for money-grubbing preachers and priests," Judge -Robert Potter lectured Bakker as he handed down his Draconian sentence. The appeals court said this week that remarks like that suggested that Judge Potter had allowed his personal religious beliefs to influence unduly his judicial actions. "Courts," the appellate panel said, cannot sanction sentencing procedures that create the perception of the bench as a pulpit from which judges announce their personal sense of religiosity and simultaneously punish defendants for offending it' It was a commendable decision. Every criminal is - probably also a sinner. But it is the' business of the courts to sentence criminals, not punish sinners. And judges must not be allowed to forget that Chicago aldermanic endorsements Here are the Tribune's final endorsements for Chicago's Feb. 26 aldermanic primary: 38th Ward Few wards can match the recent economic boost enjoyed here. The efforts of Aid. Thomas Cullerton led to construction of a new campus for Wright College, a home for a local center for the disabled and the citVs largest new neighborhood development of light industry, shops and homes. Cullerton has identified and attacked a new problem in the area, the illegal conversion of single-family homes to rooming houses. He's done the job for his ward. 39th Ward Aid. Anthony Laurino likes to call himself an "alley alderman, meaning he dutifully attends to basic ward needs. It's hard to quarrel with that He has a pretty good challenger in Demetri Kon-stantelos, sales manager for a real estate firm. 40th Ward Deteriorating housing is a key issue in parts of this ward, and Aid. Patrick O'Connor seems to have recognized that He also deserves credit for a positive role in school reform efforts. 41st Ward The anti-tax message of challengers to Aid. Roman Pucinski falls flat, since the city tax levy has actually dipped in recent years. Pucinski still takes care of his ward quite capably. 42nd Ward Aid. Burton Natarus' long-winded speeches are wearing thin, and people in his ward complain he tends too much to personal business and not enough to the public. They can opt for George Tamvakis, a lawyer who has studied' the ward's problems and is trying to win broad-based support 43rd Ward Few council members have the grasp of city government that Aid. Edwin Elsendrath has., He pushed council ethics reforms and understands how to pare city spending. He has taken on the issues-schools, the environment, business retention 'that his constituency cares about. Opponent Mary Bairn's most recent government experience came in the 48th Ward before she moved back to the 43rd to run. 44th Ward Aid. Bernard Hansen sometimes mixes business and politics when he shouldn't He should stick to government, which he handles well. He passed the city's Human Rights ordinance, pushes other good measures and has a smoothly running service office. He's endorsed over a good challenger, Ron Sable. . 45th Ward This Northwest Side ward has a history of giving shocks to incumbents on Election Day, but it's unlikely that Aid. Patrick Levar has cause to worry about two uninspiring challengers. 46th Ward If Aid. Helen Shiller were running for Congress, her political views wouldn't win support here. But in many ways she has done a commendable job as alderman. She has softened her opposition to development, cooperating in several projects. (One is a joint city-Chicago Cubs plan to provide new Wrigley Field parking and a new community park. Naturally, this pleases the Cubs' parent company, which is also this newspaper's parent But it is the type of constructive public-private venture we would have applauded in any case.) She has fashioned a good services office and has a positive role in health care, human rights and affordable housing. An endorsement doesn't come without reservations; a number of Uptown's improvements have occurred despite her. But there is a strong scent of opportunism in the Democrats backing Michael Quigley, former 44th Ward aldermanic aide who moved to the 46th for this race. 48th Ward Aid. Mary Ann Smith is an effective bridge-builder among various ethnic constituencies and a needed voice for lakefront protection. She is enthusiastically endorsed over attorney Michael Radzilowsky. 49th Ward There isn't much difference on issues between the two key candidates, attorney Joe Moore and Aid. Robert Clarke. But judging from their experience and personal approach, Moore would be a better conciliator in his ward and the council. 50th Ward While Aid. Bernard Stone was jumping from Democrat to Republican to Democrat, educator Hank Rubin was making a difference in his community, particularly on the issue of school overcrowding. CHICAGO As Jan. 1 turned the page on one of Chicago's bloodiest years of shootings, the National Rifle Association was petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal ban on the sale and purchase of machine guns to. American citizens. The NRA's advocacy of the private ownership of machine guns can benefit only two groups: gun manufacturers and undertakers. We have a firearms crisis in Chicago and elsewhere in the nation. But the NRA believes that even though the majority of murders occur among people who know each other, more guns will help reduce the number of gun deaths. The black and Hispanic communities are particularly ravaged by gun violence. A recent study by trie Illinois Department of Public Health underscqred the grim toll. Over a four-year period, ; it revealed a startling 30 percent increase in the number of deaths for blacks between the ages of 15 and 24. Homicide is the leading cause of death in this group and guns are the primary weapons. If one wants to speculate as to why 602 persons died by the gun in Chicago in 1990, there are a number of contributing factors. Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, drugs and alcohol are all too frequently ingredients in the chemistry of gun violence. The catalyst, however, is the easy availability of guns. The key question remains: How do we work to reduce the grim, relentless shootings? For years gun enthusiasts pointed a wagging finger at "liberal judges with bleeding hearts.'' You do not hear much from the NRA on this account latdy, however. . . . , During the first half of 1990 the Illinois prison population jumped 10.5 percent, the highest rate of increase in the nation. For the same period, the U.S. prison population grew to 755,425, a record high. Barely six months later, the census behind bars grew to more than a million. That means, on a percentage basis, America has more imprisoned criminals than any other country in the world. If gun killings rise during a time when the prison population is bursting at the seams in Illinois, it is obvious that we should take a second look at the availability of guns as a major factor in the majority of homicides. r On Jan. 14, the Supreme Court rejected the NRA's advocacy on behalf of machine guns. It let stand a lower court ruling that the Constitution allows Congress to ban the sale of machine guns to private citizens. The City Council of Chicago should go a step further and take a leadership role in banning the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons. - Machine guns and semiautomatic assault weapons have no place in our society. Citizens of Chicago will profit from reducing the firepower on our streets. It is far preferable than adding to the profits of the assault weapons manufacturers. Mark D. Karlin President, ininolt Council Against Handgun Vtolsnoe Baltic tragedy x CHICAGO Presient Bush has compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler, listing all the monstrosities he committed against the Kuwaiti people. But Bush failed to mention that Gorbachev, in the Baltic states, carries out exactly the same monstrosities without fear of retaliation by the Free World. We may destroy Hussein with missiles and air attacks, but we are sending food, supplies and credits to Soviet President Gorbachev. Where is our morality? We appreciate your coverage on the Baltic states. It is efforts like yours that will make people aware of the tragic situation in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Ilmars Bergmanis Chairman ' United Latvian Associations of Chicago Dictators both WOODSTOCK While we are liberating Kuwait, a much worse dictator is crushing the Baltic countries. How much more can they bear? Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are begging for help, but we are busy right now. They are standing up to aggression alone and they are dying for their freedom. If Kuwait, why not Lithuania? Are we afraid of hurting our relations with Gorbachev, our ally? We were certainly not afraid of hurting Saddam. What is the difference? There is none. 1 . Kristina Mengeling Service fees? ELMHURST I have usually bought tickets to a play at the box office, but since when is 1 Ticketron getting away with charging $4 extra for each ticket purchased over the phone? I wanted to order six tickets for Madame Butterfly, which . would have cost $24 more than if I went downtown to pick them up. And Ticketron can't even tell me where the seats will be. To tack on $4 for each ticket is price-gouging. This seems worse than the oil companies raising their prices; with them, at least you get something for your money but Ticketron slaps a 25-cent stamp on an envelope and has a $23.75 profit Vera A. Clciora Role for Exxon CHICAGO In the wake of the Persian Gulf oil spill, wouldn't it make sense for the United States to ask Exxon to take charge of the clean-up? By doing so, Exxon would be able to demonstrate its patriotism, help defray costs in a war clearly in its best interest, and perfect its ability to respond to spills of this magnitude. Harlan Bauer , Bad words on stage CHICAGO I was really upset with Richard Christiansen's Feb. 2 review of the play "Just Kidding." There was not a word about the dirty gutter language. How anyone can appreciate such dialogue and call it entertainment is beyond me. v Florence Wolf We invite readers to share their ideas in these columns. Write us at Voice of the people, Chicago Tribune, 433 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, III. 60611. Include your name, address and phone number. The more concise the ' letter, the less we will have to edit it to fit our space. A.-,,;. ' H. PayneScrlpps Howard Similarities CHICAGO Here are 10 similarities with the gulf war and the Vietnam Wan 1. When the war began, Americans were divided 55-45 percent over whether to enter it 2. The nations involved were not democracies before or after the conflict. 3. The military promised a quick and low-cost war. 4. There was never a long and comprehensive congressional investigation of the background, but rather a short one-day debate and partisan resolution. 5. Reporters on the front had different observations about military successes than the Pentagon reported. 6. There was racialnationalisucethnic prejudice involved, resulting in violence against American citizens of foreign descent. 7. The military costs increased the. federal debt and undercut domestic programs seriously. 8. African-Americans were a ' disproportionate percentage of the fighting force. . 9. Patriotism became a propaganda tool of the administration, causing ideological divisions among the American public. 10. The rationale for the war (control of oil prices and political dominance of the region) diluted as domestic counter-war demonstrations grew in size and influence. The ground forces in the ' Persian Gulf should not be sacrificed in this classic remake of the Vietnam War. Let's put an end to this war by negotiating at the table and not in the trenches with massive -casualties on both sides. Rev. Dr. Timm Peterson Northern cemetery LA GRANGE Ft Sheridan would be a most welcome and fitting final resting place for hundreds of thousands of Chicago area veterans. Ft Sheridan, where manhood started for most of us, already has a cemetery owned by the Department of Defense. Yet the commission to plan the site's future finds a cemetery on the North Shore ". . . irresponsible and not compatible with the area." The government already owns this property. All it has to do is transfer 162 acres from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which still leaves 536 acres for -development or open space. Richard M. Soderlund Pages for kids NORTHBROOK The Young Reader's Guide to the Gulf War on Jan. 29 was excellent I used it extensively to explain aspects of the war to language-delayed students. 1 know they came away with a much clearer understanding of the Persian Gulf war. I think it clarified many misconceptions. Keep the Young Reader's pages coming. Fancy typewriters CHARLESTON Marcia Peoples Halio has attracted an undue amount of interest nationally for her fundamentally flawed research about writing on different brands of computers, . featured in the Feb. 3 article titled "Scholar finds big gap . . ." I suspect syndicated columnists Reid and Hume were on the right track in concluding that the writer who chooses one computer over the other makes the difference, and not the computer itself. All of the information published in her research was based on the work of students who were free to choose which computer they used. She made no apparent attempt to test crossover results. That awaits new research. Many who write on " computers believe that machines are only machines, no matter how stodgy or user friendly. Please note: This was written on a device called a typewriter. John Mans Instructor of journalism Eastern Illinois University PC personality CHICAGO Reid and Hume discuss the alleged study regarding Macintosh and IBM-PC computer users, suggesting that personality differences determine which types use which computer. They say Mac users are free spirits, rebels, etc. The fact is that, unlike IBM, which promotes an open operating system and therefore fostered its own competition, Apple attempted to gain a monopoly oh the Mac's operating system. Accordingly, Macintosh computers were substantially more expensive than DOS-based machines. It is not personality differences who among us is not a free spirit and a rebel? but intelligent choosing of the right computer for the.right job that prompts people to make -their choices. v Paul Bernstein Curfew's realty CHICAGO Thank you for the excellent coverage of the brutal curfew imposed on i Palestinians by Israel's . . occupation forces. Americans have had little idea of the hardship of those curfews, thinking they merely mean that young people must be off the streets before midnight They mean days and weeks of house arrest and confinement, with its mental, physical, economic and political . hardships, continuing since the war began. Israel's intransigence in avoiding peace talks with the PLO leadership on the ground that they are "terrorists, while maintaining righteousness about the terrorist background of its own leadership, has led to this critical impasse. It is time for an international Middle East peace conference. . Ann L. Marten Qualifications CHICAGO Charles Vazquez, in his letter titled ' "Firefighter exams," wrote that every minority person who gets promoted is just as qualified as whites because they all took a test. and passed it. Wrong. I was. passed over for lieutenant in the Chicago Fire Department by 40 minorities who failed the examination. , , He said all people white, black, Hispanic score pretty much the same in the written portion of the tests. He failed to tell you that he and all minorities receive five extra points on their scorft' i John O'Brien

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