Thumbs up: To all of the workers and public service officials who worked so hard this week throughout the snowy and cold weather to keep the rest of us safe. From the ComEd workers who quickly got power back on in the area Wednesday, including after an outage in McHenry, to the snowplow workers and HVAC employees who worked overtime to keep our roads cleared and our homes warm. Thank you to the police officers, EMTs, firefighters and all other emergency workers who were outside. To those who volunteered or worked in shelters or warming centers and to those who kept our essentials running in the tough weather. And to the delivery people, including those who brought pizza to the Northwest Herald on Wednesday, we thank you for all that you did to keep our community safe and nourished.
Thumbs-up: To state Rep. David McSweeney’s effort to end lawmaker pensions. House Bill 293 would prevent newly appointed or elected lawmakers from participating in the General Assembly Retirement System beginning at the start of the next General Assembly in 2020. Although we think public servant seats should be accessible for people of all income levels, we agree with McSweeney that legislators receive “excessive benefits” compared with other public employees. The bill would also help prevent people from double dipping and collecting two taxpayer-funded pensions. McSweeney has proposed similar legislation before with no success. We hope this time his bill passes.
Thumbs-down: To the partial week of missed school. Ask anyone with children, or anyone who teaches them – it seems like forever since class has been in session. Many children had school Tuesday, and plenty others – but not all – had school Friday. It’s not only parents who are starting to get stir-crazy – children are, too. After all, you can only play Fortnite in your pajamas for so long.
Thumbs-up: To checking out. After far too long, Illinois now finally is formally out of the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Crosscheck, originating in Kansas, was good in principle, but flawed in execution, and voters are better off with the withdrawal complete. The idea was to share data between states to make sure voters aren’t registered in multiple jurisdictions. The problem was the data shared included Social Security numbers, and many experts raised concerns about outdated encryption technology. Even worse, some voter information simply was emailed from one state to another.
It’s good enough for Illinois to participate in the 26-state Electronic Registration Information Center, which relies on driver’s license information, but not Social Security numbers. Lawmakers felt as much last year when they voted to pull out of Crosscheck – after the Illinois State Board of Elections split along party lines – but former Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill, and an override fell one vote short. Now, the ISBE voted, 8-0, in favor of withdrawal, and hopefully that signals a new era of prudence when it comes to personal information in the government’s hands.