Brian's Column 12-18-2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The second to last column for the year is at hand, and with the holiday season upon us I’ve been reflecting over the past year in Springfield and the 89th District.  Many happy memories come to mind, yet I am plagued by the worst that came out of Springfield; maybe, I should have said what didn’t pass out of Springfield.  The State budget shenanigans and the general process in Springfield are not even close to good government.  You’ve sent me to Springfield to be your voice, and I’ve seen how the proverbial sausage is made or not made for that matter.  It is not acceptable to me or the citizens of Illinois.  There are a few who relish in the quagmire of Springfield, but I will assure you there are well over 100 House members (118 of us total) that are bewildered by how the General Assembly has kept thousands of Illinois’ families, units of government, and non-profit organizations languishing and awaiting services or funding from the State.

Good bills, good legislation never receives a fair up or down vote on the floor because of the political gamesmanship.  This is not the amateurs, this is professional politicking the likes of which Illinois has seen for decades.  It’s disheartening and disenfranchising that our next generation of leaders hasn’t been instilled with the same sense of public service, duty, and commitment that appears stronger in older generations.

Not all is bad, however.  I have finished out my Legislative Luncheon’s for the year and received great feedback from all that attended.  These meetings are extremely beneficial as I hear from local leaders in education, agribusiness, public safety, small business, economic development and local elected officials.  From the ground up, I believe the people who deal with laws and regulations know how they impact their organizations and businesses in a more intimate way.

For example, a local School Superintendent Bill Faller of Pecatonica informed me this year of an interesting law.  The Automatic Contract Renewal Act states that a person providing services to the federal government, the State of Illinois or another State, a unit of local government, or a school district does not have to give notice when a contract is about to expire.  Using that law through the scope of real-world experience, Superintendent Faller is wrangling a service contract, signed under a different Superintendent and different School Board, to assist in controlling district spending.  Much to the chagrin of Superintendents everywhere, this archaic law just feels like an unethical business practice, and to include local school districts seems silly. I’m sure there are valid reasons for the law, and some industry lobbyists would be happy to inform me, but instead I can rely on the input of people whom I trust in the 89th District to help determine what’s best for us in Northwest Illinois. Thank you, Superintendent Faller.

I’d like to end with a diatribe alluded to above, it is part of a lecture to a broad range of ages on what I perceive are a lack of fulfilled duties.  First, to the older generation – go find someone to mentor.  Your experiences in life and knowledge guide you every day, but those without practice and familiarity are unprepared for life’s challenges.  It is your duty to mentor, guide, and teach those in your community.  To the younger generation, some of you are egotistical, instant-gratification cry babies; yes, life is hard and full of challenges.  The School of Hard-Knocks, of which I am a graduate, can be an unpleasant one, but it can also be highly rewarding.  You don’t know everything, and you’ll have questions that even the experienced generation can’t answer. However, you have to be involved to begin asking those questions.  You must abide by your civic duty and give back to your community.  You must sacrifice for the betterment of our community.  I know many of you don’t like hearing that.  In today’s world of all about “Me, Me, Me,” I say, “Duty, Sacrifice, Tomorrow.”

We have a duty to leave behind a better community. This will mean a shared sacrifice for us all, one that our leaders don’t call for anymore.  My generation and those generations before me heard the calls for service and sacrifice; we need to echo those for our children and grandchildren - not just once, but at least once a week.

With Christmas this week, I’d like to remind everyone that reads this that the spirit of Christmas is not in how many gifts you receive, but in how many lives you touch with those gifts.  It should not be about one day, but about a celebration of giving, sacrifice, and love for our neighbors. Yes, younger generation, even that old man that yells to you to get off his lawn (be respectful of others, you hooligans).

To all whom worship, in whatever capacity or religion, be thankful for your freedom of faith.  It is a luxury not everyone in the world enjoys.  As I call for sacrifice for the betterment of our community and country, I am reminded of a quote from a Sermon given in Westminster Abbey by Frederick Lewis Donaldson, “The Seven Social Sins are: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle.”