Brian's Column 03-11-2016

***Guest Column***

“Spring ahead, Fall back.”  I’ve recalled which direction we change our clocks with that little mnemonic for years now.  Historically, the Germans were the first to implement Daylight Savings time with the hope of saving energy.  We, the US, followed suit in 1918, but often cited along with energy savings is that it was a part of wartime rationing.

It’s interesting to ponder the points of history that we highlight annually and how our memory of events changes over time.  For the younger audience, take some time this week to talk to a grandparent, friend, or neighbor that is over the age of 75.  With age, supposedly, comes wisdom.  With age, the experience of change and watching generations grow and change has to be fascinating.

I am mindful of how we retell stories each year trying to offer some insight or different perspective than previous versions of the story.  I find this especially fitting for the State of Illinois government.  We’re now over a week into our month long break from Session.  I know my colleagues and I would prefer to have an open debate, real discussion, and real votes; instead, I find myself writing the same story trying to offer a different insight into the quagmire of Illinois government.
Comparison is a great tool to help define the differences between how two similar things may be alike or different.  This week, I reread that Texas has over 27 million residents and around 5,000 units of government.  However, that fact means nothing without some context.  In comparison to Illinois – over 12 million people and nearly 7,000 units of government – we can now see how Texas residents are served by much less government than Illinois residents.

Interestingly, between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015, the population of Texas, according to Census.gov, increased by over a half million people.  During that same period Illinois grew by only 20,585 people.  I could sprinkle in some facts about how Texas government is more appealing to businesses and how their job growth rates explain the population growth.  However, next week I need to offer a new perspective still, and I don’t see Illinois government doing anything productive.  In addition to the reminder about Daylight Savings time, I’d like to remind you to set your alarm clocks.  That’s right, 2016 Primary Election Day is on Tuesday, March 15th and the polls are open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.  It is your civic duty to elect your leaders.  You need to be a part of the democratic process and be a part of the positive change you envision for our community – if not you, then who?  Also, in case Tuesday doesn’t fit your schedule, early voting is going on – depending on your county – up to the day before Election Day.  Check with your County Clerk’s office for more details.

This past week, the Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce hosted their Annual Dinner with guest speaker and Freeport native, Russell Slifer.  Mr. Slifer is the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce Intellectual Property and Deputy Director United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The only thing longer than his title is his breadth of knowledge surrounding Intellectual Property like trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights.  I had the pleasure of attending Mr. Slifer’s presentation the following day at the Stephenson County Farm Bureau too, and I want to publically thank him for his commitment to Freeport and for being such a wonderful example of success for our next generation locally. Congratulations to Brian Helm and everyone at the Helm Group for earning Business of the Year recognition from the Chamber. Your commitment to bettering our community is an example to be emulated.  Nominees in all categories deserve your respect and admiration for their steadfast commitment to excellence.  Congratulations also to the other award recipients; Not For Profit of the Year – Freeport Community Public School Fund; Dale LeBaron Memorial Award – Brian Borger; Ambassador of the Year – Kim Boldt; and Rising Star – Bridget Trainor Servatius. 

The Winnebago Area Chamber of Commerce hosted their Community Service Award Night and Annual Meeting this past week and recognized individuals and businesses alike for their commitment and service to the community. Congratulations to Delbert and Phyllis Tedrick for meriting the 2015 Honorable Service Award, and Brian Weavel of Anna’s Pizza and Pasta for being honored with Business of the Year 2015.  Congratulations to those recognized, and thank you for being involved further in your community.

This week’s column reminds me of a quote by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Help others and give something back.  I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or email us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.