I had to read twice Tom Lundy's letter ("Clean Up Davenport: No Vacancy for the Homeless") in the 400th issue of the River Cities' Reader (November 13-19, 2002) before I realized that it was not tongue-in-cheek. This guy is serious! Lundy agrees with Dr. Michael Giudici's committee's declaration that a new shelter, being constructed by John Lewis Coffee Shop, for the homeless of the city is wrong for Davenport.

He suggests we ship the homeless to Clinton, Iowa - a town he apparently avoids but, fortunately, doesn't mind it being in the same state as Davenport.

It was the second to last paragraph that had me thinking Lundy had to be joking: "The re-location phase might be accomplished by Christmas. After all, there is nothing more depressing than to be around people during the holidays who don't have anything." Incredible words from a Christian (I presume, since he claims the holy days)! Had he been present at the first Christmas, he would've been most depressed, being with a family in a manger, of all places!

If Lundy really believes that during Christmas we should be around people who have everything, then he should try to convince the U.S. Armed Forces around the world to come back home. Most of them are in places where they are "around people ... who don't have anything." Pretty depressing for our military forces, but they certainly insure Lundy and I are at least with our families during the Christmas holiday season.

Does Lundy realize that almost one-third of homeless men are veterans of wars? Does he realize that the veterans with the highest rates of suicide, mental illness, and depression are Vietnam veterans? Does he realize that almost 350,000 Desert Storm veterans suffer from some kind of health ailment?

Does Lundy realize that since the 1980s, the cause of the homeless phenomenon is the lack of construction of affordable housing by the federal government and the massive layoffs around industrial cities such as ours (where almost 23,000 lost their jobs)?

If it weren't for non-governmental groups such as John Lewis Coffee Shop, Project Renewal, Salvation Army, Project NOW, Habitat for Humanity, Vera French Housing Foundation, Christian Care Center, Dorothy Day House, Humility of Mary Housing, and other similar organizations, we would have a lot more people "hiding in our community."

I agree with one of Lundy's suggestions regarding the homeless: "For God's sake turn them in!" Except, instead of shipping them to Clinton, we should turn them in to safe, sanitary, decent, and affordable housing. The 1949 Housing Act passed by Congress set as a goal "the realization as soon as feasible of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family."

Finally, it appears to me that several local citizens such as Lundy, Dr. Giudici, and a couple of mayors, who prefer to ship the poor and homeless "to our sister cities," snub their noses at Liberty, our Mother of Exiles, who "cries with silent lips. 'Give me your tired, your poor ... . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me ... ."

Vincent G. Thomas
Rock Island

You Get What You Vote For

Well, it certainly would appear that the newly re-elected senator from Illinois has bamboozled his constituency for one more electoral go-round!

Yessiree, "Tricky Dick" Durbin just went on ahead and voted to the affirmative when it came to his (next year's) pay raise. It seems to me, however, he walked right by - heck, he walked right over - the unfortunate Illinois voters left jobless in this NAFTA-fueled mass exodus of Midwestern manufacturing in his grab for yet more unearned taxpayer cash. And as he was walkin' by, he had the nerve to give them the cold shoulder as well! Cool as a cucumber, that one. He knew full well Congress wasn't going to extend the benefits of those recently unemployed Illinoisans in Sterling/Rock Falls, as well as those at the Maytag plant in Galesburg (or anywhere else in the U.S. for that matter). Unemployment funds were not renewed or extended, not even mentioned.

And if that wasn't enough to make you holler "Taxation without representation!": As the good senator was leaving the pay-hiking 107th congressional session, he Judas-ed the citizens of this great nation as well as his very own constituents in Illinois yet once again in voting yea to the Homeland Security Bill of 2002.

This 400-plus-page piece of Orwellian-styled power grab has a nice provision tucked away for those with a penchant for peeping: Total Information Awareness, TIA for short. This little gem is the brainchild of none other than Admiral John Poindexter, the mastermind and key document-shredder behind the Iran-Contra scandal - you know that little "arms for hostages" deal perpetuated in the Reagan White House whereby everyone was found guilty but no one received any real jail time? I guess it is true: Every one does indeed get another chance; Poindexter gets another chance to lie to Congress. This time he'll just get a wink and a nod instead of eight felony convictions.

What else does this executive-branch-concocted dream legislation contain, you ask? Nothing that those pitiful lay-down-and-play-dead Democrats aren't willing to cough up without so much as a peep of protest. Among other things, it federalizes all the employees of the Homeland Security Department. Yep, you guessed it right, ladies and gentlemen: no union hassles! It causes one pause to ponder upon the query: Is Tricky Dick a Democrat or a Republican? The Illinois voter may never know. One thing is for sure, however: Tricky Dick don't like unions, and he could care less about the concerns of his constituents as long as he gets his COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment).

Sincerely, an Illinois voter who wishes he could re-cast his vote,

Jarrod Loerzel
Mineral, Illinois

Guard Responds to Reader

Obviously, as the subject of Ms. McCarthy's editorial on November 13, I certainly didn't see it as a "hatchet job." (See "A One-Sided Hatchet Job," River Cities' Reader Issue 403, December 4-10, 2002.) In response to Mr. Schellekens' comments I would just offer the following. The data shared with the Reader was the information prepared by the Davenport Community School District staff and presented to all the board members. While I do believe that our students benefited from the smaller class-size guidelines we previously used (just look at the test scores), my main thrust is small school size. There is not one piece of research anywhere in the world that refutes the efficacy of small school size, not one. As regards to the money issue, I would suggest that it is Mr. Schellekens who has the ax to grind with the teachers. As regards to the efficiency of the 100-year old buildings, Grant and Johnson are 90 years old and had two of the best cost-per-square-foot operating ratios of any of the buildings in the district. Regarding the number of teachers, the reduction is from increasing class size, not the school closings. In fact, if Grant and Johnson had remained open it should be easy for everyone to understand that two sections of each grade could be moved back to Grant and one each from Adams and Wilson back to Johnson without adding any additional teachers. Are these one-sided? Every fact above was provided by the Davenport Community School District. You decide.

Alan Guard

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