Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rockford Daytime Curfew

This actually brings back memories from a way too busy spring legislative session. One Busy Bill was when Representative David Winters introduced HB 1130. Seemed harmless enough as it didn't mandate specific municipalities for daytime curfew, but rather that it
Amends the Illinois Municipal Code. Provides that a municipality may establish by ordinance a daytime curfew to help combat truancy in public schools.
This unfortunate idea, daytime curfew, is where our legislators could be communicated with about how this takes from the law abiding citizens. Here's what I would say. Whoops... already said it. Here's last spring's letter to Representative Winters regarding this bill
Dear Representative Winters,

My name is Susan Ryan and I live in central Illinois. (From a farming family, as I see you are, as well.) I am not one of your constituents, but am disturbed by the bill HB 1130 introduced by you. I’d like to understand your good intentions in seeing a need for this bill regarding truant students, but yet affecting all young Illinois citizens.
I know that the media paints a picture of youth crime, but statistics say that youth crime has been steadily decreasing as shown in the link below:
By 1997, the rate of serious violent crime involving juvenile offenders had dropped significantly from its peak in 1993.
Is Illinois against the norm of these statistics?
But even more importantly in my ‘less government is better’ mind is the question of what is the necessity of this bill when the Regional Offices of Education and local school districts are overseeing the truants? Why double up with this bill when it is already covered within the ISBE statutes?
As you are noted as a Republican leader, I would have expected a requirement for more accountability within the existing laws. But instead, a daytime curfew will infringe on the citizens who are law abiding. I find that unacceptable and hope that you withdraw this bill.
Thank you very much for your time.

Susan Ryan
Weeellll, it turns out the Rockford representative was under a great deal of pressure to pass this bill from this 'go-getter' Mayor Morrissey. Mayor Morrissey's key issues are
Daytime curfew: Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey wants to hire a truancy hearing officer at City Hall who would handle, among other issues, daytime curfew violations. The city's legal department is expected to make recommendations Monday.

Littering: The legal department should issue a recommendation Monday for a citywide ordinance prohibiting littering and instituting fines.

Millennium Fountain: Discussions are ongoing about how to ensure proper decorum at the city's downtown water fountain.

Garbage pickup: Ald. Bill Timm wants to impose fines on citizens who leave trash bags and containers on the curb all week while waiting for city pickup. Timm plans to work with the legal department to change the garbage ordinance.

Illegal fireworks: After house fires blamed on illegal fireworks, Morrissey wants to crack down on local advertising by out-of-state fireworks companies.
Larry Morrissey sits behind his mayor's desk every week at the head of City Council chambers and ticks off the status of his priority projects above -- all with a common theme of quality of life. He discusses these issues in detail before turning the floor over to aldermen, who often recount other struggles in their wards.
Here's some of the aldermans'issues
At the same time, the city is coping with a number of homicides, and law enforcement has been preoccupied with everything from drug deals in convenience store parking lots to drag racing deaths.
"We have limited resources. If the priority is going to be quality-of-life issues, that's fine when time allows," Pugh said. "But at some point in time, the choice has to be made whether we're handling a quality-of-life issue or handling something more serious."
Maybe Police Chief Pugh means if you're dead, then you have no quality-of-life?
Morrissey doesn't expect police officers to shoo people out of Millennium Fountain while an armed robbery is in place, but he maintains that continually hammering basic standards into the collective community conscience will make enforcement easier.
Oh, MY! Save some money, Rockford. Make your school district and Regional Office of Education do their job regarding truancy. [And while you're at it, tell them to fix their homeschooling page blazing with "information on Parent-Taught Home Instruction is available from the Regional Office of Education". One of my pet peeves. Information is available here and here. ROE's generally don't know squat about homeschooling or the statutes, obviously, or they wouldn't have "Home Schooling Registration Forms" like that's something you have to do. End of pet peeve rant and back to curfew] So if the ROE does its real job, then Rockford won't need to pay for the mayor's planned in-house hearing officer.
Mary McCarthy wrote up an excellent recount of fighting a night time curfew. It's still appropriate regarding Rockford's curfew because it's really all about civil rights.
Aldermen will begin reviewing the recommendations Monday and will likely vote on final ordinances by Aug. 1.
Mary ended her piece with this quote from Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail"
An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself.

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