Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Unindepedence Day!

Most Americans around the country are celebrating Independence Day today. They are gathering at the steps of the National Archives to hear the Town Crier read aloud the Declaration of Independence. They are going to parades, town festivals, bar-b-ques, family gatherings, and watching fireworks. All in all, today is a day of celebration.

We recall that day in 1776 when a small group of thoughtful men stood up for what they believed in, declared us free from taxation without representation, and that each of us is born equal and with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But not thousands of citizens of the State of Illinois who rely on human services for their survival. In the State of Illinois, they are unequal and without these rights we all hold so dear.

At the hands of selfish, egotistical legislators, who have failed to do the jobs to which they were elected, the most vulnerable citizens of our state have had their rights ripped from them in the cruelest of ways. In case you're unaware, on Tuesday, the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a full budget that would, among other things, guarantee full funding of human services programs. On Wednesday, Governor Quinn vetoed the 50% budget passed by the General Assembly that would allow some, but not all funding, and all the politicians fled Springfield on vacation until July 14th when they'll return for yet another special session. Really.

Well, except that not everyone went on vacation. Thousands of social service workers across the state went to work on Wednesday morning committed to their causes, yet unsure whether or not they had jobs and could provide the lifelines to the state's most vulnerable citizens. Governor Quinn issued a statement giving them the option of continuing to provide services with no guarantee they'd ever get paid or shut down. Many agencies are now operating with a skeleton staff, but many more, already grossly underpaid by the State, were forced to shut down leaving their clients with no jobs, no assistance, no way to get to doctor appointments, and wondering how long they'll have a roof over their heads.

As I prepare to march in the Arlington Heights 4th of July parade in just a few hours, I know I'll see quite a few politicians in attendance. Parade participation is a favorite politician pastime and today will be no different. I don't know which politicians I'll see, but there's a huge part of me that's tempted to walk up to them and let them know that if they want my vote in the next election, they'll decline to participate in the parade and get back to Springfield and do the job they were elected to do: represent all the people, not just the healthy ones.

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