OUR VIEW: Veteran care should be non-partisan


Herald & Review editorial board

Taking care of our state’s veterans shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This should be a pretty easy one. If we’re gathering ill and aging veterans — or citizens, for that matter — in a shared living space, we owe them every effort to ensure the most basics of a safe environment.

Last fall, 36 residents of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home died of COVID-19 in a matter of weeks. After several reports and legislative hearings, Republicans sent a letter to the Illinois Attorney General to investigate if state statute applied to the “negligent and disturbing activities that arose.”

Maybe those Republicans were just making political hay at the expense of those on the other side of the aisle. Illinois state politics is too often a gotcha game. One party scores points at the expense of another, and partisans statewide know precisely when they’re winning or losing.

Too often, that’s the measuring stick. But winning and losing shouldn’t be in the conversation when we ponder medical care.

Particularly at a site like LaSalle, whose problems have been well-documented for six years. An April report detailed mistakes and poor decisions made at the facility. Republicans including Decatur’s Dan Caulkins have sent a letter to Attorney General Kwame Raoul, demanding some type of response and action.

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“Any private entity that had that kind of situation would have been prosecuted for one death, two deaths, but 36 deaths,” Caulkins said. “How do we prevent this from happening, how do we protect people and what are our options when things go afoul?” Caulkins said. “There’s been a stonewall by Gov. (J.B.) Pritzker and his administration. We felt that the appropriate agency to look into this is the Attorney General.”

He said Republicans need to know if there is a case. But they also need to know if there isn’t a case so they can see if they need to change state law to bring about accountability.

“Governor Pritzker promised to protect our veterans in state-run facilities and failed. If the law as currently constituted is insufficient to protect them, we need to know now so that appropriate statutory adjustments can be prepared in advance of the next legislative session,” the Republicans’ letter said.

Laying blame at Pritzker’s feet may be a little heavy-handed, and "stonewall" is a powerful verb. There’s a difference between malfeasance and inadequate performance.

But the Republicans at their core are not wrong. There are many issues at the state level that need to be solved. Veterans in homes should not be shuffled aside as we argue about masks.

ARCHIVE PHOTOS: Journey back to the Illinois State Fair

Illinois State Fair Happy Hollow

1966: This year 1,122,000 attended the Illinois State Fair that featured more exhibits and more concessions. Crowds hurried through Happy Hollow many en route to ride the Zyklon. 

Heinhold Hog Race

1985: Number 3 Pignocchio maintained the leads to win over other porkers. Five pigs break from a starting gate and tear around an oval track for a chocolate sandwich cookie. 

Aerial view of Illinois State Fair

1945: This view was practically the same in 1966. 

Illinois State Fair Coliseum

1969: A year of preparation leads up to the frantic, last minute grooming at the State Fair Coliseum. Those who have reached their moment of truth are exhibiting in the dairy ring at the right and the beef rings in the background.

Ferris wheel

1980: The Illinois State Fair winds up in Springfield with stock car racing and a demolition derby. The ferris wheel continues to run. 

Goat Competitions

1985: Premier breeder, Julie Myers with Alonda, one of her goat entries. Julie won premier breeder, premier exhibitor, premier sire and junior champion buck awards in the open competitions. Myers is the daughter of Ralph and Judy Myers of Argenta. 

Chester White gilt pig

1985: Maria Miller shows a Chester White gilt at the Illinois State Fair. Miller is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jake Miller. 

Auctioneer Merrill Anderson

1981: Auctioneer Merrill Anderson of Newman solicits bids at the champion steer auction. Governor Jim Thompson passed up the auctioneer job. John Jeffries, 16, of Baylis earned $10,000 for his grand champion barrow. 

Sale of champions

1981: Sale of champions draws a bidding crowd.

Shave and a haircut

1984: Craig Hicks, a 16-year-old members of the Sangamon Valley 4-H Club put the clipper to "Patty Sharyl" his Charolais entry in the 1984 Illinois State Fair Junior Show before the fair began. He is the son of Dale and Martha Hicks of Monticello.

Illinois Department of Agriculture

1981: The new headquarters of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and its adjoining parking lots have eliminated most the camping spaces.

Arts and Textile Building

1969: Illinois State Fair Arts and Textile Building.

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August 6, 2021 at 11:07PM

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