People with disabilities don’t need ‘compassion’

In his budget address, Gov. Bruce Rauner said structural reforms will enable Illinois to be “as compassionate as we want to be,” and later he said, “compassion is in the DNA of Illinois.” As a person with a disability who works with a disability organization, I think compassion is the wrong approach.

Disabled residents of Illinois need sound policy, not charity. The disability community is protected by civil rights and should expect Illinois policy to support those rights through the integration and independence of people with disabilities. Yet, up until now Gov. Rauner’s policies have attacked the Illinois Home Services Program — a resource that supports thousands of people with disabilities living in their own homes instead of in nursing homes — and have kept open large state-operated developmental centers that are expensive and segregate people with disabilities.

With a $150 million cut to Medicaid in the proposed budget, and with no mention of institution closure in the budget address, it seems the governor has neither structural reform nor compassion in mind for the disability community.

But Gov. Rauner has a chance to improve his record in the final year of his first term. To do so, he must listen to, respond to, and partner with people with disabilities.

Gary M. Arnold, program director, Progress Center for Independent Living

If not now, when?

When is the right time? It seems like after every school shooting, Republican so-called leaders come out of their cuckoo clocks to regurgitate the same Republican gun control mantra — now is not the time to discuss this issue. This year alone, from what I’ve heard on TV, there have been 18 gun-related incidents at schools in the U.S.

It’s time we ask the cowards in Washington, who are beholden to the NRA, when is the right time to discuss gun control? After the fourth shooting? The eighth? The 12th? The 15th? When?

Rudy Mendoza, Oak Forest 

Roskam, brought to you by the NRA

The NRA has given my congressman Peter Roskam, R-Ill., over $20,000 during his political career, including $2,000 in the last 2016 election. Of course, as with any political contribution, there is no quid pro quo for the dough. But it is more than a bit peculiar that as with every gun massacre in America, including Wednesday’s 31 shot in Florida, Roskam remains utterly silent on endless gun tragedies debasing life in America.

How silent? Search Roskam’s website for “American gun massacres/violence” and not a single link appears. That’s zero, zilch, nada. We should all get this tri-color mailing from him in this year’s election:

‘Peter Roskam … faithfully serving the NRA for 12 years.’

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn 

LGBTQ community concerned about Lipinski 

As a woman, a lesbian and hourly-wage worker, I was surprised to learn of your endorsement of Dan Lipinski for Congress (“ENDORSEMENT: Dan Lipinski for for 3rd District in Illinois Primary,”  Feb. 14). I wasn’t aware that standing for ordinary workers was incompatible with promoting and sustaining laws that guarantee women the right to have autonomy over their bodies or ensuring equal rights to the LGBTQ community.

I’m also sure you will find women and members of the LGBTQ community within the ranks of “ordinary” workers. Your endorsement is especially disheartening when considered against current economic realities in which affordable health care has become a misnomer for too many of us, wage growth has stagnated for decades, and the rights of women and the LGBTQ community are under siege.

Annie Pike, Evanston