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Thumbs up, thumbs down: Candidate signs, Collins Street prison, JJC tuition, heroin bill

Published: Sunday, March 19, 2017 5:30 a.m. CDT

Thumbs-down: To the finger-pointing over missing candidate signs. Last week, Joliet City Council candidate Alex Rodriguez accused Joliet Township High School District 204 board candidate Angel Contreras of stealing his campaign signs and, in one case, replacing them with his own. Community leader Richard Rodriguez, no relation to Alex Rodriguez, eventually came forward and said he took the signs with permission from the business owners whose property they were on, but not until after a police report was made and word of the thefts spread. This is local politics at its most petty and short-sighted. We hope that in the coming weeks the candidates show a bit more composure.

Thumbs-up: To the city of Joliet for taking action to prosecute trespassers at the abandoned Joliet Correctional Center through an agreement with the Illinois Department of Corrections. According to Joliet Chief of Police Brian Benton, the Collins Street prison is “definitely not safe,” with collapsed floors, crumbling walls and failing roofs. A catalyst for the agreement was a January incident, when two teen girls entered the prison and one locked herself in a cell. While the agreement may see more people inside cells at the Will County jail, hopefully, it also will motivate them to stay out of those in the deserted correctional center.

Thumbs-down: To the tuition increase approved last week for Joliet Junior College. Our issue here lies not with the college’s board, but with Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly. Of the hike of $19 per credit hour – plus differential tuition – $16 is because of the absence of state funding, according to the school. College officials are working under the assumption JJC will get only 50 percent of state funding due to the ongoing budget crisis. It’s inappropriate for our community college students to shoulder the burden created by state officials’ inability to compromise.

Thumbs-up: To Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who has drafted legislation that would make the recently established Safe Passage Initiative legally sound. The Lemont, Lockport and Mokena police departments have partnered to establish the initiative, in which the departments accept heroin and other opiates from addicts in exchange for entry into treatment. With 77 heroin-related deaths in Will County in 2016, there’s no doubt such an effort is needed, but, as Glasgow noted, “there’s a lot of liabilities here that aren’t covered.” The bill, which is being sponsored by state Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, would protect police through provisions allowing them to hold the drug, even if there are no charges associated with its possession. We hope this bill can be a rare point of agreement for state lawmakers.

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