One of the most significant undertakings of the current Joliet City Council is the pursuit of a sustainable, quality, and cost-effective drinking water system for the city of Joliet and perhaps, most probably, several surrounding communities. The project was deferred for many years until it finally became a critical necessity that could no longer be put off. It has been projected that the current aquafers used by Joliet would no longer meet future requirements as a sustainable water source by the year 2030, just eight years from now.
The year of 2021 will be over by the end of this week and, ready or not, we’ll all be flipping pages on the new year calendar all over again. It’s also the time of the year that various media venues take a look back at momentous events that occurred over the last twelve months. I’m going to leave that to others in the local media to take on that task. I did think about one story that’s been hanging around for years that added another chapter to downtown Joliet history. It’s an undertaking that’s been waiting for the City Council to solve at least as far back as 2015, probably well before then, and that’s parking spaces in the City Center, better known as the downtown.
The Joliet City Council meets at least twice a month all twelve months of the year. Preceding each City Council meeting all Council Members receive a volume of information regarding the items up for discussion, approval or disapproval that are on the agenda. This information is provided to each Council member at least the week prior to the Council meeting. Many times, council agenda items have been vetted for days or weeks, sometimes months before they actually become an agenda item. So, when items are on the agenda for consideration, Council Members should be ready to make their decision.
The City of Joliet remains on schedule to bring Lake Michigan water to its residents. It has been approximately two years since the decision to provide Lake Michigan water to the area was voted on by Joliet’s City Council. The timeline for the plan development is three to five years of planning and three to five years of construction. Joliet wants to become a water supplier for surrounding communities by forming a Regional Water Commission. Joliet is attempting to form the commission with Channahon, Crest Hill, Homer Glen, Minooka, Rockdale and Shorewood. Romeoville is also considering joining with Joliet’s water commission. Romeoville and Homer Glen are currently members of the Northern Will County Water Agency that also includes Bolingbrook, Lemont and Woodridge. The NWCWA is basically a paper organization.
Today is Thanksgiving. There will be gatherings and celebrations enjoyed with family and food. It is the most American of all the holidays we observe. It’s not a day for exchanging gifts. It’s not a celebration of the start of a new year or the birthdays of presidents. It’s not a day of commemorations or historical events. As important as all of those types of holidays are, Thanksgiving is specifically for giving thanks for whatever blessings we have or hope to have. It’s also a day to share with family and friends and give silence to our differences whether they be political, religious, work related, or even family disputes.
Next Thursday, November 11, is Veterans Day. The day is set aside to honor all military veterans who have served in the military and includes those currently in the military serving all over the globe. The current number of U.S. veterans is estimated to be around 19 million as of this year, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing just over 7% of the total U.S. adult population. The veteran population has been declining for the last decade or so due to aging and a reduction in military personnel. According to a recent Pew Research Center article published this year, 72% of Americans view veterans’ benefits and services as a priority. In fact, that majority contains equal shares of support among Democrats and Republicans. The vast majority support an increase in spending for veterans’ benefits and services. Those in elected office and those campaigning for government office would be well advised to support spending increases where veterans’ needs are concerned.
Column updated 10/22/21 Have you been vaccinated for COVID-19? That question has become a flashpoint for many to determine who is a patriot and who is exercising their freedom to say “you can’t tell me what to do.” Approximately 57 percent of the U.S. population have been vaccinated since early January, 2020. Some who remain unvaccinated cling to the idea that the vaccine has not been proven to be safe. Over 184 million have been fully vaccinated with a small percentage having any adverse reactions and a few with underlying health conditions contracting the virus. The idea that refusing the vaccine because it somehow violates one’s freedom of choice seems unwarranted in view of all the mandated safety precautions in our society. For instance, you can receive a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
Major League Baseball teams ended the regular season this last Sunday. If you are a Cubs fan the season wasn’t what is always hoped for, the play-offs, and it’s “wait ‘til next year,” again. The White Sox fans have more games to look forward to and maybe even a World Series victory. We’ll see. Since attendance at the ballpark is one measure of a successful season, how did the two Chicago teams due this year? Better, certainly, than the 2020 season, when attendance records were not kept, although they did play an abbreviated season.
The City of Joliet is the third largest city in the State of Illinois so it should not be surprising that a lot of attention comes to the city from outside its boundaries. It has been a little over two weeks since the Illinois Attorney General started a civil investigation into the Joliet Police Department to determine if it should be investigated regarding its “patterns and practices.” Now, this last Friday, the Better Government Association, an Illinois Non-Partisan Full-Service Watchdog, has spotlighted an investigation they are conducting regarding Joliet’s “ambitious plan to buy Lake Michigan water from Chicago and resell it throughout the region.”
It was about two months ago that Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk stated at a City Council meeting there was a “war on police.” Sometimes, I guess, it just depends on your perspective. That was not one of the implications contained in an article of the September 7 issue of the USA Today news section. It’s a national newspaper with a national audience. The article was titled Behind the Blue Wall. The subject was regarding Joliet’s Police Department and the video of Eric Lurry’s arrest and ultimate death while in the custody of the Joliet police. The article was about the subsequent action taken by Sgt. Javier Esqueda releasing video of the arrest and that was unauthorized for public release by the police department. The subtitle of the article is “A police officer exposed a video showing a death in custody. Now he’s facing prison time”. For those who might think there is a “war on police” the article is a must read.