Thumbs-up: To the Cary-Grove football team for another state final visit, their third under coach Brad Seaburg and fourth since 2009, when the Trojans won a state title under former coach Bruce Kay. The Trojans have found consistent success under Seaburg, a tribute to the program, from youth leagues on. The years when they haven’t reached the final, they have competed deep into the playoffs, making the postseason 15 straight times. The past two seasons, fellow District 155 powerhouse Prairie Ridge went to the state finals and took home a title. This time, it’s the Trojans turn to take their shot when they face Crete-Monee at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Thumbs-down: To celebrating the obvious. We don’t slight Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker for announcing he won’t be drawing a paycheck as the state’s chief executive, because although it’s clear someone who can afford to spend $171.5 million just running for office doesn’t need $177,412 in taxpayer-funded salary, sometimes in politics the self-evident must be conspicuously certified. Still, we have a little side eye for anyone caught celebrating Pritzker’s proclamation as some sort of self-effacing altruism.
After all, the current governor also is more than wealthy enough to take the job without the pay, and it’s wrong to fete Pritzker without slapping Rauner’s back for taking the same simple step. What we ought to be doing is wondering if Illinois is becoming a state where only the independently wealthy can bother to run or serve in such an important role.
Pritzker is no shoo-in for re-election (21st century Illinois governors aren’t known for their longevity), but who can possibly afford to mount an opposition campaign in 2022? Our elected officials should reflect the constituency, and that won’t be the case if this trend continues.
Thumbs-up: To keeping it 100. Last week, Illinois Watchdog issued a report showing the state is not only a leader in the field of legislation aimed at helping people with mental illness, but an absolute exemplar, scoring all 100 possible points in a state report card issued by Paritytrack.org. The website analyzed how states are doing 10 years after passage of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which required health insurance providers to cover mental health illness at the same level as physical ailments. All but seven states got a D or F grade. Six states got C ratings, from 70 points (Colorado) to 79 (Tennessee), and Illinois stands all alone at the apex with a perfect 100. Now, we understand laws are just laws and the actual proof of getting this right rests in how actual people are treated.
And there remains many questions about the state’s mismanagement of its social service agencies and how that affects many vulnerable people. But it’s fair to celebrate victories when they occur, and the fact Illinois so far outpaces the rest of the nation means at least something must be going right.