There’s really no such thing as the “end” of a year. It’s all an artificial construct we’ve developed through the millennia to make sense of the never-ending cycle of life on the planet.
Nothing significantly changes when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1; there are still the same problems to face and possibilities to imagine. But it’s as useful a time as any to take stock of what those problems and possibilities are, so here’s a bash at a few things that still need resolving – some of them longstanding matters.
Speed it up, justice
Here’s a name you might not remember: Jeffrey Gurley.
Back in April 2012 – yes, it’s been nearly five years – he was on probation in Kentucky and decided he’d travel up to Brookfield to meet an ex-girlfriend. Afraid of his violent past, she called Brookfield police to escort her to his apartment to gather some belongings, which she did.
A day later, she went back to the apartment accompanied by her stepbrother, who went inside to get some more things. When he didn’t come out, the woman called police, who reported finding the woman’s stepbrother stabbed multiple times and hanging by a belt in a closet.
Gurley, who was also inside the apartment, reportedly said, “Just take me to jail.”
The stabbing victim recovered and Gurley has been sitting in jail – he’s being housed in Kankakee in between appearances at the Maybrook courthouse in Maywood.
Incredibly, this case still hasn’t gone to trial. We don’t know what the holdup is, but it sure does seem like it ought not take five years to prosecute this kind of case. Hopefully, 2017 is the year it’s finally resolved.
All hands on deck
It’s been two-and-a-half years since the village of North Riverside launched an ill-fated effort to privatize its fire department.
The village’s case has faced setback after setback in the courts. The most recent one came earlier this month when a state appeals court shot down the village’s reasons for underfunding police and fire pensions, which is at the center of the privatization effort.
Early next year we expect the same court to reject the village’s appeal of a circuit court ruling regarding the privatization effort itself. That must end this push, which was a bad idea from the start.
Then both sides have to sit down and negotiate a contract. If private paramedics remain part of that deal, so be it. Members of the department from the chief (whoever that’s going to be and God knows who’d want the job at this point) on down have got to be professionals and work toward a common purpose and end the factionalism that’s tearing it apart.
Put the fix in
Speaking of torn apart, it’s now been almost three years since Swan Pond Park in Riverside was torn up by a couple of terrible winter floods. Since that time, there’s been much talk but little action on a long-term fix.
Last fall a long-range solution appeared to be coming into focus. It’s going to take not just startup funding, but ongoing funding for maintenance, and Riverside needs to step up and begin to set things right there.