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Local Editorials

Thumbs up, thumbs down: Up -- IDOT signs

Down: CBS, Exxon at impasse with DePue over industrial pollution

Thumbs down to robo-callers, but thumbs up to Congress --- if it can pass a bill to punish (and actually catch) these destructive pests.
Thumbs down to robo-callers, but thumbs up to Congress --- if it can pass a bill to punish (and actually catch) these destructive pests.

THUMBS DOWN TO … whoever and whatever causes industrial pollution cleanup of residential properties to move at a snail’s pace — or not at all — in DePue.
At an informational open house last week about future cleanup plans, a U.S. EPA representative said negotiations between IEPA and major corporations CBS and Exxon/Mobil had reached an impasse.
We’ll follow up on the particulars.
But why should there be any excuse for the residential cleanup not starting this year or the year before, for that matter?
The federal government recognizes CBS and Exxon as responsible parties for pollution at DePue. It’s certainly not the fault of the people of DePue when massive corporations acquire companies or other conglomerates and likely don’t realize they’re buying the responsibility for a polluted town.
Now, the multifaceted cleanup at DePue is not stalled — groundwater treatment will continue for years to come under the former New Jersey Zinc smelter site north of downtown. And, cleanup at the gypsum stack farther north of downtown and north of Route 29 has proceeded to the point that a 71,000-panel, 27-megawatt solar farm will be installed on that land that was polluted after years of fertilizer production.
Testing and lawn-and-garden cleanup, including soil replacement at a large playing field near a school, has been moving along at La Salle, which also received soil pollution from a zinc smelter. DePue started talking about residential property cleanup before La Salle, yet DePue lags behind.
And at DePue, the U.S. EPA more clearly has identified the responsible party, which has not been the case at La Salle.
Things need to go more smoothly in this small, diverse Bureau County community.
THUMBS UP TO … Illinois Department of Transportation for having a contest last year, seeking clever and important notifications to travelers on the interstate highways. As a result, Illinois has upped its message game, and this past Thanksgiving holiday season even outdid some neighboring states. When there’s not a Silver Alert (lost or missing driver with dementia) or weather warning about wind speeds, ice or snow, the states post reminders to deter dangerous driving habits.
True, Illinois recycled a message on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, “Gobble-gobble, Ease up on the throttle.” Meanwhile, Wisconsin on Thanksgiving afternoon had a message posted, “Arrive later at the in-laws. Slow down,”
We have to give credit to Illinois for the “Christmas Vacation” themed message after Thanksgiving: “Cousin Eddie says Twitter’s full. Put down the phone.”
THUMBS DOWN TO … some of those “alternative suppliers” who call your phone and send you letters, saying they can negotiate better natural gas and electricity bills than the community’s main carrier.
The Citizens Utility Board, a nonprofit watchdog, warned Illinois residents this month: “Beware of bad deals from alternative suppliers. The price offered by your utility is probably your best bet.”
CUB recently blew the whistle about one supplier, National Gas and Electric, and at a community utility bill clinic, the organization helped a suburban resident get a $203 refund for a customer who was paying the alternative supplier a $9.95 fee on top of a negotiated price 30 percent higher than ComEd’s rate, CUB says.
THUMBS UP TO … U.S. House members who agreed, almost, voting 417-3 in favor of a bill that would create the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act.
Voting yes was U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the Channahon Republican who represents La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties, said on the House floor. The bill specifically addresses “neighbor spoofing,” where dishonest folks calling from outside the area cause (815) area codes and the names of your neighbors, local businesses, lawyers and others to pop up on your phone.
Anything to get you to answer.
“This anti-Robocall bill provides the FCC new authorities to impose substantial fines on violators — up to $20,000 per violation, and possibly higher in some cases,” Kinzinger said. “It requires phone companies to verify callers and help block robocalls, all at no extra charge to consumers.”
Those are good things. This bill needs to pass.
More important though: More violators need to get caught.

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