Letters Right to vote affirmed

To the editor:

Finally, the citizens of Vermillion have obtained a court ruling affirming their right to vote on the $1.3 million Chestnut Street project. On Feb. 5, the Circuit Court in Clay County ordered the city council to submit the Chestnut Street project to a public vote.

The city council has been playing and illegal game with the constitutional rights of citizens who sought a referendum vote on Chestnut Street. As Mayor Kozak has repeatedly stated, the issue was so complex that the council wasn't sure "when" it made its decision, even though it was sure that the decision wasn't made "when" the citizens submitted their petition for a vote. Yet at trial, Mayor Kozak testified that he was not confused over the issue.

After Mayor Kozak testified, the court reviewed a VCR tape made for the council from the Feb. 25, 2002 public meeting at the fire station during which Mayor Kozak refused to answer a question regarding "when" the council made its decision. As Mayor Kozak explained on the tape, the issue was so confusing and complex that he could not answer the citizen's question.

Contrary to Mayor Kozak's view, the court didn't have any difficulty in determining "when" the city council made its decision. The court held that the city council made its decision on the project "when" the council approved Alderman Kozak's motion to give "final approval" for the project, as reflected in the council's own agendas and the minutes from its own meetings. Coincidently, that's also "when" the citizens circulated their petition to refer the project to public vote.

To make matters worse, the council has not been honest with the citizens of Vermillion on another issue. For example, citizens voted last fall on whether or not the city could condemn private property for the project. To whip up a majority vote on that issue, the council advertised on the eve of the election that the property owners wanted an unbelievably high price for their property. Even though the advertisement was misleading, many voters mistakenly concluded that the property owners were being unbelievably greedy.

Of course, that's the impression that Mayor Kozak wanted to leave because he emphasized it in his public meetings prior to the vote. As Mayor Kozak explained in his own words, the advertisement was intended for "shock value." What is even more shocking is the lack of candor. The city council and the mayor owe the citizens of Vermillion an apology for the negative advertising and for spending tax dollars on a failed attempt to deprive the citizens of Vermillion of their constitutional right to vote on the Chestnut Street project.

I hope the city council has learned that it cannot illegally prevent a vote on expensive projects after several hundred citizens sign and submit a valid petition seeking a public vote. When the Chestnut Street project is finally placed on the ballot for a citizen vote, I hope the council will explain why the Chestnut Street project is worth $1.3 million in an honest and straight-forward manner. I also hope the council will discontinue its campaign to vilify well-meaning citizens in negative advertisements for simply trying to protect the public's constitutional right to refer council decisions to a public vote.

Above all else, I hope that the city council has learned that disrespect for the rights of citizens and lack of candor does nothing more than breed disrespect for the council itself. Finally, I hope that this will be the last letter that I must write about the Chestnut Street project.


Frank Slagle


Don't ignore work of devil

To the editor:

We need the devil! Many years ago most churches preached regularly on good and evil. However, "accentuate the positive" became persuasive and it has been years since I've heard the devil mentioned in my mainstream church affiliation. But we need him! If God is all great, all good, all positive, all wise, all loving, we cannot believe he is also in charge of war, famine, disease, and all the other modern catastrophies. Why have we been ignoring the devil?

We can still believe God is stronger and does prevail, but we will not have to accept that everything that happens is God's will, and perhaps we will even think we should try to help him. Saddam Hussein obviously is an instrument of evil or the devil, if you will accept the term. Patriotic Americans believe he should be stopped, but before we bomb him we can't forget he will take the innocent women and children with him and we will be helping the devil.

I would like to see a motion put before the United Nations that they organize an airlift into their many countries of all women and children of Iraq and care for them while their country is being detroyed. I don't know how we could include the good or godly men, some of which they undoubtedly have, but perhaps such men would rise up and with God's help take care of Hussein and all of his evil followers themselves.

We need to see when we are helping the devil and understand that God will prevail but has a right to expect his believers to be searching for ways to be helpful.

Kathleen Block


Let's back our troops

To the editor:

Don't we ever learn by our mistakes? I was in WWII. My son was in Vietnam. Protesters lost the Vietnam War. If you disagree, do it in the polls. We're in this for the long haul.

Let's back our troops. Most of the protesters have never seen action in any war. Do you want to wait until they come to the Midwest, thinking it won't happen here ? it will go away? Not so: the German people in WWII when they could or dared would help us. The British people knew what war was all about. Every bit of spare ground had a garden in it. Back in the states, people complained about the shortage of gas or sugar. They even complained they couldn't buy tinsel for the Christmas tree. Tinsel was used by the air force to screw up enemy radar.

The British slept in the subways to avoid the German bombs. That wasn't enough. The subways were blown up by bombs. Germany was trying to develop an atom bomb. If they had gotten it first, we would be under German rule now.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. By the way, a retired professor from USD is writing a book with information he has "dug up" and information he got from my journal. The book is Berlin to Spirit Mound.

Ralph (Jack) Knutson


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