Repeal bottled water tax amid positive tests for lead in schools

originally posted on June  10 2016


In the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan, where a water supply tainted with high levels of lead endangered an entire community of children, Chicago Public Schools has undertaken testing of the water supply in its educational facilities. The preliminary results have been disturbing. Twelve schools were found to have dangerously high levels of lead in at least one source of drinking water.

More testing will follow, but informed and concerned parents are already packing their children for school with store-bought bottles of water.

The notion that the water supply in the very institutions responsible for nurturing our children’s social and intellectual growth may, in fact, be poisoning them is frightening and unacceptable. However, by testing lead levels and making the results of those tests public, CPS is, at minimum, taking the initial steps necessary to begin to correct the problem.

Now the City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel must take an additional step to support the families of the children imperiled by this risk and rescind the 5-cent tax on bottled water in Chicago. If parents have no choice but to pay extra to purchase clean drinking water for their children — clean drinking water that should be free and accessible  — the city has a moral obligation to lessen the expense of that purchase.

At the Cook County Board of Commissioners, I have introduced a resolution calling upon the City Council to take immediate steps to rescind the bottled water tax. It is also critically important that the city hold public hearings on the issue to ensure that the impacted communities are informed and their concerns addressed.

 Richard Boykin, Cook County commissioner, 1st District

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Strides for African-Americans

It’s not just young women who don’t appreciate Hillary Clinton’s historic achievement (“Neil Steinberg: Younger women don’t realize how far they’ve come” — June 10).

At a family dinner, I described a car trip I’d recently taken through the south. “I wasn’t in a hurry so didn’t speed,” I explained. “When I became tired from driving, I pulled off the highway and checked into the nearest motel to spend a restful night, and I was never turned away.”

Young family members stifled yawns, and finally one asked: “So what was the big deal about that?”

It occurred to me that many young African-Americans aren’t aware there was a time when a black man wasn’t allowed to stay at many motels, south or north, even if he had money or credit cards to pay for lodging. That shameful era is glossed over in history classes.

Hosea L. Martin, Bronzeville

Meeks’ main concern: himself

Gov. Bruce Rauner said some of the Chicago Public schools are “crumbling prisons.” What’s interesting is that he’s only visited two schools out of the hundreds. It’s clear the governor and Springfield are in no hurry to get a budget done or help fund Chicago Public Schools. Your paper is disappointed in Rev. James Meeks for his silence on this issue. Well, Mr. Meeks is silent because he wants to keep his job as the chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Gov. Rauner appointed him; Mr. Meeks is concerned about himself, not CPS.

Richard Barber, Beverly

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