Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I thought I'd re-post Lane's farewell here because I found it quite moving, and I'd like to add a thoughtful comment or two of my own.
Here's the text of Lane's letter (to be followed by my own comments):
Cong. Lane Evans says farewell to constitutents
Published: Monday, December 18, 2006 10:46 AM CST
Congressman Lane Evans has issued a statement regarding his retirement from Congress at the end of the current term. The statement follows:
"It's never easy to say goodbye. This part of my life is ending and in just a couple of weeks I'll be entering a new phase.
"I think you know how much this job has meant to me and how much I've enjoyed it. Being the representative of this area has provided me with the greatest opportunity I could ever want -- the ability to serve people and make a positive difference in their lives.
"I wouldn't trade the last 24 years for anything. These have been the best of times for me.
"I want to thank my constituents. You are this country's strength and spirit and have continually spurred me on in my work. I first ran for Congress to be your voice -- to speak up for the average citizens of this country who weren't being listened to and to fight for your interests: for affordable health care, for good jobs at good wages, for fair trade, for a brighter future that allows every person to achieve the American Dream.
"I thank my parents who taught me the value of public service. They helped save lives and have inspired me every day. I thank great friends and colleagues and a dedicated staff. I thank everyone who has worked with me in the fights we have made -- and won.
"I am especially proud of the fight we won to deliver benefits and services to Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Let us never forget the sacrifices of those who serve our country. Later we won passage of law that delivers health and compensation benefits to children of vets exposed to Agent Orange who were born with spina bifida, a crippling birth defect.
"I'm also proud of my efforts to expand services for women veterans, for vets who came home suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the thousands of veterans who don't have a home. Here in the district we brought home new services -- outpatient clinics and Vet Centers which mean so much to our vets.
"When I became Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 1997, it gave me the ability to do even more for vets. We've accomplished a great deal over the last decade. We have to continue to serve our veterans and our men and women overseas who will come home with the injuries of war. We can never leave anyone behind.
"I'm also proud of my work to ban the use of antipersonnel landmines that maim and injure thousands of our troops and innocent civilians every year. Working with Sen. Patrick Leahy, we made enormous strides in ridding the world of the scourge of landmines.
"When I was diagnosed with Parkinson's, I said I wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I think my efforts in support of stem cell research have helped change minds. I hope the new Congress can go even further and fund the research that can create cures and turn possibility into reality.
"I think we made great progress throughout the years in strengthening the Rock Island Arsenal so the Island will continue to be an anchor of economic opportunity and progress. It is an essential part of our national defense.
"I've always been proud of our constituent service work. Our door has always been open. From helping citizens with individual problems, to winning a grant that turned a roadblock into a building block, we have always worked to reach out and help out every part of our community.
"What has been most rewarding is not only seeing the results of our work, but hearing from constituents about how much they appreciate it.
"It's also gratifying to me to know that this district will be in capable and good hands and the work we started will continue through Phil Hare.
"I've always said how important it is for people to be involved, to speak up and take part in what is happening in the world. I'm going to follow my own advice and do just that.
"So, I guess that isn't really goodbye. Because I'm not looking back. I'm looking ahead to the next years.
"As long as I have been the representative of this district, the seniors who built this country, the veterans who defended it, and the working families, small business people, and family farmers who support it day in and day out haven't stood alone because I've been there standing up and fighting for you.
"To every one I have been proud to serve and work with, I look forward to seeing you soon.
- Cong. Lane Evans
Lane Evans was the first politician I ever met that I actually liked.
I first had the privilege of sitting down directly across the table from Lane for a pizza lunch with the Congressman and a few members of his staff early in my career with Citizen Action, back about 1989. I walked away from that lunch very impressed. Lane was a real person, not a plastic politician, and Lane stood for some real ideals.
Since my Citizen Action office adjoined Lane's campaign office in those days, there's a part of me that feels like I was there with Lane and his staff for what I consider to be the height of Congressman Evan's career as a legislator. Phil Hare used my backroom for many private meetings to plot strategy, and Don Johnston used the space doing mailings for Senator Paul Simon as well as Lane.
I am proud to say that I helped with GOTV efforts for Lane's election efforts in '90, '92, '94, and '96 while with Citizen Action. Not only did I lead a rag-tag bunch of fifteen or twenty activists going door-to-door, I also convinced my wife and my father to spend election day as part of the door-to-door army that helped re-elect Lane in those elections.
I know Phil Hare will carry on in Lane’s tradition, and I expect he will be another great Congressperson for the 17th District. Becky Hare, Phil’s wife, was the office manager for the local Citizen Action office when I worked there as a canvasser, and for a short period of time I even rented a house that had belonged to Phil's Mother. So, I actually know Phil better than I ever knew Congressman Evans. But, it still feels bittersweet, it feels very much like the end of an era now that Lane is retiring.
I have no doubt that the transition will not always be easy, but please enjoy your retirement Congressman Evans, it’s well deserved. Rest easy knowing you've made a real difference and have inspired many other's to do likewise.
Thank you Congressman Evans for providing inspiration to myself and to many other activists. I believe your office "set the standard" that we also try to uphold in serving our constituents at Representative Mike Boland's office, so I owe you and your staff a personal debt for showing me the meaning and importance of public service.
In my Rock Island Citizen Action office, we always said we were lucky to have Lane Evans as our Congressman, because we could always count on Lane to vote based on principle, we knew he'd do what was right for ordinary people. Semper fidelis translates to mean "always faithful", and I believe that's a very fitting motto for a politician as well as a Marine.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Lending a Hand
Picking up the pieces
By Danica Baker - Herald Staff Writer
— CLINTON — As displaced Deer Ridge Apartment residents began to make living arrangements on Wednesday morning, a community awoke with a desire to help those affected by the fire that took their homes and belongings.
At a press conference held Wednesday afternoon at the offices of the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, community leaders put out a call for help. Dave Frett, director of the Gateway chapter, acknowledged that surrounding communities already have been responding overwhelmingly to the fire. He said very concerned people are organizing donation efforts to secure funding and supplies for fire victims.
Several officials from J.T. Cullen in Fulton, Ill., attended the press conference to present Frett with a check for $5,000. Company officials added that they hope other businesses in the area will step up as well.
“I know that the community appreciates what this business can do for these families,” Frett said. “This will go a long way to help the families.”Frett added that he is amazed and pleased with the way the community is pitching in. He said Red Cross workers are meeting with the families to address their needs and figure out how to best help each individual involved.“A lot of them got out with nothing,” he said. “We will continue working with them until their needs are met.”
Frett said the disaster budget for the Gateway chapter is $16,000 for the year; it has responded to 17 disasters since July 1. He noted that monetary donations to the Red Cross ensure workers can aid families in their time of need. Frett said local Kiwanis members presented a donation on Wednesday of nearly $500 collected in just a few short hours.Frett remarked that other agencies have been assisting as well. He said anyone with donations of supplies or clothing should take them to the Benevolent Society or Salvation Army. Workers at both agencies are great assets to the community, he said, and provide much needed assistance.
Frett also made special mention of the volunteers helping out at the scene of the fire and the victim reception center on Tuesday night.“The volunteers helping out last night were amazing,” Frett said. “We couldn’t do it without the volunteers.”
Kathy Klahn, chairwoman of the local Red Cross Board of Directors, said the chapter is very fortunate to have Frett as its executive director. She said he has been a very capable director and is doing a great job to make sure the families have what they need to start over.
Local businesswoman Barb Suehl, who is helping to organize some relief efforts, said when she learned of the fire, she immediately contacted two local legislators — Rep. Mike Boland, D-Moline, Ill., and Rep. Polly Bukta, D-Clinton. “When I called them today, right away they said they’d like to make a monetary donation,” Suehl said.
Boland said neighboring communities in Illinois and Iowa are connected in spirit and that he and Bukta are more than happy to help. Boland said he hopes other companies and groups will follow the lead of J.T. Cullen and contribute to the relief effort.
Bukta and Boland presented Frett with individual checks of $100 each as a kickoff to the drive and urged the people of the Gateway area to contribute to the effort.“There’s never a good time for a disaster, but there’s never a worse time than right before Christmas,” Bukta said. She asked area residents to “please join in and help us.”Both legislators are encouraging their constituents to donate whatever they can.
“It’s great how the community comes together,” Bukta said. “Just look at the Kiwanis, they came up with $500, just in a lunch hour.”
Suehl added that a Christmas dinner will be served at the Red Dog Steakhouse and Saloon, 5253 Fulton Road, Fulton, on Dec 25. She invited families affected by the fire to attend the dinner, as well as firefighters who fought the blaze and the volunteers who responded to the incident.
Boland and Bukta praised Suehl for her efforts to help the donation drive through the Red Cross, Benevolent Society and Salvation Army.
“She dives right in and answers the call,” Boland said. “She’s an asset to both sides of the river.”“And she doesn’t take no for an answer,” said Bukta. “She is a great asset to the community and we’re very lucky to have her.”
Klahn noted that many people came to aid the families at the reception center after the fire, some bringing coats and food, others bringing toys and providing entertainment in an effort to abate the victims’ sadness for their loss, if only for a little while.
“It’s just heartwarming,” Klahn said, “All the people showing up saying ‘What I can I do?’”
Copyright © 1999-2006 cnhi, inc.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Events - Monday 12/11/06
Monday morning, at 11:00 AM, Rep. Boland will be in Fulton, at the future construction site of a recently announced ethanol plant, to call on the Governor to sign the E85 legislation. And then Monday afternoon, Boland will visit the Carroll County portion of his district with the same message, holding a 1 PM news conference at the Savanna City Hall.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Events - Wednesday 12/6/06
This Wednesday, 12/6/06, Representative Boland will be at the Erie Public Library at 10:30 AM to present a READ, literacy promotion poster to the Erie Public Library. I wrote about this effort on the blog once before in a post titled - "Today's Readers are Tomorrow's Leaders."
For those unwilling to look back in the October archives, I'll revisit the details behind the promotion briefly here. Representative Boland was contacted by the Prairie Area Library System to take part in a literacy promotion. The resulting poster, featuring the slogan -Today's Readers are Tomorrow's Leaders, features a picture of Representative Boland reading to his Grandson. We've given away several framed posters to area libraries and Erie is the latest to receive Boland's gift.
Stories about politicians getting pay raises and such are so common these days, I'd like to make one more personal comment to accompany this post. For those taxpayer watchdogs out there, I'd like to proudly point out no tax dollars were used to produce the framed posters. Representative Boland has personally covered the full expense of the production and framing of the posters from his own pocket. These posters are his personal gift to area libraries as a token of his ongoing support for libraries and the critical resources they provide for our communities, and we all hope they are useful as a tool to promote reading and literacy for our local children.
At 1:00 tomorrow, 12/6/06, Rep Boland will be in Morrison at the FS Fast Stop Service station to promote his recently passed legislation regarding E85 fuel in Illinois. I wrote about this legislation previously here at "Serving the 71st District w/ Mike Boland."