Illinois is Trashed Like North Avenue Beach

Opinion by Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek

Hey Luke,

What's up? You are so right. Someone left half your generation at North Avenue Beach this past weekend. Or maybe it was half your generation left North Avenue beach totally trashed. Ah, what's it matter? Who cares, really? As long as you all had a good time and got what you wanted, right? Right, dude.

That's certainly how Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan have been playing it for a year and a half now.

And hell, that's how your parents raised your generation, right? You show up and you get a prize? I'm down with that now. It's all about me.

Ya know, more of us should join the fun. Let's just all make it all about us. In fact, I'm not gonna show up at work tomorrow. I can't ever get Matt Dietrich to agree with me, or see my way of thinking, so screw it. If he's stupid enough to show up, he can just run the website.

What's the point, anyway? None of the worthless politicians give two hoots. We've got no budget, no plan, no future. We've gone a year now without a budget, but it's really more like two years when you consider that last year Rauner signed only the school portion of the budget and vetoed everything else. This year, not even schools got done. Heck, man, that governor dude is sticking it to the man. The man being House Speaker Mike Madigan, of course.

Of course, Madigan stuck it right back, telling Rauner he could take his last-minute, Band-Aid budget bargain and stick it in a committee where the sun doesn't shine like it does at the beach. Ya with me? You know what I mean, right?

That's the way. Why not all the rest of us? Really, why not? What's the point?

The state's totally, officially trashed now, too, right?

So, hey, next time you're heading to the beach on the Blue Line and you see someone getting jumped, just chill. Turn up the tunes on your earbuds and you can drown out the hollering.

Maybe the cops on the West Side can just start leaving those kids and adults who get shot and killed for no good reason lying on the streets until the bodies pile up like the beer cans and vodka bottles. No one cares about them anyway.

Chicago Public Schools are circling the drain, too, ya know. So, probably, are dozens of other school districts in central and southern Illinois. No state money to pay teachers or get ready for the fall, so hey, teachers can come party at the beach with us now! Bring the little kiddies to the beach, too. They won't have anything to do and they're sure as heck not even gonna be able to work at a Mickey D's by the time they grow up.

Their parents are so busy working, running them to dance class and scouts and those stupid fake wave pools in the burbs anyway, they don't even stop to notice schools' not gonna open.

Man, can you imagine how they're gonna react when they realize schools are shut down and they have to find somewhere to plant those kids all day, every day, for who knows how long? That I gotta see. Maybe they'll stop, take a breath and realize it around, whadya think, August 15th?

I don't know. I do feel so bad for all those people who just need a little help, though, you know?

I know it should be all about me and I'm right and everyone else is wrong and all, but I looked at my phone before I decided to chuck it and absorb that attitude and I couldn't help it. I saw the email from that Responsible Budget Coalition.

"The failure of our leaders to reach a budget agreement means that:

Child care centers that serve the children of tens of thousands of low-income workers will stop receiving funding."

Leaders?! Did you see that? They actually called them "leaders." What a joke, Luke. Anyway, man o' man. Tens of thousands of kids with no day care. Can you imagine? That'll mean they have to hang with their parents. Which means their parents won't go to work either. Whoa. Guess Starbucks and Mickey D's will be shutting down.

"As many as 130,000 low-income college students could lose the Monetary Assistance Program grants they need to afford a college education."

Did you catch that one, Luke? Man, I guess we'd better find some more beaches to trash if we're gonna be joined by 130,000 college dropouts. Maybe they can start braiding plastic from the beach garbage into bracelets and sell them to the rest of us when we're trashed.

That's cold, right? Well, tough, it's every man and woman for himself.

And there goes my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University. Oh, well, tough luck for all those students and teachers and professors and secretaries. So long to the bars and the falling-down frat houses and the T-shirt shops and fast-food joints in Chuck-town without any higher ed funding. Guess they all can just come up here and beg for change on the streets with the rest of the homeless people who aren't getting help any more.

All that joblessness and no hope of learning and getting ahead is gonna make a lot of people depressed. They're not all going to embrace our new screw-everybody-else approach to life, right? But that coalition says the wait time on suicide hotlines is gonna be at least six months.

Seriously? Think about it, Luke. Now, I'm getting really depressed. And angry ...

What about all those Down Syndrome kids and adults and the ones all over the autism spectrum? What's gonna happen to them without any state money?

And did you hear Maryville Academy is gonna stop taking care of kids with no parents or parents with problems? Yeah, state officials said they probably were going to have to cut their funding by $23 million. There goes a 132-year history. I guess those 60 kids can come hang at the beach with us for the summer. What about later? I don't know, I guess they figure it out for themselves.

Just like all those people who are mentally sick. All of them and the people who've been working to support them can just give up now, too.

Remember Tina Wardzala? The woman I wrote about a couple of times who was assaulted as a kid and raped as a young woman? She's bipolar, agoraphobic and has post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of no state funding, she had to give up seeing a psychiatrist she was comfortable with and used to seeing.

I couldn't help it, Luke. I checked on her recently. Her counselor of many, many years told me she quit showing up some time in the past few months. The counselor, Kathy Allen, reached out, but she hasn't heard from Tina.

It made me wonder how many people like Tina are in trouble in my own neighborhood and all those other neighborhoods in Illinois.

"We are finding ways to stay afloat for now," Allen wrote me, "but have seen our waiting list grow dramatically in recent months to the point of having to temporarily close services to new clients.  We continue to advocate for a reasonable solution to the budget crisis that recognizes the needs of vulnerable children, adults and families in Illinois and the cost-effectiveness of providing 'upstream' services and supports for these at-risk populations."

It's all about me, right? Just like the Springfield politicians are showing? I'm supposed to just go the beach, get smashed and trashed and leave it all behind? Let someone else worry about it?

Right. Later, Luke.