The City of Kankakee has a new mayor.
To that mayor, Chris Curtis, we say welcome. And, we also say we hope you ate your Wheaties because you’ve got your work cut out for you.
We love this great city, but our love is not blind. We can see clearly the problems plaguing the city. And if Curtis’ campaign platform was any indication, we know he can see them as well.
So, as Curtis settles into his first day on the job today and the city embarks on a new chapter, there are some pressing needs in the community we think should land at the top of his to-do list.
The following list is in no particular order, but this item is intentionally at the top. The growing violence easily can be argued as the most important problem facing the city’s new administration.
The list of 2021 shootings is growing long — and we haven’t even hit the year’s halfway mark. Factor in incidents of shots fired, and the list becomes almost unmanageable.
Implementation of the ShotSpotter system and the program to get more doorbell cameras in high-crime neighborhoods are a good start, but they’re reactive to the problem. The city needs to find and address the root cause of the violence.
Government is a two-way conversation, and the residents play a vital role in that discussion. They are the ones footing the bill for government and, therefore, have the right to know what that government is doing.
It also has a right to have a say in what the government is doing as well. For that reason, city leaders and boards all should have open doors to the community they serve.
That access also should be extended to the media as well. We serve the public just as the government does.
Kankakee is far from spared of the national infrastructure crisis. A quick drive around the city will tell you everything you need to know about the state of the city’s streets, sidewalks and curbs.
An allowance for continual deterioration only will serve to increase the cost of making repairs. The city needs to adopt a fiscally responsible plan to address problems and upgrade its crumbling infrastructure.
The continual slicing of the street department’s budget has left many of our streets in largely deplorable condition.
An audit for KRMA
Regarding the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency, the organization that oversees the region’s wastewater treatment facility, are there more skeletons in the closet other than those belonging to former executive director Richard Simms?
It’s a question we can’t answer because an in-depth, forensic audit never was conducted after Simms’ indictment and subsequent guilty plea on charges he stole some $2 million from the people’s coffers. And, it’s a question that deserves an answer. Nay, it demands an answer.
If an audit were to find more skeletons or uncover procedures that need changed, then we need to face those problems head-on. This isn’t an issue the community can continue to hide from.
At the ballot box, city residents said they had faith Curtis was up for the challenges facing Kankakee. We are sharing in that faith.