Columns | Northwest Herald

Eye On Illinois: All wards of state deserve government meeting its obligations

Recent news about failures at the Illinois Department of Corrections warrants equal attention to lengthy reporting about the beleaguered Department of Children and Family Services.

A federal judge placed IDOC in contempt for its incomplete court-ordered health care plan for about 29,000 people in state custody. That’s old hat for DCFS, which has found its director placed in contempt a dozen times. Between the two agencies the state takes at least partial responsibility for almost 50,000 people but fails to fulfill its legal obligations – and don’t get started on the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Scott T. Holland

The incarcerated population might not fare well in terms of health outcomes in civilian life, but once thew government sees fit to lock up a person, it assumes the obligation. The 2019 consent decree IDOC is violating resulted from a 2010 lawsuit from prisoners upset about preventable disease and death.

Details in the report are not for the fainthearted. Read any Facebook comments on police activity to quickly realize how many think people accused of crimes, let alone convicted, forfeit basic rights, but fortunately our constitution says otherwise. These still are human beings, made from the same stuff as the rest of us, and failure to treat them as such justifiably jeopardizes public officials.

ON THIS DAY: Paging through a “born this day” list for Aug. 16 was so rich with Illinois history I limited my search to people born before 1922. The most famous is Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862), who coached the University of Chicago Maroons football team from 1892-1932, winning two national championships. He also invented the baseball batting cage and, as a Springfield YMCA colleague of James Naismith, played in the first public basketball game.

Three others are well known for their contributions to the arts: William Maxwell Jr. (1908), Paul Callaway (1909) and Al Hibbler (1915). Maxwell, born in Lincoln, graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is best known as The New Yorker’s fiction editor from 1936 to 1975. Callaway, from Atlanta in Logan County, later studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and was the organist and choral conductor at the Washington National Cathedral from 1939-1977, a post from which he was the single most influential musical force in the nation’s capital.

Then there’s Al Hibbler, an Arkansas native who rose to prominence singing with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Blind from birth, Hibbler also took “Unchained Melody” to No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the United Kingdom a decade before the Righteous Brothers recorded the most famous version. Hibbler performed at Louis Armstrong’s 1971 funeral and lived for many years in Chicago until his 2001 death. He is buried in Blue Island’s Lincoln Cemetery.

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at

Scott Holland

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media Illinois. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at