McSweeney tackles guns, gas at first town meting
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:42AM
CRYSTAL LAKE — Residents expressed worries about gun violence, gas prices and Illinois’ debt crisis on Saturday as 52nd district state Rep. David McSweeney hosted his first town hall meeting in Crystal Lake.
Many residents asked McSweeney about the growing problem of pensions in Illinois. McSweeney said high pensions are creating a growing deficit, particularly when government employees spike their pensions at the end of their careers.
“I would eliminate double-dipping right away,” McSweeney said, adding that he would also eliminate legislative pensions altogether.
McSweeney also said he wants to avoid tax increases that would place burdens on families and small businesses.
Several attendees expressed concern over violent video games and the possible connection to gun violence. While McSweeney agreed that violent media has gotten out of control, amendment issues make stemming it a tricky endeavor.
“I don’t favor an additional ban (on guns) at this point,” McSweeney said. As an alternative to a ban, McSweeney said he believes Springfield should implement more stringent background checks.
He cited the recent murder of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago.
“These guys had all these gun charges against them,” he said of the gang members currently charged in the teen’s shooting death.
If those charges and other pertinent information had been more adequately shared, he said, Pendleton’s life could have been spared.
McSweeney said violence among youth in Chicago and elsewhere could be lessened with more access to education and jobs.
“We need to create economic opportunities,” he said. “That’s just common sense.”
McSweeney described a bill he supports that would siphon a portion of the revenue generated by the Illinois Lottery and use it to create vouchers for educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. McSweeney also applauded Harper College’s extensive manufacturing program because of the current high demand for such skills.
Gas prices were another issue of concern at Saturday’s meeting.
“We obviously can’t control world oil prices,” McSweeney said. But he described how Illinois has stringent standards on fuel quality, which is why Illinois has higher prices than many states. He said a national standard could be the answer to stalling or lowering fuel costs.
“You should compliment him on taking the lead and being open about reducing costs,” Crystal Lake resident Libby Peterson said.
Island Lake resident Becky Coolidge also agreed that McSweeney had straightforward answers.
“I really liked how he doesn’t give you a wishy-washy answer,” she said. “A lot of politicians want to shade it any way they want.”
Fred Becker of Algonquin said he thought the meeting was informative on a wide range of issues.
“I like the fact that he gives direct answers, even though I don’t agree with all of them,” Becker said.
McSweeney said he intends to hold similar town hall meetings every month in various areas of the 52nd district.