Tom's Mailbag Jan. 24, 2014

Tom's Mailbag Jan. 24, 2014

At 2 p.m. Fridays, veteran columnist Tom Kacich empties his mailbag, It was stuffed this week.

My oh my, people are not feeling good vibes this week. I can see why: the weather is awful, Christmas-related bills have arrived, Illinois basketball has cratered and the worst-acted TV show ever — “Modern Family” — is still on the air.

Sample from the mailbag:

“I love John Groce’s energy but he needs to act in a more mature and measured manner when he’s having his ‘discussions’ with the officials.”

“Yes, I believe most all coaches have problems on the sideline. Usually this happens when losing. Why is this permissible? Sports is a huge influence on our society to all who watch, including our youth. It’s a negative influence that needs to change.”

“Coach Groce has definitely gone over the edge with his on-court antics. He’s almost become as bad as coach Weber, which is saying a lot. I’m old-school, prefer and respect coaches who are somewhat more muted on the sidelines. Can’t stand the ‘circus act’ of some, now including our Illini coach.”

“Tell coach Groce that this is the Big Ten not some bush league like he is used to ... I think Groce is in over his head, like Beckman.”

But then there was this one:

“Has John Groce gone too far in his antics? Absolutely not! I love seeing a coach with fire who will stand up for his players and what he understands the rules to be. He’s my kind of coach.”

Groce has since said that he regrets his on-court behavior, although he hasn’t apologized for the team’s ongoing losing streak, including an unforgiveable loss to Northwestern.

“For me, my entire life — passion, energy, emotion is a positive thing,” Groce said. “The difference between emotion and emotional is two letters. ... I broke that line of emotion and, the two-letter difference, emotional.”

First, Groce has coached in the Big Ten, at Ohio State. 

But why is everyone watching him anyway? I’ve never seen him score a point, set a pick or grab a rebound. Watch the 10 players on the court, people, not the coach.


Others are miffed about the Champaign City Council’s decision to recognize famous people with honorary street signs for 10 years and no more. 

It’s a little like the old “J.W. Hays School” in Urbana that was renamed “Martin Luther King School.” That happened even though two other elementary schools in Urbana — Yankee Ridge and Prairie — weren’t named for anyone and were available to be named for King.

More samples:

“I don’t like this policy. It completely devalues honoring someone with a street name,” said one reader.

“The two Champaign polce officers killed in the line of duty (Dodsworth and Tatman) should be left in place. 10-year limits are OK for recognizing others but the two officers gave their lives and should be permanently recognized, and right in front of the police department is a good location.”

“Again the city does not think past its own nose. The people that these streets were named for have done a lot for the city. If they decide to get rid of the honorary streets does this mean the ML King’s street also goes?”

There is no Martin Luther King street in Champaign or Urbana.


More from the mailbag:

“After a storm or ‘significant precipitation event.’ broadcast people don’t always give snowfall/rainfall totals. Or if they do it’s just for a couple of locations in their coverage area. If there’s still a cooperative weather observer network, I’d like to know where to see the numbers they provide. Thank you.”

There are a couple of places to check. The National Weather Service office in Lincoln usually reports storm totals after a major storm. The link usually is found at the top of the main weather page at

Also, the Illinois State Water Survey has a website where a number of stations around the state report their data, including high and low temperatures, wind speeds and daily precipitation. The  data is at

Do you see any differences — differences in how they would vote in the Legislature — among any of the candidates for the 103rd District of the Illinois House of Representatives?

Certainly there are great differences between the two Democratic candidates, Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg, and the lone Republican contender, Kristin Williamson.

Williamson has said that she would not support a progressive income tax and would “make every effort to not extend” the 67 percent Illinois income tax increase enacted three years ago with only Democratic votes in the Legislature.

Williamson also said she supports the concealed-carry gun law that legislators passed last spring, and that considers herself “pro-life,” but “I don’t believe that abortion is a black-and-white issue for women, and having been a young mom and having gone through that experience, I don’t know that I could make that decision for someone else.”

Ammons said she supports a progressive income tax in Illinois. “The flat tax puts a greater burden on middle and lower income households than a graduated income tax,” says a statement on her website. 

Rosenberg has not committed to voting for a progressive tax if it came before him as a legislator.

“I do believe the progressive income tax should be put on the ballot and left up to the voters of Illinois as to whether there should be this constitutional amendment. But I don’t think you can talk about (progressive income tax) legislation that hasn’t been written yet.”

Both Rosenberg and Ammons say they are pro-choice.

All three say they support same-sex marriage.

Their positions on more issues will become better known, especially among the Democratic contenders, as we get closer to the elections. Both Ammons and Rosenberg have agreed to a debate next month that is being organized by the League f Women Voters, the NAACP and The News-Gazette.

And finally ...

The Cubs just avoided arbitration with Travis Wood by handing him a one-year, $3.9 million deal. It immediately made me think of Kerry Wood. Then I wondered if there was a country music singer named Kerry Travis or Travis Kerry.

My question is, does everybody have this much trouble right now trying to think about anything pertinent related to the Cubs?

I will hang up and listen to your answer.

Don’t think there are singers named Kerry Travis or Travis Kerry, but there was a football player named Travis Henry and an actor named Henry Travis. That reminds me of my favorite Cubs player names, and both were catchers: Merritt Ranew and Cuno Barragan, whose real first name is Facundo Anthony.

As for the current Cubs, I .... zzzz.

Thanks for all the mail. 

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nick wrote on January 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Tom,I'm surprised to learn that Adolpho Phillips is not your favorite Cub.

sanjuan wrote on January 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Our daughter has a friend who wanted to know why the Cubs player had the words "The riot" on his jersey.  As Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up."

Tom Kacich wrote on January 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm
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Yes, Adolfo Phillips is my all-time favorite Cubs player, but you've got to admit that Merritt Ranew is a cool name.

Speaking of Adolfo, I once got him to acknowledge me before a game while he was shagging fly balls and I was sitting in the front row of the bleachers. I knew his middle name — Emilio — and yelled it out. He turned, I waved and he waved back. From then on we were like Panamanian brothers.

nick wrote on January 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

I was not lucky enough to establish the Panamanian brotherhood bond with Emilio but I did see him hit a fastball over the Hudepohl beer sign out of left field in old Crosley Field. It disappeared somewhere in the Ohio sky. He hit it out in the first inning and by the bottom of the third the rumor running through the stands was that the ball hit the big laundry beyond the left field wall. I know that would not have been possible.....but it doesnt stop me from counting myself as one of the people who was in Crosley Field when Adolpho Phillips hit a ball into the Laundry.

Mr Dreamy wrote on January 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

The over-acted "Modern Family" is better than the over-wrought News Gazette sports reporting. At least "Modern Family" is entertaining, and has at least a semblance of reality.