On the Passing of My Father: Ronald Turck

On the Passing of My Father: Ronald Turck
Found out a few minutes ago that my father, Ron Turck passed away, somewhat unexpectedly. He’d battled cancer lately, but seemed to be gaining ground. I last talk with him two weeks ago. He was 83 and lived a big life. Born in 1935 in the tiny town of Emmetsburg Iowa, he was on of 16 kids who grew up during the Depression and Second World War. He dropped out of the 8th Grade to go to work. For a time he cooked and washed dishes at a diner in Des Moines before joining the Army in the mid 1950s. After discharge, he make his way East to work construction in the suburbs of Chicago. He would take us on car rides through LaGrange and Hinsdale to show me and my two little brothers some of the mansions he helped build.
My parents met in 1961 and had their first date at Riverview in Chicago. The married after only six weeks. I was was born 11 months later, followed by my brother Phil and then Patrick. Dad took a job at Reynolds Aluminum in McCook. He had a tough time of things, settling down. He drank and had a temper. I always had the feeling this wasn’t the life he had planned, but then it never really is. But testament to to his character, he changed. He didn’t change overnight. Living in Lemont for a time, he became a volunteer fireman, which helped give him other perspectives on life, and what things are really important. Running a firehouse to a burning barn, he fell into an outhouse ditch covered by wood boards. That earned him the nickname Rosie for life.
We never had much money. But we never went hungry, and vacations to visit family in Iowa meant more than any extravagant trips to Disney Land or the like. For trips he made made-rite sandwichs, which I still make to this day. There was never a lack of love in that little family.
We rented places and move around until a friend loaned us the money for a small downpayment on a little house in a subdivision in Romeoville. He remained there, in that house, still a fireman but now in Romeoville. So many memories, but one stands out. My best friend at the time, Keithe Keogh and I were cleaning his car ahead of prom while my dad worked under a car in the garage. Suddenly, the car slipped off the jacks and fell on him. Keith and I got him to the yard and called an ambulance, which got lost, as there were two new guys who didn’t know my dad yet. Tough guy that he was, he recovered quickly, thankfully.
After retiring my parents moved to Texas to be with my brother and his kids-and get away from Midwest winters. He loved it there, pestering the McDonalds workers sweetly with refills for his Sr. coffee. His grandkids called him papa Coffee. 
I only saw him cry twice, once at the passing of his mother and once after he’d tried to save a baby who had drown in a pool but couldn’t. He was a fighter. He was my hero. Who will I call now for advice on cars, plumbing…he made the best country biscuits on the planet.
But one thing I do recall him saying was that he never wanted alot of tears at his funeral, but that he wanted a party. I would tease that I already booked the comedian. I already miss you my friend. And though I wish I’d said it on our last call, with that blind assumption that things will always remain as they are(It was after a bit of an argument)…I love you.
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Cops in the Balance…

Stephon Alonzo Clark, 22,  died on Sunday in a hail of bullets…holding a cell phone in his hand, in his own back yard, shot 20 times. While I think that is a crime and points to something broken in both our police and our society, it is important to balance everything.
I found out yesterday my brother was one of the responding officers and watched the Austin Bomber blow himself up just feet away. The graphic description of the aftermath would shock most anyone. A human being, who happens to be a cop must process that horrific experience somehow. My view is never to offer a blanket condemnation of all police, just as I don’t offer a blanket reverence for all police, the same view I take of doctors, priests and dishwashers.
I have sat with cops who were in tears after telling a family a family member was killed, just as I have sat next to one who frequently went off on alcohol laden racist screes. It isn’t an easy job, and the good ones should garner appreciation, while the bad ones should never receive the protection they too often enjoy, as it damages the credibility of those who truly wish and strive to protect and serve. But nothing happens in a vacuum, and we are all partners in making the police more responsive and more accountable.
We all know the FOX News cartoon Armageddon-style coverage in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. What few recall is that following the shooting, family and community leaders went to the Ferguson police department and were, before a single word was exchanged, pre-emptively met with machine guns and armored vehicles. I spoke with people from Ferguson during those dark days who said they only sought answers, and had the police and city engaged them in dialogue, and partnered with them in the process, none of what followed would have happened.
In the balance, such reactionary police actions are not the unilateral inhumanity of the police, but instead a larger political process which regards too many Americans, most specifically those in marginalized and distressed communities, still struggling from the burdens of our shared history, as sheep, or criminal or less than sovereign and equal. that’s a significant problem that we all must address with honesty, diligence and compassion. And above all, humility.

Not about Guns, but about Democracy vs the NRA…

Recent polls suggest that a clear majority of Americans favor some sort of reasonable gun control, and yet their constitutionally “guaranteed” voices are being ignored by their elected officials who are more beholden to the financial check writing power of the unelected NRA than to Americans.

Following the deaths of 58 in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting 64 percent of voters in a Politico/Morning Consult survey   said they wanted stricter gun controls-not gun elimination, but control. A February 2018 Quinnipiac poll, taken days after the Florida school shooting showed that 67-29 percent of Americans support a ban on the sale of assault weapons and 83-14 support a mandatory waiting period for gun purchases. The results were higher than those taken in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 that killed 20 students and six adults.

The only explanation for the intransigence of elected leaders, who claim outlawing women’s choice, building a wall on the border, eliminating affordable healthcare and tax cuts favoring the wealthy are “the will of the people,” would seem to betray a lie, and that they are more beholden to the NRA leadership than to their working and voting constituents…

Yesterday a friend asked for details about my comment on cops and the NRA-bought media. This was my answer……….

First, though, this was the original post:

So now you see friends in law enforcement. While the Left was merely asking for accountability the Right was pandering to you. But when it came time to choose between guns or cops the Right did not even blink before throwing you under the bus

A friend then asked for clarification and details, and just by coincidence, I had some:

The assault on the cops in Florida is a dodge and diversion to benefit and defend , not the NRA, but the corporate gun industry championed by NRA leadership. The same exact people who are throwing the cops in Florida for not rushing in, although I think that was deplorable personally(I’ve been under fire many times), are the same ones who defended cops for not rushing into the Florida nightclub shooting, Columbine and others. Then that same rightie media was saying the cops were outgunned and we following procedure. What’s the difference now? The massive outrage and divestment against the corrupt and morally bankrupt NRA leadership who this year increased their outreach to politicians and rightwing media NOT to $100,million, by BY and additional $100 million, for an estimated total of just under a half billion Dollars. The lesson? maybe our law enforcement should invest less in the “see a cop, thank a cop” two-faced users (Joe Walsh?) with greater loyalty to the corporate gun industry and understand that all those demanding accountability from law enforcement not only protect the public but our cops too. I’ll pose this question to 5th congressional district candidate Sameena Mustafa and CeaseFire Illinois founder Tio Hardiman when we talk on this Sunday’s show.  Tune in. Playtime with Bill Turck and Kerri Kendall, Sunday 1-3pm on am560 WCGO.

Evil and the Artist

A critical component to any expression of true Art, is in speaking to something pure and universal to the human experience, and through that expression find a greater definition of community. The Artist is not simply a craftsperson, but also a philosopher, a historian, a teacher and an oracle. While one person may find the painting of a sunset calming, another may find trepidation for the day to come.

Perhaps no other subject has enlivened more artistic and philosophical expression than the concept of evil. This was a tragic month for the nation. In Chicago, the death of Police commander Paul Bauer shocked the city. The nation was stunned and left wanting for answers after yet another terrible school shooting, as Ohio grieved for two fallen law enforcement officers. Internationally, war and strife still ravages Syria, Iraq and Yemen. There is genocide in Myanmar, violence remains a specter in Ukraine and we are told of slave auctions in Libya. Guns and crime claim too many on the streets of the nation, an epidemic fueled by greed, hopelessness and disenfranchisement. the word mental illness is abused in the media, as if any of us are immune, whether through depression and grief at the loss of a loved one, or levels of sociopathy that inform indifference to others whether due to race, economic status, religion or simply distance and unfamiliarity.

As artists, it is our duty to acknowledge the pain as well as the catalyst of the pain. Michangelo and da Vinci, all of the masters and greatest thinkers of the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment grappled with concepts of evil, while science, reason and our own inexhaustible humanity continually pressed back the definitions of evil. Earthquakes, before the discovery of plate tectonics, were once considered evil. Schizophrenics, children with Down’s syndrome and epileptics were once considered to be possessed by evil. We have besieged from every side through reason and understanding definitions of evil leaving but an ever narrowing island.

Last week propagandist and broadcaster Dan Proft in a throwback to our most primitive selves offered after the Florida shooting that we perhaps should spend less energy on the concept of mental illness and understand that real evil exists in the world. It is a monumentally ignorant thing to say, unless agenda and manipulation is the endgame. But if in the course of a few thousand years we can so completely erode the idea that evil is some ethereal presence rather than our complex struggle with greed and ignorance, sometimes tragically, even criminally fueled by mental illness then evil instead becomes an ever eroding definition of our collective ignorance, and therein lies hope for resolutions, however distant they may be. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Yugoslav writer Mesha Selimovich doesn’t simply describe love and hate, he delves beneath the skin, sleuthing the mitochondrial DNA, the primordial stew from whence they arose; The deepest uncharted corners of our humanity. That is the domain in which the Artists must exist, shining an existential light upon that ignorance…

Reactionary math and School Shootings.

A significant portion of the Right is so beholden and controlled by the National Rifle Association and the gun pornographers in the media that they dare not even utter the words gun control. Instead they are promoting the fiction of arming the schools. MORE GUNS! But the numbers reveal the actual folly of the  no-big government Right’s assertion of having armed guards in every school in America. And their target is your wallet.

138,000. That is the number of schools in America.

3 and 10. that would be the minimum range to place guards in most schools, owing for sick days, vacation days etc., a supervisor would be necessary. Open and large campuses would require still more; costs, incidentally, borne by already over burdened school districts and municipalities.

828,000. That would be the average number of guards needed to be hired at the expense of programs, teachers, unless higher taxes are mandated. School Security Tax?

$45,000. The average wage for an armed security guard.

$37.3 billion. The total cost for placing and staffing guards in all of America’s schools.

$270,000. The average cost to every school in America.

16,470. Towns of 10,000 or less represent the highest number of municipalities in America, compared to 15,555 10k-24.9k, 726 25-49.9k, 452 50k-99.9k, 220 100-249.9k, and 82 at 250k and up to big cities.

5. The number of schools in towns of 10,000 across the nation.

$675-900,000. The cost to each of those small towns simply for security.

3703. The average number of households in a community of 10,000

$182-243. The additional taxes for every household in a town of 10,000 residents.

One Half. Half of America’s 325 million live in towns of fewer than 25,000 people, or roughly 162 million.

$0 Dollars. Instead of addressing reasonable gun legislation, which would cost nothing, and restoring minor investments to help the mentally ill, those suffering depression, bi-polar disorders and more, let’s raise taxes on already under-compensated and over-taxed citizens. Great idea.

Breaking the Cycle through Art

Let me ask you this; if you were guaranteed to double your money on an investment, would you take the risk? What if you could triple or quadruple that initial investment? Tenfold? Hold onto that for a moment.

Three weeks ago Kerri and I had a conversation with Illinois Attorney General candidate Aaron Goldstein on our Sunday Radio Program on AM1590 WCGO in Chicago. While the program deals with the Arts, we strive to be a vehicle for social change through the Art’s prism. On the program, Kerri and I discussed with Aaron the idea of Art Therapy in breaking cycles of violence in distressed communities and in helping to interrupt the revolving door to prison from distressed communities. Since often politics is all about the money, well, at least in this case, all about the cost to taxpayers, we decided to run a few number to see what the cost benefit or liability might be…

A few numbers first. Both Payscale.com and Glassdoor.com give the average salary for an Art Therapist at between $44-46,000 annually. As of 2014, there were $2,4 million Americans facing incarceration, at a conservative cost of $80 billion annually.  The cost of incarcerating an individual in the state of Illinois, according to InsideGov. is $38,268. Illinois averages 45,500 prisoners daily, at a cost of $1.74 billion annually to Illinois taxpayers.  Cook County, in Illinois, which covers Chicago runs an average shortfall of about $150 million annually. Illinois has a slippery pig deficit varying from between $1.5 billion and $5 billion depending on who one believes and who is manipulating those numbers and for what reason. More taxes only burden the individual taxpayer in a state that annually gives away several Billion Dollars to big corporations for little or no return on “investment.”.

There are alternatives that could dramatically affect those numbers in favor of the taxpayer. For example, a study by Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children., in an article by Ellyn Fortino in Progress Illinois, found that “Youth incarceration costs Illinois 29 times more than the community-based alternative…it cost the state an average of $172,000 to incarcerate one youth, compared to an average of $6,000 for one youth in the Redeploy Illinois program…” But incarceration has become a revolving door, an assault on the symptom without ever addressing the disease. That’s where Art Therapy can make a difference.

For slightly more than the cost of incarcerating  4 adult prisoners, or just one youth offender four therapists couple be employed to begin addressing the disease that’s besieged distressed and marginalized communities where the symptoms of crime and incarceration have taken hold. What’s the old adage about if your only tool is a hammer every problem becomes a nail. The cost of running a program such as this would be less than $300k annually. If that one team were able to turn 8 individuals away from the prison system, the cost savings from their incarceration tab would more than pay for the program. Recall our budget was $300k. The cost savings for those 8 people would be $306k to taxpayers, not to mention a ripple effect of lower policing, costs to the community and the opportunity to resurrect the positive potential to each of the 8 in their respective communities.

At 3 sessions daily, each with 10-15 students, working over a 6 week period would reach 360 people in a single year. In prison that 360 would represent a cost to the state of nearly $14 million. If Art Therapy managed to turn just 18, or 5%, far below the actual success rates of Art Therapy, the taxpayers of Illinois would more than double the return on their initial investment. Moreover, such programs could incorporate marketable skills, such as computer skills, graphic Arts, textiles, and printing that might well be translated into jobs.

Given that the old standbys or prison, prison and more prison only feeds the fires of hopelessness in distressed communities, as well as the conflagration of budget deficits and spiraling taxation, it is time that Illinois took the lead in looking at proven alternatives. The reality is a concerted Art Therapy program investment across the state, could save Illinois taxpayers millions of Dollars, at a time when it is needed most, regardless of who you vote for.

FURTHER RESOURCES:

  1. Art Therapy’s Power to Prevent Youth Violence, Improve Communities by Lariza Fenner
  2. Art Therapy Wikipedia.
  3. 5 Quick Facts about Art Therapy:
  4. Adler School’s IPSSJ: Working with CeaseFire, Cook County and detained youth to educate and prevent future violence: Elena Quintana, Ph.D., Executive Director, the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School