Rosemont Homeowners get $3,000

[S]uburban Rosemont is offering its homeowners $3,000 grants.

The village may not have landed the big casino, but it has lots of commercial development and relatively few residents. Mayor Brad Stephens likens this year’s grant — the village has parceled out money for 15 years in a row — to a “dividend” a company would grant its stockholders.

(Full story here.)

Wow!  Say what you want about Rosemont and it’s creepy mayor’s family (Hummel Museum, really?) but this guy provided for the citizens.  Massive taxes flowing into the city coffers from private industry, residents get paid to live there.

I for one, am impressed.

BGA on the Size of the City Counsel

The BGA is not the first, nor the second or third, to write about reducing the size of the city counsel.  But in this story here they do a better job than just about anyone I’ve seen.

The wrap-up is equally important.  These ideas need champions who will talk about them and bring them to bare.  Else, nothing will ever happen.

Why Is Illinois So Corrupt?

Chicago Magazine has a great story about corruption in Illinois.

Big truth here:

Of course, most generous donors don’t give merely out of purity of heart. “Those large sums of money from all kinds of special interests—they’re invested for a purpose,” says Adlai Stevenson III, the former U.S. senator and two-time unsuccessful candidate for governor of Illinois. “Who’s going to invest in an honest politician?” Many donors expect to be rewarded with lucrative contracts, changes in policies that favor their interests, or other politically directed largesse.

Thank you Adlai for telling it like it is.

And then there is this:

It’s easy to fault public servants and criticize unsound laws, but ultimately the local political culture “comes down to what the voters will put up with,” says James Merriner. Over the years, Illinois voters have shown themselves to be a tolerant lot, viewing corruption as the grease that helps get things done. “It’s worked well enough for most of the people,” says Cindi Canary. “It’s been seen as the price you pay for relatively efficient government.”

(Full story here.)

Basically, it’s because the voters say it’s ok.

The story comes up with all kinds of ivy-tower answers from ivy-tower kinda folks.  Some may have some merit, maybe not.  But I agree with these two reasons right here.  Money and apathy.

It’s worth reading the end of this story.  The truth is that apathy may be ending because people are about to get tax at a level never seen before.  You take enough money from someone and you get their attention.

Meeks vs. Tax Law

Meeks says he’s long been mindful of the rules laid out by the Internal Revenue Service, but it’s clear he chafes at restrictions that prevent churches and other charitable groups from endorsing and contributing to political campaigns.

“I am running for office, and you know that. … I can take all the money I want from the National Rifle Association, from the pharmaceutical companies, from the riverboat people, from the tobacco industry and from the liquor industry. I can take all the money. … I can take it, it’s legal. But I can’t take one dime from a church,” he told the Salem Baptist congregation.” Something is wrong with that picture.”

Churches are prohibited from such political activity as a condition of maintaining their highly beneficial tax-exempt status with the IRS.

(Full story here.)

Well, if Meeks don’t like the law, then he can incorporate his church as a for-profit, begin paying income tax and property tax, and maybe even go public and deal with the SEC filings and disclosures.  They he can give his money to whomever he likes, and as much of it too.

But for a guy who a few years ago admitted that his “church” was going to buy a jet plane to complain about his tax treatment is laughable.  Open up the books reverend and let’s see where all the money’s coming from and going to.

FOP vs. The People

The stage is set for a confrontation over Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis’ upcoming plan to reallocate police resources from lower-crime districts to those that need more officers.  Days before the plan is expected to be unveiled, the Fraternal Order of Police is serving notice that it intends to strictly enforce a union contract that could severely limit Weis’ options.  …  “It would be a mistake to believe you can just move personnel at a whim without regard to the agreements the union has with the city. We will enforce the contract to the best of our ability.” FOP President Mark Donahue said Friday.

(Full story here.)

The reallocation plan is a poorly thought out bad idea that naturally would not be required if the CPD was operating at its fully authorized operational capacity. i.e. If it wasn’t 2,500 cops short.

That said, it is the city, through the Superintendent of Police, that tells officers where to go, not the FOP.  If the FOP had it’s way half of the department would work the Marine Unit and the other half would patrol Lincoln Park Zoo.  You would not be able to find a cop south of 18th Street or West of Western.

This makes me think that FOP is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Parent to Blame for Education Problems?

An Associated Press-Stanford University Poll on education found that 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what’s wrong with the U.S. education system — more than teachers, school administrators, the government or teachers unions.  Only 35 percent of those surveyed agreed that teachers deserve a great deal or a lot of the blame.  Moms were more likely than dads — 72 percent versus 61 percent — to say parents are at fault.  Conservatives were more likely than moderates or liberals to blame parents.

(Full story here.)

If only it were this simple.  Assign blame and kick someone in the rear to get moving.  I can’t believe the Gates Foundation spent good money on this.

Of course some parents are to blame, as are some students, some teachers, lots of administrators, and nearly all politicians.  Parents who think that school is a baby sitting service are dropping the ball.  Same goes for those parents who are generally uninvolved in their children’s lives outside of school.

My take is that the vast majority of parents are doing the best the can with the skills and financial resources they have.  Naturally there are a few who are not.  But the real question is how to improve everyone’s schools whether or not the parent is involved?

Illinois, Worst for Retirement

The list, with Illinois leading the pack, comes from website TopRetirements.com. According to John Brady, president of TopRetirements.com, the 10 states earn this dubious distinction largely because of three factors: fiscal health, taxation and climate.

(Full story here.)

Fiscal health?  We’re bankrupt.

Taxation?  We’re taxed to death.

Climate?  We’re heading into 5-6 days below freezing.

Yep, we hit the tri-fecta.

Just think, if they added crime and corrupt politicians into the mix we could have had the quinella.

Little do to in Property Tax Battle?

In an article with technical problems over at the Sun-Times, Terry Savage writes under a headline, “Little you can do in property tax battle”:

While home values are down, many homeowners are shocked by the increases in second-half-of-the year tax bills. Fingers are pointing at the assessor’s office, the Cook County Board and the state’s tax equalization factor.

(Full story here.)

I disagree.  There is plenty you can do.  You can vote out of office every corrupt self-serving politician who’s served more than two days in office and create a fresh start.

On the city level you get that chance in less than 90 days.

Berrios Puts Family on Payroll

Just days into his tenure as Cook County assessor, Joseph Berrios has hired his son and sister to work for him.

Carmen Berrios, the assessor’s sister, is director of taxpayer services at Berrios’ new office. She is making about $86,000, the same salary she made at the Board of Tax Review, where she headed up taxpayer outreach, Berrios said.  Joseph “Joey” Berrios, the assessor’s son, now is a residential property analyst, similar to the job he held at the Board of Review, where he also made about $48,000 a year.

(Full story here.)

When are people going to say enough?  When is our do nothing Attorney General and Cook County State’s Attorney going to investigate what’s really going on inside these offices?  It’s just amazing, simply amazing.

Fioretti Anti-Building Protection

Powered by a solar-powered device akin to a car battery, the fences send 7,000 volt jolts every 1.3 seconds into the hands of people who touch the fences, which have never proved fatal in the states and cities that allow them….

The systems are allowed in California, other major cities and Illinois suburbs including Bolingbrook, Elmhurst, Rockford and Schaumburg, city officials said. They also are allowed under state law at railroad facilities in Chicago, Burke said.

Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd Ward, opposed the measure.

“I’m not convinced this is even useful in the city of Chicago,” he said. “I don’t think this is good for us.”

(Full story here.)

What I trimmed from the article said that these fences would NOT be allowed on the public way.  So it would be impossible to get zapped unless you were already someplace you didn’t belong.

It’s time for everyone, including Alderman Fioretti to realize the theft is a huge expenses to businesses.  Criminals try to steal anything and everything.  And if you cannot secure your property then you will move — outside the city — to someplace where you can.

Further, with the police department 2,500 officers short it takes even longer to respond to calls.  So it’s not like alarms (which are over regulated themselves) are the answer.  The alarm can sound, but when seconds count the police are just minutes away.