Wednesday, December 30, 2015
GAYLORD HELMS of Port Byron wrote this letter for the December 30 Dispatch/Argus. I am writing to vent my frustration on more tax increases. ..... It is probably pointless, since so many before me have already expressed their disappointments, BUT the taxpayers are still being robbed. ..... Why we can't have a referendum to vote for these increases is beyond me. ..... We not only have another salary to pay, with a new Rock Island County administrator, bur he adds insult to injury by immediately raising our taxes by 16.6 percent. The county board votes on the increase and it fails, so you take a recess and vote again until it passes. ..... That hardly seems democratic. Being retired and on a fixed income, like many others in this county, we cannot continually afford these increases. ..... By living in Hampton Township, I'm faced by yet another increase for Silvis schools. We incurred a huge tax when a new school was built several years ago, and now you want another substantial increase. ..... What happened to the revenue we were supposed to get for funding schools and roads from the casinos? Yeah! ..... We've lived in Rock Island County all our lives but are considering moving elsewhere."
Thursday, December 24, 2015
CAROL BAY of Port Byron made these complaints about property taxes in this December 24 letter in the Quad-City Times AND December 29 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "This year the property tax on my home was $4,48028. Apparently that is not enough. Rock Island County raised property taxes 16.8 percent plus another increase for the Forest Preserve District. Riverdale Schools are raising my property tax 4.5 percent and the village of Port Byron 4.9 percent. Black Hawk College also raised my property taxes. ..... Every year, our property taxes go up far higher than the rate of inflation. No matter how much money they get, they always claim they need more. Yet, for all this money our schools and governments get from the taxpayer nothing seems to get any better. Where does my money go? ..... We know that property tax rates are lower in Iowa. Realtors know it. Prospective home buyers know it. Homes in Rock Island County can only be sold at a steep discount. ..... Many other letter writers have made the same complaints but left unsaid is how this is turning much of Rock Island County into deteriorating neighborhoods and this blight will only spread with each additional tax increase. ..... Every dollar that goes toward increased property taxes means fewer dollars left for home maintenance and improvements. Declining home values are also a powerful disincentive. Why pour money into a home that is steadily losing value? ..... Illinois needs to adopt Gov. Bruce Rauner's Turnaround Agenda, and local governments and schools need to make some simple reforms. Iowa shows the way: end over-bureaucratization, repeal prevailing wage, stop raising taxes, and make Illinois competitive again."
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
STEPHEN WILSON of Milan had this letter published in the September 21, 2015 Quad-City Times. "As election season unfolds, I feel the need to revisit a subject I believe all voters should look upon once again. That is the definition of the word "insanity". This was a word I was taught meant doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result each time. How appropriate is this word regarding elections? Very! ..... We as voters, exercise the same insanity each election, by sending the very same people back to office, expecting a different outcome based on their false assertions. Witness the debacle in Illinois -- billions in unpaid bills and not a single plan to look at to alleviate the situation. Not a one. ..... Is this not the very definition of insanity? I think so. Personally, when I go to the polls this season and look at the candidates, I will look for incumbents and then vote against that person. We have had way more than our share of career politicians and failed business and professional people try to make it in public life with a literal guarantee of tenure. Seriously? ..... The state of Illinois, its agencies, and education employment rolls are bloated beyond comprehension. ..... I believe a public referendum asking for public input on solutions for the fiscal ills of the state of Illinois is definitely in order."
Monday, December 21, 2015
BILL LONG of Rock Island had this letter in the December 21 Dispatch/Argus pointing out the true costs of the Rock Island County Board. "A recent letter tried to focus on the reasons for the decline in business and population in Illinois and Rock Island County. While it stated that the average weekly wage in Iowa is about $780 and in Illinois, it failed to suggest that Iowa is a right to work state and Illinois is not. ..... This is due to union influence in Illinois and also pushes the cost of public projects higher, (prevailing wage); higher cost of public projects equates to smaller number of projects. The letter is also a covert pitch for the implementation of the progressive state income tax. ..... It tried to compare the cost of the county boards in Scott and Rock Island County. ..... The writer failed to point out that the Scott County Board is a full time position at around $50,000 annual salary, while the Rock Island County board is part-time, with an average of $2,400 annually, and a target of 20 hours per week. There are several members of the Rock Island County board who will dispute that they put in the 20 hours. ..... He failed to mention that over and above this, Rock Island County board members receive $100 per month for attending standing committee meetings, some are on four different committees. They also receive $60 for attending special appointment meetings, I notice that one of them apparently is on four different ones. Beyond this, they receive mileage, a pension and health insurance. ..... In November these payments (excluding salary, pension and health payments) amounted to $9,096.99. Know any other part-time job with these perks? ..... To make some kind of point, have the facts."
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Rock Island County Republican Chair BILL BLOOM had this column in the December 18 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "For months now, the state of Illinois has been locked in a battle over its budget. Democrats John Cullerton and Mike Madigan have been trying to push through a budget with a multibillion dollar deficit. Gov. Bruce Rauner has been calling for reforms that are necessary for the long-term health of the state of Illinois. ..... Democrats have been trotting out families and charities which have had their support cut to show how heartless Bruce Rauner is. The truth is, Democrats have super-majorities in both houses of the Illinois Legislature. They could pass the budget and override a veto by the Governor. ..... All it takes is for them to have lockstep discipline among their troops. Their inability to do this means one of two things. 1: They do not have lockstep adherence of their troops and they don't want this revealed by forcing a vote, or 2: They really want Rauner to take ownership of the budget-busting deficit being proposed by Madigan and his allies. ..... Illinois is in trouble. The U.S. Census Bureau reported Illinois' population fell by more than 9,900 people. The truth is worse. That number includes births. If you only look at people moving in or people moving out, we lost 95,000 people in 2014 alone. ..... We are losing hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs. Our kids are moving to other places to find opportunity. The south side of Chicago used to be lit up with steel mills working through the night. The last of these moved out last year for another Midwest state. .... "Pro-union" Illinois has lost 10 percent of its union jobs over the last 10 years. "Anti-union" Indiana has seen a 5 percent increase. Why? Because you have to have companies that manufacture to have union jobs and Illinois is losing its manufacturing jobs. ..... Illinois keeps major manufacturers like Deere and Cat by providing sweetheart deals that keep them here. Even with these deals, union jobs are shrinking. ..... Unions pour millions into the coffers of Democrats who pass legislation that sounds good to working families but actually kills jobs. Companies faced with higher and higher costs in Illinois are moving across the borders to surrounding states. ..... If you listen to the liberals, Iowa must be a wasteland with its lower minimum wage and right to work environment. All of us regularly cross the river and experience the truth. Iowa is thriving. ..... Scott County generates twice the retail revenue of Rock Island County. People in Scott County find their houses sell twice as fast as comparable homes in Illinois and at a much higher price. On the Illinois side of the river housing starts have dwindled to a handful. ..... That is not how it has to be. Rauner has a vision that will turn this state around. Democrats offer more of the same solutions that have driven Illinois to the brink of failure. ..... Give Rauner a chance to jump-start Illinois and return it to the job creating industrial power it once was. Tell your local representative you support Rauner in reforming Illinois."
Saturday, December 19, 2015
LOUIE ALONGI of Rock Island had this letter in the December 18 Dispatch/Argus. "We must look at Iowa. ..... Recent letters from some Democrats and labor leaders have criticized earlier letters from fiscal conservatives comparing taxes and government in Rock Island and Scott counties. ..... They may complain about the negative message, but they cannot deny the irrefutable fact that Scott County and Iowa are prospering while Rock Island County and Illinois are becoming stagnant. ..... Scott County population is rapidly growing while Rock Island County is losing population. In 2014, there were 186 housing starts in Scott County versus six here. Scott County collected $147.4 million in sales taxes versus $74.5 million in RICo. These are facts which cannot be disputed. ..... The answer for Illinois and RICo always is "raise taxes"! The property tax levies are going higher and the county and schools are considering a referendum in 2016 to raise our sales taxes higher. In Springfield the only question is which taxes will be raised and how high? ..... The Rock Island County Board recently passed a 16.8 percent property tax increase by two votes after first losing by two votes and then taking a five minute break. This was a legal procedure, according to Robert's Rules of Order. Of course, Robert did not call for the five minute break, the county board chairman did. ..... The voters need to take a time-out also and vote for persons interested in making corrections to the bad decisions of the past and make RICo and Illinois great again. ..... We must look at Iowa for some ideas that would produce some cost savings. NOT just tax increases."
PAULINE SWANSON of Geneseo wrote this in the December 18 Dispatch/Argus in defense of Judge O'Shea's column on Muslim immigrants which so many liberals disliked. "Kudos to John Donald O'Shea! ...... The answer to his headline question, "How many jihadist refugees are too many?" is: ..... One is too many! ..... His is a reasoned response to the hullaballoo over Trump's "call for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." ...... Too many (Oval Office candidates) jumped on a castigation bandwagon, portraying Trump as unreasoning/unfeeling; attempting to "guilt trip: as against our national openness/our Constitution to deny admission -- anyone who might agree. ..... Those with an IQ more than room temperature, have perceived it's a command in the holy book (Qu'ran) that some followers of Muhammad MUST carry out jihad -- nothing less than destroying "infidels" by ANY means. (They appear to favor beheadings, mass shootings, other brutal/beastly terrorism. Their perception: We are "infidels". ..... We KNOW (San Bernardino massacre; terrorism here and abroad; a LONG history of violence in "conquest"), we've already been infiltrated, with no safeguards against it. He who will not learn from history is doomed to repeat its errors. ...... We need to get a grip! O'Shea's scenario deserves calm, reasoned reading and studious contemplation; then we need to inform our representatives. For the time being, a shutdown is a viable option. ...... (An apology to Trump for misconstruing his remarks wouldn't be out of line either!) ..... O'Shea's assessment is brilliant. I challenge anyone to answer his straightforward questions -- especially that guy in the Oval Office -- in lieu of the pablum he's dishing."
Thursday, December 17, 2015
LAWRENCE BAY of Port Byron had this letter in the December 17 Quad-City Times AND December 18 Dispatch/Argus. "After every massacre of innocents in a "Gun-Free-Zone" we hear renewed calls for gun control legislation from Democrats and liberals. We find that in San Bernardino and elsewhere workers were trained to "find protection and stay quiet" in an active-shooter situation. Obviously, if you "play dead" you only increase your chances of becoming dead. Perhaps it is time for a different approach. ..... Gun-Free-Zones tell murderers that this is a safe shooting gallery. The first step in deterring mass-murders should be eliminating "Gun-Free-Zones". ..... More importantly, we must encourage more well-trained citizens to carry firearms so that these murderers know that they will find return fire. ..... Our U.S., Illinois and Iowa Constitutions call for a militia. The Illinois Constitution Article XII reads "The State Militia consists of all able-bodied persons" and calls on the militia to "enforce the laws". Every legal gun-owner should be in the militia, undergo training, and help in enforcing the law. ..... America was not founded by wimps and it will not long-survive if Americans become defenseless wimps dependent on government protection. There are many Americans who would willingly play an active role in the defense of our society, just look at recent gun sales. Almost everyone during these massacres would love to see someone shooting back at these murderers. Let's have well-trained armed citizens interspersed in every place in our country. Let's have well-trained armed Americans assume some of the responsibility for our safety.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
RICHARD ROGERS made these points in a December 15 letter in the Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "As usual the schools have decided to ignore the voters. Three times the voters turned down a sales tax increase, so now the school board has decided the voters are ignorant idiots and have increased our property taxes in a manner the voter cannot stop. ..... In a democracy the voters, the people, are empowered to make decisions, yet the school board, which is responsible for teaching how democracy works, does an end run to get more money rather than do the responsible action and consolidate all of Rock Island County into one school district for administration, saving millions of dollars annually by having but one superintendent and associated staff and office. Instead, once again, they have chosen to reach into the wallets of the working and retired classes to fund their agendas. ..... No one spoke at the hearing before the vote, not out of a lack of interest, but because it was a given as to what the predetermined vote would be and it would make no difference. There is no increase in Social Security this year, so I, like other retirees, must adjust my budget for the increases in the cost of living. ...... We cannot just raise our income, but instead see it dwindle because of the irresponsible actions of the schools. Unfortunately the basic tenets of democracy have been stripped from the people and replaced by an attitude of "we are going to do it" regardless of the people."
Monday, December 14, 2015
DEEDEE GRAHAM had this powerful letter in the December 14 Quad-City Times AND the December 16 Dispatch/Argus. " President Barack Obama gave a feckless speech after the San Bernardino killings. His strongest idea was to once again call for increased gun control ignoring the obvious fact that almost all of these mass-killings occur in areas that are called gun free zones where the murderers know they are the only ones with guns and their victims are defenseless. Many Americans believe the best way to stop these massacres is by having more armed citizens and to eliminate gun free zones. ..... President Obama once again told us that Islam is a religion of peace. This is a little hard to believe in the face of 32,658 people killed in terrorist attacks in 2014. President Obama and all the Democratic presidential candidates refuse to use the words "radical Islam", "Jihadists", or "Islamoterrorists" as our enemy. How can a president hope to defeat an enemy that they will not name? ..... We must recognize that there are many Muslim leaders who are fighting Islamoterrorism, but we must demand that more Muslim leaders join the fight. Muslim religious leaders must preach that those who murder innocents will see Jahannam (Hell) and not Paradise. Those leaders who preach Jihad should receive the martyrdom they urge for others. ..... Recent polls indicate national security is now the number one concern of American voters. Right now, Donald Trump is the only candidate who says he will destroy radical Islam. We must demand from all the candidates their plan for destroying Islamoterrorism. We must name our enemy!"
Sunday, December 13, 2015
JEFFREY RICE had this letter in the December 13 Dispatch/Argus AND the December 14 Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Donald Trump's comments about Muslims have Republicans, Democrats and media in a tizzy. ..... Trump is the political anti-Christ. ...... Pundits say the Democrats are popping champagne corks over Trump becoming the Republican nominee. The smart people say Hillary Clinton will mop the floor with Trump were he to be her opponent. ..... The Republicans are beside themselves that Trump could win the nomination, thus backroom plotting is happening to stop him at the convention after the primaries. ..... Let's get real and expose them for the frauds they are. ...... Excluding people from entering the United States during a crisis is not new. It happened in the presidency of Jimmy Carter during the Iran hostage crisis. Carter forced Iranians to leave this country. He also blocked others from entering the U.S. ...... There is precedence for what Trump is saying and the wizards of smart in both parties and media should be ashamed of themselves for not recognizing what happened in the 70s when Carter did more in reality than Trump could ever do on the campaign trail! ...... There is fear and loathing against political "outsiders". ...... If an outsider wins and runs against the Democrat nominee (Hillary), the floor will be mopped, but it won't be Hillary mopping the floor. ...... Citizens in flyover country just don't get it according to the "establishment". .... They are wrong. We are right. ...... Our government is broken. Media and both parties refuse to understand why political outsiders are gathering so much support. What's wrong with the status quo? ,,,,,, EVERYTHING!"
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
CRAIG HOLLISTER had these good suggestions printed in the December 2 Dispatch/Argus. "I am tired of Illinois being an international laugh line. Illinois ranks neat the bottom in every category except taxes. Our politicians fill jails but can't seem to govern. ..... The Illinois State Museum has been closed to the public since October 1 yet 43 union workers get paid while the museum is in danger of losing accreditation. How is this saving money? Illinois stopped paying lottery winners so Illinoisans go to other states to play the lottery? Brilliant! ..... How much revenue is Illinois losing? ...... Illinois can't pay its bills but adds new obligations such as $1.3 million annually to subsidize air service to Dulles. The more our politicians delay the higher will be the tax increase. ..... I am tired of Rock Island County mismanagement and constant tax increases. ..... Illinois taxpayers should demand that our politicians look at Iowa and other neighboring states where taxes are lower, services are better, and politicians don't fill jails. ..... Iowa and all our neighboring states have lower property taxes. Scott County schools have better test results at a lower cost per student. Illinois only needs to copy what other states are doing. ..... Iowa has no prevailing wage, Right to Work laws and less bureaucracy. Is it any wonder that Scott County has so many more housing starts and such a strong retail base? ..... Illinois and Rock Island County seem to think raising taxes higher is the answer while Iowa and Indiana are lowering taxes. People looking for housing already look at Iowa. Our politicians should also look at Iowa."
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
JOHN RUTLEDGE had another hard-hitting letter in the December 1 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The recent decision to substantially raise property taxes in Rock Island County emphasizes the fact that we in this county are living under a triple curse of bad government. ..... Our federal, state and county governments are bloated, floundering, over-spent, unfocused and oblivious to the wants and needs of citizens, particularly the 50 percent of us who pay taxes. ..... Any group of fools can run a government by continually raising taxes. It takes intelligent and dedicated officials to recognize where waste and unnecessary outlays are in budgets, and have the guts to make appropriate adjustments, honoring their responsibilities to the taxpayers. Anyone with an IQ higher than his shoe size will agree that Rock Island County (population 150,000) should not have a larger governing board than Cook County (population 5 million. Board members: R.I. County 25 vs. Cook County 17.) ..... Almost all politicians were elected by us, so we are getting what we deserve. Let's be more selective in the future."
WILLIAM PULSCHER wrote this letter in the December 1 Dispatch/Argus. "I am writing this in opposition to the Nov. 22 editorial, "Consider RI Library options carefully." ..... I love libraries and the Rock Island SW Branch library in particular. That said, if we have reached the point where we can't afford to operate branch libraries without running up a deficit they should be closed. ..... I think most Rock Island taxpayers would agree with that action. ..... However, your suggestion that we separately consider running up a new multi-million dollar deficit to expand the Rock Island Library in the future represents fiscal insanity. ..... You may be correct that we should not jump to an early opinion on a new library -- so let's wait until we have a smaller government, a balanced budget and city and county leaders who listen to the taxpayers. ..... Unfortunately, I doubt we'll see that by 2020!"
Friday, November 27, 2015
DAVE SORENSEN speaks for many in this November 27 letter to the Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "It appears that the new Rock Island County administrator, Dave Ross, is going to tie right in with the way the bloated and "kick the can down the road" county board always has done business. ..... Rather than find areas in which to cut expenses he has moved in lockstep with past board decisions to "tax and spend" -- that's so much easier than finding ways to cut expenses. ..... County taxpayers can expect nothing more than the status quo for the foreseeable future, and that is continuing increases in property taxes. Is it any wonder that Scott County is outpacing us in every category? ..... Rock Island County is an aging county with many of its citizens on fixed income. This 16.8 percent tax increase on top of a 1.1 percent increase in assessed valuation by the Moline Township hurts. And does anyone believe this is just a temporary tax increase? If you do, please stop by because I've got a couple of valuable pieces of oceanfront properties that I's like to sell you. ..... The Dispatch printed a list of members and how they voted. I would suggest that all of the county citizens cut that out, paste it to their calendar and refer to it the next time there is a board election. ..... I would like to thank all the board members who voted no and to wish them a very Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. ..... To those who voted for the increase, and Dave Ross, I would say Bah Humbug; you are truly the Grinches who stole Christmas."
SHIRLEY GILLIES had this letter in the November 27 Dispatch/Argus. "Here we are again, taxpayers bailing out the Rock Island County Board with tax raises. We've got too many on the board. ..... It needs to be cut to 14 and that's all. It will save us salaries, insurance, retirement, vacations, etc. ..... This has been going on for years,it's time taxpayers have a vote. If they would have raised sales taxes, everybody would pay, now, we old people on fixed income have to cough up more. .... You board members who voted "yes" should be ashamed. ..... People are disgusted."
Constance Bell wrote this letter in the November 27 Dispatch/Argus. This is the family history of so many who came to America LEGALLY! "This was sent to U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, Mark Kirk and the White House. ..... Much has been made of us being a nation of immigrants. However, I am very familiar of how the immigrants came to this country through Ellis Island, I also know that my great, great grandfather had to sell off his land in Germany in order to come to America. And he also had to have people here to vouch for him. ..... When he came in he and his family were examined for all illness in order to insure he was going to be a healthy citizen and have something to offer the country. Many people were denied entry. ..... Since when were citizens admitted to America and not expected to become contributing citizens? When the president says we should not be afraid of widows and kids, what does he think of the mothers who are proud of their sons who blow themselves up and the women who are now showing up in suicide vests? .....As far as the kids go, ones as young as five and six are being trained in ISIS camps. They are very proud of their training camps. Their magazine is proud to feature pictures of their kids, even 3-and 4-year olds sitting on their mother's laps waving the black ISIS flag."
AL DUSSLIERE had this letter in the November 27 Dispatch/Argus. This letter could be written about almost every Rock Island County taxing body. "East Moline is facing a $2.2 million deficit which includes more than $700,000 in the sewer plant fund because customer usage is down. Knowing this decline was happening, what did city staff do to determine where the decline was occurring? Were changes initiated to offset some of the loss? The usual remedy is raise the sewer and also the garbage fee to cover a shortage there. ..... Department heads create budgets for their departments. If there is a deficit it is their responsibility. Simple economics demands a cut in cost to reduce or eliminate a deficit. ..... What are some possible reasons for our deficit? .... Automatically filling vacant positions, union contract bargaining, lack of control of credit card all purchases, ethics policy, TIF projects, union control of City Council, nine-man shift in fire department, union blocking privatizing garbage collection, continuing policy of "this is the way we've always done it" and finally failure of the mayor and City Council majority to protect the financial welfare of the people."
Thursday, November 26, 2015
A very successful and very wealthy father had a daughter at college who was very liberal and felt that all the greedy capitalists should share their wealth with the "less fortunate" so that everyone has the same amount of money. She briefly returned from college and was asked how she was doing at school and she talked of how hard she had to study to maintain her straight A average. The father asked about her friend and was told she likes to party all night and could barely manage a C average but was very popular. He suggested that perhaps she could go to the dean and switch her grade to a B and raise her friend to a B so that they could have the same grade average. She indignantly said "No way! I bust my tail studying and never go to any parties while she drinks and parties all night. I earned my A average". The father just smiled and said "WELCOME TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!
I went to dinner at a fancy restaurant with a liberal family who dislike my conservative views. Their daughter looked out the window and saw a shabbily dressed homeless man and said "If I had enough money I would treat that poor man to dinner here." Her parents beamed with pride that their daughter had such great compassion. Similarly moved, I said to the child "If you come to my house and rake leaves I will give you enough money to feed that poor man". The daughter thought it over and finally said "Why doesn't that man go to your house and rake leaves. I said "WELCOME TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY"! Her parents stopped speaking to me.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
CAROL BAY had this letter published in the November 25 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "As expected, the Rock Island County Board voted to raise our property taxes 16.8 percent. County administrator Dave Ross and some board members also are pushing for a referendum in 2016 to either raise sales taxes or property taxes. RICo schools may also try a referendum to raise our sales tax, the same sales tax which voters rejected three times. .....Most school boards are also raising their property tax levy 4.85 to 10 percent. Library boards are raising their property taxes, as are other local governments. ..... Last year our property tax bill in Rock Island County was $4,880.28. Apparently that is not enough to satisfy all our mismanaged taxing bodies. At what point do property taxes become confiscatory? At what point do taxpayers say enough? ...... A large part of the reason Illinois taxes are so high is over-bureaucratization with all the added costs and inefficiencies adding to the cost of government. Before moving to Port Byron we lived in Iowa and saw how a well-managed state can deliver better service at lower cost. Illinois taxpayers should demand reform before agreeing to ever-higher taxes. ..... RICo continues to have 25 board members reaping benefits which the Scott County Board members don't. Iowa has assessments done by the county rather than by 30 townships. RICo has 10 school districts with their bureaucracies eating tax money that could go to our classrooms. The list of over-bureaucratization could fill this page. We regret leaving Iowa. Who would buy our house with taxes so high?"
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
LAWRENCE BAY submitted this op-ed for the Guest Columnist contest in the Dispatch/Argus. We will see if this ever gets published but the ideas expressed need to be repeated often. "Unionized government workers may wish to save this. I am actually agreeing with the position of union leaders! ..... Rock Island County administrator Dave Ross is asking the county's union workforce to forgo a 2 percent pay raise and is also recommending a 16.8 percent property tax increase. AFSCME Local 2025 president Jeff Stulir rightly said his members would reject forgoing raises until they saw the county board also making sacrifices such as giving up their pensions. ..... One RICo board member called dropping pensions "small potatoes", another called the 16.8 percent property tax increase the equivalent of a tank of gasoline. All taxpayers, including union members, don't think a 16.8 percent increase in the county property taxes added to a 4.85 to 10 percent increase in school property taxes plus increases by many libraries and municipalities is "small Potatoes". ..... Taxpayers see huge pay raises and benefits given to administrative positions and are told that's only a drop in the ocean compared to the overall budget costs of those who do the actual work. Is it any wonder that unions object to unilateral sacrifice or that taxpayers resent ever-rising taxes? ..... Everyone who seriously considers the finances of Rock Island County and the state of Illinois realizes that their current trajectories are unsustainable. Some believe the answer is simply to raise taxes to cover any shortfalls and to actually increase government spending to meet any perceived need. Others believe that raising taxes only drives residents, businesses and shoppers to states with lower taxes, we certainly see evidence of that here where Scott County has far greater retail sales and housing starts. ..... Very few taxpayers or unionized government workers trust our elected officials in any government to be wise stewards of the public money. Here are a few suggestions that might help restore that trust. ..... Until a government's finances are solvent no pay raises should be given to anyone that exceeds that given to Social Security recipients. ..... All governmental bodies should not raise taxes above the rate of inflation without specific cause. Too many local governments routinely raise property tax levies 4.8 percent every year, this quickly adds up. ..... All local taxing bodies should pass resolutions urging the Illinois Legislature to repeal prevailing wage. This would enable more construction at lower cost. Iowa has never had a prevailing wage law. ..... Rock Island County should consolidate school districts. The reduced bureaucracy would save millions that could be put into the classrooms. We don't need ten school districts plus the Regional Office of Education, with their bloated bureaucracies, in a county of 22,000 pupils. ..... Township government should be eliminated in urban areas. Why should we have both municipal and township government eating our taxes? Iowa doesn't. ..... Sell Hope Creek. For-profit nursing homes pay property and sales taxes while most are rated higher than Hope Creek by accrediting bureaus. This would eliminate the county subsidy, increase tax revenue, and the equity would add cash to RICo. ..... The Rock Island County Board should be down-sized. Scott County has five part-time board members yet has a larger population. RICo doesn't need 25 board members. Pensions and health care should be eliminated. Yes, this may be "small potatoes" but if the County Board is not willing to sacrifice why should the union members and the taxpayers? ..... These measures, if enacted, would help restore trust in our local government. If our taxpayers saw their money was spent wisely they might be more willing to accept necessary tax increases. Right now our local governments resemble very leaky buckets. ..... It would also help restore Rock Island County competitiveness with our Iowa neighbors."
Monday, November 23, 2015
RON KOPKO had this letter published in the November 23 Dispatch/Argus. "Don Wooten has become so biased toward the Democratic Party that he is no longer able to recognize or evaluate good ideas when they don't come from his party. ..... Mr. Wooten's columns will not recognize that his party has led Illinois and Rock Island County to virtual bankruptcy over the past 35 years. The Democratic Party's answer to this is to raise taxes. I'll bet Mr. Wooten won't be happy when his real estate taxes go up 16.8 percent next year. He can thank his party for that. ..... The Republican candidates propose some good ideas. One is tax reform. Do you know that the IRS tax code has 73,800 pages? Some Republican candidates want to reduce that to 2 or 3 pages. That would be fair for all. Another idea is eliminate some government agencies. We all know how much waste there is in our government. That would save billions of dollars. We have to cut our federal debt, our debt has doubled in the last seven years. This has put our country in a death spiral. We have to have leadership that will end this. The Republican candidates have addressed this and have some good ideas. ..... What have the Democratic candidates proposed to solve these problems? One common theme between them: more government give away programs and tax the rich. That's it. What do they say about socialism? It works great, until you run out of other people's money. Maybe Mr. Wooten can put that in his next column."
Sunday, November 22, 2015
LAWRENCE BAY had this letter published in the November 22 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The world is justifiably outraged by the death of 129 and wounding of 350 in Paris by the Islamoterrorists. But where is the outrage over a reported 32,658 deaths and countless wounded in 2014 caused by Islamoterrorists? Could it be that the world doesn't care because 78 percent of those deaths were in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria? Where is the outrage over a suicide bomber killing 21 at a funeral in Iraq or 43 in a Beirut suburb? ..... The Democratic presidential candidates say climate change is the biggest threat facing the United States and the world and refuse to say the words "radical Islam". Republicans would rather compare their tax plans. Many Americans feel that none of that matters if our country is destroyed by these Islamoterrorists. ..... We should not condemn Islam, one of the world's great religions with many wonderful teachings of charity and compassion. But we should all condemn those who commit barbaric acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. And we should remember that most victims of Islamoterrorism are innocent Muslims who deserve our sympathy. ..... Where too is the compassion for Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted, killed and enslaved? These Christian communities were founded by the Apostles and those countries were Christian until overrun by Muslim armies. Does no one care? ..... The American voters should ask these presidential candidates their plan for combatting Islamoterrorism. If our country is destroyed those other issues don't matter."
ERROL McCOLLUM had this short but hard-hitting letter in the November 22 Dispatch/Argus. "Before Rock Island County gets another dime from the taxpayers two things need to happen. ..... First, the township nonsense needs to end. The township is just another unnecessary layer of government that needs to go away. If it was ever needed in the past, it certainly isn't needed now. ..... Secondly, before the 16-plus percent the county says it needs is considered, it, the county, needs to pare the board from 25 members down to five. ..... It was voted to do so back when and hasn't happened yet, Talk about overhead. Rock Island County has more board members than counties with twice the population. Very few counties in the state have that many board members."
Saturday, November 21, 2015
DAVID KIMBELL had this short but hard-hitting letter in the November 20 Dispatch/Argus. "We need to do what Donald Trump says to make the country great again to defeat ISIS. Stop illegal immigration and have a new trade policy that will stop the jobs going to China and bring the jobs back. But we also need to make Rock Island County great again. We need to repeal the prevailing wage and pass Right to Work legislation. Freeze property taxes and do not raise the gas tax. Cut spending, no more taxes. We need these reforms to make Rock Island County great again."
Monday, November 16, 2015
DEEDEE GRAHAM had this letter published in the November 16 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois is deep in debt. What are Illinois leaders doing? They are operating without a budget, forced by the courts to maintain spending at last year's levels and going deeper into debt with each added month of deficit spending. Obviously this is the path to ruin. ..... Illinois taxes are higher in almost every category than those of neighboring states. Illinois is losing residents, businesses and sales to those lower-tax states. What are our Illinois leaders planning? Higher taxes in almost every category! This will drive more people and dollars from Illinois. ..... Illinois is not paying lottery winners of over $600. Many Illinoisans, hopeful of winning far more than $600, are buying lottery tickets in other states. Indiana, as usual, is capitalizing on Illinois' problems by inviting Illinois gamblers, shoppers and residents to come to Indiana. ..... Illinoisans who buy lottery tickets in other states probably make other purchases at that time. How much is Illinois losing in lottery sales and sales taxes because of this stupidity? How will this help Illinois with its budget deficit? ...... Rock Island County is losing residents and businesses. Scott County retail sales dearly double RICo's. Home construction is almost nonexistent on our side of the river. All of this is, in large part, due to higher taxes. Their answer? Higher property taxes! School and library boards are also raising their property tax levies. .....Higher property taxes help attract new residents? Illinois seems to be committing suicide. We, the voters, must demand a return to sanity."
CHARLES FISHER had this letter published in the November 16 Quad-City Times AND November 19 Dispatch/Argus. "We have learned a number of interesting things regarding the proposed Rock Island County tax levy increase, and none of them are good. For well over a decade, the county board has been using funds budgeted for the Health Department and the Hope Creek Care Center to cover shortfalls in the Social Security and pension funs for county workers. Further, board salaries have been paid out of tort/liability funds. Now the board want more revenue from voters. ..... The Rock Island/Milan School Board also want an increase "just in case" of a property tax freeze. ..... The officials behind these increases are likely lending an ear to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, who recently claimed that "our taxes are dramatically lower than all the states around us". This is balderdash. Illinois' average state tax burden of $3,008 per capita and average property tax of $1,985 exceed any neighboring state, and Cullerton likely knew it as he claimed the opposite. ..... It also bears repeating that Rock Island has the most expensive schools in the area, and the worst performing. The 2011-12 expenditures for District 41's 6,582 students was $69,115,982 or $10,500 per student. For this money, only 28.8 percent of the high school students can demonstrate math proficiency -- the worst in our community. ..... If elected officials continue to help themselves to the voter's checkbook, then the voters should help themselves to a new slate of candidates in the next election. Overindulgence has reached its limit."
Saturday, November 14, 2015
DON MADSON had this letter in the November 14 Quad-City Times. "The Democratic Party, not Gov. Bruce Rauner, is responsible for Illinois' financial mess. Forty years of Democrat control has left Illinois $15 billion in debt and with more than $100 billion in pension shortages. ..... A Nov. 9 letter to the editor (Rauner responsible for budget mess") stated that Rauner was at fault. He was elected to try and fix the mess that the Illinois Democratic party has put us in. I think I heard that every state that is Democrat-controlled is in financial trouble. Since the writer of that letter is a union official, one would think he would want the pension mess straightened out. That probably will take some give and take on the part of union membership. ..... Our state is in serious shape and due to the "give 'em anything to get their vote" attitude of Democratic leaders, it is going to take cuts everywhere or raise taxes to get us out of this mess. ..... Rock Island County is Democrat-controlled, and in trouble. City of Chicago is Democrat-controlled, and in trouble. National debt just about $19 trillion, and Democrat-controlled the last eight Don't blame Gov. Rauner. Give him time and support."
Sunday, November 8, 2015
DATHAN KERBER had this powerful letter in the October 23 Dispatch/Argus which evoked howls of protest from union leaders. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "We, the people, are the millions living here and paying taxes to be served by our governments in ways that make life better for ALL of us. Illinois with its sacred government employee unions doesn't quite fit this mold. ..... The state forces "prevailing wages" on our communities causing them to pay more for things. Union leaders threatened to boycott communities who do not sign on. We see pictures of union members threatening local city governments and the Rock Island County Board. Shouldn't aldermen and board members reflect us all? ..... Government retirees get pensions that our state cannot afford. It is time our legislators got serious about changing pensions more like those in the private sector. ..... Hundreds of organizations are being supported by the state such as nursing homes. We cannot afford them but they provide union jobs insuring votes for the Democrats at taxpayer expense. Private or church-run organizations might do better. ..... Our schools and others get "unfunded mandates" decreeing that they must hire people whether the board wants or needs them. More union jobs. ..... We seem to have become a state "of the unions, by the unions and for the unions". ..... Tough cookies, taxpayers! OUR legislators can always raise OUR taxes to cover union demands. Watch how you vote. ..... Our state has thousands of government employees who do wonderful jobs because of their skills and dedication and who we couldn't get along without. Being union members does not make them better public servants. It only makes them harder to afford."
JOY VIREN MURPHY had this letter published in the November 8 Dispatch/Argus complaining about Virgil Mayberry's request for a salary increase. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "There are two types of elected officials. First. there are public servants who are service-to-others in their approach to their job. They work hard to take care of their constituents, serving the public that elected them. Then, there are politicians who are service-to-self in their approach to their job. ..... Virgil Mayberry recently demonstrated he is a service-to-self politician. He ran for the Rock Island City Council knowing that the pay was $6,000 a year, but now only six months in office he wants a raise. Remember, Mayberry was part of the Rock Island County Board for many years that has neglected our courthouse and county buildings, neglected the memorial statue in front of our courthouse, raised our taxes, mismanaged the zoo and Hope Creek and more. ..... At the county he approved generous raises for employees, while many working in the private sector, are not getting a raise in this economy. Like the proposed 16.8 percent raise in property taxes the count is talking about, just wait, Mayberry will be raising taxes in the city to finance a pay raise. ..... As a candidate, Mr. Mayberry said, "Right now Rock Island is the armpit of the Quad-Cities." I wonder if this is also his goal? By his own words and action, Virgil Mayberry has proven himself to be a service-to-self politician. ..... We have lots of wonderful public servants in both city and county government. But the service-to-self politicians must be called out for who they really are."
Stephen McAfee had this letter published in the November 8 Dispatch/Argus complaining about how our local elected officials waste taxpayer money. "I am sorry for most of the members of the Rock Island County Board. They have spent this county into near bankruptcy through waste and abuse. Now this huge board of 25 members, with their huge salaries, health insurance and huge pensions, shamelessly suggest a 16.8 percent property tax increase on the people they have sworn to represent. ..... I am sorry for most of the members of the Rock Island/Milan School Board for being so ignorant in math that the district is facing a $3 million deficit. The test scores for the students keep going down, but now they are guiltlessly ask the residents for an additional 6 percent tax increase. ..... I am sorry for most of the members of the Rock Island Library Board who think that with the proposed property tax increases, this community can afford a $29 million library expansion. ..... I am sorry for some of the Rock Island City Council who didn't check the pay for the job and now, after being elected want a pay increase. Maybe they should have run for the county board. ..... I am sorry for most of the residents of Rock Island County for voting or not bothering to vote at all, in the past, the way they have done and for having the government that they deserve."
Saturday, November 7, 2015
CRAIG HOLLISTER made the following points in this hard-hitting letter published in the November 1 Dispatch/Argus which apparently hurt the feelings of some liberals and union supporters. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "According to Illinois Policy.org Illinois state government takes in more tax dollars per person than every neighboring state: $3,008 per person in Illinois, $2,717 in Iowa, Indiana $2,583, Indiana $2,583, Missouri $1,846. Illinois local governments collect more in property tax revenue than in every neighboring state: $1,985 in Illinois, $1,479 in Iowa, Indiana $994, Missouri $870, Kentucky $716. ...... Illinois residents pay the second highest effective property-tax rates in the country. ..... Illinois and Rock Island County are losing residents and businesses and have serious financial problems. What is the answer from the politicians. ''''' Raise taxes! ...... Rock Island County is seeking a 16.8 percent increase in property taxes. A huge increase is inevitable in the state income tax, it seems the only quibbling between the Democrats and Republicans is how large an increase and whether a few sensible restrictions on state employee unions can be enacted. ..... Locally, we can be certain that the one percent sales tax for school construction which the voters, in their wisdom, rejected three times will again appear on the ballot. A hint to our politicians. People are not leaving because taxes are too low. ..... Why are our taxes so high? To fund nearly 7,000 units of local government, far more than any other state. ..... Why does Rock Island County have 10 school districts plus the Regional Office of Education, with their bloated bureaucracies, in a county with only 22,000 students? ..... Why do we have township government in urban areas? ..... Illinois doesn't need higher taxes. ..... Illinois needs to cut wasteful spending."
BILL LONG had this hard-hitting letter published in the October 30 Dispatch/Argus. "Here we go again, being asked to support a tax increase, partially because the Rock Island County Board and other individuals have been using "other funds" to pay inappropriate costs for several years! ..... We have been hearing whispers for some time that some funds were being mishandled. Now it appears that our new county administrator, Dave Ross, has confirmed this (to the tune of approximately 18 years and $2 million). ...... The proposed tax increase will generate around $3.4 million dollars. Of this, around $2 million will go toward replacing the mishandled funds and supposedly would not be on next year's tax bill. ..... We hear that all services have been cut to the bone and there is nowhere else to cut that would not include laying off employees. It seems to me that most, if not all, of our local employers handle this situation by proceeding to do what has to be done, lay off employees. They don't have the luxury to ask for more dollars to correct the situation. Sometimes a public body has to do what they have to do, even if it is difficult. ..... In order for the funds to be transferred from one fund to another, authorization had to be given. Who authorized the transfer? Who knew it was inappropriate? Are the individuals who knew of this procedure being disciplined? ...... Is part of the blame to be placed on internal elected officials in other county departments? If so, who, and what will be done about it? What penalty are they expected to pay? Was there any sort of internal investigation conducted to identify those that violated our trust? Will it be disclosed to the public (the voters)? When?"
GEORGE PAJUNEN made these observations in a letter published in the November 6 Quad-City Times. "In recent years and even recent weeks, shootings and mass killings by sadistic evil people have been happening at a frequent pace. The response by the political pundits has been to blame the gun or person. Truly, the gun takes a person to pull the trigger. It's the person's fault, not the gun. If this was an attack on our shores by an enemy, we could say our government was at fault for letting it happen. I believe school boards, universities, theaters and public places have the responsibility to do everything they can to provide a safe environment for their students or patrons. ..... Let's face facts: Sadistic and evil people will use not only guns, but knives, bombs or whatever means they can to get their names in the headlines. That means patrons should be protected by any means. They have to use guns to do it. Not because they like or dislike guns, but because they are responsible for the safety of hundreds of people on their property. Their responsibility is to put these evil-doers down as fast as they can. The newspapers and news organizations are not to give these evil people any press or at least the minimum. Refer to the evil-doer with a number and say he or she killed so many people at such and such place. Nothing more, nothing less. One more fact, gun-free zones are shooting galleries for evil people."
RICHARD L. (BUD) PHILLIS made these points in an October 31 letter published in the Dispatch/Argus. "A recent op-ed discussed Social Security and some other items from the 1930s. Mentioned was the high rate of unemployment. In 1933 the unemployment rate was listed as 24.5 percent. Now let's look at the recent unemployment numbers. ..... Any statistic released from a Washington agency needs to be examined in some depth in order to understand it. Generally the numbers are reported in such a way to make the administration appear that their policies are working. ..... Unemployment is reported to be just over 5 percent. A few months ago job losses were greater than job creation. Along with this the unemployment rate went down. How does that make any sense? ..... The actual current rate of unemployment is not easy to find. One finds percentages but not real numbers. Not included are the 90 plus million who have stopped looking for a job. .....Also the able-bodied people some of whom are on government subsidies of some sort are not included. If all those were included the rate would be much more than is reported, who knows what it would be. ..... The Obama administration wants the lowest number that it can conjure up in an attempt to convince the general public that the recession is over, which some facts seem to question."
Friday, November 6, 2015
BILL BLOOM had this op-ed published in the November 2 Dispatch/Argus. "Illinois is running massive deficits as is Rock Island County. This is not news to anyone. At both levels of government, the Democrats want to apply the same solution which they have used over and over and which has not addressed the problem. They want to raise taxes. ..... People need to realize that raising property taxes is a double tax on home owners. ..... Our homes are worth far less than comparable homes across the river. ..... When the county raises property it removes disposable income from our pockets, and it removes resale value from our homes. Ask any realtor what the impact will be of a property tax increase in Rock Island County. It will not be pretty. ..... Before we go after the taxpayer again, we need to make sure we have exhausted every opportunity to reduce costs in government, and we need to insure that the pain is shared by everyone and isn't hiding wage increases to the public unions. ..... In the "Save Hope Creek" sales tax effort, there were four 2.5 percent salary tax hikes for the public union hidden in the fine print. Any tax increase on the homeowners should come with an ironclad agreement that there will be no salary increases on any county positions until the county is no longer running a deficit. ..... Public employees currently enjoy 12 paid public holidays. Private sector workers receive about seven holidays. Paid holidays should be rationalized between the public sector jobs and private sector. This will save the county one week of salary for every worker on the Rock Island County payroll. If a worker wants to celebrate Columbus Day, let them take a vacation day like the rest of us. ...... The Rock Island County Board should give up its health and retirement benefits package. ..... We need to examine how prevailing wage is calculated and applied. If you ask our local mayors they will tell you (regardless of party) that they add 30 percent to their labor costs for prevailing wage projects. ..... Overpaying on projects hurts the ability of cities and counties to get things done. Area mayors will tell you they have projects on hold because the prevailing wage costs exceed the available budget. ..... If local governments were able to determine where prevailing wage is applied, and if the wages are calculated on the true average, more projects will be completed, more jobs will be created, and the cost of government will be lower for the people. '
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Walt "Admiral" Nenycz had this letter published in the November 2 Dispatch/Argus and November 4 Quad-City Times. "There is much talk about the fact that Illinois does not have a budget. ..... The fault lies directly at the feet of the Democrats in the House and Senate because both chambers have a Democrat super majority. ..... The Democrats could do what they usually do: develop a budget with the spending they want, raise taxes, borrow the dollars needed to "balance" the budget, and finally, override the certain veto. Done! ...... Why not use this process? They seem to want to find some way to placed some of the "blame" for an unbalanced budget to Gov. Rauner and again make no attempt to find ways to decrease spending and agree to some basic reforms needed to make Illinois a more friendly state to business and its constituents, thus creating new jobs and returning people to gainful employment. ..... What must we do to make our elected officials we send to Springfield on our behalf finally hear us? ..... Never has there been a time and explanation why redistricting and term limits are needed!"
MIKE STEFFEN had this letter published in the October 28 Dispatch/Argus. "Medicaid, pensions and education make up 80 percent of Illinois' budget. That does not leave much money for roads and bridges, interest on our debt and maintenance of state-owned facilities. ..... What can we do better? ..... The Affordable Care Act encouraged the states to expand their Medicaid programs in order to serve people up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL). In return, expansion states would receive federal dollar support for X number of years. Instead of expanding under this program, Wisconsin took a different approach. ..... Wisconsin decided to make Medicaid available to all residents earning 100 percent of the FPL. All others would be transitioned into the health exchanges where they could buy private, subsidized coverage. ..... Why should Illinois consider a plan like Wisconsin? It moves more people into private coverage. This is important because Medicaid enrollees have trouble accessing doctors. One-third of physicians do not accept new Medicaid patients. ...... Medicaid pays doctors very low reimbursement rates, which is part of the reason they are often unwilling to treat Medicaid patients. And crowd-out -- dropping private insurance for a public option -- occurs when the privately insured have the option to access pubic insurance, and states that expand Medicaid are likely to experience crowd-out. ..... Please contact your state senator and representative to share your views about the way Medicaid is administered in Illinois"
DAVID FROM, Illinois State Director, Americans for Prosperity, had this letter published in the October 27 Dispatch/Argus. "Former governor Jim Edgar made headlines with his comments about Gov. Bruce Rauner and the budget impasse in Springfield saying he believes the governor should reacha budget agreement and set aside his demand for economic and governmental reforms. ..... The former governor told reporters, "An unstable state government -- and that's what we have right now, very unstable -- is a detriment to economic growth. I mean, folks aren't going to come to this state and make an investment if they think state government is dysfunctional". ..... With all due respect to Gov. Edgar, companies will not invest in Illinois and families will not stay here if the state continues doing the same things it has been doing for the past few decades. ..... Yes, we need a budget agreement, but Gov. Rauner is correct, we also need reforms to change the trajectory of Illinois. Capitulating to demands to raise taxes without common-sense reforms such as tort, prevailing wage or worker's comp reform will not fix the state's economic woes (see the 2011 tax hike). ...... For too long, both parties have over-promised generous benefits and over-spent to curry political favor, while implementing policies that have made Illinois less competitive with our neighbors. The permanent solution is policies that will lead to greater growth that will return Illinois to its rightful place as the economic engine of the Midwest. ..... Raising taxes without reforms will only drive jobs and opportunities out of Illinois. ..... We need a permanent solution, not more of the same old plans."
GARY SNYDER had this letter published in the October 25 Dispatch/Argus. "Through Sen. Neil Anderson's office, I recently confirmed that the state has suspended the practice of mailing reminders of renewal notices for our vehicles. I also learned that this suspension will result in a saving to the state of $450,000 per month, yes per month, or $5.4 million annually. ..... By requiring vehicle owners to be responsible for determining when our vehicle registration is to be renewed without our parents in Springfield reminding us, how much more can the state save by reviewing other programs and trimming the waste? ..... I'm old enough to remember when we took responsibility for this sort of thing and we got along just fine. This is part of being a responsible adult. ..... what if we all went back to being adults, becoming self-reliant again? know self-reliance is a concept that's lost to our current generation. ..... And frankly, a lot of people are too dependent on the government to run their lives and it shows. Perhaps this suspension of mailing renewal notices is long overdue. ..... I would think that saving $5.4 million annually would help to reduce the state's debt. ..... Join me and contact your representatives to support this idea of reviewing programs to save money."
JOSEPH M. LOETE had this letter published in the October 24 Quad-City Times and October 27 Dispatch/Argus. "As a lifelong resident of Illinois, I can only express my profound disappointment and embarrassment at the current state of affairs. Beyond the long-term fiscal and social ills that plague this state ($100 billion or more in pension payments deferred), it has become almost more than one can bear that the elected leadership cannot even pass a budget for a single year. Instead, mired in the muck of corruption, gridlock and apathy, Illinois soldiers on, moving toward the inevitable end as the first state to fail. ..... It has become evident that the people of my home state have lost hope in effective leadership. I wonder if the collective "we" in Illinois possess the political will to try and effect change for the better. Change will not be pleasant, it is going to be painful and the truth of the matter is that not everyone is going to get everything they want or even need. Instead, it is going to take very tough choices, tax increases and cuts to services, which neither side of the aisle seems willing to acknowledge. Neither side is pitching the entire solution, just a portion of it, in hopes of staying in Springfield one more term. While beginning the marathon that is the election process, more of the same seems to be on the menu in large portions. ..... The current leadership has abandoned its responsibility to govern. The neediest among us are suffering, bills are not being paid on time (or at all) and we are watching our state suffocate from ineptitude. It is time that the collective "we" focus on demanding and receiving effective leadership. Otherwise, when ("if" has left the station) this state goes completely downhill, we have no one to blame but ourselves."
Thursday, October 22, 2015
CAROL BAY had this letter published in the October 22 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The lead story in an Oct. 16 Davenport newspaper is "No Social Security bump in '16", saying that with inflation so low seniors will not get a cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits. ..... The lead story in the Oct. 16 Dispatch/Argus is "RICo needs cash now" and calls for a 16.8 percent increase in Rock Island County property taxes. ..... Many municipalities, school and library boards, and other local taxing bodies routinely increase their property tax levy by 5 percent every year, the largest increase possible without a referendum giving taxpayers a voice in the process. ...... Five percent every year doubles your property taxes every 14 years. Why are property taxes going up far higher than the rate of inflation? Could it be that our municipalities, schools, libraries and other taxing bodies are not wise stewards of the taxpayer dollar? ..... Perhaps we need to elect new stewards who will defend the taxpayer dollar. ...... Rock Island County taxes are too high compared to Scott County where property taxes actually declined. It is difficult to sell homes here, there are few new homes built, and there are many abandoned buildings. Raising taxes borders on insanity. ..... Many seniors would leave Illinois in a minute if we could sell our homes for our purchase price but local home values have declined. Few newcomers to the area would even consider buying in Illinois. ..... Rock Island County and the state of Illinois are on a downward spiral. ..... Raising taxes hastens our decline."
JON NOLAND had this letter published in the October 22 Dispatch/Argus. "Mr. Ross, I was and am an ardent supporter of hiring a professional to salvage RICO. I applauded your hire, trusting things would be different now and we could return to financial normalcy. ..... Now, however, I am wondering if you were the right selection for the job. You propose a 16.8 percent property tax increase. You don't want to lay off or fire anyone. That is what your predecessors would have done and said! Where is the original thought and ideas you were asked to bring to RICO? Look at the headlines. What are companies doing when in trouble financially? They lay off people! What does government do? Raise taxes! ..... There are many bold steps you could have suggested. Sell Hope Creek. Eliminate township government and function like our much more successful neighbors across the river. Even reducing the number of board members -- while not a big savings -- would at least demonstrate the board and yourself are serious about change. There are a multitude of other things you could do as well. ..... Mr. Ross, our purses are not bottomless, as all politicians seem to think they are. Let's get some real. original thoughts out of you. After all, that is why we hired you."
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
LAWRENCE BAY had this letter in the October 21 Dispatch/Argus AND Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The recent presidential debates help define the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats imply that Americans are helpless souls unable to survive without government aid and guidance. Republicans believe Americans can achieve wealth and greatness through their own efforts. Democrats attack millionaires and billionaires. Most Americans don't resent wealth. Most Americans want to become millionaires and billionaires. Republican policies help more Americans fulfill those dreams. ..... It is so easy to become self-sufficient. All that is needed is to spend less than your income and invest in a deferred compensation plan. Everyone should be able to retire as a millionaire by simply living below their means. ..... The Democrats try to scare Americans from investing in the stock market calling it a risky gamble. Let's set the record straight. No one has ever lost money in the stock market using periodic dollar-cost averaging in a diversified stock portfolio using a buy-and-hold strategy over a working career. The stock market has out-performed almost every other investment vehicle. ..... Compound interest has been called the most powerful force in the universe. It can work to increase your wealth, or your debt. Americans should be free to max out on their deferred compensation or their credit cards. Americans should also live with their choices. ..... Democrats claim that for some to win others must lose. Republicans believe that almost everyone can be a winner and that we have the ability to control our own destiny. The choice is yours."
MIKE BRUGGER had this letter in the October 21 Dispatch/Argus. "Rock Island County administrator Dave Ross thinks that we need to property taxes by 16.8 percent next year. He says there is "no more to cut". ......Nonsense. The county could sell Hopeless Creek as the voters have asked them to do. It could reduce the size of the board as the voters have asked them to do. It could stop getting sued by former employees that were improperly terminated. It could get behind the governor's "Turn Illinois Around" plan. ..... We're being taxed enough. ..... The county needs to move away from sweetheart union contracts with municipal employees and start serving the taxpayer for a change."
JIM BROOKS wrote this in the October 21 Dispatch/Argus. "We just had a tragedy to this country; people were killed or wounded because of their religion. The gunman asked each victim if they were Christian. If they answered yes he told them "be prepared to meet your God in one second" and shot them in the head. ...... If they answered some other religion, he shot them in the leg. Why would a person commit an atrocity like this? First, we know this person was mentally unstable. Second is the news media, they paint Christians as mean-spirited hateful people. We are portrayed as bigoted and hating everyone who doesn't believe as we do. ..... The news media doesn't treat Christians the same way as other religions. If you think this is not true ask yourself how this story would be treated if it had been Muslims that were executed. The story would still be in the news and it would have been the major story at the time. It would have been front page maybe even taking up the whole page. The broadcast media would have used half their time on this one story. ..... Some people say the answer is to take away all guns. If that happens only criminals will have guns because organized crime will start manufacturing guns. The real answer is to do away with all the laws that punish law-abiding people. Enforce reasonable background checks and do away with gun-free zones. If you want to stop killings turn this country back to God."
Sunday, October 18, 2015
T.L. DASSO speaks for many is this October 15 letter to the Dispatch/Argus. "Your headline, "No Social Security Increase", is a fine way to start my Monday morning, NOT! ...... This follows the announcement that Rock Island County is going to raise property taxes. Moline needs more money for parks, etc. ..... You can bet our leaders in D.C. will vote themselves an increase in wages again this year. Has anyone noticed the drop in food prices at the grocery stores? OO, gasoline prices have come down after many years of going up and up? How about prescription medication costs? How many people are receiving food stamps now? That doesn't cost the taxpayer anything? ..... Everyone wants clean air. The stench that spreads across the air from Washington, D.C. fouls the air more and more every day! The leadership of this country, from top to bottom has the "meme disease". Their main concern is "me, me, me". ..... Throw the bums out!"
DIANA "DEEDEE" GRAHAM makes these points about the Illinois budget in this October 18 letter to the Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is engaged in contract negotiations with Illinois state workers mainly represented by AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees). ..... Unions are demanding substantial undisclosed raises, news sources report as high as 13 percent. Illinois is broke and can't afford such raises. Contracts have expired and a strike is possible. ..... The Democrats in the Legislature tried to remove the governor from contract negotiations in hopes that an unelected "impartial" mediator would give the unions a substantial raise while bringing Illinois closer to bankruptcy. Signs appear in many yards reading, "We Support State Workers", while many cynics say "don't we all, and far too generously I might add". Pay increases for state workers will add to the pension crisis. ..... Are Illinois state workers underpaid? These figures from www.americansforprosperity.com/illinois provide some information. The average state worker receives $56,719 in salary while workers in the private sector receive a salary of $61,017. However, state workers receive fringe benefits of health insurance, pensions, vacations and holidays costing Illinois taxpayers $55,791 while workers in the private sector receive $19,725 in benefits. Thus, total compensation for Illinois state workers averages $112,710 per year compared to $80,742 for a worker in the private sector. State workers receive 39.6 percent more total compensation than workers in the private sector. ..... Illinois is facing bankruptcy. People and businesses are fleeing Illinois. ..... Yet the unions and the Democrats continue to party on with the few remaining taxpayer's money and want to spend more. ..... Stop this insanity!"
RICHARD RODGERS makes these points in an October 11 letter to the Dispatch/Argus. "Those of us that have a job would get fired for sitting around and doing nothing except collecting a paycheck. Yet we have no budget for the state and the elected officials in Springfield continue to collect a paycheck for doing nothing except collecting a paycheck. ..... The finger-pointing and rhetoric from Springfield is exactly like little boys playing baseball and one owns the ball and another the bat and when things don't go their way they take the ball or bat and go home, ruining the game for everyone else. ..... This is the game Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner are playing: Collect money from you, the taxpayer; for doing nothing. Unless, of course, the way to have a balanced budget is simply not to have one at all, and spend more taxpayer dollars to have the courts rule that things have to get paid. State employee/retiree health insurance is in jeopardy, bills are accumulating interest by not getting paid -- all will cost the taxpayer even more. ..... Next election, ignore party lines and simply vote for everyone who is NOT an incumbent. See how many we, the taxpayer, can fire for not doing their jobs, spread the word, vote out the incumbents. ..... And don't forget, when there is a special session, they will get extra pay for continuing to do nothing."
JIM BROWER mad these excellent points in the October 13 Dispatch/Argus. "Several letters have appeared calling for the usual ideas in an attempt to stop mass shootings. My thoughts are based on an ideation that few have mentioned. ..... Most, if not all, of these shootings have occurred in what is called Gun-Free Zones. Wouldn't logic dictate that if Congress out-lawed Gun-Free Zones, such as college campuses, that these shootings would go down? All students with a license to carry a concealed weapon shall be allowed to carry on campus. ..... One of the heroes in the Oregon shooting was a former military man. Had he been armed, and legally allowed to carry a pistol, which he had already been highly trained to use, the number of dead would have been far less. ..... All K-12 teachers and principals should be trained to the highest military standards and required to carry a pistol, to be concealed from the sight of the students at all times, while on school grounds. ...... If this is not to your liking then how about having a TSA type security, with highly trained, armed guards at the entrances to all the school buildings and other "Gun-Free Zones". I'm sure that would be affordable."
MARY CHAPMAN raises these points about gun control in an October 11 letter in the Dispatch/Argus."I wish to comment about our president's remarks about controlling guns. ...... First, the man who murdered the college students was not a person enrolled there. Second, the college had no one on campus security who was armed with a gun. So the only person with a gun was the murderer. How is a law going to control a person who doesn't follow the law? ..... In Chicago there were more murders and people injured over last weekend than at that college. When will Chicago (which has very tough gun control laws) stop the murders in that city? ..... How do you control people who refuse to obey the law?
Thursday, October 1, 2015
CHARLES FISHER made these points in this September 4 letter in the Dispatch/Argus."A petition requesting the resignation of Rock Island School District 41 sitting board member Jim Bishop is circulating after he elected to send his child to a Pleasant Valley school. The petition decries "the perception that our district is in some way inferior". ..... If this perception extends to test scores, then Rock Island schools are demonstrably inferior. The latest 2013 data for Rock Island High School indicate that only 37.9 percent of students can pass the state English test, and only 28.8 percent achieve proficiency in math. Pleasant Valley respectively placed 91.3 percent and 89.3 percent in 2011, top marks for the region. The RIHS scores are the worst in the Quad-Cities, and come with the highest monetary costs -- a failure by any measure. ..... Rather than take steps to correct a failed bureaucracy, this petition seeks to punish a single individual for exercising a legal freedom of choice. Were the RIHS scores equal to Pleasant Valley, there would be no complaint. This is sadly not the case, and envy is hardly disguised. ..... RIHS joins Rock Island Academy, Edison Jr. High, and Washington Jr. High as schools that are so profoundly inferior that they should be immediately closed, as their state academic watch status strongly suggests. Their continued operation severely damages our community, and this petition's aim to "kill the messenger" does nothing but entrench an inferiority that is obvious to all."
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
CAROL BAY had this letter in the September 16 Dispatch/Argus and September 22 Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "We recently attended the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream Summit" in Columbus, Ohio. We heard what other Midwestern states are doing to cut taxes, reduce spending and make their states more attractive to new residents and businesses. We would like to see similar reforms in Illinois. ...... Michigan went from being unable to pass a budget without a government shutdown to having budgets passed two months early enabling local governments and schools to plan their budgets; compare that to the current situation in Illinois. Michigan also passed Right to Work legislation. ..... Ohio enacted judicial reform to reduce its prison population. Too many were jailed for "accidental" offenses. This costs taxpayers money while doing little to improve public safety. Ohio now requires criminal intent. ..... Indiana enacted tax cuts, gave parents school choice, enacted Right to Work and repealed prevailing wage. ..... Wisconsin also enacted tax cuts, enacted Right to Work, defunded Planned Parenthood and cut spending. ..... We all know about Iowa's lower taxes, reputation for honest efficient government, and being a Right to Work state with no prevailing wage law. ..... These Midwestern states are Illinois' competition and Illinois is losing residents, businesses, jobs and sales to these more efficient states. Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a Turnaround Agenda which would make Illinois competitive again which is bottled up in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. ..... Illinois cannot continue on its current path toward bankruptcy. Let's support Gov. Rauner in his efforts to make Illinois great again."
LAWRENCE BAY raised these points in the September 15 Dispatch/Argus and September 20 Quad-City Times. "Iowa Growth PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, said it will be more active in this year's city elections. Officials said they will support candidates who meet a range of criteria including holding the line on taxes. ..... This is the same Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce which contributed $4,000 this year to promote the unsuccessful referendum to raise taxes in Rock Island County. This sales tax referendum, if passed, would have caused more Rock Island County residents to shop in Iowa. This would have harmed Illinois retailers, created a loss of Illinois jobs and caused lost sales tax revenue for the state of Illinois and the cities of Moline and Rock Island. ..... Is it the intent of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce to destroy Rock Island County retailers? What other reason could the chamber have for opposing tax increases in Iowa while promoting sales tax increases in Rock Island County? ..... Most of the $103,695.97 raised by Making Cents for Rock Island County Students Yes for the 2014 and 2015 efforts to pass this Rock Island County sales tax came from construction firms, unions and others who would expect to profit had the referendum passed. This is to be expected in a state known for "pay to play". ..... What is not expected is for an organization which claims to serve both sides of the river to blatantly favor Iowa retailers while, apparently, deliberately sabotaging Illinois retailers. ..... What is the agenda of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce?"
JIM DIETRICH had this letter in the August 1 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois state Rep. Mike Smiddy once again blames Gov. Rauner for the financial plight facing Illinois. Gov. Rauner has been in office for seven months. The Democrats have controlled both houses of the Illinois General Assembly for decades. ..... So where does the blame truly rest? With the Democrat controlled assembly, and the special interests that control them. Rep. Smiddy's declaring the governor to be the villain, is at best childish. But this is what we have come to expect from Rep. Smiddy. Other than deficit spending, Rep. Smiddy has yet to offer any real solutions to the budget problem. ..... For decades, they have been getting whatever they wanted unchecked. House Speaker Mike Madigan has been in Springfield for 40 years. Does anyone else see this as part of the problem? The Democrats proposed a budget which Gov. Rauner vetoed; now Democrats are saying he wanted this budget crisis to continue for political gain. ..... The Democrats have a supermajority in both houses and could override Gov. Rauner's veto or raise taxes anytime they wish. It's the Democrats who are dragging out this budget mess, just to make the governor look bad. ..... We have a governor saying, enough is enough, and is making the hard choices his predecessors have refused to make. It might be worth noting, the only thing the governor didn't veto was education funding. ..... There are many questions everyone is asking, but are they truly the right ones?"
JIM TURNER asks some good questions in this August 1 letter in the Dispatch/Argus. "I found the July 22 article on Americans buying homes in June at the fastest rate in eight years does not jibe with my experience. I have a home in a Chicago suburb that I have been trying to sell since 2009. At that time, the home appraised at $515,000. I just accepted an offer of $300,000. By using the Zillow.com website, I put in my zip code of 60439 and found 286 homes for sale. By adding all the zip codes around Chicago I found 10,157 for sale. Next I tried the Wisconsin zip cod and found 39 for sale around Milwaukee and 348 around Indianapolis. ..... Clearly Illinois is not seeing a housing shortage while Wisconsin and Indiana are. ..... I wonder what policies Illinois has that Wisconsin and Indiana do not to cause such a difference?"
RON KOPKO had this letter printed in the August 1 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "With a great show of arrogance toward Illinois taxpayers, House Speaker Mike Madigan tried to give himself a $1,300 pay raise. He and other lawmakers would get a 2 percent pay hike. Republican lawmakers tried to stop it; their efforts were never called for a vote. Of course Madigan controlled that too. ..... Never mind that Illinois is virtually bankrupt. Our bond rating is "JUNK" status; 1.4 million people have left Illinois since 1990; Illinois has some of the highest property taxes in the country; Illinois is in the top 25 percent in almost every tax category. ...... To top that off, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a budget with a deficit of $4 billion, which is illegal and unconstitutional. They want to cover the $4 billion deficit by raising taxes on us again. ..... Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the proposed budget, which he should. ..... So what do our local politicians, Rep. Mike Smiddy and Rep. Pat Verschoore have to say about all this? NOTHING! They are too busy helping Speaker Madigan fight Gov. Rauner. ..... The Democratic Party has turned the once great state of Illinois into one that people want to leave. The economic facts are there. Mike Madigan and the rest think they deserve a pay raise. What a "JOKE". They should all be fired instead."
RICHARD L. "BUD" PHILLIS, M.D. had this letter published in the September 10 Dispatch/Argus. "Much has been written about Gov. Bruce Rauner and his efforts to reduce the budget deficit by proposing ideas that would make Illinois a more business friendly state. These ideas would lead to more jobs and more businesses in the state. Revenue to the state would increase. ...... Speaker Michael Madigan (40 plus years in Springfield) and the union-controlled Legislature insist on no change in public worker union pensions. ..... Without changes in pensions, drastic cuts to essential services must be made to fulfill the Constitutional requirement for a balanced budget, which the Legislature has ignored for years. As usual, the only idea Madigan and the Legislature have is more taxes. ..... Gov. Rauner has indicated that some changes by Madigan to reduce spending would help the governor agree to a tax increase. ..... At the present time, it seems the only way to change the standoff in Springfield is to eliminate the power of Speaker Madigan. This will occur only if voters of the state will oust enough Democrats from the House and Senate to deny Speaker Madigan his power base."
CRAIG HOLLISTER, Port Byron Township trustee, had this letter in the September 25 Dispatch/Argus and September 23 Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois has close to 7,000 units of government, more than almost every other state. Not surprisingly, Illinois has among the highest taxes in the nation. Illinois also has a poor credit rating and is deep in debt. It should be obvious to all that change is needed in Illinois. ..... Every effort to cut even a penny from the budget is met by howls of anguish. Every attempt to reduce the number of government units is met by claims of how essential that government unit is to the people. Latest example is from the Township Officials of Illinois pushing back against the calls to eliminate and consolidate some townships, "township government plays a critical role in improving the lives of residents across Illinois". ..... I am a Port Byron Township trustee, and we are an almost total waste of taxpayer's money. Though we are the most frugal township in Rock Island County, we still wasted $13,067 in FY2015 to administer $2,695 in general assistance. We serve no purpose and should be eliminated. ..... Iowa has limited township government in unincorporated areas. Assessment of real property for the basis for local taxation and maintenance of the roads is done by the county. This makes sense. What does not make sense is to have township government in urban areas. ..... $13,067 is not much money in terms of billion dollar deficits but many millions could be saved by eliminating and consolidating unnecessary layers of government throughout Illinois. Let's start saving money somewhere."
BILL LONG had this letter published in the September 14 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus and Quad-City Times. "The September 9 edition of the Dispatch/Argus contained a story quoting Jeff Stulir, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2025. ..... Mr. Stulir called for the current county board members to give up their pensions and health care. This is the position many Republican candidates for the county board have stressed for the last several elections. ..... We believe that a part-time, elected official, should not be covered for these types of benefits. We welcome the support of labor in promoting the discontinuing of these benefits. During the campaigns, we stated that these benefits were not practical and were/are a drain on the county budget. We are pleased that organized labor joins us in this fight. ..... County administrator Dave Ross is asking the union employees to forgo a 2 percent negotiate raise this time around in his attempt to bring spending and the budget under control. We also support this and commend Mr. Ross for all his efforts since he was hired. ..... He is doing the job that we stated county administrator should do, and his efforts further enhance the referendum that 72 percent of the voters approved to downsize the board to 15 members. This concept was fostered by the Republican Party for several years. To date, the board has not answered this request by the public. ..... We invite organized labor to join us in this endeavor. I know if these two forces push in the right direction, great things can happen in Rock Island County."
Monday, September 28, 2015
ALLYAH HUTCHINS had this letter in the September 28 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "People should not abuse government aid. People who use government aid instead of finding a job, make life harder for those who work because they take money from them through the government. Americans are becoming too lazy to supply their own needs. ..... Parents who have children and abuse government aid are teaching their children that if they do not work, they can still have their needs in life: clothes, medical assistance, food, phones, transportation and money itself. ..... Nobody rides for free in this life. The Bible does not teach us to live this way. II Thessalonians 3:2 states "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat." ..... America is becoming too dependent on the government to take care of them. ..... If we stay this dependent, we will have no freedom. The government gives us free things, but we are not free to use them as we would if we worked and earned them ourselves. I believe that if the government were more careful and strict on who may use government aid, it could eliminate those who abuse it."
Thursday, August 27, 2015
JOANNE RONSTROM had this letter published in the August 27 Dispatch/Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois is home to the worst manufacturing recovery in the Midwest. ..... Last month the Prairie State saw four manufacturers -- General Mills (West Chicago), Bunge North America (Bradley), De-Sta-Co (Wheeling) and one unnamed (Chicago) -- announcing moves from Illinois. These moves will cost Illinoisans approximately 1,300 jobs. ..... We have a state budget stalemate because House Speaker Michael Madigan will not use his influence with legislators to address the following: > A broken worker compensation system. > A workers' freedom to participate in a union and, > The second highest property taxes in the U.S. ..... The Land of Lincoln is losing jobs to Michigan and Indiana, whose government officials have friendlier policies for doing business. Indiana and Michigan are not only growing their manufacturing bases, but they also are using policy advantages, such as Right to Work and reasonable worker compensation standards to entice manufacturers to leave Illinois. ..... Support Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposals for reform of state government. ..... If we continue to do what we have always done, we can expect the same results -- higher taxes, too much unemployment and fewer manufacturing jobs in Illinois."
PAMELA HOLLISTER wrote the following rebuttal to a Dispatch letter facetiously questioning our facts used in RICOCAT letters, this appeared in the August 27 Dispatch/Argus. "An August 24 letter in the Dispatch criticized RICOCAT letters for not including specific supporting data in each of our letters. There is only so much data we can provide within the allowed 250 word limit. Supporting data is found for all our statements among the 125 posts at voteno2tax.blogspot.com. Everyone is welcome to visit our blog. ..... To provide a few of the desired numbers: > We reported gas price differences on July 24 and July 16, last time we checked Sam's Club gasoline was $2.69 in Moline and $2.35 in Davenport, a 34 cent difference and there were many Illinois motorists fueling up in Davenport; > July 18 we reported average property taxes, Illinois $3,939, Iowa $2,542, Indiana $1,507; July 18 we also covered worker's compensation costs; > July 20 we reported that 96,000 Illinois residents left in 2014, 1.4 million since 1990; > July 20 we also reported that Scott County collected $147.4 million dollars in sales taxes while Rock Island County collected only $74.5 million, much of that difference is Illinoisans shopping in Iowa; Most RICo shopping is done in Moline and Rock Island where the sales tax is 7.5 percent, 9 percent on prepared food and liquor; June 5 we reported that there were 186 housing starts in Scott County in 2014 compared to six in Rock Island County. ..... Many other facts and figures can be found at voteno2tax.blogspot.com. ..... Many of these figures came from the pages of The Dispatch and should be familiar to conscientious readers of this newspaper."
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
CAROL BAY had this letter published in the August 19 Dispatch/Argus and August 20 Quad-City Times. ..... denotes paragraph breaks. "I have been receiving mailings from a group called Americans for Prosperity Illinois attacking Mike Madigan and urging me to call Rep. Mike Smiddy and ask him to pass a property tax freeze and a responsible state budget with cost-saving government reforms. ..... The mailing listed several sensible measures that would help Illinois: >Freeze property taxes; >Cut spending; >Reform worker's comp; >Stop lawsuit abuse. ..... The mailing said the Legislature did pass an unbalanced budget that spends $4 billion more than it brings in. Isn't that against the Illinois Constitution? It also accused the Legislature of passing that unbalanced budget because they want another massive tax hike. ..... Illinois citizens are already over-taxed. Property taxes are much lower just across the river in Scott County. Gasoline is as much as 34 cents a gallon cheaper in Iowa. Thousands of Illinoisans buy fuel in Iowa daily and while there, do other shopping. Keep raising taxes and Illinois they might stay in Iowa. ...... Every week another firm announces the slashing of hundreds of jobs in Illinois. Illinois' high taxes and worker's compensation costs are a major factor why employers will not locate here. Residents are leaving for other states with lower taxes and better government. Illinois cannot continue to over-spend and over-tax. ..... Other states are getting their costs under control and actually cutting taxes. I urge Rep. Mike Smiddy and others in the Legislature to enact meaningful cost-cutting reforms. Repealing the Prevailing Wage Act would be a good start. And freeze property taxes!"
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
LAWRENCE BAY had this letter published in the August 18 Dispatch/Argus and Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Illinois is losing residents and businesses, in part due to high taxes. Illinois residents do much of their shopping in neighboring states because of high gasoline and other taxes in Illinois. What solutions do the Democrats in our state legislature propose? Raise taxes! ..... Last November, Illinois voters decided to try something different and elected Bruce Rauner as governor endorsing his "Turnaround Agenda" of reducing government spending, reforming worker compensation, streamlining government and making Illinois competitive with other states. Illinois voters saw Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and other bordering states reducing taxes and getting costs under control and wanted those results here in Illinois. ..... Predictably, the Democrats, who have a veto-proof majority in both houses of the Illinois Legislature, are blocking Governor Rauner's agenda. The Democrats even wish to add and expand more programs to our budget deficit. ..... The state labor unions are demanding pay raises far in excess of inflation, their salaries and benefits are much higher than salaries in the private sector. The Democrats in the legislature are trying to remove the governor and taxpayers from the contract negotiations. ......Illinois is surrounded by states with lower property tax rates; lower worker compensation costs; lower minimum wage; no Prevailing Wage Act; Right to Work; and so many other advantages. Are we going to make Illinois more competitive, or less competitive, with nearby states? ...... If our current legislature will not enact Gov. Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" we need to elect a legislature that will. Let's work together to make Illinois great again."
Saturday, August 15, 2015
KEN MOFFETT had the following piece titled "My Creed" written by Dean Alfange for This Week Magazine & Reader's Digest in October, 1952 published in the August 15 Dispatch/Argus. Given the direction of our country today, his sentiment was never more relevant. "I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon, if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the state calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. It is my heritage to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. All this is what it means to be an American."