Friday, April 24, 2015
Rock Island County Republican Chairman BILL BLOOM had this column in the April 24 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. (..... marks paragraph breaks.) "Recently the Dispatch/Argus wrote a column about the sales tax referendum and the reasons for its failure. While I would like to credit the Rock Island Republican Party with stopping yet another tax increase, I believe the reason the referendum did not pass lies elsewhere. ..... It is true that a majority of Republicans opposed the tax. However, there was a minority who supported it, for altruistic reasons. I believe the school boards look no further than there own arrogant mismanagement of the people's money to come up with the reasons they were defeated. ...... The Moline School Board recently voted to close two schools, Ericson and Garfield, without a vote from the citizens and without input from the affected families. Even worse, members proceeded to spend/borrow $16 million to improve another school. Finally, they sold Ericson (mind you, Ericson occupied an entire city block)for $50,000. What part of this is good stewardship of the people's money? .....Unfortunately, the Moline district was not alone in its abuse of the people. Neighboring counties passed the tax increase the last time around on the promise the sales tax would "take the pressure off property taxes". The referendum passed, and then property taxes went up. ..... Perhaps the most egregious abuse of the public can be found in the Sherrard School Board where we see the board litigating against a family whose little girl was barred from attendance with her service dog. Using ... bottomless reservoir of the taxpayer money, the Sherrard board has spent more than $100,000 in legal proceedings against this family. A proper motivation is impossible to fathom. ...... Was there another reason to vote against the tax increase? Yes, many people in Rock Island County and the high sales tax are strangling our economy. Raising taxes in this environment is like drilling holes in a leaky boat to let the water out. ..... After the last election many new school board members were elected. Let's hope the new infusion of leadership yields a more responsible and responsive school board."
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Port Byron Township Trustee Craig Hollister had this in the April 23 Quad-City Times. It also appeared in the April 28 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "On April 7, Rock Island County voters, for the third time, said they don't want their sales tax increased. ..... Last November, they rejected higher property taxes for Hope Creek. Earlier, voters said they want the county board reduced in size, and not to give the county a blank check on building projects. Maybe there is a pattern here? Are voters trying to say that taxes are too high already? ..... Rock Island and Illinois taxes are near the top nationwide in so many categories. Yet there is a constant call to raise taxes higher. It's time to demand a cut in spending. Where can we cut spending? We should look to Iowa. ..... Iowa does not have as many layers of bureaucracy in its school system. Scott County schools receive less money per student than Rock Island schools, but achieve higher test scores. ..... Iowa does not have township government. Iowa achieves greater efficiency by maintaining rural roads and assessing property on a county level. As a Port Byron Township Trustee, I can tell you that township government is a waste of the taxpayer dollar. We perform no necessary function. ..... Illinois cannot continue to raise taxes. Already, savvy motorists buy their fuel in Iowa. Keep raising taxes and we may go across the bridge and not return. Demand that your government be more responsible with our money. ..... Government was set up by the people, for the people. So speak out. Shake your fist. Enough is enough!"
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Mark Lioen had this letter published in the April 19 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "Reading Eric Timmons' April 12 story: "Breakdown offers clues to why tax vote failed," it seems as though he didn't seek guidance from those ordinary residents who voted "no". ..... I've spoken to people on their doorsteps and the answer as to why the referendum was defeated is twofold. ..... First residents believe that they pay enough taxes, and second, they no longer trust the county nor those who ask the public for more money for education. They point out that those in Springfield suggested that the problem of school funding would be solved if they acceded to a lottery and to gambling because they were told that hese means would be exclusively devoted to education. ..... Now, it angers them when proponents of the 1 percent sales tax are again returning to the trough to take more of their hard-earned dollars. But, there is also distrust of the county board. On the referendum questions that the majority of the board opposes, like the one concerning the reduction in its size, a majority who voted "yes" has seen the board members in favor of the status quo muddying the waters in order to do nothing. ..... And now, they're told their property taxes would be reduced should voters accede to the 1 percent. People legitimately doubt that they'll keep their word. ..... For proponents, they seem determined to submit referendum questions until they succeed. One recalls the line from Oscar Wilde that "democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people."
Friday, April 17, 2015
It is tempting to just sit back and let them raise the sales tax in Rock Island County. Consider, fighting the sales tax referendum is a lot of hard work, the tax issue keeps coming back no matter how many times we defeat it, and the sales tax would not cost me very much money since I can do my shopping and dining in Scott County! Yes, that thought is very tempting but it is a foolish thought. Voters in other counties believed in the promise of property tax relief (and the thoughts that some other suckers would pay the sales tax while they shopped where taxes are lower)and approved the sales tax increase. What happened? Property taxes still soared! Now they are stuck with that sales tax increase, forever, and they have higher property taxes. Here in Rock Island County so many Illinoisans would shop and dine in Iowa that sales tax revenue would decline causing other taxes to increase to cover the shortfall. Many struggling retailers would simply close leading to lost property taxes and jobs. NO! This is too important an issue to sit back and quietly accept the destruction of Rock Island County! We must continue to fight this sales tax increase to the best of our ability and FIGHT IT WE WILL!
Many supporters of the Rock Island County school sales tax referendum have tried to tell us that they are really fiscal conservatives who support the tax increase because of their great concern for the education of our children. DON'T BELIEVE THEM FOR ONE NANOSECOND! They are dedicated liberals who believe the solution for every perceived problem is to throw more taxpayer money in and hope that this time the outcome will finally be different. But the outcome is always the same because the problem is not that our schools are not receiving enough money, they receive far more money per student than Scott County schools, it is that the MONEY IS BEING WASTED. MORE MONEY IS NOT THE SOLUTION!
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Jon Noland had this letter published in the April 16 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. It also appeared in the April 20 Quad City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "I moved to Rock Island County 14 years ago. I consider that decision to be a very bad one. There are more layers of government in Illinois than any other state. We are financially destitute. ..... A large majority of residents would leave if they could. We visit our governors by going to prison. Our bloated county board ignores our vote to downsize. Our courthouse faces massive financial hurdles even as board members -- until told to stop -- accepted mileage payments to perform their civic duty. Rock Island leaders dump taxpayer money down a rathole as they try to force the Big Island project through. ..... Why did I vote no on the school tax? As long as the tax spigot remains flowing, there is no incentive to economize. I pay an enormous property tax bill -- where does that money go? Obviously it didn't go towards infrastructure, so it must have gone toward pensions and salaries that on average are higher than Iowa's. We were told this increase would only go towards infrastructure, but how was that guaranteed? Why do we have so many districts? San Diego has one district that administers many more students; where is the school board or superintendent suggesting consolidation? And even though the courthouse issue is not directly related to school infrastructure, it really is because funding comes from the same pile of money schools are trying to reduce with their tax. ..... There are rumblings about a fourth attempt. Why not start making hard decisions to make do with the money you have? It's the way we citizens have to live."
Lawrence Bay had this published in the April 16 Quad-City Times as a rebuttal of their April 9 editorial. "The Quad-City Times continues its year-long deceitful campaign to ruin the Rock Island County economy by raising the sales tax. Now the Times prints a sour grapes editorial essentially calling the 8,531 voters who voted "NO" ill-informed. ...... The Times refuses to acknowledge the many valid objections to raising the sales tax in Rock Island County. The Times also bemoans the 76,114 registered voters who stayed home while refusing to acknowledge that a historically low-turnout election was chosen for this referendum by the school boards in the hopes that their chances would be better. ..... Rock Island County schools already receive far more money per student than Scott County schools with inferior results. Adding more water to a very leaky bucket will not improve the quality of our schools. ..... Moline stores are at a slight competitive disadvantage now with a 7.5 percent sales tax compared to 7 percent in Iowa. Raising the sales tax to 8.5 percent would cause many Illinoisans to shop in Iowa. ..... The Times refuses to acknowledge that this would cost the state of Illinois and the city of Moline lost sales tax revenue and lead to the closing of many stores and restaurants with the resultant loss of jobs and property taxes. ..... The Quad-City Times editorialized against raising gasoline taxes in Iowa while urging higher sales taxes in Illinois. Some might conclude that the Quad-City Times is actively attempting to destroy the retail base of Rock Island County in an effort to have more Illinois dollars go to Iowa retailers and governments."
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Has anyone wondered where the proponents of the failed April 7 sales tax referendum got all that money? Over $50,000 worth of mailings and signs? A glance through the campaign finance filings should prove interesting. Anyone who contributes more than $1,000 has to be reported to the state and the names listed who together gave $47,496 is quite informative. As expected, construction unions gave $18,000, their members would receive the inflated 'prevailing wage' which adds so much to the cost of every government construction project; construction companies gave $10,000; education PACs gave $5,496; the Quad City Chamber of Commerce gave $4,000 (which must delight the RICo merchants who are members); Blackhawk Bank gave $1,000; Bohnsack and Frommelt (which happens to be a Certified Public Accounting Firm that specializes in providing public accounting services to government organizations, Sarah Bohnsack is a partner) gave $1,000. HAS ANYONE EVER HEARD OF THAT QUAINT ILLINOIS CUSTOM "PAY FOR PLAY"? Only $8,000 came in from what appears to be ordinary citizens, $39,496 came from those who would expect to gain financially if this tax were to pass. FOLLOW THE MONEY!
Monday, April 13, 2015
Jane Reinhardt-Martin had this letter published in the April 13 Quad-City Times, it also appeared in the April 15 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "Children's safety is at risk but who should we blame? Proponents of the April 7 sales tax referendum say it is the fault of the ill-informed citizens who again voted it down by 118 votes. But, who really is in charge of our children's safety? ...... By Law, the Rock Island Regional Office of Education does safety checks every year of every school building. Any issues or violations are reported to the principal of that school, who in turn is responsible for the corrections. So, both the ROE and the principals are responsible for our children's safety. ..... Media, parents, and teachers: File a Freedom of Information Act request with the ROE. Are there any safety violations? What recourse occurs if a principal doesn't make the safety corrections? ..... Point the finger at the correct people to blame, not the taxpayer."
Sunday, April 12, 2015
"Rock Island County doesn't have any choice but to get this passed" said Moline-Coal Valley superintendent Dave Moyer after the April 7 defeat of the school sales tax referendum. On April 12 Don Wooten wrote "Voters fail citizenship test" and later wrote "Well, try again. Bound to get it right sooner or later". What kind of a country are we living in where you have to defeat the same issue year after year but if this tax should ever pass IT CAN NEVER BE REPEALED?
On this April 12 there is an almost idle BP gas station in Rapids City selling gas for $2.39 a gallon. Across the river is a rather busy BP station in LeClaire selling gas for $2.25 a gallon. And yet we read in the April 12 newspaper "there's no factual evidence that a 1 percent sales tax increase in Rock Island County would send significant business to Iowa". HAVE THEY NO EYES? Perhaps half, or more, Rock Island County motorists go to Iowa for their gasoline, helping to finance Iowa roads and governments! And this just to save a few dollars on a fill-up. How many more would make their large purchases in Davenport to save $15.00 on every thousand dollars?
Why did Moline residents vote against the school sales tax on the April 7 referendum? Possibly because the 2015 Moline General Fund Budget expects $13,620,300.00 in sales tax revenue, by far the largest revenue source in the $41,146,200.00 General Fund! This is far more than the Moline General Fund receives from all other sources, including property taxes. Moline voters realize that for every dollar spent in Moline stores the city receives 1.25 percent; for every dollar spent in a Moline restaurant, or on prepared food and liquor, the city collects 2.75 percent. Voters realize that adding an additional 1 percent would raise the sales tax in Moline on most purchases to 8.5 percent and to 10 percent on prepared food and liquor. Many Rock Island County consumers would decide to shop and dine in Iowa where the sales tax is only 7 percent. How much sales tax revenue would Moline lose? No one can predict the exact number but it cannot be denied that Moline would collect less sales tax revenue with this added school sales tax. Money that would have to be replaced by other tax increases or by cutting city services. The same argument could be made for the city of Rock Island and other municipalities that rely on sales tax revenue as well as to the state of Illinois which would lose 6.25 percent on every dollar that went to Iowa merchants as a result of this tax increase.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
On April 7 the school facilities sales tax was defeated by only 118 votes. Proponents are already quoted as saying they want to try again for a fourth time to pass this tax. No matter how many times the voters of Rock Island County reject this tax the schools can keep bringing it up again and again. Of course if the tax ever does pass IT CAN NEVER BE REPEALED! Start preparing now for the next battle.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Lawrence Bay had this in the April 6 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "The 1 percent school sales tax is on Tuesday's ballot. The same measure that was defeated in 2009 and 2014.The issues are the same now as they were then. Here is a brief summary of why it should again be defeated. ..... Once enacted, this sales tax can never be repealed. If we are correct in our fears, this will do irreparable harm to Rock Island County merchants and cost the state of Illinois and our municipalities substantial lost sales tax revenue. We will never be able to undo the damage which may be done to the Rock Island County retail base. We believe Scott County merchants and the state of Iowa will benefit most from this added sales tax and that Illinois will lose. ..... Why should we add to the competitive advantage which Scott County merchants already enjoy over Rock Island County? For more reasons to vote NO visit voteno2tax.blogspot.com and read the 76 posts currently on that site."
Bill Bloom had this in the April 6 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "On Tuesday, we will vote on a measure adding a 1 percent tax to bring funding to the schools. Currently Illinois is not competitive with the surrounding states. Illinois loses millions in tax revenue from people who drive out of state to buy gas, groceries and other products. For a border county in Illinois to further increase sales taxes will make it even harder for businesses to compete. Raising taxes in Illinois may even result in losing more revenue than the 1 percent tax increase will bring in. Purchases that end up in Iowa will cost Illinois 8.5 percent in lost taxes. ..... The way to generate more tax dollars is to help our businesses be competitive and to draw business to Illinois. Lower the tax rates, don't raise them. Make Illinois a better place to open, own and operate a business. By making Illinois more competitive, we attract people to our businesses and generate more tax dollars on a lower sales tax rate. ...... For years, people in the border counties have been voting with their feet and their dollars. We have lost hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenues to other states. The impact is visible when you compare home construction, new business starts and housing prices between the Iowa Quad-Cities and Illinois side. Illinois should lower tax rates (and property tax rates) in order to increase overall revenue dollars. Please vote no on the referendum."
Mitch Ryan had the following letter in the April 6 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. " First, during the election season your editorial board and John Marx wrote glowing articles of praise for the county board heir apparent Moose Maranda. I had to read how he would NOT conduct business the way it was done before. I guess Moose Maranda showed his true colors when he voted to kill downsizing the county board and tell 72 percent of the county voters to stuff it. Strike 1 and 2 for you. ..... Second, you are now pushing for the 1 percent tax increase that has been defeated multiple times. Your analysis is severely flawed as it will not improve the mission of the education system -- to prepare the children to survive and prosper in the world. How does a new entrance at Rocky help a kid ace the SAT or ACT? ..... Passing the tax will allow the great school finance shell game to continue. Money that would or should have been budgeted for building maintenance will now be diverted to other "priorities" thus nullifying the claim that the money can only be used for facilities. Also, that say that our property taxes may be reduced. That's hogwash! If they were sincere about this, they would include the tax reduction language in the referendum. Since they didn't, I believe if this tax passes, it will be strike 3 for the paper's editorial board and the residents of Rock Island County. Fool me once ... Not anymore."
Sunday, April 5, 2015
Mark Lioen sent this letter to the Dispatch/Rock Island Argus, possibly too late for publication. " As a result of their well-funded campaign to persuade Rock Island County voters to impose a one percent sales tax in the April 7th referendum, I am prone to ask whether the tactics they've used to promote their goal, i.e. phony polls using arguments to persuade residents to vote "yes" (push polling)and the unethical use of school publications to promote the effort as well as the apparent collusion of school administrators, taint the claims they've made? Shouldn't such a duplicitous campaign undermine the claim that they would reduce property taxes were you to vote for such an additional tax? ..... If they're asking voters to sacrifice in the name of the public interest and the interests of our children, perhaps we, in turn should ask for sacrifice all-around. Will our legislators ask for an exemption from the Prevailing Wage and competitive bidding in order that these schools can be repaired for a reasonable cost? Will the County Board reduce its size, in accord with a previous referendum approved by the voters, in order that the cost savings might be used for the improvement of our schools? Since they've not and are unlikely to do so, I can only assume that it is self-interest just as much as public interest that has motivated those campaigning for a "yes" vote. Considering the tactics and motivation serve to discredit the campaign to approve the measure, the only conclusion must be to give the one percent tax a resounding "no" on April 7th."
Carol Bay had this letter published in the April 5 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. A similar letter, severely truncated and with a different last paragraph appeared in the Quad-City Times. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "I urge you to vote "no" on increasing taxes in Rock Island County. You have control over this local option tax: you cannot stop increases in state taxes or property taxes. How would this increase in tax affect you? ...... For instance, the sales tax would increase to 8.5 percent on most purchases and to 10 percent on prepared food and liquor. Just imagine having a restaurant meal that cost $20.You would pay $2 in taxes and to that you would add a gratuity of $4 for the server. Over many meals the increase will add up to less money in your pocket and you may have to eat and drink out less. You would also have to budget your money very carefully on other purchases. Retail merchants might fail in RICo with the result of less sales tax being collected. That would hurt our schools and local governments. ..... By contrast across the Mississippi River the sales tax is 7 percent on these same purchases. By shopping and dining in Iowa you would save money of food and drink, clothing, appliances and gas. You would have more money in your pocket, but you also would be helping Iowa, schools, governments and merchants. Again, you would hurt our schools. ..... Let's make a healthy retail environment in Rock Island County where businesses thrive and more jobs become available to our schools. You can help accomplish this by voting "no" to the tax increase." The following final paragraph appeared in the truncated Quad-City Times letter. "The Quad-City Times agitates against raising taxes in Iowa yet urges Rock Island County residents to raise their taxes. Do you really want retail to fail in Illinois so that retail in Iowa prospers? Don't let this happen -- vote "no"."
Craig Porter had this in the April 5 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "In response to the school facilities tax referendum, let us look at the property tax in the Illinois Quad-Cities. Only 11 states have a higher property tax rate than Illinois. That means 38 states have a lower tax rate and yet they continue to operate at or above the current level in Illinois. Also, out of the taxpayer's property tax, more than 55 percent goes to the local school districts. ..... The current state base sales tax is 6.25 percent with a range of 0-4.25 percent that can be added locally. This ranks Illinois seventh in base sales tax in the United States. ..... Rock Island County schools have more than adequate revenue to operate. This is about the district's waste of money more than children's education -- although the proponents would not admit this. ..... Also, the taxpayers that have their children in private schools should not have to support the public schools through their property taxes. If the public would carefully end the bureaucracy of the public schools they would see how mediocre the system of education is compared to the dollars that are currently spent.:
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Jann Casillas Ortiz had this in the April 4 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. ..... marks paragraph breaks. "I am an average Rock Island County taxpayer. My husband and I pay sales, income and property taxes etc. I am not well-educated, don't have a fancy title except for "Mom", "Meemaw" and "Honey Buns". We have raised five children on one income and have lived in our very modest, older home for 35 years. ..... My husband is retired after decades of hard, filthy shop work. We are not sophisticated, don't belong to any country clubs or own fancy cars or vacation homes. We do plenty of service work and are strong in our respective faiths. ..... So, here it is in my plain humble words: I am damned tired of being taxed (to death). The school administrations in the Illinois Quad-Cities are bloated. The teachers are underpaid. Let us cut the administration's salaries in half. use half of that to give the teachers raises, use the other half for the purposes that the intended tax raise is for and be done with the whole thing. ..... Rock Island County, do you just not "get it"? We have been taxed, taxed, taxed. We can not afford this proposed increase and do not want it. I am voting NO!"
Mike Miller had the following letter in the April 4 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "I am confused. Aren't the sales-tax-referendum people generally the same crowd who argue that a sales tax is regressive and hits the poorest among us the hardest? However, somehow that's OK as long as they accomplish their goal. Those on pensions and Social Security should pay more at the store, so that school authorities don't have to make the tough spending decisions. ...... The editorial board uses $5 per month per human being living in Rock Island County in order to persuade us that the tax is reasonable, let's look at the numbers in a different way. This year our seniors got a 1.7 percent increase in their Social Security. For someone getting $1,200 a month is just about a $20 per month increase. If that person spends $300 each month on items subject to the new tax, she will pay about $3 per month in new taxes, or about 15 percent of her generous governmental increase. Fifteen percent of a senior's well deserved increase in Social Security seems like a somewhat deeper bite. I will never understand politics."
Charles Fisher had this letter in the April 4 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "FOIA requests have revealed documents of meetings hosted by the Regional Office of Education "to promote passage of the 1 percent school facilities tax in Rock Island County." This activity is illegal: public resources may not be used to advocate referendums. These meetings featured lunch catered by Adolph's, Momma Compton's, and Subway, paid with taxpayer funds. Emails after these meetings (on district computers) included such commentary as, "Let's get after this thing!" ...... 2013 data for Rock Island High School indicates No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reading test scores at a 37.9 percent pass rate, math test of 28.8 percent, failure for the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) metric, and that RIHS is on Academic Watch List Year 9. ..... According to the NCLB Act, schools missing AYP targets for four consecutive years are labeled for "corrective action", which involves complete replacement of staff, new curriculum or longer class time. Five years of failure requires a plan to "restructure" the school, which is implemented after six failure years. Plan options include school closure, charter school conversion, private contractor operation or requesting state operation directly. ..... Illinois' NCLB waiver in April 2014 came too late for RIHS, which should be closed. Also, 2010 meeting minutes indicate "corrective action" for Rock Island Academy, Edison Jr. High, and Washington Jr. High, all failed AYP in 2013, all in "restructuring". ..... Should we approve a tax, tainted by illegal advocacy, for schools which should not exist? Vote no on April 7."
Friday, April 3, 2015
Jerry McConoughey had this letter in the April 3 Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. "Regarding the proposed sales tax for schools, there is no doubt the schools need more money, and I'm all in favor of finding a source of funding. But increasing the sales tax is not a fair way to do it. The burden of such a tax would fall on the poor and those on fixed incomes. A much fairer way to fund our schools is through an increase in the graduated income tax so those who earn more pay a little more. ..... This is what Minnesota did and it's working fine. An alternative, but not a very good one, is to enact a luxury tax on certain high-priced items such as luxury cars. I know some people think the proposed tax is so small that it would not financially harm anyone. Unfortunately, low-income people are already taxed to the hilt and even a modest increase would hurt them. And I, for one, do not want to see that happen.