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February 2011

They Run for the Money

  Have you noticed how quickly Illinois politicians move when it comes to raising taxes or fees?

  Take the Illinois Tollway Authority, for example, and how speedily it "closed" this week's decision to nearly double the rates drivers pay to use the system's highways.

  Board Chairman Paula Wolfe reminded me that her members had considered a toll increase to fund a $12 billion capital program since early 2010. 

  But public hearings on the 87.5% proposed hike did not begin until August 18th and the series of 15 sessions were crammed into the next five days ending on August 23rd.

  Incredibly, the Board met  two days later on the morning of August 25th to "vote" its approval of the 15-year program as if the members had given any real study or consideration to the public testimony, most of which was orchestrated by self-interested labor unions and roadbuilders.

  While covering what critics called the "done deal" at the Tollway's palatial Downers Grove headquarters, I could not help but think of the Chicago Public School Board's decision a day earlier to approve a "maximum-allowed" increase in the city property tax.

  On August 5th, only one week after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicagoans were being "nickeled and dimed" by taxers, the CPS Board appointed by the Mayor proposed raising property taxes.  The new levy would cost the owner of an average home ($250,000) an additional $84 a year.  The increase would generate $150 million dollars of the district's projected $712 million deficit.

  Taxpayers barely had a chance to see the CPS budget on line, let alone on paper, before public hearings were scheduled five days later on August 10th, 11th and 12th. 

  Emanuel's Board voted and approved the tax increase unanimously August 24th. 


  The Tollway Authority and Chicago School Board may have learned from the "clinic" Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the democratic legislative leaders held earlier this year on "the need for speed".

  Remember last January when the General Assembly reconvened for its "lame duck" session? 

  In a scant 48 hours ending before dawn on Jan. 12th, the democratic-controlled House and Senate had raised the Illinois corporate and personal income tax rates only hours before new members could be seated.  The next day, January 13th, the Governor signed the bill, which was retroactive to January 1st.


  Taxpayers never knew what hit 'em.

   Keep in mind that high-speed taxation is happening in Illinois as newly-elected state and city "reform" politicians use the word "transparent" to describe their new modus operandi.

  Its transparent, all right.

  Taxpayers should see right through it.




Rahm's the Mayor, Barack's the Boss. Harold and Carol are History.


Rahm Emanuel beat yours truly to church Sunday.

 Chicago's first Jewish Mayor-elect arrived at the 20,000-member Apostolic Church of God earlier than most.  He attended a private meeting with the Reverend Dr. Byron T. Brazier and elders before delivering a 6-7 minutes long speech during the 9:10am service.  The media was not invited.

  Emanuel thanked the congregation--a bedrock of Chicago's black middle class--for its support at the polling places last Tuesday.  He acknowledged his 55% first round win would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of African-American voters.

  He also described his vote from blacks--who still make up a plurality of the city's voters--as a renewal of an old but recently-strained relationship between Chicago's African-American and Jewish communities.

Barack's the Boss.  Harold and Carol are History


  In the final analysis, it was the "endorsement" of President Barack Obama that convinced African-American voters that his former chief of staff Emanuel was the right person at the right time. 

  At the risk of angering many old school politicians and members of the city's black "intelligentsia", let me call Obama the most historic African-American politician ever produced by Chicago.  What's more, Obama's status is confirmed every day he reigns as the living, breathing "leader of the free world".

  Carol Incredibly, Carol Moseley Braun's "consensus" candidacy was built around replicating the winning strategy and tactics that led to the 1983 victory of Harold Washington, Chicago's deceased first black mayor.

  Braun rightfully "wore the jacket" during the pitiful, mistake-filled campaign waged in her name.  Her longtime enemies in the media let her have it at every turn.

  But Braun's place in the history books as the first African-American female in the U.S. Senate was secure long before she charged that anyone was "strung out on crack".

  In the election's aftermath, though, the editorial tailors have plenty of other jackets to sew.

  To be fitted are the black politicians, civil rights activists and assorted reverends who thoroughly misjudged their constituents and embarked on a nonsensical effort to make the 2011 mayoral campaign a competition about race.   

  Was their strategy actually built around a re-enactment of "Beirut by the Lake"?

  It's as though Bobby Rush, Danny Davis and the Reverend Jesse Jackson were sound asleep in 2008 when Obama proved to the rest of the world that the politics of inclusion can actually work in America.

   Harold Washington's struggles paved the way for Barack Obama.  There could have been no Barack if Harold had not come before him.

  At the Apostolic Church of God, It's taught that John the Baptist came first.

  But no one comes to church these days to sing about John the Baptist.

  Time to give Harold and Carol their rightful places in history.

  Time to move on.