Government

Illinois Policy Institute: ‘Illinois Is Exporting Its Higher-Income Earners’

From time to time, I’ll talk about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization that works “to make Illinois first in economic outlook and job creation.” The last time I blogged about the Institute, they had just released a report about Illinois having the most units of local government of any state in the country.

I happened to stop by their website the other day and something disturbing caught my eye. On March 27, Michael Lucci, the Institute’s Director of Jobs and Growth, talked about the state’s tax structure driving away businesses. He wrote:

There’s no telling how many businesses have left or expanded elsewhere over the years.

Caterpillar Inc. announced this week that it will expand in Georgia, AM manufacturing is leaving for Indiana and OfficeMax Inc. famously decided on Florida over Illinois.

That’s exactly what millions of people are doing. On net, 1.25 million more people have left Illinois than entered since 1985. Not only that: The average taxpayer who leaves Illinois earns $65,400. The average taxpayer who enters Illinois earns $56,700.

It’s clear what is happening. Illinois is exporting its higher-income earners, who are also job creators and investors…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity shouldn’t be too surprised at these findings.

Back on January 9, I talked about a press release associated with United Van Lines’ 37th Annual Migration Study, which found Illinois was the number two outbound state for a second year in a row in 2013.

And on February 27, I discussed a February 14 Crain’s Chicago Business piece that said Cook County lost about 13,000 residents with six-figure household incomes to other places during the Great Recession.

Regrettably, the politicians and their mouthpieces will keep peddling the spin about how individuals and businesses are tripping over themselves to move into the state. Meanwhile, the exodus from the “Land of Lincoln” will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Lucci, Michael. “Illinois’ recipe for exodus: 7 different tax structures proposed for 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 27 Mar. 2014. (http://www.illinoispolicy.org/illinois-recipe-for-exodus-7-different-tax-structures-proposed-for-2015/?utm_source=outbrain). 17 Apr. 2014.

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Michael Bloomberg And Heavenly Hubris

The New York Times just published an article about former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. In it, the gun “control” and so-called “Nanny State” proponent reportedly said:

I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.

I once made the mistake of working for a guy who was supposedly a born-again Christian.

To date, he holds the distinction of being the biggest prick I’ve ever met- pardon my French.

And I’ve run into quite a few jerks during my four decades on this planet.

Getting back to Mr. Bloomberg though. I believe there is a God. And I also believe he doesn’t take to kindly to human beings who let hubris (excessive self-confidence) invade their hearts, minds, and particularly their souls.

“Blessed are the meek…”

I respect Michael Bloomberg for his accomplishments in business and public service (to a certain degree). I just hope he keeps an open mind on what truly merits being with God once we pass on, and practices it in his remaining years on this Earth.

I really do wish him the best of luck concerning this particular matter.

Now back to our regular programming…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Peters, Jeremy W. “Bloomberg Plans a $50 Million Challenge to the N.R.A.” The New York Times. 15 Apr. 2014. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/us/bloomberg-plans-a-50-million-challenge-to-the-nra.html?ref=nyregion&_r=1). 16 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Religion No Comments

Shocking: Illinois ‘Pole Tax’ Fails To Bring In Projected Revenue

How many times have we seen politicians push some new controversial tax (often a “sin” tax), telling consitutents tons of new money will be coming in if its implemented.

And how many times has this turned out not to be the case, with actual revenue collected nowhere near what was “projected.”

Still, the dubious tax remains on the books as yet one more financial burden on the citizens.

Enter the Illinois “Pole Tax.”

From The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois) website on August 18, 2012:

Strip clubs in Illinois will have to hand over a share of their revenues, starting in 2013, to help fund programs to prevent sexual assault and counsel victims under a law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday.

The measure establishes a new tax on the clubs that will raise up to $1 million a year, helping to reverse several years of funding cuts for rape crisis centers. The legislation has also sparked debate over how strong of a link can be drawn between strip clubs and violent crime, and whether those businesses should pay out to fight the problems…

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will place an annual surcharge on strip clubs that have live nude dancing and permit alcohol. Businesses could pay $3 per customer or pay a graduated amount based on their sales. The money will go to a special fund devoted to preventing sexual violence and counseling its victims…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fast forward to this morning on the same website, which now reads:

Illinois officials say a strip club tax has generated less than 40 percent of the money that was expected when the surcharge was approved.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports the “pole tax” raised about $380,000 in 2013. That’s far less than the $1 million predicted when the measure passed the General Assembly in 2012…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like with other sin “taxes,” one might wonder if the Illinois “Pole Tax” is really about restoring funding for rape crisis centers in the state, or is actually meant to drive out the “nudie bars” from Illinois.


“Win $500 Bubble Boy Style”
(Not affiliated with Win500.info website- visit at own risk)
YouTube Video

Come to think of it, I wonder how much money Cook County raked in with its $25 per-gun tax on firearm purchases after a full year of being on the books. That “Violence Tax” went into effect on April 1, 2013.

Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website back on October 31, 2012:

The gun tax would raise $600,000, Budget Director Andrea Gibson said…

We’ll see, as I suspect someone will be publicizing that actual number soon.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Illinois strip club tax will fund rape crisis centers.” The State-Journal Register. 18 Aug. 2012. (http://www.sj-r.com/x1167780465/Illinois-strip-club-tax-will-fund-rape-crisis-centers). 16 Apr. 2014.

“Strip club tax brings in much less than expected.” Associated Press. 16 Apr. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140416/NEWS/140419556). 16 Apr. 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle drops bullet tax, keeps gun tax.” Chicago Tribune. 31 Oct. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-preckwinkle-drops-bullet-tax-keeps-gun-tax-20121031,0,3962662.story). 16 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Firearms, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes No Comments

Surviving A Nuclear Attack On Washington, D.C.

Personally, I think there’s a good possibility enemies of the United States will someday detonate nuclear devices in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Why?

Because these political and cultural centers in America are just too juicy of targets for the bad guys to ignore.

Particularly that new Freedom Tower (One World Trade Center), which is expected to open to the public this year.

I’m not the only one who thinks nuclear terrorism could be in the cards for us. Read further down my “About” page and you’ll understand what I mean.

And don’t forget this from March 24. I blogged:

Earlier today, President Barack Obama spoke at a news conference while attending the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 in Holland. The U.S. President brought up the danger of a nuclear device being detonated in one of America’s major cities. From a transcript provided by the Federal News Service:

And so my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number-one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Think POTUS knows something that we don’t?

Getting back to the nation’s capital, Marc Ambinder recently wrote an article on The Week website entitled, “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” Armbinder inquired in the April 14 piece:

I was wondering if the government had deigned to share with us citizens any tips for, you know, surviving something their own intelligence points to as the likeliest unlikely Black Swan event… it turns out that there is quite a lot that you or I can do if we get stuck in Washington when something like that happens. Choices we make could very well make the difference between our imminent death and a relatively full and happy life, assuming the bomb is a one-off.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released a report in 2011 that spells all this out. It hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.

It’s called the “National Capital Region Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” and it makes for fascinating reading…

It really does, and if I lived or worked in the nation’s capital, I’d read that November 2011 U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded publication as if my life depended on it.

Because it very well might one day.

You can find the 120-page publication here (.pdf format) on the Homeland Security Digital Library website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Ambinder, Marc. “If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?” The Week. 14 Apr. 2014. (http://theweek.com/article/index/259829/if-a-nuclear-bomb-exploded-in-downtown-washington-what-should-you-do). 15 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Government, Man-Made Disasters, Terrorism No Comments

CBO: Updated 2014-2024 Budget Projections Show Substantially Rising Budget Shorfalls, Federal Debt

That idea that the U.S. could someday resemble a “banana republic” might not be too far off the mark. From the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office website today:

As it usually does each spring, CBO has updated the baseline budget projections that it released earlier in the year…

Between 2015 and 2024, annual budget shortfalls are projected to rise substantially—from a low of $469 billion in 2015 to about $1 trillion from 2022 through 2024—mainly because of the aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt. CBO expects that cumulative deficits during that decade will equal $7.6 trillion if current laws remain unchanged. As a share of GDP, deficits are projected to rise from 2.6 percent in 2015 to about 4 percent near the end of the 10-year period. By comparison, the deficit averaged 3.1 percent of GDP over the past 40 years and 2.3 percent in the 40 years before fiscal year 2008, when the most recent recession began. From 2015 through 2024, both revenues and outlays are projected to be greater than their 40-year averages as a percentage of GDP (see the figure below)…

In CBO’s baseline projections, federal debt held by the public reaches 78 percent of GDP by 2024, up from 72 percent at the end of 2013 and twice the 39 percent average of the past four decades (see the figure below). As recently as the end of 2007, federal debt equaled just 35 percent of GDP

Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences. Federal spending on interest payments would increase considerably when interest rates rose to more typical levels. Moreover, because federal borrowing would eventually raise the cost of investment by businesses and other entities, the capital stock would be smaller, and productivity and wages lower, than if federal borrowing was more limited. In addition, high debt means that lawmakers would have less flexibility than they otherwise would to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges. Finally, high debt increases the risk of a fiscal crisis in which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can read the entire assessment and view the complete document on the CBO website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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‘Criminals Are Victims Of The Evil Capitalist Society’

These days, there are lots of people out there speculating and writing about what a financial crash would be like- even though they’ve never lived through one.

On the other hand, some have and are actively sharing their experiences and lessons for surviving a similar event.

Once in a while on Survival And Prosperity I’ve mentioned Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre, who lived through Argentina’s economic collapse last decade and released The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse in 2009. A big “fan” of the book and the accompanying blog- Surviving In Argentina- I happened to be listening to the fourth installment in a series of video posts FerFAL has produced recently about “prepper myths,” when he talked about the recent violent mugging of an American tourist in a nice part of Buenos Aires. Apparently, the mugger- who was on the verge of being lynched by a crowd- was booked by police yet released later on that day. FerFAL- now based in Northern Ireland- lamented in the April 9 post:

And that’s the key of the thing. It’s not considered a bad thing. And it’s not just mugging, robbing- even hurting, raping, murdering- it’s not considered a bad thing from the perspective of the Argentine government. They have this crappy, commie, anti-capitalist, bullshit thing going on which basically says- and I got tired of hearing this time and again- but the official government point of view is criminals are victims of the evil capitalist society that are just trying to provide for their families. And when you say, “Alright, what about a rapist or a murderer? What is he trying to do there?” “Well, he’s also a poor victim because he didn’t have the populist, socialist education that we’re trying to promote and he didn’t know any better.” They’re always justifying. And this isn’t just something I perceive. This is something I’ve been told by an actual district attorney. He’ll tell me, “That’s what we get from the top. We’re being told not to put people behind bars. Find any possible way, even if a cop drags one- this guy actually murdered someone in front of my eyes. Even if that happens, the official point of view of this is- release them as fast, as quickly as possible. We don’t want people behind bars.” That makes for a very chaotic society, and that’s what’s been going on in Argentina for over a decade now. That’s why it’s so violent…

Any of what FerFAL said ring a bell to some readers? It sure did for me, as I type this from the Chicago area this wintry April evening.

Plenty of bad guys who should be locked up behind bars are roaming the streets of Chicago and other parts of Cook County these days.

“That’s why it’s so violent.”

By the way, check out Fernando Aguirre’s other “prepper myth” video posts here if you have the time. I found them very insightful and thought-provoking.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago’s Bloody Weekend: 36 Shot, 4 Killed, ‘Lax State And Federal Gun Laws’ Blamed

Sometimes, it’s just better to keep quiet about some things.

Which is what I thought City Hall might do after the bloodiest weekend of the year (so far?) in Chicago.

Jon Seidel reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website earlier this afternoon:

A day after one of the warmest and bloodiest weekends so far in 2014, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy again complained that “lax state and federal gun laws” are hampering his department’s ability to stem the violence.

And, he said, “weather doesn’t cause crime.”

“It creates conditions which may contribute to crime,” McCarthy said, adding: “It doesn’t prevent crime, either.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“‘Lax state and federal gun laws’ are hampering his department’s ability to stem the violence.”

To borrow a term often used by the gun “control” crowd these days, “common-sense” dictates criminals don’t follow the law. And in general, the bad guys don’t acquire their guns legally. So if the City of Chicago wants to introduce new gun law after new gun law to make it “ground zero” for gun “control” in the country in hopes of stemming the violence…

Oh wait. That’s already been tried. And we all know how that worked out.

Regarding that claim about weather not preventing crime, I’ve have a pretty good idea shootings and related fatalties were affected by the brutal winter in “Chiberia.” Now that it’s warming up (today being the exception, as the snow falls steadily in my part of Chicagoland), I, for one, can’t say that I’ll be surprised to hear about more weekends like the one Chicago just had:

36 shot. 4 killed. In 1 weekend.

Those remind me of the numbers that were being put up just the other year.

2012 is gently rapping, rapping at the Chicago City Council Chamber doors…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Seidel, Jon. “Chicago’s top cop: ‘Lax’ gun laws hamper crime-fighting.” Chicago Sun-Times. 14 Apr. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/chicagos-top-cop-lax-gun-laws-hamper-crime-fighting/mon-04142014-118pm). 14 Apr. 2014.

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Wisconsin Now Recognizes Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses

Wow. A morning where’s there’s not too much in the way of disturbing news coming out of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois?

Just wait until the end of the day when the so-called “document dump” and bad news is then released to a public who is already in weekend mode, right?

Anyway, the Illinois State Rifle Association reported on their website Monday:

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, those with Illinois concealed carry permits are now recognized in Wisconsin.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The provided link takes one to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement Services, web page, where under “CCW Reciprocity” the following is published:

Permit(s) Honored In Wisconsin:
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virgin Islands, Washington, Wyoming

Good information for Illinois Concealed Carry License holders to know, should they ever plan to “Escape To Wisconsin” for pleasure- or in an emergency.

You can view that CCW Reciprocity page on the Wisconsin DOJ website here.

For more information about the Illinois Concealed Carry License, go to the Illinois State Police Concealed Carry web page here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, April 11th, 2014 Firearms, Government, Self-Defense No Comments

North Korean EMP Weapon That Can Strike U.S. For Real?

There’s been increased chatter about the North Koreans having the capability of attacking the United States using an electromagnetic pulse weapon that could fry electronics and power grids. From F. Michael Maloof on the independent news website WorldNetDaily (WND.com) yesterday:

A long-suppressed report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department concludes that North Korea could deliver on its threats to destroy the United States with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack.

The report remains blocked from release to the American public.

However, a copy obtained by Peter Vincent Pry from sources within DHS finds North Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack the U.S. from the south…

Pry said that an EMP attack on the U.S. would not have to originate from North Korea but could be a missile, such as the SA-2, launched from a freighter off the U.S. East or Gulf Coasts. At that point, there would be no missile defense capable of halting such an event.

With a missile launched from a freighter, it could be difficult to identify who is responsible for an attack.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“EMP Bomb Threat Video”
YouTube Video

Peter Vincent Pry. Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity might remember his name, as I blogged back on March 8, 2013:

Enter Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and Director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards. Dr. Pry, a former intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, wrote on the Family Security Matters website on February 26:

The West consistently and unwittingly cooperates with North Korea and Iran by underestimating the advancement, sophistication, and strategic implications of their nuclear weapon and missile programs.

Despite North Korea’s successful long-range missile test in December 2012, and now its third successful nuclear test on February 12, 2013, the Obama administration and the press keep reassuring the American people that North Korea is not yet a fully fledged nuclear weapons state – that a North Korean nuclear missile threat to the United States is still years in the future.

The facts do not support this judgment. North Korea is already a major nuclear threat to the United States–an existential threat.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dr. Pry went on to say:

North Korea now appears to be armed with a FOBS capability to make a surprise nuclear attack against the United States–or against any and all nations on Earth–with Super-EMP.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

FOBS? Super-EMP? The author of Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle To Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe explained:

A Super-EMP warhead is a nuclear weapon specially designed to produce an enormous burst of gamma rays that generates an extraordinarily powerful electromagnetic pulse, capable of destroying even the best protected electronics, thereby paralyzing military forces and blacking out power grids and collapsing critical infrastructures everywhere–across an entire nation the size of the United States…

During the Cold War, the USSR experimented with a secret weapon, the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS), that used an ICBM like a Space Launch Vehicle to put a nuclear warhead into orbit, like a satellite. Instead of using the ICBM to lob the warhead on a more accurate arcing ballistic trajectory, flying along the shortest range to target, like an artillery shell, the FOBS lofted the warhead into a “fractional” or partial orbit, sacrificing accuracy for limitless range.

FOBS could reach any nation or threaten any target anywhere on Earth.

A Super-EMP warhead does not weigh much, and could probably be delivered by North Korea’s Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, successfully tested in December 2012, against any nation on Earth. Thus, North Korea already possesses an ICBM and poses a mortal nuclear threat to the United States, and to all nations on Earth–right now.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Scary stuff.

By the way, I noticed Maloof, like Pry, also has a book out on the subject, entitled A Nation Forsaken: EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Malood, F. Michael. “DHS study: North Korea capable of EMP attack on U.S.” WorldNetDaily. 9 Apr. 2014. (http://www.wnd.com/2014/04/dhs-study-north-korea-capable-of-emp-attack-on-u-s/?cat_orig=world). 10 Apr. 2014.

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Illinois Millionaire Tax Halted For Now

Remember that “millionaire tax” Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) had been pushing which would have affected an estimated 13,000 or so millionaires residing in the state?

It’s toast for now.

Doug Finke reported on The State Journal-Register (Springfield) website yesterday afternoon:

House Speaker Michael Madigan has pulled the plug on his proposed constitutional amendment to impose a surcharge on incomes over $1 million a year.

The Chicago Democrat made the move Wednesday after it became obvious the amendment couldn’t muster the 71 votes it needed in the House to pass.

Although Democrats hold 71 seats in the House, not all of them were on board with the amendment…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Despite the setback, many Illinois Democrats in office will tell their supporters that they at least tried to “spread the wealth around” more in moving the legislation this far.

As the economic climate deteriorates nationally, I expect to see even more of these targeted income tax hikes being proposed- along with its reintroduction in “Madiganistan.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Finke, Doug. “Madigan dropping plan to tax Illinois millionaires.” The State Journal-Register. 9 Apr. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140409/NEWS/140409326/-1/json). 10 Apr. 2014.

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Cook County Residents To Get Hit With Tax Hikes Soon?

For a while now (last time being earlier this week), I told my girlfriend we were lucky to have escaped the fiscal debacle and revenue grab going on in the city of Chicago.

At the same time, I pointed out that as Cook County residents we’re still on the hook for the same type of nonsense.

Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon:

Hoping to ward off another credit rating downgrade, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday that she will soon present a plan to reform the county’s underfunded pension system.

And she’s leaving the door open to hiking property, sales and other taxes.

When asked repeatedly about the possibility of tax increases, Preckwinkle responded: “We’re looking at all the options. Everything is on the table.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Slodysko added later in the piece:

Preckwinkle declined to discuss specifics, but she did say that any plan that goes before the Legislature will not have property tax increase language written into the bill

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Okaaay… so that means Preckwinkle’s not “leaving the door open” to hiking property taxes?

Regardless, based on what I see coming down the line for us, it’s only a matter of time.

Last summer, Cook County saw its bond rating lowered by one of the major credit rating agencies supposedly due to its public pension liabilities. I blogged on August 20, 2013:

In the wake of significantly downgrading the City of Chicago’s credit rating, bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service lowered Cook County’s bond rating a notch last Friday. In a news release from the Moody’s website right before the weekend:

New York, August 16, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the rating on Cook County’s (IL) general obligation (GO) debt to A1 from Aa3, affecting $3.7 billion of general obligation debt. The outlook remains negative.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The downgrade of the GO rating reflects Cook County’s growing pension liabilities…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Slodysko, Brian. “Preckwinkle won’t rule out tax increase to strike pension deal.” Chicago Sun-Times. 9 Apr. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/preckwinkle-wont-rule-out-tax-increase-strike-pension-deal/wed-04092014-523pm). 10 Apr. 2014.

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Reports: Chicago Manipulating Crime Statistics

“Downgrade and reclassify.”

It’s something I’ve heard leveled against the City of Chicago with increasing regularity since I started this blog in 2010.

I really became aware of it from reading the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop.

From a July 24, 2013, post:

Again, here is where CompStat really shines. Reclassify the crimes from “Strong Arm Robbery” to “Theft from Person” and –tada!!!– Instant drop in violent crime. You don’t think they’re doing it? How about those juveniles that got caught the other day? The one had another smart phone and was charged with “Theft of Lost/Mislaid Property” probably because no one could identify who committed the actual robbery. Or the lack of police that is emboldening the robbers? If someone has to wait an hour for a police report, they might as well head home and do it over the phone….or not do it at all. –Tada!!!— another drop in crime!

Downgrade and reclassify? That’s just tin-foil hat talk, right?

Apparently not.

David Bernstein and Noah Isackson wrote on Chicago magazine’s website yesterday:

Chicago conducted a 12-month examination of the Chicago Police Department’s crime statistics going back several years, poring through public and internal police records and interviewing crime victims, criminologists, and police sources of various ranks. We identified 10 people, including Groves, who were beaten, burned, suffocated, or shot to death in 2013 and whose cases were reclassified as death investigations, downgraded to more minor crimes, or even closed as noncriminal incidents—all for illogical or, at best, unclear reasons.

This troubling practice goes far beyond murders, documents and interviews reveal. Chicago found dozens of other crimes, including serious felonies such as robberies, burglaries, and assaults, that were misclassified, downgraded to wrist-slap offenses, or made to vanish altogether. (We’ll examine those next month in part 2 of this special report.)

Many officers of different ranks and from different parts of the city recounted instances in which they were asked or pressured by their superiors to reclassify their incident reports or in which their reports were changed by some invisible hand. One detective refers to the “magic ink”: the power to make a case disappear. Says another: “The rank and file don’t agree with what’s going on. The powers that be are making the changes.”

Granted, a few dozen crimes constitute a tiny percentage of the more than 300,000 reported in Chicago last year. But sources describe a practice that has become widespread at the same time that top police brass have become fixated on demonstrating improvement in Chicago’s woeful crime statistics

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Two words come to mind here about these claims:

Truly disturbing.

The alleged manipulation of crime statistics goes beyond downgrading, reclassifying, and fudging.

Frank Main and Stefano Esposito reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

About one-quarter of victims of aggravated assault and battery failed to get counted in Chicago Police statistics for 2012, according to a city Office of the Inspector General report released Monday.

That’s because police didn’t count each person in a crime involving multiple victims as a separate offense, the inspector general’s office said.

The audit reviewed a sample of 383 assault-related incident reports out of a total of 83,480 for 2012.

Because of the findings, Chicago Police officials have agreed to review every aggravated assault and battery in 2012 and 2013 — and count each victim…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember, Chicago isn’t due to release the second part of its special report until next month.

If I were certain Chicago Police Department brass, I’d be seriously concerned about my job right now, as this developing situation looks to be a major blow to what credibility the City still has left with residents and others.

I know one thing. From now on, every time a City official brings up crime statistics, eyes will be rolling… long after heads may have due to this debacle.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Bernstein, David and Isackson, Noah. “The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates.” Chicago. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Chicago-crime-rates/). 8 Apr. 2014.

Esposito, Stefano and Main, Frank. “Chicago Police underreported number of 2012 aggravated assault and battery, audit finds.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 Apr. 2014. (Chicago Police underreported number of 2012 aggravated assault and battery, audit finds). 8 Apr. 2014.

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U.S. Security Experts Wary Of American Fighters Returning From Syrian Civil War

Back on December 2, I blogged:

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray…

These radicalized foreign fighters were the focus of a piece that appeared on the International Business Times (UK) website Sunday. Tom Porter reported:

Experts have warned that a terrorist attack by jihadists returning radicalised from the war in Syria is “inevitable”.

It is believed that hundreds of British citizens have fought in the three-year Syrian conflict, with many taking up arms for Islamist groups.

Some have posted videos online, boasting of their exploits.

There are growing fears among security services that returning fighters with combat experience are poised to launch terrorist attacks in the UK. The Telegraph reports that around 250 Syria veterans may be back in the country.

Ahead of a discussion on Syrian fighters at Chatham House this week, Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, spoke of the growing danger.

“It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria,” he told the Independent on Sunday.

Last year, security forces are reported to have foiled a Mumbai-style plot, involving killing civilians with guns in central London, which involved Syria veterans

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Even though Porter talked about the U.K., Syrian Civil War veterans who fought alongside Islamists will also be returning to the United States.

And U.S. security experts are wary of them.

Henry Austin and Charlene Gubash reported on the NBC News website back on February 15:

Foreign fighters returning home to the U.S., Britain and other countries after honing their skills in Syria’s civil war are posing a “nightmare for security services,” experts and officials say.

About 11,000 people have crossed into Syria seeking to help topple President Bashar Assad’s regime – including about 60 who are believed to have traveled from America. However, many have now been left disillusioned by bitter infighting between rival rebel groups and some have given up their weapons and returned to the West.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson earlier this month said that the U.S. government was “very focused” on the issue of militants returning to the country.

“Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict,” he added.

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, said recent history shows that “battlefields that have Sunni jihadist ideology have produced some sort of a threat.”

“It’s not true to say that all of those returning from Syria will come back and be a terrorist threat,” Pantucci added. “Perhaps a couple of them will, which makes it a nightmare for security services to track.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Some suspect Muslim extremists have been trying hard to recruit Western Caucasian members for some time now to use in terrorist operations against the United States and its allies in the “War On Terror.”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Porter, Tom. “Experts Warn of ‘Inevitable’ UK Terror Attack By Returning Syria Jihadis.” International Business Times. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/experts-warn-inevitable-uk-terror-attack-by-returning-syria-jihadis-1443631). 7 Apr. 2014.

Austin, Henry and Gubash, Charlene. “Syria’s American-Born Rebels Pose National Security ‘Nightmare’.” NBC News. 15 Feb. 2014. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/syrias-american-born-rebels-pose-national-security-nightmare-n29451). 7 Apr. 2014.

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Chicago Public Pension Crisis Latest

Last Tuesday, I blogged about Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempt to address some of the City’s public pension woes via larger contributions by City employees and $50 million tax increases for five straight years- beginning next year and continuing through 2019- for Chicago property owners.

There’s been a lot of chatter regarding this proposal and other pension “reform” activity today. Karen Pierog reported on the Reuters website:

Legislation to ease funding shortfalls in two of Chicago’s four retirement systems is a modestly positive credit step but not a permanent fix, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday

Moody’s said that if enacted into law, the measure would immediately reduce the unfunded liabilities in the two funds.

“However, we expect that the (liability) would then escalate for a number of years before declining. Accrued liabilities would exceed plan assets for years to come, and if annual investment returns fall short of the assumed 7.5 percent, the risk of plan insolvency may well reappear,” the credit rating agency said in a report…

After breezing through an Illinois House committee on April 2, the bill has stalled. Moody’s said that even if the bill makes it out of the legislature, Governor Pat Quinn must sign it. The law would then face potential challenges to its legality under the Illinois constitution, which prohibits the impairment of retirement benefits for public sector workers…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So will the Illinois Governor and fellow Chicago Democrat sign off on Mayor Emanuel’s proposed legislation?

John Byrne and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website this afternoon:

Gov. Pat Quinn today came out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise Chicago property taxes and cut retirement benefits as a way to shore up some of Chicago’s government worker pension systems.

The re-election seeking Democratic governor called the bill floating around Springfield “a sketch” that “kept changing by the hour” and blasted the property tax as a “lousy tax” because it is not based on the ability to pay…

“I don’t think that’s a good way to go,” Quinn said of hiking property taxes. “And I say it today and I’ll say it tomorrow, they’ve got to come up with a much better comprehensive approach to deal with this issue. But if they just think they are going to gouge property tax owners, no can do. We’re not going to go that way.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, as I pointed out in last week’s post about Chicago’s public pension crisis:

There’s still a state-required $600 million contribution due next year from the City to stabilize police and fire pension funds that this proposed property tax hike doesn’t address and has to be dealt with…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Plus, I read the following this morning by Chacour Koop on the website of The State Journal-Register (Springfield):

After addressing Illinois’ own employee pension crisis, lawmakers now face an equally challenging task with the state’s cities, as mayors demand help with underfunded police and firefighter pensions before the growing cost “chokes” budgets and forces local tax increases.

The nine largest cities in Illinois after Chicago have a combined $1.5 billion in unfunded debt to public safety workers’ pension systems. Police and fire retirement funds for cities statewide have an average of just 55 percent of the money needed to meet current obligations to workers and retirees…

The problems — a history of underfunding, the expansion of job benefits and the prospect of crushing future payments — mirror those that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel warned about when he asked the legislature for relief last week.

In 2016, state law requires cities to make required contribution increases — in some cases, more than an additional $1 million annually — so they’ll reach 90 percent funding by 2040. If they don’t, the state will begin doing it for them, diverting grant money now used by cities elsewhere directly into the pension funds…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Just like the Illinois General Assembly- dominated by Democrats- barely passed legislation on December 3, 2013, that was touted as a “fix” for the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis (it isn’t), something tells me an accommodation may be reached with fellow Democrats running the City of Chicago so they don’t have to pay the full amount of the state-required $600 million contribution due next year to stabilize police and fire pension funds.

That goes for those large Illinois communities as well.

Watch all the back-patting go on should that “fix” materialize as well.

And the inevitable “blowback” down the road.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

UPDATE: From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website early Tuesday morning:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and House Speaker Michael Madigan Monday stripped out controversial language from city pension legislation that had authorized the City Council to impose a property-tax hike, putting the stalled measure back on the fast-track at the state Capitol.

Madigan, D-Chicago, filed an amendment to Senate Bill 1922 after the House adjourned Monday without taking any action on the stalled legislation. Sources now expect the legislation to be voted upon as early as Tuesday.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sources:

Pierog, Karen. “UPDATE 1-Proposed Chicago pension changes positive step but no fix -Moody’s.” Reuters. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/07/usa-chicago-moodys-idUSL2N0MZ1AP20140407). 7 Apr. 2014.

Byrne, John and Garcia, Monique. “Quinn blasts Emanuel’s property tax hike for pensions.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-quinn-blasts-emanuels-property-tax-hike-for-pensions-20140407,0,5432729.story). 7 Apr. 2014.

Koop, Chacour. “Illinois’ next pension issue: Police, firefighter funds.” Associated Press. 6 Apr. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140406/NEWS/140409562/-1/json/?tag=1). 7 Apr. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “Analysis: Rahm’s pension bill revisions solve—and create—problems.” Chicago Sun-Times. 8 Apr. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/analysis-rahm%E2%80%99s-pension-bill-revisions-solve%E2%80%94and-create%E2%80%94problems/mon-04072014-728pm). 8 Apr. 2014.

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Another Quote For The Week

One more QFTW to ponder as the work week kicks off:

I think the American people should know that the members of Congress are underpaid. I understand that it’s widely felt that they underperform, but the fact is that this is the board of directors for the largest economic entity in the world.

-U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA 8th District), in an interview last Thursday with CQ Roll Call

Members of Congress make $174,000 a year and have their travel and work-related expenses covered by American taxpayers.

Gallup reported back on March 10 that only 15 percent of Americans approve of the overall job Congress is doing.

Perhaps other elected representatives to Congress who think along the same lines as the departing Moran should make way for aspiring civil servants willing to make sacrifices when it comes to salary and terms served. After all, from what I understand, I don’t think it was the intention of the Founding Fathers for citizens to make a career out of serving in the national legislature- which is exactly what a number of these politicians are doing.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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