Chicago Democrats

U.S. Senator Michelle Obama (D-IL)?

“SUPER WIN FOR CHICAGO AND AMERICA!”

-Comment on website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 tonight regarding speculation surrounding a U.S. Senate run by First Lady Michelle Obama

Could First Lady Michelle Obama be our next United States Senator here in Illinois?

I spotted the following on The Great Debate blog on Reuters.com earlier this evening. Keith Koffler wrote last night:

Speculation about a possible political future for Michelle Obama has naturally centered on the White House. But that’s the wrong place — at least for now.

Illinois has a Republican senator, Mark Kirk, and he is up for reelection in 2016. He’ll be formidable, particularly given his brave recovery from a stroke. But Illinois is a heavily Democratic state, and the race could be close.

No Illinois Democratic candidate would bring the star power and nationwide fundraising capacity that Obama would.

She has proven herself a superb speaker on behalf of her pet projects and is now a veteran campaigner for her husband. She’s also remained highly popular — even as the president’s ratings have plummeted.

She could represent the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a desperately needed — and winnable — seat. A December 2012 Public Policy Polling survey put her ahead of Kirk, 51 percent to 40 percent. Democratic leaders’ pressure on her to run might get intense…

Personally, I believe that if Mrs. Obama runs for Senator Kirk’s seat, she might just win it.

Nothing against Kirk. But Koffler isn’t kidding when says the “Land of Lincoln” is a heavily Democratic state. A super-majority in both the Illinois House and Senate attests to that. And there’s always “The Machine,” which is still in good working order in Chicago.

That’s not the say the city or state is, though.

I previously thought the Obamas would bid farewell to the “Windy City” after POTUS leaves the Oval Office. But if Michelle decides a Senate seat is something she wants, then it could be several more years still…

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

Source:

Koffler, Keith. “Is Michelle running for the Senate?” The Great Debate. 4 Jun. 2014. (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/06/05/is-michelle-running-for-the-senate/). 5 Jun. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Government, Political Parties 2 Comments

Chicago’s Monthly Phone Tax To Rise 56 Percent?

New and higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

That’s what Chicagoans should expect going forward considering the city’s fiscal health and who’s running the show.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday: Chicago wants to raise the monthly fee tacked on to hardline telephone and cell phone bills by 56 percent — to $3.90…

(Editor’s note: “After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday…” Beautifully worded; bold added for emphasis.)

Spielman continued:

Instead of simply asking the General Assembly to renew a $2.50-a-month surcharge due to expire July 1, cash-strapped Chicago is seizing the opportunity to get more money — by asking state lawmakers to raise the cap to “the highest monthly wireline surcharge imposed by any county or municipality” in Illinois.

The highest monthly telephone tax around the state is the $3.90 imposed in Putnam County. Under the bill Emanuel is hoping to push through in the waning days of the Legislature’s spring session, Chicago would be empowered to match that $3.90 — and go higher if any other city or town goes first.

The new and higher tax would apply to both cell phone bills and wireline phones, according to a summary sheet of the legislation distributed by City Hall. The bill would also empower the city raise the fee imposed on prepaid cell phones from the current “seven percent of the transaction amount” to nine percent…

According to Spielman, a 56 percent increase in the monthly phone tax would generate an additional $50.4 million for the City’s coffers.

John Byrne, Monique Garcia, and Ray Long added on the Chicago Tribune website Thursday:

Emanuel’s late push for a measure that would allow the City Council to raise 911 fees by as much as $1.40, which could bring the monthly charge on landline and cell phone bills to $3.90 a month, cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the increase was needed because the current $2.50 fee isn’t raising enough money to pay for operating the city’s emergency response center, forcing the Emanuel administration to dip into other pots of money to keep it running. How much more the fee hike would bring in depends on whether aldermen vote to increase the fee and to what level.

The city collected about $90 million last year through the current $2.50-per-month phone fee, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. This year’s budget for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications is $123 million. Quinn did not directly answer whether the mayor wants to raise the 911 fee to an amount that will bring in more revenue than the city needs to cover the OEMC budget or how the city would use any extra revenue

Let’s see. Assuming the City of Chicago collects the same amount ($90 million) as last year from their monthly phone tax, adding the projected $50.4 million from a 56 percent hike totals just over $140 million. That’s enough to pay for OEMC operations plus tax- although something tells me that’s probably not where all the money would be steered to.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel seeks 56 percent hike in telephone tax.” Chicago Sun-Times. 29 May 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/emanuel-seeks-56-percent-hike-telephone-tax/thu-05292014-434pm). 30 May 2014.

Byrne, John, Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Emanuel makes late push to raise 911 fees paid by those own landlines, cell phones.” Chicago Tribune. 29 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-emanuel-makes-late-push-to-raise-911-fees-paid-by-those-own-landlines-cell-phones-20140529,0,6958184.story). 30 May 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Gangs Completely Out Of Control?

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel today decried the weekend violence that left at least nine people dead and at least 36 wounded in Chicago, calling for adults around the city to instill the right values in their children and to stand up for the safety of their neighborhoods…”

-Chicago Tribune website, April 21, 2014

This past weekend, I read some interesting takes on the Chicago-area violence from individuals much closer to it than most. Billy Briggs of the The Daily Telegraph (UK) wrote Saturday:

It’s an opinion I hear later from another gangbanger with the Black P Stones. The Stones are one of the Latin Kings’ rivals and have about 30,000 members.

In the suburb of Maywood on the city’s west side, I interviewed an ex-con called Anthony, better known on the streets by his nickname, Chopper, an allusion to his role in cutting illegal drugs before distribution…

He says Chicago’s latest problems are a result of gang discipline breaking down and the rise of a new generation of gangbangers who are completely out of control.

All the structure in the gangs is gone, so there is no leadership. There is so much shooting going on, nobody knows where to turn. It ain’t the older guys, it’s the young guys, as young as 13. It wasn’t like that in the 80s or 90s. This is new. Some of these guys just shoot for fun.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This perceived lack of structure and leadership was also highlighted in a different Chicago gang piece that appeared on The Guardian (UK) website this weekend. John Swaine discussed the recent shooting death of area rapper Mario Hess aka “Blood Money” and “Big Glo,” and reported Saturday:

In the 1990s, the aggressive jailing of gang leaders left behind a more fractured setup that is even more difficult to control.

“Back then, two of the heads could stand up and say ‘OK: enough, we gonna have a peace treaty,’” said Renaldo Hess, 43, who managed Blood Money before his murder last week.

“Now, it’s much more chaotic.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Chicago news crew catches shooting on tape”
YouTube Video

So the jailing of gang leaders created an environment today in the Chicago-area gangs where structure and discipline is severely lacking. Toss in some feral urban youth into the mix- and the rampant gang-related violence that’s constantly in the local news these days makes a lot more sense.

Kind of messed up we have to hear that from individuals on/around the inside and from overseas publications.

Whereas here in the Chicago area, all we ever get from the politicians, their disciples, and their presstitutes is that a lot of the violence comes from not enough gun “control.”

Yet, I’d be surprised to find out if even one FOID card holder was involved in any of that carnage over the past weekend.

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

Sources:

Briggs, Billy. “Armed and ready in Murder City, USA.” The Daily Telegraph. 19 Apr. 2014. (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11240669). 20 Apr. 2014.

Swaine, John. “Chicago gang shootings go on as Mayor Emanuel boasts crime at ‘record low’” The Guardian. 19 Apr. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/19/chicago-deadly-shooting-guns-rahm-emanuel-2014). 21 Apr. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Wakes To Proposed Property Tax Hike On April Fool’s Day

Many Chicagoans probably wish what’s being widely-reported in the local news this morning about a proposed property tax hike is just a silly April Fool’s joke.

It’s not.

Fran Spielman wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

Chicago property owners will face $250 million in property tax increases over five years while city employees make increased pension contributions that will cost them at least $300 more a year, under landmark reforms unveiled Monday…

The new revenue the mayor had promised only after pension reform will come in the form of $50 million property tax increases for five straight years, beginning next year and continuing through 2019.

Top mayoral aides estimate that would cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 with an annual property tax bill of $4,000 roughly $58 more or $290 over the five-year period. That’s on top of expected increases for the Chicago Board of Education and Chicago Park District…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A couple of thoughts here:

First off, is anyone really surprised this is happening?

Regular readers of this blog shouldn’t be.

Higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

I’ve been squawking this for quite some time now.


“Black Dynamite- Who saw that coming?”
YouTube Video

Second, a $250,000 home? When discussing a Chicago Board of Education property tax hike last August, I blogged:

$230,000? You’d be hard-pressed to find a home for that little money in my former stomping grounds on the Northwest Side.

The same holds true for a $250,000 one (especially if it’s a property big enough for a family and doesn’t require a ton of work).

Which means many of my old neighbors will be coughing up significantly more than just $58 annually/$290 over five years as a result of this proposed hike.

And they already pay a big chunk of change to the City’s coffers.

Third, Spielman added last night:

The bottom line, according to Emanuel, is a plan that spreads the burden between employees, retirees and homeowners without raising property taxes so high that it triggers a mass exodus to the suburbs…

“Mass” being the key word here, because an exodus has already started. Former Chicago residents who have awakened to the “writing on the wall” are moving to the suburbs (yours truly included), leaving Cook County, and departing the state.

The push to make “temporary” personal and corporate income tax hikes permanent and the pursuit of class warfare in the form of a proposed millionaire tax hike by the ruling political party in the city, county, and state certainly don’t help the situation either.

Fourth, I can’t stand when tax hikes are proposed despite the lack of significant belt-tightening. Think the City of Chicago is as lean-and-mean as it possibly can be with its operations and set-up?

As long as 50 aldermanic wards exist, I’d argue no.

Fifth, as it stands right now, 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. Hal Dardick an Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

But the proposal the mayor and his top aides outlined late Monday would not address huge pension shortfalls for Chicago police, firefighters and teachers. Nor would it deal with the city’s most immediate, pressing financial problem: a state requirement to pay a whopping $600 million more toward police and fire pensions next year, a provision that could lead to a combination of tax increases, service cuts and borrowing

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You read right. Possibly more “tax increases, service cuts and borrowing” coming down the line shortly for Chicago residents.

Stay tuned…

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Pension deal pinches city workers and taxpayers.” Chicago Sun-Times. 31 Mar. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/exclusive-pension-deal-pinches-city-workers-and-taxpayers/mon-03312014-821pm). 1 Apr. 2014.

Dardick, Hal and Ruthhart, Bill. “Emanuel’s pension fix: Shrink benefits, raise taxes.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-rahm-emanuel-pension-property-tax-increase-met–20140401,0,1662095,full.story). 1 Apr. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Statewide Gun Registration, Ammo ‘Control’ Bill Introduced In Illinois

The following Illinois gun/ammo “control” legislation made headlines in February, but it’s making the rounds again this week (probably due to its outrageousness?). From a press release on the website of Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago):

CHICAGO, IL – State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced a bill requiring the registration of firearms in the State of Illinois.

“We’ve dealt for too long with gun violence in our neighborhoods, most often perpetrated by individuals who acquired the firearm through illicit means,” Cassidy said. “Registration is a common sense policy that ties the weapon to its buyer, preventing the types of straw purchasing that put guns into criminals hands. According to a University of Chicago Crime Lab Report, 45% of firearms used in crimes in our state were purchased legally in Illinois and then illegally transferred. Registration creates a safeguard against these transfers and significantly hinders the ability for criminals to acquire firearms.”

HB 4715, the Firearms Registration Act, would require registration of firearms upon purchase, and for firearms owned at the time of passage. The registration process would include a background check, and transfer to an individual without complying with registration would be a Class 2 felony…

Not only is Illinois House Bill 4715 calling for a gun registry, but also ammunition “control” as well. From the bill’s status page on the Illinois General Assembly website:

Creates the Firearms Registration Act. Provides that every person in the State must register each firearm he or she owns or possesses in accordance with the Act. Provides that a person shall not purchase or possess ammunition within this State without having first obtained a registration certificate identifying a firearm that is suitable for use with that ammunition, or a receipt demonstrating that the person has applied to register a suitable firearm under the Act and that the application is pending

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Since February 5, the bill has been with the House Rules Committee.

My guess is that it will emerge shortly after the next high-profile mass shooting.

You can view the current status of Illinois HB 4715 on the Illinois General Assembly here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Republican Candidates For Illinois Governor Split On ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban?

This November, an election will be held for Governor of Illinois. The four Republican candidates for the office- State Senators Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner- were recently given campaign questionnaires by the Associated Press, in which gun rights was one of the topics.

According to the AP, two of the four candidates may support a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

From last Tuesday:

In a campaign questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four candidates — state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner — all said gun rights need to be protected but that some public safeguards should exist.

The four differed over assault-style guns — high-capacity weapons that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings. They currently aren’t illegal statewide, and a proposed statewide ban backed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was pulled from consideration last year in Springfield…

Dillard, of Hinsdale, and Rauner, of Winnetka, both left open the possibility they would support a ban. Rutherford, of Chenoa, and Brady, of Bloomington, oppose such a ban

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

However, the Chicago Sun-Times website is reporting that only one of the four candidates may be open to an “assault weapons” ban. Natasha Korecki wrote last Thursday:

Three of the four Republicans competing in the gubernatorial primary say they believe all Illinois residents have the right to own assault weapons.

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka said Thursday night that they believe it’s a right…

Only Dillard sidestepped the question — saying he believed it was better left up to the federal government to decide…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So what about Rauner? The Associated Press did think his questionnaire answer was “more vague” than Dillard’s. Turning back to their piece:

Rauner gave a more vague answer, saying he supports background checks that keep guns away from criminals and people with mental illness.

“Going beyond that requires a very careful balance between promoting public safety and protecting constitutional rights,” Rauner wrote…

Unless Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner actually come out and say they are against a state AWB, I would chalk them up as possibly being in support of an “assault weapons” ban if the political winds were blowing in that direction.

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

Sources:

“Governor candidates split on gun control measures.” Associated Press. 25 Feb. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140225/News/140229532). 1 Mar. 2014.

Korecki, Natasha. “Owning assault weapons a right, three GOP candidates say.” Chicago Sun-Times. 27 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/25882530-505/owning-assault-weapons-a-right-three-gop-candidates-say.html). 1 Mar. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago, The Writing Is On The Wall

The city of Chicago is in for some tough times down the road.

“The Machine” keeps putting a positive spin on the city’s deteriorating financial condition, but the numbers don’t lie. I’ve rattled them off time and time again, the most recent being Tuesday. The Chicago press (sans Fran Spielman over at the Chicago Sun-Times and a few others) has even caught on, publishing articles with more frequency these days that reveal just how ugly the city’s finances truly are. Case in point, a Chicago Tribune editorial entitled “Chicago is on the road to Detroit” that appeared on their website yesterday. From the piece:

By the most recent numbers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s government owes $13.9 billion in general obligation bond debt, plus $19.5 billion in unfunded pension obligations. Add in Chicago Public Schools and City Hall’s other “sister agencies” and you’re talking billions more in debts that Chicago taxpayers owe. Yet here we are on a Wednesday when the mayor probably will get approval from a derelict City Council to issue another up-to-$900 million in bonds backed by property taxes — and to double, to $1 billion, the amount of short-term bank money his administration can borrow to raise cash…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

By the way, Mayor Emanuel got that approval. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website Wednesday morning:

Without a word of debate, the City Council on Wednesday blindly added $1.9 billion to Chicago’s mountain of debt even though aldermen have no idea how the money will be spent.

The vote was 43-to-4. “No” votes were cast by Aldermen Bob Fioretti (2nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Brendan Reilly (42nd) and John Arena (45th)…

Now, I’ve heard/read some Chicagoans say something along the lines of don’t worry about the city’s finances, Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois or President Barack Obama and the federal government will ride to the rescue of their fellow Democrats in control of the “Windy City.”

To which I say, I’m not so sure. Is there anyone in America who doesn’t know how much of an economic basket case the “Land of Lincoln” is? A $100.5 billion public pension debt and the worst credit rating of all 50 U.S. states routinely make headlines across the country. As for the federal government, I keep encountering the words “insolvent” and “bankrupt” more and more these days to describe the nation’s finances. And don’t think for a second other economically-challenged cities across the country won’t cry foul to the Oval Office and their elected representatives if Chicago is bailed out. I find it hard to believe the State of Illinois or the Feds could come to Chicago’s rescue without there being serious financial and political repercussions.

Chicago, the writing is on the wall. By the looks of things, that great city where I was born and from which I recently just left is now past the proverbial point of no return, no longer looking capable of effectively navigating the growing financial crisis.

While I don’t foresee the city’s death, I do envision a continuation of its already gradual decline until a point of fiscal implosion is reached. Will it be Detroit-esque in its bottoming out? I don’t know. But it sure as hell won’t be pretty.

Faced with such a scenario, will Chicagoans choose to stay and contend with the almost certain prospect of much higher taxes and fees in conjunction with curtailed city services (public safety comes to mind here), or will they depart the “Second City” like I did?

One might think the latter (going), but I’m sure there will be plenty of the former (staying).

In the interests of surviving and prospering, which is the better choice?

I don’t think the answer is as clear-cut as many readers might think. And it’s something I’ll be exploring and blogging about more in the coming days.

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

Sources:

“Chicago is on the road to Detroit.” Chicago Tribune. 5 Feb. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-chicago-debt-edit-0205-20140205,0,3757189.story). 6 Feb. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “City Council OKs going $1.9 billion deeper into debt.” Chicago Sun-Times. 5 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/25398572-761/city-council-oks-going-19-billion-deeper-into-debt.html). 6 Feb. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Borrows $1.9 Billion, Piling On More Debt ‘For The Children’

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2011 with $310 million in cash on hand, $167 million more than the year before, but added $465 million to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show…

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to just over $27 billion. That’s $10,000 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.7 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338-per-resident.”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, July 22, 2012

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show…

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents.”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, July 26, 2013

Chicago keeps piling on massive amounts of debt. From Fran Spielman yesterday on the Chicago Sun-Times website:

Chicago will test the bond market for the first time since its bond rating dropped three notches, thanks to $1.9 billion in borrowings added Monday to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers.

The City Council’s Finance Committee authorized two massive borrowings: a $900 million general obligation bond issue to refinance old debt, pay for equipment and capital projects and bankroll $100 million for legal settlements incurred last year and a $1 billion borrowing for Midway Airport.

The Finance Committee also agreed to double — from $500 million to $1 billion — a so-called “commercial paper” program used to cover short-term borrowing between bond deals.

The general obligation bond issue includes $200 million in debt refinancing and $130 million in debt restructuring to “better align revenues with our obligations,” as [Chief Financial Officer Lois] Scott put it.

The so-called “scoop-and-toss” technique will stave off even higher taxes and fees, but it will saddle Chicagoans with another decade of debt that should be paid off today

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s worn-out line “it’s for the children” comes to mind here.

As well as that saying “you can pay now or pay later.”

Which is what Chicagoans will eventually be forced to do when the city’s “financial reckoning day” arrives.

The Chicago Tribune did a pretty good job illustrating just how serious the city’s debt crisis is becoming. Hal Dardick, Heather Gillers, and Jason Grotto reported on the Tribune website yesterday:

In a move that will add to the city’s mountain of debt, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won support Monday from the City Council’s Finance Committee to issue up to $900 million in bonds backed by property taxes.

It’s the largest request put forth during Emanuel’s tenure and comes at a time when Chicago already has about $7 billion in outstanding general obligation debt, more per capita than bankrupt Detroit or any of the 10 biggest U.S. cities except New York

Monday, aldermen asked few questions about the borrowing as the ordinance authorizing the debt sailed through the committee with virtually no debate.

“It raises questions of how much City Council members understand the financial condition of the city and what the plan going forward will be to meet the debt,” said Laurence Msall, president of the nonpartisan Civic Federation budget watchdog group…

The amount of borrowing sought by Emanuel suggests his administration continues to need huge loans to run the city

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I can’t begin to tell you how depressing it is watching “The Machine” steadily bring the “City of Broad Shoulders” down to its knees. But what does City Hall care? More than likely they’ll have moved on to comfortable retirements or “bigger and better things” by the time the city implodes as a result of “scooping and tossing.”

Ubi Est Mea? (Pulitzer prize-winning newspaper columnist Mike Royko’s suggested Chicago city motto of “Where’s Mine?”)

How about “Not On My Watch,” all things considered?

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “City to borrow $1.9 billion in first test since rating downgrade.” Chicago Sun-Times. 3 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/25360629-418/city-to-borrow-19-billion-in-first-test-since-rating-downgrade.html). 4 Feb. 2014.

Dardick, Hal, Gillers, Heather, and Grotto, Jason. “Mayor seeks to borrow up to $900 million more.” Chicago Tribune. 3 Feb. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-03/news/ct-met-bonds-new-chicago-borrowing-20140204_1_tax-increases-city-leaders-finance-committee). 4 Feb. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Mancow’ Moves Family Out Of ‘Unlivable’ Chicago

In the late 90s-early 2000s, I used to drive 30 miles each way to and from work during the business week (thankfully, gas was relatively cheap at that time). Therefore, I had plenty of time to kill during the commute. Back then, I used to tune into Mancow’s Morning Madhouse, a radio show hosted by Chicago-based “shock jock” Erich “Mancow” Muller once in a while. Mancow is going strong in 2013 with a presence on both the radio and television, and still manages to make headlines. Bob Goldsborough reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Calling his decision to leave the city “heartbreaking,” radio host and reality TV star Erich “Mancow” Muller has sold his Lincoln Park condominium and decamped to a house in Wilmette.

Muller, who is a married father of twin school-aged daughters, told Elite Street he’d had enough with city living.

“The schools are awful. I guess I could have had (my daughters) go to public schools, but I don’t want them to be stupid. I drove past Lincoln Park High School every day, and the kids are cursing and yelling and have their hands down each other’s pants,” he said. “And then, I was spending $45,000 a year for the (private) British School of Chicago. It was killing me.”

Mancow also said there were always homeless people outside his door and street parking he often used was raised from a quarter an hour to $13 an hour.

“I think they’ve done a good job of making the city unlivable for families. I’m so sick of feeding the broken government in Chicago,” he said.

“The schools are awful.” “I’m so sick of feeding the broken government in Chicago.”

Leave it to a shock jock to “candy-coat” his displeasure with the Chicago Public Schools and the Democratically-controlled City of Chicago.

Maybe I should start listening to Mancow on the radio again?

In all seriousness, it sucks that the Muller family feels things have gotten to the point in Chicago where they need to leave.

I wonder how many other Chicagoans feel the same way?

While some may think Mancow’s gripes are just “signs of the time” or consequences of “city living,” regular readers know my girlfriend and I just split Chicago recently after concluding we weren’t comfortable either with the direction the Midwest metropolis seems to be heading. Our “beef” has more to do with financial mismanagement and public safety- or lack thereof- however.

Unfortunately, barring a major financial crisis, “The Machine” and “business as usual” looks to be firmly established in Chicago for now.

From where I stand, however, it certainly looks like storms clouds are gathering on the horizon.

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

Source:

Goldsborough, Bob. “Calling city ‘unlivable,’ Mancow sells Lincoln Park condo.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Nov. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-mancow-leaves-city-elite-street,0,3188814.story). 18 Nov. 2013.g/chi-mancow-leaves-city-elite-street,0,3188814.story). 18 Nov. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Alderman’s Office Has Snarky Response For Resident

I don’t get back to my old neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side too much these days. But I do check in with one of the area blogs from time-to-time to see what’s going on. Last night, I was reading the 41st Ward Citizen’s Blog when I came across a post that was published earlier in the day regarding a resident in the ward who was unhappy with the recent rise in noise related to O’Hare International Airport and crumbling infrastructure, and subsequently let his alderman- Mary O’Connor of the 41st Ward- know about it in a letter. This resident went so far as to write:

As I expect nothing to be done about the airplane noise, streets, and dilapidated look of our light posts and hydrants, it will be my pleasure to quickly vacate the city and start a new life in the suburbs where the tax dollars work for the community.

Her office’s alleged response?

I’m sorry you feel that way. Best of luck in the suburbs.

Wow. I used to communicate daily with a high volume of Illinois residents in a former job as a U.S. Senator’s aide. If I had ever pulled a stunt like that- my boss would have made sure my beloved 38th floor office overlooking downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan was emptied of my belongings that very same day.

Now, I’m certainly not calling for anyone to be fired here (I’d be a liar if I said I never felt like telling “difficult” constituents off- especially the ones who threatened my life or the Senator’s). However, it sounds like some additional training is needed when it comes to staff interaction with constituents.

Just because you’re part of “The Machine,” doesn’t mean you have to act like one.

To be fair, Alderman O’Connor’s staff has been helpful enough in my limited dealings with them. Here’s hoping they can bounce back from this and recognize that communicating with constituents- in a professional manner- is an essential part of good government. By doing this can they stay informed of pressing issues and problems related to local government that residents have, and work to get them resolved.

It never ceases to amaze me that more politicians don’t realize effective constituent service can go a long way in winning re-election. My boss knew this only all too well. Good news for Illinois residents always came from him. Bad news, from yours truly.

Although, somewhere in this cluttered office there’s a box with hundreds of “thank you” letters I received from constituents for hard work done on their behalf.

Damn did those make me proud to be a civil servant all those years ago.

Regular readers of this blog know I left Chicago and the 41st Ward earlier this year. Still, I wish only the best for my old neighbors and their elected government representatives and staffs.

Even if I don’t agree with their politics and where I think it’s taking that marvelous “City By The Lake.”

You can read that entire post on the 41st Ward Citizen’s Blog here.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 Government, Infrastructure, Political Parties No Comments

Democratic Congressmen Push For 20 Percent Federal Excise Tax On Firearms, 50 Percent Tax On Ammo

Back when Danny Davis (D-IL) was my congressman, I don’t recall hearing too much from him- unless he was coming up for re-election.

Well, November 4, 2014, is fast-approaching, and he and another Democratic congressman- William Pascrell (D-NJ)- whose seat is up for election have both decided to take it upon themselves to remind Americans that Democrats stand for gun “control.”

You see, Representatives Davis and Pascrell introduced HR 3018- the “Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act”- last week, which would hike federal excise taxes on firearms from 10-11 percent up to 20 percent, and hike taxes on ammunition from 11 percent to 50 percent.

I’m guessing a number of pro-gun Democrats, especially those holding office whose seats are also up for election in 2014, are livid right now.

From GovTrack.us this evening:

A BILL

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the excise tax and special occupational tax in respect of firearms and to increase the transfer tax on any other weapon, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2013’.

SEC. 2. INCREASE IN EXCISE TAXES RELATING TO FIREARMS.

(a) In General- Section 4181 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended to read as follows:

‘SEC. 4181. IMPOSITION OF TAX.

‘There is hereby imposed upon the sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of the following articles a tax equivalent to the specified percent of the price for which so sold:

‘(1) Articles taxable at 20 percent:

‘(A) Pistols.

‘(B) Revolvers.

‘(C) Firearms (other than pistols and revolvers).

‘(D) Any lower frame or receiver for a firearm, whether for a semiautomatic pistol, rifle, or shotgun that is designed to accommodate interchangeable upper receivers.

‘(2) Articles taxable at 50 percent: Shells and cartridges.’.

HR 3018 would also increase the transfer tax on firearms covered under the National Firearms Act (“machine guns,” for example) from $200 to $500 and the transfer tax on all other guns from $5 to $100.

Other blogs/websites are reporting that besides ammo, this legislation hikes just handgun- not long gun- taxes, but based on the following- “Firearms (other than pistols and revolvers)”- I take this to mean rifles and shotguns as well.

Consider the following analysis of the gun “control” legislation by Michael Cohn over at AccountingToday.com:

The bill, known as the Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act, is co-sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J., and Danny Davis, D-Ill. It would increase the excise taxes on firearms from the current range of 10 percent to 11 percent and raise it to 20 percent. The bill would also increase the excise tax on ammunition from 11 percent to 50 percent. It would also increase the Special Occupational Tax on firearm importers, manufacturers and dealers; include assault pistols in the definition of firearms covered under the National Firearms Act; increase the transfer tax on all weapons (except antique guns) covered under the National Firearms Act (excludes most common guns) from $200 to $500 and index to inflation; and increase the transfer tax for any other weapon from $5 to $100 and index to inflation.

All government agencies would be exempted from the tax, including federal, state and local agencies, such as police departments.

Here’s my analysis. The legislation won’t become law. And I think Congressmen Davis and Pascrell know that.

But it did get them some valuable face time for next year’s election.

You can read the entire text of HR 3018 on GovTrack.us here.

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

Source:

Cohn, Michael. “Congressmen Introduce Bill to Increase Taxes on Guns and Ammunition.” AccountingToday.com. 27 Aug. 2013. (http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/Congressmen-Introduce-Bill-Increase-Taxes-Guns-Ammunition-67848-1.html). 27 Aug. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Illinois House Panel Approves Concealed-Carry Bill

Illinois state legislators are still scrambling to enact a concealed-carry law after a federal appeals court required one to be in place by June 9- only 17 days from now.

And earlier today, right to carry legislation moved out of an Illinois House panel, with a vote by the full chamber expected as early as tomorrow.

Rafael Guerrero and Ray Long reported on the Chicago Tribune website today:

An Illinois House panel today approved a concealed weapons bill that supporters say attempts to walk the fine line between gun rights advocates and gun control supporters, but some Chicago-area lawmakers want a more restrictive bill.

The measure, supported by Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago and Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Downstater who is the leading pro-gun voice in the Capitol, won approval in the Judiciary Committee 13-3. The bill now goes to the House for an expected vote as early as Friday.

The Associated Press is reporting that the legislation in question is Illinois Senate Bill 2193, particularly House Committee Amendment No. 1. The AP also noted this morning:

The legislation would require the Illinois State Police to issue concealed carry permits to qualified gun owners. It’s patterned on a bill introduced by gun-rights advocate Rep. Brandon Phelps, a southern Illinois Democrat.

But Madigan’s version significantly adds places that would be off limits to guns. Those include mass transit – a must for violence-weary Chicago Democrats.

If legal concealed-carry legislation isn’t enacted by that June deadline, Illinois could become a “Constitutional carry” state. I blogged back on April 19:

Enter Constitutional carry, also known as “permitless carry” and “Vermont carry.” By definition, it means carrying a concealed handgun without a concealed-carry permit.

And it’s something that could happen by default in the “Land of Lincoln” on June 10 if state legislators don’t enact a concealed-carry law after a federal appeals court required Illinois to put one in place by June 9.

You can find out more about Illinois Senate Bill 2193 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

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

Sources:

Guerrero, Rafael and Long, Ray. “Illinois concealed carry bill heads to House floor.” Chicago Tribune. 23 May 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-illinois-concealed-carry-bill-heads-to-house-floor-20130523,0,39264.story). 23 May 2013.

“House concealed carry bill passes committee.” Associated Press. 23 May 2013. (http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x1039446774/House-concealed-carry-bill-would-overrule-local-gun-laws). 23 May 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Standard-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Passes Out Of Illinois Senate Executive Committee

Gun “control” is on the move again in Illinois as legislation banning standard-capacity ammunition magazines has passed out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee, setting up Senate Bill 1002 to be voted upon by the full chamber. Lauren Leone-Cross reported on Springfield’s The State Journal-Register website late yesterday:

The Democrat-controlled Senate Executive Committee passed the measure 12-3, with two Republicans, Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont and Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine, voting “yes.”

“I think this is a chance that this bill could save lives, and I think it’s worth taking that chance,” Murphy said.

Leone-Cross added later in the article:

Sponsoring Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, said that while he doesn’t know when he’ll call SB 1002 for a vote in the full Senate or whether he has the votes, it “looks promising.”

Illinois residents who think their Republican state senator will oppose this legislation might be in for a rude shock, seeing that Senators Radogno- the Minority Leader no less- and Murphy have now aligned themselves with the gun “control” camp on this bill.

In the meantime, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action has sent out the following:

Illinois: Anti Self-Defense Amendment to be Considered in Senate as Early as Tomorrow

Contact your state Senator IMMEDIATELY and urge him or her to oppose Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 1002!

Today, in another attempt to further disarm the law-abiding residents in Illinois, an amendment offered by state Senator Dan Kotowski (D-28) to Senate Bill 1002, was heard by the Senate Executive Committee. Amendment 2 to SB1002 would limit the sale and transfer of all standard capacity magazines. Rather than addressing criminals engaging in gang violence, Chicago politicians want to limit the ability of law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves against those criminals.

In a state that is under court order to enact concealed carry reform laws for the self-defense of its residents, this restriction on standard capacity magazines is a step in the wrong direction. This legislation will only remove the ability of responsible gun owners to defend themselves and their loved ones.

It is critical that you contact your state Senator and urge him or her to resist this legislative attempt to disarm and punish law-abiding citizens. Contact your state Senator TODAY and respectfully urge him or her to uphold Illinoisans’ right to self-defense by opposing Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 1002.

Contact information for your state Senator can be found here.

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

Source:

Leone-Cross, Lauren. “Illinois Senate panel endorses ammunition limit.” The State Journal-Register. 20 May 2013. (http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x776192437/Senate-committee-to-vote-on-proposed-high-capacity-magazine-ban?zc_p=0). 21 May 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Christopher E. Hill, Editor
12,096 Visits in July
466,424 Visits from
11/22/10-7/31/14
Please Rate this Blog HERE

Translate (Allow 1 Minute Per Page To Complete)


by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
NEW! Advertising Disclosure HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
New Affiliate Partner! BulletSafe
ANY CHARACTER HERE
New Affiliate Partner! BUDK
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Free 5.11 Tactical hat, T-Shirt or Gym bag w/ purchase New Affiliate Partner! CHIEF Supply
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Buy Gold and Silver JM Bullion Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
MyPatriotSupply.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Nitro-Pak--The Emergency Preparedness Leader Nitro-Pak Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Save 7.5% today! Click the banner to learn how.Brownells Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BullionVault BullionVault.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Pyramyd Air is your one-stop shop for everything airgun related.PyramidAir.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Buying Gold GoldMoney Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Airsoft Megastore Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
RealtyTrac RealtyTrac Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
 

Categories

Archives