Cook County

Crain’s Chicago Business: Pension Reform Ruling Could Cost Taxpayers Extra $200 Million A Year Through End Of Decade

In my Sunday post about Chicago’s pension reform legislation being ruled unconstitutional, I blogged:

Chicagoans- let that last line from Dardick and Pearson sink in real good:

“Taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation…”

How many hundreds of millions are we talking about here?

Greg Hinz wrote in his blog on the Crain’s Chicago Business website Monday:

The court decision throwing out a deal to refinance two Chicago pension funds appears to be among the most costly in the city’s history, in some ways ranking right up there with the Great Chicago Fire.

Exact figures are not available and vary some depending on who’s doing the estimating. But based on statements by city officials and documents filed by the pension funds themselves, it’s likely that the decision by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak will cost city taxpayers around $200 million a year through the end of the decade—and will keep rising for decades thereafter.

“You’d have to go back to either the Depression or the Great Fire to find a comparable situation in which the city faced either greater challenges or more painful decisions,” Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said. “It’s clearly going to result in increased taxes and reduced services.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember, that additional $200 million hit to Chicago taxpayers would come on top of addressing fire and police pensions. And bailing out the Chicago Public Schools, which had its credit rating reduced to junk status today by Fitch Ratings. In May, I noted Moody’s downgraded the Chicago Board of Education (the primary debt issuers of CPS) three notches to junk.

You can read Hinz’s entire blog post on the Crain’s Chicago Business website here. If I were still a Chicago resident, I’d probably find it disturbing. But at least I’d be clued in as to what could be coming down the line.

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

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Cook County Gun Violence ‘Czar,’ Task Force Proposed

Why do I have the suspicion the following will result in yet another push for more gun “control” in Cook County? Michael Romain reported on the Austin Weekly News (Chicago) website last Thursday:

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st) has proposed an ordinance establishing the appointment of a Cook County gun violence czar and the establishment of a Cook County Gun Violence Task Force…

According to the proposed ordinance, the gun violence czar and task force “will serve as an investigative and fact-finding body with the objective of recommending a set of policies to the president and County Board designed to reduce gun violence in Cook County over a period of six months.”

The nine-member task force — which the ordinance notes will comprise members appointed by the Cook County board president, the Cook County state’s attorney, the Cook County sheriff and the chief judge of the county’s circuit court — will hold public hearings chaired by the gun violence czar.

The hearings — which will take place “over a period of time not to exceed six months” — will gather testimony and data from a variety of professionals about the “economic, social and cultural causes of gun violence” in the county and will “culminate in a written set of policy recommendations […] designed to reduce gun violence in Cook County effective January 1, 2016.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Czar” or “tsar.” Russian take on the Latin “caesar.”

Yeah, nothing suspicious about something so authoritarian sounding, right?

Still, I hope I’m wrong here, and that any resulting policy recommendations aren’t merely additional gun “control” measures.

Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

You can read the full article on the Austin Weekly News website here.

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

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Judge Rules Chicago’s Pension Reform Legislation Unconstitutional

Here’s the latest on Chicago’s public pension crisis. Hal Dardick and Rick Pearson reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration said it will appeal a Cook County judge’s decision Friday that ruled unconstitutional a state law reducing municipal worker pension benefits in exchange for a city guarantee to fix their underfunded retirement systems.

The 35-page ruling by Judge Rita Novak, slapping down the city’s arguments point by point, could have wide-ranging effects if upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court. Her decision appeared to also discredit efforts at the state and Cook County levels to try to curb pension benefits to rein in growing costs that threaten funding for government services.

The issue of underfunded pensions, and how to restore their financial health, is crucial for the city and its taxpayers. The city workers and laborers funds at issue in Friday’s ruling are more than $8 billion short of what’s needed to meet obligations — and are at risk of going broke within 13 years — after many years of low investment returns fueled by recession and inadequate funding.

Without reducing benefits paid to retired workers, or requiring current workers to pay more, taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Chicagoans- let that last line from Dardick and Pearson sink in real good:

“Taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation…”

And the City’s response to the ruling? Mayor Emanuel’s Press Office countered Friday:

Statement of City of Chicago Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton on SB1922

“While we are disappointed by the trial court’s ruling, we have always recognized that this matter will ultimately be resolved by the Illinois Supreme Court. We now look forward to having our arguments heard there. We continue to strongly believe that the City’s pension reform legislation, unlike the State legislation held unconstitutional this past spring, does not diminish or impair pension benefits, but rather preserves and protects them. This law not only rescues the municipal and laborer pension funds from certain insolvency, but ensures that, over time, they will be fully funded and the 61,000 affected City workers and retirees will receive the pensions they were promised.”

As to the City of Chicago’s credit rating possibly getting whacked after the decision? Timothy W. Martin reported on The Wall Street Journal website Friday afternoon:

Moody’s said Friday’s ruling had no effect on Chicago’s bond grade. But rival Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which currently has an investment-grade rating for the city, said that “regardless of the ultimate outcome” of Mr. Emanuel’s pension law, it “will likely lower” its Chicago rating in the next six months, unless city leaders chart out a solution to address its pension problems.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like I’ve been saying for a couple years now, that proverbial brick wall keeps approaching for Chicago.

Since City Hall can’t get its affairs in order, Chicagoans might want to look at straightening out theirs if they intend to stick around for the long haul.

Sources:

Dardick, Hal and Pearson, Rick. “Judge finds city’s changes to pension funds unconstitutional.” Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-pension-ruling-met-20150724-story.html). 25 July 2015.

Martin, Timothy W. “Chicago’s Pension Overhaul Plan Tossed Out by Judge.” The Wall Street Journal. 24 July 2015. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-rules-2014-law-to-reduce-chicago-pension-shortfall-unconstitutional-1437754525). 25 July 2015.

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Downtown Chicago Diners Could See 11.25 Percent Sales Tax In 2016

Back on July 16, I noted the total sales tax rate in Chicago and the rest of Cook County looks to rise to 10.25 percent again in the coming year, making it one of the highest rates in the nation.

But diners of certain downtown Chicago eateries could be hit by an even higher sales tax rate. Pointing out an additional sales tax (“McPier tax”) downtown that tacks on an additional 1 percent to food/beverage bills, Lauren Choolijian reported on the WBEZ 91.5 website yesterday:

For restaurant patrons that dine south of Diversey Parkway, north of the Stevenson Expressway, east of Ashland Avenue and west of Lake Michigan, the Cook County proposal means an 11.25 percent sales tax will be added to their tab in 2016. The McPier tax affects all food and beverage purchases prepared for “immediate consumption,” and that includes soft drinks and alcoholic beverages…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Actual and proposed fee, fine, and tax increases are making the headlines quite often these days in the Chicago area. If my suspicions prove correct (these hikes are just the first of many due to steadily eroding financial conditions), Chicagoland residents, workers, and prospective visitors will increasingly seek alternatives (for example, dining out closer to home as it concerns the above), local government revenue collection will plummet, and public services will continue to be scaled back.

Anyway, check out Choolijian’s piece on the WBEZ site here for the full details of the 11.25 percent sales tax hit.

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

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes, Tourism No Comments

Interactive Map: Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses

The other day I came across an interesting feature on the Chicago Tribune website. On July 10, Tribune Graphics uploaded an interactive map of Illinois Concealed Carry License data. In addition to depicting “Active concealed carry licenses per 1,000 people,” when one clicks on a specific county, the following information is also displayed:

• Active concealed carry licenses
• Denied licenses
• Revoked licenses
• Suspended licenses
• Population
• Licenses per 1,000 people

For example, selecting Cook County shows:

• Active concealed carry licenses: 29,926
• Denied licenses: 566
• Revoked licenses: 80
• Suspended licenses: 32
• Population: 5,246,456
• Licenses per 1,000 people: 5.70

Not surprisingly, downstate counties have more active CCLs on a per capita basis.

Interesting stuff. Check out the map on the Tribune website here.

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

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Friday, July 17th, 2015 Firearms, Self-Defense No Comments

Size Of Cook County Sales Tax Hike Necessary?

No surprise here. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle persuaded just enough commissioners to approve a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase Wednesday — the culmination of a major political about-face, but a move she said was needed to bail out the county worker pension system.

Following weeks of one-on-one lobbying sessions by Preckwinkle, nine of the 17 commissioners voted to raise the county share of the sales tax to 1.75 percent. Add up the state, city and public transit portions, and the total sales tax rate in Chicago once again will hit 10.25 percent — one of the highest rates in the nation

Preckwinkle first rose to power in 2010 on a campaign pledge of repealing what remained of an identical sales tax increase under predecessor Todd Stroger…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Opponents of the sales tax hike claim the County didn’t perform enough belt-tightening before approving the measure. County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th District) penned on the Tribune website on July 1:

Don’t get me wrong, the county has a serious budget and pension cost gap, predicted to be $479 million. The proposed 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax would raise some $474 million annually.

But $130 million of the deficit goes away with pension reform. An additional $50 million in savings has already been identified by the budget staff. Yet another $50 million is in reach if we are finally willing to consolidate our redundant taxing bodies and duplicative services…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 5, 2013, I pointed out Illinois has the most units of local government of any state in the country at 6,963 local governments (U.S. Census Bureau).

It’s been reported Cook County is home to 1,300 of these taxing agencies alone.

The sales tax hike goes into effect starting January 1, 2016.

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

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “Cook County Board votes to raise sales tax.” Chicago Tribune. 15 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-sales-tax-increase-met-0716-20150715-story.html#page=1). 16 July 2015.

Gainer, Bridget. “Commentary: Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer: I won’t vote for a sales tax hike.” Chicago Tribune. 1 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-cook-county-tax-preckwinkle-gainer-perspec-0702-jm-20150701-story.html). 16 July 2015.

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Cook County Sales Tax Hike Coming?

Cook County, Illinois, could soon have one of the highest sales tax rates in the country (again). The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board wrote on the paper’s website this evening:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is weighing the idea of imposing a penny-on-the-dollar increase in the local sales tax to balance the county’s books…

Preckwinkle is lobbying Cook County Board members to raise the county’s portion of the sales tax by 1 percentage point, which would push Chicago’s tax rate to 10.25 percent, among the highest in the nation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This should come as no surprise to regular readers of Survival And Prosperity. I blogged back on April 10 of last year:

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)

According to the local press, it’s the sales tax hike Preckwinkle’s now pushing.

And considering Cook County’s fiscal challenges, it shouldn’t surprise blog readers to hear of hikes on “property… and other taxes” down the road.

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

Source:

Editorial Board. “Editorial: Watch out for the Toni Tax.” Chicago Tribune. 23 June 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-tonitax-0624-20150623-story.html). 23 June 2015.

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Property Tax Blues For Chicago, North Suburban Homeowners

While Chicagoland was preoccupied with the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup victory parade Thursday, the Cook County Clerk’s office released the following:

Cook County Clerk David Orr released the 2014 property tax rates for the county’s more than 1,400 taxing agencies on Thursday, the final step in the tax process before bills are mailed out. The average homeowner in the city of Chicago and the northern suburbs will see their tax bill increase slightly, while the average homeowner in the southern suburbs will see a slight reduction in their tax bill.

In the south suburbs residential tax bills will on average be 1.0 percent lower. In north suburbs there will be an average increase of 2.4 percent, and most Chicago homeowners can expect an increase in their bill of 2.8 percent.

For the average single family home, this will translate to a decrease of $51.33 for south suburban homeowners, an increase of $155.49 for north suburban homeowners, and a property tax bill that is $89.44 higher than last year’s for Chicago homeowners…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By the way, that $89 plus change property tax increase is based on an “average home with market value of $199,000″ in Chicago. Good luck finding a decent-sized family home that cheap in my old neighborhood on the northwest side of the city.

That being said, even a low three figure dollar increase in property taxes would likely be welcomed around my old stomping grounds compared to what could be coming down the line. John Byrne reported on the Chicago Tribune website this afternoon:

The threat of much steeper property tax hikes looms in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to find enough money to make police and fire pension payments set to balloon next year, and CPS faces a $1 billion budget hole driven by pension shortfalls of its own…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can read the entire press release on the Cook County Clerk’s website here.

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

Source:

Byrne, John. “Chicago property taxes to rise $90 on average.” Chicago Tribune. 18 June 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-property-tax-rates-met-0619-20150618-story.html). 18 June 2015.

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Thursday, June 18th, 2015 Education, Entitlements, Government, Housing, Taxes No Comments

Niles, Illinois, Gun Range Saga Not Over?

Speaking of Cook County, there’s good and (possibly) bad news regarding that proposed gun range/shop in northwest suburban Niles, Illinois. While a Circuit Court of Cook County judge just dismissed that well-publicized lawsuit from the gun “control” crowd, more legal action appears forthcoming. Lee V. Gaines reported on the Chicago Tribune website on June 11:

Skokie-based gun control advocacy group plans to file an amended lawsuit against the village of Niles and the owner of a gun shop and range in what has been a nearly year-long attempt to prevent the facility from being built within one mile of five schools.

Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama granted the village’s attorneys’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit at a hearing Thursday afternoon at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago.

But Valderrama dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning that the advocacy group, People for a Safer Society, has the opportunity to file an amended suit addressing several issues outlined in Valderrama’s written ruling, said the attorney for the group, Tony Hind…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know that I’ve been following status of the proposed Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy (gun shop and range) at 6143 Howard Street for some time now. Here’s hoping for a favorable outcome on behalf of the Village of Niles and 6143 Howard Partners Inc.

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

Source:

Gaines, Lee V. “Lawsuit over proposed gun range in Niles dismissed.” Chicago Tribune. 11 June 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/niles/news/ct-nhs-gun-range-hearing-tl-0618-20150611-story.html). 17 June 2015.

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Moody’s Downgrades Cook County’s Credit Rating, Issues Negative Outlook

The following is kind of stale, but the local press didn’t really publicize it and Cook County residents are entitled to know the financial health of the local government unit in these uncertain times. The Global Credit Research division of Moody’s announced on their website back on June 5:

Rating Action: Moody’s downgrades Cook County, IL’s GO to A2 from A1; outlook negative

A2 rating applies to $3.6B of GO debt

New York, June 05, 2015 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to A2 from A1 the rating on Cook County, IL’s general obligation (GO) debt. The county has $3.6 billion in GO debt outstanding. The outlook remains negative…

The Global Credit Research division explained:

The A2 rating incorporates credit pressures associated with Cook County’s unfunded pension liabilities. Based on the Illinois Supreme Court’s May 8 overruling of the State of Illinois’ (A3 negative) pension reforms, we perceive increased risk that the county’s options for reducing unfunded pension liabilities have narrowed considerably. As it currently stands, Cook County-despite its home rule status-has little direct control over its single largest liability. Whether or not the statute that governs Cook County’s pension plan stands, we expect pension-related costs will place increasing strain on the county’s financial operations. Furthermore, approximately half of Cook County’s tax base is highly leveraged by the debt and unfunded pension liabilities of the City of Chicago (Ba1 negative) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) (Ba3 negative). We believe that the revenue demands of these entities could place practical limitations on the county’s ability and willingness to increase revenue to fund its pension costs. Other credit challenges for the county include enterprise risks inherent in operating the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS)…

As for that negative outlook:

The negative outlook reflects our view that Cook County’s credit quality could weaken given continued uncertainty in the county’s future pension funding framework. Our outlook on the county’s credit is also informed by our expectation of growth in the pension costs of the local governments that share half of the county’s tax base. Finally, the negative outlook incorporates continued pressures in the health care sector, improved financial results for CCHHS notwithstanding…

On June 8, the major U.S. credit rating agency also announced a downgrade of the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s general obligation debt to A2 from A1, with a negative outlook as well.

You can read that entire June 5 Moody’s rating action on their website here.

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

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 Credit, Debt Crisis, Entitlements, Government No Comments

Cook County Public Pension Fix Could Mean Property Tax Hike

Blog readers in Cook County, Illinois, should prepare themselves for the possibility of higher property taxes shortly. Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is trying to revive a plan to overhaul government worker pensions, with supporters arguing the proposal is vastly different from changes to state retirement benefits recently struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The proposal would cut benefits and raise retirement ages but also guarantee health care benefits for workers when they retire. It calls for the county to put almost $147 million more a year into the pension fund, though Preckwinkle continues to be vague about how she’ll fund that increase by repeatedly saying “all options are on the table.”

If the County Board chooses to foot the bill with a property tax increase, the average homeowner would pay up to $65 more a year starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained when Preckwinkle sought the same legislation last year.

That measure was approved by the Senate last year but stalled in the House. It is now scheduled to be heard by a panel of House lawmakers next week…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Readers shouldn’t be surprised about the prospect of higher property taxes. I blogged back on January 13:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also gave a speech yesterday in which she hinted at county residents having to make future sacrifices. John Byrne reported on the Chicago Tribune website Monday:

Preckwinkle gave a speech to the City Club of Chicago about her first-term achievements and laid out a blueprint for her second four years in office. Asked afterward about the likelihood she will be forced to raise taxes, Preckwinkle said only that it will be “a challenge” to meet the county’s financial obligations.

“We have significant challenges, both around the spike in our debt obligations and our pension obligations, and my charge to our chief financial officer is that he has to do everything he can to be creative in figuring out how to address these problems,” she said…

Preckwinkle crafted a $4 billion budget for 2015 that includes no new taxes, fines or fees. She has warned that the 2016 budget will be far trickier to balance because debt payments will increase and the county could need to come up with $144 million more to pay into the county workers retirement system if she gets the pension fund changes she has asked for from the General Assembly.

“I can’t predict now, because we don’t even have a pension bill, how much it’s going to cost or what it’s going to take, but it’s going to be a real challenge, I’ll say that,” she said Monday.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Garcia, Monique. “Preckwinkle tries again on Cook County pension changes.” Chicago Tribune. 15 May 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-pension-proposal-met-20150515-story.html). 17 May 2015.

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Illinois’ Largest Foreign Trading Partners Weigh In On State’s Attractiveness For Investment

Illinois blog readers might be interested in the following, which appeared on the State of Illinois home page earlier this week:

In order to obtain an independent assessment of Illinois’ competitiveness, the Governor’s office asked the state’s largest foreign trading partners to share their confidential views on Illinois’ attractiveness for investment from their countries

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The survey focused on ten nations, and the findings were posted on the state’s website along with this accompanying memo:

From: John DeBlasio, Director for International Trade and Investment
To: Interested Parties
Date: May 4, 2015
Subj: Key Reforms Needed to Strengthen Foreign Direct Investment in Illinois

In order to obtain an independent assessment of Illinois’ competitiveness, the Governor’s office asked the state’s largest foreign trading partners to share their confidential views on Illinois’ attractiveness for investment from their countries.

Collectively, these nations have invested tens of billions of dollars in factories, warehouses, office buildings, and transportation facilities across America, and employ hundreds of thousands of American workers. They are in a unique position to compare the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual states with which Illinois must compete. Every year they make important decisions on where to locate major new facilities and high-paying jobs. Their comments taken together create a policy roadmap of strategic recommendations that we can use to drive powerful new economic growth and job creation in our state.

Attached are the letters, memos, and priorities the Governor’s Office has received, with names, locations, and specific stories redacted to protect the confidentiality of individual countries. The letters deserve to be reviewed in detail, but some of their key comments are highlighted below:

“Top Concern: tax issues-too high, property & corporate, worries about further increases due to financial condition of the state”
• “There are large (and growing) perceptions that infrastructure improvements are not keeping up”
• “Foreign firms place a premium on opportunities to “cluster” – to work with concentrations of talent in their sector”
• “The plethora of universities, research institutions & accelerators headquartered in the region constitute a significant positive – firms and entrepreneurs are drawn here by the world-class innovation taking place”
• “Chicago is attractive to college students – which therefore enhances the quality of the workforce pool”
• “Vast difference in perception between Chicago and downstate Illinois. While the former has plenty of positives, the latter is not seen to be competitive with Indiana, Wisconsin, etc.”
• “Costs in particular linked to Unions are high. It’s a problem, especially with Wisconsin and Indiana as neighbors – if there is a legal dispute with workers….Cook County is known for being anti-boss or pro-employee”
• “Right to Work is being used by other states to position them favorably compared to Illinois. This is similar to other labor market regulations and workers compensation, unemployment insurance levels, etc. that put Illinois at a disadvantage compared with other states”
• “The manufacturing workforce is aging and vocational training for the next generation of skilled employees is lacking”
• “Chicago is one of the most expensive trade show locations in the world. Being an expensive/bureaucratic trade show location often carries over to the state being perceived as a high cost/bureaucratic location for investing”
• “Illinois overseas offices are primarily focused on exports not investment attraction, which is two very different tasks”
• “Many states have modernized their structure by founding Economic Development Corporations tasked specifically with pursuing investors”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sifting through the trading partners’ letters and memos which contained remarks on foreign investment in Illinois, this one from so-called “Nation #3” stood out:

Even (redacted) companies have a high degree of ignorance about Chicago and the region and rarely see beyond Capone and Jordan

High crime rates- hugely amplified internationally. Chicago is seen as the crime capital of the USA

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Crime capital of the USA” I get. Jordan too. But Capone? Really?


“F**k that, I’m going to Vegas!”
Scene From Chicago Overcoat (2009)
(Warning: Language, violence, “Chicago Typewriter” in all its glory)
YouTube Video

You can read more on that survey from Governor Rauner’s office here (.pdf format) on the State of Illinois website.

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

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Chicago’s Financial, Job Woes Highlighted In Huffington Post Piece

Chicago-area readers are probably getting sick of my negative posts about Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. I don’t like blogging about all the bad news either. However, I feel compelled to point out the massive challenges facing the city, county, and state I was born in and continue to love in an attempt to help turn them around (unlikely at this point), or at least assist residents survive these entities slamming into that proverbial brick wall (much more probable).

That being said, this past weekend I came across an interesting article about a number of Chicago’s woes by local journalist Hilary Gowins. While there’s plenty of dreadful material being written about the “Windy City” these days, what made Gowins’ piece particularly “interesting” is where it can be found- on The Huffington Post website. From the often left-leaning (in my opinion) online news aggregator and blog:

Behind a veneer of affluence, gilded by the prosperity and staying power of neighborhoods such as the Gold Coast, River North and Lincoln Park, the city’s foundation is crumbling beneath the weight of perilous debt. Chicago and its sister governments are officially on the hook for more than $32 billion in unfunded pension debt. With just over a million households in the city, that staggering figure means each Chicago household is on the hook for $32,000 to cover these liabilities. Chicago’s pension debt exceeds the state’s total proposed operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

At the same time the city’s obligations are skyrocketing, its population is growing at a snail’s pace, gaining just 6,000 residents in 2013 after a decade of population decline. With 2.7 million residents as of 2013, Chicago’s population is the same as it was in 1920

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Gowins added this as well:

But today, despite activity on the tech front, job opportunities are scarce. The Chicago area has 46,000 fewer people working compared to before the Great Recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s plenty of people around these parts who would be quick to blow smoke up your behind and tell you the economy in Chicagoland area and beyond is in full-blown recovery, and quit worrying about the larger financial picture.

Sorry, but the numbers (such as the above) show otherwise.

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

Source:

Gowins, Hilary. “Chicago’s Problems Run Much Deeper Than a 76-foot Hole.” The Huffington Post. 1 May 2015. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-gowins/chicagos-problems-run-muc_b_7131348.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592). 5 May 2015.

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Niles Gun Shop, Range Lawsuit Decision Next Month?

Chicago-area firearm enthusiasts- here’s the latest regarding that proposed gun shop and range at 6143 Howard Street in northwest suburban Niles. Igor Studenkov reported on the Chicago Tribune website on Monday:

The fate of a lawsuit a Skokie-based gun control advocacy group filed against the village of Niles will be decided next month.

People for a Safer Society filed a lawsuit against the village on Oct 17, 2014, over the Village Board’s decision to grant a special use permit to Sportsman’s Club gun shop and firing range. In its lawsuit, the group sought to not only annul the permit, but to prohibit the village from granting a permit for any gun shop that wants to open on that piece of land.

In response, the village’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit altogether.

Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama was originally scheduled to decide whether to grant the motion on April 14. But after listening to attorneys for both sides, he decided to take some time to consider it, and said he will issue a final decision May 14

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers may recall I’ve been following the Niles gun shop/range story since June of last year. Not surprisingly, the proposed facility encountered obstacles early on.

That being said, a concealed-carry training facility- Concealed Carry Safety for Personal Defense Inc– was able to open its doors last year in the near-northwest suburb.

Good luck to the Village of Niles and 6143 Howard Partners Inc/Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy in May.

You can read Studenkov’s entire piece (nice legal roundup) on the Tribune website here.

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

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Free, Discounted Rain Barrels For Cook County, Illinois, Residents

Shortly after I moved to my new residence in the Chicago suburbs, I started looking into rain barrels for use around the property. I came across the following program for free/discounted barrels from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (District), “an independent government and taxing body encompassing approximately 91 percent of the land area and 98 percent of the assessed valuation of Cook County, Illinois.” From the MWRD website:

Rain Barrels are a type of green infrastructure, a new approach to managing stormwater by keeping rain on the property and out of the sewer system. We provide rain barrels at cost to Cook County residents. $58 (plus tax) includes a flexible connecting elbow to attach your barrel to your downspout, a linking hose to connect it to a second barrel, detailed instructions, and free delivery to your home…

Some lucky Cook County residents might even qualify for FREE rain barrels. From the site:

Some Cook County municipalities are also partnering with the MWRD to offer free rain barrels to residents who meet certain requirements. See the list below or check with your municipality to find out if they are participating and if your home meets the requirements of the program.

Village of Bellwood
City of Berwyn
City of Blue Island
City of Calumet City
Village of Crestwood
Village of Forest View
Village of LaGrange Park
Village of Midlothian
Village of Oak Park
Village of Riverside
Village of Stickney
Village of Stone Park
Village of Wilmette

Head on over to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago website here for more information about their rain barrel program.

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

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Sunday, March 29th, 2015 Preparedness, Supplies, Water No Comments


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