Cook County

More Convicts To Be Released Early Nationwide

Here in Cook County, Illinos, it’s no secret that many bad guys aren’t going to jail or getting out of jail early.

It’s a problem I’ve blogged about time and time again.

In fact, I just watched a ABC7 “I-Team” piece about one aspect of this situation on Tuesday, where investigative reporter Chuck Goudie revealed:

Despite some political rhetoric suggesting that Illinois allows those arrested for gun possession to get off home-free, there is a mandatory minimum penitentiary sentence for gun possession here of one year. But with day-for-day good behavior credit, most convicts are out in 6 months, and some Cook County judges give probation.

The result? According to police, “169 people involved as offenders or victims in last year’s murders or shootings would instead have been behind bars.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now the question I have for Survival And Prosperity readers outside the Chicagoland area is- are you ready for the same thing happening in your neck of the woods? Because from what I gather, it’s a done deal in terms of certain inmates getting out of jail early. From the FOX News website yesterday:

The Justice Department moved Wednesday to significantly expand the number of people eligible for clemency, issuing new guidelines allowing certain prisoners who already have served at least 10 years behind bars to apply for release.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole outlined the changes, which include six separate criteria inmates must meet to be eligible, on Wednesday morning. Among the requirements is that inmates must have served at least 10 years of their federal sentence and not have a “significant criminal history.” They must be “non-violent, low-level offenders” with no significant ties to major gangs, have a record of good conduct in prison and have no history of violence.

Finally, the process will be open to those who likely would have gotten a lesser sentence if convicted of the same offense today…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

What constitues “significant criminal history,” “low-level,” and other criteria?

What kind of oversight will be implemented?

Something tells me there might be some real potential to abuse this new clemency “overhaul,” as it’s being called.

God forbid the rest of the nation experiences what Chicago and Cook County residents have been going through for some time now.

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

Sources:

Goudie, Chuck. “I-Team: New gun laws would save lives?” ABC7. 22 Apr. 2014. (http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/iteam&id=9511420). 24 Apr. 2014.

“DOJ announces clemency overhaul, allows release for some after 10 years.” FOX News. 23 Apr. 2014. (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/23/clemency-after-10-years-in-prison-doj-announcing-overhaul/). 24 Apr. 2014.

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Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Keeps Pushing For More Gun ‘Control’ Laws

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy is not letting recent gun “control” setbacks for the City of Chicago blunt his constant push for more laws laws restricting firearms. CNN’s Tricia Escobedo reported this morning:

McCarthy is using the unwanted attention around the bloody Easter weekend to push legislators to pass gun control laws that he says will help police turn things around in Chicago.

“It’s just insanity that there’s such a proliferation of firearms that they’re so easy to get your hands on,” McCarthy told WGN Radio on Monday. “The studies show when there’s more restrictive gun laws, there’s less gun violence. It’s not brain surgery, it’s really really simple.

“It’s going to take us a while to fix poverty and the break-up of the family units and education and jobs. But we can do something about gun laws today and we’re just not doing it.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“The studies show when there’s more restrictive gun laws, there’s less gun violence.”

Like in “Chiraq?” “Murder City?” “Beirut By The Lake?”

For years, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, was considered “ground zero” for gun “control” in the nation.

And look what good all that gun “control” amounted to?

516 murders in Chicago in 2012 (source: Washington Post). 9 dead, 36 wounded in the “Windy City” last weekend. 4 killed, 36 shot the weekend before that. A veritable and regularly-occurring shooting gallery in certain parts of the city. Need I say more?

I will.

Again- “The studies show when there’s more restrictive gun laws, there’s less gun violence.”

Not any reputable studies that I know of.

As I’ve repeated many times on this blog through the years- criminals don’t follow the law- hence that “criminal” designation. The bad guys generally don’t acquire their firearms legally. Therefore, gun “control” laws don’t really have an effect on them. So what good does implementing more of these laws do besides penalize law-abiding citizens and gun owners?

Oh yeah- pushing more gun “control” makes it look like the politicians and their ilk are actually doing something to combat firearm-related violence (being mostly committed by “illegal” guns).

It’s my belief that Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois would be better off coming down hard- real hard- on the criminal element with “truth-in-sentencing” and other measures. On this point, I actually see eye-to-eye with Superintendent McCarthy. But many of the politicians don’t, their inaction based on fiscal, political, and/or racial justifications, as well as a belief held by many that “thugs just need a hug.”

Until they and their loved ones become the victims of a violent crime, right?

A number of former gun “control” advocates came to “see the light” in the wake of such events.

As for more restrictions being placed on firearms? Reality, like the example of Chicago- and not studies- keep demonstrating their ineffectiveness.

“It’s not brain surgery, it’s really really simple.”

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

Source:

Escobedo, Tricia. “Chicago’s murder rate is down, chief says.” CNN. 24 Apr. 2014. (http://www.kspr.com/news/nationworld/Chicago-s-murder-rate-is-down-chief-says/21051646_25636714). 24 Apr. 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

Source:

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

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

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

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

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

Enter the Illinois “Pole Tax.”

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

‘Criminals Are Victims Of The Evil Capitalist Society’

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s why it’s so violent.”

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

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

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Cook County Residents To Get Hit With Tax Hikes Soon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Slodysko added later in the piece:

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

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

Source:

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

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Seen On The Streets, Part 11

Potholes. Tons of them. Christopher Borrelli reported on the Chicago Tribune website on Monday:

It’s officially spring. We’re deep into pothole season, which, like other holiday seasons, seems to grow longer every year. This pothole season could be the longest yet. Potholes are out of control. The Chicago Department of Transportation said last month that pothole complaints have tripled in the past year; and since New Year’s Day alone, the city has filled more than 350,000 potholes. And because, according to CDOT, which assumes there are at least five unreported potholes for each reported pothole, their conservative estimate of the number of potholes remaining is, well, about 60,000 potholes.

At the very, very least…

Personally, I think the roads have been crap in many places around the Chicagoland area for a number of years now.

One spot in particular that’s incredibly chewed up and which I drive through on a regular basis is that portion of Thatcher Road right outside the Oak Park Country Club in River Grove.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the report of the shotguns being fired nearby on certain days at the Club- in conjunction with the cratered road- reminds some veterans of being in a warzone.

As a high school kid, when I could scrape together several bucks I would buy the latest duPont REGISTRY (magazine of luxury autos for sale) at the old Crown Books on the corner of Harlem and North. Lots of daydreaming would ensue where I’d be piloting some hot sports car around Chicago.

A number of years have passed, and practicality along with fate has left me driving an older, high-mileage Toyota instead.

Still, my lust for a high-performance vehicle has never subsided.

Although, the crumbling streets I’d encounter around the Chicago area made me remark to my girlfriend one day that owning a nice sports car (or even a “regular” one) may not be practical around these parts. For starters, there’s the city traffic. Second, there’s the high price of gas- especially if the vehicle requires the premium stuff. Finally, the increasingly crummy roads will “eat up” the bottom of the vehicle.

Case in point. While watching the local news one day this winter, I spotted a reporter doing a live broadcast about how bad the potholes were in the city. As they were doing the shoot, a hipster’s car went over one of these holes, tearing off a big piece from the underside of her vehicle. I felt really bad for the young lady as she proceeded to talk about what just happened on camera.

Further evidence of just how bad the local streets have gotten can be seen in a Craigslist.org post I saw the other day while taking in some car porn. From March 29:

Porsche 914 (1974) – $10500 (chicago)

Tired of winter and potholes, the car is 99% of the time in the garage…Selling my ’74 914,wide body from Sheridan Motorsports,custom interior,disk brakes front and rear,1.8l engine with double webers(40mm)pulls strong with no leaks,transmission rebuilt less than 500 miles ago,75k miles

Considering trading for a WRX of similar or lesser value…

“Tired of winter and potholes, the car is 99% of the time in the garage”

That trade request for a Subaru WRX makes sense, as things considered.

Still, even that rugged all-wheel drive vehicle may have too low of a ground clearance for some of the “surface anomalies” I’ve been spotting for some time now.

After I told my girlfriend about sports cars perhaps being impractical to own around these parts, I suggested for one to really experience what a sports car is really capable of performance-wise, one would probably have to head out to the back roads.

When I finally get my hands on one of these cars, “Escape to Wisconsin” will take on a whole new meaning for me…


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

Source:

Borrelli, Christopher. “Making potholes into art.” Chicago Tribune. 31 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-31/entertainment/ct-pothole-art-20140401_1_pothole-season-mosaic-marble). 3 Apr. 2014.

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Poll Of Illinois Voters: 89% Feel Political Corruption Somewhat Common In State

I don’t talk about the topic too often, but political corruption was the focus of a recent poll taken by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute down at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. From a press release Monday:

Illinois Voters: Political Corruption “Common” In Our State

Overwhelming majorities of Illinois voters believe political corruption is the norm for both federal and state governments, according to the latest poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Fewer people believe political corruption at the local level affects their lives – unless they live in Chicago.

The poll of 1001 registered voters across the state conducted Feb. 12 -25 has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The survey found:

• 89 percent of Illinoisans feel corruption is somewhat common in the state, with 53 percent believing it’s very common.

• 79 percent say corruption at the federal level is at least somewhat common, with 45 percent saying it’s very common.

• 62 percent of all Illinoisans believe county or city political corruption is at least somewhat common, with 35 percent reporting local corruption to be very common.

° However, 85 percent of those living in Chicago believe county or city political corruption is at least somewhat common, with 55 percent perceiving local corruption to be very common.

“These are sad numbers,” said David Yepsen, Director of the Institute. “No wonder many people don’t vote and participation in civic affairs seems limited. It’s unhealthy for a society to have such little confidence in the integrity of government. It makes Illinois an unattractive place to live.”

“It makes Illinois an unattractive place to live.”

That it does, Mr. Yepsen. That it does.

Note that bit about Chicago.

Back on February 4, 2012, I blogged:

This afternoon I was running errands around the Chicagoland area when I heard on WBBM Newsradio 780 that a new study showed Chicago is the most corrupt city in the nation. From the CBS Channel 2 Chicago website:

A former Chicago alderman turned political science professor/corruption fighter has found that Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country.

He cites data from the U.S. Department of Justice to prove his case. And, he says, Illinois is third-most corrupt state in the country

University of Illinois professor Dick Simpson estimates the cost of corruption at $500 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Truly, a sad state of affairs.

You can read the entire press release (.pdf format) from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on their website here.

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

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Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 Corruption, Government No Comments

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.


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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.

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Illinois Millionaire Tax Hike Could Pass As Part Of Class Warfare Push By Democrats

While I’ve been putting a lot of time lately into my offshore Web projects, Illinois Democrats have been grabbing the local headlines as they replicate President Obama’s class warfare strategy to win votes in November. Monique Garcia, Ray Long, and Maura Zurick reported on the Chicago Tribune website last Friday:

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns…

The newest front in the campaign battle came as Madigan held a rare news conference to announce he wants lawmakers to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters whether the state should raise the income tax by 3 percentage points on those who make more than $1 million a year.

The powerful Democratic speaker said the tax hike on millionaires is a way to generate more than $1 billion for elementary and high schools. Madigan based his calculations on what he said are roughly 13,675 millionaires that lived in Illinois in 2011, brushing aside a question about whether such a tax hike might drive them out of the state.

“Well, if they’re in Illinois today, they’re probably so much in love with Illinois that they’re not going to leave,” Madigan said

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I’m not as optimistic as the 71-year-old Speaker of the House is about Illinois millionaires sticking around if they’re targeted with a tax hike.

After all, money typically gravitates to where it’s being treated the best.

And recent demographic data suggests Chicagoland and Illinois residents may not be “so much in love” with the area as Mr. Madigan claims.

That includes the rich as well.

“Cook County’s population grew by 17,000 people in 2012, about .3 percent- but much of that gain came from immigrants, according to Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.

The figures showed that about 32,000 more domestic residents moved out of Cook County than moved in. But a net increase of 17,000 immigrants, along with a high ratio of births over deaths, contributed to an overall gain for the county…”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, March 13, 2013

Moving Out
The top outbound states for 2013 were:

1. New Jersey
2. Illinois
3. New York
4. West Virginia
5. Connecticut
6. Utah
7. Kentucky
8. Massachusetts
9. New Mexico”

-United Van Lines press release, January 2, 2014

“As the Great Recession churned job prospects for many, Cook County lost about 13,000 residents with six-figure household incomes to other places, despite the widely hyped revival of downtown housing and jobs…”

-Crain’s Chicago Business website, February 14, 2014

“Roughly 13,675 millionaires that lived in Illinois in 2011”

Should Illinois Democrats jack up their income taxes, I suspect the number of Illinois millionaires right before the tax hike is implemented will plummet. Revenue will follow. Out-of-state vacation homes in Indiana and Wisconsin will be declared as primary residences.

“A way to generate more than $1 billion for elementary and high schools”

I highly doubt that.

So does the proposed millionaire tax hike have a chance of becoming reality?

Consider what Greg Hinz blogged on the Crain’s Chicago Business website Friday:

Springfield Democrats have such big legislative majorities that they won’t need any Republican votes to pass the measure if they hang together. And Springfield insiders are saying that odds are much better that Democrats will unify behind the speaker’s proposal- which, after all, would affect only millionaires like Bruce Rauner- than behind another plan being pushed by Senate Democrats to implement a graduated income tax, which would affect far more voters.

Stay tuned. If you can stomach it.

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

Sources:

Garcia, Monique, Long, Ray, and Zurich, Maura. “Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme.” Chicago Tribune. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-21/news/chi-speaker-madigan-proposes-asking-voters-to-raise-taxes-on-wealthy-20140320_1_tax-hike-bruce-rauner-income). 24 Mar. 2014.

Hinz, Greg. “GOP leaders blast Madigan’s millionaires tax, but idea likely has legs.” Greg Hinz On Politics.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140321/BLOGS02/140329950/gop-leaders-blast-madigans-millionaires-tax-but-idea-likely-has-legs). 24 Mar. 2014.

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Cook County Loses Alarming Number Of Well-Educated, High-Income Earning Residents

Early one Saturday morning a few years back, I picked up my cousin in a western suburb of Chicago for a weekend of fishing at my family’s place in Wisconsin. While grabbing coffee at the gas station down his street, I mentioned to him that he was lucky he lived in DuPage County. He replied that the taxes were kind of high there. I told him there were other things besides taxes that made that county an attractive place to live in.

Certain Cook County residents have apparently noticed as well. Particularly those with college degrees and big paychecks.

Paul Merrion wrote on the Crain’s Chicago Business website back on February 14:

As the Great Recession churned job prospects for many, Cook County lost about 13,000 residents with six-figure household incomes to other places, despite the widely hyped revival of downtown housing and jobs.

Between 2007 and 2011, Chicago and its immediate suburbs also ended up with about 10,000 fewer residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, even after accounting for new arrivals, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s first attempt to track population shifts by income and education at the county level.

In recent years, local officials and real estate developers have touted a resurgence in young tech workers and affluent empty-nesters revitalizing the city’s core. Yet those trends are seemingly being overshadowed by more powerful factors, as other parts of the city and close-in suburbs send even larger numbers of prosperous, college-educated people to DuPage County and beyond…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The words “brain drain” first came to mind when I read this article.

Then, I remembered that just because one has a bachelor’s degree or higher doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smart.

And that’s coming from someone who has both a bachelor’s and master’s.

Still, I suspect this “diaspora” won’t bode well for the county down the road.

It’s been my experience that good government generally demands educated decision-makers.

Most definitely, informed policy-making.

Otherwise, consider what the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., once said:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

I still reside in Cook County. I like it here. And I’d hate to see it implode as a result of voting and governing carried out under the above conditions.

Regrettably, I can’t shake the thought of one more word as I type this post.

“Destiny.”

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

Source:

Merrion, Paul. “Well-educated, highly paid residents leaving Cook County.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 17 Feb. 2014. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140215/ISSUE01/302159988/well-educated-highly-paid-residents-leaving-cook-county#). 27 Feb. 2014.

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Thursday, February 27th, 2014 Demographics, Education, Government, Income, Population No Comments

4,500 Illinois Concealed Carry License Applications Submitted On First Day Of Availability

Not only was the application for the Illinois Concealed Carry License, or CCL, up on the Illinois State Police website by the January 5 statutory deadline, but around 4,500 applications were submitted on the first day it was available to the public. Kerry Lester of the Associated Press reported tonight:

About 4,500 concealed carry permit requests were submitted on the first day that Illinois’ online application system was open to the public, officials said Monday.

The applications submitted Sunday during the system’s first 24 hours of operation brought the total requests to more than 11,000, said Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police. The other 6,500 applications came in recent weeks, as the firearms instructors were allowed by the state to apply for permits early in order to help “beta test” the functionality of the online application system. Detailed information about which parts of the state had submitted the most applications wasn’t yet available, Bond said…

Illinois lawmakers have projected that there would be 350,000 to 400,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year of the law…

According to the Illinois State Rifle Association website, the organization- formed in 1903 to train civilians in marksmanship skills- believes the earliest approved applicants would be receiving a permit to carry will be around April-May 2014. This coincides with what I blogged back on October 24:

Jumping at the chance to obtain an “Illinois Concealed Carry License?” Just because the applications should be made available to the public by January 5, 2014, don’t expect to get your CCW permit issued right away. John Cody reported on the website of Chicago CBS affiliate Channel 2 yesterday:

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s top policy aid briefed Cook County Commissioners on movement toward compliance with the new concealed carry law.

“The absolute earliest that a person could receive a license would be February 5 although that is extremely unlikely. It will be much likelier that in mid-April,” said Sheriff Dart’s Police Chief Kara Smith.

(Editor’s note: Italics aded for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

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

Source:

Lester, Kerry. “Illinois sees 11,000 concealed carry applications.” Rockford Register Star. 6 Jan. 2013. (http://www.rrstar.com/article/20140106/NEWS/140109743). 6 Jan. 2013.

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Monday, January 6th, 2014 Firearms, Government, Public Safety, Self-Defense 1 Comment

Is Pepper Spray Legal In Cook County, Illinois?

Right before Halloween, I blogged about the legality of pepper spray- or Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray as law enforcement/corrections commonly call it- in the city of Chicago, Illinois. I concluded:

So is pepper (OC) spray legal in Chicago? From what the material above says, I would think it is, as long as the spray is used in self-defense and in compliance with what’s stated in the Municipal Code of Chicago, and not in a threatening manner.

Okay. But how about the rest of Cook County, Illinois?

I couldn’t find anything in the Cook County Code of Ordinances that designates pepper spray as illegal. However, similar to what’s stated in the Municipal Code of Chicago, there’s this in Part I, “General Ordinances,” under Chapter 58, “Offenses And Miscellaneous Provisions,” Article VI, “Offenses Against The Public Peace”:

Sec. 58-172. Disorderly conduct.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to commit disorderly conduct. A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly…

(6) Carries in a threatening or menacing manner, without authority of law, any razor, knife, stiletto, blackjack, bludgeon, metal knuckles, slingshot, any knife, the blade of which is released by a spring mechanism, including knives known as “switch-blades”, undetectable knives as defined in Section 58-176 of this Code, an object containing noxious or deleterious liquid, gas or substance or other weapon, or conceals said weapon on or about the person or vehicle.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Punch in “pepper spray noxious” in a search engine query and the results show the term “noxious” has been used to describe pepper spray. The key here is not to “carry” the pepper spray in a “threatening or menacing manner.”

Otherwise, I would think pepper (OC) spray is legal in Cook County, Illinois, as long as it’s used in self-defense and complies with what’s stated in the Cook County Code of Ordinances.

Still, I would check local (municipal) laws to verify its legality in a particular jurisdiction.

You can read that part about noxious/deleterious liquids in the Cook County Code of Ordinances here.

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

(Editor’s note: Information added to “Resources” page)

(Legal disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain such advice.)

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Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 Legal, Self-Defense, SP Resources No Comments

Chicago-Area Forest Preserves: Use With Caution

“The Forest Preserve District of Cook County manages more than 68,000 acres of public land—about 11 percent of Cook County. That’s a lot of land and it’s packed with opportunities…”

-Forest Preserve District of Cook County website

Last night I mentioned attending a Boy Scout event in the Chicago-area forest preserves many years ago. When I was in junior high, “the woods”- as my friends and I used to call the nearby preserves- were a frequent hangout for us. There’d be a group of us (no less than four usually), and we often took along a number of items boys of that age like to mess around when presented with such an opportunity- fireworks, “wrist rockets” (slingshots), air guns, etcetera.

Well, air guns for a while, until the forest preserve police confiscated them.

Anyway, during those years (the mid-eighties) my friends and I met/saw quite a few characters in “the woods”- other juveniles, hikers, joggers, bicycle riders, etcetera.

But there were others too. Transients, gang members, “devil worshippers,” and adults who seemed to be up to no good.

Even though my friends and I didn’t fear these encounters- we figured “safety in numbers” and we were “armed to the teeth” (at least in the minds of junior high kids)- I recognized real quick that the forest preserves could be a dangerous place in terms of people preying on one another.

This realization was hammered home several years later when a girl I went to grade school with was murdered in “the woods.” I believe she had been riding her bicycle along one of the paths.

I was reminded of the potential danger that lurks in these recreational areas shortly after moving away from Chicago’s Northwest Side. From the website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 back on August 31:

Police are searching for a man accused of attacking a second off-duty female Chicago police officer on the city’s Northwest Side, officials said.

Cook County Forest Preserve police said the off-duty officer was jogging around 11 a.m. Tuesday in Caldwell Woods near Devon and Milwaukee Avenues when she was attacked.

Officials believe the offender is the same man who sexually assaulted an off-duty female officer Thursday afternoon in Sauganash Park.

The officer, who was jogging between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. near West Peterson Avenue and North Pulaski Road, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries…

Caldwell Woods. Just down the road from my old pad. Used to drop my recycling off there every week for several years. At a City collection point, not in the actual woods.

Now, I remember seeing interviews of some locals after these attempted rapes took place. More than once I heard them say something along the lines of:

These kinds of things don’t happen here.

They just did. And, regrettably, I suspect they’ll be happening with more frequency in the coming years.

I don’t know what it is with some people who visit this Chicago-area resource. They consistently neglect to take precautions in case they run into trouble of the two-legged variety on or off the paths.

I know one thing. If I ever made a triumphant return to “the woods,” while I probably won’t be toting along fireworks, a wrist rocket, or an air gun, I’ll be damned if I go in there without a personal safety tool or more.

Enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy the opportunities found in the local forest preserves. But don’t go in there asking for trouble.

And should trouble find you, be prepared to deal with it.

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

Source:

“Second Off-Duty Cop Attacked While Jogging.” Channel 5 Chicago. 31 Aug. 2013. (http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Second-Off-Duty-Cop-Attacked-While-Jogging-221919071.html). 11 Dec. 2013.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 Crime, Public Safety, Self-Defense No Comments

Thoughts On Illinois State Lawmakers Passing Public Pension ‘Fix’

The Illinois General Assembly barely passed legislation yesterday that’s been touted to “fix” the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign SB0001, declared in a press release Tuesday:

Since I took the oath of office, I’ve pushed relentlessly for a comprehensive pension reform solution that would erase a $100 billion liability and restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won.

Not so fast, big guy.

First off, as I blogged yesterday, the Wall Street Journal recently picked apart the legislative “fix,” and concluded not only was it “fake” but:

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion- which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

Second, this legislation is almost certainly headed to court, as in the Illinois Supreme Court. As I noted on December 1, a provision of the 1970 Illinois Constitution defines public pension benefits as “an enforceable contractual relationship” that “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Even the top-ranking Democrat in the Illinois Senate wonders if SB0001 can pass legal muster. Ray Long and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Senate President John Cullerton, whose earlier union-backed plan to curb pension spending was stymied by House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he remained concerned that the package passed by lawmakers violated a state constitutional ban on diminishing or impairing public pension benefits.

Cullerton, whose Senate Democrats had been viewed as closer to the unions than Madigan’s House majority, said he viewed it important to get something before the courts to decide whether the approach is legal.

“I think the bill has serious constitutional problems, I’ve made that clear from the start, but now it’s in front of the court and they can decide,” Cullerton said.

And decide they will, meaning this supposed “fix” for the state’s public pension crisis might eventually amount to nothing.

I thought Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times summed it all up well. Brown wrote on the Sun-Times website yesterday afternoon from Springfield:

Oh, how I wish I could tell you that the long fight to fix Illinois’ grossly underfunded public pension plans was at an end with Tuesday’s historic votes by the state Legislature.

But that wouldn’t be true.

First, there will be a court challenge — or more likely challenges — brought by state workers, teachers and their retirees, along with the unions that represent them.

And before those cases can even work their way through the system, state lawmakers will have to decide in early 2014 how they are going to handle Chicago’s pension problems — beginning with those of city teachers.

Other local officials, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are clamoring for pension relief as well, which will combine with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s priorities to keep the issue on the front burner.

If the courts strike down the pension reform plan approved Tuesday on narrow votes by both chambers, or even if they rule out parts of it, we could be back here within a year or two to start over.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

What transpired Tuesday in the Illinois General Assembly might be a first step in “fixing” the state’s public pension crisis, but much more work and sacrifice will eventually be required to arrive at a real solution.

Question is, is the will even there among Illinoisans and their elected state officials to do this?

I kind of doubt it.

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

Sources:

Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Unions vow legal fight as lawmakers OK pension overhaul.” Chicago Tribune. 4 Dec. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-illinois-pension-vote-20131203,0,5070497.story). 4 Dec. 2013.

Brown, Mike. “Brown: State’s financial problems far from over.” Chicago Sun-Times. 3 Dec. 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/24156150-761/brown-states-financial-problems-far-from-over.html). 4 Dec. 2013.

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