Cook County

Chicago’s 2015 Budget Includes Tax And Fee Hikes

Gee, who could’ve anticipated new fee and tax hikes look to be in store for Chicago next year?

From Fran Spielman over on the Chicago Sun-Times website this morning:

[Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel will campaign for re-election on a budget that raises $62.4 million through “targeted” tax hikes and closing “loopholes,” which amounts to the same thing.

People who live, work and play in Chicago will be paying more for everything from parking and vehicle leasing to cable television and stadium skyboxes…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

These individuals have been doing that for a number of years now. Hal Dardick pointed out over on the Chicago Tribune site:

As the Chicago City Council prepares to approve his latest budget Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeatedly has reminded voters that he didn’t raise city property taxes during his first four years in office.

But that doesn’t mean homeowners haven’t had to pay. Under Emanuel, vehicle stickers cost more. Cable TV and phone taxes went up. And water and sewer fees increased significantly…

Taken together, Emanuel’s hikes mean the typical Chicago family will pay about $481 more to the city next year than it did in 2011. That’s the equivalent of a typical Chicago homeowner paying 60 percent more in city property taxes, which are nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Nearly $800 a year for city and library services on a $250,000 home”

In the Chicago neighborhood I recently moved out of, I’m not sure if any inhabitable houses at that price range with more than 2 bedrooms/1 bath even exists. So I’m guessing a number of my old neighbors- who already shoulder a significant tax burden for the city- will be somewhat pissed to hear of this “good news” coming out of City Hall.

That being said, it’s not exactly Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” we’re talking about here. But it’s probably not what Chicagoans want to deal with as the holiday season kicks-in.

As for the well-publicized pension crisis going on in the “Windy City,” Spielman added:

By December, 2015, the City Council must decide whether to raise property taxes — or find other new revenues — to fund a state-mandated, $550 million payment to shore up police and fire pension funds.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So a property tax hike might also be coming down the pipeline.

One more thing. Regarding the ongoing manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department? That doesn’t look like it’s going to be resolved in 2015. From the Sun-Times piece:

Once again, the mayor’s budget includes only enough money to keep pace with retirements. It also includes roughly $70 million in police overtime, down from $100.3 million in 2013 and a projected $95 million this year…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Crime is down!” Yeah, whatever.

As always, I’m glad to see Fran Spielman and Hal Dardick are on top of their game.

What does all this mean for Chicago residents/workers/visitors?

It’s probably wise to budget a good deal more money for anything city-related next year. Even more so in 2016 considering what could be in store with the city’s public pension mess and what Cook County is telegraphing these days (blogged about Monday).

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

(UPDATE: The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2015 city budget Wednesday by a vote of 46-4, and “puts off dealing with the city’s most vexing financial woes until after next year’s elections” according to the Tribune Thursday morning)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago City Council set to pass Emanuel’s $7.3 billion budget.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/chicago-city-council-set-pass-emanuels-73-billion-budget/wed-11192014-742am). 19 Nov. 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Higher Emanuel fees and taxes add up.” Chicago Tribune. 19 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-emanuel-budget-2015-met-20141118-story.html#page=1). 19 Nov. 2014.

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2015 Cook County Budget Holds Line On Taxes, Fines, And Fees- For Now

Cook County residents dodged a bullet this time around.

John Byrne and Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Friday won easy approval for her $4 billion 2015 budget proposal that includes no new taxes, fines or fees

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

For now. Byrne and Dardick added:

Preckwinkle earlier this year warned that the 2016 budget will be far more difficult to balance because debt payments will grow and the county will need to pay $144 million more into the county workers’ retirement system if she secures the pension fund changes she seeks from the General Assembly…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I suspect those “new taxes, fines, or fees” are coming soon. I wrote back on May 22:

Last week, I blogged about the possibility of property and/or sales taxes going up soon in Cook County, Illinois. Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on May 13 the hikes might occur as part of a pension “reform” bill.

Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia added on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit Springfield Thursday to try to build support for changes to the county pension plan that she says would halt its ongoing decline toward insolvency.

She met with Senate President John Cullerton House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, and also Republican legislative leaders. “I think she’s got a good chance to pass this bill,” Madigan said afterward…

Although Preckwinkle has not identified how she would pay for her plan, it calls for the county to put $144 million a year into the pension fund. If funded with property taxes, that would cost the average homeowner up to $65 more a year, starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained.

Preckwinkle, however, said Wednesday that she has closed even larger budget gaps through cuts and other, smaller scale tax and fee increases without raising property taxes — while also lowering the county sales tax by a half-cent on the dollar…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet, McKinney and Slodysko wrote last week:

County officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Only a matter of time now before those hikes kick in. As I also noted in that May post:

What’s that line I keep repeating on this blog?

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

As much as I hate saying it, that’s what Chicago and Cook County residents should be preparing themselves for down the road.

I’d say that probably applies to all Americans, come to think of it.

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

Source:

Byrne, John and Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle wins easy approval of $4 billion budget.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cook-county-budget-met-1115-20141114-story.html). 17 Nov. 2014.

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Latest On Niles, Illinois, Pro-Gun Business Initiatives

Some Chicago-area readers of Survival And Prosperity might be curious about the status of the concealed-carry training facility and gun shop/range that were looking to move into the near-northwest suburb of Niles, Illinois. Well, the CCW school has opened its doors to the public. From the Northwest suburban Journal & Topics Newspapers website on November 4:

A school to train gun owners for concealed carry permits held a grand opening on Milwaukee Avenue in Niles.

Niles Village Trustee George Alpogianis, standing-in for Mayor Andrew Przybylo at the Oct. 17 event, cut the ribbon for Conceal Carry Safety for Personal Defense at 7609 N. Milwaukee.

The school uses fake guns with lasers for aiming, rather than actual firearms with live ammunition…

I understand the name of the school is actually Concealed Carry Safety for Personal Defense, and I blogged about the facility back in May after the Niles Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals recommended it be considered for a special use permit. At that time, I noted the CCW training school would be utilizing Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger (SIRT) Training Pistols as part of their curriculum:


“SIRT Training Pistol Introduction with Mike Hughes”
YouTube Video

As for the new gun shop/range? Alex Hernandez reported on The Bugle website on October 24:

People for a Safer Society are suing to block Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy from opening in Niles.

“The area immediately surrounding [Sportsman’s] is replete with schools, religious facilities, children’s recreations facilities, and other non-gun-related businesses and entities, many or all of which are within walking distance of the Howard Property and the proposed gun range,” said the suit filed by People for a Safer Society last Friday.

Back in July trustees voted 4-1 to grant Sportsman’s a special use permit to open an 1,800-square-foot firing range and 2,500 square feet of retail space at 6143 W. Howard St…

The suit claims that if Sportsman’s opens the business would endanger Niles by allowing “easy access for buying a gun for anyone in or near Niles and the surrounding villages and communities,” that Sportsman’s gun sales “would result in the feeding of crime guns to the City of Chicago,” and finally a fear that the store could increase the risk of suicides and mass shootings in the area…

As you can see, gun “control” is alive and well in Cook County, Illinois, these days. Nice to see another concealed-carry training option open up around my old stomping grounds though.

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

Sources:

“Gun School Opens In Niles” Journal & Topics Newspapers. 4 Nov. 2014. (http://www.journal-topics.com/business/article_95edb6ee-647d-11e4-92e6-0017a43b2370.html). 13 Nov. 2014.

Hernandez, Alex V. “Opponents to Sportsman’s gun range sue Niles.” The Bugle. 24 Oct. 2014. (http://www.buglenewspapers.com/niles/article_2abdd99e-5be0-11e4-8ff2-001a4bcf6878.html). 13 Nov. 2014.

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Thursday, November 13th, 2014 Firearms, Gun Rights, Self-Defense, Training No Comments

Cook County Tells Rest Of Illinois: Enact More Gun Control

Last Thursday, I blogged about a gun “control” referendum that was to appear on Cook County (Illinois) voter ballots on November 4. It said:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?

As of an hour ago, with 3,690 of 3,742 precincts reporting, the results so far show:

“Yes”: 1,024,722 votes (86.6%)

“No”: 159,028 votes (13.4%)

So there you have it. Cook County voters have spoken, and they overwhelmingly want more gun “control” for the entire state.

Too bad the referendum is non-binding. And it’s not like the rest of the “Land of Lincoln” gives a crap what “Crook County” thinks.

Still, I suspect Governor Quinn might bring it into play the next time a mass shooting or terrorist attack on American soil with a significant number of casualties occurs.

Oh, that’s right.

He gone.

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

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Oak Park And Cook County Referenda For More Gun ‘Control’ In Illinois, U.S.

Here’s the latest from “ground zero” for gun “control” in the United States. Voters in Cook County and Oak Park (Cook County, Illinois) will have the opportunity to vote on the following referenda in next week’s election. For Cook County voters:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly enact the Illinois Public Safety Act (Senate Bill 3659) which would require universal background checks for firearm transfers and prohibit the sale and transfer of assault weapons, assault weapon attachments and high capacity ammunition magazines?

And for Oak Park Township voters:

Shall the Federal Government enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for all transfers of ownership or possession of firearms, including transfers which occur at gun shows, over the internet and privately, as a step toward preventing the ownership or possession of firearms by criminals and those with serious mental illnesses, and as a step toward preventing gun trafficking altogether?

Regarding that Cook County referendum- I understand its primary purpose (along with other referenda appearing on the November 4 ballot) is to energize Democrats to vote in this mid-term election.

As for that Oak Park referendum- Your guess is as good as mine. I’m going to go with making a statement, seeing that both referenda are non-binding.

I will say this though. After the next mass shooting or terrorist attack on American soil with a significant number of casualties, expect the results of both (should voters “approve” them) to be trotted out by various politicians pushing more gun “control.”

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

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Chicago-Area Security Heightened After U.S. Terrorism Warning

I saw a segment last night on the Channel 9 (Chicago) evening news regarding the City of Chicago’s response to that security bulletin issued by the FBI and DHS the other day. From the WGN TV website:

A renewed terror warning in the U.S. is prompting security concerns in Chicago.

While acknowledging the city may be a potential target, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stresses local and federal agencies are on the lookout for any terrorist activity.

The head of Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security says there is no sign of a specific, credible threat against the urban area. But in Chicago airports and across the region security has been heightened

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the news segment, Michael Masters, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, stated:

I think it’s important for people to realize that our first responders are training everyday on the types of threats and issues we see going on around the world.

Reporter Julian Crews added:

Cook County’s homeland security chief says the region is prepared to respond.

Here’s hoping he’s right.

You can watch that entire segment- which also includes comments from former Secret Service special agent Arnette Heintze and DePaul University professor and terrorism analyst Thomas Mockaitis- on the WGN TV website here.

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

Source:

Crews, Julian. “Renewed terror warning in U.S. prompts security concerns in Chicago.” WGN TV. 24 Sep. 2014. (http://wgntv.com/2014/09/24/renewed-terror-warning-in-u-s-prompts-security-concerns-in-chicago/). 25 Sep. 2014.

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Northwest Indiana Preparedness And Self-Reliance Expo This Saturday

As I blogged before, the writing is on the wall for Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois. As I see it, economic and social conditions are going to get significantly more challenging than they already are. While terrific alternative media sites like Second City Cop chronicle the unraveling and offer up valuable intel, I’ll be disseminating more information going forward for local blog readers which may help in learning and developing skills for surviving and prospering in these uncertain times. For example, there’s a free preparedness and self-reliance expo scheduled to take place this Saturday at the American Museum of Military Vehicles in Crown Point, Indiana. From the website of Live Free, USA- billed as “one of the oldest and most respected survival/self-reliance advocacy organizations in the world”:

NW Indiana Prepares
Saturday, September 20th 10:00 Am to 5:00 Pm
EXHIBITS PRESENTATIONS HANDS ON LEARNING

All presentations will take place inside our spacious tent.
Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Presentations Planned Include:

Aquaponics / Hydroponics Indoor Farming
Beekeeping
BOB’s (Bug out Bags)
The 5 C’s of Survival
Campfire Cooking
Poultry Farming
Herbs “God’s” Pharmacy
Health and Wellness: Home made salves and ointments
Survival Shotgun Basics
Black Powder demonstration

Hands on Training:

Archery Lessons
NRA Certified Range Master offers Firearm Instruction with BB & Airsoft Guns
Just Added: Three strikes Of The Match!
Presented by volunteers from Liberty Seed, in affiliation with the Revolutionary War Veterans Association!
Hear the true stories of April 19, 1775, the day our nation was born! The story will be presented in three thirty minute segments; 11 Am – 1 Pm – 3 Pm

It will not be the story you think you know, or the story you heard in school. It will be the real story, the story that historians have discovered, the story of the first day of the American Revolution.

April 19th was a day of choices, and these are the stories of real people who knew the cost of freedom and were willing to pay the price.

The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is committed to teaching our early American heritage. They do this for one simple reason, the skill and knowledge of what our founding fathers left to us is eroding in modern America and without deliberate action, they will be lost to ignorance and apathy.

To reserve a primitive camp site or vendor space
Please contact Beth Duensing for vendor and presentation information 219-226-3400 or e-mail NWIFamilyPrep-info@yahoo.com
Click Below For Printable Flyer (PDF)
NWI Prepares Sept. 20, 2014

Sounds interesting. But more importantly, sounds informative- with some potentially-valuable information and new skills that could be taken away from it.

For more info about the free prepper/survivalist event, either pull up that flyer or go to the Live Free, USA, website here.

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

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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 How To, Preparedness, Training No Comments

22 States Now Recognize Illinois Concealed Carry License

After several years of researching and blogging about personal safety topics, I’ve noticed a number of companies selling firearms, ammunition, and other self-defense products refuse to do business with potential customers from Chicago, Cook County, and/or Illinois, even though what they’re selling can be legally-purchased and possessed by residents of those areas. From what I understand, the thinking is:

If you’re going to elect politicians that are anti-gun and anti-personal defense, then we’re not going to sell our products to you until you vote said politicians out of office.

I’ve wondered if a similar train of thought might carry over to their state’s recognition of the new Illinois Concealed Carry License.

The jury’s still out on that one.

But there are a number of states that already do recognize the Illinois concealed-carry permit. And the outlook for more doing so seems positive. Kevin Craver reported on the Northwest Herald (Chicago, Illinois, northwest suburbs) website yesterday:

Since becoming available to the public in January, 22 other states recognize the Illinois permit, meaning it authorizes the holder to carry there. The list includes all of Illinois’ neighboring states, much of the Midwest and portions of the West and South…

The list of states that recognize Illinois’ permit likely will increase as states review their agreements, [Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard] Pearson said. Gun-friendly Texas, for example, honors permits from most other states but not yet Illinois…

States that honor the Illinois permit besides its immediate neighbors are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.

Good to know. Especially for those with Illinois CCLs or interested in acquiring one and looking to carry concealed out of state.

For more information on the Illinois Concealed Carry License, visit the Illinois State Police website here. As I mentioned in a different post last week, much of the processing hiccups and initial backlog look to have been dealt with by the ISP already.

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

Source:

Craver, Kevin P. “More states recognizing Illinois concealed-carry permits.” Northwest Herald. 17 Aug. 2014. (http://www.nwherald.com/2014/08/15/more-states-recognizing-illinois-concealed-carry-permits/ad8bxlo/?page=1). 18 Aug. 2014.

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Initial Surge Of Illinois Concealed Carry License Applications Settles Down After 68,000-Plus Issued

Illinois readers- been waiting for that initial surge of Illinois Concealed Carry License applications to subside before applying for the permit yourself? According to Molly Parker over at the The Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale), things are finally startling to settle down. Parker reported yesterday on the paper’s website:

Observers of the new law say the initial rush by enthusiasts, though, is mostly over and the ticklish process for applying for a permit- or which was beset by technological problems- has smoothed out considerably…

Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, said at first it was a “painful process.”

“By the same token we are making progress and some people got their permits when they gave the police their applications within 35 days,” he said.

Last time I blogged about the number of Illinois CCLs issued (July 2), it stood north of 60,000. Parker noted:

The state issued a total of 68,549 permits statewide between February and July according to state statistics provided by Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, one of the new law’s chief architects…

And the last time I wrote about the number of concealed-carry permits issued to Cook County residents (May 23), that stood at 12,641. Parker added:

Chicago’s Cook County is home to the most permit holders by number, though the county ranks 96th of 102 counties in percentage of people with a permit compared to the overall county population…

The Southern piece didn’t indicate how many Cook County permit holders there are now. However, according to a related article on the Chicago Sun-Times website this afternoon:

Cook County has the largest number of permit holders (17,477), but that’s only 0.33 percent of all residents…

17,000-plus Cook County residents now licensed to carry concealed firearms… and the streets aren’t running with rivers of blood?

For more information about obtaining an Illinois Concealed Carry License, visit the Illinois State Police website here.

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

Sources:

Parker, Molly. “Process for getting a concealed-carry permit eases.” The Southern Illinoisan. 10 Aug. 2014. (http://thesouthern.com/news/local/process-for-getting-a-concealed-carry-permit-eases/article_0d899d36-b9bc-5500-b3b8-3ffe754ca49c.html). 11 Aug. 2014.

“Illinois concealed carry process getting easier.” Chicago Sun-Times. 11 Aug. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/illinois-concealed-carry-process-getting-easier/mon-08112014-1200pm). 11 Aug. 2014.

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Monday, August 11th, 2014 Firearms, Government, Self-Defense No Comments

82 Shot, 14 Killed In Chicago Over Long July 4 Weekend

“I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was, glory be…”

As the local news talked about the high number of shootings that occurred over the long holiday weekend in Chicago, I couldn’t help but think of the song lyrics of “The Nght Chicago Died” by Paper Lace. Peter Nickeas reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon…

Five of the people were shot by police over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, including two boys 14 and 16 who were killed when they allegedly refused to drop their guns.

Many of the long weekend’s shootings were on the South Side, clustered in the Englewood, Roseland, Gresham and West Pullman neighborhoods that rank among the most violent in the city.

As expected, Mayor Rahm Emanuel used the occasion to push for more gun “control.” From the Tribune piece:

Asked why police, even with extra patrols, couldn’t tamp down the violence, Emanuel said: “It’s a fair question, where were the police? What were they doing? I would also say, where are the gun laws?”

Nickeas added:

He called for “better policing, better prevention” as well as better parenting and tougher gun laws…

Meanwhile, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy called attention to one of the real reasons why the “Windy City” is experiencing the type of violence seen this past weekend. Stefano Esposito, Frank Main, and Brian Slodysko wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday morning:

McCarthy, standing beside a cache of recently seized guns and rifles, touched on one of his favorite themes — the lack of punishment in Illinois for people who illegally own guns…

He repeated his frustration that many of the people who threaten his cops with firearms have been previously convicted of gun crimes. He frequently points out that people arrested for gun crimes are often released on bond. And if they’re convicted, they don’t serve serious prison time, he says…

“They don’t serve serious prison time.”

Why is that?

Consider what Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle said back in the fall. The Chicago Tribune’s Hal Dardick reported on October 2, 2013:

“I’ve been quite clear that I don’t believe in mandatory minimums,” said Preckwinkle, who also made it clear she was referring to both drug and gun crimes. “I think that they’re one of the reasons that our jails and our prisons are overcrowded, and they basically tie the judges’ hands and eliminate judicial discretion, and the reason we have judges on the bench is to exercise discretion.”

Dardick later added:

Preckwinkle is trying to lower the costs of detaining people who are awaiting trial at the overcrowded county jail.

Preckwinkle also has noted the costs to society of get-tough-on-crime mandatory minimum sentences that often put nonviolent offenders — or people capable of rehabilitation — behind bars for long periods, making it less likely they can later launch a productive life.

“All of these people, you know, unless we send them to jail for life, they eventually return to our communities,” Preckwinkle said, speaking to reporters after a County Board meeting. “And the longer they stay in prison, the less employable and the more problematic their future outcome.”

In the meantime, the carnage continues…


Paper Lace, “The Night Chicago Died” (1974)
YouTube Video

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

Sources:

Nickeas, Peter. “Fourth of July weekend toll: 82 shot, 14 of them fatally, in Chicago.” Chicago Tribune. 7 July 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-fourth-of-july-toll-82-shot-14-of-them-fatally-in-chicago-20140707,0,5439185.story). 8 July 2014.

Esposito, Stefano, Main, Frank, and Slodysko, Brian. “McCarthy: Hundreds of extra cops not enough to quell weekend of violence.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 July 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/28524972-761/mccarthy-hundreds-of-extra-cops-not-enough-to-quell-weekend-of-violence.html#.U7vrD5VOXIV). 8 July 2014.

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle opposes Emanuel on gun crime mandatory sentences.” Chicago Tribune. 2 Oct. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-10-02/news/chi-preckwinkle-opposes-emanuel-on-gun-crime-mandatory-sentences-20131002_1_preckwinkle-gun-violence-gun-crime). 8 July 2014.

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50,000 Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses Issued

Bad guys take note. From the website of the Illinois-based civil rights organization Guns Save Life yesterday:

Illinois 50,000 CCW licenses, by county

TOTAL PAID CCL APPLICATIONS 72,447
TOTAL ACTIVE LICENSES 49,980…

Cook is the county with the most “active” licenses issued to date, with 12,641.

Followed by:

DuPage 3,359
Lake 2,516
Madison 1,726
McHenry 1,589
St. Clair 1,364

I, for one, feel a lot safer knowing these thousands of Illinois Concealed Carry License holders are out there.

And last I checked, there weren’t any rivers of blood flowing through the Chicagoland streets.

At least as it relates to these law-abiding gun owners.

You can view all the Illinois CCL data on the Guns Safe Life website here.

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

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014 Firearms, Public Safety, Self-Defense No Comments

Cook County Homeowners Could See Property Tax Hike To Pay For Pension ‘Reform’

Last week, I blogged about the possibility of property and/or sales taxes going up soon in Cook County, Illinois. Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on May 13 the hikes might occur as part of a pension “reform” bill.

Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia added on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit Springfield Thursday to try to build support for changes to the county pension plan that she says would halt its ongoing decline toward insolvency.

She met with Senate President John Cullerton House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, and also Republican legislative leaders. “I think she’s got a good chance to pass this bill,” Madigan said afterward…

Although Preckwinkle has not identified how she would pay for her plan, it calls for the county to put $144 million a year into the pension fund. If funded with property taxes, that would cost the average homeowner up to $65 more a year, starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained.

Preckwinkle, however, said Wednesday that she has closed even larger budget gaps through cuts and other, smaller scale tax and fee increases without raising property taxes — while also lowering the county sales tax by a half-cent on the dollar…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet, McKinney and Slodysko wrote last week:

County officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned. It’s only a matter of time before Chicago and Cook County politicians get around to raising property taxes on a regular basis, if you ask me.

What’s that line I keep repeating on this blog?

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

As much as I hate saying it, that’s what Chicago and Cook County residents should be preparing themselves for down the road.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Garcia, Monique. “Preckwinkle hits Springfield on pension plan.” Chicago Tribune. 22 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-preckwinkle-hits-springfield-on-pension-plan-20140522,0,4698464.story). 22 May 2014.

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Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes No Comments

Cook County Property, Sales Tax Hikes Coming Soon?

Property and/or sales taxes could be going up soon in Cook County, Illinois, as part of a pension “fix.” Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

Officials are putting the finishing touches on a Cook County worker pension reform bill that is soon expected to emerge in Springfield, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The bill will cut retiree benefits and require workers to pay more toward their pension funds. But it will not address an estimated $144 million in new annual revenue that’s needed to fully fund the pension accounts in 20 years, a source with knowledge of plan said Tuesday.

That decision would be made by the Cook County Board following November’s gubernatorial election, officials with knowledge of the plan said.

But the money will likely be raised through a tax hike — either a sales tax hike, a property tax hike, or a combination of the two — in Cook County, the source said.

That’s because county officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Survival And Prosperity readers shouldn’t be surprised to hear this. I blogged back on April 10:

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 and McKinney were the only ones talking about the proposed pension “fix” on the local news sites I visited this morning.

Which is kind of sad, if you ask me.

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

Source:

McKinney, Dave and Slodysko, Brian. “County pension reform headed to Springfield.” Chicago Sun-Times. 13 May 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/county-pension-reform-headed-springfield/tue-05132014-714pm). 14 May 2014.

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes No Comments

Are Expandable Batons Legal In Cook County, Illinois?

As the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop noted early this morning, it was “Pick on Rahm Week” in some of the local mainstream media outlets last week.

I can’t help but wonder if the Chicago press isn’t realizing that being thought of as Rahm’s personal Pravda might possibly be tied to declining audiences and revenue.

A left-leaning, pro-Democratic Party agenda slant in a lot of the reporting I see/read probably doesn’t help either.

Anyway, we’re going to move in a different direction today. Last year, I published a number of posts concerning Chicago-area laws and various self-defense tools. This included:

Chicago-Area Laws Concerning Self-Defense Tools
Is Pepper Spray Legal in Chicago, Illinois?
Are Expandable Batons Legal In Chicago, Illinois?
Updated: Chicago Laws Concerning Self-Defense Tools
What Are The Knife Laws In Chicago, Illinois?
Is Pepper Spray Legal In Cook County, Illinois?

Today, I’m going to look at whether or not expandable batons are legal in Cook County, Illinois.

While Chicago has already been covered, what about the rest of the county?

I couldn’t find anything in the Cook County Code of Ordinances that specifically designates expandable batons as illegal.

However, 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: Bold added for emphasis, except for section info)

Keep in mind something I mentioned in that post about retractable batons in Chicago:

While the Municipal Code makes no specific mention of the term “expandable baton,” that’s not to say some prosecutor pushing that “intent to use unlawfully against another” bit will try to equate such a device to a “bludgeon” or “billy.” My research turned up instances in which an expandable baton was referred to as a “bludgeoning device.”

And here’s what the State of Illinois says about a “bludgeon.” From the Illinois Compiled Statutes, 720 ILCS 5 Criminal Code of 2012:

(720 ILCS 5/24-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 24-1)
Sec. 24-1. Unlawful Use of Weapons.
(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
(1) Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or carries any bludgeon, black-jack, slung-shot, sand-club, sand-bag, metal knuckles or other knuckle weapon regardless of its composition, throwing star, or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or a ballistic knife, which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile by means of a coil spring, elastic material or compressed gas…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So are expandable batons legal in Cook County? Once again, while not being specifically named in the Cook County Code of Ordinances or Illinois Criminal Code, if the authorities classify the tool as a “bludgeon,” the individual who “purchases, possesses, or carries” one may very well be in big trouble.

You can read those parts about bludgeons in the Cook County Code of Ordinances here and in the Illinois Criminal Code here.

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

(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.)

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

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Monday, May 12th, 2014 Government, Legal, Self-Defense No Comments

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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