Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

36 shot. 4 killed. In 1 weekend.

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

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

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

Source:

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

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Wisconsin Now Recognizes Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illinois Millionaire Tax Halted For Now

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

It’s toast for now.

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

Source:

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

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Cook County Residents To Get Hit With Tax Hikes Soon?

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Slodysko added later in the piece:

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned…

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

Source:

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

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Chicago Has Highest Average Price Of Gas In The U.S.

Recently, a stack of bills came in the mail. One of them was for renewing the lawn care service that my girlfriend and I used last year. Everything was pretty much the same- except for a new fuel surcharge to compensate for the rising price of gas in the area.

Which really isn’t surprising, considering what I saw at the various Chicagoland gas stations less than two weeks ago and a new report saying the city of Chicago has the highest average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the country, once again.

Christian Farr wrote on the website of Chicago NBC affiliate NBC 5 yesterday:

The average U.S. price of a gallon of gasoline has risen 5 cents in the past two weeks, which especially doesn’t doesn’t bode well for Chicago drivers.

The Lundberg Survey of fuel prices released Sunday says the price of a gallon of regular is $3.61, the highest price in Lundberg’s twice-monthly surveys since late July 2013…

According to Gasbuddy.com, the average price for Illinois is $3.84 a gallon and $4.05 a gallon for the city of Chicago, which is the highest in the country

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The Chicago area routinely has the highest average price for a gallon of gas in the United States as of late. Consider these past post headlines of mine:

“Chicago Drivers Paying Nation’s Highest Average Gas Price”

-April 25, 2011

“Price Of Gas In Chicagoland Area Sets New AAA Record”

-March 26, 2012

“Chicago Has Highest Gas Price Of U.S. Cities In Lower 48 States”

-September 10, 2013

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

Source:

Farr, Christian. “Chicago Leads Nationwide Gas Price Spike.” NBC 5. 8 Apr. 2014. (http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Survey-Shows-Gas-Prices-Are-Rising-254290651.html). 9 Apr. 2014.

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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 Energy, Transportation, Vehicles 2 Comments

Reports: Chicago Manipulating Crime Statistics

“Downgrade and reclassify.”

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

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

From a July 24, 2013, post:

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

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

Apparently not.

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Two words come to mind here about these claims:

Truly disturbing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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Chicago Public Pension Crisis Latest

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

That goes for those large Illinois communities as well.

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

And the inevitable “blowback” down the road.

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Sources:

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

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

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

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

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Project Prepper, Part 24: Restart And Recap

It’s been a few months since I last published a “Project Prepper” post.

Considering all the material I have that’s just waiting to be blogged about, I don’t envision another layoff like that one happening again soon with this or one of the other series of posts currently running on Survival And Prosperity.

Today, I want to recap the “Project Prepper” series so far.

At two dozen posts, key topics I’ve blogged about since October 2012- when the first post debuted- have included:

• Starting up the “Project Prepper” series due to an increased awareness of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to life and lifestyle where I’ve decided to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning by doing

• Relocating from Chicago to the suburbs with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin (moved from Chicago to the northwest suburbs in late spring 2013)

• Establishing a prioritized list of 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness education will focus on:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

• Starting and building the foundation of an emergency water supply

• Starting an emergency food supply

Now, in these two dozen posts I’ve talked about items I’ve purchased as part of the “Project Prepper” series. For example, the Scepter 5 Gallon Manual Venting Water Jerry Can with CRC (Light Blue/Military Style) to store emergency water.

Going forward, I’m adding a new page to Survival And Prosperity this weekend entitled “Gear And Supplies” where I’ll be listing gear, supplies, and other items talked about in this series of posts and elsewhere on the blog- and links for where to buy them- if I feel they might offer something to readers.

It’s nice to be back in the saddle again. Until next week…

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

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Where Illinois Ranks In U.S. On Key Indicators In 2014 Compared To 4 Years Ago

“A state of distress”

That’s what the Chicago Tribune had at the top of an opinion piece that was published last Sunday on their website (was also in the Sunday paper too).

And it pretty much sums up what’s going on in Illinois when a comparison of where the state ranks nationally on various indicators is made to just a short four years ago.

From the Tribune on March 30:

Is Illinois better off in 2014 than it was four years ago? In 2010 we pored over a virtual library of statistics to assess where Illinois stood relative to other states and produced a chart much like this one. Today we replicate that exercise as closely as the data permit, with comparisons to Illinois’ national stature in 2010. By economic and jobs measures, Illinois has fallen further. By some education metrics, Illinois has improved. Our kids are still chubby…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Areas looked at included:

• Economy and Jobs
• Governance
• Health
• Education
• State of Mind

The word most often used by the paper to describe how they now stand in comparison to four years ago?

“Worse”

It’s an insightful- yet disturbing- read, which you can find here on the Tribune website.

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

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Friday, April 4th, 2014 Education, Employment, Government, Health No Comments

Graphic Shows Middle-Class Flight From Chicago

Back when I worked for a fire department in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, a veteran firefighter stopped by my office one day. I always assumed he was a lifelong resident of that area. He wasn’t. “Brendan” informed me that as a kid he grew up on Chicago’s West Side, near where the old Magic Kist Carpet billboard sign (those big neon red lips, remember?) used to be off the Eisenhower Expressway I think. I was told that the neighborhood was at one time very blue-collar, but by the late 60s-early 70s it was going to hell. His family saw what was happening to the area, and along with a number of other neighborhood families made the hard decision of leaving Chicago for something better in the suburbs.

I was reminded of that story when I came across a related one on the website of Chicago CBS affiliate CBS 2 last night. John Dodge reported:

The graphic that you are about to see is sobering, perhaps depressing, and you can’t take your eyes off it.

We have the exhaustive work of Daniel Kay Hertz, a masters student at the University Of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, to thank for that.

At the risk of sounding like an old carnival barker, step right up and watch the middle class of Chicago vanish before your eyes.

However, this is no side-show.

It shows the demise of the foundation of an American city.

Watch as the grey squares, which illustrate the middle class that dominated the most of the city’s neighborhoods in 1970s, quickly vanish over 40 years…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dodge was right. The graphic (after the body of the piece) is sobering, to say the least.

But not surprising to long-time Chicagoland residents or someone who’s ever run into a “Brendan” and has learned about their origins.

By the way, if the name Daniel Kay Hertz rings a bell with regular Survival And Prosperity readers, it’s because I blogged about a comparison he performed last year of homicide rates in Chicago Police Department districts from 1990-1993 to rates from 2008-2011.

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

Source:

Dodge, John. “Amazing Graphic Shows Chicago’s Middle Class Disappear Before Your Eyes.” CBS 2. 3 Apr. 2014. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/04/03/amazing-graphic-shows-chicagos-middle-class-disappear-before-your-eyes/). 4 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…


Jamiroquai, “Cosmic Girl” (1996)
YouTube Video

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Third, Spielman added last night:

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

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

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

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

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

Fifth, as it stands right now, there’s still a state-required $600 million contribution due next year from the City to stabilize police and fire pension funds that this proposed property tax hike doesn’t address and has to be dealt with. Hal Dardick an Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Stay tuned…

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

Sources:

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

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

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