local government

Niles Gun Shop, Range Lawsuit Decision Next Month?

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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

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

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

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

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Chicago Uber Driver With Concealed-Carry Permit Shoots Man Firing Into Crowd In Logan Square

I’m guessing some members of the anti-concealed-carry crowd in Illinois and beyond aren’t too pleased that news of the following makes its way into the mainstream media. Greg Ziezulewicz reported on the Chicago Tribune website Monday morning:

Authorities say no charges will be filed against an Uber driver who shot and wounded a gunman who opened fire on a crowd of people in Logan Square over the weekend.

The driver had a concealed-carry permit and acted in the defense of himself and others…

Glad to hear this Illinois Concealed Carry License holder was at the right place at the right time.

While I haven’t heard any comment on the incident by City Hall or a high-ranking representative of the Chicago Police Department, I’ll make the following prediction. Undoubtedly, they’ll be a time when an Illinois CCL holder screws up royally. And when that individual does, the anti-CCW crowd will scream bloody murder in an attempt to convince anyone who will listen that legal concealed-carry of a firearm by the citizenry is a huge mistake and should be rescinded. Mark my words.

You can read the entire piece on the Tribune website here.

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

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Bloody Chicago Weekend Sign Of Things To Come?

Unlike last year, Chicago is having an authentic spring in 2015.

But accompanying the much-welcomed warm weather has been the dreaded shootings and homicides.

The Chicago news media is reporting the tally from this past weekend (starting late Friday afternoon) was four killed and thirty wounded.

There seems to be more talk of shootings/related murders in the news these days. The popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop reported this morning:

Nearly 600 people shot this year (and a 25% increase in homicides as of yesterday)…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

If one believes warm weather equals more shootings, then the “Windy City” could be in for a real bloodbath in 2015.

Looking at my copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015, which claims around an 80 percent accuracy rate with its weather forecasts and correctly-predicted the colder than normal winter for the area, the rest of spring looks to be warmer than usual, with summer being described as “hotter than normal.”

Uh-oh. I wonder if City Hall and “Chicago’s Finest” are aware of that longer-range forecast yet?

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

Source:

SCC. “Forty Shot?” Second City Cop. 21 Apr. 2015. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2015/04/forty-shot.html). 21 Apr. 2015.

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Standard & Poor’s Warns Chicago ‘Downgrade Of More Than One Notch Is Possible’

Not too much talk about the following last week in the Chicago-area news. From Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Helen Samuelson over on S&P’s Global Credit Portal website on April 9:

CHICAGO (Standard & Poor’s) April 9, 2015–After months of campaigning and uncertainty, Chicago (A+/Negative general obligation debt rating) can get back to the business of running itself. As such, we expect Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attention to be focused on the city’s budget challenges, namely its ballooning pension obligation.

During the course of the election — and particularly during the runoff — Mayor Emanuel avoided addressing the possibility of property tax increases to help pay for these pension obligations.

“Following Tuesday’s vote, in order to maintain its current rating, we expect the administration to address the pension and budget challenges head on by providing solutions that will support the city’s credit strengths in the near and far term,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Helen Samuelson.

Our ‘A+’ rating is predicated on Chicago’s ability to make the changes necessary to address its budget gap and pension problem. However, even with this ability, to ensure long-term stability Chicago still needs to demonstrate its willingness to make difficult choices that address its budget issues.

Otherwise, the ‘A+’ rating could be severely pressured. Our negative rating outlook reflects the city’s fiscal pressures. If the city doesn’t find structural solutions, a downgrade of more than one notch is possible.

In our view, if the city fails to articulate and implement a plan by the end of 2015 to sustainably fund its pension contributions, or if it substantially draws down its reserves to fund the contributions, we will likely lower the rating. This is regardless of whatever relief the state legislature may or may not provide. We will likely affirm the rating and revise the outlook to stable if Chicago is able to successfully absorb its higher pension costs while maintaining balanced budgetary performance and reserves at or near their current level…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

To date, a different credit rating agency- Moody’s- has been making the most noise about the City of Chicago’s financial woes. Yvette Shields reported on The Bond Buyer website on April 6:

The city has suffered a steep credit rating slide and further credit deterioration is threatened.

Chicago’s GO ratings range from a low of Baa2 — two notches above speculative grade — from Moody’s to a high of A-plus from Standard & Poor’s…

“A-plus.” That may not be the case at year end.

You can read that entire Standard & Poor’s piece on the Global Credit Portal here.

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

Source:

Shields, Yvette. “Big Stakes as Market Awaits Chicago’s Mayoral Pick.” The Bond Buyer. 6 Apr. 2015. (http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/regionalnews/big-stakes-as-market-awaits-chicagos-mayoral-pick-1071986-1.html). 16 Apr. 2015.

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Thursday, April 16th, 2015 Credit, Debt Crisis, Entitlements, Government, Taxes No Comments

Chicago To Be Run By Emergency Financial Control Board Within 2 Years?

Last Wednesday, I reminded Survival And Prosperity readers (local ones in particular) that Chicago- upon reelecting Rahm Emanuel as Mayor- remains in serious financial trouble. From that post:

As Rahm Emanuel enters his second term as Mayor of Chicago, I feel that proverbial brick wall is still fast-approaching.

Perhaps the best Chicagoans can hope for at this point is a controlled crash landing.

I know one thing. If I were still living in the city, I’d be preparing for the coming carnage…

Some readers might feel I was being a little too “sensational” with that statement. Therefore, I’d like to offer up the following for your consideration. Reuters’ Megan Davies and Karen Pierog reported on April 8:

Chicago has not seen the population losses Detroit did and its business and commercial real estate markets remain healthy, but its current circumstances are more dire than any other major American city today, with aggregate debt of $21.4 billion, up 60 percent since 2004.

Although Chicago’s situation isn’t bad enough yet to warrant a bankruptcy filing, that threat is out there if it fails to tackle its problems.

“People say Chicago’s not Detroit,” said Tom Metzold, a senior portfolio advisor at investment manager Eaton Vance. “Not right now. Chicago is Detroit ten years from now. I don’t care how economically strong your economy is. They don’t have a printing press. You can only tax so much.”

Metzold estimated the odds of a Chapter 9 bankruptcy in the next five years are “virtually zero” but said in the next 10 years that could rise to 25 percent if it fails to act

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In case readers are wondering, Metzold’s s “Street cred” includes serving as VP and Co-Director of Municipal Investments at Eaton Vance (one of the oldest investment management firms in the U.S.- established 1924), and as its Portfolio Manager since 1991.

Not as “optimistic” about Chicago’s financial future is Joe Mysak, Editor of Bloomberg Brief. He warned in an April 8 commentary:

I’m not a betting man. If I were, I’d bet that Chicago is going to be run by an Emergency Financial Control Board, or something like it, within two years, the same as New York City back in 1975 (and until 1986)…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Mysak, who’s been covering the municipal bond market since 1981, pointed out the city’s abysmal Moody’s credit rating (“one step from the basement of investment grade”) and wrote:

So a cut to junk may well be in the cards, and with it diminished and eventually lack of access to capital. Chicago has already creatively used, and some would say abused, the municipal market to subsidize city operations…

When the banks no longer want to lend to Chicago is presumably when the state of Illinois would come in, offering cash, loan guarantees, intercession with the federal government and whatever else the city needs in exchange for external management via an Emergency Financial Control Board…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The author of the Encyclopedia of Municipal Bonds signed-off with:

Two years. That’s how long I give the city of Chicago. Good luck, Rahm.

Good luck Chicago…

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

Sources:

Davies, Megan and Pierog, Karen. “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel confronts fiscal nightmare as he begins second term.” Reuters. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/04/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-confronts-fiscal-nightmare-as-he-begins-second-term/). 12 Apr. 2015.

Mysak, Joe. “Next Stop for Chicago: Emergency Financial Control Board.” Bloomberg Brief. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://newsletters.briefs.bloomberg.com/document/3fz176niqylzjr6oax/commentary). 12 Apr. 2015.

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Afterthoughts: Chicago’s 2015 Mayoral Election

In case you hadn’t heard, Rahm Emanuel remains Mayor of Chicago after defeating Jesús “Chuy” García yesterday in a run-off election 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent with 98.7% of precincts reporting.

Here are some of my thoughts regarding the 2015 mayoral election in Chicago:

1. The fact that “Chuy,” a Cook County commissioner who was born in Durango, Mexico, forced Mayor Emanuel into a first-ever run-off election for the position signaled two things. One, a number of Chicago voters aren’t too happy with the way the “Rahmfather” is running the city. And two, Chicago’s Hispanics continue to flex their growing political muscle. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website back on March 15:

According to census data from 2010, Hispanics make up just shy of 29 percent of the city’s population- but they account for only 13 to 15 percent of the electorate. (Garcia’s campaign says that number was at about 16 percent on Feb. 24.)

Should trends hold, I envision Latinos making significant gains with that percentage. Korecki added:

“The Hispanic population is the fastest-growing segment of the early-childhood population,” says Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, an Emanuel supporter. “Latinos make up 47 percent of students in CPS,. It’s a very significant population…

Last December, the U.S. Census Bureau forecasted that Hispanics will comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population within the next 30 years- up from approximately 17 percent right now.

At risk of sounding like “Captain Obvious” here, I’m thinking Chicago’s future will be a much more Latino one. Particularly as city government is concerned.

(Editor’s note: Back in the fall of 1988 I told my high school Spanish teacher I wanted to learn the language because I thought it would “come in handy” someday. Has it ever.)

2. After being forced into a run-off, the Rahm camp realized he’s rubbed a number of Chicagoans the wrong way. Which led to commercials like this:


“New Rahm Emanuel Ad: ‘I Can Rub People The Wrong Way’”
YouTube Video

So now that he’s won the run-off, what’s Mayor Emanuel “tune” now? Rick Pearson and Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

After finishing a salad and bowl of matzo ball soup, Emanuel was asked what he learned from the runoff and whether he would, in fact, be a more inclusive mayor in his second term.

Emanuel responded by confidently saying the feedback he’d gotten from voters during the campaign would serve as his “North Star.” Asked by the Tribune if that meant he would take a different approach to running the city, Emanuel instead deflected the question by telling the reporter: “You’ll evaluate that, and my guess is you’ll tell me on a 24-hour basis.”

Pressed again on whether he had heard the voters and would change his often brusque style, Emanuel responded with just one word:

“Yeah.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yeah. I don’t know about you, but the impression I get from that response is- something tells me old habits might be particularly hard to break with this one.

I can’t help but wonder if dead fish aren’t already on their way…

3. Chicago’s “financial reckoning day” is still fast approaching. And I don’t think it matters who’s in charge, as I believe we’re too far along in the deterioration and the required political will to do something about it just isn’t there. Still. I read a “funny” comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop earlier today. From a Tuesday night post:

Anonymous said…

Blah blah blah. The city will not go.bankrupt. We are third in the country for tourists, we have numerous international and national companies world headquarters plus we have a 100s of millions in tif funds. Commie chuy was a police hater that had no plan for this city. Rahm ain’t no picnic either but next to chuy he was a genius.

Now consider what the National Journal’s John B. Judis reported on March 30:

Chicago is facing a truly grave set of problems– problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country.

The quandaries begin with Chicago’s dramatic social divide. To an even greater extent than is the case in, say, New York or Philadelphia, Chicago has become two entirely separate cities. One is a bustling metropolis that includes the Loop, Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, and the Gold Coast, as well as the city’s well-to-do, working-class, and upwardly mobile immigrant neighborhoods. The other Chicago consists of impoverished neighborhoods on the far South and West Sides, primarily populated by African-Americans. These places have remained beyond the reach of the city’s recovery from the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, even as it grapples with this extreme gap, Chicago is suffering from a severe fiscal crisis. Like plenty of other municipalities, Chicago lacks the revenue to pay its bills, particularly its pension obligations to city workers. According to a 2013 Pew report, 61 other U.S. cities face similar difficulties, but Chicago’s situation is one of the worst. “Voters must realize we are facing the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” says Roosevelt University’s Paul Green, the doyen of Chicago political experts. “If something doesn’t happen, the city is beyond the abyss.”

Those problems aren’t really Emanuel’s fault, but his efforts to fix them over the past four years haven’t yielded especially good results. For his part, Garcia—who has been at the forefront of Latino politics in Chicago for four decades and who has a history of bucking Chicago’s political establishment—has run a campaign long on general populist criticism of the incumbent, but short on credible ideas about what he would do differently.

All of which means that this election won’t yield much of a mandate for dramatic solutions to Chicago’s twin crises

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Translated: Probably doesn’t matter who won the election, because Chicago looks to “lose” with either at the helm.

Once again, the economic situation appears too far gone at this point, and the political will to truly get the city’s finances back on track just isn’t there.

I hope Judis is wrong. And I hope I’m wrong here.

But the numbers are looking pretty atrocious right now.

As much as I’d like to side with “Anonymous,” as Rahm Emanuel enters his second term as Mayor of Chicago, I feel that proverbial brick wall is still fast-approaching.

Perhaps the best Chicagoans can hope for at this point is a controlled crash landing.

I know one thing. If I were still living in the city, I’d be preparing for the coming carnage.

More on that topic soon.

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

Sources:

Korecki, Natasha. “Getting Hispanics to the polls in Chicago mayor’s race no slam dunk for Chuy.” Chicago Sun-Times. 15 Mar. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/438985/getting-hispanics-polls-chicago-mayors-race-slam-dunk-chuy). 8 Apr. 2015.

Pearson, Rick and Ruthhart, Bill. “’Second chance.’ Emanuel says he’s ‘humbled’ by victory.” Chicago Tribune. 8 Apr. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-mayoral-election-20150407-story.html#page=1). 8 Apr. 2015.

SCC. “Mixed Bag.” Second City Cop. 7 Apr. 2015. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2015/04/mixed-bag.html). 8 Apr. 2015.

Judis, John B. “Broken city: Rahm Emanuel and the unraveling of Chicago.” National Journal. 30 Mar. 2015. (https://www.yahoo.com/politics/broken-city-rahm-emanuel-and-the-unraveling-of-115037357316.html). 8 Apr. 2015.

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Bill Introduced To Permit Illinois Municipalities To File For Bankruptcy

Since I started blogging about a U.S. financial crash back on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve believed one casualty will be municipal government. Particularly in Illinois. So imagine my non-surprise when I spotted an article on the Chicago Tribune website a couple of days ago about proposed legislation at the state level granting Illinois towns the authority to file for bankruptcy. Nick Swedberg of the Associated Press wrote on March 26:

Stressed by pension debt, other financial issues and the possibility losing a chunk of their state aid, some Illinois cities want the option to file for bankruptcy. They’ve found an ally in a Republican lawmaker, who’s proposed legislation to allow municipalities to follow in the footsteps of Detroit and other cities in restructuring debt and paying back creditors…

Rep. Ron Sandack is sponsoring legislation that would grant authority for communities to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the federal code. The Downers Grove Republican says it’s a “measure of last resort,” especially with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal in next year’s budget to cut in half the local governments’ share of state income taxes by 50 percent.

“It’s just giving time and space to do things right,” he said…

Swedberg added later in the piece:

Municipal bankruptcies are rare, NCSL data shows. Of 37 local government filings since 2010, only 8 were cities, with the majority filed by utilities and special districts.

Detroit filed for the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in July 2013, looking to restructure $12 billion of debt…

It’s true. Municipal bankruptcies haven’t happened too often. But keep in mind what Eric Weiner wrote on the NPR website back on February 28, 2008:

For most of U.S. history, cities and towns were not eligible for bankruptcy protection. But during the Great Depression, more than 2,000 municipalities defaulted on their debt, and they pleaded with President Roosevelt for a federal bailout. “All they got was sympathy,” reported Time magazine in 1933. Instead, Roosevelt pushed through changes to the bankruptcy laws that allows towns and cities to file for bankruptcy. They even got their own section of the bankruptcy code: Chapter Nine…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this from Robert Slavin on The Bond Buyer website back on January 14:

For the municipal bond industry, 2015 marks the midpoint in what may turn out to be the decade of the bankruptcy.

Four of the five largest municipal bankruptcy filings in United States history have been made in roughly the last three years, a trend analysts attribute to the aftereffects of the 2008 credit crisis and Great Recession, as well as changing attitudes about debt.

“The crash of 2008 and five years of stagnation preceded by years of escalating wages, pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits set the stage for our recent Chapter 9 filings,” said Arent Fox partner David Dubrow.

Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy was adopted in 1937 but had been rarely used, particularly by large governments. However, since November 2011 San Bernardino, Calif., Stockton, Calif., Jefferson County, Ala., and Detroit have filed four of the five largest bankruptcies as measured by total obligations.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Could the specter of Meredith Whitney, the “Diva Of Doom,” be returning to take revenge on the municipal bond industry?

I’m not surprised Illinois municipalities would be interested in House Bill 298. From Patrick Rehkamp and Andrew Schroedter on the website of the Chicago-based Better Government Association back on December 6, 2014:

Reasons for filing vary but often include troubled public development projects, unanticipated hefty legal judgments against a taxpayer-backed entity, or massive pension and bond debt payments that leave a municipality cash-strapped and unable to cover operating costs of employee salaries, vendor payments and other expenses.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The public pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois has been well-publicized for some time now. And while such entitlements are supposedly protected by a provision in the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the BGA noted in their piece:

In Illinois, public employee pensions are guaranteed by the state constitution. But in the Detroit and Stockton, California bankruptcy cases, federal judges have ruled that pension benefits can be adjusted, the same as other debts, despite a constitutional guarantee.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can track the progress of HB 298 on the Illinois General Assembly website here.

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

Sources:

Swedberg, Nick. “Bill pushes for possible municipal bankruptcies in Illinois.” Associated Press. 29 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-bc-il–closer-look-bankruptcy-20150329-story.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Weiner, Eric. “What Happens When City Hall Goes Bankrupt?” NPR. 28 Feb. 2008. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=60740288). 3 Apr. 2015.

Slavin, Robert. “Why So Many Big Bankruptcies?” The Bond Buyer. 14 Jan. 2015. (http://www.bondbuyer.com/news/markets-buy-side/why-so-many-big-bankruptcies-1069539-1.html). 3 Apr. 2015.

Rehkamp, Patrick and Schroedter, Andrew. “Next Up: Illinois Municipal Bankruptcy?” Better Government Association. 16 Dec. 2014. (http://www.bettergov.org/next_up_illinois_municipal_bankruptcy/). 4 Apr. 2015.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed Niles, Illinois, Gun Shop And Range Back In Court On April 14

Sorry about the delayed posting this week. While I would have liked to have celebrated an extended St. Patrick’s Day weekend here in the Chicago area (and wrote), a number of personal matters required my attention instead.

Speaking of the Chicagoland area, remember when I blogged last summer about that gun shop and range possibly opening up around my old stomping grounds on the Northwest Side? Last I heard, the proposed facility at 6143 Howard Street in Niles was being sued by a gun “control” group calling themselves People for a Safer Society. I noted on November 13:

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…

That’s the last I heard of the Niles gun shop and shooting range- until this afternoon. Tom Robb reported on the website of Journal & Topics Newspapers (northwest Chicago suburbs) last week:

A significant ruling, in the case of anti-gun activists challenging Niles village trustees’ approval of a gun shop and shooting range, could come next month. It could end the case, send it to trial or add another party to the lawsuit.

At issue in a ruling, expected Tuesday, Apr. 14, is whether the challenge to the special use permit would be “facial” or “as applied.”

Robb explained later in the article:

In their motion to dismiss the suit, Niles attorneys wrote, “An applied challenge represents a plaintiff’s protest against how a statute was applied in a particular context… while a facial challenge represents a plaintiff’s contention that a statute is incapable of constitutional application in any context.”

Because the case could not withstand a facial challenge, village attorneys say in their motion that the case should be dismissed.

People For A Safer Society attorney Anthony Hind said he believes the standard in the gun shop case should rest on the “as applied” standard, based on long-standing state law, and that it should move forward…

There’s more to this legal stuff, which you can read over on the Des Plaines-based paper’s website here.

Survival And Prosperity wishes 6143 Howard Partners Inc. the best of luck on April 14.

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

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Chicago City Council Budget Chair On Property Tax Hike: ‘I Believe We Can Truly Say That It Will Happen’

Back when I was an aide to U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, there was one cardinal rule to be followed when communicating with constituents:

Good news comes from Paul, bad news comes from his assistants.

With that in mind, last night my girlfriend and I were watching the Chicago news on TV when the following story appeared. From the WGN Web Desk this morning:

A Chicago property tax hike could be on the way.

That wasn’t announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

It was said by an alderman who is trying to help him get reelected.

Several of Emanuel’s allies held a press conference Monday to question how challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia would pay for the promises he’s making on the campaign trail.

That’s when 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin, the City Council budget chairman, said property tax increases may be needed to cover Emanuel’s spending plans.

“I believe we can truly say that it will happen, but it’s all in the ‘how much,’” said Austin. “Nothing is off the table, and I think we should be honest with the people to let them know that everything is being considered.”

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Considering the event was organized to attack mayoral challenger Jesús “Chuy” Garcia and this City Council routinely carries water for Emanuel, I initially thought “The Rahmfather” was trying to kill two birds with one stone here- blast “Chuy” and have Alderman Austin start conditioning Chicagoans for the looming property tax hike I’ve been warning about for some time now on this blog.

Good news Rahm. Bad news City Council budget chairman.

But then I thought more about how Rahm obviously realizes talk of tax hikes is one of the “third-rails” of politics- particularly before a runoff election that’s only a few weeks away (April 7) and where “Chuy” is not too far behind in the various polls.

Plus there’s this from Hal Dardick about the incident on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Austin, known for speaking off the cuff, quickly tried to qualify her property tax hike comment, saying she meant only that “everything is on the table.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Maybe this wasn’t orchestrated by Rahm?

Oh well. Smooth move or gaffe, I see it as yet more evidence of a property tax hike being just around the corner.

Plan accordingly.

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

Sources:

“Mayor Emanuel Ally: Property tax hike likely.” WGN News Desk. 10 Mar. 2015. (http://wgntv.com/2015/03/10/mayor-emanuel-ally-property-tax-hike-likely/). 10 Mar. 2015.

Dardick, Hal. “Emanuel ally: Property tax hike likely in second term.” Chicago Tribune. 9 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/chi-emanuel-ally-says-property-tax-likely-in-second-term-20150309-story.html). 10 Mar. 2015.

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Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes No Comments

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating Yet Again, Issues Negative Outlook

Chicago’s financial health is still pretty bleak in 2015.

Almost one year ago to this day, I blogged about bond credit rating giant Moody’s Investor Service downgrading the City of Chicago’s general obligation (GO) and sales tax ratings to Baa1 from A3, affecting $8.3 billion of GO and sales tax debt. I added last March:

According to Moody’s, “Obligations rated Baa are judged to be medium-grade and subject to moderate credit risk and as such may possess certain speculative characteristics.”

Just before the weekend, Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s credit rating yet again. The Global Credit Research division announced on the Moody’s website under “Ratings News” Friday:

Rating Action: Moody’s downgrades Chicago, IL to Baa2; maintains negative outlook

Baa2 applies to $8.3B of GO debt, $542M of sales tax debt, and $268M of motor fuel tax debt

New York, February 27, 2015 — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1 the rating on the City of Chicago, IL’s $8.3 billion of outstanding general obligation (GO) debt, $542 million of outstanding sales tax revenue debt, and $268 million of outstanding or authorized motor fuel tax revenue debt. We have also downgraded to Speculative Grade (SG) from VMIG 3 the short-term rating on the city’s outstanding Sales Tax Revenue Refunding Bonds, Variable Rate Series 2002. The outlook on the long-term ratings remains negative…

“The outlook on the long-term ratings remains negative”

Kind of hard to get excited about the “Windy City’s” prospects after reading that.

To be fair, some are suggesting the credit rating downgrades are being influenced by City Hall in order to avoid meeting certain financial obligations (i.e., Chicago’s well-publicized public pension crisis).

“We ain’t got it.”

You can read the entire Moody’s press release on their website here.

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

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Are Expandable Batons Legal In Chicago, Illinois? (2015 Update)

On January 19, I started reviewing Chicago-area laws concerning self-defense tools for the new year. That day, I blogged about the legality of pepper spray in Chicago.

Today, I’m going to look at if collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic batons are legal in Chicago, Illinois.

Like with that pepper spray post, let’s start at the top. Looking at the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Criminal Offenses, (720 ILCS 5/) Criminal Code of 2012, “ARTICLE 24. DEADLY WEAPONS”:

(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; or
(2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character…

No specific mention of collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic batons. But there’s also this:

13) Carries or possesses on or about his or her person while in a building occupied by a unit of government, a billy club, other weapon of like character, or other instrument of like character intended for use as a weapon. For the purposes of this Section, “billy club” means a short stick or club commonly carried by police officers which is either telescopic or constructed of a solid piece of wood or other man-made material.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

From my research on this subject, I’ve encountered instances where collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic batons have also been referred to as “billy clubs” (like above) and “bludgeoning devices.” Keep that in mind going forward.

Since Chicago is part of Cook County, let’s next look at the Cook County Code of Ordinances, Part I- GENERAL ORDINANCES, 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…

Once again, no specific mention of collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic batons. But “bludgeon” makes an appearance.

Finally, let’s see what the City of Chicago has on the books regarding these batons. From the Municipal Code of Chicago, TITLE 8 OFFENSES AFFECTING PUBLIC PEACE, MORALS AND WELFARE, CHAPTER 8-24 FIREARMS AND OTHER WEAPONS, 8-24-020 Sale or possession of deadly weapons:

(a) No person shall sell, offer for sale, keep, possess, purchase, loan or give to any person any bludgeon, blackjack, slung shot, sandclub, sandbag, metal knuckles, or other knuckle weapon regardless of its composition, throwing star, switchblade knife or ballistic knife; provided that this subsection shall not apply to the purchase, possession or carrying of a black- jack or slung shot by a peace officer.

Nothing specific. But there’s “bludgeon” again.

So are collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic batons legal in Chicago?

While not mentioned specifically in the Illinois Criminal Code, the Cook County Code of Ordinances, and the Municipal Code of Chicago, should the authorities want to prosecute an individual purchasing, possessing, selling, etcetera a collapsible/expandable/retractable/telescopic baton in the city of Chicago, it should surprise no one if the device is equated with a “billy club” or “bludgeon.” In which case, that individual could be in a lot of trouble.

Next time, I’ll be discussing knives in Chicago.

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.)

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 Legal, Non-Lethal Weapons, Self-Defense No Comments

Chicago Reader: Did Rahm Emanuel Deliver On Public Safety Campaign Promises?

The Chicago Reader has done a terrific job lately of keeping a tab on public safety in Chicago. And yesterday, the Reader website ran an article entitled “Did Rahm live up to his campaign promises on public safety?” Mick Dumke wrote:

During his first campaign for mayor four years ago, Rahm Emanuel kept talking about police.

He noted as often as he could that his uncle had been a cop on Chicago’s north side. He boasted of his role in crafting the Clinton administration’s 1994 crime bill that funded the hiring of 100,000 police officers nationwide.
And, as the centerpiece of his public safety plan, he vowed to find the money to add 1,000 more officers to Chicago’s force. He said this would prevent crime and improve relationships with the community.

“Police officers will become a presence in the neighborhood rather than only available in response to emergency,” he said.

But within weeks of taking office, Emanuel stopped talking about hiring cops. Instead, over the course of his first term, the number of officers on the force dropped from about 10,900 to 10,600. And the mayor responded to violent crime not by investing in community policing but by calling for stricter gun laws and blaming legislators who balked.

The result after four years: crime totals have fallen, as they have across the country. But Chicago still has more violent crime per capita than New York or Los Angeles, with an average of seven people shot every day…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A real insightful piece, which can be read in its entirety on the Chicago Reader website here.

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

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Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 Credit, Government, Gun Rights, Public Safety No Comments

Is Pepper Spray Legal In Chicago, Illinois? (2015 Update)

Last Wednesday, I blogged that I’d begin reviewing Chicago-area laws concerning self-defense tools starting this week.

Even though Survival And Prosperity addressed the subject of pepper spray or OC spray (from “oleoresin capsicum”) some time back, here’s a question I still keep hearing asked:

“Is pepper spray legal in Chicago, Illinois?”

To find out, let’s start at the top- meaning the State of Illinois. Looking at the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Criminal Offenses, (720 ILCS 5/) Criminal Code of 2012, “ARTICLE 24. DEADLY WEAPONS”:

(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:
(3) Carries on or about his person or in any vehicle, a tear gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance, other than an object containing a non-lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Pepper (OC) spray appears legal to own and carry in the state of Illinois- so long as the individual carrying it is “18 years of age or older.”

Now let’s turn to Cook County. Here’s something I was just made aware of recently. From the Cook County Code of Ordinances, Part I- GENERAL ORDINANCES, 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)

Pepper (OC) spray appears legal to own and carry in Cook County, Illinois- so long as the individual carrying it is “18 years of age or older” (per the State of Illinois), does not carry it “in a threatening or menacing manner,” or “conceals said weapon on or about the person or vehicle.”

That last bit about concealing about the person or vehicle is bound to raise some eyebrows, I’m guessing.

Mace Pepper Foam

Finally, here’s what the City of Chicago has on the books regarding pepper (OC) spray. From the Municipal Code of Chicago, TITLE 8 OFFENSES AFFECTING PUBLIC PEACE, MORALS AND WELFARE, CHAPTER 8-24 FIREARMS AND OTHER WEAPONS, 8-24-020 Sale or possession of deadly weapons:

(e) No person shall carry on or about his person or in any vehicle, a tear gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance, other than an object containing a non-lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older; provided that this subsection shall not apply to any person listed in section 5/24-2(a)(1)-(14) of the Criminal Code, 720 ILCS 5/24-2(a).

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

There’s also this under 8-24-045 Noxious gas or liquid:

(a) No person shall use any device to discharge a noxious gas or liquid in an enclosed room in any Class C-1 or Class C-2 Assembly Unit, as defined in Chapter 13-56 of this Code, or in an enclosed room in any restaurant, bar or tavern that is a Class F Assembly Unit as defined in that chapter, if more than 20 persons are present in that room, unless the person is a peace officer, as defined in Section 8-20-010 of this Code, engaged in law enforcement activity. As used in this section, “noxious gas or liquid” means mace, pepper spray or any other substance that is intended or designed to cause irritation to the eyes, nose or mouth, or to cause nausea.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So Is pepper spray legal in Chicago, Illinois?

Pepper (OC) spray appears legal to own and carry– so long as the individual carrying it:

• Is “18 years of age or older” (per the State of Illinois)
• Does not carry it “in a threatening or menacing manner” or “conceals said weapon on or about the person or vehicle” (per Cook County)
• Shall not use “any device to discharge a noxious gas or liquid in an enclosed room in any Class C-1 or Class C-2 Assembly Unit, as defined in Chapter 13-56 of this Code, or in an enclosed room in any restaurant, bar or tavern that is a Class F Assembly Unit as defined in that chapter, if more than 20 persons are present in that room” (per the City of Chicago)

Next time, I’ll be looking at expandable/collapsible/retractable batons and their legality in Chicago.

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.)

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Chicago-Area Legality Of Self-Defense Tools Revisited

“That’s why my attitude has changed to, fuck the citizens.
When you need help people, call a protester.
My check will still come every 1st and 16th of the month.”

-Comment left on Second City Cop blog post, December 24, 2014

In the future, I see a myriad of problems for Chicagoland residents when it comes to police protection. The source will be economic in nature, with the “thin blue line” getting stretched more than most can imagine as Chicago-area police agencies see their budgets slashed significantly with the next financial crisis.

I’d argue this situation has already arrived. Look at the Chicago Police Department and all the spin that’s being deployed and goal posts being moved by City Hall because of financial difficulties in achieving/maintaining a fully-manned police department.

I predict work conditions will also steadily deteriorate. De-policing and work stoppages could very well accompany this slide as law enforcement officers inevitably take stock of their situation.

Police activity could also decrease if certain politicians, race agitators, the mainstream media, and other self-interested parties continue to support and spotlight the police haters in our society. Just to give you an idea of how much attention is being given to these “squeaky wheels making lots of noise,” the Rolling Stone magazine website ran a piece on December 16 entitled:

“Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody’s Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World”

And under the headline was this:

“It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police”

“It’s time to start imagining…” That pretty much summed up the piece right there.

Anyway, the point of this post is to announce that in light of what I see coming down the pipeline regarding police protection in and around the “Windy City,” I will be reviewing Chicago-area laws concerning self-defense tools.

Regular readers may recall that I pulled up information on the legality of such personal protection devices as expandable batons, knives, firearms, and pepper spray in Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois starting around Halloween 2013. But seeing as new laws keep being added to the books, and in light of the personal safety challenges I think are ahead of us, now is the perfect time to revisit this material.

We’ll get started next week…

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

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