O’Hare Airport

Taxing Time For Chicagoans

The elections are over. So it’s time for “higher/new fees, fines, and taxes,” as I routinely point out in Survival And Prosperity.

Chicagoans found out yesterday what kind of impact City Hall’s latest “revenue enhancements” will have on their personal finances. Julian Crews, Dan Ponce, and Dana Rebik reported on the WGN-TV Chicago website Wednesday:

The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $8.2 billion 2017 budget Wednesday…

For taxpayers, the hardest pill to swallow in the budget may be a nearly 30 percent increase on water and sewer bills. The hike will be phased in over four years, and is expected to raise nearly $240 million to help shore up the municipal workers pension fund.

But the big impact to taxpayers will come in the form of a tiered increase in property taxes to fund police and fire pensions approved by the Council last year.

Other new fees include:

7-cent fee for all plastic AND paper bags to encourage people to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
3.5 percent amusement tax for tickets to concerts, sporting events and musicals…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Crews, Ponce, and Rebik also pointed out coming higher fees with parking rates downtown, around Wrigleyville, and at both Midway and O’Hare airports. More parking meters will be popping up in the Loop and in city neighborhoods as well.

Anyone who’s been paying attention might have observed a disturbing trend lately with Chicago’s fees/fines/hikes. John Byrne and Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

The average family will pay nearly $1,700 more a year to the city and Chicago Public Schools than they did before the mayor took office in 2011 once all of Emanuel’s tax and fee increases take full effect. There’s been a series of property tax hikes. There was a water and sewer rate increase, plus a new tax on top of that. Not to mention a new garbage hauling fee, 911 phone tax hike, vehicle sticker fee increase and a tax on cable television…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“$1,700 more a year… than they did before the mayor office in 2011”

Ouch. Byrne and Dardick added:

Even with all of that, taxpayers may be asked for more money in the coming years. Emanuel’s plans for shoring up long-neglected city worker pension funds will require the city to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars more by the early to mid-2020s

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In the meantime, the reporters calculated the “typical” Chicago homeowner ($250,000 residence) can expect to see their tax bill rise another $400 in 2017.

As a former resident of Chicago, I can understand why people would want to live there. That being said, Chicagoans have been required to “pay to play.” And that trend might not be their friend if that Tribune analysis plays out.

For those choosing to remain in the “City By The Lake,” it might be wise for these individuals to take a good, hard look at their finances to figure out if they can keep residing there should the cost of living continue its upwards trajectory.

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


Crews, Julian, Ponce, Dan, and Rebik, Dana. “City Council unanimously passes $8.2 billion budget, including new taxes and fees.” WGN-TV Chicago. 16 Nov. 2016. (http://wgntv.com/2016/11/16/chicago-city-council-expected-to-pass-mayors-2017-budget-today/). 17 Nov. 2016.

Byrne, John and Dardick, Hal. “The tab on Emanuel’s series of tax hikes: $1,700 a year for the average family.” Chicago Tribune. 17 Nov. 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-chicago-city-council-budget-vote-met-1117-20161116-story.html). 17 Nov. 2016.


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

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

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

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

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

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

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

Reporter Julian Crews added:

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

Here’s hoping he’s right.

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

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


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


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Chicago Alderman’s Office Has Snarky Response For Resident

I don’t get back to my old neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side too much these days. But I do check in with one of the area blogs from time-to-time to see what’s going on. Last night, I was reading the 41st Ward Citizen’s Blog when I came across a post that was published earlier in the day regarding a resident in the ward who was unhappy with the recent rise in noise related to O’Hare International Airport and crumbling infrastructure, and subsequently let his alderman- Mary O’Connor of the 41st Ward- know about it in a letter. This resident went so far as to write:

As I expect nothing to be done about the airplane noise, streets, and dilapidated look of our light posts and hydrants, it will be my pleasure to quickly vacate the city and start a new life in the suburbs where the tax dollars work for the community.

Her office’s alleged response?

I’m sorry you feel that way. Best of luck in the suburbs.

Wow. I used to communicate daily with a high volume of Illinois residents in a former job as a U.S. Senator’s aide. If I had ever pulled a stunt like that- my boss would have made sure my beloved 38th floor office overlooking downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan was emptied of my belongings that very same day.

Now, I’m certainly not calling for anyone to be fired here (I’d be a liar if I said I never felt like telling “difficult” constituents off- especially the ones who threatened my life or the Senator’s). However, it sounds like some additional training is needed when it comes to staff interaction with constituents.

Just because you’re part of “The Machine,” doesn’t mean you have to act like one.

To be fair, Alderman O’Connor’s staff has been helpful enough in my limited dealings with them. Here’s hoping they can bounce back from this and recognize that communicating with constituents- in a professional manner- is an essential part of good government. By doing this can they stay informed of pressing issues and problems related to local government that residents have, and work to get them resolved.

It never ceases to amaze me that more politicians don’t realize effective constituent service can go a long way in winning re-election. My boss knew this only all too well. Good news for Illinois residents always came from him. Bad news, from yours truly.

Although, somewhere in this cluttered office there’s a box with hundreds of “thank you” letters I received from constituents for hard work done on their behalf.

Damn did those make me proud to be a civil servant all those years ago.

Regular readers of this blog know I left Chicago and the 41st Ward earlier this year. Still, I wish only the best for my old neighbors and their elected government representatives and staffs.

Even if I don’t agree with their politics and where I think it’s taking that marvelous “City By The Lake.”

You can read that entire post on the 41st Ward Citizen’s Blog here.

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


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Thursday, November 7th, 2013 Government, Infrastructure, Political Parties No Comments

Chicago Prepares For Superstorm Sandy

It looks like my backed-up plumbing won’t be the only “effect” of the now “Superstorm” Sandy here in Chicago.

The National Weather Service has issued a lakeshore flood warning for the Chicago area that began at 1 AM this morning and will remain in effect until 4 PM Wednesday.

According to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, winds up to 60 MPH could and waves as high as 25 feet are expected to impact the city’s lakeshore and beyond.

The National Weather Service is saying that waves are already reaching 17 to 20 feet high offshore- and could increase over the next 5 or 6 hours.

According to the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Chicago Park District officials closed the lakefront trail from North Avenue to Ohio Street Monday night and have also been securing beaches. The CTA is prepared to reroute buses as necessary, depending on the waves, [OEMC Executive Director Gary] Schenkel said.

And from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Amtrak service has been suspended from Boston south to Raleigh, North Carolina, and from the East Coast to Chicago. Both O’Hare and Midway Airports reported normal operating conditions Tuesday morning, without any significant delays. At O’Hare, some 270 flights to and from the East Coast had been cancelled as of 7:30 a.m., while 70 flights were cancelled at Midway.

As of now, there are no plans to close Lake Shore Drive.

Here on the Northwest Side, I’m more concerned about losing power from the high winds- and have prepared accordingly.

And as I look outside (10:27 AM Chicago time) the wind gusts seem to be picking up.

Stay safe Chicago!


“People urged to stay clear of lakefront as Sandy makes waves here.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Oct. 2012. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-officials-warn-of-high-winds-possible-flooding-near-lakefront-20121030,0,2187506.story). 30 Oct. 2012.

“Storm Sandy winds arrive in Chicago.” Chicago Sun-Times. 30 Oct. 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/16046778-761/storm-sandy-winds-arrive-in-chicago.html). 30 Oct. 2012.


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Alerts Issued Over Possible Retaliation For Bin Laden’s Death

Indeed, in the short term it is possible that terrorism may increase. Some jihadists may seek revenge, lashing out at any target that is convenient. Al Qaeda’s remaining senior leaders may also try to orchestrate attacks to demonstrate the organization’s continued relevance. They may hurry up plots already gestating or hit unprotected — so-called “soft” — targets that take little preparation to strike.

-Daniel Byman, professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and the director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, on the Foreign Policy website this morning

In the wake of the announcement by President Obama that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead, alerts are going out over possible retaliatory attacks against American interests by Muslim extremists. From the FOX News website this morning:

As Americans celebrated the news that Usama bin Laden had been killed following a decade-long international manhunt, they also faced renewed warnings that Al Qaeda and its affiliates may seek to exact revenge for the killing of their longtime leader.

U.S. officials, while congratulating the CIA-led SEALs team that took down bin Laden, sent out a wave of alerts overnight about the possibility of retaliation…

Authorities have sent a notice to diplomatic personnel around the world telling them U.S. “diplomatic facilities” are now on “high alert” after bin Laden’s death. The notice described the security situation as “severe,” though it noted “no specific security threats have been identified.”

The New York and Los Angeles police departments have both issued alerts to officers in the field, telling them to be particularly vigilant in light of bin Laden’s death.

The State Department overnight also issued a travel alert to U.S. citizens abroad, urging caution “in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence.” The department instructed Americans to limit travel outside their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings.

The Department of Homeland Security sent out a warning that offered a bit more detail. The warning, obtained by Fox News, said Al Qaeda affiliates “may seek to accelerate plotting efforts in the homeland, particularly Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The threats of revenge have started. This morning Reuters’ Saud Mehsud reported that the Pakistani Taliban threatened attacks against a number of parties. Mehsud wrote:

“Now Pakistani rulers, President Zardari and the army will be our first targets. America will be our second target,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Meanwhile, here in Chicago, counter-terrorism activities appear subdued. The Chicago Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Carlos Sandovi reported this morning:

Chicago police say they are keeping an eye on religious institutions as a precaution in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. special forces.

The department has not issued a heightened alert, but officers are paying closer attention to mosques, synagogues and churches, particularly in the Rogers Park and West Rogers Park neighborhoods, officials said this morning.

Chicago aviation officials would not say whether security has been increased at O’Hare and Midway airports, referring questions to the Transportation Security Administration, which referred questions to the Department of Homeland Security, which released this statement:

“We remain at a heightened state of vigilance. Secretary [Janet] Napolitano has been clear since . . . January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public. Our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the next days and beyond.”

Metra said it has not taken any stepped-up precautions on its trains. CTA officials had no immediate comment.


“Americans Put on Alert Amid Warnings of Al Qaeda Retaliation.” FOX News. 2 May 2011. (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/02/americans-alert-amid-warnings-al-qaeda-retaliation/). 2 May 2011.

“Pakistan Taliban threaten attacks after bin Laden’s killing.” Reuters. 2 May 2011. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/02/pakistan-taliban-binladen-idUSL3E7G21C420110502). 2 May 2011.

Gorner, Jeremy and Sandovi, Carlos. “Chicago cops keeping eye on religious institutions.” Chicago Tribune. 2 May. 2011. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-chicago-cops-keeping-eye-on-religiouis-institutions-20110502,0,2480948.story). 2 May. 2011.


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