Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County, Illinois, Faces $174 Million Shortfall

From the Cook County, Illinois, website (under “News) last Thursday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today released the preliminary forecast for the County’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, signaling that difficult financial choices are on the horizon as the County develops its budget over the next several months.

Preckwinkle announced a projected operating shortfall for FY2017 of $174.3 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website on June 30:

A year after reversing course and reinstating a hefty sales tax increase that helped spell the political demise of her predecessor, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday warned of more potential tax hikes to come.

Without cuts or additional taxes, fines and fees — or some combination of those options — the county expects to fall more than $174 million short of what would be needed to pay the bills in the budget year that starts Dec. 1.

Closing the gap “will not be easy, but residents will be assured that we will do so by making tough decisions required,” Preckwinkle said while presenting her preliminary budget in an annual ritual that invariably includes significant shortfall projections.

The county will focus on cutting costs, but “everything is on the table,” including tax increases and layoffs, Preckwinkle said

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dardick noted that the Cook County Board President ruled out hiking property taxes this time around.

Like I’ve been warning for a number of years now- Chicagoans, Cook County residents and Illinoisans should expect higher/new fees, fines, and taxes in conjunction with reduced government services going forward.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle: Tax hike, budget cuts on table as county faces $174M shortfall.” Chicago Tribune. 30 June 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-budget-shortfall-met-0631-20160630-story.html). 5 July 2016.

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SP Intel Report- November 13, 2015

Chicagoland

DIY Solar Electricity, Window Farming For Beginners Classes From The Green Suite

Nick Conrad and The Green Suite will be putting on DIY Solar Electricity and Window Farming for Beginners classes over the next couple of weeks:

DIY Solar Electricity (class #1)
Wednesday, November 18, 7 to 9 PM
The Green Suite, 3958 N. Fremont, Apt. 3, Chicago
$30 to attend, 2 spots left as I type this

Window Farming For Beginners
Wednesday, December 2, 7 to 9 PM
The Green Suite
$30 to attend, 8 spots left

DIY Solar Electricity (class #2)
Tuesday, December 15, 7 to 9 PM
The Green Suite
$30 to attend, 5 spots left

For more information, head on over to The Green Suite website here.

Cook County Finance Committee Approves Ammunition Tax

It comes as no surprise that Cook County, Illinois, aims to tax law-abiding firearm owners in the county for the actions of criminals- yet again. Earlier this week I mentioned Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle had proposed a tax on ammunition sales in the county. Today, the Cook County Finance Committee approved the proposal. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

The Finance Committee on Friday approved a series of other new taxes and fees. They include… A new tax on bullets- 5 cents per round of “centerfire ammunition” and 1 cent per round of “rimfire ammunition”- to raise $320,000 a year for public safety and health programs.

Todd Vandermyde, Illinois lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said the county could expect a court challenge on the bullet fee, just as it is battling a lawsuit against a $25-per-gun purchase tax that went into effect two years ago.

“It seems interesting that the county wants to go down this road again, because you’ll incur even more litigation with a new suit to deal with this issue,” Vandermyde said, noting the relatively small sum the bullet tax is expected to bring in…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

See you in court? I’d be curious to find out how much that $25-per-gun purchase tax lawsuit has cost Cook County taxpayers to date.

Illinois

Illinois State Rifle Association Warns Of State Gun Control Legislation

Still on the topic of firearms tonight, gun control is on the march here in the “Land of Lincoln.” And the Illinois State Rifle Association has identified new initiatives that threaten the Second Amendment. From the ISRA Thursday Bulletin’s “Executive Director’s Message” for November 12, 2015:

In Springfield we have a couple of troublesome House Resolutions introduced. The first of these is HR0830 (Flowers, D-31, Chicago). HR 0830 calls for President Obama to hold a National Conference on Gun Violence by the end of 2015, in Chicago. This of course would be a blame the law abiding gun owners conference more than anything else. There are only 49 days left this year so it would have to happen quickly.

The next resolution, (Welch, D-7, Hillside), urges the courts, especially the Supreme Court, to adhere to the clear wording of the Second Amendment, being a right afforded to state sponsored militias, not individuals (this is their wording, not mine). What this clearly points out is that the Second Amendment is under attack. If you are not disturbed by this, you should be…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can read the entire Thursday Bulletin via the ISRA’s Twitter page here.

International

My thoughts and prayers go out to France this evening. While appalled, I am not shocked to hear of the Paris terror attack however. For a couple of years now I’ve talked about the November 2008 Mumbai, India, slaughter being emulated by terrorists. Almost a year ago to this day I blogged:

Something tells me our friends in Western Europe might suffer a major terrorist attack before a strike against the United States…

And on January 7, 2015, I wrote:

I still predict major terrorist attacks having the potential of inflicting large numbers of casualties will be directed against America and its allies in the future. The possible culprits being several, but including Muslim extremists like Al-Qaeda and its affiliates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Captain Obvious strikes again? Perhaps. But the notion of a large scale terror attack directed against the United States and/or its allies doesn’t appear to have been registering on the radars of lots of people these days. With a laughable economic “recovery” and plenty of distractions in play by the powers-that-be, who could blame them?

After the carnage in France, America and her allies remain in the crosshairs of the terrorists. Stay safe…

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle wins hotel tax, declines to rule out future hikes.” Chicago Tribune. 13 Nov. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-preckwinkle-hotel-tax-cook-county-met-20151113-story.html). 13 Nov. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- November 10, 2015

Chicagoland

Cook County Ammo Tax Ordinance To Be Heard Friday, November 13

Within yesterday’s SP Intel Report, I mentioned that Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle is proposing a tax on ammunition sales in the county. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action reported on its website Monday:

Cook County Board of Commissioners has proposed Ordinance 15-6469, a proposal to impose a tax on ammunition, similar to proposals reported on in the past. This ordinance will be heard on Friday, November 13, at 1:00 p.m., by the Cook County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee.

This proposal would impose a $0.05/cartridge tax on all centerfire ammunition and a $0.01/cartridge tax on all rimfire ammunition, and would therefore penalize law-abiding gun owners for exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. By definition, holders of a valid FOID card are the only persons legally permitted to purchase ammunition in Illinois, and therefore are the only persons subject to this tax – not the criminals responsible for the violence on the streets of Chicago…

That last bit sound familiar to readers of yesterday’s Intel Report? You can read the entire NRA-ILA piece on their website here.

National

Wisconsin Democrats Push To Ban ‘Semiautomatic Assault Weapons’

The push for more gun “control” is alive and well north of the Illinois state line too. From a press release published on the Urban Milwaukee website last Wednesday by Wisconsin State Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison):

MADISON –Today, Representative Subeck (D-Madison), along with Representatives Terese Berceau, Melissa Sargent and Chris Taylor, circulated an Assembly bill that would ban the transportation, purchase, possession, or transfer of semiautomatic assault weapons in Wisconsin.

“Our nation has watched as community after community has had to confront the tragedies that occur when weapons designed to kill large numbers of people quickly get into the hands of a dangerous person,” said Representative Lisa Subeck. “No Wisconsin community should ever have to face such a tragedy at the hands of someone armed with a semiautomatic assault weapon.”

Semiautomatic assault weapons are a class of firearms that are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly. They have been used in many high-profile shooting incidents, including the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting; the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in that state; and the 1993 office shooting at the 101 California Street building in San Francisco.

“I can conceive of no legitimate reason that any citizen should need to own or use a semiautomatic assault weapon,” said Rep. Subeck…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Semiautomatic assault weapons.” Haven’t heard of that one before. The word wankers hard at work again. You know, on behalf of gun “safety.” You can read the entire press release on the Urban Milwaukee website here.

Former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker Warns Real U.S. Debt Closer To $65 Trillion Than $18 Trillion

It’s been some time since I’ve blogged about former Comptroller General of the United States David M. Walker. Appointed by President Clinton, Walker served as Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008. While at the GAO, Walker warned Americans about the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges as part of the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour.” Frustrated by Washington’s refusal to confront these challenges, Walker left the public sector on March 12, 2008. I noticed Mr. Walker was back in the headlines this past weekend. Bradford Richardson reported on The Hill website Saturday:

The former U.S. comptroller general says the real U.S. debt is closer to about $65 trillion than the oft-cited figure of $18 trillion.

Dave Walker, who headed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said when you add up all of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, the national debt is more than three times the number generally advertised.

“If you end up adding to that $18.5 trillion the unfunded civilian and military pensions and retiree healthcare, the additional underfunding for Social Security, the additional underfunding for Medicare, various commitments and contingencies that the federal government has, the real number is about $65 trillion rather than $18 trillion, and it’s growing automatically absent reforms,” Walker told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970 in an interview airing Sunday…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Whenever the national debt is brought up, I think about all those Pollyannas who go around saying the debt doesn’t matter. Give it a few more years when Washington and the Fed run out of road to kick the can. Then hold on for dear life

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

Sources:

Richardson, Bradford. “Ex-GAO head: US debt is three times more than you think.” The Hill. 7 Nov. 2015. (http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/259476-ex-gao-head-us-debt-is-three-times-more-than-you-think). 9 Nov. 2015.

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SP Intel Report- November 9, 2015

Chicagoland

Nearly 1 Out Of 3 City Of Chicago Workers Made $100K Or More Last Year

Having lived in a northwest side neighborhood chock-full of City of Chicago employees prior to moving out to the ‘burbs, I wasn’t really surprised to learn of the following. Chris Fusco and Tim Novak reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website yesterday:

Nearly one out of every three workers on the city of Chicago payroll made $100,000 or more last year — a far higher percentage of six-figure employees than in state or Cook County government.

That’s according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis that for the first time combines city workers’ salaries, overtime and other extra pay.

Twenty-six city workers drew paychecks that eclipsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s pay of $216,210, the analysis found. They included a police detective, two fire department ambulance commanders and two water department operating engineers…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fusco and Novak noted that there were 35,761 City of Chicago employees last year. And nearly 1 out of 3 made $100K or more? Nice gig if you can get it, right? Regrettably, I predict that when tough financial times finally arrive at the Windy City’s doorstep, even “clout” won’t be able to protect certain positions and salaries from getting slashed.

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle To Tax Ammunition Sales?

Gun “control” (or gun “safety” as certain word wankers are now trying to call it) is on the march again in Cook County. From a County blog post Friday:

In an effort to reduce gun violence and improve public safety by creating new revenue for preventative actions, President Preckwinkle is also proposing a tax on rounds of ammunition sold in Cook County. The ammunition tax, either a penny or nickel per round depending on the category of ammunition, is aimed at addressing the costs of future gun crimes and the revenue generated will be dedicated to public safety initiatives.

President Preckwinkle, long an advocate of common sense gun laws, previously supported and passed a $25 tax on gun sales in Cook County. She has advocated for legislation that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require registration of existing firearms and require background checks on all firearms sales at gun shows — commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Tax law-abiding firearm owners in Cook County for the actions of criminals? Yeah, that makes a lot of “common sense.” You see, felons and other convicted criminals can’t purchase ammunition legally in Cook County, because they shouldn’t be able to get an Illinois State Police-issued Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. From the Illinois State Police, Firearm Services Bureau website:

Unless specifically exempted by statute, any Illinois resident who acquires or possesses firearms, firearm ammunition, tasers or stun guns within the State must have in their possession a valid FOID card issued in his or her name…

To be eligible for a FOID card, a person must be 21 years of age or have a parent or guardian sponsor that is eligible for a FOID card. An applicant must not be prohibited from possessing firearms in accordance with state or federal law. This requires the applicant is/has:

• Not been convicted of a felony…
• Not subject to an existing order of protection.
• Not been convicted within the past 5 years of battery, assault, aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction, in which a firearm was used or possessed.
• Not been convicted of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction…
• Not convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence…

So what’s President Preckwinkle’s goal from a Cook County ammo tax then? My guess is gun “safety.” Something tells me we’ll be seeing the county in court if they decide to pursue this matter.

Illinois

Illinois Open Range Program To Be Held On November 14

Speaking of guns and the Illinois State Police, it’s that time of year again in the “Land of Lincoln.” From the website of central Illinois NBC affiliate WAND 17 on Friday:

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with Illinois State Police to promote hunting safety through the annual Open Range Program on November 14.

Officials say hunters and observers will be invited to ISP ranges in order to check the sighting in their shotguns…

Ranges in Effingham, Pawnee, Pittsfield, Macomb, Joliet, and LaSalle will be open for the program from 8 AM until 4 PM this coming Saturday. For more information, head on over to WAND 17’s website here.

International

Greece’s Government Confiscating Contents Of Bank Safe Deposit Boxes?

Last week, I was working on my offshore asset protection-related projects quite a bit. And here’s something disturbing I noted Friday in a post on Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes that may interest you:

Just when the reputation of bank safe deposit boxes couldn’t get any worse comes this out of Greece. Anthee Carasavva reported on The Times (UK) website back on October 12:

Greece’s government is raiding savers’ safe deposit boxes to raise revenue and stamp out tax evasion.

Tryfon Alexiadis, the deputy finance minister, said yesterday that Greeks owing more than €150,000 in back taxes would be targeted. Those suspected of tax evasion would also come under scrutiny and their bank deposit boxes prised open without notice

“Safe deposit boxes across the country will be subject to these inspections immediately,” Mr Alexiadis told an Athens-based TV network…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It’s being reported that the tax inspectors could seize half of the cash found, and stocks, bonds, jewelry, and works of art. You can read the entire post in its entirety here on my other blog.

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

Source:

Fusco, Chris and Novak, Tim. “THE WATCHDOGS: A third of Chicago city workers make $100k or more.” Chicago Sun-Times. 7 Nov. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1072015/city-haul-3-of-10-chicago-city-workers-make-100000-a-year). 8 Nov. 2015.

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Size Of Cook County Sales Tax Hike Necessary?

No surprise here. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle persuaded just enough commissioners to approve a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase Wednesday — the culmination of a major political about-face, but a move she said was needed to bail out the county worker pension system.

Following weeks of one-on-one lobbying sessions by Preckwinkle, nine of the 17 commissioners voted to raise the county share of the sales tax to 1.75 percent. Add up the state, city and public transit portions, and the total sales tax rate in Chicago once again will hit 10.25 percent — one of the highest rates in the nation

Preckwinkle first rose to power in 2010 on a campaign pledge of repealing what remained of an identical sales tax increase under predecessor Todd Stroger…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Opponents of the sales tax hike claim the County didn’t perform enough belt-tightening before approving the measure. County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th District) penned on the Tribune website on July 1:

Don’t get me wrong, the county has a serious budget and pension cost gap, predicted to be $479 million. The proposed 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax would raise some $474 million annually.

But $130 million of the deficit goes away with pension reform. An additional $50 million in savings has already been identified by the budget staff. Yet another $50 million is in reach if we are finally willing to consolidate our redundant taxing bodies and duplicative services…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 5, 2013, I pointed out Illinois has the most units of local government of any state in the country at 6,963 local governments (U.S. Census Bureau).

It’s been reported Cook County is home to 1,300 of these taxing agencies alone.

The sales tax hike goes into effect starting January 1, 2016.

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

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “Cook County Board votes to raise sales tax.” Chicago Tribune. 15 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-sales-tax-increase-met-0716-20150715-story.html#page=1). 16 July 2015.

Gainer, Bridget. “Commentary: Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer: I won’t vote for a sales tax hike.” Chicago Tribune. 1 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-cook-county-tax-preckwinkle-gainer-perspec-0702-jm-20150701-story.html). 16 July 2015.

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Cook County Sales Tax Hike Coming?

Cook County, Illinois, could soon have one of the highest sales tax rates in the country (again). The Chicago Tribune Editorial Board wrote on the paper’s website this evening:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is weighing the idea of imposing a penny-on-the-dollar increase in the local sales tax to balance the county’s books…

Preckwinkle is lobbying Cook County Board members to raise the county’s portion of the sales tax by 1 percentage point, which would push Chicago’s tax rate to 10.25 percent, among the highest in the nation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This should come as no surprise to regular readers of Survival And Prosperity. I blogged back on April 10 of last year:

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)

According to the local press, it’s the sales tax hike Preckwinkle’s now pushing.

And considering Cook County’s fiscal challenges, it shouldn’t surprise blog readers to hear of hikes on “property… and other taxes” down the road.

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

Source:

Editorial Board. “Editorial: Watch out for the Toni Tax.” Chicago Tribune. 23 June 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-tonitax-0624-20150623-story.html). 23 June 2015.

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Cook County Public Pension Fix Could Mean Property Tax Hike

Blog readers in Cook County, Illinois, should prepare themselves for the possibility of higher property taxes shortly. Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia reported on the Chicago Tribune website Friday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is trying to revive a plan to overhaul government worker pensions, with supporters arguing the proposal is vastly different from changes to state retirement benefits recently struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The proposal would cut benefits and raise retirement ages but also guarantee health care benefits for workers when they retire. It calls for the county to put almost $147 million more a year into the pension fund, though Preckwinkle continues to be vague about how she’ll fund that increase by repeatedly saying “all options are on the table.”

If the County Board chooses to foot the bill with a property tax increase, the average homeowner would pay up to $65 more a year starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained when Preckwinkle sought the same legislation last year.

That measure was approved by the Senate last year but stalled in the House. It is now scheduled to be heard by a panel of House lawmakers next week…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Readers shouldn’t be surprised about the prospect of higher property taxes. I blogged back on January 13:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also gave a speech yesterday in which she hinted at county residents having to make future sacrifices. John Byrne reported on the Chicago Tribune website Monday:

Preckwinkle gave a speech to the City Club of Chicago about her first-term achievements and laid out a blueprint for her second four years in office. Asked afterward about the likelihood she will be forced to raise taxes, Preckwinkle said only that it will be “a challenge” to meet the county’s financial obligations.

“We have significant challenges, both around the spike in our debt obligations and our pension obligations, and my charge to our chief financial officer is that he has to do everything he can to be creative in figuring out how to address these problems,” she said…

Preckwinkle crafted a $4 billion budget for 2015 that includes no new taxes, fines or fees. She has warned that the 2016 budget will be far trickier to balance because debt payments will increase and the county could need to come up with $144 million more to pay into the county workers retirement system if she gets the pension fund changes she has asked for from the General Assembly.

“I can’t predict now, because we don’t even have a pension bill, how much it’s going to cost or what it’s going to take, but it’s going to be a real challenge, I’ll say that,” she said Monday.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Garcia, Monique. “Preckwinkle tries again on Cook County pension changes.” Chicago Tribune. 15 May 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-pension-proposal-met-20150515-story.html). 17 May 2015.

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