Tag: Taxes

Gov. Quinn Honors Fallen Soldiers Throughout the Year

I have to say, I’m impressed with Governor Quinn.  Not sure how successful he’ll be convincing the Illinois Legislature to pass his budget.  Frankly, bumping up the income tax is long overdue.  If there is any fairness in taxes, the income tax comes closest.

But that’s an argument for another time.

Today, I was  impressed to learn that Governor Quinn has attended funerals for all 30 Illinois soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past year.

Remember when we were criticizing President George Bush because he had not attended a single funeral for a fallen soldier?  His record remains unblemished.  Bush never attended any funerals.

I suppose there was stress enough sending young men and women to their deaths.  Now, the former president is relaxing, says it’s liberating to be out of office.

Liberating for us as well.

Another digression.  Back to Governor Quinn.

From the Sun-Times:

As the Memorial Day parade was set to kick off, Quinn stood with Mayor Daley in Daley Plaza handing out Gold Star banners to families of the 30 Illinois soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past year. Quinn has attended every funeral.

“I know all of them,” Quinn said. “Those funerals are heartbreaking days. We have one coming up Tuesday. We had one last Monday.”

But the state needs to also be concerned about the veterans returning from service. To best help them lawmakers need to fix the state’s broken funding systems, he said.

“Some . . . men and women coming back form Iraq need post-traumatic stress disorder help and counseling,” Quinn said. “We have a wonderful program, a national model. We can’t kick that program off to the side of the road because we don’t have money for it.”

I give the guy credit for showing up, standing in to honor the fallen, again and again and again.  Quinn puts his money where his mouth is.  That counts for something.

Sunday’s Chicago Tribune asks if Quinn can close the deal.  Can he pass his budget?

Two months after Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a $26 billion public works plan, he called top lawmakers into his office and asked them to give him a few projects in the massive bill that he could call his own.

The legislature’s top four leaders, including the fellow Democrats who control the House and Senate, turned down most of his suggestions.

The quiet scene in the governor’s office last Tuesday demonstrates perhaps the most important political dynamic in state government these days: Quinn’s struggle to harness the power of his new position and the willingness of wily legislative bosses to take the lead.

Lawmakers and others with a stake in Statehouse politics cheered Quinn’s call for a new level of cooperation when he replaced the divisive Rod Blagojevich in January. But now they are questioning the untested governor’s ability to engage in the nitty-gritty of legislative dealmaking — in short, to be a closer.

So far, it looks like legislators aren’t giving an inch.  The governor needs learn to play the Springfield game.

With a week left before the General Assembly adjourns for the summer, friend and foe alike say the governor has not taken charge on his signature issues — a dramatic call to close a $12 billion budget gap with a 50 percent increase in the income tax and a blue-ribbon plan to reform state government after the Blagojevich scandal.

They question why he hasn’t lobbied harder in the Capitol for his tax plan and say that members of his special reform panel often have had to fend for themselves on ethics recommendations.

“I would like to see a lot more vigor. I think [ethics reform] should be his issue. This should be the issue he owns,” Cynthia Canary, the director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said, noting Quinn’s long activist history as a self-styled reformer.

“A lot more vigor?” So the governor needs to dance for the legislature?

No, I don’t get it either.  Springfield must be a political minefield, that place where dreams go to die.

How many funerals of fallen soldiers have legislators attended over the past year?  Perhaps that’s not a fair quesiton, but Quinn showing up at funerals shows me that he’s grounded.  A brush with reality might be good for some legislators.

Come on, Todd, Get Serious

I freely admit I was wrong in supporting Todd Stroger for President of Cook County Board. I believed friends locally who told me that Todd would do a great job. I believed them when they told me Todd was good for Cook County, and cared about Cook County residents.

I was suspicious when they insisted that Todd meant well, even after he insisted on a personal elevator in the County Building downtown. I’m not going to throw in, “What was he thinking???”, to paraphrase Blago-the-Destroyer’s campaign line.

Well, here’s the rub: Cousin: Stroger ready to tax again. Thank you to our friends at the Chicago Sun-Times for that wonderful headline. What does that mean? It means that Todd’s cousin, Donna Dunnings, who “took one for the team” and accepted the powerful CFO job with Cook County at a respectable salary, then accepted a 12% pay hike, proclaimed in a speech to the City Club of Chicago, “the county has bigger problems that need even more taxes to tackle.”

Well, that’s just sweet.

“The structural deficit is real and the sales tax is by no means an answer to that,” she said.

So, the county is going to turn to “cost containment,” according to Dunnings, and turn to “other revenues” to make ends meet.

“Other revenues”??? Translation: The Cook County Board will find a new and creative way to tax all of us.

Here is one important fact to remember: Our businesses are already being choked out of the suburbs, running to Will County in the south suburbs. Do Todd Stroger or Donna Dunnings really care about that?

I know some of the logic behind Cook County’s absurd tax structure that makes it so desirable for businesses to run to other counties. Something about business owners who commute from other suburbs to help pay for the infrastructure of Cook County, or something strange like that. Thus, the equalizer.

Look, Todd, and, for that matter, the rest of the Cook County Board: Sit down and act in concert. It’s that simple. We need the Cook County Board to stop blaming each other and act, yes, as a Board. Act in the best interest of the people of Cook County. Help those of us in the suburbs retain our businesses. Stop acting as if the borders of Cook County stop at the borders of the City of Chicago. Stop the patronage politics. We can’t afford it any more. You can’t honestly expect us to believe that the best person for the position of CFO of Cook County happened to be Todd Stroger’s cousin, Donna Dunnings.

Hold each other accountable on the board. Accountability in government is good.

And the rest of us will be incredibly more circumspect in future elections. In fact, those of us who stayed home last election day might show up next time and cast our votes.

Because, yes, we were wrong.

Todd Stroger Bumbles Again

Cook County President Todd Stroger could be doing better.

The Chicago Tribune reported today Stroger disputed the findings of a report he had not read, and this on political patronage in County government, a sore spot with Republicans, and, frankly, most people in the Chicagoland area.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger on Thursday disputed the findings of a report suggesting patronage was alive and well in county government, then admitted he had not read the 54-page document. Instead, he deferred to newspaper accounts of the report. Unbelievable.

“I haven’t read her report yet,” Stroger said, referring to the review filed in court last week by retired Cook County Circuit Judge Julia Nowicki, a federally appointed hiring monitor.

Stroger said he knew about the report’s details from newspaper accounts. “I can read the newspaper,” said Stroger, a freshman board president and former Chicago alderman. “I’ve got a good education.”

As a Democrat, I supported Stroger’s candidacy for Board President. As someone who can also read the newspapers, watch news accounts on television and is probably more in touch with tax payers than President Stroger, I’m ashamed. Certainly there will be those in the media who will hound Stroger and make unfair or unfounded accusations, but Stroger needs to be smart, read the report and respond intelligently.

Otherwise, he just sounds like George W. Bush – uninformed and out of touch.