Certainly a big sincere thank you is in order to the Eastland High School Senior Class for coming to the aid of our community with Give Back Day. On April 25, Jennifer Burnett, Richard Nepean, Ashley O’Conner, Samantha Preston, Ryan Shaner, Cinarina Smith and Mrs. Jean Matheson helped at the Lanark Public Library. Several of the tasks were boring and repetitious but your camaraderie and a few cookie breaks, resulted in a very productive morning.
Thanks to LeAndra Hartman and Mary Beth Landherr for coordinating this valuable service to the area businesses, clubs, seniors citizens and public organizations.
It is the youth of today who represent our greatest hope and best opportunity for a bright future.
Thanks for your service to others,
Janie Dollinger, Director Lanark Public Library
In Defense of ‘Obamacare’
According to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services actuary reports, the Affordable Care Act – also referred as “Obamacare” by the Republican Party and the useless Media, will save over $200 billion for Medicare by 2016 and $208 billion for Medicare patients by 2020. Quoting from the Medicare report:
“”We have achieved significant tangible savings that have been passed on to beneficiaries,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the center for Medicare. “There is a tremendous opportunity for even greater savings.”
The numbers are based on savings so far: 32.5 million people used preventive services last year with no costs to themselves , senior citizens saved $3.2 billion for subscription drugs that fall in the “doughnut hole” in 2010 and 2011, and the government recovered $4.1 billion in 2011 in anti-fraud efforts.
CMS also projected savings based on portions of the health care law that will be enacted soon, such as penalties for hospitals for readmitting patients for the same health episode, and paying providers based on quality standards””.
Here is a breakdown of the over $20 billion in savings through 2016 from the actuary report:
Reducing excessive Medicare payments to private insurers who operate in Medicare Advantage - $68 billion; Reforming provider payments, including improved productivity - $85 billion; Improving patient safety through the Partnership for Patients - $10 billion through 2013; Cracking down in fraud and abuse, and getting the best value for Medicare beneficiaries - $7.8 billion; Additional provisions including the net effect of extended benefits, lower payments for hospital acquired conditions, readmissions reductions, and adjustment to premium subsidies - $41 billion..
According to the March Kaiser Family Foundation poll, for the first time the law is seen more favorably by seniors than not.
These savings to Medicare will not happen if the Radical Conservative Justices in the Supreme Court decide to overturn the law.
In addition, these savings will also not happen if the Republican Party and their budget guru, Republican Representative from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan are able to implement their radical agenda. As you should by now know, the Republicans in the US House have the last two years passed Rep. Ryan’s budget that eliminates Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a voucher system. They have also passed legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and will repeal it if “we the people” give them the opportunity. And of course, the flip/flopping Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, not only supports Rep. Ryan’s budget, he thinks is “marvelous”. This great issue is just one of the many facing our country this coming election. Think about what seniors will do in the future without these savings or Medicare – start getting your siblings ready to take care of you in old age. This is the future with the radical Republicans. Just to continue to give more tax cuts and protect tax loop holes for their very rich friends and corporations.
You can read the report at the following link: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/ACA-savings-report-2012.pdf
Lake Carroll, IL
Wood’s Morrison City Notes
A Budget Hearing was held on April 23, 2012 in Morrison. Harvey Zuidema stated the Community Room had $12,000 budgeted this year but only $5,000 for 2012-13 budget. For the 2011-12 budget the city budgeted $62,000 for Legal Fees, the new budget ONLY $36,000 so he wondered if this would come close to what will be spent. His other issue was with Well #5. $650,000 was budgeted this year and 2012-13 only $400,000 is budgeted. We are already there, so how will we finish?
Terry Wilkens stated that March 5 to now, water and sewer revenues are DOWN. We are not paying the PWSLP (TRANSLATION-Proposed Water & Sewer Loan Payment). When will the city pay on that? He also noted more Legal Services—should be more in budget. Sewer Overflow Study-how does it impact repayment schedule? We need a “State of the City Assessment” and name our long term operating goals. We have more debt so we need to get the “reserves” up as the auditors want.
I had questions and was told we could discuss them at the regular meeting. Michael Blean also stated that we are not gaining ground on having a healthy balance. We need revenues NOT indebtedness so we will be looking in the future for possible staff cuts, etc.
The regular Morrison City Council meeting followed shortly after the Budget Hearing. Mayor Drey read a letter from Nancy Gravert opposing Sunday liquor sales at the taverns. She thinks Sundays are for family time so does not want the taverns open on Main Street. She doesn’t want Morrison to end up like Savanna. (What did she mean by that?) She figures Morrison would only lose about $18.00 a day in tax revenue. She also stated there would be extra clean-up for city workers on Monday. I don’t see any extra clean up time on Sunday after the bars are open for 6 days. The Bowling Alley, Golf Course Club Houses and restaurants can be open for sale of liquor on Sundays. The gas stations and the grocery store sell carry outs on Sundays already. I don’t know why the taverns are the only places in Morrison that cannot be open on Sunday because of an ordinance. Maybe the ordinance needs to be clarified since not everyone (not even the attorney and me) can agree on the “interpretation” of the wording.
Dave Phillips, representing Speer Financial, discussed the 2008 and 2010 Series Bonds. From what was said at the meeting, (since the city administrator thought the aldermen did not need to see the information before the meeting to understand what Mr. Phillips was going to go over with them) it was confusing. Something about wanting to refinance/restructure some of the bonds so we pay less now – then PAY MORE LATER AND LONGER….EXTENDING PAYOFF FROM 2023 TO 2031, for about $200,000 more.
An extension request for Grant Project #SNOW 10-08-Morrison-Rockwood Recreation Trail was passed (5 ayes, 3 nayes).
Chief Melton asked for an ordinance to be drafted to put speed limit on Main Street at 20 MPH. Most people already drive slower than 20 MPH on Main Street. I didn’t feel writing a new ordinance was necessary and voted no.
Ordinance #12-14-Authorizing the Publication of Notice of the Invitation to Bid for the Sale of Real Property Located at 101/103 West Main Street was passed. For more information check with City Hall at 815-772-7657.
Voting on Ordinance #12-12-Purchase of Market Street/Orange Street Parking Lot-was put off until next meeting. Administrator Wise would like to purchase the property for $25,600 with the money coming from the LINE OF CREDIT of $500,000 the city approved for emergency use. I had a lot of questions on the DCEO GRANT. The scope of work included solar lighting and electric vehicle charging stations. The city agrees to take a hazardous downtown site and create a park, parking lot and a permanent Farmers’ Market Location (with an irrigation system). Is there enough room for all that is proposed? I am all for that area to look better but am concerned the $75,000 grant will not pay for the entire scope of work. Then where does the money come from? More information is needed.
The 2012-13 Proposed Budget was passed (7-ayes, 1-Nay). Questions were asked by aldermen. Still not clear on the Water & Sewer differences posed by Terry Wilkens. I had asked via email about $75,000 for I & I Remediation Program. Somewhere, I believe a study (according to minutes of a meeting in March 2009) was already done on water inflow & infiltration of storm water into the waste water system and now we are planning to have Baxter & Woodman do a similar study???? Michael asked about line item 8586 Wastewater Plant Engineering/Legal at $299,000-wastewater treatment??? Also, nothing was budgeted for Harkness or the Bike Path. But we are going to claim a balanced budget for 2012-13 with a projected end balance of $2,577 in the black. Way to go Morrison!
Next Morrison City Council Meeting will be May 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Whiteside County Board Room. Let’s see a full house. It is important to have residents be a part of our city government. See you there!
A Morrison Taxpayer,
Warning - Bogus Scam Alerts
You should be a little more careful about the internet circulatories you publish as legitimate news items. In my experience, most of the WARNING!! type messages are bogus.
An example is the “Scam Alert” published in the May 2012 Senior Grape Vine section. The first item claimed that “a syndicate of criminals” is distributing free key rings that are actually tracking devices used to follow you and do nasty things to you. Really? A syndicate? Is this practice so lucrative as to cause many groups of thieves to establish a governing body to organize and coordinate their activities? Wow, that is serious.
But, let’s take a closer look. To me, the first clue is the headline: “Please tell your family and friends !!!.” In large bold font (usually colored in the internet form) followed by a series of exclamation points. Wow, must be really important, huh? Experience has led me to establish a rule of thumb that the larger the font, the more colors used and the more exclamation points; the more likely it is to be false.
Next, look at the content of the discussion. Why would purportedly smart “criminals” invest money in relatively expensive key fobs (with “tracking device”) to follow you home when they could just follow your car when you leave the public place? If they lose you in traffic, no matter, just follow someone else. Targets are plentiful and easy to find. Why would the perpetrators risk exposing themselves to you personally while giving out the so-called tracking devices when they could just follow your car anonymously? Most incidents of robbery or home invasion are crimes of opportunity. Quick hit and run. Preparation of the sort described in this scare message is just not their mode of operation. Typical of these scare messages is the use of generalities. Note that the tracking device is not defined. Is it GPS or a radio transmitter?
Beyond this sort of analysis of the message I turn to an established source of information about urban legends and other tall tales. Check for yourself; go to www.snopes.com and in the search engine enter “key rings”. The first item that will appear in a long list of discussions is this very story. Snopes labels the story as False. They illustrate several versions of the same theme and report that the story has been circulating on the net since August 2008. It started in South Africa where a petroleum retailer was distributing completely benign key rings as a promotional device. Some imaginative person, probably with a grudge against the petroleum company (my opinion), began the story about the fobs being a tracking device. It was false then and is now. One good thing about this is no one in your reader area will ever encounter this invasion because it doesn’t exist. Some folks will just carry the fear of it, for no good reason. The only real scam here is the message itself.
The second item about telephone solicitation designed to extract personal information from you has some credibility, although it too contains some untraceable generalities. There are various forms of this fishing method and the citizen is well served to be warned about not giving out personal information to unknown persons in any event.
Please try to be skeptical of all internet circulated fear mongering messages in the future. Check ‘em out before printing them.
Lake Carroll, IL
Editor’s Note: The Grapevine is a publication of the Carroll County Senior Services Organization and not of the Prairie Advocate. It wasreceived from a relieable source.
Illinois Legislature Revives and Passes Dormant Bill to Restrict Who Can Run as Independent Candidates
Edited by Richard Winger:
April 15th, 2012
In 2011, the Illinois House passed HB 2009, which says that no one who voted in a primary, or who filed a declaration of candidacy to run in a primary (but who then chose not to run in that primary), can then be an independent candidate in November. The law applies to all partisan office. The bill then languished in a Senate committee for almost a full year.
Illinois held its primary this year, for president and all other office, in March 20, 2012.
Then, on March 27, HB 2009, which had long been forgotten, was shifted to another Committee in the Senate. On March 29 it passed the Senate 53-3. Governor Pat Quinn signed it the next day. It has an urgency clause so took effect on March 30. So now anyone who voted in the Democratic or Republican primary on March 20 this year cannot run for any partisan office in November as an independent candidate.
This maneuver almost certainly violates due process. It is fundamentally unfair to pass a law that adversely affects primary voters after the primary is over and to make it effective so that it affects this year’s general election.
Illinois does not have registration by party. If this law had been in effect in 1980, it would apparently have prevented John B. Anderson from getting on the ballot as an independent candidate, since he voted in the March 1980 Republican presidential primary. He didn’t declare as an independent until April 24, 1980.
Editor’s comment: So, once again, our state legislature has restricted our voting rights. You can register to vote with a utility bill, easily forged and in no way designates citizenship as the law provides. Parties other than Democrat or Republican have a much higher signatures required to get on the ballot. And, now this. When do we finally decide to throw them all out?
Guest Commentary – Jobs, Welfare and Fish
by Larry Plachno
There is an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Several Americans are now questioning whether we made the wrong turn by giving away fish instead of encouraging jobs and employment. What has happened is that if you give a man a fish on Monday, he will expect more fish on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This leads to welfare, entitlements and socialism.
That brings up another quotation, this time from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend.” Unfortunately for us, she has proven to be correct. Giving away all of those fish has proven to be costly for America. In order to pay for those free fish the United States has had to borrow from several sources, our children and grandchildren, and even China.
Equally disturbing is the fact that those darn costly fish have caused our elected officials to raise taxes on business and jobs. This, in turn, has caused a major reduction in job creation and jobs being outsourced to other countries where they are more welcome. A recent article in Time Magazine suggests that it might take as long a 33 months for us to dig out of our current unemployment problem because so many American jobs have been outsourced.
It seems that no one wants to talk about the fact that on April 1, 2012, Japan reduced its corporate tax rate to encourage jobs and investment in business in their nation. This move left the United States with the dubious distinction of having the highest corporate tax rate and of being the least competitive country for jobs and business among developed nations.
For at least 20 years, other developed nations have been cutting their tax rates to encourage business and jobs. Countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) now have an average tax rate of 25 percent. The rate in the United States is said to be 39.2 percent after including average state taxation. The United Kingdom reduced their corporate tax rate from 28 to 26 percent in 2011 and plans are to reduce it even further to 22 percent by 2014.
Many Americans are questioning the wisdom of giving away fish instead of encouraging jobs. What have we accomplished after years of giving away fish? The people who get the fish have not improved their situation one bit while the United States had gone badly in debt and is struggling with huge unemployment. What would happen if we gave away jobs instead of fish?
Ask the residents of the Principality of Liechtenstein, a small country in Europe. Faced with little in the way of natural resources, their officials made the decision to encourage business and jobs by reducing the corporate tax rate to a maximum of 18 percent. As a result, Liechtenstein is now the home of more than twice as many corporations as residents. Instead of giving away fish, Liechtenstein gives away jobs. Many residents of adjacent Switzerland and Austria commute into Liechtenstein daily because there are not enough Liechtensteiners to handle the number of jobs they have. That sounds like a problem many Americans wished we had.
I suggest that it is time for you to call, write or e-mail your elected officials and tell them that giving away fish has not worked and has created major financial problems for America. Instead, we need to reduce taxation and requirements in order to encourage investment in business and jobs in the United States. Giving people jobs makes a heck of a lot more sense than giving them fish.
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
"You can’t get there from here!” That phrase almost identifies the location of an amazing business nestled in the rolling hills of Jo Daviess County off Highway 20 near East Dubuque – Rentech Corporation.
Farmers throughout the corn belt of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin perhaps never stop to think of Rentech’s production process. Each of them this time of year is prodding their suppliers for the lifeblood of their corn crop – nitrogen fertilizer.
Nine years ago we nearly lost this facility. At that time Governor Blagojevich wanted to tax their usage of natural gas, which would have cost them over $6 million per year, and would have put them out of business.
Thanks to the diligence of their Chief Operating Officer and Plant Manager at the time, John Diesch, and help from both sides of the aisle which included Senator Sieben in the Senate, they were exempted. The $100,000 per day (yes, you read it right) that they spent on natural gas was not taxed. John Diesch had almost become a fixture in Springfield but he wasn’t about to let his plant die without a fight. John is still with Rentech although in Colorado.
Today under the very able leadership of COO John Ambrose the plant continues to thrive. They are undergoing a $100 million expansion project to increase production of ammonia by nearly twenty five percent or a total of 370,000 tons per year.
They are also expanding their urea production by thirteen percent to 17,500 tons annually. Urea is a fertilizer but is also used to produce diesel emission fluid which is used in all modern day diesel engines to reduce pollutants.
As eighty construction workers toil on the expansion, the one hundred forty six full time employees, many who are members of UAW Local 1381, continue to effectively and efficiently produce a valuable commodity of anhydrous ammonia, urea granules and solution.
The great marvel of Rentech is their status in the community. That doesn’t just happen. Their environmental stewardship is beyond comparison. They go well beyond compliance in all aspects of production and safety. A recently completed N20 convertor to destroy greenhouse gases stands out as an exceptional example of who they are.
Much has been said and written over the past year of the evilness of big corporations. I invariably read and listen in amazement. These are the people who make America great, taking huge risks and investing large sums of money in order to create jobs and opportunity for not only you and me but our future generations. Rentech is an amazing company supporting a great community and providing a commodity so necessary to crop production and feeding the world.