I am writing to thank the Village of Shannon trustees for their decision to not allow video poker and slot machines in Shannon and to explain to the community why I and the other pastors in Shannon encouraged them to make this decision. I’m sure it has left questions in some people’s minds. I’ll go through some of those questions and give my best answers.
The first question might be: Aren’t government bodies venturing out of bounds when they attempt to legislate morality? Of course we legislate morality. We hire police officers to establish a moral order in our village. It is morally wrong for someone to endanger themselves and others by driving through residential neighborhoods at 100 mph, so we have laws to prevent it. It is morally wrong to rob someone’s home or business, so we have laws to prevent it. Driving without a seatbelt usually won’t hurt anything, but it can be disastrous for individuals who experience an accident without a seatbelt and for their families. And it costs all drivers in increased auto insurance, so that is a moral issue. We ban the use of crack cocaine because there is a very high probability that those who use it will become addicted and do great harm to themselves, their families, and often to the community as they engage in criminal activity to support their addiction. Of course government bodies should practice restraint in limiting the personal freedoms of citizens, but it is their job to set the best ground rules for the common good and what is morality but living according to the common good?
So, what’s the harm in a few video poker and slot machines in Shannon? If someone plays a couple of games at $2 a game it is no big deal. The harm comes because all forms of gambling can become addictive to some people and video poker is the most addictive. Most people who read this letter will know someone whose life was really damaged by a gambling addiction: retirement savings lost, mortgage payments missed, marriages destroyed, money embezzled from the workplace to cover losses. Every time you hear announcements of the many millions of dollars was “made” by the gambling industry, remember that every one of those dollars was “lost” by someone, and many of those dollars were lost by someone who couldn’t afford the loss and was desperately, compulsively trying to make back their losses or fill a void in their life by the rush of gambling. According to the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems the average cost to society per pathological gambler is $13,586 per year. Video gambling brought in $60 million in tax revenue for South Carolina, but it cost the state $424 million in social problems resulting from gambling, including substance abuse, petty theft, lost productivity and debt. Psychologist Robert Hunter of Charter Hospital in Las Vegas has treated more problem gambling than anyone in the world. He calls video poker the “crack cocaine” of gambling because addiction sets in faster from video poker than any other forms of gambling.
If we set a limit of only $2 per game, doesn’t that give protection so that no one suffers extreme losses? If you picture a traditional poker game with a table full of players, each carefully mulling over their plays, a hand of poker takes a while. But when it is one person playing with a computer that takes microseconds to play its hand, the game is much faster. In fact the best rush comes from playing as fast as you can. And a skilled player can play, and lose, hundreds of games in an hour. Even at $2 a hand the money can add up.
Why would Shannon allow the sale of lottery tickets at Casey’s and not allow video poker and slots? What’s the difference? Well, first, there are similarities. In either place many people would spend a little money and walk away without harm. And in either place there can be people who spend more than they can afford. But there are big differences. I’ve never seen anyone at the counter in Casey’s with a glass of liquor in their hand. It would be very different in a bar. That’s a serious difference. People go into Casey’s to pay for their gas, buy a snack, maybe stand and chat at the counter for a moment, but then they move on. In the bar they would sit and the games can easily go on much longer. At Casey’s the lottery tickets are visible, with colorful advertising, but presented passively. A video poker terminal is presented much more aggressively, with exciting sounds and bright, moving lights that are much more likely to produce the “rush” that gets some gamblers into trouble.
Doesn’t the Village of Shannon need the income? For every nickel the Village of Shannon would receive from video gambling machines, someone will have to lose a dollar. I wish the Village of Shannon had a larger tax base, but expanded gambling is the wrong way to go about it. Most Americans have accepted a principle that taxation should be progressive, meaning that when government bodies raise money through taxes those who have more money should pay a higher rate of taxes and those who have less should pay a lower rate. We bicker over how much difference there should be in the tax rates of rich and poor, but most Americans accept the general concept of progressive taxation. Supporting government through gambling is the exact opposite. It is a highly regressive form of taxation because it draws most heavily from low income people.
If other nearby communities have allowed video poker, why should Shannon be different? I’ve only lived in Shannon for 4 years after living in many different communities and I love the way that Shannon is different. It is safe. It is a great place to raise kids. People have a strong work ethic. I want Shannon kids to continue to grow up focused on doing well in school and working hard to contribute to society. The gambling industry gives the opposite approach to life: play a game in hopes of getting rich quick and don’t think about the people who are hurt in the process. Let’s keep Shannon different.
So, I thank the Shannon Village Trustees for the action they took and I thank any reader who took this issue seriously enough to read my letter to the end.
Rev. Stephen Aram
Nothing irritates people as much as government handouts to those who are perfectly able to provide for themselves. I can’t blame honest, hard-working citizens for criticizing individuals who cheat the system, but why aren’t they equally critical of free-loading corporations?
In a study of 280 Fortune 500 companies in the years 2008 – 20010, 30 corporations whose incomes totaled 164 billion paid no federal income tax at all, but received 10.6 billion in rebates. Included among those companies were Verizon, Wells Fargo, G.E., Honeywell, Boeing and DuPont. In 2005 of 1.2 million US companies who paid no federal income tax, 25 percent had assets over 250 million or receipts over 50 million.
Large corporations hire tax attorneys and congressional lobbyists who take advantage of hundreds of tax loopholes and create more. One of those loopholes is a write-off for expenses incurred in moving corporate operations overseas! Company assets can also be transferred to offshore havens such as the Cayman Islands, or low-tax nations such as Ireland.
Middle class Americans seem to believe that the prosperity of corporate America and the super-wealthy will somehow trickle down and fill their pockets too. “Dream away, child.” During the recession, when everyone else was struggling, Fortune 500 companies were sitting on 2 trillion in available cash. CEO pay is now nearly 400 times greater than the average worker’s pay. In most European countries, and in the US before the early 80s, CEO salaries were no more than 50 times greater. The US now has one of the least equitable distributions of wealth among developed nations, with a greater percentage of the population dropping below the poverty level each year.
“The next time you read about the sacrifices that the middle class must make in order to shore up the government’s finances, due to an economic disaster that was mainly caused by Wall Street, ask how much G.E., Boeing, Bank of America, Citigroup, Exxon-Mobil or Wells Fargo will sacrifice.” (Jonathan Turley, George Washington Univ. Prof. of Public Interest Law)
(Sources include Citizens for Tax Justice with data from the General Accounting Office)
Morrison Council Corner
June 10, 2013 Morrison City Council met at the County Board Room. All aldermen, city officers and most department heads were present. Mayor Pannier set a relaxed atmosphere - which has been lacking - for the meeting.
Public Comment: Nancy Anderson representing the Community Garden wanted to thank the city and Gary Tresenriter for taking care of water issues to aid in the success of the garden plots. Everyone has been working together. Of course, weeds are an issue and as long as everyone stays ahead of them in their plot, the area will look great, produce much and be successful.
Public Comment: Wendy Gallentine, representing Heroes Tap, asked if Mayor Pannier and the council would reconsider allowing the bars to be open on Sundays, increasing revenues to the city. Mayor Pannier said we would try to get it on the next meeting agenda.
Public Comment: Jerry Stewart was asking when 703/705 W. Morris would be taken down. Tresenriter said the city was waiting to hear from the housing grant people…since there is asbestos removal to be done and it is costly. Hopefully the grant money will be awarded and the safety issue resolved soon.
Gary Treseriter reported the water tower cleaning and painting will be starting the beginning of July. The city water pumps will be tested to monitor the pressures so that during the 3 month period of the cleaning, the residents will be assured of a water supply.
Mayor Pannier reported the City of Morrison will be advertising for a new City Administrator in July. He has talked to the Senior Manager with government accounts about the Mediacom problems of not being able to air the city council meetings. He has scheduled a Budget 101 meeting for July 1, 2013-work session that will be open to the public that will only cover budget training and understanding for the aldermen. The Library needs to approve the revised contract and it will be brought forward for approval by the council. Mayor Pannier and Gary are talking to IDOT concerning Cozzie Corners—the new convenience store for the South edge of town.
Baxter and Woodman did a presentation on the Waste Water Treatment Plant. They said the project has gone from $3,400,000 in 2007 for improvements to a larger cost of $23,000,000 in 2013 to replace the entire plant. It is too bad the necessities were not the priority for the council back in 2007 when it was decided to build a “want”-the Sports Complex instead. Now we are paying the debt for that and it reaches out 9 more years. While still paying that debt the residents will be paying larger water bills. Residents will have to dig deep for their increased water bills to show the EPA that the city can afford to repay a 20 year loan we can get from them to build a much needed new waste water treatment plant. From the info at the meeting- The projected 5 year impact on water bills averaging 5,000 gallons a month….2013 is $84.77; 2014 will be $104; 2015 will be $121; 2016 will be $129; 2017 will be $133; and 2018 will be $137 with it leveling a little for the next 5 years. Jerry Stewart asked if there will be increases above the recent increases-there definitely will be increases. Phil Bramm asked if there will be a service debt on our monthly bills. Yes, no matter what water usage you have, you will be paying a flat fee (third line item) on your monthly bills.
Items for consideration and possible action: Number one was removed and all other items on the agenda were approved. Ordinance #13-18 – Ordinance to approve employment of alderman Dave Helms, in compliance with the public officer prohibited activities act was approved. He will be allowed to mow for the city and earn up to $2,000 to be compliant with state statutes.
It was a pleasant atmosphere and much was accomplished. From feedback from residents that attended, it was well-run, informative and lacked the tensions that former meetings brought. They were pleasantly surprised at the calm, organized atmosphere thanks to Mayor Pannier.
The next scheduled meeting is June 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm at the Community Room. Everyone is welcome to learn first-hand what is going on in the City of Morrison! See you all there!
A Morrison Taxpayer
St. Jude’s Telethon Helps Jared
Our son, Jared Readdy, is the recipient of wonderful care from St. Jude’s hospital. He has Aplastic Anemia, which is a serious blood disorder. Without St. Jude’s, our predicament would be a lot worse.
Jared will be undergoing a bone marrow transplant in the very near future (next week). We have agreed to be a part of the St. Jude’s telethon on August 3, 2013. They have hooked us up with a great web-page for people to view and donate money to St. Jude’s. We would very much appreciate your financial support and your prayers.
This is the direct link to our St. Jude’s telethon web-page:
Our goal is to raise at least $1000.00 by August 3, 2013. We believe that we can do a lot more than
that because we know we have such a wonderful and supportive group of family and friends.
Thank you so much.
Laura & John Readdy
GMO Hearing in Bloomington
As a representative of the Weston A. Price Foundation the last 2 days at the Health Freedom Congress, where leaders in Health Freedom throughout the country all worked on focusing our energies together to formulate where we will put our major thrust, we have decided that, regardless of our different issues, the GMO issue is most important right now.
We listened to the compelling presentation of Jeff Smith, author of “Seeds of Deception” and “Genetic Roulette.” He stated that GMOs, if not brought down, will have a disastrous effect on generations to come.They are part of the root cause of many of our worst health epidemics--infertility, digestive disorders, inflammation, brain disorders, Autism, asthma, ADD, ADHD and mental health conditions. They will be responsible for permanent serious changes in the genetic makeup of humans on planet earth if not curtailed. We have NO time to waste.
He explained that we have finally gained incredible momentum on the GMO issue because of all the groundwork that has been done for the last 17 years. With all the recent attention on GMO’s there has been a huge momentum and that the tipping point has nearly been accomplished. We have seen in just the LAST MONTH, the worldwide march - Millions Against Monsanto - along with the tainted wheat issue and the thrust that many states are winning for GMO labeling.
Jeff Smith showed that as we are now bringing down the GMO market in the grocery stores, where more and more people are choosing “Non GMO Product Verified”, major commercial food companies will in turn start sourcing for Non GMO, because if they don’t, their profits will go down. This will signify the beginning of the end!
The next step will be to change the market for animal feed as people will also demand this.
We at the Health Freedom Congress agreed unanimously that if we can focus on bringing down Monsanto through our continued MASSIVE exposure and activism surrounding this issue, we will be able to accomplish all of our other issues on health freedom as well.
Because of this, we in Illinois have got to show numbers at our Public hearing on June 20 in Blooomington as we did for the hearing about raw milk.
Together–WE make it happen!
Kathryne Pirtle, Author,
Performance Without Pain
Notice to Lanark Community Vacation Bible School Participants
Please Note the Time Change from our original information 10:00 to 9:30!
Mark your calendars!!! Our Vacation Bible School beach dudes and dudettes are invited to sing on Sunday, June 30th for the 2013 Old Settlers Days Community Church Service. We hope you can all join us for the 9:30 service and the Pork Chop BBQ that follows.
The beach dudes and dudettes should wear their VBS t-shirts and meet at 9:10 in the shelter at the Lanark City Park to warm-up. Please keep listening to the Son Surf Beach Bash Music CD, tracts 1 and 4, so that the lyrics will be fresh in their minds. (Any family members who have also been listening to the CD and want to join in singing with us ~ are welcome!)
Another “Son Surf Beach Bash” announcement about our daily offering: This year we gave our daily offering Tyler’s Justice Center. If you would like to know more about the center, visit their website: http://tylersjusticecenter.org Thank you for your generosity.
We hope to see you ALL on 6/30/13,
The Son Surf Beach Bash “Life Guards and Beach Patrol”
Everybody Let’s Go!
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
Six hours from constitutional adjournment May 31st midnight. We had heard about it all session; Senate Bill 1920, Amendment 2 “Creates a Pension Holiday for the Chicago Teachers Pension System”. There it was on the board – Lou Lang in the chair has the Clerk read it for the third time. We are off and running. There was no planned defense other than disgust. The debate was brilliant. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), was a freshman with me eleven years ago. She has evolved to be among the best of the best. She is one of Speaker Madigan’s key lieutenants and when a tough job needs a leader, he turns to one of the most respected members of the House – you got it, Elaine Nekritz.
The negative response to her bill was met with the same enthusiasm delivered by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe when ordered to surrender by a German Commander who had the General’s troops surrounded at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. His famous one word reply was “NUTS”. No, that was not articulated on the House Floor. This was one bill that was not going to slip through the cracks. Both sides of the aisle, other than Chicago Legislators, were having nothing to do with this.
Do you see the irony folks? When we discuss our horrible pension issue in Illinois, $100 billion deficit, the Chicago Teachers Pension System is not included. Here is why it is exceptionally maddening. We, out here in the hinterland of “downstate” Illinois (not the Chicago area), pay our fair share of taxes much of it going to our school systems.
Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) put together a brilliant power point noting the significant differences of property tax paid by Chicago property owners and those of us across the state. He chose some rather interesting examples. Speaker Mike Madigan has a home in Chicago valued at $341,840, his property tax is $4,917 of which $2,732 goes to school tax. Governor Pat Quinn has a home in Chicago valued at $290,310, his property tax is $4,052 of which $2,292 goes to school tax. Representative Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake has a home valued at $235,500 and he pays $6,656 tax of which $4,728 goes to school tax. There seems to be a significant question of fairness here that just further puts Chicago at odds with the rest of the state. Other Representatives plugged in their home addresses to see the same amazing difference.
I truly applaud Representative Nekritz. She carried the Speaker’s water and remained poised through a blistering cross examination by both sides of the aisle. Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) expressed the sentiments of all of us that such a respected member of the House had to be reduced to the fourteenth clown to crawl out of the Volkswagen because the Speaker gave her the bill to carry. Her bill failed miserably with barely forty yes votes.