I am so pleased to be writing this letter to thank two 6 year old girls for their concern for animals. Avery Findlay and Emily Dahlman are big hearted cat lovers in small bodies. They did a two girl fundraiser selling cupcakes and lemonade to raise money for Adrianne’s Angels - St. George Pet Rescue.
These little go-getters raised $100.00. Since children are the future of pet welfare it makes me very happy to see them realizing at such a young age that animals depend on us to be responsible. The heartbreaking life of a homeless animal is an issue I hope to see ending in my lifetime. The only solution is spay/neuter. Thanks again to Avery & Emily and to all that supported their effort!
If you would like to contribute to the work our organization does, please send a check to Adrianne’s Angels - P.O. Box 175 - Mt. Carroll, IL. 61053 or go to our website www.stgeorgepetrescue.org where you will find a link to Paypal.
Mount Carroll, IL
Time to Retire Jim Sacia
In the current political climate of “every incumbent must go” I have to say, I agree completely and wholeheartedly! We are scheduled to vote both nationally and locally on November 6, 2012. I say its high time we in the 89th District retire Representative Jim Sacia from his cushy post with his multiple taxpayer funded pensions. Send him out to pasture to live out the rest of his days where he can offend people other than his own constituents. I propose a write in candidate named Terry Smith of Lanark to replace the very tired and worn out Jim Sacia. I will be writing Terry’s name in on my ballot this November. I implore every resident of the 89th district to do the same!
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, our ballot access has eroded over the years. Now, a write-in candidate must file an intent to run 61 days before the election.
Now that the political conventions are over and everyone’s blood pressure has settled back down, let’s check the facts. You may be surprised.
During the Democratic Carter administration, the national debt was the lowest it has been in the past 75 years. The debt rose sharply during the Republican administrations of Reagan and both Bushes, but dropped again during Clinton’s Democratic administration. The debt began its steepest upward climb after the housing bubble broke, lowering revenues, and requiring a stimulus in order to avoid a depression.
Contrary to common belief, many European & Asian economies enjoyed a better growth rate than the US in 2011, and also had less debt in relation to GDP (total income). Greece, Italy and Spain were the exceptions. Included among those countries with successful economies were the Scandinavian countries, democratic nations that also have the largest entitlement programs and the highest income equality. The US rates near the bottom in income equality among the 34 wealthy OECD nations.
All of the 34 OECD members except the US have national healthcare programs that cover all citizens, and their healthcare programs have been much less expensive than ours. Several of these countries require all citizens to purchase insurance. In the US most Democrats did not favor the mandate for purchase, but it was necessary to satisfy insurance companies that would lose money covering the high-risk clients they had formerly refused to insure.
Tax on dividends and capital gains was lowered to 15% during the G. W. Bush administration, favoring the wealthy who own the majority of stocks. (The lower 80% owns only 8.9%.) Any citizen who is employed and earns more than $35,350 pays a higher tax rate than these wealthy investors, with top earners paying 35%. Total tax intake of the US government is 3rd lowest among the 34 OECD members.
Conservatives say, “Ensure the continued wealth of the rich and that wealth will trickle-down to everyone.” Not so! Since the late 70’s, the top 1 percent has increased its income by 275%. Most of the rest of the population have fallen behind inflation with a 40% increase, and the lowest 20 percent saw earnings rise by only 18%. CEO pay in the US went from 42 times greater than the average worker’s pay in the 70s to 521 times greater in 2000. Best efforts by the world’s religions have made few inroads on greed!
Fortune 500 companies enjoyed a 2 trillion dollar surplus during much of the recession while the average citizen lost 36% of his wealth in the plummeting value of his home. Our democracy is becoming a corporate plutocracy with big business and the wealthy buying privileges through lobbying and campaign contributions. Wall Street got little more than a slap on the wrist for throwing the entire planet into the worst recession in 75 years. Don’t get me wrong; capitalism is the way to go. Russia & China proved that purer forms of Socialism did not provide the best life for all their people. Unbridled Free-market Capitalism in which the financial interests of corporations prevail over the best interests of the American people is also fatally flawed.
From 1945 – 1975 both the rich and the poor prospered, the US economy grew, and we paid off our huge war debt. That was a time when more reasonable minds ruled the Republican Party, and both parties were more interested in the rights and privileges of the average citizen.
Wood’s Morrison City Council Notes
Morrison’s City Council convened on September 10, 2012 at the County Board Room. CA Wise videotaped the meeting. Seven aldermen, four newspaper reporters, Chief Melton, Jim Dubois, Mayor Drey, Clerk Schroeder, Attorney Zollinger, CA Wise and two persons from WipFli Auditors were present. Many residents were in attendance.
Public Comment: Nancy Riggen-She passed out information for the Library which includes resources, hours of operation, programs and other services. She asked us all to “go to the library”!
Public Comment: Carl Schmidt-He addressed his concerns about the shortened hours to burn on Tuedays and Thursdays. He asked if the ordinance is implemented, how will the ordinance be enforced?
CA Wise stated that December 31, 2012 is the end of the period to apply for exclusion in the Historic District. If you look online at the City of Morrison, the ordinances and proposed historic district map … are both on there now. Be sure to take care of this if you do not want to be included in the HISTORIC DISTRICT by contacting City Hall or someone from the Historic Preservation Committee.
Attorney Zollinger reported that 101/103 is read for sale and probably transfer of ownership will be next week. Chief Melton stated next meeting we will be voting on “surplus property” — one is a ring to be returned to the finder and the other is a vehicle forfeited in a DUI arrest and will be sold. Jim Dubois said fall sports are in full swing.
Mayor Drey had no appointment for Alderman Ward 4. There is a special meeting Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm for the mayor to announce his choice for Alderman Ward 4.
The Auditor’s report was gone over. There are some places where money had to be moved to reconcile funds. Michael Blean asked how much money the city should have in reserve. The auditors said 60 to 90 days. Morrison has about 50 days in reserve. The auditors can recommend that changes be made, but it is up to the city to follow through with the changes. Odell Library needs to stamp “Paid” to deface paid invoices payments. Credit cards for all departments need to be approved by someone other than the employee who makes the charge. The Sports Complex needs to turn in cash register tapes with money to reconcile the cash. Also, the auditors recommend the sports complex use an imprest account rather than a regular checking account to limit the amount of money being disbursed for paying umpires/officials. There were other recommendations for the city to consider in future transactions.
A special use permit was approve for KJ’s Bar and Grill to have a beer garden, hog roast at the Whiteside County Fair Grounds on September 29, 2012. Ordinance 12-29 Whiteside County Enterprise Zone Amendment was also approved. Ordinance 12-30: Amendment to Open Burning was approved 5 (rose, Hayenga, Zuidema, Thorndike and Blean) and 2 (Wood, Sullivan) nayes. So we will have shorter hours to burn on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3pm to sunset - with 9 to sunset on Saturdays.
Attorney Zollinger reported that we were to “clean up” Ordinance 12-31: Regarding City Administrator Position. He said as it was worded, it was NOT ENFORCIBLE. It was cleaned up by deletion of a subparagraph (d) the City Administrator may at any time be removed from office by majority vote of the members of the Council. We were voting on the advice of our city attorney. So at this point I cannot find in the ordinance book how to remove the administrator other than by authority of the mayor or if the City Administrator position is eliminated by the council. Attorney Zollinger stated that the City of Morrison is not a municipal management form of government-which our ordinance continually refers to this wording.
Other items for consideration, discussion and information: CA Wise is setting up the utility billing/payment system. They are working with Wells Fargo to provide credit/debit payment for city utilities and other payments at City hall. The city will also be outsourcing the utility billing rather than doing them in house to reduce costs to the city. It will cost the city $850 to create a data base to put the info into the system and get it uploaded.
Sarah Thorndike stated she was wearing a shirt from the Paint the Town 2012 and invited everyone to come.
I have asked for a lot of information for the Sports Complex. I cannot believe the new field groomer cost us $18,450. The old one cost more and it didn’t last 3 seasons. What are we going to do about that?
The next regular meeting for Morrison City Council will be September 24, 2012 at 7:00pm at the County Board Room. It will be videotaped also because there will be a presentation from Baxter and Woodman on Waste Water Treatment Plant Project and the City Engineer will discuss Inflow and Infiltration Study.
A Morrison Taxpayer
Greed and Institutionalization on Display
On [Sept. 10], the Chicago Teachers Union initiated a long promised strike that impacted over 400,000 students. The primary motivation for this strike is to halt changes to teacher work rules and benefits the City of Chicago deems as necessary to improve student performance and reduce the burden on taxpayers. What we taxpayers are witnessing is a case study on the detriments of large public union control of our public sector.
Let’s start with the facts. Chicago teachers average $76,000 in salary - the highest of any large city in the country. The city taxpayers, who provide the bulk of their compensation, average $46,000 per year. Teacher healthcare benefits are far superior to private sector workers (for those who have health insurance) requiring minimal co-pay and deductibles. Teachers receive a pension that is 72% of their salary (average of their last 5 years). The average teacher pension in Illinois is $61,000 (for those working at least 20 years) and guaranteed to grow at 3% per year because of COLA (cost of living adjustment) protection. Most private sector workers retirement income is social security, maximum payment is $28,000 (age 66) per year, and whatever savings they have accumulated. They pay for their own healthcare until they qualify for Medicare. Finally, there is the legendary time off that most teachers receive during the school year and summers.
Let’s talk about another set of facts - student performance. Chicago has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the country. An estimated 60% of students can’t pass a college entrance exam and 40% can’t pass a high school reading test. While the students’ academic performance has continued to plummet year after year, Chicago and suburban teachers received massive compensation and benefit boosts. This, of course, was argued (by teacher unions) that a better compensated teacher was critical to improving our education system. Now teacher pension and healthcare promises represent the largest portion of the state’s massive debt at $209 billion - the highest in the country. 71% of the entire Chicago education budget is consumed with pension and healthcare costs; yet our education system continues to dramatically underperform virtually any benchmark, including charter schools, which are still in session teaching students.
The representatives for the striking teachers don’t deny the failure in student performance, but take no accountability either. They argue that changing teacher evaluations are unfair and could impact up to 28% of current teachers. This is an indication of the real motivation of large public unions - job and benefit protection at any cost. They put membership protection above the interests of the students and the taxpayers. Public union control over our education system is the primary reason why it is failing. They have added little value in improving our educational environment or quality of teachers. They are a bargaining unit that is totally focused on the “best deal” they can negotiate for its membership - past, current, and future.
Large public sector unions have effectively “institutionalized” their membership to believe they can receive compensation and benefits that are well above the private sector - and not PERFORMANCE based. They have been led to believe that they are in a totally different job market and private sector fundamentals do not apply. Moving forward, taxpayers must look hard at the collective bargaining agreements that allow taxpayers to be held hostage on critical services. Teachers must evaluate whether public union membership actually helps or hurts their long term prospects.
Leader - Pension Reform
Illinois Tea Party
Religion and the Election of 2012
By Dr. Gary Scott Smith
Religious issues have played a significant role in numerous presidential elections, as they are in 2012. In 1800, his opponents accused Thomas Jefferson of atheism and trying to undermine the republic’s Christian foundation. In 1928 and 1960, many Americans were alarmed by the Catholic faith of Al Smith and John F. Kennedy, who they feared would be more loyal to the pope than the Constitution. In 1896, 1976, and 1980, professed evangelical Protestants competed for votes. In 2000, George W. Bush’s faith was a major issue, especially after he declared Jesus to be his favorite philosopher. Barack Obama frequently discussed his faith journey and used biblical language to defend his social policies.
In 2012, a key issue is how much support religious conservatives, especially evangelicals, will provide for Mitt Romney. When campaigning for the 2008 Republican nomination, Romney gave a speech in Texas to address concerns about his Mormon faith. (About six million Mormons live in the United States, more than the total number of Muslims and Jews combined.) While admitting that his “church’s beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths,” Romney affirmed “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.” Attempting to appeal to Americans holding a variety of religious views, he expressed his appreciation for features of Catholicism, evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Lutheranism, Judaism, and Islam.
Refusing to distance himself from his religious convictions as some urged him to do, Romney declared, “I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers—I will be true to them and to my beliefs.” However, like Kennedy in 1960, he promised that “no authorities of my church … will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority … ends where the affairs of the nation begin.” As the governor of Massachusetts, Romney asserted, “I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution—and … I would not do so as president.”
In contrast to his approach in 2008, in the 2012 campaign, until the Republican National Convention, Romney rarely referred to himself as a Mormon or connected his policies with his faith. In an effort to help voters identify more with him, Romney took the calculated risk of having his supporters discuss his Mormon background and commitments and his work as a lay pastor in Boston for 14 years. Pastor Grant Bennett testified that Romney labored tirelessly to assist sick and needy members. “Mitt prayed with and counseled church members seeking spiritual direction, single mothers raising children, couples with marital problems, youth with addictions, immigrants separated from their families and individuals whose heat had been shut off,” Bennett explained. Church members Ted and Pat Oparowski described Romney as a compassionate man who regularly visited their cancer-stricken son and preached his eulogy after the 14-year-old died.
How prospective voters view Romney’s faith and the way it may affect his work as president could play a decisive role in what appears to be a close election. This issue is especially important to the millions of American evangelicals who have been a major force in American politics since the late 1970s. Most evangelicals view Mormonism as an alternative religion rather than a Christian denomination. They have more in common theologically with Obama, who claims to accept many of the doctrines they affirm. Moreover, much more frequently than Romney, Obama has used biblical teaching to support his policies, especially in aiding the poor. However, many evangelicals are repulsed by Obama’s views on abortion and homosexual marriage and his administration’s mandate to provide contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as part of health care services.
Undoubtedly speaking for many evangelicals, former Arkansas Governor and Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee declared at the convention, “I care far less … where Mitt Romney takes his family to church, than I do about where he takes this country.” Although Obama is a “self-professed evangelical,” Huckabee added, he supports changing the definition of marriage, “believes that human life is disposable … at any time in the womb,” and requires “people of faith … to bow their knees to the God of government and violate their faith … to comply with what he calls, health care.”
In a recent issue of “Christianity Today,” Stephen Mansfield, who wrote a very positive spiritual biography of Obama, argued that voting for Romney is “a moral option for followers of Jesus Christ … even though his Latter-day Saint religion is far from orthodox Christianity” and his presidency would give “heightened visibility and influence” to Mormonism. Richard Mouw, the president of evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, insisted that in 12 years of discussions with Mormon scholars and leaders and “extensive reading of Mormon literature,” he had found nothing to keep him from voting for Romney. For them, Romney’s positions on key issues are more important than his Mormonism.
The extent to which other religious conservatives agree with Huckabee, Mansfield, and Mouw will have a significant effect in deciding the 2012 election.
— Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and the presidency with The Center for Vision & Values. He is the author of “Faith and the Presidency From George Washington to George W. Bush” (Oxford University Press) and “Heaven in the American Imagination” (Oxford University Press).
By Jim Sacia, State Representative, 89th District
Having most newspapers throughout the 89th District publish my weekly articles is a privilege and honor I do not take lightly. If my comments were partisan, few, if any, would be published. Yes I’m a conservative, but more than one in fact many liberals, have thanked me for my attempt to keep you informed of important issues. I never want for material. My problem is always what is most important to the majority of you.
The issue this week directly affects about two hundred citizens in a tiny portion of our state’s “forgotten frontier”, East Dubuque, Illinois. It affects the citizens of Frentress Lake Subdivision, indirectly it affects us all.
Some of you may remember Frentress Lake. Fifteen years ago it was the entrance to the Silver Eagle Riverboat Casino before it was taken away by politicians who just knew it could be more profitable closer to Chicago. That’s another article for another day. Safe to say, Jo Daviess County got the shaft.
In March 2012 there were two entrances to Frentress. The main entrance crosses two sets of railroad tracks owned by The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. The tracks are leased by Canadian National (CN) Railroad. The second entrance was an underpass under the tracks used by many as an alternate route. To many it was considered a bootleg route.
In late March, early April, the railroad, no I don’t know which one, filled in the underpass for “safety concerns”. Now we have a problem - 20-30-40 minutes-one hour twenty minutes with a train blocking the only entrance. Are you kidding me? If it wasn’t so tragic it would be laughable - two hundred plus citizens and workers with no access or escape for emergencies. School buses blocked on one occasion for over an hour. This is crazy.
Oh no, it gets better. I so remember years ago Rochelle, Illinois, the late Chief of Police and great friend, Winston Brass, made national news and got the federal government to pass a law requiring railroads to spend no more than ten minutes on a crossing. He did this by blocking the trains with his own squad cars.
A federal judge has since ruled the ten minutes unconstitutional. The railroads now very politely thumb their nose at us.
Both railroads avoid the blame. It’s IEI Barge Services, an Alliant Energy Company, blocking with their coal cars. They say they are doing much better now, only blocking twelve to fifteen minutes – Totally Unacceptable!
One of the quietest, most competent men I have ever known, Nick Tranel of East Dubuque, has done his research and shared with me information where our Illinois Commerce Commission has the power to fix the problem. I have the ball, passing it to the ICC. We shall see.