email@example.com Gun violence is an everyday topic of news these days. That’s especially true if you live in certain areas of Chicago. Terrorism is another topic that’s hard to avoid in today’s world. Seems like the terrorism tool of choice in London are bombs and trucks running over pedestrians. Terrorism in our country is usually from home-grown individuals. The weapon of choice here in the U.S. are firearms, usually handguns, but not always. Last week, when the shooting occurred at a baseball field in Arlington Virginia, the weapon used, according to reports, was an AK-47 assault weapon. It is a weapon used in conflicts around the world. It was the preferred weapon used against U.S. troops in Vietnam. My point is, the AK-47 has been around a long time. It’s accurate and deadly, even in the hands of an amateur. I can attest to the fact of my own experience in Vietnam that it is difficult to defend one’s self from an individual well positioned and without warning. An untrained individual using a handgun is at a distinct disadvantage and without much chance of responding if they are pinned down by rapid fire from an assault weapon. Trained law enforcement personnel did an outstanding job of overcoming the shooter and saving the lives of those targeted. They were in a position to react and were not the initial targets. They took advantage in the situation because of their training and firepower.
firstname.lastname@example.org It happens to every homeowner with a lawn. Sooner or later the lawnmower needs to be replaced. A few weeks ago, my 25-year-old mower was showing signs of old-age and I decided to replace it. Being a modern type, I googled “lawnmowers.” After reviewing several in my price range I decided on one with all the features I liked, for the price I was willing to pay. Plus, the free shipping was to my house or the retail store near me. I chose my house. It worked out well. I was home when the delivery truck came. The driver was happy to see me because he was uncertain how he was going to lift the awkward size box off the truck and to my front door. I helped him scoot it right into my garage. I proceeded to unbox the machine, perform the minor assembly, fill it with oil and gas. It looked great, had an electric start, one lever to adjust the blade height and it was self-propelled. I was happy with the purchase and moved my old mower to a storage shed in the yard. It was actually a few days later before I could mow due to rain and by then the grass had grown higher than usual. I set the mower to a high setting to accommodate the growth. Too make a long story short, the mower did a lousy job cutting the grass.
The world of ‘news’ these days is very cloudy. I try to write an article each week that attempts to connect the dots of varied interests into something that makes sense for all concerned. It’s not always easy and, sometimes, not possible. So, this week I wanted to share some random thoughts that don’t necessarily warrant much consideration and aren’t really connected. They portray our government at work for us. One item I came across this week regarded passage of an Illinois legislative bill that would allow the Secretary of State to put advertising material on license plate renewal notices. According to the requested legislation that is awaiting the governor’s signature, this would offset the cost of sending out the reminder. I don’t know about your own situation, but the last two or three years my renewal reminder has come by email. I’m trying to understand how much it could cost to send an email to individuals that directs you to a state website to order a small weather-resistant sticker about the size of a quarter. I’m sure there could be some one-time costs initially but it’s hard to fathom how much help this will provide to a state that is $14 billion behind in paying its bills and has not had a budget for almost two years. Go figure.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and traditionally observed on May 30. Decoration Day has evolved into Memorial Day and it is this weekend. It was officially declared a national holiday in 1967. It is the traditional holiday that starts the summer. It is always a three-day weekend since the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect in 1968. The holiday moved from its traditional observance on May 30 to the last Monday in May. Families and friends gather for picnics and numerous outdoor events in observance of the holiday weekend. There are also the incessant holiday sales hyped by businesses big and small. But that’s not really what this weekend is about. The purpose of Memorial Day is commemoration of soldiers who died in battle. The grateful phrase “Thanks for your service” should be reserved this weekend for those service members who paid the ultimate price-- they died fighting in battle for the United States of America.
email@example.com We all have expectations that our public sector employees will possess the ability to perform their duties in a safe environment and in a manner that does not jeopardize their own safety or that of others. For instance, it is a given that police and fire personnel will be drug and alcohol-free when they are on the job. The reason for that expectation is obvious. The same holds true for airline pilots and public transportation drivers. An inebriated bus driver is a danger to all around their vehicle, not just the passengers entrusted to the driver’s care. Most private employers require some form of periodic testing to ensure their personnel meet safety standards necessary to safeguard passage from point A to point B. Those standards include vehicle inspections as well. Many employers also require background checks of their employees. Annual background checks, even simple ones, include criminal record searches, a nationwide sex offender search and a routine motor vehicle record search. The motor vehicle record search reveals speeding tickets, accidents and DUI convictions.
Last week’s arrival in the mail of the property tax bill probably delighted no one when it was discovered most, if not all, taxing bodies showed an increased amount due. Most homeowners have their property taxes escrowed as part of the monthly mortgage payment and don’t always scrutinize the amount due unless it increases their monthly mortgage payment. The property tax bill is calculated by combining the Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) with the tax rate of each government unit. In Illinois, of course, there are a multitude of government units on a property tax bill. Many times, you may hear from the taxing body that the tax rate was not increased. “Why did my tax bill go up”, you say? Because the assessed value increased. This year, in some instances, both increased. That’s been less likely the last few years because property values have fallen, but that trend has reversed itself the last couple of years. Local governments face increasing costs and the tax bill reflects those increases. The biggest percentage increases on my tax bill this year came from Will County, the Will County Forest Preserve District, and Joliet Junior College. The biggest dollar amount of the tax bill goes to the various school districts on each homeowner’s bill, usually from 60 to 70 percent of the total dollar amount.
The calendar says it’s the beginning of May and that means all of the summer activities we all look forward to are set to begin. The beginning of April felt that way, but the weather isn’t cooperating at the moment. After taking a week’s vacation in sunny Florida, I’m ready to enjoy all that summer in the Midwest offers. The weather’s not cooperating yet, but like most things it will, eventually. One of the things most of us do when we travel around the country is sample the local cuisine. In Florida that means seafood is offered in most eateries. I certainly tried my share of those offerings, but I’m not a food critic so all I can say is what I tried was good. The kind of fare that is universal in the U.S, though, are hamburgers and hot dogs. Particularly universal is the “Chicago style” hot dog. Even in Florida that’s the enticer. Why do I mention hot dogs? One of the first “news” pieces I read when I returned home was in Crain’s Chicago Business magazine. It reported that Oscar Mayer, the top-selling wiener in the U.S., has developed a hot dog without nitrates, nitrites, and artificial preservatives. The company says they did this without compromising the taste or raising the price. We’ll see. Anyway, the change does raise a couple of questions. What took them so long to do this if it is in the best interest of the consumer? Secondly, what’s so bad about the demonized ingredients removed?
According to final totals from “Vote by Mail” and “Provisional” ballots counted By the Will County Clerk’s office last Tuesday results have not changed from election night. The election results from two weeks ago are not official until April 28. The closest election night margin in the area was for Village Clerk in Bolingbrook. Only two votes separated Carol Penning and opponent Jaime J. Olson on election night. The additional ballots counted on Tuesday increased Penning’s vote totals making her the unofficial winner. As expected, there were no other substantial changes affecting other races. Another report due this week is the Quarterly D-2 form required of all candidates who had campaigns that raised and spent more than $5,000 money on their campaign. Most candidates for local municipal offices spend relatively small amounts on their campaigns, but there are always campaigns that exceed that threshold. Newly elected Joliet City-Councilman at Large Don “Duck” Dickinson for instance, raised $9,560 and spent a little over $8,200. Two incumbents on the Joliet council also reached that threshold. Jan Quillman raised and spent over $8,000 for her reelection bid. Mark Turk raised almost $20,000 and spent about $13,000. The last Joliet mayoral election in 2015 exceeded $200,000 in expenditures. It was the costliest election in Joliet’s history. That’s unusual in Will County, except in Bolingbrook.
Campaign promises are easily made when a candidate seeks a political office and often times those promises are forgotten after the election results are in. Usually they are forgotten because they are verbal in nature and the candidate who gets elected didn’t put them in writing for someone to follow-up. Two years ago, Bob O’Dekirk was elected Mayor of Joliet. Once in office, he put together a transition team that actually published a report that could be gathering dust on a shelf. It’s never mentioned in a formal sense, but I pulled it out to see if any of the findings are being considered in practice. The report was summarized into a top ten list. I was interested to see if any of the ten priorities were being worked on. Some have progressed to being worked on and some remain in the “not yet” category. For instance, one finding suggested a Department of Senior Services should be created along with an initiative for a youth-senior interaction program that would mentor youth programs. Interesting idea, but that seems more like what parents and grandparents provide for their own family. Nothing so far has happened with that and probably shouldn’t anyway. Another item that hasn’t seen any formal movement is the idea of streamlining basic government operations. I’m not sure what that means. In the report, it is coupled with the concept of redeploying casino revenue from day-today operations to support future economic growth and development. Seems that is happening anyway, because casino revenue continues to decline every year and it is no longer revenue that can be depended on for daily operations.
When you read this week’s column, election results are known and probably analyzed as to why the small number of voters who turned out, chose candidates who won. Usually, incumbents are returned to the office they ran for and most referendums are defeated. How do I know this the day before results are known? History tells us so. Incumbents are reelected about 90 per cent of the time. Referendums are usually defeated unless it’s the second or third time they’ve been offered to voters. Finally, only a small percentage of registered voters will cast a ballot. The precinct I vote in, for instance, has approximately 1400 eligible voters. During last November’s election, approximately 1000 people voted. Presidential elections typically draw about 75-80 per cent of registered voters. Local elections, like this one, usually generate about 12-15 percent of the voters eligible. That equates to less than 200 votes at my polling place in Joliet. I was number nine when I voted at 9:30 Tuesday morning. That doesn’t count anyone who voted early, absentee or by mail. One possible reason for low voter turnout is the fact that elections occur quite often. How often? They occur annually. We just had an election this last November. Here it is five months later and another election. The next one? March 2018 will be the Primary Election for Republicans and Democrats to choose who will be on the ballot in November of 2018. The following April, 2019, will be for local races again. In Joliet, we’ll be voting for Mayor and five City Council District members. The campaigning for political office never stops.