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.
A little over two weeks ago, Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, was granted emergency powers to close a business for up to seven days. As previously reported the term “emergency” was not defined. The stated reason for the action was police had a difficult time making arrests and controlling criminal activity on private business property. It was also noted at the time, that street cops were “clamoring” for the ordinance giving the mayor the power to close businesses that made controlling criminal activity so difficult. The police were again thrust into the limelight this last week by Michael DeVito, President of the Joliet Fraternal Order Police Union. He addressed the mailing of a political campaign letter by a candidate for City Council, Rachel Ventura, to a number of police officers at their residences. The nature of the letter was apparently a rebuttal of information previously given to union members that was misleading, in the opinion of the candidate. The contents of the letter were not being disputed by the union official. What DeVito questioned was how candidate Ventura obtained the mailing list.
We live in the age of “it’s not my fault.” There has always s been the question of “who’s at fault?” since time began. It just seems more prevalent today. When it is our own fault, we need to take responsibility. Sometimes that fault is collective. The collective fault is often most visible in the political realm. When the Joliet Junior College board of trustees met last week, they approved a student tuition increase for the fall session. They insisted it was not their fault the tuition increase was necessary. No, no, it was the lack of adequate funding from the State of Illinois that caused the increase. One Trustee, the board’s Vice Chairman Andrew Mihelich stated “We’re not here because of ourselves. This is the state. I want to make this completely clear to our public. This is a state funding issue.” Really, you have no responsibility for this Increase? This “funding issue” came on suddenly, with no warning. That’s your story? I beg to differ.
If you believe in miracles, then perhaps the newly proposed (Trumpcare) also American Health Care Act is your cup of tea. Currently being called the AHCA, it is having a difficult time finding its legs. The AHCA (I prefer the more realistic term, the Aha! Plan) is opposed by large segments of all the various players such as Republicans, Democrats, doctors, hospitals, healthcare workers, senior citizens, and even some insurance experts among others. It’s still too early to know exactly where all this will lead, but the rush to make it happen is always a red flag, especially when it comes to a Federal government program.
US falls in world ranking: Joliet’s new way to fight crime?
Who knew? The United States fell from number 4 to number 7 in the world ranking of Best Countries. That’s according to a U.S. News and World Reports survey conducted after the presidential election last November. The survey asked 21,000 business leaders, informed elites and everyday citizens their views on certain aspects of a variety of countries, including the U.S.A. The media company U.S. News transitioned several years back to a primarily web-based company in 2010 that specializes in highly popular ‘Best of’ lists. There are nine sub-categories of featured rankings. Some categories such as power, entrepreneurship and quality of life are self-explanatory. Others like Adventure and Movers need a little more explanation. The U.S. ranks 35 and 24 respectively in those two categories. Apparently, we are not an adventurous people compared to number 1 Brazil and number 4 Thailand. I’d rather be bored than live in either of those places. The number 1 and 2 countries considered Movers are the United Arab Emirates and Singapore. They rank number 22 and 15 in the overall Best Countries. We’re 35th when it comes to Open for Business but the U.S. is 16 and 18 respectively in Citizenship and Quality of Life. Canada and Sweden are 1 and 2 in Quality of Life rankings.
Governments at all levels want voters to believe they are working hard for the best interests of their constituents.
The local election season is less than six weeks away. Even if you haven’t received any candidate mailings in the last couple of weeks, it’s getting hard to miss the ‘vote for me’ signs that are popping up in yards all over Will County. If it seems as if elections are happening all the time, you’re right! There is at least one, and usually two, elections every year. Odd numbered years, like 2017, are for the consolidated elections, more commonly known as municipal and/or township elections. Even numbered year elections are for Federal, State, Judicial and county officials. If you are like most people, you can take comfort in the fact that, after this year’s April 4 election, the long interlude between elections will occur. The next one will take place almost a year later on March 20, 2018. What makes it seem like there’s always an election is the almost continuous candidate campaigning for the various offices. Campaigning usually starts anywhere from six months to a year before the election date. That’s particularly true for Federal and State offices. There are 419,372 registered voters on the books in Will County. Voter turnout in the Consolidated Election four years ago, was 18.1 per cent. If that percentage holds true for the upcoming April 4 election, a little over 76,000 people will vote in the 303 precincts in Will County. Some of the municipalities in Will County are in more than one county. For instance, Bolingbrook has part of its population in DuPage County and Joliet is partially in Kendall County.
It seems somewhat ironic that Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s State of the City address took place at Harrah’s casino this year. It was a positive address touting several past and soon to come commercial successes that will enhance Joliet’s tax base. It was just 10 years ago, in 2007 that the City’s share of casino gaming revenue peaked at just over $36 million for the year. Gaming revenue totaled $18.4 million in 2016. According to the latest gaming revenue reports, Joliet’s share of gaming revenue continues to decline. Joliet’s casino revenue share this month is down by almost 10 percent compared to January last year. The addition of video gaming revenue to the city coffers over five years ago, has not stemmed the tide of the decline. It was September of 2012 when the city received its first share from the only video machines licensed in Joliet. Izzy’s bar had five machines that paid the city’s share of $430. Last month Izzy’s shared $898 with the city. They were one of 74 locations with a total of 295 gaming machines. Last year video gaming revenue totaled $665,802. No significant increase from video gaming is anticipated that will offset the expected decline of casino revenue this year. Economic growth can and should replace gaming revenue as a source for everyday expenses and be used for capital projects as was the original intention of the state legislature.