March 21, 2006
It’s voting day! I left work a tad bit early, only put in a 10-hour day, so I could go vote. At the polling place I was asked if I was Republican, Democrat or Non-Partisan. As most of you know, I choose not to affiliate myself with one of the two major parties. I don’t agree with either enough to actually consider myself one or the other. When I checked non-partisan on the form, the official made the comment, “You can only vote for the sales tax issue. You don’t get to vote in any of the primaries as non-partisan.” He was pretty rude about it.
I just replied, “That’s okay, I haven’t found a politician I’ve trusted in years. I’m not sure which spawn of Satan would be better then any of the others.” He didn’t say anything further to me.
And in case you are wondering, I voted no on the Sales-Tax referendum. The city of Rockford has requested a 1% sales tax increase. That would bring us up to 8.25% sales tax on just about EVERYTHING. We would have the second highest sales tax rate outside of Cook County, where Chicago is located. There is not a doubt in my mind this tax will pass. The residents of Rockford will vote in any tax on the ballot. I swear there is not a tax they don’t like.
I’m thinking these people would approve a referendum to send a quarter of their pay to the city for the privilege of living here if the city promised, again, to fix the roads. Every election there is a vote to increase tax of one way or another in order to pay for roads, yet the work never seems to get done. At least not for the roads they say they are going to fix. What I found funny was the wording on the ballot. “Shall the City of Rockford, Illinois impose a 1% Non-Home Rule Municipal Retailer’s Occupation Tax, Service Occupation Tax and Use Tax, for infrastructure costs and property tax relief?”
Yea, like the government is going to reduce the property taxes any. I don’t think I’ll live to see the day any local politicians do anything to either return money to their constituents or reduce taxes. I also love how they threw home rule in there so people can become more familiar with the term. For those of you that are pro-home rule, if we had it this whole issue would have gone to the council and passed. We wouldn’t have had a chance to vote on it. Remember with home rule they no longer need our approval to raise taxes.
January 10, 2006
Victory! Home Rule in Rockford not on the March Ballot.
Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois had its first real battle last night. The City Council voted on whether or not to place Home Rule on the March ballot.
” Rockford aldermen voted 9-5 against placing the question on the March 21 ballot.”
The war isn’t won, but this is a nice victory for anyone against Home Rule. Why? Because back in 1983 when Home Rule was voted out, the city council forced the proponents to collect the signatures of the citizens to get it on the ballot. When Empower Rockford and Mayor Larry Morrison decided they wanted to bring Home Rule back; instead of getting the signatures, they wanted just to have the city council add the referendum. This saved them from trying to get the signature of 10% of the registered voters in the city. Thanks to the city council, that is exactly what Empower Rockford will have to do, collect signatures.
In one of my earlier posts on Home Rule, I said that they would need to collect 15,012 signatures to have this added to the ballot. This was a huge miscalculation on my behalf. I will admit I did not double check that figure and just based it off the population of Rockford. That is something I should have known better then to do. Apparently, out of the 150,124 citizens in Rockford, only about 80,000 are registered voters. Thus, Empower Rockford only needs 8,000 signatures. That is still a daunting task. Personally, I’d like to see them not get the signatures, but if they do, at least it would be on the ballot in the same manner it was back in 1983.
There was another issue in the article that disturbed me, how the aldermen voted.
” The vote was almost entirely along party lines with the council’s eight Democrats voting against a referendum on home rule and five of the six Republican aldermen voting for it.”
This surprises me. Having Republicans and Democrats going against party lines would be like expecting a starving lion not to attack a wounded zebra. It’s not going to happen. What surprises me is what the party lines where. I always thought Republicans were anti-big government. Home Rule gives you big government. Why would the republicans want this then? Isn’t Home Rule almost the embodiment of taking the power away from the people so that the politicians can dictate to us with out a vote? I figured this would be the other way with possibly one or two democrats voting No.
Either way I’m glad the council voted no. I’ll take the victory. Now if we can only win the war.
For other posts on Home Rule see the Home Rule Archive.
January 04, 2006
Move over Malkin, here I come!
I was just on the radio doing an interview regarding my opinions about Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois. There was even a plug for Miasmatic Review on there. Well, there goes my 15 minutes of fame.
Of course it was a local radio station that really isn’t known for it’s hard hitting news as much as for it’s music, but still, kind of cool.
For more information on Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois see the Home Rule Archive.
January 03, 2006
More on Home Rule in Rockford, IL
A commentor, Marianne Garvens, left this comment in on this post. I felt her comment was so good it deserved it's own post. She did a wonderful job of posting the downsides of Home Rule.
Rockford’s Home-rule Debate began in 2003 Many of the following excerpts I wrote in mid-2003 Guest Column by Marianne L. Garvens
Local government spending/incentives is what drives the need for more
tax revenue - ultimately leading to higher fines, fees and property
Control spending you control taxes. It’s that simple!
KNOW THIS - Home-rule communities have NO bond limits! That means
Rockford would have an ‘open line of credit’ and ‘no direct accountability’!
You see, the city won’t need your permission by referendum anymore;
granting home-rule powers is like giving officials a vault full of blank
‘Freeport is my home community. I believe in its potential, but I have
seen repeated abuse of home-rule authority and I believe that this
power needs to be repealed from the Illinois Constitution, especially since
the concept violates the Federal Constitution.
Based on my experience in Freeport, I can only see the re-establishment
of home rule in Rockford serving the interest of growing government and
enriching preferred developers/businesses while stripping citizens of
their basic rights and more of their hard earned money.’
Home-rule communities are supposed to adhere to a ‘stricter standard’
for more openness, not less. They are not supposed to use home-rule
powers, consultants and attorneys to find new ways to cut the citizens out
of the public’s business.
There is a reason Rockford citizens voted out home-rule – their
‘representatives’ were abusing their home-rule powers to tax and spend and
they weren’t asking the people’s permission.]
On May 17, 2003, Rockford Register Star guest opinionist, Jim Ryan, a
City employee, used ‘factoids’ (instead of citing facts) in his attempts
to sway public opinion to re-establish home rule.
Simply put - a factoid is “a half-truth, unproven theory, wild
exaggeration or flat lie posing as scientific fact ... structured to mislead
Factoids play on our fears or suspicions ... [when] repeated over and
over, even reasonable, well educated people tend to go along ... No
matter how preposterous, the factoid will almost always be accepted as true
if it is repeated often enough. ...
Many of us [believe] that the truth will always triumph over ignorance
and error. ... The battle can easily be lost, and often is, before the
truth has a chance to catch up. ..." The Citizen’s Guide to Fighting
Government, Senator Steve Symms & Larry Grupp, Jameson Books, Inc.
First, while Jim Ryan is a citizen, and is certainly entitled to
express his opinion, as an employ of the City of Rockford; Ryan wields
tremendous authority while overseeing a substantial portion of the city’s
budget. – home-rule would certainly make his job easier and him far less
accountable. Also, based on a conversation with the Illinois Attorney
General's Office and George Ryan and Mike Curran's conduct - I know it
is improper for public officials and full-time elected officials to
campaign with public resources (of which time is one) or use their
position to influence the results of an election.
QUESTION: What is Jim Ryan’s real interest in this debate and why did
he resort to using ‘factoids’ and belittling the character of Rockford’s
majority when he said:
"By voting out home rule, we basically said that we want to be more
dependent upon the state legislature and have less freedom from
legislative mandates." RRS 5/17/03
On what basis did he reach his conclusions? He said, "As I stated, we
as citizens threw away home rule powers in 1983 under the guise that it
would lower local property taxes. Tax cap legislation has now fixed
that problem." RRS 5/17/03
State tax caps DO NOT prevent home rule communities from raising taxes;
home rule units can do what they want, when they want, unless the
people challenge the policy IN COURT!
[In Freeport, under the leadership of then Library Director Frank Novak
(Rockford’s newest Library Director), officials used home-rule powers
to go around State library law and the Illinois’ Taxpayer’s Bill of
Rights to avoid a referendum officials knew they could not win.]
Another problem? The media often avails public officials with unlimited
commentary space, usually without requiring factual citations or
substantiation; simultaneously, the media often edits or limits public
comments to 250 words or less once per month. How is this equitable, just or
The public’s participation is also silenced/ obstructed at what are
supposed to be public meetings – usually the public gets little notice
and/or no access to agendas; the public must make their comments within
two minute time constraints at the end of public meetings - even on
agenda items. My experience is that each unit of government interprets and
implements open government laws very differently and so there is no
consistency for the public to know how they can participate in their
Why does media allow/accept unsubstantiated claims and print conclusory
statements as fact? The people deserve ‘fair and balanced reporting’;
we depend on it in a 'healthy' representative democracy.
I suggest before entertaining discussions of re-establishing home rule
the public be fully educated.
KNOW THIS- a home rule government need only abide by the U.S and
Illinois Constitutions, and a hand-full of statutes that specifically limit
power. That means that policy challenges can only be heard by HIGH
District courts and administrative hearings have no jurisdiction for
constitutional opinions, they can only certify a constitutional question
to a higher court, or dismiss a case when a statute has been determined
unconstitutional on its face - like the ‘dangerous and unsafe building’
[Freeport, with its home rule, thinks they can ignore the higher courts
and deny real property rights without statutory authority and contrary
to the constitution and Bill of Rights.]
I do not believe the people of Rockford’s vote said: ‘ "take care of us
Springfield, because we’re too stupid, distrusting of each other, and
stubborn to get along and take care of ourselves. …" ’ Jim Ryan RRS
How arrogant! What is Mr. Ryan’s purpose of distorting the results of
the referendum, misrepresenting the facts, and speaking so poorly of the
public he was hired to serve?
Pretty good huh? Remember people, Home Rule is not going to ease our troubles, it's just going to make more in other places.
To read the rest of my posts regarding Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois see this archive.
January 02, 2006
No to Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois
It appears the City council is going to vote on Home Rule tomorrow night. The proponents of Home Rule have decided that instead of getting the petitions signed by the people of Rockford, they are just going to go to the City Council to get them to vote it onto the ballot. I sent the following letter to my alderman in hopes that maybe she’ll vote no.
I live in the eighth ward, as you are my alderman I would like you to be aware of my feelings on Home Rule. I am strongly against it. The way Illinois has legislated the guidelines behind Home Rule, tends to leave too much room for potential abuse. The people that are trying to reinstate it are well with in their right and authority to do so. However, in 1983 when the people of Rockford decided it was time to remove this abused tool of government they where forced to have the petition signed by enough citizens in order to get it on the ballot. Now the powers that be, including our own Mayer, are already demonstrating how they my possibly abuse Home Rule by bypassing the citizens themselves.
Instead of getting the people to sign the petition to have this referendum added to the March ballot, they want the city council to pass it for them. How is this fair or representative of the people in the city? If they are sure this is going to pass, why not have them collect the votes themselves? Unless they want to bypass the citizens right to vote, and take away our freedoms even prior to Home Rule being voted on.
Please, do what's right. Vote no to have Home Rule added to the referendum with out the signatures on the petition.
If you live in Rockford, you should understand the dangers of Home Rule as it is designed. Please contact your Alderman and tell them you don’t want it in our city. Remember these are your rights they are taking away.
See the rest of my Home Rule posts in this Archive.
December 09, 2005
More on Home Rule.
It’s been a while since I’ve gone off on Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois. After putting up my last two posts I can see I’m getting a steady stream of hits regarding it. That makes me feel good, it shows me that people out there, like myself, are willing to do the research on something before they just blindly take someone’s word on it. Then I saw this article.
“During a short statement, Jim Keeling told the council that home rule is an important tool for dealing with problems and opportunities within the community.
I implore you to adopt an enabling resolution,” Keeling said. “Over the next several months, we hope to have a full public-education process about the specifics of home rule.”
“The council puts items on the ballot all the time,” (Mayor) Morrissey said. “I think there are a lot of aldermen who are supportive of home rule.”
Aldermen have until Jan. 17 to pass an enabling resolution for the spring election.
Empower Rockford could also collect and turn in signatures from 10 percent of the city’s registered voters, something Keeling said the group would not attempt.
Back in 1983 when the people decided they wanted to revoke Home Rule, because it was abused, they where forced to collect the signatures. The counsel at the time felt it was up to the people. Today it seems that the people that want to restore want to abuse the system and instead of letting the people decide, force it onto the ballet with out even doing the legwork. Why would they want to do this?
Because if forced to get the signatures they may not get the 15,012 that would be required to get the resolution on the ballot. If they can’t get the signatures, why am I worried, they won’t get the votes, right? Wrong! The tendency of people is to vote yes when they aren’t sure what the referendum is for. That might sound strange, but it is true. People when confronted with a choice on voting; tend not to abstain from the vote if they don’t understand the issue. Instead they will guess and in this case yes/no. So right off the bat you have a 50/50 chance of getting the vote you want. THEN, when you take into consideration there are too many people that will vote they way they are told or in some cases “paid”, you really can swing it the way you want.
By Jim Keeling taking this straight to the city council, we are already witnessing the potential abuses of Home Rule. But home rule isn’t even passed yet, how is this an example. Simple. If they are willing to by pass the people on this issue to get what they want, what won’t they bypass the people on to get what they want? In this article in the Rock River Times, we can see where the Mayor is talking about using Home Rule to increase sales tax and decrease property tax. With out home rule this would have to go to the people to decide. With home rule, the Mayor can take it straight to the counsel and they can decide for the people. ABUSE people. Wake up and smell the coffee!
As citizens they are trying to take away our right of self-governing, they want to take away our voice. Do you want this? Do you feel that someone needs to think for you? I don’t. I want, no… I need to be able to go to the polls and say, “No, I do not want this tax” or “Yes, I want more restrictions on our government.”
Please, people of Rockford. Vote No to Home Rule and voice your concerns to your alderman. We don’t want our basic rights taken away from us.
To see the rest of the Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois posts. Click Here.
November 10, 2005
I'm against Home Rule in Rockford!
In an earlier post on how I was against home rule in Rockford, IL I went into some of the biggest cons of going into home rule. Over at Fix Home Rule they have a better breakdown and examples of how Home Rule, especially in Illinois, does not work.
Also, a small free paper called the Rock River Times has an easy to follow breakdown of what some of the possible abuses a government can do under home rule.
The more I read about it and the
probable possible abuses that can be perpetrated legally by politicians, the more I find myself against it. I’ve actually taken to publicly speaking out against it in various forums. I just hope that the other citizens of Rockford realize the dangers before they turn over their only form of checks and balances to power hungry politicians.
If you want to see the rest of my posts on Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois, Click Here.
BTW anyone that would be so kind as to assist me in spreading the word, please link to this post. If, like most people, you just search for "Home Rule Rockford" all you get is pro-home rule sites.
November 04, 2005
Taxes and corruption.
Coming up this spring the city of Rockford, Illinois is going to look into possibly allowing Home Rule to return for our government. In Illinois if you have a municipality has a population over 25,000 they are automatically considered home rule, UNLESS a referendum is passed revoking that status. Rockford hasn’t had home rule since 1983.
What is home rule? Home rule can be best defined as placing at the local level the power to tax and to regulate with broad discretion any function pertaining to government and local affairs. Some of the items that local governments may regulate under home rule are: cigarette taxes, taxes on retail sales of new motor vehicles, parking taxes, reductions in mandatory fire and police retirement age, land dedications for schools and parks, zoning landfill sites, mobile home parks, low-income housing developments, and self-service gas. They also have the power to regulate health ordinances that conflict with Environmental Protection Agency regulations, noise regulations, branch banking regulations, and the disposition of unclaimed property, the reduction of officials’ salaries or discrimination based on personal appearance. In some of these areas, the state legislature may be able to delegate its power to local government, but without state action, home rule units cannot regulate in these areas.
They do not have the power to regulate, for public policy reasons, matters involving divorce and family law and real property. Trusts and contracts must be regulated by the state and cannot vary from one municipality to the next. That still gives a lot of power to local governments.
In this article about it in our local rag (It’s about as newsworthy as a high school newspaper); they list an example of one of the abuses of Home Rule in the
Daley empire city of Chicago.
“Chicago in March 2003 when city construction crews, under the cover of darkness, tore up the runway at Meigs Field, effectively closing the lakefront airport. Who gave the crews the right to do so? Not the voting public. Not the Federal Aviation Administration. Certainly not the hundreds of pilots who flew in and out of the airport. The airport was closed for good on orders from Mayor Richard Daley.”
I remember when this happened. At a minute after midnight when the lease was up, Daley sent the bulldozers in and trashed the runway beyond repair. My corporate HQ is in Chicago and I know many a person that used that airport, to say they where unhappy about the situation is an understatement.
I don’t want to see something like this happening in Rockford. First, the city itself rarely if ever votes down a tax. Give the city the opportunity to raise taxes above the max that state law allows and I could see the vast idiots here actually voting into place a 25% tax increase to fix the roads. Then with all the eminent domain baloney going through the courts, I could see city planners use home rule to snag private property for some stupid “tourist” attraction that would be poorly located. Using the same logic, I can see them snagging peoples houses to make roads so it is more accessible.
At this time, I’m going to have to say I don’t want my local leaders to have that much power. I see the abuses in Chicago and some of the other surrounding communities and I don’t like it. Why would I want to subject myself to the same?