The following Letter to the Editor reflects the opinions of the author. Patch merely serves as a platform for readers to express their views.
Before 2009, my roles in life were to be a husband, father and business owner. I entered local government affairs because I was fed up with the consistent increase in taxes from the different bodies which can levy our property. The township schools take the biggest chunk since they have budgets that go into the hundreds of millions, most of which is for teacher and administrator salaries, which are discussed in a book called Illinois Pension Scam by Bill Zettler.
Interested citizens can also review costs at http://www.illinoisloop.org/salary.html. An informed public is a prepared public. While we have to tighten our belts and lay off employees, these public “governments” increase their revenues by raising our taxes. We are required to pay through state taxes for the pensions of state legislators, judges and state public employees; all the while we have no direct input over salary control.
Our representatives and senators in Springfield sit comfortably in their plush seats and willingly wait for Mike Madigan and John Cullerton to tell them how to vote. Many of these legislators are double-dippers and appear on other public payrolls and thus hold two jobs with two pensions while thousands of their constituents struggle to pay bills because they themselves are unemployed or only have part- time jobs. The legislators who brought us to the brink of disaster now claim that they are the only ones who can solve the problem. Really? Who and where have ANY of the local legislators fought for our tax relief? Many actually spend time trying to “help” gambling casinos and video-gaming interests make money. And some are even proud of that.
Want to know who is donating to these politicians? Go to http://www.followthemoney.org/index.phtml and see where the donations are coming from. For me personally it is sickening to read the results. And after a near lifetime of holding these public offices, they pass them on to their children, nieces and nephews, neighbors and other hanger-ons. The regular person doesn’t seem to stand a chance. Generation after generation they treat their areas like medieval manors. Prime example is the Cullertons in the 38th Ward who have controlled it (and the jobs) since 1871...the time of the Chicago Fire!
And it is true in county government and state government too. We have pension problems in Niles. Not only has Niles not contributed the full amount for its employees’ pensions by meeting its statutory minimum contribution for years and years, it has dispensed monies which could have been used by giving unapproved “bonuses” and cars to its favored employees for nothing or for as little as ten dollars. Many who ignored the problem and its solution are still in the seat of power as they have been for decades.
And who paid for it? Me and you. And who will pay for more of these incomplete fundings? Taxpayers to the year 2040...home owners who may not even have been born yet! This is neither competent management nor prudent budgeting. The Madigan/Cullerton Crew now pushes for pension funding for schools, for example, to be taken by local residents. Passing a buck that does not even exist! We are already drowning in debt that still is to be created. This must end.
I applaud Niles residents and taxpayers like Joe Makula who use their time to save our suburb by pushing for term limits. The ones who created and contributed to the problems cannot possibly now be the ones who solve them. I campaigned with that issue several years ago, and Mr. Makula has carried the ball at the citizen-participation level. Guess what? Professional politicians now claim they want term limits, or special term limits like a local state senator who wants limits on his party’s leadership. Sure, this makes room for new “leaders,” like the guy suggesting it.
Friends and neighbors, either we fight together for what is decent and right or we will all sink into debt and chaos. We cannot wait for anyone to champion our cause but must do it ourselves, and good people like Joe Makula are needed more than ever and in greater numbers. Time to roll up our sleeves and defend ourselves against so-called leaders who raid out purses and wallets and train their sons and daughters and relatives to do the same.
Chris Hanusiak is a Niles trustee.
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