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The appeal of Bruce Rauner… the phenomenon of Bruce Rauner… is that he will do things differently than have been done in Illinois politics. While that remains to be seen, he hasn’t even been inaugurated after all, many were convinced to vote on him in the belief that he will take Illinois away from its insider, good-ol’-boy ways. The plaid flannel shirts and cheap watches went far.

Full disclosure: I used to do work for Adam Andrzejewski’s organization For the Good of Illinois. If you believe that this clouds and invalidates my opinion, please stop reading.

While the campaign theatrics were successful for Governor-Elect Rauner, the time for substance over style has begun. The Rauner transition team is filled with insiders that would seem to run contrary with his outsider image. The news coming from his camp has made many, myself included, remembering the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” In the tragedy of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s death, the opportunity of positive change has come.

In Illinois we have two constitutional offices that control the purse strings: Treasurer and Comptroller. The Treasurer takes in the revenue; the Comptroller disburses payments. Judy Baar Topinka was re-elected to the office of Comptroller this past November, but passed away on December 10th. The least wasteful, and best outcome for the people of Illinois would be to combine the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer. Unfortunately, the Illinois State Constitution doesn’t allow for much that is good for the people of Illinois. Until a change to the state constitution is made, we will have a Comptroller. Outgoing governor Pat Quinn has appointed Topinka’s chief-of-staff to hold the office until the expiring term ends in January.

Back to Bruce.

This is Rauner’s chance to shake up Springfield. Founder of For the Good of Illinois and the Open the Books App Adam Andrzejewski has applied for the appointment that Governor Rauner will need to fill on January 21st.  Appointing Andrzejewski would be the bold, status quo bucking move that Rauner’s campaign promised. Andrzejewski has worked hard to uncover corruption and government waste with his OpentheBooks App as well as his many appearances on television and radio. Among the highlights of the light his organization has shown:

The last point should be kept in mind to remove any notions that Andrzejewski is a partisan pick. Anyone familiar with his work knows that Adam has many enemies on the Republican side of the aisle.

Bruce Rauner made news a few weeks ago when he said he found budget tricks that Quinn and the Democrats left for us in the last budget. I say let Adam Andrzejewski have at it. Is there a better steward to remove the clouds from Illinois’ mirky fiscal mess? Adam-Andrzejewski-headshot

The decisions of former governors Blagojevich and Quinn to not live in Springfield have underscored the perception of Chicago ruling over the state and has enhanced the north/south – city/rural division that has created such resentment in our state. Back in 2007, my wife and I took a carriage ride through Springfield. We went past a large compound that had overgrown vegetation and a number of cars in the driveway. We could see it all from the street. My wife and I first thought that maybe an old estate was recently sold and the cars were contractors and the new owners there to take a look at what it would take to fix up the foreclosed property. The carriage driver heard us and interjected “That’s the Governor’s Mansion.” We couldn’t believe it. Our conversation then turned to the similarities between Springfield and Detroit…

governors_mansion_side_view_springfield_illinois

I’m glad that Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner has decided that he will move to Springfield and stay in the Governor’s Mansion as reported in Reboot Illinois.  I am upset that after spending millions of dollars to become governor, and throwing more personal cash ($10 million to be exact) into a legislative action fund this week, he is asking for private cash to renovate the historic home. For someone who seemed to spare no expense to become governor, the call for private funds to restore the Governor’s Mansion makes his move to Springfield seem to be a hollow gesture.

First off, Happy New Year. Welcome to 2015.

This is a little strange for me since I haven’t written since last May. It has been a busy and interesting year. I went from being heavily involved in local politics (even finding myself elected to a leadership position) to having no involvement at all. We moved from Downers Grove, where I spent the last 17 years, to Naperville. It’s been an adjustment for me, but I love our new home. We have a lot of support out here and have made fast friends with our neighbors. Our son started preschool and he’s developing quite the personality. He cracks us up. Work has been good too. We’ve gone from wondering where we would get our next project from to wondering where are we going to find the time to finish all the projects. It has been a good year.

On to 2015…

The November 2014 elections have given us, our state… and our nation, an opportunity for a revival. Harry Reid is now minority leader of the Senate. The right should control the legislative agenda. I use the word should because while I am practicing optimism, I know that recent history has not shown the Republican Party to be bold and decisive. We have a Republican governor in Illinois. While I still have great reservations about just how Republican he really is, our chances as Illinoisans are better today than they would be with another term of Pat Quinn.

I promise to be around more often this year and continue to speak my mind, as some will enjoy and others will cringe – and that’s not just another New Year’s Resolution.

Prairie grasses at sunrise. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA.

 

Fix it Florida voters! Fix it now! You don’t get a second chance. Fix it now before you are tainted and are recognized as the dumbest state in the union. People’s exhibit A:

And here is the material for the Florida GOP’s second campaign commercial:

Tasty.
All kidding aside, I can’t be any more serious. Garcia must go. A man of his sloppy intellect and habits in power is a signal of the end of the Republic.

by Ron Brzoska

Last week I received my property tax bill. The purpose of this blog is not to complain about it. In relative terms, I got off easy. My property taxes went up a total of $47.00. I know of others in my community that have seen their property taxes increase by hundreds of dollars. I did find it a bit outrageous that the assessed property value of my home and the others in my locality have remained depressed over their values from ten years ago, but the taxes still go up. My purpose here is to highlight the trends and drivers of my property taxes, what it means, and what we should do about it.

My property taxes went up by 2.24% over the previous year. Increase in the cost of administering government (operations), went up by 0.81%. I can live with that time of increase. I think most people can. The increase in pension costs is 21.95%. To provide proper context, that only accounts for an additional $32, but that also means that pension costs account for 68% of the increase in my property tax bill. Also, if this increase is only the beginning and this percentage of increase is only a harbinger of things to come, it won’t be long before these increased pension costs become quite noticeable and expensive. Please don’t think that when I say “pensions” that I am speaking in code and really mean “teachers.” A third of that increased pension cost on my tax bill comes from my village which saw an increase of 13.3%. That is also an enormous jump.

The following chart shows what taxing bodies make up my property tax.

piechart

The next chart shows the percentage of increase by each taxing body.

chart2

Finally, the dollar amount each taxing body raised my property tax.

chart3

Property taxes are driven by our school districts and municipalities. Everyone knows that. What we need to do now is make it known that we know it. We need to pay greater attention to our school board and village government races. We need to let the candidates know that we will not accept a sentence of death by a thousand papercuts. We need to stop living the lie that political ideology doesn’t matter locally. We need to recognize that most of the people we send to state and national office were once on our village councils and our school boards. We need to realize that the progressives have been building their farm team in this way for decades. We need to make sure that fiscal conservatives hold our local offices to send the message up the food chain. We need to send this message to ALL of the political parties. We need to wake up and not be shy about it.

by Ron Brzoska

I received an email today that would have been one of those funny political joke forwards, only that it wasn’t a joke but was absolutely true. A Naperville, IL resident sent a mass email out to his friends that may be interested in getting a conceal carry permit. Here it is (the name has been changed to protect the innocent):

On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 12:59 PM, Joe wrote:

The Naperville Sportmans Club will be putting on a training program to certify individuals for Illinois permit, below is the information sent to the members of a club. About 15 people have signed up for it, each class can have up to 30 students. This is a excellent opportunity to take the Qualifying Course locally.

The following is the information on the class, if you are interested please call John. I would also like to hear from you if you are going to take the class.

Thank you for the opportunity, I am pleased to propose a 16 hour Illinois Concealed Carry training course for the Jefferson Club of Naperville. This course will provide each student, that completes the course satisfactorily, a certificate of training to submit with their Illinois Concealed Carry License application.

Our curriculum has been certified by the Illinois State Police and is called “AHFT Concealed Carry”.

The course consists of 5 modules: (1)   Firearm Safety; 2 hours (2)   Basic principles of marksmanship; 3 hours (3)   Care, cleaning, loading and unloading of a concealable firearm; 3 hours (4)   All applicable State and Federal laws relating to the ownership, storage, carry and transportation of a firearm; 4 hours (5)   Weapon Handling; 4 hours 

The price for your course will be $140.00 per student, with a maximum of 30 students. Payable in cash at the student’s attendance of the first module.

I recommend the modules be taken in order but they do not have to be. Schedule (subject to modification):

Module 1, Monday May 19th – 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Module 2, Wednesday May 21st – 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Module 3, Friday May 23rd – 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Module 1, 2 and 3, Saturday May 24th – 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Module 4, Sunday May 25th – 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Module 4, Wednesday May 28th – 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Module 5, Range to be scheduled based on availability of range and students.

We can shift to dates sooner or later based on your needs, I am flexible.

Things the student will need: A Positive Attitude

A Handgun The Handgun owner’s manual for gun used (hard or soft copy) Ammunition for Handgun used (~200 rounds)

A Concealment Garment A Strong Side Hip Holster – must cover trigger guard with gun in place (training safety issue with multiple students on the firing line). We will be pleased to teach other holster types in addition to the above on a one student on the firing line at a time basis.

Sign and date our waivers which I will be happy to provide copies of in advance;

(1) Release, Waiver, Indemnification, Hold Harmless and Assumption of Risk Agreement

(2) Safety Protocol Agreement

(3) Legal Advice Waiver 

All Instructors that may help on the project are certified NRA Chief Range Safety Officers and Illinois Concealed Carry Firearms Instructors.

Thank you again for the opportunity and I look forward to working with you on this project,

John – 630-XXX-XXXX

Chief Instructor

At Home Firearms Training

Illinois Certified Concealed Carry Instructor

NRA Chief Range Safety Officer

NRA Instructor:

Certified Pistol

Certified Shotgun

Certified Home Firearm Safety

Certified Refuse To Be A Victim

Certified Personal Protection In The Home

Certified Personal Protection Outside The Home

Gunsite Academy : Certificate of Training in Defensive Pistol

A friend of mine responded…

Joe, I’m sure that it has something to do with water, IQ, or street smarts, but our course in Florida takes 3 hours and cost $60.  Also veterans, ex-cops, etc. are except from the course.

I swear to God. I didn’t make this up.

by Ron Brzoska

April 28th, is Tax Freedom Day in Illinois. Tax Freedom Day is the day that you are finally working for yourself. Up until now, you have been working to earn the money to pay all of the taxes taken from you by the various units of government. It’s all about you now… after 117 days.

According to an article published by the Illinois Opportunity Project, Tax Freedom Day in Illinois is three days later this year than it was last year. The idea behind this is to provide a better illustration of tax burden. Just think, we are working for almost a third of a year before we are earning any money that gets to stay in our pockets.

Let’s break it down into a smaller bite. Rather than scaling to a year, let’s scale to a work week. You would be working all day Monday and for 49 minutes past lunch on Tuesday until you had earned enough in a week to pay your taxes. If we scale it down even smaller to a single eight-hour work day, you will need to work for 2 hours and 34 minutes before you are working for yourself. For me, this means that my first two meetings, my two cups of coffee, and my new bookings for the morning are done for the state. When my first hunger pangs remind me that lunch is near, I’m finally on my time. What does it mean for you?

Feeling taxed enough already?

cubicle

By Ron Brzoska

1982…sandberg

I was 10 years old.

Ryne Sandberg finished his rookie year with the Chicago Cubs.

I was playing Pac-Man on my Atari 2600.

atariLate Night with David Letterman debuted.

The Dow closed at 1,046.

The #1 movie was E.T. the Extraterrestrial.

The price of gas was 91 cents per gallon.et

The Chicago Cubs were six years away from having lights at Wrigley Field.

Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Greg Luzinski were putting balls on the roof at Comiskey (not Kaminsky) Park.

The first CD player is sold. My son will probably never use one.thriller

There were only two Star Wars Movies.

Speaking of movie franchises, Freddy Kruger and the Nightmare on Elm Street series did not yet exist.

The Bulls and Blackhawks played at the old barn called Chicago Stadium.

There was Astroturf, but no UFO at Soldier Field.mrt

Jane Byrne was Mayor of Chicago. Jim Thompson was Governor of Illinois.

Michael Jackson releases the Thriller Album.

Rocky III introduced Mr. T to the world.knightrider

My future wife started kindergarten.

My favorite TV show was Knight Rider.

A sophomore from the University of North Carolina, Michael Jordan, hits the game winning shot of the NCAA championship.

jordanncWe were all excited with the possibilities of personal computing when the Commodore 64 was introduced.

Punky QB Jim McMahon, and Coach Mike Ditka were rookies for the Chicago Bears.

MTV was one year old and the only programming was a thing called “music videos.”mtv

Dick Durbin was elected to national office for the first time.

Hasn’t he had enough of a chance? Haven’t WE had enough?

Vote for Jim Oberweis.

durbinold

By Ron Brzoska

When you read this, read it with the cadence of a Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck” joke. The only problem is that this isn’t funny.

If you have to take over 1/6 of the economy to give insurance to 1/300 of the people… you are living in Obama’s America.

If your IRS Director is in contempt of Congress… you are living in Obama’s America. lois lerner

If you say the economy is on recovery as the real unemployment rate continues to rise… you are living in Obama’s America.

If major financial reform (Dodd-Frank) doesn’t include the two entities largely responsible… you are living in Obama’s America. imagesCAJ1XMS9

If a law is unpopular, and the president’s answer is to pick and chose which parts to enforce or delay… you are living in Obama’s America.

If members of your oversight committee are implicated in the very investigation they are overseeing… you are living in Obama’s America.           cummings

If requiring ID for early voting is fine, but requiring ID for election day itself is racist… you are living in Obama’s America.

If you campaign against the evil corporations, and then appoint the CEOs to your cabinet… you are living in Obama’s America.                                                                                                                                          imagesCAALOSBS

If we can’t dispatch soldiers to save an American ambassador, but we can dispatch troops to stop a cattle drive… you are living in Obama’s America.

stevens

If your HHS Secretary resigns in weariness and frustration after touting the success of her crowning historic achievement… you are living in Obama’s America.                                                                                                                              sebelius

If your Attorney General gives weapons to drug cartels, but wants tracking bracelets for law-abiding citizens wanting to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights… you are living in Obama’s America.                                                            holder

If a shooter yelling “Allahu Ackbar” before opening fire at a military base is termed “workplace violence”… you are living in Obama’s America.

nidal hassan

If SuperPac money is evil, but Big Labor donations are unquestionable… you are living in Obama’s America.

If rising insurance premiums are called “affordable” while a free ID is called an undue hardship… you are living in Obama’s America.

And finally…

If you didn’t vote for this president, and you can’t understand why anyone did… you are living in Obama’s America.

obamagump

By Ron Brzoska

Last Wednesday the Supreme Court struck down the limits on aggregate campaign contributions and the left nearly lost their collective minds. (Ha! Get it? …”left”… “collective”… guess you had to be there.) Anyway, the left is portraying the decision as the end of campaign finance reform (as if it ever existed) and that an infinite amount of money from the Koch Brothers is about to flood every election. Between this and the Citizens United decision, progressives would have you believing that the Republicans are now destined to win every election.

The narrative has long been that big money goes to the Republican Party. This is a long-standing fallacy; one that I can’t believe the Republican Party hasn’t been able to demonstrate. Since January of 1989, $3,014,026,066.00 has been donated to political campaigns by groups known as “heavy hitters.”

http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

Of that, 38.9% ($1,172,121,553.44) went to Republican candidates while 55.5% ($1,671,916,127.09) went to Democratic Party candidates. The remainder went to third-party or candidates in non-partisan races. Even with the disparity among the two major parties, we are still talking about enormous sums of money. So for the left to be against large campaign contributions from corporations, they would be hurting themselves right? Not so much. If you take the money from these evil corporations out of the coffers of the respective parties, you get the following: Democrats drop by 33% to $1,123,181,257.78 while the Republicans lose 65% of their funding to put them at $412,423, 629.59. The Democrats ratio of campaign dollars over the Republicans would be nearly three to one.  That is an advantage that no one can overcome. Let’s be honest, the hue and cry over campaign contributions has nothing to do with the desire for purity and innocence in elections. It’s about power.

 

bigstock_Falling_Money_669153

Photo also courtesy of http://www.opensecrets.org

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