"Our nation was founded on the idea that all people are created equal, regardless of creed or color. Yesterday's rally in Charlottesville by the KKK, Nazis and white supremacists stands in stark contrast to this principle. Let me be very clear, there is no place in society for racism, bigotry or hatred of any manner, and I strongly condemn the actions taken by these individuals yesterday."
Sean M. Morrison
Cook County Commissioner
Dear 17th District Residents:
Pace recently announced that they are in the process of converting all of their bus routes to a posted-stops-only operation. As part of this, a study was performed to identify bus stop locations along Route 379 based on safety, ridership counts and other factors. Once the conversion of Route 379 is complete, riders will only be able to board and alight the bus at posted bus stop signs listed in the chart below.
Please contact my District office at (708) 349-1336 for further information.
Sean M. Morrison
Cook County Commissioner, 17th District
A better way to go than Cook County's checkerboard of minimum wages - Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board
The Cook County Board never saw it coming, but it has created enormous confusion for dozens of suburbs and local businesses.
There has to be a better way, and it’s probably to be found in Springfield.
On July 1, the county increased the minimum wage to $10 an hour, up $1.75 from the state-mandated minimum of $8.25. But many municipalities are choosing to opt out of the wage hike within their borders — whether or not they are home-rule towns — and the result is an increasingly crazy checkerboard of minimum wages. Businesses are exasperated.
The best solution would be to hike the minimum wage at the state level, creating an equal playing field for every town, or better yet hike the wage at the national level. There is a bill on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk that would hike the state minimum wage, but he is not likely to sign it. We get that. At $15 an hour, it would be an awfully stiff hike, even for many Democrats, though we urge bipartisan support for some sort of increase.
Chicago, we should note, has boosted its minimum wage to $11, and it will go up to $13 in in 2019. Cook County’s minimum wage will go up to $13 a year later, in 2020.
In Cook County, however, an estimated 100 or so of the county’s 134 municipalities have voted to keep the minimum wage at $8.25 within their borders. They also have voted to nullify a companion to the county wage hike, the establishment of a minimum of five paid sick days a year for every worker.
Other communities, most notably Evanston, Skokie and Oak Park, have made a point of voting to accept the Cook County wage hike and sick-days minimum.
Without intending to, the Cook County Board, which never expected so many towns to opt out, is running an experiment on the impact of higher minimum wages on a local economy. Academics might love it and we could learn a lot. But no municipality or business wants to be on the losing end of that test.
The Illinois Constitution says that when there is a conflict between a municipal home-rule ordinance and a county ordinance, the municipal ordinance prevails within its borders. But many of the suburbs that have voted against raising the minimum wage do not have home rule powers and do not appear to have the authority to opt out.
A lawsuit is expected to be filed next week to prevent non-home rule communities from opting out. The lawsuit also is expected to question whether even home rule communities can opt out.
Legal niceties aside, if the county has to go to court to force dozens of towns to abide by an ordinance, it is a horribly designed ordinance.
In the real world, a minimum wage of $8.25 long ago became inadequate, especially given the number of working adults who now depend on that minimum to pay the rent and clothe their children. A higher minimum — federally, ideally, but at least statewide — is overdue.
By Kristen McQueary
June 30, 2017
Property taxes on the climb.
An income tax hike debated in Springfield.
An unpopular soda tax in Cook County.
Residents with their pockets inside-out in Chicago.
It appears there's an awakening among Illinois voters. And it's about time, after decades of risky borrowing, faulty promises, weak-kneed politicians.
Springfield officials predict they'll need nearly $8 billion for the upcoming fiscal year to make a pension payment to the funds that support retired teachers, university workers, judges, politicians and state workers.
It won't be enough.
Chicago Public Schools needs hundreds of millions of dollars to slow the school district's slide toward financial collapse.
It won't be enough.
The city of Chicago's pension funds, while Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tried to prop them up, are draining toward empty.
There simply isn't enough taxpayer tolerance, or union cooperation, to bridge these systems to recovery. It's too late.
You know the scene in the movie "Goodfellas" when Henry, actor Ray Liotta's character, is worried about the pasta sauce, but drug enforcement helicopters are circling his house? That's Illinois. The Too Late State.
Elected officials knew this was coming. They watched as liabilities in their own employee pension funds rose, even as the statutorily required payments were made. That rising liability was a neon sign that the pension systems eventually would topple, but it sure is hard to spot clues when you're spinning like the Tasmanian devil from one carefully messaged election to the next.
Years ago, when former Gov. Rod Blagojevich created a pension task force to study the state's five funds, the report that emerged illuminated the insurmountable strain of pension costs on the state budget.
I remember approaching former state Rep. Robert Molaro, D-Chicago, who served on the task force, about the findings. I was alarmed. He was not. In fact, he sponsored several bills that sweetened the pensions of city and state workers, and teachers. This was in the early 2000s.
What a dope I must have seemed, earnestly questioning him about why he would sponsor legislation he knew would cause more damage to the pension systems.
This was around the time Senate President John Cullerton sponsored a bill to give local governments more tools to borrow money. He joked, as he introduced it, not to ask him any hard questions. The bill had been written by bond interests. The Tribune's 2013 "Broken Bonds" investigative series revealed that Chicago Public Schools by 2007 had issued around $1 billion in risky bonds made possible under that bill.
Mayor Emanuel's City Hall has continued to use high-cost borrowing methods to "balance" Chicago's books. Emanuel and the City Council routinely rely on borrowing to pay off debt. Emanuel has promised that those habits will phase out. But the damage is done.
And yet there they all are, each an Eddie Haskell impostor: "Who me? I am only trying to be reasonable and cooperate, Mrs. Cleaver." Emanuel blames Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner blames House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan blames Rauner. Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle blames Republicans.
I blame us.
It's true, the cliche that this debt did not pile up overnight. It might be the most painful indictment of voters who weren't paying close enough attention, or didn't want to, for so long.
But we are paying attention now.
Why do you think even the most tax-happy lawmakers in Springfield are glancing toward the exits as an income tax vote creeps closer? They have finally figured out what's on the other side.
Kristen McQueary is a member of the Tribune Editorial Board.