Quick Hits – The GEA strikes again!

Leave it to former TaxFACTS co-founder Bob McQuillan to make an already interesting Geneva School Board election even more fascinating.

On March 15, McQuillan filed a formal complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections alleging the Geneva Education Association failed to form a campaign committee and disclose its spending on behalf of their three endorsed school board candidates.

Of course, the Geneva Education Association is the D304 teachers’ union.

For background purposes, those lucky Land of Lincoln candidates are bound by some of the most eclectic election law on the planet. To wit, while the vast majority states insist political hopefuls form a committee before they start circulating those signature sheets, Illinois stipulates that only candidates who take in or spend five grand, in any combination thereof, are required to do the same.

Given that an honest campaign finance lapse could provide your opponent(s) with an all sorts of ammunition to use against you, and forming a political committee doesn’t cost a dime, I invariably instruct my clients to get the committee ball rolling regardless of what they think they’re gonna spend.

Gannon

GEA President Kevin Gannon. The proud “union member” didn’t use a union print shop!

McQuillan claims the GEA crossed that reporting line with what turned out to be the first mailer supporting their school board slate. And if you refuse take GEA head Kevin Gannon’s word for it, something I would generally recommend, he might be right!

It’s also important to note that the GEA sent the same mailer a second time after McQuillan’s complaint was filed.

So, let’s do the math, which starts with an 8.5 x 11 full color mailer sent to GEA members and Geneva Township residents who voted in at least one previous odd-year election. Depending upon whether they used a 2015 or 2017 voter universe, we’re talking 2,500 to 5,500 households.

Thus, a small 5,000-piece print run of a high-end campaign mailer that size generally runs about 70 cents a pop. And postage for that oversized mailer to 2,500 households would cost approximately 50 cents each.

That means the GEA paid $3,000 to $6,000 for just the first round.

That also means when Gannon said “the union spent about only $1,500 on the mailer” he wasn’t exactly telling the truth. No surprise there! But to be fair, if the GEA came out on the lower end of that range, there would be no reporting requirement.

But that’s not all!

The ISBE also requires candidates and contributors to report what they refer to as “in-kind donations,” also subject to that five-grand threshold. For example, if a restaurant owner provides a rent-free party space for a fundraiser, the fair market value of that room is considered a campaign contribution.

And one of the union-backed candidates made the mistake of bragging about everything the GEA has done for them to one of my sources. That included website design, social media help, and campaign material design, which, if reported correctly, probably puts them over that magic number.

But even if it didn’t, that second GEA mailer clearly put them over the reporting top.

So, while it looks like McQuillan’s complaint will be sustained, unless they have previous infractions, the worst the ISBE will do is hit the GEA with a minor fine. But if they simply followed the rules – something they demand of their students – there would be no complaint and I wouldn’t be writing about them – again.

And there’s nothing quite like being put squarely back on your heels with a little more than a week before election day.

I’ll say it again, if you want a school board that puts the taxpayers on an equal footing with the teachers, please vote for Mike McCormick, Jessica Breugelmans, and Al Gaston.

In a final fascinating irony, the GEA did NOT use a union shop to print those mailers, likely because they’re more expensive. We know this because the indicatory “union bug” is nowhere to be found on either piece.

I mentioned that little faux pas to a staunch union friend and his rather terse response was by no means fit for a family blog post.

So much for the GEA standing on principle, right?

Quick Hits – Baldemar Lopez is wrong for Elgin!

Without further ado, here’s why that two-year city council seat candidate should be at the bottom of your ballot list:

1. He’s a carpetbagger

Mr. Lopez’ tells us that he was “born in Elgin and raised by a single mother,” he “attended U-46 schools,” he “graduated from “ECC,” and he eventually “returned to the area.” What he doesn’t say is that he was raised in Elgin, he attended Elgin schools, and he lived in Elgin for any significant length of time.

Because he hasn’t!

There’s nothing wrong with moving back to Elgin to run for city council, but being blatantly disingenuous about it raises a real red flag. Haven’t we endured enough disingenuous politicians?

Lopez

2. He’s steeped in the Chicago Machine

How may Elgin city council candidates have held fundraisers in downtown Chicago? And how many of them prominently featured the names of Chicago State Rep Chuy Garcia and former Alderman Juan Soliz on those fundraising invites?

Lopez says he has the “vision” to move Elgin forward, but I’m thinking he’ll do his best to take it back 20 years.

 

3. An entitlement mentality the size of Montana

While that’s certainly a common thread among city council candidates, Lopez particularly excels in this regard. I’ve heard many stories extolling his vast arrogance, but here’s my favorite!

When he approached a citizen’s group for an endorsement, they explained that he’d have to fill out their candidate questionnaire before they’d bestow their blessing. Lopez replied that he didn’t have the time for that kind of thing because he was going to win anyway, and when he won, he’d “remember the people who supported him.”

Shades of Rod Blagojevich! While that’s certainly how most politicians think, most of ‘em are smart enough not to say it out loud. Apparently, Mr. Lopez adheres to the Ed Burke school of winning friends and influencing people.

 

4. He’s supported by the Castro-Dalton-Noland Cabal

And that’s a good enough reason not to vote for anyone!

Though, I’m still personally fond of State Senator Cristina Castro, she’s quickly worn out her welcome in Springfield and she’s doing her damndest to apply those Madigan-esque tactics right here in Elgin.

Not only that but, Judges like John Dalton and Mike Noland are expressly forbidden from engaging in any kind of political activity whatsoever. But the fact they’re openly supporting Lopez just won them another Judicial Inquiry Board complaint.

 

5. The Castro and Lopez people are threatening Rose Martinez supporters

This is the one that really frosts my cookies! I’ve always admired City Councilwoman Rose Martinez for her capacity to engage in independent thinking. It doesn’t happen very often in municipal government.

So, ain’t nobody gonna bully Rose – but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

When Castro and Lopez realized she would not support their slate, they embarked upon the kind of smear campaign that accused Rose of being “anti-immigration” and claimed she referred to those regular anti-Chris Jensen city council speakers as “felons.”

Of course, neither one is the case, and when that didn’t work, they took it a step further.

When they’re not stealing her signs outright, they’re threatening people who post Martinez signs, including, but not nearly limited to some now nervous senior citizens. Like I said, it’s Mike Madigan and the Chicago Machine at its best!

The next thing you know Lopez, an attorney, will be soliciting business from Burger King owners.

 

I offered Mr. Lopez every opportunity to respond to a serious of questions, but he ignored my entreaties.

Steven Thoren and Jerri McCue, also competing for that two-year seat, are far better candidates and much better individuals than Mr. Lopez could ever hope to be. They’re also far more invested in Elgin than their opponent has ever been.

Elgin and the Elgin City Council are both propositions that work. Let’s keep it that way!

 

Quick Hits – Geneva! Vote McCormick, Breugelmans, and Gaston

With early voting underway, it’s time to weigh in on a couple of local elections and we’ll start than the Geneva School Board. In the aftermath of a rather contentious teachers’ strike, there are nine candidates running for three seats. It’s a wide-open field with Mike McCormick as the only incumbent.

I’ve spoken with a number of that group and every one of them said the first question those front door voters ask is, “Who do you support? The teachers or the school board?” And while I certainly understand that post-strike logic, it’s sad to think this race will come down to an us versus them mentality.

Because the truth is, regardless of their platform, anyone with the gumption to run for school board deserves a hearty pat on the back, or perhaps a full mental evaluation. These contests generally cover more area than a mayoral race, there’s no salary involved, and if any of them think the campaign is the hard part, just wait until that first board meeting!

It’s an utterly thankless job involving parents’ two most precious commodities – their children and their wallets. And the only time the press pays any attention to you is when you screw up or you’re forced to deal with a grueling scenario like labor negotiations.

I advised a school board candidate in 2017 and my favorite threat to use against them is, “Do you want me to help you get reelected?”

So, the fact I’m supporting three candidates in no way relegates the rest to some sort of Anti-Christ status. It simply indicates that I disagree with the lack of balance in their D304 world views.

That’s all there is to it. I want to see those three seats filled with folks who understand that, whether the public shows up to board meetings or not, the taxpayers deserve the same consideration that district administrators and teachers do.

Mike McCormick was the first board member to sound the capital debt alarm and his consistent low-key leadership has been instrumental in the board attacking that major challenge head on. Two terms are generally enough for any politician, but I’d really like to see McCormick continue his fiscal work.

McCormick

Mike McCormick

The Daily Herald was dead on when they endorsed Jessica Breugelmans, noting she “stands out from the crowd.” I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Jessica (Don’t make me spell her last name again!) a couple of times and I’ve been more than impressed with her intellect, her capacity to get to the heart of an issue, and her desire to serve.

If elected, she will certainly bring some badly needed balance to the D304 force.

Our third candidate is Wildwood Restaurant manager Al Gaston. Though he’s running a semi-unconventional campaign – you won’t see him on social media or find him on the Net – that doesn’t mean he isn’t worthy of your consideration. In his own words:

Being a homeowner in Geneva for over 15 years, I would look to not increase property taxes any more than necessary. The school board has done a good job bringing down the debt created back in the early 1990s and I would work to continue that progress and process.

That’s all I ask! Ideological perfection is not the goal. It’s the capacity to see the big picture and act in a way that ultimately benefits everyone involved that really matters. There’s only “us” and no “them,” and these three candidates are pro-D304, not pro-teacher or pro-taxpayer.

Breugelmans

Jessica Breugelmans

Meanwhile, the other six hopefuls, and especially the trio endorsed by the Geneva Education Association, are decidedly pro-teacher as demonstrated by the educator signatures that dominated their nominating paperwork. They believe the 5 percent raises Geneva teachers are receiving for the next four years aren’t nearly enough.

When was the last time you got a raise, much less anything approaching the 5 percent mark?

The three union-backed candidates are:

  • Alicia Saxton
  • Katherine Frye
  • Robert “Larry” Cabeen

Again, my wife is a middle school teacher and I know educators often get the short end of the salary stick. But with the Collar Counties already facing the highest property taxes in the nation, the education funding paradigm must shift such that Illinois teachers and taxpayers aren’t locked in an eternally bitter fiscal struggle.

It’s hardly a radical thought to decouple property taxes from education, but by those educators’ general reaction to that argument, you’d think I’d threatened to force them teach driver’s ed!

Of course, the three GEA supported candidates are the most sympathetic to their cause, and most Genevans, especially our senior citizens, cannot afford a return to the days of unsustainable school board incited property tax hikes. And that’s exactly what will happen if those candidates are elected.

Gaston

Al Gaston

Not only that, but unless your last name is “Dryden,” I have a real problem with former teachers serving on school boards. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but exactly how do Frye and Saxton set aside the fact they’re former teachers? And Cabeen’s wife was a long-time D304 high school teacher, so he’s in the same boat.

Considering their history and that union endorsement, I’m not willing to take that chance. And with three stellar school board candidates like McCormick, Breugelmans, and Gaston, there’s no need to. This isn’t a case of voting against somebody.

I know consolidated elections lack the glamor of their even-year counterparts, but considering the taxpayer stakes, please get out and vote by April 2nd. The Geneva teachers’ union will certainly be getting their people to the polls.

 

Quick Hits – How can anyone remain Catholic – Part 2

A great part of the reason I persevere in this journalistic gig is, you, the reader. We may not always agree, but I enjoy the conversation, especially those ongoing debates and discussions that take place behind the scenes.

And What’s Happening in (City Name) Facebook pages owner, Paul Stukel, and I have been deliberating over the title subject since last August. It’s not as much an argument as an asymptotic approach towards some sort of mutually objective reality.

Put more simply, like that plotted curve that eternally moves closer to a straight line but never quite gets there, we will likely never agree. So, the value is in the discussion and not some ultimately unattainable conclusion. We’re basically daring each other to stop defending our position.

What makes that conversation even more fascinating is Paul and I are both equally steeped in the Roman Catholic tradition.

Though recent revelations may have put him on the ropes, Paul maintains that the Church is still a “fixable” proposition, while I’ve long since given up on it. Paul believes the faithful should put their energy into a solution, while I contend the Church hierarchy doesn’t nearly deserve that kind of loyalty.

I understand traditions never go gently into that good night, but I’d go as far as saying that tough Christian standard demands separation.

What prompted the revisiting of this subject was a recent piece by Washington Post columnist George Will, who asked the question, “Has the Catholic Church committed the worst crime in American history?”

I kinda think they have.

Catholic sex abuse

Focusing primarily on Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s investigation into the sexual abuse of 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 predator priests in just six dioceses, Will paints a horrifying picture of institutionalized child predation that clearly isn’t the case of a “just a few bad apples.”

Seven months after that bombshell grand jury report was released, Shapiro said the Church’s “cover-up” continues as they “resist discovery motions” and challenge the Attorney General’s jurisdiction “every step of the way.”

He added that “the bishops are still involved” in that “stonewalling” process.

It’s happening right here in Illinois, too. Former attorney general Lisa Madigan said Illinois bishops and cardinals refused to release the name of 505 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.

We all know it’s not relegated to the U.S., either. In addition to a slew of worldwide child sexual abuse charges, Catholic nuns in India, Africa, South American and Asia just came forward with terrifying tales of their own sexual abuse at the hands of priest and bishops. The reason they finally went public is the Church ignored their private pleas.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Shapiro said his investigation “is only in the third or fourth inning” and that 45 other Attorney Generals have reached out to him regarding how to conduct similar investigations in their own states.

If the Church showed any remorse, repentance, or made any meaningful effort to face this scourge head on, I’d probably find myself in Paul’s camp. After all, the history of humanity ain’t one for the faint of heart.

But a November convocation of American bishops in Baltimore, as Will put it, “was neutered by the Vatican,” and Pope Francis’ worldwide February meeting produced no definable results.

The Church did recently defrock a couple of the worst American Cardinals, but that’s the quintessential drop in the bucket and it only happened after they were allowed to wreak havoc for decades.

So, whenever I drive by St. Peter in Geneva or St. Patrick in St. Charles on a Sunday morning, I want to stop and ask those exiting parishioners how they can possibly have any faith in a Church that’s shown itself to be downright evil. I want to ask them how they can financially support a Church that not only refuses to address the rampant sexual abuse scandal, but continues to do their best to obfuscate it.

I want to ask them, in light of all the incontrovertible evidence, doesn’t the Christian standard demand they fully hold their Church accountable or, failing that, move on to something else.

Please don’t get me wrong, much like it is with my evolving polemic with Paul, these aren’t accusations. They’re questions borne of an intent to deepen my understanding of how the remaining faithful stay faithful.

I have some very fond memories of my nine years at St. Nick’s in Evanston. I enjoyed being a altar boy. I own a cross crafted from the wood of the original chapel pews. I have framed Kafka and Donne quotes beautifully done in calligraphy by a Catholic nun. I occasionally talk to a couple of the priests, former nuns, and teachers from that time, too.

But with the exception of a funeral or wedding, I will never darken the doorway of Catholic Church again. And though we’ll never agree on my basic premise, I do look forward to Paul’s and my continued deliberations.

Quick Hits – March 13, 2019

It’s my biggest fear

I may not have many, but the fear of encountering an impaired or texting motorist – especially one approaching from behind – while road biking ranks right up there with inadvertently bearing witness to a neighbor taking advantage of World Naked Gardening Day.

It’s a particularly terrifying notion because there’s not a damn thing you can do about it but pray that your helmet does its job.

And that fear hit quite close to home yesterday as my good friend and Director of the Kane County Division of Transportation, Carl Schoedel, was picked off that Route 64 shoulder by an errant motorist yesterday morning.

Carl Schoedel

For those of you who don’t know Carl, he regularly racks up 2,000 plus annual biking miles primarily by riding between his Geneva home and the KDOT building at Burlington and Empire Roads in Campton Hills. And he generally perseveres in that effort regardless of the weather conditions.

Had it been spring, summer, or fall, Carl would’ve taken the Great Western Trail west, but our wonderfully wet winter weather has rendered that option impassable. So, the accident occurred as he was heading west on that eminently wide Route 64 shoulder, something so safe that I’ve successfully navigated it many times myself.

According to eyewitnesses, an impaired driver swerved onto the shoulder, hitting Carl from behind. He stopped for a few seconds only to speed off in the wrong lane until he finally hit a tree at which point the Sheriff’s deputies caught up with him.

Thankfully, a number of beyond distraught motorists, including a Turano Bread truck driver, immediately pulled over and Carl was whisked away to Delnor Hospital where he spent most of the day in the ER.

Miraculously, because his helmet did its job, Carl’s wounds amounted to a potentially broken nose, a set of stitches across the bridge of his nose, and another series above his left eye. The deputies took his helmet as evidence and Carl has yet to retrieve his bike from the Wasco Fire Department.

Hopefully, it’s a simple replacing the rear wheel.

As you might imagine, Carl is pretty shaken up, he has little memory of the accident, and he’s reconsidering whether he wants to continue his daily commute. But if I know my fellow cyclist as well as I think I do, he’ll be back on the road as soon as he recovers.

Meanwhile, I advised him to buy a lottery ticket today.

Cyclists! This is why we wear helmets. There’s simply too much beyond our control to make any other choice. And I’m convinced Carl’s still with us because he did!

 

Can’t we all just get along?

Though all bets are off when it comes to folks driving under the influence, with cycling season rapidly approaching, let’s see if we can start it off on the right foot!

So, cyclists:

  • Ride as reasonably close to the right side of the road as you can
  • Wear the kind of clothing that makes you eminently more visible
  • Wear a helmet
  • Don’t use earbuds while riding
  • Do your best to obey stop signs and traffic signals
  • Don’t make motorists pass you twice, wait in line at red lights
  • Unless it’s a large group ride, don’t ride two abreast
  • We may have the right to ride on any road, but that doesn’t mean we should
  • Most motorists respect cyclists, so let’s treat them with the same respect

And motorists:

  • Cyclist have the right to ride on any road
  • Bike paths are not safe for real cyclists as my formerly shattered wright wrist will attest
  • Illinois law mandates a minimum a three-foot buffer when passing a cyclist
  • Most of us behave while riding because we know we’ll come out on the losing end of a confrontation with a ton of rolling steel
  • We want to get you on your way as quickly as possible
  • Please don’t let a minority of rogue road bikers define the rest of us
  • Remember, a cyclist means one less car on the road and they don’t damage them, either

Now, wasn’t that easy!

Quick Hits Supplemental – Just Dance!

It doesn’t happen nearly enough, but on occasion I run into a Tri-Cities business that knocks my socks off. Considering those rapidly shifting brick-and-mortar retail sands, it’s always a pleasure when it does happen, and it’s even more fun to get to share it with you.

Having accused my wife of becoming a bit too sedate, and somehow surviving that endeavor, (wives generally don’t take too well to constructive criticism from their husbands) her first thought was, “let’s take dancing lessons.” My immediate response, despite my obvious and eternal Caucasian-ness was, “Why not?”

So, after embarking upon a serious dance studio crusade, we discovered Vargo’s Dance at Route 38 and Second Street in Geneva, and we started taking the Friday night beginner swing classes in December.

The cool thing was, there was no contract, no enrollment fee, and no commitment necessary. For a mere ten bucks a head, you’re in! That small fee includes a 45-minute lesson with another 20 to 30 minutes of practice time with some really great music thrown in for good measure.

Vargo's Dance

I’ve kinda become partial to Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, but I’m just as good with Van Morrison or Ray Charles. C’mon! How can anyone possibly sit still when that bouncy base piano beat indicates ‘Hit the Road Jack!’ is about to come on?

You don’t need to bring a partner to participate, either. Much like a massive volleyball tournament, the leads, typically but not always the men, rotate with the followers, typically but not always the women, such that everyone gets to dance with everyone else.

That kind of variety really keeps you on your toes, too (no pun intended).

And just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any better, it does! Friday night swing is one of the Vargo BYOB classes where you can enjoy a glass of wine before and/or after the lesson. Not to worry! If you can’t polish off that entire bottle of pinot noir, the studio provides law-enforcement approved sealable bags to safely transport the remnants back home.

Having done dance in her youth, my wife took to it right away, but as an absolute beginner, I was a bit intimidated at that first lesson. But those fears quickly proved to be unfounded because swing instructor Carl Linder breaks dance down in such a way that it’s very easy to catch on.

You see, dancing is based on the same 4/4 time that anyone who’s ever played a musical instrument implicitly understands. And once you have that timing down, everything else tends to fall into place.

Carl also harbors the kind of irreverent sense of humor that made you fall in love with yours truly in the first place. And that type of levity goes a long way towards dispelling any of those dancing doubts, too. My personal favorite is his reasonably accurate Geraldine impersonation (please look up Flip Wilson).

I won’t spoil the rest of the joke.

Carl Linder

Carl Linder

Meanwhile, studio owner Jamie Vargo, who floats on air like she’s been dancing since the day she was born, roams the studio assisting students who require minor adjustments. The fact that she and Carl play off each other so well makes the class even more entertaining.

Jamie is also eminently available to answer all manner of questions during the practice period, and the other students, always a supportive bunch, are willing to help out as well.

As you might imagine, with that easy payment methodology, the excellent instruction, and a generally great time, the studio sees quite a few repeat customers with a some fresh faces thrown in each week for good measure. Regardless of their skill level, the Friday night class draws a great group of people that I look forward to seeing every week.

“Wait a minute! What! There’s a group of people that Jeff Ward actually enjoys?” I know! I know! It surprises me as much as anyone else! But let’s just keep that between you and me – I do have a reputation to maintain.

Jamie Vargo

Jamie Vargo

But the best thing about taking these classes is, whenever The Reverend Al Green, the Staple Singers, or Modest Mouse come through that Google Music kitchen speaker, I can now break into the kind of dance that won’t have fearful onlookers believing I was suffering some sort of seizure or stroke.

Perhaps I’m not nearly as white as I thought I was!

I’m not saying Mikhail Baryshnikov should start looking over his shoulder, but it certainly makes cooking dinner a far more delightful proposition. And if after all these years I finally discover I can dance, then trust me, you can, too!

As their schedule indicates, Vargo’s Dance offers much more than just swing. Whether it’s salsa, the Charleston, hustle, waltz, or slow dancing, there’s something for everyone at every skill level.

So, what have you got to lose? In the words of that great philosopher Howard Jones, “Throw off your mental chains,” head down to Vargo’s Dance in the heart of downtown Geneva, and enjoy a fun evening learning something new, moving not sitting, and meeting interesting new people.

Let’s just say it really doesn’t get any better than that!

Who knows guys! Perhaps if you take your wife dancing you might just get…well, either that or she’ll faint at the mere prospect, which could be equally as entertaining.

 

P.S. Rest assured! As is always the case, I do not receive any consideration for recommending a local business. But I certainly enjoy the opportunity whenever it presents itself. If there’s a local business you love, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to the column list.

Quick Hits – March 11, 2019

The conservative movement is officially morally bankrupt

Had Barack Obama bear hugged the American flag and subsequently solicited applause for the death of a Republican war hero, conservatives would’ve lost their fricken’ minds. There would’ve been a special Fox News hell to pay, too!

Remember the infamous “mom jeans” scandal of 2014?

Image result for trump hugging flag

But no! Failing to heed Edmund Burke’s exhortation for 394th time, conservatives’ silent complicity speaks volumes. And I’m not talking about those nebulous somewhere-out-there Republicans, either. I’m talking about the Kane County variety with whom I interact on a regular basis.

If there is a Christian God, something conservatives love to use as a club, She’s not gonna be too happy about that kind of moral turpitude when you’re finally face-to-face with her. And please remember! I’m not the one that set that lofty standard, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy applying it!

 

Conservatives can’t do math either

While liberals regularly apply critical thinking, they somehow manage to consistently come up with the wrong answer. But at least there’s hope they’ll improve. I wish I could say the same for my conservative cohorts, but the truth it, they couldn’t infer their way out of an open, wet paper bag.

And the perfect example of this Tea Bagger lemming herd mentality is all the shrieking, howling and rending of garments at the mere mention of Illinois Governor J. B. Pritizker’s new graduated income tax. All that matters to the perpetually perturbed people is that it came out of J. B.’s mouth. Then, in their best Quincy Adams Wagtaff fashion, whatever is it they’re against it.

Pritzker tax plan

From the Illinois Policy Institute’s over-the-top reaction, you’d think all their tobacco-based funding just dried up.

First, to quote a famous conservative politician or perhaps Tina Fey, let’s take a look at the tax rates of those states we can see from our front porch!

We’ll start with that failed Republican experiment known as the State of Wisconsin:

4.00 percent – up to $15K

5.84 percent – up to $30K

6.27 percent – up to $329K

7.65 percent – above $329K

Unless you’re below the poverty line, Missouri’s income tax rate is 6 percent. Iowa gets really complicated with nine separate brackets, but most folks will fall into the top four:

6.50 percent – $24K plus

6.89 percent – $32K plus

7.90 percent – $48K plus

8.98 percent – $72K plus

Kentucky has a 5 percent flat income tax which means no deductions. Minnesota has a really complicated tax system based on family status, but most Minnesotans pay 7.05 percent, with the wealthiest citizens checking in at 9.85 percent.

Most of our previously mentioned states have higher corporate tax rates, too.

Meanwhile, under Pritzker’s plan, 97 percent of Illinois residents would be at a 4.9 or 4.95 percent rate with the wealthiest being taxed at 7.75, 7.85, and 7.95 percent.

I know math hurts your heads Republicans, but that means, with the exception of Indiana – and who wants to live in Indiana – Illinois will have the lowest middleclass tax bracket in the Midwest. In fact, J. B.’s plan will amount to a tax cut for that same 97 percent of lucky Illinoisans.

And it brings the top rates into line with most of our neighbors, too.

Even the Sun-Times editorial board wrote that it “puts the middleclass first,” but conservatives, who aren’t happy unless they’re bitching about some sort of liberal plot, somehow believe this will put the final fiscal nail in Illinois’ rapidly closing coffin.

No, my friends! It was Bruce Rauner who almost managed to pull that off!

 

Does it get any worse than the Batavia Post Office?

I’d rather spend another night in jail that have to darken that facility’s doorway again.

There I was, on the way to the Batavia, Illinois, Target with just two small pieces of mail and I errantly thought, “How bad can it possibly be at 10:45 on a Monday morning?” But it was bad enough that I walked out and drove to La Fox.

Back in those portable insulated laptop desk days, incurring that 40 grand in annual postage fees made me somewhat of a domestic and international shipping expert. So, I know what Media Mail is, but the Batavia Post Office does not.

Vinyl record albums are, indeed, media mailable and don’t try to tell me otherwise!

Image result for batavia post office

The glee with which the generally surly staff likes to try play the gotcha game is not the least bit endearing. Nor is watching two of the three window clerks simultaneously go on break when the line is already out the door.

And don’t bother trying to talk to a supervisor because they care even less than the clerks.

You’d think, with the Post Office on the verge of extinction, they’d make an extra effort to make your visit a pleasant one, but their vast entitlement mentalities seem to prohibit that kind of thing. Though workplace shootings have sadly become commonplace, the original term for them was “going postal” and it’s not too terribly difficult to understand why.

As for me, I’m sticking with the La Fox Post Office where I’ve never had a problem. If you similarly decide to go west, I promise that Zelfa will take care of you!