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Resident questions lack of referendum for recreation center
A statement was made that people had expressed an interest (from 2011 and 2013 surveys) in having a recreation center. Why did the park district board not bring a referendum vote to the residents of the park district to ascertain the entire population’s interest? If this facility was deemed to be so popular, it should have passed with a plurality of votes. Past boards had always done referendums, so how strong was the interest? If the board’s decision to reject a referendum vote was based on the concept that the board did not require voter approval if no additional taxes would be levied, did it occur to the board that a financial obligation would be mandated out to 2034, with principal payments of up to three-quarter million dollars in the last years? Did it occur to the board that tax levies could be reduced without the obligation of additional park facilities, like the recreation center? Did it occur to the board that if, in the future, additional funding is required for park district operation, it will be difficult to pass a future referendum when they just bypassed that precedent for this project? Does the board really believe the voters think that this is “free,” since “the project would not require a tax increase? What is the precedent that is being established for future park district projects? Without knowing the statutory limits of non-referendum bonding power, and since we know that the bonds were retained on Nov. 17, 2016, with the value of $8,340,000, how much additional non-referendum bonding power could be used, in the future, for any other project that the board determined that they would fund without going to referendum? If the Village of Lombard Board permits this project at their Feb. 16 board meeting, then when will the park board come back for additional bonding authority to add to the facility? Two proposals (if the more expensive proposal does not fall into the stated cost limit, the less expensive [smaller square foot] proposal will be selected) will be offered for permitting—“ the project will not move forward unless construction bids come back next month between $10.5 and $10.8 million.” And when will future funding be required, with the basic understanding that this is the first phase of an all inclusive concept, that will include an indoor pool and large indoor turf field, both of which will be more expensive than this project? Finally, where is the transparency regarding the proposal? There was little or no information about any public presentation meetings prior to January 2017. The first noteworthy announcements were “pictured” in the Lombardian newspaper on Thursday, Jan. 19. The Daily Herald published “Lombard Park District invites residents to learn about proposed rec center” on Jan. 15. How many of you were aware of this proposed recreation center? Jim Reed Lombard
Two Rivers Nation Elders Sachem says thanks
I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to all of the members of the Two Rivers Nation Elders group that worked so hard on a very successful Candlelight Bowl at Stardust Bowl on Feb. 4. Once again, we had a wonderful event, our best yet, to raise funds to help support all of the Parent/Child programs of the Two Rivers Nation. It was a pleasure to see many friends and to meet new people interested in our programs and their continued growth. Through the collective generosity and numerous donations from so many businesses and the efforts of our volunteers, we shared a night of food, fun and games. Due to this community support, the Two Rivers Nation will continue to grow strong and provide lifelong memories for many families. If you attended the event, thank you. If you did not, I hope that you will hear how much fun it was from someone who did, and you will consider attending next year. All of the Two Rivers Nation programs are run by parents who want to have fun and memorable experiences with their children. Everyone is welcome. If you are interested in what our programs are about and how you can become involved, please visit our website: wwwtworiversnation.com for more information. Jim Ireland Two Rivers Nation Elders Sachem
YOUR VOICE in Springfield
Guest column by Illinois Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) 48th District
A high-stakes game of poker in Springfield
This week brings the governor’s annual budget address. As well, the Illinois Senate is expected to continue negotiating a “grand compromise,” which would tie together spending, reforms, and revenue into one package. Every day at the Capitol, new rumors spread about the contours of possible solutions to the state budget crisis. Folks are glad that the senators are talking and trying to work together, but the word on the House floor is that Speaker Mike Madigan has made it clear that, no matter what the Senate does, any agreement is dead-on-arrival in Madigan’s House. You see, the big fight is still Gov. Bruce Rauner vs. House Speaker Michael Madigan, and the belief in the Madigan camp is that any budget compromise will be seen as a “win” for the governor. On the policy level, Rauner has said he won’t agree to tax increases without major government and business reforms, while Madigan has made it clear he wants tax and spending increases with no preconditions. The other complicating factor is that the roughly 80 court orders and consent decrees keeping the state government operating are forcing us to spend billions of dollars more than we take in. That overspending is adding to the pile of unpaid bills being racked up every month. And just a few weeks ago, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion to reverse and eliminate the court order continuing wage payments to Illinois government workers. State workers have been paid under that court order for over a year and a half, but Attorney General Madigan stated she filed the motion just now to give the budget negotiations some “momentum.” Now, one could applaud an action like this as “fiscally responsible,” and one would also typically believe in the purity of the motives of a state’s chief legal officer. The problem is, instead of filing this motion in each of the 80 courtrooms where these orders are pending—whether to end the orders or at least reduce the required payments to an affordable level—Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed in just one courtroom, leaving the other 79 orders and consent decrees in place. It doesn’t make sense as a financial or legal matter. I’ve not seen any other media sources opine on this issue, but the reasoning seems simple enough to me: most state workers live in downstate districts, now represented by Republicans. Lisa Madigan’s actions make perfect political sense in that they increase pressure solely on Republican legislators, in hopes of weakening Gov. Rauner’s ability to obtain reforms, while strengthening Mike Madigan’s ability to force tax and spending increases. This is a high-stakes game of poker. The Madigan family has millions of dollars in campaign contributions at stake, from special interests and their lobbyists. Every one of those taxes and spending items being pushed by Mike Madigan has lobbyists dedicated to increasing them. However, Illinois taxpayers trying to eke out a living, and small businesses struggling to survive and grow, have only their elected officials to hold taxes and spending in line. From my end, I’m advocating for two key items. First, we should immediately pay off our $11 billion in unpaid bills. By law, we’re forced to pay 12 percent interest on those bills—that means we’re flushing roughly $500 million down the toilet in short-term interest every year. There are plenty of ways to generate the necessary funds to pay down those bills, from issuing bonds to selling state assets. Second, we should immediately approve spending for the amount of money we have coming in, so that we stop all, or almost all, of the court orders and consent decrees which are causing our pile of bills to grow. Based on our best estimates, we are bringing in roughly $33 billion per year. By at least approving spending at that level, we can ensure that our social service providers and community colleges get immediate payment, of at least most of the funds they need, instead of continuing to suffer massive cuts and lengthy payment delays. With a spending backstop in place, the legislature and governor could then take the time they need from now to the end of May to negotiate a full package of appropriate reforms, spending reductions, and revenues to move our state government and economy forward for the longer term. And, we will avoid the kind of gotcha games that are going on now, where state workers or other disfavored groups or programs get targeted in court, while unpaid bills pile up and residents and businesses are harmed even more deeply.