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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
Jim Reed

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
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
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.