Cardinals Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs is something most baseball fans all look forward to. But there is something else I look forward to happening, and that is for both Democrats and Republicans to work together and approve a balanced state budget.
The Illinois General Assembly held its version of Opening Day on Jan. 11, when all 118 representatives and 59 senators took the oath of office, marking the first day of business for the new legislature following the November election. It was a fresh start, a new year, and a real opportunity to accomplish what many promised to do after the election — pass a balanced budget. Yet here we are today, halfway through the season we call “session” and the legislature has accomplished little to brag about in the record books except more losses and less victories for the taxpayers.
To make matters worse, two Senate Democrat leaders recently went on the record to say they don’t believe we will have a budget until after the governor’s election in November 2018. The unpaid bills are stacking up, our universities and community colleges are exhausting their emergency funds to stay open, health care providers are not getting paid. The lack of a state budget is continuing to harm our most vulnerable. The fact that some Democrats are already signaling they are giving up on the taxpayers and giving up on bipartisanship is outrageous.
House Republicans have repeatedly called for action on issues Illinois residents care about such as property tax relief for homeowners, redistricting reform that will give more power to the voters, not the politicians, and furthermore my Republican colleagues introduced a plan to ensure our state can pay down its massive pension debt. Unfortunately, the majority of House Democrats have not shown a willingness to work together on a balanced budget or compromise on any of the issues Illinois residents care about. Instead, we are faced with silence and talk of giving up from the other side of the aisle.
The fact of the matter is, we need 90 lawmakers combined in the House and Senate to send a budget to the governor. The path forward is simple and it begins with 60, 30, and 1. To enact a state budget it takes the House or Senate to introduce a bill, 60 votes to pass a bill in the House, 30 votes to pass a bill in the Senate, followed by the governor’s signature. The point is, if 90 out of 177 lawmakers can hash out an agreement by compromising on proposals which include property tax relief for homeowners, redistricting reform, and a plan to pay down our pension debt, then it is very reasonable to anticipate the governor will sign a budget into law and put an end to the two-year budget impasse.
We are approaching 90 days since the Illinois General Assembly’s Opening Day. It is time for both Republicans and Democrats to come together and reach an agreement on a balanced budget. My colleagues and I are ready to work together today, right here, right now. There are no more excuses, the Democrats must stop stalling and work with us to give the taxpayers a victory — not a loss following Opening Day.
Rep. Charlie Meier
House District 108
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Report to the People No. 14 by Madison County Board District 3 representative Philip W. Chapman.
The first week in April begins the cycle of committee meetings leading to the County Board meeting on Wednesdays the third week of the month.
Upcoming tax bills — A number of District 3 constituents lamented recent new multipliers. I provide the list of new multipliers for District 3 — Saline, 1.000; Leef, 1.0117; New Douglas, 1.0117; Hamel, 1.0547; Omphghent, 1.0330; and Edwardsville, 1.0576. If you desire to lower your tax bill you have some options. (1) Visit the local township assessor. Determine if your square footage is correct. You might also choose to research: (a) three properties similar to yours in square footage and compare tax bills or, (b) get an appraisal for your property and compare it to properties of similar square footage. Request a change at the local level. (2) Should you decide the local appraiser decision isn’t right, you may submit Residential Appeal Form PTA1A (rev 02/12) to the state of Illinois – Property Appeal Board Room 402 Stratton Building, 401 S. Spring St., Springfield, IL 62706; (217) 762-6076. Forms are available through the County Assessor’s Office. Good luck!
Building permit fee review — Matt Brandmeyer, director of planning and development, reviewed the building permit fees in Madison County. I provide information for District 3 below. (NOTE: order of list is jurisdiction, building permit fee, water sewer fee, school impact, cost new home start)
Madison County, $665, $1,500 to $4000, zero, $2,165-$4665
Highland, $1,265, $3,525, zero, $4,790
Edwardsville, $315, $8,850, $3,000, $12,165
Upcoming visit to New Douglas: Many thanks to Barbie Bassett for briefing me about important issues in New Douglas. I look forward to visiting with town leaders in April and touring areas of concern.
Philip W. Chapman
County Board District Three
It seems odd that some folks want to stay in the (former President Barack) Obama years by referring to some stats on different things, such as in a previous letter to AdVantage News.
I hope that person and people like him are taking notes now so that they can give out stats at the end of the Trump reign. Stats such as how much dirtier the water and air will get, how much the “wall” cost versus Meals on Wheels and “Sesame Street,” and how less safe jobs became. Don’t forget to tally up the cost of trips to Mar-A-Lago at $3 million a pop, or the number of golf trips (so far 14 in 64 days). Don’t forget to include the difference in the administrations — Obama had in his last six years a Republican House and Senate that obstructed everything that could have been good for the middle class, and Trump, he has that too!
I haven’t yet decided who to vote for in the fast-approaching Alton mayoral election. I will probably decide walking into the polling place.
In my opinion, I believe whoever our next mayor is should consider some things. Of course, bringing companies and jobs to the area is a priority (our own movie theater would be nice). Time will tell if being surrounded by “right-to-work” states will have an effect. I think fixing our streets should be a priority, unless we intend to hand out vouchers for free wheel alignments. The roads in Bosnia are better than here. Who wants to bring a business to a town with Third World country-quality roads?
Another priority should be a memorial erected to our veterans from Alton who have sacrificed so that we can enjoy our prosperity. Even West Alton, Mo., has a little memorial. My mother was in possession of a photo when the World War I Doughboy statue was in the center of Henry Street. I understand it was moved to the VFW for various reasons, but we’ve erected statues to Lincoln/Douglas, a jazz musician who lived here as an infant, and a man with a pituitary anomaly. It’s time we have a memorial built for our vets.
Finally, we need a little focus on aesthetics. How depressing this past Christmastime to leave Old Town St. Charles each day to come home to dull, drab downtown Alton, only to face the Rotary’s Christmas tree with burned-out lights. If there’s some kind of protest from atheists, well, even pagans celebrate the winter solstice with lights and fire. Our city should be decked out at every possible festival and attract people to come visit, particularly on our historic districts, where individuals have done so much to rehab and maintain the city’s fine old homes. Presentation is so much, and hats off to Alton Main Street organization for doing so much already. I encourage those governing this city to take a walk through Alton Square and see what Alton used to be. It can be just as beautiful once again. We just need leadership to bring it together!
With the election rapidly approaching, it is imperative to state a few facts about the mayoral race in Wood River. Much has been publicly speculated through the avenues of the printed word and social media, yet the facts have not had their grand introduction until today. The future of Wood River is at stake, undoubtedly making this the most important and visible election the city has seen in recent history.
Fact 1. It has been said that I do not know how to implement the changes that I have promised, and that alleviating the crime and drugs in Wood River can’t be done. It has also been stated that repairing our derelict housing situation is a hopeless endeavor, and that my attempts to do so will result in failure. Having adopted a more personal campaign style by investing my time going door to door to meet the citizens, I had the honor of meaningful face-to-face meetings instead of online introductions. I have a keen understanding of residents’ concerns, and they are consistent and resounding. They align with my mission, and my mission is to revitalize our delinquent housing, and bring our crime and drug struggle to an end. To imply that I do not know what I am talking about is to assert that the residents do not either. This is a direct insult to us all, and that is an indisputable fact.
Fact 2. Upon the untimely passing of the highly respected late Mayor Fred Ufert, both the City Council and city manager had the responsibility of naming his predecessor. A decision of this magnitude does not come without careful and meticulous review. They unanimously passed over longstanding councilwoman Cheryl McGuire and gave the honor to protect the city to a council member less experienced and less tenured than she. It’s well-known that Mrs. McGuire campaigned diligently for the position, however others clearly agreed that someone else was better-suited for the job. This is also an undisputed fact.
Fact 3. The position of mayor is not a standalone responsibility. It is propelled by a team of cooperating consultants such as the City Council, all city employees, the city manager and most importantly the residents. At the recent Meet the Candidates event, the opportunity for the residents to express their opinions and concerns were hindered by a candidate’s spouse. Thankfully the Wood River Police Department does not tolerate the harassment and intimidation of its citizens or candidates, and order was quickly restored following the multiple complaints. Wood River citizens deserve to be heard without the fear of repercussions such as forceful coercion and prejudice. This is also an indisputable fact.
In closing, I encourage you to strongly consider a candidate who will not only support but value the ideas and concerns of the city’s citizens. I urge you all to elect a mayor who has the backing and support of the City Council. We need an administration that conducts business without the fear of being intimidated by any individual or group. I am that candidate. We will bring prosperity and pride back to the city of Wood River. This is a fact, and it is also indisputable. Thank you for your continued support, your consideration, and for welcoming me into your homes.
Candidate for mayor, city of Wood River
The opportunity to serve the residents of Wood River as a councilman for the past four years has been a privilege and the greatest honor of my life.
I have met so many amazing people during this journey and I will carry their stories with me for years to come. These are people that are honest, hard-working, and proud of their community. I have been so humbled to have their trust placed in me, and I hope that I have served them well. I now hope to continue my journey of service by being elected as their mayor. I have a bold vision for this city that I will carry out over the next four years. Under my leadership as mayor, I will do the work that residents want to see done. I won’t serve only my supporters or the chosen few, but all residents. I will always be open and responsive to criticism and will hold quarterly town halls so that I can answer directly to residents and be put in my place if need be. As your mayor, I will always embrace the reality that I work for you, not the other way around. Wood River is not heading in the right direction, but there is still time to turn this ship around. On April 4, I would ask for your vote so that I can do just that.
Councilman Scott Miner
Candidate for mayor of Wood River
Americans have a romance with trains — from movies with dramatic goodbyes and hellos, to model trains for kids (and not-so-much kids), and music from blues to Johnny Cash to rock ’n’ roll. A large portion of our history as a nation is connected to the history of trains. Alton is no exception.
Alton Area Landmarks came about because the beautiful Godfrey Warehouse was threatened. It was a very early Alton building, made with carefully quarried lime stones, and for its day, a large and impressive building that stood where now stands the Federal Building off Martin Luther King Boulevard. This warehouse was specifically for the new train. The train was at that time the means of distant travel, as important to commerce as the river. Like any industrial city, the train was vital for importing and exporting raw material and finished goods. The sounds of the train, from the creaking and squeaking of the engine and cars to the sound of the whistle/horn blowing, all added color to the community, then a novel addition. Now trains are an atmospheric and nostalgic beauty contributing to the environment in which we live.
Sadly, Landmarks lost the battle to save the Godfrey Warehouse. At that time, there was not the aesthetic appreciation for warehouses and the understanding for how they could be repurposed. The dramatic train depot in downtown Alton was also destroyed. The only remaining building related to the early days of the train in Alton is the old train depot in Upper Alton. It will be replaced as we see the coming of the new high-speed train. However, the old depot is still in great condition and could be repurposed, preserving a physical link to our past. Its historical significance is clear (presidents have given speeches there, and all of us and our ancestors have traveled from and returned home there), but the worth of the building in terms of materials and quality historic design is beyond monetary value. Most people know that depots make charming restaurants or snack shops and antique or gift shops, but more recently buildings like this are being used as places for events like wedding receptions and other social celebrations. The beauty and charm of these old buildings make for memorable events and interesting and beautiful backdrops.
To save the depot, it will have to be moved from the high-speed tracks. It may be unusual to move buildings, but it is not unheard of. In the 19th century with expanding towns, buildings were moved more often. Not only would saving this building add worth to a new location, but it would also lend charm and interest. Initially, the press and curiosity of this event would bring welcome positive attention to our city. It would also be an active sign of our commitment to our history and to historic preservation in Alton. Our history is one of our most promising and lasting resources.
Vice President Alton Area Landmarks Association
On Oct. 25, 2016, the Glen Carbon Village Board voted unanimously to approve and support a proposal by the village’s Cool Cities Committee to create a stand-alone bulk solar group purchase program for residents and businesses in Madison County with strong support from the Madison County Office of Planning and Development.
This program will reduce carbon emissions while providing residents with the opportunity to invest in a high-quality renewable energy solar installation with significant short-term and long-term savings. The program is administered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), a nonprofit organization that operates under a U.S. Department of Energy grant. This program has been very successful in other jurisdictions in the state, and most recently in Urbana-Champaign, Normal–McLean and in the village of Godfrey. The solar installer is StraightUp Solar, St. Louis. Over the next few months StraightUp Solar and MREA will provide short educational sessions called Solar Power Hours for prospective participants to learn how solar energy works and to answer questions. An informational website with details and an information request form is available at solarizemcgc.com.
The first Power Hour session took place on March 14 at the Glen Carbon Police Department Community Room and had standing-room only. The next several Power Hours are as follows:
• 6 p.m. March 30 at the Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library in Highland
• 6 p.m. April 11 at Old Bakery Beer Company in Alton
• 6 p.m. April 17 at the Newsong Fellowship Church in Edwardsville
• 6 p.m. April 18 at New Douglas Community Center
• 6 p.m. April 25 at Six Mile Regional Library in Granite City
• 6 p.m. April 27 at Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library in Highland
• 6 p.m. May 2 at Tri-Township Public Library in Troy
• 6 p.m. May 8 at Center for Spirituality and Sustainability on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus
For more information, contact Chris Krusa at (410) 490-5024.
Glen Carbon Cool Cities Committee member