|www.citydesk.us updates ฉ 2018 by JGC/United Publishing
|Another home rule horror story . . .
Bridgeview, IL, has one of the highest rates of debt around Chicago because of a mayor and council’s home rule powers that give virtually unlimited power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt — and taxpayers are feeling the burden.
Using home rule powers, the mayor decided to build a 20,000-seat stadium that would put Bridgeview on the map. Instead, the community has been left with more than $230 million in debt because of the stadium — and the debt keeps increasing.
It started for Bridgeview residents with a seemingly innocuous vote for home rule — “Trust your local leaders” — in 2002 which lead to a trail of politicians’ broken promises, risky gambles, and sweetheart deals. Since opening in 2006, the stadium has come up millions of dollars short of making its huge debt payments. The yearly shortfalls are sometimes as big as the town's annual police budget, and they've helped sink the southwest suburb's credit rating to among the Chicago area's worst.
The big borrowing created a torrent of cash that, in part, went to companies tied to high-level government officials, the town leaders' political supporters, and even companies linked to the mayor's family. Plus, campaign contributions from those profiting from the stadium have helped bankroll a rarely challenged local political machine.
"It's hard to see how it could have turned out much worse than it did," said H. Woods Bowman, a state lawmaker and county financial officer who taught government finance at DePaul University until his death in 2015.
Bridgeview's story is a sobering reminder for taxpayers that the Illinois version of home rule gives politicians and their beneficiaries — lawyers, developers, bankers, government workers, and the political class — almost unlimited power to borrow and tax without voter approval. Worse, even after the politicians quit or are kicked out of office, generations of taxpayers are left paying the bills.
After ten bond sales to borrow even more money since 2003—most recently one in 2015 for $16 million to resolve debt shortfalls from previous bond sales—Bridgeview taxpayers are now on the hook for $241.2 million in long-term debt.
Politicians’ home rule promises to enhance community life and lower property taxes are like the love letters in the sand Pat Boone sang about a few decades ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MCUXitxbTA) — and Bridgeview taxpayers are singing about today: “You made a vow that you would ever be true, but somehow that vow meant nothing to you. How pols laugh when we cry each time we see the tide wash pols’ promises from the sand.”
(excerpted in part from the Chicago Tribune)
|Taxpayers United of America stands against home rule . . .|
“Home Rule” is one of the most financially devastating schemes Illinois politicians have ever come up with, according to Jim Tobin, President of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
“Home Rule means, literally, Home Rule Unlimited Taxing Power,” said Tobin. “A Home Rule municipality can create just about any tax under the sun, and raise taxes without limit. A Home Rule Community can raise property taxes without voter approval. It can create new taxes on businesses, services, groceries, gasoline and even parking without voter approval. Local politicians can protect their salaries and lavish, gold-plated pensions, and even increase their own benefits without voter approval.
“Illinoisans are fleeing the state in record numbers to get out from under the ‘tax and spenders. and these bureaucrats still don’t get it. Instead of shrinking spending to match shrinking populations, they continually look for ways to make up ‘lost revenue.’”
|Citizens take back control over local government
The Illinois version of so-called Home Rule has been rejected or repealed in more than 206 communities that have defeated Home Rule referenda since 1980, including 14 in elections since 2014.
The Illinois version of so-called Home Rule strips citizens of control over local politicians’ power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt. Unlike Home Rule in other states, the Illinois version denies citizens the right to have a local charter or constitution to protect taxpayers from abuse or incompetence by office holders and from the hazard of easy access to public funds for developers, lawyers, bankers, and government workers.
|Eleven reasons for opposing the Illinois version of home rule . . .|
What some politicians call “home rule” in Illinois is a law that allows local politicians to do pretty much as they please and tax us as much as they please without having to ask us voters for permission to do it. That’s all it means, pure and simple. I don’t think the people want that.
Keeping home rule out of their community — as more than 200 Illinois cities have voted to do when they had the chance — requires those same politicians to ask us for permission to raise taxes for their programs. I think the people want that.
I have eleven reasons for voting “NO” to the Illinois version of so-called “home rule:"
1. It takes away constitutional constraints on local governments' powers to impose taxes in that it gives local politicians a blank check, the power to spend taxpayers’ money with no effective control by the taxpayers. Some politicians argue that they should have the right to do whatever they want — raise taxes, impose new taxes, seize private property with land banks which are like eminent domain on steroids, license and regulate whatever they want — and then, if the voters don’t like it, we can throw them out of office. That is a false and cynical argument which I call the “close the door after the horses are out of the barn” theory. It has at least two major flaws:
First, that theory restricts voters to taking action only after the damage has already been done.
Second, that theory is based on the false assumption that a better candidate will be offered in the primary or by the opposition party at the next election. But how many times have voters been ready to remove someone from office only to find that the alternative is a modern equivalent of Attila the Hun or some village idiot?
That approach simply does not work. In fact, that false and cynical argument is precisely the kind of approach in the past that has made the work of building a true sense of community — and that is what leadership is all about — more difficult today.
2. What the politicians call "home rule” violates the dignity of the people. It tells citizens they are too stupid to decide how their tax dollars are to be spent. They are not too stupid to earn the money and pay their taxes, but they are too stupid to have a voice and choice in how that money will be spent. No real leader would want or tolerate that insult to the people of his or her community.
3. It leaves the elderly who are on fixed incomes and those who are on the lower end of the income scale vulnerable to economic hardship because of the loose spending whims of a few active and aggressive politicians.
4. It is based on an arrogant attitude that assumes certain politicians know better what is best for the community than the members of the community themselves. Politicians are the doctors who have given us the medicine that made us sick in the first place with legislation that has driven businesses and jobs out of Rockford and Illinois. Is it any wonder that I question their prescription which calls for trusting them to tax and spend without effective taxpayer control?
5. It provides politicians with a temptation to develop a political machine staffed and financed with taxes for alleged community service or development programs which have nothing to do with basic city services. This additional tax drain of private resources drives existing businesses and jobs away from Rockford while discouraging new businesses and jobs from coming in. Such taxes would make it more difficult to pay for basic and essential city services and would crush citizens under an overwhelming and irreversible tax burden.
6. It fails to guard against unforeseen future developments and potential abuses. This mayor and council may be responsible. Their successors may be irresponsible spendthrifts. It has always been difficult for politicians and their cronies to control themselves when it comes to public funds. I have observed no remarkable recent change in human nature and, therefore, conclude it is in the public interest to guard against abuses. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, "a taxpayer between two politicians is like a fish between two cats." We dare not forget that.
7. What the politicians call "home rule" goes against the most basic principle on which this nation was founded and which has enabled this nation to achieve its high place among the institutions of humankind — a distrust of government requiring citizen control over its powers. It is in our blood as a people and has been a healthy tradition, one worth keeping. History shows that we serve ourselves best when we trust ourselves least. James Madison's words remind us that we must keep government in check: "There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
8. Good leaders do not want or need "home rule." There are two approaches to leadership. The first is true leadership which builds the community through a process of communicating and listening, informing and educating, persuading and compromising. True leadership is more difficult but builds true community because it is based on a love and respect for the people of the community. It seeks to encourage and increase citizen participation in government, not to diminish it. True leadership has no place for coercion and power politics and does not need what politicians call "home rule.”
Sham leaders, on the other hand, simply decide what they want to do and then proceed to force their ideas on the community through a process of arm twisting and power politics. That process may put bricks and mortar in place, but it also creates deep divisions and leaves scars that destroy the very community the would-be leaders are trying to build. Sham leadership results from mistrust, disrespect, and even contempt for the people of the community — as in requiring ordinary citizens to gather 10,000 signatures on petitions to put the “home rule” repeal referendum on the ballot while the privileged political class and special interests just ram a “home rule” referendum through the city council. Edwin Markham, the turn-of-the-century working class poet, pointed out their folly well:
“We are all blind until we see
that is the human plan
nothing is worth the making
if it does not make the man (woman).
Why build these cities glorious
if man (woman) unbuilded goes?
In vain we build the world
unless the builder also grows.”
9. What the politicians call “home rule” is not necessary for making Rockford more attractive to businesses outside the community. On the contrary, the unrestricted taxing power it provides is a negative factor discouraging businesses from expanding or locating new facilities here. Basic marketing principles call for defining and playing up product differences. Rockford is a big small town, close enough to one of the world’s largest cities to allow easy access to all that city offers, yet far enough away to be independent and allow for an intimate, personal lifestyle. That is what makes it different. The current frenzied rush to imitate other cities will not sell Rockford to businesses and bring in more jobs. Solving our city’s school and crime problems and emphasizing our unique qualities, including vigilant taxpayer control of government, will.
10. It is counterproductive of the desired end, the well-being of the community, because it attacks the heart of community spirit itself — participation. At a time when businesses and organizations are learning and applying the important knowledge that achievement in productivity and pride are directly related to the level of participation by the people involved, what the politicians call “home rule” takes us a step away from full citizen involvement in community decisions. Some say the people are not interested enough to attend the hearings that are held on community issues. What they fail to realize is that we are too busy to attend meetings to listen to politicians tell us what they have already decided they are going to do. We are not too busy to attend meetings if the politicians want to ask us what to do. There is a major difference.
11. Finally, reliable independent community organizations and responsible individuals within our community have concluded that the only unique power granted by what the politicians call “home rule” is the power to tax without consulting taxpayers. There is no other necessary governing power granted that is not available without their “home rule.” Regulation of nuisance businesses, fighting neighborhood blight, fighting crime, qualifying for state and federal grants, economic redevelopment, and other city actions politicians are trying to make voters believe are lost without “home rule” are powers granted to cities without it. The ultimate power “home rule” provides is unrestricted taxation.
I have lived in Rockford since 1952 and have grown to love the city and the people who have made Rockford the great city it is. The people of Rockford are kind and generous and creative and intelligent and trustworthy. We do not need self-proclaimed, all-knowing caretakers to dictate our future and direct our lives. What we do need are leaders who love and respect us, who are humble enough to listen to us, and wise enough to tap and set free the city’s vast reservoir of human talent available to solve community problems. A solid step in that direction is to vote No on “home rule.” — by John Gile, reprinted from A Different Drummer with permission)
|Illinois Version of Home Rule • What You Should Know
The following timeless information was published
during Rockford's successful repeal of home rule in 1983.
Following is information for citizens and
educators who want to know more about the Illinois version of
so-called home rule, why it's so controversial, and what
concerned citizens can do about it. — John Gile, 815.968.6601, email@example.com
"Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." — Abe Lincoln
ROCKFORD -- Local politicians and special interest groups agitating for so-called "home rule" powers at city hall call to mind a story about Abe Lincoln talking politics with old friends from Illinois who visited him at the White House.
Lincoln wanted to make a point about words and asked his friends, "How many legs would a dog have if you called a tail a leg?"
"Five," they answered.
"No," Lincoln said, “the dog would still have only four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
Lincoln might make the same point to those who call stripping citizens of control over their local government "home rule." Their so-called home rule would give Rockford politicians free reign to tax and spend and impose regulations – without asking the citizens for permission.
The Illinois version of so-called home rule is a carry over of the machine style politics practiced by Chicago's first Mayor Daley. The 1970 Constitution that created home rule powers was written under his influence and reflects his lust for power. That's why the Illinois version of so-called home rule gives politicians virtually unlimited power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt.
Rockford citizens voted to take back control over their local government by repealing home rule in a 1983 referendum, forcing the city council to ask for permission to levy taxes and imposing controls on city government activities.
Because Illinois home rule prohibits creation of city charters or local constitutions in which citizens could specify what home rule powers they want local politicians to have and what powers they do not want them to have, no compromise providing us with the best of both worlds is available today.
Allowing that compromise would require a constitutional amendment such as:
Until such an amendment is passed, so-called home rule in Illinois leaves citizens at the mercy of local government and encourages abuse by concentrating power in the hands of a small group of politicians. It is much easier for community exploiters and profiteers to fool or manipulate a small group of politicians than it is to fool or manipulate the whole community.
Rockford citizens have generously supported tax referendums since repealing home rule, including the recent jail tax which provides ample resources for law enforcement to clean up gang graffiti problems and crack down on crack houses.
Other community problems preoccupying public-spirited citizens are symptoms of poor leadership so-called home rule cannot cure. Boarded up houses and blighted areas stem largely from unrestricted urban sprawl fostered by local politicians who allow developers to pour concrete and blacktop on acre after acre of precious farmland. Little regard is given to the environment, to the needs of future generations, or to the costly strain on city and school district resources caused by urban sprawl. So-called home rule cannot cure avarice or bad judgment, but the unrestricted power it gives local politicians can make the consequences even more devastating.
"Home rule" is a misnomer because it takes away citizen's power to control local government. The Winnebago Country Taxpayers' Association is fighting any return to so-called home rule in Rockford. So is a new group called Citizens for Government of the People, by the People, and for the People who want to fix home rule in Illinois. Lincoln would like that. (Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone." Thomas Jefferson
Our nation is founded on the principle that human rights come from the hand of God, not from the state, and that legitimate government derives its powers from the consent of the governed. We establish constitutions to control government and safeguard our rights and liberty.
The Illinois version of so-called home rule violates that fundamental principle. It bypasses the people of the community and puts all of the power of local government into the hands of politicians.
Our nation's founders gave birth to the United States of America by calling a Constitutional Convention at which the powers of the federal government were defined and restricted, with other powers reserved to the states and the citizens. When each territory became a state, its first act was to hold a constitutional convention at which the powers of the state government were defined and restricted.
Many states assign powers of local government to the citizens by allowing or mandating local citizens to create a home rule constitution or charter in which the citizens define what home rule powers they want local politicians to have and what powers they do not want them to have. The 1970 Illinois Constitution denies citizens that right. We can fix that flaw and have the best of both worlds by amending the Illinois version of so-called home rule to allow citizens to create a home rule constitution or charter.
History has taught us and Americans have always recognized that unrestrained government is a disaster waiting to happen. We realize that we need government to accomplish things we cannot do alone, but we also realize that living with government is like living with a pit bull that has never been fully domesticated. It can be a wonderful pet, but then suddenly turn and bite off the owner's hand or attack an innocent neighbor or child. We need to keep it on a leash and use a muzzle.
In Illinois, so-called home rule puts the leash and muzzle on the people instead of on the dogs of government. Amending the Illinois version of so-called home rule by allowing citizens to create home rule constitutions or charters will fix that. (Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
"They may call Illinois' so-called home rule 'government of the people.' And they may call it 'government for the people' whom they deem incapable of governing themselves. But they can never call it 'government by the people.'"
of government and political science have described the Illinois
version of so-called home rule as the most uncontrolled form of
government anywhere in the United States of America. Article 7,
Section 6 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution explains why.
For Example, So-Called Home Rule Cities Can . . .
home rule cities can -- without asking citizens for permission --
raise property taxes and incur debt beyond statutory limits.
And On And On . . .
home rule cities can -- without asking citizens for permission --
license (tax) and regulate cable, liquor, utilities, land use,
public transit, mobile homes, vendors, nursing homes, tow trucks,
and on and on.
The Illinois version of so-called home rule: A veteran's reflection on Veteran's Day, 2005.
-- I am awestruck at the prospect of "home rule"
gatherings where gullible followers of the "home rule"
proponents actually celebrate giving up their right to vote.
Brave men and women have died to give us that right. I have seen
people in other parts of the world who envy our right to vote.
This very hour, brave American men and women are putting their
lives on the line to secure that right for others.
(Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
Bulldozers at City Hall
a movement afoot to bulldoze a resolution through the city
council putting a home rule referendum on the ballot in March. I
have no problem with presenting the issue to the electorate.
Giving private citizens more say in city government was the
essence of the repeal in 1983 and is the essence of my focus today.
The bulldozer makes a good symbol for the Illinois version of so-called home rule, but I'm not sure it's the symbol proponents want for the start of their campaign. (The council voted 9 to 5 against the referendum resolution January 9, 2006.)
(Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
There's a fundamental principle that explains why so many otherwise intelligent people fail to think in depth on complex problems. They settle for the first answer that comes to mind, an answer which is obvious, easy, and wrong — because they ask the wrong question. The principle is, "An intelligent person knows when the wrong answer has been given to a question. A creative person knows when the wrong question is being asked."
Answering Bogus Questions
Advocates of the Illinois version of so-called home rule muddy the issue for themselves and others when they try to put challengers on the defensive with bogus questions. Here are some examples:
"Don't you believe in representative government?"
"Don't you trust your local elected officials?"
Legitimate Questions For Creative Thinkers
There is a basic, common sense approach that can help citizens cut through all the home rule hoopla and balderdash. Citizens should be asking themselves these fundamental questions:
If you answered yes to those questions, you are qualified to rule your own home free of any encroachment under the guise of Illinois' so-called home rule. (Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
"The greatest voice is the voice of the people . . ." Robert F. Kennedy
"The greatest voice is the voice of the people — speaking out in prose, or painting, or poetry, or music; speaking in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes. Let that voice speak, and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of humankind." — Robert F. Kennedy, 1963 (Special thanks to the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial)
Home rule exposes a double standard at city hall: tough rules for ordinary citizens, preferred treatment for the privileged
is John Gile. I am an author, journalist, editor, publisher, and
communications consultant with deep roots in The Forest City.
the debate continued, I was allowed to address the city council
for three minutes on three additional occasions:
(Copyright 2005 by John Gile, Citizen-Journalist, Rockford, Illinois. All rights reserved. Permission Requests: 815/968-6601.)
If the city falls, can the county be far behind?
A Rockford/Winnebago County Reader's Question:
"Hi John. Just a thought about home rule. Isn't it true that even if the public votes NO for home rule that the county can still implement home rule?"
An Answer To Ponder:
Winnebago County can call for a home rule referendum any time it wants to, and there are board members who want home rule for county government.
Because the population of Rockford makes up a large percentage of the Winnebago County population, I believe county home rule advocates will use it to measure prospects for a county home rule referendum. If it were to pass in Rockford, the county would be almost certain to pursue it.
If it were resoundingly defeated in Rockford, county board members would understand that the same voters who voted against it in the city referendum would vote against it in a county referendum.
League of Women What?
I received a very interesting e-mail from a woman identifying herself as "one of the League of Women Voters representatives on the issue of Home Rule" and proclaiming that "The League of Women Voters has taken a position of support of Home Rule."
It seems strange that a group of women who call themselves the League of Women Voters would support a referendum to take away citizens' right to vote on vital city issues.
It seems strange that a group of women who call themselves the League of Women Voters would support a referendum to silence the voice of the people and give control of citizens' livelihoods, property, and liberty to a handful of politicians and their associates.
In a colossal understatement, she wrote, that "the issues that Home Rule addresses are related to daily life in our city." They're not just "related" to citizens' daily lives. There is virtually no area of citizens' daily lives in our city that cannot be taxed and regulated — without asking voters for permission — under Illinois' so-called home rule.
Since so-called home rule takes away citizens' right to vote on vital city issues, it would seem more correct for proponents to call themselves the League of Women Un-Voters.
In any case, if you are contacted for a presentation by the League of Women Whatever but would like to have more than one viewpoint represented, call 815/968-6601 and Citizens for Government of the People, by the People, and for the People will strive to accommodate you.
"Through its home rule system, Illinois gives the broadest and most liberal authority to cities and counties of any state in the nation." James Banovetz
of Rockford, Illinois, is blessed with many treasures, perhaps
the greatest of which are dedicated volunteers who contribute
thousands of hours in personal service to the children and adults
of our community at schools, hospitals, shelters, and other care
facilities and who work to make our community even more
“Truth and Openness In Government: Looking Beyond Home Rule.”
is John Gile. I come to you this evening as a journalist to
address the topic “Truth and Openness In Government: Looking
Beyond Home Rule.”
"Accountability In Government: Home Rule Questions Rockford Citizens Want Answered Now."
My name is John Gile. I come to you this evening as a journalist to address "Accountability In Government: Home Rule Questions Rockford Citizens Want Answered Now."
Accountability in government goes to the heart of the Illinois version of home rule because the 1970 Illinois constitution which imposed so-called home rule on Rockford gives local governments broad taxing and regulating powers without commensurate local citizen control.
Under the 1970 Illinois constitution — which Rockford voters rejected 52 percent to 48 percent — so-called home rule is imposed upon cities without citizen consent when the population reaches 25,000. Unlike citizens of other states, Illinois citizens are denied the right to have a local charter or constitution to control so-called home rule government's power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt.
At least 79 Illinois cities and 11 counties have voted to reject home rule when they had a chance to keep it out. Thirty-one additional cities tried to get rid of it after it was imposed. Only four, including Rockford, have successfully overcome the entrenched powers of government and users of government who back so-called home rule with resources which overwhelm most grass roots citizens' movements.
My programs to strengthen communication skills in children and adults have taken me into hundreds of cities in 43 states, Europe, and New Zealand. I have seen first hand cities struggling with universal problems caused by global developments that transcend city and even national borders.
When I return to Rockford, I find a city with great natural advantages over many of the cities I visit. We have a prime location with excellent access to national and world markets. We have ample water, adequate energy resources, and a skilled work force. We have affordable housing, opportunities for continuing education, outstanding medical facilities, recreational opportunities, and easy access to major metropolitan areas with world class professional sports and other entertainment. Above all, we are a community blessed with kind and generous and compassionate people. What a wonderful community spirit we should have with all these advantages.
Yet when I return to Rockford I also find citizens unhappy with their treatment at the hands of local government. They speak of having a Metro Centre and a courthouse that were put up in the wrong place at the wrong time without citizen support. They speak of corporations that take advantage of community generosity, then send jobs overseas. They speak of a school district failing to focus on the needs of all of our children. They speak of lack of government accountability.
And they ask questions:
Do proponents really think Rockford's citizens don't understand that home rule licenses and fees and regulatory costs are taxes too? Why did home rule proponents, including backers of then mayoral candidate Morrissey choose to organize in secret last year? Why did candidate Morrissey fail to tell voters what his supporters were planning? What did he know, and when did he know it? Why did home rule proponents feel the city council would give them special treatment with a referendum resolution? Do home rule proponents want a city council resolution because they believe citizens won't sign their petitions? What and who are the driving forces pressuring the city council to give special treatment to home rule proponents? What's the rush? They have plenty of time to get petitions signed for the November election.
Accountability in government means accountability to all of the people, not just to a privileged few. Accountability in government means listening to all the people, not just to a privileged few.
was allowed to address the city council for three minutes on
three additional occasions:
"Leadership for Excellence in Rockford: Debunking the Springfield Myth."
My name is John Gile. My topic tonight is "Leadership for Excellence in Rockford: Debunking the Springfield Myth."
On November 28th I asked if you wanted to send a message to the citizens of Rockford that there is a double standard of citizenship in our city. When ordinary citizens sought to repeal home rule in 1978 and again — successfully — in 1983, they were forced to spend thousands of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours getting signatures on referendum petitions.
In October, when a handful of lawyers, government officials, and business executives announced they seek a home rule referendum in March, they decided to use their influence and leverage to pressure you, the city council, for special treatment to put their referendum on the ballot without petition signatures.
You have responded with a vigorous debate and the Codes and Regulations Committee has voted to reject that double standard. I thank alderman Beach and members of his committee for their stand.
Home rule proponents argue that it is legal to place the referendum on the ballot with a simple city council resolution. True, it is legal, But what is legal is not necessarily fair. What is legal is not necessarily just. And what is legal is not necessarily equitable.
Fast-tracking a home referendum through the city council for the March ballot is not equitable and discriminates against your constituents who have the most to lose.
The petition process is part of the education process. Many of you have constituents who are economically and technologically disadvantaged. Many are worried about the price of gasoline, about paying to heat their homes, and about keeping their jobs. Many are struggling, single-parent families. Many are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. They need time to consider and understand the impact home rule would have on rent, gasoline, and on purchases they make at local retailers. We need time to teach.
We need time to teach so all the citizens can see the reality behind the rosy picture home rule proponents paint.
Home rule proponents don't tell your constituents that under home rule from 1970 to 1983, city taxes rose 300 percent.
Home rule proponents
don't tell your constituents that under home rule from 1970 to
1983, Rockford's population began to decline after decades of
In 1970 home rule was imposed on Rockford against the will of the citizens. Rockford voted against that constitution 52 percent to 48 percent, but it passed in the rest of the state and it was imposed without our consent or approval. By 1980, population had fallen to 139,712 .
Home rule proponents don't tell your constituents that under home rule from 1970 to 1983, Rockford was losing businesses and home rule was not a tool for economic development. In a 1983 debate with then Mayor John McNamara, I pointed out that Loves Park, a non-home rule city, had increased by 22 businesses and Rockford had fallen by 200.
He responded, "Any industry that locates in the city of Loves Park is not locating there because they do not have home rule. That is a misconception. We all have difficulty in the state of Illinois. and the north central region of this country not because we have home rule or do not have it. We are going through an industrial revolution in this country second to none. That is something that is severely impacting us. We all have difficulty.”
Home rule proponents don't tell you that home rule powers were used to give the Sundstrand corporation property at taxpayers' expense. Did Sundstrand respond with undying loyalty to our citizens and work force? No, they sold the company and have proceeded to send Rockford jobs to other parts of the country and overseas. That is what negotiation for city property without competitive bidding gives us under home rule.
Home rule proponents argue that keeping citizen control over city government's power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt means turning our fate over to Springfield. In 1983, we asked City Legal Director Bill Collins how many times he had to go to Springfield for special legislation before home rule. He said once in sixteen years.
Even now proponents cannot give compelling answers when asked what they have to go to Springfield for. It's not Springfield they dislike, it's the limit on access to citizens pocketbooks and limited control over citizens' lives and rights that they dislike.
We need time to teach.
The petition process is part of the education process. Your rejection of any double standard will assure that your constituents receive fair, just, and equitable treatment and that they will not be forced to vote without hearing the full story. Your rejection will show you are committed to leadership for excellence for all the citizens of Rockford.
—I was allowed
to address the city council for three minutes on three additional
Illinois' Flawed Law: Fix It Or Nix It
The stormy history of so-called home rule in Illinois makes one point very clear: the law is flawed.
the Illinois version of so-called home rule have been evident in
citizens' responses since its inception in 1970. Rockford is not
unique in rejecting it. At the time these pages were first published in 2006:
Citizen rejection of so-called home rule would not be so common and so-called home rule would not be so controversial if it were not seriously flawed.
Its major flaw is that the Illinois version of so-called home rule denies citizens the right to control local government with a city charter or constitution. Other states allow or even mandate that citizens establish a local charter or constitution to control local government before home rule powers are granted.
Illinois bypasses the people of the community and puts all the power of local government into the hands of politicians. That's why students of government and political science have described the Illinois version of so-called home rule as the most uncontrolled form of government anywhere in the United States of America.
It even takes away citizens' right to vote on vital city issues and limits citizens' voice in government to mayoral and council elections.
controls of a local charter or constitution and with citizens
stripped of their right to vote on city issues, so-called home
rule empowers politicians to:
Constitutions are designed to safeguard citizens from government excesses. Our nation's founders gave birth to the United States of America by calling a Constitutional Convention at which the powers of the federal government were defined and restricted, with other powers reserved to the states and the citizens.
When territories became states, their first actions were to hold constitutional conventions to do the same.
In states other than Illinois, the same constitutional process is followed to pass power from the state to local government. Because Illinois left that crucial provision out, home rule government in Illinois is like a car with no brakes and a steering wheel that works only once every four years.
Article 7, Section 6 of the 1970 Illinois Constitution stipulates that "a Home Rule unit may exercise ANY POWER and perform ANY FUNCTION pertaining to its government and affairs" -- all without asking for the permission or approval of the citizens whose lives are affected and the taxpayers who must pay the bills.
Citizens seeking to limit city government's power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt, have no choice but to reject home rule. It is a question of setting limits, not of trusting Springfield instead of trusting our city council.
Home rule proponents argue that rejecting home rule means turning our fate over to Springfield. At the time of the repeal, we asked the city legal director how many times he had to go to Springfield for special legislation before home rule. He said once in 16 years.
Rockford citizens have always voted to control government powers. Rockford voted against the 1970 Illinois Constitution by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, but it passed in the state and so-called home rule was forced upon Rockford without local citizen consent or approval.
Efforts to repeal so-called home rule in Rockford started in the 1970's, culminating in the successful repeal in 1983 by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.
Now home rule proponents want to impose that badly flawed law on Rockford's citizens again despite its disastrous impact on our community during the 13 years Rockford was under home rule.
During those thirteen years, city taxes rose 300 percent, Rockford's population began to fall for the first time after decades of growth, and surrounding non-home rule communities grew while Rockford declined.
At the time of the repeal, Loves Park, a non-home rule city, had increased by 22 businesses and Rockford had fallen by 200. The Illinois version of so-called home rule exacerbates the bad business climate in Illinois by subjecting businesses to taxes, fees, and regulations without citizen control and by destroying the predictability and stability in government sharp business leaders regard as essential.
Rockford does not need home rule to flourish. It needs creative leadership. We need new ideas and new approaches, not more of the same old behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, not more of the same old archaic, obsolete, outmoded, unimaginative, and discredited approaches to so-called economic development that are nothing more than prostituting the city to corporations that are here today and gone tomorrow.
And we need to fix home rule so Illinois citizens can have the same rights as citizens of other states. I will continue my citizen education campaign to accomplish that regardless of what happens here.
Home rule can be fixed with a simple constitutional amendment to give us the best of both worlds. It reads: "Nothing in this Constitution or its home rule provisions shall be construed so as to constrain or prohibit citizens of home rule communities or communities eligible to become home rule communities from creating by referendum a community charter or constitution in which the citizens of the community define and restrict the powers and procedures of their home rule governing body. Those powers and procedures include defining and restricting the power to tax, to regulate, and to incur debt, specifying what decisions and actions their elected representatives may exercise by virtue of holding office and which decisions and actions must be presented to the community for approval and ratification in a referendum open to all eligible voters in the community. Such local charter or constitution shall govern in any conflict with home rule provisions or other sections of the Illinois Constitution."
In the meantime, citizens can cut through the home rule hoopla by asking themselves these questions:
answered yes to those questions, you are qualified to rule your
own home free of any encroachment under the guise of Illinois'
so-called home rule.
|"I never looked at it that way before!"|
Does your organization need an entertaining speaker who can evoke “I never looked at it that way before!” responses while conveying tips and tools to strengthen critical thinking, expand creative thinking, enhance coping skills, and increase problem-solving ability?
Communicators have more fun
"Well developed communication skills provide greater satisfaction and fulfillment in living:
"• They give us clarity of thought and vision to see beyond what is to what can be.
"• They fill our lives with richness, and purpose.
"• They give us power to achieve goals of every sort and to reach our full potential.
"• They help us deal with and overcome setbacks and failures and even disasters that come into our lives and the lives of those we love.
"• They foster greater understanding of ourselves and others.
"• They enable individuals and groups of people work to together smoothly. They help us know, accept, and be ourselves." -- John Gile, "Write For Your Life"
For a good time while you strengthen your communication skills and those of your associates and/or students, contact JGC/United Publishing by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (815.968.6601).
Phone: 815.968.6601 • www.jgcunited.com
email@example.com • JGC/United Publishing Corps
1717 Harlem Boulevard • Rockford, Illinois 61103