Forum: Wal-Mart doesn’t deserve breaks
September 26, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:40AM
If residents have to pay taxes in Tinley Park, so should Wal-Mart. It really is that simple, but the mayor doesn’t think so.
He’s trying to persuade local school boards and the Frankfort Square Park District Board to approve a 21/2-year tax abatement for the property at 191st Street and Harlem Avenue on behalf of Wal-Mart. He thinks the largest retailer in the world deserves tax breaks.
It’s not acceptable for Mayor Ed Zabrocki to entertain this proposal, let alone campaign for it. Wal-Mart can afford to pay taxes. It’s prime land, everybody else pays taxes, so there’s no need for Wal-Mart to get a tax break. This proposal comes hot on the heels of recent property assessments that devalued homes significantly, while property tax bills rose.
Wal-Mart also doesn’t top the list of good neighbors. The tax breaks it gets couple nicely with the leases they hold on their enormous buildings. This arrangement works to the company’s advantage by allowing it to later demand more tax breaks or else they will close a store — leaving a town to deal with the empty building. Those giant stores aren’t good for anything other than Wal-Marts.
So why would we offer them a tax break? All speculation aside, they don’t deserve one. In light of the potential downside, this sounds more like making a deal with the devil than anything else.
Congress must restore voting law
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated decision that gutted key components of the monumental Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decision in the case of Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years.
This decision opened the floodgates for a wave of attacks on voters. Only strong action from Congress can fix the court’s mistake.
Before the ink was even dry on the decision, several states rushed to implement racially discriminatory anti-voter laws, including several states where the League of Women Voters had previously succeeded in blocking voter restrictions in the courts and state legislatures.
Sadly, this is only the beginning. Without a strong voting rights law, our ability to fight off anti-voter legislation and keep our elections free, fair and accessible is significantly weakened.
As we approach the 48th anniversary of this historic civil rights legislation, the voting rights law remains an essential protection against the thinly veiled discrimination that still threatens Americans’ right to vote.
Congress needs to move swiftly to overcome this decision and restore the effectiveness of the law. The Shelby decision is a call to action for all who believe that all Americans should have fair and equal access to the ballot. Contact your representative and senator to tell him or her to repair the voting rights law before any more damage is done.
Erin Roeper and Syvia Tillman
League of Women Voters of Homewood-Flossmoor Area