Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Shaw: More suburban FDs imposing ‘crash tax’ ]]> Lead story image

One of our jobs at the Better Government Association is to look for warning signs that suggest that trouble may be on the way. And with that in mind, I point to a recent BGA investigation that sounds the alarm at a number of Chicago-area fire departments but not because there’s an actual blaze. This alert is sparked by a growing and potentially troubling trend in emergency service that requires victims of traffic accidents to help fill municipal budget holes. It’s known as a “crash tax,” and it’s quietly showing up in more communities as fire departments struggle to make … ]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:13:04 -0500 <![CDATA[ McGrath: Confronting a different kind of tyrant ]]> Lead story image

When I attended Chicago State University on the South Side in the late 1960s, I opted to take my daily lunch break off campus. There were no in-house McDonald’s or Subways as there are at many colleges today. And while I’ll grant that the school cafeteria offered nourishing fare, it did not, however, have a palatable cheeseburger, which was my primary fuel source at the time. Their beef patties tasted oddly similar to the chemically preserved hamburger disks wrapped in plastic and sold in vending machines. So as soon as my morning classes were over, I’d put on my stocking … ]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:13:40 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Quinn veto on FOIA measure good move ]]> Lead story image

Kudos to Gov. Pat Quinn. The governor vetoed a measure that greatly would restrict an ordinary citizen’s ability to file Freedom of Information Act requests. I don’t agree with the governor on a lot of things, but this veto was the proper response to a very bad bill that would have charged ordinary citizens fees as great as $100 if they file a request for large documents or make multiple requests in a short period of time. Sometimes government officials forget just who they work for. The FOIA is a powerful tool. During the course of my journalism career, I … ]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:49:22 -0500 <![CDATA[ Laurie Samuels: Don’t let retirement make you vulnerable to senior scams ]]> Lead story image

Fraud is one of the fasting growing crimes in America — with senior citizens being common targets. In fact, the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs attributes approximately $100 billion a year to fraud. In this age of information, anyone in possession of a credit card, bank account or Social Security number is susceptible to the misuse of their private information. Although all are vulnerable to fraud, this article gives special attention to protecting our senior citizens from predatory crime. According to the FBI, scam artists target seniors because they are likely to have greater financial resources and accessibility to benefits, … ]]> Sun, 20 Jul 2014 02:13:20 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Job growth in Illinois? Follow Indiana’s lead ]]> Lead story image

For every job Illinois has created during the past decade, Indiana has created 35, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’ve been to Indiana. I know Hoosiers. And the average Hoosier isn’t any smarter than the rest of us. They may think so, but we know better. But let’s face it, their economy is outperforming Illinois’ by leaps and bounds. The two states have identical climates — rich farmland, strong manufacturing heritages and similar work forces. But the Hoosier State is kicking our economic butt six ways to Sunday. Illinois has one of the lowest job creation rates … ]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:58:52 -0500 <![CDATA[ Daniel Biss and Michael Frerichs: House must act to improve Illinoisans’ retirement security ]]> Lead story image

We need a retirement system that works for every resident of Illinois. Our state is facing a looming crisis — more than 2.5 million people are working in Illinois today without access to a retirement savings plan at work. Research shows that we are 15 times likelier to save for retirement if we can do so using a payroll deduction. The lack of access to employer-sponsored retirement plans will leave many people entirely reliant on Social Security income when they no longer are employed. Unfortunately for this population, Social Security never was intended to be a sole source of retirement … ]]> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 02:16:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ McGrath: Why banks love foreclosures ]]> Lead story image

It was going to be a reunion. Tom Booth and I hadn’t seen each other since he started school at Iowa Wesleyan College on an academic/athletic scholarship. He and I grew up in Evergreen Park, and he had been a basketball star at St. Bernadette Elementary School and Leo High School. And now his college team, for which he played point guard, was coming to play the Cougars of Chicago State, where I was in my third year. The Cougars boasted several high flyers from Chicago Public League powerhouses, while the Wesleyan Tigers drove in from little Mount Pleasant, Iowa, … ]]> Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:14:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Ballot question to keep voters guessing ]]> Lead story image

A bit of hay is being made over a grammatical error that will appear on the ballot in November. It seems no one caught the improper use of the word “their” in the text of the proposed referendum question on imposing a higher tax on people who earn more than $1 million per year. The measure asks, “Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional 3% tax on income greater than one million dollars?” To be grammatically correct the word “its” should be used … ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:19:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Another year, another Illinois pol imprisoned ]]> Lead story image

Well, another Illinois legislator is heading to prison. You won’t hear much outrage in Springfield. Or dismay for that matter. In the grand scheme of things, the conviction of state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, on bribery charges is picayune. You’ll hear it whispered around the statehouse: “He ‘only’ took $7,000.” That’s right. He took seven grand in exchange for writing a letter in support of a business in his district receiving a state grant. Another House member, LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, is facing bank fraud charges. And last year, former state Rep. Connie Howard pleaded to a felony charge that she … ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:17:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Margaret Rose McDonnell: Turning tragedy into an affirmation of life ]]> Lead story image

On June 25, 1980, my life forever changed. I became a member of an exclusive group of people who have suffered tetraplegia because of an unanticipated event. The day was absolutely gorgeous, a beautifully calm and sunny day that soon became my defining moment in life. A split-second decision made during a diving accident caused my spinal cord injury. At the time, knowing nothing about how to cope with such a tragic incident, I felt as if my life would irrevocably be changed for the worse. I soon would realize that this obstacle would grant me an opportunity to not … ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:18:27 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: In deadbeat Illinois, at least we have ‘the leg’ ]]> Lead story image

First, those Texans took our jobs. Then they took lots of Illinoisans and our money. Now, they want our leg. Well, to be precise, famous Mexican Gen. Santa Anna’s artificial leg. But a group of Illinois soldiers stole it fair and square, back in 1845. During the U.S. war with Mexico, history has it that Santa Anna skedaddled from the battle on a donkey and left his prosthetic leg behind in a carriage along with a bag of gold and a freshly cooked chicken. A group of Illinois soldiers ate the chicken, gave the Army the gold and kept the … ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:18:12 -0500 <![CDATA[ McGrath: My dad, a politically incorrect father figure ]]> Lead story image

In Psychology Today magazine, Dr. Ditta Oliker wrote that a child’s emotional and social development depends on a positive paternal role model. And that if the father is absent, the child’s reasoning and communicating abilities lag behind. It’s unlikely that my father had any of that in mind while raising a family in the 1960s in a three-bedroom brick house in Evergreen Park. With eight children and a fixed income of $125 per week, he was doing well just to keep us fed, clothed and out of the principal’s office or the police station. Scouring my memory, I retrieve a … ]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 06:25:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Fight over income tax rate far from over ]]> Lead story image

Politicians are like water — they always take the easiest path. When faced with difficult decisions this year, the Illinois General Assembly sat on its hands and told you a fib. We were told Illinois government is entering a period of “austerity.” Baloney. This year’s budget is about $850 million more than last year’s. And most of that extra spending is being paid for through borrowing. The legislators raided special use funds throughout state government, harvested $650 million and then promised to pay it back in 18 months. But I haven’t heard anyone explain how they plan to pay it … ]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:17:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ Nelson: U.S.-India relations now depend on ‘Modi factor’ ]]> Lead story image

The legislative elections are over in India, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, is the big winner. The BJP won a majority of the seats in the lower house of the legislature (the Lok Sabha), the largest single-party win in 30 years. Asia policymakers, analysts and scholars are scrambling to figure out what a Modi administration means for world politics, economics and security. This is an important matter considering that Modi will preside over a rising world power — a country that’s the second-most populous on Earth, a top five economy and a nuclear power. India … ]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:15:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Reeder: Right-to-work law needed in Illinois ]]>

Thirty-one years ago, I gave a speech to my high school rhetoric class on how Illinois ought to become a right-to-work state. Back when I was in high school, my hometown of Galesburg was an industrial center that churned out lawn mowers, refrigerators, steel buildings and outboard motors. Industrial unions were powerful in Galesburg just as they were in Peoria, Moline and all across Illinois. So my speech calling for ending compulsory unionism was not particularly well received. After all, many of my classmates were the sons and daughters of union workers. To them, I was preaching apostasy. A right-to-work … ]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:22:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Shaw: Anti-corruption campaign largely stymied ]]> Lead story image

This spring marks the fifth anniversary of a valiant campaign to try to eliminate the “culture of corruption” that’s ripped off Illinois taxpayers and citizens for decades. Sadly, it’s not a celebration because it didn’t produce enough government reform. But it’s worth remembering because it’s still an important cause, and there’s so much left to do. Let’s go back to spring 2009. A former governor, George Ryan, is in prison for corruption, his disgraced successor, Rod Blagojevich, is impeached and indicted, and Illinois is a national laughingstock. Blagojevich’s scurrilous behavior, which includes a depraved attempt to “sell” President-elect Barack Obama’s … ]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 06:10:14 -0500