Editorial: Parking the sales tax and electric rates

As Gov. Blagojevich (D) and the Illinois legislative session go further into overtime, they should be ticketed for parking our money in a handicapped zone. Just like able-bodied jerks who park in spaces reserved for the disabled, our state rulers are withholding the public purse from its good work—while failing to be watchdogs of our financial interests.

Let’s cut through the Springfield manure field and call Republican and Democratic party politics what they are­—solely self-service power protection, bought and paid for by special interests—i.e., no Independents or third-party officials should succeed in this state because it loosens the strangle-hold of the dysfunctional two-party system, and corporate campaign contributions rule the shambling jalopies rusting as our representatives in our state capitol.

Contrary to the exhaust being spewed at you by the corporate media—i.e., Blago supposedly doesn’t want to be associated with sales taxes, yet hasn’t he proposed a huge tax increase himself?—the real reason Blagojevich won’t sign the voter-approved Rockford sales tax is because the funds will enable our Independent Mayor Larry Morrissey. While disagreements with Morrissey are substantial, particularly over home rule, he did pass the wiser and shorter sales tax by the will of the people. Votes! Wake up, Blago and Dumbocrats; the next election’s coming! Our roads need fixing now, and we want to improve other infrastructure now. That means we need to collect the sales revenue to pay for them now—not in January of next year.

If Morrissey cannot collect that money until then, he will have less time to accomplish his agenda, and he’ll look bad for his next election. That fits right into the cronyistic Dumbocrats’ agenda of the people right next to Blago. Let’s see, the man Morrissey defeated, Doug Scott (D), former fellow state representative of Blago and major shaker for Blago’s campaign, was appointed by Blago to head the Illinois EPA after his defeat by Morrissey. Scott’s mentor, Charles Box (D), another former Rockford mayor, was appointed by Blago to head the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). Hummm, could they want Morrissey to fail? Then, add in the antics of Laurel Syverson and Hardy Jefferson. One doesn’t read the bill, and the other reads the wrong bill. Stan and Ollie are jealous. The laugh track of the political parties plays another joke on the citizens of Rockford. Get it? Call the governor and tell him to use his right hand for something besides passing out contracts to his big campaign contributors. Sign our sales bill, Rod, now, or forget our votes next time. Get it in gear.

ComEd is really geared up, speaking of big campaign contributors to just about everybody. Senate President Emil Jones (D) has killed every effort to roll back the ComEd rates that are guzzling money at a record rate.

As far back as Nov. 4, 2006, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported: “the state’s two biggest electricity providers have donated more than $248,000 to state politicians in the six weeks since the controversial announcement of a major rate hike proposal.” Think how much they have donated since and how much they have spent on their new ad campaign. Millions?

Back to Scott and Box. Scott spearheaded the deregulation of ComEd when he was a state rep. ComEd loves him. Box, who was appointed to head the ICC over a real consumer advocate, former head of the Citizens Utility Board, Martin Cohen, gunned the current “auction” process for election rates in Illinois to the crisis we now face. Scott said deregulation was too “complicated” for us to understand, but it would increase competition and bring us lower rates. Box said the auction process was good. Wrong, wrong, wrong in so many ways.

After the freeze, the increase for residential was supposed to be around 20 percent and double for businesses, which are already shafted by a demand charge for peak usage.

May 16, the Chicago Sun-Times reported rates were up around the state 25 to 55 percent. Small businesses have reported increases threaten their existence. Add in the increases in gasoline, water and natural gas, and get out the wagons, peasants, as your lords drive by.

Considering the electric industries’ CEO salaries and profit levels (22 percent for Ameren), their bankruptcy threat is a farce. What is touted as upcoming “rate relief” by the corporate media is a continuation of the deregulation, demand charge and auction farces. Get ready for the pirates in the thousand-dollar suits to laugh, “Har, Har!” as they continue to disable us all.

National and state politicians, Dumbocrats and Ripofflicans alike, must start reining in corporations. Political subservience only brings ridicule and an electorate that consists of only 40 percent of eligible voters­. So many have given up hope and faith in our system. Bringing our own money home, and restraining out-of-bounds utilities might help everyone get the respect they deserve.

from the June 20-26, 2007, issue

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