Ramblings from Reggie: MetroCentre, sales tax and federal employees

The MetroCentre chairman steps down. Good news for us. During his tenure, the building has become stagnant and is gushing money. I am not stunned the general manager didn’t want to see him go. Most people who run a business that is inactive and loses significant dollars must have someone watching their back to keep their job.

The MetroCentre’s future is cast, as far as the facility goes. Now, it is time to replace the chairman with an “outsider” to breathe some fresh life and new ideas into that organization. He/she needs to review every aspect of that operation to see where the failures have been. Just because current management was bailed out by a shaky hockey deal does not mask the failures of the current management. If we don’t change our behavior, we will get the same results.

The general manager makes a huge salary; now it’s time to justify it. Why isn’t the public outraged about the money that’s been wasted on the big orange box? Why do places like The Rosemont Theatre get great acts but not Rockford? I’m all for having a viable MetroCentre, but we need leadership.

The Winnebago County Taxpayers Advocates have thrown out a proposal to reduce taxes! Wow, what a concept. The problem is a comment is required from one of our government leaders, and it brushes off a sound proposal from a citizens’ advocacy group.

Mr. Scott Christiansen (Winnebago County Board chairman), do you understand it is government by the people, for the people? I would once like to see a comment such as: “Reducing the jail tax is an option. Maybe we asked for too much money.”

Instead, we get comments such as, “The No. 1 thing we can do to lower costs is to reduce crime.” It’s nice, it’s safe, but it is avoidance.

A lot of ways could reduce costs, such as: reducing the tax to a half of a percentage point (0.5 percent); quit postponing cases several times; enact a “your court date will stand—be ready” policy; cut staff; get rid of the mobile home crime units; and/or get rid of waste. See, your costs are actually the citizens of Winnebago County’s costs. The re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party is imminent.

We have examples of great leaders in our community—Rockford Public School District 205 Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson and Chicago/Rockford International Airport Director Bob O’Brien. And guess what? They think differently from the rest of our community. That is a good thing, folks. We need more of it.

We’re always having the wrong conversations. Don’t be led by the talking heads; be your own voice and not a sheep. Don’t get trapped into arguing two sides because there are many more ways to look at an issue.

Here’s a fact that bothers the heck out me and, hopefully, it will also bother you: from Forbes magazine—the average federal employee makes $116,000, the average worker in the U.S. makes $53,000! WOW!

Reggie Roberson is owner of Swilligan’s “The Pub,” 200 N. Church St.

From the Feb. 21-27, 2007, issue

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