One of my favorite sayings is that we are always having the wrong discussions. We discuss the same topics, but seem to be able to come up with only two viewpoints on each topic.
The citizens take a side, and get on talk radio or write editorials defending a side, like sheep. Those viewpoints are typically polarized into political realms. Are there other points of view? Certainly, but why arent they heard?
I used to think of myself as a conservative Republican, but have clearly moved into an independent mode. I like to think of myself as a conservative, but clearly am not comfortable with a party affiliation. Both parties are lost and have forgotten the people. Whether you get voted into the City Council, County Board or Congress of the United States, the first thing that happens is youre pulled into a meeting or orientation and told how things work around there. Suddenly, any newcomer with different ideas becomes part of the problem.
Back to the wrong discussion. We need out-of-the-box thinkers to lead us into the future. Great debate is flowing about the upcoming Rockford sales tax referendum. How do we propose it, and how do we sell it? How about if we find enough money to fix roads in the city and buy some needed fire equipment, etc., without raising a dollar of taxes? That would be having the right discussion, wouldnt it?
By a super-majority vote in the County Board, the county can rescind half of the jail tax to 0.5 percent, and then the city can have a referendum to raise sales taxes 0.5 percent in the city to pay for roads. The taxpayers pay no more money, county taxpayers pay less, and the governments get all the money they are asking for. The people win. Wow, what a concept!
Im going to keep saying this until the people get it: $25-$43 million a year for the jail tax for the rest of our lives is wrong. I would like to see a proposed budget for the county for the next 10 years and how they can possibly spend that much money. Winnebago County, youve been had.
Its time for our leaders to change their thinking and start leading. Where is the mayor? Whats his agenda? Where is Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen? What is his agenda? Lets start leading and quit trying to protect your jobs. The people of this community are hungry for leadership, and its up to you two to lead the way.
Reggie Roberson is owner of Swilligans The Pub, 200 N. Church St.
From the Jan. 24-30, 2007, issue