State Roundup: Village vote highlights problem with government consolidation

From Illinois News Network

Voters in the Springfield-area village of Clearlake voted to not dissolve the government with a total of 36 votes cast. Nineteen voters of around 200 residents opted to keep the the village in tact while 17 voters wanted to dissolve the village government.

Republican Senator Dale Righter, who is one of eight General Assembly members on Governor Bruce Rauner’s Commission on Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates, says when citizens vote against dissolving a small unit of government it makes things even more difficult. But Righter says there are some options.

“A big part of whatever package comes from the task force is going to be greater tools for local governments to consolidate themselves either by vote of their governing boards or by the citizenry at large and hopefully some incentives from Springfield to help them do that.”

There were no contenders for any of the elected offices in Clearlake and reports indicate the village’s finances could run dry in a matter of years.

Limited state resources could force small government consolidations

With the prospects of less shared resources from the state, smaller units of government may have no choice but to either consolidate services with other units or dissolve.

Karen Hasara, a former Springfield mayor, is a member of the commission and she says Clearlake was mentioned during Wednesday’s meeting, the third for the commission.

Hasara, who also chaired the Sangamon County Citizens Efficiency Committee that investigated consolidations for several years, said with proposed reductions in state aid for local governments there may be no choice but to consolidate or dissolve.

“I think it hopefully will force some units of government to look at possibilities and it doesn’t have to mean they even have to consolidate. They can save a lot just by sharing services with other communities.”

Hasara says there probably is more sharing of services than is commonly know, but more can be done to put out the right message to voters on the benefits of consolidation.

Illinois has nearly 7,000 units of local government–more than any other state–something Governor Rauner hopes to address with a commission investigating unfunded mandates and government consolidations. A commission report is due at the end of the year.

Emanuel secures second term

It’s a second term for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after he beat challenger Chuy Garcia Tuesday.

The former chief of staff for the White House garnered 56 percent of the vote over the former alderman and community organizer. Meanwhile of 18 aldermanic races in Chicago, 12 involved an incumbent, many of which have been voted out. There’ll be new faces in at least five of those seats.

Mayor Emanuel and aldermen now must determine how to deal with a public pension crisis in the billions of dollars.

Cousins plead not guilty to terror charges

Not guilty. That’s the plea from an Illinois National Guardsman and his cousin, opening up the possibility of a  jury trial.The two face charges they plotted to conduct a terrorist attack on the Joliet Armory.

The Chicago Tribune reports Hasan Edmonds and his cousin Jonas made the not guilty plea in a federal courtroom Wednesday. Federal prosecutors contend Hasan was planning to fly to Egypt to provide support for a terror organization in the Middle East.

He was arrested at Chicago Midway International Airport last month.

Jonas Edmonds was arrested at his home in Aurora shortly after.

A federal agent was involved in the case, according to information in the indictment against the two men. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Severance package up for vote in Mount Prospect

It’s a six-figure payout for the Mount Prospect administrator, if elected officials sign off on the deal. That’s according to the Daily Herald.

Village Administrator Michael Janonis will not only get paid his salary until mid-September, but the report says the village board could also approve a lump sum payout of more than $200,000 with a proposed separation agreement. Village trustees vote for the proposed payout Wednesday evening. Janonis has been the village administrator since 1992.

Flexing economic muscle: Illinois vs Indiana

It could turn into a boxing match of economic proportions, but Illinois has some work ahead. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s ready to quote “rip the economic guts out of Indiana.”

The Governor told the Chicago Tribune earlier this week that he is going after the Hoosier state “big time.” But there’s sure to be a battle of economic wits. The Chicago Sun Times reports Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s office saying they’ll put Indiana’s low corporate taxes, triple A credit rating and business climate against any other state in the country.

Longtime independent wealth manager Bob Gray tells WMAY Springfield businesses leave Illinois for a variety of reasons: “Maybe the workers’ compensation expenses aren’t as as high, taxes are lower and … the environment to do business is friendlier than here in Illinois”

Gray says Illinois needs to foster a more trusting atmosphere that doesn’t beat up businesses everyday. Illinois’ credit rating is near the bottom of all other states with a negative outlook and the state’s business climate has been criticized as unfair with higher than average workers’ compensation, insurance and business licensing costs.

Budget hearings in southern Illinois highlight healthcare woes

Senators with the Appropriations Committee heard from Southern Illinois University, healthcare providers and local governments Wednesday morning in Carbondale.

Republican Senator Dale Righter is on that committee and says that the most compelling argument against a reduction of funds came from healthcare providers in southern Illinois where they are already struggling to provide health services to a largely rural area.

“That probably carried a lot of weight with me. But I mean everyone made good points. No one likes to have less money than the year before. This is going to be a necessary function though.”

Righter says lawmakers have a goal to adopt a balanced budget with over $6 billion less for the coming fiscal year, instead of what happened in the current fiscal year where the General Assembly recently passed appropriations measures to fill a $1.6 billion budget hole.

The next fiscal year begins July 1 with proposed revenue of just over $32 billion.

Report: Blagojevich has breakdown, white hair

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, serving time behind bars for corruption, has suffered a “mental breakdown” according to the online publication Radar.

The tabloid posted a series of pictures showing the imprisoned former governor sporting a full head of white hair while claiming to have insider information that he doesn’t socialize and is paranoid of everyone.

Blagojevich, known for his full head of brown hair when he was Governor, is serving a sentence of 14 years at a Colorado prison. He was convicted of trying to sell president Barack Obama’s senate seat after the then U.S. Senator won his first term in the White House.

The report also claims the source says Blagojevich has a Texas gang looking out for him.

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