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By Nancy Thorner –

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois averaged more than 40,000 permits for new single-family houses per year prior to the so-called Great Recession. Compare that to 2016 when Illinois issued just over 10,000 single-family houses permits. The 75% drop observed is the worst in the nation.

But why are other states doing better? Consider Iowa, where teachers don’t have the out-of-control retirement plans provided to teachers in Illinois. Further, Illinois is experiencing one of the largest population losses in the nation. It remains suspect to build more housing in areas facing a declining population.

Property taxes, however, remain the biggest detriment to homebuilding in Illinois. With some of the highest property taxes in the nation, homebuilders are shackled by this burden along with other taxes and fees levied on construction until the property is sold.

All these issues were the focus of Heartland Institute’s recent forum, Why Illinois is the Worst Place to Own a Home. The evening’s presentation featured radio talk show host Dan Proft, who focused his comments around out-of-control government spending and exceedingly high property taxes that plague counties throughout Illinois.

As an aside:

An article posted at Illinois Review on June 14, 2017, explains why a tax plan announced by Republican state lawmakers calling on a four year freeze to property taxes to coincide with the four-year income tax hike. Yet, additional taxation is a bad solution to the Illinois’ budget crisis. The plan was presented by Republicans as the latest and best chance to reach bipartisan consensus in the near future. However, freezing property taxes would create a property tax “freeze” time bomb in a few ways.

  • The plan freezes property taxes for four years to coincide with the four-year income tax hike.
  • The Republicans’ plan will fail to help struggling homeowners. Illinoisans shouldn’t have to pay billions of dollars of extra income tax just to get a freeze on the highest property taxes in the nation.
  • And the freeze isn’t absolute. Local debt service payments are exempted from the freeze, meaning homeowners’ taxes could still rise.

Three areas of Illinois in regard to Property Taxes 

1. South Side homeowners are suffocated by property taxes:

Back in 1961, duplex units at Pacesetter Gardens advertised a “town and country location” just 23 minutes from the Loop. The community had a “Cabana Club” complete with a recreation center, a “big, L-shaped outdoor swimming pool,” a snack bar and a bath house. The units started at $19,000 ($150,613 inflation-adjusted) as of 2015. By 2015, the median home price in Riverdale was just $51,800, a third of what it was 54 years ago and down 62 percent from 2007 ($137,172 inflation-adjusted). Local Government Information Services, a newspaper chain Proft co-founded, reports Riverdale’s effective property tax rate (ETR) in 2015 was 7.61 percent, for a median bill of $3,942, the second-worst of fifty south suburbs.

Rich Township High School District 227 raised spending three percent from 2007 to 2015. That’s while operating three high schools at less than half of their capacity all while student enrollment in the district has fallen steadily– more than 17 percent in the last four years alone. During these spending increases, home prices continued to fall.

2. Homeowner equity in DuPage County is eroding quickly even as property taxes soar:

In January 2007, the average Willowbrook home was worth $305,000. Eight years later in January 2015, values are at just $182,000. That’s a fall of 48 percent in real, inflation-adjusted, dollars. Willowbrook happens to be the worst of 29 communities in DuPage County.

Driven by surging local government spending and massive municipal debts, homeowner equity in DuPage County is eroding quickly even as property taxes soar. The net result: property taxes are pressured higher and higher, and property values lower and lower.

Hinsdale home prices fell 25 percent from 2007 to 2015. But over the same period, Hinsdale School District 181 raised its local property tax levy by 20 percent, to $65.23 million. It spent $17,217 per student in 2015 — up from $12,924 in 2007 ($14,733 inflation-adjusted).

Elmhurst home prices also fell 25 percent. But Elmhurst District 205 kept spending, raising its bill to Elmhurst property taxpayers to a record $111.4 million, up 15 percent over the same period.

3. Soaring taxes are having a major impact on Lake County property values:

Cross Lake, 89 acres in size, straddles the Illinois-Wisconsin border has been greatly effected by soaring taxes. It’s western shore spans two adjacent communities, Antioch, Illinois and Trevor, Wisconsin, where a continuous development of modest lakefront homes makes the state line essentially indistinguishable.

Whether in Illinois or Wisconsin, the homes on Cross Lake look no different; however, in Trevor, a 1,368 square-foot two bedroom, two bath sold in fall 2015 for $255,000. Seven docks, or a three-minute walk south across the state line, a 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath at 143 Lakewood in Antioch sold last spring for $225,000.

Why would a home 75 percent larger with more bedrooms and bathrooms sell for $30,000 less? It is because of property taxes. The Wisconsin home is valued higher because its tax bill is so much lower. At $3,202 per year, it’s about half what their Illinois neighbor pays— $6,211 per year— just across the state line.

Every Lake County community saw its home values fall significantly all while rising property taxes compounded the pain.

The rise was driven, in large part, by steady increases in local school district spending, which make up 70 percent of a typical property tax bill. While Lake Forest homeowners saw their property values fall 23 percent, Lake Forest’s Roundout School District 72 increased spending by 29 percent over the same period when adjusted for inflation. Mundelein School District 120 raised spending 17 percent while Mundelein homeowners saw their home prices fall an average of 32 percent. Libertyville District 70 raised spending 15 percent while its homeowners saw their home values fall 23 percent.

In 2015, effective property tax rates in 41 of 43 Lake County communities were higher than 2.45 percent. An effective property tax rate is calculated by dividing what one pays annually in property taxes by their home’s value. The average rate in Lake County is 3.3 percent, twice the national average (1.31 percent) and more than three times the average rate in neighboring Indiana (0.88 percent). In 20 Lake County communities, it was higher than 4 percent.

If home prices fall at the same pace, homeowners in 14 Lake County communities will have paid more than their home’s full value in property taxes over the previous 16 years of ownership.

Proposed Reform Through Referendum

Proft believes that Illinoisans are ready for reform, that a revolt is real, and it only has to be stoked. Mirroring Indiana, Proft wants to impose a 1% hard cap on property taxes as a percentage of home value until a capital event such as home improvement or the home is sold. A home owner’s defense association will be formed to inform homeowners of their property tax situation.

There are also plans to place an advisory referendum ballot question on the 2018 election ballot so Illinoisans can come out to express their views. Unlike what has happened in other states where revolts have taken place, Illinois has failed to elect conservative reform leaders in Springfield to reign in the spending.

Youtube video of Dan Proft’s comments:  “Why Illinois is the Worst State to Own a Home”

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By Nancy Thorner & Edward Ingold – 

The shooting incident in the Virginia ball park was barely over before politicians began crying for gun control. Governor McAuliffe of Virginia claimed that 93 million Americans are subjects of gun violence each day. He did correct this to say 93 Americans, which includes suicides (50%) with the balance mainly gang violence in large Democratic cities. However this mistake illustrates the casual regard anti-gun activists have for facts, causes and solutions. “Too many guns”, says McAuliffe, “Too easy to get without background checks.”

The shooter in Virginia came from Illinois, which has among the most strict gun controls. He possessed a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID), needed to possess or purchase firearms or ammunition. The guns were purchased legally, which would require a Federally-mandated background check. These requirements don’t seem to have any effect on gang members, so perhaps things need to be made more illegal. For criminals, guns are tools of their trade. No matter how many ordinary citizens are denied their right to “Keep and bear [carry] arms,” criminals will find a way.

The problem with anti-gun solutions is that their proposals affect many law-abiding citizens with little or no effect on criminals. In other words, a perversion of the slogan, “A Pound of Prevention for an Ounce of Cure.” How often do we hear “It’s for the children,” or “If this measure saves one life …” Children certainly do need to be saved, but most often from abusive or reckless parents, which account for the overwhelming majority of firearm incidents.

Since Cain and Abel, there have always been bad people who would inflict violence on others. Well into the 19th century, travelers in Europe and England were advised to travel in groups under arms. Members of Congress are proposing to grant themselves the right to carry concealed weapons, while ordinary citizens of Washington DC are denied the right to defend themselves in one of the most violent cities in the United States. In Chicago, a handful of robberies occur each week in the holiest part of the Loop, Millennium Park. On Wacker Drive yesterday, a motorist with a legal carry permit shot at (and missed) two assailants who tried to rob him while waiting in traffic.

Solutions to Gun Violence?

One solution is more guns in the hands of good people. Since a Federal court decision in 2013, Illinois residents have the right to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon. Over 200,000 have availed themselves of this right. Illinois criminals have only about one chance in fifty of accosting an armed victim. With 30,000 armed robberies each year in Chicago, one would expect nearly 500 would be thwarted with a legal gun. Most, however, go unreported unless someone is killed or injured. While the courts have issued a similar decree against Washington DC, that city has issued no permits, in defiance of the courts. Congress is once again considering a measure which would require states recognize concealed weapon permits issued by other states, much as they must now recognize drivers’ licenses and marriage. Things are looking up.

In the Virginia ball park, only two law enforcement officers were on hand to confront the gunman in a timely fashion. Facing an high powered rifle with handguns is not a good situation, yet that’s what they did. In a situation like this, the gunman will forget his intended victims and devote his undivided attention to the people shooting at him. That probably saved the lives of up to 25 Congressmen until help arrived in force, after three and a half long minutes.

Another solution is to arm police guarding events or patrolling the streets with rifles, for example scary black semi-automatic rifles. Psychologically, these weapons leave no doubt who is in charge. On a tactical level, a rifle multiplies the effectiveness of that officer at least fourfold. He is a match for an assailant with a rifle, or any other weapon at much longer distances. The effective range of a handgun is only about 10 yards under combat conditions, whereas a rifle is effective to 200 yard or more. A man with a gun, knife, axe or machete is deadly to unarmed citizens, and it may not be possible to get within 10 yards in time to save them, or risk shooting bystanders along with the assailant. A trained rifleman can put three rounds inside a 4” target at 200 yards in under two seconds. (An expert can do much better). When the chips are down, that means one less criminal with far less danger to his victims than pistol fire.

Who’s to blame for the violence?

Former DC US Attorney, Joe DiGenova, expressed his anger on the Laura Ingraham radio show, where he called out  Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Maxine Waters for directly inciting Sanders campaign volunteer James Hodgkinson to attempt the murder of Majority Whip Steve Scalise and many others on June 14 at the GOP charity baseball practice.  DiGenova declared that they had blood on their hands.  Evidence collected after the shooting shows that Hodgkinson was a fanboy of every Democrat talking point that implicitly called for violence against Donald Trump and Republicans.

Democrats appear to sanction, if not endorse the violent counter-protests at Trump rallies and against Trump supporters. They also sanction Black Lives Matter protests, which disrupt business and travel, often accompanied by violence and vandalism, and threats against the police, The Freedom of Speech is the freedom to voice your opinion, not to silence or intimidate others.

In a subscription article shared by California writer and author, Burt Prelutsky, on Saturday, June 18, 2017, BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID, Mr. Prelutsky included these astute remarks about shooter Hodgkinson that are laced with Burt’s uncanny ability to combine noteworthy political commentary with doses of wit.   Mr. Prelutsky speaks of 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, IL, as one who clearly belonged in Bellevue:

Although Hodgkinson was an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders, a cuckoo in his own right, Sanders isn’t responsible for Hodgkinson using Republican congressmen and their aides for target practice.  If I were to blame anyone aside from Hodgkinson, it would be Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Maxine Waters, and their lap dogs in the media who have conspired to make it appear that Adolf Hitler has come out of hiding and taken up residence in the White House.

And, after all, which of us has not at some time fantasized using a time machine to transport us back to the late 20s or early 30s and assassinating Der Fuhrer before he could launch the events leading to the deaths of 70 million people?

For months, the leftist rabble has devoted all its time to demonizing President Trump over his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin, ties that have been concocted out of whole cloth in order to rationalize Hillary’s loss and to bring down the duly-elected president.  The Democrats in Congress and their lap dogs in the media should be ashamed of themselves, but shame, along with honesty and integrity, are alien to their nature.

In addition to all that, I’m willing to wager that despite their calls for Trump’s impeachment, dullards such as Maxine Waters and Al Green couldn’t find Russia on a map.

Talk of bi-partisanship in Congress a pipedream?

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., received a standing ovation following remarks that emphasized a connection between the two parties that prevails despite the frequent and intense partisan bickering.

“For all the noise and fury, we are a family,” Ryan said. “These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Ryan’s speech and added, “We will use this occasion as one that brings us together and not separates us further.”

It took only one day for Nancy Pelosi to change her tune to suggest that Fox News was partly to blame for “a lot of the vitriol and invective” in politics, noting that a man who was arrested for threatening her years ago had been, according to the man’s mother, an avid Fox News viewer.  Pelosi also claimed that partisanship began escalating in the 1990’s, instigated by the GOP who relentlessly investigated President Clinton and eventually impeached him.  The most liberal of Democrats suggested that the divisive mood was recently escalated thanks to Trump when he flung crude insults at the media, Democrats, and member of his own party.

In this divided nation where President Trump is being challenged and confronted daily by those who will do and say anything to have him removed from office, there is a good chance that things will get worse before they get better, which is essential if this nation is to survive what would qualify as a treasonous act in another era — subversion of government with the removal of a duly elected president through nefarious means.

 

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By Joseph A. Morris and Nancy Thorner –

Reporters have always been dependent on unnamed sources for their scoops.  That is especially the case in Washington where whistleblowers are afraid that if they come out of the shadows, their corrupt superiors will exact revenge on them.

But, clearly, things have gotten out of hand ever since Donald Trump was inaugurated. Those people are no longer in the business of trying to do the honorable thing for the sake of the nation. Both they and their partisan allies in the media and the corridors of Congress have no other agenda other than to stop Trump in his tracks and thus destroy Trump’s presidency, at a time when Islamic terrorism must be confronted, and health care and tax reform must be addressed in order to grow this economy and create jobs.

In a hugely anticipated congressional hearing that captured the country’s attention (into the broad matter that goes under the mainstream media’s headline of “collusion with Russia”) former FBI Director James Comey asserted on Thursday, June 8, in front of a Congressional committee, that President Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign, bluntly accusing the White House of spreading “lies, plain and simple.”  Comey also revealed that he’d orchestrated the public release of information about his private conversations with the president in an effort to further the investigation.

No Collusion or Obstruction

When all was said and done, it became obvious that there was no collusion between Trump and Russia; except for:

—  those who, such as the recently-indicted rabid Clinton-supporting Reality Winner, leaked classified information in efforts deliberately intended to injure the United States (or Donald Trump), and

—  those persons, as-yet-unfingered, who (to score political points against Mr. Trump) “unmasked” people, such as General Flynn, whose names turned up in passing in surveillance and other counterintelligence reports.

As an aside, where are the SNL skits about the time when “Reality Winner met Carlos Danger”?  It is reasonable to expect that if, after the divorce from Huma, Anthony married the indicted leaker, she’d be Reality Weiner?  Reality (by which I mean the real reality as opposed to the Hillary-crazed Reality) is often far funnier than the imaginations of Stephen Colbert’s gag-writers.

With almost certainly it can be predicted that the claim Donald Trump and his campaign “colluded” with Russians — whether Russian Presidents, Russian spies, or Russian hackers (hereinafter collectively referred to by the Russian word that embraces and means them all, “Putin”) — to affect the outcome of the 2016 election will find no support in the evidence.  But the lack of evidence won’t stop breathless conjecture, of course; Trump Derangement Syndrome feeds, it seems, on whatever it is that breathless leftists exhale, which certainly isn’t carbon dioxide as that would violate the Paris accords.

What the evidence shows

But the evidence already shows, among other things:

(1)  Julian Assange, Bradley / Chelsea Manning, the Wikileaks crowd, and others fed tons of highly-damaging, life-endangering information to thugs the world over, including the Putin team.

(2)  The Putin team made serious, although seeming unsuccessful, efforts in 2015 and 2016 to hack into the electronic systems of American electoral agencies including the Illinois State Board of Elections (where “hack” traditionally means something altogether different).

(3)  The Chinese government, meanwhile, successfully hacked into, and stole the entire contents of, the databases of the United States Office of Personnel Management.  (That may seem boring, except that they thereby obtained tons of personal identifier, address, background, financial, health insurance, and retirement data on every employee and every retiree of the United States Government — including intelligence personnel, among them clandestine agents such as the Interior Minister of Ikidyounotistan whose actual employment as an American agent would come to light only when it it noted that he has an OPM retirement account and an OPM life insurance policy the benefits of which, alas, will soon have to be paid out to his widow and children once the Chinese have tipped the news to certain Ikidyounotistani gunmen. I write this [Joe A. Morris], mind you, as the former General Counsel of OPM, mindful that this obscure agency, treated by the last administration as an unimportant backwater, is responsible for all oversight of executive branch security and suitability investigations and determinations, and keeps the records on pretty much every non-military employee of Uncle Sam, including the secret ones.)  Is the Chinese government also a Putin subsidiary?  No;  far from it.  But they do collaborate and they do have a common Number One enemy:  the U.S.A.

 Leaking and Hacking on Obama’s watch

Now, the evidence also shows that all this leaking and hacking took place on the watch of one President Barack Obama who, the evidence further shows:

  • Failed to protect the U.S. Government’s personnel records against foreign thieves.
  • Took no measures to assist American State and local electoral agencies to “harden” their digital systems against Putin’s hacking; heck, he didn’t even warn them.
  • Belittled his 2012 challenger, Mitt Romney, for insisting that Russia was a threat — in fact, Mr. Romney asserted, the “greatest threat” — to the United States;   in one of the 2012 debates Mr. Obama descended from Olympus to dismiss Mr. Romney’s concerns about Russia with the sarcastic line, “The 80’s are calling.  They want their foreign policy back.”
  • Was caught on a hot mic in March 2012 confiding to Mr. Putin’s stand-in President / Prime Minister / all-purpose puppet, Dimitry Medvedev, that he should tell Vlad, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
  • Was not much concerned about the impacts that the Assange, Manning, and other leaks, and the Russian and Chinese hacking were having upon the United States until it became apparent, during the 2016 campaign, that some of the disclosures accurately, if unlawfully, showed Mrs. Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic Party in very bad lights.
  • When leaving office granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, a fabulous parting gift, thus sending a message about the (wink wink) gravity of leaking and hacking against the United States, a message that no one seems to have noticed — except, perhaps, Vladimir Putin and Reality Winner.

Now, given what the evidence on the record already establishes, which President is more likely to be guilty of “colluding” with Russians?

Joseph A. Morris is a Partner in the law firm of Morris & De La Rosa, with offices in Chicago and London. He maintains an active practice conducting trials and appeals in the areas of constitutional, business, labor and international law.


Thorner/Ingold: Trump Rejects Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

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By Nancy Thorner & Ed Ingold –  

President Trump announced on Thursday, June 1, 2017 that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Accord, unilaterally and without reservations.  As stated by President Trump:

It is time to exit the Paris accord and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens and our country … It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France.

In so doing, President Trump kept his campaign promise to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement, but the fight for withdrawal was a difficult one.  President Trump faced enormous pressure from international leaders, multi-national corporations, the political establishment, and even among his own advisors.Trump’s speech was powerful, to the point, and effective. He invited Democrats to participate, but warned that nothing will change with or without their support.  Should the agreement be renegotiated, it would be as a treaty, with the consent of 2/3rds of the Senate.  Even so, this nation would continue to have the clean air and water, but without the bureaucratic and financial burdens imposed by other nations.  Not mentioned by Trump was this favorable outcome, with increased oil and natural gas production, we can maintain Europe in the event Russia tries to strangle their supplies from the East.

The mitigation efforts specified by the agreement would reduce global warming by less than 0.2 degrees C by 2100, while funneling hundreds of billions of US dollars into the private bank accounts of third world dictators. If allowed to remain in effect, our economy would be held at less than 2% growth, whereas we need 4% to sustain full employment and our social obligations to our own citizens.

It will be hard for Democrats to run for office on the promise that the US will be strangled for a “good cause”, yet California Governor Jerry Brown says that his and 13 other Blue states will continue to abide by the Paris Accord.  Undoubtedly, the residents of these Blue states will experience “blue feelings” not of their own making, as taxpayer money is spent to pay for the “warm feelings” of Gov. Jerry Brown and other Blue state governors.   If “clean” energy is so good, much less sufficient 24/7, why not let it stand or fall on its own merits?

Paris Accord as a Ploy to Impose Socialism

Apologists for the Paris Accord maintain that any effort is better than none; however, the only effects in the US — using the Paris Accord as justification — are the draconian and expensive measures proposed by Obama.  Former President Barack Obama blasted Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris global warming accords (one of Obama’s signature schemes to impose socialism in America) which he characterized as America vacating its leadership role on the world state.  Obama had “agreed” to do things which would cripple this nation’s economy and make us much less competitive on the world market.  On the other hand, China, which also complied with the agreement, agreed to nothing.  Meanwhile, China is in the process of building 350 coal fired power plants, one every two weeks under the current plan.  In central China coal plants spew unfiltered smoke into the air.  On a bad day in Beijing, visibility is about 200 feet.

Completely omitted from bluster from the Left is the money Obama committed the US to pay into a “world account” to benefit third world countries.  Paradoxically, China is among the benefactors, even though its economy will surpass the US in the next year or two.

According to the Left, the US stands in opposition to the rest of the world, but this nation was a rogue nation to begin with. Only half a dozen countries declined the Paris Agreement. This is hardly surprising. The wealthiest nations, other than the US, opted to give much less financial support for what is essentially a “feel-good” agreement. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can expect the complete support of Paul in your endeavors.

United Nation’s IPCC Panel Reports Misleading with Exaggerated and Inaccurate Global Warming Claims 

In the wake of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, came the predictable howl of protest from the eco-theocracy and those who use environmental concerns as pretexts for the imposition of fascist or socialist government controls on human activity.   Democrat billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer called Trump’s Paris exit a “traitorous act of war.” Tom Steyer, along with General Electric, is heavily invested in wind power, which receives substantial subsidies from federal and state governments (as long as it’s not in the proponent’s back yard).

Democrats, speaking on behalf of the “vast majority of scientists”, were quick to form a chorus of protest and proceeded to read from the same sheet of talking points.  While key figures like Kerry and Pelosi are free to improvise their own “facts”, anyone daring to dispute the key talking points will be shunned and be subject to an attempt made to primary them out of their positions in Congress. Rep. Nancy Pelosi claimed that President Trump was “dishonoring” God and questioned whether his grandchildren will even be able to breathe air after his announcement a day earlier that he would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

Nations of the world, with Al Gore leading the unsubstantiated claims in this nation, have long been assured to believe that reports produced by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) are authoritative because they rely entirely on peer-reviewed, scientific literature. They support the hypothesis that global warming is real and manmade, while rejecting The Heartland Institute’s reports produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) who have come together to present a comprehensive, authoritative, and realistic assessment of the science and economics of global warming.

The IPCC scientists largely come from academia, which is so politicized to the left that any dissent is considered disloyalty to the organization.  As a result, violators are subject to verbal and physical attacks and risk losing their jobs.  Supporters, on the other hand, highly vocal with many of them depending on government grants to support their work on climate issues, know that a negative report would end their funding.  In addition, very few of the IPCC scientists have actually published scientific papers in support of their position.

Out of about 13,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications in 2016, only about a dozen were not in support of climate change, and none provided proof that human activity was to blame, rather that change was occurring.

How about coastlines in danger?  For starters, it is exceedingly difficult to establish what the sea level actually is.  It is measured mainly on its relationship to coastlines and traditionally consists of the mean level half-way between high and low tide, averaged over 19 years. Depending on other factors, like salinity, temperature, air pressure and weather, it can vary as much as 5 meters in many locations. The largest effect is weather, particularly storm surges, where the sea level bulges under low pressure areas like hurricanes. While the sea level is one factor, the shorelines themselves are not constant. Nor is the earth’s gravity constant throughout. For simplicity the “surface” of the earth is described in a handful of “geoids of reference” to describe effective sea level. Only recently have measurements from satellites added a higher degree of consistency, subject to variations due to the factors described above.

Are islands in the Pacific sinking?  Absolutely.  A clear example is the state of the Hawaiian Islands, which extends 1800 miles northwest of the 8 large islands constituting the State of Hawaii. Most of this archipelago are very low to the sea, and remnants are under water, due to erosion. They were formed from volcanic activity over a relatively fixed plume of magma in the mantle as the continental plate moved to the northwest at a rate of about 32 miles/mm years. Midway Island falls near the terminus, and consists of a coral atoll, which formed around a volcanic island now eroded until is forms the floor of the lagoon in the atoll. The erosion of islands is illustrated dramatically by the Hawaiian archipelago, but applies to similar islands throughout the world.

Southern California is subsiding, in part by tectonic movements of the Pacific plate, but mostly because of the depletion of water and petroleum in the last century. Another self-proclaimed “victim” of climate change is Miami Beach, which was built on a barrier island of sand, augmented by landfill. While large buildings are anchored in bedrock, streets and small buildings are built on sand. The consequences are somewhat biblical in nature. Washington DC is built on a swamp, only inches above sea level even in Washington’s time. That sort of gives credence to Trump’s pledge to “clear the swamp.”

CO2 a Pollutant Only Because EPA Decided It Was

The thrust of the Paris Accord is the reduction in emission of carbon dioxide, a colorless and mostly odorless gas. It is “pollution” only in the sense that the EPA has decided it can be regulated as such. It does not contribute to “dirty air” nor “dirty water,” for which regulation will continue unabated. Medically speaking, asthma is caused by allergies, not pollution, although pollution can make it harder for people, including asthmatics, to breath.

MIT atmospheric science professor Richard Lindzen suggests that many claims regarding climate change are exaggerated and unnecessarily alarmist and that the belief that CO2 controls the climate “is pretty close to believing in magic.”

The Paris Accord actually does little to mitigate climate change nor carbon dioxide emissions. The standards are non-existent and compliance is strictly voluntary. What is spelled out in more detail are payments extracted from developed countries to undeveloped countries. Domestically, President Obama used the Paris Accord to impose new taxes and regulations by fiat, without Congressional approval. It has been used as a lawful treaty without the necessary approval of 2/3rd’s of the Senate.

Global Warming Alarmists as Worshipers of Mother Earth

Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s former lead global warming scientist, said of the UN Paris Pact:

The Paris agreement is a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to sayWe’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.  It’s just worthless words.  There is no action, just promises.  As long as fossil fuels  appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.

Mark Morano, founder of Climate Deport, spoke of global warming as akin to a religious issue to many global warming alarmists, in that they worship “Mother Earth.”  On the Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler of One America News Network Morano remarked:

What Trump did today was a blow to superstition. No longer in Washington DC do we have to pretend that a UN climate treaty can save the planet or actually control temperature or impact storminess. This truly is a day that science has won out in DC and that is a rare day when it comes to climate change.

One could ask, if compliance is voluntary, what does it matter if the US is in or out? The most plausible answer is that it affects the “legacy” of President Obama, hence the legitimacy of his administration and that of Democrats for the last 8 years. $1.6 trillion dollars and a crippled economy is a big price to pay for a few egos.

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By Nancy Thorner – 

To preserve landlines, Governor Rauner must veto SB 1839. With the passage of SB 1839 into law, Illinois residents and businesses will be stripped of their choice to have landlines.

Who will pay the price for AT&Ts aggressive push to end traditional landline service?

  • Seniors
  • Businesses
  • Working Families
  • People with health issues
  • Disabled and blind
  • Residents of rural areas
  • Individuals who want a choice

 

Loss of reliable 911 emergency services
Why is the loss of traditional, reliable landlines a travesty to all residents and businesses? 911 emergency services will not work during a power outage. This is critical for everyone concerned. All phone service available, including AT&T U-verse, requires electricity to operate the equipment. Even cell phones need to be charged, which is not possible during extended power outages.Before the last hurricane in Florida, the Governor was repeating on TV and radio announcements, “Get a landline! Keep and maintain a landline.”

During Hurricane Sandy the only residents that could stay in touch with others were the ones who could use landlines.  All communication devices dependent on electricity were useless. Cell phones could not be charged and computer-based phone lines dependent on a cable modem, would not work without electricity.

Illinois may not get hurricanes, but the state has had its share of floods, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms that caused power outages.

AARP says, “Recent wireless 911 outages show that telecommunications companies have yet to offer a viable alternative for a significant number of customers. In March, for example, a wireless 911 outage hit AT&T wireless customers in 14 states for about five hours, forcing police departments to urge people to call alternative numbers in an emergency.”

AT&T motive for dismantling copper-wired landlines

AT&T’s reason for aggressively pushing legislation through the General Assembly is to release the corporation from the responsibility for maintaining copper-wired phone lines. AT&Ts agenda: Move customers to computer-based (VoIP) phone services. For the consumer this means using a high speed Internet connection through a cable modem which runs on electricity.

Citizens Utility Board says,  “AT&T, which made $13 billion in profits in 2016, wants the power to end traditional phone service and force customers to use computer-based or wireless substitutes. That could subject those customers to higher bills and unreliable service.”

No reliable alternatives to landline phone services

AT&T claims that its 1.2 million business and residential landline customers have viable alternatives to traditional service…for many people—including seniors, low-income families and rural residents—home phone service is the most reliable, affordable lifeline to vital services such as 911, home security systems and medical monitoring devices.”

A U. S. Senator leading the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (which has jurisdiction over the FCC) writes to a constituent:

For decades, Americans have counted on the nation’s landline communications network and its reliability. Even in a time of great change in our communications networks, I agree that landline voice service is an important service. In fact, many people do not realize that wireless communications networks themselves rely upon the availability of landline communications networks to function effectively. It is critical that consumers are protected during this technological change and that new networks provide the same level of reliability as our legacy landline infrastructure. 

AT&T’s alternative, computer-based VoIP, does not provide the same level of reliability. U-verse is NOT a viable alternative. 

Professionals and businesses that require secure phone service count on landlines. Law firms, real estate offices, medical facilities, government offices, and financial institutions use landlines because they are cyber secure and not connected to the Internet. During a power outage, these businesses have to continue providing consumers with vital services. For cyber secure, uninterrupted phone service, landlines are the only viable option.

Warnings from AARP:

  • Forcing people onto alternatives, such as wireless or computer-based phone service, could subject them to higher bills, lack of service in extended power outages, spotty reception and dropped calls.
  • Landline telephone service allows residents to have reliable access to emergency services; it helps low-income families to connect with job opportunities; it helps small businesses to stay in business and connect with new opportunities and customers; and it allows older residents and residents in rural areas to stay connected to family, friends, and neighbors, as well as vital services. Furthermore, [landline telephone service] saves callers millions of dollars by having access to affordable calling plans.

CUB: “Those who depend on home phone service shouldn’t have that choice stripped away.”

Call Governor Rauner’s office: Springfield:  217 782-0244  Chicago 312 814-2121

 

(This contributor’s opinion does not necessarily reflect Illinois Review’s.)

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By Nancy Thorner – 

Education is in need of strong and capable leaders. On Wednesday, May 24, the Heartland Institute presented a discussion with four such leaders in its Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center.

The event, Women in Education, featured four women who have succeeded in transforming education across the country to be more competitive, decentralized, accountable, and accessible. They are effective voices that believe education, first and foremost, should enrich the lives of students — not government — and parents should be able to choose the best education options for their children.

 
The panel consisted of

  • Joy Pullmann, a research fellow on education policy at The Heartland Institute, who discussed her new book, The Education Invasion, which tackles the issue of Common Core.
  • Vicki Alger, a fellow at the Independent Institute, who discussed her book Failure: The Federal Misedukation of American’s Children, which shows how federal government intervention has harmed the education of children across America.
  • Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy with The Heritage Foundation, who discussed the current state of education reform coming out of Washington, D.C.
  • Leslie Hiner, president of programs at EdChoice, who discussed what is happening in the states on educati

Joy Pullmann – Book: The Education Invasion

As her first time in Heartland’s new headquarters in Arlington Heights, Joy expressed her appreciation for Heartland in allowing her to be a mother and also to have a platform for advancing her hard work on Common Core.  Joy Pullman’s new book, The Education Invasion, tackles the issue of Common Core and how Common Core fights parents for control of American kids.

Pullmann presented a brief history of this nation’s warped educational system:  The 2002 No Child Left Behind law signed by President George W. Bush, also included a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The 1965 law is recognized as this nation’s national education law and shows a longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.  Under President Bush’s 2002 law, states are required to test students in reading and math in grades 3–8 and once in high school. All students are expected to meet or exceed state standards in reading and math by 2014. The major focus of No Child Left Behind was to close student achievement gaps by providing all children with a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education.  Slated to expire in 2007, the House narrowly voted to extend the bill.

In 2011 the Obama administration starting issuing waivers to release states from No Child Left Behind in response to demands from governors and school districts who found that the standards set were too difficult to achieve; however, upon agreeing to the waiver, states had to sign on to Common Core standards in Math and Language Arts which had not yet been devised.

Not until December 2015 did Congress to pass the Every Student Succeeds Act to replace No Child Left Behind. According to Joy Pullmann, the ESSA requires states to align their standards to Common Core using college ready tests, but the only standards are Common Core standards. The upshot:  the ESSA didn’t get rid of Common Core, it’s just Common Core with a new name.

Joy Pullmann is somewhat concerned about Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.  In referencing a speech Pullmann heard DeVos present on Monday, May 22, Pullmann is concerned that Betsy Devos might issue a reverse of a 1983 “Nation at Risk”report.  Pullmann is pleased with DeVos’ strong stance on vouchers.

Pullmann supports school choice as a major education reform initiative.  As Common Core poses a threat to school choice.  Common Core must be defeated from the ground up.

Vicki Alger – Book: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children

To the surprise of those in attendance, Dr. Alger spoke about a native Illinoisan going back to 1867, Rep. Samuel Molton, who laid out his idea of what education should be all about:

Now, sir, in order to make education universal, what do we want? What is the crying necessity of this nation today? Why, sir, we want a head. We want a pure fountain from which a pure stream can be poured upon all the States. We want a controlling head by which the various conflicting systems in the different States can be harmonized, by which there can be uniformity, by which all mischievous errors that have crept in may be pointed out and eradicated.

About the Department of Education, the Department:  It was established in 1980 and is now 37 years old.  Vicki further commented on three goals that the Department of Education was designed meet, but has failed to do.

1.  Improve student achievement.  We spend 1/3 more than top countries in education, but yet our student achievement is staying flat.

2.  Provide for a better partnership between states and government.  $80 million has been spent by states to implement Common Core, which came about when Obama offered states money to leave NCLB standards which, obligated states to sign on to common standards in Math and Language Arts, sight unseen.

3. Provide useful program for schools to adopt.  After 30 years 300 programs have been passed, but there still isn’t a definition of what a federal education program is.  Only 6% of the programs have been deemed successful.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., has introduced a simple a bill in the House stating: “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

The possibility to end the Department of Education is more a hope than a reality because of its size and its entrenchment in the federal bureaucracy, but we do know enough to get government out of education and make it a local issue.

Leslie Burke –  Education Reform at the Federal Level

Leslie began her presentation by comparing the advancement in computer technology to that of progress in education.  Fifty years ago computers were huge and filled an entire room.  A full time operating staff was needed. Leasing a computer could cost $200,000 a month.

The same improvement has not been seen in education.  Since 1970 the Education Department has nearly tripled in size, yet the outcome remains nearly flat.  Any business would have been shuttered with such a record, yet the response heard time and again from legislators and educators is that more money spent will produce better results.

In 1857 the education bureaucracy remained small with only four individuals and stayed the same for about 20 years.

In 1965 there was significant federal spending on education in conjunction with Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”  In 1965 both the Higher Ed Act and the Federal Headstart Program were approved.  Headstart is a $9 billion program, and it’s not even administered by the Department of Education!

The Department of Education became a cabinet agency in 1990.   With this status came new programs and more spending.  Through the 90’s there were no national standards until 2001 when the George W. Bush administration ushered in No Child Left Behind.   This educational program led to Common Core standards, when states, struggling to achieve the mandated standard of NCLB, were enticed by Obama administration money to sign on to Common Core standard not yet formulated, as a way to be released from NCLB mandates.

As explained by Leslie Burke, the cost of education could be greatly reduced if the teacher to non-teacher ratio in school districts were reduced. As it now stands, the ratio is one teacher to one non-teacher.  Chicago, with a school budget of $5.4 billion is bigger in size than the GDP of some governments.  Since 1992 Chicago has seen a 12% increase in students, yet staff has nearly tripled instead of keeping pace with the number of new students.

In regards to Trump’s budget for the Dept. of Education, Burke applauds the 13.5% decrease where programs deemed ineffective will be cut, but wonders whether Congress will have the backbone to go through with the roll backs?   Regarding the new choice program initiated by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Ms. Burke is encouraged it will start to reduce government intervention and restore state and local control.

Leslie HinerEducation at the state level

As the vice president of programs at EdChoice, Ms. Hiner directs the educational programs and state relations of the organization’s state programs team in educating parents.  She works in all the states educating parents about school choice programs. EdChoice was founded in 1996 by Nobel laureateMilton Friedman and his wife, economist Rose Director Friedman. The organization’s mission is to advance “school choice for all children” nationwide.  Parents can decide what is best, for they know their children far better than bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.  Parents should also have control over funding.

Until 2011 there wasn’t much in the way of school choice programs. Then an epiphany occurred and 6 to 7 choice programs were established.  As more and more children come home from school expressing a dislike for school, parents are searching for education alternatives.

Ms. Hiner spoke of tremendous activity in 2017 about a new school choice venture — Tax Credit Scholarship Programs — as an alternative to vouchers.  The first program was in Arizona.  A Tax Credit Scholarship Program enables a parent to tailor education for a child that meets his or her needs, whether it be to pay for tuition, tutoring, on-line learning, etc.

Arizona has expanded its Tax Credit Scholarship program every year because it works.  In Illinois a $500 tax credit is available for educational expenses.  In that 285,000 have taken advantage of the tax credit, must mean that Illinois parents want better educational opportunities.  Ms. Hiner, through EdChoice, did offer to help Illinois when Illinois is ready. As Ms. Hiner remarked, “It could be life and death for children of low income parents.”

Lennie Jarratt, as Project Manager for Heartland’s Center for Transforming Education, welcomed attendees seated in the Breitbart Freedom Center and those watching on-line.   As explained by Mr. Jarratt: The Heartland Institute has long been a leading voice for school transformation – and school choice in particular. Since 1997, it has published the school choice movement’s national outreach publication, School Reform News. More than half of state elected officials surveyed say they read School Reform News, making it the movement’s most effective way to reach policymakers.  Heartland contacts over 1,000,000 elected officials with information promoting free market ideas.

Stephanie Trussell, a wife, grandmother, and unapologetic constitutional conservative, was on stage as moderator and introduced each panel member. The Stephanie Trussell Show can be heard every Sunday night from 9 p.m. to 12 midnight Central time. Stephanie, in 2012, won an American Idol-type contest on WLS 890.  From more than 100 contestants, Stephanie was chosen as the first Next Talk Star.

As a mother of 5 children from 12 to 31, education reform is very important to Stephanie.  Stephanie was taught the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic from nuns in a Catholic school, so she knows how to do things, even though she never attended college.  Because the only people to advocate for kids are their parents, Stephanie made the choice to move her family to west suburban Lisle, because she felt the schools were better there.