Friday, June 26, 2015

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

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When Illinois became a state in 1818, the Illinois Constitution allowed the state and local taxing districts to tax property in direct proportion to its value. The property tax is the largest single tax in Illinois, and is a major source of the tax revenue for local government taxing districts. Every person and business in Illinois is affected by property taxes whether by paying the tax or receiving services or benefits that are paid for by property taxes.

Anyone who attends public school, drives on roads or streets, uses the local library, has police protection, has fire protection services, or benefits from county services, receives services paid for, at least in part, by property taxes. Find here The Illinois Property Tax System: A general guide to the loyal property tax.

Regardless of which of Illinois’ 102 counties you live in, receiving your county’s tax bill is not an occasion one looks forward to. With this in mind, on Tuesday, June 10 the Northern Illinois Patriots featured at its monthly meeting at Austin’s Fuel Room in Libertyville: Martin Paulson, Lake County Tax Assessor and David Stollman, Lake County Board member and Republican candidate for Lake County Treasurer. Together they described the step-by-step process used to determine property tax bills and the trends of which all taxpayers should be aware.

Sales information and property data collection start in the Township Assessors’ Offices and occur also at the County and State level. Each level of government keeps records of transactions for determining individual property value and the collective township and country valuations. Property owners can appeal their assessments at each level, using either the actual recent purchase price of a property or sales of comparable properties that have occurred in the previous three years.

The Office of the Lake County Tax Assessor offers a Tax Advocate Program that is unique to Lake County. Property Tax Information is readily available for Lake County residents here. Its user-friendly site offers the ability to view videos, view all assessments and detailed parcel information for a township, and, most importantly, the ability to view comparable property assessments.

These important Property Tax Facts apply to all 102 Illinois Counties:  

  • The assessment process is used to determine each taxpayer’s overall share of the tax burden created by taxing bodies such as villages, schools, townships, park districts, etc.
  • Each taxing body determines the amount they need in property taxes, and that total is divided by the value of all the property in that taxing body’s jurisdiction.  That produces a tax rate, which is then applied to individual properties.
  • Unless taxing bodies reduce spending or lower their tax rate, tax bills will not change.  Taxing bodies are required to hold public hearings prior to adopting their tax levy.  Attending these meetings is important to have a say in the budget process.
  • Money can be saved by applying for homestead exemptions, etc.  Senior exemptions are applicable to all those who are 65 years of age.

The four Property Tax Facts listed above are self-explanatory. But as with all facts questions do arise which require further explanations, such as why the assessed value of a property may go up even though its market value has dropped. Many individuals don’t realize that assessed values are different from “property” or market” values. As township assessors are required by law to use sale prices from the last three years, the assessed value doesn’t necessarily reflect the current real estate market.

Following is a point-by-point summary of the Important information gleamed from the step-by-step presentation about Property Taxes at the Northern Illinois Patriots monthly June meeting:

1. It is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that the assessment is comparable to the assessments of similar properties in your area.

2. Application for any exemptions must be made by owners, if the homeowner’s exemption has not already been applied — a check of the assessment letter or tax bill will indicate what exemptions have been applied.

3. As mentioned previously, the only way taxes can be held in check is if budgets are reduced.  Each taxing body has a budget process and a hearing.  An alert public can insist on reductions in budgets.

4. A new 2013 law mandates that an appraiser cannot represent a petitioner before the Board of Review.  Although anyone can use an appraisal and appear on his own before the Board, it is not within an appraiser’s license to act as an advocate.  If one wants an advocate, then a lawyer must be hired.

5. Illinois has 7,000 units of local government, 40% more units of local government than in any other state, which has driven Illinois’ property tax burden to the second highest in the United States.  It’s past time to consolidate local government.

Any Lake County property owner who thinks that his property is not properly assessed can use the link provided to check that the details of his property are correct. In addition, he can also check for sales and/or assessed values of comparable properties to determine if his assessed value is fairly assessed. If either the details of his property are incorrect or the property is assessed higher than comparable properties, the owner should start at the Township Assessor’s Office for an appeal (when the assessment letter is mailed, the owner has 30 days to appeal). If unsuccessful there, an appeal may be made to the County Assessor’s office.  If unsuccessful there, an appeal may be made at the state level. The Lake County Assessor’s Office link also provides information on the appeal process.

As property taxes are necessary to provide for all services used and enjoyed, it is only right that this tax burden be shared. It is up to taxpayers, however, to make sure that tax bills do fairly reflect property values.

On Tuesday, July 8th, Northern Illinois Patriots will hold its annual fundraiser featuring Adam Andrzejewski, Open the Books Patriot of the Year recipient, at Austin’s, 481 Peterson Road, Libertyville, IL.  Visit this site for more information.

 

Thorner: F. H. Buckley presents dim view of America’s “Crown Government”

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By Nancy Thorner – 

On Thursday, April 3, The Heartland Institute’s Author Series featured F.H. Buckley, author and foundation professor at George Mason University School of Law with his eye-opening, recently published book titled, “The Once and Future King: The Rise and Fall of Crown Government.”  A citizen of Canada, Buckley will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen April 15.

Buckley didn’t mince words when he shattered just about every myth surrounding American government.  The Constitution, with its separation of powers, was not what the Founders had in mind. They instead envisioned a country in which Congress would dominate the government and in which the president would play a much smaller role.

Buckley offered a clarion warning about the alarming rise of one-man rule in the age of Obama, which he calls Crown government, and which one of our Founders (George Mason) called an “elective monarchy” that was worse than the real thing.

How did this nation arrive at its current state?

Although Buckley is not a Constitutional lawyer, he feels that as an outsider he has a better prospective of what led to American’s transformation to that of an “Imperial Presidency,” a term first coined by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in a book by the same name, who as an adviser to the Kennedy administration, later condemned Richard Nixon’s abuse of presidential power and accordingly called for a return of power to the congressional branch.

Foremost in Buckley’s presentation was how presidential regimes differ from parliamentary systems of government through his evaluation of both systems:

  • Most worrisome in a presidential system is that the head of government and the head of state are united as one, in contrast to a parliamentary system where control rests more in party leaders.
  • Presidents can hide behind lecterns, but not prime ministers who must respond to questions from the Opposition on a daily basis when Parliament is in session or when the prime minister is in the country. Obama wouldn’t last in a parliamentary form of government where he would have to answer every question directed to him by Republican leaders.
  • Presidents have a fixed term, while prime ministers may be ousted at any time by a majority in the House of Commons.  In 225 years no president has ever been removed from office through impeachment.  Nixon may have saved himself from this fate by resigning.  Clinton was able to slow walk the impeachment process long enough to place the blame on Ken Starr.  Andrew Johnson came close to impeachment but won by a single vote:  35 to convict; 19 to acquit. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” test of our Constitution requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate. Rejected was what was first proposed by George Mason which called for impeachment based on a “maladministration” standard. Madison disagreed with the maladministration standard fearing that presidents under that standard could be removed for any reason.  Evident is that the Framers never anticipated that the presidency would emerge as the dominate branch of the government and that a broad impeachment power might be necessary to keep the executive branch in check.  As observed by Thomas Jefferson in his old age, a judgment seconded by Henry Adams, impeachment, as set forth in the Constitution, was not even a scarecrow!
  • The president is the only person elected by the entire country and has become the principal symbol of American democracy.  While Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution established that the president has the power to run the executive branch of the government, Article II, Section 2 was amended in 1804 through the 12th amendment which set up the Electoral College system which still governs modern presidential elections. This system of electing presidents has given way to the rise of a strong president, helped along by the sick adulation of the president by the media (far better when politicians are considered buffoons!), and a Supreme Court that serves at the whim of presidents.
  • The Electoral College system of electing presidents has ultimately produced a different kind of leader who is subject to public extremes of love and hatred, out of which has developed intense partisanship and gridlock. It hasn’t helped that the media has made rock stars out of the heads of government.
  • The loss of political freedom is associated with the concentration of power at the top in a president; hence, a “Reversibility” problem exists where people are stuck with bad laws and rulings, i.e., Obamacare.  With the power to issue Executive Orders, President Obama is putting in place policies that fit his own agenda if unable to legislate through Congress.
  • Presidential systems are difficult to export to other countries.  It didn’t work when exporting to South America. There are lots of presidents for life, but never a prime minister; however, in these modern times both presidents and prime ministers have gained increased power.

The issue of immigration was touched upon in the context of how population is renewed by birth and immigration.  The intake of immigration in the 1950’s looked like America with 70% from Europe and Asia.  The immigration intake now largely consist of those living south of the Rio Grande. They didn’t come here after reading the Federalist papers!  Many will latch on to the Democrat Party, being used to having power centered in a powerful president with government as their keeper.

Also of concern to Buckley is our criminal law system.  The scope of current law is so broad that its interpretation is often left open to the individual wishing to apply the law.  Buckley’s fear is that those having the incorrect political leaning could be arrested or penalized.

Despite the many drawback of our presidential system, what went so wrong that we now have an elected head of state and president who is behaving like an Imperial President?

As stated by F.H. Buckley, “We’ve had a wonderful run for 235 years.”  As to the age we are living in, we can no longer count on the courts to protect our constitutional liberties.

Unless there is an extremely egregious nominee, the Senate votes to uphold the nomination.  Despite the many scandals that have happened under the watch of Democrats, including Fast and Furious, Bengali, and the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, because an ineffective Department of Justice and an Attorney General is in place who is tied to the president and not concerned about Constitutional principles, culpability is being denied and justice is not being served.

Then too there is the present Congress whose members are not willing to step up to the plate, but for a few, and take a united stand against Democrat proposals that are wrong for this nation.  Not only did wimpy and frightened Republican recently give in to Democrats while receiving nothing in return when they allowed the debt ceiling to be raised, but in dealing with the $862 billion Stimulus Bill passed in 2009, very little direction was given on how this tremendous amount of money should be spent.

It is easier to change course in a parliamentary regime than in one with an elected president.  For not only is it difficult to amend the Constitution, but a Supreme Court stacked with judges in sync with the views of a president and a media that fawns over the president create additional obstacles.

As the concentration of power becomes more in the hands of one instead of many, the deck becomes more and more stacked against effecting change in Congress through working within the system. An examples of when change happened from outside the system was the tea party’s show of election might when new comers were elected to Congress in 2010, all united on the pledge to shut down the earmark favor factory.

Also deserving of credit by Buckley was the “Republican Contract of America” written in part by Newt Gingrich and introduced six weeks before the1994 Congressional election.  Current Republican members of the House of Representatives and those citizens seeking to join that body, promised not just work to change its policies, but even more so to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.  The contract enabled New Gingrich to become the first Republican Speaker of the House of Representative in 40 years. The Contract included 8 proposals outlining legislature to get enacted by the House of Representative within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress (1995-96).  All parts of the Contract were passed by the House under the leadership of Speaker Gingrich.

After all the negative views presented, there was something positive news to grab on to.  Noted was that all good things seem to be happening on the Right, such as Students for Liberty, as the Left continues to digs its hole even deeper with policies that take this nation in the wrong direction.  National referendums could be useful but this would require that all legislators come together and speak about the same problem, hardly likely!  Being advocated by Mark Levin and others is a Constitutional Convention.   It was slipped into Article 5 of the Constitution by George Mason as an alternate way for amendments to be proposed which says, “If two-thirds of state legislatures demand a meeting, Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”

Joe Bast, President of The Heartland Institute, announced that the following dates of importance regarding upcoming Heartland events should be saved.

The 9th International Conference on Climate Change to take place in Las Vegas from July 7 – July 9, 2014.

The 30th Anniversary Benefit Dinner with Michelle Malkin as Keynote Speaker on Friday, September 12, 2014.

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By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

The Obama campaign accuses Governor Romney of politicizing the deaths of four Americans in the Libyan consulate. It would be more accurate to say that Romney is informing the public about the inept way in which Obama and the State Department handled the aftermath of the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other American diplomats in Benghazi, which seems fully justified given the gravity of the situation with tones of a coverup.

In the Vice Presidential debate on Thursday, October 11, Joe Biden said the Administration didn’t blame terrorists for the attack, because they didn’t know until later about the nature of the attack. Yet from a Reuters report the day after the Benghazi assault on September 12, officials related how some reporting from the region suggested that members of Al-Qaeda’s north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al Qaueda in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved. According to one U.S. official, “It bears the hallmarks of an organized attack and appeared to be preplanned.”

It is curious that the Administration didn’t report what later proved to be true, but responded immediately, and continued to report for nine days, that the attack was instigated by a 14 minute video, which proved to be false. Apparently it’s OK to make up a story that fits your “Al Qaeda is Dead but General Motors is Alive” narrative whether or not you have facts to back it up.

Biden also said “We didn’t know…” that the embassy had requested additional security, based on a series of attacks leading up to the anniversary of 9/11.

It’s quite possible that the White House didn’t know the details, since that would be handled at a lower level in the State Department. However, the reason this request was denied was consistent with White House policy to maintain a low profile in Libya and elsewhere in the middle east.

History repeats itself if we ignore its lessons. Maintenance of a low profile is also the reason Delta Force in Somalia, 1993, was denied tanks and armored vehicles, and air support from C-130 gunships. As a result, we lost two Blackhawk helicopters, 19 dead and 100 wounded soldiers in that incident, as described in the book and movie “Blackhawk Down!” (Casualties would have been far greater if the Pakistanis in Somalia left their tanks and APC’s at home, or refused to come to America’s aid.) It is probably the reason 256 American soldiers were lost in the attack in Lebanon under Ronald Reagen, where the Marine barracks were left essentially unguarded. It is likely the reason we continue to take casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan – keep a low profile so we can pull out quietly — along with the infamous “rules of engagement,” which also come from the top down.

Governor Romney’s speech, 16 hours after the incident, was to decry the Administration’s apology over an obscure video, and to point out that America’s interests were at stake – sovereignty of embassy property and personnel, and the rights and principles which Americans hold dear. You don’t need the details when you know the United States has been attacked, and the Administration failed to acknowledge these basic facts!

The next day, more than 24 hours after the event, President Obama denounced Governor Romney for speaking, not the Libyan murderers, and then only after a campaign speech in Las Vegas and an appearance on “The View.” Obama’s most significant statement of the day was to the ladies of “The View,” that he was there only as “eye candy.” Indeed! Now, four weeks later, we find that Romney was right, but Obama’s, the State Department and Susan Rice were wrong all along.

Now fast forward to Monday, October 15 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, more that a month after Benghazi, Libya assault on 9/11, and while away from American soil and on a South American junket in Peru, South America, told CNN that she is responsible for the breach of security that led too the terrorist attack and death of the U.S. Ambassador and three others Americans on September 11. It seems like Obama put a peg on Truman’s motto where he can hang a name tag for the appropriate sacrificial goat. Hillary fell on her sword for Obama. Having purchased her soul (and silence) in the Chicago tradition (keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer). Obama stepped in to collect in an effort to exonerate himself. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/15/us/clinton-benghazi/index.html

In the meantime, the individual who made the disputed film, which was a non-issue until Obama held it up for the world to see, sits in jail, not for the movie, but for an unrelated parole violation which would otherwise merit an admonition and possibly a fine. http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/anti-islam-filmmaker-nakoula-basseley-nakoula-jail-not-innocence-muslims

The lesson is clear: Don’t buy a bridge from the White House or from HIllary Clinton!

First published at Illinois Review on Wednesday, October 17.

 

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

Why would the Administration lie about who attacked our consulate, then deny that they lied? 

For a week following the event, the State Department and White House continued to deny that it was a terrorist attack, as though they were the only ones who didn’t know. Then they suddenly backtracked and admitted this fact, but refuse to say why they attempted to mislead the public, but continue to blame an unknown video for instigating events.

For two solid weeks, the news media have speculated over this event and how the White House handled it.

That’s the key. For two weeks, Libya has been the lead story on cable news (though conveniently ignored by network media), and not the economy, with only six weeks left before the election.

What a brilliant, Machiavellian, strategy!

We have been misdirected from the really important issues of the election. The execution of this plot was not an accident.  If you were to play the words of Susan Rice on top of the video of every other Democratic spokesperson, their lips would synchronize perfectly with the words.

Either Ms. Rice willingly submitted or was duped into being used by the Obama administration as a sacrificial lamb in its orgy of deceit, not adverse to being a stalking horse at the same time for the President’s campaign!

The traditional way politicians deflect inconsequential issues is to respond briefly and change the subject.

It is up to the Romney team to respond accordingly when confronted with the Obama administration’s Machiavellian strategy with words such as, “I’m sure the White House will figure out what everyone else seems to know and handle it appropriately.  What’s really important is the high unemployment level and the declining economy. . .”

Only time will tell, and it is running out.  The first presidential debate on Economic Policy is on October 3rd.   Mitt Romney’s success or failure will depend, in part, on his ability to explain the important issues of the day to the American people in a way that they make sense and take hold as the only logical and sensible approach to move this nation forward in a positive way.