To cover up the mistakes of Paul Mann, Collinsville's economic development director, city leaders want to increase the sales tax at Wal-Mart and Home Depot. They refer to the increase as sales tax paid by the two stores. This is misleading and false. The stores do not pay sales tax; they collect it from their customers who include the residents of Collinsville. While city leaders boast about not increasing the property tax levy, they take every opportunity to increase sales tax by creating business districts.
PACs spur bad policy
The unionization of public employees costs taxpayers dearly. Here's how it works. Union members willingly or unwillingly contribute to political action committees. PACs give money to elected political officials, and those officials negotiate and approve contracts that establish overly generous benefits for the union members. Are you getting the picture of this vicious circle? If a politician refuses to approve the generous contracts, he won't receive any PAC donations and the unions and the PACs will work to defeat him. The system needs to end in Illinois and elsewhere.
Put a hotel downtown
There seems to be an interest to build a hotel out by Belleville Crossing at Frank Scott Parkway and Illinois 15. The best location for a hotel would be where the former Meredith Home is, right in the heart of downtown and next to the County Building. The building could be gutted and rebuilt from the inside out and it would be a wonderful hotel. Apparently the administration can't see the forest for the trees or they have some insane desire to build a hotel closer to East St. Louis.
Great tribute to dads
I think the Sunday Magazine of June 17 was one of the best you have ever published. The pictures along with the articles were an inspiration to anyone who wants to know the meaning of the word "father." The article by Pat Kuhl was especially touching; it hit home with anyone who has ever been or had a dad.
Punt on Rams deal
I hope St. Louis Rams fans are not dumb enough to allow the St. Louis political leaders to spend all sorts of money for a stadium for a fourth-rate team. Remember, the owner of the Rams is part of the Wal-Mart family and each of the kids is worth about $23 billion. We don't want be taken to the cleaners by these guys. We don't need the Rams anyway. We need a football team.
Abide by zoning rule
I can't believe that St. Clair County is being sued by the Harmony-Emge School District. The dispute is over a zoning decision. We can't change the rules because they want to act without a zoning variance. You can apply for one but if it's not approved, you have to abide by the rules.
Can't work or won't?
A letter writer recently commented that he had been unable to find a job for four years and that it somehow was the fault of the president. I don't know what kind of job he is seeking. I have been unemployed but in the end I swallowed my pride and took the job I could get. There are lots of jobs in Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, all oil related. There are delivery truck and school bus drivers needed. I believe that being unemployed for four years requires a definite commitment to unemployment.
A lack of compassion
The Harmony-Emge lawsuit filed against St. Clair County presents an interesting dynamic. On one side is a local school district with its board doing exactly what it was elected to do -- provide the best possible educational opportunities for its students with the resources at its disposal, including the property it owns. On the other side is the Democratic-controlled St. Clair County Board essentially denying those in our community who need help the most opportunity to get it. Aren't the Democrats supposed to be the compassionate ones and the Republicans the cold-hearted ones?
Let the voters choose
The decision on video gaming in Belleville should not be made by the City Council but by the residents. I suggest people make their presence felt at the upcoming public hearing. This very important matter should be on the April ballot.
Shooting not justified
So the News-Democrat thinks it was appropriate police action by Belleville to gun down a crazed teenager who was doing no harm but holding a knife. A well-armed police officer with a police dog needed to shoot a kill shot? I think you called this wrong. This was way over the top in terms of the force necessary to stop this situation. No one was in danger, least of all the police officer.
I really don't want to vote for the opposition in Belleville but the incumbents are really making it difficult. They can't afford to open the swimming pool, which many smaller towns have and seem to be able to afford, but they have $500,000 to tear down the former Meredith Home to build a park that nobody will ever go to. That doesn't make sense. Belleville really needs a swimming pool. I'm disturbed by this and it's a terrible waste of money.
Show pension sense
Let's be realistic about this teachers' pension debate. Whether pensions are paid through the state or the local school districts, taxpayers are still footing the bill. Until we reform the system and give teachers pensions that are comparable to private- sector pensions, we are never going to get out of the hole. We have teachers making more in retirement than when they worked. Nowhere in private industry do you get as many days off for a full-time job, work so few hours or get paid those kinds of medical benefits your entire life. Something has to change.
There go home values
Homeowners in Cahokia, don't smile because your property taxes went down; the fair property value also did. My home has depreciated almost $20,000 in two years. Guess my husband and I should have been a part of the exodus years ago out of Cahokia. Who knew that in two years our home would be worth only as much as a home sitting next to a strip joint in Washington Park? Thank you, new residents of Cahokia, for destroying another beautiful town. Way to go and God bless the slum landlords. I will now put our home on the market and run like hell. All we will have left after the sale is memories. It sure won't be money.
Roadblock to recovery
This is a real estate broker's perspective. If House Speaker Michael Madigan pushes the teachers' pensions onto the local school districts, it will destroy an already ailing housing market. The high tax rate on commercial and residential property is one of the biggest roadblocks to our real estate market's recovery. I talk to people every day who say they would move their business or family out of Illinois willingly if possible. It is truly a sad state of affairs.
Wrong use of taxes
Turtle Creek and any other gated community inside the Belleville city limits should not have their streetlight bills paid by Belleville unless they take down their gate so that all residents can use the street.
Who's in charge?
At Swansea's June 18 Finance Committee meeting, Police Chief Mike Arnold gave a detailed presentation on buying new police cars. After he finished, committee Chairwoman and Budget Officer Susan O'Malley said the money to purchase cars had been taken out of the budget. Everyone was surprised when Village Administrator John Openlander said the money had been put back in. What? O'Malley said again that the money had been taken out and Openlander then told her they would talk in private. When was the money put back in? Was there a vote from the Village Board or a budget amendment? It's just another example of Mayor Jim Rauckman and Openlander doing things behind the Village Board's back.
Worse than Clinton
It's been said that Bill Clinton, by his indiscretions in the Oval Office, did more to damage the moral fabric of our country than any other human being. However, I think Mr. Clinton has met his match in our current president. President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage has emboldened those who before only supported the idea of gay marriage in private, to now go public.
Get the facts straight
Concerning the power outage on June 15 that affected more than 400 Ameren customers: You stated the power was restored around 11 a.m.The power went out at 7:06 a.m. and was restored at 8:15 p.m. We had no power for more than 13 hours due to some idiot at a tree-trimming service. Wonder if he still has a job?
Put limits on writers
I don't care what people write about in the letters to the editor, it's how many times they write it. Many of the writers seem to have one subject and they are always harping on it. Once or twice is enough. It doesn't have to be there every time I open the paper.
Historic view missing
Why has Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert appointed a commission for the city's bicentennial but hasn't seen fit to put a member from either historical society in town on the commission? Obviously, historic accuracy is not a priority with our illustrious mayor.
Upset by lack of flags
West Belleville should be ashamed. June 14 was Flag Day. It wasn't until I passed Swansea/Fairview Heights that I knew what day it was.
Too small to notice
You had a little bitty caption at the bottom of B7 in the June 17 paper about the West Nile mosquitoes in O'Fallon. If you want people to see it, you need to put it on the front page.
Huge shoes to fill
I'm a 60-year-old lifelong Belleville resident and I was very disappointed when I heard that U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello wasn't going to run again. He never forgot that he came from Belleville; he answered every one of my calls, even called me from Washington D.C. What are we going to end up with now? Let's hope we get somebody as good as Costello.
Print more good news
I thoroughly enjoyed your story about Pasta Fare. They do an excellent job with assigning the kids up to their skill levels. Let's get more good news stories like this in the paper rather than all the negativity. For the people at Pasta Fare to succeed at their business by using people with autism and disabilities is a miracle.
Support K-9 unit
At the May 29 Lebanon City Council meeting, several of the aldermen seemingly displayed their ongoing tactics of revenge against their Police Department. Their complaint? The tinted windows on the canine officer's vehicle prevent them from seeing the officer. The officer explained that the tint keeps the vehicle 20 degrees cooler for the dog, keeps down the wear and tear on the motor, interior and equipment and cuts down on gas use. Their response was to order the tint removed. Why would they do this? Many residents and business owners support the canine program. Too bad some of the council members don't.