It seems like every time a person picks up the newspaper, there's an article about one more shady deal in Madison or St. Clair County. This time it's about the health care retirement benefits for select St. Clair County part-time employees. It's interesting to note the number of businessmen and attorneys who appear on the list of those receiving benefits. It would be a nice follow-up story to see if any one of them offers similar benefits to their part-time employees in their offices or stores. I'd be willing to bet that they don't.
At the tax trough
I went to college at Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a classmate from Chicago who planned to be a Chicago politician and run on the basis of continued graft and corruption for everyone. By admitting he was going to continue these policies he would inspire people to vote for him because perhaps they might receive some of it. Apparently my former classmate is now running St. Clair County. Payment of benefits and pensions for part-time employees is needed to attract talent? If you want to attract freeloaders, this ought to work really well.
Just political welfare
Thanks to the BND for publishing a list of the political welfare crowd. These guys have no self- -respect or shame. If they only knew how little respect they command.
The tax man cometh?
Your newspaper recently reported on St. Clair County part-time employees who, while they may have only earned a couple hundred dollars a year, received over $10,000 in insurance coverage. The indication was that this was in recognition of the extra work they performed. While there's not much that can be done to prevent this outright favoritism, I certainly hope the federal and state tax people are regarding this $10,000 contribution for services as income and that they will be taxed accordingly. It is clear that this recompense is for work and as such should be treated as income.
Cartoon on target
The April 18 editorial cartoon was a gem. Glenn McCoy's depiction of the local taxpayers as a gutted and dying wildebeest is a home run. How many of you feel that way as you write your property tax checks to the county collector? Two or three letters admonish voters for not voting, but can you blame them? One party always wins, no matter what. Why waste your time voting when it's better spent researching other states to move to?
Two sets of standards
While Bob Trentman was on the St. Clair Township Board, he voted to prevent part-time trustees from participating in the pension system. But after being elected to the County Board, he chose to sign up to receive pension benefits as a part-time board member. This perk will cost the working men and women of the county $29,069 in taxes over Trentman's four-year term of office plus ongoing pension obligations for his entire life.
On the gravy train
Is anyone else surprised that many of the attorneys who receive medical benefits from St. Clair County at taxpayer expense are from prominent and lucrative law firms? Then there's Ken Easterly, a former state employee, who should be receiving health benefits from the state. Is he also receiving benefits from St. Clair County? Somebody needs to ask why.
Retire and free up job
I continue to hear people say that their son, daughter or relative cannot find a job after graduating from college. I understand that some people, because of circumstances, need to work beyond retirement age. However, there are cases of people in their 80s who need to retire and allow younger people to find a job. Some are receiving Social Security plus pensions. Have people who are retirement age thought about volunteering instead and giving back to the community? They can still be active and meet people like themselves who are young at heart.
How was this helpful?
On April 12 you ran an article about three burglary suspects being sought. You reported that a man confronted the suspects in his home and a business caught them on surveillance tape. You asked the public to call the Madison County Sheriff's office with information identifying the suspects on the tape but nowhere did you say whether the suspects were men, women, children, their race, or the name of the business that provided the surveillance tape. This is incomplete reporting. Read your articles before you print them.
Leadership is learned
The mayor of Belleville says the newly elected treasurer and clerk have no leadership experience and have no idea what they are doing. I'd like to know what his buddies who just got beat were like on their first days on the jobs. Were they geniuses when they walked into those offices?
This is regarding an incident that happened in Troy involving three young boys, the youngest 7 years old, who found a firecracker and lit it. The neighbor called the police, who came and drew guns on these little kids. I know you have to be cautious but I think that's a little paranoid or trigger-happy. I'd like to know what they all did when they were kids.
No different than pills
Before everybody gets in such an uproar about legalizing marijuana for medical use, marijuana is a narcotic and what do doctors give when people have uncontrollable pain? They give narcotics in pill form. That might be something people should think about before they criticize people who really do need it.
No games in jail
I have learned that the St. Clair County Jail superintendent has instituted a program of giving a prize to the cleanest cellblock in the jail. He's rewarding the detainees for doing what is required of them by the rule book--to clean their cells and maintain a healthy environment for themselves and their cellmates. The rewards include extra late TV parties, pizza and extra food. These people are in jail and don't deserve anything extra. This needs to be investigated.
First comes marriage
Recent birth announcements for Memorial Hospital set a new record: 70 percent of the children apparently were born to people out of wedlock. This country is headed further down the sewer. Oh well, at least they weren't abortions.
Reopen Belleville pool
Does everyone still believe the mayor of Belleville when he says that the Belleville swimming pool needs more than $400,000 in repairs or that the Meredith Memorial Home needs to be torn down instead of being used as an office building? Can you explain why O'Fallon and Freeburg have pools but Belleville, which is larger than those communities, cannot afford one? The pool is not cracked; it looks great. Open it.
Safety is top priority
I bet East St. Louis Police Chief Mike Floore could have found a better use for the money spent on the city's election board. The average cost per employee was $10,280 in 2012. Get rid of the Election Board and put more police on the streets in East St. Louis. We have a good chief; support him.
Level property taxes
For the last five years, liberals have been demanding that people pay their fair share in income taxes but they remain mute on real estate taxes. If you live in a house you pay thousands of dollars in real estate taxes with the largest portion going to our schools, whether you have school age children or not. Yet, if a family with multiple school age children lives in a mobile home, they pay about $200 a year. What's fair about that?
Ready for technology
In a recent article you showed a picture of Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert using a smartphone. This is the same Mark Eckert who said he can't use a computer or email or the Internet so he needs an employee to do it for him. Obviously these are all things you do from a smartphone so is he really unaware of technology? Hopefully newly elected Clerk Dallas Cook will fix that problem in City Hall.
With Dean Hardt's recent election as Belleville treasurer, his aldermanic seat is now open. The mayor will appoint someone to fill the seat. Since Alderman Tim Carpenter lost re-election by just one vote, the proper and right thing to do would be for the mayor to appoint Carpenter to the open seat.
Thanks for reporting
I want to congratulate the BND for winning a national journalism award for a recent investigative series. I want to thank the BND for this kind of reporting because without what you uncover in St. Clair County, we would be in even worse shape than we are. Kudos for investigating this craziness that goes on in this corrupt county and state. Without the newspaper we'd be in big trouble.
Day of accountability
The one constant in Illinois' financial disaster is Michael Madigan, speaker of the House. During his 25 years in office, the state's finances have declined dramatically to a point where the state is near bankruptcy. Nothing goes through the House without his approval, so he is directly involved with the failure of the state to fund the pensions over the years. Also, state Rep. Jay Hoffman, downstate lieutenant of former governor and now felon Rob Blagojevich, has been directly involved as well. Both Madigan and Hoffman should be forced out because they are the cancer that has spread throughout the state.
Stand up for rights
Attention UMWA District 12 miners. Peabody, Patriot and Arch coal companies are trying to take away their medical and retirement. UMWA is having monthly gatherings in St. Louis. There are more out-of-state people attending than there are locals. The number of people count. Please attend or we may lose everything and after everything is gone, it's too late to gripe.
EPA rules cost us
This is in response to your article about Belleville considering changes to the deal to redevelop the old YMCA. Maybe it is the codes that are out of hand or the asbestos rules. Older communities need to address some of these rules with the EPA because most of these older buildings are far better made than the junk today. All of the rules choke off the redevelopment or sale of these older properties and I think that comes from the mayor's office because he treats them like they are worthless.
How to fund schools
Let's face the facts. In order to fund our children's education we must find a way to supplement real estate taxes. I would like to see all users of the public school system pay a fee of $500 to $1,000 per student, consolidate school districts, reduce the salaries of superintendents and principals, eliminate the system of paying teachers and administrators inflated amounts in their final years of service so they can get a much higher pension, eliminate tenure, cap pensions at $90,000 a year, and pensions can't be paid out until the age of 65. It's time to stand up and demand school administrators be responsible stewards of our hard-earned tax dollars, not use every scheme available to make as much as they can, get exorbitant pensions and move from the area in retirement, leaving all of us to pay for their tans and pina coladas.