Editorials

Take bucket of cash, dump it into a township and give pennies to poor

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton smiles as he leaves court after pleading guilty

East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton pleaded guilty Thursday, Dec. 1 to federal wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, based on a criminal complaint that he misspent $40,000 by making personal purchases on a pub
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East St. Louis Township Supervisor Oliver Hamilton pleaded guilty Thursday, Dec. 1 to federal wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, based on a criminal complaint that he misspent $40,000 by making personal purchases on a pub

We need to set the record straight: When the News-Democrat recently reported that the sole reason East St. Louis Township exists is to help some of the neediest people in the state, that was not exactly a true statement.

East St. Louis Township exists solely to provide a few dozen people with government jobs and to give political leaders control of those patronage jobs so they can extend their political reach.

The only “legitimate” mission of the township, in the eyes of our state leaders, is to help the needy if they are not children, or if they are not seniors, or if they don’t receive help from any other state or federal program. A local professor estimated there may be 5,000 people in the township who pass all those criteria.

Then, state law says they only can receive $245 a month.

The township spent $1,372 in overhead for every $245 in financial aid it delivered in 2015.

Even if the township used none of its $1.6 million in tax money for hiring friends and the wife of the former supervisor as he heads to prison for stealing from the township, dividing up all that tax money among those 5,000 needy folks would only get each of them $320 — a year.

No one is going to relieve much suffering or improve circumstances with $320 a year, but you can provide two dozen nifty salaries ranging from $20K to $60K with $1.6 million.

Belleville Township was just as inefficient, spending $4 on overhead for every $1 in aid delivered.

Township governments in East St. Louis, Belleville and Granite City all are excess layers of government that mirror their respective city’s boundaries. What little they do could easily and more efficiently be accomplished by their local cities or charities.

Government should exist to maintain public safety and to fill potholes — not to suck up taxes to do a bad job at charity and provide hotbeds for corruption. Belleville Township is finally going away after a multi-year effort, so it’s time to target East St. Louis Township and Granite City Township for elimination.

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