Editorials

Sorry, but that ‘M’ is not for ‘McKendree’

A 2003 Mercedes assigned to McKendree University President James Dennis has municipal license plates.
A 2003 Mercedes assigned to McKendree University President James Dennis has municipal license plates. gpawlaczyk@bnd.com

Somewhere in the dark reaches of the past, someone at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office thought it would be a nice gesture for McKendree University to get free license plates for university vehicles.

But here we are in a bankrupt state and poor Secretary of State Jesse White since October hasn’t had the $450,000 per month to mail out license renewal reminders. The state has seen a windfall as a result, with so many drivers paying the $20 late fee that the state collected $3.5 million extra from January through April this year.

While minor, McKendree and other private universities that use free municipal plates on their cars will soon lose the perk.

White’s spokesman, Dave Druker, said a statewide administrative review is resulting from a local reader’s observation that McKendree President James Dennis is driving a 2003 Mercedes E 320 with an M plate on it. McKendree will likely lose the ability to use those M plates, which are usually used by municipalities on police cars and other city vehicles so one taxing body is not paying another taxing body for license plates.

“If it’s a private school, they should not have the plates,” Druker said.

One wag noted that the McKendree folks might have thought they could use the plates because “M” stood for “McKendree.”

So McKendree’s 40 vehicles will soon have regular license plates just like the rest of us and pay Illinois $101 each, or $4,040. That is, if they remember to renew them on time. Otherwise, add those $20 late fees and — ka-ching — our state gets a grand total of $4,840.

Just $6,999,995,160 to go and Mike Madigan can have his 2017 budget.

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