Letters to the Editor

Sound-off 6/15/15

Planning to gouge

When Swansea Mayor Ken Mueller stated that he was “flabbergasted” that St. Clair Township accepted Swansea’s sewer contract offer, he revealed that he and the Swansea Board of Trustees intended to gouge the township’s sewer users all along. The only question was how much the gouge should be.

Double charged

In addition to Swansea charging St. Clair Township sewer users 1.3 times the rate of village residents, Swansea is charging the township users a transport fee. But township rates are based on Swansea user rates, which include a transport fee, so Swansea should begin maintaining the township’s sewer lines. Then the township could remove its transport fee from the bills.

Deal under duress

The BND editorial on Wednesday said St. Clair Township did not have a gun to its head when negotiating the sewer contract with Swansea. The village did have a gun to the township’s head. That gun was Swansea’s threat to charge the township sewer users a 50 percent up charge if the township did not agree to a 30 percent up charge. The Swansea board even passed an ordinance stating that Swansea could charge township sewer users up to 50 percent more than Swansea residents. Attorneys on both sides agreed that the 50 percent up charge was legal even though it was not moral.

Protest fee hike

I suggest that the 3,000 township sewer users stop paying their bills to Swansea until Swansea treats them fairly. If Swansea tries to cut off water to the protesters, that would bring even more attention to the village’s unfair treatment of township people. This approach will force Swansea to be fair to township customers much quicker than a lawsuit.

Just drive

I could be baffled by the fact that Art on the Square takes place on a giant circle, but a little history lesson could solve that. No, instead, I am horrified and amazed that a town with such pride in its circle can't figure out how to drive around it. Traffic circles are meant for smoothness; they are meant for flow. It's a pleasant and economical way to keep a busy intersection free from congestion. Here are two easy rules:

▪ Traffic entering the circle should yield to traffic in the circle.

▪  Traffic in the circle should drive around the circle to the desired exit.

No work to do?

It was great to see that Gov. Bruce Rauner took the time to come to Southwestern Illinois to promote his pro-business reforms, adoption of term limits and proposal to give residents greater control of property tax rates. I had to wonder why all the union naysayers in attendance weren’t actually busy at their workplaces. Misplaced priorities, which is part of what’s wrong with Illinois politics.

What a crowd

I was amazed by sheer capacity of your recent photo “have dirt will shovel” of the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital groundbreaking. Who were all those chosen movers and shakers? About the only person readily identifiable was Belleville Catholic Bishop Edward Braxton. Was the lack of identification on purpose to avoid possible backlash to participants from disappointed Belleville politicians?

Same old strategy

Again the Democrats are crying, and they keep doing what they always have. When they lose an election, they work even harder to fight whoever beats them. I’ve watched it for 30 years in a government job. It's a simple fact that if we in Illinois want to get our budget in order, cuts have to be made and some jobs will be lost.

Change this recipe

Recipe for failure in Granite City: Start with one failed school referendum. Mix in one cost cut and then add raises for employees. Stir it up and then allow to sit until the next election when you try it again. Warning: Leaves bad taste in public's mouth.

No penalty involved

In a recent news story, the News-Democrat incorrectly labeled payments made by local school districts to the Teachers’ Retirement System in the wake of high salary increases as “penalties.” Under state law intended to assign the pension costs associated with these raises to the district that grants them, the district must pay to TRS the actuarial cost of the teacher’s pension created by the portion of the raise that is in excess of 6 percent. The word “penalty” implies wrongdoing. It is not illegal under the law for school districts to grant raises that exceed 6 percent. The extra payment due is not a penalty. In the same vein, paying a sales tax for voluntarily buying a loaf of bread is not a penalty.

Twisted logic

Tom Keefe’s recent guest view supporting trial lawyers and scolding the BND has some interesting holes in it. He asserts that the construction of two new hospitals must mean that doctors are not fleeing the state. If you believe that sort of logic, he probably wants you on his next jury. He wants you to believe that Texas is losing doctors because of tort reform including damage award caps. The population in Texas is exploding because of its common-sense laws and friendly business climate. The demand for more doctors has grown so fast that even with all the doctors leaving Illinois and other states for Texas, there’s still a shortage.

Note to O’Fallon

It's a shame the O’Fallon mayor feels the need to address residents and City Council members in a condescending manner just because they disagree with him. He knows that he has a core group of council members who will always back him up. Downtown O'Fallon will never be like old St. Charles despite how much money the mayor throws at it.

Over the top

As a bike wreck survivor, I felt the pain for Secretary of State John Kerry after his recent accident. A broken leg will slow him down for a few months. That said, did he really require a specially equipped C-17 aircraft complete with an Air Force flight medicine team to safely bring him back to the states from Geneva, Switzerland? His orthopedic surgeon also flew over from Boston to escort him back. And we thought the previous secretary of state was high maintenance.

Place for local art

In response to letter writer Terry Campo, who suggested that Art on the Square let residents vote for an artist, does he not yet understand that the Belleville bourgeoisie decides who and what vendors are permitted to sell their wares at the show? One can only hope the Fairview Heights art show will recognize local talent that is not good enough to meet the snobby Belleville standard. Here's an idea since Belleville will someday, we hope, have a convention hall: The art show organizers could run a show during the winter months that recognizes local and regional art talent.

Speed up ID checks

Some advice for the person in charge of the construction at the main gate at Scott Air Force Base: Get some more people checking IDs in the morning. It shouldn’t take 30 minutes to get on base at 6:15 a.m. And do something with the side road that exits the base, it’s in terrible shape and full of potholes.

Update Skyview deal

What has become of the third Skyview screen pledged by the owner in 2010 as part of Bellevillel’s arrangement for demolishing the BAC Cinema? Is he waiting for TIF money as well?

Teachers share blame

BND letter writer Darrel Sy is incorrect in his assertion that teachers have nothing to do with the financial crisis of Illinois. The fact is it was well-known that teachers’ pensions were not adequately funded. Judy Baar Topinka warned of it when she was running for governor against Rod Blagojevich. The unions told the teachers not to worry, that their pensions were guaranteed by the state Constitution. It is absurd to think that the teachers have no blood on their hands when they helped vote in the politicians who allowed this.

Great opportunity?

Oh please, let me have the food concession for MidAmerica Airport that St. Clair County is advertising. I’m an experienced businessman and nothing interests me more than being in an airport that nobody comes to. This gets more ridiculous every day.

Good first step

Three cheers for the new mayor of East St. Louis, who is making all the city department heads reapply for their jobs. She mentioned that the old way of thinking is what put the city in the position it is today, and she is so right. I just hope that, for the sake of the city, she really is the kind of person we hope she is.

Nothing will change

It is unbelievable that East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks would say the city is dying because of business as usual. She served on the City Council for six years. I can’t recall any idea she had except when she submitted a resolution for her mentor, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, to close the bars early because of erroneous crime statistics. Many people lost their jobs because of that move. She states that new job appointments will not be based on politics, which we all know is not true.

Shriners pay

In reference to the Sound-off about the cost of the Shriners parade in Belleville: The Shriners pay for the police, the cleanup and the city does not pay a thing. The caller needs to get over his petty complaining.

Festival alternative

I live in downtown Belleville, and I’m tired of hearing the merchants complain about parking and everything else when festivals are going on. They gave me no sympathy when I tried to use the ATM at Regions Bank during the Oktoberfest and Chili-Cookoff but people had blocked the drive-thru lane. If we have a parking issue, the Belleville Police and the mayor need to work on that. We have a park that cost more than $1 million. Take the events there and out of downtown.

Seize the opportunity

Regarding the merchants who complain about the festivals hurting their business: They are at least getting people downtown/ They should have their windows look interesting and if festival goerswalk in, merchants should them like guests and hopefully they will be back.

Stop scrap thieves

Regarding all the theft of copper: I think someone should contact every scrap yard in this area, and anyone hauling scrap into the yards needs to furnish his ID and Social Security number. Wake up and figure out what is going on. People, some of them on welfare, are bringing in $1,000 a week for their stolen scrap articles. Someone needs to investigate.

Guard Lady Liberty

A warning to the people of New York City: If criminals from the metro-east come into your town, beware. If the criminals find out the Statue of Liberty is almost all copper, consider it gone it a weekend. We don’t know how they would do it, but they would find a way to break it down and truck it out. Be careful.

Simple solution

I have a better idea for those who want same-sex marriage. Instead of saying somebody is male or female, why don’t we say they are human beings? Then we won’t be discriminating.