Comments: No to Home Rule in Rockford, Illinois

Good luck. Excellent letter. Mind writing one for me to help stop the slot machines from coming in to 'suppliment' education?

Posted by vw bug at January 3, 2006 07:17 AM

Rockford’s Home-rule Debate began in 2003
Many of the following excerpts I wrote in mid-2003
Guest Column by Marianne L. Garvens

Local government spending/incentives is what drives the need for more tax revenue - ultimately leading to higher fines, fees and property taxes.

Control spending you control taxes. It’s that simple!

KNOW THIS - Home-rule communities have NO bond limits! That means Rockford would have an ‘open line of credit’ and ‘no direct accountability’! You see, the city won’t need your permission by referendum anymore; granting home-rule powers is like giving officials a vault full of blank checks!

‘Freeport is my home community. I believe in its potential, but I have seen repeated abuse of home-rule authority and I believe that this power needs to be repealed from the Illinois Constitution, especially since the concept violates the Federal Constitution.

Based on my experience in Freeport, I can only see the re-establishment of home rule in Rockford serving the interest of growing government and enriching preferred developers/businesses while stripping citizens of their basic rights and more of their hard earned money.’

Home-rule communities are supposed to adhere to a ‘stricter standard’ for more openness, not less. They are not supposed to use home-rule powers, consultants and attorneys to find new ways to cut the citizens out of the public’s business.

There is a reason Rockford citizens voted out home-rule – their ‘representatives’ were abusing their home-rule powers to tax and spend and they weren’t asking the people’s permission.]

On May 17, 2003, Rockford Register Star guest opinionist, Jim Ryan, a City employee, used ‘factoids’ (instead of citing facts) in his attempts to sway public opinion to re-establish home rule.

Simply put - a factoid is “a half-truth, unproven theory, wild exaggeration or flat lie posing as scientific fact ... structured to mislead ...

Factoids play on our fears or suspicions ... [when] repeated over and over, even reasonable, well educated people tend to go along ... No matter how preposterous, the factoid will almost always be accepted as true if it is repeated often enough. ...

Many of us [believe] that the truth will always triumph over ignorance and error. ... The battle can easily be lost, and often is, before the truth has a chance to catch up. ..." The Citizen’s Guide to Fighting Government, Senator Steve Symms & Larry Grupp, Jameson Books, Inc.

First, while Jim Ryan is a citizen, and is certainly entitled to express his opinion, as an employ of the City of Rockford; Ryan wields tremendous authority while overseeing a substantial portion of the city’s budget. – home-rule would certainly make his job easier and him far less accountable. Also, based on a conversation with the Illinois Attorney General's Office and George Ryan and Mike Curran's conduct - I know it is improper for public officials and full-time elected officials to campaign with public resources (of which time is one) or use their position to influence the results of an election.

QUESTION: What is Jim Ryan’s real interest in this debate and why did he resort to using ‘factoids’ and belittling the character of Rockford’s majority when he said:
"By voting out home rule, we basically said that we want to be more dependent upon the state legislature and have less freedom from legislative mandates." RRS 5/17/03

On what basis did he reach his conclusions? He said, "As I stated, we as citizens threw away home rule powers in 1983 under the guise that it would lower local property taxes. Tax cap legislation has now fixed that problem." RRS 5/17/03

State tax caps DO NOT prevent home rule communities from raising taxes; home rule units can do what they want, when they want, unless the people challenge the policy IN COURT!

[In Freeport, under the leadership of then Library Director Frank Novak (Rockford’s newest Library Director), officials used home-rule powers to go around State library law and the Illinois’ Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to avoid a referendum officials knew they could not win.]

Another problem? The media often avails public officials with unlimited commentary space, usually without requiring factual citations or substantiation; simultaneously, the media often edits or limits public comments to 250 words or less once per month. How is this equitable, just or fair?

The public’s participation is also silenced/ obstructed at what are supposed to be public meetings – usually the public gets little notice and/or no access to agendas; the public must make their comments within two minute time constraints at the end of public meetings - even on agenda items. My experience is that each unit of government interprets and implements open government laws very differently and so there is no consistency for the public to know how they can participate in their government.

Why does media allow/accept unsubstantiated claims and print conclusory statements as fact? The people deserve ‘fair and balanced reporting’; we depend on it in a 'healthy' representative democracy.

I suggest before entertaining discussions of re-establishing home rule the public be fully educated.

KNOW THIS- a home rule government need only abide by the U.S and Illinois Constitutions, and a hand-full of statutes that specifically limit power. That means that policy challenges can only be heard by HIGH courts.

District courts and administrative hearings have no jurisdiction for constitutional opinions, they can only certify a constitutional question to a higher court, or dismiss a case when a statute has been determined unconstitutional on its face - like the ‘dangerous and unsafe building’ statute.

[Freeport, with its home rule, thinks they can ignore the higher courts and deny real property rights without statutory authority and contrary to the constitution and Bill of Rights.]

I do not believe the people of Rockford’s vote said: ‘ "take care of us Springfield, because we’re too stupid, distrusting of each other, and stubborn to get along and take care of ourselves. …" ’ Jim Ryan RRS 5/17/03

How arrogant! What is Mr. Ryan’s purpose of distorting the results of the referendum, misrepresenting the facts, and speaking so poorly of the public he was hired to serve?

Posted by Marianne Garvens at January 3, 2006 09:16 AM

Where can I sign a petition against Home Rule???

Posted by Jean Bush at January 9, 2006 04:18 PM

To the commenter that posted as Bob MacKay. If you are not going to leave a legit e-mail address, then you're comments aren't going to remain posted here. If you wish to repost them with a legit e-mail address I'll be more then happy to respond and leave it up. *I* am for open communication and debate.

Posted by Contagion at February 3, 2006 01:39 PM