Published May 29, 2012 at the Rock River Times
On May 16, the Illinois House approved a Senate bill allowing Winnebago County and its municipalities to raise their hotel tax rate by 2 percent. These funds will go toward a $37.5 to $43 million project (reclaimingfirst.org) to improve several existing Park District sports facilities, as well as to turn the former Ingersoll factory along the river in downtown Rockford into an indoor sports complex.
Proponents of this plan call it “Reclaiming First,” because it will supposedly reclaim Rockford’s place as the number one destination for sporting events in the Midwest. While this plan has received bipartisan support among elected officials in the area, taxpayers have several reasons to be concerned.
The riverfront sports complex alone is projected to cost between $11 and $14.9 million and will be funded by several sources, all of which are public. If passed, the hotel tax increase will generate an estimated $750,000 a year. $7 million in funding will come from the Illinois Department of Commerce, and Rockford’s redevelopment fund and the Rockford Park District are expected to pick up the rest of the tab.
After an exhausting and rewarding six months of campaigning, the election has come and gone, so I will be reactivating and updating my personal website.
I would like to thank everyone who supported me, who voted for me, who made phone calls, sent emails, walked door to door, donated, and put out yard signs. You are the folks who help make a difference and none of this would have been possible without you. Thanks to you, I received 18% of the vote in a 3-way race. This was the highest percentage for a Republican candidate for mayor of Rockford in more than eight years.
There is no telling what opportunities will come from the election, but for the foreseeable future I will be focusing my energy on my writing career and on continuing to propose common sense, practical reforms to help revitalize my community. I haven’t decided if that means running for public office again. For now, I’m content to resume my bi-weekly column in the Rock River Times.
As always, I’ll be working on new writing projects, and there may be another book tour in the works. Keep checking the website for updates.
Some of my readers may have heard that I am running for Mayor of Rockford. The rumors are true. Last week, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. After my run for county board in the primary election, I was not going to run for public office again for a very long time. When I learned that there were no Republicans running for Rockford mayor, however, I had to step forward. Someone needs to be in the race defending fiscal responsibility, free markets, and public safety.
This election isn’t even about what political party you belong to, it is about the failure of the current mayor to tackle these issues. He wants to invest tax dollars in sports complexes, while street lights are being turned off to save money. People are suffering in Rockford. We are #1 in unemployment and violent crime per capita in the entire state of Illinois. Someone needs to stand up and talk about these issues. Someone needs to speak up for the average citizen who has been all but excluded from the decision making process in this city.
It is time for a change! Here is a link to an interview I did with WIFR earlier this evening: GOP Mayoral Candidate 6PM.
Public-Private Partnerships or Just Crony Capitalism?
Published September 19, 2012 at Rock River Times
“Public-private partnership” has become the latest buzzword among the political class and its supporters. Often used in combination with “economic development” (another favorite campaign slogan), it conjures the rosy image of government and the private sector walking hand-in-hand toward a more prosperous future. More careful observers, however, see nothing more than a mask for cronyism and corruption. In truth, these partnerships may enrich a few, but they hardly ever yield the promised benefits for the public.
The “public-private” concept works in several ways: either government partners with private business to build and maintain public projects, or government invests in private business in order to foster the growth of certain industries, supposedly for the public good. Rather than stay out of the marketplace, government officials use their influence and authority to grant special favors to their friends and colleagues in the business world.
When government officials and business leaders maintain a close relationship for their own financial benefit, as is often the case with public-private partnerships, it is sometimes called “crony capitalism.” Crony capitalism is marked by favoritism when it comes to handing out legal permits, government grants, business contracts, and special tax breaks. Self-serving friendships or familial ties between businessmen and government officials mean that anyone not on the “inside” of these relationships is excluded from the process.
Published September 5, 2012 at Rock River Times
Campus speech codes and other rules governing expression at public colleges and universities have long been controversial. Now, Rock Valley College has landed itself in hot water over its policies concerning which students have access to campus bulletin boards and which do not. Dominic Celletti, a Criminal Justice student at RVC, is filing suit in Federal court over what he says was a systematic infringement on his freedom of speech by administrators at the college.
A letter sent last October by the Rutherford Institute to Jack Becherer, President of Rock Valley College, explained the incident that led to the civil suit. On September 2, 2011, Dominic approached staff at the Student Life Center about his ability to post flyers around campus, urging students to get involved in civil rights issues. The flyer was a simple design featuring a call for students to read the U.S. Constitution and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, with Dominic’s phone number.
“As you can see,” a staff attorney at the Rutherford Institute wrote, “the flyers are not offensive or inflammatory and simply urge people to stand up for their civil liberties and become knowledgeable about their constitutional rights.” When Dominic inquired about posting the flyers, however, he was told that he was not allowed to post on campus bulletin boards because he was not a member of a campus club. As a non-affiliated student, he could be given access to one “free” and one “event” board in the Student Center Building.