Representative Tom Cross (R-Oswego) happens to my representative as well as the minority leader in the Illinois House. And even though I don't always agree with the man, he has been mostly good for our district and accessible. This past week was no exception. I began my dialogue with Representative Cross via an email that I had asked one of his Plainfield Office staff to forward to him about concerns that his counterpart in the Illinois Senate, Christine Ragdano had proposed, among other things, additional cuts to education funding. Needless to say my original email was direct, but terse.
I realize that Tom Cross is a busy man and I had no expectation of a near immediate response, but true to form he called me directly. The man is fair minded and will let you say your piece without the usual interruptions other politicians often pull to quickly diffuse or attempt to change the conversation.
I have been particularly disturbed by the state of the State and its deadbeat attitude towards education funding, as well as a pension system that is routinely abused, not by the legitimate state workers, but by shifty politicians and appointments from Chicago to Cairo.
Bear in mind, my anger has been stoked after five years of near constant whining by the Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 regarding budget woes and threats of staff reductions and programs. In the end, the administration does their thing by raising student fees through the roof, cutting essential teaching positions or programs, all the while making little effort to reduce a top-heavy administration.
Naturally, our school district is not the only one forced to rely on its parents to pay multiple times for their kids education; i.e. property taxes, school fees that were once covered by those taxes and then jacking up extra-curricular fees. Adding insult to injury, we get nailed to take part in fundraisers for each sport or activity because they rely on that for the extras that the district doesn't provide.
Personally, I am sick and tired of the state putting this extra burden on me (and my neighbors) while politicians of this state look for more ingenious ways to short-change education funding even more. Yet, thousands are either employed by the state as political appointments to obscure and redundant boards that our current, and former, governor hands out like prizes or officials padding their pensions via multiple positions. And how many of those appointments are politicians who had already lost the confidence of the voter and were voted-out? Still, they somehow reappear like the cockroaches that they are and double or triple-dip the pension system. And why do we even have 5 pension systems? There needs to be one account for all government pensions, just like us regular people have to do through Social Security, so that their contributions can be kept under scrutiny.
Another point of contention that I had was how Michael Madigan, John Cullerton, Joe Berrios, et al, can represent clients for tax appeals in an apparent conflict of interest, and be shielded by ineffective ethics legislation that they themselves write as well as the rampant nepotism that goes unchecked as politicians retire and routinely hand off to their children. The pension system has become one big family affair.
I cautioned Representative Cross that the Illinois GOP should be careful as to not misinterpret what the Tea Party movement started; it is not about balancing budgets on the backs of our children's future or essential services and programs. Americans in general are fed up with the wasteful spending habits of our politicians, whether it be national, state or local. I offered him recent examples of local politicians I had written about who have abused the pension system or public officials who act in multiple capacities while strong-arming business from them. Enough is enough is enough already!
I have to give Representative Cross much credit for taking the time to listen and understanding the argument without offering excuses. Whether or not anything will come of my discussion is another thing though. The state GOP must formulate a solid platform aimed at eliminating the current waste dragging down our state budget
and act on it. Especially if they want the support of Independents like myself.
Whatever they decide to do, they better first look at cleaning up the State's Fiscal House before knocking on my door for more. That is the message I gave my state representative and it is my profound hope that people all over this state begin to do the same thing via letter, phone call or email.
The big question is - do you care enough to do the same?