Former State Senator Quits Illinois, Moves to Texas

-By Warner Todd Huston

The Wilmette Beacon published a very startling article that reveals so much of what is wrong with the state of Illinois. Roger Keats, a former state senator and a recent candidate for Cook County Board President has announced that he is leaving the state and moving to Texas.

Keats has a long history of fighting corruption in Cook County, but he’s realized that there is no longer any political will to continue that fight in the state of Illinois. It is hopelessly corrupt and Roger Keats feels he’s done his duty, but that duty is finished.

The full text of the Keats’ letter was published in Illinois Review:


As we leave Illinois for good, I wanted to say goodbye to my friends and wish all of you well. I am a lifelong son of the heartland and proud of it. After 60 years, I leave Illinois with a heavy heart. BUT enough is enough! The leaders of Illinois refuse to see we can’t continue going in the direction we are and expect people who have options to stay here. I remember when Illinois had 25 congressmen. In 2012 we will have 18. Compared to the rest of the country we have lost 1/3rd of our population. Don’t blame the weather, because I love 4 seasons. Illinois just sold still more bonds and our credit rating is so bad we pay higher interest rates than junk bonds! Junk Bonds! Illinois is ranked 50th for fiscal policy; 47th in job creation; 1st in unfunded pension liabilities; 2nd largest budget deficit; 1st in failing schools; 1st in bonded indebtedness; highest sales tax in the nation; most judges indicted (Operations Greylord and Gambat); and 5 of our last 9 elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together! Then add 32 Chicago Aldermen and (according to the Chicago Tribune) over 1000 state and municipal employees indicted. The corruption tax is a real cost of doing business. We are the butt of jokes for stand up comics.

We live in the most corrupt big city, in the most corrupt big county in the most corrupt state in America. I am sick and tired of subsidizing crooks. A day rarely passes without an article about the corruption and incompetence. Chicago even got caught rigging the tests to hire police and fire! Our Crook County CORPORATE property tax system is intentionally corrupt. The Democrat State Chairman who is also the Speaker of the Illinois House and the most senior alderman in Chicago each make well over a million dollars a year putting the fix in for their client’s tax assessments.

We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while Illinois’ just went up 67%. Texas’ sales tax is 1/2 of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, taxpayers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

In The Hill Country of Texas (near Austin and San Antonio) we bought a gracious home on almost 2 acres with a swimming pool. It is new, will cost us around 40% of what our home in Wilmette just sold for and the property taxes are 1/3rd of what they are here. Crook County’s property tax system is a disaster: Wilmette homes near ours sell for 50% more and their property taxes are 1/2 of ours. Our assessed home value was 50% higher than the sales price. The system is unfair and incompetent.

Our home value is down 40%, our property taxes are up 20% and our local schools have still another referendum on the ballot to increase taxes over 20% in one year. I could go on, but enough is enough. I feel as if we are standing on the deck of the Titanic and I can see the icebergs right in front of us. I will miss our friends a great deal. I have called Illinois home for essentially my entire life. But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government. We have chosen to vote with our feet and our wallets. My best to all of you and Good luck!


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  • Roger:

    Don't let the gate at the tollway lane hit you in the rear end when you drive off to Texas.

    Enjoy your new state ... where history is rewritten to accomodate right wingers like yourself.

    Perhaps you and your family can enjoy an execution. I understand that the locals really love it when they put an innocent man to death. According to the Chicago Tribune, it happens a lot more than you might think.

    Don't forget the weather. Those hundred degree days can start in May and last 'til November.

    And politicians? Their governor, Rick Perry, who likely spends more money on his haircut than you did on property taxes, wants to secede from the Union.

    DDid you enmjoy the Wilmette library? I don't think that the Hooterville branch down in the Lone Star state will have all those best sellers you came to enjoy.

    Take care of yourself -- and watch out for all those bullets.

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    In reply to johnmcq:

    More innocent people are murdered on the streets of Chicago every year than the total number of guilty and "innocent" combined put to death by the Texas prison system in a decade. It's much easier to sleep in Texas than in Chicago.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to johnmcq:

    You are the epitome of an example of why people and businesses are leaving this state in droves. Have you ever been to TX? If not, check it out. I for one will take Rick Perry with all his faults over the current joke of an excuse for a human being who is currently in the seat in Springfield.
    IL is the laughingstock of the nation, and you defend it? Incredible.


  • In reply to johnmcq:

    For every Keats who is leaving, you're gaining at least one (if not four) deadbeats coming to take advantage of your liberal nanny state benefits. Have fun paying for that, idi0t! :D

  • To johnmcq.

    Out of all of that, the only things you can cling to in IL is a comparison of the local library, hot temps, and a higly questionable topic of the death sentence and the innocent? Oh, I forgot the key point about the price of haircuts.

    Also, bullets? Really? Compared to the city of Chicago where it is essentially Duck and Cover each and every weekend? Or how about the beautiful East side of Rockford? The new IL war zone.

    I love IL. I love Chicago, and most of all I love the people here. But Todd has sure presented a position that I find impossible to argue with anything substantial. Fact is he is correct on all of it and I am also sick and tired of being in last place on everything and quickly becoming the worst place to live in the US. I will take a sub-par library compared to being sucked dry financially any day of the week. And if you missed it in Todd's words, a 1/3 of the entire population of IL did the same thing he did for the same reasons - they got the heck out! Just like the high risk obstetrician for both of my little girls who was forced to flee this state several years ago because his malpractice insurance rose over 100% - and he has NEVER had a claim, let alone lost one. Where did he go? Right over the border into IN where the Governor, especially recently, has made his position clear: "it is like living next door to the Sympsons". He just sits back and let's the dysfunctional IL government force productive businesses and individuals into the IN economy. We are a complete JOKE as Todd mentioned. Aren't you and the rest of the folks in IL sick of that? Regardless of whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent I don't know too many folks who like to be in last place all of the time and get taken advantage of to the point where you become the butt of the joke.

    I also see this nonsense first hand. My organizatioin has had a COST FREE program in the hands of Chicago Public Schools, many IL state municipalities, and even an agenda item for Congresswoman Halvorson's and Sentor Hutchinson's teams (ended up being a situation with both of those 'committees' that involved nothing but trying to get my organization to 'support' this and that, host event, donate to things, etc. etc. - never once resulting in one piece of business leading to much needed state savings). The program can save entities like CPS literally millions of dollars per year with little to no effort. After 2 years, we still do not have our program in place with any state entity - yet I continue to read things daily such as CPS's budget short fall of $900 million dollars. And, I am sure I am not the only organization or business person with similar circumstances in trying to do our part here in IL just to get politics in the way of that help.

    I don't plan on moving. But to be honest, the real reason is that my kids and family are here. If that was not the case, not only would I move to another state, I would even look at other countries!

  • Scott:

    Our boy Roger led an apparently successful life here in Illinois (not IL - that's for your mail), and now he runs off to Texas because he doesn't want to pay his taxes.

    My heart is breaking.

    Yes, I know that Illinois is inefficient - Roger served in the Illinois Senate and was certainly part of that problem. Now, his solution is to tuck in his tail and run off to the parched South West.

    Yes, I know that Illinois is corrupt, as well. Again, Republicans in Springfield are a vital member of the Combine that your conservative buddy John Kass rants about on a regular basis. Why didn't Roger expose them when he was right there in the middle of everything?

    Like most Republicans, Roger is a hypocrite.

    He thinks Illinois is corrupt? Wait 'til he gets to Texas.

    And, please, don't talk about living in Indiana. I wouldn't move there if they comped all my taxes.

  • In reply to johnmcq:

    Well then by all means keep paying your taxes, friend. Inevitably, you will look around and you will find no one else doing so, but lots of folks with their hands out. You sir, are the gravy train.

  • rs1:

    I don't believe that Republicans are necessarily bad - I believe them to be hypocrites -- especially Roger.

    If you're concerned about losing your job, you're backing the wrong horse in the political race.

    This GOP nonsense about cutting corporate taxes in order to "create jobs" is the craziest baloney in history. Cutting corporate taxes does result in new jobs: in China and India -- not Illinois or Wisconsin. If you or your spouse become unemployed, you can thank Boehner and McConnell and those sheep who follow them. (BTW, I save money on the tax cuts but would be willing to pay the higher rates -- I love my country.)

    One other point - yes, you can save money by moving to Texas. Why would anyone want to live there?

  • In reply to johnmcq:

    "One other point - yes, you can save money by moving to Texas. Why would anyone want to live there?

    Read more:

    Well, Texas is one of the biggest growth states in the union. So apparently A LOT of people want to move there.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Yeah, land is cheap because the climate is hellish. . . and there are lots of foreclosed properties to choose from.

  • In reply to johnmcq:

    "But it is time to go where there is honest, competent and cost effective government."

    An so you've chosen to move to Texas?

    Go to a library, if you can find one, and check out any two books by Molly Ivins, who is spinning in her grave right now. Seriously. I'm doing you a huge favor.

  • In reply to Ankhorite:

    Molly Ivins was a left-wing columnist who plagiarized Florence King's work again and again. I would not depend on her work to give you an accurate description of Texas. The population was about half a million in the 1920s and it's twenty-five million now, so clearly someone likes it. Meanwhile, the states in the grips of the public employees unions and corrupt democratic administrations like Illinois, Michigan and California are pushing out many of their most dynamic people and companies. In California they are being replaced by illegal immigrants, but that won't stave off population decline in the rust belt states. In relation to climate, Illinois is no bed of roses. Many who flee the north are happy to escape the snow, cold and humidity.

  • In reply to GoodbyeChicago:

    For heaven's sake, if you don't like Ivins, pick someone else. Any political history of Texas will prove my point.

    I agree the climate of Illinois, especially up north, is atrocious. No argument there. Whether it is more or less atrocious than Texas depends on your taste, I guess (and what part of Texas you're thinking of).

    I disagree with your "corrupt democratic administrations' remark because Republican George Ryan went to prison and Republican Jim Thompson certainly should have. I was part of his administration and I know. Well, hope springs eternal; Big Jim may see prison bars yet.

    Pat Quinn is different. Rahm Emmanuel is different. Both men give me hope for the state (and its biggest city).

    It seems that you've got your mind made up about the purity and cleanliness of Texas politics; it would be nice if you weren't going to be disappointed, but it's not likely. Good luck and best wishes, though.

  • In reply to Ankhorite:

    Even if you are a committed Democrat, you have to realize that the public sector has to depend on the private sector to generate the income that taxes are paid on. Engineers call it "parasitic loss" and the engine of capitalism can only stand so many public employees and social programs before the economy begins to slow and perhaps even break down.

    When Taxation reaches a certain level, we virtually all agree that it retards growth and discourages hard work. Those on the left seem to feel that we are well short of this level, but when we see so many public employees retiring to low tax states, what does that tell us? If you make your living and earn your pension in California or Illinois and then retire in Wyoming or Idaho, what would your motivation be? It isn't as if high-tax California doesn't have natural beauty, fishing and a better climate, right?

    The truth is that Senator Keats, like millions of ordinary people from liberal bastions is voting with his feet and moving. He worked to end the corruption that has plagued Chicago since my parents moved there in the 1950s, the top to bottom sleaze that has retarded development there for decades. Yes, instead of looking at the fact that a reformer is moving out of state as a wake-up call, the left attacks him as a sort of traitor and lambastes Texas.

    Whether it is run by Democrats or Republicans, Illinois has a well-deserved reputation for corruption and a bloated public sector. There is 500 billion dollars across this country in unfunded pension liabilities and people will move rather than pay the astronomical taxes that will be necessary to prop up a failing system.

    Eventually, the high tax, big benefit, bloated public sector states will only have the poor and needy and the untouchable super-rich because a large number of the broad middle class that are necessary for revenues will leave. This is happening every day. Eventually, the system will collapse. And, even if the state was to confiscate the wealth of the rich, there will only be enough money to keep things afloat temporarily and there won't be an opportunity to go back for seconds.

    For the system to work, people have to keep working hard, making money, making profits, and paying taxes but as the debt service and the state's commitments take up more and more money, business slows, losses mount, revenues drop and the budget gap becomes a gaping chasm.

    This is where Illinois and California are at now. It's a vicious circle and again and again, the only answer that those in charge and the unions that support them can come up with are ever higher taxes, which just makes things worse. Eventually, the number of public sector workers has to be trimmed, the pensions and benefits lowered and social welfare programs cut in order to stave off near-certain collapse. But what I and the former Senator Keats see is that no one is being a grown up, stepping up to the plate and telling the unions and the dependent class what has to be done.

    Instead, the unions and the activists get angry, because they feel they have a right to someone else's money through taxation and unless we are a communist nation the money still belongs to the person who earns it as the government rules by the consent of the governed. So, because Illinois isn't a prison, people who get fed up with the bloated spending/taxation/corruption spin cycle will leave for somewhere - even if they love Chicago which has many things to enjoy - where they feel they will be treated more fairly. And, if you would like to actually accomplish something, please make some intelligent suggestions or observations to explain how you think Illinois can get out of the mess it's in without resorting to the personal attacks or stating how much you hate everything about Texas.

  • In reply to GoodbyeChicago:

    Agreed, 100%!!

  • In reply to johnmcq:

    Lol - yeah make your point by smashing other states that you have likely never seen. You have no idea how much you are being milked, sheep. Just keep on baaaa'ing and giving your milk to your masters. You are a serf.

  • If you really expect to lose your family income, why are you waiting? Why not move to a low-cost area now? because there are even fewer jobs there? I'm not sure I understand what you're saying.

    I hope things work out for you and your husband.

  • My family and friends were born on the southside in the 40's, were educated through college in Illinois, bought our homes in Illinois, had our children in Illinois but finally saw the handwriting on the wall and got out before our real estate taxes were higher than the monthly payment on our mortgage. Out of 365 in our H.S. graduating class there are about 105 who have died and the rest (save 15 who can afford $1200 a month property taxes) have moved to mostly Arizona and Colorado. In Arizona we have a 3,000 sq. ft. home in Scottsdale on an acre lot with a swimming pool and pay $2,400 a year taxes on our mini-mansion. No state is perfect, but it looks like Illinois has become the worst. And if you like snow skiing in Arizona, just drive up in the mountains and have a wonderful week at Sunrise on the Apache reservation or Snowbowl north of Flagstaff. California and Disneyland, Nevada and LasVegas, beautiful San Diego are five hours away by car. We pretty much have it all. There actually are days where we snow ski up north, drive south to our home where it's in the 80's and go swimming in our backyard pool.

  • I think there is a hidden agenda here; first, Mr. Keats is 60 + years old and like many Midwesterners decided to retire where it was a warmer climate. He says “after 60 years I leave Illinois with a heavy heart,” I believe he may have lived in Ohio before moving to Illinois. I think he still may have some ties to the Chicago area that he does not want people to know. I’m sure if reporters looked into it, they may uncover some of that information. Also, that Illinois pension he is criticizing about, he is collecting. He wrote that ‘Goodbye’ exit letter to draw attention to his name as a precursor to his recent book ‘Chicago Confidential.’ Let’s face it, Mr. Keats is a politician!!!

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