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Thursday, April 18, 2013 01:06 am

Letters to the Editor 04/18/13


Richard Shereikis, far left, talks with former Illinois Times staff writer Aaron Elstein and friend.

Thanks for Jim Krohe’s fine tribute to Rich Shereikis (“The right combination of sensibilities”) in the April 11 issue. Rich had, indeed, what Krohe calls “the right combination of sensibilities”: a fierce intolerance of injustice and pretense, a deep appreciation for immigrant cultures growing out of his Lithuanian heritage, a lifelong devotion to sports as player, follower and writer, an omnivorous love of literature and film, and an intense commitment to his family. Those of us who cherished him as a social critic and sometime curmudgeon, delighted to see the tender and doting grandfather he became. We will miss not only his blunt honesty but his deep generosity and humor. Another former colleague from SSU summed it up with Shakespeare’s phrase: “Now cracks a noble heart.”

Larry Shiner,
Professor Emeritus, UIS

I was stunned to recently learn that Mayor Houston has proposed a 57 percent sales tax increase. There is no doubt that Springfield’s city budget is in bad shape. For more than a decade, the city has regularly spent more than it takes in. City leaders have also attempted, and/or achieved, a long list of tax increases. Property taxes, telecommunications taxes, motel taxes, permit fees, parking fines, sewer charges, water charges, electric charges and sales taxes have all had their champions in our local, mostly democrat, politicians. For all those tax increases, the city’s budget remains in about the same horrible shape.

Out of almost 1,300 cities and villages in Illinois, only five currently have higher sales tax rates than Springfield. If Mayor Houston succeeds in his quest for this enormous tax increase, Springfield will have the second highest city sales tax in Illinois. No. 1, Hopkins Park, has 603 residents and the dubious distinction of being one of the poorest towns in the entire Midwest. Springfield currently has a city sales tax 40 percent higher than Chicago. Mayor Houston seeks to tax us at 120 percent of the city of Chicago’s sales tax rate.

Cook County also imposes a separate additional sales tax in the greater Chicago area. (Sangamon County government is so well run that it doesn’t have its own sales tax.) Coincidentally, the Cook County leadership has, over the past three years, lowered its sales tax rate by 57 percent. The democrats in Cook County stated, “Lowering the sales tax rate increases economic activity and increases residents’ spending power. In addition, the lower sales tax stimulates economic activity ... and job growth in Cook County.”

Who would have thought? Some Cook County democrats have embraced Reagan, while Mayor Houston embraces FDR.

Kent Gray

The ongoing rants and rages about gun control are more about personal freedom than controlling firearms. No one has said guns will be taken away except some of the pro-gun rights folks (NRA, et al.) What has been said is there needs to be more or better checks on the purchase of firearms. The Congressional Dupublicans are more concerned about staying in office (as usual) than actually doing some real work. If the constituency who are gun owners are able to hold Congress hostage against the will of the majority then we will continue to be in trouble. I repeat – no one has suggested taking guns from anyone, all that has been said is we need better ways to insure folks who cannot or should not legally possess or purchase firearms are prevented from doing so. This issue has brought out the worst in many. These vocal but limited few are the people who do not see the big picture and what is required to make all of us safe. These are the same people who do not understand that as a people, we all need to stop knee jerking our way to oblivion based on innuendo, speculation and incomplete information.

Michael Abrams

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