Letters to the Editor 3/13/16
REAL ID’s UNTOLD STORY
Patrick Yeagle’s piece on the REAL ID Act (“Illinois behind on federal ID mandate,” Feb. 18), the federal law requiring all states to adopt a single standard for the integrity of drivers’ licenses, omits one of the more embarrassing parts of the law’s history, a part necessary to any attempt to understand the mess Yeagle describes. The bill passed in May 2005, after failing to obtain enough support in an earlier attempt to bring it to a vote. The reason it passed when it did was that it had been attached to a bill to provide tsunami relief and fund some military expenditures; it was appended to the uncontroversial measure by a group of House yahoos, led by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wisconsin, who needed an important bill they could hold hostage in order to ensure REAL ID’s passage. Get on YouTube and watch a clip of Sensenbrenner answering questions, if you want to see what I mean by “yahoo.”
The reason REAL ID didn’t have enough support to reach the floor before it was appended to the must-pass tsunami bill was because it was a huge mistake. Counterterrorism and privacy experts warned that the nationally standardized requirements for drivers’ licenses imposed by the law would instill in government agencies a false sense of security in the compliant licenses, while making state DMVs a richer target for infiltrators: Break into one, and you’ve broken into them all.
This is typical behavior for elected yahoos, believing that they know better than counterterrorism experts how to prevent terrorism, and better than privacy experts how to protect privacy. A key lesson in this whole REAL ID mess, other than those of the headache and pending chaos Yeagle cites, is that we should stop voting for ignoramuses to represent us in Congress. This is an important lesson in an election year with so many running.
FUNNY MONEY IN THE BUDGET
I fully agree with the gist of what Alderman Joe McMenamin said in a radio interview following his recent “no” vote on the proposed city budget, due to its being unbalanced and the continued practice of borrowing from the pension fund. I can see borrowing from the pension fund in a given year for a real emergency, such as rebuilding after a tornado or the like, but that should be the exception, not the rule. And the practice of using a much too optimistic forecast of interest earned on investments year after year, in the face of actual returns to the contrary, is not right.
The council needs to bite the bullet with the budget and do the job it’s elected for by cutting expenses and/or increasing taxes, not by continuing with the current shenanigans. Admittedly, neither of these options will make council members very popular with many voters. Yet trying to fool us by using funny money to make the budget look like we’re OK is misleading, if not downright dishonest.
Illinois has 118 members of its House of Representatives. There are 59 members of the Senate. We have one governor. That adds up to 178 people.
It seems to me that we have 175 superfluous people. Apparently, we only need a governor, a majority leader of the House and a majority leader of the Senate.
And now, since our government doesn’t seem to be able to govern, even those three men seem to be superfluous.
James L. Buck