Letters to the Editor 4/22/10
St. Johns, Pat Quinn and tobacco tax
I am writing to you regarding your article about St. John’s Hospital’s future building plans [see “Getting bigger, going green,” April 8]. It is laudable that they plan on making that building locally built and green. However I did not hear “state-of-the-art” included in that admittedly short article. I hope the hospital will perform a green tear-down. We should be wasting as little as possible these days. Putting good materials
in the landfill is no longer acceptable.
Second, I hope they also perform a green rebuild so that everything in the new hospital wing will be recycled. Finally I hope that the new wing will generate its own energy and be super efficient in its energy usage. If they use windows, please use windows that generate electricity. If they have a roof I hope that it has wind turbines on top and plenty of plants to absorb the water that lands there. I hope that they put in geothermal heating and cooling systems. This is, after all, about people’s health. If St. John’s becomes a beacon of how we can lead our lives without pollutants then they will be contributing to the overall health of our community.
When Gov. Pat Quinn signed Senate Bill 355 last month, moving our primary back to the third week in March, he and others said this was needed to increase voter turnout. Although moving the primary back to March is good medicine (it shortens our election cycle), it will not cure the sickness of abysmal voter turnout.
The difference in turnout between the February 2010 primary and our last gubernatorial primary in March 2006, was insignificant — less than 2 percent. In Sangamon County, turnout was actually higher in 2010 (19.36 percent) than in 2006 (18.86 percent)!
Gov. Quinn and every politician in this state knows the reason people don’t vote in primaries is they don’t want to publicly declare their party. It is anathema to most voters that every time they vote in a primary, there is a permanent public record of whether they voted Democrat or Republican.
In 2006 I and others put advisory referendums on township ballots all across our state on whether we should have an open primary, eliminating the requirement that voters publicly declare their party. More than 82 percent voted “yes.” Yet, when Sen. Larry bomke’s open primary bill was put before the Illinois Senate last year, a majority, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady, voted “no.”
If Gov. Quinn and our legislators who profess to be for increasing voter turnout in primaries really wanted to raise turnout above abysmal, they would enact an open primary law and make the will of the people the law of the land.
Alderman, Ward 5
I refer to a new tax proposal to raise the tobacco tax one dollar per pack. The same old rhetoric is used to substantiate the increase: offset the state’s health care expenses and to encourage people to quit.
No one ‘really’ wants tobacco use to stop! It’s the proverbial cash cow. According to the Illinois Department of Revenue, the average tobacco tax collected is about $630 million for the last three years (2006-2008). The tobacco excise tax far exceeds all other excise taxes and only the electricity tax is close, at $400 million. Only half of the tobacco revenue is budgeted for long-term health care.
So, where is the non-tobacco user’s contribution to the cause? Oh that’s right, there isn’t an additional tax on non-tobacco users. It appears non-tobacco users have gotten a free ride and should be paying an equivalent tax. Just because you don’t use tobacco exempts you from being sick and needing health care.
Put your money where your mouth is nonsmokers! Lobby Congress to impose the same tax tobacco users pay on non tobacco users. Think of all the good things the additional revenue could do: improve conditions in nursing homes, help Illinois get out of debt, etc., etc.