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I like Toni Preckwinkle and think she is doing a good job. But sometimes I wonder about her decisions, who she supports and promises she makes and breaks. The county tax on golf, bowling and cable TV seems misguided to me
By Ray Hanania
Three months after Cook County passed a whopping a $470 million tax hike by increasing the sales tax, Board President Toni Preckwinkle is back demanding a tax hike on Cable Television and other entertainment activities.
The $470 million from the sales tax hike was supposed to put Cook County on an even keel but it hasn’t and Preckwinkle warns the county budget needs another nearly $200 million.
So, Preckwinkle has proposed new taxes on several entertainment areas including bowling, golf and cable TV.
She wants to also tax the liquid used in electronic cigarettes, and the sale of sporting tickets through secondary markets — Now that the Cubs are on their way to the World Series for the first time in 107 years.
Much of the public focus is on the golf and bowling taxes, but that’s the least of our concerns. She wants Cable TV subscribers to pay 3 percent more.
The increase alone could cost the average cable TV customers as much as $40 more a year.
For Chicago residents, it’s worse as the Preckwinkle’s increase top two consecutive annual amusement tax increases passed by the Mayor and City Council, which also impacts Cable TV. That means most Chicagoans will pay an additional 18% in total taxes and fees, or over $200, just to sit at home and watch television.
Preckwinkle has made only token cuts in the county administration, reducing spending a paltry $108 million.
The Cable TV hike may not sound like much, but it will have a punitive impact on one particular taxing group, senior citizens.
Seniors spend a lot of time in their homes because they can’t afford to go out. The cost of gasoline is still high, more than $3 a gallon. The price of eating out at restaurants is astronomical. And, the costs of everyday retails items has skyrocketed beyond reason.
Targeting Cable TV is like targeting the county’s neediest people, who rely on the subscription services for most of their entertainment.
It doesn’t make sense mainly because the county spending is increasing dramatically to a record $4.5 billion, up $500 million from last year.
So, let me do the math here. What the county is admitting is that the sales tax hike approved earlier this year – that the board rejected once before in response to public complaints – doesn’t really cover a shortfall,. It will cover more spending.
Rather than increasing taxes, cut spending.
Seniors are not the only ones that will be impacted by the Cable TV hike. They’re just the most vulnerable.
The hike will also harm young families that can’t afford to hire babysitters or go out to the movies; low-income families that have few other entertainment options; and, anyone just getting by and need to watch their spending, which today is, unfortunately, too many of us.
The residents of Cook County should call on President Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board to reconsider this tax increase on the hard working people in our community and look for more equitable ways to address the budget gap, including tightening their belts.
Preckwinkle needs to hear directly from you. Call (312) 603-6400 or Fax (312) 443-4397. And, contact your local Cook County Commissioner, too.
As you look back on the sale tax increase, the projections in shortfalls and the rising budget, I have to ask one question: Does anyone at Cook County know math? That would be a great topic for a Cable TV show.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This post has already been read 85 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com