In honor of that rare breed of good state employees

In honor of that rare breed of good state employees

This post has already been read 176 times!

In honor of that rare breed of good state employees

By Ray Hanania


Ray Hanania

The saga of getting my boat registered continued this past week. The process is so complicated when you buy a boat from a private seller (non-retailer) because you are dealing with several government agencies that really should all be merged into one.

But in the lengthy, paper-filled process, I met two state employees who deserve to be recognized, because they are so good at what they do.

Last week, I told you about how I hassled with getting a license for the boat trailer. It wasn’t easy, until I ran into Dorothy in Rockford.

As a part of registering the boat, you have to pay the state tax on the purchase. It’s a lot of money, and I wanted to pay it personally. Plus, the state website made it sound like I couldn’t apply for anything until that tax is paid.

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) website is pretty clear, warning, “You must submit proof of tax payment or proof of exemption before your watercraft registration will be issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources” (DNR).


Pontoon Boat docked

The IDOR website listed six offices. I decided to drop in at the Des Plaines office.

On my way, I called to make sure I could pay the tax there. I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer, but a man did. He explained, “We don’t collect revenue here.”

What he meant, of course, was I couldn’t pay the tax at that office or any office in person. I had to mail it in.

Government doesn’t make it easy to do the right thing. I stopped at a currency exchange and the clerk there said, “We do a lot here, but we don’t take sales taxes for the state.”

Yikes! How was I going to complete the Illinois Boat registration process without first paying the sales tax?

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Rainbow over lake

The DNR is the Secretary of State for boat owners. There are eight of them in Illinois. At that point already on the road heading north, I decided to detour to the DNR in Bartlett. I figured, what else am I doing to do now that I’m on the road? My day is shot.

The DNR’s Bartlett office is named in honor of former Senate President James “Pate” Phillip who retired in 2003. The office is listed on Stearns Road, and is a part of the larger Pate Philip State Park.

I knew Pate. He was a good guy, always courteous and willing to talk to reporters.

When I got there, the place was huge. I parked and walked around the building to the entrance and was immediately greeted by a nice lady named Marisol.

Now Marisol is exactly the kind of state employee you hope to run into, but rarely do when dealing with state government’s bureaucracy. Not only was she courteous, she actually spent the time – 30 minutes – walking me everything I needed to do to get the boat registered. I mean, I had a lot of stupid questions because nothing about the process made sense or was easy.

She gave me a form RUT-75, which she said I could fill out with the sales tax check, and mail it all with the boat registration forms. Problem solved.

I’m thinking, Marisol, where have you been all my life slogging through the state’s bureaucracy?

Marisol and Dorothy are rare in state government. They actually want to help you, and they do.

I know that Secretary of State Jesse White is planning to retire soon. Dorothy should be named to take his place. And as for Marisol, well, I don’t know who heads up the DNR, but she should be the boss!

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at Connect with him on Facebook at

This post has already been read 176 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

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 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 and (Illinois News Network at

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,, 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.

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