Home Rule takes the power of deciding the policies of small communities out of the hands of uncaring statewide officials and putting them int he hands of local residents. Several small communities like Summit Illinois have referenda on the ballot urging voters to approve Home Rule to give their communities stronger voices on issues from taxes to housing
By Ray Hanania
At no other time has it been more important for Illinois residents to distance themselves from the state than it is today.
Taxpayers have to give up on the notion of electing a good governor to run Illinois. We’ve tried, but our choices rarely work out.
When you look back, the list of governors is pretty pathetic. Of the dozen governors dating back to Adlai E. Stevenson II, four of them went to jail. Of the remaining, only two were really decent, Stevenson and Jim Edgar.
The four governors who went to prison were Otto Kenner Jr., Dan Walker, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Our current governor, Bruce Rauner, is a slightly better governor than our last governor, Pat Quinn, “but that ain’t saying much.” Rauner is a terrible governor.
So, do you really want to put your fortunes in the hands of the state?
The problem with the state is that too many PACs and powerful lobbies have undue influence over the governor and the legislature and the ability to make decisions. When you have a “bad” governor, it becomes even worse.
Illinois offers its residents an escape clause from “bad governors” and bad government.
It’s called “home rule.”
Basically home rule means that residents pretty much are insulated from the ridiculous decisions of the state, especially from things like “state mandates” and legislation designed to decide how to manage property. In home-rule communities, residents make their own decisions.
Elected officials in home-rule communities answer directly to the voters.
In 1970, the state approved Article VII, Section 6, of the Illinois Constitution giving local communities with populations of 25,000 or more the power to make their own decisions. Communities under 25,000 must vote to become home rule, but residents have to battle the real estate lobby and PACs.
The real estate industry is next only to the mainstream news media when it comes to public scorn, and rightly so. The Realtors (and big media), for example, want the state to force small communities to build low-income housing units against the will of local communities because it creates social and economic changes. And nothing benefits Realtors, and the big media, more than change.
Realtors generally are nice people, but their best interests are not our best interests.
A good example of how home rule works is in Orland Park, where the village board imposed a .75 percent sales tax in 2002, and also approved a “tax rebate” for its residents.
Why? The sales tax hits outsiders who shop in the community and that helps reduce the cost of government to Orland Park’s residents. Every year I get a check in March rebating my taxes, something the state would never do but home-rule communities can do.
Nearly every community in Illinois has home rule, except for the smaller ones. And that’s why every community needs it, to protect itself from bad state government and the real estate lobby.
If the big communities have home rule, why should the smaller ones have it, too? If the option to impose home rule is on your ballot March 15 in your community, you should approve it, or spend the rest of your life kicking yourself in your state-controlled and real estate pocketbooks.
You have the power to elect your community officials. You should also have the power to decide your own fate.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. Email him at email@example.com.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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