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Archaeological Discovery Is Nightmare for Devout Muslims

Archaeological Discovery Is Nightmare for Devout Muslims

There has been a lot of talk about Jerusalem in recent days, following President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as the true capital of Israel. This decision has reignited the debate over which major religious faith lays a true claim to the ancient city — Jews, Christians or Muslims.

Obviously those of the Judaic faith hold the longest claim to the city, followed by Christians and then Muslims. Nonetheless, many modern-day Muslims lay claim to the entirety of the city and deny any Jewish or Christian ties to the important holy sites in the area, or their own Islamic faith for that matter.

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has argued that the Islamic faith did not arise entirely on its own as a separate entity, but instead began as a sort of amalgamation of the various religions prominent in the Middle East in the 7th and 8th centuries — namely Judaism and Christianity — only assembling their own distinct doctrine later.

A recent archaeological find in Israel may lend some credence to that theory, or at least point to the fact that Muslims and Jews weren’t always the bitter enemies they would seem to be today.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the discovery during an archaeological dig of ancient Islamic coins dated back some 1,300 years, shortly after the dawn of the Islamic faith during the Umayyad dynasty. The coins prominently feature a rather Judaic symbol — the menorah.

“The Jewish symbol which the Muslims were using was the menorah (the gold seven-branch candelabra from the Temple), which appeared on several coins and other early Islamic artifacts,” explained archaeologist Assaf Avraham of Bar-Ilan University, who teamed up with Peretz Reuven of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“The menorah coins bear the Shahada Arabic inscription on one side: ‘There is no god but Allah,’ while the menorah appears in the center of the coin,” he continued. “The other side bears the inscription: ‘Muhammad (is the) messenger of God.’”

The archaeological duo also discovered early Islamic clay pottery and lead vessels which also bore images of the menorah.

“They are dated to the early days of the Islamic caliphate, and were in use by Muslims,” Avraham stated, and added, “We wish that many Muslims will be exposed to this knowledge, which is part of their own religious and cultural heritage.”

According to The Times of Israel, the pair of archaeologists believe these and other recent discoveries are evidence of a “dialogue” and peaceful co-existence of the Judaic and Islamic faiths in the early days of Islam — one they hope could be resumed today or in the near future.

“At the beginning of the Muslim rule, not only didn’t they object to the Jews, but they saw themselves as the continuation of the Jewish people,” Avraham explained.

As proof of his assertion that Muslims initially viewed themselves as a continuation of the Jewish people, Avraham pointed to an inscription that had been found in a 1,000-year-old mosque in the village of Nuba, which referenced the Temple of Solomon — now known as the Dome of the Rock — and spoke of the need to rebuild it.

To be sure, there are detractors who have dismissed or downplayed the suggestion that Jews and Muslims got along or at least tolerated each other in the early days, but some have admitted that a bit of tolerance was possible in some areas, particularly on the periphery of the growing Islamic caliphate.

That said, ideally these new archaeological discoveries revealing even a brief moment in history when Jews and Muslims co-existed peacefully will give rise to a new era in which peaceful co-existence and “dialogue” can resume — a sentiment President Trump touched on during his historic speech recognizing Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel.

“Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Trump stated. “And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.”

“So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect,” he added. “Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.”

Source: Will County News

Latest welcoming community ordinance part of larger push

Supporters say latest welcoming community ordinance part of larger push

FILE - police, traffic stop
Shutterstock photo

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

Supporters of the latest welcoming community ordinance in Illinois say the push is not about creating a sanctuary city, but they hope for something more than a simple change in police policy.

Bloomington is the latest to look at a welcoming ordinance.

Tom Cullen with Illinois People’s Action said a welcoming ordinance is not the same as a sanctuary city policy, although they both prohibit local police from asking about immigration status or holding people who are in this country illegally for federal immigration authorities. 

“What it’s talking about is how the police [in Bloomington] are going to treat the immigration population,” Cullen said. “And how they are going to facilitate the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in that community.”

While neither “sanctuary city” or “welcoming city” has an official legal definition, sanctuary cities generally discourage or prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials, while welcoming cities prevent law enforcement and other government officials from asking about legal status. The terms can vary from one community to the next depending on the local governing body’s intent.

Cullen said the ultimate goal of his organization is to expand the scope of who has a right to be in this country under the 14th Amendment.

“No state shall deny due process of law to any person,” Cullen said. “Or equal protection under the law to any person. That means any human being in that state.”

Cullen said supporters hope to get immigration added as a protected class, like race or sexual orientation. 

There are about a dozen welcoming communities in the state. Cullen said most of them are suburban or university towns.

Bloomington leaders are set to talk about the ordinance Dec. 18. Cullen wants a vote by Christmas.

Source: Will County News

Illinois county aims to wean pensions from newly-elected officials

Illinois county aims to wean pensions from newly-elected officials

FILE - Old McHenry County (IL) courthouse
The old McHenry County courthouse and jail in Woodstock, Illinois. (Carldaniel | Wikimedia via Creative Commons)

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

A northern Illinois county is doing what it can to get out from under the public pension system officials say has been squeezing their budgets for years.

The McHenry County Board decided last year that it would no longer offer Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund pensions to its new members. Now the board is looking to wean countywide elected officials such as the sheriff, clerk and others off of the defined-benefit plan as well.

The newest proposal would give a 401k-style retirement plan to any new elected officials but only if they pass on the pension.

Specifically, the plan would offer elected officials enrollment in a 457 deferred compensation plan. If they enroll on the condition of pledging not to participate in IMRF, the county will provide a one-to one contribution match not to exceed $8,000 a year. The maximum contribution allowed by the IRS to 457 plans will be $18,500 for participants younger than 50, and $24,500 for participants age 50 and older. That’s for 2018, and the number changes annually.

“When they’re done, we’re done,” said board member John Reinert, who crafted the plan with another on the board. “Taxpayers can no longer afford to offer lifelong retirement plans.”

Pension obligations, Reinert said, are continually a problem come budget time.

Reinert is running for state senate next year.

The board previously tried to scrap the pensions for newly elected officials completely but learned that state law forbade that.

The offices of County Board Chairman, State’s Attorney, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Treasurer, Auditor, Recorder, Coroner and Sheriff would all be affected. The local superintendent would not since its pension comes from the Teachers Retirement Fund.

County Board Chairman Jack Franks, as well as the coroner, sheriff and recorder, have all refused a pension plan.

The IMRF has long been complimented as a model for other pension funds in that it’s better funded than others. What’s often left out of that conversation is that Illinois law requires local governments to give their required IMRF contributions precedent over any other expense, including core services and other pension plans that are likely less funded.

If approved, the plan would be available to elected officials sworn into office as of Dec. 1, 2018.

Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for INN. Lauterbach has managed and produced shows for news/talk radio stations in both Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

Source: Will County News

The Kitties That Took Down Ethereum

 

The Kitties That Took Down Ethereum
Alexandra Perry Photo By Alexandra Perry
Written Dec.  2017
What a week for digital currency.

Bitcoin soared to a new all-time high, smashing through $18,000 like a bull in a china shop.

IOTA, one of our earliest Wealth Daily spotlights, forged a partnership with Microsoft. Since we spotlighted it, the digital currency has experienced gains over 800%.

Considering that our research team was talking about both these digital assets pretty early, I am going to give them a pat on the back.

But there was one event they didn’t predict.

That event was CryptoKitties, an adorable blockchain-based game that wreaked havoc on the Ethereum network.

Now, CryptoKitties taught a whole new audience about blockchain technology. It also demonstrated exactly how far digital currencies have to go.

That is why I want to talk about CryptoKitties and the future of the Ethereum network. 2017 was the year of digital currency, but 2018 will be the year people finally start to understand it.

Blockchain-based games like CryptoKitties — as ridiculous as that sounds — can help investors understand the steps left for these technologies before mainstream adoption.

So What is CryptoKitties?

CryptoKitties was one of the most talked about events of the week, covered by TechCrunch, BBC News, and CNBC.

In truth, I think I was pretty late to the game on this one. As soon as the application hit, my Twitter started blowing up — and not from the usual traffic. Friends who knew nothing about digital currency were asking me about Ethereum and blockchain.

They were willing to learn about something they considered complex and bewildering to get their hands on a “CryptoKitty.”

So I checked it out.

Long story short: CryptoKitties are really just glorified digital Beanie Babies. I took a screenshot of one of my favorites:

Crypto_cat_baby

Isn’t he cute? The CryptoKitty above was only $4. With him, you receive details about his genetic makeup right down to specific character traits. And if $4 seems like a lot for a digital cat, then I have news for you.

This is actually a “discount” cat. Some CryptoKitties are selling for over $20,000. The first cat ever created — known as the Genesis cat — sold for over $100,000.

And, in fairness to its buyer, it is really cute, and I am a bit jealous.

Still, to most people, these are outrageous prices for digital cats. Yet, like all collector items, they have gathered their own audience.

Online digital pets aren’t new. When I was a kid, I bought a stuffed animal called a WebKinz.

It had a digital counterpart that I could interact with online. We also had Neopets and Tamagotchi. These were virtual pets, but people spent real money on them.

Now, CryptoKitties is a bit different. The information surrounding these digital cats is all stored on a blockchain. That means there is no central company. Nothing can truly shut CryptoKitties down. The cats are decentralized.

That said, the game did create some mayhem.

Demand was so high that at one point it consumed a good portion of the traffic on the Ethereum network.

This congestion caused outrage for other Ethereum users, inciting complaints about slower transaction times. It also raised some legitimate concerns.

Can Ethereum actually handle an increased user base?

Or will it fall into the same trap as Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is now valued above $15,000. Yet, in the last several days, it has taken up to 141 minutes to confirm a transaction. Now does that sound like an effective decentralized network to you?

Luckily for Ethereum, congestion may be a thing of the past.

Big things are coming down the pike for the digital currency.

Ethereum’s Next Important Steps

When I talk to people about Ethereum and Bitcoin, most people agree that Ethereum is the smartphone to Bitcoin’s calculator.

Despite Bitcoin’s meteoric rise, the actual Bitcoin network is far slower and less suited for transactions than the Ethereum network. Some efforts have been made to fix this, including the Bitcoin Lightning Network, which is still being rolled out.

That said, with Bitcoin’s multiple scaling issues, users aren’t so certain that these upgrades will be made anytime soon.

Ethereum, on the other hand, has some things planned.

The first of these things is the Raiden Network, which will allow Ethereum to process smaller transactions off-chain. The Raiden Network held its ICO this October, and now Ethereum supporters are waiting to see how this scaling solution will help Ethereum in the coming year.

Another big step for Ethereum will be the Casper PoS (Proof of Stake) protocol. If PoS is implemented correctly, it should speed up transactions.

We explore the benefits and risks of PoS in our digital currency educational service, which you can learn more about here.

All this technical information aside, just know that either Raiden or PoS could change the Ethereum network for the better, positioning Ethereum ahead of the competition.

Looking Forward to 2018

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to 2018.

2017 was the year digital currencies broke through to a mainstream audience. And, while that breakthrough brought a lot of irrational exuberance and dumb investing, it also introduced a whole new technology market with immense profit potential.

Heading into 2018, the Wealth Daily team is going to continue to monitor digital currencies. We are expecting 2018 to be a hot year for digital assets, especially smaller tokens currently dwarfed by Bitcoin.

And we are not alone in that belief.

The MIT Technology Review published content stating that, while Bitcoin dominates the market today, its hold on the market “will drop significantly in the next few years.”

That means now is the time to start looking at other digital currencies.

If you’re interested in learning more about digital currencies, can you check out our FREE digital currency education service.

With this service, you get multiple videos, reports, and a 44-page e-book breaking down the value behind some of the top digital tokens — tokens that could potentially skyrocket in value in the coming year!

You can learn more about that service here.

Happy holidays, and best of luck with your investments.

alexandra-perry-signature

Alexandra Perry

follow basic@AlexandraPerryC on Twitter

Alexandra Perry is a contributing analyst for Wealth Daily and Energy and Capital. She has multiple years of experience working with startup companies, primarily focusing on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, alternative energy, and biotech. Her take on investing is simple: a new age of investor can make monumental returns by investing in emerging industries and foundational startup ventures.

Source: Will County News

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the GOP Tax Reform Plan

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the GOP Tax Reform Plan
Jason Williams Photo By Jason Williams
By this time next week, it’s quite possible that we’ll have a new tax plan. Republicans in the House and Senate are rumored to have agreed on some major differences between their two plans, and the president is calling for an approved version to be on his desk by next Wednesday.

He really wants to get this thing through as soon as possible. He especially wants it passed by the end of the year. That’s because it would be the first major piece of legislation he’d have accomplished in his first year of office. And it would be the first major campaign promise he’s kept as well.

i want you to pay taxes

There are still some hurdles to jump. But the major ones have already been cleared, and now they’re more like speed bumps on the way to a final deal.

I’ve got to be honest. I didn’t think the GOP could get this to happen. The party has been split over every other major policy. And it hasn’t been able to get anything substantial through either part of the legislative branch — even with a majority in both.

But it looks like this is going to happen. And, contrary to what politicians from both parties would like you to believe, there are some good and bad parts to this reform.

Democrats would have you believe it’s the worst thing to happen since smallpox. And Republicans want you to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

The truth? It’s neither. There are some great pieces to this tax plan. There are some terrible ones, too. And there are some that are just ugly.

Of course, everyone’s going to have a different opinion on these sections of the tax reform. These are mine…

The Good

First off, the corporate tax rate is getting slashed. Currently, it’s at 35%. That’s a lot higher than many other countries. That’s why American corporations have so much cash stashed offshore.

Now, the left wants you to think that lowering the corporate tax rate is just pandering to big business. And it sort of is. But those big businesses have trillions of dollars just sitting in bank accounts in other countries. And it’s not helping the U.S. economy at all having it there.

Lowering the corporate tax rate to 21% — which seems to be the number both branches of Congress have agreed upon — would encourage them to bring that cash back home. And that’s good for average Americans.

These are companies like Cisco, IBM, Apple, and Alphabet. If you’ve got a retirement account of any kind, chances are high that you’re a shareholder in at least one of them.

And when companies have a windfall of cash, there are only a few things they can do with it. They can reinvest in the company — expand operations, increase research and development, acquire other smaller companies. They can buy back shares of their stock. Or they can pay the funds out to investors as special dividends.

Chances are they’ll do all three. The amount of money these companies are sitting on is massive, too big to just use for one of them. So, we’ll likely see some growth as far as their businesses go. We’ll also probably see increased share repurchase programs — that’s money back in our pockets. And we’ll also potentially get paid some very nice special dividends. We might even see the regular dividends some of these companies pay get hiked, some by as much as 50%.

I don’t know about you, but when my investments grow and pay me cold, hard cash, I think that’s a good thing.

There are some other beneficial parts to the GOP’s plan: lowering the income taxes for each bracket, repealing the Obamacare individual mandate (where you get fined if you don’t have insurance), doubling the standard deduction, keeping the mortgage interest deduction. But in my opinion, the corporate tax cut is one of the shining points of this tax reform.

The Bad

There are parts I don’t like, however. First, there’s the estate tax, also known as the death tax. It would likely stay in place. And it’s been a complete and utter failure.

The estate tax was supposed to prevent the formation of American aristocracy. It was intended to keep incredibly wealthy families from forming by making it impossible to pass a fortune from one generation to the next. You know, families like the Rockefellers, Morgans, DuPonts, and Trumps.

Obviously, it’s been a resounding success since none of those families are still super-wealthy.

What it really does is take from families who can’t afford the accountants and estate planners it takes to get around it — luxuries those super-wealthy families can afford.

So, I was all for eliminating it. But it looks like that’s not going to happen.

Second — and an even bigger failure in my eyes — is the limitation of the state tax deduction, also known as SALT. That stands for state and local tax deductions.

Currently, you can deduct taxes you pay to your state and locality. In places like New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, and other major metro areas, this is a big deal. In fact, it’s the biggest deduction claimed every year by Americans. It amounts to $539.8 billion per year. The next biggest deduction is mortgage interest at about half that figure.

You can deduct your income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes from your federal taxes right now. But the GOP plan places a limit of $10,000 on those deductions and makes you choose which state and local taxes to claim.

And, if you’re a homeowner in a city, you know how big those property taxes are. So, you’ll definitely lose out on a big deduction with this new tax plan. That rubs me the wrong way.

The Ugly

There are also a few pieces of this legislation that are downright ugly. The worst, in my opinion, is something that’s gotten very little press.

I actually didn’t learn about it until one of the members of my investing service, The Wealth Advisory, wrote in to ask about an email he’d received from his broker.

The email talked about how the reforms would limit his choices when it came to selling stock and reporting losses and gains in his taxes. That got me interested, so I read through the Senate proposal to find out what was going on. The dirty truth was on page 266.

Basically, it’ll do just what his broker told him. Right now, you can choose which shares you want to sell when trimming a position. If you bought some for $25 and some for $100 and the stock is trading at $50 now, you can sell the $100 shares and take a loss. You can then deduct that loss from your taxes.

But under the new legislation, you have to sell the first shares you bought. In accounting terms that’s known as first in first out, or FIFO.

So, if you bought those $25 shares first, you’ve got to sell them for a 100% gain and pay taxes on your profit, even though the entire position is flat.

If you’re selling enough shares, that could amount to a pretty hefty capital gains tax. All told, it’s going to cost regular Americans like you and me somewhere around $2.4 billion a year.

Not only is that an unfair shake for retail investors like us, but it’s been snuck into something called tax cuts. And that doesn’t sound like a tax cut to me.

The Tax Man Cometh

The one thing that’s not going to change with this bill is that we’re still going to be shouldering the burden of a bloated government that can’t control its spending. And we’re still going to be paying more in taxes than we’d like to.

Last year, I put together a list of some things to do to reduce your tax burden. I highly suggest you take a look and do what you can this year and next to give yourself a real tax cut.

I also recommend you check out this “cheat sheet” my colleague Briton Ryle and I put together for The Wealth Advisory community. It’s got lots of tips on maximizing your profits and your income, and it’s also got some very handy guidelines for reducing your overall tax burden.

To your wealth,

Jason Williams
Wealth Daily

Follow me on Twitter @AllBeingsEqual

Source: Will County News

The Corrupt Origins of Central Banking

From MISES DAILY ARTICLES

The Corrupt Origins of Central Banking

TAGS U.S. HistoryInterventionismMoney and Banking

Thomas J. DiLorenzo

[Originally published December 2008.]

Central banking has been a corrupt, mercantilist scheme and an engine of corporate welfare from its very beginning in the late 18th century. The first central bank, the Bank of North America, was “driven through the Continental Congress by [congressman and financier] Robert Morris in the Spring of 1781,” wrote Murray Rothbard in The Mystery of Banking (p. 191). The Philadelphia businessman Morris had been a defense contractor during the Revolutionary War who “siphoned off millions from the public treasury into contracts to his own … firm and to those of his associates.” He was also “leader of the powerful Nationalist forces” in the new country.

The main objective of the Nationalists, who were also known as Federalists, was essentially to establish an American version of the British mercantilist system, the very system that the Revolution had been fought against. Indeed, it was this system that the ancestors of the Revolutionaries had fled from when they came to America. As Rothbard explained, their aim was

To reimpose in the new United States a system of mercantilism and big government similar to that in Great Britain, against which the colonists had rebelled. The object was to have a strong central government, particularly a strong president or king as chief executive, built up by high taxes and heavy public debt. The strong government was to impose high tariffs to subsidize domestic manufacturers, develop a big navy to open up and subsidize foreign markets for American exports, and launch a massive system of internal public works. In short, the United States was to have a British system without Great Britain. (p. 192)

An important part of the “Morris scheme,” as Rothbard called it, was “to organize and head a central bank, to provide cheap credit and expanded money for himself and his allies. The … Bank of North America was deliberately modeled after the Bank of England.” The Bank was given a monopoly privilege of its notes being receivable in all tax payments to state and federal government, and no other banks were permitted to operate in the country. It “graciously agreed to lend most of its newly created money to the federal government,” wrote Rothbard, and “the hapless taxpayers would have to pay the Bank principal and interest.”

Despite these monopolistic privileges, a lack of public confidence in the Bank’s inflated notes led to their depreciation and the Bank was privatized by the end of 1783. But Morris did not give up on his scheme. He recruited a young Alexander Hamilton to serve more or less as his political puppet within the Washington administration. (Rothbard called Hamilton “Morris’s youthful disciple.”) In fact, the reason why Hamilton became Treasury secretary, despite having no reputation at all in the field of finance, was the recommendation by Morris to George Washington. (During the Revolutionary War, when he was an aide to Washington, Hamilton took the time to write Morris a 30-page letter proclaiming that he agreed with every one of his ideas about protectionist tariffs, corporate subsidies, and a government-run bank to finance them.)

Morris and his fellow Nationalists wanted a king-like chief executive who would rule over a mercantilist empire, just as the king of England ruled over his mercantilist empire. They, of course, would be the ones to advise and instruct the “king” and benefit financially from such an empire. So their young protégé Hamilton commenced his seven-year crusade to overthrow the first US constitution — the Articles of Confederation — by calling for a new constitutional convention to supposedly “revise” the Articles of Confederation. At the convention, Hamilton laid out his (really Morris’s) plan: a permanent president who would appoint all the governors and who would have veto power over all state legislation. Under such a plan, state sovereignty would have been destroyed, and there would have been no escape from the central government’s high taxes, protectionist tariffs, heavy debt, and foreign-policy imperialism — the agenda of the Nationalists.

The Hamilton/Morris plan was defeated, of course, as was the proposal made at the convention to include a central bank among the delegated powers to the federal government. But the government was more highly centralized, as “the Nationalist forces pushed through a new Constitution” and “were on their way to re-establishing the mercantilist and statist British model…” (p. 193). They begrudgingly acquiesced in a Bill of Rights in return for the anti-Federalists’ support for the new Constitution. And most importantly, writes Rothbard,

A critical part of their program was put through in 1791 by their leader, Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, a disciple of Robert Morris. Hamilton put through Congress the First Bank of the…. United States…. modeled after the old Bank of North America [whose]….longtime president and former partner of Robert Morris, Thomas Willing of Philadelphia, was made president of the New Bank.

In making his case to President Washington for the constitutionality of a central bank, which had been explicitly rejected at the constitutional convention, Hamilton invented the idea of “implied powers” of the Constitution. These were “powers” that were not expressly delegated to the federal government in the document, but could be “implied” by clever lawyers like Hamilton. This of course became a roadmap for the total destruction of constitutional limitations on the powers of the federal government.

The First Bank of the United States “promptly fulfilled its inflationary potential,” Rothbard writes in his History of Money and Banking in the United States (p. 69). It issued millions of dollars in paper money and demand deposits “pyramiding on top of $2 million in specie.” The Bank invested heavily in the US government, and “The result of the outpouring of credit and paper money by the new Bank of the United States was … an increase [in prices] of 72 percent” from 1791–1796.

Northern merchants provided the main political support for Hamilton’s Bank, whereas southern politicians like Jefferson supplied most of the opposition to it, seeing it as nothing more than a vehicle for financing an American version of the corrupt British mercantilist system, which would be destructive of liberty and prosperity. They were right, of course, and remain right to this day.

Source: Will County News

City of Lockport rejects Homer 33C counter proposal on impact fees

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High

 

Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628

 

For Immediate Release:

Dec. 15, 2017

 

City of Lockport rejects counter proposal

Home builders to pay 80 percent less in school impact fees starting July 1

 

Adding classroom space to accommodate new students whose families decide to build in Lockport just got a whole lot trickier in Homer School District 33C.

 

On Dec. 6, the City of Lockport voted to reduce its school impact fees 80 percent, cutting the amount of dollars school districts collect from home builders to ensure adequate facilities are available to serve new growth. School districts use the impact fees to help build new schools and classroom additions.

 

“The reduction may encourage more development in Lockport but at the expense of its schools,” said Superintendent Kara Coglianese.

 

Last year, Homer 33C collected about $450,000 in impact fees from home builders in Lockport and Homer Glen.

 

Impact fees helped pay for a $1.7 million addition at Butler School in 2008.

 

Schools are the “most important reason” families give when building a new home, said Christi Tyler, Homer 33C’s Assistant Superintendent for Business. It’s why they choose to build in one community or another, she added.

 

Since January, Homer 33C has received $127,000 in impact fees from Lockport alone.

 

Even though new housing starts have slowed in recent years, Homer 33C’s student enrollment has continued to climb. It now serves 3,682 students — up from 3,556 students in 2010.

 

As a result of the slow, steady growth, nearly every school is close to capacity. It’s just a matter of time before a new school or building addition is necessary, said Tyler.

 

Three years ago, the district moved every kindergartner to Schilling School to relieve overcrowding at Butler School. It’s now feeling pressure at Hadley Middle School and Homer Junior High School, which serves every child in Homer 33C.

 

In the spirit of cooperation, Homer 33C, Will County School District 92 and Lockport Township High School District 205 submitted a counter proposal calling for a 40 percent reduction in school impact fees — the same amount that the City of Lockport offered to cut from its own fees.

 

The Council rejected the counter proposal, arguing a new industrial development that includes three warehouses will more than make up for the lost impact fees.

 

In addition, they say the City can always reinstitute the fees if housing starts to boom.

 

Only one Council member, Catherine Perretta, voted against the fee reduction. Council member Jim Petrakos abstained from voting because his company, Tria Architecture Inc., is working on a facility master plan for the district.

 

The company recently performed a facility audit for the district and identified $36.6 million in repairs that need to be addressed at the district’s aging facilities. Among them are $3.7 million in repairs at Butler School alone.

 

“Completing such projects will exhaust the district’s funds,” said Coglianese, “leaving little left for building additions when the needs arise.”

 

She went on to call the 80 percent reduction short-sighted.

 

“As the housing market begins to rebound, which it has started to do, it will only put money back in the pockets of a few residential land developers,” she said.

 

 

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/homer33c?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

Source: Will County News

Northern IL. Univ. Trustees unanimously vote a $600,000 severance package for former Univ. President Doug Baker, who resigned amid a patronage scanda

DECEMBER , 2017

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees approved an expensive severance package for former university President Doug Baker, despite the scandal ending his tenure.

The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees unanimously voted to approve a $600,000 severance package Dec. 7 for former University President Doug Baker, who resigned amid a patronage scandal.

Baker resigned from his post in June following the public release of an investigation showing improper hiring practices. The report revealed NIU paid a combined $1 million to at least five people the university hired as though they were part-time instructors to avoid competitive bidding requirements. Investigators said that under Baker’s watch, the university “committed a pattern of circumventing procurement requirements and violating employment policies and rules.” This was in “an effort to meet President Baker’s directives to select high-paid consultants (one of whom was a friend), and pay for travel and lodging, without restrictions.”

The NIU Board of Trustees first received the report in August 2016, roughly 10 months before the report became public and Baker resigned. The revote to approve the contract came after a DeKalb County judge ruled the package null and void Nov. 22 because the board had originally violated the Open Meetings Act, failing to disclose a meeting agenda for the closed meeting at which the board granted Baker his severance.

According to the Board of Trustees’ agenda for its meeting Dec. 7, Baker’s deal – which totals just over $600,000 – includes paying him his base salary of $450,000, a one-time lump sum of $137,500 and $30,000 for Baker’s “reasonable, unpaid expenses for legal counsel in relation to his service to the University.”

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, who sits on the Illinois Senate’s higher education committee, slammed the board’s decision.

“Failed administrators and executives shouldn’t receive golden parachutes for wasting taxpayers’ time and money,” Cullerton said in a press release. “Our state universities and community colleges need to stop abusing state funds. These dollars should go toward educating our children, not lining the pockets of ineffective administrators.”

But unfortunately for taxpayers, expensive “golden parachutes” at Illinois public universities are nothing new.

In 2015, the College of DuPage Board of Trustees approved a $763,000 severance package for President Robert Breuder. During Breuder’s tenure at the College of DuPage, the college hid more than $95 million in spending – including hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to businesses connected to college leadership, his membership in a private shooting club and nearly a quarter of a million dollars in alcohol listed on ledger lines as “instructional supplies.”

The Chicago Tribune called the $763,000 payout “one of the largest severance packages for a public employee in state history.”

In 2016, too, Chicago State University paid university President Thomas Calhoun Jr. $600,000 in severance despite Calhoun’s serving just nine months of a five-year contract.

The recklessness in giving out golden parachutes is a symptom of the waste in Illinois higher education. The administrative bloat – and high costs it carries ­– diverts money needed for students toward administrators, all on the backs of taxpayers. In 2015, more than half of the state’s $4.1 billion spent on public universities went to retirement costs alone, and more than half of Illinois’ 2,465 university administrators working that year received a base salary of $100,000 or more.

Given all the waste already prevalent in higher education – and the misguided prioritization of administrators over students – the NIU Board of Trustees should have denied the $600,000 severance package to a president marred by scandal. Instead, the board turned its back on taxpayers and students.

Source: Will County News

ISRA Thursday Bulletin – December 14, 2017

ISRA Thursday Bulletin – December 14, 2017

 

Executive Directors Message

When The National Concealed Carry Reciprocity (NCCR) bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives the anti-gunner’s propaganda machine went into high gear.  According to the ant-gunners, if NCCR passes the U.S. Senate, every conceivable calamity known to man will sweep across the county.  I expect a plague of intergalactic locusts will invade the earth and eat every morsel of vegetation.
They are using the same untrue charges (none of which ever happened) against concealed carry they have used in every state since Florida passed a modern concealed carry law back in the 1980s.  There are about 16.5 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States, not counting the states that allow open carry and permit-less concealed carry (that would include several million more people).  The lies are: women will be less safe, domestic abusers will be getting guns, criminals will be able to get guns, crime rates will go up, stalkers will be able to carry guns and, of course, “this is a gift to firearm manufacturers from the NRA.”  The fact is that concealed carry drives crime rates down.  If National Reciprocity passes the Senate, crime will go down even further.  That is what the anti-gunners are really afraid of.
Last Monday, there was a terrorist attack at New York’s Port Authority bus terminal.  There are between 250,000 and 275,000 people who commute and use the Port Authority terminal.  Since it is also near the Christmas holiday season, thousands more folks visit and shop in New York City.   The failed explosion occurred in a tunnel that many, if not most, of these people use.
Of course the talking heads are dancing around the issue, putting as much frosting on the incident as possible.  One law enforcement guy actually commented that we have to find out why the would-be bomber would pick this spot to set off a bomb.  Really, did he just say that!  I was flabbergasted.  This guy better watch his mail.  I imagine some school, somewhere, is going to ask for the return of their kindergarten certificate of attendance that they issued this guy.
Rudolph is checking to make sure his nose is bright enough, Donner and Blitzen are recovering from sprained ankles (but will be ready for the big night), some elves are polishing the sleigh, while others are checking that troublesome naughty or nice list in preparation for the loading Santa’s bag of goodies.  For those of us who don’t have all the advantages of elves, we may be in a quandary about what to buy someone or, more likely, haven’t had enough time to go shopping.  To relieve you of this terrible anxiety, I would like to suggest that a gift of an ISRA membership might solve all of your problems.  You could even buy someone a Life, Endowment, Patron, or Benefactor membership.  After all, what else can you give someone that will both last a lifetime and carry on their influence?
Thanks for being a member.
 
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017
ISRA Wednesday Night Air Gun League
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420 E Locust St
Chatsworth Illinois 60921
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Source: Will County News

FBI, Not Russian, Meddling In 2016 Election

Explosive Texts Point To FBI, Not Russian, Meddling In 2016 Election

Scandal: For 18 months, the FBI has been fixated on determining whether President Trump worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election. But explosive text exchanges between top FBI agents suggest it should be looking in the mirror.

 

 
 From Investors Business Daily

The text messages sent between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, which became public on Wednesday, provide a rare and illuminating window into just how rabidly partisan putatively nonpartisan law enforcement officials can be.In the exchanges, they called Trump an “idiot,” a “loathsome human,” an “enormous do-che,” and said “this man cannot be president.”

When not berating Trump, they were praising Hillary Clinton. In one text, Strzok said: “God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.” In another, he said that “a lot of people are holding their breath hoping” about Clinton.

When Hillary accepted the party’s nomination in July, Strzok texted “Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time!” During one of the presidential debates, he texted: “Oh hot damn. HRC is throwing down saying Trump in bed with Russia.” In one of Page’s texts, she said Hillary “just has to win now.”


On their own, these texts might not be a big deal, even if the two are career government employees. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

But Strzok and Page weren’t just a couple of bureaucrats crunching numbers in a windowless office at the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Strzok was a key player in the FBI’s investigation into whether Clinton had broken the law by using a private, unsecured email server to handle highly classified documents. He interviewed several of the people involved, including Clinton herself.

He was also the person who watered down the language in the statement used by Comey to exonerate Clinton, changing it from “gross negligence” to “extremely careless,” which as we noted in this space was critical to Comey’s claim that Clinton didn’t break any laws.

Remember, too, that when Strzok was busy airbrushing Clinton’s email crimes, he would have known that, had the FBI done the right thing and indicted her for putting national security at risk, it would have crushed her campaign, and helped elect the man Strzok clearly felt should never be president.

In other words, Strzok had motive, means and opportunity to sabotage that investigation.

Strzok and Page were also deeply involved in the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russia meddling, which started almost immediately after Comey let Clinton off the hook, and was sparked by a dodgy Clinton-financed “dossier.” In fact, according to CNN, Strzok signed the document making the Russia probe official.

So did these FBI agents act on their fervent anti-Trump beliefs in ways that might have compromised the integrity of both investigations?

The text exchanges suggest they very well may have. Consider: 

  • Strzok texted Page saying that while he wanted to believe “that there’s no way he gets elected” he was “afraid we can’t take that risk,” then added cryptically that “it’s like an insurance policy.” The text doesn’t make clear what the “it” was, but does suggest the topic was discussed with the deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.
  • In August, Page told Strzok he should stay where he is because “you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” meaning Trump. She then sent a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times which argued that, with Trump, “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots.” To which Strzok said “of course I’ll try to approach it that way … I can protect our country at many levels.”
  • Days after the election, Page texted to say she bought “All the President’s Men,” a book about Nixon’s demise from the Watergate scandal, because “I needed to brush up on Watergate.”

One of the texts also suggests that both knew they should be careful when discussing Clinton. In April 2016, Page texted “you say we text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced.”

At the very least, these messages cast still more doubt on both the Clinton email and the Russia investigations, and lend more credence to claims that both were driven primarily by a desire by federal officials to protect Clinton’s election chances, and hurt Trump in any way possible.

RELATED:

The Trump-Russia ‘Dossier’ Scandal Deepens

Did A Corrupt FBI Give Hillary Clinton A Free Pass? Sure Looks Like It

Source: Will County News