[Submitted/published State Journal-Register]
Firstly, I think most people acknowledge that we’re all imperfect sinners, and could all use a little help or friendly counsel from time to time. Even from other imperfect sinners. On the other hand, the average citizen would likely be dumbfounded if, say, Charlie Sheen appeared on their doorstep and proceeded to lecture them on the merits of safe sex and responsible drinking.
The same sense of the surreal is prompted by Illinois Senator Terry Link’s initiative concerning the number of local cemetery districts, levee districts, streetlight districts, etc. that populate our state like mushrooms after a Spring shower.
Here’s a member of a body that can’t get within 8 billion dollars of balancing a budget after a 66% tax increase; manages an $80 billion unfunded pension liability by ignoring it; and whose innovative answer to billions in vendor-crushing past due debts is more borrowing. Given this fiasco, what’s on the Senator’s mind? Answer: Surface water districts in Podunk, Illinois.
He makes a point of recognizing the irony of his proposed solution — another government body to reduce the number of government bodies. He then obliviously reasons that giving total power over locally answerable government entities to a commission of politically appointed hacks will “take the politics out of the equation.” Now that’s funny.
If the state is providing funding to these sundry entities I’d support Senator Link slashing every penny to every one of them. No commission needed. I don’t want to pay for Podunk’s TB Board, and we shouldn’t expect Podunkians to pay for Springpatch’s tsunami lookout district. If local government entities really worry the Senator, he could push legislation enabling local citizens to dissolve their vestigial local political organs via referendum.
I’d suggest he get started on that right after the state budget is balanced and Charlie Sheen sobers up.