Saturday, January 31, 2015

You can lead a horse to water but can't make him/her drink it!

The problem in politics and attempting to provide leadership on reform is that it is not just one horse that you are trying to lead to water. Also, your not quite sure where the water is since you are usually in a valley and can't see over the hill. What makes it even worse is that your not quite sure you will find clean drinkable water over the hill or if water is what you really need first since you have a little with you in storage and there are many other needs. Now, with that being said why even try to lead them horses to water? We are not bone dry yet and things aren't all that bad as we sit here today. Well, we all know we need clean water to survive and as strategic planners and stewards of Lake County we need to be proactive.

All us politicians proclaim we are working to make government efficient, not waste or steal money, and combing over dollars so we spend money like you would if you were sitting in our chairs. For myself directly representing the 34,000 folks in Highland Park, Highwood, and Deerfield, and being part of a consensus governing 703,000 folks in Lake County, defining the acceptable reform expectations is like trying to catch a greased pig. Let me even go further and say that even DISCUSSING setting the bar of expectations for reform is elusive.

Now the PROBLEM is as you look at property taxes they have kept rising year after year yet our property values have diminished substantially. While our administrators and us politian's have been talking about 2 to 4 % increases in our tax levy, in relation to our property values the reality has been much higher. Several pieces of legislation were proposed downstate to tie these factors together but failed to amended the tax cap law accordingly. Since the economic pull back in 2009, governments have continued to increase operating costs at a ratio that is outpacing the revenue stream and citizens ability to pay. More residents in Illinois are leaving our state than any other and Lake County has declined in population over the past several years.

I am hearing many of my fellow members were upset with me that I have suggested that I am the only one on this board seemingly willing to take the bull by the horns in a comprehensive manner to restructure government in Lake County and reduce taxes. If I am wrong and others believe we should pursue REDUCED taxation by providing leadership and example in Lake County government let me hear. Don't attempt to steer me though a maze that leads to delay and noncommittal. Join me in creating a work plan and process that can provide professional and comprehensive solutions. I only serve my citizens to try to make a difference and represent them as I have promised. . . Like it or not, this has been me for the 22 years I have been a public servant.

Bottom line is that I do work with many smart good folks that are in this deeply grooved government trend of status quo. They believe that we are doing the best we can for the citizens. Lake County government is rated very high like most our school districts, municipalities, and other districts, but needs to work together to integrate and create real reform. Time is a ticken and we are taking a lickin but together we can make the difference needed to better serve our citizens. YOU IN?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wake up Lake County and lets get to work on Reform !

Being on the County Board for over two years now I have greatly appreciated the other members I share the decision making process with up in Waukegan. But like other political groups and governmental entities throughout our country this one is really no different when it comes to making real change. Now unlike what we seem to observe at the federal level, county elected officials do share a level of warmth between us. I do not criticize my fellow members for not having the same governmental integration expectations that I would like to see occur. I do however believe our citizens are demanding a big change and would like to see governmental burdens reduced substantially. I guess the main difference between my fellow members and I is that I do believe that we can reorganize government agencies in Lake County with the help of State government to reduce taxation and provide the services our residents require.

In trying to push forward our agenda of intergovernmental integration, countywide equity, and general reforms to create efficiencies I have yet to find ONE real partner that is willing to fight to reduce the property tax burden on our citizens. There is simply a high level of chatter on process that is without real vested heroes to lead and very little example of successes that have occurred to date.

All my pleas of forming a working committee and retaining experts have fallen on seemingly deaf ears. While each government is complex in our existing framework of 3 times the amount of agencies than mostly any other state in the union, the daunting prospect of consolidating services under less agencies and creating sustaining efficiencies seems to rattle existing professional administrations, thus paralyzing the top elected officials into taking just taking baby steps that simply do not produce any outcomes that our citizens are demanding.

Without elected champions at the table to work staff on these important issues there is no fire set with staff to accomplish any real progress on the reform issue. Along with no real action taking place the debate on "realistic goals" and staff overload dominates the chatter in the back rooms paralyzing any chance of success on a comprehensive process and substantial progress.

The problem I am having creating any real change in government is that being a new member, a democrat, and a progressive, I am seemingly a flea on the tail of this wagging dog called Lake County with no real short term hope of meeting the expectations our citizens are demanding.

That doesn't however prevent me from continuing to speak up and trying to convince my fellow members and community elected officials from getting on board.... Stay Tuned!!!