Some things…

I live in small town America. I heard a story last night about something in our small town America…and if the same story is happening all over in other small town Americas, the country is in big trouble.

The story goes like this…a second grade teacher just finished testing on her second grade students. The test results go like this…70% of this class are in the kindergarten to 1st grade range. But the children are in second grade.

SCARY.

Maybe someday I will get to write the entire story. I hope so.

 

 

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Illinois news media corruption

I hope I get to write this story, completely, someday. But for today, I’m calling out what I know.

Is there corruption at the Illinois Press Association? What president of the Illinois Press Association and multiple newspaper owner refused to run information from BOTH SIDES of an issue when Johnson County voters were getting ready to vote on an important referendum, a referendum where they needed ALL the information, not just one side? He refused to run an ad. He refused to run op eds from a group who had important information to share concerning the upcoming vote. He printed ads and op eds only from the opposing side.

Can you guess how the vote came out? Yep.

Is this what we expect from our local newspapers? Is this what we want? I don’t think so.

Who are Friends of White County Schools?

Who are Friends of White County Schools? Who is Ameresco?

And so the quest began.

This post is about local politics….I think. Actually it extends farther than that. It is statewide because as long as each county in our state continues to ask the taxpayers for a new 1% sales tax, it is a statewide matter. But let me start at the beginning.

In 2014, our county was asked to consider a 1% sales tax increase under the school facility tax law. The tax would be used to take care of public school facilities. The same year, 13 other counties were also putting the same referendum on their ballots. Like most school districts, the locals care about their schools. You don’t have to twist their arms to come to the rescue of the education system. The citizens where I live are constantly doing things to make their district better. People are always donating and raising funds to do things for the district. So it’s not necessary to LIE to them, to deceive, or to hoodwink. It really isn’t.

Ads were purchased in the local newspaper by such entities as Ameresco, Friends of White County Schools. These all came through one school board member. He ordered the ads with my newspaper and told me to bill him. I handled the insertion of them into the newspaper. We received payment sometime after the referendum passed, I believe.

The beginning of my quest was to ask who are “Friends of White County Schools”? I asked a school teacher and she had never heard of them. I asked a couple of other people, but no one knew. My interest was now being piqued. Who were these shadowy entities? By this time, I had read an op ed written by a newspaper on the other end of the county which explained who Ameresco was. I could find Ameresco on the internet. Another name that had come up was StifelNicolaus. Prominently. Like the head of the spear. They are on the internet too, a multi billion-dollar international investment banking conglomerate headquartered in Missouri. My sources say that Stifel initiates state sales tax hike campaigns by having its representatives travel the state, meeting with county and school board members, administrators, regional superintendents and other corporate and community groups, all in efforts to convince local officials to launch pro-tax hike campaigns. This same source goes on to say “At an Illinois Association of School Business Officials meeting in 2011, before school administrators from across the state, Stifel distributed materials touting how they helped execute a massive campaign to convince Champaign County school boards and voters to initiate and pass a tax hike in 2009 benefiting Stifel’s bottom line. The net result of the campaign was more than $60 million in new taxes on Champaign County shoppers since the tax was enacted.”

And there’s more. Just keep reading.

Had Stifel-Nicolaus been instrumental in pushing this referendum in my county? According to Pat Seil’s Op Ed in July of 2015 in The Navigator, representatives of Ameresco, a St. Louis based performance contractor, had approached the Grayville School board about doing a lot of improvements on their buildings as well as erect a new building. Stifel-Nicolaus, working hand in glove, was also in attendance, offering to finance the whole job, which amount approached what the district would be able to borrow because of the new tax.

I happened upon a website one day. I say “happened,” however, I don’t believe in coincidence. Coincidence is just God revealing things and making things come to light. I found the Illinois Sunshine website. As I perused their listings, I kept seeing Friends of Marion Schools, Friends of Peoria Schools, etc. Oh my, was I in the right place or what?! Illinois Sunshine www.illinoissunshine.org is a site devoted to tracking campaigns and where the money is coming from and going. It is an excellent resource.

Illinois Sunshine had no information about Friends of White County Schools, but I knew I was in the right place, so I emailed them, asking them about the group. I received no correspondence from them, but a couple of weeks later I decided to take another look and do a search. Sure enough, Friend of White County Schools was NOW listed! I now had all the information I needed, including who were the shadowy figures behind it and who funded the referendum.

Friends of White County Schools was founded on October 9, 2014, shortly before the 2014 mid term  elections. Carmi-White County School Board member Andy Acord is listed as the Treasurer of the Committee and H. Keith Botsch is listed as the President. (Mr. Botsch has some troubles of his own, being linked with some misbehavior with a bank.) The group was founded as a Ballot Initiative Committee. Five days later, after its founding on October 14, 2014, Thermal Mechanics, Inc. from Missouri, gave $10,000 to the Committee. Who is Thermal Mechanics?

Thermal Mechanics, Inc. has corporate headquarters in Chesterfield, Mo.  Google says they are “System Design & Engineering Resources, New & Replacement HVAC Equipment, Integrated Building Controls, Mechanical & Building Controls, Service Planned, Maintenance Contracts, Building Controls System Monitoring, Certified OEM Replacement Parts, 24/7 Emergency Service ..”. Who knows how Thermal Mechanics Inc, found out a county in Southern Illinois needed money to pass a referendum and educate the voters? They are the only contributors to the “committee.” I’m sure it’s all legal.

So, a lot of important, big corporations have a lot of interest in passing these 1% sales tax increases. But here’s the interesting part. Did anyone read the law before putting these referendums on the ballot?

I accidentally read the law.

And the law says this: “…this tax shall be imposed only in 1/4% increments, up to 1%.” It doesn’t say START at 1%. It says, essentially, start at 1/4%, then you can move it up, but stop at 1%. Huh? So why is everyone putting 1% on the ballot? Good question. I did read that one county put 1/2% on their ballot.

I’m starting to get mad now. And I suspect Stifel-Nicolaus has a WHOLE LOT TO DO with how the referendum (scheme) is being presented to school boards and consequently, to the public, who is being lied to. I don’t suppose school boards read the actual law.

So I maintain that the referendums themselves are, essentially, breaking the law as it is written and therefore illegal.

Let’s see where this all goes. Oh, one more thing…the State of Illinois has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are…they get to keep 2% of all the new tax money coming in. Just think what a cut they would take if all the referendums went down to 1/4%….I’m just sayin’.

 

Where Does Money Come From?

Subtitle: What is happening to our culture?

Our Federal government has done a good job of creating dependency in our country. And we have let them. We have helped in many ways. We have voted for it and we have supported it. It’s good to help the poor and needy. It’s especially good to do it with someone else’s money. Some people choose to do it with their own money (I do and prefer it that way), but ask any good Progressive. It’s far better to do it with someone else’s money. That money being the taxpayer’s money. But the Federal government, because they live in Washington, D.C. and we live thousands of miles away, cannot distinguish a person’s situation. They can’t determine if someone is scamming them, because they live so far away and don’t KNOW the people.

In small town America, people know people, and they know if you are a scammer or not. Because generations live in the same area, everyone knows everyone else. They knew your grandpa and your grandma; they knew your parents, and brothers and sisters. The police know you, maybe some more than others! It’s plain hard to get away with cheating on your spouse in small town America, because everyone knows stuff. There’s just not that many people to keep track of! My point is, small town America is better at taking care of its poor than Washington, D.C. But that’s not the way things are working out right now.

I happen to know a little bit about township government. You’d think that when people need help at the local level, the money that is taken from the taxpayers and put in a local fund for that very purpose would be used to help them. Nope. I’ve been told by credible township supervisors that, if the person qualifies for state and federal assistance, the township can’t use that money. Really? Then what is it for and why is it building up into incredible amounts? (I see state confiscation in our futures.) The state and federal government know the situation better than the local government?

But I digress. The question is, Where does money come from? (Besides printing presses in Washington, D.C.) We currently have a culture where, last figure I heard was, 49% are dependent on the Federal government in some fashion. I am not sure that figure includes the Social Security recipients, but it may. I am not begrudging them getting back what they paid in, because they have paid in specifically for it. At some point in our history, we decided it was a good idea to let the government plan our retirement accounts for us. I disagree with that concept, but nonetheless, it is what it is.

Back to dependency. Our current Progressive administration has done its utmost to increase dependency on government. I could go in to all the ways they’ve done it, but for the sake of time and space, I won’t here, because I need to tell my story.

This whole cultural dependency-on-other-people’s-money thing was revealed to me in a big way recently. And at the local level!

A local 4-H club wanted to do a charitable project for the summer. It was a great idea. You see, when children are home for the summer, their parents still have to go to work. The club wanted to make sure the kids got a meal at noon and weren’t just left to fend for themselves. Apparently, they knew of some local kids in this situation. They made a deal with a local food place to put some sack lunches together for a certain price. But the 4-H club had no money to do the project with.

The project was printed in the local paper and the 4-H club went about applying for GRANTS for their project. I heard about the project (I, being a private citizen with my own money that I have earned by working a job) and decided to jump on board. Little did I know…I decided I would kill a few birds with one stone. I made the club an offer they couldn’t refuse! They needed money, right?

The downtown area of the small town where I work can get pretty trashy on the weekends. We have some, ahem, irresponsible types, who thrown their trash out on the streets and sidewalks instead of in the trashcan that is placed there for that purpose. I decided to offer the club a, wait for it…JOB, picking up the trash on Monday mornings. It would probably have taken a handful of kids an hour to do it. In return, I would pay them the handsome sum of $25, which, by the way, would cover the cost of that day’s lunches. And I would do it for at least a month, perhaps for the whole term of the project. I would also make the mayor happy, because the downtown would be cleaned up of trash. It was a brilliant idea.

Only thing was, the club couldn’t do it. They were waiting on their GRANT money. The leader had all kinds of reasons why they couldn’t do it, but they appreciated my offer of a JOB. I’m not saying the leader’s reasons were not legit. I know people work. But there is a principle at work here, and I think an important teaching opportunity was lost and another one was definitely taught to those kids. Let me tell you the rest of the story…

The village (the government) where the kids lived, came through with a CHECK to help them get going! And everyone got their picture in the paper. Then another government agency came up with a CHECK also…and everyone got their picture in the paper. (See how this is working.) And then last week, the private sector (one business) came up with a CHECK. And everyone got their picture in the paper. So you see how this looks? Hey, the tin cup method works way better than a job. And you get your picture in the paper every time, because, everyone loves the feel good story. Rewards, right? And yeh, it would have just taken too long to, ahem, WORK for that money because, golly gee, that would just take too long and we don’t have time for that! I was heartbroken that they did not accept my offer, but I was determined that I would not just give them the money. (Hard-hearted of me, right?)

Kickstarter is another thing I don’t understand. I know a lady who went on there and started a project to raise the money (from other people) to publish her book. She got the money. I don’t know if they are supposed to repay or not, because I don’t know that much about it. I got a JOB and EARNED the money to publish my book. (Shameless plug for it right here…it’s a children’s book call A Tale of Two Lambs. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.) In the process, I gave someone else some work for several months because I needed illustrations for it. And she earned money. That’s how private enterprise works.

To sum up: where does money come from? What do you think those club kids think now? What did they learn? They learned if you want to do something nice for someone, ask the government and private businesses for a handout. You will be funded. THAT is what they learned. Oh, and you get your picture in the paper when you are successful. Who can compete with that?