Thoughts for slain police officer

On behalf of The LEADER’s Network and grateful citizens, we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Chicago Police Officer Richard Francis. Officer Francis represents the finest in law enforcement. His death in the line of duty is a great loss for every neighborhood in our city. We encourage every family to pray for his family in their homes and places of worship. Pray knowing that we owe our safety and wellbeing to unsung people who serve and protect daily. We also urge citizens to share generously, as we will do, with the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation in Officer Francis’ honor. We call upon Chicagoans to remember the sacrifices of Officer Francis, and the daily work and sacrifices of other police officers around the world.

Rev. Dr. Marshall E. Hatch, Chairman

The consequences of misusing TIFs

It has been about one week since the Cook County portion of the sales tax has increased, thus giving the City of Chicago the distinction of having the highest sales tax rate of all municipalities nationwide (Take that New York and Los Angeles). Todd Stroger, president of the Cook County Board, readily acknowledges that the sales tax increase is more than he needs. His rationale is that he will not have to ask the voters for another tax increase. He will also have about 2 ½ years for the tax increase to grow stale in the voters’ minds. President Stroger is forcing taxpayers to take a serious blow for the numerous TIF districts throughout Cook County-especially within Chicago-that divert tax dollars meant for Cook County. Cook County revenue has been flat-lined for the past five years because of the increase in the number of Tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Those districts are legislated by the State of Illinois to allow municipalities to divert tax dollars into a special fund to stimulate economic development in blighted communities. Those dollars are provided as a subsidy to developers in order to give them the incentive to invest in economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods. Cook County Clerk David Orr’s website listed a total of $800 million in 2006 TIF revenues for both the city and Cook County. Chicago’s share is $500 million. The Central Loop and South Loop (both in Chicago) collected more tax dollars ($152.5 million) than Cook County collected ($144 million) from property taxes for the entire public health system in 2006. If President Stroger had pushed through a property tax increases, a significant portion of the new revenues would have gone into the TIF fund, not his county budget-therefore the sales tax increase. President Stroger will not challenge the City of Chicago about the tax dollars Cook County is losing through the city’s TIF districts. To do so will defy Mayor Daley and the aldermen/ward committeemen influenced by the mayor-and cause Stroger to become a one-term president. The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District are contemplating property tax increases this year. We all need to begin, or continue, to discuss the abuse of tax increment financing and its impact on property tax revenues. As I have stated in public meetings and past letters and columns, I do not mind paying my fair share of taxes. I do mind getting taxed again, and again, and again, and again…

Dwayne Truss

Please bring back Yasmine

Yasmine is my best friend [Yasmine Acree, cousin of Austin pastor, missing, Jan. 24]. She was the one I can count on. But now that I know she’s gone, I can’t sleep and I can’t think. I’m asking you all-please, whoever got her, please let her go. We need her. I love her like a sister. Just bring little Yasmine Acree back home. We all will be thankful and bless you all.

Monae Johnson
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