Well, the filing period is over and as soon as the candidates get through challenging each other, we will know who’s on the ballot for this coming February 2010 primary election.

Most politicians know the average person is too busy just trying to keep his or her head above water to pay attention to what they’ve been up to or even pay attention at all. So in a few short weeks, our mailboxes, front doors and telephones will be filled with pictures of their smiling faces and blurbs about what they’ve done and what they promise they will do.

But as it comes time for them to ask for your vote – or in some cases just assume they’ll get it – I hope you look at your wallet and, noticing the lack of dead presidents looking back at you, begin to demand more than lip service from those who want to represent you in office.

I’ve been paying lots of attention to taxes lately. I’m taxed to the hilt on my phone bill. I’m taxed on my cellphone bill. My property tax bill came in and again, all the taxing bodies want more and more money to provide less and less.

I, for one, am sick of it. I want politicians to address the serious issues going on and not the ones they like to use to keep you from asking the hard questions.

The first hard question you should ask every politician is, “How are you going to pay for it?”

For example, I had to renew my license plates last month. Even when I was employed full time, paying $78 for a little sticker seemed a ridiculous amount of money. But in today’s economy, where every dime matters more than ever, what the heck is the state government doing with $78 for every car registered in Illinois? To top it off, I had to pay an extra dollar for some new equipment. Give me a break! You mean out of the $78 I paid in 2008, the state couldn’t budget a $1 savings per car to pay for their own damn equipment?

As voters, we all manage household budgets. I know someone who doesn’t work, is probably on public assistance and manages to function. She dresses nicely by buying all her clothes from the second-hand store, uses relatives and friends to get her hair done and does without a lot because she can’t afford it. Well here’s something our current and wanna-be elected officials need to hear shouted as loudly as one can: “If the average citizen can do with less, so can the bloated budgets of all these state, county and city agencies!”

How many LIHEAP offices should there be in a single neighborhood? If you can walk out one office and go two blocks down the street to another office, your tax dollars are being wasted. If you have 10 social service agencies in a neighborhood all duplicating and triplicating the exact same services, it’s not about those agencies doing anything to solve the social ills in our community, but rather it’s about people who suck off the breast of the state budget to get grants to do what nobody ever asked them to do.

These folks decide they want to provide a service and then run to the state to fund it. And state officials pass the money out like it was theirs to give. If the state has to fund the basic operation of your budget, how will the lights stay on and the gas bill get paid? And if we continue to have agencies that are little more than personal fiefdoms so people can claim to be the “executive director” of this or that, is it truly what we want for our community?

Look at our business district. Where is the major shopping district for the West Side? Not an individual store like Wal-Mart or a small shopping plaza like Washington Square. I’m talking about a major district filled with stores galore. It used to be Madison and Pulaski, but go over there now and it is a mere shadow of what it used to be.

Lastly, Mayor Daley seems to be acquiescing to the idea of a casino for Chicago, and I am still advocating that if it comes, the old Brach site on Cicero would make an excellent location for it – near public transportation, the Metra and just blocks from the Eisenhower Expressway, as well as halfway between O’Hare and Midway airports, it can become the anchor of an entertainment/shopping district that could revitalize our economy.

Pay attention, Chicagoans, and come February 2010, give your vote to the person who will bring dead presidents to your wallet, not take them out.

www.arlenejones.blogspot.com

'Billion Dollar Winner' book sale

Join Arlene from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren, and on Sunday, Nov. 15, for U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' town hall meeting on public school health.

From 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, join Arlene at Sonoma Café, 2845 W. 95th