Thanksgiving Day is a time for giving thanks. And I am grateful for a lot of things.

For one, I am still alive after 57 years. I have had a good life. I have had my “ups and downs,” but I have more “ups” than “downs.”  In this rough economy, I have found a number of part-time jobs that have kept me going, while a full-time position still eludes me. But combined together, I am making it. So it is hard to watch while local government agencies like the Cook County Board talking about laying employees off. That wasn’t what President Toni Preckwinkle talked about when she ran for the position back in 2010. Back then the talk was all about rolling back the half of a percent sales tax that former President Todd Stroger had put on the county.

Now with the reality of having to face a “balanced budget” – which is mandated by law and not one that politicians do freely – cuts have to be made. Yet, I am sure that even with the cuts there is tons of waste in county government. Add on to the fact that there is as much traffic leaving Cook County every day as what is coming back into it, this county no longer has a monopoly on getting the tax dollars that it had 20-30 years ago.

I’ll use myself as an example. I work out in DuPage County and the sales taxes are lower. So when I do my shopping, I am going to stores out there. I even had a co-worker, who was planning a major purchase, plot which Target she would buy the item from to spend the least on taxes. And I can’t blame her. Many of the areas that were once isolated spots have grown in the past 20 years.

When one of my friends first moved to Naperville, corn fields surrounded her house and Route 59. Even I-88 had loads of cornfields on both sides. But in the 15 years since she has moved out there, the fields have disappeared and been replaced by houses and huge businesses. Many of those places are occupied by folks who used to live and do business in Cook County. But lack of foresight by Cook County commissioners has sent people flying, leaving because they became overwhelmed with a county system that didn’t serve them in the manner it should.

How many of you know who your Cook County commissioner is? And what are they doing to stop waste and fraud and keep taxes low? Will you remember their real record at election time or be suckered into giving them your vote without knowing what they plan to do in advance? 

For those whose “downs” have put them in a less fortunate position this year, finding a place to eat on Thanksgiving Day just got a little easier. Let me tell you about two of them that I am familiar with. The first is Wallace’s Catfish Corner at Madison and California. Wallace’s is a West Side institution for fried catfish and fabulous barbeque. It is also the place where “movers and shakers” meet, gossip about the soap opera known as “West Side current happenings” and sit down to enjoy a good meal with plenty of free parking located right next door. For over 20 years Wallace’s has opened its doors on Thanksgiving Day to give back. And this year won’t be an exception. Starting at Noon and going until 3 p.m., Wallace’s will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner.

The second place is Chez Roue, located at 5200 W. Chicago Ave. The building owned by John Young has been establishing itself as a new institution ever since it was remodeled back in 2009.  This year two friends of mine, Michelle Brown and Diane Bolling, will be feeding the less fortunate in conjunction with Chez Roué. Starting at 10 a.m., they will offer free haircuts, manicures and free clothing. Then from Noon until 3 p.m., dinner will be served with yours truly not only dishing out the meal but cooking one of the turkeys as well.