By John Ruberry
It was another bad week in Illinois, the unhappiest state in the union.
The ward office of Ald. Carrie Austin, the second-longest serving member of the Chicago City Council, was raided by the FBI on Wednesday. The irony was thick as Austin, who as appointed to her position as alderman of the 34th Ward after the death of her predecessor, her husband Lemuel, was attending a press conference at a high school in her South Side ward. She beamed as the feds were stuffing files in boxes, “Today is a day truly that God has made because he made us the star of the show.”
She’s a star for sure, albeit in a villainous role. Also, Austin has been unapologetic in regards to nepotism outrages involving her sons.
What about the person who has been an alderman even longer than Austin? That man is Ed Burke of the Southwest Side. His ward and City Hall offices were raided by the FBI late last year. Burke was elected alderman of the 14th Ward 50 years ago in a special election after the death of Joseph P. Burke, his father.
Yes, Chicago and ILL-inois need term limits.
And using elected office as family jewels is how Illinois rolls. Son replaces father. Wife succeeds husband. Sometimes a pol, after winning a primary election in a super-safe district, chooses not to run in the general. That’s how Dan Lipinski–who, coincidentally was an entrant in the same 3.2 mile race I ran this morning–became Illinois’ congressional representative in the Third District. Barack Obama’s mentor in the Illinois State Senate was Emil Jones, Jr. He pulled the same stunt–which is why Emil Jones III sits in the same seat his dad did.
As WIND Radio’s Dan Proft likes to say, Illinois isn’t broken, it’s fixed.
Only two states have lost population for each of the last five years. West Virginia, the victim of Barack Obama’s own Green New Deal, and Illinois. And among those leaving Illinois, at a pace higher than those in other states of course, are retirees collecting state pensions. Jake Griffin of the Daily Herald reported last week that 70,000 Illinoisans collecting state pensions are spreading their wealth around in other states. How much wealth? Over $2 billion worth. Illinois’ onerous property taxes, which are the second highest in the nation, are believed to be one of the reasons for the Land of Lincoln’s Long Gray Line marching out.
But perhaps these pensioners, who have been closer to the stench that passes for state and local government here than most people, have also had enough of the corruption and nepotism that is endemic here.
If voters approve a proposed constitutional amendment next year, Illinois will drop its flat income tax rate for a graduated one. The tax hike is said to be needed so the state can attempt–yes, attempt–to pare down its nearly-worst-among-the-fifty-states pension debt. Voter ratification of what the Democrats are calling the Fair Tax will surely hasten the Illinois Exodus.
Burke was indicted on corruption charges six months after his offices were raided.
As the saying goes in regards to advertising by financial firms, past performance is not a predictor of future results, Still, Austin should be very nervous and she may want to ask God not to pay such close attention to her.
Decline and fall.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit while he eyes his own Illinois Exodus.