Daily dose: Local history, getting in before two-tiered pension, underdog Bears, ex-legislator rewarded, NYT on Illinois taxes, California comparison, information overload, Fighting Sioux

Daily dose: Local history, getting in before two-tiered pension, underdog Bears, ex-legislator rewarded, NYT on Illinois taxes, California comparison, information overload, Fighting Sioux

Local history

In 1911, Congressman W.B. McKinley of Champaign is visiting the island of Barbados. He has an interest in purchasing the Bridgetown Tramways Co. on the island.

In 1961, an illustrious crowd of Illini, including University of Illinois trustees, former trustees, alumni association leaders and others attended the annual dinner of the Illini Club of Chicago at the Sheraton-Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Almost 500 attended the function. Among those attending was James Cleary, a member of the Class of 1906, who is a former trustee and a past UI board president.

Getting around the two-tiered pension

From the State Journal-Register ...

When it comes to pensions in Illinois, a day can mean all the difference in the world.

Thanks to the eight-month span between Gov. Pat Quinn’s approval of a pension reform bill last spring and its implementation Jan. 1, any public worker hired in Illinois as late as Dec. 31 was enrolled in a far more lucrative pension plan than those hired after that date.

A GateHouse News Service analysis of pension data has identified nearly 19,000 public workers at all levels of Illinois government hired in that span, from bus drivers to university presidents.

The employees’ 2010 hire date gives them a toehold in the richer — and more expensive, to the taxpayer — pension plan.


Bears are underdogs next Sunday

From The Chicago Tribune ...

The Bears had just finished beating the Seahawks 35-24 in their divisional playoff game Sunday at Soldier Field when the Las Vegas Hilton sports book installed the Bears as three-point underdogs against the Packers on the same field in the NFC championship game.

As if the Bears weren't being disrespected enough, so much early money poured in on the Packers that some bookmakers moved Green Bay to minus-31/2, while others kept the spread at 3 but forced backers to lay $120 instead of $110 to win $100, according to VegasInsider.com.

The Bears were three-point dogs when they beat the Packers by three in a Monday night game at Soldier Field in September.

I suspect there will be more examples of this

From the Chicago Tribune ...

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn gave a nearly $86,000 state job to a former lame-duck lawmaker who supplied one of the votes needed to pass his major income tax increase, but the governor's office and former state Rep. Careen Gordon both said Friday that there was no connection between the actions.

"In the seven years and couple weeks I was in the legislature, my vote was never for sale," Gordon said. "Sometimes, there's just no conspiracy."

Gordon, a Democrat from Morris who recently moved to Chicago, said she first approached the governor about a job on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board soon after losing her re-election bid in November. She said that Quinn asked her in that conversation what she thought of the possibility of a tax increase.

She said she told him she could support it only if she knew how the money would be used, cuts were included and there would be "no new programs." He did not ask for her vote, she said. Nor did she feel pressured to vote for the legislation, she said.


New York Times editorial on Illinois

For years, Illinois, like so many states, pretended that it had not fallen off a budgetary cliff. It was spending too much and taking in too little revenue, but every year it would kick its problems into the next. Unable to pay its bills, it finally accepted reality last week and raised taxes on incomes and businesses — a first step toward getting its house in order.

The action was immediately ridiculed by several governors around the nation who are still pretending that they can cut their way out of the enormous shortfalls they face, without raising taxes. Wisconsin and Indiana predicted a windfall of angry corporations and residents would head their way from Illinois. Even Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Republican, vowed to fly to Illinois to invite businesses there to defect to his state.

That makes great political theater. But businesses and voters in Illinois, and around the country, should take a closer look at the facts and figures, including their own.

After 22 years of not raising income taxes, Illinois saw its budget shortfall grow to $15 billion. It had the lowest state credit rating in the nation, and it wasn’t paying its bills to hospitals and schools.

The Illinois tax rate was low before and remains low for big states. The income tax will rise from a flat 3 percent to a flat 5 percent. That will cause pain at the lower and middle levels of the economic scale, but the state’s millionaires will probably stay put. (The top rate is 10.55 percent in California, 8.97 percent in New Jersey and New York, and 7.75 percent in Wisconsin.)


Comparing California and Illinois

From the Sacramento Bee ...

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn recently signed a package of tax increases, including a 66 percent jump in that state's income tax rate, to raise about $7 billion a year.

Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed tax increases, loophole closures and extensions to raise about $12 billion a year and cover about half of the state's projected annual budget deficit.



UI researcher studies information overload for military

From The New York Times ...

Across the military, the data flow has surged; since the attacks of 9/11, the amount of intelligence gathered by remotely piloted drones and other surveillance technologies has risen 1,600 percent. On the ground, troops increasingly use hand-held devices to communicate, get directions and set bombing coordinates. And the screens in jets can be so packed with data that some pilots call them “drool buckets” because, they say, they can get lost staring into them.

“There is information overload at every level of the military — from the general to the soldier on the ground,” said Art Kramer, a neuroscientist and director of the Beckman Institute, a research lab at the University of Illinois.

The military has engaged researchers like Mr. Kramer to help it understand the brain’s limits and potential. Just as the military has long pushed technology forward, it is now at the forefront in figuring out how humans can cope with technology without being overwhelmed by it.


Preserving The Fighting Sioux

From the Grand Forks Herald ...

Proposals this week by members of the North Dakota Legislature to preserve UND’s longstanding Fighting Sioux nickname and logo by burning them into state law — or even the state Constitution — bear similarities to maneuvering 15 years ago in Springfield, the capital of Illinois, and Champaign-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois and its “Fighting Illini” athletic teams.

The emotional national debate over the use of American Indian names and images as athletic nicknames, logos and mascots took center stage in Illinois in 1995, as a stylized “Chief Illiniwek” — dressed, as it happens, in Sioux Indian garb — continued to perform dances at home games of the Fighting Illini.







News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments