Letter-writer, EIU professor has questions for Rauner

Letter-writer, EIU professor has questions for Rauner

MONTICELLO — After 30 years in a profession about which she is passionate, Parley Ann Boswell is counting the days until her May 31 retirement.

Unlike many in her shoes, however, the 63-year-old Monticello woman is not gleeful. She felt she had to leave her position as an English professor at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston because of the broken financial condition that Illinois is in.

She made her break in a "Dear John" letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner about a month ago that's been published in at least three newspapers, including The News-Gazette on March 12.

"I'm breaking up with you. Because ours has been a committed relationship, you deserve to know why I'm breaking up with you," began the open letter.

In it, she spelled out her three main reasons: a lack of mutual respect, a lack of communication and a difference in values.

The daughter of a state circuit judge, Boswell articulated plainly how she felt disrespected and alarmed when the governor called state workers "overpaid" and said "there's a bunch of baloney going on."

She wrote that she didn't understand what he means by his oft-repeated phrases such as "structural reforms," "layers of bureaucracy," "collectivist economy" and "opportunity zones."

"Because I'm a scholar, I'm too little and I don't have any power, but I know how to study and began to study other governors who talk like he does," she said.

What she realized was that she had more questions than answers for Rauner.

"What do you mean when you say 'business-friendly?' Is my work at a public university 'business friendly?' Who are 'job creators?' Am I a 'job creator?'" she wrote.

Jim Thompson was governor when Boswell joined the EIU faculty in 1987. She said what she knows for certain is that previous administrations "did not portray state workers as villains" and "did not blame us when things went wrong."

"I love my work and I love my students. I'm coming to terms with this. I think I made the right decision," said Boswell, who is ready to pursue other work.

Although she's heard nothing from Rauner or his office, Boswell said she's had "almost all positive feedback" from folks thanking her for saying what they felt.

"I was angry," she said of the thought process that brought her to publicly challenge the governor in her letter, first published online March 8 on Reboot Illinois.

A year earlier, a number of her junior and senior students had traveled to Springfield to participate in rallies to get legislators' attention about the painful effects of not having a budget.

When they brought it up in class, "they were very worried and frustrated and angry. They didn't understand and I certainly didn't. A couple of them burst into tears and within 10 minutes we were all crying," she said.

"This is unacceptable for the people who employ me to behave in such a way that this is happening to a public state university," she said. "It horrified me."

Worse, she feared that the uncertainty of continued funding for her and hundreds of other EIU employees would start to take a toll on her health.

"I couldn't concentrate on my work. I couldn't concentrate on my students. It was just too hard," said Boswell, who's grateful to be in a position to retire.

"Last year at Eastern was such a difficult year for us. We've had no funding in a year-and-a-half. They laid off 300 employees, some of them instructors," she said. "We don't even have garbage pickup in our offices or classrooms. We have communal places in the hall where they pick up every couple of days and the people doing it are working really hard. People are so good-natured about it."

A prolific publisher of academic articles and books on film and American literature from colonial America through the early 19th century, Boswell said she had never written a letter to the editor before her "Dear Bruce" missive.

"My friends are all stunned because I love a low profile. I don't want people to know what I'm thinking. But it was almost like auto-pilot," she said of her cathartic letter. "I thought about it for months. I had written it in my head."

Boswell said she fantasizes about sitting down over a sandwich with Rauner in her office in Coleman Hall.

"I will be happy to provide lunch, no baloney," she wrote.

"I want to ask him questions about his approach, his strategies for being governor and the ideas behind what he said," she said, adding, "I am a doctor of language. If I don't understand, who does?"

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787 wrote on April 17, 2017 at 7:04 am

Does Ms. Boswell know who "Michael Madigan" is, and how long he's been in control of this state?

No, attacking the governor who has only been in office for a few years looks much better.   Blame Rauner instead.  A democrat controlled House and Senate for years... but we'll blame a recently arrived Republican governor instead.

CharacterCounts wrote on April 17, 2017 at 8:04 am

lt is my opinion that it is a good thing she is retiring.  She seems like she has been hiding in a closet for many years of Democratic party rule in Illinois.  She places no blame on the legislature and especially the Speaker of the House who has been in office for many years.  She blames a newly elected Republican governor who has not even been in office 4 years.

How long has the Speaker controlled the house?  How long has he headed the state Democratic party?  How many years did the Democrats control the house, senate and governor's office?  Where was she then?  Why did she not resign while they controlled all these offices?  Her convictions are certainly weak.  She did not resign while they held these offices as she waited until should could receive a retirement from a system that is not well funded by the state.

Does she believe the state should continue to go further in debt as the Democrats have put us?  Does she believe the Speaker should continue as the Speaker?  He controls the money for the Democrats to get elected and controls those appointed to run positions helping Democrats get elected.  He controls the Democratic members of the House and partially funds their elections.

Hopefully someday she will wake up and see the light which is change in the legislature.  We can't tax ourselves out of this problem.  


Anonymous71 wrote on April 17, 2017 at 8:04 am

What is Rauner's plan then? The state is worse off today than when Rauner took office. Rauner has been ineffective.

Anonymous71 wrote on April 17, 2017 at 8:04 am

It is Rauner's choice to continue not funding higher education, not Madigan' s.

787 wrote on April 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

Headline should read:

"Letter-writer, EIU professor looks for scapegoat for over 20 years of political mismanagement; blames Rauner"

catsrule wrote on April 17, 2017 at 9:04 am

Bruce Rauner is the Governor, not Mike Madigan; time for him to stop campaigning, blaming everyone but himself and do his job. Mr. Rauner is the only governor in Illinois history to not fund higher education, resulting in hundreds of layoffs at universities and colleges throughout Illinois. He has also destroyed, in many cases permanently, hundreds of not for profit social service providers providing service to thousands of Illinoisans. The United Way of Illinois has stated that 91 percent of the agencies they fund have cut services, directly impacting more than 1 million Illinois residents since Mr. Rauner has become governor. Mr. Rauner's refusal to comply with Article 2, Section VIII of the Illinois Constitution by recommending a balanced budget is costing millions of dollars in the form of higher interest based payments for borrowed funds and downgrades to Illinois' credit and bond ratings. The most recent COGFA estimate indicates Rauner's most recent budget proposal has a roughly $4.9 billion deficit! Mr. Rauner is destroying the State of Illinois in pursuit of an agenda for which he has no mandate (defined as majorities in the House and Senate) and attempting to force the General Assembly to capitulate to his demands. His first 2 years have been the least effective and most destructive of any governor in Illinois history. Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan (not withstanding legal problems) were all far better persons and vastly more successful governors.

cydnab wrote on April 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

She's obviously an English professor and not an Economics professor. 

annabellissimo wrote on April 20, 2017 at 12:04 pm

It is not an "either-or" situation; one can be knowledgeable in more than one area. One can hold two ideas in mind at once, even more than two - imagine that.

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm


Rauner needs to stop sucking his thumb because he can't break AFSCME and do his job. He has no revenue plan, no budget plan just wants to break a union as sport and to prevent a millionaire tax. Meanwhile Minnesota has a $1.2 billion surplus because the wealthy pay their share

CommonSenseless wrote on April 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

The Misleading Claim: Minnesota increased taxes and that has led to a great economy!

The Reality:
Minnesota is, indeed, experiencing a decent economy. However, there are some VERY important details to know:

1. Minnesota had ALREADY been experiencing a decent economy prior to the tax increases. As USA today explains, "Minnesota had one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates in 2012 ...and one of its highest GDP growth rates, at 3.5%." [a] The tax increases came the following year, in 2013. [b] Minnesota continued to maintain its rank of having one of the best unemployment rates, and any further decrease in its unemployment rate simply mirrored national trends. One cannot reasonably conclude, then, that the 2013 tax increases had "caused" the good economy which was already in place before said tax increases even existed.

2. Understand that this controversy is over TWO tax increases; One which increased income taxes on individuals earning above $150,000 a year or couples earning above $250,000. [b] [c] The other which increased the state's excise tax on cigarette sales by 130%. [d] It's rather disingenuous for progressives to point to the these two tax increases and declare ideological victory since jobs hadn't vanished. For one, they're conflating conerns. Concerns over businesses fleeing to neighboring states are not based on income taxes but more so on a state's business environment. And in that regard, it's relevant to point out two key facts:
a. Business taxes have actually been CUT since 2013. [e] This is something progressives don't seem to be acknowledging.
b. Once analyzed in a 2014 study, the cigarette tax increase has, as predicted, been quite detrimental to sales. [d] We will list the pertinent details below.


"In 2013 the Minnesota Legislature passed a 130% increase in the cigarette excise tax and also increased the tax on other tobacco products from 70% of the wholesale price to 95% of the wholesale price." In 2014, when a study was conducted to measure the effects of this new policy, the following conclusions were found: [d]

• 1,100 jobs were estimated to have been lost or eliminated by 2014 as a result.

• Tobacco sales declined 50% in Minnesota stores along the border.

• Dramatic sales increases of tobacco products occurred in all four bordering states, indicating consumers had merely shifted to out of state purchases.

• By 2014, $38 million of lost sales in non-tobacco products also occurred as an indirect result.

• Nearly a quarter of all cigarettes consumed in Minnesota are now estimated to be purchased in other states.

As you can see, Minnesota may in fact be doing well, but this is due to other variables and not due to an increase in income taxes or cigarette taxes. One must consider the many other relevant variables at play. For instance, Minnesota borders water which automatically benefits ANY region, as it makes it part of a commercial trade route. This alters the conditions that might otherwise push businesses to conduct commerce elsewhere. Consider this. Part of Minnesota's border is water (beneficial to business), another part is Canada (not appealing to most companies seeking to stay in the US), and the rest of its border are 4 neighboring states, where 3 of which are landlocked. This gives Minnesota an upper hand relative to other states, which is entirely relevant when one's concern is commerce. Furthermore, Minnesota is home to a major natural resource and produces 75% of the country's iron ore. [f] The iron-ore industry can't just pick up and leave. Lastly, there has emerged a rather extensive list of tax CUTS, credits, or simplifications, all potentially offsetting the detriments of the aforementioned two tax increases. [e] They are as follows:

• $230 million in reduced taxes, as well as a simplification of the tax code, for Middle Class Minnesotans.

• The elimination of the “marriage penalty” tax, saving more than 650,000 married couples an average of $115 per year.

• Over 16,000 additional middle class families will qualify for the Working Family Tax Credit.

• Tax Cuts for Parents. More than 25,000 families who qualify for child care tax credits will see an average increase in their tax credit of $74 per year.

• Tax Cuts for Students. More than 285,000 recent college graduates could save up to $190 per year by deducting their student loan interest. Another 40,000 current college students and parents will receive a tuition deduction of $140 per year, on average.

• Tax Cuts and simplification of the tax code for Small Employers as well as an elimination of a requirement to maintain separate records for federal taxes.

• Tax cuts for seniors, teachers, and homeowners.

• A reduction in business sales taxes by $232 million.

• All three business-to-business taxes were repealed.

• The sales tax on repair and maintenance of electronic, farm, and commercial equipment has been repealed.

• The warehousing sales tax was repealed.

• Sales tax on telecommunications equipment has been repealed.

• $3 million in tax CREDITS for "Innovation and Jobs" and specifically "fuel innovation" has been set aside.

• Another $3 million in Tax Credits for startup businesses and entrepreneurs.

• Simplification of the Estate Tax, raising the exemption from $1 million to $2 million.

• Elimination of the Gift Tax; a reduction of $43 million.

• Furthermore, in May of 2014, an additional $103 million in tax cuts for homeowners, renters and farmers was agreed to. [g]

To point to all of this and declare, "Tax increases created jobs!" is MORE than a bit questionable. When you already have a decent economy, and firms see tax cuts for businesses and consumers on the horizon, it shouldn't be a surprise that they'd likely remain in the state. Minnesota is doing well for many reasons, but their 2013 income tax increase on the top 2% of earners and their 2013 cigarette tax increase are NOT why. Add to all of the Minnesota tax cuts the fact that their government has begun shrinking in size per recent jobs numbers showing the government shed 4,200 jobs in December of 2014 alone [h] and it's a wonder why Progressives keep proudly waiving this example around.








Bulldogmojo wrote on April 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm


Well the examples you have laid out would constitute an actual plan, Maybe you should pass this along to your deplorable pal in the Illinois Governor's office.

Funny I don't recall AFSCME council 5 of Minnesota reporting any job losses?

CommonSenseless wrote on April 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm

When has AFSCME ever let the government downsize to meet demand? Government workers are always insulated since government doesn't live and die by the bottom line...otherwise IL would have died properly 25 years ago.

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 20, 2017 at 9:04 am


We've lost over 300+ AFSCME represented jobs by attrition on this campus since 2008. So your speculation about insulation is absurd

CallSaul wrote on April 18, 2017 at 12:04 am

So, uh, you copied and pasted this from a reactionary nutjob facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/OccupyDemocratsLogic/photos/a.1647169182167657.1073741828.1646874365530472/1881069742110932/?type=3

Presenting the words and ideas of others as if they were your own, huh...?


Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on April 18, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Good job Saul!!!! You are always on your toes. You're my hero!

CallSaul wrote on April 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

It's not at all surprising that this hack troll is a plagiarist. None of his comments show any trace of originality or independent, let alone free, thinking.

He's a reactionary bigot who's critical thinking skills never progressed beyond grade school level.

Now wait for him to call me a beta male and say that I should blame myself if anyone I know committed suicide as he's done before.

Don't be too judgmental --- it really is the best he's capable of...

catsrule wrote on April 17, 2017 at 3:04 pm

CommonSenseless, thanks for the info, perhaps Illinois could adopt some of what is working for Minnesota. OTOH,  it's accurate to point out wealthier Minnesotans are paying a fairer percentage of income taxes than wealthier Illinoisans do.  Instead of proposing and approving a budget in accordance with his priorities, one of the single most important (and constitutionally required) functions of the Illinois governor, Mr Rauner is holding it hostage for an agenda with absolutely no mandate, let alone a provision of documention demonstrating its fiscal value.  In support of Bulldogmojo's assertion regarding Mr Rauner's agenda towards AFSCME, he deliberately removed a contractual provision requiring a demonstration of cost-effectiveness and efficiency before outsourcing.  There is nothing conservative or taxpayer friendly about this aspect.  At the same time, Mr Rauner demands changes that all but end any benefit associated with employee seniority, a clear sign that he intends to target older employees for elimination from the workforce and provide them little due process.  These latter two aspects are clear indications Mr Rauner has not bargained in good faith.  

CommonSenseless wrote on April 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm

@catsrule, Lets take a minute and compare income and property taxes in IL vs. MN. The state tax in IL is 3.5% and for MN would be 7.85% @$250k. The top rate in MN is 9.85%, so I'll just use this for this to prove a point. Avg eff prop tax is IL=2.67%, MN 1.17% (these are just medians) Chicago is far worse. Consider the following... $250k/yr salary and $1M property. MN resident pays $875 more per year (although at 7.85% it would be $4125 less). You say exactly, I say hold on a minute... Once the person retires, IL resident still pays additional $15000/year in taxes...in perpetuity.

If you made IL prop tax match MN, I would gladly vote for MN income tax, most people would... or should unless you really like to live below your means. The problem is, Madigan just wants more, It's why Rauner is adamant about property tax reform before income tax hikes.

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on April 17, 2017 at 6:04 pm

All three of those gov. bowed down to  Madigan.  At least Rauner has the backbone to stand up to him.  Speaking of which.......... why didnt you mention Potato Head aka Quinn on your list ?

Tyronius P HoggLegg wrote on April 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Yes, Rauner has quite a backbone, and he has not bowed down....except that he hasnt done squat either...You think he is a success because he and Madigan have been relegated to having this 2 year whizzing contest? This state is screwed and your all giddy beacuse your billionaire boy king has "some a dat dere backbone"

BruckJr wrote on April 17, 2017 at 9:04 pm

The fact is that there is far too much higher education capacity in Illinois.  Residents are fleeing the state in droves.  The population decline is even worse than it appears.  Long term residents are fleeing but are being partially replaced by immigrants (both legal and illegal).  We don't need nearly the capacity for educating college students that we needed thirty years ago.  EIU and Chicago State should be phased out.  They are both hemorrhaging students even though they are lowering entrance requirements.  There is plenty of capacity elsewhere in the state to absorb the declining number of students that they serve.

Regarding the letter writer:

Parley ABoswell$91,035.00ProfessorAll Higher Ed EmployeesEastern Illinois University 2015 


wykhb wrote on April 17, 2017 at 10:04 pm

$91 grand?  You can't pay a UI coach for a month on that paltry sum.  30 years teaching English and just now figured out how to write a letter of "concern" about potential problems in the State of Illinois.  I actually never wonder how the problems in this state got so large; the reasons are constantly on display. 

annabellissimo wrote on April 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Yours is a specious "argument." A state that has become a nationwide icon of political corruption and dysfunction has cheated its citizens and its employees for years and those who have been cheated suddenly discover how bad it is. The state in crisis arrives at a political point (national and state) whereby an ultra right-wing governor and an entrenched Illinois pol stage a stand-off. One sounds like a quintessential pol from Chicahgo and the other has verbal quirks that he must imagine make him seem like some Lincoln-esque hale fellow, well met, with all the dropped "g" at the end of gerunds. He's "runnin'.......thinkin'........doin'......" and seems to think that all the 'real folks" don't use the "g." The verbal styles of the two, Chicahgo and Runnin', make it easier to pigeonhole them and assign them to the usual stereotypes in Illinois: Cook County vs. downstate. Pawns in the state games. Everybody else suffers for the hubris of those two.

This is a state that arrived at a critical point after years of corruption and mis-management. Everybody heard about it. Everybody knew about it. Problems increased, crises deepened. Jobs left. Already inadequate funding for colleges and universities dropped and dropped and dropped again, with more demands placed on already strapped institutions. Comics mocked the state viz the corrupt politicians in prison. Although ours is the home of Lincoln, the Obamas, even Hillary Clinton, not to mention many well-known, accomplished people from all fields, what we have become known for is corruption and crime (and Chicago is the most associated with crime because of the unbelievable number of shootings) and endless rows of corn and soybeans. Nobody talks about anything that makes Illinois beautiful or special or unique, about its history, its national importance - all that has become the national profile of Illinois is corruption, crime, corn/soybeans and rapid decline. So a place in decline caused by the people in power begins to lose population and your argument is to encourage further decline because the reduced population caused by the people in power who caused the decline means further decline is necessary and the people in power who caused the problems declare: The state is sick! Kill the state!. Seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy meets a logical fallacy

Some features of any given area make it better, more attractive, more appealing. Some of those are natural and some are "man made." Among those many features in Illinois are its universities, the Illinois State Museum, Starved Rock, the Illinois River, state parks, state historical sites and so on and so on. In an intelligent, decent society, universities are treasures to be nurtured, not enemies to be destroyed. Probably every school child in Illinois for generations made a field trip to the Illinois State Museum until, under Madigan and Rauner it closed entirely - for a long time - and had to let staff go; a beloved, treasured institution that inspired and moved Illinois students and visitors was spat upon by Madigan and Rauner. It finally reopened, but now you pay a sizeable charge to go in and that treasure is not the same. One questions the existence of the moral compass among the state's "leaders," both parties, all locations!

To decimate institutions, eradicate jobs and security and hope, watch citizens move away and others decide not to come and then say: look! We're ruining everything, nobody wants to be in a place we're ruining, let's keep ruining it, if nobody stays or comes, we won't need any of the institutions and features we are ruining - and we can criticize the institutions for letting us ruin them - seems deeply insane.Such destructive, self-serving mentalities seem hellbent on destroying Illinois and all those in it. Where is your energy and anger for ending the system of entrenched corruption? That is not the fault of the universities or the museums or the elderly, sick and poor, surely you would agree.

Eh - I give up. The factions in this state don't even recognize what their biases are doing. Everybody is wearing their own brand of blinder and it is a state in the control of the figuratively blind. The rest of us are in a constant state of shock and heartbreak for what has been done, is being done, to our state, our colleges, our people - all so that the yahoos who went to Springfield can feel big and powerful about themselves and their own and their friends' wallets. It sickens anybody who considers themselves a well and moral person.

Bruck, Jr.: Post your own salary here. Your own activities to make anything in the state better.  Your posting of Dr.Boswell's salary may be factual, without any context, anti-intellectual, and irrelevant. How much do you think a Ph.D. with 30 years in a job should make? Do you object to the BILLIONS of "your" dollars being spent on Trump's extensive and expensive tax-payer paid for protection?  Is it only a Ph.D. university professor at retirement who has attained a good, but not outlandish salary over years that gets your goat.  You're scapegoating.  It's ugly.



BruckJr wrote on April 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Anyone who considers Chicago State to be a treasure to be nurtured is, indeed, part of the problem that this state faces.

burl55 wrote on April 19, 2017 at 6:04 am

Is Minnesota able to attract jobs and residents? Apparently they are doing better than the "tax and spend" liberals in Illinois are doing at it.

A professor making $91,000 a year is crying, with her snowflakes, over being treated unfairly by a Governor that just happened upon the wreck? Wow, 91 grand a year and it took her 20+ years to find someone to complain about mistreating her. I'm sure their are several working single moms and old folks, unable to afford their medical. That really feel sorry for her and understand her dire condition. Mike Madigan, not Rauner, has caused every one of Illinois problems. The state cannot afford all of the "feel good stuff" that Madigan gave Democrats to make them feel special and get their votes. Like free welfare and a free phone that Obama used to get their vote.

But how can the taxpayers afford all the free stuff liberals depend on? Jobs and residents are leaving this state by the thousands every year. Illinois has more people collecting, than paying. Democrats response? Raise taxes on the businesses, workers, real estate, etc. and drive more people and jobs out of the state.

Where did the retirement money for the State workers, or employees I should say ever go? Setting or standing around all day updating your Facebook page isn't really working, is it?

While I am certainly not a fan of any Governor who supports Mayors breaking the law by hiding illegal immigrants. I have yet to hear the first Democrat tell us how to fix the problems in Illinois. Free college? What a joke! Who pays for free college, the Government? No, the taxpayers do. We don't have many of them left either. So we give the children free college that Illinois taxpayers foot the bill for. Ok, where are the graduates going to work? They will have to leave Illinois to find a job. How do the taxpayers win with that deal? How is that going to fix the awful Illinois money situation.

Its time the Illinois Democrats hold the States House and Senate Democrats accountable for Mike Madigan destroying the States finances. The wreck happened long before Rauner came to office. I heard a guy say the other day that a good example is this. There is a million dollars worth of bills to pay and you are given a whole $5.00 to pay them. That's what the Democrats have done to Rauner and then complained that Rauner is at fault? Democrats caused this train wreck and obviously have no idea how to fix it.

Commonsenseman wrote on April 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

typical out of touch elite, the deomcrats have run illinois into the ground, but you wouldnt understand all you are is an english professor with no real world skills, enjoy your big pension tahnks to the taxpayers of this broke state