Monday, January 25, 2010

RTA Tax - A Tough Choice

In 2008, DuPage County faced a several million dollar budget shortfall created by Mrs. Debra Olson and the DuPage County Board that would have severely impacted public safety and human service agencies in the county. Debra Olson, a member of the County Board for years, and currently running for the Chairman position, was unable to find a way to maintain these agencies at an acceptable level after having overspent on other projects. The residents of DuPage County were looking at staff reductions of critical personnel in both the State’s Attorney Office and the Sheriff Department, Bailiffs, and Probation Officers, those departments essential to the public safety.

To head off these layoffs and showing a great amount of responsibility, the State’s Attorney, Joe Birkett, and County Sherriff, John Zaruba, and a few other County officials reached out to Sen. Dan Cronin in Springfield to help find a new revenue stream for those critical departments. Even though it meant supporting a fare increase, Dan Cronin felt that the one-cent-on-four-dollars on public transportation tax (a sizeable portion of which is paid by residents NOT living in DuPage County) being debated in Springfield as part of the RTA Act would provide those critical public safety departments with the additional revenue that would allow them to continue funding those departments so they could most effectively serve the residents of DuPage County.

While Debra Olson was sitting on her hands doing nothing, Dan Cronin answered the call.

Cronin agonized over his vote since he was acting against his fundamental principles of low taxes and small government that he’s always followed during his time as a legislator in Springfield. Up until the County he loves was faced with increasing property taxes or cutting services, Dan was and remains a reliable vote against the outrageous spending and taxes we’ve grown to expect from the corrupt politicians in Springfield. Cronin obviously felt that the best interests of the County’s residents would be best served if he voted for the RTA Act, a consumption-type tax (if you don’t want to pay it, don’t ride the RTA). He listened to the arguments of the State’s Attorney and DuPage Sherriff, and looked at Debbie’s and the County Board’s inability to fill its impending deficit and took action.

Dan Cronin, along with his State Senate colleagues Kirk Dillard and John Millner, braved enormous political pressure and helped secure passage of the RTA bill in Springfield. Not every one of our DuPage legislators had the courage to make this tough choice. After Dan made the tough choice, Debbie and the County Board gratefully accepted the additional revenue provided by the RTA plugging a $20,000,000 budget shortfall they had no way to address other than drastic spending cuts or massive tax increases.

Not only was DuPage County able to avoid layoffs in the State’s Attorney Office and the Sheriff’s Department, the additional revenue stream provided by the miniscule fare increase, much of which was paid by non-residents, allowed the DuPage County Board to abate the property tax levy by $1,000,000, providing the residents of DuPage County with much needed tax relief while lowering the reliance on property tax to fund our critical programs and services. Without the revenue increase provided by the RTA, the DuPage County Board would have either had to raise taxes, cut critical services including those involved in public safety, or some combination of both.

Debbie takes all the credit for these rebates, while slamming Dan Cronin, the man who made them possible. What say you, Mrs. Olson? Aren’t you being a touch hypocritical?
It’s easy for a legislator to collapse under political pressure and other legislators in DuPage County did. Some County Board members, like Debbie Olson just stood by and watched, and now those same County Board members criticize Cronin for his vote. Why hasn’t Debra Olson ever been called on the carpet to explain why Cronin had to make this vote? Simply because she wouldn’t look to good if everyone knew Cronin had to cover her butt and she has worked hard covering up these facts.

It’s easy for weak local officials like Debra Olson to snipe about Cronin voting for tax increases when they themselves had no ideas on how to balance their budgets and maintain public safety in DuPage County. Cronin’s tough choice on the RTA Act was courageous and the right thing to do for the citizens of DuPage County.

I hate taxes, and I hate politicians like Debbie Olson who overspend in their areas of responsibility and go crying up the chain, in this case Springfield, for help. Dan Cronin made a tough choice. He was right.

For my analysis on the DuPage County Board Chairman candidates:


Anonymous said...

Solid analysis, Cinci. Real leaders often times need to make tough decisions and Dan Cronin is a real leader with a proven track record of accomplishments. He'll do a terrific job as the next DuPage County Board Chairman.

Cincinnatus said...


Unfortunately, on other blogs I am personally attacked by Olson supporters for pointing out public record facts about her. They never have a counter-argument In my book, they earn a Solid B Plus, just like Obama.

When presented with a factual argument, their first instinct is to attack instead of engaging in a reasoned, factual debate.

Anonymous said...

Heard chirping about how ugly this all is for Deb Olson, and how unfair. So, I have been waiting for her to respond...she hasn't. Still. The writer of the blog (attached) clearly stands by his story. Interesting, no?

Cincinnatus said...

I am hearing folks linking that article to me and the Cronin campaign. I know I didn't have anything to do with it and I am sure nobody in the Cronin campaign had anything to do with it. The false claims linking me and Cronin are just as bad as the claims with that article, if they too are false.

What gossip are you hearing? Other than what I deduce from her absence at the Wayne Township meeting last night, the only thing I see are on the blogs.

The Factor said...

1)ALL of the donations you refer to are dated prior to her forwarding of ethics reform. She never said she hadn't taken money from county vendors or contractors, but that she wouldn't. And if you look at the dates, she hasn't.
2)You missed the "ara"mark! Debra voted for Aramark's competitor. Also, Erin Vaughn (sp?) did not begin work with Debra until she had left Aramark.
3)Water Commission $$$. This commission was formed by legislation supported by Dan Cronin. They are now a seperate entity from the County Board, and are solely responsible for monitoring their own funds.

Cincinnatus said...

Olson provided a revised ethics statement saying her company does business with the county.

ARAMARK received an unusually, almost unprecedented. favorable ruling which allowed it to bid on a contract already won by another vendor. Olson received contemporaneous campaign contributions. Some of those contributions have not been returned as she recently stated, according to Illinois State Board of Elections record. Erin Vaughan was a vice president of ARAMARK, and now works on the Olson campaign.

The oversight of the Water Commission is provided by the County Board Committee of Public Works. Olson is the Chairman of that committee.

The Factor said...

County contracts are public record. Check them. I know her company. I've worked with them. NOTHING there.
Once again, you're right, Erin Vaughan WAS with Aramark, and NOW works voluntarily with the Olson camp. Also, the "unreturned" donations, as you have previously stated, were personal ones, and are not tracked in the same manner. You or I have no way to know if they were returned or not. Or at least, we shouldn't.
And lastly....
Rarely, but usually once, you're WRONG. The Water Commission in NOT overseen by the chair of Public Works, anymore....thanks to Dan Cronin.

The Factor said...

Cincinnatus is misleading you...

"For eight straight years and as of April 2009, as required by Illinois law, Olson filed a Statement of Economic Interest stating she had no business relationship with DuPage County. In October 2009, after declaring her intention to run for Chairman, she filed another statement saying she did actually do business with the County."

Again, Cincinnatus, perhaps you will go over to the County and take a look at those 8 years of Economic Interest Statements. They are public documents, I have seen them, and you are absolutely wrong. Furthermore, she does not state that she did business with the County. What it states is that she has ownership interest in a business. That business, however, has never had any county contracts. FOIA requests have proven that to be the case.

And let’s talk about conflicts. Cronin’s law partner is already a County Board member. Exactly how is THAT not a conflict – to have two business partners on the same board? Furthermore, Cronin is the County Party Chairman, also running for County Board Chairman, who used County Party resources for robo calls and letters to party faithful while running his County Board Chairman campaign. Andy McKenna has just been deemed in violation of Ethics rules for doing exactly that. Cronin ought to be censured by the County Party and resign his post as party chairman. Cincinnatus seems to like the Chicago-style political hack m.o.

"According to Illinois State Board of Election and DuPage County Board Records, Debbie Olson has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from vendors doing business with the county."

According to the State Board of Election and County Board Records, Debra Olson has taken 10% or less of her total contributions from County Vendors over the years, which means 90% of her contributions are coming from the private sector citizens. By contrast, Pankau and Cronin have taken huge sums of money from state vendors, lobbyists, unions, and pacs, all the while voting on their legislation. In this County Board Chairman’s race, Olson is the ONLY candidate who HASN’T taken any contributions from County vendors.

And let’s not overlook the fact that Cronin and Pankau are maxing out their state pensions, so coming to DuPage County to start, or in the case of Pankau, beef-up the County pension, is just one more way those two want to scam the system, and taxpayers.

"One of her campaign coordinators works for ARAMARK, a major vendor for DuPage County that is under the purview of a committee chaired by Olson. Olson claims to have returned all of the campaign contributions received from ARAMARK, however, the Illinois State Board of Elections shows un-returned campaign contributions from an ARAMARK vice president. ARAMARK was the recipient of a favorable ruling during the negotiations for a county food service contract."

Olson voted to give the contract to A’Viands, Aramark’s competitor, as did all 18 County Board members.

The Factor said...

Just a little more here...
"Debbie Olson did not, could not, and would not identify any budget cuts. Instead of showing leadership, she and other county officials went hat-in-hand to Springfield begging for a new revenue stream into county coffers."

Olson did NOT go to Springfield, Chairman Schillerstrom went to Springfield, without the advice and consent of the County Board (because he is not required by the Rules to ask for it), to ask DuPage legislators to vote in favor of the RTA bill and add the quarter-cent tax. Dan Cronin, Kirk Dillard, and John Millner were the only Republicans on either the House or Senate side to vote in favor of the legislation. Olson and many other board members were NOT in favor of the tax, and were prepared to do the hard work of making cuts.

"The 600-page 2010 budget, passed under the claimed leadership of Debbie Olson, is based on unrealistic budget assumptions. The current budget assumes sales tax revenues will significantly increase in 2010, in spite of the continued economic downturn and a state unemployment rate above the national average."

Olson, along with other board members, agreed with the Civic Federation Report that the assumptions are too aggressive. That is why Olson and others have refused to pass a resolution to bond for projects until the revenue assumptions can be verified, which is unlikely. The dollars allocated to the bond issue are the safety net, along with a separate $5million cash reserve fund above and beyond the $40million general cash reserve fund, and can only be spent with the super-majority vote of the board. So safeguards were put in place in case revenue projections aren’t met.

"The 2010 budget assumes continued issuance of grants by Springfield despite the bloated and busted budget deficits in Springfield. There is no reason to believe these grants will be provided at levels equivalent to those from last year."

If the State grant dollars do not come in, the County will not be funding those programs. That has been consistently stated by numerous board members, including Olson.

"Even while knowing about the 2010 budget assumptions, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Debbie Olson said that she could probably find funds to spend more on human services in 2010, which would deplete any budget reserves that would be used in the event that revenue estimates are not achieved."

Olson did not say she would find more funds to spend on Human Service programs. She said she would not look first to Human Services for cuts. Again, Cincinnatus didn’t do his homework, and takes comments out of context. Watch the Chicago Tribune video for yourself, folks.

"The budget contains no plan to find new or increased revenue streams."

True enough – you’ve heard of the TEA Parties, haven’t you, Cincinnatus? People are SICK of “new revenue streams” aka NEW TAXES. I applaud Olson for her stand on that.

Cincinnatus said...

Whew. If she did not feel the need to fill out a disclosure for eight years, why now? Either she needed to then, or she doesn't need to now. Which is it?

Your argument about Cronin's law partner is nothing but an attempted deflection from the discussion of Mrs. Olson's record.

The personal ARAMARK donations show the contributer's address as ARAMARKS corporate address. Perhaps it was filled out incorrectly.

By your own admission, Mrs. Olson HAS taken contributions from county vendors. She only now takes a "convenient" approach, sticking her finger into the political winds and coming up with a position du jour.

Fact is, the county board was running a deficit because of OVERSPENDING while Mrs. Olson sat and said nothing. The $30 million cut in 2010 budget is the same $30 million in increased spending from 2006-2009, no?

The problem is SPENDING and not taxes. Cronin only stepped in with consumption-type taxes, paid in large part by residents that do NOT live in DuPage County to alleviate property taxes paid SOLELY by Dupage Residents, and only after the County Board failed to live up to its fiscal obligations. He eliminated the County Board's deficits, which should have never happened in the first place.

Mrs. Olson put herself on a pedestal, and said her opponents failed to live up to her level of ethics. Untrue.