Next to asking my kids what they want from Santa (if anyone is wondering it was a skidloader for my loud, big-little boy and an American Girl horse for my blue-eyed girl), asking people about their New Year’s resolutions is my next favorite conversation. Each year I promise to start running. Eat more vegetables. And drink more water. Occasionally, there’s an off the wall idea thrown in like starting to watch “Star Wars” movies or reading the “Lord of the Rings” series. Each year, I make it a couple of weeks then slip back into old habits. Walking, but no running. Dr. Pepper over water. And mashed potatoes rather than Brussels sprouts. Potatoes are technically veggies just with buttery deliciousness. Oh, and I’m more of a Harry Potter kind of gal.
This year, I’d like to suggest some resolutions. First, no more new or improved local taxes. Let’s take a moment to remember Cook County’s disastrous sugar tax. Granted Toni Preckwinkle’s tax didn’t deter me from having a Dr. Pepper, but I wasn’t buying a six- or twelve-pack either. And I, especially, wasn’t buying a Diet Dr. Pepper and paying a sugar tax for no sugar.
The tax was pitched as a way to deter sugar consumption and improve public health as opposed to just raising funds for a government that continues to give raises large enough to make corporate America blush. The tax was repealed, but the bitterness is lasting. I’m still checking my receipt to make sure there’s no lingering Preckwinkle tax (in addition to her sales tax increase from several years ago).
Next, at the end of 2016, I penned a letter to Santa and asked him for two things. Fuzzy black ear muffs and leadership from the nation’s top officeholder. Santa let me down, but I did get a great hat with a pom-pom and even better, a portion of its sales supported pediatric cancer research. This year instead of penning a lovely note to Santa, I’m suggesting another resolution: we, Americans, will show leadership by demonstrating and honestly embracing acceptance of our differences and of our similarities.
The final resolution is that everyone involved in Illinois government will embody the attitude of “statesmenship” and put the partisanship and bickering aside. I realize that this is a big ask since 2018 is a gubernatorial election and the current partisan atmosphere has encouraged many of the great statesmen to retire. Unfortunately, true progress and reform will be difficult until individuals set aside their alliances to political parties and campaign donors and strive to work for the good of all residents.
Perhaps the above resolution should be extended to Cook County government. This spring, all commissioners along with the President, Sheriff, Assessor, and Clerk are up for election. Bitterness over the sugar tax, distrust of the property tax system, and distrust of government remain prevalent within the electorate.
May this New Year bring not only cheer, but renewed hope and a brighter time for Cook County, Illinois, and the U.S.
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