Joe Moore Votes to Triple The Home Heating Gas Tax
Many thanks to Toni Duncan, of 24/7 HowardWatchers, for reporting this on her blog.
Joe Moore has shown the "independence" and "progressivism" that is too typical of him in rubberstamping a brutally regressive triple increase in the home heating gas tax, in December, 2004. Here is another milestone in the wonderful record Moore likes to remind us of, along with his ongoing and lucrative friendships with arsonists and slumlords.
In this time of increasing fuel costs and stagnating incomes among the middle and lower income brackets, our city council has chosen to levy brutal and totally regressive taxes on the population at large, while conveying hundreds of millions of dollars to private developers and corporations via TIF districts and other Welfare For The Rich schemes; and by misallocating similarly massive sums to the construction of pharoanic and wasteful monuments to the vanity of Mayor Daley and his moneyed chums, and away from necessary services such as our failing schools, neglected neighborhood parks and recreational facilities, and our increasingly decrepit and unreliable public transportation.
What's worse, this particular tax will be disproportionately rougher on the very poor than even other regressive taxes, because poor homeowners and renters are much more likely than the rest of us to be burdened with aged and extremely inefficiant furnaces that they cannot afford to replace and that require at least twice as much fuel to produce the same amount of heat. It is not uncommon to hear of gas bills of $500 or more for a single month among poor residents, for the coldest months.
This vicious tax, along with the numerous other "stealth" taxes and the recent steep hikes in property taxes, are necessary to offset the shortfalls in tax revenues diverted from the public till by the 150 (and increasing) TIF districts, to private entities, some of whom are completely tax-exempt.
So, in this "blue" city of Democrats, as in the rest of this Republican country, the non-rich are plundered to pay for luxuries and monuments for the very rich. The city council cannot find more than $3 million to fund daily operations at the CTA, but can somehow find $42 million to contribute to the $216 million mega- el station for the luxury multiuse development on Block 37. There is no money for neighborhood parks and recreational facilities, but there are ample funds for Trophy Parks in downtown and for rehabilitations costing hundreds of millions for privately-owned sports stadiums. We do not have the money to operate, let alone improve, our failing and disreputable public schools, but we have $40 million to assist Loyola University, a well-endowed private institution that is completely exempt from taxation, so that they can renovate a handful of campus buildings.
Our own North Coast Aldercreatures, including Tunney (Lakeview), Shiller (Uptown), Mary Ann Smith (Edgewater), and Joe Moore (East Rogers Park) rubberstamped the increase without a wimper of protest. It is especially reprehensible on the part of Shiller and Moore, for these two aldermen have built their political careers by posturing as advocates for the disadvantaged and promoters of "progressive" politics, yet I have only once heard of either of them voting against any of Hizzoner's TIF boondogles or unnecessary public works extravaganzas (Moore voted against one TIF, the LaSalle Central). The same could be said of the alderman representing the city's poverty-stricken wards on the south and west sides.
None of the token 'feel good' programs to assist the poor and those in the middle brackets, such as tax credits for 'green' buildings, CPAN 'set asides', and other crumbs cast to the non-elite from the groaning board at which are seated our political leaders and their moneyed cronies, are an even fractional offset to the hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies , both cash and in kind, that flow to the wealthy and connected. Speaking strictly for myself, I'll happily forfeit all the socialistic nonsense such as CPAN subsidies for middle income buyers, and city mortgage buydowns, in return for a rollback in property taxes, but most of all for a rollback of the home heating gas tax.
Hopefully, the 49th , the 50th,and the 46th Wards will elect new aldermen this coming Tuesday. To the new candidates who will replace the old, I say this: we will be watching you, and we will expect that you will place the welfare of the constituents who voted for you, and the ongoing solvency and viability of Chicago itself, ahead of your monied contributors and your own vanity. We like civic adornments, but not at the cost of our homes and our very lives. We want a sensibly run, solvent city that provides a high level of essential services, including superior police and fire protection, well-run, highly rated schools, reliable and rapid transit, and attention and timely service to the ward you represent, and we expect that you can provide this without taxing us out of our homes by constantly escalating property taxes. We also want a vision for the city's future that recognizes that meeting the challenge of financing the city's services and driving economic growth will call for vastly different solutions than those chosen by our leaders to date, and that trophy projects and monument- building will have to take a back seat to preparing the city for a future that is likely to be very different, and much more difficult, than the past.