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Larry Lough

Beware! Political bewitching hour upon us

Let the voter beware.

With barely 2 weeks until Election Day, dishonesty is everywhere.

Debates. Polls.

Polls about debates. Debates about polls.

That’s politics. That’s political speech.

Be skeptical. Trust at your own risk.

This is getting scarier than Halloween.

And it’s much more important.

MAYBE THE BEST example of muddied political speech can be found in Lee County’s referendum on a sales tax increase to provide new money for local schools.

How much of an increase?

That depends on whom you ask.

Do you want to know the percent, the percentage increase, or the percentage point difference?

The proposal would add a new 1 percent sales tax to most retail purchases.

That is not the same thing as a 1 percent increase in the local sales tax rate. Blame the vocabulary of math.

The proposal, instead, would increase the Dixon sales tax rate by 1 percentage point – to 0.0775.

To verbally minimize the impact of the proposal, that’s a good way to explain it.

But people who oppose the ballot measure want to maximize that impact, so they are using a bigger number: a 15 percent increase in Dixon’s total sales tax.

That figure, also, is accurate, even if slightly exaggerated.

Adding 1 cent to Dixon’s present sales tax of 6.75 cents on the dollar would increase the total rate by 14.8 percent.

So, if voters approve the referendum on Nov. 6, the sales tax in Dixon will be determined by multiplying the cost of taxable goods by 0.0775, instead of 0.0675.

The sales tax charged in Dixon, of course, includes the state sales tax of 6.25 percent.

We hope that clears up the confusion.

We know it doesn’t.

ILLINOIS VOTERS ARE in a lose-lose situation with regard to the election of the next state Legislature.

If Democrats maintain control – which seems likely but undeserved – we will see the same embarrassing inaction we’ve experienced in the General Assembly for years.

If Republicans win a majority, we will likely be subjected to the reactionary social agenda of ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council – which includes an insidious voter suppression plan.

Pick your poison.

Democratic majorities in the Illinois House and Senate would keep Speaker Michael Madigan and Majority Leader John Cullerton in the leadership positions of their respective chambers.

That would mean continued fumbling and bumbling amid the state’s financial crisis, which can be resolved only with lots of politically unpopular spending cuts.

Although Democrats would still have the votes – and the governor – to make the tough decisions needed to tackle the state’s mounting debt, Madigan still wouldn’t allow anything to get done unless Republicans agreed to share the political fallout from the necessarily painful solution.

Which means nothing meaningful would get done.

And if Republicans win control of the Legislature, financial problems will take a back seat to ALEC legislation, including a strict voter identification law to address the virtually non-existent problem of in-person voter fraud.


JUST IN CASE YOU thought Illinois had already cracked down on non-existent fraud at the polls, it hasn’t.

Many states – Indiana and Wisconsin among them – have recently enacted the ALEC agenda into their state laws. Some are surviving legal challenges, while some are not.
But – so far – the Illinois General Assembly has not passed a law requiring every voter to show an approved photo ID at the polls.

The conservative ALEC agenda (i.e., so-called “right to work” laws, restrictions on legal abortions, bans on gay marriage, crackdown on immigration, etc.) has been popular in states with Republicans legislatures.

A Democratic Legislature would, understandably, be cool to a voter ID law whose underlying purpose is to discourage certain voters who are more likely to vote for Democrats.

Whiteside County Clerk Dana Nelson confirmed there will be no new ID requirement at the polls Nov. 6, although anyone who wants to cast a ballot at her office during the “early voting” period through Nov. 3 will need a photo identification.

Show up at the polls on Election Day, however, and you skip that hurdle.

YOUR NEWSPAPER IS trying something new this election.

Our editorial board has scheduled 45-minute mini-debates between candidates for state’s attorney, and you can watch them live.

The debate in Lee County (Democratic incumbent Henry Dixon and Republican challenger Anna Sacco-Miller) will be streamed live on starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The Whiteside County candidates (Democrat Trish Joyce and Republican Pat Liston) will begin their debate at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

If you cannot see the debates live, video will be available afterward for you to watch at your leisure.

As the criminal prosecutor and chief legal adviser for county government, the state’s attorney holds an important and powerful position.

Get a good look at the candidates on our website.

Beware! Political bewitching hour upon us shaw-push-component-1