The former mayor of one of Illinois’ most impoverished communities was arrested Aug. 22 on felony theft and misconduct charges, according to the Daily Southtown.
Charles Griffin served as the mayor of Ford Heights from 2009 to 2017, and stands accused of diverting more than $147,000 in taxpayer funds into two bank accounts he used for his own purposes, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Current Ford Heights Mayor Annie Coulter first uncovered the irregularities in village finances and reported them to the authorities.
Ford Heights was named one of the poorest suburbs in America in 1987, and residents have seen little improvement since then. A 2016 study by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago found more than two-thirds of individuals aged 20 to 24 in the Cook County suburb were jobless.
Like too many other south suburban communities, Ford Heights has struggled to keep village finances above water despite punishingly high property tax rates. In 2017, about 40 Ford Heights village employees, including firefighters, were not getting paid on time.
One local employee who is getting paid has drawn heavy scrutiny.
Ford Heights School District 169 Superintendent Gregory Jackson took home more than $325,000 in total compensation in 2016, despite his district serving fewer than 500 students. State Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-South Holland, introduced a bill in 2017 that would have allowed nearby Chicago Heights School District 170 to absorb the smaller Ford Heights district.
“The goal of [the bill] is to stop the massive theft of funds by the superintendent, Dr. Greg Jackson, and school board through questionable bond deals, vendor contracts and unnecessary expenditures of funds,” Jones told South Cook News.
But the day after House members passed the bill out of committee, Jackson sought and received school board approval to add a special protection to a provision in his contract that guaranteed he would get all the salary and benefits remaining in his contract should his district become consolidated.
The new provision let Jackson decide whether he needs to sue in order to protect that rich payout, and the district would have to pay for the lawyer. Jones estimated this guaranteed Jackson a payment of approximately $1.8 million if his consolidation bill were to pass. The bill was tabled in January 2018.
If public officials in Ford Heights continue to look out for their own bottom lines over the interests of their struggling constituents, the village’s revival will not be imminent.
On a more broad note, the Soviet State of Illinois is losing more citizens than nearly every other state, and according to reports, the biggest reason citizens are leaving is that they can no longer afford to live in the Land of Lincoln.
Certainly, Americans move from place to place for a large variety of reasons. From new jobs, to schooling, to weather and family, Americans are a people motivated by the need for change.
But in Communist ruled Illinois, one of the major reasons to seek a change of venue is because the state is simply taxing them out of their homes, according to Chicago’s WGN TV.
According to reports, Illinois alone lost 33,703 citizens to outward migration last year. In 2016, the state lost another 37,508 people. A report by the Chicago Tribune also noted that Chicago has been a net loser of its citizens for the last three years running. And the surrounding county was also a net loser of its population.
Indeed, Chicago is unique in the U.S. for being the only major city that has consistently lost citizens over the last five years. The Tribune’s editorial board even published an editorial saying that it no longer makes any sense to live in Illinois.
Because so many citizens are leaving, Illinois dropped from fifth-largest state to number six in 2017, the Tribune reported last year.
One Chicago couple who moved to Tennessee told WGN that the move gave them back an amazing 25 percent of their income that would no longer be lost to property taxes and other expenses associated with living in the deep blue state of Illinois.
Another ex-Chicagoan told WGN that her property tax in Tennessee was the same as those she paid in Chicago, but the size of her property in the Volunteer State is far larger than what she had back home.
Best-selling author Brad Thor, who calls himself an “economic refugee,” told WGN that he fled Chicago to stop “aiding and abetting” the city’s corruption.
“I was aiding and abetting a corrupt system in Illinois,” he said explaining why he moved to the Nashville, Tennessee, area. “We’d all had it,” he said of why he and others left Chicago.
With so many leaving Illinois, it is no wonder that moving van Line company United Van Lines ranked the state as number one for outbound moving vans.
So what was the Illinois legislature’s answer to people fleeing crushing taxes?
By raising taxes, of course!
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 23rd, 2018