Residents should have their say on TIF projects
Sorry to have missed last month with an article, but Mary and I, along with our daughter, Lee Anne as a chauffeur, spent some vacation time out in the Jackson Hole, Wyo., area, enjoying the Teton Mountains. The most spectacular mountain scenery we have ever seen in all of our travels, almost the world over.
We suggest that if you have never seen a sunrise and then a sunset in the Tetons, then you have really been missing one of the greatest sights of life. We do a Teton trip about every five years. Except for our first night in Jackson, we had rooms with no TV, no radio and most of the time cell phones did not work. It was absolutely wonderful and very peaceful. Moose, elk, bear, deer and all other wild animals watch you just like you watch them.
While we were watching a sunset one evening I got to thinking about Arlington Heights and the Constitution of the United States, and wondering why it was that the Constitution has become so isolated and far out of the reach of the common and ordinary citizen to use to challenge government at any level -- federal, state and local. When a group of ordinary citizens finds government doing something wrong, it's almost impossible to challenge the wrong.
There are several Illinois state statutes that when used as the basis for a local ordinance or order will, in fact, permit and encourage one agency of local government to pre-empt part of the legitimately levied and collected real estate taxes of other agencies of local government. At sea they would call it piracy; on land it would be stealing and in any event could be considered a crime or fraud.
An example of wrongfully using a state statute to establish a TIF (tax increment financing) district in a certain area of the municipality, I would like to use TIF No. 4 -- a 35-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Golf and Arlington Heights roads. I contend that no more than 1 acre of the parcel really qualifies for TIF designation and funds. The village board should reconsider their decision to establish the district and then revoke TIF 4 in total.
Now, what does all this have to do with the Constitution of the United States, and the village of Arlington Heights? Amendment number 1 of the Bill of Rights. The last sentence of that amendment states "… and to petition the Government for a redress of Grievances." I believe that TIF 4 is a very legitimate grievance by the citizens of Arlington Heights and should be revoked or reversed by a petition and a vote of the village board.
Arlington Heights has a provision in its municipal code called citizens "Initiation of Ordinances": (Article II Section 2, Order of Business, (b) that provides for the petitioning of government by a group of citizens, 1 percent of the registered voters who can place an issue on the agenda of the village board a petition that would reconsider and then revoke the board action that created TIF District 4. And if the board does not approve the petition as presented, then the petitioners could go out and gather more signatures equal to 12 percent of the registered voters. If the board still refuses to adopt the proposal, the petition's issue is to be placed as a referendum ballot on the next regularly scheduled election. If approved by the voters, it will become the law of Arlington Heights, in spite of the board.
Now for a second exercise in constitutional government I would like to propose that the entire Constitution of the United States, all of current amendments and its Preamble be placed in a petition and placed on the board's agenda for their consideration and approval using the same Initiation of Ordinances Provisions, as above and if not approved by the board, then it too can be put on a referendum ballot at the next regularly scheduled election. This may sound like a lot, but it's really a bit less than 5,000 words, and would take up about three double-sided pages in the municipal code.
I know that this is a lot to talk about, and will be a lot of voluntary work to get it done, but in the long run will really be worth it. The people of Arlington Heights will be able to get at and use the Constitution of the United States without so much political and governmental interference and we might even make a few statesmen or stateswomen out of our local politicians.
As I see it, the Constitution is superior law to that of ordinary law created by a legislative body. If the federal or state politicians are so possessive and are so afraid of a petition of the citizens that they have locked the Constitution away in what they consider their own private locker, then I say, we as citizens, must make the Constitution of the superior law at both the top and the bottom of the governmental scale.
Let's make the Constitution of the United States of America available to and useable by the ordinary and common citizens of the village of Arlington Heights.