Earth to Ald. Brendan Reilly: say hello to reality.
Reilly wants to change the name of downtown’s Trump Plaza because he feels Donald Trump hurt Chicago’s image by calling it a “decimated war-torn country.” I wonder if the alderman reads the Sun Times. Every day, 365 days a year, there are articles about shootings, stabbings, chokings, ax attacks and the like in Chicago. Yet Reilly wants to punish Donald Trump? Our tally so far this year is more than 3,000 shootings, with more than 560 killed.
Instead of looking at his Cubs playoff tickets, Reilly should read the papers and get real. Donald Trump is not the problem; he has simply identified the problem that everyone knows.
Donald J. Lazo, Gage Park
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Gas taxes may have to rise
I don’t see how self-driving cars would reduce the cost of road and bridge maintenance. The cars would use the road the same way as conventional cars. They would, however, use less fuel than a car with a human at the controls, and less fuel consumption equals fewer gallons sold, which equals less tax collected.
People don’t want to talk about it, but if we’re going to fund roads with a per-gallon gas tax, it only makes sense that the tax should be raised because cars are getting more miles per gallon. If you drive 50 miles a day in a car that gets 15 mpg and you trade it in for a car that gets 30 mpg, you’re going to pay half the tax to drive the same distance. The use of the road remains constant but the revenue drops.
Tony Galati, Lemont
Campaign finance reform essential
On behalf of Reclaim Chicago and Common Cause Illinois we applaud the Sun-Times editorial board for bringing much needed attention to the issue of election finance reform.
Since the Citizens United court case opened the floodgates of money into our electoral system, it has become harder and harder to see how average citizens can be heard. Indeed, equating money with speech, which Citizens United did, ensures that only millionaires and billionaires have megaphones big enough to be heard by politicians.
That is why we at Reclaim and Common Cause have been working towards exactly the solutions outlined in the editorial. Our Fair Elections proposal has four key components. First it sets a limit on the size of donations that can be given. Second it matches those donations with public funds. Third, it mandates that a majority of the donations must come from the district the election represents, and finally, it creates a minimum dollar threshold to be raised before matching funds kick in. We believe these reforms, which are voluntary to the candidate, will allow good candidates to compete in elections, but also ensure that candidates have to interact with their constituents to fundraise and not just one or two big money donors.
We do take exception to one aspect of the editorial. You point out that the major donors are unions and a “handful of billionaires”. For us, it is clear that this is an unequal comparison. When we look at political money since Citizens United, donations by the ultra rich have clearly outweighed union or any other organized funding base. What we have in Illinois, and indeed across the country, is a system where a few rich people, mostly white men, can dictate the terms of elections simply by donating vast sums of money. Labor, which represents thousands of workers, can compete in specific races, but not at the same level across the board. Tying these two groups together greatly underestimates the influence of one and equally overestimates the influence of the other. Equating these two also does not speak to intent. Billionaires throw money into these races to advance their business or individual personal agenda. Unions assist in political races to support the candidates who support the unions members, of which there are thousands.
That said, we at Reclaim and Common Cause remain clear that the issue of money in politics strikes at the core of our democracy, and we thank the Sun-Times for raising it at the critical juncture.
Amanda Weaver, executive director,Reclaim ChicagoBrian Gladstein, executive director,Common Cause Illinois