City should have public goals on reducing crime, improving schools and other matters

It is important to set goals and issue quarterly reports on progress being made so that there can be accountability

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City of Chicago City Hall at 121 N LaSalle St, Monday, May 9, 2022.

City of Chicago City Hall at 121 N LaSalle St, Monday, May 9, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Since moving to Chicagoland in the 1980s, I have read the daily newspapers from cover to cover.

Out in the suburbs, I became aware of and then concerned about rising crime in the city. I believe former Mayor Rahm Emanuel set up an organization with a website that laid out several numeric goals on crime but also education, employment and income for the West and South Sides.

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Then the 2019 election brought a new mayor. Soon after, a new police chief brought new hope for improvement. But from what I have been able to glean from the media, there are no publicly stated goals for crime reduction, education improvements, employment and income growth — and therefore no quarterly statements of progress toward these goals.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): It is important to set goals for such things as crime reduction, employment gains, new affordable housing units and other improvements for the West and South Side. Then issue progress reports so there can be accountability and verifiable cause for celebration when a goal has been met.

Ted Maxeiner, St. Charles

Cap pawn loan rates for veterans

Friday was Veterans Day, when we honor and recognize veterans for their sacrifice of blood sweat and tears in service to our country. In Illinois, though, one way veterans can expect to be recognized is by paying 240% interest or more for a pawn loan. As a retired veteran, banker and board chair of the Woodstock Institute, I believe our state can do better by its veterans — and everyone else, for that matter.

Last week, Illinois pawnbrokers made 240%-plus loans to an active-duty service member, in violation of a federal law capping the interest rates for loans to active-duty service members and their families at 36%. The Illinois Pawnbrokers Association said it was “an isolated incident,” according to the Woodstock Institute. But the same day, another Illinois pawnbroker issued another 243.3% annual percentage rate loan to an active-duty service member.

The solution is simple: Cap pawn loan rates at 36% APR, just like other personal loan providers in the state since the passage last year of the Predatory Loan Prevention Act. The law, passed with the leadership of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, capped payday and auto title loans at 36% APR. But an injunction by a Sangamon County court last year enabled pawnbrokers to ignore the cap. We need a new law to close that loophole.

The Legislature is back in session for a few more weeks this year. Members should pass a bill to ensure pawn brokers, too, abide by the 36% APR cap on personal loans. The way to honor and respect those who have served is to support, not extort, them when they have an urgent need for cash.

Tommy Fitzgibbon, retired, United States Navy, and board chair, Woodstock Institute

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