Spending millions on vague county program would be mistake

SHARE Spending millions on vague county program would be mistake
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6-26-09 The Cook County Seal on the carpet at the entrance to the County Building 118 n Clark. Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times

A Cook County ordinance has been proposed to create a “Youth Employment Special Fund.” The sponsors of this proposal intend to fund this program by taking from property owners a 5 percent reduction in an economic tax incentive benefit; incentives that provide economic stimulus.

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The County Board has been asked to approve an extremely vague two-paragraph proposal that provides no specific details on funding accountability or program implementation. The most fundamental questions have not been addressed: What is the structural framework of this program and how will it be implemented? Who would have oversight of these funds? Has a specific cost been identified for this program?

Cook County could potentially spend millions of tax dollars on a youth employment program that does not yet exist on paper. A “trust us, we’ll figure it out later” strategy is irresponsible.

With no specific details to be considered, this proposal has the potential to appear as a slush fund. And after watching Gov. Pat Quinn’s NRI program (similar in nature) come under federal investigation in 2014, I cannot support legislation that does not outline its fiscal policies and oversight measures in a very transparent and detailed manner. Though well intended, vague generalities do not always serve the best purpose nor does it instill confidence in our constituents, the taxpayers.

At a time when Cook County is faced with serious fiscal issues, we must be prudent in our allocation of tax dollars and that is why I look forward to continue working with my colleagues to create the appropriate fiscal policies and oversight measures for the betterment of Cook County government.

Sean M. Morrison,

Cook County commissioner,

17th District

Leading the way

As one of just five U.S. cities to have banned smokeless tobacco at ballparks, Chicago is leading the way in a critical effort to cut its use among both athletes and sports fans. The new ban, recently covered in the Chicago Sun-Times — “Big Tobacco takes hit; City Council bolsters anti-smoking efforts” on March 16 — is a great step forward for our city’s public health.

Already, prominent ball players, including Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, have said that the ban could be the push they need to quit a habit they picked up as young athletes. Chicago deserves praise for stepping up to the plate and acting to end this practice before more teenage players and sports fans take it up.

Beyond baseball, why is this good for Chicagoans? Smokeless tobacco has more than 30 chemicals that are known to cause various types of cancers, including oral cancer, and the earlier the habit starts, the longer the chemicals have to do damage. Once diagnosed, people with oral cancer face a difficult road, with only 63 percent surviving for five years, and only 52 percent surviving for 10 years. Those who beat the cancer still often experience facial disfigurement or life-altering complications. Even if smokeless tobacco users dodge cancer, they can expect a host of other oral health problems, including periodontal disease, tooth loss and decay.

Chicago has hit it out of the park — this city action will have a lasting, positive impact, improving health outcomes and lowering health costs for many people in our community. I applaud Chicago’s commitment to lowering tobacco use, and call on cities across Illinois to take inspiration from Chicago’s actions and similarly restrict tobacco at sporting events.

Bernie Glossy,

president and CEO of Delta Dental of Illinois

Hard to look in mirror

Apropos your article “Look in the mirror, fellow Republicans” (April 3), I would, as a psychologist for decades, like to inform readers of the following unfortunate, but all-too-common, characteristic of people in countless relationships: It is easier to look out the window than into the mirror.

It is naïve, irrelevant, and inaccurate to try to apply that concept to any one category of people—in this case a political party. Fortunately, one’s history does not imply one’s destiny and all people can learn to use a mirror. If only we all knew how to effectively use a mirror — what a world we would be fortunate to live in.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View

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