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Wednesday Letters: Don’t raise taxes on water, sewer bills

The Dever Crib is the main supplier of drinking water for the city of Chicago. I Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing to add a 30 percent tax on the cost of water and sewer. This is on top off the recent 100 percent increase in water and sewer fees that was enacted over the last three years. These two items clearly represent a regressive tax (one veiled as a price increase) that effects the less fortunate in a much larger proportion than all others. Residents of Chicago will have to pay a tax every time they have a drink of water, take a shower, or wash their clothes.

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In a recent Sun Times article the mayor, trying to defend this proposal, was quoted as saying “we can’t cut basic city services.” It seems to me there are no city services more basic than water and sewer. Aren’t these two items the entire rationale for the great Chicago River project?

When children can bathe and have clean clothes they feel better about themselves and perform better in school. When parents can bathe and have clean clothes they feel better about themselves and perform better at their jobs. When older people can bathe and have clean clothes they have a greater sense of self pride and are less likely to be taken advantage of by others. Beyond all of this, clean water is the fundamental building block of life. Hence the Federal Government spent billions of dollars with the clean water act of 1972.

The most basic Economics course would state that if you tax something you get less of it. Does the City of Chicago really want less of all the valuable things listed above?

I hope aldermen carefully consider this poorly thought out proposal and vote no when asked. I assure you all of your constituents will be grateful.

Paul Hansen, Brighton Park

Questionable program

The payments to Ceasefire felons to “intervene” and stop violence reminds me of the old Mafia program where they approach businesses and say ” You are going to have trouble with robberies, thefts and violence, but if you pay us, we can make it go away. Consider it insurance.”

Your opinion article does not take into account the reluctance of police to aggressively intervene to reduce violence, as cited by FBI director Comey. All crime has risen in the past year due to the movement to criminalize police actions even when the police are acting lawfully. Bad cops should be prosecuted like all criminals should, but good aggressive policing should not.

Also, a person convicted of a felony is a felon, not an “ex-felon.” You can become an ex-felon by getting a presidential or gubernatorial pardon; otherwise your felon status remains with you.

The complaint about having state funds reduced of paid late is the same as all state payments to care workers for the developmentally disabled, the sick and the infirm, etc. Why should payments to the ceasefire interventionists jump to the front of the payment line?

Patrick Fitzgerald, Palos Heights

A Chicago winner

Did anyone know that a Chicago team had a World Series win this past weekend? I know it is too early for the Major League World Series, but we had our very own Clear Ridge team win the Senior League World Series, beating a team from Australia 7-2 Saturday in Maine. This was the first team from Illinois to ever win this title. The team consisted of 15- and 16-eyar-old boys from the Garfield Ridge and Clearing neighborhoods.

Julie Miklos, Clearing

Worrisome proposal

As a local rheumatologist who treats Medicare patients, I am deeply concerned by a recent proposal from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services  that could result in further payment cuts for Medicare Part B drugs. If implemented, this mandatory payment model test would wreak havoc on patients and cause massive access and safety problems.

Many rheumatologists have already been forced to stop administering biologic therapies to Medicare patients suffering from arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases because the current Part B payment structure does not cover the cost of obtaining and providing these complex therapies to patients. An additional payment cut would drive even more Medicare patients into less safe and more expensive settings — such as the patient’s home or the hospital — to receive needed therapies, if they can access them at all.

The proposed pay cuts are intended to incentivize physicians to prescribe less expensive drugs, but there are very few Part B biologics available to rheumatology patients to begin with, and their costs are all similar. Biologics are complex and cannot be easily interchanged or switched for less expensive options. Once a patient finds a biologic that works for him or her, it may be the only option.

Rheumatologists welcome meaningful reforms that will make biologics more affordable. However, the current proposed Medicare payment cuts will do nothing more than restrict Medicare patients’ access to safe and life-changing therapies.

Iliana Doytcheva, Old Town