Archives for the 'Law, Politics and Government' Category
Mike Quigley vs. Mortgage Interest Deduction
I find this troubling, not only as an avid Lake Michigan sailor, but also as a real estate professional.
The same arguments in favor of home mortgage interest deduction apply to the boating industry, if not more- the boating industry represents the livelihood of many interconnected jobs in building, selling, maintaining and enjoying recreational boating.
View Illinois’s 5th Congressional District (CHI) in a larger map
The Illinois 5th Congressional District map appears to include Diversey Harbor, but not Belmont Harbor.
View Illinois’s 5th Congressional District (CHI) in a larger map
Quigley, Walz, Peters Introduce Bill to End Subsidies for Luxury Yachts
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:29
WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), along with Reps. Tim Walz (MN-1) and Gary Peters (MI-9), introduced legislation to eliminate taxpayer subsidies for yachts. The Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act will amend a tax provision that allows boat owners to write off their mortgage interest payments if they classify their boats as second homes.
“There’s absolutely no reason why taxpayers should subsidize luxury yachts,” said Quigley. “As we work to address our budget challenges, closing this frivolous tax loophole is a no-brainer.”
“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions to tackle our national debt, but this isn’t one of them,” said Walz. “Closing this tax loophole restores the Mortgage Interest Deduction to its original purpose; helping middle class families realize the American Dream through homeownership.”
Currently, taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest for up to two homes from their tax returns. Yachts equipped with bedding, toilet facilities, and a kitchen qualify even if they aren’t used as a primary residence. The Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act would limit the tax deduction to only those who use their boats as a primary residence.
“We need to get the deficit under control, and that means simplifying the tax code and eliminating special interest tax giveaways like the Yacht Loophole,” added Peters. “Homeownership is part of the American Dream and we should encourage it, but yacht owners don’t need any special handouts, especially in the middle of a budget crisis.”
In 2004, there were approximately 500,000 pleasure boats in the United States large enough to qualify for the tax break, but only around 100,000 people live full time on boats according to the 2000 Census.
The proposal is included in Quigley’s Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget Part II. The report is due out next week and will include detailed cost-saving recommendations to follow up on Part I, which focused on transparency in the budget process.
Source: Mike Quigley press release
Note the discrepancy in the fake analysis? 2000 census figures are compared to 2004 boat statistics (without source reference). Never mind that we just completed a 2010 census, or that the current year is 2011…
Here’s how the media fabricates information:
The Hill directly copies information from the press release, publishing the unsourced numerical data as if it were factual news:
But The Hill is honest enough to inquire, and report:
The IRS doesn’t differentiate between mortgage types so there is no data available to calculate an exact amount of money the legislation would save, an aide told The Hill.
Nor is there any analysis of the jobs and positive economic impact of the original mortgage interest deduction as it currently exists with regard to boat ownership.
Perhaps Quigley and his over-taxing colleagues can examine the studies prepared for justifying the funding of additional harbors for Chicago?
Unfortunately, it seems they would rather perpetuate the false narrative that taxing more is the solution to the economic problems created by government over-spending.
Looks kinda slow, eh?
Goose Island brewery announced its acquisition by Anheuser-Busch this week.
A stalwart sponsor of local sailing regattas, and the favored choice of local beer drinking afficionados, Goose island was once a proud symbol of business success and skillful brew mastery, throughout the “Windy City” and the entire region.
The news was heralded by the company as a necessary step toward expanding production capacity to meet the ever-growing demand, which surpassed the output of the local brewery facilities.
In answer to beer enthusiasts’ concerns about quality, a spokesperson explained, “a highly scientific analysis of the local beer will allow Anheuser-Busch to manufacture mass quantities of Goose Island beer, much like it currently produces Budweiser today. By carefully studying the flavors of local Goose Island beer, and learning how to duplicate it exactly in large-scale factory production facilities, Goose Island beer made by Anheuser-Busch will actually taste more identical and authentic than beer made by Goose Island ourselves!”
Other concerns, however, were left unanswered. Why couldn’t Goose Island expand its business and its facilities locally? The loss of another successful business in Illinois to acquisition by an offshore foreign interest reflects the unintended consequences of government which over-taxes, over-spends, over-regulates, and over-burdens individuals and businesses of all sizes.
The problem at the national level is demonstrated by the previous loss of Budweiser to an overseas company.
Similarly, the local obstacles to Goose Island’s accelerated growth are largely due to a system of corrupt government and its intrusion into private business enterprise in Chicago, Cook and Illinois over the last 80 years or more.
However, on an upbeat note, Goose Island announced that it will respond to the business changes with a new direction in marketing.
The 312 beer, named after the Chicago telephone area code, was created to identify Goose Island as a Chicago landmark, and differentiated itself by appealing to an initial audience of trendy city dwellers, who were early to discover and enjoy Goose Island beer, even if only by chance, being more conveniently available in the local environs of the city.
“Goose Island beer is no longer a Chicago beer,” remarked the spokesperson. “In fact, we are no longer an American beer. So it no longer makes sense to name our product based on silly rivalries between faux urban hipsters and suburban poser wannabe’s.”
“Chicago itself is a provincial backwater of political crime and corruption, which we no longer can afford to be closely associated with. Look at Illinois- it’s considered a joke by the rest of our own country. Clearly, that is not in our best interest to promote.”
“We must disavow our past local connections. We are now part of the global economy, forced out of both our hometown and our home country by bad policies which thwart true business growth and economic freedom.”
“We have chosen a new product identity, which preserves the original concept. Our new product identity also strengthens and acknowledges our ownership by an offshore foreign company.”
“Today we can announce that 312 Beer will be renamed after the international telephone dialing prefix, and be known as ‘011’.”
When asked if Goose Island had plans to craft a special forty ounce malt to be distributed by the Jesse Jackson family relatives’ Budweiser distributorship in Chicago, the spokesperson said, “no comment.”
This may impact Burnham Harbor for boaters and concertgoers, and Meigs Field for pilots…
Thursday unveiling for Northerly Island plan
November 28, 2010 11:04 AM
What’s left of the former Meigs Field would be turned into a nature sanctuary and park, under plans to be unveiled this week by the Chicago Park District and its design team.
Plans for what is now called Northerly Island include stripping the old terminal building of its walls, transforming the internal structure into an open-air pavilion. The area would also include an underwater paradise for fish, plants and birds and an eco-friendly concert venue near Adler Planetarium.
“It’s an amazing project,” said Bob O’Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy and Advisory Council.
The public meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, 224 S. Michigan Ave.
The design team is led by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects, which designed the award-winning Aqua tower, and JJR, a landscape architecture and urban design firm.
Aviation advocates who want to restore Meigs Field as an airport will not likely participate. Steve Whitney, president of Friends of Meigs Field, said the group feels shut out of the design process and therefore will not attend.
“They just want input from the people who support what they want,” he said.
Indeed, park officials are adamant about developing the 91-acre peninsula into a serene and natural playground. The peninsula is on the migratory route for birds flying from Canada to South America.
“The framework plan incorporates designs for a multiseason use, and has green-friendly elements in the design,” Park District spokeswoman Zvezdana Kubat said in an e-mail.
Initial designs for the peninsula — refined from concepts introduced at a public meeting a year ago — include turning the old terminal building into an open-air pavilion free of walls and glass, common and often fatal obstacles for birds migrating through Chicago.
A harbor for aquatic wildlife would be on the peninsula’s east side — opposite the boat harbor on the west side. Rock formations would be built underwater to attract plants, fish and birds.
And architects will unveil a permanent design plan for the temporary 7,500-seat Charter One Pavilion venue, including a “green” roof. Funds from future concerts would help pay for the peninsula’s upkeep, O’Neill said.
“There’s no city in the world that has this opportunity right now,” he said. “You have this enormous area in the front of the city, with the skyline and everything, and to turn that area into a world-class nature area is unprecedented.”
— Erika Slife
via Chicago Breaking News
Facing the worst financial crisis of his 20-year tenure, Mayor Richard Daley plans to slash city funding for Venetian Night, a festival that his father began as mayor more than 50 years ago.
And that places the future of Chicago’s longest-running public party very much in doubt.
City officials said today they can no longer afford the $100,000 for fireworks or the $200,000 to police crowds estimated at more than 500,000.
“Operational costs exceeded the sponsorship revenue,” said Cindy Gatziolis, spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.
Leaders of the Chicago Yachting Association, which organizes Venetian Night, said city officials had not informed them of the event’s demise.
Mayor’s Office of Special Events (Venetian Night webpage, already deleted…):
Venetian Night is the longest running event that the City of Chicago produces, and was once a multiple day event that featured a beauty pageant and parade on State Street in addition to the lighted boat parade and fireworks show on the waterfront.
Navy Pier triples number of surveillance cameras
June 10, 2009
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
Navy Pier has more than tripled its surveillance network — with cameras so sophisticated, they can pick out a face in a crowd six blocks away — thanks to a $4.2 million Homeland Security grant designed to prevent a lakefront terrorist attack.
The Navy Pier network marks the first installment in a four-year-old plan known as Operation Virtual Shield. It calls for linking 1,000 miles of fiber optic cable into a uniformed homeland security grid, with surveillance cameras capable of spotting suspicious activity from one end of Lake Shore Drive to the other.
Until now, Navy Pier’s nine million annual visitors and surrounding lakefront waters have been watched by 60 black-and-white cameras in fixed positions. They were linked to an even more primitive control center on the pier.
The new network includes 200 rotating surveillance cameras so sophisticated, they can pick up a face in a crowd six blocks away. To speed response times, they’re linked to the 911 center, the nearby Marine Unit and to the Chicago Police Department’s Near North District.
Forty of the cameras are located indoors, including the Winter Garden and Navy Pier garage. The 160 outdoor cameras monitor the main entrance, the east end, and exterior perimeter.
Vince Gavin, director of special projects for Navy Pier, said there’s even a special camera trained on the inlet between Navy Pier and the Jardine Water Filtration Plant, one of Chicago’s most vulnerable terrorism targets because Lake Michigan water is purified for drinking there.
“When a boat penetrates the east end of that inlet, that camera focuses on the boat, a horn will go off and an audible message will go out: “Leave this area immediately. You’re subject to a $5,000 fine by the U.S. Coast Guard,’ “ Gavin said.
“Then, we monitor the boat. If the boat continues, the Marine Unit’s got it. A Marine Unit boat is over here in two minutes.”
Installed in February, the new cameras have already been used to catch at least one pick-pocket and nab someone who was damaging a store that had closed for the night. They can also pinpoint boating accidents and drowning victims or monitor emergency response to Lake Michigan plane crashes.
Parents who take their young children to Illinois’ most popular tourist attraction can also breathe a little easier.
“If we had a lost child, [investigators would ask], ‘Where did you lose him? We can focus in on that area. What was he dressed like? Okay, we’ve got a boy fitting that description.’ You don’t have to run around and up and down. It provides so much of a quick response. … And the facial recognition — it’s as close as I’m looking at you,” Gavin said.
The next round of lakefront surveillance cameras will be installed around McCormick Place, Soldier Field and the Museum Campus, thanks to a $6.8 million Homeland Security grant awarded in 2007.
Seventeen cameras — 11 of them infra-red — will cover the area from Oak Street Beach all the way to 3900 South. That’s because on flat land, there’s a visibility of one mile at night and two miles during the day, Gavin said.
And what about Navy Pier and lakefront patrons who are not comfortable being watched?
“Walt Disney [World] has probably been doing this for years,” said Ray Orozco, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
Chicago Sun-Times: Navy Pier triples number of surveillance cameras
According to this IBM press release, Navy Pier is “the top-visited tourist and leisure destination in the Midwest, welcoming more than eight million visitors annually”, having “an economic impact of more than one billion dollars annually”.
IBM Press Release: IBM Launches Intelligent Security System at Chicago’s Navy Pier
CBS “48 Hours”: ‘Operation Virtual Shield’ discusses the homeland security impact of Chicago’s camera surveillance system, also highlighting its striking inability to protect against terrorist attacks that remain undetectable or which take place outside of the limited camera surveillance areas.
alternate link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEZB4taSEoA
Today is Chicago Tea Party Day.
Just say “NO!” to Big Government.
Representative Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, released a statement in response to “tea parties” being held on Tax Day.
Chicago Tribune: reports:
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement that the protests were “an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan” and called them “a shameful political stunt.”
Here’s the entire press release by Jan Schakowsky:
Needless to say, we do not support the views of Jan Schakowsky.
Suburban man on American ship attacked by pirates
Pirates attack American ship
Batavia sailor e-mails mom in Wheaton: We’re OK
Batavia Man on Ship Attacked by Somali Pirates
Local sailor: We practiced evading pirates
“We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets. Also bullets”
“I’m not a pirate, I’m the saviour of the sea”
Who are the pirate bands menacing commercial and tourist shipping off Somalia? Our writer meets one of the leaders
Pirates Attack on Lake Michigan: Grand Haven, Beaver Island, Manitous Threatened by Marauders Causes Excitement
Pirates on Lake Michigan have attacked boats and towns during the 1800’s, wreaking havoc and mayhem in their search for booty in regions such as Beaver Island, the Manitous and Grand Haven.
WBBM Newsradio 780 reports:
CHICAGO (WBBM) – While the world watches the Somali pirate drama, there’s a story to be told of pirates right here on Lake Michigan.
Lake Michigan was home to a few pirates from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The headline: Wholesale robbery by pirates on Lake Michigan. The date: October 10, 1855, in the New York Times.
The Times reported on people in the area around Saugutuck, Michigan, “thrown into the most intense excitement by the operations of a gang of marauders, who are reported to be Mormons from Beaver Island.”
But it wasn’t other ships that were attacked, it was land-based stores.
Half a century later – and almost 101 years ago – “Roaring” Dan Seavey took control of a Great Lakes cargo ship and sailed it to Chicago.
He reportedly got control of the 40-foot schooner Nellie Johnson in Grand Haven, Michigan, by out-drinking its captain and crew – then stealing it.
The Sun-Times reports that Seavey “found no fortune in his pirating: He was unable to sell the load of cedar posts in Chicago and was captured back near his home in Frankfort, Michigan.”
We attended a preview last week of the Chicago 2016 Olympics Bid Committee presentation for the Olympics selection committee.
The venue for sailing was identified vaguely as offshore the Burnham Harbor entrance and McCormick Place. The venue for rowing was located at Monroe Harbor between the Shedd Aquarium and Navy Pier. Details were sparse and these locations may be subject to change.
Dislocation of boats from the harbors during Olympics and construction was not mentioned. There are many other aspects of the Olympics bid that have greater priority in the bid presentation, let alone if Chicago is chosen as host city.
The Chicago bid is a responsible effort to address the concerns and requirements brought on by hosting the Olympics, local politics and financial controversies notwithstanding. The bid focuses on solving the many logistical and pragmatic concerns that are involved in the overall project, including attention to winding down after the Olympics. In this regard, the Chicago bid is considered very strong among the other possible host cities, due to its solution-oriented approach and the local geography, Olympic village and infrastructure providing a good host location.
However, it was noted that unforeseeable and unknown factors impact the host city decision. For example, one country recently sent a delegation of schoolchildren to vote whimsically for their city of choice.
The planned new 31st Street harbor is included as a component of the Olympics bid.
The upcoming timeline of the selection process includes Olympics selection committee visit to Chicago in April, and ultimately the final decision made on October 2, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The decision will be made by a series of votes in a process of elimination, removing one city each round until the winning host city is chosen.
Regardless of the outcome of the Olympics bid, the city of Chicago will purchase the approximately 37-acre Michael Reese Hospital property before the end of June 2009. The Michael Reese property will have a TIF tax benefit for its developers.
Current Illinois governor Pat Quinn has pledged to increase the state’s Olympic guarantee to $250 million, adding to the city’s previously-announced guarantees. The Illinois budget is long overdue and still undecided, having been delayed by Blagojevich and the fiasco surrounding his arrest and the Burris senatorial appointment. Currently, the Illinois budget has a deficit more than $11.5 billion, according to Quinn.
Today on WLS 890 AM radio, Quinn described the state’s Olympic guarantee as third in line after Chicago’s $500 million guarantee and the bid committee’s $500 million guarantee funded by “private insurance”. Interestingly enough, the recent controversies in the news involve similar transactions, as AIG is a major insurer of government, and the city has been plagued with scandal involving city ties to insurance agency schemes locally.
Pat Quinn also highlighted the problem of road potholes throughout the state, and stated his goal to fix the roads, even aspiring to be the “pothole governor” if that were to be his legacy.
Potholes were in the news earlier this week, as the city generated more controversy by rebuilding roads in the vicinity of the Olympics site, while ignoring necessary road repairs throughout the city, particularly in nearby neighborhoods that have been neglected for years.
If you are interested in supporting the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid, the bid committee is seeking financial support and commitments by institutions or investors to demonstrate to the Olympic selection committee that there is sufficient financial backing to meet the guarantee requirements and establish the feasible likelihood that the overall project and infrastructure can be developed and completed successfully to host the Olympics.
In particular, if you represent a banking institution, investment company or other organization that can provide written documentation of your level of commitment to investment, underwriting or lending on behalf of the project, please contact the bid committee, or contact us for specific contact information.