Evanston has all the ingredients to be the nation’s next Silicon Valley.That was the gist of remarks by speakers at a seminar on “Creating Jobs through Innovation,” held Saturday at the Kellogg School of Management’s James Allen Center on the Northwestern campus.

Evanston has a world-class research university (Northwestern) within its city limits, in addition to nearby access to the resident brains at other major academic institutions such as the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, DePaul, and Loyola.

It has immediate access to the rest of the world, thanks to O’Hare Airport, as well as access to the region’s public transportation network.

It is adjacent to the diversity of a major world city, Chicago.

It has space in the Evanston/Northwestern Research Park to give fledgling companies the opportunity to explore the potential of innovative products and services…from cupcakes to nanostuff.

What’s more, families like to live here.

Okay, but what is Evanston lacking? Even though the Chicago area is a major world financial center, it does not yet have the mass access to venture capital that’s abundant at the real Silicon Valley in California, although the money is likely to come if the mass of startup companies should materialize, speakers at the seminar said.

The brainchild of local state legislative representatives Robyn Gabel  (18th District) and Daniel Biss (17th District), the gathering was designed to focus the attention of the Illinois General Assembly on creating an environment that will attract entrepreneurs to the state that will start small, but grow to become significant employers in the area to take the place of former giants, such as Sears, that are being lured elsewhere.

And the state legislature has not yet provided the tax incentives to match those of other states that are in competition with Illinois for similar dollars. That was one of the major reasons for holding this innovation seminar at this particular time.

“Our goal,” said Gabel, “is to identify ways of growing research and development in the state.”

Biss summarized the objective in a single word: “Jobs.” He said he is hopeful that ideas generated at the seminar would help legislators understand the importance of creating “a new, high-tech innovative economy for Illinois” that would generate jobs to sustain the state for the long term.

Top: The garage in Silicon Valley where Hewlett-Packard was founded. Center: Reps. Gabel and Biss. Above: About 50 persons attended the seminar in the McCormick Auditorium at the James Allen Center.

He did not have long to wait. One of the speakers in the first panel of the day was Daphne Preuss, co-founder and CEO of Chromatin, Inc., a biotech company that is using its proprietary technology and sorghum seed products to develop feedstocks for renewable energy markets.  Headquartered in Chicago, the company employs more than 100 persons worldwide, nearly a third of which are Ph.Ds, and has reached the $25 million mark in annual sales.

She said that Illinois imposes a greater paperwork burden on companies than do other states in which Chromatin operates. She noted that one routine tax form was bounced back to the company from Springfield because they left the period off the end of the company’s name.

Being an agricultural company, “Illinois is a great place for agriculture,” she said, but added that she regularly receives brochures from other states, particularly in the southeast, urging her to relocate.

Another speaker was David E. Miller, president and CEO of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (iBIO), a life sciences trade organization that comprises leaders from the private, public, and educational sectors. He distributed a document of eight ideas for what his organization describes as “Illinois’ Smart Agenda” for helping small companies thrive in Illinois.

His agenda includes such items as infrastructure and broadband, regulatory responsiveness, support for startups, and funding basic and applied research at the state’s colleges and universities.

One agenda item, in fact, closely matches one of the 10 ideas adopted last month by Evanston150. The iBIO list recommends that the state “maintain vocational, four-year, and community college curricula in fundamental manufacturing, processing, building, and trade skills to ensure a workforce with constantly renewed skill sets required in the service of a diverse innovation-based economy.”

This compares with the Evanston150 idea to “develop a vocational/co-op technical school serving a diverse population of students and residents. The school will integrate classroom study with practical work experience, providing training that connects to opportunities for employment in Evanston and the surrounding region.”

Several speakers noted that a critical mass of high-tech startups in an area helps all the companies to attract superior employees due to the high business risk involved in starting a new company.

As Chad Mirkin, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern put it: “Silicon Valley has a tremendous pool of talented people. If one company doesn’t work out, an employee can find work with another company.”

Sona Wang, a venture capitalist with Ceres Venture Fund LP, contended that the bottom of the economic cycle is an ideal time to start a new company. She showed a picture of the garage in Silicon Valley where Hewlett-Packard began with initial capital of $538 and noted that such companies as Coca-Cola, Disney, and McDonald’s were all started during national recessions or depressions.

“In difficult times,” she said, “the opportunity to develop new products and services arises. This is a great time to embrace entrepreneurship.”

Miller summed up the day with these words: “We’re a sleeping giant. We can change things here. We can make our sleeping giant wake up.”

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. If someone started the next

    If someone started the next H-P in a garage in Evanston, they would have a SWAT team outside their door within 72 hours of commencing operations and the fines and other compliance costs for operating such a business would drain the capital of the business immediately. It would probably be less burdensome and cheaper to begin a marijuana distribution business.

  2. Gabel and Biss will only worsen the economic condition

    Evanston, the next Silicon Valley? What is Evanston lacking?

    That's an easy question. Evanston is lacking leaders that understand you can not tax your way to prosperity.

    Both Gabel and Biss last year voted to raise corporate and individual income taxes by 45 and 65 percent respectively. As a result, companies are either not hiring, moving out of state, deciding NOT to relocate or expand to Illinois or demanding a special tax incentive (see Sears, CME and Caterpillar).

    This story is just a photo op for 2012 Democrat candidates Biss and Gabel who probably don't even understand why the Evanston Technology Park is a failure of epic proportions.

    Aside from the technology park's lack of parking and chronic high vacancy rate even in good times, the primary culprit has always been a high tax rate in Evanston, Cook County and Illinois. Start up companies ALWAYS look at that.

    The Evanston Technology Park began in the mid 1980s at a time when technology parks were becoming vogue. Many technology parks across the nation eventually became successful and added tremendous tax revenue and important technology companies to the host city.

    A good example is the Millennium Technology Park in Allen, Texas that started in 1992. The City of Allen created a non-profit economic development corporation that was set up to attract startup companies to the city's new technology park. It was a smashing success and today, 20 years later, Allen has dozens of healthy and growing technology companies.

    Why was Allen  – that does NOT have a prestigious world renowned university or ANY university – successful with its technology park and not Evanston? There are several reasons but one is taxes. You see, Texas is a right-to-work state that has no state income tax, and the corporate tax rate and business environment is reasonable and attractive. Allen city officials also did not enact unfriendly and unattractive ordinances that might scare away potential businesses.

    Interestingly, this news report makes no mention of the technology incubator center in downtown Evanston, something I like and is helpful in attracting startups to Evanston. Keeping these startups in Evanston when they need larger space is another matter.

    In my opinion, Schakowsky, Gabel, Biss, Schoenberg (who has basically ceded his seat to Biss)  have done more damage than helped the business climate in Evanston and Illinois with their big government, pro-union and high tax policies. Gabel and Biss absolutely lack the imagination, the experience, the leadership qualities and the know-how to attract startup businesses to Evanston or the state. 

    In fact, if you want to keep the status quo of continual decline in business and population growth in Illinois – 20 years and counting – just elect Democrats Gabel and Biss.

    If not, let's vote in real change, candidates who are not Democrats or political insiders.

    1. Check your census facts Al

      According to Census Bureau data (easily searched) the population for IL in 1990 was 11,430,602. The population for IL in 2000 was12,419,293. The population for IL in 2010 was 12,830,632….looks to me that IL has in fact been ADDING in population during the past 20 years, not DECLINING as your 'facts' seem to indicate. Check out the US Census bureau data, or is this another government institution not to be trusted?

      I'm not disagreeing or agreeing with everyhting your saying here Al, but if I can't even have confidence in relying on an easily checked 'fact' of yours as population counts, I certainly won't believe any of your other points.

      As with most arguments on these comment boards, it is light on facts and heavy on hyperbole.


      1. Look what fact Racer X forgot to mention

        OK, Illinois did grow a bit in the past 20 years and I stand corrected on that fact.

        But consider that the population in Illinois in 2008 was 12,901,563. The population in Illinois in 2010 was 12,830,632. The numbers are declining. How come you didn't mention that? 

        So prove my other facts wrong. You can't.

        Also consider that Illinois lost 6,400 technology jobs in 2010. The state unemployment rate keeps going up – now at 10 percent. Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, and is in the top 5 with the highest debt and pension funding needs. Illinois has the most government entities – more than 7,000. Illinois Democrats have enacted an online sales tax law, causing more job loss.

        The Institute for Legal Reform ranked Illinois at a dismal 45th place as the most litigious climate in the nation. 

        Here is a list of some companies that have announced this year they are moving out of Illinois.

        1.On-Cor Frozen Foods (Chicago). Moving jobs out of state. 85 lost jobs.

        2.A-1 Wire Tech (Rockford). Moving out of state. 51 lost jobs.

        3. Modern Drop Forge (Blue Island) Moving to Indiana. 240 jobs lost

        4. Fatwallet.com (Rockford) Moving to Wisconsin. 54 jobs lost.

        5. Special Metals Corporation (Rockford) Moving to Indiana. 100 jobs lost.

        Let's not forget the potential of thousands of job lost if Sears, Caterpillar and CME leave Illinois.

        And Biss and Gabel who voted for a HUGE income tax hike stand there and tell us Evanston could be the next Silicon Valley. They are SO OUT OF TOUCH!!!!!!

    2. Taxes in Texas…..Al is wrong again

      Al writes:

      "Evanston, the next Silicon Valley? What is Evanston lacking? That's an easy question. Evanston is lacking leaders that understand you can not tax your way to prosperity."

      Then Al cites the example of Allen Texas:

      "A good example is the Millennium Technology Park in Allen, Texas that started in 1992…….

      Why was Allen  – that does NOT have a prestigious world renowned university or ANY university – successful with its technology park and not Evanston? There are several reasons but one is taxes. You see, Texas is a right-to-work state that has no state income tax, and the corporate tax rate and business environment is reasonable and attractive."

        How did this Milennium Technology Park magically spring out of the soil?  If it was because of 'right to work' and 'taxes' , why didn't it pop up in Florida or  Mississippi or Alabama or somewhere else in Texas?  (And why do so many hi-tech companies spring up in high-tax states like MA and CA?) Enquiring minds want to know!

        If you look at the website for Allen, TX Economic Development you will see:

      "In January 1992, the citizens of Allen passed a citywide half-cent sales tax in support of an economic development corporation.  Since its inception, the AEDC has been charged with facilitating expansions and relocations of new and existing businesses that in turn will bring additional tax revenue, local spending and job opportunities to the community. Since 1992, the AEDC has recruited many new businesses and industries to Allen, adding over $856 million to the tax rolls."

      So it sounds like the people of Allen, TX imposed a tax to promote economic growth.  They taxed their way to prosperity.   

      Have a nice day.

  3. Research in Evanston

    Evanston had it chance with the Research Park that was badly managed—-I don't know what part NU and what part the city, but given how many tech companies have started in Evanston and then had to leave because of taxes, rents and continuous harassment by the city, I suspect the city was the major factor. 

    We have the resources in the university and  people but the 'we want an 18th Century city' proponents and Council that has no concept of anything beyond the mundane, has kept us from development—and from having a tax base and revenue to support their give-aways.

    We probably don't need another 'built' Research Park given the way it was set-up, but we do need and can build what inventors, investors and people with idea need, IF the Council and residents will realize that we need to come into the 21st Century and not oppose every form of business [talk is not action].

    Remember Larry Page worked here at CogniTek. By the way he went on to co-found a little company even Evanston Council might have heard of—Google.

  4. Al and the other supply siders are just wrong

    I far from expect politicians to get it especially when it comes to business. They aren't business people typically. I am. You can find my bio on my web site. My IT services business is in Chicago. My wife's coworking business in in Evanston.

    All this supply side talk is wrong. Taxing business is good for the economy. Taxing business creates jobs. This is because the taxes are on profits. To avoid being taxed, business owners will choose capital investments that they can write off, rather than financial instruments.

    That means equipment and construction and new hires. Besides, a recent Crain's piece detailed how IL ranks well (is low) on overall taxation. I was at this event and I can tell you that I didn't hear of more ways to spend money anyway.

    Policy affects business and growth but doesn't necessarily cost money. I'll tell you what would really get businesses interested in IL. Get single payer or fully socialized medicine going in IL like VT is considering.

    As a business owner watching BCBS (an effective monopoly in IL) get away with a 39% increase followed by a 12% increase while showing record profits and while I can't raise rates year after year, I can tell you it doesn't sit well with me. David Miller also made some powerful points about education that didn't make it on his handout list.

    1. Disagree

      I own several corporations and I disagree with your premise that taxation is good for business or good for the economy.  I don't think many business make expansion/expenditure decisions based simply on taxes, I certainly don't.  Yes, one gets certain depreciating write offs for making capital investments but that is only one small reason out of many to make a capital investment and expand a business.

      Taxation is a cost that takes money away from an entrepreneur thereby inhibiting and slowing their growth.  If I had even half of the taxes I have had to pay returned to me I could personally create another 50-60 jobs virtually overnight.  My putting that money to work would also create growth in tax revenue streams that would far and away exceed what has been taken in taxes.

      Instead that money went to taxing bodies who I believe are usually inefficient and wasteful and take far more than they ever should.  Enough is enough. 

      Oh, if you don't like BCBS, there are several alternatives, I switched years and years ago to good effect.  

      1. What you’re missing
        What you’re missing is that we’re talking about taxation on profits. If you made some profit and you would invest it in such a way that would create many more jobs (as opposed to financial instruments), you wouldn’t pay taxes on it. The net difference between high and low taxes would be zero for you. In fact if there aren’t high taxes, you have less incentive to invest. The only negative effect is if you’re interested in non-deductible investments such as financial instruments. This is why Wall Street loves to keep taxes low especially capital gains. They don’t want you, the entrepreneur playing around with your money. They want to see it keep propping up the house of cards. They wish they could get a deduction for investments in financial instruments but they haven’t stacked the deck yet enough with nutty libertarians in the government.

        As for BCBS, every year we quote it out and despite their giant increases, they are the lowest. Our brokers (last one and new one this year) tell us for many sizes and type of organization, BCBS is always the lowest and that they employ monopolistic practices in IL to maintain this. You are aware that the health insurance industry are of the few that are exempt from anti-trust legislation. Monopoly or near monopoly are the biggest threat to capitalism. We’ve got it in a few industries.

        1. not missing anything

          I'm not missing anything, taxes on profits always impede expansion and job growth.  You can use me as a real life example.  I hold 4 coporations, two are retail companies employing 60+ people, 1 holds r.e. investment property, the other, trading the financial instruments you don't seem to appreciate.

          I plan on opening two more retail business, employ another 60+ people that will generate lots of dollars for various tax revenue streams, locally, state and federal and pay literally millions in taxable wages, way more than what I have already paid in taxes on my profits.

          Again, if so much of my profits were not taken in taxes, not to mention all the other taxes and fee's, I would already have 4 stores opened and be thinking about the 5th or 6th.  As it is, because of taxation on profits, maybe in another 2 to 5 years we might get there, depending partly upon how much more govt. decides to tax away from me to fund their overspending, further impeding future growth.

          Every dollar paid to taxes is one less dollar for me to save and put into financial instruments.  I and most businesss don't make expansion plans based on the tax effect of depreciating capital expenditures.  There are more important considerations, not to mention the need to have encough actual capital on hand to prudently make expansion happen.  That actual capital on hand is diminished because of why? 

          As for BCBS, get another broker, work a little harder on that one.  I haven't used BCBS in over a decade because of their pricing.  How does that happen if they are the monopoly you claim them to be?        

          1. yes, you are missing it
            Section 179 is up to $250k per year now, maybe up more now. Instead of pocketing the profits and paying taxes on them you could have made up to $250k in capital expenditures and written it all off right away (not depreciated over time) = zero taxes on that income. If you invested more capex in your business you still write it off (and don’t pay taxes on that profit) but off of future profit. Operational expenditures are all deductible right away. You say you have retail. Sure if you bought a building or equipment to expand you have this pretty high limit (for a small business) but inventory, salaries, insurance, legal, marketing, rent (one reason not to buy though I like to buy), or leases on equipment (instead of purchasing) are all 100% and immediately deductible. Basically the tax structure penalizes anyone taking ordinary income (including business income) and not investing it in more business. That’s a good thing and we need more of it. Unfortunately the low 15% capital gains tax (not ordinary income) counters that to some extent by encouraging people to invest in unproductive financial instruments. I’m sure you know all this being a business owner so I can’t see how you can end up in a situation where you couldn’t avoid paying any taxes at all if you truly are interested in expanding your business instead of investing in financial instruments. Please explain. And how about telling us who you are.

          2. So basically, you are

            So basically, you are advocating for people to invest in their own business, but not in the business of others.. When people "Invest" and earn capital gains, where do you think that money goes?  WHat is so unproductive about buying stocks so a company can grow, or getting in at an IPO of a new company, or even putting it in the bank so the bank can lend it out to others?  

              DO you have a mortgage?  IF so,it's only thanks to all those people willing to lend you their money with those unproductive financial instrucments.

              WIthout these "worthless" financial investments, no one would be able to start a new business, unless they happened to have the start up costs tucked in their back pockets already.


          3. Yes, I advocate for small business
            I called $250k a pretty high limit for small business even when buying a building or equipment. If you think $250k is just piddly, I think you answered your own question.

            As far as the stock market goes as a vehicle for providing capital to those who will grow a business, other than the IPO for the company the way that happens is with hopefully increased stock value so that the company can sell more shares. Otherwise trades or higher stock prices give nothing to the company (so it can grow and hire people). The investor is making money on speculation of stock price and the company never sees any of that money. Add that even more money is invested in options on that stock with 1/2 the bets on the stock value going down. Add to that all the credit default swaps and bets on bets on bets going on that never gets to a company actually producing something and hiring people you start to get the picture that all this financial activity does very little to reward or encourage actual production.

            Starting a new business has nothing to do with the IPO (comes much later). People pull it out of their pockets, or borrow (fully deductible), or they get private equity. Those investors also make their money on a transaction where they convert increased equity. Sure, let’s encourage that. I’m down with keeping low capital gains for private placement. Just crank it up for the unproductive speculation in the financial sector. In other words, if you’re putting money right into a company you should get to keep more of the gains because you really helped the economy. If you just bought stock on the market (from someone else, not from the company so they got none of it) then that’s just juice for you with little stimulative effect on the economy so let’s ding you good for it so maybe next time you’ll think about doing something more stimulative. If you just live in that financial instrument space then good for you and you’re probably doing ok and so be proud (or not) that your tax dollars are building roads and helping widows and orphans. I can see the financial world shift to setting up more funds that do private placement (these exist of course) and give loans and whatever that puts money right into the productive part of the economy. We’re not just throwing money at the “job creators”. We’re encouraging them to put it towards job creation. There’s your capital. Hey, you can offer those in your financial services company and I can host all your servers in my data center! A match made in heaven.

            Check this out.


          4. Yes, still wrong.

            Yeah, so I guess what you are saying is the main consideration for expanding is tax write offs you can take advantage of today. Making expansion decisions driven by taxation is foolish, again, that is probably the least important factor anyone should consider when making expansion plans. 

            So please spare me the 250 isn't depreciated and written off today and operational cost lower bottom line numbers, yeah yeah like I don't know.  What makes you think $250 is relevant to finance expansion?

            Put that 250K into perspective, $250K isn't squat, unless your talking a little something that's non capital or job intensive, maybe a nail salon.  Think of what you said, unless you "bought a building or equipment to expand" or in other words, any actual expenses that qualifies for the 250K write off to begin with.  Price any commercial property lately, bought any major equipment, 250K! LOL. 

            Every dollar taken in taxes means another day needed to save the required capital, especially any investment over the small $250K amount you seem to think is all encompassing.  Politicians just talking about raising taxes creates uncertainty that inhibits growth and encourages cash conservation, not investment. Always has, always will.          

            One of the main reasons for any financial failure is undercapitalization.   You sound like the old housing for everyone advocates, buy now, get a tax deduction. Small or no cash downpayments, n need for capital to fund impovements, capital for operations, capital for taxes, capital in reserves.   A weak undercapitalized foundation indeed, and everyone knows what a undercapitalized weak foundation does.

            I think the world has seen enough of your type of thinking,  Time to let business, especially small business, keep, save and grow their capital so they can make prudent investments.  Higher taxes?  Just means it will take me longer to save cash and those next 60 jobs will have to wait.  It really is to bad. 

      2. Re; Disagree

        Silly Capitalist –  Don't you know the government knows how to spend your money much better that you do? With this kind of attitude, we will be lucky if the billions given to pork projects aren't reduced to millions!  Why should you get money to create jobs when the government can continue to pay people not to work with your money … Lunacy I tell you ….

    2. Stelios is surely an avid Daniel Biss supporter

      If taxing businesses is good for the economy how do you explain the special tax incentives our legislators just gave CME, CBOE Holdings and Sears yesterday in order to keep them in the state? In essence, our legislators LOWERED taxes for these companies to stay in Illinois.

      Sears, CME and Caterpillar expressed outrage at the 45 percent corporate income tax increase the Democrats passed last year. Those companies threatened to move out of state, and they certainly disagree with you, Stel. Under this bill, the exhanges got a deal – they will pay 27.5 percent of their revenues. I listed some other companies that bolted this year from the state, some of them publicly stated it was because of the tax increase. 

      The Democrats last year also raised individual income taxes 67 percent. How does that help the economy? This new bill also gave a tax break to low income families. So once again, the hard-hit, hard-working middle class families are screwed, thanks to Democrat tax, spend and borrow policies that favor the poor and the wealthy.

      BCBS is not even the TOP 10 healthcare provider in the state. You're crazy if you think BCBS is a monopoly – the company has MANY competitors.  http://health.usnews.com/health-plans/illinois

      The Crain's article you mention indicates that Illinois does NOT rank well in corporate taxes compared to other midwest states – it does rank better with customers and capital. Overall, the article claims Illinois edges Wisconsin in the business climate. That will change now since Wisconsin corraled the out-of-control collective government union bargaining.  http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/2011/10/crains-illinois-business-climate.html

      Your claim that the health-care industry is exempt from anti-trust legislation is ludicrous. Evanston Hospital was recently investigated for anti-trust violations. You live in Evanston, you should know that.

      As Steve Martin once said: "Let's talk about things we don't know about."


      1. Unenquiring Al strikes again

        "Your claim that the health-care industry is exempt from anti-trust legislation is ludicrous. Evanston Hospital was recently investigated for anti-trust violations. You live in Evanston, you should know that."


        Al…do a little bit of research before posting.  Try Googling 'blue cross exemption anti trust' and see what comes up:


        Obama Threatens Insurers’ Anti-Trust Exemption Twitter

        Published: October 17, 2009
        WASHINGTON — President Obama mounted a frontal assault on the insurance industry on Saturday, accusing it of using “deceptive and dishonest ads” to derail his health care legislation and threatening to strip the industry of its longstanding exemption from federal antitrust laws.



        1. yeah health insurance industry is anti-trust exempt
          The article you pointed to demonstrates my point that the health insurance (not health care – I never said that) is currently exempt from anti-trust laws. So, yeah Evanston hospital is not exempt but I didn’t say they were. Insurers, including BCBS are. This is what our president is suggesting repealing and he would be correct in doing so and any real capitalist should applaud that.

          Also I didn’t say that higher taxes are necessarily good for business. I said they’re good for the economy. There’s a threshold there too but right now taxes are too low and corporations and the wealthy and institutional investors have moved their capital into financial instruments and overseas. Before Reagan the financial sector was some 20 or 25% of GDP. Now it’s some 40%. That’s not healthy.

          I’m not opposed on principal to doing special deals to keep big employers here but I question their effectiveness and overall value case by case. Sure business wants to take capital out of their operations and move it elsewhere. We’ve already heard that “giant sucking sound” as it was so well put before. I don’t think we have to drop our pants to get companies to come and stay here. We need to be somewhat in line with our neighbors but it’s about a LOT more than taxes. In fact I’d say the number 1 factor is the quality of public schools. Second would be good affordable health care. Really.

          We can analyze any tax changes proposed but I’ll side with you on any tax increases of any sort to the middle class. We should lower taxes to the middle class and increase taxes to corporations and to the wealthy and bring the capital gains tax in line with ordinary income. That will stimulate the demand side of the economy and stimulate investment (as I explained previously). So please don’t put words in my mouth. If anyone, Democrat or Republican, raised or suggested raising taxes on the middle class, I will oppose them.

          As for IL comparisons I can’t find the article but it was a comprehensive study of all sorts of taxes and fees across several states. Overall IL ranked very well as stated by the author. If i find the article I’ll email it to you except that you’re anonymous.

          As for unions sure we have a problem with underfunded pensions but they are far from the reason we’re having financial problems. Besides, they are needed politically. We’ve already seen what happens without them in the 19th and early 20th century. Anyway it’s all blowing up on the right wing in WI and OH so yell all you want. From one side of your mouth you’re for the middle class and from the other side you’re not.

          I like Daniel Biss. Like many Democrats he doesn’t stick his neck out too far but he also represent a lot of people. I don’t think he’s far enough to the left but that’s true about most of the party. He is the right guy for this job. He’s dead set on action and is listening and thinking. Let him do his job (of not taxing the middle class). You can thank him down the road.

          1. Biss, Gabel and Evanston aldermen hurt the middle class

            Democrat Robyn Gabel voted for a 67 percent income tax incease on individuals and a 48 percent tax income increase on businesses in a lame duck session last year. Democrat Daniel Biss not yet in office hinted he supported the tax increases because "there was no way to fix the state's budget problems without new revenue [i.e. taxes]."

            Those tax income increases passed only by Democrats hurts the middle class. Does it not?

            What about the internet sales tax passed mostly by Democrats this year? Is that good for the economy and middle class? Smaller companies such as Fatwallet.com have moved across state lines, taking about 50 employees with them. The internet sales tax can't be good for the Illinois economy. Right?

            It's interesting how you claim unions are needed politically. Yes, if you're a Democrat since about 90 percent of all union donations go to Democrat politicians. Most employees in this state are not in a government union yet Illinois has borrowed something like $4-5 billion just to keep government union members employeed and pay their jackpot pensions for another year.

            The pension system is underfunded because it is simply unsustainable and filled with fraud, waste and corruption, considering the rampant padding, spiking and double dipping. Not one state union employee or one Evanston union firefighter have been laid off since the Recession started in 2007. Evanston tried to lay off three firefighters last year but then was sued by the Evanston Fire Union. Evanston agreed to rehire the firefighters and let a third party decide any future layoffs in return that the Evanston Fire Union drop the lawsuit.

            Tell me Stel, honestly, how effectively could you run your company if a third party decided whether you could layoff or even fire your employees?

            How does an internet sales tax and a 48 percent corporate business tax help the economy and a 67 percent income tax increase on individuals help the middle class? How does a cumulative 17 percent city tax in two years help the Evanston economy and middle class? Evanston raised the gas tax last year. Good for the economy? How?

            Consider that most if not all Evanston aldermen are Democrats.


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