George Ranney Still Knows Best

A friend has forwarded an article from the Daily Herald by Marna Pyke about what George Ranney, head of something called Metropolis Strategies, and Jim LeBelle, a former Chairman of the Lake County Board, want to do to township road commissioners–abolish them.

This is a group that supported the 88% toll tax hike of Governor Pat Quinn.

No mention in its press release that it has a clue that the Tollway gets no Motor Fuel Taxes paid by vehicle using the Tollway, that most of this revenue gets shunted by the Illinois Department of Transportation outside of the Chicago metropolitan area.

Somehow, I would think an organization with the word “metropolis” in its title might take an interest in a rip-off like that, but, apparently, there is no interest.

As I read the statement of LaBelle on the toll tax hike, I found one marvelous idea:

“The Tollway should adopt a fair and practical method of ‘land value capture’ to help pay for improvements.

“Value capture enables property owners and communities in locations that especially benefit economically from improvements to help pay for them.”

A kNOw RTA clip=on button from the 1974 RTA referendum.

Based on the “site value taxation” of property by the first great American economist, Henry George, it basically says that the increase in value of public improvements should help pay for them. That’s how the new interchange at Route 47 should be finance, rather than forcing McHenry County taxpayers to pick up part of the tab.

In the article for which I do not have a link, LaBelle argues for elimination of township road commissioners.

He wants legislation because the township road commissioners are not “cost-effective.”

Other initiatives include

  • developing a regional economic plan to counter lackluster job and business growth
  • pushing the state to come up with a plan to handle freight congestion
  • doubling riders on mass transit
  • assessing alternatives to prison for nonviolent offenders and addressing climate change

Regional government advocates have been around as long as I have been active in the political arena.

All of them have one common thread, that they, who mainly live in Chicago, know best what should happen out here in the sticks of McHenry County and other provinces useful only for the taxes they pay.

I met Ranney at my last debate in 1974 on the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority. He represented the “RTA Citizens Committee for Better Transportation.”  I kid you not. That was the title of the proponents’ front group for Downtown Chicago property owners.

As I have said previously, I tried to get other suburban legislators to help- carry the media burden but could get any takers.

About 180,000 kNOw RTA pamphlets were printed in an around-the-clock operation at No. 8 Crystal Lake Plaza, where the McHenry County Republican Headquarters is now locatred and where State Rep. Cal Skinner's legislative office and his father's trade association, the Barley and Malt Institute was in 1974.

Because I was not about to cede the Chicago media market to the “Chicago knows best” crowd, I ended up doing all sorts of interviews, press conferences and debates.

So, it was the Friday before the primary election and here Ranney and I were at some small FM radio studio in an old Chicago high rise.

Last debate of the campaign. The biggies, like WIND and WGN’s Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 (where State Rep. Gene Schlickman of Arlington Heights joined me) were over.

After the debate at the elevator he said, “If we had known what a fight you McHenry County people were going to put up, we would have left you out.”

My reply: “Now you tell me.”

Ranney has been one of Governor Richard Ogilvie’s “whiz kids,” if memory serves me correctly, and was the son of one of the biggies at Inland Steel.

We later served on the Commission on the Year 2000 or something with a similar name, where I got to know and like him. He was one of those who would not be insulted by being labeled a “moderate Republican.”


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