Arlington Heights Daily Herald. November 26, 2021.
Editorial: Senate Should Start Addressing Toll Highway Management Issues
“What’s going on at the toll booth? Seems to be a constant concern in Illinois politics. Perhaps a Senate hearing scheduled for December 7 will help provide new insight into the management of the agency.
It was natural to hope in 2019 that a drastic reshuffle of the toll highway board after years of spending and questionable contracts would result in a settlement of affairs at the agency. But we haven’t exactly seen something like what you might call “a new era” in toll highway management.
While the new board quickly got to work revising the toll highway ethics rules, things got off to a bad start when it was discovered that newly appointed chairman Will Evans had voted on a contract proposal involving a former employer. Evans called the failure an “inadvertent” error and promised to do better in the future.
While no similar controversy erupted during his tenure, there have been opportunities to question leadership on the toll highway. The most recent, and the one that prompted the December 7 hearing, is an October 21 management directive in which the toll highway board gave Evans the power to reorganize the agency’s leadership structure. . Evans quickly put the CFO directly under his wing, instead of reporting only to Executive Director Jose Alvarez, and he transferred oversight of two key Alvarez offices to the CFO.
These measures have prompted some lawmakers – like Democratic Senator Laura Murphy of Des Plaines and Republican Senator Don DeWitte of St. Charles – to question whether all the leaders of the toll highway are, in DeWitte’s words, “on the same wavelength as to how they behave. Their business.”
It’s at least somewhat reassuring that lawmakers are now attracting such interest in toll highway management rather than waiting to react to the types of scandals that led to the reshuffle two years ago. Evans’ first misstep and Alvarez’s first moves to create leadership positions and hire former associates to fill them naturally lead to the kinds of questions that seem to constantly arise in toll management.
Board members and toll highway officials have moved quickly to insist that the latest moves do not necessarily indicate a power struggle or leadership gaps that would disrupt operations or plans. Instead, they would have us believe that they are just, as spokesperson Dan Rozek described it, steps towards “continuous improvement of governance and internal controls”.
Let’s hope so. To be sure, even though Evans and Alvarez’s actions over the past two years had gone without suspicion, improving internal controls and “governance” are permanent and legitimate goals at the toll highway. from Illinois. But we will be watching with interest the details of the progress when the leaders appear before a Senate oversight committee next month.
Chicago Sun-Times. November 29, 2021.
Editorial: Proposal to tackle catalytic converter theft is a good start, but more is needed
Neighboring states have taken a stronger stance on flights. Illinois should too.
More and more around Chicago, motorists start their morning with an unwanted roar.
This is probably because the catalytic converters in their cars were hacked and stolen overnight, leaving a breach in their exhaust system which is not only noisy but also expensive to repair.
State Representative La Shawn Ford wants to put a stop to the theft of catalytic converters with a bill requiring anyone selling a used catalytic converter to present two sources of identification, including a driver’s license or State ID at the point of sale. The buyer should keep track of the information.
“If you have to identify who you are when you sell that catalytic converter, then you’re going to think twice (steal it and sell one),” Ford told CBS2 Chicago last month.
Ford’s proposal is a good start. His bill should quickly find its place in the law. But other states have cracked down on catalytic converter theft even more in the past two years. Illinois should do the same.
Easy to steal, precious inside
Catalytic converters are emission control devices that have been standard on US gasoline-powered automobiles since 1975. They are easy to steal. Thieves can lift a car, slide under it, and shut off the converter in minutes.
Once scanned, converters are often routed to automatic scrap metal dealers and others who harvest the minute amounts of precious precious metals inside the device. One of the metals, rhodium, is currently trading at $ 14,000 per troy ounce.
Not that thieves collect that kind of money. Stolen converters could earn them as little as $ 50. But car owners could end up paying up to $ 2,000 to replace the unit, although comprehensive auto insurance often covers theft.
State Farm claims to have spent $ 21 million for thefts of catalytic converters in the first six months of 2021. The insurer has paid out $ 33 million for thefts of devices in the year 2020.
Among the states with the most claims, Illinois is ranked fifth, according to State Farm. California holds the first place.
Bill should be harder, however
Under Ford’s bill, any business selling auto parts, from scrap dealers to rebuilders, would have to register every converter purchased, including the name and address of the seller, who would need to show identification to complete the transaction. .
It is a start, but we want more stringent provisions. For example, an Ohio state lawmaker last month proposed a law that would require a seller of catalytic converters to provide documentation proving they actually own the device. Buyers would be required to photograph the seller.
And in July, Indiana passed a law that requires people seeking to sell a converter that is not attached to a vehicle to provide the title, vehicle registration, or repair receipt for the car whose device has been removed. If documentation cannot be provided, the seller must have an affidavit from a police officer essentially confirming that the converter is not stolen.
These are the kinds of extra steps we would like to see become law here in Illinois.
The Hoosiers are serious too. Stealing or owning a stolen converter in Indiana is a Level 6 felony – it was once a misdemeanor – that can result in between six months and two and a half years in prison and a fine of $ 10,000 if convicted.
Closer to home, Evanston Police sponsored an event earlier this month in which the department spray painted car owners’ converters in hopes that the device’s light marking would prevent its theft and its sale.
But does it work? Police in St. Paul, Minnesota tried the idea in April, spraying SPPD with gloss paint on the converter.
“What we have found is that many scrap yards will not buy a branded catalytic converter,” a police spokesperson told Minnesota Public Radio.
Every little bit counts, however. Illinois can take a step forward by passing Ford’s bill, with amendments to make it clear that our state is serious about tackling these thefts.
Bloomington Pantagraph. November 25, 2021.
Editorial: Infrastructure funds require reflection
Let’s not go about it in an improvised way and without direction.
Illinois needs a comprehensive infrastructure plan, a map to invest the $ 17 billion the state will receive from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.
The latest infrastructure report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois a C-minus rating. Construction work on our local roads and on national and interstate highways regularly shows the backward nature of working with asphalt and concrete. In Illinois there are 2,374 bridges and over 6,218 miles of poor highway
But infrastructure is not limited to roads and bridges. The law will also provide funds for public transport, help protect the resilience of physical and natural systems, ensure the availability and quantity of water, provide high-speed internet across the country, and upgrade electrical infrastructure.
Opposition to the plan appears to be due to its reporting to President Biden. Presidents and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have dragged their feet to advance infrastructure for administration after administration.
A complaint about the bill from at least two national columnists concerns public transport. Their argument is that Biden’s plan is pouring too much into this area, and it’s a waste because fewer people will use public transportation when their lifestyles change to working from home. Somehow, this argument has also been twisted into a complaint that the transit effort is also a devious way to include climate change in the infrastructure bill.
Inaction or active action by the opposition has struggled against infrastructure efforts for years. Anyone who opposed this bill has had the opportunity to build and present their own ideas. If you don’t like it because you haven’t thought about it, you should have been thinking of something while you were saying “no”.
This is a once in a lifetime effort. It cannot be treated in the “typical” Illinois bargain and scam way. Millions of lives can improve for the better. Illinois’ central location and the availability of several methods of moving goods are critical to the well-being of the United States economy. Illinois is a vitally important transportation hub.
And when they do, maybe some of the beneficiaries can pressure U.S. officials from Illinois, Darin LaHood and Rodney Davis, to explain their votes against the bill. Or ask yourself if either has really thought of their sleight of hand of confusing the infrastructure bill with the social service bill. They are two different invoices. Members of Congress knew that.
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