Sunday, August 7, 2011

Broken Windows Theory, Illustrated

On July 10th we posted photos of three broken windows at the Gail Borden Public Library.
Today I drove by and now there are SEVEN.

They never did replace the first three, proving the Broken Windows Theory has merit.

If you don't fix vandalized property promptly, the lack of respect grows and you have more broken windows.

On another note, none of the four broken windows at The Centre have been replaced either. What a black mark on our city.

UPDATE: The windows at The Centre were replaced sometime on or about September 2nd. Still no replacements at the library.

Update #2: Sometime between 9/13 and 9/18 the windows were finally replaced at the library. What a shame it took so long. Who would build a building with glass that takes two and a half months to replace? Answer: The government.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Safer than Naperville

Take in the idyllic beauty of quiet downtown Elgin.
Look at the public money spent to beautify it and command respect from the residents.
The architectural streetlamps, the patriotic banners, the planter boxes, the real brick pavers, the recreation center, the parking garage...
But just around the corner Elgin's rec center, called The Centre, has four broken windows . Unlike the library, they appear to be shot out.

And they are a pain to replace. They had one lane of Kimball blocked yesterday with a snorkel unit attempting to reach from the street to the broken windows. I guess they had trouble because the windows haven't been replaced and the snorkel is parked in the lot just west of The Centre.
Broken window #1. Near the Northeast corner by the running track. Note the rowhouses across the street.
Broken window #2, between the running track and the pool.

Broken window #3 at the daycare area.

Broken window #4 at the pool.

Security camera guarding the city vehicle parking lot.Once again, this is happening on a busy street a block away from the police station.

But crime is way down according to authorities.

UPDATE: The windows at The Centre were replaced sometime on or about September 2nd.

Smash and Grab... the computer lab.

These photos were taken today at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Illinois.
When you combine an abundance of ROCKS...

...with the temptation of computers in the window... get broken windows.
There are THREE of them currently as indicated by the arrows.Now, this library has gone all out to serve the community. They just opened a teen center. They have summer programs and a coffee shop and free Internet access and free videos and free music downloads and a medieval exhibit...

I'm thinking Nanny is a bit upset about what they get in return.

Where do we go from here? I don't know. These break-ins are right along Kimball Street, not along the back side of the building. When they are that determined, only a high fence will keep them out.

Update: Sometime between 9/13 and 9/18 the windows were FINALLY replaced. Any way you look at it, the broken windows were neglected for too long.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bumper cars in Elgin

Courier News

June 7, 2011

Six injured: Six people were sent to Elgin hospitals with minor injuries after a two-car crash at 4:20 p.m. Monday at Harrison and Jay streets, police said. Elgin resident Maria Vera, 35, was cited with failure to yield to a left turn and no valid driver’s license after the car she was driving struck an auto driven by Amanda Delapena, 33 (no hometown listed), police said. Delapena and four children riding in her car were taken to Provena Saint Joseph Hospital, police said. Vera declined hospital transport at the scene, but requested hospital transport after arriving at the Elgin jail and was taken to Sherman Hospital with minor injuries, according to authorities. Police also cited Delapena with driving on a suspended license and no proof of insurance.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jobs created, saved...

...or perpetuated.

We blogged here about the Elgin streetscape project, and warned that brick pavers don't weather well under severe weather conditions like ice and snow.

But we didn't realize we'd have problems so soon. Just last year they installed brick crosswalks along Douglas, south of Kimball to Highland.

The other day they had the road closed at the City Hall parking lot while they worked on the brick crosswalk.

Then yesterday they were at the Kimball crosswalk, doing the same thing. I didn't have my camera but I watched them for a few minutes. There were two guys and an Alaniz Landscaping Group forklift blocking the lane. There was a large scoop resting on the sidewalk, filled with sand. And the forklift bore a pallet-load of brick pavers. And they had a wet saw.

The workers were digging bricks out of the crosswalk, staring at them, tapping them, and then putting them in. I assume they were replacing some of them as well.

Keep in mind, these bricks were installed less than a year ago.

I hope this is warranty work, but we are talking about a government project.

Here's a photo of the crosswalk today.
Oh, and don't forget...your property taxes are due today.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Overtaxed by design

It’s no secret that the value of your house has dropped as a result of the recession. A 30-40% drop is not unusual.

So, why doesn't your tax bill reflect a 30-40% drop in "Fair Cash Value?" Is Elgin somehow immune to the forces of economics?
Well, we know that’s not true. Elgin has been a hotbed of foreclosures.

Here's what the Kane County Treasurer is saying my house is worth.

Do you see a nosedive in my property values in 2005? Neither do I. In fact, here it is 2011 and they are showing only a modest dip in what my home is worth.

Maybe the tax man can’t get current data from which to calculate the value of your home. Well, that’s not true either. Every real estate transaction and refi is recorded at the county. That’s a core service of county government.

So why does Zillow, a private company that gets all the data from real estate transactions, foreclosures, tax bills, and refi values from the same source (Kane County) come up with far different numbers than the ones that appear on your tax bill?

Here's what Zillow says has been happening in Elgin and to MY home over the last decade:

And here you see the percent of value change from year to year. The green line is how my home value has changed according to my tax bill and the blue line is the REAL market change.

Over a ten year period, the Kane County tax man says my home has gone up by 58%. But the REAL cash value of my home is only 6% higher! Quite a difference.

Now, the tax man says the change in value can lag by three years due to the assessment cycle. Even that isn't true, as the charts above reveal.

But try to get an explanation and you get this:

The city proudly boasts that our tax rate hasn't gone up in 20 years.
The county board tells you they don't assess your property.
The assessor says he doesn't set the rate of your taxes.
The county treasurer says he only sends out the bills, based on the figures he was given.
The county recorder only records transactions.

If you want something done, you must do it yourself. First, you need to see if your "Fair Cash Value" is far higher than your house would sell for these days. You will then need to pay $300-400 to have a real estate appraisal done. (NOTE: You do NOT need a lawyer or a specialist to do this for you.)

Take the paperwork to the township assessors office at the Elgin Township building on South McLean Blvd and show them that they have been charging you too much property tax. They will reduce your bill NEXT year. They will NOT rebate what they've been overcharging you all these years.

Now, it's OK for the state to skip payments. It's OK for federal block grants to dry up. But you have to beg for an honest tax bill...because you're just the lowly old citizen and if you don't pay up, the Sheriff will sell your house for taxes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Welcome to Illinois...

...a sanctuary state.

They did it. The Illinois House passed the "Smart Enforcement Law," effectively unplugging the ICE screening process from the county jails. The Secure Communities program is sure to be discontinued in Kane and Lake Counties, since Sheriffs Pat Perez and Mark Curran were front men for the charade.

It is really a shame when they turn their backs on the oath of office.

News coverage here:

Roll call here:

Keith Farnham was true to his word and voted against it.

Now, on to the Senate, which means Mike Noland will get a shot at it.
No doubt he's all for any measure that makes it easier for illegal aliens to live here.