As an outdoorsman and an angler, I keep scratching my head why anyone in my field would live in Illinois. Lakes are scarce, outdoor recreational pursuits are limited and what we do have most years is threatened with extinction because of budget cuts and chopping blocks.
It seems the Illinois I grew up in has been replaced with big city attitudes and pauper pocketbooks.
The past few weeks have been filled with even more controversy and worse weather. The controversy surrounds partisan politics and the gerrymandering/jockeying for political power looks to only get worse. We already have the highest property taxes and honestly those of us still here seem to have more increases ahead.
I remember hearing a story when I was young about a little boy who told his father he could spend more because he still had a checkbook full of checks. That truly seems apropos in this state I call home. The debt burden is only getting worse and our kids and grandkids will be left holding the empty bag.
We have some strong organizations and some spectacular parks, but I worry each day that they may be the first on the chopping block moving forward. Added taxes are never earmarked or managed for the public interest, it seems, and we don’t have a small leak in the money bucket, but rather a gaping hole. That bucket will never fill up when it leaks out the bottom faster than it can be filled.
I am a half-full guy and see our parks and outdoor interests as a way to dig us out of the hole versus something that needs daily care and feeding. How about we build them as profit centers and ask private business to help? The build it and they will come attitude could actually help make our lakes and parks better instead of sucking the life out of them.
I have seen it in a small scale with the Friends of Reservoirs and local organizations helping with building projects. Instead of saying no, maybe saying ‘yes’ a few times would help.
Most of us in the outdoor business have no issue with the pay to play scenario. The problem is those funds we put in should be earmarked for where they are used versus finding their way into a nebulous and seemingly untrackable general fund.
Give the parks, the IDNR, Fisheries and other outdoor interests the ability to fundraise without bureaucratic red tape and just see what might happen. Today’s atmosphere is budget-based and we all know what shape that is in.
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Whatever happened to the money for better roads that was actually another tax from license plates we were promised would make our roads more drivable? I bet it met the general fund monster somewhere because once passed, little has been heard about it. We have more potholes than ever.
Cities and local governing bodies are responsible, too. Instead of looking for ways to not act, it sure would be novel to see action. Give kudos to the City of Bloomington and the Water Department for making long overdue repairs to the launch at Lake Bloomington. Build it and they will come, remember?
What is going on with the dock fiasco at Lake Bloomington? We have neighbors against neighbors, city against homeowners and more nitpicking and backbiting over docks … for what? Some of the docks in question have been on that lake for decades and to date I have not seen one thing that is adverse about them.
Sure would be nice to see a program moving forward where those in the lake can stay and new ones permitted with a process managed by the city. It seems logical to me. The horse is out of the barn and closing the door would keep the rest of them from escaping, too.
I guess this all comes to a head Monday at a public meeting, but rest assured it won’t be over then if one single dock is removed. Why can’t we all just get along?
Let’s work together … find common ground and a way for our special interest to get funded outside the normal bickering budget process. It can be done and everyone wins if we can find a way. The Land of Lincoln Outdoor Trail sure has a nice ring to it.
The Bloomington Normal Bass Club held its season opener Saturday on Spring Lake. The team of Larry Russell and Jerry Martoglio were the winners with four fish weighing 14.93 pounds. They also had big bass of 4.87. Taylor and Levi Umland got second with three fish weighing 9.66 pounds.