By Mark Weyermuller -
Last week, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin gave a public policy address to 300 business leaders at the City Club of Chicago at Maggianos on Grand. DuPage is the second largest of the 102 counties in Illinois with about 900,000 residents.
Chairman Cronin is a Republican that served in the Illinois State Senate for 17 years before being elected board chairman in 2010. He grew up in Elmhurst, attended Northwestern University and received his law degree at Loyola University.
Chairman Cronin gave a well-written presentation with Power Point slides on a theme of more efficient government. He spoke of consolidating the over 8000 taxing districts (government bodies) in Illinois.
Cronin used the acronym "A.C.T." for accountability, consolidation, and transparency. He indicated it will be an uphill battle to lower the size, scope and cost of government.
"How many government agencies does it take to change a lightbulb," Cronin asked. And although he did not mention it in his speech, Illinois has 43,000 elected officials, more than any of the 50 states.
After the speech, City Club moderator Chris Robling opened the floor to written submitted questions. Usually there are about ten questions at these lunch events. It was very odd that only one person submitted a question - me. Many people in the audience were contractors and vendors who may want business from the state, and were perhaps reluctant to ask questions.
My question: "On the Illinois pension mess, would you support new employees - including cops, firefighters, teachers, state & county workers, legislators, judges, etc - be put into a pension system (on new employees) of IRAs or 401ks, and start a phase out of the current system?"
I have asked this same question in public forums of over 30 officials including Bruce Rauner, John Cullerton, Karen Lewis, Dan Rurherford, Kirk Dillard, Bob Fioretti, Pat Quinn, among others.
Cronin's answer was interesting, as he did not outright say, "Yes, that's a start to a solution."
He did say he proposed a similar idea several years ago and also said it was "an attractive concept." He said it would not be a "silver bullet solution." He used the term "silver bullet" twice.
He did not say it, but in folklore a silver bullet is used to kill monsters like werewolves. This is not to be confused with a wooden dagger to the heart to kill a vampire.
One could say the pension system is sucking the lifeblood out of Illinois like a vampire. Was he calling the current pension system a monster that had to be eliminated?
All in all, Dan Cronin is heading in the right direction as president of the DuPage County Board. Accountability, consolidation, and transparency is a great theme for Republicans. If we can cut taxes, cut spending and cut borrowing, Illinois may get on a growth path.
The Q & A ended with my question, then Dan was presented with the customary coffee mug and a one year membership to the City Club. The video of the whole speech can be seen on this YouTube link : http://www.cityclub-chicago.org/videos/detail/895/hon-dan-cronin
The City Club is a venue for nonpartisan forums and debates on public issues that pertain to Chicago metropolitan residents, Upcoming speakers this spring include Bob Mariano, Toni Preckwinkle, Karen Lewis, Robert Zimmer, Indiana Senator Joseph Donnelly, Howard Tullman, and Cheryl Hyman.