Dear Santa Pritzker: Opinion by Cyclist Mike Erickson

LightField Studios/Shutterstock

LightField Studios/Shutterstock

By Mike Erickson

Dear Santa (Gov. Pritzker):

We’ve been so very good this year! We elected you Governor of Illinois and that is a first!

We think a progressive (fair) income tax is a great idea for all of us worker elves. . . we deserve a raise too, but a fair tax is a great start. Also, the reindeer could fly farther, faster and higher by eating a bit of marijuana with their hay without worrying about incarceration! Why not allow them to grow a few plants at home? Don’t be stingy, Santa! And pardon all the penned-up reindeer in time for the holidays!

Could be a great holiday! And we’ve been so good! We put up with the Mayor Rahm and Governor Rauner years, taxes galore, cutbacks in services, no budgets, cover ups. We look forward to some pretty gift packages under the tree this year! Below lists the goods, the not so goods, the needs improvements!

First thing on the list: one package we implore you to keep out of the sack, to not put on your sleigh, is the package that doubles the gas tax, and a host of other regressive tax hikes. It is not fair to force us worker elves to pay more without the promise of a better system. Is this a happy season of celebration, or a capital program already broken, wrapped in old news, and doomed to disappoint upon delivery?    

IDOT is asking for 52% of the goods in this gift package for new roads and new highways. Bah humbug! IDOT has not been a good boy for decades. They’ve hired hacks and built programs that give us sprawl and even more congestion. Their bread and butter puts more carbon dioxide and diesel pollution into everyone’s holiday stew. To choke on their brew is not a gift; it is a curse. Don’t give in to them, Santa!

Mary Sue [Mary Sue Barrett, head of Metropolitan Planning Council] wants 30% of the package goods spent on transit. So do the transit enthusiasts. But the capital program package has no provision for one new electric train set, much less shiny electric trolleys or buses, or fast safe modern and attractive electric Metra trains. Your package will not make her smile!  

Ronny [Ron Burke of ActiveTrans] wants $50 million per year for new bike and pedestrian projects, like Complete Streets, trails, sidewalks, protected bike lanes. But the capital program package has no provision for large systemic programs that make for a functional system. Small competitive grant programs are all work and no play. For example, the Safe Routes to School toy is a cynical ploy, an anchor on the foot of human power!

The Highway Lobby wants the entire package to fix roads and highways that were left to crumble for decades. Yet IDOT builds new roads to facilitate McMansion developers. We will never catch up. Santa, please give the lobby nothing for maintenance until every road is brought up to Complete Streets standards! Fix them for walkers, then bicyclists, and then transit. Once it’s fixed then maintain them!

We environmentalists, active transportation people, transit enthusiasts, urban planners, regular citizens, and future generations deserve a truly merry holiday. Santa, send this package back to the workshop for a massive retooling. We want reforms, safety, zero carbon, bike highways, zero sprawl, equity, justice and new/non-tax ways to fund brand-new fun, glitzy, sustainable Disneyesque transportation!

We’ve been so darn good. Make this a season we’ll never forget! Mary Sue and Ronny deserve the best!

Sincerely, Your Friend and Supporter in the South Suburbs,

Little Mikey Erickson of Evergreen Park                 

(Can you be [bought] progressive for milk and cookies?  Do you like Soy or Almond milk, Fig Newman’s?)

Editor’s update: The Illinois General Assembly adjourned on June 2. The current 19-cent-per-gallon state gas tax will double; and a $45 billion package of transportation and building improvements passed, $5 billion of which is for passenger rail and mass transit systems.