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Cigarette tax hike is just more greedy gouging

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle   |  Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:47AM

Toni Preckwinkle’s Cook County budget is again based upon a cigarette tax. We voted her into the job of president of the county board believing she would be innovative and find new methods to budget.

I’d like to ask, “Is that all you got?”

Cigarette taxes are like shooting fish in a barrel. Nothing innovative there, just the same greedy gouging of one segment of taxpayers. It’s sort of a punitive, prejudicial taxation and sort of “unAmerican.”

Taxes theory is that all taxpayers pay to share cost of goods and services on their ability to pay. Not just one group paying hundreds of millions in taxes, over and over.

Nonsmokers may not care now, but when smokers are tapped out, what next? Air?

Fred Morrow, Edgewater

Don’t make me pay twice for CTA error

I have a bone to pick with the CTA.

I know what you’re thinking. Yawn — step in line.

In a nutshell, I was told this very thing by a CTA employee at the Harlem and Lake station Wednesday morning when I was turned away because the turnstile wasn’t working. I was told to pay again, though I had already prepaid for the entire month. I said I would complain.

“There are a lot of complaints. This is what they tell us to do,” she said.

I have a Chicago Card Plus. On the card it says “CTA: Safe. Clean. On-Time. Courteous. Efficient.”

Given what I have experienced, this is laughable.

What happens when my card doesn’t work at the turnstile? What if the turnstile malfunctions? I have to “pay my fare,” she says.

But I’ve already paid my fare. I pay my fare every month.

“Your card doesn’t stop working overnight,” she says.

What? You do not accuse your customers of lying!

Look, at this point I’m not above pulling a Michael Douglas and jumping the turnstile. The man just wanted an Egg McMuffin.

This has happened to me twice now. I simply cannot afford to continue paying for the CTA’s mistakes. They owe me $5 and some respect.

Abby Collier, Oak Park

Time for serious school reform

On Tuesday, Advance Illinois, a bipartisan education-policy think tank, released a report, “The State We’re In: 2012,” that states in shocking detail just how poorly Illinois is doing at educating our youth.

On average, only 29 of every 100 public school 9th graders in Illinois will graduate from a four-year college, down from 32 a decade ago. Only one in three fourth graders are proficient in reading.

As a student at Northwestern, I am well aware that Advance Illinois’ findings are unacceptable. Students graduating from high school in Illinois are rarely equipped to attend college in any form, let alone a selective university. Illinois is home to some of the best universities in the world, but what good are these schools if our own students can’t attend them?

It’s time for serious reform. Introducing school vouchers and working to make sure that only the best teachers remain in our schools is a good place to start.

Alex Entz, Evanston

Waukegan would welcome food trucks

Hey, food-truck owners. The city of Chicago is making it hard on you at every turn. There are plenty of other people living in smaller cities and towns that would love to have you, your wonderful food and the tax revenue.

High-tail it to Waukegan and set up right by the courthouse.

Jennifer Owens, Lake Villa

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