Elwood, Illinois (Pop. 2,200), Has Become a Vital Hub of America’s Consumer Economy. And It’s Hell.

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    • #10838
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 17,244

      This is an amazing article from the New Republic, recommended to me by Mrs. Barbarian. Yeah, I know, that New Republic but this one unsparingly shows the devastation wrought upon a small northern Illinois town that tried to attract business investment by giving 20 property tax abatements to lure in businesses, in this case, warehousing business. The robber baron villains include William Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and the Waltons.

      If you are reading this line, I successfully pasted four paragraphs:

      It’s hard to find anyone who will admit to it now, but when the CenterPoint Intermodal freight terminal opened in 2002, people in Elwood, Illinois, were excited. The plan was simple: shipping containers, arriving by train from the country’s major ports, were offloaded onto trucks at the facility, then driven to warehouses scattered about the area, where they were emptied, their contents stored. From there, those products—merchandise for Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot—were loaded into semis, and trucked to stores all over the country. Goods in, goods out. The arrangement was supposed to produce a windfall for Elwood and its 2,200 residents, giving them access to the highly lucrative logistics and warehousing industry. “People thought it was the greatest thing,” said Delilah Legrett, an Elwood native.

      (snip)

      All Elwood’s problems—the choking traffic, the precarious work conditions, the crumbling infrastructure—have been compounded by an original sin: the decision to forego tax collection. With little money coming in, the village issued bonds to finance the town hall, the gleaming new sidewalks, and the stop signs that are observed only voluntarily. “At the end of the day, it turns out they cut a very bad deal,” Greuling told me. “They issued bonds for a water and sewer system that was too large. They built all of this capacity and now they have this huge debt. That’s the next chapter: How are they going to find a way to retire this debt?”

      (snip)

      Frustrated residents began to organize in opposition. Legrett and a group of fellow objectors, none of whom had experience in political activism, founded the group Just Say No to NorthPoint. They started small, ten people in a town hall in Jackson Township. But they quickly made their presence felt. Members showed up in the dozens at village board meetings. They printed yard signs, circulated petitions and group emails. Their Facebook group swelled to a thousand members, building an explicitly nonpartisan coalition that included both avowed progressives and MAGA-hat wearers. (Elwood overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.)

      (snip)

      The group put pressure on local politicians. Elwood Village President Todd Matichak, who was careful not to take too firm a position on the development, resigned days ahead of the planning and zoning meeting in December 2017, after just eight months on the job. “I guess the seat just got too hot for him,” said Jackie Traynere, a Will County Board Member from nearby Bolingbrook. The group also won the resignations of numerous pro-development Elwood board members. Finally, in April 2018, it was announced by interim President Doug Jenco that the project did not have enough votes to go through. The fallout was significant: Multiple board members left their posts, with one, who had proclaimed the NorthPoint development “a gift from God,” selling his house and leaving the area altogether.

      You have to read the whole story in order for all of this to make sense, but it’s a story of the exploitation of tens of thousands of people to the point that they have actually started to organize and fight back in a truly populist political manner, and have won some initial victories. The kleptocracy, of course, is fighting them at the county commissioner level and and will definitely continue to fight them in the courts and at the state level.

      On this issue, I really empathize with these people.

      (Click here for full and very long article). 30 minute read, but worth it.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #10842
      Ohio Barbarian
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 17,244

      clicking on the T-clipboard thingie. @sffh @deadpool @landofenchantment someone did something right with a plug in somewhere. Write the time down, you bloody scientist!

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #10927
      incognito
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,051

      in the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

      It’s very rural and I didn’t realize there was an actual “town” of Elwood…though I wasn’t really looking for it.

      I’ll definitely have to go read the entire article.

      Thanks for posting this!

       

    • #10941
      incognito
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,051

      That sounds like nothing less than a damn nightmare for everyone but the blood sucking corporations!

      <span style=”color: #ff9900;”>”Between 2010 and 2014, he worked at the Wal-Mart facility in Elwood. There, he unloaded trucks and pallets, everything from light inventory, like artificial Christmas trees, to the unwieldy, like trampolines. That distinction was important, because McDonald, like many others, was paid not by the hour, but by the truckload. For 999 pieces unloaded, “you’d get $45, split between two people,” he told me. Small objects could be unloaded in an hour or two, but bulkier items could take three to five hours.

      UNBELIEVABLE!

    • #11020
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 9,895

      or actually corrupt (get some kind of kick-back from the deals).

      These days I lean toward corrupt.

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