Years ago, the Chicago Tribune published a funny Op-Ed titled “Who Needs Norridge?”, suggesting the little suburb between Harlem and Cumberland avenues be eliminated because it's indistinguishable from the Northwest Side of Chicago.
“Best I can tell Norridge hasn’t got a downtown or a university or even a personality,” Brian Treglown wrote. “As far as a claim to fame, about all Norridge has going for it is the location of John Wayne Gacy’s house. The Gacy house has been torn down, so even that dubious claim is gone.”
Actually, Gacy lived in Norwood Park Township, so Norridge can’t even claim to be the hometown of a mass murderer. With all due respect to Norridge, we don’t need it. Nor do we need Norwood Park Township, Aptakisic-Tripp School District 102, the South Cook County Mosquito Abatement District or the Arlington Heights Park District. We don’t need Evanston, Oak Park or Harvey, either.
Now that our state of Illinois has reached the point where we can no longer pay for government services, it’s time for leaders like Governor Pat Quinn and Speaker Michael Madigan to ask, “Is it because we have too many governments?”
The answer, obviously, is “duh.” Illinois has 6,994 governments, more than any other state. That’s 8 percent of all the governments in America, even though we’re only 2 percent of all the states. And which American county has the most governments? Um, that would be Cook, with 543.
First, we need to get rid of townships. These agrarian anachronisms were last useful when Abraham Lincoln was riding a horse around Central Illinois. A township’s main functions are to pave roads and distribute welfare. Nothing a county can’t do, and no reason we can’t drive to the county seat, now that the car has been invented. Thomas Jefferson, who conceived townships as part of the Northwest Ordinance, never intended them to be permanent. Gov. Jim Edgar favored eliminating townships.
Next, we need to incorporate most suburbs into Chicago. Indianapolis, capital of the next-door state that mocks our inefficiency, did that in 1970, merging the entire metro area into a municipality nicknamed Unigov. It saves millions of dollars a year. When you folks from Northbrook go out of town, you tell people you’re from Chicago, anyway, so this will make honest men and women out of you.
We also have far too many school districts. We have school districts that exist just to support elementary schools, or junior high schools. Make them all K-through-12. Let’s have vertical integration.
With fewer governments, we’ll have fewer mayors and police chiefs to pay, fewer City Halls to maintain and fewer opportunities for graft. Right now, if the mayor of Berwyn won’t take kickbacks for inflated insurance contracts, you can just go across the street and ask the mayor of Cicero. Could that be one reason Illinois so corrupt?
There will, of course, be obstacles. All these governments will hire lobbyists to preserve themselves. That’s reason enough to get rid of them. Norridge, it’s not that we don’t need you. We just can’t afford you anymore.