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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Getting In Touch with Government

Sometimes, getting what you need from our government institutions can be as frustrating as standing at the foot of Mount Rushmore, asking those big stone faces for help. Mountains of paperwork, impersonal voice mail systems, and "spin doctors" more concerned with public relations than public relation-ships can leave you baffled. Well, this year, make a vow to make it easier on yourself by getting help at the Des Plaines Public Library.

How can we help? Well, did you know that local government representatives frequently schedule open meeting times at that library? You can meet with representatives from Illinois Senator Dan Kotowski's office and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's office. Just check our Events calendar, found on our home page: This month, Ann Limjoco from Congresswoman Schakowsky's office will be here to meet with you on Wednesday, January 16 from 5-7 p.m. Limjoco will meet with residents privately to answer questions about immigration, visas, social security, veterans' benefits, and more. Just drop by; no appointment needed. Janie Morrison from Illinois Senator Dan Kotowski's office will be at the library on Tuesday, February 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. In a private session, she can answer personal questions about senior services, consumer complaints, property taxes, passport problems, veterans' benefits, and other concerns. Again, just drop by; no appointment is ever needed for these consultations. If these meeting times are not convenient for you, keep checking our Events calendar for new dates.

I hate to mention it, but tax preparation time is upon us as well. If you have a computer and printer at home, you can access all of the necessary tax forms from the IRS Web site: But honestly, the site is complex and it's not easy to browse through the forms - plus, why pay the cost of printing the forms at home? The Des Plaines Public Library has one of the largest and most complete collections of tax forms you will find. Come on up to the 4th floor Reference area and get the forms you need, fast and free. We have all the instruction booklets and supplemental publications, too. If you prefer working online to filling out paper forms, you can also use the library's network of computers to file online, both federal and state. We all do our part by paying taxes - eliminate some of the bureaucratic red tape by getting forms and information you need from the library.

Figuring out how to fill in those forms is even a bigger hurdle and while librarians are experts in finding information, we aren't accountants! So while we cannot help you complete your tax forms, the library does host a tax assistance program from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Every Tuesday from now until April 15 - Tax Day - AARP is offering free tax assistance for
tax payers with low to middle income, with special attention to those age 60 and older. Appointments are taken between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. For more information, call 847-376-2788 beginning next Tuesday, January 15, 2007.

Finally - we reminded you earlier this month that you can register to vote at the library, so keep that in mind during this election year. United States citizens living in suburban Cook County may register to vote during regular library hours. Two forms of ID are required and one of those must list the current address of the applicant. It is too late to register for voting in the February primary, but register now and you can exercise your democratic rights in November. Confused about the candidates? Check out our Election '08 Web guide by clicking here or finding the link on our home page, We think you'll find our election guide informative and well-balanced - unlike much of what you may be finding elsewhere! We will also update the Election guide regularly, so check in whenever you're curious about the future leaders of our country, their political records and platforms.

If you entered the New Year knowing that you needed assistance with government affairs but did not know where to turn - good news: there's help right here in the neighborhood.

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