Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tax Freedom Day in Illinois

The Bloomington Pantagraph appears to be the only paper reporting this. The whole editorial is a great read and points to both Republican and Democrat leadership deficiencies.

Breathe a sigh of relief Illinoisans. Today you shed the bonds of taxation. Tomorrow you finally begin working for yourself instead of the taxmen. Well, not exactly but at least theoretically.

This is the official Tax Freedom Day in Illinois, as designated annually by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Tax Foundation.

In other words, we have been working 120 days just to pay for this year's local, state and federal taxes.

For the mathematically challenged, that's darn close to one-third of the year - and approaching half of the year's "work days."

The tax figures are based on data from the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis and includes the typical income taxes, sales taxes and even real estate taxes.
Horrible. This is the reason we are lagging behind in job creation. This is the reason wages are stagnant in Illinois. This is the reason why businesses and people are moving out of state. This is the reason why families are stressed to the brink needing both parents earning wages. This is the reason crime isn't dropping as fast as we would like. This country was founded on the principles of economic freedom, and we are getting closer to being slaves to the government every year.

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Check the facts


Check the facts Originally uploaded by lbj79us.

I figure I do a photoblog. It's been done here a few times and I wanted to show this picture from last month. Her sorority Delta Sigma Theta had a board on a nearby campus with prominent sorors. One of them was our former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun who is listed here as a current senator for the state of Illinois. In fact her seat is now held by Barack Obama. For this reason this photo is titled "Check the facts".

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Susan Sovereign, Lawrence County's Erma Brombeck, Takes a Behind-the-Wheel Driver's Test

  Posted by Picasa A former Illinois House colleague of mine, Roscoe Cunningham, bought The Sumner Press, Lawrence County's weekly newspaper. That's located 240 miles south of Navy Pier in far southeastern Illinois along the Wabash River. (Go to the web site and see the size house $100,000 or 4-bedroom brick house that $65,000 will buy.)

I subscribed to the paper. What keeps me opening the pages each week are the Publisher's Comments and Susan Sovereign's column.

Today, McHenry County Blog is starting a periodic re-publishing of Susan Sovereign's columns from the Sumner Press, with Roscoe's permission, of course.

This column is about her visit to the Secretary of State's Divers' License Facility, where she had to take a behind-the-wheel test.

Just to tempt you, here is how the test started out:

Much to my surprise, the men behind the counter flipped a coin to see who was to receive the privilege of giving me my test. The man who won groaned deeply and said (slightly more gruffly than necessary),"Let's get this over with," and motioned for me to go to the car.

He carefully strapped himself into the car on the passenger side. Opening the back door, I got in. He looked at me in amazement and asked if I didn't think that perhaps something was wrong with our seating arrangement.

I couldn't see how it would make much difference, but I got out, walked around the car, and got in the back seat on the other side.

Rather sarcastically, he asked if I didn't think it would be nice if someone were to drive.

I told him to go right ahead.

He made some kind of a mark on the clipboard he was carrying and said, "Oh, no. I insist that you drive."
The entire column can be found here.

Or, if you are want raw politics, read about the torching of the Prospect Heights City Hall and what the reformers think there.

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tell me this ain't so too

Today's Sun Times

Even our alleged corruption, with its family squabbles angle, makes Illinois look goofy.

A top Illinois environmental official has told investigators he "may have" warned a landfill owner that his state permit problems would not clear up until his relative, Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), patched up a feud with Gov. Blagojevich, sources told the Sun-Times.

The state official made the statement as part of a widening criminal investigation into whether the Blagojevich administration abused its power in temporarily shutting down the Joliet landfill last year. The Sun-Times is not identifying him because he is not a target of any probe.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

tell me it ain't so

Scott Reader via Spontaneous Solutions,

"An East St. Louis assistant principal was allowed to stay on the job despite evidence that he had impregnated a 7th grader, who attended his school. A paternity blood test showed a greater than 99 percent chance that he was the father, but a hearing officer ruled that was insufficient evidence. The administrator was ordered to pay child support nine years later. But he was acquitted of criminal charges in the case. He has denied any wrongdoing.

A Chicago teacher took a 15-year-old student to Wisconsin to attend an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally where the student was arrested after allegedly kicking a police officer in the groin. The teacher is alleged to have never informed the student’s guardian or school officials of the arrest during the unauthorized trip. A hearing officer ruled the teacher could keep her job."

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BU and NCAA smoke-um peace pipe

The NCAA has decided to let Bradley University exercise its free speech rights after all and not penalize the university for using the word "Braves" as its nickname. Apparently, BU differs from the U of I in that they don't have some fool prancing around in the type of outfit and head dress that Hollywood used to say was typical of Indians.

Not that I'm opposed to any college that wants to do that. I'm just stating the rationalization the NCAA is stating for its censorship.

I rather doubt that BU's recent trip to the Sweet 16 in men's basketball has anything to do with it this decision. The U of I went much further last year and is considered more likely by some to make future appearances than is BU (not me, I predict a Final Four appearance).

Hopefully, this will mean many entertaining protest marches on the Hilltop during the coming few years, all staged by smelly hippies and other deluded pseudo-intellectual ninnies out to prove to the rest of us how bigoted WE are and how enlightened THEY are.

Cross-posted at Peoria Pundit.

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RNC setting up shop in Illinois

Greg Hinz writes in Crain's Chicago Business that "The National Republican Party is pouring unprecedented resources into races for U.S. House seats here—a sign of Illinois’ rare position in this election cycle of actually having competitive contests in multiple districts."

The Republicans are looking for about 30,000 sq. ft. of office space in the western suburbs to serve as a base for field operations in the 6th District, where the GOP hopes to elect state Sen. Peter Roskam to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde, and for efforts in the 8th District, where Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean is being targeted, party insiders report.

The facility also could be used to help the as yet unselected GOP nominee for a seat in western Illinois being vacated by Democrat Lane Evans, and for some local contests.

Much of the cost of the operation reportedly is coming from the Republican National Committee, which also has two staffers in the state working to boost grassroots party activities.

When asked why the RNC was setting up shop in Illinois, ILGOP Chairman Andy McKenna noted:

“The state party has forged a close relationship with the Republican National Committee, and these are very targeted races nationally."

You can't help but wonder just how nervous the RNC is about retaining the House this November, and is this office being established because of the vulnerability of the Republican candidates in the 6th, 8th and 10th Congressional Districts here in Illinois?

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Really, Senator...


Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.): “There’s no correlation between the increase in the price of a barrel of oil and what we are paying at the pump.” (Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” 4/26/06)

Right, no correlation, except statistically.

Question: Will any Illinois reporters follow up on this whopper?




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Hubris, anyone?

Originally posted at Peoria Pundit:

The Illinois Central College board decided to name its brand new $3.5 million "career center" in East Peoria after the state legislator who helped them get the cash, State Rep. David Leitch (R-73rd District). Board Member James Polk was the only member of ICC's board with enough self respect and dignity to vote against it. Leitch has been a real sugar daddy to ICC, which has a hugermongus taste for land-grabbing and mission drift, far beyond the original laudable goal of providing an inexpensive college education.

Leitch helped arrange for ICC to lease the former Zeller Mental Health, which uses the facility to offer "culinary arts" courses. This sweetheart deal essentially ended efforts to of State Sen. George Shadid and former State Rep. Ricca Slone to get Zeller reopened after Former Gov. George Ryan closed it. This created massive hardships for the mentally ill and their families in Peoria because the local hospitals did not offer enough beds for them. But that's OK, because Peoria needs more fry-cooks. All those fired Bemis Bag workers need jobs somewhere, right?

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Former Illinois House GOP Staffer Dave Olien Makes Good and Observations on Political Corruption

Dave Olien, a former top staffer of George Ryan when he was House Republican Leader, has written a column for the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin, which compares Wisconsin and Illinois convictions of political folks.

His conclusion:

It marks a major change of the "rules" of politics in Illinois and many other states, including Wisconsin, where insiders have routinely used access to governors to build strong lobbying practices as well as state resources to win elections.
Or, as the headline of the column says,
The Rules of the Game Have Changed
I’m not as sure as Dave. I’m still waiting for the Mike Tristano shoes to drop.

But Olien predicts
It marks a major change of the "rules" of politics in Illinois and many other states, including Wisconsin, where insiders have routinely used access to governors to build strong lobbying practices as well as state resources to win elections.
He continues
Insiders in Illinois and Wisconsin both argued that it was standard practice to use state resources for political purposes. But in both the Federal Courthouse in Chicago and the Dane County Courthouse criminal prosecutions have demonstrated that standard practice was in effect a criminal undertaking as defined by both Wisconsin law and federal law.

Clearly, state employees in the executive and legislative branches in Wisconsin now are vulnerable to federal prosecution as well as prosecution by local authorities if they engage or have engaged in facilitating fundraising or other political activity on state time.
Olien escaped Springfield to the higher paying world of the University of Illinois and, there, underwent an extreme makeover. He also escaped from Springfield’s politically corrupt atmosphere, ending up as a Vice President of the University of Wisconsin System.

For the rest of the story, including a story about why this McHenry County Republican gave money to Chicago Democrats against the wishes of GOP Speaker W. Robert Blair--using a floor amendment, no less--go to April 26 on McHenry County Blog.

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At Holocaust Remembrance Day in Illinois, media remembers Nation of Islam member on state hate crimes panel

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit. (Oh, there's a DePaul post right below this one.)

Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Flashback to last summer: Ill. Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed Sister Claudette Muhammad, the minister of protocol for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, to the Governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.

Her membership in the group only became widely known when she invited her fellow panel members to Louis Farrakhan's annual "Saviour's Day" speech in February.

Calypso Louie was in top-form that day, as this snippet from that speech shows:

"These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strength...it's the wicked Jews, the false Jews that are promoting Lesbianism, homosexuality. It's wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic!

Blagojevich, a Democrat, refuses to fire Sister Muhammad, and the minister of protocol refuses to quit. Five Jewish members of the hate crimes panel did resign from the panel to protest Muhammad's presence on it.

Outside the commission, besides Jews, gays have expressed outrage over the Nation of Islam member being on that panel

Blagojevich was in Springfield yesterday (a story in itself, Blago refuses to live in the governor's mansion, preferring his Northwest Side Chicago home), for a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. And reporters hammered Blagojevich over the hate crimes panel controversy. Blagojevich answered in predictable Blago fashion.

From the Springfield State Journal-Register:

"We're making real progress there, and we're just going to keep doing that," he said. "It's working well, and it's been sort of below the radar screen, and I think, frankly, that's probably the right way to do it as some of the wounds from what happened before heal."

Although Muhammad has remained on the commission, Blagojevich said it's important to condemn Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments.

"There were maybe some voices in the hate crimes commission who should have stepped up and done that," Blagojevich said.

Hey Gov, uh, some did that--then they quit.

As far as I know, there are two gays on the panel, Rick Garcia and Larry McKeon.

I believe State Senator Carol Ronen of Chicago is the only Jewish member left on the panel. As far as can gather, she's on the committee for the long haul--if she leaves, then the panel could be Judenrein, that is, free of Jews.

Oh, click on Carol's link, you'll notice a rainbow flag in the background.

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Theresa Carter: Mugged In Chicago - A Love Letter (of sorts) to the Windy City

Update: I wondered if anyone was going to comment this post is out-of-scope for Illinoize. I wondered myself. I posted on Englewood and commenters said security wasn't even an issue for government.

I sometimes wonder though if much of what we chat about isn't the politician's ruse for keeping us from talking about how we can't manage to keep a city safe.

Theresa writes,

I was mugged/attacked on April 15 in Chicago and have been chronicling my experience in my blog. I’m trying to get the word out to help others avoid this painful experience. Would you be willing to post an excerpt and a link? Here are two potential excerpts, but please use whatever you think is appropriate for your readers:

I left shortly after 2am to catch a cab back home. Alone. Yes, I know, that was my first mistake. My second was that I'm impatient. I don't like standing around waiting for a cab. So instead of going back into the bar and calling for one, or waiting in front of the bar, I started walking down Diversey. Now don't for one second think that I am blaming myself in any way, shape, or form for what happened that evening. The fact that I was a woman walking alone on a Chicago street late at night did not justify the brutality that ensued."

Writing about my experience is, admittedly, an exercise for the internal. It may not be bringing those memories to the surface, but it is providing an outlet for my frustration, fear, anger, hope, and thankfulness. This afternoon a friend of mine told me he'd called his 24-year-old sister in Princeton, NJ. He told her to read my blog. She called him back and said she would never, ever leave a bar alone again.


The blog is located at http://www.thelocaltourist.com/blog.htm.
cross posted at Bill Baar's West Side

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Ad: Topinka Tagged for $5 Billion Deficit


The latest ad criticizing Treasurer Topinka's financial stewardship is likely to be around a long, long time. The 15 second spot leads by reminding viewers that George Ryan left the state with a $5 billion budget deficit. It then asks voters to decide whether Topinka was complicit in the runaway spending or just asleep at the wheel.

The tagline: "And now she wants a promotion?"

Earlier charges that Topinka merely stood by while Ryan stole everything that wasn't nailed down went to her character. I thought the charges were a little off-base because few elected officials ever criticize someone from their own party--unless they are primary opponents--so it hardly disqualifies someone. Since Illinois voters don't really trust anybody in politics these days unless their name ends with "Obama," I'm betting the ethics charges will just muddy the waters.

But this latest ad goes right to the heart of Topinka's competence by pointing out that our state's top fiscal officer was co-piloting the state while it ran into the red. Picture Topinka as "Gilligan" and George Ryan as "Skipper" in charge of the Exxon Valdez.

The ad's message is simple, credible and relevant. I just wish they'd change the ads up a little bit so they don't all have the same look to them, so voters don't just lump all the ads in together. Still, this ad is a bullseye, and I hope the campaign will post it at TopinkaWatch.com soon.

Still, I really, really can't wait to hear Topinka's response to this one.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Stanek column on WND: "Coming to America: forensic vagina inspections?"

wnd_logo.gif

First, the Illinois connection: I quote and link to Zorn and quote Yellow Dog Democrat and link to Illinoize.

My WND column today focuses on a recent article in the New York Times, which attempted to connect the U.S. trend toward criminalizing various aspects of abortion to a Salvadorian ban on all abortions that includes prosecuting aborting mothers.

el.jpgThe reason for the NYTimes piece was clear: to frighten U.S. women that "forensic vagina inspectors," as they are called in El Salvador, may soon come pounding on their doors.

But is there any correlation whatsoever? If not, how can American pro-lifers say abortion is murder but not wish to prosecute aborting women?

Read "Coming to America: forensic vagina inspections" at WorldNetDaily.com.

[Photo courtesy of the NY Times.]

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Schakowsky's Wiki War

JB from the North Burbs writes me,

There has been an edit battle going on Wikipedia on the Jan Schakowsky case.

A few people, myself included, have seen to posting information about the progress of the Creamer trial and conviction. A few other people have been removing any mention of Bob Creamer and his trial from Schakowsky's biography. It is quite interesting; I do not know how it will play out, but there will probably be a lock on her biography so that it does not become a political sandbox.
Reminds me of the Soviet history books when they would have to periodically rewrite history.

JB also notes the webpage for the US District Court has little on Creamer's case but features Ryan on the front page. JB says,
I called the webmaster for the District Court. He told me that because they get a lot of requests for information, he posts it directly the website. I asked him if he was posting information about the Creamer trial, to which he replied "Who is that?", prompting me to mention that if he put Creamer on his opening page, he might get more requests for information about that case as well.
I think some emails to the webmaster are due.

Updates: The webmaster responds,
That decision is up to the presiding judge.

Mark V. Tortorici
Systems Manager
United States District Court
Northern District of Illinois

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Blagojevich campaign's anti-Topinka commercials work but could use some more numbers to work better

I like the Blagojevich campaign's current 15-second commercials about the gubernatorial campaign. They are substantive, punchy and not anything like the way-over-the-top, unfair attack ads that the Oberweis campaign ran against Topinka.

The Oberweis campaign just ran commercials with Topinka polkaing (polka-ing?) with George Ryan and then just lied by saying "Topinka ordered staff to work on political campaigns" -- an unwarranted lie without any real attribution that ought to be illegal. Why didn't Oberweis get more flak for those?

On the other hand, Blagojevich's commercials are substantive, fair, issue-oriented but aggressive. There are two of them.

The first is about Topinka's opposition to an assault weapons ban, one of the gun control advocates main goals and a fiercely fought legislative battle every year (with the exception of this year, where a 'gun truce' has been imposed by the legislative leaders to avoid the bloody trench warfare of gun bills on third reading). Treasurer Topinka argued that the definition of an assault weapon is nebulous enough to potentially include a rolling pin, and the commercial makes her look a little silly. Playing off one of her primary campaign themes of "Thinka Topinka", the commercial's tag line is "What's she thinking?"

The Blagojevich campaign has laid out these commercials on a separate website at www.TopinkaWatch.com which is a nicely transparent method of being accountable for a 'negative' ad campaign.

I think that's a very strong commercial and message.
The other commercial isn't so strong, and it's taken me a while to figure out why I think it doesn't resonate as well.

The second commercial is about Topinka's support for the "Bush tax cuts" that lowered the marginal federal income tax rates and the capital gains tax rate. The most important tax cut in terms of lost revenue to the federal government (helping to create that $400 billion annual deficit, which gives China more power over us every year since we can't pay our own bills) is the tax cut on the highest incomes. Until 2001, the tax on income above $300,000 was 39.6% and because there are ever-more very high incomes, that generates a ton of money. After Bush took over and the GOP Congress secured control, the top tax rate was cut to 35%. That's the biggest deal of the Bush tax cuts and the dumbest cut, because anyone earning more than $300,000 can afford to pay the roughly 40% while the rest of us can't afford the higher cost of everything else when the government is broke (less student aid for college, less renewable energy, less support to state and local governments, etc.).

That message isn't easy to convey. The commercial calls it the 'millionaire's tax cut' because, in combination with the repeal of the estate tax and the cut on capital gains, the people who make more than a million dollars get tens of thousands off their federal tax bills. It's a stupid policy that panders to the base of the GOP (rich people and those who think they will be) and should be reversed. But it's tough to communicate in 15 seconds the reality of the federal Republican economic policy of forcing regular, working people to pay more money while enriching the wealthy.

The commercial also lays out a great wedge issue: the minimum wage. This is a great issue for Democrats and a horrible one for Republicans, because most people know it's absurd to expect someone to make a living on $6.50 an hour (Illinois' minimum wage). Very few Republicans support raising the minimum wage, while very few Democrats oppose it. Topinka called the latest proposal "a giveaway plan" and the Democrats have proposed raising the wage to $7.50. (Some Republicans rightfully question why we don't just raise the minimum wage to $7.50 before the end of the 2006 legislative session, but hey, it's good to have an issue....)

Why doesn't the message about Bush's millionaire tax cut resonate as much as the minimum wage or the assault weapons ban? I think the answer lays in how Republicans talk about taxes.

I saw on C-Span some Republican candidate talk about an uber-consultant's (I think it was Grover Norquist or perhaps Karl Rove) axiom on taxes: never mention a number. Republicans talk about cutting taxes generally. They don't talk about which taxes they want to cut and how much money people will make based on their actual income levels. If they did that, it would be very clear that the wealthy get the money while the rest of us get Chinese-financed debt and diminished public services.

That suggests that Democrats should always talk about numbers when we talk about taxes. Blagojevich (and every other Democrat) should always talk about the Bush tax cuts for income above $300,000 (to the extent it helps to remind Illinois voters about federal policy that Topinka presumably still supports).

And a coda: it also means that progressives who want to stop cutting higher education and stop condemning kids in poor suburbs and rural towns to crappy schools that shut down at 2 in the afternoon and extend the school year to 200 days need to talk about a 5% state income tax to fund this investment, instead of our current 3% income tax. Now that we know Blagojevich is against a 5% income tax, and that we'll need a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly to pass a 5% income tax, we need to clearly and consistently make the case for a 5% income tax (and not just a vague idea of 'raising state taxes'). Let's talk about numbers!

[I'm pulling a Fritchey and directing all comments to my blog at www.djwinfo.blogspot.com so I don't have to check them both.....]

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Convicted vote thief joined by top local Dems at his pre-prison going away party

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit. Note: obscene comments will be deleted. You know who you are.

"Having been there -- I repeat, having been there -- I do not wish jail for any person." Former Ill. Governor Dan Walker, discussing last week's conviction of George Ryan.

Earlier this month, as Cal Skinner reminded me, there was a pre-prison going away party for ex-East St. Louis Democratic Chairman Charlie Powell. By no means am I claiming Powell is completely naive about what occurs in prison, but having such a party, and worse, the growing tolerance of corruption in Illinois, is troubling. The event was billed as a birthday party, but since Powell will be in the "house with many doors" when his birthday rolls around, the party-organizers put together a "two-fer" celebration.

Last week, Powell began serving his 21 month sentence in federal prison for his role in a vote buying scandal.

From the Belleville News-Democrat last week:

St. Clair County Circuit Judges John Baricevic and Milton Wharton attended on the evening of April 7 at Club Illusion in East St. Louis as did Associate Judge Laninya Cason and an estimated 250 other party-goers.

They had come to wish a happy birthday to a politician who, even after being convicted of vote fraud, was able to influence county politics. St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and his wife, Erin, also were at the party as was Assessor Gordon Bush and prominent Belleville attorney Bruce Cook, who defended Powell during his June trial for conspiracy to commit vote fraud.

Wharton said that while he was not a friend of Powell's, he attended the celebration because Powell "has done significant things for the community." Wharton mentioned neighborhood improvement projects and Powell's boarding house for destitute men.

Powell is living at a different kind of boarding house now.

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Does your State Rep. want a raise?

Here's the vote. pdf file

Acevedo, Berrios, Brady, Burke, Chavez, Collins, M. Davis, Dunkin, Giles, Golar, Graham, Hamos, Howard, Kelly, McCarthy, McKeon, Mendoza, Molaro, Osterman, Soto, Turner, and Washington all voted to give themselves more money. 21 Democrats and 1 Republican.

Without cooperative legislation in the State Senate, the base pay of lawmakers would rise from $57,619 to $63,143, the governor's salary would go from $150,691 to $165,138. The salaries of the attorney general and secretary of state would increase from $132,963 to $145,711, while the salaries of the lieutenant governor, comptroller and treasurer would increase from $115,235 to $126,283.

From the Tribune we learn Emil Jones Jr. and the Senate may play games to get their raise while still opposing it.

The resolution rejecting the additional money passed 78-to-22 and now goes to the state Senate. If senators approve the same resolution, the increase will be blocked. But some lawmakers said they worry the Senate will approve its own version. That way, both legislative chambers could be on record opposing the increase but neither resolution would get approval from both chambers and the raises would take effect.
Of those in the House that voted NO - meaning they want raises - only two will have competition on the ballot in November. Republican Dan Brady will face Green Party candidate Phil Huckelberry and Democrat Robert Molaro has a Republican opponent. Chavez and Giles lost their primaries.

A point I made last night on Bruno Behrend's radio show, was that it is easier for politicians to vote in favor of things like raises for themselves when they have no opponents on the ballot. Today, they proved me right.

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Showing Judy Baar-Topinka how to stand by her man on the Jim Leach show

A comment from Greg showing Judy Baar-Topinka how to answer the question: Is President Bush taking the country in the right direction?

Jim, how hard could it be???

"55% of Americans believe they are better off than they were four years ago. The President is well liked personally (last I saw it was like 57%) and consumer confidence is high in the country," said Topinka while defending the President on the Jim Leach show on Monday. "I know there is a lot of anxiety over Iraq, gas prices and other issues such as Iran and we see that reflected in the President's job approval rating. I believe with the changes at the WH, the improving political situation in Iraq, the fewer casulties and the President showing leadership on gasoline prices by easing regulations and other measures, we'll see the President begin to shore up his job approval numbers," she continued.

I whipped up that answer in about thirty seconds. An answer like that shows loyalty, honesty, deftness, and optimism. And oh yeah, one area where the President is getting high marks in polling, is the immigration issue.
cross posted at Bill Baar's West Side

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Dock Walls for Mayor of Chicago

First and foremost this is my first post here. I wanted to see if I can come up with something good and I think I found it. I want to thank Mr. Rich Miller for the invitation.

In any event I read an article from the Chicago Defender today with Dock Walls being the first announced contender for mayor this past Sunday.

I've heard about Dock Walls with in the last three or four years. He attempted to run for city clerk against Jim Laski but that fell through his petitions weren't in order. So he was a write in candidate but he still lost. In addition you'll hear a lot about him and the late great Harold Washington. This is what the Defender says about him...

Surrounded by hundreds of cheering supporters, William “Dock” Walls III, an attorney and protégé of the late Mayor Harold Washington, Sunday announced his
candidacy for mayor of Chicago.
Months before this announcement Mr. Walls talked about this Committee for a Better Chicago. He's been working with this group for the past three years. Only time will tell if he is able to mount a credible challenge against Mayor Daley. The only thing that I'd count as a strike against him is that no one really knows who he is. That of course can change.

Here's a little more on his stated platform in his article...

Walls said safety, education and jobs are key planks in his "One Chicago" campaign. He called for a police force that reflects the ethnic composition of the city, charged that Daley, Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan and school board president Michael Scott failed the citizens of the city with failing schools. He said Renaissance 2010, Daley’s plan for reformation of public education, “must be stopped in its tracks.”

Walls said he would end the privatization of city jobs by implementing a “hire Chicago first” program. “These are our tax dollars,” he said. “People from Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana shouldn’t be able to come here and take these jobs. We need jobs like we need oxygen.”

Walls said he would also opt for less mechanization of some jobs, such as street cleaning, in order to provide work for people.

Cheers rose from the crowd when the candidate announced that he is in favor limiting public office holders to two four-year terms. “To the career politicians,” he said, “we can’t stand your weight on our backs.”

And finally I saw something that caught my attention about the challenge this campaign faces...

Ezra McCann, an outspoken captain in the Chicago Fire Department said the city needs a mayor who understands Black people are part of Chicago. But he and other supporters agree Walls has a steep hill to climb to attract a majority of Black voters, many of whom became disenchanted with other African American mayoral campaigns.

“The toughest challenge is to get people to believe that we can do it,” said co-campaign manager Bruce Crosby. “Daley has decimated other candidates. But it’s significant that (Walls) is the only person in Chicago, outside of Mayor Daley, who can say they were trained to be mayor of Chicago. Harold Washington told (Walls) that there’s no school for mayors while he was actually training him every day.”
It's My Mind

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Good times, where have you gone?

I know, I know...it was posted here the other day that this page should focus on local issues only, and I agree with that...that is until I came across the cover of today's New York Post.

Rich, I swear, this is my last national post -- Abe

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Voting: angling for an advantage

Two stories in two local papers this morning point out what is driving the controversy over how to eliminate vote fraud while avoiding...or keeping...political advantage.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that 900 voters were registered in both East St. Louis and other parts of St. Clair County or in more than one precinct in East St. Louis. The St. Clair County board approved an election reform resolution which calls for:

  • procedures which would cross reference voter lists in East St Louis and the county.
  • requiring the St. Clair County Clerk and the East St. Louis election board to perform audits of voter rolls to ensure precincts comply with the law as to number of voters per precinct. This could well eliminate 14 of East St. Louis' 44 precincts.
  • Ask political parties to submit an audit for publication of their financial records after each election
  • Better training of election judges

The 2004 election saw vote fraud in East St. Louis which led to the conviction of a number of political players from that city. The widespread publicity and the actual convictions seem to have nudged the couty board into action, but nothing will change until either the East St Louis election board is disbanded and comes under the county's clerk, the ESL election board cracks down on the ease of gaming the vote, or until county democratic leaders stop throwing money into ESL races.

In other voter news, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a lead editorial today taking strong issue with proposed legislation in the Missouri legislature. Someone working at the paper has a sense of humor or else is totally out of touch with past reality because the editorial was titled, "Pre-rigging the vote."

The PD does not want any part of the pending state requirement to have voters come to the polls with a photo ID. They claim this will disenfranchise 200,000 Missouri voters. This number looks to me like it was plucked out of thin air, but call me cynical. The editorial says:
"By amazing coincidence, those people who are most likely to be affected by the new law are also likely Democratic voters..."

Let's be honest here. "By amazing coincidence" it has been the democrats in both states in this region who have tried to rigg past votes. Think back to the November 2000 race where Missouri democrats went to court in an attempt to keep the polls open a couple extra hours as well as the 2004 ESL vote buying. Too bad they are being asked to clean up their act in ways that may be an inconvience.

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Illinois Role in D.C. Veterans March Today

Today's Veterans March 2006 to support full funding of veterans’ health care is receiving crucial support from two Crystal Lakers. Both are speakers.

One of the organizers is my former legislative assistant Pete Castillo. He is now McHenry County’s Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Homeless veterans coming through his Woodstock office don’t reflect the failure of state government to get homeless veterans back into society, as found by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Part of the reason is 8-year Navy veteran John Blanchard, without whom veterans marching on Washington today would not have chairs, port-a-potties or steaming video. (More is on Monday's McHenry County Blog.)

Blanchard runs the National Association of Systems Administrators and its not-for-profit arm NASA Education. NASA Education’s Project Fresh Start is in the business of taking people like the five homeless veterans Castillo has sent him and reintegrating them into society. You can read about how one veteran, Ed Bolf, conquered his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on here today. (Don’t read it, if you don’t want to be emotionally affected. And, no, I didn't write it.)

When I think of what Pete told me about last year’s march, I picture the Revolutionary War painting of the three men marching with fife, drum and flag.

After last June's rally on the Mall, the veterans started marching toward the Capitol. The following is not an exact quote, but close

There were three of us out front, Cal. One deaf (Pete is hard of hearing), one blind and one mute. (He had his voice box shot out). We were leading a band of veterans across the mall.

When we got to the Capitol steps, someone asked us what we wanted to do now.

We told them we wanted to see (the congressman who headed the Veterans committee).

One female lobbyist said, “No problem. I’ll give him a call.”
And, amazingly enough, they got their audience (and now have a direct pipeline to some quite important congressmen). Shortly after, Congress approved billions more for veterans’ health care. Senator Barack Obama credited these veterans for providing the impetus for passage.

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A campaign algebra problem

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka suggested the state suspend the sales tax on gasoline when the price exceeds $2.50 per gallon. So if the price of gas hits $3.50 a gallon, the state would waive the sales tax on a dollar each gallon. According to the article, she couldn't estimate how much money motorists would save.

OK, let's estimate. The state tax is 5 percent. Current prices are, what, three dollars a gallon. So, save 5 percent of 50 cents. That's a savings of 2.5 cents per gallon, times 10 gallons in my Toyota, which equals a savings of 25 cents per fill-up.

Thank you, Judy.

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Keeping it Local? It's the netrooters!

Two posts below this AM on Yarbrough's impeachment resolution and all kinds of give-and-take over at Capital Fax about it.

Cynthia tells us Yarbrough offered it in response to our fellow blogger and friend Carl Nyberg.

A blogger I read every so often, and have carried a link for him when he was appealing for funds.

I think it's fair to label Carl a netrooter. He should let me know if not (I'm sure he will... he's that kind of guy), and I think Carl's effort is in line with the netrooters strategy to seek local township referendums on the war.

The impeachment move, and probably the war resolutions; will backfire on Democrats. I'm not sure netrooters would be unhappy either about that. They don't seem to be friends of Bean and Duckworth (and probably whomever replaces Lane Evans). They won't help those campaigns and they really have a different agenda.

I responded to Rich's post on keeping it local that it's going to be hard for lefty bloggers because their strategy is to make Bush-Cheney-Rove and the war the core issues everywhere.

(It's interesting too that the real netroot efforts at the moment with some power behind them are the immigration rallies; not the anti war demonstrations. An issue all about illegality and a time when corruption and illegality is a core issue in Illinois too. Illegal immigration breeds a pervasive culture of corruption.)

Sunday's Trib Editorial about The Frightened European quoted French Interior Minester Nicholas Sarkozy saying,

The left has nothing to propose, nothing to say, nothing to defend. It can only feed off the right's mistakes.
One virtue of keeping it local is it might force lefty bloggers to propose and say something on Illinois issues of corruption, schools, pensions, jobs, and health care.

Keeping it local also offers the unhappy choice for any Democratic and liberal reformer on whether to defend regular Democrats in an election.

But I think it's the best bet for lefty colleagues. Were I Carl, I'd encourage my rep in Springfield to focus on Illinois issues. In the long run, you can't rebuild the Democrats for 2008 talking about mistakes.

We can argue the Global War on Terror instead if they like (not here) but I think in the long run war and impeachment are loser issues for Democrats. I'm happy to defend and argue about the mistakes. (But not here! c'mon over to my blog if you need too shout it out.)

Just a few obs waking up to all of this.

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Impeach Bush? Impeach Karen Yarbrough!!!

And I'm no fan of Bush either. In fact, I was responsible for putting the only "other" choice for President besides Bush and Kerry on the ballot in Illinois in 2004. How is that for not being a fan of Bush?

Karen Yarbrough voted YES on SB2123 in June of 2004 to PUT BUSH ON THE ILLINOIS BALLOT LETTING HIM IGNORE THE RULE OF LAW. And now she wants to impeach him for ignoring the rule of law when she helped him do it before?

Article III. Section 3 - Illinois Constitution:
All Elections Shall Be Free And Equal

ARTICLE IX. SECTION 13. SPECIAL LEGISLATION - Illinois Constitution:
The General Assembly shall pass no special or local law when a general law is or can be made applicable. Whether a general law is or can be made applicable shall be a matter for judicial determination.

State Rep. Karen Yarbrough needs to be impeached for violating Article III, Section 3 of the Illinois Constitution if she wants to play that game.

Read my blog for my letter to Rep. Yarbrough

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Monday, April 24, 2006

ll. state legislator pushing for an impeach Bush resolution

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit. This one is local.

State Rep. Karen Yarbrough of Maywood, Illinois, has too much time on her hands. Clearly she's not willing to fix a state budget that for years has been held together by tape and strings, Yarbrough thinks the Ill. State Legislature should start the process of impeaching President Bush.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

To support her legislation, Yarbrough is relying on a provision from Jefferson's Manual, a procedural handbook written by Thomas Jefferson as a supplement to U.S. House rules.

Jefferson wrote that there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion, including "charges transmitted from the legislature of a State."

Jefferson wrote a lot of stuff. Maybe too much, because his writings have inspired French Revolutionaries, as well as (link not safe for work) Neo-Nazis.

Jefferson was in France when the constitution was written, and his "Jefferson's Manual" isn't in the US constitution.

More from the Sun-Times:

It would be the first state legislature to pass such a resolution, though the measure faces a dim future in a Republican-controlled Congress.

"This is absolutely ridiculous," said John McGovern, a spokesman for U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Only the U.S. House can formally initiate impeachment proceedings.

I did some research on Rep. Karen Yarbrough. According to her statehouse biography, she has an M.A. degree from Northeastern Illinois University's Center for Inner City Sudies. The center is a moonbat's heaven: Its director is Conrad Worrill, a longtime slavery reparations proponent and racebaiter. The last link is courtesy of the Nation of Islam's "The Final Call."

As for this Illinois impeachment resolution, well, consider the source of it. Then laugh.

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Dennis Byrne: The Sorry State of Illinois

No Paul Green talk here. Byrne blames the business people.

Once elected to high office, their lordships begin sharing the same rarified air that the rich and powerful heads of the town's big national and international corporations breathe. It's a long way from the humble work of hustling votes by ringing doorbells or holding someone's fedora. On MRI brain scans, it shows up as metastasizing clumps of self-importance. Governors, mayors, agency chairmen, department heads and even aldermen all display the symptoms. It makes them feel untouchable.
I'm guessing the pols pull the business community then the other way around; but either way that feeling of self-importance can be lethal to someone in power.

Update: Heck, it's not business folks calling shots in Springfield; it's bloggers according to Cynthia:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that upon the request of Carl Nyberg at Proviso Probe, Illinois State Representative Karen Yarbrough (D-7th Dist) introduced an impeachment resolution in the Illinois General Assembly (House Joint Resolution 125) that called for the impeachment of George W. Bush.

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he lives...

With all this pious banter about reform, maybe an eager beaver legislator could launch a committee to purge the felonious Ryan's name from State government--they could start with the State of Illinois website.

Deep within this website could be some very interesting code, or "meta tags" as they say in the geek business.

Go ahead.

Type the following in Google: "George Ryan campaign website" (here are the results).

The first natural listing returned, the official State of Illinois website, speaks volumes of old man Potter's reign.

And if you think its just because he was a past Governor, guess again. Neither Blagojevich, Edgar or even Stratton returned such results. (OK, Bill did not have a website, but you get the idea).

CP: illinoisshadow.blogspot.com

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Life Week at University of IL Springfield

uis.gif
Kudos to the University of Illinois' Society of Conservative Students for sponsoring Life Week, beginning today.

I'll be the guest speaker at SCS's Wednesday evening political forum at 7:00 p.m. in the Brookens Auditorium. See SCS's website for more info.

Would enjoy meeting local bloggers/commenters from this board, knowing most of you disagree with the pro-life position. That's fine. I'd welcome public discussion.

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Conservationist Carl Becker, R.I.P.

Carl Becker headed the Illinois Non-Game Wildlife Fund (since re-named the Wildlife Preservation Fund) from the time of its inception in the early 1980's until shortly before he retired in 2002. That was the first bill passed to allow an income tax check-off for a specific program.

He died at age 56 on April 13, according to his Chicago Tribune obituary.

Becker must have been the one who gave the Boone County Conservation District’s Roger Gustafson a rejected copy of a bill to create the fund near the deadline for introducing bills during my last term in the 1970’s (79-81).

Gustafson came up to me near the rotunda and asked me to introduce the bill. I noticed that the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the bill had been cut off.

Who was walking down the stairs at the time, but the Illinois Revenue Director Jim Zagel.

I asked the Director what he thought of the bill and he told me it looked like the bill he had just rejected. I told him I was going to introduce it. He was not happy.

I figure that newly minted state employee Becker had given it to Gustafson in the hope of doing an end-run around the Revenue Department’s opposition.

Pretty brave, I’d say.

The bill passed, but the Revenue Director had the ear of Governor Jim Thompson, who vetoed the bill. I didn’t manage to override the veto. The next session, State Rep. Virginia Macdonald got the same bill passed. Thompson signed it, along with a number of other check-off bills that were spawned in its wake. But, he gave the publicity to one to help fight child abuse.

Nevertheless, the wildlife check-off bill has survived since the beginning, always getting above the minimum collection figure of $100,000, imposed later to limit check-offs to the most popular.

There was a lot of fun on the way to the first year veto, however. To read the rest of the story, including what a golden eagle did to Governor Jim Thompson's rug, go to the bottom of this April 24th article on McHenry County Blog.

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Comcast Policy Makers

Daily Herald wrote yesterday in their Editorial on reforming Illinois politics said,

Illinois is the perfect breeding ground for corruption. It shuns openness. It champions pay to play. It has more government than most other states, making it more distant from the public, less transparent.
I've been enjoying the Comcast Policy Makers. They've gotten me closer to State Government then I've ever been before. Comcast ought to make transcripts/videos of these shows available on their website. It's a great way to bring more transparency to State government and get people a little more involved.

The last show with Cross, Susana Mendoza, and Skip Saviano gave a little insight on how the General Assembly works.

Mendoza's efforts on collecting DNA results from arrested but not convicted of anything made sense to me, but it's the sort of thing I'd like to see debated by the libertarians among us. It's one of those initiatives that flies under the radar (at least my radar) but will have big impact.

So Comcast or Leader Cross could help further the transparency goal here by linking closer to the blogosphere and making it easier for us to follow up on some of this good stuff and push it out.

PS What about the DH's notion we have too much gov?

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Let's keep it local, please

I try to have a hands-off policy about this blog because I want people to write freely.

Still, this blog is called Illinoize for a reason. It's supposed to be about stuff that happens in Illinois and local politics.

So, let's drop the national and the international blogging, please, and the other topics that just have nothing to do with state and local politics. If you want to blog about Illinois and local music, arts, tourism, etc., that's fine, but we've been getting bombarded lately with posts that have completely strayed from our original mission.

Also, for now at least, please try to limit your posts to no more than two per day.

I've left the comments open in case you want to gripe about this policy. If I'm overruled, that'll be fine, too.

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Paul Green: Oregon of the Midwest

From today's Daily Herald's Is Illinois' corruption worst of all states?

What do you all think? I kind of agree.

Paul Green, long-time political observer at Roosevelt University, believes people overreact to events like Ryan's conviction. His view is Illinois has, from its beginning, been home to people who take risks. Sometimes those risks produce scandal.

In short, the corruption that comes to a head now and then is part of what makes this state more interesting than others.

"Not many great political writers have come out of Wisconsin," said Green. "The city of Chicago and the state of Illinois were not built by great planners, they were built by great speculators, people who risked a lot to do a lot. That mentality is still here today. And that's what we get periodically as the price of getting things done."

"I'm personally sad for Gov. Ryan," said Green. "But let's not go overboard and start wringing our hands and trying to become the Oregon of the Middle West."
Guess Bob LaFollette doesn't count or way too long ago. I knew Frank Zeidler too but that was also long ago. Respected him very much but he might fail excitment criteria although he could give a surpizingly thumbing speech.

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Judge Richard A. Posner and ballot access laws


Oh how I would love to see a debate between Judge Richard Posner and Richard Winger about ballot access laws and democracy.

Richard Winger has just shared with us his article in "The Election Law Journal", the nation's only peer-reviewed journal focusing on election law.

How Many Parties Ought To Be on the Ballot?: An Analysis of Nader v. Keith

240k pdf document
Download from my blog
Download from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers. Their main page is http://www.liebertonline.com/

That out of the way, I believe Richard Winger rips Judge Posner's arguments to shreds in Judge Posner's and the Seventh Circuit's recent ruling on Nader v. Keith. Nader v. Keith was Ralph Nader's lawsuit to gain ballot status in Illinois for the 2004 Presidential election, after ANTI-Democratic Party State Chair and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan's staff worked to kick Ralph Nader off the ballot.

More at my blog.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tackling Another Source of Mercury


Governor Blagojevich marked Earth Day today by signing legislation to require the recycling of car parts that contain mercury before the cars are scrapped. The legislation will go a long way toward eliminating the second largest source of mercury pollution in Illinois. Currently, old car parts are either landfilled or melted down for recycling, and if the mercury-containing parts aren't taken out, the mercury goes up in smoke when the metal is melted, or can leach from a landfill into groundwater.

Congratulations to State Rep. Karen May, who made this her top priority for three legislative sessions, and the Illinois Environmental Council, which led the environmental community's efforts to pass the legislation.

Originally posted at Illinois Sierra Club

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Carol Moseley-Braun goes into the organic food business

Cross-posted on Marathon Pundit.

Former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, (D-IL), had a senatorial career that even her onetime ardent supporters referred to as an embarrassment. She mostly stayed out of trouble as the Bill Clinton-appointed US ambassador to New Zealand after her she was defeated in her Senate re-election bid.

In 2004, Carol ran for president, but disappointed dozens when she dropped out of the running even before the Iowa caucuses were held. Braun endorsed Howard Dean after withdrawing. Like Al Gore, Tom Harkin, and other prominent Dems, Moseley-Braun didn't forsee the bursting of the Dean bubble.

Carol better hope she has better business sense that political, she's going to be selling organic food, under the banner Ambassador Organics. If she doesn't, she'll soon be broke.

From AP:

I see it (Ambassador Organics) as a continuing of my public service and my commitment to public service," Braun, the first black woman elected to the Senate, told the Chicago Tribune. "If I can help people to eat healthier, if I can help Americans' diets to improve, if by my company I can help build the infrastructure that expands the availability of healthy foods, then I will have served in my retirement from electoral politics."

The line of spices, teas and produce is named Ambassador Organics -- an apparent nod to Braun's time as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Braun has an 80 percent controlling interest in the new company, which still has to work out details including an exact product line and which grocery stores will sell the products.

"We haven't gotten that far," said Braun, who plans to formally introduce the brand at a Chicago trade show in May and launch the line in September. "We have not concluded contractual agreements with them (the stores)."

So, she doesn't know what she's going to sell, nor where she's going to sell it.

It's a bad start.

This press release, courtesy of Pajamas Media, has more information on Carol's career change.

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Ex-con and ex-Governor Dan Walker talks about George Ryan

Cross-posted on Marathon Pundit.

Earlier this week, as you all know, former Ill. Governor George Ryan was found guilty on various corruption charges.

The Illinois Republican's lawyers are certainly going to appeal, the turmoil within the Ryan jury gives them a little more to meat to chew on than in most cases. As things stand now, Ryan is going to prison. He's likely headed to a so-called "Club Fed" prison, but it will be no vacation. One of Ryan's predecessors, Democrat Dan Walker, spent time in prison as well.

As for what Ryan can expect, Walker knows best. He served his sentence at the Duluth minimum security prison.

From AP:

In prison, Walker scrubbed toilets and picked up cigarette butts, using a wooden rod that had the words "Governor's Stick" burnt into it.

He was also threatened by fellow inmates and forced to stand outside in the cold while waiting for meals, but Walker said the most humiliating part of the ordeal was being subjected to random searches where prison guards would bark out "strip, squat and spread."

Walker, 83, served 17 months in a minimum security prison after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, perjury and other charges related to his ownership of a suburban Chicago bank. None of the crimes were linked to his term as governor, which he served from 1973 to 1977.

"Having been there -- I repeat, having been there -- I do not wish jail for any person," Walker told the Chicago Sun-Times in a phone interview from his home near San Diego. "I really feel sorry for George and his family. ... I wish no man to have that and no man to have that disgrace that I had."

Not "Club Fed." Walker was a a smug SOB, a lousy governor, but he suffered a lot for his sins.

The full version will be in the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times.

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Export Growth Propelling Fed Reserve's Seventh District

Bill Testa at the Chicago Fed Reserve has some charts the CAFTA-NAFTA nay sayers should review before they drive out every manufacturing job in the midwest.

Some of the Seventh District’s slow economic growth earlier in this decade originated with softness in U.S. exports abroad. The manufacturing sector continues to account for the lion’s share of U.S. exports, especially capital goods such as high-tech electronics and computing machinery, as well as industrial machinery and equipment. As global economic growth has recovered, so have U.S. exports abroad. In turn, parts of the manufacturing-intensive Seventh District economy are being carried along.

Nominal U.S. exports abroad experienced rates of decline of 6.3% and 5.2% for 2001 and 2002. Since then, as the economic growth of our major trading partners has generally accelerated, U.S. export growth has responded, averaging 7.7% over the past three calendar years.

As a group, the Seventh District states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin are on par to slightly above the nation in export intensity.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

I'm sorry Mr. Vice President, are we boring you?

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The Fate of Officials 'A'

From MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: First off, the baseline here. Has the status of the Fitzgerald grand jury changed? Has the status of Mr. Rove in the investigation process itself changed?

SHUSTER: Well, first, on the investigation, defense lawyers say that the grand jury investigation is active again, and that the panel has been meeting in recent weeks, although prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not seen at the grand jury this week and hasn‘t been seen there at some—for some time.

Now, regarding Karl Rove, the—according to the latest documents, for the first time, Rove is now described as a subject in the overall case, a subject being a technical term meaning that somebody is under investigation. And the latest prosecution documents also go out of their way to suggest that Rove is not going to be a prosecution witness at the Libby trial, even though Rove is part of the narrative against Scooter Libby.

And the reason that‘s significant is because prosecutors usually don‘t put subjects on the witness stand for tactical reasons if they want to leave open the possibility of later charging that particular subject in a separate case.

The other thing that has long been intriguing about Karl Rove, and that is, we‘ve known for months that in the Scooter Libby indictment, when they referred to official A, official A is Karl Rove. And the indictment against Libby says that official A disclosed to Scooter Libby that he had had a conversation with columnist Robert Novak.

The reason prosecutors describe an official as an official A is when there‘s pejorative information about that person, and the person has not yet been indicted and had a chance to defend themselves. But we‘ve looked at prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald‘s record as far as designating people as official A or official B, and in every single case we have found, Keith, that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, when he designates somebody as official A in an indictment, that person eventually does get indicted themselves.

And that‘s why, I think, with everything coming together, there‘s so much intrigue tonight about Karl Rove.

And, as fans of Illinois politics and Patrick Fitzgerald's investigations know, our own dear Governor Blagojevich has been tagged to as “Official A.”

Originally posted at The So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Meeks Passing Protect Marriage Petitions

Confirmation has come today that the Rev. and State Senator James Meeks is allowing petitions to put an advisory referendum on the preservation of marriage at his Salem Baptist Church.

With this potentially high profile endorsement of the strongly worded question, Meeks heightens his potential for receiving conservative Christian support outside of his natural base.

Meeks joins Catholic and evangelical Christian churches throughout Illinois in the effort to place the advisory referendum on the ballot this fall.

Concurrently, a campaign-like post card from the Family Taxpayers Network is arriving in potential petition passers mailboxes urging the return of petitions.

Meeks’ church seats 9,000 and services are at 10 AM.

Those who want to help are asked by the Illinois Family Institute to meet at Salem's House of Hope at 9 AM Sunday. The address is 752 E. 114th Street in Chicago (right off the Bishop Ford Expressway).

Petitions may be downloaded here.

McHenry County Blog posting more on the progress of the petition passing April 19th and more on the Gay Games Regatta.

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Wheaton College: The Gays Are Coming! The Gays Are Coming!

From your Chicago Sun-Times:

They are heading to evangelical Christian colleges across the country spreading their own message: God loves everyone, including homosexuals.

And this week the Soulforce Equality Riders, composed of 33 gay activists, will park their bus at Wheaton College where the president is somewhat confounded by their arrival and what appears to be a confrontation on the horizon.

"Sexual intimacy belongs within the confines of marriage. We don't single out homosexuals. But we do stand on historical, biblical Christian beliefs that have remained the same over the centuries, so that we should be on the receiving end of this seems odd," said President Duane Litfin. ***

Organizer Jacob Reitan says a Wheaton College student, who not only was "in the closet" but saw his homosexuality as a sin, inspired the ride.

"I asked him what was it like to be a gay student at Wheaton. He said, 'You know I can't come out, if I did, I might be kicked out,' " Reitan said. "Three years ago, I promised him that God loves him and affirms him."

Reitan hopes that student, now a senior, and others will discuss homosexuality with gay and lesbian students sitting comfortably at the table.
I received a copy of the president's letter from an alum -- "I really wish I didn’t have the school’s name tied to me forever" -- concerned with the college's reaction to the visiting students.
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 16:13:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Wheaton College President's Office"
To: XXX
Subject: Request for Prayer

Dear XXX,

I write to ask you for your prayers.

On Thursday and Friday of this week we will be visited by a group of homosexual activists traveling on a bus tour across the United States to various Christian college campuses. Their agenda is to draw negative media attention to institutions who maintain an historic biblical stand on the issue of homosexuality. This, of course, Wheaton does. (See Wheaton's Community Covenant) Hence our place on their list of targeted institutions.

We did not invite these visitors to our campus. But since they are intent on coming anyway, we decided to make a virtue out of a necessity by turning their coming into a teaching opportunity for our students. Given the ongoing changes in our culture, today’s students are potentially facing a lifetime of confrontations over the issue of homosexuality. What should be their Christian response? We have endeavored to prepare our students to respond to these visitors with the biblical balance captured in the injunction to “speak the truth in love.”

Wheaton’s provost, Dr. Stan Jones, a psychologist who has done extensive work in the area of human sexuality, has prepared a biblical rebuttal to the false teaching of this group. (See “CACE Resources on Homosexuality”) These and other written materials, along with various scheduled meetings and chapels, have been devoted to helping our students understand the many issues and shape a balanced Christian response. This process has been highly educational for all involved.

After this event is over, we will let you know how it went. In the meantime, please pray for us, asking that God will be glorified, His truth will be upheld with grace and humility, and our Christian witness to a watching world will be an effective one.

Thank you.

Duane Litfin
President
Wheaton College
Mr. Litfin's claim that the school is under seige by gay homosexual activists is in stark contrast to this statement on the Soulforce website:
Wheaton administrators have worked closely with Soulforce Equality Ride members to plan two days of several forums and events. The members of the Soulforce Equality Ride look forward to our time at Wheaton and are confident that it will be an excellent learning opportunity for all people involved.
Now this would just be a case of he said/she said, except that the provost of Wheaton College addressed the issue of the Soulforce visit on WGN-AM this morning -- and he said that the school invited the student activists and that they welcomed the opportunity to discuss important issues that will face Wheaton College students when they leave the school.

So it seems that Wheaton College is crying out about an invasion of gay homosexual activists in its communications with its hyper-conservative alumni/donors, but when it talks to the rest of Chicagoland about the visit it puts on a much more moderate face.

If an individual did this, you would not hesitate to say that person is a hypocrite -- or, perhaps, bi-curious.

Originally posted at The So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog

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Howard Dean and Chicago's May 1st Amnesty Now rally

I don't think you'll see many Howard Dean posters at ANSWER's May 1st Amnesty Now rally for immigrant's rights with this kind of talk coming from him.

From Todays Wash Times,

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean yesterday called border security his party's top immigration priority for November.

"The first thing we want is tough border control," he said. "We have to do a much better job on our borders than George Bush has done. And then we can go to the policy disagreements about how to get it done."

Republicans reacted with surprise to Mr. Dean's announcement, which puts the DNC chief's views at odds with those of many Democrats in Congress.

"If Dean means what he says about border enforcement, that would put the Democrats somewhere to the right of President Bush on immigration," said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican.
Someone tell Duckworth, Bean, and whomever in the 17th, the Democratic Line here.

The Unitarian Universalist Associations Rev. Sinkford issued a statement in support of immigrant rights suggesting those who want to get tough on the illegal side of illegal immigration are racist.
"We are also called to acknowledge that racism has blinded most Americans to what takes place in our own kitchens, workshops, and fields. For our nation to be whole, we must acknowledge that our lives of privilege are supported in thousands of ways by people whose labor is invisible and whose suffering is hidden."
And it brings me to another tough statement from Dean,
"The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics."
Racist kind of strong word for Rev. Sinkford to use when you consider there is a human cost to illegal immigration that might be avoided if we stopped or reduced it. I think there is a place for Faith in Politics. Faith can help shape individual's deicisions and choices. But Clerics can sure come out with a mouth full when they get directly involved.

HT Powerline and Betsy's Page here and here.

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Evidence Shows Mercury Reductions Work

Opponents to Gov. Blagojevich's proposal to reduce mercury emissions from coal fired power plants by 90 percent are fond of claiming that there is no proof that requiring these reductions will do anything to protect the health of Illinois' residents.

Phillip M. Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association, told the Southern Illinoisan in January: "To think there is going to be any kind of environmental impact by enforcing a rule like this is absolutely ludicrous," Gonet said. "This rule will have absolutely no impact on the environment at all. This is a case of using an anvil to kill a fly."

However, a recent study by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found major improvements after enacting mercury emission reductions for incinerators.

Seven years after Massachusetts enacted the nation's toughest mercury emission laws for incinerators, amounts of the toxic metal have declined by 32 percent in a signature freshwater fish caught near some of those facilities. [snip]

The mercury decline appears to stem from two efforts that began in 1998. First, the Department of Environmental Protection began requiring the state's nine trash incinerators to scrub or remove 85 percent of the mercury emitted from their smokestacks. Old batteries, thermostats, thermometers, and fluorescent lights all contribute to the emissions.

Today, only seven incinerators remain, and they scrub about 90 percent of the mercury. Incinerators continue to operate in North Andover, Haverhill, Saugus, Rochester, Millbury, Springfield, and Pittsfield. (Fall River and Lawrence incinerators have closed.)

Second, the state once had 240 medical waste incinerators that burned items such as mercury thermometers, but those incinerators began closing at a greater rate as federal and state rules tightened. The last one closed in 2003.

The results in Massachusetts are similar to the impact found in the Everglades by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Human caused mercury emissions from industrial sources in south Florida, principally incinerators, have come under effective control during the past decade; emissions of mercury in south Florida have declined by 90%. Subsequently, mercury in Fish and wildlife of the Everglades has declined by about 75% to date.


Originally posted at Illinois EnviroBlog.

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Must be nice

According to Bernie over at the State Journal Register "Gov. Rod Blagojevich didn't file his family tax returns by the April deadline, opting to get an extension until mid-October."

What was his reasoning for needing the extension?

"He's busy running the state," said gubernatorial spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch.

You’ve got to love that whenever anything Rod does is questioned, they pull out that old line.

Say, if he’s so busy running the State, why couldn’t the General Assembly meet their adjournment deadline, and why did Emil Jones provide Senators another week off?

Oh, and it looks like running the State doesn't get in the way of this:

The first-term incumbent can afford an early TV ad strategy thanks to an enormous campaign account--one that was enriched at a fundraising event Wednesday night at the Field Museum that carried a minimum price tag of $1,000 per person. His traditional spring fundraisers have helped him amass about $15.5 million in campaign cash on hand at the end of last year.

Another thing, if he doesn't need an extension, why does A-Rod?

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

With Allies like that, Who needs Friends?

According to CBS-2, Judy Baar Topinka is running as far away from George Ryan, just as fast as she can:

"In the race for governor, Republican Judy Baar Topinka quickly distanced herself from her one-time political mentor." {emphasis added}
The Topinka campaign might want to rethink their strategy. The more she denies her close relationship with George Ryan, the more it becomes a story. And the more reporters are going to dig. When Topinka said this:
"You really don't have friends in politics. You have alliances," Topinka said. "George Ryan was nice to me on the campaign trial. I appreciated that. Everyone likes someone to be nice to them, but it was not a close, close relationship. I was not a social friend."
It of course got me wondering, just how nice was George Ryan to Judy Baar Topinka?

Would you believe $37,750 nice?

According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, $37,750 is how much money Judy Baar Topinka raked in over the years from Citizens for George Ryan. The checks started rolling in back in 1994, and they kept rolling in until June 30, 2001. According to this outstanding timeline by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Topinka was still cashing Ryan's checks, even though 30 people had already been indicted under Operation Safe Roads (including Ryan's Inspector General, Dean Bauer, for his part in the cover-up) and prosecutors had alleged that atleast $170,000 in bribe money had tainted Ryan's campaign fund.

In otherwords, long after the public and Judy Baar Topinka were well aware that there was something rotten in the state of Denmark, Topinka was cashing bribe-tainted checks. Most of those checks had three zeros, and the largest was for $10,000.

Fine Judy. Have it your way. George wasn't your friend, he was your ally. But you have to admit, $37,750 makes him a pretty close ally.

I just hope that Ryan kept all of those thank-you notes and Christmas cards from Topinka, and shares them with the press, just to say thanks for throwing him under the bus. It's no wonder "you don't really have friends in politics."

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Oberweis did run for Kane County Republican Party Chair.

Yes kids Jim Oberweis did run for Kane County Republican Chairman.
No kids Jim Oberweis did not win election as Kane County Republican Chairman.

I am a bit confused as to what is considered 'public' in the meeting and what isn't so I am not going to provide a ton of details.

I will say that Jim's speech on why he should be county chair sounded a lot like his gubernatorial stump speech. It didn't really cover the why he should or deserved to be county chair. The argument one person made was if he won your precinct for governor it is the will of the voters that he be county chair. I will give you a second to let that idea sink in.

Eric Krol from the Daily Herald was there and I am sure he will have more tomorrow.

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U of I MBA scholarships for Vets

From Rumsfeld in yesterday's press conference,

We've read about some colleges and law schools that have tried to forbid military recruiters from coming on campus; decisions that under the Supreme Court's recent decision could lead to the denial of federal dollars under the law. But it's also important to note that many colleges and universities welcome recruiters and are proud of our veterans. I'm told that the University of Illinois, for example, announced last month that it would offer 110 full Masters of Business Administration scholarships to military veterans worth about $74,000 each. What a wonderful demonstration of support for those folks who have stepped up and volunteered to help protect the American people and our free way of life.

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