Sunday, December 31, 2006

"The Mostests"

Ah, ending the year with a December 19th Crystal Lake sunset across Main Steet's big empty field that my 9 year-old son picked as prettiest.

As of the end of 2006, 2,182 articles have been posted since starting this blog in reaction to Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley’s and his city council’s promotion of Tax Increment Financing districts, which will increase taxes for all McHenry County property owners.

Last year Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn asked for summaries of the year. The question intrigued me, so I submitted mine.

It was a lot of work, which probably explains why Zorn didn’t repeat the effort this year.

Last year I awarded a “Most Stunning Example of Left Stream Media Bias By a Reporter” award to a WTTW’s Elizabeth Brackett.

This year, the very day of Todd Stroeger’s ascension to his father’s ballot position for Cook County Board President, I was watching WTTW’s Chicago Tonight again and again heard something I could not believe.

Mispronoucing his last name, Carol Marin outlined the Democratic Party strategy to defeat Tony Peraica:

…there are plenty of Democrats out there who might want to protest by voting for you, but they see you as an anti-gay, pro-gun, anti-abortion (pause) guy in the bluest state and county in the state, so what do you have to say to them on the social issues that are going to make you attractive if they do decide to jump the traces?
Does this woman deserve the “Most Stunning Example of Left Stream Media Bias By a Reporter” award for 2006 or what? And maybe she should get the run-on sentence award of the year, although I'm sure I'm in the competition for that one.

This is the second time that a WTTW employee has achieved this distinction.

Oh, yes. The panel had three Democrats and Peraica. Pretty typical of political balance on most WTTW panels.

Incidentally, last year Marin won the “Most blatant defense of a future felon.”

That future felon, Tru-Link Fence guy Jim Levin was indicted two days after her 2005 Sun-Times column and pled guilty in early December of this year. He admitted to being a briber of Chicago School District procurement officers and to falsifying minority business partners.

I’ve noticed no follow-up, but her columns are not on my “must read” list.

Most Undercovered Story by Main Stream Media:
Developers’ and school vendors’ financing of school tax hike and bond referendum.
Oh, I readily admit that the Northwest Herald reporter Allison Smith broke its long-standing ignoring of this story with her excellent stories on the subject. She somehow infiltrated an early fund raising rally, revealing the Carpentersville School District 300 tax hikers goal of $153,000. She followed up, too. If only every local Northwest Herald education reporter would cover his or her district the way Smith covered District 300. Smith now works at a much higher salary the Carpentersville School District 300's media relation’s person. That's the school she covered previously.

Still, each of those almost “pay-to-play” or, maybe, “pay-to-be-able-to- keep-selling-homes” contributions deserves to see the light of day before the referendum. And that did not happen in the Northwest Herald, the Daily Herald or the Chicago Tribune.

But voters did see the direct mail pieces those contributions paid for.

(You might think that since most campaign spending completely ignores newspapers that they would have little to lose by reporting the contributions, but that ignores the tens of thousands of dollars of advertising revenue that the papers get from developers.)

And, as long as I am passing out kudos to reporters, surely, they are deserved by Daily Herald reporter Jeffrey Gaunt. I can’t begin to list the way he kept both District 300 and Huntley School District 158 on their toes--or, maybe, I should say “off balance”--by just reporting what they did. Click on Jeffrey Gaunt to see all the stories he wrote that I have referenced.

The two should share the award for "Reporters who gave the most fits to local school boards and administors."

I'm sure they would rather I call it, "Reporters who asked and wrote about the most probing and legitimate questions." OK, we'll call it that.

Runner up in that category should be Northwest Herald reporter Karen Long, who delivered an unwelcome article for Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley five days into the 8-day petition filing period for the spring election. (I'd love to know what was edited out of her article and whether Long will be allowed to follow up before the April election.)

More about what happened on McHenry County Blog in 2006 on New Year's Day.

Read more...

SEIU's adopt a block and free lance unionism

Arlene Jones, Percy Giles, and Emma Mitts will be contending with this effort by SEIU. (To my knowledge SEIU has yet to endorse any candidates yet -- correct me if wrong).

Join SEIU’s Adopt a Block Program and help shake up Illinois politics in ‘06 and ‘07!

The Adopt a Block program will be a lasting precinct based organization designed to maximize our ability to elect pro worker politicians.

The SEIU Adopt a Block program will identify union members who are willing to take ownership over their home precinct and get to know the voters that live there so that we can produce results that will help us to elect politicians that care about our families—working families—more effectively than ever before.

When you sign up to be an SEIU Block Captain you will receive a BLOCK CAPTAIN KIT and step-by-step instructions that show you how to build power for working people in your own neighborhood!

As an SEIU BLOCK CAPTAIN you will be a part of the SEIU political team, receive all the political news and learn how to:

Circulate petitions
Voter registration
Recruit Volunteers
Set up “Coffees”
“ID” and “GOTV” Voters

For more information, contact your union rep or Jasson Perez, Adopt-a-Block coordinator, at SEIU Local 73. Jasson can be reached at 312-981-2436, or jperez@seiu73.org.
I had hopes of Andy Stearn shaking up the union establishment a bit. I'd be real doubtful if they shake up Illinois politics much. I'd be more worried of politicians shaking my union down.

Reality is your SEIU neighbor likely to be holding a public service job and I don't know how convincing they're going to be talking to non-public sector workers working in our post-industrial economy.

This is something the living wage folks never quit get. We no longer have Donna Reed families in America with a breadwinner and stay at home mom and kids. We've got lots of single parents instead, with kids moving back and forth between care givers, and a lot of demand for part-time jobs and flexibility.

Go out to the cemeteries along Des Plaines avenue and you'll see the plot for Workmen's Circle. It's the same spirit of practical radicalism and unionism you find today with Sara Horawitz and the Free Lancer's Union. From a recent article on her in The Economist,
“I had an epiphany that existing labour laws and regulations didn't fit the way people were working,” she says. At Harvard's Kennedy School, she set about rethinking unionism from first principles. What do modern workers need? What gives a union power? She concluded that a union is a means for workers to join together to solve problems. To be effective it needs an economic model that makes it independent of government, employers and other institutions. And the biggest problem for freelancers? The lack of health insurance, which in America is mostly provided by employers, and only to permanent staff.

Not for nothing has Ms Horowitz been described as the “quintessential example” of a social entrepreneur—someone who applies the innovative spirit and business discipline of a Silicon Valley start-up to try to solve society's thorniest problems. After Harvard, with seed capital from some charitable foundations, she started a non-profit organisation in 1995 called Working Today to address the needs of freelancers, such as affordable health insurance. She quickly rejected the traditional union model of confrontation and charging membership dues unrelated to benefits received. Instead, with an un-unionlike enthusiasm for the discipline of the marketplace, she adopted a customer-centric approach. She would provide members with a menu of services that they could choose to pay for, thus generating the funds to spend on the union's advocacy of freelance-friendlier labour laws. (Freelancers in America are generally not entitled to unemployment insurance, for example, even if a job they have done for, say, 18 months comes to an end.)

After a couple of false starts, she found a way to use the bulk purchasing power of her members to drive down health-insurance premiums, ultimately by around 40%. In 2001, Working Today launched the Portable Benefits Network (renamed the Freelancers Union in 2003) to provide benefits including education and advocacy, as well as health care, to independent workers in New York's Silicon Alley technology district. Now the union's members—some 13,000 of whom buy its health care, some of them complaining that it is too basic even as they do so—come from industries ranging from finance and alternative health to technology and non-profit organisations. The union has annual revenues of $38m, of which $4m funds advocacy.
This is Walmart thinking on the economies of scale applied to the problems of working people. Go ahead and organize politically. Endorse Jones or Giles. But if you want to impact people's lives, then Tom Balanoff ought to consider making Unionism a lot bigger then just Illinois Democratic politics. Those SEIU shirts say We make Politics Work. Work for who is the question union members ought to ask.... and if politics is really enough.

Update: a footnote quote from Horowitz,
,...she says. Ironically this progressive idea is inspired, she says, by some past giants of American trade unionism, above all Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, who created lasting institutions such as the Amalgamated Bank, Amalgamated Life Insurance and Amalgamated Housing. “Compared with the bosses of the firms they were going up against, the early labour leaders were the geniuses,” says Ms Horowitz. That is not something anyone would say of today's union leaders—with the notable exception, perhaps, of Ms Horowitz herself.

Read more...

Arlene Jones to run for 37th ward Alderman

She writes Improving the West Side - my passion in life in The Austin Weekly News.

This is my final column. No, the major newspapers didn't offer me a better job, nor was my contract up and my editors came to their senses and chose not to renew it. No, I'm not leaving to "spend more time with my family." In fact, for the next couple of months, I'll see less and less of them.

Four years ago, I wanted to make a difference on the West Side. I ran for alderman of the 37th Ward. I lost.

I am again going to run for alderman of the 37th Ward. You see, all the aldermanic seats are now open, and you cannot have a race without runners. So I will not write this column while running.

When I lost four years ago, rather than retreat, I was given the opportunity to write this column. I was given this opportunity because I wrote "so many" letters to the editor. If the reporting seemed unfair or if events in Austin weren't being covered, I was quick to send an e-mail.
I've followed her columns and while I probably disagree with her on everything National, I always wanted to hear her thoughts for local problems and issues. Ideas like developing the old Brach's Factory into an entertainment district. Here's more from her column,
I have never been at a loss for words. In Chicago, there is never a dull moment when it comes to politics. And for the West Side, well, we get left out all the time, or the coverage is negative. So it was important for me to want to highlight issues right here in the community.

My very first column asked a basic question: "Why do you live in Austin?" Three and a half years later, it's still a valid question. Some were born into this community. Others like myself, moved here on purpose. We recognized the value in the housing stock. We saw lots of parks and churches. If you don't know the history of Austin as a community, it was never a hick town that just got incorporated into Chicago. Instead, it was a planned community, a suburb of Chicago at one time with Austin Town Hall being the center of the community.

Over the years, I have tried to keep this column at the forefront of where the West Side is today-hence my e-mail address of westside2day***yahoo.com. Now let me make it perfectly clear: The understanding that I have of this side of town was not by accident. There were many Westsiders who came before me and who paved the way for me to have the vision that I have. And I keep them in mind whenever I sit down to write. People like the late great West Side activist Nancy Jefferson.
For a Westsider Today, Jones has a feel for the history of the West Side, and how it's always changing. A little more,
If you want to get a perspective on the history of the black West Side, then Dr. Christopher Reed of Roosevelt University is the person to call. His book, Beyond Chicago's Black Metropolis: A History Of The West Side's First Century, 1837-1940, proves that we've been a presence on this side of town for more than 150 years. The question still remains what our presence will be on this side of town when the 200th anniversary rolls around.

I am leaving this column, but my voice will not be silent. Instead, you can hear me every Sunday night on WPNA 1490 AM from 10 p.m. to midnight. I also have my website, www.arlenejones.blogspot.com. There, you will be able to read my current opinions, and you can even reply. Lastly, starting Jan. 2 until Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. I will do the conference call Monday through Friday. So my voice just won't be in this column, but it will still be out here.

For the conference, call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance, so use your cell) and enter the access code: 806598#. I can host up to 96 people.

I'll leave you with my favorite African Proverb, "On the Day of Victory, No One Will be Tired."
As for the next 50 years and the presence of African Americans on the West Side, of course they'll be a presence and like everyone else on the West Side they'll be rolling further West.

Mik Ryko once wrote the old neigborhood is the place eveyone loves and is trying to leave. Move out West and you find yourself bumping in to all kinds of West Siders, and the talk always turns to how things have changed. Cairo's Deli on East and Roosevelt is gone now, and new hi-rise condo's are being built down the block. It's a different kind of Roosevelt road now for sure.

Whether that is victory or not, I don't now; but I can promise you no one on the West Side is ever tired for long. It's a restless place. In a good way (mostly). Everyone figuring out an angle to get ahead, improve their lot, and find their own little victory.

So good luck to Arlene Jones!

xp at Bill Baar's West Side

Read more...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Onezie

For those of you who think I think of nothing but politics.

You know what a “onezie” is, don’t you?

It’s a one piece outfit that a baby wears.

So, what happens when a Bear fan marries a Green Bay Packer fan and they have a child.

Someone goes out and buys a onezie with Chicago Bears logos.

Someone goes out and buys a onezie with Green Bay Packer logos.

Maybe the small person, a person with a sense of humor

Then, someone cuts the two onezies in half and sews them back together so that half consists of Bears’ logs and half of Green Bay Packer logos.

And, our message of the day is what it looks like.

Strangely enough, there’s a mirror image of this onezie back in the bureau.

There's political stuff at McHenry County Blog this long weekend, but you'll have to go there to find it.

Read more...

Overlawyered.com's 'Best of 2006' from Illinois

Overlawyered.com. is posting a month-by-month compendium of "Best of 2006" headlines, quips, quotes and other interesting stories related to legal reform/lawsuit abuse. So far, they're up to June. We've pulled the "Best of" from Illinois so far:

To read or post comments on this post, visit Illinois Justice Blog.

Read more...

Friday, December 29, 2006

President Ford and Chicago

Thanks to Gaper's Block there were two articles about President Gerald Ford's Chicago connection. The 38th President of the United States passed away Tuesday night. There was an article from CBS2Chicago with an accompanying video and an article in the Daily Southtown.

The article in the Daily Southtown discussed his visit to Tinley Park to honor the local football team. The CBS2 article discusses him making a speech in Chicago granting clemency to those Vietnam War Draft Dodgers and the man we know today as Bush's Secretary of Defense who was once Ford's Secretary of Defense, former Illinois Congressman Donald Rumsfeld.

Read more...

Obama and the Trial Bar

AEI's Ted Frank has an interesting post at Point of Law about Barack Obama and the trial bar. Bottom line: does Obama's voting history show that he will side with the trial lawyers or with reformers on key civil justice reform votes:

In one of his first votes, Obama voted for the eminently sensible Class Action Fairness Act. This hypothetically annoys the litigation lobby (though they can be expected to support Edwards in 2008) and the cast of usual suspects who opposed the bill; one can also find various members of the lunatic left thoughtlessly buying the litigation lobby hype that this minor procedural reform protecting against abusive forum shopping by the plaintiffs' bar had much larger consequences, and thus expressing outrage against Obama for voting for it.

So Obama may have annoyed the lunatic left with his vote for CAFA. As a reform supporter, I'm far from convinced that this makes him someone willing to cross the plaintiffs' bar. Eighteen other Democrats also voted for CAFA. CAFA would have passed the previous Congress, except for its unfortunate timing arising just as Edwards had been named the vice-presidential nominee; Democrats fell into line and filibustered the bill to avoid having a civil justice reform pass at the same time, which might remind people of Edwards's unsavory means of acquiring his fortune on the backs of pregnant mothers and obstetricians. Obama didn't participate in the negotiations to get Democratic support, and he voted for every Democratic attempt to eviscerate the bill with amendments. Obama didn't break with the Democrats on any seriously contested tort reform measures: he filibustered medical malpractice reform, and was one of the votes to kill the asbestos reform bill (which effectively failed by one vote). Obama claimed to support medical malpractice reform in his Senate campaign (or, at least, made pro-reform swing voters think that he did), but, then, so did Kerry and Edwards in their 2004 presidential campaign.
So, Senator Obama, just where do you stand?

Original post by Curt Mercadante at Illinois Justice Blog.

Read more...

Eat the Press! Dining in 2007 & Tribune Can't Chew




Retired Cook County Sherrif Michael Sheahan said it best when it took a jury twenty husky minutes to toss a MacArthur Center for Justice fabricated charge of systematic torture of prisoners at CCDC about Chicago Tribune's Investigative strengths: The Tribune's investigative reporting skills are akin to bovine residue.

He's right. The 'hard hitting' Trib news hounds miss the story right under their noses; like Kass' staring at the Polish secretary's ring and 'seeing' the story, while allowing Frannie Spielmann to boat the bass about The Ice House connection to Joey the Clown.

Today, poor Dan Mihalopolos goes to one of the best lunch and banquet spots in the city of Chicago - The Crow Bar at 106th & Avenue C - and never gets to the bone of contention: Pat Carroll's fried chicken! Here read this:

Corruption probe another sad chapter
A `tired' neighborhood is now a hotbed of FBI activity, writes the Tribune's Dan Mihalopoulos


My God man! Pat Carrollmakes potato salad that would make the ACLU put up a Nativity creche! The fried chicken would make North Side gourmands forego Fois Gras without a stupid ordinance! Corned Beef Sandwiches as monstrous in size and scope as Mike Quigley's opinion of his intrinsic worth! Savory Soups that would make Danny Davis give up Kim Chee! French fries so saturated in ( transFatty? -no UltramontaneFATTY!) oils and salted, Brothers and Sisters, that Bobby Rush would forget that there ever was a communications industry coffer! Lord, Have Mercy!

Dan, Dan, you were so close to the bone and still missed the meat? Pat Bruno of the Sun Times, a man of taste, wit, sound judgment, delicate sensibilities, heroic instincts picked Cafe Koda a few blocks from this old fat boy's front porch as one of the Top Ten restaurants in Chicago.

Dan go back to Pat Carroll's and have lunch. Pat is always busy slicing and dicing;chopping and kneading; deep frying and baking for kids with cancer, families out of work, roofers who took a spill, and high school reading labs that have no books. His great restaurant and bar at 106th Street and Avenue C is place where every Chicagoan should order up Pat Carroll's Elysian fare- the proceeds are almost always going to some family in need - but Dan, like the Trib, don't get it - it's always right under their noses. That is why Mike Sheahan needed to point to their cowpasture.

Read more...

Obama and Rezko: Resko and Alsammarae and Stop the Killing, Start the Healing

The Obama-Rezko intern story made USA Today today.

As for the immensly intriguing Ahim Alsammarae story, I sent an email to Obama's office this AM asking for comment on the State Department's position expressed here,

U.S. officials in Baghdad and Washington, who could face the difficulty of balancing respect for Iraq's judicial system and sovereignty against concerns over a U.S. citizen's safety, have declined to say how they would respond if Alsammarae were to turn up in the United States.

But on Tuesday, a State Department spokeswoman went as far as to say that the U.S. government "supports the Iraqi government's effort to resolve the matter." She did not go into details about whether the U.S. would cooperate if Iraq calls for Alsammarae's extradition.

Dania Alsammarae, the daughter of the former electricity minister, said she has spoken with her father daily since his escape but he never has told her or other family members where he is or what he has been doing since fleeing Iraq.

"My dad wouldn't tell us any details but has been calling regularly to let us know that he continues to be safe," said the daughter, who lives in Dublin. "If the prime minister of Jordan is saying he is there, then I believe it to be true."
Dania Alsammarae has contacted both Durbin and Obama's offices for help securing her Father's release.

An Aihman Alsammarae was active in the anti-sanctions movement apparantly as a speaker from the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee. Here's a link to "Stop the Killing, Start the Healing", part of the August 5-7, 2000 Mobilization against Sanctions on Iraq, held in Washington DC,
"We are destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that." (Denis Halliday, former UN coordinator of the Oil-for-Food Program and Nobel Peace Prize nominee)

On 6 August 1990, the UN Security Council imposed a near total embargo on Iraq, the most comprehensive sanctions in modern history. Today those sanctions continue to kill innocent Iraqis while undermining the pillars of civil society. And since December 1998 the Iraqi people have faced regular bombing by American and British warplanes. Numerous sources estimate the death toll of sanctions and bombing to be over one million.

In response, a broad coalition of organizations and concerned individuals will converge on Washington, DC this August 6 to demand an end to this economic and military war carried out by the United States through the United Nations. Our message is clear and direct: "Lift the economic sanctions, stop the bombing!"
Aiham Alsammarae participated along with the actor Martin Sheen and British MP George Galloway.

I'll confirm next week with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee if this is the same Aiham Alsammarae wanted by both Iraq and for questioning by our Fitzgerald.

Update: "Jack" at the ADC's Dearborn Michigan Office confirmed the Chicago Alsammarae was an ADC board member.

The next question for Senator Obama to consider, should the Senate start investigating post-War Iraq, was why in the world Bremer appointed Alsammarae as Electricity Minister in the interim government given his pre-War position towards sanctions?

Read more...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Oberweis FEC Status Check

With Oberweis Dairy about to start running TV ads again and there being talk about Jim Oberweis running for Congress, if Denny Haster resigns, I thought I'd take a look at what happened to the FEC complaints made about the dairy's ads in 2002 and 2004.

Both those years, when Oberweis ran for the United States Senate, opponents charged him with using Oberweis Dairy ads to advance his candidacies.

The first, filed by Steven A. Leahy, Chief Counsel for the Republican Assembly of Illinois, complained of a “corporate contribution,” according to a Federal Election Commission press release.

That complaint was dismissed August 27, 2002.

During his 2004 campaign Springfield’s Sangamon County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Timoney filed another complaint.

FEC Public Information Officer Bob Biersack told McHenry County Blog, “We’re prohibited from discussing them.”

He was allowed to say,

We did in fact get a complaint and it has not been closed.
I called Timoney to ask him the most recent information he had.

His response:
I don’t have any information and the Federal Election Commission evidently does not provide an objector with the outcome of the investigation or complaint.
He did add that about once a year someone calls him to ask if he has heard anything.

No complaints were made to the FEC for the gubernatorial campaign because the Feds have no jurisdiction over state campaigns.

= = = = =
Photo of Jim Oberweis is on Paul Capiro's Family PAC cruise this summer. He is serving then state senate candidate Eric Wallace and Judge Don Weber's campaign manager Michael Galbreth.

This news was reported first on McHenry County Blog, where you can read of the resignation of Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Ouimet. Ouimet gave then-appointed State Senator Pam Althoff quite a run for her money two years ago.

Read more...

100 new laws beginning January 1

Illinois residents will see 100 or so new laws take effect on New Year's Day. All can be found at the Illinois Chanel, but some of interest to individuals might be these.

All homes must be equiped with at least one approved and fully operational carbon monoxide alarm and there must be one alarm within 15 feet of every room used for sleeping purposes.

Hospitals will be required to use itemized, easier to read bills and wait longer before they refer indebted patients to a collection agency.

Restaurant patrons will be allowed to take home leftover wine provided the wine is properly sealed.

Anyone convicted of littering along a highway will be required to maintain litter control, for a period of thirty days, over a designated portion of highway, including the site where the offense occured.

Condominium owners or condo associations may not adopt any rules which infringe on a resident's First Amendment rights, especially that of religious expression. This would be religious symbols of some type on the front door or in windows.

Sex offenders will be required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet while on parole.

Expands the Open Meetings Act to include electronic communications.

Much to digest before the 1st.

Read more...

Now Hiring

I got an e-mail pointing me to a TPMCafe sub-site appropriately named Your Massive Election Central Guide to Prez Campaign Staffs (re-affirming that there is now indeed a website dedicated to everything imaginable), which lists the personnel hired to date by the various campaigns (and potential campaigns) for President.

So with no particular point in mind, other than to pass on somewhat interesting information, here is the information from the site as it pertains to our native son. It is safe to say that this list will be growing quickly in the near future.

Barack Obama:

* Steve Hildebrand: accompanied Obama to Iowa and has been reaching out to potential staff behind the scenes, Daschle's campaign manager in '04 and Tim Johnson's in '02. Ran the Iowa caucuses for Gore in '00.

* Lou Susman: will fundraise for Obama if he runs, Kerry's national finance chair in '04, formerly worked for Vilsack.

* David Axelrod: media consultant, formerly worked for Vilsack and Edwards.

* Paul Harstad: pollster, formerly worked for Vilsack.

* Matt Rodriguez: "friend" of the campaign who helped staff Obama in NH, political director of Gephardt's '04 pres campaign.

* Jim Demers: "friend" of the campaign, NH lawyer and strategist.

* David Plouffe: consultant, senior strategist for Gephardt in '04.

* Julianna Smoot: Obama's senior advisers have reached out to her about fundraising, current DSCC finance director.

To read or post comments, visit Open House

Read more...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Daily Southtown: Illinois has a good stem cell bill

The Daily Southtown Editorial here.

A quote from Senator Shoenberg last April,


“This issue is one of the most morally compelling challenges facing those of us in the public arena,” said Schoenberg, the chief sponsor of two earlier legislative efforts to expand stem cell research that failed narrowly in the State Senate. “Millions of Americans are affected directly or indirectly by chronic illnesses and medical conditions such as juvenile diabetes, Parkinson’s, cancer and spinal cord injury-- all of which have the potential to be cured by embryonic stem cell research.”

“We must succeed because we are not only rebuilding their bodies, but we are also cradling their souls.”
I'm not a Christian. I'm too secular for souls and Schoenberg sounds odd to me when he writes of cradling them.

I see humanity in an embryo though; a humanity which should be cradled. Not tissue to be harvested regardless of what good could for others could come of it.

Ryan Anderson wrote of the parable of the Good Soccer Mom in First Things.


She summed up her findings: A human embryo is a whole member of the human species. Each human being entered life as an embryo. And all human beings are subjects of profound, inherent, intrinsic worth in virtue of what they are, not what they can do. And if they are subjects of worth in virtue of what they are, then they bear this worth from the moment that they first come into existence.
One need not be Chrisitan to find talk of harvesting embryos for research and eventual commercial therapies (legitimate therapies and not the bogus ones sold now. Read LA Times: Outside the U.S., businesses run with unproved stem cell therapies ) very troubling.

The morality of it far clearer for me though then abortion. This seems to open up the potential for the grossest kind of human exploitation.

Update: Ryan Anderson writing in the Weekly Standard,
In July of 2005, the Slate magazine science reporter William Saletan argued in a five-part series titled "Organ Factory: the Case for Harvesting Older Human Embryos" that given the current acceptance of embryo destruction there is no reason to limit it to the early embryo. He pointed to studies from around the world arguing that seven-week old embryos are what researchers really want. And Saletan made the case that they should have them: "Don't be scared. We don't have to grow a whole new you. . . . an embryo cloned from one of your cells would need just six or seven weeks to grow many of the tissues you need. We already condone harvesting of cells from cloned human embryos for the first two weeks. Why stop there?"

Read more...

Oberweis Hits Airwaves Again

The Chicago Sun-Times’ man on the advertising beat, Lewis Lazare, reported Tuesday that Oberweis Dairy is about to start another round of television ads.

This one features a cow being interviewed by former U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidate Jim Oberweis.

The nameplate of the person sitting next to him behind a desk in the photo the Sun-Times reads is Joe Oberweis.

So, where did the cow come from?

As luck would have it, McHenry County Blog has tracked down a herd of Holsteins where it might have originated.

It was not Harmilda, the plastic cow in Harvard, which bills itself as the Milk Capital of the World. . (The name Harmilda comes from Harvard Milk Days, I learned on the event’s web page.)

And its picture is probably not on the painting on the side of the building behind Hermelda at the corner of Ayer Street--which becomes the “Milky Way” early each June.

When I took office as McHenry County Treasurer in 1966, Shoppers Service was sending its shopper from Harvard every week. And every week at least one dairy farmer was holding an auction because he was going out of business.

So, the odds of the cow being from McHenry County are not high, although dairy farms do still exist.

I followed this cheese truck north to Wisconsin.

Actually, I was on another errand to Williams Bay and got lost trying to follow a detour in Walworth to Lake Geneva.

But guess what I found?

Part of a herd of cows that supply Oberweis Dairy hormone-free milk.

They were resting or peacefully grazing about as far from the highway as seemed possible.

And, believe it or not, the farmer was a Republican.

Just look at the yard signs out in front of his home.

I know the farmer's candidate for governor, Mark Green, fared no better than the man who buys his cow's milk.

Paul Ryan, candidate for Congress, got 63% of the votes cast.

His candidate for state senate, Neal Kedzie, won 2-1.

The Republican candidate for the state assembly. Thomas Lothian, had a closer call, getting under 54% of the vote.

First posted at McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

Reducing Crime

While it may not be an issue that grabs the attention of the public, it should be.
After nearly two years of closed-door study, a privately funded task force is sending a proposed rewrite of the state's criminal laws to Illinois legislators that would prune the massive code by about one-third.

A 1,100-page bill emanating from the Criminal Law Edit, Alignment and Reform Commission would simplify the statutes, cut many archaic references and make other corrections, panel members said. The criminal code was last overhauled in 1961, and lawmakers and governors have been tacking on amendments ever since.
There is one provision of the commission's findings that needs some serious scrutiny however, and that is this:
To curb future add-ons, the commission is expected to recommend the creation of an independent, advisory body that would evaluate criminal legislation for the General Assembly.
While this is a well-intentioned provision that is aimed at applying a throttle to the annual and ubiquitous flurry of 'get tough on crime' bills, I am not sure that having an external panel injected into the legislative process is a necessary or worthwhile precedent. Between legislators, staff, bar associations, interest groups, and the like, there should exist sufficient checkpoints to corral imprudent legislation.

But as my friend and colleague Rep. Bob Molaro points out, there is often a strong driving factor on the other side of legislative rationality.

Molaro, who chairs the House Judiciary II Committee, conceded that lawmakers tend to be prolific sponsors of crime bills. But he said they often pursue such measures with good intentions, on behalf of a constituent who has been victimized.

"Their heart's in the right place," the Chicago Democrat said. He added: "What am I going to say, it makes for a bad press release? It makes for a good press release."

The CLEAR Commission is comprised of some excellent members who have put in countless hours in order to restore some cohesiveness and consistency to our behemoth of a criminal code. I look forward to reviewing, and hopefully implementing, their final bill.

To read or post comments, visit Open House

Read more...

Fighting Dock Walls and some Wednesday shorts

Bill Dock Walls challenges the Mayor's nominating petitions. From today's Trib. Nice to see a politician who doesn't roll over to the opposition.

Supporters of mayoral challenger William "Dock" Walls filed objections Tuesday to the nominating petitions of Mayor Richard Daley, the first time since Daley became mayor that his petitions have been called into question.

Daley's campaign said it is confident in the validity of its petitions. But Walls said his supporters found a number of problems with the mayor's petitions, including the names of people not registered to vote and evidence of forgery.

**************************************************************
Aiham Alsammarae shows up in Jordan on a US Plane. From today's Sun Times,
His whereabouts had been unknown until today, when Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit told reporters that Alsammarae "arrived in Amman as an American and on an American plane," an apparent reference to a U.S. military plane, the Associated Press reported.

"Jordan did not receive any demand from the Iraqi authorities" for al-Samaraie's extradition, al-Bakhit said.

But Lou Fintor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, flatly denied the United States was involved in transporting Alsammarae anywhere or played any role in his escape.

"Wherever Mr. Alsammarae went, he did not get there with the assistance of the U.S. government," Fintor said this morning. "There's absolutely no truth whatsoever to these reports."
Can Fitzgerald fly someone over to Amman to interview him before someone packs off to Baghdad again?

Alsammarae has a Chicago story to tell and I'm afraid it's going to get buried.

Also followed by RYP over at Iragslogger; the only National group following this story besides some righty bloggers who suspect Dick Cheney is springing Alsammarae in return for contributions to the Bush campaign.

Read more...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Taxation in Bethlehem & Illinois

Considering the Christmas story starts with taxation, perhaps I should not criticize the Chicago Tribune for running Diane Rado’s Christmas Day story headlined,

Income tax hike in play for schools
with a subhead reading
Bipartisan caucus faces tough battle with Blagojevich
Still, must we think of taxes on Christmas?

I didn’t, as you can see from the date this is posted.

Of course, the Tribune didn’t think the tax hike threat was as important as U.S. Senator Barak Obama’s hiring a contributor’s kid as an intern, but such are the news judgments of Tribune editors.

The tax hikers have managed to convince even a savvy reporter like Rado to call them “tax reformers.”

And, doesn’t it figure that a Republican state representative (Robert Pritchard of Hinckley) is “a former school board member and chief organizer of the education causes?”

I see Hinckley is in DeKalb County. I suggest Rep. Pritchard might want to type his zip code into this tax calculator that Rado worked up in 2004. (If the link doesn't work, tell me in a comment what your zip code is and I'll post the results.)

Just in case Rep. Pritchard doesn’t want to go to link in the above paragraph, I have copied what the tax calculator says will happen to the tax bill of the average taxpayer in Hinckley, if Senate Bill 750 became law.

It shows a net income tax increase of 13% for Hinckley taxpayers. The dollar increase is estimated to be $728.

Rado reports that one of the caucus’ main goals is to reduce reliance on local taxes for schools.

I guess the education caucus members don’t understand that he who supplies the gold rules.

Kudos to Rado for pointing out—one of the rare times print reporters have done so—that increasing the state income tax rate from 3 to 5 percentage points is a 66 percent hike (actually, it rounds to 67%).

And our hero?

Governor Rod Blagojevich is about all we have.

No Republican is quoted as being against tax hikes. Good thing she or Ray Long, who assisted with the article, didn't call Jim Edgar. Thanks to Bill Barr for pointing out his continuing role as cheerleader for higher taxes.

Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Well, maybe fuzzy.

More at McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

GOP senators challenge Health Facilities Planning Board

The above headline from SJ-R today. Some quotes,

"We don't think the current board is as effective as it could be," said Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, chairman of the Republican task force.
"I personally think that the board insulates hospital executives and their board members from bad financial decisions by guaranteeing market share," said Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, D-Evanston, co-chairman of the legislative fiscal commission.
Empower consumers with mandated health insurance (instead of letting the uninsured put the risk and costs on Medicaid and charity) and we'll get demand for health care spread evenly accross populations without need for Illinois Pols and lobbyists to do planning for underserved areas (supposedly). We'll avoid the corruption and abuse the Pols can't seem to resist.

Don't renew this board.

Read more...

The Tax Onus

Republicans really ought to put a lid on Edger.

Here's quotes from him in today's SR_J on Pressure heats up for tax hike: Some feel raise is necessary to save state.

"It underscores just how bad things are financially when you have leading businessmen in the state coming out and saying we have to raise taxes," Edgar said. "It's the first time I can remember they've ever come out and said we have to do something."

"Even though they do not like the idea of a swap, the fact (the Civic Committee) said we have to increase the income tax and broaden the sales tax is an enormous step in what many of us think is the right direction," said former comptroller and gubernatorial candidate Dawn Clark Netsch. "It takes the onus off some members of the legislature." [my empahsis]

Edgar is skeptical.

"I think it gives people cover, but I'm not convinced it will be widespread enough in Springfield to get it done," [my empahsis] Edgar said. "I hope I'm wrong because I don't know how we keep going down the road we've been on."
Why should Edgar speculate? He didn't want to run again.

Illionis voters elected Blagojevich and veto-proof Senate; so please let Blagojevich, Jones, and Madigan explain expenses, revenue, and taxes.

We don't need to hear from the elder statesman or the Business crowd. It's the Democrats who told us how to save Illinois. Now they should deliver.

Hold officials responsible. Don't give them cover. That's what we've failed to do over and over again in Illinois. It's why what does get done in Illinois, is often not good.

Read more...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ripped from the Front Page

Ever attend a Kids Christmas Pageant and think that you read an article about its theme before.

No, I’m not talking about some magazine article in which the liberal national news magazines do their best to shake the faithful with a “Was Jesus Really Born in Jerusalem?” or, worse yet, a "Was Jesus Ever Born?" piece or something like that.

This is one that could have been on that New York lawyer's show "Law and Order."

So, here’s the story line.

Kids put together their annual Christmas pageant, which has always been held in the town square for their Christmas pageant.

The mayor—a politically correct woman—is up for re-election.

The mayor decides she doesn’t want to offend anyone, so she tells the kids they can’t use the town square.

The kids decide to go door to door to ask people to call the mayor and urge her to change her mind.

First they go to a blasé rich people’s house. They attract them outside by singing carols.

The urbane husband asks the wife what the kids want, money?

“Here, give them $5.”

The kids say they don’t want money, they want the man and woman to call the mayor to allow them to put on their presentation in the town square.

The couple give no indication of following through.

They go to a second home and find two aging hippies.

These folks celebrate every holiday.

Their belief system consists of “Whatever.”

One of the youngsters observes that if one believes in everything, one really believes in nothing.

Finally, they find a mother with children asleep inside.

Her husband is the Armed Forces and she is horrified that the mayor has banned the play. She promises to call.

The next scene I remember is the mayor coming to tell children that she has changed her mind. She says has been getting phone calls all day, including one from her daughter.

The mayor's daughter is the mother with the sleeping kids and husband serving in the Armed Forces overseas.

The mayor has undergone an epiphany.

She doesn’t care if she loses votes.

It’s on with the show.

Not only can the show be put on at the town square, but the mayor wants to be in it next year.

So, it's on with the Christmas pageant, complete with Nativity scene.

= = = = =
I don't know all the names, so my apologies to those I leave out or misidentify.

In the top picture the children are shown "practicing" the show they are going to perform in the town square.

Part of the show included a chorus line. On the right is Gina Daleo. The other girl is Johanna Sveden.

The mayor was Megan Heidenreich.

The urbane couple were played by Julie Noack and Andrew Swlatly.

The hippies were Felicia Hornback and David Deemer.

The mayor's daughter was Jennifer Peterson.

Protraying Mary was Gabby Schweizer. Joseph was Brian Madigan. The shepherd was Sidney Schroepfer. Sarah Ripple was the angel.

Before the First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake presentation the kids were in the community room practicing. For the finale, they couldn't remember the second verse. They certainly remembered during the show.

The photo under the Nativity scene and above this paragraph is of the rehearsal.

But, as someone mentioned at the reception (bottom right picture) after the show, there were no problems on the stage.

The title of the show?

"Miracle on Main Street" by Celeste Clydesdale, arranged by David Clydesdale, script by Mark davis & Celeste Clydesdale.

Renee Schultz was the drama director. Jeannie Patterson did the choreography. Lisa Bishoff was children’s director. Katrina Jackson was the music director.

Lessons in practical politics in church.

Lessons on so many levels.

Who would have imagined that?

= = = = =
And if you would like to read about my encounters with God this year, you can do so on McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

FDR on Chistmas

From Jon Meacham in yesterday's WaPo,

Sixty-five Christmas Eves ago, on the South Portico in 1941, with Churchill at his side, FDR declared: "Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies . . . Against enemies who preach the principles of hate and practice them, we set our faith in human love and in God's care for us and all men everywhere."

For a nation at war, whatever our politics or our religion, it remains an ageless message.
Merry Christmas to you all.

Read more...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

LA Times: What is it about Obama?

What is it about the National Press that they don't google around a bit. Here's the LA Times.

Giannoulias, Rezko, Todd Stroger.... Chicago ain't ready for reform and Obama bought it.

Abner Mikva of all people should sense something's not right here.

*******************************************
Update: Joseph Aramanda about Obama in yesterday's SJ-R,

Aramanda said there was nothing wrong with Rezko recommending his son.

"That's done every day. I don't view that as newsworthy. I don't think it's inappropriate," Aramanda told the newspaper.

"It would be different if this was a high-paying job," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, there's no relationship between the internship and my business with Mr. Rezko."

Aramanda donated $10,000 to Obama in 2004 a year before his son took the internship. Aramanda has not been charged with any crimes.

But the internship, one of 98 Illinois spots from an application pool of 350, raises questions for Obama who has denied that he ever did favors for Rezko.

Read more...

Scrooge McDonald

So my wife stopped at McDonald’s for a Big Mac.

A sign said something like,

Ask for water and condiments at the window
There my wife asked for a glass of water.

“Five cents.”

“Five cents?”

“It’ll be five cents the next time,” the clerk responded.

There won’t be a next time,” my wife thought as she left the Rosemont McDonald’s.

= = = = =
And, if you are really into Scrooge, you should see this "Message of the Day" on McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

Sen Durbin should send these troops a card

Excerpts from a letter from Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu, U.S. Army (Ret.), mistakenly attributed Col. Wade F. Dennis, JTF GTMO, APO AE 09360 (he's the addressee your cards should be addressed too) posted at Democracy Project via Ratzinger Fan Club,

Instead of bullets and IEDs, troopers here duck noxious "cocktails" of the fab five: feces, urine, spit, semen, and vomit tossed into their faces. They don't receive Purple Hearts when an enemy detainee requests a comfort item then grabs the hand of the kind guard passing it to him and breaks the trooper's arm or wrist.

Do you want to guess who receives the Christmas and Holiday greetings here in Guantanamo? The terrorist detainees who are confined here to keep them from killing you and your families! Last year alone Guantanamo detainees received more than 14,000 cards, the vast majority from muddle-headed well-wishers and sympathizers. This year local authorities estimate the number may exceed 16,000! Some are addressed to the detainees by name or by their detainee number, available on the Pentagon website. Most are simply addressed to "Any Detainee at Guantanamo."

Like the other 40,000 or so pieces of detainee mail that transit the post office on the base the cards are distributed into the cells. The cards are passed out to the detainees by troopers who may themselves not have received any sort of greeting from home in a long time. Some of the troops here are wary about the way they are perceived by their friends and families at home. One officer said that "nobody in my family was in the military. None of my friends have the slightest clue of what we do here. They think I'm some kind of brutal jailor or something."

It's hard to blame the American public for being ignorant about real conditions here considering that their opinions are shaped in large part by politicians eager to score points against the president by trashing the soldiers at Guantanamo, or by a compliant media ready to believe and promulgate the worse without the trouble of fact-checking or balancing the story.

These troops have been called terrible names by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and by Ted Kennedy and John Kerry from Massachusetts. On the House side Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha act as if the troops are the problem and not the terrorists. No wonder some reservists who have returned from tours in Guantanamo to the States are reluctant to tell their friends where they served.

Read more...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's your money folks.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office dispatched two employees to Georgia last week to pick up new carpeting for the boss' inaugural.

Because it was worth $1,700 to have the new carpet in time for the inaugural.
Can't afford to pay doctors on time but we have money for this stuff. It's called Hubris people, please enjoy the next 4 years of it. If nothing else Citizens for White should pick up the tab for this one.

OneMan

Read more...

Texas Federal Court Restricts Direct Link to Webcasts

PaidContent.org posts on a court ruling that could have a severe impact on blogging (and probably new media, generally) as we know it. What ramifications would this ruling have on bloggers linking to any Web site that relies on ad revenue? I can't imagine this ruling holding up in higher court, but you never know. The courts are sailing in uncharted waters on this one:

A federal judge in Texas has ruled that it is unlawful to provide a hyperlink to a Webcast if the copyright owner objects to it, reports News.com. The lawsuit was against an aggregation website Supercrosslive.com, which was linking directly to the video/audio webcasts on Supercrossonline.com, which has the official rights for “Supercross” motorcycle racing events. SFX Motor Sports, a Texas company that owns the official site, contended that fans who go to its own website will see the names and logos of sponsors, but direct links to webcasts won’t bring up the sponsors.
Originally posted at Illinois Justice Blog.

Read more...

"Priceless"

With apologies to MasterCard.

McHenry County Blog’s article on the new recruitment pamphlet signed by McHenry County Republican Party Central Committee Chairman Bill LeFew apparently got some ridicule from his fellow Republicans.

As I heard the story, it went something like this (I have embellished it somewhat):

Membership in the McHenry County Democratic Party – Free

Membership in the Green Party - $10 (with “a needs-based dues waiver”)

Membership in the Libertarian Party – $10

Membership in the McHenry County Republican Party - $15

Contact with McHenry County Republican Officials - Priceless
Maybe one had to be there.

Read more...

Kane County's Sheriff and any other shorts....

Seems Pat Perez made good on his plege to stop giving county cars as perks. From the Daily Herald,

Eight Kane County sheriff's office employees have 10 days to turn in the keys to their department-issued squad cars.

Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said Thursday he ordered five corrections officers and three civilians to return the vehicles because they don't need them for their daily duties.

******************************
It's nice to see guys secure enough to come out and admit this.
******************************
Iragslogger posts a Aiham "The Chicago Way" Alsammarae sighting,

Former Iraqi Electricity Minister Aiham Al-Samarra'i was spotted at the American Embassy in Amman Thursday, according to Ali Al-Shabbout, official spokesman of the Public Integrity Commission in Iraq. Shabbout added that that the commission has contacted Interpol in order to issue an international arrest warrant for Samarra'i. Al-Samarra'i escaped his Baghdad Green Zone jail Sunday while awaiting trial on corruption charges.
Wonder who Alsammarae would call from there?
******************************
See if they'll follow Rezko: Illinois Progressive Legal Action Center.
******************************
A Blagojevich Press Release via Illinois Review,
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $9.6 million for a new pilot program that will help provide supportive housing and services for approximately 170 young adults leaving the state’s foster care system, and for children being raised by relatives or other caregivers.
[****]
The pilot’s developers - Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago and their service provider partners, Sankofa Safe Child Initiative and Coppin AME Church - will select approximately 75 young adults aged 18-21 years who are transitioning out of foster care and 44 kinship families where the children are being raised by relatives to benefit from the program.
I understand a Kinship Family as a family sharing bonds of blood or marriage. If marriage is expanded to exclude same sex couples, would Coppin AME Church be obligated to accept those kinds of kin to keep the grant?

The answer to that question would guide my vote on a same-sex marriage proposal. It's the most fundamental issue of Church and State I've seen in a long time.
******************************
In Chicago (and burbs) its all about does a guy keep up his property. That's all that counts. NYT Home in Illinois May Lure Fugitive Former Iraqi Minister
It was an unremarkable scene on Wednesday outside a gated community here where the former Iraqi electricity minister, Aiham Alsammarae, now a fugitive from justice, keeps a palatial house.

Having escaped from a Baghdad jail over the weekend in what he boasted was the “Chicago way,” Mr. Alsammarae, whose whereabouts are unknown, could have been on the way back here.

Or perhaps he had already arrived, enjoying the serenity of the leafy surroundings of the Covington subdivision, about a half-hour west of Chicago.
[***]
“He kept his house just like any other guy,” said Mr. Brugh, who works for Oak and Dale Properties, a management company. “He’d have to or else we’d be all over it.”
And the guy who helped Alsammarae escape claims he was canned for it: Local man says he was fired for protecting Iraqi prisoner

Read more...

More boneheadedness from Obama with Rezko

Clinton will clean Obama's clock with this stuff.

From today's Trib,

Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko made a modest pitch to Sen. Barack Obama last year.Rezko recommended a 20-year-old student from Glenview for one of the coveted summer internships in Obama's Capitol Hill office.

The student got the job and spent five weeks in Washington, answering Obama's front office phone and logging constituent mail. The student was paid an $804 stipend--about $160 a week--for a position valued mostly for the experience it provides.
[***]
As the internship drew to a close in August 2005, the intern's father was cited in court records as an unnamed, unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged state government bribery scheme linked to Rezko. A news report about the court records identified him by name.

Obama's spokesman said Obama would not comment on the internship because he is spending the holidays with his family. But spokesman Robert Gibbs said the internship in no way contradicts Obama's previous statements that he has never done any favors for Rezko, given jobs to Rezko associates or been involved with Rezko "in any government activities of any sort."
Obama should just say it's the Chicago way.

Update: A little more from Gibbs in todays's Sun Times,
John Aramanda served as an intern for Obama for about a month in 2005, said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs. His father is Joseph Aramanda, a Rezko business associate who was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case against Rezko. Aramanda has contributed $11,500 to Obama since 2000, Gibbs said.

"Mr. Rezko did provide a recommendation for John Aramanda," Gibbs said. "I think that it's fairly obvious that a few-week internship is not anything of benefit to Mr. Rezko or any of his businesses."
Missed the point here Mr. Gibbs. This story says Rezko's word counted for someting with Obama. That Obama valued Rezko's word.


xp Bill Baar's West Side

Read more...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chicago Post Office Skips Even "Happy Holidays"

McHenry County Blog posted stamps and cancellations as a “Message of the Day” earlier this week.

The most Christmassy postmark found was “Happy Holidays.”

Today, the Skinner household received a card from Chicago and not even “Happy Holidays” was on the cancellation.

What is that all about?

First posted at McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

About 'Hellholes,' Jobs and the Illinois Economy

by Ed Murnane

The reaction from the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (and their allies) to last week’s announcement of the 2006 "judicial hellholes" was predictable. In fact, I was called for comment on the "reaction," even before the American Tort Reform Foundation’s report was made public. ITLA and their big brother, the American Association for Justice, didn’t need to see the report before attacking it.

And that is not surprising.

Since THEY are one of the primary reasons three Illinois counties are included in the list of six hellholes, it makes sense that they’d be unhappy to be blamed for the poor quality of justice. (Of course, judges have to assume some responsibility but without the trial lawyers’ and their creativity, the problems would not be of "hellhole" magnitude.

It’s too close to Christmas to get into a fire and brimstone (in keeping with the "hellhole" theme) reaction to ITLA’s reaction.

But here are a few observations.

* According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3,141 counties in the United States. Do the trial lawyers think ATRA picked these three in Illinois because they don’t like Illinois? (If that’s the case, I’m offended since I’m a life-long resident of Illinois AND I happen to be on the ATRA board of directors (but not involved in the "hellholes" project)).

* Is it simply a coincidence that ATRA’s identification of three Illinois counties as the worst in the country parallels the Harris International Poll conducted for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that states Illinois has one of the most hostile legal environments in the United States? Or perhaps Illinois looks bad from different perspectives because it IS bad?

* Did ITLA and their allies have a similar reaction to another report issued last week that described the "virtually unabated loss of good-paying jobs in manufacturing (in Illinois)?" The report entitled "The State of Working Illinois 2006" said “between July 1990 and July 2005, the total number of manufacturing jobs in Illinois dropped by 24.6 percent. This represented a loss of over 225,800 jobs during the 15-year period, or about 15,000 manufacturing jobs per year. Moreover, just under three-quarters of this decline (162,400 jobs) was in durable goods manufacturing, long the mainstay of the state's economy."

* Does ITLA think excessive lawsuits and a high cost of litigation (see points above) have anything to do with a declining job base?

* The report (by a coalition of groups including the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Northern Illinois University's Regional Development Institute and a number of labor unions and community groups) also said this: "... the percentage decline in the number of manufacturing jobs in Illinois has been higher than both the national and regional average. The loss of those good-paying manufacturing jobs (which pay an average of about $660 weekly) cannot be offset by growth in service sector jobs, which pay about $524 a week. Those lower average weekly wages generally translate to less consumer spending, a less robust economy and a greater demand for government and human services."

* Does ITLA think Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis is wrong to be enacting procedural reforms in her circuit to improve the judicial environment in Madison County?

* If Illinois is losing about 15,000 manufacturing jobs per year, how many plaintiff attorney jobs are being lost? ITLA claims membership of "over 2,000 members." How many are being lost every year, or has the number of plaintiff’s attorneys been growing?

There were a few bright spots in the ATRA report:

1. Illinois only had three counties (of 102 in the state) on the list. The ENTIRE State of West Virginia ranked at the top.

2. Madison County is acknowledged to be improving. Anyone who pays attention to Illinois knows that’s true and Judge Callis and her colleagues deserve credit.

3. The Illinois Supreme Court is considered a "point of light" for several rulings that have been handed down. That’s also an accurate assessment.

Cross-posted at Illinois Justice Blog.

Read more...

Bollywood Friday - BollySanta gets down!



Proving once again that there is indeed a Bollywood clip for EVERY conceivable occasion, I give you BollySanta in all his glory!

From the movie Kalicharan.

Happy Holidays to my buddies and visitors at ILLINOIZE and CapFax!


Love,

Bridget

Read more...

Daley's Obama endorsement

Gotta wonder if Morris hasn't nailed it all here and explained the thinking behind all these Illinois Pols lining up behind Obama.

Obama isn't a mortal threat to Hillary Clinton's White House hopes - his potential candidacy may be just the gift she needs to assure her of the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Having the right opponent is one of the essentials to electoral success. In a primary, the right foe is someone who is strong enough to keep anybody else from gaining serious traction, but not strong enough to win. Obama seems to fit the bill.

Read more...

Alsammarae blog chatter

Lots of stuff on the blogs now about Alsammarae donating to Bush before and after Alsammarae's appointment as Iraqi Oil minister. Samples here, here, and here. These folks don't realize there's a combine in Illinois and our tradition is don't back no losers.

Independent Sentinel wrote,

...and is now a fugitive, on the run, from corruption charges.

Seems like a free-for-all out there, for corrupt bussines types, just like here.

The Bushites are creating a Capitalist nightmare in their own image, in Iraq.


More like Illinois's image.

I'm worried Alsammarae will be sent shackled back to Iraq before our Fitzgerald has a chance to talk with him about old friend Tony Rezko. From today's Sun Times,

Federal authorities in Chicago have expressed interest in Alsammarae's links to recently indicted businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a former top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich who won an Iraqi power plant contract while Alsammarae was electricity minister. The contract no longer is in effect.

Authorities here want to learn more about the deal because Rezko and Alsammarae know each other, and each has been accused of corruption, a source familiar with the investigation told the Sun-Times. Alsammarae and Rezko attended the Illinois Institute of Technology together in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
I hope Fitzgerald gets the chance to talk with Alsammarae for a long time. I'm worried it won't happen because the capitalist nightmare will silence the canary.

Update: Iraqsloger has an nice backgrounder on Alsammarae: The Nine Lives of Aiman Alsammarae.
He [Alsammarae]admits that his attempts to introduce groups who attack Coalition troops as political entities was not entirely altruistic since he declared in this Voice of America interview that he intended to run in the December 2005 elections. Ultimately, his attempts to reconcile with insurgents was a failed venture that resulted in a February 2006 attack on Alsammarae's convoy that he escaped but injured two of his security contractors.

His troubles were just beginning. The predominately Shia government filed charges of corruption, when Alsammarae's returned to inquire about the nature of the charges were, he found himself surprised to be held in a Green Zone prison awaiting trial.
Got to admit, he sounds awfully Chicago; larger than life. I hope he makes it home to write a book... although I'm not sure how much of it I'd believe.

Update: A little more from Pioneer Press,
So now Dania and other family members are pleading with American government officials, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, to intervene and ensure Aiham's safety.

"We are hoping the State Department will step in and save his life," said Dania, who recently returned home to Oak Brook from a medical school in Ireland.

Christina Angarola, spokesperson for Durbin, declined to discuss specifics, but said the senator is actively communicating with the State Department about Aiham's safety.

"We are in frequent contact with the Department of the State to check up on this," Angarola said.
Update: Biden's blog posts on the story too.

Read more...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Sanity Squad podcast on Obama mania

Who better than four mental health professional to investigate the phenomenon known as Obama mania? This week's edition has a cold-stricken Neo-Neo Con joined by Siggy, ShrinkWrapped, and Dr. Sanity.

Shrinkwrapped compares Obama to a backup quarterback on a losing football team, since he's always the most popular player on that team--until he gets in a game.

Citing a recent Clarence Page column, Dr. Sanity views Illinois' junior senator as a flesh-and-blood Rorschach ink-blot test. Democrats see in Obama what they want to see in a presidential contender.

Siggy as always is the most outspoken, he compares Barack to "a good looking girl sitting at the end of the bar with a low-cut dress," when all around are "faded whores"--retread candidates. But Siggy adds, "The Republicans have the same problem."

Although, I have one complaint with Siggy. He thinks the politics in Chicago are corrupt. Where did he get that idea?

Oh, not by name, but the Rezko deal is briefly referred to in the podcast.

Listen or download here. Free subscriptions are available at the iTunes web site.

To comment on this or other posts, please visit Marathon Pundit.

Read more...

Privatized Fire Department Rolls

Newly appointed Lakewood Fire Chief Tony Huemann garnered unanimous “conditional” membership for his new ire department in McHenry County’s Mutual Aid Box Alarm System on Wednesday afternoon.

While the organization’s members, primarily fire chiefs, seemed to share the concern voiced by Crystal Lake Fire Chief Jim Moore about the Lakewood response plan, they passed a motion to grant membership based on Lakewood’s meeting these conditions by the next (end of February) MABAS meeting:

· Obtaining fire fighting equipment
· Having a fire station up and active
· Having a personnel-on-call roster
· Having box cards (a list prioritizing how many pieces of equipment and personnel that neighboring fire departments can count on using in an emergency)
· Having communications
· Agreement to pay MABAS fees
One chief noted that conditional membership is “actually protecting ourselves.”


Another condition was suggested, but rejected:
A report on how much Lakewood assisted other departments between now and the February meeting.
One chief noted that such a study might be “discriminatory.”

And, as Hebron-Alden-Greenwood Chief Lloyd Laufer put it,
"If they check me, I might be in trouble.

"If they call, we’re going,” he said of his totally volunteer department.
Indeed, during the discussion--with Huemann out of the room--several chiefs declared they would assist Lakewood, regardless of whether it was accepted into MABAS.

Earlier one chief said, “Whether they’re in this system or not, we’d help a stricken community." He did add, “I don’t want to take command. I don’t want that liability.”

At one point early on, Huntley Fire Chief Jim Saletta committed his department to assisting Lakewood whether or not it was allowed to join the mutual assistance pact.

Woodstock Chief Ralph Webster said, “We’d be hypocrites if we didn’t admit that we send men to communities that don’t have staffing” (problems), noting it was “not too long since we couldn’t (cover) our town."

Apparently Webster worked previously with Huemann during the 23 years the new Lakewood chief was with the McHenry Township Fire Protection District, because he added,
"I think Tony is a man of integrity."
“Like Jim Saletta says, I’m going to go if there’s a need,” the Woodstock chief concluded.

One chief sitting in front added,
“We’re going to go if there’s a need.

"We can’t not go.”
And, that seemed to be the general attitude of these professional fire fighters.

They didn’t put it this way, but it seemed obvious to me that they fight fires, they don’t play politics.

The Lakewood chief did seem to reveal that the January 1st starting date was troubling him.
"Our target date is January 1st. January 1st is going to be a difficult target to meet.

"We have asked for an extension. Crystal Lake and Lakewood are communicating."
Crystal Lake Chief Moore offered more reservations, including for the safety of his men if they were called to help fight a Lakewood fire.

This is the first time a new member has been admitted to MABAS.

As one chief observed, “We’ve gone down. We’ve never gone up.”

= = = = =
Since this is the first MABAS meeting I have attended, I cannot identify all the speakers by name. If anyone would like to email me who said what, I'll be happy to add the identifiers.

The top picture is of Lakewood Village Fire Chief Jeff Huemann. The shot of the room during the presentation is next.

Below that is a picture that shows Barry Valentine questioning Huemann with (from left to right at the front table) Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Jim Saletta, Valentine, and MABAS President Cary Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Macko.

Huntley Fire Protection District Chief Jim Saletta is next, on the left. Woodstock Fire Protection District Chief Ralph Webster is seen talking to Jeff Huemann after the meeting adjourned. Next on the right can be seen Crystal Lake Fire Chief Jim Moore.

Finally, there are informal shots of those attending after the meeting was adjourned.

Click to enlarge images. Posted first on McHenry County Blog.

Read more...

CTA Bus Status

WMAQ Chicago NBC 5 Video News Feed

There was an error in this gadget

  © Blogger template The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP