Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Bush Durbin handshake

I'm watching Bush leave the House after the State of the Union. Did you notice that handshake between Bush and Durbin? Kind of a 1970's style soul brother hand shake... If someone can read lips, please tell us what the two of them were talking about in that moment.


Teresa Bartels Withdrawing from 8th Congressional District GOP Primary

Teresa Bartels, a woman who helped build a thriving personnel placement through Manpower franchises in Lake and McHenry Counties, has announced her withdrawal from the 8th congressional district Republican primary.

According to an Associated Press report, verified by her office, Bartels is doing so because of

the inability to compete with the spending of her opponents, along with a desire to be fair and considerate to her volunteers and donors, as reasons for her withdrawal.

She says she does not feel it is practical to compete with the one million dollars or more some of the other candidates are willing to spend.
Already, opponent Barrington Hills resident David McSweeney reported putting just under $1 million in his campaign, as of the beginning of 2006. Kathy Salvi has indicated a willingness to spend a similar amount, if necessary.

Salvi, issued the following reaction statement:
Teresa waged a strong campaign for the values we share - lower taxes, reduced spending and commitment to pro-life and pro-family values. I was honored to share the stage with her at public forums where she helped demonstrate how a strong conservative woman can defeat Melissa Bean. I've seen my share of heartbreaks and I know this has been a tough decision. I send my best wishes to Teresa and her family.
Bartels’ withdrawal strengthens Salvi’s chances, because now she will be the only woman in the race.

McHenry County Blog covers the 8th congressional district race.


Rauschenberger Burns Twice As Money As He Raises in 2nd Half of 2005

When you spent twice as much as you raise in a campaign, odds are good that you cannot win the contest.

That’s what gubernatorial candidate Steve Rauschenberger did the last half of 2006. His spending exceeded his income by so much that Rauschenberger could not continue on his 2006 quest for the Governor’s Mansion.

And, it’s really worse than it looks, because Ron Gidwitz, the man whose candidacy he joined after dropping back to the lieutenant governor position, provided about 10% of Rauschenberger’s total campaign income—over $40,000.

Gubernatorial and, then, lieutenant governor candidate Steve Rauschenberger managed to raise $415,452 during the last half of 2005. He spent $803,580.34. Approximately 11% of that total went to consultant Dan Proft’s firm Urguhart. Starting with $548,000, he ended the year with $148,000.

While not independently wealthy, Rauschenberger did contribute $25,000 to his campaign. It appears to be his largest contributor, except for Gidwitz’.

For more campaign disclosure stories, including Carpentersville District 300 referendums (and others) being financed by developers and vendors, go to McHenry County Blog.


Cell Phone Flameout

I promised yesterday on Capitol Fax to write an article on abortion and human rights today. Unfortunately, my cell phone has crashed and I have to spend part of the day replacing it and getting the data transferred over. So I won't have the piece done until late tonight or early tomorrow.


What they get for the money

A few hours after 2 East St Louis democratic precinct workers were sentenced for their roles in a vote buying scheme during the 2004 election, the St. Clair County board voted 21-6 to continue giving the East St. Louis election board $99,916 or $97,143 depending on which paper you read. The cost of running an election in that city is in the $400,000 range so let's see what they get for the money.
The people of East St. Louis have received democratic party workers who purchase votes and are now facing jail time. They have been voting on antiquated voting equipment under the supervision of workers who have not been trained in overseeing elections.
Last night's vote by the St. Clair County board was taken after receiving recommendations from an ad hoc committee which studied the East St. Louis voting situation and came up with recommendations including having the county election office work with the ESL election board in order to train, educate and upgrade elections. However, the board stopped short of only funding the state required minimum amount of $21, 200. The six republicans on the board voted against the proposal, including Steve Reeb who yesterday was reported to be considering voting for the full amount.
"I don't disagree with the committee's findings, but it didn't go far enough," said Reeb, who was a member of the committee. "I would've liked to have seen an audit report. Maybe it was my fault for not pushing harder for it during the meetings. I still believe we need one election board, not two."
An audit might have been nice. Maybe the voters of East St. Louis will someday realize they would be much better served by the County Clerk's office running their elections like every other city, but until then, there should be an accounting of what they get for the money. An accounting would be nice, but a motion by Board member Kyle McCarter which asked that the county "require the East St. Louis Board of Commissioners to submit a specific plan for reducing costs, justification for voter roll totals that is consistent with census data, and monthly financial statements," was voted down.


Monday, January 30, 2006

I hope Samantha Powers suggests Senator Obama join the march against genocide in Darfur

In The Forward,

National and local Jewish organizations are gearing up for a rally to be held April 30 in Washington under the aegis of the Save Darfur Coalition, which brings together more than 150 faith-based and human rights groups and in which Jewish organizations figure prominently.
Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Is Testicular Virility Nothing More Than Classic Political Puffery?

From the Trib

Facing lawsuits from fired prison officials who say Gov. Rod Blagojevich broke his pledge to keep good employees, lawyers for the state offered a surprising defense: His promises were "classic political puffery."

Ok it is a proud moment for any leader when attorneys take what you say and refer to it as "classic political puffery".

One follow up question then. Were Gov. Blagojevich's comments about his testicular virility' "classic political puffery"?



Senator Lauzen's live blogging

He's doing it now here. And it works pretty well. Check it out. He deserves a lot of credit for doing this. I think it's a nice example of how the GOP reacts to the licking they've taken in Illinois. It creates room for the creative people to step forward.


There Will be Polls and Rumors of Polls...

Now is the time when candidates and media start touting polls. Oddly enough the polls usually reflect good news for either the candidate or the editorial board stance of whoever sponsored the poll. Common sense tells one that when five or six different polls come out, each claiming to have a 3-5 point margin of error, yet with wildly diverging results, someone is lying to someone - perhaps themselves.

At best a poll is nothing more than a snapshot in time taken through a badly distorted lens. At worst it is an utter fraud. A few quick rules for reading polls:

1) Methodology is critical. If, during a primary, a pollster conducted a survey on Republican candidates and sampled only likely Democratic voters, the results would be interesting, but useless. Watch to see who is sampled. A very bad way to sample is to go by voter "households." Whenever this methodology is used it always understates the conservative vote - not because of bias, but because of a methodology flaw. I haven't looked at the numbers in a few years, but the last time I did, conservative households had a little more than .5 more voters on average than moderate households. Even if everything else is flawless, the poll ends up understating ative the voting power of conservative households.

Be careful also of polls that sample registered voters without a filter for likely voters. These polls tend to favor those with higher name recognition without measuring organization. The best polls are those that measure likely voters for a particular election. Even so, if some major sub-theme is running beneath the surface, these polls can be wildly inaccurate. For example, in 1992 Carol Moseley-Braun won the Democratic Primary for Senate and polls never showed it coming. The reason is there was a huge influx of voters in Cook County who did not normally vote. A poll that counts unlikely voters is always inaccurate in normal times; but a poll which counts only likely voters when there is a powerful sub-theme running is also wildly inaccurate.

2) How are the questions asked. It is very easy to design a poll to give you the answers you want to hear. That, in fact, is the specialty of a whole host of pollsters. Some of the ways of doing it are subtle; some are blunt. Most people are familiar with the nototrious push polls (i.e...'If you found that candidate A had committed various felonies, while candidate B is notable for philanthropic and charitable work, who would you be most likely to vote for?') But there are a lot of ways to guide respondents to the answer you want without them even realizing they have been guided. When a candidate or media outlet releases the horse-race question without releasing the exact number and phrasing of the questions used, be very suspicious.

3) What is the history of the pollster. This is a seeming elementary question that few bother to ever ask. Every pollster has a history - and checking that history would give one a clue how reliable their poll is. Among media polls in Illinois the Chicago Tribune Poll is consistently the worst. It always regurgitates whatever conventional wisdom is and never picks up on a brewing upset. It is so wildly wrong so regularly most professional politicians utterly ignore it as a source of useful information (though we're glad to tout it when conventional wisdom says our candidate is leading). The two most reliable Illinois media polls over the past decade have been the Copley Poll and the Mason-Dixon Poll. Other outlets have their ups and downs.

Among national media polls, Zogby was doing great stuff in the late '90s and at the turn of the millenium. They must have dramatically changed their methodology, though, because for the last four or five years they have been as useless as a Tribune Poll. One outlet I'll be watching closely is Rasmussen. They got all 50 states right in the 2004 presidential election.

4) People don't level with pollsters. In this case, you need to watch for routine behaviors that don't match up with reality. For example, black candidates in non-urban districts almost always poll 3-8 points higher than they actually perform on election day. There is a similar disparity for women candidates. From the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s women candidates actually outperformed men candidates just based on gender on election day. Since then, with the exception of left-leaning districts, women candidates poll better in most districts than they perform. A certain number of people like to be politically correct when talking to pollsters. A candidate needs to correct for that. A good way to check suspect information is to occasionally sit alone in a popular and busy coffee shop at breakfast. Listen to the conversations around you. People level with their friends over coffee. Hear what people say to each other candidly and take it into account.

5) Take care in interpretation. On this one I will give one final example. Every so often we hear charges of racism directed at lending institutions based on turndown rates. Without more information, turndown rates are meaningless in determining whether institutional racism is in play. If you want one meaningful statistic that would answer that question, look at default rates on existing loans. If any group, with a large enough sample size, has a statistically significant higher default rate, it strongly indicates that group is being held to looser standards in the application process. Often, a statistic, even if accurate, does not mean what a candidate or media outlet wants it to mean.

A pollster who tells you what you want to hear can be very tempting, but it is almost always a mistake. For a candidate, it prevents you from doing what you need to do to correct genuine problem areas - because you don't know those problem areas exist. For a media outlet, ultimately you will pay a price in credibility. In a campaign I don't want happy information or unhappy information; I want accurate information so I can act appropriately and develop a strategy that meshes with the facts on the ground rather than some dreamy blue-skies assessment.


If Blago suggests a road trip, hide the car keys

Remember that scene from "Animal House" where Stratton (Tim Matheson) is trying to console Dorfman (Stephen Furst), who foolishly let the gang use his brother's car for a road trip, only to see it damaged?

"Hey, you f***** up! You trusted us!"

That's Gov. Rod Blagojevich's message to anyone stupid enough to believe him:

Facing lawsuits from fired prison officials who say Gov. Rod Blagojevich broke his pledge to keep good employees, lawyers for the state offered a surprising defense: His promises were "classic political puffery."

In a political year, the premise that Blagojevich made promises he didn't intend to keep could be troublesome for the governor to explain. But the puffery defense proved to be a sound legal strategy.

A federal appellate court agreed with the administration's lawyers who argued in court filings that the governor's comments were not binding.

The argument arose in response to lawsuits filed by several ousted former wardens and assistant wardens. They claimed they lost their jobs because of politics in the governor's personnel decisions or because they criticized decisions they said threatened prison safety.

In other words, it's voters' own fault every time the words that come out of his mouth turn out to be complete fabrications. We f***** up. We trusted him.

Maybe Blago can use that line during a debate.

Ummm ... anyone know if Blago was ever a frat member? If so, it explains a lot.

Crossposted at Peoria Pundit.

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Obama is sounding like Kerry

Ok, I've exceeded my post quota for the week and you wouldn't see much of me fora few a days, but I couldn't let this pass.

Obama is sounding like Kerry's I voted for the funds for war and then I voted against them comment now. The problem for Democrats is they can't figure out what they're about and say so!

Please Senator Obama, start making the better case and consider Rove may very will be right when he said Democrats are fine patriots, but just have got it deeply, profoundly and consistently wrong.

Sen. Barack Obama said he would vote Monday to filibuster Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, but he conceded the effort would be futile and criticized Democrats for failing to persuade Americans to take notice of the court's changing ideological face."

The Democrats have to do a much better job in making their case on these issues," Obama (D-Ill.) said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week." "These last-minute efforts--using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway--I think has been the wrong way of going about it."

Despite his criticism, Obama announced his intention to support the maneuver designed to block--or delay--Alito's confirmation this week. The movement, which was launched by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), appeared to lack the 41 senators needed to be successful.
Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Brady's Polls

From a Brady Press Release,

The poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters, conducted Thursday night by veteran pollsters McKeon & Associates of Joliet, showed Brady with 13 percent of the Republican primary vote. Others were Judy Baar Topinka with 29 percent, Jim Oberweis with 17 percent and Ron Gidwitz with 11 percent. Thirty percent were still undecided.
The results of the poll reinforce a Zogby poll earlier this month that showed Brady within 10 points of Rod Blagojevich, 46-36. Topinka trailed the Governor 40- 39, Oberweis 48-37, and Gidwitz 46-34.
I wish they'd give us the margin of error with these polls.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jan Schakowsky, other House Dems, face possible ethics probe

Cross posted on Marathon Pundit.

My representative in the House is Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, IL, pictured above. Earlier today, Jan was probably at the Democratic Party of Evanston's slatemaking session. But rather pondering just who is the most qualified to gain the local party's endorsement for Cook County Water Reclamation District Commissioner, this Robert Novak column in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times probably dominated her thoughts.

From that column:

House Republicans, wounded by lobbyist scandals, have called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate more than 10 Democratic members headed by Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Nydia Velazquez of New York.

Schakowsky's husband, consumer advocate Robert Creamer, has been indicted in a check-kiting scheme. (My note: Last summer Creamer pleaded guilty to related charges and is awaiting sentencing.) The Republicans contend that because she signed tax returns with him, that she should be investigated by the ethics committee. Velazquez is accused of violating House ethics guidelines by using her congressional office to endorse Judge Margarita Lopez Torres as Brooklyn Surrogate Court judge.

Moron Schakowsky here from a Marathon Pundit post from last week, Cong. Jan Schakowsky: Pot, kettle, black.

Backyard Conservative, another Schakowsky constituent, has additional insight on her blog.


Topinka wins straw poll

The Downers Grove Township GOP Annual Fundraiser was held today and Judy Baar Topinka was the clear winner of their straw poll.

The votes are as follows:

Judy Baar Topinka 144

Jim Oberweis 47

Bill Brady 30

Ron Gidwitz 11

Andy Martin 4

Ok, Ron, when you only get 7 more votes than Andy Martin, maybe that should tell you something.

To comment, please visit: Lincoln’s Logs


Stroger Supporters at China Town's New Years Day Parade


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dupage Political Landscape

Oberweis sign along St Charles Road in Lombard. I saw two more for Roskam but there was too much traffic to stop and take pictures.

Numerous Lindsey Scott signs in Glen Ellyn and Wheaton. These were along Geneva Road. I didn't see any signs for Cegelis or Duckworth.
A Zaruba sign along Geneva Road.


Obama, Powers, and the Teheran Bus Drivers Strike

I wish Samantha Powers at Senate Foreign Affairs were telling Senator Obama to join Senator Santorum and express the solidarity of the People of Illinois with their struggle. It's our struggle too,

In a letter dated, January 6, 2006, Santorum requested from the U.S. Secretary of State to intervene on behalf of the arrested Tehran's Bus drivers and the repressed Iranian People.

Slamming the Islamic regime for the persistent human rights abuses and the brutal attack of the strikers, the Pennsylvanian Senator stated in part of his letter: "I ask that you and other senior leaders of the US Government make a concerted effort to reach out to groups of individuals, such as unions and students, to let them know the People of America stand with them in their fight for greater freedoms and liberties".
And here's Hoffa's letter expressing the Teamster's Solidarity,
Dear President Ahmadinejad:

On behalf of the 1.4 million men and women of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, I write to denounce the arrest of fourteen members of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sandikaye Kargarane Sherkate Vahed Autobus Raniehn Tehran Va Hoomeh).

A recent union meeting was disrupted by plainclothes members of the Ansar Hezbollah who badly beat up many union members. Your government took no action against the aggressors.

On December 22, agents from the Office of the Prosecutor arrested and detained at least fourteen members of the union. These arrests clearly violate international labor standards regarding freedom of association and freedom of expression. They also contradict your campaign pledges to encourage justice and assist working people in your country.

We call upon your government to immediately release the union leaders and members and negotiate in good faith with the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, whose members have not had a wage increase in over four years. The Union has a forty year history of supporting its members and efficient urban transport in Tehran; they fully deserve respect from all governmental authorities in Iran.

James P. Hoffa
General President


Illinois: Durbin's Police State

I've never been held at gun point by a geek from the National Security Agency.

I have been held at gun point by police from Chicago, Berwyn, and Oak Park.

That was back before I looked like a geek myself and the standard practice in the near West Burbs and Galewood was to take any male teen on the streets after midnight and stretch us over the hood for a pat-down.

So I worry more about abuse from Local cops then Federal cops. I tell my kid if you get pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel... don't move fast. Cops --with good reason-- can be jumpy and if not well trained might shoot before they think.

And then stories like this in today's Chicago Sun Times just confirm you don't want to be the wrong looking guy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time in Illinois,

Rollins, a former special education student who had no criminal record, was 17 when he was convicted.

He repeatedly told police, "I'm innocent," until they "hit him around a couple times" and he agreed to confess, Fioretti said.

At the press conference, Rollins said police used "scare tactics" and "put their hands on me" and "kept hittin' me" until "finally I asked them what happened. He [a detective] told me everything" to say in a confession, and Rollins signed a document written by an assistant state's attorney, he said.

"I was scared to death," he said. "I didn't want to go through it."
In prison, other inmates identified him as someone who'd raped an elderly woman, which led him to be treated more harshly than others, he said.

He said he'd "try to hold my dignity, my pride" during that time, though he admits to times he'd ask himself, "Did I do this?"
I heard Sen Durbin talk about Gitmo. I'd really like to hear him talk about Illinois.

There's some comfort when you're middle aged geeky looking guy like Durbin and myself. But when you're a young African-American male, you've got enough threats in your life. The Chicago Police Dept shouldn't be another one.

So Sen Durbin, please speak with some passion about real threats from the government to our liberties. We have plenty of examples in Illinois with stories you can put a name too... unlike NSA surveillance where I've yet to see who's been abused.

Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Barack does Moline

Barack Obama at his appearance at 1911 52nd Avenue, Moline today to announce the opening of a field office at that location.

Sen. Mike Jacobs discusses the WIU riverfront campus and Tech Corridor with Jim Bowman, Executive Director of Renew Moline.

Reader submitted photos.
(nice work! Anyone else have pics to share? Send 'em in.)

John Beydler at "The Passing Parade" has a post asking readers who they think would be a good pick to staff Obama's new outpost.

The Dispatch/Argus has an account of Obama's meeting with their editorial board and his views on current issues. (article available to non-subscribers for a "limited time".)
Cross-posted from The Inside Dope


Friday, January 27, 2006

Be nice, until it's time to not be nice

Today, Ron Gidwitz launched the first, of what we can expect to be many, attacks (I hate this word, but what else fits?) on Judy Baar Topinka.

According to Mike Flannery of CBS 2, Gidwitz called Topinka a “hypocrite” and said her relationship with Bill Cillini looked a lot like the “pay to play” way of doing business.

Former governor James Thompson and other top Illinois Republicans have been courting the influence and financial clout of power-broker Bill Cellini.

But Topinka, the only remaining statewide Republican officeholder, has declared that she is different.

"I don't have a relationship with Mr. Cellini and have not had," Topinka said.

But by the time Topinka told us that, she had a tally of $56, 170 of campaign contributions that she'd accepted from the political action committee of a state contractor, Illinois National Bank, which is partly owned by Cellini. Another $56,700 came from officials at the bank, for a total of $112,870.

Gubernatorial candidate Ron Gidwitz said he believed this was a problem.

"The problem is that people don't believe that there's no quid pro quo," Gidwitz said. "We've seen too many stories... talking about 'pay to play,' and that's what this looks like."

Is this enough going to hurt Topinka given her mantra has been Rod’s “pay to play” way of doing business? Or, it this a candidate polling in the single digits trying to get his campaign going?

To comment, please visit: Lincoln’s Logs


Cook County announces first domestic partners of 2006

Since we're talking about the definition of marriage today on Illinois Review, we thought it might be a good time to point out a special emphasis on the Cook County Clerk's Office website -- an announcement you may have missed a few weeks ago: Cook County's first same-sex couple to register their partnership with Cook County in 2006.
Drew McLeod and David DeBoer registered their same-sex domestic partnership on January 5. The two live in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood with their daughter.
And guess what?
To honor the occasion, the two received a night's stay at the Chicago Hilton and Towers, dinner at Caro Mio's and tickets to a Steppenwolf Theatre production.
Drew and David are the 775th same sex couple registered with Cook County since October 2003.
NOTE: The registry is not available to unmarried couples of the opposite sex.
Link: Cook County Clerk's Office News.


More Lipinski Ballot Shenanigans

Freshman Congressman Dan Lipinski got a huge break last Fall. He represents a district stocked with ambitious politicians from effective ward organizations who could have challenged his shaky hold on the Congressional seat he was bequeathed by his father. State Reps Kevin Joyce, Jim Brosnahan, and Dan Burke; Aldermen Tom Murphy and Jim Balcer; and former State Rep Tom Dart, were all eyed as potential challengers -- and each one of them would have been favored against the Lil' Lipper. But for various reasons, (Bill Lipinski calling in favors, a reluctance to commute to D.C., better electoral opportunities, etc.) all of the potential "name" candidates passed on the race. By mid October, it was clear no one of any consequence would take on Lipinski. John Sullivan, a unknown assistant state's attorney with no political organization, was the only candidate circulating petitions.

You'd think Lipinski would just leave well enough alone, campaign hard, beat Sullivan, and claim the legitimacy he was denied (deservedly,) two years ago when he inherited his seat. Instead, his Dad's fading political organization is again engaged in a clumsy effort to pull a fast one on the voters.

Had Lipinski just rolled up his sleeves and actually earned a real victory, he would probably be well on his way to Congressman-for-life status. Instead, two years from now he will again have to face the charge that he has yet to win a legit election.

Bill Lipinski and his operatives might think they're doing Dan a favor by greasing the electoral skids to avoid the inconvenience of an actual campaign, but what they're really doing is telling the political world that they don't think the kid is strong enough to win an election on his own.


Message of the Day - A Missing Stamp


Forty stamps will be issued May 27th touting the "Land of Superlatives." Illinois did not rate one of these "Wonders of America." Natural and man-made wonders are featured...but none in Illinois.

We didn't get the biggest egg or the tallest North American building or even the most corrupt state. The biggest rodent is featured, but it is not a Chicago politician.

For some reason, if I can't get the pane of stamps up on Illinoize, clickhere. Every day there is a "Message of the Day" at McHenry County Blog, be it a quote, a tee shirt, a bumper sticker, etc. Posted by Picasa


In the On Deck Circle

As the prosecution is on the verge of resting their case in chief in the trial of former Governor George Ryan, Eric Zorn gives his prediction that Ryan will not take the stand in his own defense.

The following is from Eric's always interesting blog:

Opinion is split among those seated in the large (put not often crowded) media gallery at the George Ryan trial whether the former governor will testify in his own defense.

The panelists discussing the trial last night on WTTW Ch. 11's "Chicago Tonight" sounded sure, to varying degrees, that Ryan would take the stand as his lawyer, Dan Webb, has all but promised.

But other observers, me included, think Ryan is too touchy to do well on the stand; too blustery, and, like nearly every politician, too unaccustomed to not being in control of the room. He'd do fine under direct examination from his own attorneys, but he'd likely lose his cool under days and days of tough cross examination from the prosecution.

So what do you think? Should Ryan testify? What does the jury think if he doesn't? Try to keep it decent.

To post a comment, visit Dome-icile


Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's My Mind: Chicagoans flock to Wal-Mart jobs

Levois has a great post on the new Wal-Mart store over in Evergreen Park,

It's My Mind: Chicagoans flock to Wal-Mart jobs: "You know back in 2004 there was a debate about letting Wal-Mart open a couple of locations in the city. One was in the Austin neighborhood the other would have been on 83rd Street near Simeon High School. The council rejected the one on 83rd but they gave the go ahead on the location in Austin."
Please go read the rest! He keeps a nice blog.

Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Illinois Veterans Homes

A letter to the Editor found in today's Daily Herald,

Our Illinois veterans homes are in need of health care staff. The state (Gov. Rod Blagojevich) needs to release the funds for staffing the empty beds in all the Illinois facilities. We have close to 500 or more honorably discharged veterans waiting to be admitted. Some veterans are told the wait could be between 8 months to 2 years. This wait is no way to treat our veterans. The state has the funds — it just needs to allocate them differently. I know everyone wants their piece of the pie, but these individuals deserve the whole thing.
Robert Hurst
Sugar Grove
And a little follow up to confirm Mr Hurst's numbers. This from the Chicago Tribune back in July,
Q. I'm a disabled veteran. Are there nursing homes in Illinois for veterans?

A. Illinois has four nursing homes for veterans, located in LaSalle, Manteno, Anna and Quincy. You can apply at each home for a spot. But you should be prepared to wait. For example, 409 people are on the waiting list for a place in the veterans' home in LaSalle. Currently, 147 people are on the waiting list for a spot at the Manteno facility, according to a spokesperson at the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs in Springfield.

Why the long list? Nursing homes for veterans are a good deal. Veterans in Illinois pay $929 a month for care, a fraction of the cost of a private nursing home. Ironically, even though the homes have big waiting lists, they also have vacancies. Funds have not been available to fully staff the buildings, though the Veterans' Affairs Department spokesperson said there are plans this year to add 25 nurses so the vacant beds can be filled.
Anyone know if Gov Blagojevich hired those 25 nurses?

Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


LaHood reluctantly agrees to be a little less corrupt

Originally posted in Peoria Pundit.

Ya gotta love the Journal Star. Really. The newspaper has spent months ignoring how their beloved "Congressman Ray" has been raking in cash from lobbyists and in one case them pay for a trip to France.

I've spent that time begging for someone from the local media to call LaHood on his Nixon-style non-denial denials.

The Journal Star's national political reporter finally got around to addressing the issue:

LaHood said he supports extending a ban on lobbying by former members of Congress and their staffers from one to two years and increasing enforcement of lobbying disclosure rules. While he's taken trips funded by private groups and found them beneficial, LaHood said he would support a ban on such trips if it's included in the House bill. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, supports a ban on privately paid trips.

Exactly what do they mean by "privately funded?" Are the talking about groups like the Aspen Group? LaHood has held up trip funded by these folks as completely ethical and appropriate, not to mention of benefit to his constituents.

Does it include the Nuclear Energy Institute, a group funded by companies like General Electric to promote the nuclear power industry? This group employs it's own lobbyists and hires lobby firms as well to promote its agency. LaHood let these guys pay for a trip to France. As far as I've been able to tell, no mainstream reporter has ever, ever, ever asked him about that trip or even mentioned the NEI in his presence.

Long-time readers know that I and a few other bloggers have been hammering on LaHood for his ties to lobbyists. The mainstream media has pretty much gone along with the LaHood party line.

So when there's finally a lengthy story, it's pretty much about the LaHood reluctantly agreeing to a half-hearted reform -- no more lobbyists directly in charge of fund raisers. But he's still going to take cash from them directly, he says.

The story is also filled with quotes about what a wonderful guy he is and how his lobbyist buddies would do favors for him anyway because they are such old friends and how money would never, ever, ever influence his behavior.

You see this kind of reporting all the time in mediocre newspapers all across the country. They run stories and editorials railing about the culture of corruption in Washington, but the hometown congressman -- whose snout is buried as deeply into the trough as anyone else -- is portrayed as a good guy. And if he brings home the pork, so much the better.

There are hardworking and ethical people who work at the Journal Star, and they are capable to good work.

I'm not seeing that much these days.

All my Ray LaHood posts are here.

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GOP Gubernatorial Race Remains Volatile

Last night's debate did not change my mind about who I will vote for for governor; I would have had to have it made up for that to happen. I have already changed it six or seven times since this whole business began late last winter. Most of my closest friends in politics have done the same. For people who do this stuff full-time that is nearly unheard of - and that's why this is the most volatile race in recent memory. Less than two months away from election nobody is scoring any big points. It's as if we were going into the 12th inning of a 0-0 tie. One big play could win it.

Certainly, each campaign has its own spin on how things are going, some which bear remarkably little relation to reality.

I hear routinely from people near Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka that she is so far ahead of everyone else that the rest of the field is hopelessly tilting at windmills. Some are generously trying to help me keep from making a fool of myself. Ahhh, what's the fun in life if you can't make a fool of yourself on occasion? And besides, I've heard that a hundred times in different campaigns - about half the time I'm right and everyone else is wrong and half the time I'm wrong and everyone else is right. I can live with that. (A commenter recently suggested a drinking game in which players would take a drink every time I said I in a post. Warning: for those who are playing, do not drive past this point).

At last night's debate Topinka boasted the most experience and seemed the least informed. Missing, too, was her usual high-octane enthusiasm. Truth be told, she looked downright grim. It does strike me as strategically sound that Topinka waited until the last minute to get into the race, trying to effectively shorten the cycle and to avoid talking about specific issues. She does not match up well with the primary electorate, a fact that has been partly masked by holding a non-ideological down-ballot office. The longer and more closely she is scrutinized the clearer that becomes, so effectively shortening the season makes sense.

But if one is going to sell the notion that she is head and shoulders above the field, she needs in her rare public forums to sound at least as knowledgable as the people she purports to be head and shoulders above. But she is helped by the fact that Ed Eisendrath's challenge in the Democratic Primary to Gov. Rod Blagojevich is looking more and more like a non-starter. Topinka has always needed Democratic crossovers to ensure victory.

Businessman Jim Oberweis projected confidence and humor. He long ago solidified the support of the hard base. But that base alone only accounts for about 25% of primary voters - and Oberweis had often solidified their support in ways that scared others off his campaign. He went a long way last night to reassuring them he will not be a divisive scold.

Oberweis tries to sell the notion that this is a two-person race between him and Topinka. If he stays disciplined and cheery, that might become true. But past missteps have made people wary of him. A major blunder or a public blowup - or even a true but red-faced, angry tirade could knock him out of the race. He has to campaign as both an authentic reformer and a uniter. Still, though I have written about the 'corruption tax' that Oberweis so frequently spoke about last night, I doubt it is the $1 billion he estimated it to be and I don't think he can pay for everything with it.

People who watched the debate saw what has made State Sen. Bill Brady so tantalizing to so many in the GOP this cycle. More than any other candidate he has a Reaganesque charm and cheery nature. I have described him before as a rookie pitcher with a blazing fastball and a curve that will buckle your knees - but no control. You drool to watch him when he's at his best and hope that he will turn out to be Sandy Koufax rather than Rick Ankiel (if you don't know who Ankiel was, that's the point). But whatever you eventually expect from him, few who have watched him for a year or more think he's ready for the bigs. The reality is his campaign operation is thin, which makes it very difficult to project his cheery message in the field. And for his disciplined sunniness last night, earlier in the day he had launched into Oberweis at the City Club of Chicago with hammer and tong. While some who were there saw some amusement value in seeing Operweis on the receiving, rather than giving, end of an intemperate attack, it is the sort of wildness I'm speaking of.

Businessman Ron Gidwitz undoubtely lost on style points (no bon mots or witty rejoinders) but he knocked it out of the park on substance. Far more than anyone else on stage he had specific, credible plans for the problems he addressed. He spoke more in the language of the boardroom than in ways designed to effectively convey some complex concepts to a general audience, but he struck me as having the best grasp of specifics and how to translate it into effective policy. It struck me that when Topinka said we need a grown-up to be governor, I thought of Gidwitz.

I can think of credible scenarios by which any of these candidates could win the nomination. Topinka certainly has a lead, but it is not nearly as big as she thinks it is. Oberweis is coming on and has the best chance of any of his races to come away with the nomination, but his chances are more precarious than he imagines them to be - and he isn't yet as close as he thinks he is. He needs to run almost mistake-free as the race heats up.

Brady is beginning to make a pretty good case that he is a big part of the future of the GOP, but he needs several big events to break his way in order to be competitive this time.

I'm beginning to think Gidwitz might be the tortoise in this race. Certainly, he doesn't hit any home runs. But he doesn't strike out or hit into double plays either. In a race in which no candidate is running away with things, small ball might be just the thing that wins. The White Sox did it just a few months back.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Brady Must Steer Clear of "Flying Spaghetti Monster"

Unlike Lincoln, I never would have considered Brady to be a dark horse candidate. He alone has the right stuff to go toe-to-toe with the Governor for the whole eight rounds between Primary and General Election Day, and this fight could break out even earlier. He's got t.v. charm, fundraising potential, a lock on downstate, and most importantly: he knows how to stay on message.

The beauty about Topinka and Oberweis is that you don't even have to engage them. The more they talk, the more worried people get about their leadership. Without Democrats propping her up, Topinka couldn't even get elected mayor. And I mean that with a small 'm'.

And Oberweis? You can't help but picturing him wanting to round up all of the immigrants in a football stadium and take them out. Which nickname do you like better: "Abominable Milkman" or "Pinochet"?

The danger for Brady is he might run right into the arms of the wingnuts, or as I like to say, "the tentacly embrace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." After all, the powerbrokers know that if they want to have a functional modern economy (so they can get richer), people are just going to have to accept some planetary truths: the earth isn't flat, it rotates around the sun (and not the other year around), and our planet isn't celebrating the 5,970th anniversary of its 30th Birthday. Oh yeah: it won't last forever even if we do take care of it, but it will last longer.

When uncertain, it is the natural instinct of the Republican to veer right, just as it is the Democrat's to veer left. But as Sweetness himself always proved, it takes courage to run it up the Middle. We'll soon find out what Brady's made of.

P.S. Before people bet bent out of shape over the wingnuts comment, I just learn there's such a thing as a Moonbat. So, lighten up.


So, who won?

Well, the first GOP gubernatorial debate is over and now it's our turn to debate who won.

While each candidate did a good job keeping their focus on Gov. Blagojevich and not tearing down each other, I do think one candidate came away the clear winner, but more on that later.

CBS 2 hosted the debate and has the post-game wrap up.

Candidates addressed a myriad of issues, including tax increases, education funding, immigration, job creation and pensions. The underlying solution, candidates indicated, would be a stronger state economy.

…they consistently shied away from tax increases to increase funding and looked to redistributing current funds, creating new jobs or providing incentives for businesses to help with issues such as health care.

When asked about reducing property taxes and increasing state income taxes to help fund education early in the event, candidates set a tone for the rest of the debate by stressing the need to stop wasteful spending.

Going into tonight, the consensus was that this race was between Judy Baar Topinka and Jim Oberweis. That still may be the case, but a candidate emerged tonight that should give both camps pause. State Sen. Bill Brady was prepared, confident and appealing. If Topinka should stumble (do we know yet what she’d do as governor?), and if Oberweis continues to put off voters (people just don’t warm up to him), then Brady could be the candidate people support on March 21.

To comment, please visit: Lincoln’s Logs


There they go again: DePaul U clamps down on conservative free speech rights

Crossposted on Marathon Pundit and Pajamas Media.

Earlier this month, Chicago's DePaul University, pressured by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), agreed to drop its bizarre "propaganda ban" that the administration used as an attempt to silence DePaul College Republicans last fall. Controversial University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill, in a paid appearance, spoke at DePaul, and the College Republicans faced several school administration roadblocks as they tried to protest that event.

FIRE's interim president, Greg Lukianoff, stated earlier this month on the Hannity & Colmes show that in terms of free speech issues, DePaul was "a basketcase."

Still, with its dropping of the "propaganda ban," it looked like DePaul might finally be turning a new leaf.

Not so.

The latest edition of the DePaul campus newspaper, The DePaulia, just came online. It reports on the "affirmative action bake sale" organized by the DePaul Conservative Alliance.

A few other campus conservative groups have had similar "sales," organized as a humorous protest to college affirmative action policies. The DePaul sale listed prices for brownies and cookies, with white males paying the most for each treat, minorities paying less.

The DePaul Conservative Alliance bake sale lasted about 45 minutes. According to the DePaulia article, students in support of affirmative action started yelling at the DCA members and in the words of Michael O'Shea, a member of the conservative group, "It got a little more out of hand than I would have liked." Tempers were raised, words were exchanged, but that was about it. Greg MacVarish, Dean of Students for DePaul's Division of Student of Affairs, closed shop on the DCA bake sale once the argument broke out.

But that wasn't enough for DePaul. Denise Mattson of the DePaul public affairs department, had this to say:

DePaul permits student organizations to share political views. The expression of those views must take place in a civil, tolerant and respectful manner. Mattson added that although DePaul accepts the opinions and views of all its students, the area DCA chose to conduct its rally was inappropriate. The main hallway in the Student Center is not the proper area for the debate. We need to make sure that there is an environment for that speech that is safe for everyone.

According to the DePaulia, the conservatives were the civil ones, the pro-affirmative action students started the argument. As far where the bake sale took place, unless the DCA was blocking a fire exit, the location of the DePaul Conservative Alliance exercising their free speech rights doesn't really matter in the context of free speech. I would guess the DCA needed a permit for the sale; since their lack of a permit wasn't brought up by the DePaulia, they must have had one.

In addition to his "basketcase" comment about DePaul, during his Hannity & Colmes appearance, Luckianoff of FIRE said in regards to free speech concerns, DePaul "has a nasty history" in that area.

Luckianoff can only have been talking about the Thomas Klocek case. The pro-Israel professor was fired by DePaul University after defending the Jewish state in front of some Muslim students there.

Here's what Klocek view of that incident:

This had nothing to do with religion. It had nothing to do with ethnicity. My side is that it has everything to do with free speech.

This is what DePaul's Mattson had to say about the Klocek affair:

We emphatically reject that this is at all a matter of academic freedom. For DePaul, it was about his conduct, not his content.

There is a disturbing pattern of misbehavior by DePaul in regards to free speech.

Oh, my parting shot will be fired at The DePaulia. Here is the sub-headline of its article about the bake sale:

DePaul Conservative Alliance stirs up the student body with a questionable approach on affirmative action

Headlines, or sub-heads like that belong in the op-ed section of the DePaulia.


The Debates

I live blogged it over at my site.

Brady takes it in my opinion. He looked good, sounded good, made the most sense, had specifics on Illinois's Medicaid program; and I liked his closing on being the best candidate to defeat Blagojevich.

JBT tried but she didn't have the kind of confidence and command of some facts like Brady.

So, tell me where I get it wrong.


Cong. Jan Schakowsky: Pot, kettle, black

Crossposted at Marathon Pundit.

This Hill cartoon is on Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's campaign web site--right on top as I write this post. The Illinois Democrat, my representative in Congress, joins other liberals criticizing those corrupt Republicans.

Meanwhile in Evanston, her husband, Democratic activist Robert Creamer(not the baseball author) awaits sentencing for bank fraud and tax violations. Creamer drew the attention of federal authorities after a tax kiting scheme was discovered while Creamer was running the Illinois Public Action Council, a consumer advocacy group. While those airborne checks were being circulated, Schakowsky was serving on the board of directors of IPAC.

Jan Schakowsky has not been implicated in any wrongdoing in regards to her husband's financial misdeeds.

Creamer was politically active in his own right, serving as a high-paid campaign consultant for Democrats Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and Rock Island Congressman Lane Evans, among others.

Since the mainstream media hasn't jumped on Jan's hypocrisy, it's up to this citizen-journalist to flash the yellow card here.


The upside of female feticide


It would seem to be the greatest irony of abortion, that the foremost tool feminists say will facilitate women's equality with men is actually the foremost weapon used to kill them.

The crisis of female feticide is growing to such an extent in Third World countries that by 2020 there will be more unmarried Chinese men than the total population of females in Taiwan and South Korea combined.

Yet the National Organzation for Women and Planned Parenthood are silent.

That's because there's money to be made by harvesting eggs from aborted girls.

That's the upside.

Researchers note that one way the Chinese government has dealt with male-female disparities in the past was to send the testosterone-laden, aggressive, single men off to foreign wars that the government created to give them something to do.

That's the downside.

Read my column today, "The upside of female feticide," on WorldNetDaily.com.


Playing the Percentages

This morning, Rich Miller (with a hat-tip to Archpundit) posted some more numbers from the St. Louis Dispatch/KMOV-TV poll pitting Governor Blagojevich against prospective GOP nominees Judy Baar Topinka, Jim Oberweis, and Ron Gidwtiz. This poll reveals some important facts (I hesitate to use “poll” and “facts” anywhere near each other, but for lack of a better word…..) about the “electability gap” between Ms. Topinka and her next closest rival, Mr. Oberweis (Incidentally, my spell check wanted to make this into a “delectability gap,” which might be a whole different contest altogether). Specifically, the two things that jump out at me are the gap between “independent” support of Topinka and Oberweis, and the difference in Dem support of Blagojevich depending on who his GOP opponent is.

Both Topkina and Oberweis receive support from only 5% of Dems, so crossovers may not be the strength her supporters claim it may be. However, they both receive almost the same percentage of support from Republican voters. So all the talk of the "base" (whatever that means in Illinois) staying home in November depending on what happens in March may be a little overstated. The real difference between Oberweis and Topinka seems to be their support among independents. The Governor only enjoys a 5% (45-40) lead over Topinka in this category, but his lead increases to 33% when Oberweis is the hypothetical GOP nominee (the gap between Blagojevich and Gidwitz among independents is even greater, but perhaps less relevant as his profile is still largely unknown or ignored by most voters, despite all his advertising efforts to date). Illinois is undeniably a state where Democrats enjoy a solid numerical majority over Republicans, so if the GOP nominee cannot be competitive among independents and convince a large enough portion of Dem voters that (for whatever reason) it isn't worth either voting for the Dem nominee or against the GOP nominee, then the race is really over before it begins and all the talk of crossovers or “base” mobilization become akin to debating the arrangement of the Titanic’s deck chairs.

As noted above, crossovers will probably not be a significant factor according to the poll. However, there is a 7-10% difference in Dem support for the Governor depending on who his opponent is. The lack of any other high profile/competitive race on the ticket may mean that some Democrats may stay home on Election Day if they aren't particularly wild about Blagojevich or don't find the GOP nominee too objectionable. This poll shows that a significant portion of those potentially apathetic Dem voters are more enthusiastic about (and perhaps more likely to come our and vote for) the Governor if the nominee is Oberweis or Gidwitz rather than Topinka.

Some of the more vocal Republican pundits are certainly exaggerating when they say there is no significant or salient difference between Blagojevich and Topinka – and Republican voters clearly see that. But Democrat and independent voters clearly see a difference between Topinka and Oberweis (and Gidwitz) – a difference that could give us four more years of “no more business as usual.”

Update – Of course, this poll analysis does not consider Brady, because the poll unfortunately did not. Brady has undoubtedly gotten at least a little boost from his performance at the Chamber debate two weeks ago (unless the blogosphere really is nothing more than an echo-chamber of insider buzz that doesn’t reflect the political realities in the field, that is). It is difficult to figure out how much of the apparent independent & Dem dislike for Oberweis is based on his personality and how much is based on his ideology. Brady is an unabashed conservative, and I love him for that. But will a majority of voters in this decidedly blue state feel the same way? It’s a tough call. And one that I think depends on who he can emulate better: Romney or Reagan. If he can establish himself as more than another blow-dryed lightweight like our current Governor, and a conservative who doesn’t scare the be-Jesus (so to speak) out of liberals and moderates, then he has a chance. But he’ll need to define himself thusly very soon, or I’d be inclined to stick with the conclusions listed above.

Also posted at the Grand Old Partisanship Blog


Ken Arnold on Space, Causeway, Rt. 53, High Speed Rail & Road Building Waste

Sometimes candidates come up with ideas that you've never heard of. Take a look at these ideas 8th congressional district Republican Ken Arnold has proposed (found under "Creative Solutions"):

1- Exploration of Space
, suggesting following example of Massachusettes Bay Company of 1629 and Homestead Act of 1862. Finance space exploration privately. Form a multi-national firm that would become completely private in 75 years with some shares allocated to 3rd World Countries.
2- A causeway across Lake Michigan, e.g., 48 miles from Evanston to Michigan City. Inspired by the causeway across the Chesapeake Bay from Virginia to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Rt. 1 to Key West. It would have “several man made islands, tunnels, and overhead bridges” and be designed to transport vehicular and rail traffic, natural gas and electricity. Arnold argues that the area south of Lake Michigan is highly vulnerable to terrorist sabotage.
3- Extension of Route 53 using a privately operated tollway with bonds guaranteed by the Feds. After a 30-year payback, it would become a freeway.
4- High-Speed Rail Linking Five Airports--Milwaukee, O'Hare, Midway, Gary and South Bend. Most right-of-way is alreay in the public domain. Public construction, but private operation. May be no need for Peotone.
5- Attacking Highway Construction Waste Using the construction, re-construction and still needed widening of Rt. 22 as an example of wasted money and drivers’ time, he proposes that Federal aid not be allowed more than once every 10 years on a given road. Arnold argues this would force state and local governments to plan ahead of, rather than behind, traffic needs. Under such a requirement, Rt. 22 would now be 4-lanes, as I think it should be, rather than narrowing to 2-lanes through Lincolnshire. Would provide “spine transplants” to local officials fearing NIMBY’s, Arnold says.

Other 8th congressional district stuff (including mailings) at McHenry County Blog, as well as questionnaires from special interest groups and newspapers.


Google's Muzzle

While I thumped my chest about the great Google, they stabbed me in the back.

Google is right to fight the Justice Department to defend our Bill of Rights.

But to gain more customers, Google cut a deal with the Chinese communists and agreed to censor its search results in the land of the Giant Panda.

Google’s new motto: Do no evil, except if we can gain access to 1.3 billion customers. Unless Google reverses its course, I will never use Google again. And for now, I'll search with my mamma.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Roskam's Million Dollar "Grassroots" Campaign

Peter Roskam's website says that the D.C. Republican fundraising syndicate's crown prince has raised more than a million dollars for the 6th District campaign.

Roskam FEC Report Highlights

· Total Individual Donors - 2,402
· Individual Donors who contributed less than $200 – 1,493
· Online Contributions - $130,000
· No personal loans/contributions from the candidate

"These fundraising numbers reflect the strong grassroots support that Peter Roskam has generated in his campaign for Congress. Republicans are united and energized behind this campaign and our fundraising reinforces our momentum," said Ryan McLaughlin, Roskam's campaign manager.
Really? Strong grassroots support?

We'd need to have different numbers to fully evaluate that claim -- contributions by zipcode or area code maybe -- but to me a "grassroots campaign" is one that's funded by ordinary citizens. Ordinary citizens who make small donations. Is that really how Prince Pete's campaign is funded? Lets take a look.

While I know plenty of folks -- my wife among them -- who would argue that $200 is no small campaign contribution, that is the number that the Roskam folks have provided us with so we'll use that generous amount to define "small donor." And Roskam's campaign boasts 1,493 donors who contributed less than $200. So what percentage of Roskam's campaign booty comes from these "small donors"?

Well, to give the Prince the benefit of the doubt, i.e. to maximize the contribution of those "small donors" to his campaign, lets say that each and every one of the under $200 donors gave $199 to the campaign. So we take the number of "small donors" (1,493) and multiply it by the generous contribution amount ($199) to come up with the maximum possible amount of money donated to the Roskam campaign by "small donors". That number is $297,107.

And that's no small sum.

But what percentage of the Roskam campaign's cool million does that best-case-senario small donor sum represent? The kids who did well in math class have already shifted the decimal point and arrived at our answer -- $297,107 /$1,000,000 -- twenty nine point seven percent.

29.7% of Roskam's plunder is from "small donors". And that's only if we define "small donor" as someone who gave less than $200 and we assume that those small donors gave $199 each.

So, at most, only 30% of Peter Roskam's campaign money has come from "small donors".

That is pretty consistent with the numbers from Roskam's previous FEC reports. You remember them -- the reports that Hiram Wurf analyzed, revealing that "almost half (49%) of Peter Roskam's itemized donations are $1,000 or above."

And that's a funny definition of "grassroots support."

And I couldn't let this post go by without reminding you that the 6th District's real grassroots campaign is here.

Cross-posted at the So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog


Smith leaving Lincoln Library

Pete Sherman of the State Journal Register has the story:

Richard Norton Smith is leaving his job running the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the private foundation that supports the two institutions.

Smith told board members of the foundation Tuesday afternoon in Chicago that he will become a scholar in residence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., about a 40-minute subway ride from Washington, D.C.

Smith apparently also submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The story goes on to say that a national search will take place for a new director.

The foundation has asked Smith to remain a consultant and resource as it plans events for the library and museum's Lincoln Bicentenary celebration in 2009.

Illinois state historian Thomas Schwartz is expected to oversee library, museum and foundation operations during a national search for Smith's replacement.

To comment, please visit Lincoln's Logs


Shovel Attack Criminal Reforms - Parts 4-7

I'm tired of dragging this out with one idea a day so here are the last four suggestions to plugging the loop-holes in the state's criminal justice system when dealing with DUI offenders and victims.

  • Double Compensation under Crime Victims Assistance Act — $27,000 or $28,000 doesn’t cover much in the way of medical expenses when surgeries are performed. While the legislature has increased the amount covered over the years it has only kept up with general inflation, not medical costs which have increased much faster. Make it retroactive also to any victims of a crime committed in FY2006.

  • Demand Crime Scene Blood Alcohol Testing — BAC testing today is mostly voluntary with incentives offered to drunks for taking the test. If they take the test they don’t automatically get their license suspended. However what’s the incentive for persons with licenses already suspended? At the very least this loophole should be changed so that it is mandatory when the suspect does not possess a valid driver’s license for any reason. Frankly though the state’s implied consent rules should be expanded to include anyone operating a vehicle on a public roadway and all DUI suspects should be tested. Police should have the right to gather evidence at the scene where reasonable evidence suggests an impaired driver.

  • Target the Source — Require law enforcement officers to inquire of DUI suspects where they obtained their alcohol or drugs. Currently this is not on the Illinois State Police forms used by local police departments. While suspects may refuse to answer – this is their right, those that do would be providing authorities with information for future investigations if the same establishments appeared over and over. It would also highlight targets for victims looking for compensation. In my case this wasn’t asked.

  • Develop Suspended Driver Hot Sheets for Local Police — Require the Illinois State Police or the Secretary of State’s Office to compile a list of local drivers with suspended licenses cross-checked against vehicle registrations and license plates. This type of data could help aggressive police agencies to target suspended drivers who keep driving, a segment of the population which according to police are among the most likely to be involved in other criminal matters.

    So what do you think? Tips, comments, constructive criticisms and suggestions wanted.

    Cross posted at IllinoisHistory.com.

  • Keno scrapped

    Greg Hinz writes in Crain's Chicago Business today about the Governor's plan to take Keno gambling off the table in order to move his capital spending plan through the legislature.

    In a bit of political gamesmanship, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is offering to compromise on his proposed $3.1 billion capital spending program by dropping plans to legalize Keno games in restaurants and bars around the state.

    The offer comes in a letter being sent to Illinois House GOP Leader Tom Cross. In the one-page letter, Mr. Blagojevich writes that since Keno apparently is a problem for Republicans, he is willing to drop Keno and proceed with a smaller capital program while all sides look for a replacement revenue source.

    Hinz goes on to say that:

    The letter from Mr. Blagojevich notes that under his original proposal Keno would have fund only about $500 million in school construction. The remaining $2.5-billion would go toward roads and mass transit, and be funded with income from gasoline and vehicle taxes.

    “Keno has become an excuse to oppose this critical jobs creation bill,” writes Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat. “I am more than willing to forgo Keno so that we can immediately proceed with the bulk of the bill.”

    While the session is scheduled to be short, I sense tempers may be even shorter under the Capitol dome this spring.

    To comment, please visit: Lincoln's Logs


    Studs Lonigan

    David Bernstein reviewed Martin Redish's book, The Logic of Persecution, for the Northwestern Law Review over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

    Bernstein lists a few things he never knew about Amercian Communism including this below about Hollywood --although it was well known to everyone else in the anti-Stalinist left.

    During the "Red Decade" of the 1930s, Hollywood Communists ran their own blacklist againist their political enemies. Because the studio bosses didn't support this blacklist, it wasn't as effective as the 1950s blacklist of Communists, but it seriously harmed careers nevertheless.
    I think that's the major reason why Chicago's James T. Farrell had to wait until 1960 to see Studs Lonigan made into a film.


    Metra's West Line to Elburn

    Mayor Willey's Elburn Web Log has some posts with plenty of pictures of Metra's opening of the new extension to Elburn.

    From the looks of it the Station hasn't been built yet, but Mayor Willey had drawings of it earlier. It remined me of the old Chicago Aurora & Elgin station over at Ardmore in Villa Park.

    Speaker Hastert and State Senator Lauzen both attended yesterday's opening. Now please figure out how to open the line all the way to Dekalb and restore the fine Depot there so my kids don't have to hop a bus to get to the train for the loop.
    Speaker Hastert
    Illinois Senator Chris Lauzen and Mayor Willey.


    The Little Engine that Couldn't

    In today's Dispatch/Argus:

    Gov. Rod Blagojevich has released his proposed construction budget and there is no funding included for a high-speed rail project in the Quad-Cities.

    Last Wednesday, Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said he expected the construction budget to include $20 million for the creation of a passenger rail line between Rock Island and Geneseo, with the goal of someday connecting to Chicago.

    But when the governor released his proposed budget late last week, it made no mention of the project.

    Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said Monday that's because, "there's nothing in the budget for high-speed rail in the Quad-Cities."

    The project isn't IDOT's top high-speed rail priority and Mr. Vanover said the department was not aware that a formal request has yet been made at the federal level, a step that would have to come first before the state could follow through with matching funds.

    It may not be on high on IDOT's radar, but it is on the priority list for the Senate Democratic Caucus, and Sen. Jacobs says he's still confident it will make the cut.

    He said he will fight during negotiations this spring to see that the money for high-speed rail makes it into the final capital budget approved by lawmakers.

    In fact, if the final capital budget doesn't include money for the high-speed rail project or money for the Western Illinois University Quad-Cities campus, Sen. Jacobs said he will not vote for it.

    "If the governor's interested in my vote, he's going to work with me," he said.

    The governor's plan does include $29 million for an expansion of John Deere Road and $12 million for a school in Silvis.
    Hard to imagine Sen. Jacobs prematurely jumping in to try to take credit for anything and everything, eh? But it seems that perhaps this news lets a little hot air out of his balloon.

    I keep thinking of the Springfield Monorail on the Simpsons.

    Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there's nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    What'd I say?

    Ned Flanders: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

    Patty+Selma: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: That's right! Monorail!

    [crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]

    Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud...

    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.

    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?

    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.

    Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?

    Lyle Lanley: You'll be given cushy jobs.

    Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?

    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I'm on the level.

    Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.

    Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.

    I swear it's Springfield's only choice...
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: What's it called?

    All: Monorail!

    Lyle Lanley: Once again...

    All: Monorail!

    Marge: But Main Street's still all cracked and broken...

    Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!

    All: Monorail!

    [big finish]


    Homer: Mono... D'oh!


    He's giving them Fitz

    David Margolick writes in the current issue of Vanity Fair about the prosecutor everyone in Illinois and Washington DC hopes doesn't knock on their door.

    In his article titled "Mr. Fitz Goes to Washington Margolick notes that:

    U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is a crime-busting phenomenon, the scourge of al-Qaeda terrorists, corrupt Chicago political machines, former media tycoon Conrad Black, and—as special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame investigation—the West Wing.

    Who do you think is the next high profile official, in Illinois or DC, that finds themselves on Fitzgerald's radar?

    To comment on this post, visit: Lincoln's Logs


    SEIU Stays Out Of Democratic Primary For Illinois Treasurer

    [Cross-posted at WurfWhile.com.]

    Rich Miller reports that SEIU has decided not to endorse in the Democratic Primary for Illinois State Treasurer. While I don't know a ton about the race - I'm guessing this isn't good news for the slated Democrat, downstate candidate Paul Mangieri - and it's at least mildly positive news for his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. Giannoulias has a lot of crucial Chicago backing that unions would help Mangieri get. Commenter ndpotus at Capitol Fax points out Barack Obama got the SEIU endorsement in the U.S. Senate Primary (he also got AFSCME and IFT), when most unions endorsed Dan Hynes. It may be SEIU stayed out of the treasurer's primary because Barack Obama, along with a number of Chicago area politicians, have endorsed Alexi. Obama has acknowledged his gratitude towards Alexi Giannoulias, who was an early Democratic Primary supporter of Barack's U.S. Senate campaign.

    Alexi was at the Kos Naperville Democrats fundraiser yesterday, circulating well through the crowd and came across quite personable. While I don't know Paul at all - I can say Mangieri's definitely losing the website battle with his retro, single page website. Alexi has a respectable web presence - and a better website name. [Update - I can't get to Mangieri's website tonight - maybe they're putting something real up.]

    If enough unions don't back Paul, and enough Chicago Democratic officials back Alexi, it's going to be tough for Paul to win, slate or no slate.


    Politics, Football and Poker

    Once again, I've been remiss in meeting my blogging goals. I have just been really busy trying to get a variety of things done, but I think I'm almost there. The worst part is that there's been tons of stuff worth commenting on:

    Rick Pearson's Sunday Trib article about the Governor's tactic of demonizing D.C. in his State of the State speech; the Trib Editorial about corruption everywhere you look; and Carol Marin's article about whether Chicago is ready for reform, just to name a few.

    The common theme in those articles is one that I've discussed before. Will stories of scandal and corruption trump items like education and healthcare when voters head to the polls in March and November? And what does it portend for the future if they don't? Only time will tell.

    I'm pretty tired and have to get on the road early tomorrow to get downstate, but I'll cover this issue in more detail sooner rather than later and discuss the specific impact that it could have on races on both sides of the aisle, and up and down the ticket.

    Believe it or not, I actually have some other good topics which I will really try to find the time to get to them soon.

    On a closing note, (and remember, this is coming from the guy who predicted Texas over USC by 4), take the Seahawks and the points. I don't really like the Seahawks, and the Steelers are peaking at the right time, but I'm surprised that they are favored, let alone by 3 1/2 to 4.

    Lastly, anybody interested in a friendly game of Texas hold 'em downstate in the next couple of weeks, let me know. The first five people who I could see spending a few hours with, (and more importantly, that I think I could take), are in. E-mail me directly if you're interested.

    I'm thinking about putting together a larger charity poker event in Springfield in March, but have to see how onerous the regulations are on doing something like that, or if it's even permissible. I'll keep you posted.

    To post a comment, visit Dome-icile


    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Michael Reagan to visit dad's alma mater, Eureka College

    Crossposted on Marathon Pundit.
    Ronald Reagan's son Michael is coming to northern Illinois to visit Eureka College,
    the alma mater of the late president, the AP reports tonight.

    While in Illinois, Michael, a conservative talk radio host, hopes to visit his father's birthplace in tiny Tampico, as well as the Gipper's boyhood home in Dixon.

    Dixon is just north of Interstate 88, the recently renamed Ronald Reagan Tollway. Yes, it would be better if it wasn't a toll road. Still, if you're driving on that interstate, visit Dixon. Tampico is not too far away either, it's about 15 miles south of I-88.

    That's me in the photo in front of the Reagan Boyhood Home on Hennepin Street in Dixon.

    Ronald Reagan was the only president born in Illinois.


    Sen Obama and Smantha Powers

    I called Senator Obama's Office today to see if Samantha Powers still worked for him.

    They said yes.

    Senator Obama's hiring of Powers was pretty noteworthy and I'm not sure what she's really produced for him.

    The Chicago Defender wrote back in July 2005 after an interview with the Senator Obama,

    Obama said he is troubled that the situation in the Sudan has been moved “off the radar screen” by other stories such as the bombings in London the last two weeks.

    "The fact of the matter is we still have a major humanitarian crisis there, though the wholesale slaughter that had been taking place has diminished," he said.

    Obama said he met with Anne Patterson, acting U.S. representative to the United Nations, as well as the ambassadors to Sudan and China. "I told them the killing, which started in 2003, has to stop," he said.

    Obama is a co-sponsor of a Senate bill to make sure the United States allocates "the millions of dollars needed to help these African union countries, like Rwanda and South Africa, airlift and supply the troops they've sent in to provide help to assistance to the people in Darfur camps.”

    This week, he has also hired Samantha Power to advise him on foreign policy, especially as it pertains to genocide. In 2003, she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for the book, “A Problem from Hell: American in the Age of Genocide.”
    Anyone know what she's up too, please comment.

    Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


    It's My Mind: Advocate slashing services at West Side hospital

    Levois over at It's My Mind blogged on Advocate Health Care slashing services at West Side's Bethany hospital. Citing a Crain's Chicago Business article he noted,

    Bethany would close its emergency room next month and phase out other services over the next few months under a plan that needs to be approved by state officials, said Tony Mitchell, Advocate’s vice-president of communications and government relations.

    By March, the 125-bed hospital would become a long-term specialty facility serving patients recuperating for an average of 25 days. The hospital would also shut its detox, intensive care and psychiatry programs, reducing total number of beds to 85.
    I saw Forest Claypool on TV a few days ago fighting Advocate's plan because of the pressure it will put on Cook County Hospital; which, as Claypool notes ,is run none too well itself with some Duff family style sham minority-women owned front companies,
    Claypool said there is much to debate regarding the success of Stroger Hospital. He pointed out the hospital is plagued with days-long waits for simple services such as dispensing of medicines, and months-long waits for specialists. The hospital is managed by a top-heavy bureaucracy that is removed by several layers from the critical service of administering front-line patient care. And only two days ago, the United States District Attorney indicted the Siemens company and several individuals for a fraud scheme that cheated the taxpayers and, perhaps more importantly, thwarted the process of allowing qualified minority and woman-owned vendors an equal chance at county business.
    Maybe the solution to Cook County's Health Care system is an All Kids style program with bad out-reach and hope to save money because the beneficaries won't understand they can use it.


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