Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ComEd-Exelon: From Bad to Worse

You could smell blood in the water.

ComEd had taken out a political contract on former CUB Director Marty Cohen, casting the Senate Democrats as their anti-consumer allies. Not a good position to be in for a Democrat, especially with a major rate hike looming.

And it's only been two years since ComEd tried to pull a fast one on House Speaker Michael Madigan. Show of hands from everybody who thinks the Speaker has forgotten what they tried to pull? Nobody?!?

Things seemed bad enough for ComEd-Exelon, then things got much worse.

The AP reports today on the ongoing saga in Will and Grundy counties, where Exelon's nuclear power plants leaked radioactive waste. Today, Exelon offered to pick up the tab for new drinking wells - after federal, state and local tax resources are expended.

"We're doing this to demonstrate goodwill," he [Thomas O'Neill, Exelon vice president of regulatory and legal affairs] said.

The Will County state's attorney's office has said it began investigating why Exelon did not disclose until recently a series of tritium-containing wastewater leaks between 1996 and 2003 at its Braidwood Generating Station, located about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.

The company has said it also found elevated levels of radioactive tritium in water that leaked from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station and the Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County. Exelon has said the leaks were not a health or safety threat.

Tritium is a radioactive substance commonly found in small concentrations in most surface water, but is more concentrated in water used in nuclear reactors. Studies have shown long-term exposure-- through drinking or bathing-- can lead to cancer and birth defects.

Here's a tip for Exelon's Goodwill Generation Department: Stop misleading lawmakers, concealing potential health hazards from the public, and leaking potential carcinogens into the drinking water.

Did I forget anything?


Fire Away

SouthernIllinoisRepublican has been extremely patient in waiting for me to do a thread about gun issues. Well SIR, here it is. Let me start in broader concepts. A lot of this issue has to do with how it is framed. If I go downstate and talk about 'gun control', the conversation is going to go nowhere. But if I talk about 'gun safety', it sets a different tone, and rightly so.

With very limited (Chicago, etc.) exceptions, we have a right to gun ownership in this state. But with rights come responsibilities. When I talk with gun owners about the responsibilities that come with the rights of gun ownership, they nod approvingly. I've talked with hunters and asked them if they need armor piercing bullets-they say no. I ask them if they need to buy 5-10 guns a month-they say no. I ask them if it is important to keep guns away from criminals, they obviously nod accordingly.

So where's the issue?

The issue results from the collision that occurs when an irrational fear of the slippery slope crosses paths with an anti-gun lobby that at times may try to overreach. Like most contentious issues, there is often a lot of common-sense room in the middle. But zealots on both sides tend to demonize those that try to find refuge in this zone.

The overwhelming number of gun owners nationally are not members of the NRA. They like to hunt, might want a gun for protection, but are just fine with other restrictions that don't impact these fundamental wants.

And most people that are sick and tired of urban gun violence are fine with hunters being able to do their thing.

But bills repeatedly get filed, by proponents on both sides of the debate that are intended more for political posturing or leveraging than they are for making any meaningful alteration to the landscape of gun legislation in our state.

So there you have my very amorphous thoughts on this very contentious issue. I'll try to jump into the debate when I can, but things are kind of hectic, even as I type this from the House floor. More importantly, I committed to setting up a thread on this issue and here it is.

To post, or read, comments, visit Dome-icile


3, 97 and Other Primary Numbers

Yesterday, a critic accused me of doing a "hatchet job" -- so I will try to hide behind the hard numbers today and go straight to your Chicago Sun-Times:

Just 3 percent of the campaign contributions that Democrat Tammy Duckworth raised last year came from the west suburban congressional district that the wounded Iraq war veteran hopes to represent. ***

Most of the cash all four Democratic and Republican candidates raised came from somewhere other than the 6th Congressional District.

But Duckworth's numbers were the most lopsided, with 97 percent of the $115,973 in itemized contributions she had in her fund Dec. 31 coming from outside the district's borders.
Jeepers, that sure doesn't look good. I guess the D.C. Dems better just keep their heads down and hope no one notices.
"It obviously shows that she's a candidate that is being fielded from outside the district," Democratic rival Christine Cegelis said. "She lives outside the district. And her support is from outside the district."
Darn that Cegelis... She and her supporters are always thinking a Congressional Representative should actually be from the district.
"Three percent is minuscule," said Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee. "She is raising money from Chicago Democrats and the Democratic Machine."

The Republicans noticed that the Emanuel candidate has shallow roots in the District. And Mr. Collegio was kind enough to give us a one sentence glimpse of Roskam's negative campaign theme should the out-of-district candidate represent the Democrats in November.

So 6th District Democratic primary voters now have something else to ask themselves before going to the polls: In November, will Dems be able to convince the ticket-spliting, independent swing voters of the 6th District that the out-of-district candidate with the out-of-district funding would be the district's best representative?

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


Does this help or hurt?

The Chicago Tribune reports today that Vice President Dick Cheney will be the guest of honor at a fundraiser for Peter Roskamnext month.

Vice President Dick Cheney will headline a fundraiser next month for state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) in his campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) in the west suburban 6th District.

According to invitations sent to Republican boosters last week, the event will be held March 13 at Medinah Banquets in Addison, with tickets going for $250--$2,100 for a photo and private reception with the vice president.

Meanwhile, according to a new CBS News poll:

Just 18 percent said they had a favorable view of the vice president, down from 23 percent in January.

Does having Cheney at this event help or hurt Roskam?


Monday, February 27, 2006

Pro-life inconsistency?

An Illinois pro-life organization has rated candidates beginning like this:

1 = Fully pro-life
1# = Rape and incest exception
2 = Not in full support of all pro-life issues

If 1 + # = 1 and not 2, this group is saying someone can hold rape and incest exceptions and be "fully pro-life."

Do you think a pro-life organization can hold this position?

Or do you think it is inconsistent for a pro-life organization to condone the concept that how one is conceived determines one's worth?


Disclosure Updates

Cross-posted from ICPR's blog, The Race is On:

ICPR and the Sunshine Project have finished analyzing reports for all statewide and legislative candidates and have posted that data to the Sunshine Database on ICPR's website. For information on top donors for all those candidates through Calendar Year 2005, visit the site. We hope to get that posted for the 175 or so judicial candidates soon; in the meantime, learn more about judicial candidates at our other website, illinoisvotersguide.org

We're also in the A1 period for the March primary; digging through the reports we found these bits:

Giannoulias News: The candidate for the Dem nomination reported getting $100K from an "Anna Giannoulias". His report suggests that he doesn't know who she is, either by occupation or employer. Apparently, one of the nice things about running for office is that you might be reunited with long lost relatives; rich ones at that. He also formed a second political committee, with the same officers, called Alexi for Illinois (State ID 9138).

Eye on Eychaner: Fred Eychaner is giving again, handing out at least $140K so far this calendar year. Forest Claypool is the big recipient at $100K, while DPI and Cook County Clerk David Orr both report $20K.

Family Values: The Family Taxpayer Network still hasn't paid their fines, but that hasn't stopped them from giving money away. They show $10K each to two contested House candidates.

Challenge for Madigan: Chicago resident Naisy Dolar has formed a PAC to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Filing for the March Primary closed weeks ago; she's either running as a write-in or she's planning ahead for 2010.


Of Democrats and Tribune Endorsements

From your Chicago Tribune's 6th District endorsement of Rahm Emanuel's candidate for the 6th District:

Christine Cegelis, a software engineer, picked up 44 percent of the vote against Hyde in 2004.
Holding Hyde to the lowest percent of the vote in decades.
She's running again.
Actually, Christine never stopped running. Christine has been out and about in the 6th District, meeting with her neighbors, getting to know their concerns about the direction in which our country is headed. Since 2004, she has been building on the grass-roots network of supporters who pulled in 44% of the vote without any support from Washington.
But Democrats have a better candidate in Tammy Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq war who has fresh and pragmatic views on trade, health care, taxes and other issues.
And what criteria does the Tribune editorial board use to determine what views are "fresh and pragmatic"?

Let's ask Don Wycliff, the Trib's Public Editor:
[T]he editorial board is guided in making its decisions by what might be called the "Tribune manifesto," a statement of philosophical principles and attitudes. Based on a 1969 editorial that marked a change of administration--nay, a change of era--at the newspaper ***. One exemplary paragraph:
The Tribune believes in the traditional principles of limited government; maximum individual responsibility; and minimum restriction of personal liberty, opportunity and enterprise. It believes in free markets, free will and freedom of expression.

These principles, while traditionally conservative, are guidelines and not reflexive dogmas.
So the Tribune, whose editorial page is still considered generally conservative, bases its endorsements on a "manifesto" formulated back when the paper was even more conservative. Are we to believe that the Tribune manifesto reflects the views of Democrats in the 6th District?

Back to the Tribune's analysis of the Emanual candidate:
She has some well-considered views on how the U.S. and Iraqis can finish the job there and bring American soldiers home.
And just what does the Tribune see as "well-considered views" when it comes to Iraq?

Well, let's take a look at the "well-considered views" of the man the Chicago Tribune endorsed for president in 2004:
Bush arguably invaded with too few allies and not enough troops. He will go to his tomb defending his reliance on intelligence from agencies around the globe that turned out to be wrong. And he has refused to admit any errors.
But, nevertheless, the Tribune endorsed George W. Bush.

The Tribune endorsed the candidate who "arguably" invaded with too few troops and not enough allies... and insufficient armor for our troops... and no plan for reconstruction... and a self-evident inability to protect Iraq's "democracy" from a sectarian civil war... and who still -- STILL -- has refused to admit any errors.

You know, it's almost enough to call into question the Tribune's judgment when it comes to candidates and their views on Iraq.

And how did the Tribune cap off that regrettable endorsement from the fall of 2004:
For three years, Bush has kept Americans, and their government, focused -- effectively -- on this nation's security. The experience, dating from Sept. 11, 2001, has readied him for the next four years, a period that could prove as pivotal in this nation's history as were the four years of World War II.
And since then we have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's "readied" candidate bungled the aftermath of the Katrina disaster.

We have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's candidate has let Iraq descend into chaos.

We have seen how "effectively" the Tribune's candidate has turned our nation's ports over to the royal families of the United Arab Emirates -- one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban government that protected Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

Nice call, Tribune.

And, if nothing else, 6th District Democrats should ask one question when contemplating the value of the Tribune's endorsement in the Democratic primary: Who did the Chicago Tribune endorse in the 6th District in 2004?

Henry Hyde.

The Tribune's endorsement history gives us a clear record of the Trib's philosophical principles and attitudes.

Now 6th District Democrats have to decide which candidate best represents them and their philosophical principles and attitudes.


Carol Marin, Lura Lynn Ryan, The FBI and a Lot of Blood

Carol Marin marinaded Lura Lynn Ryan in her Sunday Sun Times column and tossed her to the media jackals - Don & Roma shilling for the ditto-heads in their breakfast political chow-down. Politics ain't bean-bag and hard-hitting newspersons know how to throw a punch.

Carol's story launched my memory code: I taught in Kankakee ( home of George and Lura Lynn); got married there ( George and Lura Lynn attended and gave Mary and me a marble lazy -susan - still got it); they came to Mary's funeral; they came to Mary's Dad's funeral; Jennifer Bishop taught at Bishop Mac after Mary and I left; Her sister Jeanne worked for Protestants for Justice in Northern Ireland; Her sister Nancy was murdered in Winnetka; Carol Marin reported that they were an IRA hit; Chris and Mary Fogarty were arrested for the crime; they were also hounded by the FBI for years on end. These things bothered me. Carol Marin is bothered by Lura Lynn's silence. I am bothered by Carol Marin's. Did she help put the Fogartys in the jackpot?

Here is an excerpt from John Conroy's 1992 account of the Langert Murders - The Irish Connection.

On April 23, one week after Bishop and Boyle's encounter with the FBI, Channel Five's Carol Marin broke a dramatic story on the ten o'clock news. After cutting from scenes in Winnetka to footage depicting a British soldier on patrol in Northern Ireland, Marin told her viewers that the leads on the Langert murder investigation went far beyond suburban Winnetka. After explaining that Jeanne Bishop was the sister of the dead Nancy Langert, Marin said, "Sources say the FBI told Bishop that someone in the Irish Republican Army believed Bishop to have been disloyal to the cause, even though Jeanne Bishop has long worked as a human rights activist in behalf of the struggle in Northern Ireland." Marin said that the FBI had told Bishop that if she went back to Northern Ireland, she would be hurt or killed. The story concluded with Marin reporting that there were two theories under investigation--that Nancy Langert was mistaken for her sister when she was killed, or that she had been killed as some kind of warning to her sister. Marin said that Jeanne Bishop had declined to be interviewed but that "a family spokesman told us this evening that Bishop and her entire family reject any theory linking this tragedy to the IRA, believing that to do so is an attempt by federal authorities to intimidate or undermine both Bishop and a legitimate human rights movement." Marin went on to say that the FBI and the Winnetka police had refused to comment on the case. The next day, Marin reported that the IRA lead was one of four angles being pursued by the Winnetka police, the others being "business connections," "personal relationships," and "family connections"; most of the police department's effort, Marin said, was going into the IRA investigation. She included a statement issued by the Bishop family, which said that "some unnamed person has chosen to seize upon our family tragedy in order to sully Jeanne and her legitimate work for human rights." Marin then reported that "authorities who are heading up an investigative task force say Bishop has declined to cooperate with this investigation." Marin seemed to have scored a great coup. Who would have thought that the IRA could have established a presence in Winnetka? Or that the murder could have been, as Channel Five's teaser had it, "an act of international terrorism"? She then left the story, never to return.

That is some story. How about some answers? How about some journalist not wearing a tight collar ( or a wire) taking up the cause of Mary and Chris Fogarty?


Some Monday Myth Busting And Other Useful Information

Where to start...

How about with health care? The Chicago Tribune this weekend ran a story about the Health Care Justice Act. When originally introduced the intended purpose was to impose a Canadian style single payer system on Illinois. Turns out, though, that the Canadian health care system is imploding. According to The New York Times:

"Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial governments are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.

But a Supreme Court ruling last June — it found that a Quebec provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists — appears to have become a turning point for the entire country.

"The prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services," the court ruled.

In response, the Quebec premier, Jean Charest, proposed this month to allow private hospitals to subcontract hip, knee and cataract surgery to private clinics when patients are unable to be treated quickly enough under the public system. The premiers of British Columbia and Alberta have suggested they will go much further to encourage private health services and insurance in legislation they plan to propose in the next few months.

Private doctors across the country are not waiting for changes in the law, figuring provincial governments will not try to stop them only to face more test cases in the Supreme Court."

The lessons: government isn't the solution to health care and access to a waiting list isn't the same as access to health care.

Next, it turns out that a low fat diet does you little good when it comes to heart disease and cancer. Jonathan Luit at TCS Daily explains that:

"Of all the beautiful hypotheses in the temple of preventive medicine, the claim that low-fat diets could prevent cancer and heart disease is perhaps the most central. But the last few weeks have been more than a little unkind to the beautiful hypotheses of the lifestyle medicine crowd. In fact the ugly facts have been piling up fairly quickly.

In early January, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that low fat diets produced only temporary, moderate weight loss.

Then along came another JAMA study early this year that showed that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids did not significantly reduce the risk of cancer.

And finally, again in JAMA, there were the three attention grabbing studies which reported that low-fat diets failed to reduce the risks of heart disease, colorectal cancer and breast cancer."

So go ahead, eat what you want. And the next time some bozo in the GA introduces legislation that seeks to protect our kids from junk food, or make litigation easer, try to remember these studies.

"The only closed economy is the global economy," is a phrase from 1999 Nobel laureate Robert Mundel. Mundel used it to point out that all government can do is distort economic activity, they can't stop it. Think video recorders and fax machines in the USSR. They eventually got in. Donald Bordeaux, again at TCS Daily, explains a related matter -- why we shouldn't worry about trade deficits:

"My next-door neighbor in Virginia agrees to mow my lawn for $25. He mows and I immediately give him $25 in greenbacks. Rather than spend his earnings on beer or a back massage, my neighbor uses the $25 to by a share of Microsoft.

Everyone applauds. An American earns money and invests it, making "our" economy stronger.

Now consider a slightly different example in which I live, not in Virginia, but in Maine on the U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. border. My neighbor is a Canadian living in Canada. He mows my lawn; I pay him 25 U.S. dollars.

While my neighbor and I are just as pleased with our transaction in this example as we are in the previous one, pundits and politicians regard the second case with much more suspicion.

First, by spending his dollars on a share of Microsoft rather than on U.S-made goods and services, my Canadian neighbor increases the U.S. trade deficit. The reason is that statisticians count my purchase of his lawn-mowing services as a U.S. import but, because my neighbor doesn't spend his earnings on goods or services made in the U.S., these statisticians find no U.S. exports to "balance" my imports.

So we cheer when the American saves and invests in America, but quake with anxiety when the Canadian does so, fretting about the "imbalance" in American trade. But no economically significant differences separate these two scenarios."

Like it or not, Illinois is part of the global economy. If we don't do something about the business climate then in a few years the global economy will do something about Illinois' business climate.

Politicians are always talking about how we are having to work more and more to make ends meet and what a struggle life is. To hear them tell it, life isn't getting better; it's getting worse. Virginia Postrel's latest column, again in The New York Times, gives us an example of how that isn't necessarily true:

"That seems to be what has happened over the last few decades. Americans are not, in fact, working as much as they used to. They are just getting paid for more of the work they do. Using several different definitions of leisure, Professor Hurst and Mark A. Aguiar, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, analyzed time-use surveys done from 1965 to 2003. Whether they defined leisure narrowly or broadly, they got a consistent result.

"Leisure time — measured in a variety of ways — has increased significantly between 1965 and 2003," they write in "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," a Boston Fed working paper. (The paper is available at www.bos.frb.org/economic/wp/index.htm.) Using the most restrictive definition, which includes only "entertainment/social activities/relaxing" and "active recreation," the economists found that leisure had increased 5.1 hours a week, holding demographics like age constant. (Without that control, leisure has grown 4.6 hours.) Assuming a 40-hour work week, that is like adding six weeks of vacation — an enormous increase."

Hmmm... maybe life isn't so bad afterall...

And if you are thinking of disagreeing with one or all the points made here. Sleep on it or better yet, don't think too much. Turns out we sometimes make better decisions that way.

Update: One other thing. Universal pre-school, whether or not it is affordable, doesn't really help:
"The Blagojevich administration and the General Assembly ought to heed advice given by Head Start co-founder Ed Zigler, when – a decade ago – plans similar to Governor Blagojevich’s were considered on a national scale: “This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed…Then, as now, the arguments in favor of preschool education were that it would reduce school failure, lower drop-out rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates…Preschool education has achieved none of these things.”
(One would think that I'd remember to plug my own Institute's research!)


Faulty Daley Polling

A recent Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll showed that 70 percent of Chicago voters don't believe Mayor Richard M. Daley when he says he didn't know about "wrongdoing in city contracting and hiring," to use the Tribune's words. But in coverage of the poll, the mayor actually got off easy.

And coupled with another recent Tribune poll--this one about the mayor's plan to expand the number of surveillance cameras in the city--the seemingly eternal problems with conducting and interpreting polls were once again revealed.

How so?

The central narrative of the Tribune's poll coverage described a citizenry who overwhelmingly did not believe Daley's assertions of ignorance regarding widespread City Hall corruption, but nonetheless approved of the mayor's job performance.

With a 56 percent approval rate, the belief that Daley hasn't told the truth about City Hall corruption would seem to matter to only 14 percent of those polled.

And given that this is Chicago, that might not be so remarkable.

But let's take a closer look.

Daley may have an approval rating of 56 percent, but a Daley matchup with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. produced a dead heat--Daley was favored 41 percent to Jackson's 38 percent, falling within the poll's 4 percent margin of error.

In other words, a sizable portion of those who said they approved of Daley's job performance don't seem willing to vote for him again if given the option of voting for Jackson.

And the poll only surveyed (700) registered voters. It's quite possible that including the entire citizenry in the poll would produce even worse results for the mayor. This is relevant because it's also likely that a campaign by Jackson--or by a candidate he endorses--will register more new voters than Daley's operation.

And what of the finding that 70 percent of those asked did not believe Daley's assertions that he had no knowledge about favoritism in awarding jobs and contracts? Doesn't that mean that 70 percent of those surveyed think the mayor is a liar?

That would have been a nice word to use in the write-up, but it's a word journalists are incredibly fearful of. There doesn't seem to be any other way around it in this case, though. And if Daley had knowledge of corruption in City Hall, doesn't that make him at the very least a criminal accomplice? So do 70 percent of those surveyed think Daley is a criminal? The Tribune doesn't dare wade into this territory.

The Chicago Sun-Times had its own problems reporting on the Tribune poll.

Fran Spielman spun the poll in favor of Daley, opening her story this way: "It's not every day that a 17-year incumbent battered by corruption scandals maintains an approval rating above the pivotal 50 percent benchmark."

It certainly isn't every day, because how often is there a 17-year incumbent? So we don't really know what the "norm" for 17-year incumbents is.

Alternate lead: "It's not every day that 70 percent of the electorate think the mayor is lying about his knowledge of scandals engulfing his administration."

Is that any less valid?

Or, perhaps, more so?

Or: "A new poll shows Mayor Richard M. Daley is in a statistical dead heat with U.S. congressman Jesse Jackson Jr."

Isn't that the more salient number than the mayor's approval rating--his re-election prospects?

Put Jackson's 38 percent with the 21 undecided, and you have Daley's support at 41 percent and his non-support at 59 percent. In other words, with Jackson in the race, more people polled didn't support Daley's re-election than did.

And that "pivotal 50 percent benchmark?" I suppose it's pivotal because theoretically a 50 percent approval rating indicates re-election--though that's certainly not a given. But a benchmark? A benchmark might be his average rating, or highest rating, but it isn't necessarily a 50 percent approval rating.

Beyond that, when Daley was put in a race against either Jackson or U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, he barely reached the 50 percent "benchmark." Against Gutierrez, Daley held a 49 percent to 23 percent margin, with 28 percent undecided. Isn't it remarkable that 51 percent of those polled favored Gutierrez--who has yet to show he could be a strong candidate--or were undecided?

Finally, a poll the Tribune conducted earlier in the month found that seven of 10 Democrats "thought ending public corruption was a very important issue in deciding whom they will back for governor."

Yes, that poll was of Democrats not general voters, and it was about the governor's race not the mayor. Still, it suggests that the public's view of corruption and public officials is more complex--or more simple--than portrayed in interpreting the Daley poll.

I tend to think it shows that most polls ultimately tell us very little.

And About Those Cameras

The other troubling poll conducted by the Tribune recently was reported this way: "As Mayor Richard Daley pushes to increase video surveillance in public places across the city, a Tribune/WGN-TV poll has found that the city's security cameras have overwhelming support among Chicago residents."


This was the question: "As a means of reducing crime, the city has installed security cameras at hundreds of sites such as CTA stations, schools and city neighborhoods. Do you favor or oppose this program?"

The response: 80 percent in favor, 13 percent opposed, 7 percent no opinion.

Two problems: The question, and the respondents.

The question opens with a premise weighted in favor of security cameras. "As a means of reducing crime . . . " conveys the notion that the strategy is successful at crime-fighting. This is less than clear. Right or wrong, critics of the cameras say crime is merely displaced to less public places. (Civil libertarians also aren't thrilled with what they see as a burgeoning surveillance state.)

How different would the poll's results have been if the question question began, "As an untested attempt to fight crime . . . " or "As an experimental way to fight crime . . . " ?

In addition, the examples of placing cameras at CTA stations, schools and city neighborhoods is likely non-threatening to most respondents. What if the question spoke of placing cameras at sites in your neighborhood? On your street corner?

How many respondents favor this program because they think it is something happening somewhere else in the city?

One clue may be that those polled were 700 voters. Not residents, despite the Tribune's lead. Does that skew the poll away from respondents in the very neighborhoods likely to have the cameras?

To the Tribune's credit, the paper addressed these issues in at least a glancing way with its additonal reporting. The paper, for example, quoted a South Side resident saying, "I feel like it takes a lot of our freedom away. Then again, I feel we need some protection." (This resident was part of the poll and said she supported the cameras, but her comments indicate a more nuanced view.) And a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois was reporting to believe "the city's surveillance network has received a positive response so far because cameras are being touted as crime-fighting tools. [He] said he believes there will be a 'wait a second' reaction in the future as the video grid is expanded."

Perhaps. But even then a poll won't tell us much. What's important is whether the cameras fight crime and whether they infringe on people's privacy. What's far less important is whether people think the cameras fight crime or infringe upon their privacy. Chances are, folks will have a nuanced view that can't be captured in a poll in any case.

- Cross-posted at Beachwood Reporter


Ed Burke on George Ryan

Rick Kogan quoting Chicago's elder statesman: Ed Burke,

"The law business is good," he says. "I have been fortunate to have the best of both worlds. I have enjoyed the political side of it and also enjoyed my private legal practice. Yes, there have been temptations, [but] if you try to conduct yourself under the rules, in the long run you are better off. But sometimes those rules are changed in the middle of the game."

For example?

"I see some of that in the Ryan case. Frankly I don't see that what George Ryan did was a great deal different than what every other governor has done for the last 100 years."
I'm guessing the jurors agree and Ryan walks.

cross posted at Bill Baar's West Side


A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

At every level of government, this problem is getting nothing but worse. From the latest issue of Crain's comes another story about major pension shortfalls:
Cook County and city of Chicago governments have $14.4 billion in unfunded liabilities in their collective pension plans, according to a report to be released Monday by the Civic Federation, a tax policy group. Plans covering most city and county workers had assets covering 72% or less of their liabilities at the end of 2004, according to the report — well under the 90% figure considered desirable in the private sector.
I have said before that the pension issue is a sword of Damacles hanging over governments throughout our state. I think that in the past, government pension funding practices were arcane enough to escape the attention of the public. But those days are over, and the public is aware of, and understands, the problem.

Without significant intervention, sooner rather than later, pension obligations are going to put the ability to provide basic services at risk. And if elected officials don't act to correct the problem, it may well put some of them out of office.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's not a lie, if you believe it.

Rick Pearson and John Chase write in today’s Chicago Tribune

More than three years after winning office on a promise of reform, Gov. Rod Blagojevich says it's hard to force change on his own and contends his stockpile of campaign cash gives him the independence to fight an entrenched political system.

As his administration faces investigations at the state and federal level into allegations of pay-to-play politics, the first-term Democrat says his office has done nothing wrong. He vouches for the honesty of close friends and advisers who make money lobbying at the Statehouse.

"We follow all the rules. We follow all the laws," Blagojevich said.

Now, with that in mind, here’s what Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney write in today’s Sun-Times

A company whose owners donated heavily to Gov. Blagojevich has seen a $150,000 state contract to package and deliver tollway I-Passes to Jewel-Osco stores balloon into a $7 million deal despite not being the lowest bidder.

Originally hired in 2003 for a six-month job involving just 25,000 I-Pass transponders, IGOR the Watchdog Corp. has since helped place the wallet-sized devices in more than 1.1 million cars and trucks through sales at Jewel.

Draw your own conclusions.


Carol Marin Bashes Lura Lynn Ryan But My Question - Was Carol Marin complicit to an FBI Frame-Up of a Chicago Couple While at NBC

Carol Marin of the Chicago Sun Times raked the wife of former Governor George Ryan over the coals in Sunday's Sun Times. Marin, a news icon for boldly refusing to go on air with an alleged news drip( Jerry Springer), has a reputation for fair and balanced coverage. Mrs. Lura Lynn Ryan went on TV last week and linked the attacks on her husband to his 'fight against the Death Penalty.' I don't buy that, but I respect the tactic.It might work. Gov. Ryan might walk. I would be glad if he did. My days and nights will be more affected by the monsters George Ryan helped out of the joint. How many have made a return to the steel Sheraton?

But Carol Marin's acid-in -the- face to Lura Lynn is uncalled for. I won't repeat or post any of the column. Instead, I will post an interesting passage from The Blanket a website dedicated to a united Ireland. Two Chicagoans, Mary and Chris Fogarty, had their life's savings depleted in an attempt to defend themselves from the FBI, IRS, MI-5, and other acronymic agencies with the complicity of NBC 5's Carol Marin.I remembered the case, because one of the murdered people was related to a girl who taught at Bishop McNamara in Kankakee ( funny how that town dovetails ( George & Lura Lynn & etc.), and I remembered how much storm the story had around the time of the Good Friday Peace Accords and the horrific Omagh bombings.There should be a 'Follow-up' story to this - but the News media rarely do that when a story goes south on them. Carol Marin, how about some answers?

Reader, read on:

From The Blanket:Why Ireland is Unfree; ContinuedChris Fogarty

MICHAEL McKEVITT is in Portlaoise Prison for the last two years awaiting a Brit-type, non-jury trial. Ireland’s Justice officials evidently know what everybody else knows; that the RUC, British Army Intelligence, MI5 and Chicago FBI converted an IRA property damage bomb into the Omagh massacre, and because they know it they cannot charge McKevitt with it. Instead, they have adopted a clever ruse: they have charged McKevitt, not with murder of the Omagh innocents, but with Directing the Real IRA (RIRA). They then get Ireland’s news media to add “The RIRA bombed Omagh” to all reports of McKevitt’s impending trial. Thus, though the gov’t cannot charge McKevitt with that crime, it fosters the belief that he will be convicted of it. McKevitt’s wife, Bernadette, was arrested along with him; but being a sister of internationally-revered Bobby Sands (RIP), the smears necessary to frame an innocent would hardly adhere to her. She was soon released, uncharged. At first glance McKevitt appears to be facing a Soviet-era show trial; but it is far more: it is the latest of a series of MI5 crimes that began in Chicago over a decade ago. Michael McKevitt has been framed by the self-same MI5/FBI criminals who framed me twice and wrongfully charged and incarcerated my wife Mary and me by similarly coordinated felony crimes. Here’s what happened in Chicago.Chicago

THE WARNING came from FBI Agent Joe Doyle. He informed Mary and me that some of his fellow agents were bribed and subverted by MI5 and planning “dirty tricks” crimes against us to stop our human rights and media watch work for the Occupied Irish. (MI5 evidently fears truth-tellers more than funders of the IRA, as it never attacked Irish Northern Aid.) Though Doyle spent a few hours describing the forms of MI5’s bribes and much other detail we ultimately doubted him and his warning when, despite the absoluteness of his Oath to uphold the law, he said there was nothing he could do to stop the crimes. Later, he proved too fearful of his fellow agents to testify that he had warned us. The proven accuracy of his warning of impending crimes now alarms us - as he has more recently re-contacted us to warn that the FBI will murder us if we continue to expose their crimes.

THE LANGERT FAMILY was massacred in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka a few weeks after Doyle’s first warning. The murder weapon was FBI agent Lewis’ 357 Magnum; the shooter was 16-year-old David Biro. Local detectives met and each wrote on a card the names of possible suspects and placed it onto a pile. The cards contained only one name; David Biro. Also, a detective had spotted Biro near Langerts’ home the night of the murders. He had previously shot others with his BB gun and poisoned a carton of milk in his own family refrigerator. His ambition was to be a hit-man.

FBI AGENT PATRICK “ED” BUCKLEY promptly arrived and took charge. He ordered investigators away from Biro and sent them on nationwide pursuits of phantom perpetrators, particularly the IRA. As head of the Chicago FBI’s new “Irish Terrorism” unit, Buckley was the leader of the MI5-bribed traitors about whom Doyle had warned us. During the six months that Buckley shielded Biro, Biro would impress his classmates by taking them on tours of the murder site. They kept mum. Agent Lewis never reported her gun, the murder weapon, missing.

CORRUPT NEWS MEDIA personified by TV anchorwoman Carol Marin in my case, abetted the MI5/FBI criminals the same way they abetted the Omagh perpetrators - by blaming it on the RIRA and, by extension, McKevitt. Within days of the Langert massacre Buckley got Marin to announce on prime-time network TV that “the IRA are linked to Langert murders.” When I phoned her the next day to learn the basis for her “scoop,’ she told me that her source was “an FBI agent.” When I asked her how she had met her responsibility to verify it she said she had not done so but had accepted the uncorroborated word of the FBI. She never issued a correction; and the rest of the news media parroted her lies.

BUCKLEY THEN FRAMED ME. Having gotten the news media to do to me what it has been doing to McKevitt, Buckley took his next step; he inserted into a signed police murder investigation report “my” words that doubly nailed me. Of all of Earth’s population, “my” info could be known first hand by nobody but the murderer and the first investigators on the crime scene. I was headed for Lethal Injection; but Buckley didn’t arrest me - yet. It suited MI5 to wait; as memories fade, while murder has no Statute of Limitations. Besides, his protégé Biro’s blabbing was becoming problematic; it eventually demolished Buckley’s frame-up of me. Nobody other than Biro was ever arrested for these crimes, and he was arrested only after fellow students informed police of his plan to rob the local bank and murder its entire staff.

BUCKLEY’S 2ND SERIES OF CRIMES were against my wife Mary, two others and me. He began them soon after Biro demolished his previous attempt to have me executed. He falsely arrested us and incarcerated us in the Federal Correctional Center at Clark and VanBuren streets. We barely bonded out after three days and spent the next fifteen months defending ourselves with seven attorneys. We were doomed had we been poor. We eventually proved in federal court that the FBI’s only evidence against us, an audiotape, was a criminally altered version of the original demanded by the judge. Read More in The Blanket.

There is more, a great deal more to this story. As of Friday, RTE the Irish national broadcasting company reported that the FBI, MI-5, and other intelligence agencies had information about the Omagh Bombings months before thirty-six people were killed. Let's see that's six times the number of children George Ryan is to have had complicity in the deaths of. . . . As I recall it was a piece of a hitch that fell off the truck and collided with the Willis's van and caused the deaths of those six babies. Maybe George Ryan is guilty of that, but some one is sure guilty of helping frame a Chicago couple.


Sunday Trib Book Surf

In today's Trib Patrick T. Reardon tells someone new to Chicago to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

Good advice but remember Sinclair's lament after it became a best seller,

I aimed for the public's heart and hit their stomach.

A newcomer may read The Jungle and for ever overlook our great hot dogs .

Alexander Polikoff reviews Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto. This book is on my to read list because I suspect Clarence Page's right here,
One keen observer, Chicago Tribune of-ed columnist Clarence Page, goes further, asserting in his foreword to the book that the implementation of the Gautreaux decision "succeeded mightily" where even Martin Luther King Jr. failed in Chicago.
I would suggest though, that anyone trying to understand Chicago, read William Tuttle's Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919.

This bloody episode doesn't get much coverage from the local radical-historian community as far as I can tell. (Try some google hits on the riots and compare to your count with those for Haymarket Riots or the Steel Workers massacre of 1938.)

Organized labor doesn't come off very well in this chapter of Chicago History and it's hard to attribute Labor's behavior to anything other than a deeply ingrained racism our Radical Historians would prefer to overlook.
Some sociologist have called the Chicago race riot a "communal" riot or even the "ideal-type" riot. For the Chicago bloodshed was primarily "ecological warfare," involing "a direct struggle between the residents of white and Negro areas." "In no other major urban race riot," a foremost investigator of urban race riots has written, "has a white neighborhood characterized by such high prejudice and such an intensity of anti-Negro social tensions immediately abutted on the central concentration of Negro population." The Chicago riot, unlike the massacre in East St. Louis, where a black enclave in the downtown section had been invaded, homes burned and defenseless people mutilated, was no "pogrom." Blacks and whites in Chicago waged pitched battles. --from Tuttle p 65
It's the intense prejudice among whites I remember growing up in the 1960s. Read Tuttle and you understand how the City and State Government's reaction to 1919: encouraging rigid segregation in housing; shaped the city for the rest of the century and is something maybe just now we're shedding. At least the anger if not the segregation.

Finally, it's not a book, but Steve Chapman writes No shopping, please, we're German about Germany's rigid laws on when stores can open, and how it's encouraged high unemployment.

I remember when the Meat Cutter's Union in Chicago put through the laws making it illegal to sell or buy meat after 6PM on weekdays or anytime on Sundays.

The stores would cover the meat counters with butcher paper to hide the meat. Sometimes you'd see someone from out-of-town pull hamburger from under the paper and then argue with the Clerks at checkout; angry we had such an odd ordinance.

An Indian Sikh bought Johnson's grocery story on South Oak Park Ave and Garfield just south of the Eisenhower in the late 1960s. (It's a coffee place now). He started selling meat on Sundays and had his windows repeatedly busted and one unsuccessful firebombing if I recall right.

That's the sort of direct action Chicago I remember. A tough place if you weren't part of the club, and brutal place if you were inclined to thumb your nose at club members by selling meat on Sundays, or move into their neigborhood.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Conventional Thinking

In the wake of the Governor's unexpected (in my mind) statement not to increase taxes last week, I have had a number of discussions as to the impact of his statement on the issue of education funding reform. Simply put, if you adhere to the belief that any reduction in our overreliance on property taxes in the funding of our schools will most likely come via a tax swap, then the Governor's statement pretty well amounts to a kiss of death for any flavor of that plan.

In just the last week, impromptu floor debate has broken out by members of both parties declaring that the time to fix education funding is well past due.

Similarly, the Governor's position will lead to some fascinating, and potentially untenable, budget discussions in the upcoming years. Ralph Martire weighed in on the subject in Saturday's Sun-Times. In his column arguing against a no new tax pledge by any candidate, he states:

In this proposed budget, at least $2.9 billion -- more than 10 percent -- of all projected spending for public services is scheduled to be financed with debt. Meanwhile, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projects that revenue growth for fiscal 2007 will be $860 million. That falls short of what's needed just to cover the inflationary cost of maintaining the current level of public services. This continues a longstanding trend of revenue underperformance by the state's fiscal system, first identified by Professor Fred Giertz in the late 1980s...

A no-tax pledge means policymakers won't even consider raising the revenue needed to fund our priorities responsibly. Effectively, the pledge leaves room for only two solutions: continue borrowing against the future or cut spending on services. But borrowing is irresponsible, and cutting spending isn't defensible. Illinois, the eighth richest and fifth most populous state, nonetheless ranks just 41st in spending. It also devotes well more than 90 percent of its budget to education, health care, human services and public safety. Do most voters really want a low-spending state like Illinois to disinvest in these essential services?

Working off of Martire's analysis, I think that it will be exceedingly difficult to find the support for any new borrowing plans, and it will be just as hard for a Democratic administration to cut into spending for programs that benefit many of the party's key constituencies.

Now the Governor may have intentionally (or unintentionally) left himself a little wiggle room when he said words to the effect of "I will not raise taxes on the hard-working people of Illinois". But I can't really imagine putting us at a further disadvantage when it comes to interstate competition for retaining and attracting business.

What may also be looming is a groundswell for the calling of the next Constitutional Convention in 2008. Given a decades-old reluctance of elected officials to take sigificant action toward addressing our school funding situation, a Con Con may wind up being the only practical way to make any significant reforms in our tax structure, school funding mechanisms, as well as a host of other items. I believe that it would also have the additional benefit of focusing public attention onto what is going on in Springfield and get the public engaged into the issues that affect them on a daily basis.

So feel free to weigh in on your thoughts on the no tax pledge or on the prospect of a Constitutional Convention.

To post, or read, comments, visit Dome-icile


And You Think Illinois "Pay to Play" is Bad

From The Courier-Post, covering South Jersey in the Camden area:

Following a November election that gave Republicans a 5-4 majority on the township committee, the local governing body dumped Robert Churchill as the township engineer.

Churchill, whose firm was the largest campaign donor to the local Democrats last year, giving $10,400, had been township engineer when that party was in the majority on the committee for many years up until December.

Not willing to let a key supporter lose his lucrative township business, the Democrats on the committee tossed Churchill's firm more than $600,000 worth of contracts two weeks after the election while they still had a majority.
The replacement firm gave $2,500 to the victorious Republicans.

The paper’s suggested remedy:
…prevent firms or individuals who have given to local candidates from being eligible to do work for the township
Although I found this on Google because of 8th congressional district GOP candidate Robert Churchill’s name, there obviously is not connection with the state representative.

McHenry County Blog also will have 8th District peace candidate Bill Scheurer's justification for running against Melissa Bean up soon.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Who has the best website?

With less than a month to go before the primary election, a lot of Illinois voters are starting to seek information on the candidates for Governor.

One of the best sources of information on a candidate is available via the Internet. With that in mind, I’d like to ask the following question:

Which of the GOP candidates for governor has the best website and why? And who has the worst site and why?

Below are links to the websites for:

Ron Gidwitz

Jim Oberweis

Bill Brady

Judy Baar Topinka


Cegelis Supported by Dean's National Progressive Organization

In a piece focusing on the national attention on the 6th District Democratic primary, your Chicago Tribune takes a look at Christine Cegelis' endorsement by the progressive, grass-roots Democrats at DFA:

Christine Cegelis won the backing of a campaign fundraising committee formerly headed by Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean and now run by Dean's brother.

Cegelis "is just a great candidate; she's got a good ground game, she's really good on issues," said Jim Dean, who heads Democracy for America. "She ran a terrific campaign [last time,] which has a lot of folks fired up, and we just kept that going."

Democracy for America is an outgrowth of Dean for America, the Internet-based campaign and fundraising arm of Howard Dean's unsuccessful 2004 White House bid. Though Dean failed, his Internet operation was credited with creating new interest in politics among youths and became highly successful in generating money for Dean and congressional candidates. ***

In 2004, Cegelis was supported by the DFA and named to Howard Dean's "Dean Dozen" of congressional candidates. Her 44 percent showing then was the best of any Democrat against Hyde in 30 years, leading Democrats to believe the seat is winnable this election.
Naturally, the Trib, like your Sun-Times, also discussed Sen. Obama's appearance in the new tv ad for the DCCC candidate. But Christine, like her supporters and the DFA, is focusing on her grass-roots strength:
Cegelis downplayed Obama's commercial in the 6th District congressional contest.

"I've always been told someone will vote for a candidate they have met and shaken hands with," she said. "And let's face it. I'm that candidate. Tammy has been in this district for what, two months? I've been running for more than two years," Cegelis said.
As I have said from the time that the Washington Democrats started trolling for a 6th District candidate, this primary will be a showdown between two fundamentally distinct campaign styles: a high-tech, D.C.-funded advertising blitz versus a 6th District resident's grass-roots team of neighbors talking to neighbors.


As American As A Thomas Nast Cartoon . . .

One of America's greatest political cartoonists, Thomas Nast, the man who first depicted Santa Claus as we know him to be, found a home in American Progressive thought. Like Lyman Beecher, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Margaret Sanger, Frances Willard, Samuel Morse, William Garrison, and John Quincy Adams, Thomas Nast believed that the Catholic Church was an evil institution dedicated to world domination and sexual perversions of all manifestations. This cartoon from Harpers Weekly seems suitable to today's climate.

There is a great old American tradition of vilifying the Catholic Church. In the 19th Century, immigrant Catholic children attended public schools where they learned how horrible the 'faith of their fathers and mothers' was to them.Pretty soon Catholics built their own schools. Today, those schools dominate post season athletics 'because they have an unfair advantage over Public Schools.' Catholic schools like Mount Carmel and Driscoll can only win repeatedly because they 'unfairly leverage' their ways into repeated Championships. The Pope pays for Blue Chip Athletes! Likewise, the ministers of the Catholic Church are monsters; in the 19th Century they were recruiters for the Pope's Vatican Army and today they are sexual predators.I attended Catholic grammar school, high school, university and graduate school. In high school I attended a seminary in Holland Michigan ( all male) the only nuns were Mexican Hermanitas who cooked for us.

We played football, basketball, baseball, and boxed.We lived in a barracks-like dormitory. I was therefor three years ( 1966-1969).I had daily classes, athletics, and punishments under the supervision of priests and brothers. I was never approached, courted, flirted with, touched ( other than clouted for the best of reasons; I was a jerk) , much less sexually molested. I'll admit that I ain't much to look at.I received a magnificent education and learned charity from some wonderful people. What did I miss?

Back home, my Dad asked if I wanted to finish at Leo ( all Male) with my buddies from the neighborhood, but I had missed the alure of feminine company; I finished at a co-ed Catholic high school - Little Flower. There were nuns in control again but they were not as prone to violence as the grammar school sisters had been. Parish priests, including the guy who called for Cardinal George to resign, filled out the theology staff.

One priest Father Charles Ruby spent what seemed like every hour of the day with us punks from Wood Street.Father Ruby opened the gym for us during his 'free time;' talked to us about racial change and our obligations to civil rights as Catholics; counselled draft age guys about military service; warned us about Irish arthritis - getting stiff in a different joint every night; and bailed out malefactors from the lock-up at Gresham. He did not grab boys. He made men of them.

The only abuse from the clergy, aside from eight years of clouts in grammar school, that I have ever experienced was being hit by Cardinal Cody's driver while running across Chicago Ave. when I was late for a class at Loyola. I got a 'Watch where the hell you're going!' from Louisiana Fats. Progressives loved old Fats - for a while, when he was busy ( Project Renewal) dismantling every good thing built by Card. Mundelein and Bishop Sheil.

As a baby teacher at Bishop McNamara, I witnessed Father Ken Yarno C.S.V. courageously report sexual abuse of a boy in the 'care' of another priest and that was in 1979. It's in the public record.Boys and girls are and have been abused by priests, as well as some laymen from what I understand. It is a horror. The bishops of the Catholic Church and their chancery office spin-doctors have screwed the pooch and with the arrogance of people who have been 'right and correct' all of their lives have dismissed the charges of abuse against the clergy like so many used votive candles.

Punish the sexual predators; I have no problems with the guy who shanked Geoghan in Massachusetts. Each man's death diminishes me and I can stand to drop a few pounds.

But, let's try to keep our eyes open. There are people who have made a cottage industry from the clergy abuse scandals. What is going to be left when every person who has passed a stiff collar on the street brings a charge of abuse? Class Action suits. Remember the Children! Well, remember the children when they no longer have a Catholic school to attend. Remember the Poor! Well, remember the thousands of Catholic employees who will not see their pensions. Remember the Hurting! Well, remember the hurting when there is no Catholic Charities! Remember Justice! Well, remember justice when people like Bishop Joseph Imesch are tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. If Bishop Imesch is guilty of a crime, bring a case against him and convict him based upon evidence.

We , the fair minded American People, would burst the back-sides out of our Depends, if a Bishop fired an openly GAY priest ten years ago. If a charge of homosexuality were levelled against a priest how soon would it have taken for the ACLU and Gay activist lawyers to sue the diocese? How long would an issue, like "PRIVACY," been not taken for granted? In the time it takes a lawyer to say 40% ! We want it now! We want it to go away. Well, things do go away. The tangibles. The money. The services. The schools. The opportunities. Let's remember that the man who gave us Santa Claus, 19th Century cartoonist Thomas Nast, also HATED the Catholic Church and Catholics in particular. His sentiments are an American tradition. Faith is larger than tradition and so are the laws of Cause and Effect.


Vote Early and Often

With the campaign over, it is now up to the voters.

Sort of.

With early voting beginning Monday, how do you think it will affect the election?

In the past, polling and advertising were complete and then voting began. Now, the situation seems more fluid, with polls and slam ads occurring after citizens may have cast ballots.

These figures seem a little high, but some officials state that when early voting is an option, 20%-50% of the residents vote before the official election day.

If true, it could dramatically alter how Illinois elections are waged.

If a Gidwitz sleaze piece falls into a mailbox, but the recipient has already voted, does it make a sound?

I think the red head may have this race wrapped up.

DuPage County early voting locations
Chicago early voting locations
Lake County early voting locations
Cook County early voting locations
Springfield early voting location


Ola Bundy-Illinois' first lady of girls' sports

The Class A girls State Basketball tournament takes place this weekend and as I read the news wires this morning looking for stories about Okawville, I came across a story about the death of Ola Bundy, a woman who had more to do with the advent and rise of girl's athletic participation than just about anyone else in the state of Illinois. Ms. Bundy passed away last Saturday, February 18, at the age of 70, much too soon.

She attended Champaign High School and the University of Illinois majoring in Physical Education, did graduate work at Northern Illinois University and taught for some years at Grant Park, Thornton Fractional North and Champaign before taking a position as an executive director of the IHSA. Joe Henrickson of the Oswego Ledger Sentinal wrote a story in 2001 in which he listed his choices for what he called the Super Seven significant milestones of the IHSA and number three was the hiring of Ola Bundy.

"Perhaps the biggest impact from an administrative standpoint was the hiring of Dave Fry and Ola Bundy in 1967." ..."Bundy...did more for girls athletics than anyone in state history prior to retiring 1996. Her pursuit and dedication for girls athletics helped the state increase the number of state championships in girls sports to 12 in her first five years on the job."

According the the IHSA website:
"Today's female athlete owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Miss Bundy, because many times it was only by the sheer force of her personality that she was able to persuade high school administrators to give girls athletics a fair shake. For her unceasing efforts she received many honors, capped by her induction into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1996."

I had the privilege of meeting Ola Bundy each May from 1994-1997 when our daughter competed in the state track meet. Ola was a long time track official and always gracious to the athletes and their parents. A well lived life. She will be missed.


Danny Davis: We won't do a thing till it's over over there

Danny Davis speaking at the Columbus Park forum as reported in the Austin Weekly.

Robert Dallas, a former political advisor for Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson, and a former Republican candidate for office, said he would propose turning the old downtown post office at 420 W. Van Buren into a complex with a shopping mall, hotels, schools and a high-speed rail system. He said he would lobby Congress and the city for funding.

Davis said the U.S. first has to get out of Iraq before funding new projects.

"The United States is broke," said Davis. "We just spent $256 billion on the war. Anything is a good idea—as far as an idea—but we don’t live off ideas."
Bin Laden's target is our Economy. Read his Sermon for the Feast of the Sacrifice,

They carried out the raid by means of enemy planes in a courageous and splendid operation the like of which mankind had never before witnessed. They smashed the American idols and damaged its very heart, the Pentagon. They struck the very heart of the American economy, rubbed America's nose in the dirt and dragged its pride through the mud. The towers of New York collapsed, and their collapse precipitated an even greater debacle: the collapse of the myth of America the great power and the collapse of the myth of democracy; people began to understand that American values could sink no lower. The myth of the land of freedom was destroyed, the myth of American National security was smashed and the myth of the CIA collapsed, all praise and thanks to Allah.
To sum up: America is a great power possessed of tremendous military might and a wide-ranging economy, but all this is built upon an unstable foundation which can be targeted, with special attention to its obvious weak spots. If it [America] is hit in one hundredth of those spots, God willing, it will stumble, wither away and relinquish world leadership and its oppression.
Thumb your nose at Bin Laden Congressmen Davis and revnovate the darn Post Office. It's sat there empty long before this war. Bin Laden's goal was to drive us into an economic depression and he's failed. Let's keep building.

After thought: My wife sang in a Christmas pagent with Congressman Davis. He read from the Bible and I'm certain he sounds exactly like God. His voice fills a Church. But reading him here and he sounds like one of the weakest of those weak spots Bin Laden sees in us.

PS: This was held at the Columbus Park Field house. I tried to take some pics Monday but there was some big event going on inside. It looks great and the Parks been renovated too.

Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Thursday, February 23, 2006

To the Illinois Democratic Party: rebuke Lindy Scott for his comments on Military Service

We've been having some give and take on Capital Fax over this comment reported in the Daily Herald by Lindy Scott running as a Democrat for Congress in the Illinois 6th District's primary.

“Tammy has sacrificed a lot for her country. So perhaps in a general election there would be some support there because of her patriotism,” said Scott, when asked if Duckworth’s stint in Iraq is a liability among liberal voters in a suburban Democratic primary. “In the primary, perhaps it is a liability.” [Baar's emphasis]
I happen to think Scott spoke from the heart and was --sadly as someone who once voted Democratic regularly-- right about a growing chunk of the Party's primary voters.

They do view a Candidate's Military Service as a problem.

If Scott's wrong and slandering Democrats, then the Party should rebuke him for uttering an outlandish and disgraceful comment.

Maybe they already have.

Or maybe Scott's apoligized recalling Eugene Sawyer's wise recollection of Mayor Daley's rule: you never have to take back things you don't say.

But I 've yet to see it.

Correct me if wrong.

I'm confident Andy McKenna would have been out with a press release by now if a Republican candidate talked like this.

Cross Posted at Bill Baar's West Side


Have you seen this man?

Steve was last seen running for Governor, then disappeared upon joining the Gidwitz campaign. If you have any information regarding his whereabouts....well, keep it to yourself.


Smoking to be banned in college dorms

Excerpted from posting on www.illinoisreview.com

Wednesday, the Illinois Senate had a short debate on a bill making its way through the General Assembly which would ban tobacco smoking in college dorms. Senator John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he is very concerned about fires being started in college dorms as a result of cigarette smoking.
Will Senator Cullerton allow college students who are suffering chronic illnesses to smoke in their dorm rooms the medical marijuana he is trying to legalize? Will they be forced to public areas to reveal their need for marijuana usage?
Few college students in Cook County will be able to purchase tobacco due to the $7 plus cost starting March 1st anyway, but why is cigarette smoking a fire hazard in college dorms, and not in private apartment buildings? Is this a step to outlawing tobacco smoking, even in the privacy of one's residence?
Where exactly will this anti-tobacco movement end? Is it possible -- possible -- that Democrats are using their power in the legislature to impose their morality on us all?
Tobacco = bad. "Patient pot" = good.
My, times, they are a-changin'. Is this confusing to anyone else but me?

Cross-posted at www.illinoisreview.com


Sun Times today says Stroger Hospital's top surgeon suspended

And saw nothing on it in the Trib just now either,

Stroger Hospital's chairman of surgery has been suspended amid "concerns" about his leadership -- months after an investigation was launched into the spending of breast cancer grant funds he helped oversee.


Doctor, Doctor...

The funniest caption wins an award winning CD of the trombone stylings of the GOP's very own Andy Martin.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

David McSweeney About To Attack Kathy Salvi?

That’s what a member of the media has told the Kathy Salvi campaign.

In an email received Wednesday evening on the campaign letterhead comes the following:

We have been called at our headquarters and told David McSweeney is launching negative attack ads against Kathy Salvi on the radio and in the mail box.

Our information suggests that he is doing this because after spending $1 million of his own money, he is falling in the polls.

David McSweeney refused to sign the Pledge of the Illinois Republican Party not to launch unfair personal attacks.

McSweeney is using the same kind of underhanded tactics he used to attack Congressman Phil Crane.

Republicans Deserve Better!!!
Turn to McHenry County Blog for mailings and other news on the 8th congressional district race (and, "Why Did Rita Mullins Lie?").


Some more on the DCEO Audit

Once again Bill Holland gets himself taken off Gov. Blagojevich's Christmas card list.

This time it's an audit of DCEO...(summary here, full audit here)

It would appear that when DCEO sites job numbers, it is based off of projected jobs created/retained instead of actual jobs created/retained (why state reality when you can state projections)

They also changed it's performance measurement methodology to include employees that received training in it's reported job creation and retention numbers.

Finally "For 8 out of 10 jobs performance measures in our sample, documentation did not agree with the amount reported"

Also from the audit summary

"Most of DCEO's other reported performance measures we reviewed did not agree with the underlying documentation's; 73 percent (57 of 78) of the figures we tested did not agree."

So the questions that I see coming out of the audit (and might be fun for someone to ask at a hearing).

Why did DCEO feel the need to change it's reporting methodology to include workers trained as part of the job retention/created numbers?

Did this change have anything to do with the fact that the numbers appear from the audit to have gone down during part of the current administrations term?

Who suggested the change in methodology?

Did the change have anything to do with the fact that the old methodology showed a 60,000 jobs created/retained in FY 01 and about 30,000 in FY 2003?

What steps is DCEO taking to address the issues related to documentation of performance figures?

Since DCEO has felt it appropriate to report projections instead of actual numbers has DCEO taken any steps to examine the accuracy of their projection methodology, if so what has DCEO learned from the examination of their methodology?

If DCEO has not undertaken any activities to evaluate the projection methodology, why not?

A lot of these questions are related to the questions that HR 671 passed on 5-30-2004 wanted addressed.

On page v of the summary it points out that the Illinois Coal Development Board, chaired by the Director of DCEO, was not seated by the DCEO director and has not met to provide advice on expenditures. If this is correct than who recommended that the state spend $15 million on coal development projects since it would appear that group that is supposed to make recommendations on these sort of expenditures isn't or a least wasn't seated. (Read the press release the money did come from DCEO).
Just asking



Breaking News

The AP reporters George Ryan will not testify:

George Ryan will not testify in his own defense at his racketeering and fraud trial, his chief defense counsel said Wednesday.

"He will not be testifying in this case and that is his final decision,'' Dan K. Webb told U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.

Webb said he recommended to the former governor that he not testify because Webb did not believe the government proved its case.

Webb also confirmed that Ryan's co-defendant, Larry Warner, was not planning to take the witness stand either, signaling that the marathon, five-month trial in a downtown Chicago federal courtroom was nearing its final stage.

Also, according to the AP, it looks like Rod's be using some fuzzy math:

The Blagojevich administration's count of how many jobs it has created is filled with errors and loose definitions that inflate the total, state auditors reported Wednesday.

Auditor General William Holland said Gov. Rod Blagojevich's commerce department counts jobs it expects will be created through grant programs instead of tracking the number actually created.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity also changed its methods so that people undergoing training are counted as new jobs, even though the trainees are people who already have jobs, auditors said.

Auditors also found errors in the department's math and a lack of documents to support some figures.


Like We Needed An Audit To Tell Us This

The SJ-R is reporting that the Governor is fudging job numbers... Actually it's more like he's telling whoppers:

"The Blagojevich administration's count of how many jobs it has created is filled with errors and loose definitions that inflate the total, state auditors reported today.

Auditor General William Holland said Gov. Rod Blagojevich's commerce department counts jobs it expects will be created through grant programs instead of tracking the number actually created.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity also changed its methods so that people undergoing training are counted as new jobs, even though the trainees are people who already have jobs, auditors said.

Auditors also found errors in the department's math and a lack of documents to support some figures."
Chad Shaffer of the Illinois Policy Institute put the new job numbers at 26,000 during the Governor's tenure.


Obama and Byrd

Someone please explain Obama and Byrd for me,

Altogether, the freshman senator from Illinois has helped raise $6.5 million for his political action committee and other Democratic candidates, party committees and state parties from New Jersey to Virginia to Florida.

He brought in about $800,000 with an e-mail message sent out on MoveOn.org on behalf of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., who at age 88 is seeking a ninth term in office.
Ok,, I'm done for a few days... been on blogging roll.


Cook County GOP on Stroger's Hospital

From a Cook County GOP Press Release via It's My Mind,

One has only to take a day trip to John Stroger Hospital and its neighbor Rush Hospital to witness first hand how unequal these two separate facilities really are. While Rush services the predominantly white clientele in North Chicago, Stroger Hospital cares mostly for Chicago's black residents. Countless newspaper stories have chronicled how Democratic patronage has led to gross mismanagement at Stroger Hospital; patients stomped to death by security, babies dying in the waiting room, impossibly long pharmacy lines, and the discouragement patients face while waiting hours at the emergency room. A recent study found that 40% of emergency room patients wait six or more hours before being seen by an attending physician. Twenty percent of patients wait 12 hours or more for an available bed for overnight or follow up treatment.

Complaints like these are seldom heard at Rush. These two facilities are clear examples of 'separate but unequal.' And while the reasons for the disparities are complex, the most obvious (and easily solved) is the odious patronage system that pervades Stroger Hospital. As long as Democratic County President John Stroger continues to use Stroger Hospital as a job factory for his political allies, reform is likely to be slow. The facts are clear, John Stroger gives county jobs not to the most qualified, but to the most politically loyal. This tendency of his to reward friends at the expense of his constituents is a key reason why African Americans struggle to receive timely health care.


Remembering a better day ...

Cross posted on From Where I Blog

Perhaps it's the baby boomer in me or maybe I'm just turning into an old softie in middle age, but history, heritage and 'the good old days' seem to mean more to me as the years roll along.

Maybe that's why I felt like I'd just received word that an old friend had died when I heard the news that Kohlsdorf's Quality Corner in Zeigler had burned earlier this week.

The store had been a fixture on the Zeigler Circle for 87 years and was nothing short of a landmark in the Franklin County community. The photo at left, taken by Ceasar Maragni of the The Southern Illinoisan, shows owner Mike Restivo on the morning after the fire. As he always does, Maragni also does a tremendous job catching the entire scene, the smoldering remains of the store, the water tower in the background and the sadness on Restivo's face.

I was in Zeigler on Tuesday morning to write a follow up on the fire and the theme with everybody I spoke with was two-fold. First, everybody was thankful that nobody was injured and that two adjoining buildings were saved. But, an overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss gripped the community. I think everybody was keenly aware that they had lost something very special ... something that they could never get back.

Some days I can't wait to get to my blog to rant about Muslim cartoons, liberal vs. conservative, Dem vs. Republican issues and whatever else happens to be making the news.There are other days, and today is one of them, when I want to stay as far away from those stories as I can and escape to a day long ago when businesses like Kohlsdorf's was thriving in small coal mining communities like Zeigler.

Instead of troubling my mind with all the hysteria, controversy, angst and anguish in the world, today I want to instead remember the many times that my mom would send me to M & B Market in Sesser to get something she needed so she could have supper 'on the table' when my dad walked in the door from his job at Old Ben Mine 21.

Maybe it's because I grew up in a small town but the mood in Zeigler rubbed off on me because I left town feeling sad also. I left town thinking about M & B Market, Butler's Store, Rozenski's Neighborhood Grocery, Klein's Grocery, Lackey's Market and a better time. Long before the days of cradle to grave shopping at Wal-Mart it seemed that every section of town had a neighborhood grocery or a store like Kohlsdorf's. Sadly, those days and those stores are dwindling fast or already gone.

While I always encourage visitors to this site to comment, I would be especially interested today to know if you also have good memories of those long ago days and the neighborhood grocery.

Thanks for taking a little trek down memory lane with me today.

Here's a story I wrote about the day following the fire.

And ... in every tragedy there's always a light-hearted moment.

At the Zeigler Cafe there was no liver and onions on Tuesday, but plenty of smiles.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hurry up and take the photo

Can you imagine the conversation before this photo was taken?


Grace period voter registration starts tomorrow

If you are not registered at your current address, it's not too late!

You have a grace period of two more weeks to register to vote or to update your address, but you must do so at the office of the county clerk or election commission.

Thanks to Representative Robin Kelly and Senator James Meeks, Illinois citizens may register to vote for an additional 14 days past the regular deadline of 28 days before the election. That regular deadline is today, Tuesday, February 21. The additional two weeks of voter registration is a grace period, and grace period registration is available from Wednesday, February 22nd through March 7th.

This is the first election where grace period registration is permitted.

For details on the new law (which was SB 2133 in the 93rd General Assembly and is now Public Act 93-1082, read it here), see this page.

The bill passed both houses largely on a party-line vote and is one of the many bills that make life better for people because of a Democratic government.

Cook County Clerk David Orr's office deserves credit for supporting the bill early, and the Illinois Association of Clerks and Election Administrators also deserve credit for not opposing the bill (and coming to negotiate in good faith).

I don't think this new grace period is widely understood, so bloggers can help get the word out to include more people in the election.


Big Games in a Big Tent

Larry the Archpundit noticed that the gay-obsessed Illinois Family Institute are upset that Chicago is hosting the Gay Games VII but taking a pass on the Republican National Convention.

While the piece is generally the type of journalism we've come to expect from the IFI -- i.e. IFI "reporter" Peter LaBarbera quotes IFI "Executive Director" Peter LaBarbera -- one of LaBarbera's complaints about the Gay Games stood out:

The Chicago "Gay Games" face an additional challenge of competing with an alternate homosexual athletic contest in Montreal, also in July, called the "Out Games." The two homosexual sporting events are recruiting from the same pool of athletes, and the Out Games just landed world renown lesbian tennis star Martina Navratilova to open their competition.
Yes, you read it right -- The Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera is concerned about Chicago's Gay Games because it may not be able to attract enough homosexual athletes!

But Mr. LaBarbera shouldn't worry -- one doesn't have to be gay to compete in the Gay Games:
The Gay Games are open to anyone. There are no qualifying events, no minimum or maximum requirements, and no mandatory affiliations. The Games are built on the founding principles of Participation, Inclusion, and Personal Best, and promote a supportive environment, free from bigotry, where participants achieve success by their own measure. ***

[N]early 50,000 individuals of different races, genders, sexual orientations, national origin, physical and athletic abilities, health statuses, ages, religious and socio-economic backgrounds have come together from around the world in the spirit of Participation, Inclusion and Personal Best.
So even if you are a straight as Abraham Lincoln -- or as gay as Abraham Lincoln -- you are welcome at Chicago's Gay Games.

Alas, the same could not be said of the Republican National Convention.

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


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