Saturday, April 30, 2005

sorry about not posting

I went to the White Sox game last night with my brother, who is also a blogger.

He asked me about not posting. I didn't have a particularly good answer.

Are there any Democrats making noise about running against Blagojevich?

If not I'm thinking I should as least write an agenda for the state. (I don't like the term "platform" for some reason.) I'm curious if it would generate any enthusiasm.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Do I have to choose D or R?

Archpundit sent me to this post by ILPundit.
The basics, for those of you who are new, is this: Yes, the Governor has problems. But he is well positioned because he has cut all of the low-hanging fruit from the state budget, and held the line to an almost insane degree on general tax increases. This forces a Republican opponent into one of two positions of attack against him: 1) Identify new, deeper budget cuts – which all carry heavy political risk because the low hanging fruit is gone, or 2) Raise taxes – which is unpopular with “the base”.
What if an independent runs on a sensible agenda for the state's budget woes?

If the Democratic and Republican nominees are talking complete bullshit about the state budget, the media would cover an independent candidate that told the truth, right?

Friday, April 15, 2005

do you want CN to interview challengers?

I am the victim of many interesting ideas coming into my head.

Before the March, 2004 primary I attempted to interview all Dem and Republican U.S. Senate candidates on Collective Interest.

I haven't been doing much with Collective Interest this semester (I haven't done a new interview in awhile), but they still like me enough at WUIC, the Internet radio station of the University of Illinois at Chicago, that I was invited to the end of the semester function.

Does the Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders audience want me to interview candidates for governor? If there seems to be ethusiasm for the idea in the comments, I will make it happen.

BTW, I'm not gonna go easy on any of these candidates.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

CTA fare increases

It's lousy public policy. And it's bullshit that Rod's "no tax increase" pledge takes priority over public transportation.

But if public transit fares are gonna increase, let's pass the cost on to employers.

Employers will be required to pay for fare cards to get to and from work.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

political violence in Forest Park

According to the Forest Park Review (Bob Uphues) the Illinois AG was going to hold a press conference (today?) about file charges against Berwyn Public Safety Director Frank Marzullo and his crew for beating Wayne Pesek, a former North Riverside village administrator.

Why the Illinois AG instead of the Cook County States Attorney? It appears Marzullo's son, Jerry, who was present during the incident is an attorney working for Devine. There are also reports one of Marzullo's crew tried to use his badge to bully the Forest Park police when they were investigating.

Who said life in the 'burbs was boring?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Stroger and Rezko

Cook County Board Prez John Stroger made Antoin "Tony" Rezko an honorary chair of a fundraiser. See Chicago Tribune (Mickey Ciokajlo and John Chase).

Does this have significance for Blagojevich?

education money

Achpundit wrote about education funding.
The basic problem is that [a tax swap] hurts suburban districts that are politically powerful so any deal is unlikely to work without a general tax increase that involves some sort of hold harmless function for them in terms of state funds. This hold harmless condition is why Blagojevich won't touch it--there is no way to generate that much cash without a general increase in taxes meaning sales or income.
Here's my observation.

Liberals have been talking about making education "equal" and "closing the gap" for decades.

This pushes lower-middle income "Whites" toward the conservative camp. There's two ways to close a gap or achieve equality. One can bring the bottom up, but it's always easier to bring the top down.

Lower-middle income "Whites" know that rich kids aren't going to be brought down to the level of Black kids, but affluent liberals are willing to sacrifice the children of lower-middle income "Whites" for liberal ideology.

I would advocate a two-prong fix of education funding.
1. Health care costs. School districts are powerless to contain skyrocketing health care costs. Have the federal government protect local government, including school districts from health care costs that rise faster than inflation.
2. Vastly improve education. Society should rethink education from the point of view of serving the middle of the bell curve. In the '50s the United States started to emphasize honors/gifted education. More recently the United States has devoted vast resources to disabled students. Society should figure out what constitutes a high quality education for everybody and create a system that vastly improves education across the board. When the parents become convinced that there's a plan to improve education for their children the money will be there.

Blago vs. Bradley

Read Rich Miller's post. He thinks Blagojevich is being duplicious toward Bradley. Anybody think otherwise?

overwhelming Blagojevich's brain

Rich Miller gigs Blagojevich for apparently lying about a bill to divide Boone County and other counties into judicial subcircuits to make it easier to elect Democrats as judges.

I don't exclude the possibility Blagojevich is lying, but consider another option.

Maybe Blagojevich gets overwhelmed keeping track of all the details.

Let's say Blagojevich is more of a fundraiser and a campaigner than a policy wonk. Maybe Blagojevich is using up his higher thinking functions on fundraising and how to keep himself out of trouble on his shady deals. It could be enough to make him forget or temporarily forget the nuance of electing judges in Rockford.

anti-death penalty jurrors

Should prosecutors be able to exclude people that oppose the death penalty for moral reasons from juries that may have to consider a request to execute the defendent?

The law seems to say that society's decision that the death penalty is OK trumps the individual's opposition, even though opposing the death penalty isn't particularly rare.

When should individual morality be able to trump society's legislative process? See Archpundit for a thoughts on the manufactured controversy about pharmacists refusing to provide physician prescribed medications.

Friday, April 08, 2005

CTA riders restless

If the State of Illinois can't find more money, the CTA is threatening fair increases and/or service cuts. See the Chicago Tribune (Jon Hilkevitch).

Since fairs just increased recently ($1.50==>$1.75 and $1.80==>$2.00 for a transfer) it seems there shouldn't be another fair increase.

As someone who uses the bus less than the "L", I'm probably not as rigid about defending cuts in bus service as people who rely on the bus. However, some of the cuts that generate opposition are reasonable cuts and the objections are reactions to the symbolism.

For example, I remember the West Side generated significant noise over the CTA wanting to cut the Washington bus. The CTA figured having a parallel bus on Madison, one block away, would still meet the needs of the community. If you think about it, having six busses per hour on Madison is better than having four per hour on both Washington and Madison, unless you're in the bus driver union.

That said, the current shortfall is huge. The cuts needed to cover this will require cutting more than redundant bus lines. But transportation advocates need to be reasonable too. As the metro area changes new routes are needed and old routes become obsolete.

I stand by my earlier statement:
If the choice is

A. raise CTA fares
B. tax software

I'll support B.

But if the choice is

A. raise CTA fares
B. tax software
C. repeal Blagojevich's tax pledge
D. something else, like cancel Peotone spending

C or D seem at least as good as B.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

campaign disclosure reports

What are the requirements for Illinois campaign disclosure forms listing profession and employer for contributors?

I am doing research on some stuff for the Forest Park Review. (Have you seen my article on Captain Chris Miller of Naval Reserve Center Forest Park being activated as part of the U.S. military's tsunami relief effort?) I've noticed that campaigns don't do a very good job with this part of the forms.

To pick on Karen Yarbrough, Joe Ponsetto contributed to her campaign. On her D-2s it says something to the effect that the campaign made a good faith effort to determine Ponsetto's occupation and employer. I know Yarbrough knows he's an attorney that works for the Illinois Attorney General.

And another thing.

Illinois allows corporations and businesses to contribute. But sometimes this can be used to obfuscate who is actually writing the check. What are the rules on this? Should contributions from businesses be required to disclose the head of the business?

i'm not making this up

I was down at one of the downtown government buildings when I overheard a young woman on a mobile phone say, "If I don't get my court date changed, I won't be able to go the Jerry Springer Show."

congrats Henderson Yarbrough

Henderson Yarbrough was elected president of the Village of Maywood.

Henderson Yarbrough is one of the nicest people I've met in politics. He's also Rep. Karen Yarbrough's (D-Maywood) husband.

I mention this because I have a theory about local government.

Over time the tax burden has shifted from the income tax to the property tax. This is the same period when non-partisan local government became the rage.

I suspect that disconnecting local elections from the Democrats and the Republicans in the state legislatures and Congress made it easier for states and the federal government to pass problems down to local government without passing adequate funding along with the problems.


subsidizing big business

The Chicago Tribune (Bruce Japsen) has an article on the front page drawing attention to Blagojevich giving state money to pharmaceutical companies at the same time he uses them for whipping boys.

For some reason this doesn't bother me. I can see criticizing the aspects of pharmaceutical companies that are offensive, like price gouging, while working with them on job creation.

For me these are the questions:

1. Does subsidizing business actually net the government money?
2. Does government--both Democrats and Republicans--prefer large corporate businesses over small business?
3. What's it say about free market ideology that business gets so much help from government in this country?

Rauschenberger web site

Rauschenberber's gubernatorial campaign is looking for volunteers.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Rumman leaves CMS

Is this significant? How so?

Did Rumman promote efficiency?

State Journal-Register (May Massingale):
The director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services is leaving that post after two years to return to the private sector.

During his tenure, Michael Rumman turned CMS into one of the state's most powerful agencies by consolidating several functions at a savings he tallies at $600 million. However, Rumman also oversaw an abandoned attempt to move toward a self-insured group health insurance system for state workers that brought legislative and apparent federal scrutiny to the bidding process.
The Tribune article (John Chase) lists some specific criticisms:
Since taking over at Central Management Services in the days after Blagojevich was sworn in, Rumman has made changes and had several proposals become the focus of controversy. Perhaps best known was his plan to mortgage the state's showcase James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, a deal shot down as illegal by Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan hours before the papers were to be signed.

Rumman also was criticized for pushing an insurance plan for state workers without a legislative panel's approval, allowing contractors to begin work before contracts with the state were signed and, most recently, making an unprecedented request for upfront cash from vendors bidding on a multimillion-dollar office-supply contract.

Auditor General William Holland last year lashed out at Rumman's Central Management Services for allowing Mesirow Stein Development Services Inc., a politically connected company, to begin work on a $25 million contract reviewing state assets before the agreement was signed, raising questions about how the money was being spent.

sore losers

Has anybody else noticed that we've had a string of sore losers in Illinois politics?

Joe Birkett
Phil Crane
Alan Keyes

And the latest name to add to the list is Oak Park's Diana Carpenter, incumbent trustee that lost her VMA-endorsed bid for village president. From the coverage in the Wednesday Journal.
At the Carleton Hotel Tuesday night, Carpenter told a crowd of supporters that she was “shocked as could be,” and voiced bitter disappointment.

“Single issue voters and angry people will not be allowed to take over Oak Park. People have worked too hard for more than 30 years to allow lies and deceit to win,” she said. “We will continue because we are better and more knowledgeable.”
Carpenter blames her loss on "single issue voters and angry people"? Saying her opposition used "lies and deceit"? Gimme an effin break!

Carpenter was out-of-touch with Oak Park activists and voters. If she was "shocked" that she lost, she's probably the only one. Also, she's none too bright. She's got a sense of entitlement. And she's a sourpuss.

Maybe all the time the VMA devotes to training its candidates should include 30 minutes training them on losing graciously.

Highwood Mayor

Forgive me for being petty, but I'm gonna slam Vincent Donofrio, who was elected mayor of Highwood yesterday. He won 553-545. I only learned he was running while browsing the web last night.

About January, 1996, Donofrio and I had a vehicle collission. He was doing something illegal, but no one was hurt, so I wasn't terribly excited about it.

I was driving from home (667 Homewood, Highland Park) to work (Ft. Sheridan). I drove north on Midlothian and east on Owentsia. The accident occurred as I was turning left onto Green Bay Road from Owentsia. See Google Maps and enter "Owentsia & Green Bay Rd, Highland Park, IL".

One block south of there is a five-way intersection with a traffic light. The traffic was backed-up past Owentsia. A truck left me through to turn left (north). As I turned onto Green Bay I looked to my right (to the south) for northbound traffic. Seeing none I entered the northbound lane where my vehicle collided with Donofrio's vehicle which was driving south.

Donofrio I presume was also on his way to work. He was a banker in Highland Park and drove a big banker type car. He was trying to get to the left turn lane at the stop light at the five-way intersection.

When the officer arrived I didn't try to argue the collission was Donofrio's fault because it was obvious. He was driving south in the northbound lane. However, after Donofrio left the scene the officer wrote me the moving violation. I was shocked, but I didn't get pissed at Donofrio until later.

I went to court to contest the moving violation. These things get dropped unless a witness appears to testify. Donofrio wasn't satisfied that he got off, he had the audacity to come to court to testify against me.

But the U.S. Constitution gives me the right to confront my accusers (unless they are from the Bush administration and I'm accused of certain anti-government activities). So I got to cross examine Donofrio.

I asked him if the officer and him knew each other before the accident. He responded "no". Now that he's been elected mayor of Highwood, I'm thinking I should have asked the question differently. "Who do you know in the Highland Park Police Department?" probably would have made my point better.

I also asked Donofrio about the large handicap placard hanging from his rear view mirror. The prosecutor objected. I explained that based on the angle of collission the placard would have obstructed Donofrio's view of my vehicle. The judge allowed my question. Donofrio became agitated and started making excuses about how it was his mother's placard and of course he didn't use it to park illegally. He was nervous enough that he certainly seemed to be lying. BTW, back then those handicap placards were much bigger and then explicitly said they were to be removed while driving.

The other thing in my favor was that the cop and the prosecutor introduced a map of the streets into evidence that showed the left turn lane at the five-way intersection. The left-turn lane did no extend through the previous intersection (duh!) nor did it extend to it. The cop and the prosecutor were trying to claim that there were two southbound lanes on Green Bay and that Donofrio was driving in the second lane.

Green Bay is a major north-south road in Lake County, so I'm sure the judge knew the prosecutor and cop were lying. Plus their claims didn't match the diagram they introduced into evidence.

Donofrio is a liar. He's a cheat. He's got no shame about having it good. And I suspect he used his connections in the Highland Park PD to arrange to get me a ticket when he was the person at fault.

Forest Park & Proviso

Congrats to Cathleen McDermott, Charles Flowers and Chris Welch in Forest Park and Proviso Township.

Moraine Township Dems win

Congrats to the Moraine Township Democrats that won all township races minus assessor.

(I volunteered doing door-to-door work in that campaign.)