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Friday, August 31, 2007

Feds spied on Coretta King after civil rights icon slain

This story for today's Sun-Times I would find utterly disturbing, almost police state like. Though it is easy for me to blow this off as nothing less than a rumor from the conspiracy theorists, if it is proven then certainly it's far from just a rumor. Even then all that Mrs. King could have done was express her constitutional rights, I can see if she was working with the "enemy".

Ah well just read this story and I'm sure you've got your own ideas...

Federal agents spied on the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for several years after his assassination in 1968, according to newly released documents that reveal the FBI worried about her following in the footsteps of the slain civil rights icon.

In memos that reveal Coretta Scott King being closely followed, the FBI noted concern that she might attempt ''to tie the anti-Vietnam movement to the civil rights movement.''

Four years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, the FBI closed its file on Coretta Scott King, saying, ''No information has come to the attention of Atlanta which indicates a propensity for violence or affiliation of subversive elements,'' according to a memo dated Nov. 30, 1972.

The documents were obtained by Houston television station KHOU in a story aired Thursday. Coretta Scott King died in January 2006 at the age of 78.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, who headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference -- which King co-founded in 1957 -- said the documents illustrate the FBI's pattern of ''despicable and devious'' civil rights era behavior against the organization and those affiliated with it.

''The FBI kept a microphone everywhere they could where the SCLC was concerned,'' said Lowery, who said the agency had an SCLC staff member on its payroll.

''Since we had nothing to hide, it was no great problem for us. But we don't put it past the FBI; [then-FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover hated Martin Luther King and everything that the SCLC stood for.''

Kentucky governor snubs Aurora in ad

From today's Tribune...
When the governor of Kentucky visited Aurora recently, he didn't tell local officials that he intended to use the City of Lights to convince TV viewers that casinos bring evils and temptations into communities.

During his July visit, Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's crew took footage of the Hollywood Casino in Aurora. It was used as a TV ad as he readies himself for a re-election campaign.

Fletcher stopped in for a brief chat with Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner but didn't mention the planned ads.

"We are too busy working on things in Aurora to worry about the governor's race in Kentucky," said Carie Anne Ergo, city spokeswoman. She said Aurora found out the day the first ad aired last week because the mayor's office began getting phone calls from journalists in Kentucky.

Although not named specifically, the pink and yellow Hollywood Casino building scrolls across the background of the 30-second TV spot -- also on the governor's Web site -- while Fletcher denounces casinos for having negative social, economic and moral implications on the cities they serve.

"It's a story without a happy ending," Fletcher says in the ad.

Marty Ryall, the governor's campaign manager, said Fletcher visited an undisclosed number of communities with casinos within "a close proximity" to Kentucky as part of his "No Casino Tour."
If I recall correctly this governor has his own ethical issues. I guess he's doing what other ethically challenged politicians do, distract the electorate from his own problems. What can be said about that, eh?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mary Mitchell discusses the case of the Jena 6

I've not really looked too hard into this case. This is another case where it seems blacks are singled out. Almost a throw back to the Jim Crow era. Well I'll let you judge that especially when you read her column. BTW, read her blog about this subject too. You'll know a little more about this situation here & here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Governor sues the Speaker of the House

Gov. Blagojevich didn't like the fact that Speaker Michael J. Madigan wouldn't hold special sessions on the time and date that the governor had set in his proclamations. This news was covered a lot around the state yesterday, check out this roundup yesterday from The Capitol Fax Blog and the roundup today.

I guess the governor saw his vision going up in flames at this moment whether it's the GRT or his Illinois Care program he's trying anything to get his way. Anything other than seemingly playing nice or perhaps fine tuning his plan or perhaps really work and make friends with members of the legislature. I don't know there are many ways of doing this task.

Anyway, I saw this piece about the situation involving the Blagojevich lawsuit from the Airbags section of Gaper's Block. It's pretty good with heavy references to video game characters. Of course since I'm not very family with those games, I'm gonna have to take their word for it.

And also this was linked in today's Capitol Fax Blog roundup about the governor's lawsuit the Sun-Times put out an editorial...
Blagojevich sued Madigan last week because Madigan didn't convene special sessions when the governor ordered him to and then started to ignore the sessions entirely. We might agree that Madigan was being irresponsible -- if the governor wasn't abusing his power to call the meetings. They should be used in the case of genuine emergencies, when the Legislature isn't already in session. They shouldn't be used for showboating, or to harass lawmakers, or as a replacement for working with legislative leaders.

That's what Blagojevich has used them for. He's called 16 special sessions on this or that issue so far this year, one less than 2004, when he also was engaged in a battle with lawmakers over the budget. He accounts for nearly half of the 67 special sessions called by governors since the state's 1970 Constitution was adopted.

That constitution gives him the authority to call for the special meetings to discuss a specific topic, but it doesn't clearly say the governor may set the date and time. It would probably be a good thing to settle that issue. But that will do nothing to settle the underlying problem -- that Blagojevich was ordering lawmakers to show up when there was nothing for them to do, often on weekends. For instance, he called a special session to address CTA funding on August 13. He offered no bill of his own, but he did threaten to veto the only realistic proposal on the table, an increase in the regional mass transit sales tax.
Oh and let's go back to the Gaper's Block post here...
But Madigan's dismissive attitude, and the accompanying rage felt by much of the legislature towards Blagojevich, isn't because they care that Madigan doesn't like the governor — it's because many of them have been given their own, personalized reasons to dislike the his behavior. Blagojevich has plenty of good ideas — certainly, a comprehensive plan to insure every single Illinoisan is great. Just discussing such a plan makes Blagojevich better than 90 percent of U.S. governors. But press releases don't make policy, negotiation makes policy. Blagojevich has ended up in these fights not only because he refuses to obey, but because he provokes legislators whom he perceives as being "his" legislators rather than "the people's" legislators.
...
Of course, Illinoisans, like the crowd in the background of Ken's stage in Street Fighter II: Turbo, just throw up their hands and watch the spectacle of a governor suing a house speaker of the same party — in fact, the chairman of that party — with a "boys will be boys" type attitude. Perhaps the politicians in their bickering have reduced it to that, but I can't help get the feeling that the general failure to talk about the budget crisis as being about practical problems facing government, fundamental problems with how we fund our priorities, and what those priorities are, makes people disinterested and disillusioned.
Another Capitol Fax Blog item involves some polling. The vacationing Rich Miller gets us up to speed on what Illinoisians think. Not only that he concludes that Illinoisians know what's going on at the moment...
1 - How do you rate the way that George W. Bush is performing his role as President? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

15% Excellent
17% Good

14% Fair
53% Poor

1% Not Sure

* BUSH TOTALS: 32% good or excellent… 67% fair or poor…

2 - How do you rate the way that Rod Blagojevich is performing his role as Governor? Excellent, good, fair, or poor?

5% Excellent
17% Good

25% Fair
53% Poor

1% Not Sure

* BLAGOJEVICH TOTALS: 22% good or excellent… 78% fair or poor…
...
11 - Who is most to blame for the government’s budget stalemate—Governor Rod Blagojevich, the state legislature, special interest groups, or voters?

53% Blagojevich

19% State Legislature

20% Special Interest Groups

2% Voters

7% Not Sure

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Daley leads rally to support mass transit

From today's Crain's. I really hope that this partial shutdown and fare increases can be averted since Springfield doesn't appear to be coming to the rescue anytime soon...
Calling Springfield legislators’ inability to pass a transit funding package “a recipe for disaster,” Mayor Richard M. Daley led a rally in support of mass transit Tuesday in downtown Chicago.

Mr. Daley was joined by transit leaders and elected officials who sweated together onstage under the midday sun outside the James R. Thompson Center while urging the General Assembly and Gov. Rod Blagojevich to forge an agreement on a transit funding package that has been under discussion for months in Springfield.

“We’re here to challenge Springfield to fundamentally reform the way public transit is funded in our state,” Mr. Daley said.

A crowd of often-vociferous demonstrators, led by groups of sign-waving union members, loudly cheered nearly every utterance from Mr. Daley.

“If Springfield doesn’t act, Chicagoans of every background will pay the price” in increased traffic and greater pollution, said Mr. Daley, his voice rising with the howls and claps of approval.

About a dozen other speakers, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias took their turns at the microphone.

The Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace are facing a combined operating budget shortfall in the neighborhood of $200 million that they say could force them to raise fares and cut service within weeks.

The CTA has said it will be forced to hike cash rail fares by 50%, to $3 from $2, cut 39 bus routes and lay off about 700 workers, nearly all of them union members. Those actions will take effect Sept. 16 unless the agency receives a bailout from Springfield, the CTA has said.

State's July job losses most in 2 years: report

From Crain's Chicago Business...
Illinois lost more jobs in July than it has in any month in the last two years, according to a University of Illinois research group.

“It appears that the effects of the subprime mortgage debacle are beginning to affect the economy, especially in the construction sector,” Geoffrey Hewings, director of the University of Illinois’ Regional Economics Application Laboratory, says in an e-mail.

The state lost 11,500 jobs from June to July, an overall decline of 0.19%. The job losses were Illinois’ most severe since July 2005, the group said.

The data was contained in a monthly report from the Illinois Coalition for Jobs, Growth and Prosperity, a nonprofit backed by a number of business groups, including the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois’ Manufacturers’ Assn.

From June to July, the rest of the Midwest lost jobs at a clip of 0.12%, or 23,800 jobs, according to the group. Illinois and the rest of the Midwest fared much worse than the nation as a whole, which added 92,000 jobs in July.

Sectors the hardest hit in the state were government and trade, transportation and utilities. Illinois’ manufacturing and leisure and hospitality industries added jobs in July.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Many seek Devine's job

More news on the emerging field for Cook County State's Attorney from the Sun-Times this morning...

Outgoing Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine was there, along with DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett and Will County State's Attorney Jim Glasgow, as Devine's second-in-command, Bob Milan, held his campaign kickoff last week.

So is Devine endorsing Milan as his successor as the county's top prosecutor, overseeing the $90 million office and its 1,300 employees?

No, said Devine. He said he's not about to designate an heir, not with his third-in-command, Anita Alvarez, and his friend and former finance chief, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, also jumping into the race.

"I think very highly of Bob," Devine said. "He's my first assistant. Anita Alvarez has also expressed some interest, Larry Suffredin, [Ald.] Tom Allen, a number of people out there. We'll just have to see how it sorts out. My major interest is to see whoever is elected will build on the things we have done, over the last 11 years, make decisions based on the evidence of the case and not what the political world looks like outside."

At least half the 800 prosecutors in the office were on hand for Milan's campaign kickoff Wednesday.

Milan has spent his 19 years as a lawyer in the office. Alvarez has been there 21 years.

Suffredin worked in the public defender's office before becoming a lobbyist and county commissioner. Allen also worked as an assistant public defender.

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) has launched his campaign for the office, saying he wants to indict more police officers for brutality. That rankled Devine and Milan, who say they have prosecuted 100 officers. Brookins has hired Mike Noonan to manage his campaign.

Larry Rogers Jr., a commissioner on the county Board of Review who helped win a $100 million settlement for Scott and Janet Willis after six of their children were killed in a highway wreck caused by a truck driver who got his license with a bribe, is considering jumping in.

Terrence "T.J." Sheahan, son of former Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan -- with only eight years of practicing law but four years of prosecution experience -- might bring his powerful name and his father's unused $1 million political war chest into the race, too.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has also been encouraged to consider a run, as has County Commissioner Mike Quigley, who still has $500,000 in his war chest from the Cook County Board president race that he dropped out of.

Attorney Tommy Brewer, who has lost races for state's attorney and sheriff before, is also running.

Allen, Brookins, Suffredin and Brewer have all appeared before Democratic committeemen and will appear again along with Alvarez when the committeemen hold their formal slating meeting Sept. 6 -- more than two months earlier than usual thanks to the moved-up primary in this election cycle. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote from the committeemen representing Cook County's 50 wards and 30 townships, the party won't slate a candidate and it will be an open primary.

Divorcing Gary is hard to do

I can't say I would be surprised by this. I'm surprised no one has tried this sooner. Leaving a city, almost like what the San Fernando Valley tried to do in Los Angeles.

In this case we're talking about Gary, Indiana. Gary is a largely struggling city almost a half hour away from Chicago. It was host to a black political convention in the 1970s and in its heyday it was a steel town. Manufacturing steel was for the most part was its only industry. Then the steel industry down shifted and Gary's been struggling for a long time.

So let's have a look at who's trying to leave Gary from Today's Tribune...
Along Lake Michigan, the cozy, charming Miller community is a place where beach dwellers' time seems to slow.

On the outskirts of downtrodden Gary, some of the enclave's residents long have considered themselves estranged from their gritty city.

But in recent weeks, a heated, sometimes passionate conversation has unfolded over whether Miller should legally divorce Gary. The idea has been batted around before, but in more abstract ways. This time, some residents are working on a formal plan, circulating fliers and researching how much time and money it would take to break away.

The concept is the topic of discussion in local restaurants, bars and cafes. It's been the buzz on e-mail listservs and in chat rooms; written about in the local papers and debated on radio programs.

"[Some] people are wild about this," said Nora Glenn, a longtime Miller resident who facilitates an online community information board where residents discuss their concerns. "I don't get it -- and I don't like this conversation. Our schools, this environmental issue with BP, that's the stuff we should be discussing. But no ... we're not. This is definitely the hot topic."

The discussion illustrates how frustrated some taxpayers and homeowners are with Gary government and an image of struggling schools, corruption and high crime. Crime statistics still rank the city as one of the nation's most violent. Test scores in public schools are below the national average, and recently the state ordered city leaders to cut $11 million from the budget.

"The city of Gary is in terrible financial shape, and it's not due to the amount of money they collect," said Nat McKnight, who's trying to gauge interest in the idea of breaking away. "They are not willing to economize and protect the tax base. That's what disannexation is all about. It might be better for Gary and Miller if this comes to pass."

The conversation grew out of a recent increase in property taxes. James Nowacki and other homeowners began to wonder if Miller could form an independent, efficient government supported by the property taxes its residents currently pay.

Even proponents of the idea say separating wouldn't eliminate all of the problems. If Miller and surrounding neighborhoods were to become the village of Miller Beach, a 9-square-mile region would be sliced from Gary, including pockets of poverty.

"We're not just grabbing a great section of town," Nowacki said. "There are assets, but there are problems too. By no means are we looking at scraping off the cream and leaving the other things behind."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Have racial preferences reduced the number of black lawyers?

From Opinion Journal...

Three years ago, UCLA law professor Richard Sander published an explosive, fact-based study of the consequences of affirmative action in American law schools in the Stanford Law Review. Most of his findings were grim, and they caused dismay among many of the champions of affirmative action--and indeed, among those who were not.

Easily the most startling conclusion of his research: Mr. Sander calculated that there are fewer black attorneys today than there would have been if law schools had practiced color-blind admissions--about 7.9% fewer by his reckoning. He identified the culprit as the practice of admitting minority students to schools for which they are inadequately prepared. In essence, they have been "matched" to the wrong school.

No one claims the findings in Mr. Sander's study, "A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools," are the last word on the subject. Although so far his work has held up to scrutiny at least as well as that of his critics, all fair-minded scholars agree that more research is necessary before the "mismatch thesis" can be definitively accepted or rejected.

Unfortunately, fair-minded scholars are hard to come by when the issue is affirmative action. Some of the same people who argue Mr. Sander's data are inconclusive are now actively trying to prevent him from conducting follow-up research that might yield definitive answers. If racial preferences really are causing more harm than good, they apparently don't want you--or anyone else--to know.
Take William Kidder, a University of California staff advisor and co-author of a frequently cited attack of Sander's study. When Mr. Sander and his co-investigators sought bar passage data from the State Bar of California that would allow analysis by race, Mr. Kidder passionately argued that access should be denied, because disclosure "risks stigmatizing African American attorneys." At the same time, the Society of American Law Teachers, which leans so heavily to the left it risks falling over sideways, gleefully warned that the state bar would be sued if it cooperated with Mr. Sander.

Sadly, the State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners caved under the pressure. The committee members didn't formally explain their decision to deny Mr. Sander's request for these data (in which no names would be disclosed), but the root cause is clear: Over the last 40 years, many distinguished citizens--university presidents, judges, philanthropists and other leaders--have built their reputations on their support for race-based admissions. Ordinary citizens have found secure jobs as part of the resulting diversity bureaucracy.

If the policy is not working, they, too, don't want anyone to know.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hopes that it can persuade the State Bar to reconsider. Its soon-to-be released report on affirmative action in law schools specifically calls for state bar authorities to cooperate with qualified scholars studying the mismatch issue. The recommendation is modest. The commission doesn't claim that Mr. Sander is right or his critics wrong. It simply seeks to encourage and facilitate important research.

The Commission's deeper purpose is to remind those who support and administer affirmative action polices that good intentions are not enough. Consequences also matter. And conscious, deliberately chosen ignorance is not a good-faith option.

Mr. Sander's original article noted that when elite law schools lower their academic standards in order to admit a more racially diverse class, schools one or two tiers down feel they must do the same. As a result, there is now a serious gap in academic credentials between minority and non-minority law students across the pecking order, with the average black student's academic index more than two standard deviations below that of his average white classmate.

Not surprisingly, such a gap leads to problems. Students who attend schools where their academic credentials are substantially below those of their fellow students tend to perform poorly.

The reason is simple: While some students will outperform their entering academic credentials, just as some students will underperform theirs, most students will perform in the range that their academic credentials predict. As a result, in elite law schools, 51.6% of black students had first-year grade point averages in the bottom 10% of their class as opposed to only 5.6% of white students. Nearly identical performance gaps existed at law schools at all levels. This much is uncontroversial.

More on the two girls who were shot yesterday...

From the Tribune...
On Friday night, the two teens, both honor roll students at Fenger High School, were talking with a young man in the first block of East State Street in the Roseland neighborhood when they were shot, police and family members said.

Brown and Ross stopped about 10:30 p.m. to chat with an acquaintance they knew from the neighborhood when two men approached. The male with whom the teens were talking had been in two previous confrontations with the other men that day, family members said.

"They came and walked between Patrice and Taniya, walked about five or six steps past them, then one of the boys turned and started shooting," said Brown's grandmother, Darlene Brown. "That's how they ended up in the crossfire."

No one was in custody, and there was no indication the victims were anything more than innocent bystanders, said Chicago Police Officer Tom Polick. The male Brown and Ross had been talking to was not hit.

Brown, 17, lives in the first block of East 101st Street; Ross, 18, lives nearby in the 10100 block of South State Street.
At least I know a little bit more than what Channel 2 said about this story yesterday. As per usual someone is caught in the crossfire between two rivals. The story of violence unfortunately.

How are these two young ladies doing today?

Patrice Brown's heart was still beating Saturday in an Oak Lawn hospital, but it was small comfort to her loved ones. The 17-year-old high school student was brain-dead after a bullet pierced her neck and shattered her spine, family members said.

Eleven miles north, her close friend Taniya Ross was in critical condition as doctors at Stroger Hospital tried to stop internal bleeding from a bullet that had punctured her lungs.
...
Saturday afternoon, Brown's mother, Pat, watched as nurses readied her daughter for one more brain scan in Advocate Christ Medical Center, a test she and her family knew was unlikely to offer any hope of recovery.

"They're going to run another scan to see if there's any sign of brain activity," Pat Brown said. "If not, then we'll have to make the decision whether to keep her on life support. It's hard, because you want your baby to say something to you and you ache for that -- you ache for that, but you know you can't get it."

Pat Brown said she and her mother were driving home from their bowling league in Blue Island when they learned Patrice had been shot.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

2 More Chicago Public Students Shot

Another story that could've been titled "what happened here". The only mystery here is why. From Channel 2...
Patrice Brown was an enthusiastic young woman of deep faith, but instead of planning her future, her mother and grandmother are now planning her funeral – she was 17-years-old.

“My daughter was a senior at Fenger Christian High School, we were talking about her going away to college,” said Brown’s mother Patricia Brown.

Investigators say Brown and her best friend 18-year-old Taniya Ross were walking near 101st and State Streets in the Roseland neighborhood at around 10:30 p.m. Friday when they walked past two young men. Moments later, the paramedics say they reported feeling the sting of bullets and realized they had been shot – Brown in the neck and Ross in the arm.
...
Brown is at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where doctors say she is brain dead.

Taniya Ross is expected to recover, relatives say she was lucky. The bullet that struck her traveled from her arm to her lung causing it to collapse.
...
Area 2 investigators say the young women didn’t have any kind of exchange with the two gunmen and did not even know them. The families say violence in the far south side neighborhood is an epidemic and they want that to change.
While not outside of the range of possibility, it's hard for me to believe that these girls were shot by two young men for no logical reason. Especially if there were no "words" exchanged between the young men and women. And especially if these ladies didn't know these guys. I hope there's an update.

School starts...

From the Chicago Defender and I must say this I wouldn't have any idea about...
Yard signs have been posted on just about every residential block throughout the city as a reminder to more than 400,000 Chicago Public Schools students that summer is coming to a close - "School Starts September 4th."

As CPS and local elected officials prepare for the upcoming school year by stressing the importance of attending school on the first day, a West Side community organization is stressing the opposite.

The North Lawndale Accountability Commission said CPS is all about the business of education and not the mission. The organization said their true mission is to reap the financial rewards of children being in the classroom on the first day.

Last school year, first-day attendance was at an all-time high of 93 percent, up one percentage point from the previous school year. Each percentage point gain in first-day attendance provides CPS with an extra $18 million in funds from the state for the next school year.

Instead of going to school on the first day, the organization aims to make the second day the start of the school year.

"They are telling the kids to come to school on the first day. There is no emphasis on telling the kids to go to school beyond that," Derrick Harris, the NLAC's education commissioner, told the Defender.

The money that has been given to CPS each year based on first-day attendance, Harris said, is not going toward funding the city's schools or parks. He said the money is tied up in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts because there aren't additional funds available from property taxes.

"They rely on it to drive their budget. Our areas have been TIF'd and the money from the property taxes is frozen for the next 23 years. There's just no money in property taxes for education anymore," Harris said.

CPS refutes the allegations is continuing with its "back to school" campaign.

"Our resources have been severely limited by Springfield, and the problem is that the taxpayers are bearing the burden way too much to fund our schools," Michael Vaughn, spokesman for CPS, told the Defender.

Vaughn said funds from TIF districts help, not hurt, the school system because it affords every neighborhood the chance to get state-of-the-art schools.

Gov hit for dumping gang-mediation funds

It's been in the news the past couple of weeks or so that the Governor wanted to use his line-item veto powers to cut "pork" or "earmarks" from the budget so that he can use that money to fund some of his health care iniatives. He even had a press conference with his ally Senate President Emil Jones who pledged to block any attempt to override Gov. Blagojevich's line-item vetos. BTW, I will provide links to the Capitol Fax Blog on the items that the Governor had vetoed.

Anyway from today's Sun-Times here is one the victims of these line-item vetoes...

Funding for an inner-city program that tries to defuse gang conflicts and reduce shootings was eliminated by Gov. Blagojevich as part of his budget cuts, drawing fierce criticism and warnings that violence will spike.

This week, Blagojevich cut $463 million from the state budget passed by the General Assembly, including $6.2 million for CeaseFire, whose workers negotiate conflicts between gang members in neighborhoods across the city.

"It's shocking the governor would do this," said state Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago). "I look at this as a health care issue. The governor wants health care, and yet he is taking a program off the streets that has helped young people from getting shot."

Osterman said workers would likely be laid off early next week, just as students are returning to school and summer violence could spill into classrooms.
CeaseFire began in 2000 in Chicago but since has branched out into the suburbs.

It now runs on an $8 million budget, said CeaseFire executive director Gary Slutkin.

CeaseFire workers have mediated more than 900 conflicts over the last three years, the group's records show. In addition, CeaseFire employees work closely with gang members and their families to prevent future conflicts.

"Instead of remaining the important public safety initiative, [CeaseFire] became a political bargaining chip," Slutkin said.

Blagojevich said Friday in a statement that the state could not afford the program.

Related links
Capitol Fax Blog
Complete vetoes
Health and Human Services cuts
Fresh veto thread
This just in… Governor files veto message *** Message now online *** HGOPs spared the ax ***

CBS2Chicago
Questions Arise Over Governor's Budget Cuts

Chicago Tribune
Squabbling in full view

Friday, August 24, 2007

232,000 ComEd customers without power

It appears that I was apart of this number. From Crain's...

Commonwealth Edison Co. has restored power to 345,000 customers since Thursday’s storms first hit, but 232,000 customers remain without electricity, the utility reported.

The vast majority of those still without power as of noon — 142,000 — are in the northern suburbs, while 51,000 are in the city and 36,000 are in the south suburbs, the utility reported.

With a total of 577,000 customers affected, the storm is quickly approaching the worst weather event for the utility in the last decade: the damage inflicted by the November 1998 storm that interrupted service to 599,000 customers.

And a ComEd spokeswoman says more outages are occurring now as weakened tree limbs fall on electric lines, even though the storm has passed.

“This is one of the most powerful storms we’ve seen in recent years,” she says.

Last year, an Oct. 2 storm affected 470,000 customers —until Thursday, the worst weather event for ComEd since the 1998 storm — and it took ComEd five days to restore power to all of them. This also will be a “multi-day restoration,” a ComEd spokeswoman said, although she couldn’t predict how long it would take.

I'm at a public library right now

Because I wanted to blog, however, the power has been out at my home for over 12 hours. This weather has been something else during this past week. All the sudden it wanted to rain over the past weekend and the Chicago area was battered pretty good the past couple of days.

Every now and then we would get a brown out. The power would flicker on and off, but this time things are different. The power just went out and stayed that way from about 8AM and when I woke up this morning there were still now power at home. I'm hoping that Chicago doesn't become a Gary, Indiana situation as I chronicled not too long ago.

Anyway, that's my story. The primary reason why I won't be blogging much at all today. When things change at home you guys will be the first to know.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bush Compares Iraq to Vietnam

For as long as this war was going on I've heard the "anti-war left" compare the Iraq war to Vietnam. What this means basically is that they believed this wasn't going to turn out well. I suppose it can be generally agreed that Vietnam didn't go so well for various reasons and not just because of the stubborness of the Viet Cong, but also in how the American government then conducted the war.

Anyway fast forward to 2007. President Bush takes a different track on comparisons between the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. From the Washington Post...
President Bush defended his ongoing military commitment in Iraq by linking the conflict there to the Vietnam War, arguing Wednesday that withdrawing U.S. troops would lead to widespread death and suffering as it did in Southeast Asia three decades ago.

"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 'reeducation camps' and 'killing fields,' " Bush told a receptive audience at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention.
In Defense of U.S. Policy in Iraq, Bush Cites Conflicts in Other Places and Eras
In his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention yesterday, President Bush discussed military history while defending his Iraq war policy. This was the latest use of historical analogies by Bush and members of his administration.

The president's decision to draw an explicit link between Iraq and Vietnam comes as he seeks to marshal support for his war policy among Republicans and to blunt calls from Democratic members of Congress for a drawdown of U.S. forces in the coming months. Although his comments played well among the veterans here -- the speech was interrupted with repeated cheers and applause -- the references to the Vietnam conflict, which remains a divisive, emotional issue for many Americans, prompted strong criticism from Democrats.

"The president is drawing the wrong lesson from history," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Bush also offered fresh support for embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, calling him a "good man with a difficult job." On Tuesday, speaking to reporters at a North American summit in Quebec, Bush had expressed his disappointment at the lack of political progress in Iraq and had said that widespread popular frustration could lead Iraqis to replace Maliki.

But in his speech to the veterans, Bush said "it's not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. It is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship."
You notice I don't touch the news about Iraq often enough here. It's not that I'm against the conflict, it's just that it seems so depressing. Especially after what seems to be several promising stories from there.

Yeah I'm talking about the fall of President Dictator Saddam Hussein and the elections over there where insurgents wanted to prevent its success. Then Saddam gets executed for his crimes against his people. There are other little stories of our troops doing a good job and then the optimism of the Iraqi people, but to be sure there are plenty of horrible stories from Iraq.

One thing I can see is based on my understanding of Vietnam, I really don't think the scenarios are similar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Man says cops framed him, seeks $100,000

I don't like to hear stories about this. One the things I do as a blogger is stick up for the police. At the same time no one should tolerate the corrupt or excessive actions of police officers. Unlike a lot of people, I try not to paint a police department as corrupt, brutal, or unfair.

From the Sun-Times...

The city was sued Tuesday for more than $100,000 by a man who claims he was framed by a crew of crooked Chicago cops.

Artis Jackson was arrested on a drug charge in 2004 by officers Erik Johnson and Eural Black.

The officers were arrested the next year on federal corruption charges. Since then, Johnson has pleaded guilty and Black was convicted at trial.

Jackson, meanwhile, skipped bail and was arrested earlier this year for failing to appear in court. But the state drug case against him was dismissed because of the officers' convictions.

The lawsuit claims Jackson's arrest was part of a widescale pattern of corruption by the officers and others.

The officers targeted men like Jackson because they had criminal records and were easier to frame, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Kenneth N. Flaxman.
Heh, this man suing the city skipped bail and was arresting for failing to appear in court. He doesn't sound like an honest man already. The fact is the charges against him by these two disgraced officers were dismissed. That only lets me know that this actually happened and it was proven in court. In addition to that one of these officers pleaded guily and the other convicted.

Like I said I hate to see stories like this, but at least the system works not only against little people, but those officers who fail to uphold the law.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trooper's widow cut off by lack of budget

Backyard Conservative posted this article first and mentions how this widow attempted to call the Governor only to have a member of his staff hang up the phone on her...
Karla Miller, the widow of an Illinois State Police trooper who died while on duty, was surprised to learn Monday that her next survivor-benefits check won't arrive until state government gets a new budget.

She got another surprise when she tried to alert Gov. Rod Blagojevich's legislative office to her situation. Miller said the man she spoke to eventually hung up on her. She didn't get his full name.

"He was very flippant and just said, you know, we're all worried about the budget and we'll get it fixed and that kind of thing," she said. "He started to get a little testy with me, and I started to get a little testy back, and then he hung up on me."

Miller's husband, Rodney, was killed in May 2006 in a traffic accident in rural Champaign County. His survivors include Karla, 41, and their two sons, now ages 11 and 12.

Karla Miller, who lives in Decatur, knew she hadn't received her monthly benefits check this month, but she thought maybe it had been lost in the mail.

She said she called the state police and was told that "no survivors will get their checks" until a budget is in place. Her check usually arrives in the first half of the month.

Lawmakers have sent the governor a $59 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. Blagojevich said last Tuesday that he would use his veto power to slash $500 million from the spending plan. He also wants to expand state-subsidized health care at a cost of $463 million.

As of late Monday, though, Blagojevich had not filed his promised veto, which would specify where he wants to make budget cuts. In the meantime, state government runs without a budget.

Miller, after hearing from the state police, said she called the governor's office "because I didn't know where else to call."

"What I wanted to get across to the governor is that, you're working out this big picture and trying to make all these political moves," Miller said. "And I don't think anybody's thinking of the people that are really affected by it."

She said she worries about others who are more dependent than she is on the survivor benefits.

"I'm not desperate for the money, yet," she said. "But it will get to that point because I just quit my job, and I'm dependent on this money as my source of income."
This whole budget situation is actually affecting people. It's affecting public transit in the Chicagoland area. It's affecting those school districts who need to set up their budgets (capitol & operating). Now a widow who lost her husband in the line of duty as a State Trooper isn't going to get her survivor's check.

And let's see a representative of the Governor's office didn't handle it too well. It could suggest that he's tired of this whole budget situation himself. It's unfortunate that he took it out on a widow of an Illinois State Trooper.

Birth control costly, a hassle? Kids not cheap, AIDS deadly

Mary Mitchell's column today. This is something that struck me...
Young people who are fortunate enough to get into universities like UIC are supposed to be smart.
But how ignorant is it for a young black woman to be photographed clutching a cell phone and a swollen belly complaining about not being able to afford the rising cost of birth control?

Did it ever occur to Elizabeth Harris, the young woman who appeared on page 8 in the Chicago Sun-Times, that maybe she should have gotten rid of her cell phone instead of stopping her birth control pills?

Black readers are likely to blame the newspaper for being "insensitive" for running the young woman's photo in the first place. Still, it's too easy to blame a reporter because a story leads to young black women being ridiculed on talk shows as "sexually irresponsible," because one of them was foolish enough to whine about making a bad decision.

Harris, a junior at UIC, is quoted in the story as saying the high cost of birth control "steered" her away from it.

"I don't blame them [UIC], but I might not be in the situation I am in now," she told the reporter.

The situation Harris is referring to is a situation that will last at least 18 years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before the situation gets a job and starts taking full responsibility for the decisions he or she makes.
Since the only time I read the Sun-Times is online, I couldn't give you an honest reaction to this. I didn't get to see this photograph.

Where's Mitchell going with this though...
The premise of Monday's story is that "pregnancies could rise" because the cost of some forms of birth control have more than doubled on college campuses. Instead of cutting corners elsewhere, senior Omotayo Asunmo said she stopped using the pill regularly.

Northeastern Illinois University no longer provides contraceptives such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo and the NuvaRing or patch and now will only provide generic birth control pills for $12 a month. At UIC, the cost of the NuvaRing went from $15 to $35, generic pills went from $7 to $25 and Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo went from $7 to $40. Contraceptives that once were dispensed free at the University of Illinois now cost $22 ($5 for generic pills).

Even more alarming is Harris' candid admission that, despite being able to get free condoms, she would only use them "once in a while," and that sex "just happened."

Her attitude is a stark reminder that young people do not have a sense of their own mortality.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV infection and account for 55 percent of all HIV infections reported among people ages 13-24. And according to information from 33 states with long-term name-based HIV reporting, males made up 62 percent of the 17,824 people 13-24 years of age who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Thirty-eight percent were females.

Those numbers should make black women on college campuses stockpile condoms, let alone use them.

Health officials like the one cited in the contraceptive story are also part of the problem.

Dr. Nandini Khatkhate, UIC medical director at Family Medicine Center, is quoted as fearing that condoms may not be as effective as birth control when it's not "planned sex."

"Something like a condom may not be used," Khatkhate said.

What's this doctor talking about? Drunken binges? Sexual assaults? Her assessment may be realistic, but how about changing the reality?
I know what this could be about. Making responsible choices, something that some people seem unable to do. I understand that things happen but there are things one can do to plan for contingencies when possible. Especially if we're not talking about sexual assaults.

Mitchell closes with this...
...Because there's a point in every woman's life when she looks back and sighs. If she only knew then what she knows now, her life would have turned out entirely different. We then try to pass on hard-learned lessons to our daughters and granddaughters. So I'm not trying to embarrass Harris, I'm reminding her that while it may be an unfair expectation, she represents a lot of black women when she speaks out in the media.

The consequence of irresponsible sexual behavior today is a lifetime sentence. And, as in the past, a baby changes a young woman's life forever.

College students are not immature teenagers. They certainly shouldn't want to be portrayed in media as being victims of pharmaceutical companies and government regulations. These young women should be protecting themselves against HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies because they know better.
In some respects I can say that I have a rather harsh idea for those young women in college or high school who find themselves as teenage mothers. Mitchell is right however these young women or in some instances young men should do a better job of protecting themselves.

SHE REFLECTS BADLY ON ALL MEXICANS

I'm on theTribune's Daywatch email list and this headline popped out at me first. Though the linked article didn't share this headline. Do you want to know what this means?
The lightning-swift deportation of Elvira Arellano triggered an equally sharp debate Monday about whether her dramatic battle to stay in the U.S. will help or hurt attempts to liberalize immigration laws.

The undocumented Chicago resident was arrested Sunday in Los Angeles shortly after leaving her yearlong sanctuary in a Northwest Side church. Federal agents then dispatched Arellano, 32, across the border to Tijuana.

She was followed by her 8-year-old son, who is a U.S. citizen, but a family friend said the boy probably would return to Chicago soon for school.

Activists on both sides of the emotional immigration battle have latched on to Arellano's story as a rallying cry for their points of view.

Arellano and her son now represent "the human face, the human suffering" caused by immigration law that "rips good families apart," said a spokesman for Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.).

But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Arellano was a blatant lawbreaker.

"They are trying to portray her as a modern-day Rosa Parks," said Mehlman, whose group wants tighter border enforcement.

"The people who have been promoting her seem to think she was this sympathetic figure because she had a sick child. But children are not human shields."

The Latino community also seemed divided over Arellano, with some viewing her as a less-than-perfect icon for the plight of the undocumented.

At Taqueria Aguascalientes, a restaurant on Cermak Road in Cicero, Miguel Alvarez shrugged when asked about the Arellano deportation.

"It's messed up," said the U.S.-born Alvarez, 19, whose parents are both immigrants. "Let her stay. Doesn't she have kids or something?"

Waiting for work with other day laborers down the street outside a Home Depot, Ricardo Garcia Perez said he was happy to hear of Arellano's arrest.

"She reflects badly on all Mexicans," said Garcia Perez, a Mexican native. "It seems fair. She got caught. It was terrible that she stayed in that church. There are many people who get caught. They go."

Ex-Gov. Ryan's guilty verdict stands despite jury controversy

Governor Ryan's conviction last year has been affirmed. From the Chicago Tribune...

The decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for Ryan to begin serving a 6.5-year prison term that he received last year after a historic six-month trial. But his lawyers could try to forestall that with a further appeal.

In a 2-1 decision, the three-judge appellate panel found that U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer acted within her authority when she replaced two jurors during deliberations after the Tribune revealed they had failed to disclose information about their criminal backgrounds.

"We conclude that the district court handled most problems that arose in an acceptable manner, and that whatever error remained was harmless," Judge Diane Wood wrote for the panel. "We therefore affirm the convictions."

Ryan was convicted in April 2006 on charges that as secretary of state and governor, he doled out sweetheart deals to co-defendant Lawrence Warner and other friends and used state resources and employees for political gain.

Warner's conviction was also affirmed today.

Ryan and Warner, who was sentenced to almost 3.5 years in prison, had been allowed to remain free while their appeal was pending.

The court's ruling means Ryan's legal options are dwindling.

He can ask the full 7th Circuit—a group of 11 judges—to review the three-judge panel's decision. If the court declines, he can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the nation's highest court accepts very few cases.
This was certainly big news today. A few months ago I blogged about how he was trying to keep his state pension. It was also in the news today that a judge ruled that he was not entitled to any of his pension.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Q&A with Janks Morton

Thanks to Bill Baar's West Side I got wind of this program about the producer of a documentary What Black Men Think. BTW, I put the Bill Barr link in my del.icio.us and the documentary blog.

Anyway I really enjoyed the interview and the clips. The clips you will see the following faces that I recognize. Faces such as Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Dr. John H. McWhorter, and even Juan Williams. I heard Louis Farrakhan is in there but I missed that part that is if it's in there. I should also note that the director had invited Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Julian Bond (whom they only referred to as the NAACP Chairman) declined to participate in this movie.

One thing you should know before you watch the movie is that there is a lot more good news than you mind find in the MSM. There were more black men in college than in jails. They cover this in the movie. You'll see that in Q&A.

Anyway I hope you enjoy this and then you get to have a copy of this documentary to enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Immigration activist Arellano arrested

I'm sure a lot of you were following this news. She practically dared authorities to arrest her after she left a church in Chicago, where she sought refuge and the authorities got her. From the Chicago Tribune...
An immigration activist who sought refuge inside a Chicago church for a year was arrested in Los Angeles this afternoon after taking her campaign on the road.

Elvira Arellano was arrested about 4:15 p.m. Chicago time by law-enforcement officials after leaving Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in downtown Los Angeles, said Emma Lozano, an adviser who was there during the arrest.

After talking to news media inside the church, Arellano and her supporters got into their van to head north to San Jose, where she was scheduled to speak at another church, Lozano said. Moments after they entered the van, an unmarked vehicle stopped them.

The driver of Arellano's van, Roberto Lopez, poked his head out because he wanted to see why they were being blocked. Several other unmarked vehicles surrounded their van.

Agents emerged from all the cars screaming for Arellano to get out, Lozano said. Her 8-year-old son, Saul, started to cry, and Arellano said to everyone in the car, "Calm down. Don't have any fear. They can't hurt me."

Then she turned to the people who were about to arrest her and she said, "You're going to have to give me a minute with my son," Lozano said. She spent time with her son in the car, then surrendered.

Arellano was arrested on Main Street, near the church, where she slept Saturday night and where she's held several press conferences Saturday and today.
Hmmm, if I understand this story correctly she didn't want to leave her son. If she was to be deported couldn't she have just taken him with her?

To be honest there was a very simple way of solving this problem, become a citizen, instead of making a stand against something you're already wrong about. I don't know I just like to thing there's a much simpler solution to this sitaution. Instead she goes thru the indignity of an arrest.

I've made a change...

The face in my profile has been changed from Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays (the late former President of Morehouse College) to a very nice picture of Frederick Douglass (a famous 19th century anti-slavery and civil rights activist). That is all.

Domestic obsession

Mary Mitchell's column this morning about a woman who's being stalked and assaulted (sometimes by proxy by her husband). Check this part of the story out...
But Brown is convinced that the man she has known for 21 years and has been married to for five is also linked to the two incidents in which someone fired shots at the engineer's cab. Those incidents, on June 6 and 8, were suspicious enough for Metra officials to pull Brown from the train route and post a "Metra Police Community Alert" with two composites of a suspect and a police mug shot of Howard/Cassidy, 46.

Because Brown had switched her schedule with two other engineers so that she could attend a son's sports event, she wasn't harmed, but the engineers who replaced her were injured when they heard gunshots and tried to duck.

Brown's union is collecting donations for a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the train shootings.

"This is no coincidence," Brown said. "If you just sit on the platform, you see the same engineer go back and forth. It's not hard for somebody to track down your routine and your schedule. He knows where I work."

The composite doesn't resemble her estranged husband, which is why Brown suspects someone was hired to do the shooting. In the earlier "acid" incident, an unidentified man Brown described as looking like a "bone or crackhead" came to her door and pretended to be looking for work before throwing a chemical at Brown's face. She and her 6-year-old son were splattered and were treated at the scene by paramedics, according to police reports.

"Everybody was hysterical," Brown said.
I suppose no matter how long you've known a person, you may never know what they're capable of. I wonder what is the catalyst for someone to want to do something like this.

I do know one thing this woman has been suffering financially...
"He's obsessed with me. I have a file on all these things he has done. I'm trying to get him off the street because he's dangerous," Brown told me during a recent interview in my office. "Every day I come home, I don't know what will happen next." Last week, he broke a patio window with landscaping rocks, according to a police report filed by neighbors who allegedly saw him lurking around her house. "I'm on my seventh homeowner and auto claim [in one year], and they canceled me," she said.

Brown's story shows just how little orders of protection actually help domestic violence victims, and how much this kind of domestic terrorism can cost the victim.
Because Brown, a Metra train engineer, was the likely target of gunshots fired at a train, she has been assigned to another job that pays $30,000 less a year.

"Ain't nothing I can do. I can't cower down," Brown told me. "I got a brand-new house that I bought in 2004, and I've got to sell it. I've reduced the price because I've just got to move."

Brown, 41, says she is now a month behind on her mortgage because of the pay cut.

"They have incidents where other people have stalkers on the train, and they put them in the office and gave them their regular pay, but they are not doing it for me," she said.

Judy Pardonnet, Metra's Director of Media Relations, confirmed that an unidentified person fired on the Metra train to which Brown was assigned on two occasions.

"There was damage to one of the train cars -- two bullet holes were found in the train, but no one was injured [by gunfire]," Pardonnet said. "In the other shooting, there were reports that the train was fired upon, but we did not find any damage to the train."

As for the reduced pay, Pardonnet said Friday that that issue will soon be resolved.

"The management didn't know how long the investigation would continue. Our immediate concern was for the safety of our employees and passengers. But the investigation is continuing, and she will go back to her original rate of pay for the next six months," Pardonnet said. "At that time we will reassess the situation."
How unfortunate that this is and I hope that they can get this man off the streets before he can do something more serious. No one should live in fear whether from their husband, wife, or anybody. It's also unfortunate that this situation seems to have affected her lively hood. And I share this story for you as a cautionary tale of sorts. Be careful out there.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Indiana Residents Furious Over Prolonged Outage

Almost sounds like a Hurricane Katrina situation. Maybe it wasn't that serious, but Gary, Indiana is talking about being declared a disaster area as they clean up after some severe storms rolled thru. I just saw this on CBS 2 just now. I guess a consequence of being a town not on the make...
The heat is on, and the electricity is off, for thousands of frustrated residents in Northwest Indiana.

As CBS 2's Mai Martinez reports, residents of Gary, Hammond and other areas are facing a hot, sticky weekend with few options to cool down, on account of power outages stemming from major storms on Wednesday. To make matters worse, debris from the storm is everywhere.

At 5 p.m. about 16,000 residents remained without power. As of 4:30 a.m., NIPSCO said 21,600 people were without power. They had not been updated as of 11 a.m. At the height of the storms, about 66,000 NIPSCO customers were without power.

NIPSCO crews said they have been making progress, but as the temperatures rise, the tempers of the people of Northwest Indiana are rising too. Power in Hammond may be out until Sunday night, and in Gary it may be out until Monday night.

CBS 2 Northwest Indiana Bureau Chief Pamela Jones walked with Gary Mayor Rudy Clay as he assessed some of the storm damage Friday afternoon.

"I've never seen it this devastating in Gary, Indiana,” Clay said.

The city has been declared a disaster area by Lake County Indiana Commissioners. It means as the city struggles to clean up seemingly endless debris, the process of getting state and federal help can begin.

“If we don't qualify for it, nobody does because this is really a devastating situation,” Clay said.

With power poles still down and some on their way to fall, the problem for many is simple: no power.

The winds snatched storm victim Martinez Newman’s tree up from the ground and dropped it on his house and car.

"I called NIPSCO and they said I can't have power because somebody else has a problem with their house,” he said. What does that have to do with me?"

Residents say the damage is almost unbelievable, but the forecast from NIPSCO that will likely leave them without power until Monday is even harder to believe.

NIPSCO says extra utility crews are up and running and making progress. The company had suggested that people leave home to wait out the blackout.

One family did just that, and came back to find looters had broken in.

"So they took advantage because they had to have been watching us leave because, like I say they went in probably a few hours after we left,” Jonte Riley said.
How unfortunate for that struggling city.

This piece of news is for Rep. Ron Paul supporters...

Yeah I had a comment with regards to Rep. Ron Paul's participation in the straw poll hosted at the Illinois State Fair yesterday. I had mentioned that there was an impending straw poll earlier this month.

Anyway this quote was pulled from a State Journal Register article and I got this from Rich Miller's Capitol Fax Blog post about Republican day at the Illinois state fair...
Just before state GOP chairman Andy McKenna announced the results from the podium at the Director’s Lawn at the fair, sign-carrying supporters of Paul, who has developed an Internet-driven following, traded chants with the gathered supporters of the ultimate winner.

And shortly after Thursday’s program, Republican Day at the state fair, some state troopers calmed participants in a disagreement spurred by Paul supporters waving their signs behind the heads of Craig Romney and Illinois Romney chairman Dan Rutherford, a state senator from Chenoa, during TV interviews being done away from the stage.
Here's a little more about the Congressman Ron Paul from the state of Texas also in said Capitol Fax post but this article is from the Tribune...
Paul's libertarian stylings and campaign of strict interpretation of the Constitution has earned him an unorthodox band of sign-carrying supporters. They frequently interrupted TV reports of the event and at one point, Romney's Illinois chairman, state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Chenoa), ripped a sign out of one Paul supporter's hands and threw it on the ground.
Contentious, eh? Maybe Rutherford should have kept his cool, perhaps it's no wonder he unsuccessful in beating Lisa Madigan for state attorney general last year.

I wonder if Rep. Paul's campaign could be the sleeper of this race. The person no one sees coming to take the nomination. Who knows, but while this is the first straw poll held by the Illinois GOP and it hasn't established much importance yet Paul's coming in third isn't too bad.

As I mentioned earlier this week there was a straw poll in neighboring Iowa. If you want to win there, it will require lots of money to bribe people to vote for you and I guess give you a boost in your quest to become the Republican nominee for president. In Illinois all you have to do is show that you're a registered voter with a valid Illinois driver's license and instead of letting the candidates pay you, you have to pay a fee to participate.

Perhaps the Illinois straw vote is a better gauge than anything else. BTW former Massachusettes Gov. Mitt Romney was the winner followed by former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson then Rep. Ron Paul came in third.

Pace bus route, Bears shuttle cut

One of the consequences of this budget stalemate and their inability to take up transit funding for not only Pace but CTA and Metra as well. From today's Tribune...

Route 835 South Suburban Express, which operates between the Worth, Chicago Ridge and Oak Lawn Metra stations and Downtown via the Stevenson Expressway (Interstate Highway 55), is the first of 23 poorly performing routes Pace axed because of a $50 million budget shortfall. Pace will start cutting the other 22 routes Sept. 29.

Pace's board of directors voted Aug. 1 to authorize fare hikes and service cuts because of a $50 million hole in the agency's 2007 budget.

The Illinois General Assembly so far has failed to take up proposed legislation to fill a combined $226 million transportation funding shortfall for Pace, Metra and the Chicago Transit Authority, which also has authorized service cuts and fare hikes.

Even if legislators approve an 11th-hour funding measure, the 23 Pace routes will not be restored, Pace spokeswoman Judi Kulm said Thursday.

The Bears Shuttle could be reinstated before the end of the season with additional state funding, but no decision on that has been made, Kulm said.

The shuttle has been successful, hauling about 1,300 fans per game last year, but Pace could not justify maintaining service to a sporting event while eliminating routes that take people to jobs and school, Kulm said.

Recently, Route 835's eight daily express runs have been carrying only about 50 riders per day, down from about 68 in 2006. Route 835 essentially duplicates service on Metra's SouthWest Line, which doubled its commuter rail service last year, Pace officials said.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Judge dismisses 2 Daley allies as defendants in suit

I had put this Crain's article in my del.icio.us, but I figure I can put this on the blog too...
A judge has dismissed two of Mayor Richard Daley's allies as defendants in a developer's lawsuit against the city.

The developer alleges the city illegally shut down his project when he wouldn't give in to demands for financial favors and kickbacks.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found that because Timothy Degnan, a former top aide to the mayor, and developer Thomas DiPiazza aren't public officials and have no authority to make governmental decisions, they should not be defendants.

The judge also dismissed on Wednesday six counts of Thomas Snitzer's lawsuit against the city and Stan Kaderbek, a former building commissioner, including conspiracy charges and 1st Amendment violations. But he did not dismiss two civil rights counts against them.

The ruling is a blow to Snitzer, who alleges he was forced out as manager of the Bridgeport Village development project because he wouldn't offer financial favors and kickbacks to political operatives.

At the center of those allegations was Degnan and DiPiazza. According to the lawsuit, the two tried to shake Snitzer down, with DiPiazza warning Snitzer that "by not doling out these special favors Snitzer was not showing them 'proper respect.'"

The lawsuit alleges that Degnan directed Snitzer and his partners to hire DiPiazza as a consultant so that his 115-home project along the Chicago River on the city's Southwest Side would receive favorable treatment from City Hall.

The city has maintained that the reason Snitzer was removed as manager of the project and a stop-work order was issued was because of building code violations.

I was watching a video over at Clout Street....

The Tribune's state/local political blog. You might be able to see a video screen in the left hand column of the blog and I saw a video of Chicago Tribune political editor Jim Webb talking about the Cook County State's Attorney's race. So I suggest you give that a watch.

I wish the Tribune would make it easy for bloggers to link to their videos. Since they don't you'll have to find the video at that video player.

Governor Rallies Support With Elvis Impersonation

You know it seemed this past week and maybe late last week, that maybe this budget impasse will end. Unfortunately, it seems that there is going to be one more curveball. And that news came sometime this week.

In Illinois at least since the budget wasn't approved in a timely fashion. Mainly before June 1st or a little earlier than that a budget vote requires that three-fifths of the members of the General Assembly must approve a budget in overtime session. It seems they go there.

But wait there's more. Now Blagojevich, who's made health care his priority after winning his re-election is going to go the route of the line item veto to reach his initiative. This is going to run into more problems so his solution to getting health care still isn't full proof.

Hey check out this CBS2 article about the disunity on this issue amongst the Democrats. The Democratic party controls both houses of the legislature and all executive offices and they're really not working very well with each other. A Senate president in the pocket of a governor many see as inept and the personality clash between the House speaker, the Governor and even the Senate President.

Watch the accompanying video too. Look at Governor Blagojevich tried to sing. For some reason it just doesn't sound right...
Rod Blagojevich tried to rally support for his budget plan by treating the crowd to an Elvis Presley song, although the Governor changed the refrain, singing, “I’m just a red-blooded boy and I can’t stop thinking about health care, health care, health care!”
It seems a mess down there doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I haven't really been following the Family Secrets Trial in federal court here but...

Thanks to Craig Gernhardt of The Broken Heart of Roger's Park I get this nice tidbit on a reputed mobster's view of Chicago's system of government from the Sun-Times...
“There are 50 bosses in Chicago. . . . If you want anything in this city, you go see the alderman. If you want a zoning change, you go see the alderman. If you want a card game going, you go see the alderman. If you want a dice game, you go see the alderman. If he tells you to stop, you stop.”
If you want to follow this mob trial check out this Sun-Times blog, The Outfit on Trial, about it.

Field’s purchase continues to weigh on Macy’s

Hmm more Macy's/Field's news from Crain's...
Macy's Inc. said Wednesday its second-quarter profit fell by 77 percent, weighed down by its takeover of a rival, and warned that it would miss Wall Street expectations for the third quarter and the year.

Net income declined to $74 million, or 16 cents per share, from $317 million, or 57 cents per share, a year ago for the quarter ended Aug. 4. Excluding May Department Stores takeover costs of $60 million, or 13 cents per share, the company earned 29 cents per share in the latest period, compared with 33 cents in the 2006 second quarter.

Sales slipped about 2 percent to $5.89 billion from nearly $6 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, who typically exclude one time charges like integration costs, had forecast profits of 26 cents per share on revenue of $5.88 billion. Last month, Macy's cut its third quarter profit outlook to 20 to 30 cents a share from 35 to 45 cents.

Macy's projected that third-quarter earnings, excluding merger costs, will now be 5 to 10 cents per share, with earnings for the full year, without the merger costs, of $2.15 to $2.30 per share. Analysts have projected 19 cents a share for the third quarter and $2.37 per share for the year.

Macy's stock fell below its 52-week low in early trading Wednesday, at $31.49, or down 24 cents. Shares have traded as high as $46.70 in the past year.

"While the second quarter was below our initial expectations, we did see improving sales trends through the quarter in former May Company stores and in home-related merchandise categories," said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy's chairman, president and chief executive. "We are optimistic that our business can and will improve in the second half of the year, despite what appears to be a more challenging economic environment."

Lundgren told shareholders at their annual meeting in May that disappointing sales results were partly due to strategic changes made too quickly at the former May Department Stores. Lundgren orchestrated Macy's $11 billion acquisition of May in 2005.

Macy's changed its name from Federated Department Stores this year after converting most of its former May stores — including popular regional names such as Marshall Field's, Foley's and Filene's — into Macy's in its push to make Macy's a national department store brand.

The turnaround of the former May stores hasn't progressed as well as expected, and the retailer also has been facing challenges such as a weakening home market, which has depressed its home furnishings sales.

For the first half of the year, Macy's sales totaled $11.81 billion, down nearly 1 percent from total sales of $11.93 billion in the first 26 weeks of 2006. For the first half, net income slid to $110 million, or 24 cents a share, from $265 million, 48 cents a share.

County worker allegedly took $169,000

From the Sun-Times...
Prosecutors charged a former employee of the Cook County Assessor's office Tuesday with stealing nearly $170,000 -- and using the money to shop at department stores and cover her daughter's college costs.
Joyce Pierce, 51, allegedly raided an account kept for handling Freedom of Information requests, according to prosecutors. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

Pierce managed the Freedom of Information department in Assessor James Houlihan's office. When the office levies charges for documents, those funds go into a bank account, sources said.

According to assistant state's attorney John Carey, Pierce "withdrew for her personal benefit approximately $169,000 from the Cook County Assessor's account" at Chase Manhattan Bank. Pierce, an eight-year employee, made the multiple withdrawals from November 2002 through November 2005, he said.

A source in Houlihan's office said the theft went undetected because the county stopped doing audits every year. But a law enforcement source said "there was really no oversight." The theft came to light after a periodic audit, which revealed documents had been altered.

"We take the public trust very seriously and are cooperating fully with the investigation," Houlihan said in a statement. "We have taken steps to make sure this sort of problem doesn't happen again."

Pierce bought money orders and used them to pay off credit card bills and, on one occasion, to pay $750 to the University of Pennsylvania, Carey said. Pierce's daughter, 21, attends the school, a source said.

The credit card expenditures included purchases at Marshall Field's, Nordstrom and Saks, Carey said.

Pierce, of Chicago's Roseland community, pleaded not guilty Tuesday. Her attorney, Neil Cohen, said she is likely to plead guilty later.

Average CPS freshman: 19 absences, 2.6 F's

When I was in the CPS system, I never missed a lot of days. In high school I noticed how many days a lot of students will miss. Some didn't mind going to school at least 2 or 3 days a week. And yes I'm certainly talking about those not very serious students.

The ones who seemed to have a rough night the night before. The ones who don't mind starting fights in the hallway. The ones who might make fun of a person for taking his/her classes seriously and who's decent enough and indeed wants to make something of his/her life.

I would get on some of my classmates for getting Fs in the easiest subjects like World Geography. With great respect to my teacher in that course, who I assume is retired by now, there's really no excuse for getting an F in that course. That course was designed to be an easy A. Alas some don't even want that, especially if they're of the attitude that they don't have to do any work because it's so easy.

You want to know why some of them get Fs in easy classes? Because most of them wouldn't go to class!!!

Any all this to get onto this story from the Sun-Times...

The average Chicago public school freshman misses nearly a month of school and racks up more than two semester grades of F in their critical first year of high school, a new study by the University of Chicago indicates.

Those sobering new statistics emerged Tuesday along with this message for CPS freshmen: Grades and attendance count a lot. Both trump test scores and family background as the biggest predictors of high school graduation.

The study found that the average CPS freshman in the 2004-2005 school year missed 19.6 of a total 180 days of school. More than half of an earlier crop of freshmen with that attendance record did not graduate in four years.

"A 90 percent on a test is good, '' Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said Tuesday. "But a 90 percent attendance rate is a recipe for disaster..''

To drive home the point, Duncan said that on Saturday, Sept. 8, he will personally knock on the doors of freshmen who cut the first week of class. Plus, he said, CPS officials will be adding a free car to the long list of attendance incentives they have been offering high school students and their families.

The study was unique in that it calculated class cuts in attendance rates, said researchers Elaine Allensworth and John Easton of the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research.

The constructive news was that students who struggle in elementary school can turn things around if they go to high school every day. Nearly 90 percent of freshmen who missed less than two weeks of school wound up graduating, regardless of their eighth-grade test scores, the study found.

But freshman absences and cut classes put even high-scoring eighth-graders at risk. Freshmen who missed four weeks of school wound up with two semester Fs, regardless of whether they walked in the door with high or low test scores.

At the same time, grades emerged as the strongest predictor of graduation -- far more so than family income or race or other factors analyzed in other dropout studies, Allensworth said.

The study found 95 percent of freshmen with at least B averages graduate on time. And, every semester F decreased a freshman's chance of graduating by 15 percent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blog remarks cost substitute judge

I found this story from Las Vegas thru Governing.com...
A substitute judge lost his position with the North Las Vegas Justice Court last week because of hostile comments aimed at prosecutors on his MySpace page.

Among the personal interests listed by Jonathan MacArthur, a 34-year-old criminal defense attorney, was: "Breaking my foot off in a prosecutor's ass ... and improving my ability to break my foot off in a prosecutor's ass."

MacArthur began blogging and posting pictures on the online community site last spring.

His MySpace page caught the attention of Clark County District Attorney David Roger, who went to the North Las Vegas Justice Court administrator and asked that MacArthur be recused from criminal cases as a substitute jurist, or judge "pro tem."

"It's obvious to the casual reader this is an overstatement just for the effect," MacArthur said, describing the comment as a reference to his work as a criminal defense attorney and not to his mind-set as a judge.

"It's funny that I emphasize it again," he said.

But local prosecutors aren't laughing.

"He has displayed a bias against prosecutors," Roger said Friday. "Therefore, I do not feel the state of Nevada would get a fair shake by him."

Roger spoke with North Las Vegas Justice Court Administrator Terri March last week about MacArthur's MySpace comments.

Roger said he told March that if MacArthur continued as a substitute judge, he planned to file a motion to have MacArthur recused from all criminal cases.

Roger e-mailed all prosecutors asking them to notify him immediately if MacArthur presided over one of their cases so that Roger could have him recused.

"I don't think he'll be sitting as a pro-tem judge any longer," Roger's e-mail said.

He was right.

March showed the MySpace comments to North Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Natalie Tyrrell, for whom MacArthur substituted. They decided not to use MacArthur's services any longer, March said.

"A judge's job is to be unbiased in all matters, and on that MySpace page, it appears he definitely has a bias against prosecutors," March said.

The comments were inappropriate and "unbecoming of a pro tem," March said.

MacArthur, who previously was a substitute in Las Vegas Justice Court, believes the district attorney's office is taking the statement out of context and is working to sabotage his shot at the bench.

Alderman Wants To Tax Bottled Water

I saw this story o actually the video in the news feeds at The Capitol Fax Blog.

You know I'm a big drinker of tap water. I can't stand those people who might insist bottled water was better than tap. Especially if we know now that at least Aquafina water was really tap water.

Bottled water is good when you just know you're not going to find a water fountain anytime soon, but I wonder if this tax is a good idea. The new Chicago city council is getting creative with their revenue generating ideas.
Cooling off with bottled water could soon cost you more within the Chicago city limits if one alderman has his way.

As CBS 2's Kristyn Hartman reports, Ald. George Cardenas (12th) wants to slap a tax of up to 25 cents on the cost of every bottle to help close a $217 million budget gap.

“People enjoy jogging or driving with a bottle of water. There’s a cost associated with this behavior. You have to pay for it,” said Cardenas, one of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s staunchest City Council supporters.

Cardenas noted that there’s a nearly $40 million shortfall in the city’s water and sewer funds, in part because of a decline in water usage.

“How is this possible when we have a water system that’s won honors? It’s because bottled water has become a $15 billion industry that’s growing at a rate of 20 to 30 percent a year,” he said.

Cardenas also said a bottled water tax would help the environment by dissuading people from buying the plastic bottles that end up in landfills.

But Chicagoans CBS 2 met on the street early Tuesday did not like the idea of the tax.

"Let them tax cigarettes, not water," said Chicago resident Brian Lynch.

"Ten to 20, that's crazy. It's not cigarettes or anything, it's bottled water, so that's ridiculous," added Chicago resident Lazzerick Young. "I'd probably go towards filtered water, maybe, and not do the bottled water."

"We're going to have to vote him out, because that's not good," said Justina Miles. "I buy a lot of bottled water."

"So raise the taxes on pop. Why would you want to raise it on something that's healthy?" said Dennis Hopkins. "You can give a newborn baby bottled water. It's good for you."
Earlier this summer Ald. Ed Burke proposed a congestion tax effective for Chicago's Loop/downtown area.

Illinois GOP to conduct straw poll

From the Pantagraph...

Illinois Republicans will take a page from their Iowa counterparts later this week when they conduct their own straw poll aimed at determining who is tops in the GOP presidential field.

On Thursday, during Republican Day festivities at the Illinois State Fair, registered voters will be able to cast their votes for president, with the results to be announced later that afternoon.

"It will be a good opportunity for grass-roots activists to come and hear from the presidential campaigns," said Lance Trover, Illinois Republican Party spokesman.

Though patterned after the more well-known event held in Iowa Sunday, the Illinois straw poll will be a much smaller affair.

For example, unlike Iowa, which uses the event to raise money for the party, Illinois Republicans aren't charging voters or candidates money to participate.

And, unlike Iowa, it is not clear whether any of the GOP candidates will descend on Springfield looking to boost their candidacies.

"It is a lot different from Iowa," Trover said.

Officials say they'd like to see several thousand people participate in the Illinois poll, but even that number may be hard to reach. In recent years, as Democrats have taken control of state government, attendance at Republican Day activities has dropped.

Last year, about 500 people showed up for a picnic on the Director's Lawn, located on the north side of the fairground.

To bolster attendance, some campaigns are bringing in busloads of supporters.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who posted a commanding win in the Iowa straw poll, is providing free transportation from Bloomington to Springfield for the event.
This has been in the news since early this year. In this state the IL GOP has been struggling. It may not help that a former Republican Gov. George Ryan was recently convicted of corruption charges. This straw poll is one way the IL GOP is seeking to regain some relevance in Illinois.

A good start. I wanted to attach news about the recent Iowa straw poll for the GOP, but I need to gather the news on that. I do know one thing, the Republican field now has one less contender.

Former Wisconsin governor and Health & Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson left the race. Understand and you should see that in the article I just posted in Iowa at least you really have to hustle for support, if you can't do that then it's unlikely that you'll do well. See we've already seen three candidates drop out and they haven't ran a single primary. It's because they haven't raised enough money, maybe the polls wouldn't improve, maybe they got what they wanted out of it (perhaps name recognition), or boosters like the Iowa straw poll didn't work out for them.

Monday, August 13, 2007

State's Atty Devine will not seek re-election

News from Crain's on August 10th. While people are watching the Presidential Race this will be worth watching as far as local races go...
State’s Attorney Richard Devine, 64, will not seek election next year for a fourth term, according to a statement from his office.

“After three terms it is time to move on,” Mr. Devine said in the statement. “My plans are to continue to run this office with its proud tradition and great people in professional manner.”

A number of candidates are expected to vie for the post Mr. Devine is vacating.

Mr. Devine was first elected as state’s attorney in November 1996. He’s coasted to re-election in the two subsequent races.

He prosecuted the recent case against Juan Luna, who this week was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the Brown’s Chicken murders in 1993 in Palatine.

Mr. Devine has argued cases before the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and twice appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to his biography.
I know I'm late but I have an interest in watching the intrigue surrounding this race. Let's see who might be able to replace him this year.

I've been on vacation over the weekend

Usually when I take a summer trip out of town, I'd normally inform you. Alas I posted two posts Thursday morning and that was it!

I'm back home now. I was in the deep south for a family reunion as usual. The deep south being Mound Bayou, Mississippi. A town I've been wanting to introduce you to for a while. I may do that later this week, but for now I want to get back in the thick of things.

If you ever wind up in Mississippi for any reason find a way to stay cool and get lots of bug repellant. Mosquitos tend to have a field day.

Anyway, I stayed at two hotels. The first on the way down was at a hotel/casino in Tunica/Robinsonville, Mississippi (The Fitzgerald if you wanna know) and an EconoLodge in Cleveland, Mississippi. At both of those hotels I couldn't manage to pull up the 1n73rw3bs there.

At the Fitz, it's most likely that they want you to spend more time gambling instead of surfing the internet for free. I suppose if you're not gambling, then the casino/hotel isn't making any money.

At the EconoLodge, well I have my complaints and I've made a promise never to go back there. At least when I call to say that I left something in the room they went and got it. That's one compliment and I may reconsider that statement. Still there I couldn't get the internet there at all. Maybe they didn't pay the fee or had an incompetent technical staff or company, I don't know.

Anyway, if I had internet I'd have cranked out a post or two down there. I'm making plans on going back in the near future. I wanted to see some of the other cities. Especially the state capitol Jackson, Mississippi because I've never been. Of course that'll be next time hopefully I'll be able to drive around unlike this time around.

Never fear though, I have some pictures of this trip that I plan to post on the Eye this week so stay tuned for that. A great adventure since this is one place we don't go to often enough anymore. One while we'd find ourselves there almost every year, but now we were lucky to have a family reunion hosted there and we hadn't been there in three or four years.

Anyway stay tuned for more here and the pics are forthcoming.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cook County has largest black population

From Today's Sun-Times...
Cook County's black population of 1.4 million is the largest in the country, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The new Census statistics for 2006 reveal that nearly 10 percent of the country's 3,141 counties -- including Cook -- have populations that are more than 50 percent minority, or ''majority-minority.''

In Cook County, 2.4 million people -- 45 percent of the 5.3 million total population -- identified as non-Hispanic white. Blacks are 26.4 percent and Hispanics 22.6 percent of the total. Cook County had the nation's second-largest minority population behind Los Angeles County.

CTA softens impact of cutbacks

From today's Chicago Tribune...
The CTA on Wednesday rescinded some of the most severe service cuts and fare hikes threatened for September, but daily commuters still would suffer under the revised plan if new state transit funding is not approved soon, officials said.

The unexpected easing of the service crunch came thanks to $20 million in newly discovered operational savings for this year, said Ron Huberman, Chicago Transit Authority president.

Service overall would be cut by 8 percent, compared with the original estimate of 13 percent announced in May.

Even with the revised plan, however, the CTA would lose 100,000 rides each day as a result of higher fares and reduced service. It also would have to lay off about 700 employees, mostly bus drivers.

In the modified plan, service would be suspended on 39 bus routes, down from the 63 bus routes tapped for elimination in May.

Among the bus and rail routes winning a reprieve:

•Thirteen express routes in Chicago would be restored.

•Yellow Line/Skokie Swift trains.

•The Purple Line/Evanston Express, although offering Purple express service line would be a daily decision based on how well the Red Line operates on adjacent tracks along the North Side, officials said. In another service tweak, the Evanston Express also would make stops at Sheridan to pick up and drop off riders who normally rely on the Red Line, the CTA's busiest rail route.

•Some late-night "OWL" service will be restored.

Fare increases remain on the table, although they would be less than originally projected.

CTA officials canceled plans to raise fares to as high as $3.25 per ride after anguished riders laid out the miseries they would endure under the original plan.

Under the new plan, the current $2 cash bus fare would rise to $2.50. The cash rail fare would increase by 50 cents, to $2.50, during off-peak hours, and increase by $1, to $3, during rush periods.

Fares would go up 14 percent for users of the Chicago Card. Other fare cards, including one-day visitor passes, would rise 11 to 20 percent, officials said.

Only reduced-fare customers would not see a fare increase.

But Huberman said service cuts and fare increases could be canceled on short notice if the funding picture brightens.