Friday, September 30, 2005

Edgar: Four More Years!

Essentially, Jim Edgar endorsed Rod's re-election campaign. By dithering for three months, he froze every other GOP campaign and put them all at a disadvantage. Since he isn't willing to run, and he did not endorse anyone, he perpetuated the vacuum, leaving Dems looking better for 06. Good news for Blue America today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My idle speculation on Jim Edgar

Former Governor Jim Edgar said yesterday that he expects to make a decision much sooner rather than later on whether to run for a third term as governor.

I believe that he is being heavily courted by national GOP strategists and, frankly, who wouldn't be flattered by that sort of attention? I'd bet that President Bush put in a call to Edgar. Remember when GOP leaders were courting Edgar to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004, and Edgar mentioned that he had not yet received a call from President Bush? I'd bet that if President Bush had *not* called, Edgar would have mentioned that.

And I would imagine it is difficult to say no to the President of the United States.

But my hunch (based on no inside information and every third-hand bit of inside information I've heard indicates that he is likely to run) is that Edgar will not run.

And the mail reason why I think he won't run is because I think the Blagojevich re-election campaign will be one of the best the state has seen, and I suspect that Edgar (a very smart politician) understands that.

So for a bold prediction....sometime next week, Jim Edgar announces......that he is endorsing Steve Rauschenberger!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Macy's instead of Field's....a downer

This is just as much a downer as the main Chicago bank, Bank One, getting bought up by J.P. Morgan Chase, and next year, all the Bank One banks getting rebranded by the New York bank Chase.

I can't say that I'll stop shopping at Marshall Field's because I basically only shop there for Christmas presents, but it is lame that a New York store is buying up the name of a Chicago store.

They should have kept the State Street store named Marshall Field's and got rid of the rest -- or combined the two somehow: Macy's at Marshall Field's or Marshall Field's Macy's or something.

Nathan Kaufman has some thoughts here on his blog.

And Phil Kadner basically says that Marshall Field's is for rich people, which is why the downtown papers were so affected by it. *Regular* people shopped at Goldblatt's. . . . .his column is here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

50 percent of Sears operating costs were-are health care

I just heard on NPR that more than half of all the operating costs for Sears are health care costs. The company cut their subsidy to retirees today. It's more evidence that the government should finance basic health care and take the cost off of the backs of business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Marty Cohen as ICC Chair? Awesome

Governor Blagojevich hit a home run today in appointing one of the nation's most successful consumer advocates to Chair the ICC that regulates utilities. I would like to think Pat Quinn whispered in Rod's ear for this one. This move ensures that electric and phone rates will be fair in the state. Great move.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Good profile on Steve Schlickman, RTA Director

A regular reader sent me a notice of this Daily Herald article by Jon Davis that is the Chicago print media's first real profile of new RTA Director Steve Schlickman.

One nugget not in the article: his mother is former Democratic state representative Eugenia Schlickman, who was elected from the rock-ribbed Republican northwest suburbs to the House when we used three-member districts and had cumulative voting rights so every district was bipartisan. So I think he understands well the importance of ensuring that political minorities have a voice as well as the political majority.

Here is an interview in Jon Davis' article:

Speaking after Thursday’s vote, Schlickman said the transit agencies need “a unity of focus, a unity of purpose” before asking legislators for more money.

“I expect that they all understand that the way things played out last year is not the way it can play out in the future if we are to be successful,” he said. “When you talk about tensions, I think the issue is one of trust. Do you have the transparency that people desire to believe the numbers that are being put forward?

“That’s our job, to make sure everyone knows where the transit needs lie, and that no one is pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes to get more than is reasonable.”


Which basically means the CTA should have a more collaborative strategy in 2006 than they did in 2005. Whether it is fair or not, the perception that I've picked up among legislators is that the CTA came in hard and basically sought to shift all blame to the Illinois General Assembly in a rather confrontational manner. This year, somehow, with very similar budget pressures, we'll have to find a way to change that perception.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Guest column by Representative Paul Froehlich

Enjoy this guest column by Representative Paul Froehlich, who just had one of his up-and-comers in his Republican organization lured away by Speaker Madigan to run as a Democratic candidate against Republican incumbent Terry Parke, instead of as Froehlich was hoping, keep the guy as the GOP heir apparent to Parke. My partisan side is glad for the ruthless Dem move to help move the northwest suburbs into the Democratic column (which will help flip those congressional seats as well), but I feel for Froehlich. He was betrayed, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Hang in there Paul!

Contrasting the civil rights records of the two parties

by State Representative Paul Froehlich

Cook County Republicans belatedly understand something that hasn’t dawned on their counterparts in red states. The GOP cannot hope to ever win countywide elections until it figures out how to attract a large share of minority voters. The truth is that Republicans can’t win statewide elections either if they keep getting clobbered in the County of Cook.

What Republicans haven’t figured out yet is how to make the GOP more attractive to African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans who currently prefer the Democrats by huge margins. A new documentary DVD called American History in Black & White (2004) by David Barton of reminds Republicans – and African-Americans – of what the party once stood for.

While it’s too long (at 1:45) and would be better with a black co-narrator, American History in Black & White is full of historical facts demonstrating that Republicans were once the champions of civil rights for black Americans while Democrats were fierce opponents. Here are some of the little-known events contrasting the civil rights records of the two parties:

* The Republican Party was founded in 1854 on the principle of preventing the spread of slavery, while the Democrat-controlled Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott decision (1857) declaring blacks non-persons.

* When the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery passed Congress in 1865, 100 percent of Republican Congressmen voted for it, but only 23 percent of the Democrats.

* When the 14th Amendment passed Congress to protect freedmen from state violations of their rights, 94 percent of Republicans and no Democrats voted for it. Southern Democrats created the KKK, however, which was anti-Republican as well as anti-black.

* Republicans passed the 15th Amendment to guarantee the vote for freedmen, while not a single Democrat in Congress voted for it. Southern Democrats invented methods to disenfranchise blacks: poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, black codes, white-only primaries, and so on.

* Every African-American elected to Congress between Reconstruction and 1934 was Republican.

* Republican Congressmen passed the 1871 Civil Rights Act against Klan violence and the.

1875 Civil Rights Act, while not a single Democrat voted for either. The 1875 law was the last civil rights bill to pass for 90 years due to Democrat opposition.

* Three African-Americans have presided over national Republican conventions: John R. Lynch, 1884, Edward Brook, 1968, and JC Watts in 2000. No African-American has presided over a Democrat convention.

* The U.S. Senate recently apologized for failing to enact laws against lynching until a few decades ago. Republicans and some Northern Democrats tried repeatedly to pass federal anti-lynching legislation well into the 20th century only to see it blocked year after year by Southern Democrats. That's why Herbert Hoover won 3 of 4 black votes in 1932 vs. FDR.

* Senator Dirksen (R, IL) provided the crucial votes to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act over a Democrat filibuster.

This film reminds Republicans that the GOP was once dedicated to freedom for the enslaved and civil rights for the freedmen. It reminds that justice used to be the party’s top priority, and virtually all black voters were once Republicans. The film leaves out the Nixon Southern Stragety, however, that Ken Melman recently apologized for in a speech to the NAACP.

Unfortunately, Republicans no longer talk much about justice unless it’s to advocate the death penalty. Lowering taxes is more important to many Republicans today than correcting injustice.

It is this writer’s opinion that if the GOP is to make significant inroads in winning back black and other minority voters, Republicans will have to restore the pursuit of justice as a top priority. Republicans should take the lead, for example, in reforming the criminal justice system that convicts too many innocent minorities. Republicans should also recognize the injustice in gross school funding disparities and propose ways to reduce it.

Great news for Illinois: Steve Schlickman to run the RTA

The Regional Transportation Authority oversees the CTA, Pace and Metra in the six-county Chicago area. And the new Executive Director of the RTA is a great guy, Steve Schlickman. I've worked with him on increasing Amtrak service in Illinois, and he is an absolute pro.

Here's an article with a brief mention from the Trib.

I think the papers should write a profile of him soon. He'll be a big player in figuring out how to fund transit (raise the gax tax, I say) and help make the Chicago area even more civilized. Congratulations to Steve.

Want to get involved? Petitioning starts Tuesday

If you've ever wanted to get involved in politics, this Tuesday is an easy opportunity to do so. Petitioning starts for the March primary election (yes, this early in the season....we should have a September primary, but that's a different story). Every legislator would *love* to get some help from someone to gather petitions. The recent election omnibus raised signature requirements for state legislators (500 for representatives, 1000 for senators), so there are more to collect than before.

If you want to help out, call their office and offer. Or just show up.

Sorry I've been such a negligent blogger. I'll try to be more productive.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

AG: Innovative voting systems are legal in Illinois

Great news: Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an Opinion today (read it here) that the state Constitution permits home rule municipalities to implement innovative election systems like instant runoff voting and cumulative voting rights without explicit state law authorization.

This means that if a city like Oak Park or Urbana or Berwyn or Carbondale or any home rule municipality wants to use a modern election system, the municipality can put a referendum on the ballot (or citizens can petition to put an initiative on the ballot), and if the voters approve the proposition, the city will use an innovative election system.

Instant runoff voting ( is one example that would work very well in Chicago or any other city that uses single-member districts and holds elections in both February and Apil. This ends the spoiler dynamic where similar candidates split the vote, and it also ends the expense of a second election.

Cumulative voting rights ( as used in the Illinois House from 1870-1980, would be a great fit for any municipality that uses at-large elections. The right is to cast all three or four votes for one candidate, allowing a political minority to elect one of their own, creating a more diverse local government. There's a movement in corporate America to provide cumulative voting rights for corporate elections to get an independent, non-establishment director on the board.

Now municipalities in Illinois have an opportunity to modernize their voting systems beyond what the Illinois General Assembly can imagine.

Also, to see how San Francisco uses instant runoff voting (they call is 'ranked choice voting') for their local elections, check out their Department of Elections page here with a nice flash demonstration here. They had a similar non-partisan, runoff election like Chicago and Springfield, until they decided to consolidate the two elections into one. Instead of voting twice (once in the 'primary' and once in the run-off), they count the ballots twice and let people indicate their runoff-choice by ranking the candidates (1, 2, 3). Now they have all the benefits of a runoff election (the candidate with the most support wins, there are no split votes or manipulation with fake candidates designed to harm an opponent) without the expense of two, separate elections.

This is exciting news. Perhaps some municipalities will have the chance to vote on some interesting referenda this March....

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEMA is run by patronage hacks from the Bush campaign

This is appalling.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, that is supposed to protect us all from the biggest disasters, is a patronage dump for Bush campaign hacks.

The Chief of Staff, Patrick Rhode, was a campaign worker for the campaign and has zero experience in emergency management. Here is his bio.

Same with the Deputy, Scott Morris. He had no experience either and worked on producing TV spots for the Bush campaign. Here is his bio.

No wonder the feds abandoned all those people for those four or five days. They didn't know any better because they were run by patronage hacks.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dick Durbin on North Side Saturday at 10 am

Wouldn't it be cool if you could meet the Senate Minority Whip -- the #2 person in the Senate on the Democratic Party side -- without having to drop $100 or $500?

Well, you can.

This Saturday, Young Chicago Lakefront, a North Side Democratic Organization, is sponsoring a breakfast with Dick Durbin at 10 am. It's $10 if you are a YCL Member or a college student, $15 if you're not.

If you want to get on YCL's email list, do this:

Join the YCL Mailing List


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Springfield funder for Katrina victims

A friend of mine is putting on a fundraiser for the enormous need for Katrina victims in Springfield this Wednesday, the 7th from 6 to 9 pm at Floyd's Thirst Parlor at 210 South 5th Street in downtown Springfield.

It's $10 and you get all the draft you want.

If you're in Springfield, go on by.

For more information, email Matt at

Saturday, September 03, 2005

This is a massive Republican failure

Listen to this radio interview from the Mayor of New Orleans.

"They are feeding the public a line of bull. And they are spinning. And people are dying down here."

Consider that for five days there were no National Guardsmen in New Orleans. Five days. And about a third of everyone in Iraq is part of the National Guard.

The National Guard has been sent to fight in a foreign war. And then they aren't here to protect us when we need them.

And we don't have the money to fix levees because we cut taxes on the rich and pay for a war and an occupation of foreign lands.

What's going to happen to all these devasted people when they file for bankruptcy? The GOP bankruptcy bill will keep them in debt.

They better fix that bankruptcy bill.

I saw an article mentioning that the Republican Congress is thinking about tax relief for people in the area.

Are they still going to repeal the estate tax on the wealthiest Americans?

New Orleans is a picture of poverty.

And the Republicans have been forsaking the poor.

This is a disgrace.

It didn't have to be this way.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina the topic on Beyond the Beltway Sunday from 6 to 8 pm on WLS 890 am

The topic will be Katrina and the incompetence the federal government showed with the hurricane.

What happens when you invade and occupy another country, avoid a draft and send the National Guard overseas?

There isn't anyone in the U.S. to protect the homeland.

And only today -- days after the flood -- does the National Guard finally reach New Orleans.

And, of course, when we spend hundreds of billions in Iraq, there isn't money left for levees and other infrastructure in the U.S.

So sad.