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April 16, 2014 / jeffnward

Quick Hit: Really Jim?

Now, I’m really trying to avoid having fun with Illinois U. S. Senate candidate Jim Oberweis because it’s already been done. But sometimes when someone serves you a lob…

Jim Oberweis

Jim Oberweis

So during last night’s mutual Tea Party stroke fest at the Arcada Theater in beautiful downtown St. Charles, Jim did his very best to whip up the faithful fervor with a chant of, “Millionaire. Career politician. Dick Durbin must go!”

Oh lord! Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Of course, the obvious problem with Jim’s assessment is that he made $1.3 million last year and he’s run for office more times than well…anybody. No irony there!

Then he told the politically challenged Tea Party throng to throw off the shackles of the GOP man and, “Take over the Republican Party. You are the answer.”

The only way that declaration will ever work is if the question is, “Who’s dragging the Republican Party down to the lowest common denominator and making their candidates virtually unelectable.”

Bottom line? Durbin gets 60 percent of the November vote without even breaking a sweat.

April 16, 2014 / jeffnward

How Do You Make a Small Fortune In Politics?

That’s right! You start off with a large one! At least that’s the case if you’re former County Clerk candidate and current County Board Member Mark Davoust.

In what will likely forever define me as an irredeemable political geek, one of my favorite pastimes is reviewing the D2 reports immediately after an election. Because this is when you get to see just how much some folks spent to go down in a massive ball of fire.

It’s always an interesting proposition in the sense that, while pundits love to shriek about money making the candidate, the voters are getting hip to that trick. Just ask the Koch brothers who, having fared very poorly in their national efforts, set their sights a on a lowly Iowa Mayor’s race only to get their butts handed to them.

And the irony (I love that word) of the Citizens United decision is that all of that ferociously free flowing money tends to cancel itself out. To wit, of the twenty 2012 candidates who spent at least $35 per vote, half of ‘em lost. And 50/50 can only be considered a good proposition if you’re a point guard or you enjoy flipping coins.

But I digress!

So let’s get back to Kane County where we now know the aforementioned Mr. Davoust spent at least

Mark Davoust

Mark Davoust

$116,000 on his failed County Clerk campaign, $74,000 of which were loans to himself.

Holy shit!

That’s a dumpster full of dinero to go down by 14 percentage points. And while I certainly agree with his sentiment, perhaps Mark’s message of getting out the Hispanic vote didn’t resonate too well with Republican voters.

Go figure!

By contrast, current GOP clerk nominee Jack Cunningham spent a paltry $38,000 making what essentially amounted to a three week effort.

So to prove my previous campaign finance point, while Davoust spent $8.50 per vote, by far the largest amount of any Kane County candidate, Cunningham laid out only $2.10.


It may be true that Cunningham was the incumbent, but conventional wisdom would dictate that outspending your opponent by more than 4 to 1 should get you a wee bit more than 43 percent of the vote.

Case in point, despite former St. Charles Mayor Sue Klinkhamer spending no money and refusing to put up as much as one sign, she actually managed to pull 44 percent of the vote in the 2012 GOP county chair primary. And that was against the wildly popular Chris Lauzen who frequently racks up 40 point victories.

Perhaps Mark might’ve done better if he followed in Sue’s fiscally conservative campaign footsteps.

For comparison’s sake, in the heated Sheriff’s race, winner Don Kramer spent $32,000, or $2.00 per vote, to runner up Kevin Williams’ $2.40.

Going back to those contested 2012 primary battles, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell spent $28,000 to Cathy Hurlbut’s 42 grand, and Coroner Rob Russell shelled out almost $5,000 to god knows how little Bob Tiballi spent because I couldn’t find his bleepin’ committee!

To break Davoust’s efforts down, he spent:

  • $2,500 on signs
  • $8,000 on political consultants (from Bourbonnais!)
  • $7,500 on printing
  • $1,500 on robocalls (featuring the eminently popular Karen McConnaughay!)
  • $10,500 on phone banks, and
  • $84,000 on mailings (one of which arrived at 5 p.m. on election day)

So there you have it! A roadmap on how to blow a hundred large with nothing much to show for it but some really ugly green signs.

Word on the street is that Davoust was actually aiming at the chairmanship, but unless he’s some sort of masochist, that ain’t gonna happen now. Lauzen would make mincemeat out of him. Considering how peeved some GOP folks are at him (he went after a sitting Republican), he’ll be lucky to retain his county board seat in 2016.

But the real lesson, dear reader, is this. Money doesn’t change everything. Especially when it comes to elections.

April 15, 2014 / jeffnward

Software won’t stop school sex abuse (or school shootings)

The TSA, Homeland Security, concealed carry, and the Raptor V-Soft Visitor Management System being installed in schools all over Kane County. “What are things that don’t make us safer,” Alex?

That is correct!

And anybody who’s read my columns for any length of time knows that pretending to address a serious issue, while you’re really doing absolutely nothing about it, drives me even crazier that crafty former county chairmen.

The TSA, who hasn’t managed to apprehend even one terrorist, think NFL linebackers are the ones who will take down an airplane. We all know Homeland Security is an oxymoron along the lines of jumbo shrimp and military intelligence. And the Raptor V software program, recently covered by a local newspaper, is just another feel good “safety” measure that doesn’t make our schools any safer.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Raptor V-Soft folks claim to have “the most comprehensive database of sex offenders in the United States” and they proceed to wax poetically about catching all sorts of sex offenders at school doorways. Bu even if I believed the latter part of their declaration, the truth of school sexual abuse is quite different.

For example, 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims knew their attacker who proceeded to “groom” them long before the first assault. It breaks down like this; 34.2 percent of abusers are family members, 58.7 percent are acquaintances, but just 7 percent of the perpetrators are complete strangers.

Please, please, please understand that I’m not accusing any Kane County teacher of anything, but if you read this 2004 Department of Education study covering educator sexual misconduct, it’s clear that, if a student is going to be abused at school, the vast likelihood is the predator will be a teacher, coach or school employee.

The most infamous case around here was West Aurora band teacher Stephen Orland who’s currently serving abusea 12-year term for having sexual relations with two female students. But when was the last time you heard about a registered sex offender assaulting a student on school grounds?

Don’t believe me? Then please perform a simple Google news search and, trust me, you’ll be stunned. Some folks call it a “classroom predator epidemic” and there’s a national group, Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation, who’ve taken the cause all the way to Washington.

Are there cases of outsider school sexual assaults? Yes! But they are incredibly rare and, unless security was exceptionally lax, they generally don’t just walk in through the front door.

How do rogue educators generally go about grooming students? By using facebook, texts, email, and other electronic means which enable them to get straight through to their prey with a minimal fear of detection.

So while the Raptor V-Soft folks claim “we are keeping watch,” based on all the evidence, it’s pretty clear they’re watching the wrong people. And it’s exactly the same thing with school shooters.

Of course we don’t want to let anybody walk into our schools! But almost without exception, these shooters tend to be current or former students who would be granted access without a second glance anyway.

Columbine, Red Lake, MN, Virginia Tech, NIU, Sandy Hook, and now, Murrysville, PA, all came at the hands of insiders. The only school massacre that seems to be a completely random occurred in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the gunman picked an Amish School because it had no real security measures.

So here’s the real irony. While we put most of our energy into feel-good measures like this new software system, not only does it fail to address the real issue, but it detracts from it. And then our back-patting complicity automatically puts our children at greater risk.

Because the only way to stop school sexual abuse (and shootings) is to put our focus internally where it belongs. We have to create an atmosphere were students believe they can come to us and administrators about anything without fear of repercussion. We have to insist upon school policies and state statutes that make it difficult for these predators to groom young boys and girls.

Currently there is a bipartisan bill working it’s way through Washington that would make it more difficult for school abusers to fall through the current cracks.

But most of all, we – all of us – have to be vigilant. None of these abuses (or shootings) ever occurs in a vacuum. In our perpetual hindsight, it’s only after the fact that we seem to find that mile-long trail we somehow missed.

The problem is, that actually requires an effort.

April 12, 2014 / jeffnward

Welcome to my friends down under

I’m not sure I can explain this particular phenomenon, but suddenly, this blog has a spate of hits from the  ozwonderful folks from the great land of Oz.

Being the magnanimous host you all know I am, the least I can do is welcome all my new Australian friends with a hearty g’day mate. Why I may even try to speak in their native tongue!

So, per our new Left, Right and You theme song (Piece of the Sun by local artist Dave Ramont), let’s all head over to the billabong and tear off a piece of the sun.

Though I have to say, what the hell is vegemite?

April 12, 2014 / jeffnward

The Illinois Review doesn’t like me!

Comedian Lewis Black is fond of saying the problem with conservatives is, they have absolutely no sense of humor.  And he’s right. That doesn’t mean they don’t say funny things, it’s just that they tend to get laughs only when they’re trying to be serious.

Say what you will about me – and most of you already do – but I manage to regularly have a little fun with myself. You see, the bottom line is that none of us are indispensable to this earthbound process and our best defense against that inevitable exit is a good laugh.

So when a staunch Republican friend surprisingly suggested I submit my defense of Aurora State Rep Linda Chapa Lavia to the Illinois Review, despite all the obvious reservations I thought, “what the bleep?” Perhaps those bloggish folks have a sense of humor and they’ll have some fun with me. So I sent the column along.

And “Managing Editor” Fran Eaton’s response was priceless.

Fran Eaton

Fran Eaton

Not sure you meant to send this to us, Mr. Ward.  This is Illinois Review. We vividly recall your comments in a past Courier column. Now you’d like us to share your thoughts with our audience?

And we have another version of the Chapa Lavia’s history with local Republicans that doesn’t line up with yours.

Your memorable words – ‘But instead of calling her on it, those nitwits at the Illinois Review couldn’t lap it up fast enough. You can hear the entire interview at Apparently, if you want to get a tea partier to curl up in your lap and purr, all you have to do is pet them gently while whispering sweet nothings in their ear.’”

Not only am I truly touched they remembered me, but the fact they actually saved a column that had rolled off the Net makes me feel warm and fuzzy over. Who’d a thunk I’d make that kind of lasting impression? I’d be willing to bet that Fran Eaton has a full size poster of me on her bedroom wall.

Now, it took a little time to remember exactly to whom I was referring in the paragraph, but with a little effort, I realized it was former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay who, while running for the 33rd State Senate seat, was doing her best Sarah Palin impersonation.

Of course, the former Chairman has moved on from blowing $40 million surpluses  and making a mess of Animal Control to much loftier endeavors like shaking down the Grand Victoria for a big donation (Tim Elenz, March 20, Left, Right and You).

And her conservative fairy tale included, not only teaching her kids to water ski at three, but handing them loaded guns at the ripe old age of two. And all this occurred while living on her “wilderness” property along the Fox River in St. Charles.But instead of saying something like “wait a minute! Can a two year-old even handle a gun?” Fran and the Illinois Review fawned over Ms. McConnaughay like Chris Christie over a cupcake because their agenda is to push faux conservative Republicans without any regard for what they are in reality.

So being the magnanimous individual I always am, I simply provided the Illinois Review with a rare opportunity to print the truth, but alas, failing to appreciate my vast effort, as Earnest T. Bass would say, “They shot me down!”

Somehow I think I’ll be able to live with it.

April 11, 2014 / jeffnward

It aint easy being white

Good Lord! If you listen to ‘em long enough, the only conclusion you could possibly come to is Caucasian Republican males are the most persecuted people on the planet.

The fact they enjoy virtually every position of power, every economic benefit, a slew of educational

Linda Chapa Lavia

Linda Chapa Lavia

advantages, and they don’t get stopped for being in the “wrong” neighborhood, isn’t nearly enough to offset the abuse they regularly have to endure at the hands of those dastardly racist Democrats.

To quote one of the most egregious over-actors of our time, “The horror; the horror!”

So this time, in what only can be described as an affront of historical proportions, during a heated charter school debate, that despicable Democratic State Rep, Linda Chapa Lavia, had the temerity to infer that her GOP compatriots had no clue as to what it really means to be a minority.

And the fact that only one of their 47 members actually is a minority, did nothing to prevent them from immediately resorting to the gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and generally running around in circles screaming the sky is falling.

How dare anyone accuse 46 white people of failing to understand the inherent challenges that come along with brown skin.

When Ms. Chapa Lavia subsequently issued her now infamous “we have a half” statement, I thought their collective heads would explode. So much for wishful thinking.

Of course, the Republicans, who’ve clearly taken the title for taking affront away from Jewish mothers everywhere, went into complete conniptions. Why, I haven’t seen that much uncontrollable weeping since that Game of Thrones wedding massacre.

Then, in what can only be described as an amazing irony, as if to say some of their best friends are black, those irretrievably offended reps immediately flocked to their lone minority member, Plainfield State Rep John Anthony. Anthony is black with some Puerto Rican heritage.

I’m surprised the GOP doesn’t try to count him as two minorities.

John Anthony

John Anthony

What the mortally wounded Illinois GOP failed to mention is, not only did Mr. Anthony have to be appointed, but he’s the first Republican African-American state rep since they abolished multi-member districts back in 1983.

And if you do the math, that comes out to just one minority Illinois House member of the approximately 500 Republicans who’ve passed through that body since that time. And he wasn’t even elected.

Who says the GOP isn’t the party of inclusion? Oh that’s right! Rand Paul.

Back when I toiled for newspapers, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Anthony at length. Not only is he one of the finest people I’ve ever met, but, though the former sheriff’s deputy would never say it out loud, he was very specific about the indignities he’d suffered at the hands of his Kendall County compatriots and many Illinois Republicans.

So when State Rep Lavia basically accused House GOP members of being out of touch with minorities, with all the facts in, maybe she was bleepin’ right!

For argument’s sake, let’s say her “half” comment was indeed directed at Representative Anthony.

So what?

One of the very few perks of being a minority in this country is that you get to use N-word (or its equivalent) without repercussion. And some white people (Laura Ingraham) can’t even handle that! But when you truly consider how much fun it is to be black or Hispanic in U.S., out of the vast generosity of my pasty white heart, I’m willing to let it go.

But you wanna know what the most ironic thing in all of this is? Not only has Linda Chapa Lavia done more for minority education in the State of Illinois than all those Republican reps combined, but she actually wanted to be a Republican.

Remember when Ronald Reagan said, “Hispanics are Republicans. They just don’t know it yet.” There’s certainly something to that.

So when Linda came back to Illinois, she approached Denny Hastert and Dallas Ingemunson, the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum of Kendall County Republican power brokers, about running for State Rep.  And you know what they said? They told her to go home!

You see, there was no room in the party for an uppity Latina from Texas.

And suddenly it’s Republicans who are offended? Apologize? If I were Linda, I’d tell ‘em to kiss my not-so-pasty brown…

April 10, 2014 / jeffnward

Linda Chapa LaVia is one of the best legislators…

… in the State of Illinois. And Dave and I want to thank the Democratic State Rep from Aurora for appearing chapa lavia 2on the show during what has most certainly been a most difficult week. And you can listen to that interview right here:

Linda talked about her latest Springfield kerfuffle (poor, poor, put upon Republicans), why charter schools need to stay under local control, and why the Illinois High School Association needs to have oversight.

Another thank you to Todd for calling in with a great question on exactly where charter school students come from.

Next week, former Elgin City Councilman and new State Rep Anna Moeller should be able to join us. But as for now, enjoy the show!





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