Consolidated primary election recap!

Did anybody pay attention to what Elgin City Council two-year candidate Toby Shaw pulled off on Tuesday? If you’re thinking about running for local office, you might want to talk to him first.

Toby Shaw

Toby Shaw

In the middle of the worst snow storm of the winter, while fighting off 8 separate opponents, in the face of a 3 percent turnout, Shaw managed to get 614 or 35.7 percent of the vote! He came damn close to getting more votes than all the other challengers combined!

Of course, I’d like to say it was the bump from his appearance on Left, Right and You, but we’ll have to have Shaw on the show to talk about his methodology.

While were at it, a hearty congratulations to Craig Dresang who claimed the second spot, but when you consider his admirable 224 vote count, it doesn’t bode well for the impending runoff.

The other big Elgin surprise was Larry Wegman coming in a distant 6th with only 112 votes. His wife Sandy will have the County Recorder’s job as long as she wants it, but I don’t think another Wegman will ever be elected in Elgin.

On to Aurora where the turnout was even more sparse – about two percent!

Though they both had some serious baggage, it looks like Bill Catching will prevail over Aurora Township Supervisor incumbent Christina Campos by about 100 votes.

But here’s the thing Bill! You might want to consider being a little more gracious in victory because your former opponent can make the transition very difficult and make your life even more miserable with recounts.

Once you’ve won a race, it’s over. What’s the point of piling on?

But the best news is former McConnaughay lackey Paul Greviskes came in a distant third to Catching and Campos. Since he and he wife have now lost consecutive elections, perhaps they’ll do us all a favor and stop running.

And speaking of recounts, it looks like it’s inevitable in the 4th Ward aldermanic contest. Bill Donnell is safe with 247 votes, but perennial candidate Mavis Bates is ahead of Jay Leonardi by a mere 8 tallies.

With some absentee ballots potentially still out there (you have to wait two weeks to certify an election to be reasonably sure they’re all accounted for) this one could change before either one of ’em finally calls for a discovery recount.

Though he did it by the seat of his pants, it was good to see Juan Reyna grab that last Aurora Township Trustee seat. Juan is a good guy who quietly governs in the midst of our too-frequent political chaos.

Right now, it looks like Matt Harrington’s 67 votes failed to come within the required 95 percent of Marge Linnane’s 9th Ward total to call for a recount. This means Ed Bugg and Linnane will square off in April.

The 67 vote count has to be somewhat embarrassing for Harrington who gets paid to manage other folk’s campaigns.

That’s it for now. We’ll talk again in early April!

Since you’re snowbound anyway

You may as well listen to today’s Left, Right and You Left, Right and You 2-26-13.

Rich Dunne

Rich Dunne

Thanks to Elgin City Councilman Rich Dunne for surmounting various weather-borne obstacles to call into the show today.

Another big thanks to Elgin Octave activist Julie Schmidt for joining the show and giving us the conservative woman’s perspective. We may not agree on everything, but we do agree on the fact that Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady should go.

Anyway, enjoy the show!

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow…

Will stop Allen and I from flooding your airwaves from 3 to 4 p.m.   pension-python-jeff-ward-allen-skillicorn

Yes! Despite the inclement weather (holy crap it’s bad out there), it’s almost time for Left, Right and You. So please tune into WRMN 1410 between the aforementioned times and political enlightenment will be yours – as long as you ignore my esteemed co-host.

  • Elgin City Councilman Rich Dunne will call in to discuss today’s two-year city council seat primary and to weigh in on whether Elgin’s taxes have actually gone up or down.
  • Active Elgin Octave member and friend of Allen Skillicorn Julie Schmidt will also call in to talk about what it’s like to be a conservative woman. Conservative woman? Isn’t that a lot like being an anti-semitic Jew?
  • If time permits, Allen and I will discuss whether, after a too-brief bout of introspection, the GOP is back to their same old Schtick by blocking the Hagel (defense) and Brennan (CIA) nominations.

And Kudos to Mr. Skillicorn! Though I’m wimping out and will do the show remotely for all the obvious late winter reasons, he will valiantly assemble his team of huskies and make it into the studio.

Don’t forget to call in at 847-931-1410!



It’s the messaging stupid

After Republicans got their asses handed to them on a silver platter by a black guy in a bad economy, they immediately went into a cloistered huddle to determine why they’d fared so poorly. But given their general aversion to introspective endeavors of any kind, the soul searching lasted all of ten minutes.

Pat Brady

Pat Brady

Instead of coming to their senses and finally realizing that excluding folks will only lose you elections, they collectively decided that poor “messaging” was the real culprit. Or did they?

Apparently you can’t save some people from themselves.

Because now that the Illinois GOP’s move to oust state party Chairman Pat Brady is gaining traction, they seem to have no clue about the message they’re really sending to the rest of the state.

I’ve said it many times before, there are a plethora of good reasons to get rid of Brady including, but not limited to:

  • He can’t win an election is a state that’s being destroyed by delusional Democrats
  • He acted as Kevin Burns’ campaign chairman against another Republican
  • He lost that race by 40 points!
  • He doesn’t understand he’s chairman 24/7
  • He undermined the very party platform over which he’s supposed to preside

But what are Illinois Republicans hanging their pitchforks and torches on? Brady’s sudden conversion on the subject of same-sex marriage.

Yes! Ostensibly speaking as a “private citizen,”  Brady asked his political brethren to relent on their opposition to gay nuptials. Sheesh! The fact that he doesn’t understand that chairmen don’t get to speak as unencumbered persons is more than enough reason for me to dispense with him.

But instead of going that utterly reasonable route, the internal opposition group is using Brady’s “awakening” as a cudgel against him with absolutely no compunction about the message they’re actually sending – “We hate gay people!”

And Republicans have the nerve to wonder why they can’t win an election.

Of course, Brady’s response to the move was, “It will do irreparable harm to our brand. I don’t understand (this) but I respect the process.”

This, of course, begs the question, how can you do irreparable harm to that which has already been irreparably harmed?

How many Mulligans does Mayor Burns get?

On his 43rd blog post this week, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns proclaimed the following. “‘I goofed.’ How many times have you heard an elected official admit that?”  burns 2

Well, if the elected official’s name is Kevin Burns then you hear it quite a bit. For example:

1. Red light cameras. In a press release, in a series of emails, and in his stump speeches, the Mayor repeatedly and vociferously stated that, “Geneva doesn’t write right-on-red tickets.” But when I FOIAd that data and proved that 40 percent of Geneva’s camera tickets were going to “illegal” right turns, Mayor Burns suddenly claimed he never made any claim to the contrary.

But when confronted with his own written press release words, the Mayor essentially said he’d misquoted himself. What he really meant was, “Genava doesn’t write MANY right on red camera citations.”

Oh! That’s very different. Nevermind! And nevermind that, in my book, almost half of the tickets issued is MANY! The truth is, the Mayor blatantly lied because he thought no one would check.

Sadly, Brenda Schory and the Chronicle never do.

2. Campaign emails.  In another one of those 43 blog posts, the Mayor once again referred to his embarrassing county chair campaign emails as a “miscue” not even worthy of the state’s attorney’s attention. In other words, using a city cell phone to conduct campaign business was OK because “he goofed.” (There’s that word again.)

What Mayor Burns doesn’t understand is, it wasn’t the act of sending those emails, it was the juvenile things contained in them. It was referring to his opponent’s wife as a “beast” and disparaging her wardrobe, making fun of Rep. Randy Hultgren’s appearance at a prayer dinner, and plans to insert Democrat Sue Klinkhamer in the race just to take “shots” at Lauzen that were the real problem.

While I certainly harbor some juvenile tendencies myself, at least I do it out in the open for everyone to see. Mayor Burns did it via email because he thought no one would check.

3. Geneva’s Tax Rate.  As I pointed out on in a previous blog post, when Mayor Burns claimed our tax rate had tumbled from .73 to .53, he “goofed” again! Geneva’s tax rate is actually .64 (.65 if you’re rounding up). Perhaps we should be impressed that, this time, he was only off by a factor of two!

When you consider city fees, rate increases, and our assessments, that .9 is virtually meaningless. We all know our property taxes have gone up.

But the real issue is, the Mayor knew damned well what the city tax rate was, he thought he could get away with fudging it because no one would check.

It’s true! Mayor Burns is a great mayor – as long as nobody checks!

Mike Kenyon writing about character assassination is like Drew Peterson writing about how to keep a wife!

Before we get started, let’s do the whole caveat thing first. When you run for county chair on an anti-cronyism platform as Chris Lauzen did, you set yourself up for all kinds of heartache when you hire a friend to work in animal control.

Mike Kenyon

Mike Kenyon

Though Rob Sauceda is eminently qualified for the job, it’s not the choice I’d have made if for no other reason than it gave the typical whiners a reason to justify their utterly meaningless existence.

With those stipulations boldly issued, County Board Member Mike Kenyon’s “editorial” in today’s Chronicle was so far beyond the pale that I barely know where to begin. Thankfully, that’s never stopped me before.

It’s so bad that the standard pot and kettle analogy doesn’t begin to do it justice. How Kenyon could write the words, “Never, at any time, has my family, or myself, attempted to gain influence from my position on the Kane County Board,” without immediately bursting into flames is beyond me.

In an apparent effort to defend himself against the “scurrilous” accusations of one Chris Lauzen, Kenyon went on to describe how he and his utterly altruistic family have “donated” vast tracts of land to U-46 and the County for a mere pittance of $300.

Perhaps we should nominate Mike for sainthood.

But the land deal he conveniently forgot to mention in his propaganda is Peck Road. You see, I regularly run right through some of Mr. Kenyon’s former farmland.

And despite sitting right there on the committee that considered that transaction, not filing the required letter to the county, nor disclosing his interest in the deal, Kane County purchased some or all of that land between Keslinger Rd. and Rt. 38 for a purported right-of-way.

Meanwhile, Kenyon continues to farm those acres. I wonder if he pays any rent?

Despite some concerned folks’ best efforts to determine exactly what the county bought and exactly what they paid a SITTING BOARD MEMBER for it, former Chairman McConnaughay stonewalled them at every turn. If you recall, when she wasn’t soliciting contributions from county contractors, turning down FOIA requests was her favorite pastime.

When you consider his tenure as Kane County Republican Chairman, his ongoing South Elgin antics, and his time on the County Board, it would be easier to list the instances in which Mike has not benefited from his political position than to cite the times he did.

And all this self-enrichment came at a time when he presided over the now almost inevitable demise of the Kane County Republican Party. Kenyon’s election track record was so abysmal he couldn’t even put a quality candidate like Steve Rauschenberger over the top of a self-destructive lunatic like Elgin State Senator Mike Noland.

Kenyon also had the nerve to write, “…the issue in question was whether a certain person should be hired, based on his/her personal association with the Chairman.”

Mike! How can you even say something like that when “cronyism” is your fricken’ middle name? Your South Elgin exploits are legendary (and about to become very public) and folks like you and Board Member Mark Davoust insisted upon huddling with Chairman McConnaughay while she hired and appointed generally unqualified FOKS (friends of Karen) like:

  • Mary Lawrie
  • Phil Bus
  • Chris Dudley
  • Andy Raucci
  • Jan Carlson
  • Caryl Van Overmeiren
  • Paul Greviskes
  • Jim Hansen
  • Pat Jaeger
  • Paul Kuehnert
  • Ken Cameron
  • Mitchell Radman
  • Tracy McDonald-Ramsey

And I could go on for days!

For freakin’ god sakes, former County Development Director Phil Bus’ $110, 000 annual pension is more than two times Sauceda’s salary! And Kenyon suddenly has cohones to complain about it now?

Ain’t it amazing how some folks suddenly get political religion when they’re no longer on the inside.

And lastly, Kenyon actually had the temerity to say this, “Character assassinations should never become a substitute for discussing any issue, based on its merits. As leaders, we cannot allow this type of behavior to continue.”

Say what!

Mike, I clearly remember the video gaming ban repeal board meeting because I was sitting right there. And where was that altruistic sentiment when you, Bill Wyatt, Gerry Jones, John Fahy and Cathy Hurlbut unleashed the kind of verbal assault on Bonnie Kunkel, Barb Wojnicki and Drew Frasz that made an ultimate fighting cage match seem mild by comparison?

As far as character assassination goes Mike, you have nothing to worry about. You have no character left to kill.

Another Denise Crosby column on East Aurora? It must be Wednesday!

Let’s get back to holding newspapers accountable because if anyone needs a taste of their own higher standard medicine, it’s the Beacon-News’ Denise Crosby. Of course, Crosby is the “senior columnist” who’s doing her best to single-handedly send that newspaper into utter oblivion.

When she isn’t citing “evil” as the sole motivation for each and every local murder (that takes real insight!), she’s slamming the East Aurora School District for the same tired old reasons over and over again.  east aurora

And it all started with former East High School football coach Kurt Becker who, having blown all his Bears money, tried to “leverage” a higher paying position from D131 by going to the press with all sorts perceived slights.

You see, Denise has a thing for ex-football players.

Yes! Like U-46 before them. East Aurora has some serious issues. But also like U-46, the board and administrators are making a real effort to address those issues amid a firestorm of folks who’ve convinced themselves they can do a better job.

Yes! East School Board president Annette Johnson can be abrasive and impatient, but so can I. After working with Crosby for eight long and excruciating years, given the choice, I’ll take Ms. Johnson every time.

So today, in what should’ve been a column celebrating a $660,000 Dunham Fund grant that means a laptop for every student at the new Magnet Academy, Crosby, once again, used the opportunity to pile on a school district that’s already face down on the turf.

Trust me, that kind of thing takes real journalistic courage.

The irony is, the answers to the questions Crosby insists upon “asking” week after week have already been answered in my previous Beacon-News columns. Apparently even Crosby doesn’t read that paper anymore.

But since I’m feeling particularly magnanimous and because I actually did the groundwork, let’s answer ’em again.

The utility late payment fees? Stupid yes, but hardly the stuff of legend. It’s time to let it go.

As I clearly wrote way back then, Assistant Superintendent Christie Aird was disciplined for the new transgender policy fiasco because she didn’t vet it with the district attorneys or board first. And no one has ever disputed my account of those proceedings.

And let’s get this one straight! Former Aurora East finance director Jerry Augustine wasn’t “allowed to retire” – he retired. Despite your best efforts, you can’t stop someone from retiring if they’re old enough to retire! The day the insurance company caught up with the teachers’ premium problem, sensing his impending doom, Augustine retired on the spot.

The reason underling Penny Havlax was fired is because she wasn’t at retirement age and, as benefits coordinator, not only did she fail to pay her own portion of those premiums for seven years, but she was similarly kind to other district personnel.

As far as Havlax’s future – that currently lies in the hands of the State’s Attorney.

And speaking of insurance, the reason the retired teachers’ premiums soared is, whether intentional or through incompetence, the aforementioned insurance mess had some retirees paying 1995 rates. When you consider what’s happened to health care costs over the last 16 years, D131 simply could no longer afford to take the hit.

Though I certainly understand those former employees’ pain, the district did try to ease the blow by moving the health insurance to the Teachers Retirement System.

Yes! The health insurance thing is a nightmare and it never should’ve happened, but how long does one mediocre columnist get to use it as a sledgehammer? And when I think of all the Kane County and Aurora malfeasance Crosby ignored and refused to cover, it drives me nuts.

Here’s a good example. Remember the Steve Orland thing? He’s the Aurora West band teacher who got caught sexually abusing female students. Some time later, the Beacon “broke” a story about a West janitor almost catching Orland in the act a year before he was officially apprehended and charged.

Funny thing is, through some impeccable sources, I brought the janitor’s story to managing editor John Russell and Crosby eight months before then, but they wouldn’t touch it. It wasn’t until CBS News started poking around and then Sun-Time Media West head honcho Andrew Hermmann (a real journalist) forced them to go with it, that it ran.

So I suppose the question is, why does Denise Crosby consistently let West Aurora slide while she hammers the East district day in and day out.  What’s the difference between East and West Aurora?

Oh! That’s right!

It’s almost Left, Right and You time again

Today! From 3 to 4 p.m on WRMN AM1410 please join Allen Skillicorn and yours truly as we discuss:   left-right-and-you-radio

  • With the Grand Victoria relenting, it looks like video gaming will finally fly in Elgin. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.
  • Illinois Family Institute Executive Director David Smith joins the show to talks about same-sex marriage working its way through Springfield. I have never been a big fan of that group so it should be a fascinating conversation
  • Does the fall of Jesse Jr. and Sandi mark the end of the Jackson family dynasty in Chicago. One can only hope!
  • And if I was a betting man, I’m guessing more of the hoard of Elgin City Council candidates will be calling in too.

Tune in to find out!

If truth stretching were an art, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns would be Picasso – Part II

Since we’ve gone through the process of debunking Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns’ recent claims of fiscal responsibility (if he even uttered the words “fiscal conservative,” he’d burst into flames), let’s move on to his supposed economic development “accomplishments.” burns 2

1. Since 2001, more than 700,000 square feet of commercial/retail space has been developed.

That’s because of the Commons, which not only fell right into Geneva’s lap, but it has yet to perform anywhere near expectations. And when Barnes & Noble goes  out – which it inevitably will – it’s going to get even worse.

2. Since 2001, more than 500,000 square feet of industrial space has been developed.

First of all, a half a million square feet of industrial development ain’t nuthin’ and most of it’s due to the fine folks at the Northern Illinois Food Bank who don’t pay any real estate taxes.

3. Since 2001, more than $200,000,000 in public improvements have been invested in Geneva’s electric, water, wastewater and public safety programs to ensure reliable, responsible and affordable services for generations to come.

While Geneva has made some prudent infrastructure investments, those two three hour plus summer power outages show there’s plenty of work to be done. And if that utility was so sound why are all the linemen racking up six figure salaries via all sorts of overtime?

In addition, the sewer system has been almost completely ignored for almost three decades.

As far as “affordable” goes, at a time when residents can least afford it, Geneva’s water and electric rates have risen significantly year after year.

4. Geneva has experienced 11 consecutive months of increased sales tax revenue thanks to creative small businesses and investments by regional and national retailers – this fiscal year alone sales tax revenue is up 5%.

And so has every one else! It’s called a “dead cat bounce” which is a result of an economy that had nowhere to go but up. And the mayor had nothing to do with it. The truth is, sales tax revenue for FY 2012-13 will, once again, fall below that of any year between 2004 and 2008.

5. Downtown Geneva’s vacancy rate has declined from 15% to 8% in the last year alone.

Another misleading statement. Because even though downtown Geneva still attracts businesses, the  new ones are nowhere near the quality of the ones that left or closed.

Just how many Jewelry stores, furniture stores and massage spas does one city need? The corner of Third and State used to be Kiss the Sky, 302 West, Merra-Lee and Starbucks. Now it’s Perlman Jewelers, State Street Jewelers is moving west, a night club that’s already been cited for liquor violations, and Starbucks.

Because of a lack of a real effort by city staffers like Ellen Divita, downtown Geneva is being Galena-fied which is the beginning of the end.  Their insistent refusal to attract mid-range national retailers like Eddie Bauer or Chicos to will mean the ultimate end of downtown Geneva as a meaningful shopping location.

6. Geneva’s vacancy rate on Randall Road is 3% (far below regional averages).

Again, the mayor and the city have very little to do with it. The market will bear what the market will bear. I could do the same thing on my worst day.

7. Geneva’s vacancy rate in its industrial park is 2% (far below regional averages).

So what! Again we’re talking a major non-profit and Geneva’s minimal industrial base does virtually nothing to mitigate our huge property tax burden.

8.  Construction of the Third Street Commuter/Shopping Parking Deck.

That’s Metra! Again, the city has very little to do with it.

9. Beginning Construction of the Kautz Road/Rt. 38 at grade crossing to improve efficiency on Geneva’s East Gateway.

That’s Kane County and Metra! It’s like taking credit for the snow that falls within our municipal boundaries.

10. Creation of the Geneva Economic Development Commission.

Which is stacked with the Mayor’s friends and cronies who couldn’t fight their way out of an economic paper bag. Please tell me, exactly what does Burns ally and attorney Robert Mann bring to the table? And Patrick Neary can’t even run a restaurant. Please list just one one GEDC accomplishment.

11. Creation and adoption of Geneva’s Downtown Master Plan Planning Document.

Oh lord! It’s a plan that focuses on absurd issues like sight lines and pie in the sky development that will never happen.  Even former Editor Rick Nagel said, “Geneva’s Downtown Master Plan is filled with wonderful ideas, most of which won’t ever happen.”

Though we spent a lot of time and money on it, the master plan is almost as worthless as Confederate money.

And the really sad thing is, Mayor Burn’s made this rebuttal so easy. Perhaps he’ll provide more of a challenge next time.