The April (not March) 25th edition of Left, Right and You is on tap!

Yikes! I got so involved in trying to look up a Kierkegaard quote before the show, I forgot to post the typical Thursday afternoon alert! But not to fear! If you missed the show you can listen to it right here: 

Scott Musser

Scott Musser

Of course Allen and I want to thank IL AARP head Scott Musser for calling in and discussing the looming advent of smart meters – something my co-host and I heartily agree on. A smart grid? Sure, but we don’t  local constables checking our power consumption for marijuana grow lights.

That said, it wasn’t all wine and roses as we discussed the failure of the firearm background check bill. I hated to have to haul out the liberal smackdown, but sometimes it’s necessary.

We also want to thank Dan and Jeff for calling in and offering their thoughts.

Enjoy the show!

Some golfers really are pussies

My long-time readers will note that, some years ago, I wrote a column on the inane Tiger Woods’ saga in which I asserted, “… [Tiger] Woods isn’t an athlete because golf isn’t a sport…Those golf sissies make spectators quiet down before they take a shot at a stationary ball. Frankly, I’m surprised any golfer was man enough to have a wife and 14 girlfriends.”

But I had no idea how prophetic those words would be.  Sony Open in Hawaii - Second Round

You see, according to  European Tour sponsors, PGA golfers Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson bailed on the Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea due to, “perceived unrest on the Korean peninsula.”

Really? The only unrest on that fricken’ peninsula is a result of Kim Jong Un’s flapping gums as he tries to bring South Koera to the bargaining table by making over-the-top threats to destroy their economy.  And when two idiot golfers make a point out of capitulating to that kind of empty intimidation, there’s only one word that describes them and I used it in the title.

The North Korean army has miserable morale, outdated equipment, and just 30 days of fuel. There ain’t gonna be no war. So why not make a stand by going over to South Korea and, while you’re there, visiting any of the 30,000 U.S. troops stationed there. Not only would it boost their morale, but it would give Mr. Un what for!

It may be true that Dustin Johnson’s Foundation gives money to wounded soldiers, but when you make that kind of cash, writing a check is literally the least you can do. And he certainly seemed to love all those photo ops with SOWW members (Special Operations Wounded Warriors).

These professional athletes just love to pay lip service to “supporting our troops” and country, but when it’s time to put their sorry necks on the line they back down faster than George W. Bush in a military induction center.

I can’t wait to hear all the conservatives try to defend them.

Apparently, working for Metra means never having to say how sorry you really are…

…as in it takes a real effort to display the level of incompetence their leadership exhibits on a regular basis. All you have to do is think back a few short years to when Executive Director Phil Pagano made off with a cool half-million before committing suicide in front of one of his own trains.

But this one has to take the cake.  metra

In their infinite wisdom, the fine folks that serve on the commuter train board decided to eliminate the discount and charge full price for a 10-ride ticket starting Feb 1. When I heard the news I instantly said to myself, “Wow! No one’s gonna buy 10-ride tickets anymore.”

It ain’t exactly rocket science folks!

If there’s nothing in it for the consumer, i.e. a quantity discount, then they’ll simply pay as they go.  And sure enough, sales of 10-ride tickets dropped 15 percent in February and another 16 percent in March.

Faced with those “unpredictable” consequences, Metra CFO Tom Farmer actually had the nerve to say, “The decline in 10-ride ticket sales is a bit more than we’d hoped for.”  Then Chairman Brad O’Halloran asked Metra staffers to provide recommendations on how to stem the severe losses.

Really! How about this one! Put the bleeping discount back! No one relishes the thought of Metra holding their money hostage. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it was the rocket scientists on the board who voted 8 – 2 to go along with this brilliant market disregarding venture.

Apparently none of ’em ever watched Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University bit where he summed up college economics simply as “supply and demand.”

And please don’t forget that a Metra Board member makes 15 grand plus benefits for showing up just 12 times a year. Not only that, but local taxpayers foot that commuter bill whether they take the train or not.

Many years ago, on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Dick Martin claimed he was going into the plumbing business and charge people $20,000 a visit. When straight man Dan Rowan replied, “You won’t get many customers that way,” Dick’s snappy retort was, “I only need one.” (Remember, it was the 60s.)

I’ll give you even money Metra tries that one next!

How can I miss you if you wont go away?

Though that’s something my not-so-sainted mother used to say, it certainly fits our former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay. The truth is, I’d really like to have the opportunity to miss her a whole lot more.

Look! Even I know the campaign’s over, she’s generally out of our collar county hair, and she’s been relegated the role of an utterly ineffective Illinois freshman GOP state senator. To put it a little more succinctly, “Oh how the mighty have fallen!”

So even though ignoring her former highness is the better part of valor (another mom saying), I just couldn’t pass this one up.  mcconnaughay

You see, our illustrious 33rd District state senator is co-sponsoring a bill that would overrule the Citizens United decision and thus, limit the amount of money corporations could dump into the political process.

And I have no clue how she managed to say this with a straight face, “Last November, 74 percent of Kane County voters supported reversing the Citizens United ruling. Today I’m proud to stand in agreement with my constituents. We need to tilt the balance of power back toward the people by limiting the overwhelming influence of corporate entities.”

There’s nothing quite like taking a stand on a controversial issue, is there?

Of course, this is all noise and blather because it would take a constitutional amendment to do the trick and, even though the bill has bi-partisan sponsorship, those Chicago Democrats will surely see it never gets the required three-fifths majority needed to pass.

Ms. McConnaughay just loves to govern by polls, doesn’t she! Remember how she suddenly stuck her neck out and came out against red light cameras? Didn’t LBJ unsuccessfully try this kind of thing back in the 60s?

And isn’t it ironic that, during her county board tenure, McConnaughay’s campaign coffers took in $1.5 million, almost exclusively from corporations with county contracts.

Of course she wants to pass this amendment now! It would be far more difficult to unseat her without all that corporate free speech to fall back on.

Thank you for listening to…

the April 18 edition of Left, Right and You. But just in case you didn’t, have I got a treat for you: 

A great big tip of the hat to Elgin City Councilman elect Carol Rauschenberger for joining us in the studio and showing us exactly why she prevailed despite a somewhat sedate campaign.

Carol Rauschenberger

Carol Rauschenberger

Another thank you to Julie for calling and trying to defend conservatives for not voting even though her arguments fell kinda flat.

But why listen to me when you can listen to the show!

It’s almost Left, Right and You time again…

And what could be better?

From 3 to 4 p.m. today on WRMN AM1410, Allen Skillicorn and I will provide the kind of enlightenment that typically takes years of mountain top sitting.

We’ll be talking about:   obey-leftrightandyou-ward-skillicorn

  • The tragedy in Boston
  • Jeff’s difficulties with conservatives
  • The TLC mobile ultrasound unit is back in the news, and
  • City Councilman elect Carol Rauschenberger joins us in the studio

What’s the sound of one hand clapping? It’s Left, Right and You!

It’s the end of brick and mortar retail

If you believe a recent Tribune article, brick and mortar retailers are dying because shoppers generally don’t pay stales tax on the Internet. Their proposed panacea is to clamp down on those nefarious Net retailers and “level the playing field” by getting Illinois legislators to force them to charge sales tax.

But that’s about as big a bunch of BS as Lindsay Lohan going to rehab.  Kohls

The truth is, as long as you have the instant gratification edge, you have the keys to the kingdom. C’mon! Even if the online shipping is free, the average American doesn’t have the patience to wait for their latest prized possession. They want to take it home with them.

So since my son wanted some headphones and my wife wanted a bluetooth speaker, with the Cubs playing even worse than a sixth grade baseball team, I headed over to the Batavia Kohls because they were advertising both at a good price.

The first thing I did was ask a couple of checkers where the electronic items were, but neither one knew. No problem. My son and I simply walked around the store until we found them way in the back. But with the merchandise crammed onto a small cart and in a general state of disarray, it was difficult to find the specific sale item.

With no staffers on floor, we went to the service desk and the 50 something lady manning it couldn’t have been less helpful. When I told her the item was in the Sunday paper, she pulled out two flyers and casually tossed them at me. The problem was, neither one of ’em was the correct ad.

So she used the walkie talkie to no avail – we were simply redirected back to the same crowded cart we’d found on our own.

So we walked all the way back to the front of the store, got the correct ad from the checkout counters, walked all the way back to the back of the store, and asked to see the manager.

I will say she managed to appear in a timely manner, but it was only to tell us that advertised item – the one in TODAY’S paper – never made it to the store. She also apologized for our less than stellar shopping experience and offered to call other stores to find the AWOL speaker.

My polite response was that it was much easier to get it online and that I wouldn’t be darkening Kohls’ door again.

How can you screw up something this simple? Even if an employee doesn’t know where an item is, that’s why they have the walkie talkies! How can the service desk have the wrong ad? And how do you not have an product advertised in one of your biggest sales of the year?

Brick and mortar retail isn’t dying because they charge sales tax! It’s dying because, in their headlong effort to save every last penny, they make shopping an utterly miserable experience. And Kohls is not nearly the only perpetrator. They don’t seem to realize that you don’t have to deal with a surly customer service desk employee online!

And don’t tell me, in this job market – especially for young people – they can’t get decent employees. If you want to see how it’s done, go to any Portillos during the lunch rush where they even have folks helping you out in the parking lot.

But instead of addressing the obvious, Kohls will pay some consulting firm millions of dollars to figure out why their bottom line is getting a wee bit redder every year. Goodbye Kohls! You won’t be missed.

You pay for what you get!

When I said the following on the radio, I meant it!

Considering that local governing bodies account for two-thirds of your total Kane County tax bill, it’s incomprehensible that, in an election where the fiscal disposition of those bodies was clearly at stake, only 12.98 percent of you managed to make it to the polls

Therefore, I don’t want to hear another bleeping word about our “socialist” President out of you blatantly lazy conservatives again!

Yes! Liberals didn’t vote either, but they’re not the ones screaming bloody murder about the debt and taxation situation either (myself excluded).

Even though we’ll use a Geneva-centric scenario, it could just as easily apply to any number of Illinois municipalities. Because if you don’t vote, as our illustrious Geneva City Manager Mary McKittrick once said, you’re basically giving them the green light to do whatever the bleep they want.

And what Mayor Burns, Ms. McKittrick and Assistant City Manager Stephanie Dawkins want, is to pass out 2.5 percent raises to non-union employees under the guise of what they tried to call “salary range compression.”

Why wouldn't Stephanie Dawkins smile? She'll end up with an $80,000 plus pension!

Why wouldn’t Stephanie Dawkins smile? She’ll end up with an $80,000 plus pension!

It was a little trick intended to confuse the aldermen and, let me tell ya, it doesn’t take all that much to get some of them careening off into the ditch.

Thankfully, Alderman Chuck Brown noted that, while Geneva was really trying to slide their salary ranges higher, what “compression” actually meant was increasing the minimum range while decreasing the maximum. As Brown continued to press his point at the March 25 COW meeting, caught in yet another lie, Ms. Dawkins proceeded to display some very interesting shades of facial vermillion.

Because, if you recall, the City of Geneva regularly does a five year salary study where they survey other municipalities to determine the market value of each city staffer. Then they set the maximum pay rate for each position based on that study.

Quite frankly, I thinks it’s patently absurd that it’s done by the very city staff that benefits from the end result. C’mon! Geneva certainly has no problem paying consultants for all those other studies!

But now, hoist by their own policy petard, the only way employees who’ve maxed out salary-wise can get a raise would be to increase their salary range before that next five year survey.  Of course, they could get bonuses instead, but that wouldn’t count towards future raises or their pension.

So while you might wanna say “But Jeff! A 2.5 percent raise for a $75,000 a year employee only comes out to $1,900. Who cares?,” you have to consider the pension liability and the power of compounding before you dismiss my argument.

To wit, the average non-police and fire city employee makes $66,000 (we also pay 85 percent of their insurance premiums). The fact that some of those folks are union is offset by the fact that I’m including part-time staffers who generally don’t get pensions.

If each one of them gets a 2.5 percent raise, that adds up to only $200,000 per year. But if you compound the pension liability of an annual across the board 2.5 percent annual raise over the course of the next 20 years, it comes out to somewhere between $20,000,000 and $30,000,000.

Considering that municipal employees contribute just 8 percent of their salary towards their pension combined with how poorly the IMRF’s investment strategies have fared (less than a 1 percent return last year), your children will be on the hook to pay that massive pension bill.

And it’s already happening! One out of every four dollars you pay in Geneva in property taxes goes towards pensions. And it’s only going to get worse.

It’s not that Geneva city staffers don’t deserve raises, but they’ve already been getting ’em! When I previously alluded to the city administrator’s lie, it was that salaries had been either been frozen or raises were just 1 to 2 percent. But as I proved in this blog post, the 19 city employees making six figures did far better than that during the worst recession of our lifetime.

Even Geneva school teachers, who get no Social Security and pay 12 percent towards their retirement, took no salary increase this year.

Of course, when aldermen Brown and Marks caught on to and voted against this ploy, the Mayor removed it from the council agenda right before the election. And even though it isn’t on Monday’s (4/15) agenda, my suspicion is they’re hiding it in the budget hearing item.

This is the price of failing to vote my friends. A city that believes they’re entitled to your money. Like I said, you pay for what you get.

Doncha just love Karma!

First, not because I necessarily want to respond to the dark side complainers, but because I want to set the record straight, let me state this for the record. Though County Board Commissioner Mike Donahue and I have had our differences, I’m not one of the 13 percent of Americans who believe he’s the Antichrist.

Oh wait a minute…that’s Barack Obama.

Mike Donahue

Mike Donahue

Back to my point. Though I wish he was a bit more circumspect regarding his feelings about the county’s RTA Board appointment process (they did pick a good candidate in the end), everybody gets one mulligan. Donahue is generally a decent board member who doesn’t make a point of regularly showing up the Chairman.

And I do like his thoughts on the proposed Settlers Hill project.

The point here is, if I went a little too far with Mr. Donahue in some previous blog comments, perhaps this post will redress the karmic balance.

Speaking of the dark side and karmic balance, when friend and former LR&Y co-host Tim Elenz posted this Sun-Times story on the LR&Y facebook page, I nearly LMFAO.

You see, there’s suddenly a real possibility those brilliant Springfield minds will do away with the vestigial Lt. Governor position. Considering it’s the mechanism that brought us Governor Quinn, I’m all for deep-sixing it.

But the best thing about this development is, former Kane County Chairman Karen McConnaughay has always had her glassy eyes on this political prize and now it will be very hard to ascend to a throne that no longer exists.

Karen McConnaughay

Karen McConnaughay

This is karma at its best folks! Our illustrious 33rd District State Senator has always been one to quickly discard friends and allies whenever they no longer serve a purpose. And what better fate for our tin lady than being relegated to the role of a meaningless Illinois GOP state senator.

I really do love karma.

It’s a wrap!

The April 11 edition of Left, Right and You that is, and you can listen to it right here:

A big thanks to Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham for calling in and offering his unique insights, including (but not  limited to) the fact that losing an election doesn’t mean you can’t come back much stronger next time.

Toby Shaw

Toby Shaw

And speaking of coming back stronger, Elgin City Councilman elect Toby Shaw also called in to thank the voters for extending their support.

So if you ever do get the hankering to run, and I certainly hope you do, you really ought to study just how Toby Shaw overcame a serious defeat, came back to win, and expressed gratitude for his success. I look forward to Shaw’s long political legacy.

Thanks for listening!