Thank God we’re not Atlanta…

…because you couldn’t listen to Left, Right and You live. But even if you do live down south, you can listen to today’s show right here:

And boy did we cover a lot today:

  • The current campaign season
  • Climate change
  • A bit coin arrest
  • The Elgin/TLC suit settlement
  • The state of the union speech
  • The state of the state speech

And maybe even more! Thanks to Tim Elenz for calling in and thank you for listening!



It’s Time for the South to Secede Again!

Now, I’ve always had my suspicions about southerners, but who hasn’t?

The first strike against these fascinating folks is they think that watching a bunch funny looking cars go around in endless circles is actually entertainment, or worse yet, a sport!

Then there’s their strange and exotic “cuisine.” Tea should never be sweet, I don’t want to have to say the word “grits” much less eat them, some things were never meant to be deep fried, and biscuits and gravy isn’t a meal, it’s a death sentence.

They don’t even speak the common tongue! Cattywampus, purdy, tarnation, and varmint? I refuse to wear “britches” and will someone please tell me what the hell “y’all” means and why it has ten syllables?

Why, southerners will even go as far as electing politicians with peculiar and unnatural names like Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush, Trent Lott, and Saxby Chambliss. Saxby Chambliss? That sounds something you should go to the doctor to get lanced.

But despite their vast and numerous shortcomings, in the spirit of brotherhood, love of country, and all that crap, I’ve generally been willing to make an exception and let these peccadilloes go. But no more my Jeff Foxworthy enamored friends. After those recent meteorological events, it’s time to draw a Mason-Dixon line in the sand.

(For my southern readers, “meteorological” means weather related.)

Because all it took was a mere two inches of snow to bring the entire metropolis of Atlanta to an utter and screeching halt. atlanta

Apparently, the second the southern flurries started, the entire state of Georgia, having contracted a collective case of the vapors (a strange southern disease), all dashed for their rusty red pickup trucks with the rubber testicles dangling off the back bumper at exactly the same time.

And as you might expect, that many southerners on the slightly slippery roads created the kind of havoc that can only be approximated to the biblical endtimes or a really bad B movie.

There were twelve hour commutes, a slew of abandoned vehicles, vehicles in the ditch, children stranded overnight in schools, and all sorts of the sky is falling general chaos.

When it snows two inches in northern Illinois, we grab our crotch, flip Mother Nature off, and ask if that’s all she’s got. Two inches of snow isn’t even enough to engage in that grand Midwestern tradition of writing your name in it without a stick. Chicagoans show their contempt for two inches of snow by taking off their shoes and walking around in it barefoot.

But just two inches of the fluffy stuff managed to bring Atlanta to it’s knees faster than General Sherman could’ve hoped for on his best day.

Now we know why the South didn’t win the Civil War, though I wish they had because it would’ve spared the northern half of the country from this kind of unimaginable ignominy. My God! If Lincoln had procured just one snow machine that war would’ve been over in a week!

(For my southern readers, ignominy means humiliation.)

So we don’t wanna hear another word about southern pride; we don’t want to see another Ford Pinto with a Confederate flag flying through an open window; and we certainly don’t want to have to watch another episode of Honey Boo Boo. The sad truth is, y’all are a nothing more than a bunch of wusses, weenies and wimps.

But we don’t want you to feel too bad my weather challenged Dixie dwellers. After all, we northerners are nothing if not polite. So please rest assured that we’re not laughing with you, we’re most certainly laughing at you.

And should you feel the need to secede again, this time, you have our full support.

I Shoulda Been a Pitcher!

As I continue down my current curmudgeonly path, I’m suddenly feeling the need to play sportswriter. Though this temporary endeavor requires dropping my IQ by a few dozen points, it’s worth it to point out that baseball owners may well be the only group that’s even more oblivious than cruise goers.

Should you doubt my hypothesis, today, the Milwaukee Brewers signed former Cub pitcher Matt garzaGarza to a four year $50 million contract. That’s right! 50 million bucks which comes out to about $13 million a season and adds up to the biggest free agent signing in Brewers history.

So let’s do the math.

Garza’ lifetime ERA is 3.84, or basically 4 runs a game. The average 2013 National League ERA was 3.77 which means he’s average at best. Hitters have managed to bat .250 against Garza which puts him squarely at .01 points better than the average NL hurler.

I’m sure you’re getting my drift.

Of course, the average MLB starting pitcher’s salary is $6.1 million which means the Brewers just paid a ridiculous premium for what only can only be described as mediocrity.

But the biggest problem is that Garza also happens to be 30 years old, which, in the pantheon of professional pitchers, puts him on a skill set precipice and greatly increases the likelihood of injury for someone who’s already been on the DL four times since 2009 with elbow problems.

Now, I certainly think Matt is a great guy and fierce competitor, but the only signing that might actually be worse than this one is the Cubs paying major disappointment Edwin Jackson about the same amount.

The thing is, team owners love to bitch, whine and moan about escalating employee salaries and they jump at every opportunity to demonize the players union, but if we’re going to talk about self-inflicted wounds this one has to top the bleepin’ list.

My prediction? The Brewers finish fifth in the NL Central and Garza goes on the disabled list before August.

Who in Their Right Mind Would go on a Cruise?

I will never understand (nor doubt) the average American’s capacity to learn nothing from their own (or other folks’) mistakes, consistently make poor choices, blame everyone else for their own stupidity, and become irate about issues that don’t affect them while blithely ignoring those that do.

Because as I read yet another CNN cruise ship adventure gone awry story, I cannot help but shout the following question at the top of my lungs, “Who in their bleepin’ right mind would ever choose to go on a cruise for any reason?”

Remember Packers coach Vince Lombardi’s assertion that he despised forward passes because three cruisethings could happen and two of them were bad? When it comes to cruises, about ten things can happen and I wouldn’t wish nine of ‘em on my worst enemy.

The ship can catch fire (Royal Caribbean), the power can go out turning it into a floating toilet (Carnival), it can run aground (Costa Concorida), you can get seasick, passengers fall overboard, they get hijacked, they get attacked by pirates or, best of all and most likely, you get rendered totally inert by the norovirus right along with 600 of your new best friends.

Of course, it’s the final scenario that’s our cruise ship disaster du jour, having just hit a Royal Caribbean ship that sailed from New Jersey to the point it was forced back to port. (Whaddaya wanna bet Chris Christie is pissed at someone?)

But get this, CNN has video of a passenger saying he will never patronize that company again, which I’m thinking actually shows some smarts, until he adds that it’s his second time on a plague infested Royal Caribbean boat and he might just try another cruise line next time.

What the fuck does it take to convince some people that, when confronted with a mountain of  evidence to the contrary, you might want to do something a wee bit different? All I can say is natural selection doesn’t work nearly fast enough.

Because even if you haven’t had a bad cruise experience, what possible good can come of paying to board a tin can with 4,000 other folks packed tighter than a Mumbai slum with enough alcohol on board to make the Russian army cry basta all run by a business that can’t spell the word “maintenance” while trying to wring every last cent out of this abysmal prospect?

What could possibly go wrong with that?

I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but you couldn’t get me on a cruise ship if you paid me for the privilege. Can you say “no sympathy?” I knew you could!

So Where’s All the Conservative Outrage?

I know exactly what my Left, Right and You co-host Allen Skillicorn is gonna say even before I put this virtual pen to paper. “There he goes whacking conservatives again. Doesn’t have anything positive to say?”

Though there may be something to that, my ultimate defense is, whenever I go after Tea Party

The NATO 3

The NATO 3

conservatives, it’s typically because I’ve discovered some sort of glaring inconsistency. For example, Allen is one of the few “conservatives” who understands that when you apply the word “fiscal” before that sainted term, it must apply to absolutely everything to have meaning.

So when conservatives demand less spending on social programs, but insist upon throwing tons of cash to defense contractors even though we spend more on those programs than the next 13 countries combined, I have a problem.

To that end, as I was reading the Sunday Chicago Tribune (which is journalistically sinking faster than Chris Christie’s presidential hopes) this morning, I ran across a story that should have conservatives shaking in their fear of big brother and excessive government shoes.

But there’s been nary a peep!

What I’m referring to, of course, is the ongoing Cook County “trial” of the sinister so-called “NATO 3, ” the trio of twenty-something mopes that supposedly conspired to bring the 2012 NATO summit to it’s knees through various acts of violence. I put the word “trial” in quotes because trying these idiots as terrorists is a complete travesty of justice.

The sad truth is, if it weren’t for the insistent goading of a first-time undercover female CPD officer who pushed them along every step of the way, these miscreants wouldn’t have found their way out of a paper bag, must less blow it up! The only reason one of the defendants went along with it is because he wanted to impress the officer.

How many stupid things have each of us done to impress a woman who really wasn’t worth impressing?

And all the evidence for my anti-prosecution and oblivious conservative tirade comes directly from the government’s own undercover tapes.

For example, these “terrorists” were going to employ a single slingshot with marbles as ammunition to “attack” the Obama campaign headquarters’ windows in the Prudential building, but they gave up when they couldn’t find the address online.

One of the defendants built a seven-foot plywood shield with screws protruding from the front, but abandoned it when they couldn’t figure out how to get it downtown.

Another concocted a mortar with firecrackers and PVC pipe only to convert it into a flagpole.

Then they were going to attack four police stations, but dismissed that notion when faced with the prospect of yet another Google search.

The tapes show the undercover officers were clearly annoyed by the fact this group simply could not focus nor could they get anything done. The only reason the incendiary devices ever made is because an undercover cop dragged a defendant to the gas station and then helped him make the Molotov cocktails!

Then, despite the fact the officers couldn’t convince them to test just one of the Molotovs, the trio was arrested later that night. If having a big mouth was illegal, then Rush Limbaugh and every Tea Partier would’ve been put in jail a long time ago.

This “investigation” makes the IRS “suppression” of Tea Party groups look like a fucking group hug! So where’s all the conservative outrage? C’mon! This is everything Tea Partiers hate.

We’ve got massive government overreach. There’s big brother to an obscene level – 16 separate cops were watching this group. It’s a perfect example of misappropriating resources and it’s a clear political ploy to justify spending millions of dollars on summit security and the militarization of our police forces.

But because it doesn’t involve defending rich folks, slamming poor folks, dissing Democrats, supporting Sarah Palin, or listening to Fox News, they don’t really give a shit. With every omission, the conservative façade is pulled back to reveal nothing more than a pure self-interest generated from massive egos and a plethora of insecurities.

But they will take on everything the black guy does.

The City of Geneva Did Nothing to Help Great Harvest Bread

When City of Geneva Economic Development Director Ellen Divita stood before the city council and said, “I’ve been working with Marty [Kane of Great Harvest Bread] for several months and actually found him a new location,” it would be entirely accurate (and generous) to describe that as a “mischaracterization.”

But before we go there, please allow me to issue a couple of caveats.

Ellen Divita

Ellen Divita

First, Marty did not provide any material nor did he cooperate with this column because he and his lovely wife Kim are ready to move on to their next adventure.

Since Marty has been a frequent contributor to my columns and we regularly discuss these kinds of issues, our conversations as he was wrestling with throwing more money into the business are all I really need.

Second. Though they can certainly contribute to the eventual demise and though fate can often be unkind, the success or failure of any retail enterprise is ultimately up to the entrepreneur and not the municipality in which it resides.

That said, I’m not the one who dramatically took to the podium and described how ceaselessly I’d toiled to single-handedly save Great Harvest Bread either.

Here’s the real story.

Marty and Kim decided they’d had enough in November and once they came to that conclusion, it was a done deal. The cost of premium ingredients had skyrocketed 400 percent, Wal Mart and Meijer bakeries were undercutting them, and downtown Geneva was dissolving before their very eyes.

As a courtesy, Marty called Divita to let her know about that decision and it was only with the horse was already out of the barn that she made any attempt to close the door.

Now, Divita did manage to suggest a new location, but what she failed to mention is was the only place worse than Great Harvet Bread’s current Third Street ghost town digs – the northeast corner of Routes 25 and 38.

That’s right! The old Rain Restaurant in the Geneva Place Retirement Community. No foot traffic, no adjacent retail, no parking, and you generally have to take your life into your hands whenever you cross that intersection from any direction.

Any one of us regular folks would’ve considered and dismissed that premise in a mere five minutes, but only Genevans enjoy the rare privilege of paying a six figure Economic Development Director to spend “months” coming up with a DOA thought.

And, by the way, where was Divita and the rest of the City before this closing was inevitable? How long has the old U.S. Bank building sat empty?

Marty repeatedly approached the city with simple signage suggestions that would mitigate those nearby empty storefronts only to be shot down every time. A sandwich board at Rt. 38? Nope! A sign on the now defunct Erday’s building pointing to Great Harvest? Nope! Apparently, you don’t get anything from the City of Geneva unless your last name begins with “S” as in Shodeen, Simon, or Stanton.

Meanwhile, instead of lobbying on behalf of smaller downtown business, Divita has been busy pushing for an absurd downtown SSA sales tax increase that will specifically benefit the aforementioned “S” group.

And the city council wasn’t much help either. Remember when Great Harvest wanted to install a drive through? Holy crap! You’d a thunk they wanted to tear down the Pure Oil building. Wait a minute! The Mayor actually backed that plan. The Kanes would’ve had an easier time sneaking a pair of nail clippers onto an airplane.

Not only that, but Marty consistently came up with great ideas like a downtown grocery store or a concert area/skating rink – things that would bring women with children downtown – all of which were summarily dismissed. And what was the downtown master plan folks’ main concern? Sight lines!

It would seem that, in Geneva, doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result works better than innovation because it’s so much easier!

One alderman asked me why Marty didn’t come to them sooner, but at what point do you get tired of being ignored and hearing the word “no?”

The bottom line is this. If we choose to believe Ms. Divita’s version of events, she spent “months” working on a day late and dollar short solution only to come up with a cure that was even worse than the disease.

Which means it’s time to address the city council. Though I’m cautiously optimistic about that collective pair you seem to have grown as of late, you need to take it a step further. Because when neither the Mayor nor City Manager McKittrick ever hold any city staffer accountable, it’s up to you to do it. And I’ve provided you with the perfect place to start.

For God’s sake! City Manager Mary McKittrick doesn’t even live in Geneva! What does that tell you?

On a final note, Marty did ask me to pass along this sentiment. “The outpouring from the community has been great,” he said, “ We will miss our loyal customers and we enjoyed being part of the Geneva business community.”

We hope you enjoyed today’s edition of Left, Right and you…

…as much as we enjoyed doing it! 

Joe Henchman

Joe Henchman

A tip of our collective hat to the Tax Foundation’s Joe Henchman for calling in and bestowing his vast wisdom on a possible Illinois graduated tax.

Then we talked about the minimum wage and you might be surprised by my take on it. We even covered Justin Bieber a little bit.

And I still want to know exactly where is all the conservative outcry on West Virginia water poisoning? It’s only more proof that those folks only care if the black guy did it!

Enjoy the show!

It may be bleepin’ cold again…

…but Left, Right and You is always there to warm you up!    jeff-ward-allen-skillicorn-radio-Illinnoyed-taxes

On today’s show (from 3 to 4 on WRMN AM1410):

  • Joe Henchman of the non-partisan Tax Foundation will talk about Illinois’ graduated income tax proposal.
  • Why aren’t conservatives up in arms about the West Virginia chemical spills (hint: because they’re corporate lackeys)?
  • And Jeff takes a surprising stand on the minimum wage argument.

Don’t forget to join the show at 847-931-1410.

Republicans hate (non-prescription) drugs, but they certainly seem to take them

Jesus Christ. For those of you who watched the return of Real Time with Bill Maher this Friday, what the hell drug is Mary Matalin on?

While I firmly believe it’s fascinating that Democratic consultant James Carville is married to GOP matalinconsultant Mary Matalin, and one would think having both of them on Real Time at the same time would be a fascinating endeavor. But, holy shit! Either Ms. Matalin was fucking drunk or she’d taken one too many oxycontins.

She was slurring her words, swaying back and forth and it seemed like she had a facelift that tightened things up too much or her teeth were accidentally superglued together.

Though I don’t nearly always agree with Mr. Carville (especially on minimum wage), he was lucid and made his points. But as far as Ms. Matalin goes, it’s almost as if towing the the Republican bottom line for years takes it’s toll. Have any of you seen Mitch McConnell?

The Queen Mary Ain’t Just a Boat…

(This one’s for you Dean H.!)

Because we suddenly seem to have a Queen Mary right here in little old Geneva! Of course, it might be nothing more than a case of City Manager Mary McKittrick harboring delusions of royal grandeur, though she certainly seems to be making good on them.

That’s not nearly all! There’s also the queen’s court which consists of pretender to the throne, Princess

Queen Mary McKittrick

Queen Mary McKittrick

Stephanie (Dawkins, Assistant City Manager), you already know the Clown Prince, and, of course, the royal yes man and 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra.

And woe be it to any aldermanic peasant who dares to beg the queen for some meager data scraps, for she will swiftly and summarily issue her infamous edict to remove their political heads.

So if you tuned into channel 10 this week, you already noticed the latest recipient of her royal wrath was none other than 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg who had the temerity to request what was essentially a simple workman’s compensation report by department.

Foolhardy serf that he is, Kilburg first attempted to pry that information loose via an unobtrusive email request. But despite state statute clearly stating that aldermen are to be privy to virtually any internal information, the Queen was not amused and turned him down flat.

Only when faced with staring at those sheer stone castle walls did Kilburg resort to bringing it up at last week’s city council meeting.

Incensed, Princess Stephanie commenced to running around in circles shrieking that it couldn’t be done without a Sisyphean effort, the Clown Prince accused Kilburg of making frivolous requests, and Queen Mary imperiously insisted upon learning the specific reason the alderman dared demand data.

Why, the Queen even issued cutting queries like, “then what,” “what’s next,” and “What are you doing with it.”

Had I been sitting squarely in Alderman Kilburg’s hot seat, my not-so-polite response would’ve been something along the lines of, “It’s none of your damn business, just give me the bleepin’ report.” Because, the legal truth is, no city councilman in this vast county ever has to justify their reason for making a reasonable request.

Finally fed up with his figurative flogging, Kilburg asked if the information could be obtained by FOIA. That’s when Princess Stephanie said something so silly, it will go down in the annals of royal proclamations like “let them eat cake.” She essentially said that if the report doesn’t already exist within the city’s computers, then they don’t have to provide it!

Ain’t it fun to pay as assistant city manger more that $100,000 a year to render that kind of bizarre and blatantly bogus legal opinion?

God bless sage City Councilman Chuck Brown who quickly and accurately noted that, under the Princess’s scenario, to render themselves immune to all FOIAs, all a municipality would have to do is to neither create nor generate reports.

As a former columnist who is a FOIA expert will tell you, Alderman Brown is dead on. If the data exits, short of social security numbers, health information, and overly onerous requests, ALL FOIA requests must be honored and answered within five to ten days.

Leaping to the Queen’s defense, Clown Prince Burns declared that “creating work for the staff because you’re curious” was a royal no-no to which the entire city council had already acceded.

No Mayor Burns. What really happened is the aldermen and you came to a loose verbal understanding not to be unreasonable about impinging on staff time. But instead of adhering to the spirit of that accord, you, the Queen and Princess proceeded to beat the council over the head with that “gentleman’s” agreement at every turn. As alderman Flanagan said, perhaps it might better to document the difference between reasonable and unreasonable.

The Clown Prince continued his soliloquy by claiming these kind of Kilburgian requests would create the kind of “poisonous atmosphere” that would cause city staff to resort to garment rending and the general gnashing of teeth

No Mayor Burns, what creates a “poisonous atmosphere” is never holding the staff accountable for absolutely anything. Then you get a fading downtown, a former streets superintendents who steals $24,000, an assistant city manager who thinks FOIA requests are optional, and a city manager who thinks she’s can treat the alderman like something slightly less than the royal manure.

But not to fear dear reader, this fairytale has a happy ending. (Don’t they all?) For this intrepid former columnist just issued a FOIA request for the very information Alderman Kilburg has been so diligently seeking. And in doing so, I reminded our cast of city characters that not only do I utterly understand the FOIA laws, but I would be willing to involve the Attorney General just to make my point.

I’ll keep y’all posted on that process.

Wait a minute – here’s a thought! Since our city royalty seems to have problems with their statutory responsibilities, perhaps this might work. Should any alderman require further city data, cut out the middleman by coming to me first.

Then I’ll FOIA it.