The October 16, 2014 edition of Left, Right and You is…

…a wrap!

Again, I want to thank Tim Elenz for filling in for Larry and he didn’t even call me an ignorant slut today!

And Tim and I want to thank 84th District State Rep Stephanie Kifowit for calling in and enlightening us on a number of subjects not the least of which is the sorry state of the State’s IT infrastructure. That was a fascinating point because the appropriate data systems often mean the difference between a business surviving and fading into oblivion.

kifowit3Then Tim and I covered various political races including the likely outcome of the gubernatorial race. To quote Bill Shakespeare, “Alas poor Bruce Rauner, we knew him!”

Next week Larry will be back as we move ever closer to election day! And we certainly hope you’ll join us.

It’s almost time for Left, Right and You!

So here’s the recorded promo!

This week, Tim Elenz will be filling in the for the vacationing Larry Jones and we’re looking forward to talking with former Aurora alderman and current 84th District State Rep Stephanie Kifowit! We’ll discuss her current campaign, the difference between serving on a big city council and the general assembly, and what she’s learned from her last two years in Springfield.

kifowit2Then, rest assured, Tim and I will tackle any and all number of local political topics as time allows!

Don’t forget! This Saturday, the Elgin YWCA will be hosting their “Running for Office – a Woman’s Focus” and yours truly will be one of the presenters. As if that wasn’t worth the $35 to $40 price of admission, folks like Anna Moeller, Christine Castro, Ruth Munson and Rich Dunne will also be offering their specific wisdom. For more details, simply click here!

Meanwhile, please join Tim and I this afternoon at on WRMN AM1410 at 3 p.m. for another rollicking episode of Left, Right and You! How could you possibly go wrong?

Does the Kane County Board need a truant officer?

The Kane County Board attendance numbers came out this week and, let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight because 11 of those 24 esteemed individuals missed at least 22 percent of the meetings. And the two big winners, Myrna Molina and Jesse Vasquez, were absent 64 and 77 percent of the time respectively.

Those stats were culled from the full board, COW (Committee of the Whole), and the standing committee meetings each board member is expected to attend. Though I would propose posit that COW meetings shouldn’t count because they really are a waste of time.

building aAnd truth be told, the board member attendance bell curve hasn’t that all that much over the years which is why this attendance tracking endeavor started with former Chairman Karen McConnaughay’s exasperation over empty dais seats.

Though, if one were to consider her county commissioner attendance track record, they’d understand the massive irony there. And ain’t it funny how those then silent folks had no problem with the former Chairman’s truancy efforts, but they suddenly sputter, shriek, and do the sidestep when this Chairman does the same thing.

Of course, the biggest whiner in all of this was former Marine Vasquez who, like your average caught red-handed middle schooler, tried to weasel his way out of it by questioning the accuracy of the numbers, claimed it didn’t include Forest Preserve meetings, and insisted it was all a personal attack.

The only problem with his fascinating theories are, the board office staff has always noted who’s absent for the meeting minutes, Forest Preserve gatherings never count, and what would any self-respecting Chairman have to gain by shaming an opposition board member into attending meetings and consistently voting against him?

Were I chairman (ain’t that a frightening thought), I’d simply let Mr. Vasquez and his ilk go on their merry meeting missing way.

It’s certainly true that, when done correctly, a board member’s duties go way beyond that Building A boardroom. But if you aren’t there to regularly cast your vote, can you really say you’re representing your constituents?

Most folks run for office with the best of intentions, but few understand the demands that come along with serving the public. When something directly affects the voters – as it often does at the county level – they can be quite the persistent bunch.

Then there are those instances where health, family, job or other circumstances change, making it much more difficult for a board member to serve. But if that’s the case, there’s no shame in stepping down and passing the baton onto someone else who has the time because it happens all the time.

I suppose the board could always vote to tie their salary and benefits package to meeting attendance, but one would hope we wouldn’t have to resort to that kind of stick and carrot approach with folks who purport to represent the best of their constituents.

That said, if any of us missed 22 percent or more of our work days, we’d likely be out of a job. Sadly, especially at the local level, the voters aren’t nearly as exacting as our bosses and that’s why these attendance woes will likely continue.

Ebola is out to get conservatives!

I can’t tell you how much fun it is to watch my rightwingnut friends run around in concentric circles as they randomly wave their arms about while screaming “the sky is falling.” I never thought I could become so enamored of the fascinating side effects of a disease. Much like those insipid suburban parents who insist upon announcing their procreative proclivities, I’m gonna put that ubiquitous Ebola stick figure in the back window of my minivan.

That oughtta drive ‘em nuts!

ebola

Of course, the disease our medical experts should be studying is the conservative’s unyielding capacity to think that absolutely everything is about them while they completely ignore the truth in the process.

Because the truth is, there have been a grand total of 4,500 worldwide Ebola deaths as of October 14. Though we certainly need to continue the multi-national effort to contain this scourge, Ebola is one of the slowest moving infectious diseases having afflicted just 9,000 people, most of whom live in impoverished portions of Africa.

Now let’s compare those numbers to the number of deaths from the diseases American’s so eagerly embrace.

1. Alcohol related illness.

U.S. deaths as a result of alcohol abuse annually hit the 90,000 mark, or twenty times more than the current from Ebola death toll.

2. Obesity 

Another 300,000 Americans perish from obesity related complications every year, but whenever the First Lady tries to address this issue or adjust school lunches, conservatives’ heads immediately explode.

3. Tobacco

Have a product that kills 450,000 people a year? All you need is a lobby powerful enough to placate those in power. Perhaps Ebola should start throwing some more money around.

4. Heart Disease

To be fair, some heart disease is hereditary, but that doesn’t mean the vast majority of those 600,000 annual U.S. deaths aren’t self-inflicted.

So where’s all the conservative rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, and general outrage over 1,440,000 utterly unnecessary annual American deaths? Oh that’s right! We’re allowed to kill ourselves, but we’ll react like lunatics whenever some unfortunate African folks try to hasten the process.

Then there’s this little tidbit; despite WHO warnings on the need to contend with an array of evolving global infectious diseases, Republican backed budgets cut CDC spending by half in the last seven years. Per Scientific American:

The CDC’s discretionary funding was cut by $585 million during [2010-14]. Shockingly, annual funding for the CDC’s public health preparedness and response efforts were $1 billion lower for 2013 fiscal year than for 2002. These funding decreases have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments since 2008. Again, it is not just the Ebola that is a looming threat. We need to worry about vaccine-preventable but neglected infections like influenza, measles, and whooping cough; the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters.

Don’t worry, I’m not letting the Democrats off the hook because either, by their abject inability to stand up for anything they actually believe in, they went right along with these cuts.

But ain’t there nothing quite like a global epidemic to remind us that, whether we like it or not, we’re all connected. And correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Jesus say, “feed the poor” without regard to any “extenuating” circumstances? And wasn’t there something in there about being your brother’s keeper too?

Granted we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but it really doesn’t take much to provide the kind of expertise, education, and basic amenities that prevent these epidemics from ever gaining a foothold.

But because we often fail to extend the basic human kindnesses the new Pope often speaks of, as they almost always do, those chickens are coming home to roost in the form of Ebola on our own shores.

Ya gotta love conservatives and the bizarre reality they construct and choose to inhabit. I can’t wait to see how they blame this epidemic on the President.

Leave Columbus Day alone!

Please drop the calendar and just walk away! Italians have so little to be proud of as it is. They didn’t even manage to invent pasta or pizza which would’ve made enduring their culture almost bearable. Their entire legacy consists of a film director who was likely on LSD, a reality show in New Jersey, crime families, and a marvelous capacity for entire armies to surrender simultaneously.

But before we truly get into “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” and before you start thinking I just took a right turn to the dark side, please let me issue several stipulations first.

We’ll start with, as Chris Rock so blithely put it is, “Nobody got it worse than the American Indian.” To prove his hypothesis, he adds, “Shit! I have seen a polar bear riding a fuckin’ tricycle in my lifetime, but I have never seen an American Indian family just chilling out at Red Lobster.”

Then, I will continue to challenge my anti-immigration conservative friends to display the depth of their righteous border wall indignation by immediately turning their property over to the Pottawatomie nation. Because unless your name sounds something like “Running Deer,” by any number of treaties, every last Illinoisan is an illegal immigrant.

columbusSo as you might imagine, I’m wholly behind “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” even though the thought originated in that strange land know as Seattle where the people are so polite they actually cause traffic accidents.

Lest any of you think we’ve come a long way on the Native American issue, we still have an NFL team named the “Redskins.” But that doesn’t mean, in order to acknowledge those native to this continent, we have to summarily dispense with Columbus Day either.

In the pantheon of annual holidays, Columbus Day is about as minor as it gets. Unless you’re a student, banker or government worker, you probably don’t even note its passage. Only that Casimir Pulaski celebration falls lower on the day off scale because Chicago threw that one in just to placate the Poles who can be a really rowdy bunch. Have you ever seen them dance to Polka music?

Yes! Yes! Yes! I understand that when Chris and his cohorts descended upon these balmy shores it did not bode well for Native Americans. In fact, it was probably the single most devastating event in their long and storied history.

But to put today’s template on something that happened over 500 years ago is patently unfair.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans had no idea what caused the spread of disease and that inevitable intercontinental meeting would’ve been disastrous regardless of the time or place. Native Americans had no resistance to smallpox which wiped them out at a faster pace than any gun totin’ white folks could ever hope to achieve on their best day.

And speaking of gun toting white folks, for better or worse, colonization was the norm back then and to take our ancestors to task for engaging in that eminently acceptable behavior is a lot like asking a toddler to explain War and Peace. He knows it’s a book, but that’s about as far as you’re gonna get.

That said, considering our current circumstances, it is truly scary to think that Western Civilization actually has evolved since then.

So when I think about the day that carries our “discoverer’s” name, my thoughts turn to the spirit of exploration, persistence, and the willingness to take a risk based on a reasonable hunch. As it turned out, the world was not flat.

Of course, it didn’t turn out too well for those who were already here, which is why I like the idea of celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day too, just not at the expense of most famous Italian. It certainly wouldn’t hurt any of us to remember Native American contributions, there’s still room for Caucasian cultural improvement, and unintended consequences can have far more far reaching implications than the best of our misguided intentions.

So let’s leave Columbus Day alone if for no other reason than it will keep the Italians from complaining any more than they already do. Let’s honor the best intentions of our ancestors while duly noting that we’ve made some mistakes along the way.