Quick Hits – February 24, 2016

It ain’t all on the Republicans

After reading the Febuary 22nd edition of Quick Hits, a conservative friend of mine charged me with letting those Springfield supermajority Democrats completely off the dismal state of the State hook. While I certainly understand his contention, I did remind him that, especially in my generally non-ideological writing case, it’s important to take my entire body of work into account before formulating such an opinion.

He may be correct when he says I’m a little harder on Rauner these days, but just as Republicans insist upon holding the President’s feet to the fire, the blame for a failed policy ultimately lies with the Governor, not with the minions. And Governors Edgar and Thompson seem to agree.

But that hard truth in no way absolves the Democrats from their role in shoving the State of Illinois to the brink of the fiscal abyss. So let’s discuss!


Illinois Pensions


The Sith Lord still reigns!

I may fault Rauner for his lack of unravelling a mess understanding, but if there’s one person responsible for all the “raveling,” it’s Darth Madigan. Springfield Democrats don’t get elected without his blessing, nothing hits the floor without his express written consent, and he’s certainly not admired for his magnanimous and forgiving nature.

He isn’t about to change anytime soon because there’s no reason for him to change. If anyone truly thinks Jason Gonzales is going to unseat the Speaker, I would entreat their significant other to lock up the liquor cabinet.

So yes! There is an intractable object in Illinois that’s making real change a ifficult proposition.


Just because you can take advantage of a situation doesn’t mean you should

My favorite TV judge, Marilyn Milian, likes to interject that thought into cases and it certainly fits here.

Darth Madigan didn’t have to turn the dark side. He didn’t have to game a system that not only lets him write the property tax laws, but head a law firm that fights those assessments. No one knows exactly what his net worth it, but I’m sure he’s not brown bagging it.

So when is enough money enough? When do you realize that there will come a time when all you have left is your legacy? Can an ego be so massive that leaving a scorched and burnt state is more important than making an effort to solve some serious problems?

Other than because he can, there’s no good reason for the Speaker to continue to go down this destructive path.


Ends meet


It ain’t just Madigan either

As much as I blame the Republicans for failing to provide the antidote to the Springfield supermajority, the Democrats are equally complicit. This Boss Madigan phenomenon didn’t develop overnight which makes it hard to believe that some adult in some room somewhere didn’t have the foresight to say, “This much power in one man’s hands cannot be good for the party.”

And now it’s too late to say it as State Rep Ken Dunkin just discovered. Duncan, the man who singlehandedly denied the Speaker’s autumn veto override attempts, may have a lot of Rauner money behind him, but given what Madigan’s crew is doing to him, I wouldn’t be counting on his reelection anytime soon.

The fact that the Governor’s strong arm tactics make Democratic dissent even more difficult notwithstanding, Illinois needs a significant group of Democratic legislators to come forward and say, “The State of Illinois is more important than my job.”

I’d bet dollars to donuts that the disenchantment with the Speaker runs far deeper than folks like McHenry State Rep Jack Franks and Mr. Duncan. The fact that Rauner makes it harder to speak out is ultimately no excuse when the time comes to do the reasonable and right thing.

Quick Hits

Quick Hits – February 23, 2016

With endorsements like this…

…Who the heck’d want one?

Though I will say the fact that the Daily Herald signed off on Kane County Chairman Chris Lauzen’s reelection bid had me seriously contemplating the possibility of parallel Universes. But once I actually read the endorsement, I realized there had been no such quantum shift.

Holy crap! First, they called the Chairman “a polarizing figure.” Really? Because if Mr. Trebek provided the following list:

  • Rob Russell
  • Karen McConnaughay
  • Ken Shepro
  • Mike Kenyon
  • Don Kramer (to a lesser degree these days)
  • Jim Oberweis
  • Phil Lewis
  • John Prigge
  • Bill Sarto
  • Sue Klinkhammer
  • Randy Hultgren

My question would be, “What are polarizing Kane County politicians, Alex!” It would seem it’s a prerequisite to run here, but at least Lauzen tends to get things done – which the DH bizarrely admitted at the end of the piece.

They also called former KC Animal Control Director Rob Sauceda a “disaster,” which ain’t even close to the truth. Before his “mistake,” Sauceda returned that department to fiscal stability, something Karen McConnaughay’s hand-picked directors could never do. But the DH never managed to pick up on them, did they?

Then, in a most magnificent irony, they chided Lauzen for his obsession with the Coroner as they launched into yet another tirade about Kane County Connects. C’mon guys! Talk about obsessions! When are you gonna let go of an electronic newsletter run by one guy? Is it really that bad over at the DH?

The only DH obsession that’s harder to explain is their abject disgust, dismay, and despondency with anything that has anything to do with Chris Lauzen. It musta killed them to have to issue that left-handed endorsement.

Had they actually meant to be self-deprecating, it would’ve been hilarious, but we all know that Mr. Slusher’s super-serious ego would never allow that kind of thing to happen.




But it wasn’t all bad

Because the tone of that endorsement was something you don’t typically see from the Daily Herald. It was light, humorous, well-written, somewhat satirical, and even entertaining. I can’t help but think what would happen if the DH Editorial Board applied that kind of effort on a daily basis.

So while they certainly had their way with Chairman Lauzen, they had some fun with his opponent too!

The DH aptly noted that, while Shepro slammed Lauzen for freezing the tax levy, he  immediately said he’d keep it in place. Then they slammed the white Don King for his disastrous role in the debacle known as the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District.

(Of course, they got that story from TheFirstWard.Net and Left, Right and You, but considering the photographs I’ve appropriated, we’re good!)

Far more often than not, the DH’s writing style is the perfect cure for insomnia, so here’s to hoping they resort to that endorsement style a little more often.


daily herald


They endorsed who?

But just when I think there’s hope, the DH dashes it faster than Beyonce can aggravate oblivious middle-aged white folks. How on God’s green earth can anyone endorse a candidate that:

  • Signed a budget agreement (in my presence) and ignore it every turn
  • Went screaming to the press about black mold that wasn’t
  • Went screaming to the press instead of working with the board
  • Failed to replace a freezer which resulted in melting bodies
  • Failed to label a light switch which resulted in the destruction of criminal evidence
  • Showed up at crime scene wearing a Sheriff’s hat and jacket
  • Hired a press secretary for an 8-person office
  • Illegally used a county credit card to buy campaign chachkies (He later paid it back)
  • Despite his fervent protests, he finally came in on budget when he had a primary opponent

Because when you do endorse someone like Rob Russell, or any candidate with that kind of track record, you lose all credibility.


Russell refelectors


Give it up guys!

Endorsements that is.

I’ve taken so many calls from candidates complaining about…

  • Missing candidate profiles
  • Missing or incorrect photographs
  • Absurdly short notice for endorsement interviews
  • Opponents who seemed to be getting preferential treatment

…the DH really oughtta hire me as their publicist because I simply told those ten to twenty hopefuls there was nothing nefarious here. It’s just that, in their current depleted state, the DH did what can only be called a very unprofessional job.

But despite those obvious shortcomings, they keep doing endorsements out of ego – it’s the only way they can get politicians to be at their beck a call. They know that one hour interviews with multiple candidates aren’t nearly enough to form any kind of reasonable opinion, but they do it anyway.

And what would the DH do to any public or private entity that performed a job this poorly?


Quick Hits


Quick Hits: February 22, 2016

If the definition of insanity truly is…

… Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, then Governor Rauner has it down pat. And the best evidence of this psychiatric diagnosis is his annual budget speech in which he gave the Democrats two options:

  1. Either pass my anti-middle class reforms, or
  2. Give me the power to make drastic spending cuts

What he’s essentially saying is, “Either you can do what I want, or, you can do what I want. It’s your choice.”

But the lack of options don’t really matter because, as it’s been for the last year, neither possibility will ever come to pass. Unlike the Governor, Springfield Democrats understand what it means to commit political suicide and they’re not about to pull that trigger anytime soon.

Then, to make matters immediately worse, Rauner vetoed a bill that would’ve freed up $721 million in state college funding which only goes to show that:

  1. He’s not willing to compromise
  2. He has no idea what an “olive branch” is
  3. He refuses to realize these cuts aren’t helping his middle-class cause
  4. He’s giving the Democrats everything they need to ensure he’s a one-shot deal

With the exception of the GOP faithful, folks on both sides of the aisle are saying that Rauner’s “offer” is just more of the same.

And the insanity grows.




“The politics of the possible was being replaced by the politics of purity”

Those oh so prophetic words from author, educator and, historian, H. W. Brands, certainly sum up the Springfield Republican sentiment these days. Put more simply, they, and especially the governor, seem to think that throwing a temper tantrum is the way to get your way.

But that’s not how it works. Does anyone within the sound of my voice truly believe that perpetually petulant Donald Trump could possibly keep all of his absurd promises? Politics has to start with the art of the possible, otherwise it completely breaks down just as it has in Springfield.

One the best examples of this phenomenon came when 43rd State Rep District candidates Anna Moeller and Jeff Meyer debated on Left, Right and You. The conservative Meyer was gung ho about eliminating things like Chicago block grants and making massive reforms in his first term.

Meanwhile, Moeller’s response was that you can’t eliminate something like block grants without crafting the kind of win-win outcome that makes a major political shift possible. A true compromise may disappoint both sides, but it allows them to claim some sort of victory – no matter how small.

And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work because, given the frailties of human nature, governance isn’t supposed to turn on a dime. It’s intended to take time. True leaders understand that reform only comes through a series of well-founded compromises that slowly move the conversation in the right direction.


Illinois General Assembly


The immaturity of the right

Unlike their hero Ronald Reagan, today’s naïve conservatives completely fail to comprehend that notion of compromise. Their eminently short attentions spans and massive egos consistently con them into believing they always inhabit the moral high ground.

Then they wonder why they don’t get anything done.

Despite their abject complicity in this fiasco we call the State of Illinois, they seem to completely forget that:

  1. Republicans raided those pension funds with equal glee.
  2. Republican went along with so many silly kick the can down the road ideas.
  3. Republicans repeatedly hung their hats on social issues that made them unelectable.
  4. With all due respect to Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider, I still can’t figure out what the GOP message is.
  5. A series of compromises are the only thing that has ever move the political debate.

So stick to your guns my intrepid Illinois Republicans! Not only are you ensuring the Democratic supermajority will remain intact, but that Lisa Madigan will be our next governor. Meanwhile, Rauner, in an effort to feed his massive ego, will continue to do more damage to the state than Speaker Madigan ever could.

In the immortal words of Walt Kelly, you have met the enemy and he is you!


Quick Hits

This is the February 22, 2016 edition of Left, Right and You!

Larry and I want to thank Campton Hills Township Trustee Joe Miller for coming on and giving voice to the (sane) opposition to the proposed just outside Campton Hills rehab center. Now that we’ve heard both sides, we can all come to a logical and non-fear based conclusion.

Larry, Joe and Jeff

We will continue to the conversation on Thursday!

Left, Right and You makes Mondays meaningful!

In an effort to completely cover the story and provide balance to the local news force, Campton Hills rehab center opposition leader Joe Miller will sit down with Larry and me to talk about the project.

Campton Hills

If you’d like to join the conversation, please give us a call at 847-931-1410.

Where’s the only place you get this kind of local news analysis? That’s right! Left, Right and You, Mondays at 9 a.m. and Thursdays at 3 p.m. with the Smiling Conservative, Larry Jones, and me, the Curmudgeonly Liberal, on WRMN AM1410. Don’t miss it!

Quick Hits – February 19, 2016

Of course it was dismissed!

Anyone with half a brain knew the racketeering suit former treasurer staffer Edmund Michalowski filed against his former boss Dan Rutherford wouldn’t pass the laugh test. So far, it hasn’t

Though the bogus sexual harassment allegation still stands, Judge Joan Lefkow summarily dismissed the more important contention that Rutherford and aide Kyle Ham forced Michalowski to do campaign work on State time. And that harassment assertion won’t go anywhere either.

michalowskiTo review, Michalowski made those allegations in the middle of a heated four-way 2012 GOP gubernatorial primary. Sensing an opening, Rauner ordered friend and Illinois Policy Institute lackey, attorney Christine Svenson, to put Rutherford in an untenable position.

You see, regardless of whether the harassment charge stuck, the story itself would raise questions about Rutherford’s sexuality. And we all know the IPI is about as homophobic as it gets.

But the best evidence of Rauner’s scheme was, in the middle of one of the biggest political bleepstorms in Illinois, his buddy Rahm Emanuel saw that Michalowski landed a six-figure Cook County Recorder’s office gig.

Rutherford’s abysmal response to this farce certain didn’t help his electoral chances, but this is exactly the kind of person Governor Rauner really is.

Our only solace here is that the plan almost backfired when Sen. Kirk Dillard made a late run nearly closing the primary gap. Trust me, if Dillard was Governor, we’d have reforms And a new budget.

 And BTW, if Dan Rutherford is gay, he could do a lot better than Mr. Michalowski!


Fake newspapers! Be still my beating heart!

LCGDespite the outcry, the fact that conservative gadfly Dan Proft and his Liberty Principles PAC have been distributing “fake” newspapers supporting their slate of candidates is about as new a development as Kanye West dissing Taylor Swift.

Candidates like Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham have been using this kind of messaging medium for years, thought it certainly didn’t help Jack win many elections because:

  • Nobody reads newspapers anymore
  • People know these “papers” aren’t the real thing
  • Newspaper endorsements have lost their zing
  • The writing and editing in these “papers” falls just short of horrific

And as far as Proft’s “Lake County Gazette” goes, I haven’t seen that many run-on sentences since my son’s third grade class taped their book reports to the classroom wall.

Fake papers? It’s really hard to get excited about all this because even real newspapers are artificial these days. I’m far more concerned about Proft’s sudden support of U-46 School Board Member Jeanette Ward.

Dan! We need to talk!


It ain’t easy being the least of our brothers

I understand that entities like the Kane County Law Library and the Court’s child care option are fully funded by court fees and, with civil lawsuits on the decline, those worthy programs are suffering.

I understand that user fees are often more equitable than across the board taxation.

I understand that the proposed Kane County court fee hikes primarily affect folks filing civil lawsuits, not those unfortunate souls sitting in the morning traffic cattle call.

I also understand that one of the proposed fee increases amounts to just 10 cents.

court feesBut perhaps the reason civil suit filings are down is because it’s gotten too expensive to file one. So now these continuing hikes will only put those court projects into a fee inspired death spiral.

Here’s a perfect example! Were I to actually file that $1,000 small claims suit against the Edgar County Loons, it would run me around $234. To be fair, long distance service costs more and my opponents would have to pay those fees if they lost.

But yikes! $230! Of course we want to discourage frivolous suits, but 230 bucks to file a one thousand dollar small claims court case?

Any time we deny access to the courts – even if it’s unintended – it makes me very nervous. At what point do these fees start adding up to justice denied?

There’s got to be a better way to do this.

Quick Hits