This is the March 31,2016 edition of Left, Right and You!

 

Larry and I want to thank 24th County Board District Candidate and Longmeadow Bridge opponent Jarett Sanchez for coming on the show and answering our open-ended and not so open-ended questions.

Larry, Jarett and Jeff

 

Monday! Kane County Circuit Clerk and Republican Chairman Tom Hartwell comes on the show to discuss the future of the Kane County GOP. Until then…

Jarett Sanchez on Left, Right and You at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM1410!

Larry and I have been asking for a long time and now it’s here!

Jarett Sanchez, a member of the Longmeadow Parkway Bridge opposition and 24th District Kane County Board candidate, joins us in-studio to talk about his impending campaign and the bridge itself.

I’m certainly looking forward to it!

Where is the only place you get this kind of in-depth political interview? That’s right! Left, Right and You, Mondays at 9 a.m. and Thursdays at 3 p.m. with Larry Jones and me, the Curmudgeonly Liberal, on WRMN AM1410. Please join us!

Sanchez 2

Jarett Sanchez

 

Quick Hits – March 31, 2016

Ya gotta love state and federal Republicans

Because they shoot themselves in the foot with such uncanny regularity.

A month ago I warned Republicans that Mitch McConnell’s plan to block any Obama Supreme Court nominee would backfire. Without Antonin Scalia taking up space, the court would simply become liberal by default.

Rauner 5And sure enough! Via a four-four tie, that hallowed body just upheld the notion that unions can collect dues from non-union workers who benefit from their efforts. Please don’t try and tell me  Obama nominee Merrick Garland would’ve automatically sided with the liberals because he’s widely known as a moderate.

The truth is, had they approved Garland, they’d certainly be better off than they are right now!

As a result of this ruling, Governor Rauner’s Turnaround agenda, which has failed to gain any ground whatsoever, is now losing it! Freeing non-union Illinois workers from the Unions’ grasp was his only political victory and now that gone too!

Rauner quickly described the SCOTUS ruling as “tragic,” but what’s even more tragic is the GOP did their best to ensure that it happened, and in turn, makes Bruce Rauner more irrelevant every day.

The calls the police really fear

While Elgin City Councilman John Prigge fans the gunshot fear flames and my good friend Holly Mack fervently believes the local Muslim population will rise up tomorrow, if you ask any police officer about the scenario they fear most, without hesitation, they’ll reply, “A domestic violence call.”

One or both of the participants are typical drunk, nothing gets the emotions going like a spousal/family dispute and, as a result, the capacity to carefully consider potential consequences goes right out the window.

Bartlett PoliceCase in point! On March 29, while simply exiting his patrol car at the scene, a Bartlett officer was punched and kicked by a DV perp, who shrugged off both the Taser and pepper spray. It took a second officer’s Taser to finally bring him down.

According to the FBI, one-third of all officer assaults occur place at domestic violence calls – almost double that of any other 911 call. I’ve heard officers say they’d rather respond to a barroom brawl because they know what to expect there.

My point is, we too often succumb to the fear of some nebulous unknown when the real danger is almost always our fellow citizens.

East Aurora comes to terms

First, let me clearly stipulate that my lovely wife is a D131 East Aurora teacher. But I’d also add that, as a rookie, the new teachers’ contract doesn’t affect her very much. East Aurora’s always paid beginners well, it’s the veterans who’ve felt slighted.

D131So, of course I’m happy the Teachers voted 870 to 434 to ratify their new three year deal, but not just for my wife, for all of the district’s dedicated educators.

You see, a side effect of my bride’s broken hip is, I’ve gotten to meet quite a few East Aurora teachers. And they really are a great group of men and women who truly care about their mostly minority charges. Some of ‘em even come from as far away as Chicago to teach in the district.

The Board still has to approve the contract, but that’s a formality.

And after the Board resolves a couple of pending major personnel issues, I’ll be more than happy to better describe the genesis of this near-strike. But for now, let’s enjoy the fact that D131 teachers and students will remain in the classroom where they belong.

Fermilab should’ve been shut down years ago

FermilabThe fact that the Italian Prime Minister is the most important person to visit the facility in years speaks volumes. It’s not even worth mentioning his name because, given the country’s penchant for political change, by the time he gets home, they’ll already have a new one!

Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when the Tevatron was the most powerful particle accelerator on the planet, but CERN surpassed it long ago.

The problem is, like humans, every entity – and especially the political ones – develops a survival instinct. So despite the fact that a more modern facility would serve the scientific community exponentially better (especially in the pursuit of neutrinos and dark energy), Fermilab’s clout keeps those federal dollars coming in long after they’ve outlived their usefulness.

To wit, that ne’er–do-well Congressman, Randy Hultgren, who blindly attacks any worthwhile Federal expenditure, suddenly makes an exception for our friends at Fermilab.

So let’s shut it down so something better can rise out of those ashes.

 

Quick Hits – March 30, 2016

Twice the court costs?

Look, I understand we send teenage shills into liquor stores because we don’t want them selling stuff to minors. Though truth be told, the little darlings in my neighborhood head right to the unlocked liquor cabinet or they drink with their parents’ consent.

But going after convenience stores for selling tobacco to minors?

I know it’s against the law, but when you consider what’s out there, if my younger son came home with a pack of Marlboro Lights, I’d simply ask him to take it outside.

7 ElevenAh! But not St. Charles! That police department sent a 17 year-old plant into the 1705 W. Main Street 7-Eleven, and when he came out with a pack of Camels, the excrement hit the quickly rotating air propelling device.

To wit, the clerk who sold the cigarettes was immediately fired and, after the owner threw himself on the mercy of the liquor commission court, the store was fined $750. So let’s review!

Toiling as a convenience store clerk has got to be even worse than being Donald Trump’s barber. You live in constant fear of being held up. You have to contend with idiot teenagers who’ve never heard the word “no.” Late evenings consist of a series of drunks buying more booze and stoners buying more Doritos.

It’s a lot of fun!

So when some 17 year-old, who looks 38 because he clearly shaves his back hair, comes in to buy a pack of cigarettes, that’s the least of your bleepin’ worries. All that St. Charles really accomplished was having an already desperate minimum wage worker lose their job and a store getting fined over something more trivial than Taylor Swift’s latest “hit.”

Oh! And by the way, $500 of that $750 fine went to court costs! Larry and I have talked about how courtrooms are starting to make credit card company late fees and interest look reasonable.

And when the “court costs” are twice the fine, it starts to look a lot like state sanctioned racketeering.

All I can say is, way to go St. Charles!

Another Brick in the Wall

When discussing the Kane County Chronicle’s demise with Kane County Treasurer Dave Rickert, he backed up my “it’s all over but the shouting” theory with a very interesting point.

public noticeAn area in which local newspapers still make money is printing public notices. It’s a bit of an anachronism, but State law requires the Treasurer, Assessor’s Office, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, and other various elected officials to place ads in local papers regarding specific legal proceedings.

You may recall that, a few years ago, when those elected officials lobbied Springfield to allow them to use the Net instead, the newspapers went nuts. Of course, if a public servant argued for that kind of inefficiency, the papers would’ve been all over it. Doncha’ just love double standards!

You can’t place those public notices in just any publication because the statute is clear about what is and isn’t a newspaper. We don’t want the Assessor running those notices on his brother’s blog now, do we!

So with the Chronicle collapsing into a weekly format, they’ll no longer qualify for public notices which means yet another massive financial hit. I’m sure their management didn’t even consider this possibility when making the change.

If the folks at the Daily Herald are smart, they’re already angling to pick up that business.

Blessed be the masochists for they shall get their wish

Fresh off his unsurprisingly lopsided loss to Mark Kirk, a man who’s clearly a glutton for all forms of punishment, Jim Marter, just threw his hat in the Kendall County Republican Chairman ring. Now, before you get too excited, he’s the only one who actually wants to follow in Jessica Bannister’s footsteps.

Marter

Jim Marter

At least the Kendall County GOP maintains some semblance of unity. Don’t get me wrong, dealing with self-important loons like Dallas Ingemunson and that leprechaun Larry Nelson ain’t no walk in Clark Park, but it pales in comparison to what goes on in Kane County.

The two major Republican factions there can’t stand being within 100 yards of each other and State Senator Karen McConnaughay, the Kanye West of Illinois politicians, makes Dallas and Larry look like egomaniacal amateurs. Throw in walking ethics violation, Ken Shepro, filing ethics violations, and it’s even better than The Jersey Shore.

But despite those kindergarten realities, despite the job being utterly thankless. Despite the fact that he’s already lived through four years of it, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell is gonna give the Kane County Republican Chairmanship another shot.

And he has no competition either.

Tom will be on Left, Right and You Monday, April 4, at 9 a.m., at which point I’ll ask him if his willingness to serve four more years as Chairman should automatically disqualify him by way of mental defect.

And speaking of Kendall County…

Apparently interjecting myself into the Kendal County Coroner’s race and, to a lesser extent, doing my damndest to see Jim MacRunnels defeated in Kane County, I’ve officially made it to the top of Oswego political operative John Reeve’s lengthy leather-bound hit list.

Reeves

John Reeves

First, I want to thank the members of the Academy and the little people like Steve Youhanaie for making it all possible. I woulda settled for being in the top ten, but making number one is a real honor for which I will strive to prove myself worthy.

And I’m going to kick off that campaign by seriously looking into the connections between Jacquie and John Purcell, Larry Nelson, Dallas Ingemunson, Mr. Reeves, and the soon-to-be sentenced Denny Hastert.

We’ll start with Dallas because that one’s bound to be fascinating.

To quote the great Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelts folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

Quick Hits – March 29,2016

Apparently there’s a little more to it!

After covering the Elgin Fire Department sexting saga last week, a source with firsthand knowledge called to say this isn’t nearly the first time that firefighter Amanda Bruce has engaged in that kind of tawdry endeavor.

Amanda BruceYou see, Ms. Bruce came from the Pingree Grove Fire Department where she eventually married her supervisor there. There’s no proof of any particular indiscretion, but when you consider her pattern, I’m convinced that’s where it all started.

Of course, Bruce moved to the Elgin Fire Department in the mid 2000’s where she caught the eye of her new supervisor with a series of racy cellphone (or digital camera) shots, some of which were allegedly taken on duty. True to form, she divorced her second (I think) husband and married the new guy.

Fast forward to about 2013 when that husband found the latest iteration of her cell phone porn and they get divorced.

This source also said that, in light of that second EFD transgression, Fire Chief John Fahey wanted to fire her right then and there, but he settled on the suspension and demotion because the initial incident had not been publicly addressed. If it makes you feel better, our sexting trio had to hire their own attorneys because there’s some things even the Union won’t cover.

So perhaps I was a little hard on Fahy last week when I laid a preponderance of the blame at his feet, but I won’t lose any sleep over it because Ms. Bruce wasn’t nearly the only one involved this time and, like I said, the Fire Chief has no problem making Donald Trump look reasonable.

But here’s the real problem. A female friend with specific insights into this situation said, “This kind of serial affair scenario makes it that much more difficult for women to become firefighters and get promoted. It may not be fair that this won’t have a long-term effect on the men, but like it or not, when you’re a minority, you represent all of that minority.”

Food for thought!

 

Improve Carpentersville’s image? I have some thoughts!

About 30 C’ville board members, commission members, and village staff recently attended a “branding” brainstorming workshop in an effort to improve the municipality’s reputation. All I can say is, whatever the WRB LLC consulting firm charged for the workshop was way too much because I would’ve done it for a twelve-pack of Bass Ale and a couple of Chicago-style hotdogs.

So here goes!

1. Eliminate the Village Board

Because they’re the ones who consistently give the village their biggest black eye! One of ‘em was convicted of beating his wife with a baseball bat. A Board candidate lied about never being arrested. Another Board Member almost got into fisticuffs with a high level city staffer. And those are just the highlights! Since they clearly can’t behave like adults, get rid of them!

2. Eliminate those Bill Sarto Youtube videos

SartoThis one’s gonna be a little tougher because they’ll have to convince Youtube to go along with it. Suffice it to say, whenever I need a little comic relief, I immediately turn to those infamous Bill Sarto village board meeting videos and suddenly feel much better about my situation.

My favorite clip is called “Waiting for a Second” in which the former village president goes on the kind of legendary rant that sums C’ville up perfectly.

3. Avoid making English the official Village language

Because that kind of thing doesn’t make Hispanics feel welcome.  And when you go ahead and do it anyway, perhaps it’s best to avoid sending nasty notes to Spanish language newspapers demanding they cease publication.

4. Host a gay pride parade

This one’s a winner folks! While the late Otto Engineering founder Jack Roeser’s philanthropic efforts helped put C’ville on the map, his well-documented anti-gay rants are epic to say the least. In fact, if Jack even suspected you were a little “soft,” he’d leap at you just like a starving leopard. Senator Mark Kirk found that out the hard way.

Not only would a C’ville gay pride parade add much needed color to an otherwise dull village, but it would go a long way towards ameliorating all those bad feelings.

5. Actually answer FOIA requests.

Instead of ignoring an Illinois Attorney General’s Office order to release information on a young man who died in police custody, perhaps the Village Board might actually set the example by following the law they specifically swore to uphold.

Conversely, collectively deciding that you’re above the law is exactly the kind of thing that gives Village of C’ville the terrible reputation it enjoys today!

So there you have it. Please let me know when I can pick up the Bass Ale.

 

Another Elgin police officer moves up!

Dan O'SheaCongratulations to EPD Commander Dan O’Shea who was just tabbed to serve as Rockford Police Chief. My humble suggestion would be to follow in the community-based policing and transparency footsteps of your soon-to-be former boss Jeff Swoboda.

And I will certainly wish you good luck as you move up because, when it comes to Rockford, you’re really gonna need it

Not So Quick Hits – March 28, 2016

Requiem for a newspaper

We’ve already discussed how, last week, our Sixth Sense newspaper, like Dr. Malcom Crowe, finally figured out they were dead. But unlike our movie psychologist who knew there was no coming back, the Kane County Chronicle and Shaw Media clearly believe they’re gonna pull off some sort of Easter miracle.

But they won’t.

So let’s digest this timely death in two parts. First, we’ll talk about why the Chronicle expired. Then, in part two, we’ll discuss why this shift to a weekly format will be the final coffin nail.

Why the Chronicle died:

They got sued!

It didn’t have to be the beginning of the end, but it was.

In 2007, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas sued the Chronicle and one of their columnists, finally settling for a cool $4 million. It wasn’t that this columnist’s hypothesis was wrong – judges are political animals after all – it was that he threatened a Supreme Court Justice with “bad publicity” in writing. And that kind of obvious malice will lose the case every time!

But instead of taking a stand and using the legal proceedings as the best kind of advertising money could buy, the Chronicle folded faster than a K-Mart suit. Then to compound that problem, they fired the one managing editor who was actually turning things around. Worse yet, they quickly resorted to “happy news” no one wanted to read and their blisteringly basic coverage of local events could easily be found on free websites like Patch.

“Facetime?” That truly is the epitome of  all low-hanging fruit.

They hired family instead of talent

Once they dispensed with the managerial talent, they hired family to fill those spots and that’s never a good idea. The worst (and best) you can say about son of Shaw Media CEO, J. Tom Shaw, is he’s mediocre, but he arrived at a time when newspapers needed much more than middling.

The fact that, according to a number of ex-employees, J. Tom Shaw enjoyed “being nasty for nasty’s sake,” didn’t help morale matters either.

As a result, the good reporters fled

Seeing the writing on the wall, crack journalists like Dan Campana and Paul Dailing, and even the passable ones like Kelly Casino and Kate Thayer, bolted faster than a gay couple from the state of Georgia.

So in very short order, the Chronicle was left with, or hired, what can only be described as the journalistic minor leagues consisting of reporters who couldn’t catch on anywhere else. And it showed. At a time when print media was already in a massive nosedive, this lack of talent accelerated the Chronicle’s inevitable demise.

Content wasn’t king

When you add happy news to bad management to a lack of talent, you get content no one cares about. The best evidence of this theory is, more often than not the top Chronicle story is an anonymous Sound Off post or a letter-to-the-editor.

When your readers are infinitely more interesting than you are, it doesn’t bode very well, now does it? That’s what we have Facebook for!

Since there was no reason to read the Chronicle, nobody did!

 

chronicle

 

Why this shift to once a week won’t work:

Add revenues will plummet

Shaw Media is clinging to that one print issue because Net ads get just 8.3 percent of the revenue of their print counterparts. We’re talking about at least a 75 percent decline in income which very few businesses can survive.

Granted, running the presses just once a week will mitigate the red ink to some degree, but not enough to ensure the paper’s long-term survival.

As far as the two remaining Chronicle reporters go, Shaw will no longer be able to afford them and, unless they’re willing to accept stringer status and do piecework with no benefits, in the immortal words of the great Don Henley, they’re “already gone.”

They have no digital presence

Daily Herald reporter Jim Fuller aptly noted that newspapers on the brink of going print-free typically have established a serious Web footprint. But the Chronicle’s website comments – or lack of them – indicate otherwise.

On the very piece that described the paper’s impending demise, there were all of three reader responses and, in a most delicious irony, one of ‘em was from the very columnist who sent the paper tumbling into the abyss in the first place.

Put more simply, the Chronicle’s older readership will not be willing to make this switch.

Chronicle readers want a daily newspaper

The average age of a Chronicle reader has gotta be at least 60 and those rapidly fading folks are used to a daily driveway paper. They’ll never go to the Net for news and they have no interest in a weekly recap either.

To make matters worse, young people have no interest in a publication that’s dry as dust and utterly irrelevant.

So if Shaw Media thought they’d seen a circulation decline before, as the great Randy Bachman once said, they “ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”

J. T. Shaw is still there

He’s still busy making enemies and driving away whatever talent Shaw Media might possibly attract.

The two remaining Chronicle reporters are essentially working for Patch!

This irony makes me bleeping laugh out loud! After the Chronicle finally installs a paywall, the Tri-Cities Patches simply steal their material and immediately disseminate it for free. And there’s not a damn thing Shaw Media can do about it.

This bizarre dynamic will only further impact revenues and, in yet another massive irony, when the Chronicle does breathe their last, with no in-house reporters, Patch will shortly follow suit.

There still ain’t any content

The real bottom line here is, there’s no good reason to read any version of the Chronicle.

Have you ever picked up a copy of the Orange Peel Gazette? You’ll find it in various northeastern Illinois business waiting areas and it pretty much consists of jokes, a listing of some local events, and a boatload of advertising.

But despite that overly-simple formula, I pick it up every time I see it because I WANT to read  it. What can I say? It makes me laugh.

The Chronicle has never understood that simple reality.

 

Collateral damage:

Shaw Media’s inevitable demise will have an untold effect on the Daily Herald who’ve been printing and delivering that paper for years. Those side effects are bit harder to predict, but they can’t be good.

Also, in an effort to appear like they still matter, Shaw continues to pick up fading local entities like the Elburn Herald. The consensus there is, under this new management, that paper will go down right along with the Chronicle ship.

But why listen to my thoughts about those acquisitions when we can end this not so Quick Hits edition with a quote from Danny DeVito’s Larry the Liquidator character:

“This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We’re dead alright. We’re just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure.”

This is the March 28,2016 edition of Left, Right and You!

Larry and I want to thank:

  • Elgin City Councilwoman Rose Martinez
  • Elgin immigration attorney Shirley Sadjadi
  • And Daily Herald reporter Jim Fuller

for being part of a great panel discussion on the realities of immigration.

Thursday! Longmeadow Bridge opponent and 24th District Kane County Board candidate Jarett Sanchez joins the show. Until then…

Jim, Shirley, Rose, and Jeff