Quick Hits – November 17, 2017

A technicality knockout?

In what can only be described as soap opera turn of events, it would seem the Campana Building redevelopment project at Fabyan Parkway and Route 31 in Batavia is dead in that nearby Fox River water.

At least for now.

To fill in the blanks, the Evergreen Real Estate Group is seeking to turn the former Campana factory into approximately 20 regular and 80 Section 8 apartments. As you might imagine, those Eaglebrook subdivision Genevans are rending their garments, gnashing their teeth and weeping uncontrollably over the prospect of poor brown children attending THEIR D304 schools.

The rest of ‘em aren’t too happy about brown people living next door, either.

Campana_Factory_(Batavia,_IL)_01

Please note! I stand by my prediction that this project was a done deal as that 9 to 5 Batavia City Council committee of the whole vote clearly indicated. It’s just that, while the four vote margin hasn’t changed, but the rules have!

In yet another fascinating Tri-Cities irony, after all sorts of citizens tried to derail this conversion based on bad windows and a lack of access, someone discovered the kind of zoning technicality that means the project suddenly requires a two-thirds city council supermajority.

If you do the math, you’ll note it’s suddenly one scant vote short.

There are just two Tri-City non-attorneys who could’ve come up with this kind of technical challenge, and since it wasn’t me, I’m 99 percent sure of who the culprit is. But since he or she hasn’t provided their express written consent, I won’t be divulging their identity today.

So, here’s how it worked!

Robert Byrnes, the owner of the adjoining property at 1950 and 2000 S. Batavia Avenue (Route 31), filed a zoning protest just three days before the Batavia City Council was to take that fateful final vote. Since the Campana Building and his office plaza share more than 20 percent of the frontage, that gave him the right to issue the challenge.

And when the Batavia city attorney deemed it valid, it triggered the two-thirds majority vote requirement.

So Evergreen asked the city council to table the motion in the desperate hope of swaying one of those five nay voters, but insiders tell me they’ve been utterly able to do so. If the status quo remains, much to everyone’s surprise, this project will not fly.

This is why I love politics people! It’s always a fascinating proposition.

 

It’s just like herding cats

Every now and then I get the hankerin’ to run for office and I’ve discovered the perfect antidote for that kind of horrifically misguided thinking is to attend any Kane County Board or committee meeting.

So, in anticipation of a possible showdown between Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles and those judicial and public safety committee members over the demise of the criminal defendant home monitoring program, I put down the LSAT prep stuff long enough to haul my bony white butt down to Building A.

When everyone basically behaved, I started wondering if it was gonna be another hour-and-a-half of my journalistic life I’d never get back. But just when I was about to pack up and leave, leave it to Public Defender Kelli Childress to make it all worthwhile.

During her turn to speak, Childress lashed out at the committee over the $150,000 efficiency study the County commissioned to determine how they might trim that former $6 million deficit. “It’s wrong. It’s just wrong,” Childress said, “I’d like to know who the sources are for this information.”

She pointed out inconsistent comparisons to the wrong collar counties, incorrect employee head counts and that the number of annual cases her office handles was off by a thousand. She called the report “misinformation” and “totally inaccurate.”

Of course, that tirade incited Court Services director Lisa Aust, Coroner Rob Russell and Sheriff Don Kramer to join in the fractious festivities which put Chairman Chris Lauzen and those committee members in a really good Thursday morning mood.

Childress 2

Kelli Childress

Yes! For that amount of cash, that report should’ve been a wee bit more accurate. But the bottom line is, the Chairman asked every department and every elected official to make the same 3.6 percent budget cut, so those inaccuracies didn’t matter. There was a financial hole to fill and that’s what it took to fill it.

It’s not as if that kind of temper tantrum would make that missing revenue magically reappear.

As I’m prone to noting, we have two massive ironies here that make it difficult to focus on those LSAT logic questions.

The first is, the efficiency report concluded that the PD’s office should actually get MORE money. But when Childress went off on that committee – again – one of the board members pulled me aside and said, “Oh well! If she asks for more money, we’ll cite that ‘inaccurate’ report as the reason not to give it to her.”

And the second one is, because I hold the PD’s office in such high esteem, I’ve been working on the Chairman and a couple of board members to restore their funding – and I’d actually been making headway. After all, a well-functioning public defender’s office is critical to justice being served.

But after yesterday’s amusing performance, Childress aggravated absolutely everyone to the point that my budgetary crusade completely crashed and burned. Not even my amazing charisma and perpetually polite and professional personality could sway those folks now.

It’s called politics for a reason people! All I can say is, I hope that rant made her feel good because, to quote the late, great Walt Kelly. “Ms. Childress has met the enemy and it is her!”

Quick Hits – This one’s on you Judge Boles!

The Democrats attempted a budgetary coup at yesterday’s county board meeting that fell just two votes short of reinstating Kane County’s criminal defendant home monitoring system. The plan was to raid the entire $700,000 “rainy day” fund to do it.

That’s never a good idea, by the way.

And when I use the word “Democrats” here, rest assured, it’s never a clear demarcation on that always fascinating governing body.

To wit, dissident GOP board members Mike Kenyon, Maggie Auger, Phil Lewis and Mark Davoust – or the Gang of Four as I like to call them – tend to vote against any of Chairman Chris Lauzen’s initiatives because he regularly offends their delicate sensibilities.

Meanwhile, “Democrats” Deb Allen and Penny Wegman support him more often than not, because they’re really not Democrats. To be fair, the Gang of Four really aren’t Republicans, either, as their consistent tax and spend voting record would indicate.

To the uneducated observer, it would seem the catalyst for this kerfuffle is a home monitoring system higher ideal, but nothing could be further from the truth. Much like the global conflicts the U.S. consistently mires itself in, this is just another political proxy war played out on the backs of an almost always unsuspecting public.

And it all starts with those Kane County Republicans who spend so much time taking swipes at each other they fail to realize that 10 of those 24 county board seats are occupied by Democrats. And if the Gang of Four votes with them…

Am I the only one who’s noticed that Kane County gets one to two percent more Democratic with every even-year election?

Nature may abhor a vacuum, but politics absolutely despises them. Thus, the main reason the Dems are flexing their new muscles is a lack of real leadership on the part of Chairman Lauzen. They want to see just how far they can get, and yesterday, they almost got there.

Word is, the Dems thought they had this one in the bag. If Kenyon hadn’t voted with the Republicans on two issues, including the home monitoring program, those outcomes could’ve been very different.

So, while there’s never any innocent bystanders on the Kane County Board, if I had to lay the bulk of the dysfunctional blame at someone’s oxford shoed feet, it would be Lauzen’s.

I will continue to extol his virtue for that six-year tax levy freeze, but it would seem that his role as a 20-year Springfield Senate outsider has rendered him incapable of the more subtle kind of coaching that a 24 member body requires.

Remember! The Chairman only gets to vote when there’s a tie.

Meanwhile, he’s falling prey to the same traps his beleaguered predecessor did by battling the Internal Control Statute, alienating countywide elected officials, and running candidates against board members who fail to amuse him.

It’s the whole doomed to repeat history thing, right? Former Chairman Karen McConnaughay actually had the board pretty much cowed until she started primarying the protestors. That tends to make them lose their fear and become kinda cranky. She didn’t last very long after that.

And that’s exactly what Lauzen is doing to a number of Democratic (and Republican) board members right now. C’mon! That’s not how you govern Chris!

Lauzen’s heavy handed approach with county offices that don’t report directly to him hasn’t helped matters either. While it was certainly reasonable to ask for 3.6 percent across-the-board budget cuts, sugar would’ve been far more efficacious application than vinegar in that regard.

When you consider our preponderantly pretentious judges’ paper thin skin and Director of Court Services Lisa Aust’s capacity to comport herself like Lauzen’s twin sister, the Chairman’s generally combative approach doomed any cooperative fiscal effort from the start.

But with all those stipulations issued, make no mistake, the demise of the home monitoring system boils down to Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles’ vast arrogance and nothing more. She thought she could play politics when it’s clearly not her strong suit.

Boles 3

Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles

Despite whatever shortcomings befall the Chairman, former Chief Judge Judith Brawka would’ve worked with him to hit that 3.6 percent point without sacrificing any worthwhile program. As we’ve already discussed here, the Kane County court system is beyond bloated because it’s the least efficient circuit in the collar counties.

But instead of improving those lagging efficiencies, which would’ve saved the program,  Boles thought she could hold it hostage by imperiously declaring that if home monitoring was cut, the county board would be the ones to blame – not her. She believed that declaration would incite board rebellion and court services could have their cake and eat it too.

But yesterday, those board members correctly called her bluff.

When board member Kurt Kojzarek pointed out the error of her illogical way, she still tried to blame the board after the Chairman called upon her to speak, but it didn’t work.

The truth is, armed with Ms. Aust’s bad advice, Judge Boles chose not to work cooperatively with the board. She chose to avoid trimming the real fat and she chose to put the home monitoring program up as a sacrificial lamb, figuring no one would be willing to draw the first blade.

So, no one else is responsible but her! That’s why the word “Chief” comes before “Judge.”

As board member Davoust noted at that very same meeting, “It only takes one of those 102 people in the program to do something bad, and then you’re on the 10 o’clock news answering questions about why you cut this program.”

There’s a simple solution to that Mark! Just hand Chief Judge Clancy Boles the microphone.

Quick Hits – November 13, 2017

The TSA really sucks…

At anything other than making flying an absolutely miserable experience, that is. I’ve been covering their vast incompetency going all the way back to my Sun-Times days, and it apparently ain’t getting much better.

TSA

In a recent series of undercover tests of multiple airport checkpoints conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration screeners failed to detect “smuggled” firearms and explosives 80 percent of the time!

To put that momentous feat into some sort of perspective, the worst Major League Baseball position players are successful just 20 percent of the time. But I suppose that’s better than their beyond dismal 95 percent test failure rate in 2015.

Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers’ massively understated response to TSA head honcho David Pekoske was, “This agency that you run is broken badly, and it needs your attention.” Attention!!??? The whole thing needs to be burned down so it can be completely rebuilt!

So, essentially we’re being massively inconvenienced by an incompetent government organization that couldn’t catch a cold. That sounds about par for the course!

 

And speaking of sucking

Back in 1978, instead of taking a knee to run out the clock, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik inexplicably handed the ball to Larry Csonka who uncharacteristically fumbled. Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Herman Edwards pounced on the loose pigskin, returning it 26 yards for the winning touchdown.

fox-bears-hat

Giants’ offensive coordinator Bob Gibson was fired the next day and he never worked in the NFL again.

Yesterday, with the ball called down on Green Bay’s four yard line, Bears coach John Fox issued a replay challenge that awarded the ball back to the Packers on a touchback.

Why the bleep is he still employed?

 

You heard it here first!

God bless St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina for – tactfully – calling out the Krausz Companies for their utter lack of any action in regards to the old Charlestown Mall.

You see, after wringing all sorts of concessions from the St. Charles City council by promising them sure fire dreams of retail glory, Krausz has managed to attract all of one business – a restaurant – to the dilapidated location.

Count ‘em; one!

So now, in a turn of events my former radio co-host Larry Jones and I predicted three years ago, the Krausz Companies just told the mayor they’re taking that property residential. The self-admitted hitch in their giddyup is that they don’t know how to build townhomes and condos, so they’re reaching out to a “large, national residential developer.”

9718310096_32f742f213_b

Just like they had all those large retailers chompin’ at the bit to come into a dying mall, right?

C’mon St. Charles! Krausz Companies has played you like a fiddle by applying delaying and deliberate obfuscation tactics to get the residential development they wanted all along. And now you’re going to let them get away with it?

I understand you don’t necessarily want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but most of these development agreements include some sort of stipulation as to exactly when the developer has to start “performing.”

So, use that escape clause to send Krausz packing. It may cause some short term development disruption – though it’s not like they’re doing shit now – but allowing a company to manipulate you in this obvious a fashion would set a far worse long-term precedent.

 

The City of Geneva never met a tax hike it didn’t like

This is my email to the Geneva City Council who are not only raising taxes, but they’re about to hire a very expensive assistant city manager:

Dear City Council,

Please explain why we need a sales tax OR a places for eating tax hike, but not raising taxes at all isn’t an option? There is so much bloat in the Geneva City budget that you all should be insisting on tax cuts. Remember! You represent us, not city employees.

St. Charles has kept their levy flat for nine straight years and Kane County has done it for six. As city staffers love to say, “We need to bring Geneva in line with surrounding government bodies!” If you need me to appear at a city council meeting to explain where those cuts can be made, I’d be happy to do so.

Burns 2

Another tax and spend “Republican!”

But then, to make matters so much worse, while you’re choosing between Scylla and Charybdis, tonight, you’re going to vote on whether to hire an assistant city manager to the tune of 200 grand in salary and benefits. Once again, considering “surrounding communities,” neither St. Charles, Batavia, South Elgin, Elburn, North Aurora, nor West Chicago require an assistant city manager.

And most of those municipalities are significantly larger than we are!

So why do we need one? The simple answer is, we don’t! And the consultant, bought and paid for by Geneva staffers, contention that those other towns simply call assistant city managers something else is patently wrong. Geneva has all those kinds of employees, too!

As is my right as a citizen of this often odd city, I will recruit a 2019 or 2021 opponent – and manage their campaign at no charge – to run against any alderman who votes for an assistant city manager or another tax increase. And I’m way better than Joe Stanton at getting people elected (though that’s not nearly setting the bar high enough.)

It looks like I already have a mayoral candidate (it’s NOT Tom Simonian).

What the City of Geneva really needs are tax cuts, and we don’t need an assistant city manager for a mere 21,700 residents. Thank you!

Jeff Ward

Since one of the aldermen invited me to this evening’s Committee of the Whole festivities, I’ll be there to convey those very thoughts.

Quick Hits – November 10, 2017

It ain’t always harassment!

Nobody should have to put up with workplace harassment of any kind, period! That clearly applies to those Cook County public defenders who just filed suit to force corrections officers to keep inmates from performing certain acts during legal conferences.

But in their blind rush to demonize all men, too many women are embracing sexual harassment “victims” who really aren’t victims at all.

FX 'Better Things' TV show panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Aug 2017

If comedian Louis C. K. invites you up to his hotel room at midnight, it’s probably not for tea and crumpets. And when he asks if he can perform a different kind of solo act while he’s disrobing, that’s about the time you get up and leave.

If that event did occur, it’s not harassment – there was no power dynamic involved and no one was unlawfully restrained – it’s just a really bad come on. Let’s save our sympathy for the real victims.

 

Under his skin

Whether it’s a trial, a nominating petition challenge, a civil case, or advising a government body – and I’ve covered it all – I’m consistently confounded by the average attorney’s lack of legal skills, not to mention their repeated failure to correctly read a situation.

It’s almost as if the justice system works in spite of them,

So when you run across stellar lawyers like Brick Van Der Snick, Jeff Meyer, Amanda Wielgus, or Tom Hartwell, you tend to take notice. And it’s in that very vein that I’ve become quite enamored of the Motta and Motta Law Firm out of Chicago and Aurora, Illinois.

For background purposes, Alison and Robert Motta are defending Scott Turyna, 66, of St. Charles, against attempted murder charges.

If you would kindly recall, it was last May when St. Charles School Superintendent Steve Spurling and his wife were walking their dog when a bloodied Mrs. Turyna ran out of her garage and fell onto the driveway. Scott Turyna emerged from the house shortly thereafter and began firing a pistol at her. Spurling was hailed as a hero for disarming the gunman before he could wound or kill his wife.

And the pre-trial motions are getting more and more fascinating.

In an All My Children-esque twist, Turyna claimed he had no memory of the event back in June, but the defense didn’t ask for a trial fitness test until five days before the October proceeding was about to commence. And that late motion clearly got on Judge D. J. Tegeler’s last good nerve.

tegeler

Judge Tegeler

When Tegeler heard Alison Motta mutter something under her breath at one of those hearings – a tactic for which she’s quite famous – he threw the kind of temper tantrum that makes yours truly look like Mr. Rogers on a good day! Nothing offends a judge’s delicate sensibilities like a whispered epithet.

When Tegeler did accede to that request by ordering a Kane County Diagnostic Center evaluation, the Motta’s objected claiming that the county’s psychiatrist would be biased.

Having purposely stoked the flames of discord and dissent, though they knew it would never fly, the Motta’s filed a petition for a new judge claiming, “For whatever reason, our team has upset the judge to the point where my client will be prejudiced.”

“He was very loud. He was shouting at me. He was glaring at me,” Ms. Motta added. I gotta say that certainly does sound like Judge Tegeler.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Judge John Barsanti swiftly denied that motion, noting that Tegeler pretty much gave the Mottas everything they’d already requested.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here laughing my ass off at how two attorneys have thrown the entire 16th Circuit into complete conniptions. Who needs Pheasant Run when you can head over to Route 38 and Peck Road to watch this kind of theater for free! I thought I was the only one who could completely aggravate people in this kind of amusing manner. Apparently I was wrong.

You see, the Motta law firm motto, as described on their website is:

When your enemy is weak expose their weakness, when your enemy is strong delay the battle, and when your enemy is angry, make them angrier because mistakes are sure to follow.

(They really do need to hire a good editor because I had to add the last two commas.)

And it’s fucking brilliant. It’s Sun Tzu at his bleepin’ best (look it up). If more attorneys had this eminently basic understanding of human nature and how court systems really work, I wouldn’t be bitching about ‘em nearly as much as I do.

The Motta’s know they have an unwinnable case. A former school superintendent as the prosecution’s star witness? That’s virtually impossible to overcome. So, their underlying strategy is to delay the process until they see an opening. And they’re trying to create that opening by making the judge, not their crazy client, the issue.

And nothing makes a judge angrier than an attorney with the temerity to move to replace him on a high profile case. And when Judge Tegeler gets angry, he makes all kinds of mistakes. The Mottas have concocted a patently brilliant strategy and Tegeler has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

I’m not sure they’ll get Turyna off, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they did. They’re certainly going to get the best deal they possibly can.

Perhaps I’m gonna have to get off my bony white ass and head over to courtroom 311 sometime soon. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks! They really oughtta sell popcorn at the Kane County Judicial Center.

 

You can thank Brick

Brick 2Between Comcast’s inability to keep the Net up for more than 2 minutes at a time, and a Windows update error as a result of those sudden outages, I had to waste three goddam hours with the cable company and restoring my computer back to a previous configuration this morning.

So I was gonna give up on Quick Hits for today until I remembered how disappointed Brick Van Der Snick would be if there was no Friday edition.

This one’s for you, sir!

 

Quick Hits – November 8, 2017

Give it a rest guys!

Despite massive referendum failures in 2015 and 2017, utterly undaunted, the Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District, covering unincorporated St. Charles, Campton Township, Wayne and Campton Hills, is gonna give that tax hike another shot.

FRCR

This time, they’re asking for a mere 50 percent increase and FRCFR attorney and partial architect of this complete disaster, Ken Shepro, is threatening to close stations on a rotating basis if voters don’t cough up the cash.

Silly me! I thought he was a Republican!

“The problem is, you’re basically telling people to schedule their heart attacks on the days the station closest to them is open,” said Shepro, blaming residents for the district’s sad plight. But it ain’t the residents Ken!

Both you and former FRCFR President Jim Gaffney flipped then Mayor Don DeWitte and St. Charles the figurative bird by saying your breakaway district could name that tune in one note. You said you could provide the same services for just a third of the cost, and the voters bought it.

But it turned out you couldn’t and the voters aren’t about to let you off the hook!

So, it wouldn’t matter if FRCFR was asking for a scant one percent increase. It will be voted down just like the last two attempts. This ain’t like a Hall of Fame ballot where that semi-legendary third baseman missed it on his eighth try by two percent.

Those 2015 and 2017 FRCFR referendums went down in two-to-one flames, which makes it statistically impossible to close that gap in one scant year. I know Shepro thinks it’s funny to threaten residents’ safety, but I’m bettin’ they don’t find him amusing at all.

You’d think Ken would’ve figured out that voters don’t respond very well to threats by now.

To put this fiasco in perspective, for all its fiscal foibles, the State of Illinois has never had to step in and dissolve a fire protection district. But when this one won’t be able to keep their stations open on a daily basis, it will be time for the adults to take over and put us out of their misery.

 

Blinded by the white

You’d think after their last thrashing, the Daily Herald wouldn’t go there again. Bu no! Their completely Caucasian editorial board just ran another editorial chiding the U-46 School District (Elgin, Bartlett, Streamwood, Hanover Park, South Elgin) for not hiring enough black teachers.

Daily Herald Building

And while seeking diversity among educators is always a worthwlhile endeavor, it kind of falls flat when that clarion call comes from an entity whose management team consists entirely of old white men.

Wouldn’t you think a company like Paddock Publications would seek the same sort of racial and ethnic balance they thrust upon everyone else? Sheesh! At this point I’d be willing to accept a short, near-sighted woman with a mild sunburn.

What do you say Paddock?

 

A bad day for Republicans

Both New Jersey and Virginia elected Democratic Governors yesterday, and in the most delicious political irony ever, Virginia sent transgender former journalist Danica Roem to their legislature replacing Bob Marshall, the author of that state’s divisive bathroom bill.

Almost as ironic, black, Democratic candidate Ashley Bennett beat white, Republican incumbent John Carman in their Atlantic County, New Jersey, Freeholder race. If you recall, Carman gained national notoriety when he wrote, ““Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?”

171108-danica-roem-mc-1105_a4303ac95d162817ddfc3b42bf786060-nbcnews-fp-1200-630

Danica Roem (center) celebrates an election day victory

He said he was just joking, but the women who voted him out clearly weren’t. Apparently he’ll have plenty of time to cook dinner now.

Democratic candidates generally did well across the country as voters finally mounted a concerted effort to repudiate Donald Trump and his divisive policies.

So, like I said on Monday! You may as well start calling him Governor Pritzker now because he’s gonna win.  And those 2018 Republican candidates, firmly wedged between Scylla and Charybdis, are going to have to cut Trump loose or risk the same kind of backlash.

The truly terrifying thought in all of this is, could Democrats finally be getting their fippin’ messaging act together? I’m not sure I can handle that.

 

They’re catching on!

Texas authorities made it clear they will no longer mention the Sutherland Spring church shooter’s name. Though it’s not nearly as effective as reasonable gun control, it’s a step.

 

High times

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey says he has enough board support to get sponsor March 20 advisory referendum asking residents if they think legalized marijuana would be a good idea.

If all those Cook Countians put down their joints and Doritos long enough to make it to the polls – and if they can find them – unlike the FRCFR question, this one should pass faster than an impatient I-90 rush hour driver.

When Cook County legalizes pot – and they will – despite whatever law enforcement or prosecutorial objections remain, the state will too.

It’s about time!

 

They don’t make ‘em like that anymore

Though I’m gonna go a little far afield here, y’all know I harbor a vast love for music of all denominations. As my beloved radio show co-host Larry Jones used to say, I have the most eclectic musical taste he’s ever seen.

I even like my 18 year-old son’s EDM stuff, so you can’t accuse of muttering that old man’s screed, “That’s not music!”

Ertegun

Ahmet Ertegun

But as I was listening to ‘We Just Disagree’ (Dave Mason), ‘Dirty Work’ (Steely Dan) and ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’ (Blind Faith) on my morning dog walk, I caught myself thinking, “We’ll never see this kind of really great music like this again.”

Generally, I like the playing field leveling propensity of the Internet, but it hasn’t served the music industry well on a number of levels.

To wit, I find myself longing for the days of legendary Atlantic Records founder and President Ahmet Ertegun, who brought us talent like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Ray Charles, Yes, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cream, AC/DC and many more.

Don’t get me wrong, I just bought vinyl albums by Jason Isbell, The War on Drugs, Manchester Orchestra and Brand New. And while I certainly enjoy their music, it doesn’t send my soul soaring like ‘Fastbuck Freddie’ (Jefferson Starship), ‘Wondrous Stories’ (Yes), ‘Living in the Past’ (Jethro Tull) and ‘Higher Love’ (Steve Winwood).

I don’t care what you say, it’s more than just a youthful longing. Without that big money music machine behind them, fewer and fewer groups will hit the stratospheric level of some of their ‘70s counterparts.

And that my friends, saddens me.

Though my mother was dead wrong when she said, “I’m worried you’ll never have any rock ‘n roll standards,” now I’m saying the same thing to my son because I don’t think there will be any more great musical standards.

Quick Hits – November 6, 2017

You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction!

Just when you think the Democrats have cornered the market on abject political obliviousness – and obliviousness is always worse than stupidity – the Republicans swoop in to snatch that title as if to say, “We gotta be good at something because it certainly ain’t governing!”

So, when The First Ward announced Rauner wasn’t running again, given my impeccable sources and the fact that he’d just expanded taxpayer-funded Illinois abortions, I’m convinced that was the case. But our governor, who’s more mercurial than a middle school girl who just lost her BFF, changed his mind – again.

Since Newton’s Third Law always applies to politics, that equal and opposite reaction consisted of conservative ideologues, who’ve completely co-opted the Illinois Republican Party, to abandon the Governor in droves.

Never mind those less-government folks completely fail to see the vast irony in having old bald white guys tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. They also seem to miss that Rauner has always been a Democrat, but that’s a story for another day.

So now, Sate Rep Jeanne Ives (R Wheaton), the right wing’s current scion and savior du jour, is gonna primary the Governor. C’mon! She has a better chance of getting elected Pope. But with Dan Proft and his regular right wing crazies supporting her, that contest will swiftly descend into the kind of name calling quagmire that makes a Trump – Kim Jong Un tweet war seem mild by comparison.

Ives

Illinois State Rep Jeanne Ives

This means that Rauner will limp into the General Election and, in a par for the course move, those disappointed true believers will simply take their electoral football and stay home. Not only does that mean a huge win for impending Democratic gubernatorial nominee J. B. Pritzker, but those on-the-bubble Democratic General Assemblymen will also have a massive leg up.

(No, it won’t be Chris Kennedy in the finals because I can’t remember a more mediocre statewide candidate. Who the bleep is advising this guy?)

So, the more things change…

Which leads us into our second biggest irony, since they insist on having their cookie RIGHT NOW, those unyielding conservatives fall for candidates who either can’t get elected or can’t govern. And that sets up the very scenarios they claim to loathe. Michael Madigan will continue to rule with an iron fist as defined by an even stronger Democratic supermajority.

God forbid a Republican candidate turns out to be anything short of ideologically pure! Then their “adoring” throng will turn on them faster than Harvey Weinstein on a recalcitrant starlet. And as they say on those shampoo bottles, Republicans are more than happy to rinse and repeat.

It may be entirely self-indulgent, there are times when I lean back in my home office chair, close my eyes, and wistfully ruminate on what a former Treasurer Dan Rutherford or former State Senator Kirk Dillard gubernatorial administration might have meant to the State.

Sigh!

Republicans! Ya gotta learn, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him!

God, conservatives suck!

 

Eve of destruction part 2

To prove I’m a man without a country, I’ve been taking a bit of heat for Friday’s piece on the abrupt demise of DNAinfo, a hyper-local news experiment brought to New York, Chicago, LA, SF, and Washington courtesy of billionaire Joe Ricketts, the Cubs family patriarch.

In spite of the kind of hint that makes Blues Clues seem like a 400 level college course, when the New York office officially voted to unionize, Ricketts shut down the entire shebang just one week later.

And 116 journalists are out of journalism because those jobs don’t exist anymore.

bad-decisions-are-the-best-teachers-sachin-mittal-1

So, some folks called me heartless, others accused me of being anti-union and the Tribune’s Heidi Stevens and Eric Zorn waxed poetically about the untimely death of yet another Net news organization. Why, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio went as far as calling Ricketts “a coward.”

Goddamn Democrats!

First, if holding the folks who hold us to a higher standard to the same standard is “heartless,” then I’m thrilled to be guilty as charged.

Second, when Ricketts refused to negotiate with the Writer’s Guild back in February, what the fuck did those New Yorkers think would happen when they forced the issue? DNAinfo NEVER broke even, much less turned a profit, and even though Zorn briefly touched on it, when did Democrats start demanding corporate welfare as a God-given right?

It doesn’t seem to appear anywhere in the Constitution.

So, now I’m suddenly beginning to understand the absurd level of malice conservatives  harbor for your average liberal, who fervently believes no one should ever have to face the consequences for their bad decisions.

Not to mention that DNAinfo generally paid their people far more than new hires at the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, or the Daily Herald would ever get. To wit, the Daily Herald is offering employee buyouts to the tune of a paltry one week’s pay for each year of service. Ricketts is providing three month’s severance to all of those former DNA employees.

I know this was mainly the result of the 25 New Yorkers who voted to unionize, but the other 89 DNAinfoers had to have some sense that the light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t salvation, but an oncoming locomotive. Much like I lobbied that Joliet union to make the necessary concessions for the 2013 sale of the Sun-Times, perhaps they could’ve done their damndest to enlighten their brethren about the realities of a truly bad decision.

Then, to make matters so much worse, my conservative friends are patting me on the back for my “anti-union stance,” which annoys the shit out of me. My wife is union, two of my brothers are union, and I regularly work with unions to get good candidates elected.

There’s a time and place for union intervention, but it IS NOT at a company that’s being subsidized by a gentleman who generally believes that doing the right thing is more important than making money. As conservative as the Ricketts family is, instead of engineering Fox News Lite, Joe insisted that DNAinfo report the news with as little bias as possible.

And now he’s getting excoriated for shutting down a money pit that makes that fixer-upper situated on that old Indian burial ground look like a real bargain. I don’t know about you, but if someone was subsidizing my very existence, despite whatever imperfections they may have, I’d go with gratitude instead of rebellion.

Meanwhile, Stevens wrote about all sorts of GoFundMe campaigns designed to augment that three months of severance. Really? So now, in the face of folks facing real need, we’re rewarding some truly unconscionable and inexplicable decision making?

God, liberals suck!

Quick Hits – November 3, 2017

Stupid is as stupid does!

So suddenly DNAinfo is no more, and the moral of that story is, a bunch of overly entitled, smug, shortsighted and vainglorious (look it up!) journalists are no match for Joe Ricketts. Perhaps they shouldn’t have called his “bluff!”

For the uninitiated, DNAinfo was a hyperlocal news experiment founded in 2009 by billionaire Ricketts, the Cubs family patriarch, with offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Though I think it was a bad business model, they took a no-nonsense approach to local reporting by eschewing opinion, editorials, taking sides on issues, and political endorsements.DNABut make no mistake, the bottom line was (pun intended), the only reason this enterprise existed is because Joe Ricketts underwrote the whole thing. With Net ads bringing in less than 10 percent of their print counterparts, DNAinfo never came close to breaking even, much less making a profit.

Just like Illinois unions fervently felt they couldn’t let the Sun-Times die, Ricketts believed a truly independent news organization was critical to the municipal Democratic process. And he paid his people far more than they would’ve made at any newspaper.

But despite a clear understanding of this business dynamic, last April, the 27 blitheringly oblivious journalists in the New York office decided to bite the hand that fed them by joining the Writer’s Guild, an obsolete union if there ever was one.

When Ricketts made his displeasure abundantly clear by refusing to negotiate with the union, failing to consider that fencepost over the head hint, those chutzpah addled New Yorkers turned to the National Labor Relations Board who forced a formal vote. And when 25 of ‘em went all Norma Rae on him, the unamused Ricketts shut the whole thing down the following week.

And 115 journalists lost the kind of jobs that they’ll never see again because they don’t exist anymore.

Then, in a scene right out of a Monty Python movie, those suddenly former DNAinfo employees had the nerve to basically tweet “I can’t believe this happened,” which is more than ironic when you consider that journalists are supposed to have the capacity to understand cause and effect.

Of course, all the insipid anonymous commenters are calling out Ricketts for what they call a “dick move.” Really? I’m certainly no fan of the Rickett’s family brand of conservatism, but if the employees I’m paying out of my own pocket offered me that not so subtle fuck you, I’d send ‘em packing too!

I don’t think “hoist by their own petard” is nearly a strong enough sentiment here.

 

He had a bad day?

If you recall, Dominic Castelvechhi the adult member of the trio that firebombed my pickup truck in my driveway at 3 a.m. on an April 2016 Saturday morning, just got 15 days. The moral there is, when considering potential sentences, you’re far better off going on an arson spree than selling small amounts of pot.

After that absurd sentencing, his attorney, a real piece of work, said, “He’s not a bad kid. He had a bad event.” A “bad event?” A flat tire is a “bad event!” Throwing Molotov cocktails at two residences is a a bit more than a “bad event.” A black or Hispanic offender would’ve gotten at least two years.

castelvecchi mugshot

Castelvecchi’s lawyer delayed the proceedings for over a year-and-a-half so this worthless piece of bleep could get just sober enough to enroll in community college and get a minimum wage job. Then Judge David Kliment, not the brightest bulb in the 16th circuit pack, fell for it.

Ah! But as a result of that sentencing, a number of former classmates and friends reached out to explain the real Dominic Castelvecchi.

According to a former middle and Geneva High School classmate, “Dominic was one of the students that everyone knew did drugs.” Her theory is borne out by the fact that Castelvecchi was already serving supervision for drug paraphernalia in his locker when he assembled those Molotov cocktails.

They went on to say that Castelvechhi was frequently suspended for drug use, drinking and assaulting other students, going all the way back to seventh grade.

Another former classmate said, “I would frequently see him grabbing girls’ butts in the hallways, followed by them looking scared and quickly escaping with their friends.” Apparently he’d call them prostitutes in the process. The source added that those young women were so scared of Castelvechhi, they wouldn’t seek help from Geneva High School administrators.

But none of that came into play during his sentencing because a prosecutor told me that most judges won’t consider a juvenile record when faced with a first adult offense. It’s kind like shaking a virtual Etch-a-Sketch. Those youthful incidents are magically mitigated by sheer virtue of turning 18.

I’m gonna keep on saying it! There’s no justice in Kane County. So let’s see what the civil courts can do. I promise I’ll keep you posted.