Quick Hits – March 28, 2018

Go Ramblers – part 327!

I thought we’d start off with something positive because the rest of Quick Hits ain’t gonna be positive today.

To wit, as I roamed my Tri-Cities universe this morning, upon spotting my Loyola University sweatshirt, at least six separate people said something to the effect of “Go Ramblers!,” to which I replied, “Class of ’85!”

Ramblers Flag

Considering that folks typically wave at me with just one finger and/or explain just how much they “love” me and my prose, rallying around the Ramblers is a whole lot more fun.

In this beyond fractured country, it’s immensely heartening to see a small Chicago Jesuit college bring so many people together around a common theme. I know those good feelings won’t last forever – much less beyond March – but I’m certainly going to enjoy it while I can!

I’d encourage the rest of you to do the same. Go Ramblers!

 

No good deed…

…goes unpunished, especially if you work for Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

A number of sources recently reached out to tell me that anyone even remotely perceived to be a part of our groping prosecutor’s downfall is not faring too well at the KCSAO these days.

Since State’s Attorney Joe McMahon only pays attention to his next career move, the bulk of that retaliation is coming at the hands of Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman, who’s been quoted as repeatedly saying, “I’m really sad to see (sexually harassing prosecutor) go.”

Kane County Judicial Center

The Boy’s Club

This certainly comes as no surprise to me. Should you happen to come across Engerman prosecuting a felony defendant in the Judicial Center, I’d encourage you to ask him why he no longer toils for the DeKalb County State’s Attorney. You’ll find his answer quite fascinating.

Birds of a feather, right? A new source said that at least six staffers quit because of this prosecutor’s utterly objectionable behavior.

Meanwhile, I’m enmeshed in the process of appealing the KCSAO’s Freedom of Information Request denial, which, as you know, included 292 blank pages of complaints against our departed prosecutor. It’s what we journalists call a smoking gun.

That FOIA appeal process will take some time, but there are other far more expeditious means of acquiring those formal complaints. I promise I’ll keep you posted because this story isn’t nearly over.

It’s truly sad that you can’t walk into a Kane County felony courtroom and tell the good guys from the bad guys. Personally, I’d rather hang with the folks in the county jail, than have to deal with Joe McMahon or his minions – on any level.

 

This is total BS!

Just when I thought the Tribune and their satellite newspapers might have some minor redeeming qualities, they go out of their way to prove me wrong.

But before I continue, please allow me to point out that, not only did the FBI and ATF firmly believe I was the Unabomber for the better part of 20 years, but the Geneva Police have arrested me five times for four offenses – none of which led to any kind of conviction.

And the GPD continues their incessant harassment by slowly driving through my cul-de-sac multiple times a day (they didn’t bother to do that when my pickup truck was firebombed), encouraging neighborhood teenagers to come after my family, and trying to entrap me into another disorderly conduct charge.

Courier-News-Logo

Please don’t get me wrong, minorities have it far worse than I do, but I’m still waiting for that white privilege to kick in. My point is, I have more than enough reason to grind that law enforcement ax.

Please consider that as you read on.

If you’ve availed yourself of today’s (3/28) Elgin Courier-News Web version, the headline screams, “Elgin cop who fatally shot woman has been target of complaints but cleared of wrongdoing.” That’s a lot like saying “We think John Smith is a sexual predator, but we’re not sure.” Nobody is going to get past the first half of either sentence.

First, the officer hasn’t been a target of anything. Anyone can file a complaint against any officer for any reason – and the reporter who wrote that piece knows it – as does the editor who wrote that headline. That’s why body cameras are becoming so fashionable.

Second, if a former gang unit officer doesn’t get six complaints in 20 years in a city the size of Elgin, they’re probably not doing their job. And everyone at the Courier-News knows that one non-sustainable complaint every 3.3 years is NOT a story. But it didn’t stop them from running it, now did it!

This headline article was a hatchet job from start to finish. It has no redeeming or journalistic qualities whatsoever. This shoddy and sensationalized piece’s sole intent was to sell newspapers without any regard for the passions it will inevitably inflame.

A number of readers and friends have encouraged me to weigh in on the DeCynthia Clements shooting, but until and unless I can make the situation better – something I can’t do right now – I’m going to let the Illinois State Police do their job and complete the investigation.

And I want to compliment all sides of this sad Elgin story for letting cooler heads prevail. The truth will come out.

It’s too bad I can’t say the same thing for the Tribune, the Courier-News and this reporter. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

Quick Hits – March 26 2018

Pick up your signs!    

Trust me! I know how difficult it is to have to pick up your political placards after a loss. It’s no fun doing it in the current cold weather regardless.

My favorite sign retrieval effort was the one after Tao Martinez’ failed 2016 coroner campaign. Getting 4 x 4 signs out of the ground in a 40-mph wind is a fascinating proposition. I thought we were gonna get blown all the way to Kenosha.

Hartwell sign

But despite whatever a candidate might feel right now, you want to recover your yard signs because they aren’t cheap and you just might decide to give that office a second shot. Not only that, but most of the winners have general election opponents and they’ll need those signs in the fall.

Thankfully, most campaign teams have cleared the landscape. But we’re still waiting on:

  • Elizabeth Flood
  • Stan Bond
  • Tom Hartwell, and
  • Jeanne Ives

to collect their signs. Let’s hope they do it soon, because it reflects poorly on all candidates if they’re simply left to waste away.

 

You’re not the resistance

Look! Nothing makes me happier than seeing people get involved in the political process. I’ve been writing about that proposition for almost a dozen years now, so just thinking about the previous women’s march and all those young men and women protesting gun violence last week made me downright giddy.

Resist

The fastest route to political change is to aggravate women and young people as this batch of crazy conservative Republicans seem overly prone to doing. And every time a nitwit like Rick Santorum tells teenagers to stop marching and take CPR classes instead, it brings that old white male dominance downfall even closer to fruition.

We’ve done such a bang-up job, too!

But what drives me crazy (not that it’s a very long trip) are those raised fist “resist” or “join the resistance” signs.

Donald Trump was duly elected by a majority of those Electoral College delegates. He didn’t stage a coup, mount some sort of invasion, or steal the election. This isn’t 1944 France where the Maquis squared off against a brutal German occupation.

Had young and minority voters – especially Hispanics – managed to make it to the polls in 2016, Donald Trump would be mothing more than a distant and distasteful afterthought. It’s sad that it’s taken Trump to finally motive progressives to truly take on their Tea Party counterparts.

So, rather than hoisting a “resistance” sign, how about exhibiting one that simply says “Vote!,” because in this great country, that’s the only thing that’s ever changed anything.

Don’t believe me? Democrats have won special elections in Alabama, Virginia and Pennsylvania districts, all of which went big for Trump. Right here in our own Kane County back yard, for the first time ever, a Democratic primary nominee – Ron Hain for Sheriff – received 1,181 more votes that his Republican incumbent opponent.

But even though that vaunted 2018 “blue wave” appears as if it will actually become reality, the only way it happens is if you get your ample butt off the couch and drag it to a polling place in early November.

Resist? C’mon! It’s utterly unnecessary. All you have to do in America is make your voice heard!

 

Kane County Republicans better be looking over their shoulders

It’s not like I haven’t said it before! For Kane County children 10 and under, Caucasians are the minority. In fact, if it weren’t for our Hispanic brothers and sisters, much like it is in Japan, our population would be in a steep decline.

Now, add a 2018 KC primary in which a contentious GOP gubernatorial race and a lackluster Democratic counterpart still saw more Dems vote than Republicans, and the balance of party power is shifting in a very large way.

November 6 is going to be a VERY interesting day!

 

Does Loyola have a fight song?

Despite walking those hallowed halls for 2.5 years, I have no clue, so perhaps I’ll simply come up with a Ramblers Haiku!

Smothering defense

And an unselfish offense

Means Final Four fame

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Ramblers dispatched the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday while barely breaking a sweat. After three wins by a combined four-point total, it was quite gratifying to see them blow out the competition.

Loyola wins

Mark my so-far-prescient words, the Loyola Ramblers will make short work of the Michigan Wolverines on their way to yet more March Madness glory. All I can say is, this is even better than the Cubs winning it all!

Quick Hits – March 23, 2018

How the heck did she do it?

Y’all know I get a little obsessive when I can’t figure something out. Because no matter what it involves, once you understand their basic motivation, human beings tend to flow along an entirely predictable path.

I call it the Columbo effect, as in how Peter Falk’s Lieutenant Frank Columbo always solved the murder by following an inexorable trail of logic.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out how Illinois 14th Congressional District Democratic Nominee, Lauren Underwood, made utter mincemeat out of six contenders by getting more votes than the rest of that absurdly large field combined.

Underwood

On the surface, her campaign seemed amateurish at best:

  1. There was one far too early mailer that was average.
  2. Her almost unreadable yard signs were the worst I’ve ever seen.
  3. Her signs went up way too late.
  4. Her campaign strategy appeared to consist of meet and greets and coffees which works well if you’re running for alderman, but not Congress.
  5. Her campaign motto was an absurdly long 25 words.
  6. There wasn’t the kind of buzz about her that would indicate that kind of massive victory.

What’s even more bizarre is, in the same 2016 race, Jim Walz bested John Hosta 43 to 27 percent. Given that name recognition advantage, those numbers should’ve improved this round, not tank! Walz plummeted to just 9.8 percent and Hosta posted a dismal 5.1 percent of the vote.

Those abysmal finishes should’ve been statistically impossible, but I’m lookin’ right at the numbers right now.

So, how did Underwood do it? I’ve asked a bunch of erudite political prognosticators and their answers varied:

  1. She received quite of bit of national press.
  2. Newspaper endorsements helped her out.
  3. Having worked for Hilary Clinton, she relied on her voter email lists.
  4. Her team ran a top-notch ground game.
  5. Her opponents were just that bad!

Number three makes some sense, and there is something to be said for number five. But unless it’s scandalous, national press rarely matters in a local congressional race. I saw absolutely no evidence of a competent ground game and newspaper endorsements are meaningless unless the candidate correctly applies them.

So, I will be reaching out to Ms. Underwood and/or her campaign manager next week to determine why my prediction was so far off. I hope I learn something new!

 

Delnor is a terrible neighbor!

Hospital in Geneva, that is.

When we moved behind that facility in 2000, we knew there’d be some noise and some expansion work, but we had no idea we were signing on to the kind of eternal construction project that would make St. Charles’ Cliff McIlvaine look sane by comparison.

delnor

To wit, there’s been continuous work since we moved here, and now those fine hospital folks are proposing a massive $40 million operating room overhaul that will run from 2018 to 2021. I can hardly wait!

Thankfully, the most recent work has been on the east side of the main building, which blocks the noise, but Delnor’s greatest hits include:

1. Starting construction at 5:30 a.m. so often – including weekends – that the late great Geneva code enforcer, Chuck Lencioni, threatened to shut the work down if there was just one construction worker on site before 7 a.m.

2. The failure to perform regular maintenance on their HVAC system meant the belts in the roof vents elicited the kind of banshee shriek that made it impossible to sleep. It took 2 weeks to get them to take care of that.

3. Despite begging them to have Allied Waste come just a little later, they insist on having their garbage removed between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. every bleepin’ week. You’d think the backup beeps would be the fun part, but you haven’t lived until you hear them bang 5 separate dumpsters against the rig to be sure they’re empty.

4. Having their own electrical substation installed so poorly that the power in Fisher Farms went out as much 10 times in two weeks. Then we had an outage at least once a week after that. Thankfully, that problem appears to be fixed.

5. It hasn’t happened in a while, but there were times when the medical helicopters buzzed our house so closely that shit fell off our shelves.

6. They haven’t done this lately, either, but testing their massive backup generator at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning is also a barrel of fun!

Despite the hospital changing hands twice in the last 17 years, they really don’t give a flying bleep about their neighbors in Fisher Farms or Pepper Valley. Individual staff members have been great, but the administration knows they’ll get their way with Geneva regardless of what they do.

It may be more futile than spitting into the wind, but perhaps I’ll attend the impending May 12 Geneva Planning Commission meeting to have my say on this topic. I can’t tell you how nice it would be to have just one Delnor construction-free summer. We’ll see if I’m willing to waste that much of my time.

 

Go Ramblers!

The Elite Eight? Not even international media darling and 98 year-old Rambler team chaplain Sister Jean Delores-Schmidt had Loyola advancing this far in what truly has become March Madness on the Rogers Park shores of Lake Michigan.

Ramblers Flag

My Ramblers flag proudly flies!

And to win three elimination games by a combined four points is the very definition of the word “pluck!” The Ramblers are playing the kind of defense and unselfish offense that means they can beat any team in the tournament.

So, once again, you know exactly where I’ll be tomorrow (3/24) evening at 5:09 p.m. as the Loyola Ramblers beat the Kansas State Wildcats to move on to the Final Four. All I can say is, watching the Ramblers has been the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in quite some time!

Quick Hits – Primary 2018 Recap

Perhaps I’m losing my touch in my old age, or perhaps running a campaign and helping a couple of other candidates makes it much more difficult to pay attention to all the variables, but even though my pre-election predictions were generally accurate, I certainly didn’t do as well as I usually do.

Election 2018

So, let’s review class:

1. Governor

Absolutely no surprises there, though I was one of the few folks who said Ives would get at least 47 percent of the vote (she got 48.5 percent). It will be a fascinating battle of the billionaires, with both Pritzker and Rauner out for blood through November. Considering the heavy Democratic primary turnout and the “blue wave” we’ve seen in Alabama, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Pritzker will be our next governor.

2. Attorney General

I truly thought Fairley would do better than 12.5 percent, and I’m shocked that failed governor Pat Quinn managed to get 27.5 percent. But in the end, Kwame Raoul squeaked by with just 30.3 percent of the vote. He will demolish Republican Erika Harold in the general.

3. 14th Congress

This one is a real shocker. Not only did Democrat Lauren Underwood win, she received more votes than her six opponents COMBINED. Either Ms. Underwood’s team knows something I don’t know or all that national press truly paid off.

What I don’t understand is how the voters utterly abandoned Jim Walz, the 2016 Dem nominee, to the tune of just 9.8 percent of the vote. Given a Mulligan, I’d make the same call, because that kind of abject defeat should have been a statistical impossibility. The good news is, Underwood will finally put GOP incumbent Randy Hultgren out of our misery.

4. Kane County Sheriff

Though I called this one correctly, I’m semi-shocked that, despite his Delnor and blown budget baggage, incumbent Republican Don Kramer beat challenger Kevin Tindall with 59 percent of the vote.

On the Dem side, Ron Hain beat Willie Mayes with 57 percent of the voters giving him the nod. In what might be a Kane County first, Hain got 1,200 more primary votes than Kramer did. So, I’m going to go all Broadway Joe on you and guarantee a Hain general election win.

5. Kane County Clerk

It’s called the power of the incumbency for a reason. Without even lifting a finger, Jack Cunningham won a fourth term with a whopping 62 percent of the vote. He faces Democrat Nico Jimenez in the general who won’t be much of a challenge.

6. Kane County Board

I was mostly on target here with:

  • Deb Allen
  • Monica Silva
  • Myrna Molina, and
  • Barb Wojnicki

all retaining their seats. Wojnicki does have a Democratic opponent in Lucas Strom, but since it doesn’t get any more Republican than Campton Hills, this one’s a done deal.

Perennial candidate Mo Iqbal easily held off two challengers in the 19th district, but Republican incumbent Kurt Kojzarek will beat him without breaking a sweat in November.

With just three votes separating them, we’ll have to wait on the absentee ballots to determine whether the 3rd District goes to incumbent Don Ishmael or challenger Anita Lewis.

I was one of the few people to correctly call Tom Koppie as T. R. Smith’s 9th district successor. Opponent Connie Von Keudell’s chronic comportment problems have not made her many friends.

But what nearly had me running around Batavia naked last night was watching Steve Weber destroy three-term 13th district county board member Phil Lewis by 64 to 36 percent. I would not have survived another four years of that man.

I don’t want to brag (well, actually I do!), but I did provide some very interesting statistical observations to both Ms. Silva and Mr. Weber and they won big. Of course, they had to work their butts off to execute the plan, but despite what the great Mark Twain said – properly applied statistics work – better than even I imagined!

7. 16th Circuit Judge

Aside from correctly predicting the GOP side would fall into recount territory and the eminently arrogant Judge David Kliment would come in dead last, I didn’t get much right here!

Word is, Kliment is saying he’ll run again and the good news is, he’ll lose even bigger next time.

In a clear case of there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Mike Noland walloped Lark Cowart on the Democratic side. But he’s facing the kind of ethics complaint that may put an end to his general election hopes before he even gets started.

How anyone can still vote for that poor excuse for a human being is completely beyond me.

Meanwhile, depending upon where you look, it appears that Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell topped Judge Elizabeth Flood by a scant 50 votes. Any outstanding absentee ballots won’t make a difference and a recount won’t change anything, either.

Though I’d weakened on my Flood wins prediction earlier in the week, in yet another major campaign faux pas, she clearly paid no attention to Aurora who put Hartwell over the top. If you want to study a campaign in which a sure winner simply gave it away, this is the one.

Considering that general judicial arrogance, I’m betting Flood will call for a discovery recount. Of course, given his Elgin roots, Hartwell will destroy Noland in the General.

8. Fox River Countryside Fire Protection District

Though it was far closer than anyone anticipated – it failed by 1 percent or 49 votes – when you consider the service cuts they’ve threatened to impose, it’s time for the State to step in and finally dissolve that failed district.

 

If anybody has any thoughts on Underwood, or anything else we just discussed, I’m all ears!

Quick Hits – March 19, 2018

As election day rapidly approaches, Quick Hits may well live up to its name today because, as you might imagine, I’m kinda tired. But let’s see how far we get!

The way it should be!

By now, most of you know I’m running Ron Hain’s Kane County Sheriff campaign and he’s the best candidate I’ve ever worked with. But more than that, I have to say it’s been gratifying to be a part of a race in which the three challengers – Ron, Willie Mayes and Kevin Tindall – have all acquitted themselves quite well.

The best evidence of my hypothesis is, after the Elgin Gail Borden Library forum, the three candidates and I ended up laughing and joking in the back of the room about how knees were not God’s best work.

Elgin Forum

And trust me, that’s not the kind of thing that generally happens with 1.5 weeks left in an often-exhausting campaign, but I have to give these three gentlemen credit for not taking any stupid BS personally because, as the sane among us know, there is life after election day.

Of course, I hope you vote(d) for Ron, but these are three good men and that post-forum conversation will likely become one of my favorite campaign memories.

 

Weakening on Flood

Last Friday, I predicted Elizabeth Flood would semi-squeak by Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell in that hard-fought Republican Kane County judicial race. I’m not sure I’m ready to reverse that call quite yet, but having received two reasonably effective Hartwell mailers last week – and none from Flood – I’m starting to have some doubts.

Flood

Just when I think Flood’s got the campaign process down, she makes a major mistake or a major omission, and in this kind of the-most-impressions-matter contest, the failure to get a mailer out just before early voting starts in earnest (two weeks before election day) could cost her the race.

I still say Flood wins because she’s done a reasonably good job of getting the word and she has at least two top notch people helping her out behind the scenes, but when the smoke clears, this one may fall into recount territory.

 

Go Royals!

As I’ve been extolling the vast virtue of my Loyola Ramblers, one of my favorite readers pointed out that I’ve been remiss in regards to Elgin’s Lark Royals boys basketball team, who finished fourth in the Illinois State Class 4A finals.

Image result for larkin royals basketball

Like I said about those state champion Geneva girls Vikings, any time you make it to the finals you’re doing alright! So, here’s to all those Larkin players, coaches and fans who have acquitted themselves quite well!

You make Elgin proud!

 

Go Ramblers!

Aside from putting myself on the heart transplant list last Saturday, watching the Loyola Ramblers win tournament games on last second shots has been the most fun I’ve had with clothes on in quite some time!

The whole 98 year-old Sister Jean team chaplain thing is kind of fun, but despite her regular proclamations, God does not take sides at sporting events. She’s far too busy contending with far more important things.

Image result for loyola ramblers tennessee volunteers

So, while some folks are surmising that divine intervention is responsible for Loyola making it to the Sweet Sixteen, I firmly believe it’s a smothering defense with one of the most incredibly balanced offensive efforts I’ve ever seen.

Even Chicago sportswriters are finally catching on to coach Porter Moser’s capacity to get the team to play as a team. From someone who’s read every word of Tex Ritter’s book on the Triangle Offense, it’s beyond fun to watch basketball being played exactly as it should be played.

Thirty-six assists on 38 field goals in two games? That’s the definition of unselfish sportsmanship!

The only thing I’d add is that the Ramblers give up on offensive rebounds too soon and, if a team presses them out to mid-court like the Volunteers did, they need to use their quickness to drive inside and create 15 foot shot opportunities.

Mark my words! Loyola will beat Nevada on Thursday and then it’s on to the Elite Eight. When did life get so good?

Quick Hits – March 16, 2018

Say no to Geneva

With early voting in full swing, I many be a little late weighing in on this one, but that won’t stop me from encouraging my fellow Genevans to vote “No” on the Geneva sales tax increase ballot measure. It’s only a .5 percent increase, but just like offering an alcoholic a pint of Guinness, it will simply enable the City’s spending addiction.

The best proof of what I say is, while Mayor Kevin Burns is consistently crying poor, they’re hiring an assistant city manager to the tune of a quarter of a million tax dollars. Aside from Aurora and Elgin, both more than four times our size, no other Kane County Municipality has a dedicated assistant city manager.

And we don’t need one, either.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s private city employee army, who are never held accountable for anything, enjoys the kind of absurd benefits that you and I can only dream of. Put more simply, there’s so much fat in the Geneva budget we could use the fiscal equivalent of lap band surgery.

I love Geneva’s argument, too! “We have to come in line with St. Charles and Batavia sales tax.” But what you never hear is, “Neither St. Charles nor Batavia have an assistant city manager so we should probably stay in line with them.”

Breaking an addiction always requires a little tough love, so please send a message to the alderman and city administrators by voting “No” on any Geneva tax or fee hike referendum.

 

It’s prediction time!

1. Governor

J. B. Pritzker, already having spent almost $70 million of his own money, will handily prevail over rivals Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy, who ran two of the worst campaigns in modern history. It’s certainly sad that after spending all that cash, Pritzker is basically tied with “undecided” at 33 percent. But with Biss and Kennedy tied at about 15 percent each, it would take a truly wild statistical break to put either one of them over the top.

On the other side, despite his absurd mailers and commercials, Bruce Rauner will beat Jeanne Ives, but not by very much. I’m predicting she’ll get about 47 percent of the vote.

2. Attorney General

Sharon Fairley will make her way out of that crowded field and she will beat Erika Harold in November.

3. 14th District Congress

Jim Walz, a tireless campaign worker and the previous Democratic nominee, will easily dispatch his six primary opponents, most of whom couldn’t win even if they had Pritkzer money. Lauren Underwood is clearly the best candidate, but she’s campaigning as if it were a city council race and she hasn’t been able to rise above the field. Illinois Congressional Democrats really need to get their act together if they want to take those Republican seats. What’s the point in running when you can’t possibly win?

ELECTION-2018

4. Kane County Sheriff

Though I do have a horse in this race, Ron Hain will beat Willie Mayes on the Democratic side, and, since my three favorite Kane County Republicans believe Don Kramer will squeak by Kevin Tindall, I’ll go with their hypothesis.

5. Kane County Clerk

Though he really should retire, despite making absolutely no campaign effort, Jack Cunningham will beat challenger Stan Bond.

6. Kane County Board

Despite the Chairman’s intervention, all of the incumbents will keep their seats. I don’t think I can take four more years of Phil Lewis.

7. 16 Circuit Judge

Elizabeth Flood, who’s run a shockingly competent campaign for a sitting judge will squeak by Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell with David Kliment coming in dead last.

On the Democratic side, Lark Cowart will upset former State Senator Michael Noland who’s looking at disbarment for blatantly violating the Illinois judicial canon of ethics. One can only hope that loss relegates Noland to the political obscurity he so richly deserves.

8. Fox River and Countryside Fire Protection District

Like the others before it, that referendum will go down by a 2 to 1 margin forcing the failed fire district to finally be disbanded.

9. Aurora Election Commission

Because so many Aurora Democrats believe that Republicans are behind the move to eliminate the commission, they will survive.

 

Go maroon and gold!

If you did not watch the Loyola Ramblers – Miami Hurricanes NCAA basketball game yesterday afternoon, you missed one for the ages. An improbable steal in the final minute, a missed Hurricane free throw, and a running line drive 3-pointer by Donte Ingram with .3 seconds left sealed the deal.

I screamed so loud as that final shot went through the net, my older son ran into my home office to see what was wrong.

So, you know exactly where I’ll be tomorrow (at 5:10 p.m. as the Ramblers beat the Tennessee Volunteers to move into the Sweet Sixteen. Viva la March Madness!

Quick Hits – March 14, 2018

Rauner and Ives continue their dance to the bottom

Bruce! Nobody but nobody is buyin’ your “Jeanne Ives is Mike Madigan’s favorite Republican” BS TV ads – not even your most strident supporters. And to take two of her Tribune endorsement comments so completely out of context is beneath even you, sir.

Rauner Ives

First, in no way does Jeanne Ives “support” the Madigan state income tax hike. She said she wouldn’t repeal it right away because she understands that pulling that fiscal rug out from under us would do even more damage to Illinois’ already dismal bond rating.

Unlike you Bruce, Ive’s doesn’t believe in “governing by crisis.”  She understands all sorts of financial reforms have to be installed before we can even start thinking about cutting taxes.

Second, when Ives told the Tribune, “I don’t think that’s any way to deal with the powerful Speaker of the House – Mike Madigan,” she wasn’t “supporting” him! She was accurately noting that name calling and creating an artificial budget crisis would not pull Illinois back from the fiscal abyss, much less serve the people of the state.

Though no Democratic gubernatorial candidate is setting my soul on fire, I can’t wait to see whatever nominee put Bruce Rauner out of our misery.

 

Isn’t this exactly what we’re trying to teach them?

The irony of some school administrators threatening to discipline students for participating in today’s national walkout to protest gun violence certainly isn’t lost on me. Their hypothesis is it “isn’t safe” for students to leave their classrooms during the course of the day.

GHS Walkout

Geneva High School participates in the National Walkout

Haven’t they noticed that it ain’t exactly safe for them to be in those classrooms these days, either?

But not all is lost dear reader! Mundelein High School spokesperson Ron Girard was dead on when he said, “We don’t see a reason to discipline students for engaging in a learning activity.”

C’mon! Instead of using their cell phones and social media to send questionable photographs, high school children have organized a nationwide effort to rein in gun violence, something adults seem incapable of doing.

Don’t we want our children to think for the themselves? Don’t we want them to question authority? Don’t we want them to, on occasion, take a stand for a noble cause?

All I can say is, carry on my young friends! Unreasonable conservatives are shaking in their shoes.

 

Give the truth a chance

Regardless of the final verdict, there will be no winners in the recent fatal Elgin Police shooting of  DeCynthia Clements. It’s a truly sad situation for all parties involved.

But while we await that final word, I want to applaud Elgin’s black community for their measured response to this tragedy, and EPD Chief Jeff Swoboda and the department for facing the challenge head on.

elgin water

A new Illinois law requires an independent investigation whenever an officer uses deadly force, and that’s exactly what the Illinois State Police are doing as we speak. Armed with multiple body camera video footage, the truth will come out.

The problem is, the State Police don’t do anything quickly, so this is one going to take some time and patience. Let’s continue to give these investigators a chance to do their job.

 

Go Ramblers!

The last time the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team made the NCAA finals was way back in 1985, the year I graduated from that hallowed institution. Though it took 33 years for history to finally repeat itself, this exciting turn of events brought back some rather fond memories.

You see, the bulk of that 1985 team was in two of my classes and they clustered around my desk in both, making me feel very, very short. We won’t go into exactly why they all sat beside me – let’s just say I did my small part to keep that team on the court.

Ramblers

The cool thing was, for Division I star athletes, Alfredrick “The Great” Hughes, Andre Moore, Andre Battle, Carl Golston and Nate Brooks were all incredibly nice to a scrawny 6-foot, 150 lb. Caucasian senior, who loves basketball.

Having had the opportunity to regularly discuss the most recent game with those gentlemen is, by far, my favorite college memory.

So, you better believe I’ll be glued to the Television set tomorrow at 2:10 p.m. when the Ramblers take on the Miami Hurricanes. Go maroon and gold!

Quick Hits – Never Say Never!

Help I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone
The place is a madhouse, feels like being cloned
My beacon’s been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go, now that I’ve gone too far

I haven’t done that in awhile! Remember when I regularly prefaced my Beacon-News columns with the appropriate song lyrics? This certainly seems to be the time to revive that practice.

Because if any of y’all told me, just a scant decade ago, I’d be arguing for reasonable gun control alongside State Senator Jim Oberweis on his Facebook page, I would’ve dismissed you as utterly insane and beyond any kind of help, whatsoever.

But last weekend, that’s exactly what happened, and I’m not sure I’ll ever completely recover. In the words of those great philosophers, Romeo Void, “Never say never!”

Yes! Our own Illinois 25th District State Senator, Jim Oberweis, is co-sponsor of House Bill 1465 which raises the assault gun purchase age to 21. As the likely-to-pass bill stands now, anyone under 21 would have 90 days to divest themselves of such weapons once it’s signed into law.

Jim Oberweis

Jim said he’ll endeavor to modify it so current underage assault rifle owners can keep their weapon. He’s also in favor of House Bill 1457, which bans bump stocks.

But despite the eminently reasonable nature of HB1465, all the Second Amendment loons are going completely nuts over his support of what truly is a very mild measure. So, let’s “shoot” down their arguments one by one!

First, yes! I own a gun and I really enjoy taking it out to the range every now and then. I was trained to shoot by my late Navy Seal father, and though I wouldn’t call myself a marksman, I’ve done alright with a hunting rifle, a Mini 14, a .44 magnum, a 20-gauge shotgun, and my current Glock.

Second, HB1457 doesn’t go nearly far enough, because nobody needs to own an assault rifle – a weapon whose sole intent is to kill people. They should be banned entirely.

“But Jeff, the Second Amendment is absolute!”

No, it’s not! I can’t remember the last time I saw an armored car or an M108A7 self-propelled gun in someone’s driveway, so there are plenty of limitations on “bearing arms.”

And if anyone’s perused the text of that Amendment lately, it opens with, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” So, when you show me your “well-regulated militia paperwork” you can have your AR-15.

In addition to that, back in 1776 when the Constitution was signed, your average minuteman could purchase the same, or a better musket, than the British regulars carried.

Finally, the Supreme Court may have overturned Washington D. C.’s 2008 gun ban, but they were clear that municipalities, states and the federal government have every right to reasonably regulate gun sales and ownership.

I’ll say it again! The Second Amendment is far from absolute.

“But Jeff we have to be ready to strike back against the tyranny of the government!”

Some of y’all have been watching too many black and white movies. When this government comes to get you, an incredibly unlikely occurrence, your pistol – or even your AR-15 – won’t help you. If you’re lucky, you might just hear the cruise missile a second before it hits.

It won’t help when the M1 Abrams tank runs right through your living room, either. I suppose you could try to bat away the cluster bombs or shoot down that drone, but I wouldn’t count on it.

“But Jeff! Guerilla movements like the American Revolution, Viet Nam, and Afghanistan all succeeded against vast military might.”

Not so fast buckaroo!

As previously mentioned, the colonists were armed almost as well as the Redcoats, and those rogue Americans would never have beaten the British had not the French intervened on a number of levels. That included Lafayette and Casimir Pulaski turning that well-regulated militia into a real army.

Similarly, the Viet Cong would’ve gotten nowhere without all the arms and training supplied by the Soviets and Chinese. As it is with most proxy wars, the U.S. fought with one arm tied behind their back for a corrupt regime that didn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the Mujahidin were getting their butts kicked until the U.S. sent them shoulder mounted Stinger missiles. That forced Russian ground support aircraft to fly above 8,000 feet rendering them utterly ineffective.

So, that argument ain’t gonna fly, either.

“But Jeff! If you can’t purchase an assault rifle until you’re 21, shouldn’t we raise the military enlistment and voting age to 21?”

Yes! We should.

Considering what happened in 2016, I really don’t want most of y’all voting anymore, much less folks one-third my age. And we shouldn’t be sending teenagers off to fight in proxy wars, ever!

 

The irony is, all of you absolutist Second Amendment supporters are just fine with trying to regulate women’s bodies, installing a state sponsored religion, and forbidding certain  marriages, all of which are patently unconstitutional. Not that that’s hypocritical or anything.

The bottom line is, sentiment is rapidly shifting away from the NRA. And if they and their supporters don’t offer reasonable compromise, unreasonable compromise will be thrust upon them. Though I’m thrilled to see how Senator Oberweis has evolved, the bill he co-sponsored is literally the least we can do.

Think about it my overzealous Second Amendment friends! You have a vast propensity to be wrong. I’m still waiting for Barack Obama to come and take away my gun.

 

 

Quick Hits – Mike Noland never met a lie he didn’t like

The Noland mailer hits!

Though it wasn’t as bad as my source said it was gonna be, it’s still nothing more than a series of blatant lies – something at which our former failed State Senator excels.

noland

Despite being well aware of her stellar curriculum vitae, the piece comparing his “record” to 16th Circuit judicial opponent Lark Cowart’s conveniently leaves out large swaths of her experience. So, lets’ set the record straight:

1. Voting record

Noland claims Cowart only voted in 2016 and she pulled a GOP primary ballot when she did. The truth is, Lark regularly votes and she regularly votes Democratic. It’s just that her voting record has yet to catch up with her marriage and the ensuing move.

And Noland knows this because Cowart handed him her complete voting record at a candidate forum. This particular lie will earn him a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint for purposely distorting a judicial candidate’s record.

 

2. Democratic contributor and supporter

Noland claims he “consistently helped get local Democrats get elected,” which is a fascinating contention considering he can barely get himself elected, losing six separate elections. Most local candidates avoid any connection with Noland because they don’t want to lose either.

The Democratic Party has divorced Noland to the point where Dem primary sheriff opponents, Ron Hain and Willie Mayes, are both passing out Cowart’s campaign literature. In all my years of covering local politics I’ve never seen that kind of thing happen.

Meanwhile, Cowart told Noland she’s worked on Democratic causes and campaigns all of her life, but he chose to omit that. I tried to get Lark to run as a Republican judge to have a better shot, and she flatly refused.

 

3. Professional experience

This one’s hilarious!

Noland cites being an assistant Kane County public defender when he was fired from that job for incompetence. As one of my favorite PD’s told me, that’s a very difficult feat to accomplish.

Yes! Noland was a state senator who served on the criminal law committee, but he left Springfield because he was generally reviled by his Democratic peers while he managed to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Then he claims to be a “successful attorney at law – private practice” which made me laugh out loud.

Please note that attorney Noland has no Internet reviews because he has no clients! The reason he sued Springfield for back pay after making a big deal about forgoing that salary is he can’t make a living as an attorney.

Despite Cowart handing Noland her resume, he only listed “Assistant Prosecutor for Republican State’s Attorney.” He also failed to mention he worked for a Republican Public Defender.

Lark’s background includes:

  • 14 years a Kane County Juvenile Prosecutor – a very difficult job
  • Worked for a team of Cook County felony judges to gain judicial experience
  • Served as an appellate court law clerk to gain judicial experience
  • Worked as a mediator

On the other hand, Mike Noland has never successfully practiced law in any courtroom anywhere. And he wants to be a judge? Yeah! Because he’s salivating at the thought of that 200k annual salary

 

4. Military service

In a rare ethical lapse, Noland didn’t lie about this one. He actually did serve in the Navy. He also received the National Defense Medal which servicemen receive for simply breathing. He listed no other medals.

Lark attempted to enlist in all four military branches but was turned down because of shoulder surgery at 18.

 

5. Education

Noland listed his undergrad, graduate and JD experience, but there’s no mention of honors because he generally finished at the bottom of his class.

Meanwhile, Lark:

  • Double majored in three years with honors while being on the swimming team
  • Earned a masters degree in dispute resolution with honors
  • Graduated from law school a semester early with honors

 

The bottom line is, Michael Noland damn well knew he was lying on that mailer and he didn’t care. But this time, the Judicial Inquiry Board is going to have something to say about it. This is NOT the kind of man we want wearing the black dress.

Please pull a Democratic primary ballot and vote for the only Kane County judicial candidate worth voting for – Lark Cowart!

Quick Hits – March 9, 2018

I’ll pay you to vote for Steve Weber

Apparently undaunted by last Friday’s Quick Hits, Kane County 13th District County Board member Phil Lewis continues to try to top himself in the “what insane idea can I come up with next” competition he’s playing against himself.

Trying to vote “no” on a presentation is gonna be kinda tough to beat, but Phil really is giving it his best shot.

This time, not only does he want to greatly increase building permit fees, but he just proposed eliminating the non-profit discount for schools, churches and social service agencies. You see, he wants them to foot the bill restore the temporarily defunct Kane County criminal defendant GPS monitoring system.

If you recall, in an attempt to avoid the 3.6 percent budget cuts requested of all Kane County departments, Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles and Court Services Director Lisa Aust played GPS chicken with the County Board and lost. Now Lewis wants to save them from themselves on the backs of entities who can least afford it.

Furthermore, Phil wants to jack those building fees up by a factor of three or four because, in his words, “Kane County is a destination location and, just like it is with country clubs, developers should have to buy in.”

There simply aren’t enough walls in my house on which to bang my head. Talk about someone doomed to repeat history out of ignorance of it!

Before the Great Recession, Sugar Grove became so enamored of themselves they increased builder impact fees to heretofore unforeseen heights. As a result, developers simply built elsewhere. Now, even with a modest real estate recovery, they avoid Sugar Grove like the plague.

weber 2

Steve Weber

Not only that, but at last night’s Batavia candidates’ forum, Lewis declared, while most county board members are swearing off the ridiculous benefits and pension, he will continue to avail himself of both those perks.

Full time benefits for a very part-time job? Right!

Please! I beg you! As a card carrying member of 13th County Board District, please vote for Steve Weber and put Phil Lewis out of our misery.

 

 

And speaking of trying to top himself…

Just when you thought former Elgin State Senator and current Kane County Judicial candidate Michael Noland couldn’t top:

  • Getting thrown out of a Carpentersville polling place by the police
  • Suing Springfield for back pay after making a big deal out of forgoing that pay
  • Getting caught plagiarizing a JFK speech on the Senator floor
  • Getting stopped for speeding while driving on a no-insurance citation
  • Getting caught stealing his opponent’s yard signs red-handed on video
  • And then there’s all those other wom…, well, you know…

he’s trying to do just that!

Noland

About an hour ago, an impeccable source told me his team has, or will send a mailer tying his Democratic primary opponent, Lark Cowart, to Donald Trump and Governor Bruce Rauner.

Not only is that a patently absurd contention, but it’s a blatant violation of the Illinois Judicial Canon of Ethics, which explicitly states you CANNOT issue ad hominem attacks against your electoral opponent(s). And the consequence for that kind of bad behavior is disbarment!

The fact that the mailer might be sent under the auspices of a “third party” will not shield Mr. Noland from the Judicial Inquiry Board’s wrath, either.

The canon also states that judicial candidates CANNOT engage in any kind of fundraising activities, whatsoever. They must appoint a fundraising chairman to do that. Ah! But word is, Mike’s been reaching out to the usual suspects himself, which is another big JIB no-no.

So, Mike! If that mailer does fly, the same team I’ve put together to remove Judge John Dalton from the bench will apply their vast talent in seeing that the only way you ever darken a courtroom doorway is as a defendant.

The irony, of course, is that Noland is the only person I’ve met who’s actually worse than Donald Trump in every regard.

Lark 2

Lark Cowart

Please pull a Democratic primary ballot and vote for Lark Cowart for 16th Circuit judge. She’s been protecting our children as a prosecutor for 14 years and she can do even more as judge.

 

In for a penny…

Did I say I don’t do endorsements anymore? The best laid plans of mice and men, right?

So, while we’re at it, might I humbly suggest Sharon Fairley for Attorney General. She’s managed to pull off the Tribune, Sun-Times, and State Journal Register endorsements in an absurd field of eight Democratic primary hopefuls.

Image result for sharon fairley

The Trib gave her the nod on the basis of her service as chief administrator to Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability and general counsel for the City’s Inspector General’s office. Both are tough gigs that Fairley has handled incredibly well.

In another race, Lauren Underwood has the kind of impressive resume that’s gotten her written up in Time Magazine as well as the Tribune and Daily Herald endorsements. She’s running in a field of six candidates for our 14th District Congressman.

Underwood

Her campaign may be one of the worst I’ve ever seen, but Underwood is the only hopeful capable of beating Randy Hultgren, who really has to go. You can learn more about Lauren right here!