Friday, February 27, 2009
Lake County Journals Honors Congressman Mark Kirk and Sheriff Mark Curran, Jr. with ForeFronts Award
Yesterday at a breakfast in Grayslake, the Lake County Journals held its annual ForeFronts Awards ceremony, which "celebrates the 10 most influential folks of the Lake County area and what they have done to contribute to the energy and the progress in the Lake County area," according to Editor Jill McDermott. The awards recognize 10 individuals who have worked to make the Lake County community "the best it can be."
Two Lake County Republicans were honored: First, Mark Curran, Jr., who was elected sheriff of Lake County in 2006, after practicing law for 15 years. He has worked to streamline the operations at the sheriff's office and made national headlines for spending a week in the Lake County Jail to investigate firsthand living conditions of the prisoners.
Always humble, Curran said, "I don't expect to get awards, I just try to do the right thing, and when you get one it feels nice."
Incidentially, Curran worked as an assistant state's attorney under State's Attorney Michael Waller, who was a ForeFronts award receipient in 2005.
The second GOP honoree was our own 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk. Kirk "has built a reputation as somebody who fights for what he believes in, no matter what his political affiliation," the presenter said. [TA's Note: hey, was that an indirect slam on Republicans? Just asking.] Among his many accomplishments, Congressman Kirk was noted for working to clean up Lake Michigan and keep the North Chicago veterans hopspial open. Kirk was in Washington with a full agenda, so staffer Aaron Winters accepted the award on his behalf.
It's good to have something nice to talk about with our political leaders for a change.
Now it's back to reality [sigh] while I read the morning papers and see what goofiness Roland Burris and the Blagojevich Democrats are up to.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
From the AP:
State Republicans sought Madigan's opinion, issued late Wednesday night, which came as controversy swirls around Sen. Roland Burris' appointment. Voters are scheduled to pick Obama's successor in a February 2010 primary and November 2010 general election. But the state GOP wants a May 26 election -- effectively kicking Burris out of he doesn't win. Neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Illinois Constitution would prohibit moving up the election, Madigan said. "Indeed, a law providing the people of Illinois with an opportunity to elect a U.S. Senator would be entirely consistent with the purpose and the text of the 17th Amendment," Madigan said. "That amendment announces a clear preference for selecting U.S. Senators by direct popular election."
Is Madigan helping to clear the way for Burris to be booted in time for the regular 2010 election and erase any taint of Blago and/or having to run against an African-American and tick off part of the Dem base?
From Hillbuzz, the interesting theory...
Maybe the Madigans are actually gearing up for Lisa to head to the Senate, and losing the seat to [Congressman Mark] Kirk in a special election is the only way to do that. Because black leaders in Chicago (and nationally) are putting continued pressure to keep a black Senator in Obama’s seat (which was Carol Mosley Braun’s old seat from 1992-1998, before it went to Republican Peter Fitzgerald from 1998-2004), Madigan would not politically be able to win the Democratic primary in 2010 to take the seat from Burris (as wails of racism will most surely great any white candidate who tries to “take” the lone black seat in the Senate).
But, just imagine if Burris loses the seat to Republican Mark Kirk in 2009, after at least one other black candidate is encourage to challenge Burris for a primary fight to keep that seat. Conventional wisdom in Chicago is that either Congressman Danny Davis, Illinois secretary of state Jesse White, or Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. would try to run in the special election, and we believe would ultimately lose to Kirk, if any of them managed to take the nomination away from Burris.
So, it would be KIRK, not Lisa Madigan who “took the Senate seat” away from the black community. And Lisa Madigan would then be free to run in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat in 2010, without having to suffer the same pressure from the black community she’d face if the seat wasn’t already in the hands of a white Republican man.
Hmm, that's worth noodling this morning. Conventional wisdom is that Lisa wants to be Guv, but with Pat Quinn being an anti-Blagojevich and apparently largely escaping criticism for being an enabler during Blago's tenure (although many have pointed out Quinn's support of Blago in 2006), perhaps the Governor's mansion option isn't looking as good as it once did.
Hillbuzz gets a little off track in suggesting that former Senator Peter Fitgerald is primed for a political comeback in Illinois, but otherwise this is all food for thought...
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
"I told him that under the circumstances, I would resign," fellow Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Burris. " He said, 'I'm not going to resign.'" "I can't force him," Durbin added. AP Story.
Why would Durbin even say this if he didn't know if Burris would listen to him? Does he think that after all this, calling on Burris to resign is going to exculpate his responsibility for this debacle, which is second only to the Illinois General Assembly for not taking the appointment power away from former Governor Blagojevich months ago?
Monday, February 23, 2009
You decide- is Burris just another career lying Chicago politician that has now been abandoned by all of the other career lying Chicago politicians, or just a sad old man who didn't have enough time to put together an effective PR team to deal with all of the purely circumstantial issues that snowballed into the political nightmare we are all watching?
MEANWHILE... Over at Illinois Review, they are pushing Peter Roskam for consideration as the best GOP candidate should Burris resign now, or live to fight it out in 2010. As we've said before here, we like Roskam, we just think Mark Kirk would have more appeal statewide. Some point to the failed candidacies of Judy Baar Topinka, Christine Radogno and Dr. Steve Sauerberg as proof that a moderate GOP candidate can't win statewide. We suggest that it's not the issue of moderate or conservative so much as simply having the right candidate.
Let's hope that however this plays out, that the GOP comes away stronger from the process of determining a candidate, rather than weaker.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Dems Resist GOP Call for Special Election; Can We Not Afford Democracy? (UPDATED: Quinn Supports a Special)
Original Post: Have you had enough yet? Between the Tribune, Sun-Times, Washington Post and other major media sources, plus politicians on both sides of the aisle (many more Republicans than Democrats, as you might expect) calling for the resignation of Senator Roland Burris, in the wake of the Blago arrest and impeachment, you would think the Democratic leadership in Illinois would finally get the message: end this, and put the senate seat to the vote of the people in a special election.
Well, it's clear the Democratic leaders of this state, are still not ready to let their iron grip on power slip by putting this up to a vote. The demands of the people may be becoming irresistible, however. Yesterday, Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) introduced legislation (SB 285) to ensure that all future vacancies are filled by a special election, and to hold a one-time special election to fill Burris' seat.
The Dems are still resisting, claiming the price tag is still too high (where have we heard that before) and that booting Burris would cause a protracted legal battle. Well, not if you yo-yo's convince him to quit.
So, I guess Blago has managed to run this state so far into the ground, we can no longer afford Democracy?
This morning the Tribune turns up the heat significantly, calling out the Dem leadership and asking them to demand that Roland Burris resign. The Tribune even throws President Obama into the mix. Oh my, is Obama finally getting muddied up with Illinois politics? Who woulda thunk that would ever happen?
The Tribune doesn't quite get it right, at the end, however. The Tribune says:
Folks, the people of Illinois, the people of this country, are watching and waiting. They saw each of you on national television during the Blagojevich fiasco. Now you're ringside at the Burris fiasco. The longer you tolerate this, the more you own it.
Wrongo, Trib. The Dems created this mess, step by step.
They already own it.
And we need to take the state back from them.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
As we all know, prior demands for a special election fell on deaf ears and were ignored, as soon as the original call for such a special election from the likes of Senator Dick Durbin were withdrawn as soon as the Dem leadership realized they might be in serious danger of losing the seat. That led to paralysis, which led to Blago making the appointment, and the rest is history (although the history appears to be unfolding right before our eyes). The Chicago Tribune in a Friday editorial calls for Governor Quinn and the state legislature to revise the law to provide for a special election. Will it happen? And if so, who will be the likely contenders for the spot?
(re)Enter Mark Kirk.
Once again, Kirk's name is making the top of the list of likely contenders on the GOP side, and the Dems on the local and national levels are UNhappy. Once again, there seems to be a rift among the leading Democrats as to whether their party can risk an actual, fair race decided by the people at this point. And, once again, Pat Quinn seems to be in the middle of this and may make the deciding call as to whether the people of Illinois finally get a say in this mess, or if the Democrats continue to circle the wagons and shoot down anyone who tries to thwart them.
Will Kirk get a shot at a special election bid, aided by Schakowski, who is apparently willing to risk losing if it means she gets a shot at winning? The line on this issue changes by the hour, so stay tuned, campers.
Kirk's chances against a severely battle-damaged Burris seem to improve every day, and its not clear at all whether the super-sized ego of our new senator would allow him to voluntarily step aside. The best hope for the Dems to avoid having Burris as the nominee in 2010 is to pressure Burris into quitting, although an appointment "up" to some other position isn't out of the question. More drastic action taken by the U.S. Senate itself to remove Burris seems a distant possibility at this point, and will no doubt take a while to sort out. Meanwhile, other Dem contenders like State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Congresswoman Jan Schakowski wait impatiently in the wings praying that Burris will exit one way or another. Both potential candidates are no doubt desperately hoping that they can win the Democratic nomination without a bloody primary battle that would risk alienating the African-American portion of the Democratic base for the general. A primary battle against Burris would also probably neuter the considerable influence that President Barack Obama might inject into the race, perhaps for both the primary and the general elections.
Who's to say what may happen in the next few days or weeks, but it's clear that many interested folks will be watching these unfolding events very, very closely.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
"Fatal Wound" to Roland Burris Not Necessarily Good News for GOP in 2010; Is This Alexi's Opening? (UPDATED)
Interestingly, some Dem sources are already throwing Burris under the bus, with one comparing him to Alberto Gonzales, if you can believe that.
"If it turns out this was some sort of attempt to avoid this coming out as part of the appointment process, then he doesn't deserve to be senator," Radogno said. "I think the whole thing stinks to high heaven."
Saturday, February 14, 2009
No, it's not about former Governor Rod Blagojevich and the years of corruption, pay-to-play and running this State's finances into a $9 billion hole.
It's not about her fellow State Senator Terry Link and his petition scandals, which recently resulted in one of his campaign workers pleading guilty to perjury, with the trial of the other worker on the way.
And it's not even about the Democratic candidates for Lake County Board who were called out for making baseless allegations of corruption and sweetheart tax deals on their campaign literature, and who were bankrolled by Garrett's other colleague in the state senate, Michael Bond.
No, it's actually about a vitally important race to the citizens of Illinois: the re-election of Shields Township Clerk David Barkhausen. Garrett's ethical eagle eye (which has apparently been fairly myopic up until now) has noted that Barkhausen owes some campaign fines to the Illinois State Board of Elections (due to late filing of some pre-election documents between 2001-2004), to the tune of around $1200, says Garrett. Garrett wants County Clerk Willard Helander to remove Barkhausen from the ballot (it should be noted that there is no law that requires Helander to take any action in response to Garrett's complaint).
"It's a matter of ethics. Do we just let these things go?" asked Garrett.
TA's take on this: thank goodness Senator Garrett is right on top of ethical issues to protect the integrity of the ballot here in Illinois. I'm not sure what took her so long, but I feel much better that Senator Garrett has now undertaken the mantle of ethical watchdog for the North Shore. I'm sure we can expect her to quickly organize an ethical task force that is going to get to the root of such issues as Link's petition scandals and the Lake County Board campaign materials scandal.
Good thing Senator Garrett didn't wait to find her ethical principles until the State was mired in corruption and it was too late to save us all... um... well, you folks figure that out for yourselves.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Time to Resign: Lake County Democrats Unable to Substantiate Campaign Allegations Against Incumbent Board Members
Well, the Dems might have just thought this was acceptable "smear" politics, as seems to be business as usual down in Chicago. But, thankfully, Lake County is not Chicago (not yet) and the Lake County Board members took this allegation seriously, and had it investigated.
Oh, my, say the Dems! Who would have ever thought that someone would actually make us back up our campaign claims! No one is supposed to have to do that. We simply sling mud out there and see what sticks, without regard to the truth.
Well, not this time, folks. The County Board Chairman, Suzi Schmidt, asked Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller to investigate. According to Waller:
"We asked those County Board members to provide us with facts and detailed information to corroborate their allegations," Waller wrote. "Christopher Kennedy, an attorney representing the four County Board candidates we contacted, responded on their behalf. He advised us that the four candidates we contacted had no factual information or evidence to substantiate their allegations."
As noted in an article in the News-Sun this morning, the candidates whose literature included those claims were Davita Siegel of Buffalo Grove, Peter Grant of Antioch, Melinda Bush of Grayslake and Terry Wilke of Round Lake Beach.
Of the four Dem candidates, two won: Bush beat GOP incumbent Larry Leafblad of Highland Lake, and Wilke beat GOP incumbent Bob Powers of Round Lake Beach.
Bush and Wilke should immediately resign. You can't be elected on a lie and expect to have the respect and trust of the people you govern. Of course, that's not going to happen. Even Round Lake Mayor Bill Gentes didn't drop out of the 26th District State Senate race when he was caught dead to rights in a lie over his employment situation. Luckily, in that race, the right candidate, Dan Duffy, won.
For the County Board, alas, it looks like we're stuck with a couple of liars.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Quietly, very quietly, Obama has decided to move responsibility for the next U.S. Census (you know, that exercise every ten years that tells us how many congressmen each state is entitled to, and how federal dollars can be allocated for many programs) from the U.S. Commerce Department to... yep... the White House. And who's going to be in charge of this formerly non-partisan government responsibility... yes, that most partisan of partisans... Rahm Emanuel.
Why is the politicizing of the census function taking such a high priority with the Obama administration that it is being done in the first three weeks? How about worrying about Iran or North Korea?
Thankfully, GOP congressmen from Utah are trying to blow the whistle on this scheme before it's too late. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told FOX News on Monday that "This is nothing more than a political land grab."
The Fox News article that first alerted me to this issue also had this:
"The last thing the census needs is for any hard-bitten partisan (either a Karl Rove or a Rahm Emanuel) to manipulate these critical numbers. Many federal funding formulas depend on them, as well as the whole fabric of federal and state representation. Partisans have a natural impulse to tilt the playing field in their favor, and this has to be resisted," Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told FOX News in an e-mail.
"I've always remembered what Joseph Stalin said: 'Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.' The same principle applies to the census. Since one or the other party will always be in power at the time of the census, it is vital that the out-of-power party at least be able to observe the process to make sure it isn't being stacked in favor of the party in power. This will be difficult for the GOP since I suspect Democrats will control both houses of Congress for the entire Obama first term," Sabato said.
What prompted this move by Obama? Most likely he or some in his administration may have had second thoughts about Obama's appointment of a Republican senator, Judd Gregg, to the post of Commerce Secretary. As noted in the Fox News article:
Critics note that the method of counting can skew the census. Democrats have long advocated using mathematical estimates, a practice known as "sampling," to count urban residents and immigrants. Republicans say the Constitution requires a physical head count, which entails going door-to-door.
Gregg, the new GOP appointee, is against 'sampling'. Curious, there was not talk of moving the census responsibility when New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (a Dem) was to be in charge of Commerce... But now, this change is a top priority of the Obama administration?
Dear Leader takes control, comrades. Welcome to Amerika.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Happy weekend, folks, we made it.
Well, it's a welcome respite from the cold weather here on the North Shore, but apparently it's not going to last all that long. Winter ain't over yet, folks.
In any event, I was trying to decide if the big news of the morning was the apparent compromise in the U.S. Senate over the "spendulus" bill, or a funny story in the Tribune about pranksters from Texas to Indiana that have decided to start hacking into those roadside electronic construction signs and reprogram them to actually give some helpful warnings, such as "CAUTION: Zombies Ahead".
Getting back to the serious stuff, here's a great piece in the Wall Street Journal that does a good job of explaining in very simple terms why President Obama's apparent belief that any government spending is a 'stimulus' is dead wrong:
Speaking to a House Democratic retreat on Thursday night, Mr. Obama took on those critics. "So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? (Laughter and applause.) That's the whole point. No, seriously. (Laughter.) That's the point. (Applause.)"
So there it is: Mr. Obama is now endorsing a sort of reductionist Keynesianism that argues that any government spending is an economic stimulus. This is so manifestly false that we doubt Mr. Obama really believes it. He has to know that it matters what the government spends the money on, as well as how it is financed. A dollar doled out in jobless benefits may well be spent by the worker who receives it. That $1 of spending will count as economic activity and add to GDP.
But that same dollar can't be conjured out of thin air. The government has to take that dollar away from someone else -- either in higher taxes, or by issuing new debt in the form of a bond. The person who is taxed or buys the bond will have $1 less to spend. If the beneficiary of that $1 spends it on something less productive than the taxed American or the lender would have, then the net impact on growth will be negative.
So, is any government spending a good thing, no matter how untargeted, or how pork-laden it is? Clearly not. As we have said many times here before, government doesn't create jobs, the private sector creates jobs. There's just too little of that in this bill for my taste. Of course, our friend Ellen of the Tenth thinks that there's not enough bloat in the proposal.
This whole situation bears some uncanny resemblance to what I remember happened just after 9/11, when everyone was so concerned about further attacks on U.S. soil that Homeland Security was given tons of money to spend on security measures whether or not many of them were actually needed, or wise expenditures. But the government tends to be reactionary, and is often too concerned that by acting in a more measured, calculating way, it will be accused of doing too little, too late. But, we should remember never to confuse motion with progress.
Given overblown and bloated government spending (mostly on non-job creating social programs) and zombies, I'll take the zombies.
Friday, February 6, 2009
As noted in the Daily Herald this morning, Dan outraised his opponent, Round Lake Beach Mayor Bill Gentes by $638,000 to $157,000. A large chunk of that came from the Illinois State Republicans who were bound and determined not to let retiring Senator Bill Peterson's seat fall into Dem hands. On the other hand, early on, Gentes was favored by the Dem machine and seen as the guy who could do it. So, if anyone tells you that Gentes was a lay-down, don't believe it. The credit for winning this race belongs to Dan and his team, who spent hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours doing voter identification and other grassroots activities that made sure that by election day, Dan knew exactly where he was.
Dan knew he was going to win even before Gentes self-destructed by being caught in a lie about getting fired from his job. But that's not to say Dan had a big head. Far from it. Rather, it's a testament to the power of knowledge, voter identification and a well-organized GOTV effort. Running the table with the newspaper endorsements also helped. They tend to know a winner when they see one.
Dan, Keith Gray, and others like them are the bright young future of the GOP. Nicely done.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
UPDATED 02/05/09: The News-sun has an article this morning. Kryczka cites personal reasons for pulling out the of race:
Kryczka said he could not afford to continue the race. He had missed too much time from work and he did not want to put his company in jeopardy in this bad economy. He had promised to self-finance his campaign and not take contributions.
The Daily Herald had only a minor note, here. As much as I like the Herald, I'm just a bit concerned about a double standard here. If it was a Republican caught up in this scandal and quit the race under these circumstances, I think the media (and not just the Herald) would be relentless in covering this story and would not be nearly so circumspect in connecting the dots.
Seriously- does anyone really believe Kryczka's lame explanation? The race barely gets off the ground, and the time commitment all of a sudden took you by surprise? Oh, and it's right after you're accused of forgery? Coincidence, coincidence, I'm sure.
Note to candidates: Once your petitions are in, if you don't want to work hard at the campaign, you don't. Maybe you'll win, and maybe you'll lose. But you are the master of your own destiny.
Well, I don't think Kryczka's pulling out of the race will have much effect on the State's Attorney's investigation. Forgery is forgery, so we'll see what comes out of this. All I can say is that the Dems need to take a class in either ethical petition circulation (with Terry Link sitting in the front row, taking notes), or they better improve their forgery skills, and stop copying names out of the phone book or obits.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Look for more of these features here soon on some of the best and brightest of the new crop of GOP leaders, such as Dan Duffy, Dan Sugrue, Tim Stratton, and others.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The story for today, however, is that more allegedly falsified names and dead folks have appeared on the nominating petitions of yet another Lake County Democrat; this time, it's Antioch Township Assessor candidate Eugene Kryczka. As reported by the News-Sun, incumbent Antioch Township Assessor Heather Kufalk-Marotta noticed the names of several people she knew to be deceased, along with numerous signatures that she felt were obviously fake. She has turned the evidence over to the Lake County State's Attorney.
TA heard about this over the weekend, and understands that State Senator Michael Bond is the prime force behind Kryczka's candidacy, as he continues his behind-the-scenes political empire building in Lake County. For anyone who wasn't aware, Bond was very evident in the last round of elections as the force behind many of the county board challengers (and fairly nasty about it to boot, TA hears). Bond reads from the same playbook as his political godfather, Terry Link, which is basically to build up political capital by helping lower-level politicians into office that he thinks will be beholden to him in the future.
TA also hears that the alleged attempts at fabricating the signatures were not even done as well as they were done in Link's case. Sad, sad, sad.
The article did not mention if the State Appellate Prosecutor has already cleared Terry Link of any wrongdoing, but if we're lucky, he won't get the case and Michael Waller will investigate.