Monday, July 28, 2008

Lake County Radio Personalities Debate Pros and Cons of a Constitutional Convention

On Tuesday evening, July 29, Lake County citizens will be treated to what promises to be a heated debate regarding the pros and cons of an Illinois constitutional convention (commonly known as a "con-con"). The event will be held at Austin’s Saloon & Eatery on Peterson Road in Libertyville. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the program running from 6 - 8 p.m. A cash bar will be available, with free pizza after the debate during a "Meet & Greet and Straw Poll." The debate will also feature an open mike Q&A portion, and the whole thing will be simulcast on WKRS Radio, AM 1220. You can download the event flyer here.

The debate will be between WKRS radio personalities Al Salvi and Bruno Behrend, with Salvi taking the NO! position and Behrend taking the YES! position. The two men share the 10-11:45 am time slot on WKRS, with Behrend on Mondays & Fridays and Salvi on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

For those of you who are wondering what a con-con is, and why you should care, the program PR states as follows:

Should there be a Constitutional Convention?

Few Illinois citizens are aware that the most important vote they can cast this coming November is whether or not Illinois will hold a Constitutional Convention. This is a once in a 20-year opportunity for Illinois citizens to amend, or completely rewrite, the ground rules between citizens and their government.

How Will a Convention Work?

If 60% of the people vote “yes” on the question of whether to have a convention, the next session of the legislature will provide for the election of 2 delegates from each Senate District, (118) along with the funding and the location of the Convention. Once convened, any changes approved by delegates are then presented to the voters for ratification.

The program is jointly sponsored by the Lake County Republican Central Committee, the Republican Assembly of Lake County, WKRS and Austin's.

Admission is free!

Keith Gray Says Vote Your Brain, Not Your Political Party (UPDATED x2)

Busy morning, but I wanted to pass along a pithy Letter to the Editor that was published in this morning's Lake County News-Sun from GOP 30th Senate Candidate Keith Gray. Not word yet on how Keith did in the Lake County Fair's Demolition Derby, but I'll find out today.

BTW, the word on the street is that State Senator Terry Link is more than a little concerned about how this race is shaping up, as Keith Gray seems to be "everywhere" (according to reliable sources close to Link).

Vote Your Brain

A recent "Talk of the County' titled "Brain drain" illustrates the frustration nearly everyone feels regarding the lack of innovative ideas and effective leadership in our government at all levels.

The writer correctly points out the same issues that have me upset enough to put my life on hold to run for state Senate: High taxes going higher, mounting debt, education performance and funding issues, along with poorly maintained roads and bridges.

The only difference I have with the author is that they assign blame to "Republicans (who) have been in office for eight years..." Each issue listed is dealt with on a state level which is dominated by Democrats.

As poorly as President Bush's approval rating is (about 23 percent), that of the Democratic-controlled Congress is even lower (18 percent). Notable is that our governor, who's been protected by our state senator from allowing citizens to vote on a recall, would love to have these approval ratings since his hovers around 13 percent.

What do all of the individuals who are part of the current leadership have in common? Aside from dismal performance, they are all career politicians who worry more about power and being re-elected than about doing what is right for the people that they are supposed to serve.

This is unacceptable. Like the writer, I strongly encourage voters to stop voting your party and start voting your brain.

Look at the people running for office and decide if they align with what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution, or are they opportunists who have learned to work the system in order to be re-elected or for reasons beyond doing what is best for their community? Look at the records of these people and try to determine if they embrace a society where hard work and innovation are rewarded, or if success is taxed so that elected officials have money and therefore more control.

We live in the greatest country on earth made up overwhelmingly of good people whom I have great faith. Citizens need to educate themselves on the issues and look past party when voting.

Keith Gray

30th Senate District Candidate


UPDATED: Keith Gray sent me the following e-mail regarding the demolition race yesterday:

Regarding the Derby....we started in the fourth spot and finished third. In the small car feature, where all the small cars 'engage' until only one is running, only three cars were going when my entire steering system failed, allowing me to only go forward and backward in a straight line. Happy that my passenger and I had not taken too many hard hits, we shut the car down....with the engine and trans still strong. I gave the car away to another competitor who wants to enter it in the upcoming McHenry County Demo Derby...

UPDATED x2: here's a few pix from the Demo Derby, courtesy of the Gray campaign. First is a shot of the GrayMobile in action, and one after defeat, being helped off the field of battle by a front-loader. But just wait 'till next year!...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

30th State Senate Candidate Keith Gray's Drive to "Demolish Politicians"

Waukegan businessman Keith Gray is taking an innovative approach to spread his message that we need to "demolish" politics as usual in the state of Illinois. Specifically, he's entered into Sunday's traditional demolishion derby at the Lake County Fair with a special car designed to highlight his crusade against political corruption and mismanagement.

Gray is the GOP nominee for the diverse 30th Senate District, which runs from Waukegan in the north all the way down to the northern end of Wheeling in the south, and also includes all or parts of the towns of North Chicago, Park City, Green Oaks, Mettawa, Lincolnshire, Vernon Hills, Gurnee, Lake Forest, Buffalo Grove, and Riverwoods. Gray seeks to unseat current State Senator and Lake County Democratic Party Chairman Terry Link, who is currently under a cloud of scandal concerning allegations of petition fraud.

“I’ve raced in the derby seven times, but this year it’s different,” Gray said. “I’m in the middle of my campaign for state senate, and I saw an opportunity to utilize my derby racing tradition to spread the message that I’m not doing this as a career politician or to gain political clout. I’m a normal guy who is sick of being taken advantage of by the Illinois political machine.”

The car, a 1990 Volvo 240 DL station wagon, is owned by Gray’s company, Integrated Lakes Management, and is painted blue and yellow and emblazoned with the words “Demolish Politicians…Vote for Keith Gray, State Senate.”

“Usually I paint the car with a theme for kids, like Blue’s Clues or Barney, so they have something to watch during the race,” Gray said. “But this year the theme is for everyone. It’s for the working people of this district who are being taxed to death by politicians continuing to take more and more from citizens who worked hard to earn those dollars.”

The Demolition Derby, promoted by Dark Horse Racing, is scheduled to begin at 12 noon Sunday at 50 S Route 45 in Grayslake, with the pit opening before the race at 7:00 a.m.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Vote for President of the World: Barack Obama (UPDATED)

Barack Obama let Europeans know he has their backs as he spoke in Germany yesterday. "Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world," he said.

As usual, Obama was in his element, with a well-rehearsed speech and an audience of a couple hundred thousand people, none of whom had the opportunity to ask him any questions about his positions or what his soaring rhetoric actually meant.

Not everyone was fooled, even in Germany.

The AP reports that:

In Die Welt, the German publication, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., wrote: "No one knows which Obama will show. Will it be the ideological, left-wing Democratic primary candidate who vowed to 'end' the war rather than win it, or the Democratic nominee who dismisses the progressing coalition victory as a 'distraction'? Will it be the American populist who has told supporters in the United States that he will demand more from our allies in Europe and get it, or the liberal internationalist hell-bent on being liked in Europe's salons?"

"People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time," Obama said. Great. If you want to run for president of the world, stay in Europe, buddy. I bet you'll win in a landslide.

Frankly, I've never said Obama was not a smart guy. Maybe he could even become Secretary-General of the U.N. and actually turn that laughable and corrupt body into a positive force for good on the planet. Such a role seems much more akin to where Obama's heart really seems to lie--not with the interests of Americans, but bringing everyone on the planet together in love and peace and harmony. There's nothing wrong with that, and I'm not saying it's not a laudable goal. But it's not the top priority of the President of the United States.

UPDATED: I'm not the only one who feels this way about our "citizen of the world." Check out this post over at Illinois Review by Mark Rhoads.

In particular I was struck by this porition of Rhoads' essay:

I hope I am wrong, but I have the impression that Sen. Obama has called himself a "citizen of the world" to imply to others that he will not be just an American leader, but a leader who owes his allegiance to a global constituency rather than only or primarily to the voters of America. If true, that definition of "citizen of the world" could not be compatible with the presidential oath of office. (TA's italics)

The gist of Sen. Obama's Berlin speech was about how marvelous the biography of Barack Obama is, how marvelous it was that Berlin survived the blockade of 1948 and the Berlin Wall, and that Barack Obama favors cooperation among nations whereas by Implication President Bush, Sen. McCain and those unfeeling Republicans are against cooperation and want America to go it alone. This narrative is getting tiresome but it is one that many Left Wing Democrats apparently believe for in their calculations of world security, something called "cooperation" for the greater good is the solution to everything and trumps individual liberty and the rule of law.

Right on, Mr. Rhoads.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN LAKE COUNTY: If you want the polar opposite of Obama's speech to win the hearts and minds of voters in Europe, check out the Lake County Fair, where grassroots politics in the truest sense was on display from both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP booth, as usual, had the prime spot in the Exhibition Building, and traffic was steady all night. A number of our candidates were pressing the flesh, including State Senate Candidate Keith Gray, State Rep. Candiate Dan Sugrue, and Coroner candidate Dr. Mike Oster. The GOP booth was organized by County Board Member Bob Powers.

The Dem booth was smaller but still represented. I did note that their 'welcome' banner touted the name of State Senator Terry Link, who is the Dem Chairman for Lake County. I wonder if they may have reason to be scrubbing references to Terry Link and their party sometime soon...

In any event, enjoy some pix from the GOP booth at the Fair:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

House Race Hotline to Dan Seals: Get a Job! (UPDATED)

Get a Job, Dan.

For those of you who didn't get to see the House Race Hotline yesterday, here's a reprint:

'06 nominee Dan Seals' (D) camp responded 7/21 to "recent suggestions" by Rep. Mark Kirk (R) that he should "get a job and stop living off his donors."

Kirk, in a campaign memo last week: "After losing his bid for Congress, Seals did no return to GE Finance and was unemployed. Near the end of the 2006 campaign, Seals paid himself $25,000 out of his campaign donor funds - an act that is legal but strongly discouraging to May, Seals filed his 2008 financial disclosure to the U.S. House showing only $3,300 in earned income through the first quarter of the year."

The Seals campaign claimed that Kirk was resorting "to demeaning and untruthful smears" "reminiscent" of "slash-and-burn" ex-WH guru Karl Rove.

The Seals camp, in a memo: "Mark Kirk entirely overlooks the fact that Dan Seals has worked as a business consultant and lecturer at Northwestern since 2006 and that Seals' wife serves in a senior level corporate position. So the question is, what does Mark Kirk find so objectionable that the Seals family, like many families in the 10th district have two two working parents?" (Murray, Roll Call, 7/22).

Just so we're all on the same page, the House Race Hotline is the most-watched daily political reporting on House races used by the national parties and political pundits. After hearing arguments from both sides, House Race Hotline's title, "Get a Job," suggests the Kirk camp is winning the argument in the eyes of America's top political analysts.

Why? Because, as they say, you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

If Dan has been a business consultant since 2006, why did he pay himself $25,000 from his campaign fund? Why can't he ever seem to name any of his clients? If he's so successful at business consulting, how come he only reported making $3,300 in 2008? These questions end with easy answers – Dan Seals lied to Roll Call and TA has the evidence to prove it.

In his response to accusations of chronic unemployment, the Pup told Roll Call that he's been a lecturer at Northwestern since 2006. But as loyal TA readers will remember, we debunked that myth six months ago. You may recall it became a big issue for him in the Democratic primary.

And has Seals really been a business consultant since 2006? Perhaps, if it's a codeword for unemployed (like "writer," "artist" or "traveler"), as he must have started in November after he lost the 2006 election to Congressman Kirk and did not return to his former job at GE. The funny thing is, we have no record of a single client who has ever used Seals' consulting services. In fact, his primary opponent asked him what he did for a living during their joint appearance before the Chicago Tribune in December – and he could not name a single client.

More interesting is that Dan seems to have left out of his memo to Roll Call any mention of his brief stint at As we reported last October, Seals left unemployment briefly in the middle of his primary campaign to hide his inability to find employment. More coverage on ThePoint can be found here and here. Suddenly, Seals was no longer with ThePoint, as we also reported in December (another report here).

Did the Pup think he could just send out a memo filled with bull***t and no one would notice?

Seals' thin resume is becoming an issue for him, as it becomes more and more apparent that his only qualification for running for Congress is, well... he's run for Congress! I recall a LTE in support of Seals I read recently that touted his experience in teaching English (high school level) overseas. Lordy, if that's the best credential Seals supporters can cite to, Seals may well wish to de-emphasize his resume on the campaign trail as much as possible. Even better, this same letter contended that Seals had "deep, meaningful relationships and experience from his time in the business community." What a load of malarkey. Here's another codeword translation: "Deep meaningful relationships" = he's got no specific accomplishments to talk about.

Well, Dan, when this ridiculousness is over for you in November, maybe there's a job waiting for you at ThePoint.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Well, the Blue Blogs are out in force this morning, all going nuts over the Seals "job" issue. Of course, none of them acnowledge the fact that Seals lied to Roll Call, and that he's not been a professor at NU "since 2006". But, hey, what are facts to the Dems?

Sadly, in typical Dem fashion, they have already brought out the "race" charge against Kirk over at the anti-Semitic DailyKos, apparently due to Kirk's arrogance in pointing out these issues. As we've said here before, the Dems' knee-jerk play of the 'race card' in response to any criticism of a Dem candidate who happens to be a minority simply serves to dilute the claim when REAL racism occurs. Ever hear of the "boy who cried wolf"? Apparently, at DailyKos, they have not.

ALSO- the so-called "independent" candidate, Alan Stevo (a Ron Paul supporter) is off the ballot in the 10th. That sure didn't take long. He got only 7,000 signatures, when the required number is 10,285. Can't this guy count?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apollo 13's Capt. James Lovell Endorses John McCain in Lake Forest; 30th Senate Update

This afternoon, Captain James A. Lovell of the famed Apollo 13 space mission announced his endorsement of Senator John McCain, a Navy vet, for President at a press conference held at Lovell's Restaurant in Lake Forest. Medal of Honor recipient Al Lynch also spoke, and the event was attended by a host of local and state-wide veterans. See the video from Channel 5 here. Over 75 people attended the event.

UPDATE: The Lake County News-Sun has an
article with a few good quotes:

"John McCain and I both know what it's like to be in challenging situations that require sound
judgment and experience, and I firmly believe he clearly possesses the sound judgment and experience to lead this great nation forward," Lovell said. "John McCain is a man that has always put his country first. He is proud to honor and support his fellow soldiers and now it is our opportunity to honor and support him. I am proud to give him my endorsement, and will do what I can to ensure he is victorious in November."

30th SENATE UPDATE: GOP State Senate Candidate Keith Gray Reports Strong Fundraising for Start of Campaign; Opponent Terry Link’s Disclosures Lack Detail of Expenditures

State Senate District 30 Republican candidate Keith Gray kicked off his challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Terry Link by reporting strong fundraising numbers for the first half of 2008, while at the same time, Gray raised serious questions as to the completeness and veracity of his opponent’s disclosures.

Gray reported $21,800 in itemized, individual contributions, bringing his total cash on hand to $47,000, which is within striking distance of Link’s own cash balance of about $77,000.

“I think we did great for being a brand-new campaign, with a fresh message and face to bring to the people of the 30th Senate District,” Gray said. “We’re only going to get stronger as this campaign progresses and the voters begin to hear our message.”

Meanwhile, Gray’s opponent failed to specifically list $46,896.71 in campaign transactions, which effectively hides the payout from Link’s campaign fund. Under state law, any campaign transaction over $150 must be itemized.

“Terry Link’s latest filing with the Illinois State Board of Elections is part of a continuing pattern of questionable ethics,” Gray said. “It appears that Senator Link does not want to be held accountable to laws that govern our elections. If $47,000 in expenditures were legitimately not itemized because they were expenditures less than $150, that totals 300 different transactions in that amount. Given how campaigns conduct their business, that simply doesn’t seem likely.”

Gray challenged Link to immediately file an amended report with the State Board of Elections in order to “show the public through bank records exactly what his campaign committee has been up to.”

Friday, July 18, 2008

Barack Obama's Iraq Position: Whatever It Takes (That Particular Day)- UPDATED WITH SOME COMIC RELIEF

Happy Friday, everyone- enjoy the weekend and I'll leave you with this: watch the video below (h/t America's Integrity Blog) and then tell me that Barack Obama hasn't flipped back and forth so many times on Iraq he ought to join the Jesse White Tumblers.

UPDATED: If that video put you in a bad mood, check out the much funnier video posted over at the new Experimentium Crucis Blog by blogger Lone Wolf. It's a funny (but also scary) view of how things might turn out under a president Obama.

State Rep. Eddie Washington Thinks Terry Link's Out of Touch On Need for Towing Law in Lake County

Regular TA readers know that we have been following the Lake County News-Sun's extensive coverage of State Senator Terry Link's questionable involvement in the failure of the new Illinois Commercial Safety Towing Act to apply to Lake County, even though it applies to just about every other Chicagoland county, including Cook.

We originally reported on this issue here, but noted that the News-Sun had failed to connect the dots and notice that Terry Link coincidentally has been the beneficiary of large contributions over the years from the very Lake County towing companies that somehow escaped the net of the new law. The News-Sun picked up the trail, though, and followed-up with a scathing editorial questioning Link's connections with the would-be regulated businesses. GOP opponent Keith Gray also got in on the act and blasted Link for his failure to protect Lake County consumers by not adding them to the protection of the new law.

Link tried to defend his actions by saying that he had heard "no outcry" from his constituents that indicated to him that Lake County citizens needed protection (unlike everyone else in Chicago).

But State Representative Eddie Washington (who represents the 60th legislative district, which is the north half of Link's senate district) begs to differ. In a nasty letter to the News-Sun this morning, Washington takes Link to task for failing to step up for the consumers:

"Unlike my Democratic colleague, Sen. Terry Link, I have had numerous complaints from local residents who are mostly low income and among the working poor who struggle daily to make ends meet. Some of them have had their cars towed and have had to pay in the thousands of dollars for the only vehicle that is primarily used to go back and forth to jobs outside of Waukegan.

The cost to get their car back has sometimes cost more than the cost of the car itself. To add insult to injury, some owners found that while their cars were under the care of some tow companies, the car was vandalized. Often, the economic hardship was too great of a demand, and some owners just walked away and allowed the vehicle to become the property of the towing company, therefore putting yet another family at risk."

As everyone knows, Eddie Washington has been on the outs with Link for a while now, as Link backed a primary opponent, County Board member Angelo Kyle against Washington. So, I guess we can add Washington to the growing number of people who won't be unhappy to see how Terry Link's petition scandals affect his chances for re-election.

Inter-party warfare at its best, folks. Too bad it's the citizens of Lake County who lose out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Video: Three is a Magic Number... Blagojevich, Stroger, Seals

Yet another funny video re: the 9th District's own Dan Seals and his 'friends.' Although I think the video has unintentionally ruined any fond memories of 'Schoolhouse Rock' for me...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dan Seals: Looking for Love From New York's Charles Rangel

As we mentioned previously, it seems like it’s time to add another name to the goon squad of ethically-compromised Dan Seals supporters: Representative Charles Rangel of New York.

Last week the New York Times reported that Rangel is living in four apartments and is paying less than half the market rate for them. He manages this feat by abusing a rent-control program intended to help needy families, and his landlord lets him get away with it because Rangel helps him get permits for new apartment buildings. All in all Rangel saves about $30,000 a year and thus is violating the Congressional gift ban which he voted for!

This week it’s the Washington Post's turn. The Post reports that Rangel, who chairs the House Ways and Means committee, is pressuring businesses with legislation before his committee to donate to the “Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service” or, as the House Republicans have dubbed it, the “Charles B. Rangel Monument to Me.” Rangel has already secured $2.5 million in earmarks for the foundation and is looking to raise about $28 million more from private donors.

“He has crossed the line,” says F. Christopher Arterton, the Dean of George Washington Universities Graduate School of Political Management. “[He] is a prominent public servant and may deserve a center at City College. . . . But I think one has to be careful about how one raises the money for that. The danger is that it begins to blur the lines between whether a quid pro quo is implied by this or not.”

So how does all this connect to the Pup? Well, Rangel has given quite a bit to Dan’s campaign and Roll Call reports that he’s poised to give a lot more. Roll Call reported earlier that Rangel has set up a joint fundraising entity with 10 highly-touted Democrats who are challenging Republican House incumbents or are running for open seats, including… you guessed it… the 9th District’s own Dan Seals.

A fundraiser is planned for August 6th -- under the auspices of Rangel’s annual birthday fundraiser at New York’s swank Tavern on the Green restaurant – but this year, it will benefit the new campaign committee, the Rangel Victory Fund. Ironically, Aug. 6th is full two months after Rangel’s 78th birthday.

So far, Dan's political patron Rangel has given his campaign $7,000 and that’s not taking into account whatever Dan’s cut is from the fundraiser.
Here’s where you can really see the contrast between Mark Kirk and the Pup. Mark Kirk works to keep politicians from using public funds to erect monuments to themselves. He stopped Ted Stevens’ $200 million + “bridge to nowhere” even though Stevens is a fellow Republican. And he spoke against the Rangel earmarks, saying:

The gentleman from New York is a distinguished combat veteran, with 38 years service in this House. But we have seen people leave this House to great glory, and to even be elected President or ambassador, captains of industry. And other of our colleagues have gone straight from this Chamber to jail. And the decision is best made by history. The collective wisdom of our rules is that, in general, we don't name things after ourselves when we are great and powerful, [when] no independent judgment could be leveled…. I worry about setting the precedent of everyone else naming things after themselves.

Who wants to bet that if Rangel was our Congressman, instead of the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, we'd have the Charles Rangel Health Care Center (if we had one at all).

As typical for Seals, to date, Seals hasn't said anything to distance himself from Rangel. After all, Rangel is a fellow Democrat and Dan needs (and will take) all the money he can get.

And there is the fundamental difference, folks: Kirk holds both parties up to an equally high standard; Seals only manages outrage for Republican abuses. Kirk fights politicians who misuse their office and public funds; Seals asks them for fundraising help.

Any honorable politician would return any donations and refuse to benefit from Rangel's fundraiser. But, Dan may not have that luxury, considering the tight race with Kirk and the huge advantage in available funds that Kirk currently enjoys. Although, if history is a guide, Seals has been known to bow to pressure once the spotlight is shown on his questionable fundraising activities, such as taking an envelope from former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (which turned out to be a campaign contribution from Rostenkowski’s wife) at the end of one of Dan’s night classes at NU.

It's amazing how Dan just keeps getting caught buddying up to unsavory people. Convicted felons like Bob Creamer and Dan Rostenkowski, ethically-compromised politicians like Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, Chicago ward bosses and now Charlie Rangel; the list goes on and on.

Tenth District voters believe in good government, and they are independent thinkers. If Dan thinks they're going to put up with his Chicago-style shenanigans just because he thinks he looks like Barack Obama, he’s dreaming.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mark Kirk Champions New Joint VA/Navy Hospital in North Chicago

A bold plan announced several years ago has now become a reality: the groundbreaking in North Chicago of the nation's first joint U.S Navy and Veterans Administration hospital. This dream was made possible by our 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk, himself a Navy vet.

According to a past AP article, "a Veterans Affairs study recommended in 1999 the closing of the inpatient facility at the North Chicago VA Medical Center. The study called for sending all needing inpatient care to the Lakeside VA Hospital, located about 35 miles away in downtown Chicago. But VA hospital proponents contended the Chicago facility would become overcrowded and would not be convenient for veterans needing care."

"We have come a long way with our vision that veteran health care should be offered where veterans live," Kirk said.

The facility, to be known as the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, was named after Capt. Jim Lovell, who is famous for the ill-fated Apollo 13 moon mission that almost resulted in disaster but for the heroic efforts of the crew to save the crippled spacecraft and return home safely. Mark Kirk says that Captain Lovell was a childhood hero of his, and part of his scheme in naming the new hospital after Lovell was that no Washington bureaucrat would ever be able to close it in the future.

The Daily Herald reported on today's ceremony and noted an attendance of about 400 people. See video from ABC-7 news here. The first phase of the $130 million project includes the parking garage, a new hospital entrance and an ambulatory care center, the Herald stated. According to the paper, when completed, the Lovell Center will serve an estimated 100,000 veterans, active-duty recruits or troops and civilian relatives annually. The facility is set to open in 2010.

ILGOP Calls on Dan Seals to Return Campaign Contributions From Charlie Rangel

Looks like Dan Seals just can't keep from screwing up. But, that's what you get when you have friends like Charlie Rangel. From the Illinois Republicans:

For Immediate Release - July 14, 2008
Contact: Lance Trover

ILGOP Calls on Dan Seals to Return Campaign Contributions to New York Congressman Embroiled in Affordable Housing Ethics Scandal and Reject Offer of Future Contributions

Rangel planning August 6th fundraiser to benefit Dan Seals; $2,000 contribution received in 2006

CHICAGO -- The Illinois Republican Party today called on Democratic congressional candidate Dan Seals to return a campaign contribution from a congressman embroiled in an affordable housing ethics scandal in New York City and reject the congressman's offer to host a fundraiser for Seals in early August.

On Friday, the New York Times touched off a major ethics investigation by exposing that U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, one of which he uses as his campaign office, in possible violation of federal election law, state and city regulations and Congressional ethics rules.

In 2006, Rangel for Congress contributed $2,000 to Seals' campaign and just last week Roll Call reported Rangel established a joint fundraising entity to funnel more money to Seals.

"The voters deserve to know whether Dan Seals will return all contributions and reject further support from Charlie Rangel while Mr. Rangel is under investigation for violations of federal election law and House ethics rules," said ILGOP spokesman Lance Trover. "If Dan Seals really stands for change, he should publicly pledge to return Rangel's money and refuse further campaign support."

Rep. Rangel, who has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million, according to Congressional disclosure records, paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for the four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem's most prestigious address. The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel's building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.

On Saturday, the Times' lead editorial, "Mr. Rangel's Very Good Deal," blasted the congressman and suggested Rangel's $30,000 annual rent savings may violate congressional ethics rules.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Dan Seals Gives "The Finger" Photo Caption Contest

We like to have fun every once in a while with Dem candidate Dan Seals and some goofy photos we find every now and again while he's off on the campaign trail trying to unseat Congressman Mark Kirk here in IL-10.

With my usual nod to Capitol Fax Blog, here's our Friday Dan Seals photo caption contest. I thought this one was especially interesting given the odd gesture by Seals, and the freaked-out look of the lady to the right. This was taken at some fundraiser in Lincolnshire, the same suburb whose mayor recently endorsed Mark Kirk over Seals due to Seals' inane gas-for-votes stunt.

Have fun with this, but please, people, keep your entries 'clean.' This is still a family blog, and I don't want to have to spend the whole day deleting over-the-top captions...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dick Durbin Flips on Offshore Oil Exploration; Can Dan "Flipper" Seals Be Far Behind?

Reuters is reporting today that Senator Dick Durbin had a change of heart about offshore oil exploration. Reuters stated that Durbin told the Wall Street Journal that "I'm open to drilling and responsible production." According to Durbin, he might even be able to convince Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to flip as well.

Well, this is quite the quandary for our friend Dan Seals. TA hears that he's spent the last couple of weeks railing against the idea of offshore oil exploration -- and now his supposed friend Dick Durbin has pulled the rug out from under him. I guess they didn't have any policy discussions at the Northbrook parade last week.

Given the chances that Seals will flip on this issue like a cirque du soleil acrobat, I'm starting a new TA tradition -- the Seals Flipper Pool. What day do you think The Pup will flip on offshore oil exploration? Will he ever?

I'm taking the first bet -- July 21.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

State Senator Terry Link's Towing Connections Raise Questions

State Senator Terry Link's connections to the towing industry and a possible impact on consumer protection legislation are giving him a "stubbed tow", according to the Lake County News-Sun.

As we reported in this space a few days ago, the new Illinois Commercial Safety Towing Law covers every Chicago-area county, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will and Winnebago (and McHenry, as of Sept. 1), EXCEPT Lake County. The new law is aimed at protecting consumers from "predatory towing" practices.

The News-Sun broke this story a few days ago, but what it didn't do at first was connect the dots to Terry Link (who stated that he saw no need to have the law apply in Lake County because he had heard no "outcry" from his constituents demanding inclusion in the new law) and the tens of thousands of dollars that Link's campaign has received from Lake County-based towing companies.

Once the connection was posted on Team America, Link's opponent, Keith Gray, dug deep into Link's campaign disclosures and came up with a long history of money taken by Link (and the Lake County Democratic Party, as well) from the same companies that one would think would benefit greatly by escaping the additional consumer protections afforded by the new law. Gray issued a press release yesterday criticising Link for what the Gray campaign deemed a "quid pro quo".

Well, it seemed like the News-Sun actually reads press releases (or Team America), because this morning's editorial is all about Link and his well-heeled towing contributors. The News-Sun editorial board "would hate to think there's a quid pro quo at work" given Link's towing connections and advantages the lack of applicability of the new law will give Lake County towers, but maybe Link will be forced to give some answers now that the light of day is finally shining on his sweetheart legislative deals for his contributors.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mark Kirk Raises $900,000 for Q2 and Steals Dan Seals' Fundraising Thunder

W.C. Fields is credited with popularizing the saying, "Never give a sucker an even break."

Well, maybe Congressman Mark Kirk is a fan of classic movies, because he certainly gave no breaks to Dem challenger Dan Seals this afternoon, when Seals attempted to gain some needed momentum and a big press pop by announcing his Second Quarter fundraising results.

Seals waited until late in the afternoon, and then let fly what he must have been sure would be a hugely devastating Q2 fundraising total: $635,000. In fact, over at Progress Illinois, they asked (before Kirk's numbers were released a short time later), "Could it be that many 10th Congressional District voters are starting to sour on GOP Rep. Mark Kirk...?" Yes sir, you could imagine the fist bumps going on at the Aquarium (or whatever they call the Seals headquarters) in a self-congratulatory frenzy. Seals clearly hoped that his number would be extremely impressive, and he would have at least one day of being "the big show" in terms of congressional fundraising news tomorrow.

Well, $635,000 is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But, this game is all relative, folks. And before the Dan Fans got too crazy over themselves, Team Kirk immediately released Kirk's Q2 fundraising total and took all of the wind out of the S.S. Seals.

In a masterstroke of timing, Kirk's camp reported just after Seals put out his numbers that Kirk RAISED OVER $900,000 in Q2!!! For you math-challenged folks (which includes me, I had my seven-year-old work out the math for me), that means that Kirk outraised Seals by over 40%. As commentor DCEyes has already pointed out, this is in a quarter in which Kirk more or less fundraised on his own strength as a candidate, based on his own accomplishments, while Seals brought in all the help he could from Illinois and across the nation, including Michelle Obama, as well as Hoyer (D-MD), Emmanuel (D-IL), Wasserman (D-FL), Durbin (D-IL) and Schakowski (D-IL).

With a fundraising pace that labeled "torrid", Kirk is well-positioned to defend his office once more against Seals, whom Kirk beat by 7 points in 2006. In terms of cash-on-hand, Kirk has more than double Seals' bank account, with $2.85 million in the bank, compared to Seals' $1.17 million, according to the Chicago Tribune. Totals for the 2008 election cycle, tellingly, are $3.87 million for Kirk, compared to $2.1 million for Seals.

"I am humbled by the groundswell of grassroots support my campaign received last quarter," Congressman Kirk said. "I am working hard to enact new energy policies that reduce gas prices and get our economy back on track, provide health care access to all Americans, and keep our kids safe from guns, gangs and online predators." Here's the official Kirk press release.

Sorry, Dan, no break for you today. If you've gotten the idea that Mark Kirk is not going to be caught offguard by you again, maybe you are trainable, to some small degree.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Need a Tow? Just Call State Senator Terry Link

See any resemblance in the photos?

Well, recently, the Lake County News-Sun noticed a connection between State Senator Terry Link and the underworld of towing companies--a new consumer protection law aimed at combating so-called "predatory towing" took effect in most of the Chicago metropolitan area--EXCEPT Lake County, home to Senator Link.

In a nutshell, according to the News-Sun, the new law requires that "prior to towing a vehicle the towing company must notify the customer with a written disclosure providing the business name, address, information about where the vehicle will be towed and a reliable telephone contact number. The company must also advise customers of the full cost of all services prior to towing a vehicle, and return the vehicle upon request during regular business hours after prompt payment of all reasonable fees."

I dunno, sounds kind of common sensical and fair to me. Sad that we really need a law to guarantee these rights, but if you've ever had your car towed unexpectedly for parking in the wrong place at the wrong time, it's not often a pleasant (or cheap) experience getting your car back.

So why in the world would we NOT want such a consumer-oriented law to apply to Lake County residents? Well, Senator Link, once confronted by the press, simply said that he had not heard any "outcry" from citizens in Lake County that led him to believe the law was needed up here... as opposed to those consumers in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will and Winnebago counties (and, as of Sept. 1, McHenry County). I guess the towing companies operating in Lake County must simply be so different and above-board that Senator Link doesn't think we need any protection, unlike every other county in and around Chicago?

The Lake County Board, once it became aware of the situation, has now decided to evaluate opting in to the protections offered to consumers under the new law. It also turns out that a similar law has been on the books for years that never applied to Lake County, perhaps because no elected officials (other than Link, apparently) even knew about it.

As she told the News-Sun, "I've never seen this before," Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt said of the legislation. "I can't imagine that we would opt out of something like this."

Sadly, the angle the News-Sun failed to explore was how well Terry Link serves his constituents. No, we're not talking about the citizens of Lake County. We're talking about the well-heeled towing companies that have been filling Link's campaign coffers for years. A quick search of Link's campaign disclosures reveals that several Lake County towing companies have been plowing thousands of dollars into Link's campaign year after year. The most notable towing company listed is J.R.'s Wrecker Service, which contributed $5,000 to Link between 2005 and 2007, but there are others, including Ernie's Wrecking Service in Vernon Hills.

Too bad the News-Sun missed this most interesting part of the story, but there's always room for a follow-up, especially when such a story could shed some more light on what may be the real reason behind the fact that, once again, Terry Link has failed to stand up to protect Lake County citizens and instead seems more worried about the business interests of his campaign contributors. Could the largess directed toward Link by the local towers and Link's involvement with the lack of application of this law to Lake County (the exact nature of which was not clear from the articles) be a coinkydink (as Rich Miller would say)? Maybe. As Fox News would say, "we report, you decide."

I would imagine GOP challenger Keith Gray will be looking at this issue with interest in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.

MEANWHILE, NATIONAL EYES ARE ON GAS PRICES: Mark Kirk and his Dem opponent Dan Seals were both mentioned in a Wall Street Journal online article on how annoyed Americans are with gas prices, and they are looking for someone to blame, like... Congress. Whether the public ultimately holds the Democratic-controlled Congress responsible is anyone's guess, but it appears that more and more people are seeing domestic drilling as the answer.

There wasn't much in the WSJ article that TA regulars don't already know as to the Kirk-Seals race, but it was interesting that Seals was notable for his gas giveaway debacle which now seems to have defined him as the candidate that caused a traffic jam and got a bill from the police. Good job, Dan!

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July and 25,000 Hits! (UDPDATED WITH PARADE PIX)

It's a very busy 4th of July, and coincidentially, we're also poised to register 25,000 hits sometime today. Check out Team America Jr.'s patriotic spirit with the American flag he created at my parents' house where we went for our traditional 4th of July cookout.
By the way, if you live in driving range of Lake Bluff, check out the chicken bratwurst at "The Daily Grind" (so named because they grind all of their sausages fresh every day, not because it's a coffee house). There's nothing else like them.

We went down to Wilmette's Gilson park on Thursday night to watch the fireworks from the harbor, which was great. Stayed out a bit late with the kids, and decided not to go to any parades today, but hear that Mark Kirk did the parade circuit, with tons of supporters and a great response from all of the community parades he attended. I expect to have some parade pix and a full report soon.

Getting back to the 25,000 hit milestone, for some reason, that seems to be a significant number among bloggers, big and small, so that's why I felt like referencing it. Probably the more important number is the average daily hit count, which is now above 200 hits a day.

I should note that we really actually surpassed 25,000 hits some time ago, as I didn't install a counter on the TA Blog until some weeks after we started. And, I should also note that many blogs get 25,000 hits a month, if not more. But, considering we have a fairly narrow focus here at Team America, given that we focus on IL-1o and Lake County, I am very satisified with the response and readership we've built up since last October when we started. For kicks, check out our very first post here.

Have a great 4th of July, everyone, and please continue to check us out.

UPDATED: As I noted above, I wasn't able to attend any of the parades, but our faithful readers are sending them in. If you were at a parade and have any pix of Mark Kirk or other GOP candidates you'd like us to post, please send them to

Here are a few from "Marine" who attended the Glenview parade. Check out his website at Thanks, Marine, and keep up the good work.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

62nd Dist. State Rep. Sandy Cole Prevails Again Over Would-be Dem Challenger Terry Hall

TA's sources over at the Lake County Courthouse tell him that State Representative Sandy Cole (R-Grayslake) today emerged victorious in her objection to the nomination paperwork filed by her would-be Democratic opponent, Terry Hall, in a decision by Judge Ray McKoski. McKoski ruled today that the decision of the local election board which invalidated Hall's nomination paperwork was the correct decision. The Cole objection was filed by Lake County Board Member Bob Powers.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, the gist of the Cole objection was that Hall filed on the last possible day, April 5th, with an address that was not her registered voting address--in fact, it was a "Mailboxes, Etc." type of PO Box address. The Lake County Dems then realized their mistake and tried to withdraw the nomination and refile with her correct registered voting address, but did not do so until April 9th, way after the filing deadline. The panel ruled that the improper address was not merely a scrivener's error, and the petition was therefore invalid. Ironically, the Dems probably made their case even worse by essentially admitting that they erred and tried to fix the mistake by withdrawing and refiling. For more background, see here.

After the decision of the local panel, Ms. Hall wrote a teary-eyed letter to the Daily Herald bemoaning how awful it was that the democratic process would be thwarted by such an objection. Cry me a river, Ms. Hall. Maybe you ought to tell evil chessmaster and Dem Chairman Terry Link what a travesty it was that he objected to the nomination petitions of 59th State Rep GOP nominee Dan Sugrue and 30th State Senate GOP nominee Keith Gray, not to mention Dan Seals' operative's objection to the poor green guy in IL-10, before you go feeling too sorry for yourself. As we've noted often before, Lake County Dems are great at dishing it out, but can't take it too well.

For those of you keeping score of this season's challenges at home, and assuming that the State Board of Elections affirms the decisions of the hearing officer in the Beaubien challenge and the Dem challenge to Dan Sugrue (as we reported here), the score is: GOP 7, Dems 1

52nd Dist. - Mark Beaubien v. Rich Garling = GOP WIN (pending affirmation by SBE)
59th Dist. - Kathy Ryg v. Dan Sugrue = GOP WIN (pending affirmation by SBE)
62nd Dist. - Sandy Cole v. Terry Hall = GOP WIN
30th Senate Dist. - Terry Link v. Keith Gray = GOP WIN
County Bd. Dist. 3 - County Bd. Chairman Suzi Schmidt v. Mark Nielsen = GOP WIN
County Bd. Dist 5 - Bonnie Thompson Carter v. Steve Pearson = GOP WIN
County Bd. Dist. 10 - Diana O'Kelly v. Sari Ann Hurtig = GOP WIN
County Bd. Dist. 20 - David Stolman v. Davita Siegel = GOP LOSS

FILE THIS UNDER SUPER-DUPER-JUMBO (NOT TO MENTION CHEAP) LOANS FOR SENATORS: Our pal Barack Obama's shady real estate deals are in the news again, this time, in an expose by the Washington Post on the super-favorable terms Obama's lender gave him for his Chicago mansion purchase (you know, the one for which he went shopping with Tony Rezko). Backyard Conservative has the analysis. Also check out Rezkorama for the number of other blogs taking a serious look at this issue.

THE NOT YET TRAINED SEALS (WORKERS): I'm still trying to get hold of the video that was the big topic of discussion here last night, in which some barely-trained alleged Seals campaign staffers tried to sandbag Mark Kirk at a legislative update meeting in a synagogue in Buffalo Grove, and wound up showing once more how Seals is no friend of Israel. They're even talking about this over at Ellen's Blog, and she is (as usual) in full defense mode on the issue. Someone get that video!