Sunday, May 31, 2009

State Senators Bond, Garrett, Protected From Having to Vote In Favor of Tax Hikes (But Where's Their Outrage Against the Taxes?)

Your taxes are probably going up, campers. Way up. In addition to the >50% hike (3% to 5%) on personal state income taxes that was approved by the state senate yesterday, an entirely new source of revenue that will hit everyone squarely in their pocketbooks was also passed, which is taxes on services (6.25%) that were previously not taxed. The Illinois Issues Blog from U of I has a nice summary of all the moving parts of this tax package.

What does this mean? It means you may well be paying more for your health club dues, your dry cleaning, your movie tickets, your Cub/Sox/Fielders tickets, Great America tickets, video rentals, car rentals, your Internet service, even to bowl a few games down at the local bowling alley. Swell. You can see all the tax increases in an amendment to the senate bill at page 62 of the PDF that can be found here.

So, who voted to further siphon dollars directly out of your wallet primarily to fund pensions for state workers? Unsurprisingly, the usual Democratic crowd. The Daily Herald has a nice chart on the roll call vote for HB 174. The final vote in favor of the bill was 31 to 27.

But, who were the Democratic standouts that voted against the tax hike? State Senators Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) and Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest).

But, before you call these two senators with a hearty "thank you" for keeping your taxes low, consider this: it's probably much more than a coincidence that both state senators have declared their intention to run for Congress, in the 10th District seat that they both hope 5-term incumbent Congressman Mark Kirk will announce soon that he is leaving to run for the U.S. Senate (no, kids, no update on Mark's decision yet). Given that the SDems had 31 votes, they were able to give Bond and Garrett a pass so that they will be able to claim in the upcoming congressional race that they opposed raising your taxes (even though they know that their votes were not needed).

Well, it's not difficult to see through this charade.

If Bond and Garrett were REALLY against raising your taxes, why are they not talking to the papers about how horrible a bill this is, and explaining why they voted against it??? Have they endorsed the alternative budget plan being touted by State Senator Matt Murphy??? Have they issued press releases chastising the SDem leadership for pushing through a harmful tax increase in the middle of a deep recession???

No, I didn't think so. So, before we let Bond and Garrett already write into their CD-10 campaign material that they are a champion of no tax increases, ask them today what they are really doing to stop the increases while it might still make a difference.

In addition to the overall budget mess, State Senator Terry Link also finally managed to put enough votes on his gambling expansion package to get it past the senate (note that both Bond and Garrett had to vote for this to get it through). It still faces a very uncertain future in the house, where Speaker Michael Madigan had previously indicated he is not interested in expanding gambling. But, will anyone notice that Link had previously touted this expansion bill as an 'alternative' to raising taxes? Given that the huge tax hike does not plug the budget gap by itself, it is now apparent that the gambling expansion will simply be yet another revenue add-on to the tax increases. Thanks, Terry. Instead of working on bringing more businesses to Lake County and Illinois, you are stuck on increasing gambling as your one idea to bring in more revenue. Great job, really.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lake County Republican Federation Dinner Features South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford

Last night, the Lake County Republican Federation sponsored its 47th Annual Spring Gala, featuring South Carolina Mark Sanford.

Sorry for the poor quality picture; for some reason I could not get my Blackberry to zoom in.

It was a good crowd that responded well to Sanford's message of fiscal responsibility and his concern with the direction of the country under President Obama. As the governor said, it doesn't make any sense to try to spend your way out of a crisis caused by debt using borrowed money. But, that's what the Obama administration seems bent on doing.

Special recognition awards were given to retired State Senator Bill Peterson and his long-time assistant and confidante, Jan Zobus, and also to former Mayor of Mettawa, Barry MacLean, for his 39 years of service as a village trustee and mayor.

There are lots of GOP events coming up that were highlighted during the dinner, including Sheriff Mark Curran's golf outing coming up on Friday June 5th at the Antioch Golf Course, and the GOP Central Committee Golf Outing on Wednesday June 24th, at White Deer Run Gold Club in Vernon Hills. Call Ant Simonian at Lake County GOP Headquarters for more information on either event, 847-680-6680.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Roland Burris Registers "Absolute Zero" on the Integrity Thermometer (UPDATED x2)

The latest debacle concerning Senator Roland Burris and the convoluted (and ever-changing story of) the path that led him to the U.S. Senate, courtesy of former indicted governor Rod Blagojevich, is likely to mean only one thing: the Dem primary race will be a little less exciting, as Burris will be even less viable as a candidate that he already was. Even if Burris hoped a heated primary would split the anti-Burris vote and he might still squeak in (only to perhaps lose to someone like 10th District Congressman Mark Kirk in the general), that's looking pretty unlikely as of this morning. Some may even wonder if he will resign, although as we've gotten to know Burris a little better over the course of the past few months, that seems pretty unlikely.

As has been widely reported, Burris raised under $1,000 in his first quarter fundraising efforts and was under serious scrutiny by the press and Internet pundits as to whether he would even try to run for election in 2010. About the only person that was sure Burris would have a chance in the Dem primary was Roland Burris.

Now, with the revelation (as revealed by the just-released wiretap transcripts) that Burris discussed sending a check to then-governor Blagojevich with Blago's brother, Robert, before Burris' appointment, Burris' honor, integrity and credibility are registering about absolute zero on the trust thermometer. Let's leave aside the fact that Burris was discussing money changing hands in the same conversation as asking (begging?) for the U.S. Senate appointment. State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who questioned Burris on the subject, is appalled that Burris never mentioned this little tidbit. And Burris' apparent defense appears to be shaping up that he 'never sent the check.' Oh, really? OK, all is forgiven.

So, what does this mean? Probably not much, although it will further sully the reputation of the integrity of the State of Illinois. It reminds people that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and his Dem cohorts in the Senate helped create this mess. It reminds people that the "Blagojevich 26" (including State Senators Terry Link and Michael Bond) also helped make this mess by enabling Blago. It will make Burris even less likely to salvage any hope of winning a Dem primary against Chris Kennedy, Lisa Madigan, Alexi Giannoulis, or Jan Schakowsky, all of whom have been mentioned in the press or expressed interest.

And it probably won't move Mark Kirk to make a decision about potentially running for U.S. Senate any more quickly, as he quietly watches the Dem Mutually-Assured Destruction party go into after-hours. Heck, why spoil the fun?

UPDATE: Downstate Judge Shows U.S. Senate Interest? Here's a snippet concerning a recently-retired downstate judge, Donald Lowery, who is mulling a U.S. Senate run as a Republican. So far, the only serious contenders to show interest on the GOP side are Congressmen Kirk and Peter Roskam (CD-6).

UPDATE x2: Statehouse Republicans Call for Burris to Resign. The statehouse democrats are not enthusiastic, however. Any bets as to where this goes?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Must Work Harder to Remind Themselves What Memorial Day is All About

Memorial Day weekend is here, and most folks are busy planning their picnics and yardwork, with nary a thought as to what this holiday is truly about. The usual exception is anyone with family in any of the armed services or especially anyone who has lost a family member or friend to armed conflict in the service of our country.

I somewhat dread writing about Memorial Day because I don't come from a military family and I don't have any close friends in the military. I like to write about what I know, and for me to preach about the sacrifice our veterans have made, especially those who have died, rings somewhat hollow to me, because I have never experienced that loss first hand. My father was too young to go to Korea (although I did have an uncle who fought in Korea), and too old to go to Vietnam. But I can't imagine what my life would have been like without him, if he had died in the service of our country. I've never been in the military (although I have fascination for naval history for some reason) and none of my close friends are. My kids are way too young for that to be an issue for me now, although I sometimes find myself reflecting on my usual hawkish views and wonder if I will find myself feeling differently someday if my kids are ever in the service.

But, just because I can't appreciate the service of our veterans on such a personal level, I strongly believe that anyone living in our country and enjoying the freedoms those veterans sacrificed their lives to protect, needs to appreciate that sacrifice. I think a strong military that can handle any challenge we need to around the globe is necessary, since we find ourselves in the position of being the only country, it seems, that is willing and able to act as the "world police." The fact is that given the world we live in, people who are willing to put on the uniform of our country and defend our freedoms and principles are going to die, sometimes. The world in many respects has gotten less safe, not more, since World War II, and America needs to be ready to respond to continue to protect its citizens and support our democratic (note the small "d") principles.

So, if you're like me, and the sacrifice of our veterans doesn't touch you on the ultimate personal level for losing a loved one in the service of our country, well then, you're just going to have to work a little harder to remind yourself on this Memorial Day weekend, as I do, what it's really all about. You'll be a better citizen, patriot and person for it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fixing the Barn Door After the Horse Leaves: Terry Link Kills Recall But Is Concerned About Blago's Book Profits

Although the electorate generally has a pretty short collective memory, I am hopeful that someone besides TA remembers that State Senator Terry Link, as one of the "Blagojevich 26," voted against adding a recall provision to the Illinois Constitution.

But, Link now is trying to parade as the hero for introducing legislation to bar him from profiting from telling his story, that is, if anyone is interested in buying it.

My Con Law professor at DePaul law school, Jeffrey Shaman, who is the former head of the Illinois ACLU and as liberal as they come, opines that the legislation is unconstitutional. Link, a non-lawyer, says it's fine.

I'll go with the Professor on this one.

And, I'll remind everyone that we can thank Link and the Dems for enabling Blago for a second term, and making a law like the one proposed any kind of an issue.

Wonder what Blago's got on Link that Link is desperate to disincentivize Blago to write a tell-all book???

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Illinois Dems Still Looking for a Good Senate Candidate While Mark Kirk Bides His Time

About the only time you hear Senator Roland Burris' name mentioned nowadays is when someone comments on how he is likely to get crushed in a primary battle, should he have the temerity to run.

Given the circumstances of Burris' rise to office, and his lackluster accomplishments, policy of ducking the media, and virtually non-existent fundraising ability, you can hardly blame the Dem opportunists from lining up to boot Burris for a chance to win the general.

So, why are the Dems are in a mad scramble to find a good clean candidate? Somehow, it seems that the Dems keep undercutting the last candidate they last put forward.

First, there was Alexi. He was supposed to be Obama's anointed son, but then there was that little matter of questionable banking relationships. Then, even worse, came the Bright Start $85 million loss and SUV-gate.

Then there was Jan. And with Jan comes her husband Bob, the convicted felon. But no, Jan says the polls say that Bob doesn't matter. OK. Keep believing that....

Then came Chris Kennedy. Quietly at first, then building momentum.... until Lisa Madigan's name surfaced once again, and stole some of that thunder. And just in the past couple days, it appears that Kennedy was involved in some quirky real estate deals in Cleveland, as noted locally by Archpundit and picked up by Greg Hinz at Crain's. I have to ask, does anyone but Chris Kennedy want Chris Kennedy?

All of this going on while Congressman Mark Kirk watches it all play out.

No official decision from Kirk yet. And no one I know in camp Kirk is talking. So, once again, any prognostications/rumors/supposed 'inside scoops' that you read about in the media are just that... we'll let you know when there is a rumor worth believing.

But you can bet he's watching all of this with great interest...

No Speed Cameras for Terry Link; An Embarrassing Defeat for 'One of the Worst Bills of the Year'

In another of a string of crushing legislative defeats for State Senator Terry Link, his proposal to allow speed cameras in certain zones likes schools and hospitals, and then issue tickets to speeders, failed miserably in the state senate, 13 to 35.

The Daily Herald notes that Link originally proposed a much broader bill that would have allowed cameras on nearly every road in Illinois, but apparently Link at least had enough brains to not call for a vote on that version of the bill.

Our newly-minted State Senator Dan Duffy, who is quickly growing into the role of Link's senate nemesis, told the Daily Herald that all camera enforcement is unconstitutional and that in addition to voting against speed cameras he plans to push for the removal of existing red light cameras in Illinois.

An unnamed opponent of the bill called it one of the 'worst bills of the year.'

Link maintained that the bill was aimed at increasing safety, not making the state money. But his fellow senators didn't buy it. The Herald quoted Senator Rickey Hendon as stating, "The sponsor was given this bill by the people who only want to gouge the people of the state of Illinois. Gouge! Rob! Stickup! Get their hands in your wallet! Get both hands in your purse and take more of your money! It's not about the safety of the children."

Hahahaha! So much for Link's allies in the senate.

Take a look at the comments to the Daily Herald article- Link is really taking a beating. There also seems to be some suggestion of a connection between Link and the companies that might manufacture and supply such cameras. Would any would-be TA cub reporters like to take a look at Link's D-2's for a little research? TA has to spend time today actually practicing law for a change. Go get 'em!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

For Your Eyes Only: Senate President John Cullerton Making Calls for Michael Bond Replacement; So, How Serious is Bond About IL-10 Anyway?

Team America understands that the office of Senate President John Cullerton has been calling into Lake County looking for a candidate to replace State Senator Michael Bond (D-Grayslake) of the 31st District, who recently announced his intention to run for the 10th Congressional seat currently held by fifth term incumbent Mark Mirk.

I found this a little unusual; not that the SDems would be trying to recruit a candidate; of course they would be. But the fact that they are practically cold-calling into the district looking for someone tells me that the Dem bench in Lake County is not nearly as deep as one might have thought. Several of their top prospects only recently were elected to other offices on the county board or similar posts, so it does not look so great for such a candidate to immediately announce his or her intent to jump to another post. A number of other Dem up-and-comers were tainted by petition scandals (either caught up in Terry Link's petition problems or their own). And although the GOP gets most of the attention for having faction issues within their party, make no mistake, the Dems have them too (e.g., Terry Link v. Pat Jones, Terry Link v. Eddie Washington, Terry Link v. whomever), which makes getting a consensus candidate for a high-profile local race somewhat complicated. Finally, the prospect of running against County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt, the GOP candidate, is probably having quite a chilling effect on the enthusiasm of prospective Dem candidates.

The fact of the calls also tells me that Senator Michael Bond's announcement was not well-coordinated with the SDem leadership, and that Bond did not have an heir apparent in mind before he made the announcement. I find that interesting, since Bond generally has worked hard to build up his army of local politicos that owe him favors; hand picking someone to step into his shoes and leveraging his considerable contacts and fundraising ability would certainly have given such a candidate a leg up.

So what gives? TA wonders, perhaps, if Michael Bond is hedging his bets and really is not as enthusiastic about running for IL-10 if Mark Kirk decides to stay home in IL-10 for a sixth term race in 2010. There have been no follow-up announcements from camp Bond that I have seen.

Interestingly, a Bond supporter has reserved a website address but it is not yet "live." Most serious candidates nowadays put a lot of time into their website as a primary campaign tool (see the impressive site put together by dark horse GOP guv candidate Adam Andrzejewski as an example). And when a Google search for "Michael Bond 10th District" comes up with the Team America Blog as the top result, you know you have some message control to do.

It will be very interesting to see what Bond does once Kirk announces (no, there has been no decision made that I know of, so everyone who is speculating out there is just speculating, as far as I can tell). Now Bond is in a tight spot- running against Kirk (whom he counted on being gone) or slinking back to the 31st District with his tail between his legs to face a possible trouncing by Suzi Schmidt.

Meanwhile, please contact the office of the Senate President if you're from the 31st District and want to get your clock cleaned in 2010 by my friend Suzi.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daily Herald Hammers Terry Link on Usurping Municipal Approval for Gambling Expansion; Meanwhile Terry's Worried About His Phone Being Bugged

Lately, I've been looking forward with some morbid curiosity to picking up the newspaper each morning and seeing what kind of shenanigans State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) is trying to pull next.

For those of you who are new here, Terry Link is a powerful state senator who also is the chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party, and currently is Chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee (after being defeated in a bid for State Senate President). Link is rather famous (or infamous) for having two of his campaign workers indicted for having the signatures of dead people appear on his nominating petitions in the last campaign cycle. Link also faced pressure from the GOP for allegedly failing to properly account for payments to these individuals, which case is still ongoing at the appellate court level. Link's ties to former guv Blagojevich didn't help him either (nor his protege State Senator Michael Bond, who were both named to the Tribune's list of the "Blagojevich 26.")

The petition scandal was quite the issue in the last election, but Link still coasted to re-election in a district that was drawn to guarantee a Dem senator. Some other Dems who were caught in similar circumstances weren't so lucky. But I digress.

Senator Link's obsession is to place a casino in Waukegan. Lately, he has been thwarted in that effort, as most recently, the new Waukegan mayor, former Democrat-turned-Independent Bob Sabonjian, rejected Link's offer to place a casino in Waukegan, where Link also resides. Link's thumb-in-your-eye response to Sabonjian was to offer it to neighboring Park City, which is desperate for revenue--even more desperate than Waukegan, apparently.

Link is also intent on expanding other forms of gambling in this state, for reasons unknown. As we have said in this space before, if it's simply because Link is a one-trick (race) pony and cannot think of any other way to bring jobs to Lake County, that is pretty sad, considering his resources and tenure in office. So, we at Team America think there must be some other motivation for Link, but we shall save further speculation for another post. We will note for now that Senator Link has a history of legislatively taking care of those that take care of him.

Today, the Daily Herald takes Senator Link to task for running rough-shod over the wishes of Arlington Heights, which is not on board with Link's plan to place up to a thousand slot machines at Arlington Park racetrack. Link later appeared to back off that position. But, apparently the Herald is still concerned that Link still believes the State should be able to impose its will over the desires of the host municipality, or why would the Herald be editorializing on the issue today? The question TA has, is why did Link not use the same strategy to push his casino through in Waukegan over the wishes of Mayor Sabonjian? But perhaps that's next.

In addition to the editorial, the Daily Herald ran a letter from Link's GOP challenger in the 30th district race, Keith Gray, of Mettawa. Gray's letter skewers Link for his myopic view that gambling is the only way to promote economic development. (TA's Note- I mistakenly said previously that the Herald endorsed Gray- in fact, the Herald went for Link and the Tribune and News-Sun were for Gray. But I bet the Herald wishes it could get a do-over).

In other Link-related developments, part of the recommendations for government reforms that are now being proposed by an ethics comission appointed by Governor Pat Quinn and headed by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins include the proposal that state's attorneys being empowered to institute wiretaps and other forms of eavedropping much as such techniques are used at the federal level. While the Daily Herald reports that a number of legislators such as State Senators Dan Duffy and Matt Murphy, as well as Susan Garrett and Michael Bond (heck, even ultra-liberal State Rep. Kathy Ryg), are in favor of the proposal, Terry Link is not so sure.

Says Link: "While I am supportive of the concept of statewide grand juries, giving elected county prosecutors - who are politicians - the power to wiretap other politicians and citizens should raise concerns for every Illinoisan."

Yeah, Senator, you can say that again. Could you just imagine if Link had to worry about Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller actually having a way to directly investigate Link's goings-on without having to chase low-level campaign workers to try to tie in Link to such activities? Oh, if Senator Link's phone could talk, what stories could it tell? Better get henchman "Sneaky" Pete Couvall's phone too, while you're at it.

Keep tuning in for more developments in the wacky world of Senator Link and Lake County politics.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Terry Does the Hanky-Panky (with the Gaming Lobby)

With apologies to Tommy James and the Shondells (who remade the song by the Raindrops), it seems clear that State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) is still intent on doing the hanky-panky with the gaming lobby, regardless of Illinois Senate President John Cullerton's promise of more government transparency.

"No hanky-panky," says Senator Link. [Shouldn't that be no more hanky-panky???]

Well, transparency may not be the problem with Terry Link's latest gambit to run right over (or through) the objections of Arlington Heights, as well as Arlington Park racetrack itself, to force the placement of up to 1,000 slot machines at Arlington Park. Nothing hidden here, no sir, unless it's the ulterior motives for Link's obsessive push to expand gambling to every corner of the state, apparently.

Does someone need to tell Senator Link that being Chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee doesn't mean that you are the designated lobbyist for the expansion of gambling in this state?

Somebody better do that, stat, or we're liable to find legalized gambling in every street corner bar. Oh, wait, they've thought of that too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lake County Young Republicans Host Gubernatorial Candidate Adam Andrzejewski

Last night at its regular business meeting, the new Lake County Young Republicans, headed by president Collin Corbett, hosted entrepreneur and GOP Gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski, who came to speak about campaign and his goal to bring transparency to Illinois government.

Andrzejewski, a social and fiscal conservative, is an earnest, presentable young candidate, although I would rather see him running and winning something like state senate first, rather than going for a top spot like governor, since he has never been elected to office before.

Andrzejewski responds that he believes that the voters in Illinois are looking for "leadership, not political experience." Fair enough, and we'll see if he's right, but I think running for a senate spot and using that as a platform for higher office would have been a wiser political choice, if he's serious about getting elected. I could very much see him in the mold of a Senator Matt Murphy or Dan Duffy - someone coming into this as a businessman, not a politician, and leveraging his self-made success in the business world as a fix for the state's budget problems.

Andrzejewski believes that the first step to fixing Illinois government is "transparency" and has created a tag line of "Every Dime. Online. In Real Time." It's catchy. According to Andrzejewski's research, even State Comptroller Dan Hynes can't agree with other government offices about how many programs are funded out of state government and what those programs are. Andrzejewski's main goal is to provide web access to virtually all government spending, which sounds ambitious, but he says is a lot easier than the entrenched politicians would have you believe, as borne out by experiences in cities like New Orleans. "We need basic data on government spending," he contends, and we don't have it, and pretty much can't get it under the current systems in place.

Andrzejewski says the taxpayer in Illinois needs an "advocate," and someone who knows how to support and encourage small business owners as the core of economic recovery. He says, "I've listened to small business owners and I've lived it," referring to his creation of a very successful local yellow pages book that competed well with the big boys, and enabled him to retire young and pursue work in non-profits and eventually politics.

Andrzejewski realizes he's up against long odds, but points out that he was the first candidate to declare officially, and that "if you can't decide if you want to run for governor" (a thinly-veiled dig at potential candidate Joe Birkett), you have no business being in the race. He also points out his well-developed issues pages on his website, which contrast sharply with anything offered by State Senator Bill Brady, another guv candidate.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

State Rep. Kathy Ryg Comes Under Fire From Lake County Right to Life

This past weekend, State Rep. Kathy Ryg of the 59th legislative district came under fire from Lake County Right to Life for her position on HB 2354, which the group alleges is a "radical pro-abortion bill." Ryg, a popular legislator in her district, isn't used to being protested, so I wonder how she felt about the demonstration.

Kathy Ryg was first elected in a close race against Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne, and has since solidified her political base with a combination of loyalty to the Democratic machine and State Senator Terry Link. She has fended off several GOP challengers over the years including Paul Tully and most recently Dan Sugrue (whom TA understands is very seriously considering a rematch against Ryg in 2010). Ryg prides herself on maintaining a friendly persona and someone who will reach across the aisle to pass legislation, and also pays close attention to her constituent services.

Some, however, wish to paint Ryg as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, especially with her respect to abortion rights. The Lake County Right to Life group provided Team America with the following description of their peaceful protest and their objections to Ryg's position:

In response to Representative Ryg's continued support for the radical FOCA Bill, Lake County Right to Life organized a peaceful demonstration in front of her office at 50 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 114 in Vernon Hills on May 9, Mother's Day weekend, from 10:00AM to 12:00PM. We picked this day to remind Representative Ryg of the importance of motherhood and the importance of good public policy. She is elected to promote and support and vote for good public policy. HB2354 is dangerous and bad public policy.

Representative Kathy Ryg (D-59) is a co-sponsor of HB 2354. This is a radical pro-abortion bill introduced in this year's legislative session. Lake County Right to Life was opposed to this bill for a number of reasons. It was bad public policy and in spite of numerous phone calls, multiple visits to her office in Vernon Hills and Springfield, Representative Ryg remained a co-sponsor of this radical pro-abortion bill. This bill goes beyond what most Americans will tolerate.

A little about the Bill: HB 2354 would have created a so called Reproductive Health and Access Act or better known as Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). It was stopped in the Illinois House, due to an unprecedented effort by pro-life, pro-family grass roots organizations, including the Illinois Catholic Conference. The Catholic Conference was joined by most mainstream denominations. The bill failed to come up for a vote because most legislators responded to their constituents. The radical legislation would have created an Illinois Roe v Wade law that would negate any of the US Supreme Court exceptions to it's 1972 Roe v Wade decision. This includes parental notice and partial birth abortion bans, as well as, many important regulations on abortion clinics.

In six different sections of HB 2354, it stated, "not withstanding any other provision of this Act, or any other law to the contrary," This legislative term means this act will supercede any law that now exists. Therefore when HB 2354 says, that "no" state or municipality, political subdivision or other governmental unit, or agency shall not deny or interfere with a pregnant woman's right to terminate a pregnancy, this means that any restrictions, including our Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which Planned Parenthood says interferes with a minor girl obtaining an abortion, would be invalidated. It means, that abortions would be legal throughout the full nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason, including partial-birth abortions and other at-birth killing of human beings, even if Roe v Wade were overturned.

Under "Non-discrimination in funding" HB 2354 stated, "That the Senate shall ensure that individuals eligible for State Medicaid assistance or other State medical assistance, receive financial assistance for reproductive health care (code word for abortion). This means taxpayers would have to fund all abortion under the Medicaid (Welfare) program. HB 2354 would have negated the Illinois ban on Medicaid taxpayer funding of abortions. It would also require abortifacient drugs, like Plan B, the Morning After pill, and sterilization for all ages to be covered under Medicaid.

HB 2354 also undermines the Illinois Right of Healthcare Conscience Act. Healthcare professionals who favor abortion, would have no obligation to inform their patients of any other options. The bill would include a failure to comply, which could include losing their licence, and allows an employer to fire any healthcare employee having religious or conscience objections to abortion. Most, if not all, of our pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, would have been at risk, since most have one or more healthcare professional working with the centers, and they too would have been required to assist a woman in getting an abortion. Finally HB 2354 would require all Illinois public schools teach comprehensive sex education, which promote condom usage and a homosexual life style to children as young as kindergarten. These are just the highlights.

Representative Kathy Ryg refuses to remove her co-sponsorship from this radical bill. She has not responded to her constituency in the manner that most representatives have done. In fact, after pressure from local constituents, Representative Beaubien, and Franks removed their sponsorship, not so Representative Ryg. She even wrote a constituents letter stating, "The supporters of HB 2354 met to review the Reproductive Healthcare Access Act. We agreed that additional clarifications are needed to reflect what the bill does and does not do. We agreed also, that the bill will not be called for a vote in it's present form. Your responses have helped me and my colleagues understand where the language is vague, leading to confusion and/or misunderstanding. We do not wish to be misleading and will continue the discussions between the proponents and opponents as an amendment is prepared."

Obviously, Representative Ryg is a radical pro-abortion advocate going far beyond the average American. But, more importantly, she has not responded to her constituents outcry on this radical pro-abortion bill. If she is meeting because the language is vague, I suggest she gets a pair of glasses or an attorney to explain how radical her views are. The bill was very clear. It has been reviewed by attorneys from both sides. Perhaps Representative Ryg missed the boat.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why Is Senator Terry Link So Obsessed With Bringing Gaming to Lake County? (UPDATED)

State Senator Terry Link appears to be obsessed. His schemes for bringing a casino to Lake County over the years have been repeatedly thwarted, most recently just this past week, as a gaming bill he championed appeared to have been stopped cold by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Now the latest ploy is to propose placing the casino in Park City, which is (as some source referred to it) a "suburb" of Waukegan. Ha Ha. I didn't even know Waukegan had suburbs. Link tried to get new Waukegan Mayor Bob Sabonjian to bite on the offer of a casino and was turned down flat. Thus, Link's thumb-in-the-eye to Sabonjian is to place the casino in neighboring Park City, which is desperate for revenue.

Why is Terry Link so obsessed with bringing gambling to Lake County, as near to his home in Waukegan as he can? Is it really the fact that he simply cannot think of any other way to produce jobs and economic development in Lake County? Really- he can't do any better than that?

Anyone want to take a few guesses as to other motivations?

UPDATED 05/09/08: The Lake County News-Sun is in support of the idea of a Lake County casino, and suggests that if the Mettawa Costco doesn't go through, maybe that site would be a possibility. Ha ha.

And, for all of Senator Link's "don't give up hope yet" rhetoric, and no matter how badly the folks in Park City may want a casino, Chuck Sweeny of the Rockford Register Star says no how, no way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt Sets Her Eyes On Michael Bond's State Senate Seat (UPDATED x2)

Team America has confirmed that Lake County Board Chairwoman Suzi Schmidt is ready to dive into the race for the 31st senate district, which seat is currently held by State Senator Michael Bond. Bond recently announced his campaign to run for Illinois' 10th Congressional District, which seat is currently held by 5-term incumbent Mark Kirk (by the way, still no word on Kirk's decision as to run for U.S. Senate or stay at home in IL-10).

Schmidt will be a formidable candidate, with proven fundraising capability, great name recognition, few if any negatives, and a traditionally Republican-leaning district to run in. This will be a high profile race not only for the Lake County GOP (who are hungry to gain back ground lost to the Dems in recent years) but also the IL Senate Republicans (who are probably just as eager).

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno is very enthusiastic about Schmidt's decision to run, and I would not be surprised to see a high level of support coming from the Senate Republicans, who will see this as a prime pick-up opportunity--even if Bond chickens out and decides to stay to run in the 31st district, depending on Mark Kirk's eventual decision.

Schmidt will also likely enjoy the support of the regular Lake County Republicans, and may well avoid a bruising primary battle, as the other top contender, Lake County GOP Chairman Dan Venturi, has pledged support for Schmidt and will not run against her.

Schmidt's Lake County Board seat is not up in 2010, having just won an uncontested bid for re-election, after her opponent was kicked off the ballot for nominating petition errors (which blame was attributed to mistakes by Lake County Dem Chairman and State Senator Terry Link).

Schmidt will reportedly announce her formation of an exploratory committee shortly as a prelude to a formal announcement of her candidacy. More details as they become available.

UPDATE 5/5/09 11:30 p.m.: Here is a copy of a brief press release from Suzi Schmidt's campaign team that was released Tuesday around 5:00 p.m.:

Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt to run for State Senate

LAKE VILLA (May 5, 2009) – The following statement was released today by Lake County Board Chairman Suzi Schmidt regarding her decision to run for State Senate in the 31st District.

“With much thought and consideration and after listening to people in Lake County who share my deep concern for the direction of our state, it is my intention to run for State Senate in the 31st District and bring much needed reform and accountability to our state government. As a public servant, I have brought honest, competent government to the community that I love and cherish. With our state at the brink of financial collapse, I can think of no greater opportunity to improve the quality of life for my neighbors and community than to bring the same honest, competent government service to Springfield. I am encouraged by the enthusiastic support I have received from friends and family throughout the district and look forward to hearing people’s ideas about how to build a better, stronger Illinois.”

A formal announcement will occur in the coming months.

About Suzi Schmidt: Suzi Schmidt, 57, is the Chairman of the Lake County Board. Her local government experience includes serving as a Lake Villa Trustee (1985-1988), Lake County Board Member (1988-Present), Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner (1988-Present), and as Chairman of the Lake County Board since 2000. Active in the community, Schmidt is President of Metro Counties, serves on the Board of Governors of the Lake County University Center, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Lake County Municipal League. A 30-year resident of Lake Villa, Schmidt is a member of the Lindenhurst/Lake Villa Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Lake Villa Library, and Lake Villa Historical Society. Schmidt received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She and her husband, Bob, have been married for 28 years.

UPDATE 5/6/09 12:50 p.m.: The Daily Herald has a story up; Michael Bond declined to comment. Hard to believe he'd turn down a chance at free press.

Monday, May 4, 2009

State Senator Terry Link a "One-Trick Pony" When It Comes to Economic Expansion

State Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) is still trying to expand gambling in Illinois, now that he's the Chairman of the senate Gaming Committee.

I don't know what, if any, horse he bet on in the Kentucky Derby over the weekend, but he's pushing a proposal now that could allow gambling on-line.

According to the Bloomington Pantagraph:

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, plans to unveil a package of legislation next week that would expand gambling options in Illinois. The proposal could include legalizing online betting of horse races.

Supporters say such a measure would allow Illinois horse racing tracks to partner with Internet gambling sites, which would then act as electronic off-track betting parlors for the tracks.

Betters could set up accounts and wager on races on their personal computers. Losses would be deducted from the prepaid accounts and wins would be added to them. The measure could generate $1.5 million, Link said.

But some lawmakers doubt the income will last over time.
“It’s not a reliable source,” said state Rep. Keith Sommer, R-Morton. “There’s been a reduction of revenue from gambling and it even makes it less attractive.”

I generally think that expansion of gambling is a bad way for the state to raise revenue, since it usually takes a disproportionate amount of money away from those that can least afford it.

But the real shame here is that Senator Link for years now has not been able to come up with any solid ideas to actually promote economic growth that don't involve gambling. As we all know, in gambling, there is always a winner, but usually there are a lot more losers. It's too bad Senator Link doesn't put as much effort into promoting solid, sustainable economic growth as he does into expanding the illusory magic bullet of gambling throughout Illinois (and especially Waukegan).

Friday, May 1, 2009

No Announcement Just Yet On Mark Kirk Senate Bid

I know we're all very excited and breathlessly awaiting Mark Kirk's expected announcement as to whether he runs for U.S. Senate in 2010, runs for a sixth term in Congress, or perhaps even governor, but we all need to take a deep breath.

Recent poll results showing pretty good numbers for Kirk if he jumps into the U.S. Senate race have us all on the edge of our seats waiting for the word, but we're going to have to wait a little longer.

I don't expect any announcement today.

Yesterday, various sources (notably Lynn Sweet) were reporting that Mark Kirk was "poised" to enter the race for U.S. Senate, but that was a bit premature. Sweet later revised her blog post to state that Kirk was "mulling" a Senate bid. Ahem. And today the Lake County News-Sun, a member of the Sun-Times Newsgroup, printed a story that sounds like they just heard about Kirk's aspirations for higher office. Um, no. That has been going on for months.

In fact, the article tries to tie it into the recent announcement by State Senator Michael Bond that he was gunning for the Democratic nomination for Congress in IL-10. Ah, no, again. The Bond announcement was (and is) clearly a sideshow to the bigger news as to what Kirk intends to do, and certainly did not prompt Kirk's Senatorial Thoughts.

As someone on this blog reminded me a couple of days ago, those who talk don't know, and those who know, don't talk. I thought that was pretty good advice.