Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is a New Casino Headed for Park City? (UPDATED)

It seems like State Senator Terry Link may just get his ultimate wish of a casino in Lake County after all, although Governor Pat Quinn may be a bit of a stumbling block, as it turns out.

Quinn is on record saying he is opposed to major gambling expansion as the bill passed by the State House just yesterday appears to do, with a new Chicago casino and several others, including one in Lake County. Link obviously knows he has some work to do on Quinn, as noted by the Chicago Tribune:

Quinn supports a Chicago casino but has criticized a much broader gambling expansion. "We're not going to do that. I will never support that," Quinn said two weeks ago.

Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, the Senate sponsor of the gambling package, said he and Quinn "started our preliminary discussions, and I think we'll continue those discussions."

It's clear that Link has been fixated on getting a casino in his district for years. Will a Lake County casino be a good thing? Here's your chance to weigh in.

UPDATED 6/1/11 7:00 am: As you probably know by now, the Senate voted yesterday to approve the new gambling bill which greatly increases the number of casinos and gambling positions in Illinois -- now all it needs is Governor Quinn's signature to become law. State Senator Terry Link has already been taking his victory lap and no doubt figuring out how he will take political control of the Park City casino that is provided for in the legislation.

But, maybe not so fast. Few articles I have read so far acknowledge that Governor Quinn has a line-item veto power -- except this one in the News-Sun -- so, conceivably, Quinn could snuff out the Park City casino with a stroke of his sharp pen. That scenario may or may not come to pass -- Quinn has opposed expansion of gambling in the past, so one might conjecture that lopping off some of the 'suburban' casinos with a line-item veto, but passing the main part of the legislation for a Chicago casino, might be an acceptable compromise for him. Of course, even the line-item veto could be overridden by a supermajority of the General Assembly, but if only a few of the casinos were removed, would the disenfranchised ones have enough supporters to make it back through the GA with the required votes? Who knows, until it happens, if it does.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Three War Memorial Day Makes A Good Time for Extra Reflection

Before everyone gets ready for parades and barbecues today, let's all make sure we remember (and teach our kids) what this day is all about.

Here are the words of one American commander in Afghanistan that seem especially appropriate and say it far better than I could:

"We reflect on those who have gone before us. We reflect on their service and their sacrifice on behalf of our great nation," said Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Craparotta, who commands a Marine division in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. "We should also remember those serving today who embody that same commitment of service and sacrifice. They are committed to something greater than themselves and they muster the physical and moral courage to accomplish extraordinary feats in battle."

For anyone keeping track, over 1400 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan, and 4,400 died in Iraq (we still have over 46,000 troops there, although officially combat has ended. Those troops there are supposed to be on mop-up detail, but it's still hot and there's no McDonald's, no matter what the mission).

In Libya, there are no ground troops yet, but reportedly the CIA has teams in Libya. So, the administration can call this anything but a "war" all it wants (what exactly is a "kinetic military action" anyway?), but rhetoric can't change reality.

In a world where it seems that no matter what the reluctance of folks like President Obama to engage in defending freedoms throughout the world... kinda like being, I don't know... the "World Police"... the state of the world means that we continue to have a great responsibility to send troops overseas to protect our interests and fight for freedom. And that reality doesn't appear to be ending any time soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More Dems Line Up for Run at IL-10 (UPDATED X2)

We don't even know what the 10th Congressional District in Illinois will look like, but the Dems are already lining up for a crack at freshman Congressman Bob Dold, in anticipation that the new map will give the already challenging (for a Republican) voter base a boost in the Dem's direction. The latest entrant is Brad Schneider, whose name I heard thrown out a few weeks back. His campaign website is here. There is very little content on the site so far, but at least he sounds a little bit more mainstream than the first declared Dem candidate, Ilya Sheyman, who we discussed a while back. And, unlike Dan Seals, Schneider actually seems to have been employed the last few years.

Assuming that the word on the street is correct that the 10th will be drawn to more heavily favor Democrats, you can bet that there will be additional entrants into the race... perhaps even State Senator Susan Garrett or Lauren Beth Gash. Stay tuned...

UPDATED 5/26/11 9:00 pm: The Tribune Clout St. Blog has an article up with the latest in speculation/inside scoop on the Congressional remap circus. We've been hearing speculation for weeks that Bob Dold would be drawn inside Jan Schakowsky's 9th District. Insert your own Dan Seals joke here.

UPDATED X2 5/27/9:00 AM: The Senate version of the Congressional Map is now available. If this sticks, at least I don't have to change my blog name. But remember that this is not the final word, campers.

Republican Steve Newton Announces for Lake County Coroner's Race

The challenge to replace disgraced Lake County Coroner Dr. Richard Keller is going to be one of the more interesting county-wide races this year. As regular readers know, the county coroner's office has been caught up in several scandals and has been the victim of massive mismanagement under Keller's tenure. Whether the office will get straightened out under new appointee Artis Yancey is open to speculation, but he certainly can't do worse than Keller.

As far as I know, there is no indication yet from Yancey as to whether he will run for the office (assumedly as a Democrat) in 2012. But, meanwhile, Republicans are lining up to try to win back the office.

I received the following press release from one of these hopefuls, Steve Newton of Antioch, who worked for former and much-loved Coroner Barbara Richardson. Newton has a kick-off fundraiser coming up in June:

Steve Newton, of Antioch Township, is announcing his candidacy for the office of Lake County Coroner. He will be seeking the nomination as a Republican.

Newton has been involved in public service for the citizens of Lake County since 1991. In 2000, Newton was hired as a Deputy Coroner under former Coroner Barbara Richardson. After the retirement of Richardson and under the leadership of Coroner Jim Wipper, Steve was appointed Chief Deputy Coroner where he remained and served until 2007. He currently works for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

Newton is focusing his campaign on bringing integrity, respect and compassion back to the Lake County Coroner’s office. He brings hundreds of hours of specialized training and years of experience as an administrator inside the Coroner’s office to his platform.

“Throughout my seventeen years in public service, I have been afforded the privilege to serve the people of Lake County,” Newton stated. “During my tenure with the Lake County Coroner’s office, I had the opportunity to assist families at the worst possible times in their lives. Our focus was to ease the burdens that come with the death of a loved one and take every step possible to ensure families were provided the answers to questions that often surround a loved ones death expeditiously.” He added that, “Cooperation with area police and fire departments, as well as medical facilities and funeral homes across the county has suffered”, going on to say, “ I will make every effort to rebuild those relationships to what they once were when elected.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

State Senator Dan Duffy Continues to Buck the Establishment on Cushy Political Board Appointments

The Decatur Herald-Review has an in-depth article today examining the often low-work, high-paying jobs that are given largely to the politically connected here in Illinois -- many of which pay six figure salaries for not a lot of work. The article also features our own State Senator Dan Duffy, who has carved a bit of a niche for himself by calling a spade a spade whenever one of these cushy jobs gets filled by yet another political hack:

Duffy has made a habit in the past few years opposing one proposed board appointment after another while pointing out whatever political connection the appointee has.

"When I started talking about this, people told me, off the record, ‘This is what the majority party does, gives spouses and supporters these positions,' " Duffy said last week. "I'm getting flack from all sides. It makes everyone uncomfortable when I stand up and point this stuff out."

Consistently, Duffy also called out Governor Quinn for his ill-advised appointment of three-time lose Dan Seals to a six figure state job, whose job responsibilities are... shall we say... unclear. But that's OK, 'cause so are Seals' qualifications for the post.

Ah, Illinois, Illinois. When shall come the day of our deliverance from this cesspool of insider gladhanding and back-scratching? If only we had 15 more Senator Duffys in Springfield calling bullshit whenever the powerbrokers on both sides of the aisle tried this stuff, we'd be in much better shape as a state.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Calls for "More Makers, Less Takers" At Lake County Republican Federation Spring Dinner (UPDATED)

At the 49th Annual Lake County Republican Federation Spring Gala, well over 500 people came to share fellowship and hear new RNC Chairman Reince Priebus talk about his life story, and how he pledged to help make Barack Obama a one-term president. Federation President Sandy Stuart introduced Priebus, who told the energized crowd, "This country needs more makers and less takers!" Priebus's comments were followed by speeches from 8th District Congressman Joe Walsh and 10th District Congressman Bob Dold. The program was topped off by the presentation of the Robert J. Milton Award to former Lake County Republican Federation Executive Director Ant Simonian. Some pix are below.

Stay tuned for plans for next year's 50th Annual Dinner celebration!!!

UPDATED 5/23/11 11:00 am: Fellow blogger Nancy Thorner has a great play-by-play description of the evening's events up at Illinois Rewview, with lots more detail on the substance of Reince Priebu's speech than we are able to provide here, so go check it out. Thanks Nancy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Much Ado About the New Map (UPDATED WITH HOUSE MAP)

I was tied up yesterday, but while I was otherwise occupied, the Illinois Senate Democrats released their new District Map.

While many, especially Republicans, are flipping out about this, I would counsel people to take a breath. First of all, we have not yet seen the house map, and the two need to be reconciled.

More importantly, anyone redistricted out of their old district can run in a new one if any portion of the new district contains some of the old, if I understand the rules correctly. A winner would then have a certain period to move into the new district somewhere to be eligible to run for re-election.

So, campers, it's not the end of the world. And let's remember that the current map was also drawn by the Dems, and we've gained back some ground even in the State Senate, notably by booting Michael Bond.

So, let's see how things unfold. I have a lot of optimism that a re-energized GOP is going to do just fine in the next cycle, in spite of (or perhaps because) of the Obamawonder at the top of the ticket.

See many of you at the Federation Spring Gala tonight!

UPDATED: 5/21/11: We had a great night at the Republican Spring Gala last night, featuring RNC Chairman Reince Preibus (pictures will be coming soon), and we were surprised by the appearance of our GOP state legislators (Sid Mathias, Ed Sullivan, Jr., and Sandy Cole), who we hadn't expected to make it due to their being in session. Turns out, they canceled the session for the weekend, and sent all the legislators out of Springfield... and then they released the House map. Figures. So here it is. Here's some of the early reaction, from the Trib and the Illinois Statehouse News.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Senator Mark Kirk Weighs in on Oil Subsidies, Renewable Energy Tax Credits, and Other Environmental Issues (UPDATED: Kirk a "No" On Ending Subsidies)

Being an environmental lawyer, I like to keep up on the latest trends in energy policy, and I came across a splendid article going into great detail on the economic aspects of environment and energy policy views that are held by our new Illinois Senator, Mark Kirk. The nice folks at Energy and Environment Publishing gave me premission to reprint the article in full, which is set forth below.

UPDATED 5/18/11 9:00 a.m.: Yesterday, in a procedural vote on S. 940, which is a Democratic bill to largely end so-called 'big oil' tax subsidies and loopholes, Mark Kirk voted "no" to continue debate. Two Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, voted yes, and a handful of Democrats voted no, for a 52-48 vote.

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. http://www.eenews.net/. 202/628-6500

POLITICS: One Senate Republican, a climate believer, considers repealing oil subsidies (05/17/2011)

Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter

ROCHELLE, Ill. -- The flat fields here stop reluctantly at old screen doors of farmhouses dotting a countryside that changes mostly when corn covers or bares it. But something else is rising from these plains where trees are sparse: hundreds of wind turbines.

Illinois is among the fastest-growing states for wind power, rivaling competitors with steadier breezes because of its access to transmission lines and a major market in Chicago. The state ranked second in the nation last year in new development, with a 25 percent jump. Its capacity is now more than 2,000 megawatts, located mostly in a rural cluster of counties extending 200 miles from the metropolis. That's seventh-highest in the country.

The ramp-up is changing more than just the contours of the countryside. The turbines are also coloring the early Senate term of Mark Kirk, a Republican who is challenging his party's shifting position on renewable energy at a time when incentives are increasingly seen as an expensive Democratic priority.

The fields stabbed with turbines here represent a "new economy" that is threatened by the temporary life of tax credits that pay clean energy developers a subsidy for every kilowatt-hour produced, Kirk said in an interview. He believes the incentives, including grants that pay for 30 percent of eligible clean energy projects, should be made permanent.

"This sector represents a quintessential way to innovate our way out of a problem," Kirk said. "So you see the vast treasure and effort going in to develop this new American resource, and understand because of the uncertain hand of Congress, it's underperforming."

Kirk also supports rescinding tax breaks for oil and gas companies, which the Navy Reserve commander says reap "hidden subsidies" expended during U.S. military campaigns in oil-rich regions. He stopped short, however, of saying he would support a Democratic bill this week that targets tax deductions for the five biggest oil companies, suspecting that it has "a huge ideological component."

"In the grand scheme of things, I think Congress is slowly moving towards wiping out a lot of tax preferences in return for lowering corporate [tax] rates," Kirk said. "I think that would be a good move in oil and gas."

Climate is a 'long-term' problem

Kirk's energy outlook puts him in a small camp of Republicans, even if other Illinois lawmakers, of the conservative freshman class, too, support tax credits for renewable energy. It's a case of regional interest. Illinois has wind, not oil. Even so, promoting permanent subsidies strikes some as beyond their party's orthodoxy.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a 33-year-old elected in the tea party wave last year, believes clean energy incentives are "important." But to make them permanent would strip Congress of its oversight ensuring "we're getting a bang for our buck," he said.

Kirk is different. He criticizes Congress for not making the tax credits permanent years ago, a step that would give developers a "green light" to invest in energy projects, and also in research on things like advanced batteries for electric cars and in manufacturing plants for turbines and components.

Yet he distressed clean energy advocates last year when he abandoned his support for cap and trade on the campaign trail; he was one of eight Republican House members in 2009 to support legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions for utilities, industry and transportation. But unlike many Republicans, Kirk did not question the science behind man-made emissions and climate change.

Last week, he said climate change is a "long-term" concern. And the fix should be, too. Instead of the accelerated pace he supported two years ago, Kirk now says the political shape of Congress and the economic status of the country require a softer touch. Clean energy technologies will become competitive, eventually, with cheap coal and natural gas, he says.

"In other words, as you spur innovation and you hit the price points in the economy for an alternative energy technology or use to be cheaper, the economy will flip on its own," he said, noting several times that the Obama administration "wants to use regulation, trial lawyers and higher taxes -- a bludgeon against the economy."

Still, Kirk once supported steps similar to President Obama's newest energy priority, a clean energy standard. Kirk co-sponsored legislation in 2007 with Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and others to establish a national renewable electricity standard. He also supported legislation to repeal oil and gas tax deductions in 2008.

Kirk never 'too conservative'

Those things were possible, perhaps even required, for a Republican representing Illinois' 10th District, an affluent collection of north Chicago suburbs with a hands-on approach to selecting its lawmakers.

And Kirk saw it from the beginning. His first job in Congress was working as an aide for his own congressman, John Porter, a moderate Republican who promoted "debt for nature swaps" and opposed oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after traveling to the remote region.

The nature swaps never took hold, but Porter describes them as if they still make sense. He uses Rwanda as an example. The United States would forgive Rwanda's debt -- knowing it would never be paid back anyway -- in exchange for permanently preserving large stretches of natural areas.

At about the same time, in the mid-1990s, Kirk was working on Porter's foreign policy initiatives. He used to visit the State Department, where he would later work, for discussions on international climate policy, recalls Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

"Mark is a serious person, and maybe because he was a staff guy and maybe because he was at the State Department, I think he understands this in a way that a lot of other members do not," Claussen, who was an assistant secretary of State at the time, said of Kirk's climate position.

Several years later, in the months before Porter's retirement in January 2001, the veteran lawmaker wanted to stay neutral in the race to succeed him. All of the candidates had connections to him, and "I tried to stay out of it," Porter said in an interview.

He reconsidered out of concern that a candidate who was "too conservative" would win the GOP primary, handing the district he had represented for 20 years to a Democrat. So he endorsed his chief of staff, Mark Kirk.

"The district is very independent and always has been," Porter said. "People are very, very attuned to business and government both, and a lot of other pursuits. And [they] take the time to learn the issues and the candidates and aren't really much party-oriented."

Hearing, and hating, those towers

Now Kirk has other worries. He represents a state that hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988. But the balance is thin between Chicago's Democratic gravity and the Republican countryside, with coal mining in the south, industry in hardscrabble river towns, and rural Republicans throughout. Kirk won last year's Senate election by 1.01 percent.

His political base is among the turbines that rise in clusters, or sometimes alone, randomly sprawling for 10 miles along the muddy fields in this section of Lee and DeKalb counties. But the 145 turbines raised here two years ago by NextEra Energy Resources are fiercely opposed.

They whir in the wind, cast rotating shadows when the sun is low, and raise concerns about eroding property values. Some turbines are about 1,400 feet from homes, making them some of the highest objects this side of Chicago.

And they cost a lot of money to taxpayers, who pay 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power the project produces through the production tax credit. Other subsidies exist, and for what? some residents ask. The wind-slashing towers out here can produce 217 megawatts at maximum capacity, which is not often, residents say.

"The whole climate change thing is still highly debatable," said Dave Hulthen, 34, who built his house on a 4.5-acre patch of grass about 10 years ago. It was always surrounded by endless fields, and now is surrounded by turbines, too.

"Is there proof they've taken coal off the grid?" he asks. "Is it really good for America, or is it good for people who make money?"

Economists say that taken together, the Illinois wind industry is having a positive effect. The increased tax revenue benefits schools and police and fire departments, says David Loomis, director of the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.

Wind biz didn't 'turn out'

A report by the center last June found that the state's wind industry has created almost 10,000 construction jobs and 494 permanent jobs. The latter category has an annual payroll of $25 million, the report says. Altogether, the industry as it was last year will generate about $3.2 billion over the next 25 years.

Two hours away in Peoria, those aspirations haven't been realized yet. A Lucas & Sons Steel, a 150-year-old iron and steelwork facility near the banks of the workman Illinois River, received a federal grant of about $300,000 to buy equipment to build ladders and elevator cage systems for the inside of wind turbines.

Executives in the family company have been trying to land their first deal for six months. But European turbine manufacturers are still importing their own systems, despite the costs in freight, insurance and time delays, says Todd Cordes, the company's sales director.

"We've always kind of looked at the wind industry where our next bang would be. That didn't necessarily turn out," he said, adding that he still expects it to be "a great future business for us."

That illustrates the limitations of renewable energy tax credits, says Claussen of Pew. They're beneficial, but she believes they're not strong enough to spark the contagious expansion of clean energy that will drive the level of demand needed to quickly create new manufacturing and development. A clean energy standard or a price on carbon dioxide would stimulate the sector, in her view.

On the other hand, Lucas & Sons found an unexpected opportunity earlier this year. It began making steel components for truck-sized boxes containing generators used to produce electricity from methane gas at landfills. It now accounts for 20 percent of the company's annual business.

"That's a real nice setup for us," said Cordes.

Landfill gas projects receive federal subsidies that expire in 2013, unless Kirk realizes his aspirations to make them permanent.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lake County Republican Federation Welcomes RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to 2011 Spring Gala

The Lake County Republican Federation is very proud to welcome new Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to its 49th Annual Spring Gala, this coming Friday May 20th, at the Marriott Lincolnshire resort.

This is (with all due modesty, since I am the dinner chairman) the Republican event of the year in Lake County. Last year, for the Spring and Fall galas, respectively, we were proud to host Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney. And the food is pretty good, too. More details are below, but tickets are going fast.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to Speak at Lake County Republican Federation 49th Annual Spring Gala

Libertyville – The Lake County Republican Federation is pleased to announce that the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, will be the Keynote Speaker for its 49th Annual Spring Gala. The event takes place on Friday, May 20, 2011 at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort. The cocktail reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $100 per person and $1,000 for a table of ten. Additional sponsorship opportunities are also available.

Reince Priebus was elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee on January 14th, 2011. As Chairman of the RNC, Priebus has pledged to unite the Republican Party behind a solid business plan to restore faith in Republican donors and communicate to the American public to reach our common goal – electing Republicans.

A dynamic and successful chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Priebus played a major role in creating the framework that brought about one of the most historic election cycles Wisconsin has ever experienced. During his tenure, Republicans in Wisconsin not only defeated Russ Feingold by electing citizen legislator Ron Johnson to the Senate, but they gained two additional U.S. House seats, won the Governor’s office, took back both the state Assembly and the state Senate and defeated the leaders of both of those chambers.

"What Chairman Priebus has already achieved in Wisconsin stands as a model for all of us, " said Federation President Sandy Stuart. "I am sure his vision for the future of our party nationally will be of great interest to Republicans and Independents alike."

The goal of the Lake County Republican Federation's Annual Spring Gala is to raise the funds necessary for a successful 2010 election campaign. Proceeds will be used towards grassroots organizing efforts, upgrading technology, maintaining Lake County Republican Headquarters, and providing staff support for the Lake County GOP.

Call today to make your reservations – seating is limited. Contact Chelsea Stanley at (847) 680-6680 or email chelsea@lcgop.org.

The Lake County Republican Federation has provided service to Republicans for nearly 49 years. To learn more about how you can contribute with your time, talent, or treasures, visit www.lcgop.org or call Chelsea Stanley at (847) 680-6680.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Uncle Pat Takes Pity On Three-time Loser Dan Seals With State Job (UPDATED)

The Chicago Tribune's Clout Street Blog is reporting tonight that Governor Quinn has taken pity on poor Dan Seals, three-time losing candidate for the 10th Congressional District (as regular readers know, he lost twice to Mark Kirk and once to Bob Dold), and given him a cushy six-figure state job - Assistant Director of the Office of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Compared to another person in this office with a similar job title (don't know if Seals is repacing her or not), whose resume was a mile long, it's clear once again that Seals fails to measure up. Also, just for kicks, check out the website for the office - they appear to have more assistant and deputy directors than you can shake a stick at. Wonder how they decide who has to answer the phone and empty the garbage on any given day. Maybe they flip for it.

I guess the message here is that if you are going to be a losing candidate for office, better run as a Democrat because they will be sure to take care of you after you lose. This is pretty much par for the course, as former State Rep Julie Hamos was handed a nice state job by Quinn after losing to Seals in the primary -- a job even better than the one he just gave Seals, in fact -- as Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. More examples of this type of stuff abound.

Quinn even had been accused by some of trading a job for a vote for his tax increase to a then-legislator. Quinn, of course, denied the accusations.

What's the old saying? Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern.

I guess, at worst, we won't have Dan Seals to kick around anymore up here in the 10th District. (although, since Seals actually lived in the 9th District and never did move here, I guess in some technical sense, we never really did have him to kick around, ha ha)

Happy trails, Dan. Just remember to put in your 40 hours a week on my tax dollars, and hit the gym only during lunch, pal.

h/t Kelly Hodge BeLow via Facebook.

UPDATED 5/10/11 6:50 am: The Sun-Times has a short article up, in which Seals states his disinterest in running for office again. I guess he finally got the message.

The Message to Illinois Businesses Is Clear: We Have A Lousy Business Environment (Unless You Can Cut A Special Deal)

Not a lot of time to post today, but I can't help wondering if Governor Quinn has yet realized both the damage he has done to this state's business environment by raising taxes, or the trap he has laid for himself by cutting special deals for the likes of Navistar, Motorola and now perhaps Sears, just to bribe these employers to stay in Illinois.

Doesn't this compound the problem and force the state to rely even more heavily and disproportionately on the backs of small employers who can't negotiate huge tax breaks to make up the difference.

We don't care for unions much around here, but it's starting to sound like maybe Illinois small and medium size business will have to band together to be able to play on a level field.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Local Blogger Paul Mitchell Blows Whistle On Dem School Board Campaign Shenanigans in Grayslake D46 (UPDATED x2)

My pal and local blogger Paul Mitchell has done a yeoman's job of blowing the whistle on some very serious issues of apparent improper use of government resources for a local school board campaign, as well as outing what looks like at least discussions of the ramifications of skirting campaign finance laws. The Daily Herald has taken notice, and McHenry County's Cal Skinner has a great easy-to-digest overview of the incriminating e-mails.

Hats off to Paul for some great investigative work!!!!

Let's see what action the authorities take on all of this.

UPDATED 10:00 pm: Here's more e-mail analysis from Cal Skinner.

UPDATED x2 5/6/11 3:30 pm: The Lake County State's Attorney's Office is looking into the issue of the e-mails.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last Chance to Bowl With Congressman Bob Dold!

Tomorrow evening beginning at 6:30 pm is Bowling With Congressman Bob Dold at Hawthorn Lanes in Vernon Hills, a not-to-be missed event! RSVP to Meredyth at 847-251-3653 or

Former State Senator Bill Peterson Hosts Campaign Kick-off Event for Keith Brin for Circuit Court Clerk

Yesterday evening, a well-attended event at Deerfield's Italian Kitchen restaurant kicked off the campaign of Keith Brin for Circuit Court Clerk. Many elected officials in attendance were introduced by former State Senator Bill Peterson and current Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt introduced Keith and expounded on Keith's great service as her current Chief Deputy. Keith thanked the crowd and talked about his plans for the continued computerization of the office and other goals.

See more photos of the event at Keith's facebook page here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Gutsy Was Obama's Decision to Go Get Osama Bin Laden? (UPDATED: NO OBL PHOTOS TO BE RELEASED)

Reading and watching the various news reports coming out today about the details of the killing of Osama Bin Ladin, the thing that really kept chewing at me was how President Obama arrived at the decision to go in.

From what I've read, the intelligence was good -- the compound where Bin Ladin was hiding out didn't fit with the neighborhood, a trusted courier who the CIA had been tracking for years had been traced there, suspicious activity (residents burning their own garbage behind 12 to 18 foot high walls of the compound) was noted, and probably other details that the CIA/special ops people don't allow to filter down to the civilian ranks was also available.

But still, what if they were wrong? From what I've read, we went in alone -- having shared this intelligence with none of our usual allies, even Britian, Canada, etc., and certainly not with the Pakistan government. The image one gets reading some of these reports is our helicopters flying in low under radar, hoping they didn't get picked up by the air force of a sovereign country, with which relations are always a bit dicey. Then accomplishing a daring mission, with uncertain payoff. But a high return on investment if they were right.

Certainly a lot to lose for a President who has always weighed every decision to a nicety in the scales of political consideration.

So, what changed for Obama? Is this simply one "good call?" Is this further evidence of following the Bush tradition (e.g., Gitmo, other Bush policies that Obama found hard to oppose once in office) because he found it made sense? Or is it just that after two years, the on-the-job training is finally starting to pay off for Obama?

I'm not sure of the answer, but for today, based on what we've read, we'll give him credit for making a gutsy call. A real gutsy call, by his standards.

Of course, whether this gives him any more than a temporary political boost with $6 gas right around the corner, who can tell? And only the most politically jaded would ascribe Obama's newfound "guts" to political despiration to save his skin by rolling the dice in hopes of a big win. That's just not been Obama's M.O. Up till now.

So for today, we'll simply say, nice call, Mr. President. And we hope to see more of the 'cowboy' in Obama in the next year and a half, for the benefit of us all.

And now, for the oppposing view: If you wonder at a Republican giving props to Obama, check out our friends at Ellen of the Tenth, where peacenik (and former 10th District congressional candidate) Lee Goodman vilifies Obama's handling of the situation. Goodman didn't exactly say Obama=Bush, but he might as well have.

UPDATED 5/4/11 1:45 pm: In a reversal of where we thought things were headed, President Obama has decided not to release the photos of the slain Osama Bin Laden, fearing that they would be used as propaganda tools by terrorists. While some have noted that fear or reprisals didn't stop the NYT from printing the Abu Ghraib photos, even though the release of such photos carried the same risk, we think this is another level-headed decision by the Obama administration.

We promise not to let this viewpoint become a habit, however.

Alexi to Teach at NU? But Will He Claim Himself a "Professor?"

Shia Kapos at Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that former U.S. Senate candidate and former State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias will be teaching a course at NU (we assume the undergraduate school, not law or business, etc.) entitled "Campaigning vs. Leading."

Kapos also reports that Giannoulias is still weighing various offers to return to the financial sector, which I have also heard from sources close to Giannoulias. Those same sources tell me that Giannoulias definitely plans a return to politics... maybe even as early as 2014, should current senior U.S. Senator Dick Durbin decide not to run again.

Giannoulias better be careful about what title he claims with respect to his new gig, though. Kapos informally refers to Giannoulias as "Professor" with respect to his new teaching gig, but as three-time loser Dan Seals found out, that title has a particular significance in the academic world, and you better make sure you have a specific apppointment as an adjunct "professor" before you start running around claiming that title. I have little doubt that Giannoulias is a bit smarter than Seals, though, so we'll see if he get tripped up in that issue. Heck, it even caused a bit of a problem for now-President Obama at one point.

So, a word to the wise, Alexi: just be careful how you talk about that teaching cred next campaign.

Now That Bin Laden Is Ended, What's Next In Terrorism Fight?

It's great that we finally nabbed Osama Bin Laden. It's a shame that it took 10 years and two presidential administrations. It's interesting that some Republicans are already fretting about the boost that this may give President Obama's re-election chances, but on that issue, I'm not overly concerned that it's going to be an issue. We didn't get Bin Laden because of Obama's strategy succeeding where Bush's failed. And if we have $6 gas next November, who will even remember that Bin Laden was killed on Obama's watch?

But I digress.

I'm more interested in what this means for the future security of America, and where we go next in our struggle to defend our way of life against terrorists. Now that even Superman has abandoned the "American Way," what's next?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Judge Dan Shanes Kickoff Event Huge Success; Upcoming Events for Keith Brin, Bob Dold

Campaign season appears to be heating up, ever so slightly, despite the fact we have over 18 months until the general election (but only around four months until we begin passing petitions for the next primary, if you can believe that!). This past Wednesday, I helped host a great event for Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes at Opa! in Vernon Hills (Shanes is running for election in the 3rd Judicial Subcircuit, which includes parts of all of Mundelein, Vernon Hills, and Buffalo Grove). The room was absolutely packed with well over 100 in attendance, including many lawyers and judges, notably new appellate court Justice Joe Birkett (pictured with Judge Shanes) and many others.

Meanwhile, Keith Brin, Deputy Circuit Court Clerk, who has announced he's running for Circuit Court Clerk Sally Coffelt's job, in the wake of her retirement announcement, will host a campaign kickoff event at the Italian Kitchen, 648 Deerfield Rd, in Deerfield, this coming Monday, May 2, beginning at 5:30 pm. Tickets are $25 but sponsorships are available. Check out Keith's facebook link for more information. Free photo op with Keith and TA for those attending!

Also, another fun (and family friendly) event will be hosted by Congressman Bob Dold of Illinois' 10th District, which is a family bowling night this Friday, May 6th, at Hawthorne Lanes in Vernon Hills. More info here. Come bowl with TA and the Dold Team! RSVPs are required and tickets are $100/family. The fun begins at 6:30 pm.