Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Is Ill. equivalent of college student who perpetually asks for extensions?

Thinking back to college, I can recall certain fellow students of mine who never could manage to make a deadline when it came to submitting papers for class. They were the ones who thought nothing of asking for extensions – and thinking that it was their right to have the additional time.

Everything always goes to the last minute
Which has me wondering if Illinois state government shares the same mentality!

I COULDN’T HELP but have that thought pop into my head when I learned Monday about the Illinois attorney general’s office asking for an extension of the June 9 deadline for coming up with a new law that permits certain people to carry pistols on their persons in public for self-defense purposes.

A Chicago-based Court of Appeals for the Midwestern U.S. set a 180-day timeline early this year for the General Assembly to act. But as of now, with just under 40 days remaining, the Illinois Legislature isn’t anywhere close to agreement on what should be done.

That is why the Capitol Fax newsletter in Springfield reported that the attorney general’s office wants something resembling an extension.

The General Assembly would still be expected to do something before the June 9 deadline (actually before the May 31 date that the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the summer).

BUT IT IS pretty certain that no matter what action the General Assembly takes, there will be legal action in response. That is what the attorney general’s office wants to be able to account for in their own filing.

For without an extension (30 days is what the attorney general is asking for), the deadline for the state to file all its petitions in any case would come before the end of session (by three days, to be exact).

So maybe there is some cause to think this might be reason to grant something resembling an extension of time. Although I wonder if the Supreme Court of the United States will view this as some sort of partisan effort and decide to play the role of the hard-assed college professor.

No extension. No quarter! No Mercy!!!

ALL I KNOW about this particular issue is that regardless of what happens (or perhaps if nothing happens and we wind up reaching June 9 with nothing put in place by the General Assembly), there won’t be any serious attempt at movement until the absolute last minute.

Just like the lazy ol’ college student.

I recently spoke to an Illinois House member (who voted for the “may issue” and against the “shall issue” attempts that came up earlier this year) who says he’s convinced nothing will happen until May 31 proper.

It will be one of those notorious last-day deals, perhaps pushed through in the final hours of the 2013 spring session of the Illinois Legislature.

IN FACT, THIS particular legislator says he expects the same fate for gay marriage, expanded casino gambling and approval of a state budget with pension funding reform measures.

“Concealed carry” may well be so controversial that it will be the absolute last vote taken by the Legislature. As though gay marriage or gambling isn’t controversial enough.

A part of me wonders if the hard-liners on firearms issues will be even more hard-headed about wanting to carry a pistol if they feel “forced” to accept anything going along with gay marriage. I’m talking about those individuals who often appear as though the reason they’re pushing for “concealed carry” so vehemently is because they want their view imposed on the majority (the urban part) of Illinois.

As sorry as that might sound, there is a degree to which issues become intertwined with each other when they’re all considered under the Statehouse dome.

WHICH MIGHT MEAN that asking for a few days more time to handle the inevitable legal appeal may be the most rational course of action!

It might also be the only bit of rational action that occurs related to state government this year.

  -30-

Monday, April 29, 2013

Some don’t see beyond Roosevelt Road; they miss Chicago character

I wish I could say I was shocked and appalled to learn that the Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep high school baseball program got a victory by forfeit Saturday night because their competition – Walter Payton College Prep – refused to make the trip to the Roseland neighborhood to play the game.
A world of difference beyond geography

Payton Prep is a relatively new school in the Near North area near downtown Chicago. It is an upscale part of the city; albeit not that far from what once was the Cabrini-Green public housing complex.

IT IS THE mirror image of Roseland – an old neighborhood on the city’s Far South Side (around 111th Street and Indiana Avenue) – in so many ways.

So to read the accounts published in the Chicago Sun-Times that some parents of children on the baseball team refused to let their kids make the trip sounds way too predictable – non-black parents automatically thinking that the overwhelmingly-black neighborhood is dangerous because it isn’t just like their community.

It is a bad stereotype in so many ways -- even though Payton Principal Tim Devine told the Chicago Tribune that "leadership issues" within the baseball program (and not racial attitudes) were to blame for the forfeiture.

In fact, the racial issue is an attitude that is the real problem behind the crime problems – people who are more than willing to ignore certain parts of Chicago and try to pretend as though they don’t exist. As though some city residents aren’t worth as much as others.

THERE ARE THOSE people who make a point of moving to the city upon completing their education and thinking of themselves as particularly urbane – even though they usually live in a version of Chicago that stretches about as far west as Western Avenue and as far south as Roosevelt Road.

And in their ideal take on Chicago, Lake Michigan would be within constant eyesight. Because life gets too uncomfortable for them away from the north lakefront.

Yes, I’ll concede the lakefront has its perks. It offers some of the benefits that make city life worthwhile. There is something special about those neighborhoods.

And I’ll also concede that the Roseland neighborhood isn’t exactly a place where I would want to hang out on a regular basis. Mostly because the neighborhood is old and has been allowed to decay to the point where it is not one of the city’s nicer communities.

BUT EVEN THAT decay is due to the fact that former residents (a lot of those white ethnic types who fled decades ago and never think of visiting the old turf) want to believe that it is no longer worth preserving because the people who remain aren’t exactly like them in every respect.

So for those who want to blame the current residents for letting the neighborhood rot away, keep in mind that there are others who would interfere with any effort to bolster the neighborhood.

They’d rather see the resources put into the places they’re currently residing in.

It’s not a simple matter of placing the “bigot” label on certain individuals for wanting to pretend that places like Roseland do not exist.

THEN AGAIN, IT’S very easy to say that the people who want to argue that bigotry has nothing to do with this situation are really just individuals who don’t want to be called on their trash-talk.

This willingness to separate ourselves even within the Chicago city limits is the problem that threatens all of us. We need to start thinking of ourselves as one city; even if we are so many varied communities of differing people within the overall municipal boundaries.

Saturday’s high school baseball forfeit is a bit of evidence that some people are determined to keep us apart.

To the point where I suspect that if Cabrini-Green were still in existence just a few blocks from Payton Prep, those parents probably would refuse to let their children attend school there!

  -30-

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Who says Mayo Clinic has a clue? Prosecutors want Jackson health issue

All through the whole Jesse Jackson, Jr. saga, there have been those (usually with an ideological or racial leaning – if not both) who have insisted that all the talk of the now-former Congressman needing medical treatment was some sort of scam.

JACKSON: Will his health be on trial?
The fact that he got admitted to the Mayo Clinic and underwent treatment? Not swayed. They probably want to believe that the Rochester, Minn.-based clinic is somehow on the take; perhaps a part of a criminal conspiracy that perhaps they should be prosecuted for as well.

A WHOLE LOT of nonsense talk is what it really comes down to. The people who have wanted Jackson out of office for years, if not just over a decade, want him out for ideological reasons.

They’ll take whatever grounds they can get to find a reason to depose him.

And those people, I’m sure, are going to be loving the rhetoric that we’re going to get from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where on Friday a federal judge scheduled July 1 as the date that Jackson will face sentencing.

Because the prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office who are seeking to get a prison term for both Jackson and his wife, Sandi (the former alderman) are making it seem as though they want to use Jackson’s bipolar disorder diagnosis against him.

THOSE PROSECUTORS SAY they want their own medical experts to examine Jackson, on the off-chance that defense attorneys try to bring the issue up as a factor in sentencing.

As much as people complain that defense attorneys are willing to exploit a medical condition for the benefit of their clients/defendants, it is just a true that prosecutors can easily come up with their own “expert testimony” to refute any point that someone tries to make on their own behalf.

Yes, it bothers me that prosecutors are going to be feeding off the sentiments of those people who are so eager to dump Jackson from power that they’ll believe anything.

SANDI: What she gets for signing tax form
It ensures that this particular aspect of the case will linger for far longer than it deserves to.

PERSONALLY, I DON’T comprehend much of the animosity – particularly since those who were opposed to the Jacksons ultimately got what they wanted. They’re both out of political office and in situations where neither is ever likely to be capable of holding a political position of authority again.

The critics are getting what it was they wanted (and putting the rest of us through that whole ordeal of watching that special election cycle that bordered at times on the absurd). It’s as though now they’re getting greedy and demanding ultimate punishment.

Perhaps they think it has to be something more than the roughly 14 years of real time that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is now serving at a federal corrections facility in Colorado?

I noticed one anonymous (of course) Internet commenter who claims that anything less than five years in prison for each Jackson is unjust. Even though the maximum sentence Jesse, Jr. could get is five years, while sentencing guidelines say the maximum for Sandi is two years.

THE JACKSONS (AS in the political family, not the musical one) are out of office and headed for prison. They’re going to suffer. Like I stated earlier, the ideologues are getting what they want!

But let’s not overdo things. Retribution for retribution’s sake makes all of us in society look sorry – even those who don’t support it but do little to nothing to stop it.

Which is why I’m hoping the federal judge in this case (also named “Jackson,” but not related) has enough sense to not let this issue get all out of hand during the sentencing.

The last thing that a criminal sentencing needs to devolve into is a medical diagnosis!

  -30-

Friday, April 26, 2013

“Better late than never” rarely works when it comes to electoral politics

Bill, Billy, William!.

DALEY: A little late to be entering race?
For all the time William Daley has been involved in government and electoral politics at its highest levels, you’d think that he would know better by now.

BUT I JUST can’t help but snicker at the report about Daley – the son and brother of Chicago mayors, and a presidential cabinet member and chief of staff in his own right – saying he’ll let us know within the next two months whether he will give us the chance to make him our governor.

The 2014 election cycle dynamic may be uncertain when it comes to the Republican part of the equation (other than to say it won't be Aaron Schock and that I'm skeptical it will be Bruce Rauner, who can't seem to decide if he lives in a downtown high-rise or in a North Shore suburb). But when it comes to the Democrats, it is a bit more certain.

Incumbent Pat Quinn is going to seek another full term of his own and will get the support of the goo-goos (the good government types) and a few other people who have always bought into the rhetoric of the “Mighty Quinn” when it comes to government reform.

Which means he’s likely (and unfortunately, in my opinion) to get his clock cleaned by the political aspirations of Lisa Madigan, the state’s attorney general, who has long been in that position preparing herself for the RIGHT TIME to make her own bid for one of the top political posts.

THERE ARE VARIOUS reports indicating that Madigan already is drawing significant campaign contributions from the political establishment who view Quinn as the guy who got the post because of Blagojevich’s impeachment.

As in, his time is done. It’s time for Quinn to be a good boy and leave so that someone more serious (as in aligned with the political and business establishment) can take over.

QUINN: Giving it the old college try
There are various polls indicating that Quinn’s support is limited, and that Madigan actually has the appeal to reach out to a significant share of the electorate – then go on to clean the clock of whichever GOPer manages to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination for next year’s election cycle.

I really believe that if Daley were to get involved now, he’d wind up getting his clock cleaned as well by the Madigan types – who will not want to offend the high-and-mighty Illinois House speaker by daring to appear to act against his daughter.

NOW IF THIS were a campaign for a political post at City Hall, then the dynamic would be reversed. The organization types would be inclined to take a Daley seriously and would be dismissive of a Madigan bid just because that's the way things are (which all too often is the logic upon which our government is based).
MADIGAN: A premature winner?

But this is for the Statehouse in Springpatch, as in Illinois state government – which has for the past four decades been the domain by which Mike Madigan asserts his influence over our political structure.

A Daley in charge of the Statehouse scene? You might as well talk about building the Chicago White Sox a new stadium in the Sauganash neighborhood!

If Daley were serious about a gubernatorial bid (I don’t doubt he’d like to hold the position, but wanting it isn’t the same as being capable of getting it), he should have used his assets (financial and political) to take such an early lead that he would have scared Lisa Madigan off into thinking that maybe a fourth term as Illinois attorney general was in her best interests.

DALEY WILL TELL us in 60 days what he will do? Heck, he should have told us at least 60 days ago, or else accept the fact that his future for the time being is not going to be the latest state chief executive who spends minimal time actually living in the Executive Mansion. Why else would brother Rich have given the bulk of what was left of his mayoral campaign fund to charitable causes, unless even he suspected that his brother’s gubernatorial talk was little more than hot air?

Daley told a gathering in McHenry County earlier this week that “there are some good people who are looking at it also. The state’s got to change.”

He’s right. There is a certain need for change in the political ways of our state. Yet somehow, the thought of picking a Daley for the position sounds too much like doing things the old way.

And I doubt I’m the only person who thinks that way.

  -30-

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicago: it’s so many cities in one!

What I most enjoy about the character of Chicago is that it has so many characters.

The differing neighborhoods and elements of society that come together within the city limits literally create a condition in which you could take two life-long Chicagoans, compare their stories and find totally different circumstances.

I wish the lettering could remain beyond the museum exhibit's end in May. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
 
YET THEY’RE BOTH fully legitimate in claiming their “life-long” status that might come across to some as boasting. So be it.

It creates for an area where if one is diligent and adventurous enough to travel about the city, one can encounter so many differing experiences. I might be approaching age 50 in just a few more years, yet there are still unseen delights I feel the need to experience without having to travel anywhere.

Which is why this weblog, on many occasions, has proclaimed the wonderfulness of Chicago – even if there are certain elements that might make some people question our sense, even if they truly do add to the overall character of the city.

Life isn’t always pretty, and Chicago at times reflects that reality – while also creating a sense of hope that these problem areas (which in some cases are only problems if your sensibilities were formed by rural communities that were isolated from the rest of the world) will be overcome.

MY NEED TO state a perspective about Chicago was inspired by the New York Times, which on Sunday published what purported to be a “book review” about three new volumes written about differing aspects of our city. Although I have to confess that I saw it, put it aside to read until later, and didn’t get around to it until after I heard from others about how allegedly “outrageous” it was.

Some have interpreted the essay by DePaul University drama professor Rachel Shteir as being a “hit job” on the city. How dare this dame from Noo Yawk say anything bad about us!?!

The one-time 'world's busiest' corner
I’m not going to get all worked up over her, in part because I don’t know anything about her. Although from reading this essay, I get the sense she wishes she were in New York.

And not just anywhere, but Manhattan – the downtown area. The glitz and glamour, and the kind of people who think places like Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens are an embarrassment to be hidden away.

EVEN THOUGH I’D argue they are the “true” New York that give that city its character. The kind of people who get worked up over Manhattan are the same kinds who think all those touristy joints out on Navy Pier are the “true” Chicago.

She can have her opinion. I really don’t care. I remember when I lived in other cities, I was considered the insufferable one because I could easily talk about the wonders of Chicago, and couldn’t wait to return.

Although the one line from her essay that caught my attention was her bit that Chicago winters seem more mild these days, “thanks to global warming.” I’m sure the ideologues who want to believe that global warming is a liberal myth will spend the rest of their lives hounding her for expressing such a sentiment.

The way City Hall, the state government building and the former Bismarck Hotel come together make Randolph and LaSalle streets an intense political intersection.
 
But back to Chicago and what makes it unique, and why we realize that people like Texas Gov. Rick Perry are just being "dinks" when they try to trash us and steal our business entities. Deep down, they probably wish they were us.

WE HAVE THE cultural and business amenities (the symphony orchestra, the mercantile exchange, just to name a couple) that ensure the city has significance beyond the occasional “Chicago” dateline that crops up in out-of-town newspapers when they publish stories about the occasional crime occurring here.

Some still wish they could shop here
Yet we also have vibrant neighborhoods that exist in-and-of themselves. There are those people whose lives don’t revolve around a downtown viewpoint. You can even take your pick about what to see. What some claim as excessive segregation is also the notion that so many differing groups have their own communities – rather than a generic mish-mash of people that loses its character.

One can easily find the downtown hustle and bustle of millions of people co-existing (which personally, I have always found to provide a greater sense of privacy than being in a tiny community where everyone feels compelled to mind the business of everybody around them).

But just the other day, my duties in writing for one of the daily newspapers in the suburbs took me out to the shores of Lake Calumet.

You could almost forget you're in Chicago ...
I’M TALKING THAT body of water that usually is kept fenced in by the Illinois International Port District – but which also has unique environmental opportunities.

It was a trip to be standing out in the prairie grass just a few feet away from the water feeling that sense of isolation – yet also knowing that if I turned to the south, I’d be able to see the Port of Chicago. And a view to the east would show me the Bishop Ford Freeway and the structures of the Pullman neighborhood off in the distance.

Yet at no point was I outside the city of Chicago. The city limits were literally about three miles further south (and the state line about three miles to the east).

... until you turn around and see the Port of Chicago in the distance

Chicago is, the hope that someday a Lake Calumet might actually be revitalized enough to show that nature and urban life can co-exist.

IT ALSO IS, the belief that the oft-random violence that occurs here (and in other places too, check out the “Five dead in Manchester, Ill.” story that cropped up Wednesday morning) really is of the fluke nature and does not define our essential character. The way we respond to it does.
 
And it is that sense that we have easy access to those cultural amenities. I once had a friend try to downplay that aspect by snapping, “Who goes to the Opera every day?” Yet it beats not even having the option!

A Cub-free zone!?!
In fact, about the closest I can come to a negative about Chicago is when the talk turns to baseball and the Chicago Cubs.

That much losing on a steady basis can be downright depressing. Thank the Lord those of us who couldn’t take it without experiencing mental collapse have another ball club to follow.

  -30-

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EXTRA: Trotter gets community service, 'concealed carry' headache

So much for those people who were waiting with glee at the thought of state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, being found guilty of a criminal offense and winding up doing jail time – while also adding to the list of people from around the Gresham neighborhood (Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., county Commissioner William Beavers and Trotter) who were facing some sort of criminal charge.

TROTTER: Sentenced to stay in Springfield?
It had some wondering just what was it about that particular part of the South Side that caused the local voters to pick such rummies as their elected officials – no matter what the political post!

BUT WHILE JACKSON and Beavers face the prospect of some time in a federal correctional facility, Trotter’s offense wound up being negotiated down to the point where he was willing to plead guilty on Wednesday.


The one-time felony charges that could have forced Trotter out of office and into a state corrections facility for a spell became a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct.

Trotter gets one year of court supervision (which, unlike probation, means he does not have to report to anyone on a regular basis) and also must do 60 hours of community service.

Which means the political smart-alecks can get all worked up at the thought of Trotter – the high and mighty state senator – having to pick up trash alongside the road for a few weekends.

TROTTER, OF COURSE, was the guy who back in December got arrested at O’Hare International Airport after a pistol was found in his carry-on bag. Trotter has a permit that claims the weapon is part of his outside job working for a security firm.

What is it about So. Side neighborhoods ...
But it IS an airplane, and people do tend to get paranoid under such circumstances. Which is why Trotter wound up having to spend the past four months with a felony charge hanging over his head.

Of course, this all became a matter of bad timing, since it came at the exact moment that Trotter was to try to replace Jackson in Congress. He also had the backing of the political powerbrokers who could have easily pushed Donne through the process and onto Capitol Hill.

... that picked all three of them?
It is ironic that the eventual winner, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., campaigned so heavily on gun control issues. Since one could easily argue that it was the pistol in Trotter’s bag that got her elected to Congress.

BECAUSE IT’S UNLIKELY she could have put up much fight had the Democratic committeemen who wanted Trotter in the first place been capable of putting their full muscle behind him!

And now Trotter gets to be among the people who have to cope with the range of issues from pension funding reform to "concealed carry."

What a headache! Particularly since you know the partisan smart alecks are going to find a way to make a joke out of however he winds up voting on a "concealed carry" measure in the state Senate.

  -30-

21 smoking age? Who’s kidding whom!

I recall a conversation I once overheard between I couple of guys I knew – one of whom was upset that a local gas station would no longer sell him cigarettes without giving him a hassle.

Got to get to them young to stop smoking
The two guys then went through a list of local businesses, literally identifying which ones were willing to provide the tobacco products with ease, which would not and which would require a certain amount of dickering around with the sales clerk!

THIS MAY SOUND like a picayune matter. Something rather petty and a complete waste of conversational time.

Except when one considers that this conversation took place about a third of a century ago (I really am getting that old) back when I was in Junior High School.

Which means I was 12. So were the other guys – neither of whom was a really close friend. But they weren’t exactly enemies or hostile toward me either, just like many people we all encounter in our lives.

This moment of my life popped into my head when I read the newspaper headlines over the stories saying that 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas wanting to impose a new city ordinance creating a minimum age of 21 to be able to purchase cigarettes.

THE IDEA THAT anybody is waiting until anywhere near the age of 21 before deciding whether to take up smoking is such a silly thought. What a joke!

It almost makes me want to laugh something along the lines of Nelson Muntz from “The Simpsons” – who would probably then light up a cigarette and take a few puffs to show how ridiculous the concept truly is.

The idea that raising the minimum age at which someone can legitimately buy a package of cigarettes from 18 to 21 will do anything to reduce the amount of cigarette smoking is just downright absurd.

It really was at that much younger age that my generation picked up on the tobacco habit. If anything, I was always the exception in finding the very smell of cigarettes and sight of stubbed cigarette ash to be repulsive that I never took up the habit.

MOST OF THE people I knew who got into smoking started out at that very young age.

By the time they were 18 or 21 or whatever, they were too-well hooked on the habit that quitting was quite an ordeal.

While I am aware that there are statistics indicating that fewer young people are actually smoking on a regular basis, my gut reaction tells me that they are getting attracted to the nicotine habit at the same young age.

Heck, I have a 10-year-old niece whom I wouldn’t be surprised to see smoking someday (her mother, also my step-sister, smokes). Although I was pleasantly pleased one time when she happened to be in my automobile (a 16-year-old Saturn sedan) and she got offended at the sight of a cigarette lighter in the dashboard.

NEWER CARS JUST label that device as an outlet for the cellphone charger – which is how I use it.

But it makes me happy to know that someone has tried to put a message in her head that the use of tobacco products isn’t the nicest of habits one can acquire.

If we really want to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking, we have to get at them at that young age – 10, 12. Thirteen may be as old as one can get and have the message have any impact.

Focusing on 21? Cardenas might as well be one of those people who thinks that you can make people healthier by eliminating the 32-oz. tubs of pop at the movie theater!

  -30-

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Split villages know how to deal w/ issues; they can figure out firearms

To listen to the National Rifle Association, the reason there cannot be a bill concerning “concealed carry” that exempts Cook County is because of all the chaos such a measure would create in those communities on the border.

Some of these legislators can't comprehend split (by county) communities.
 
The ones that literally are split down the middle by the county line.

IT’S TRUE. THERE are municipalities that either are Cook County-based, but have newer residential developments that spill over the county line, or are based at the edge of the surrounding counties and have portions that cross over into the Land of Cook!

The NRA-type argue that the potential for chaos is too great – because an individual’s ability to get a permit allowing them to carry a pistol on their person for self-defense (allegedly, although I think it’s more about ego-stroking than anything else) depends on what part of town they live in.

And what happens if, in the course of daily business, a person happens to cross over the county line while remaining in their home town. Is their permit suddenly not legitimate because they happened to come to the attention of police while in the Cook County portion of town?

Theoretically, I suppose it is possible for this kind of chaos to occur. There might well be police officers who will dread the idea of having to pay attention to exactly where an incident occurred. God forbid if it happens that an incident happens RIGHT AT the county line (which usually is a street so innocuous that one doesn’t realize right away that they’re no longer in the civilized land of Cook County and have ventured into one of those bumpkin counties that surround us.

YES, I AM being sarcastic by phrasing it that way. There really isn’t any significant difference between the Cook County portions and the collar county portions of any municipality that happens to be split in such a way.

If anything, the split is a part of the unique character of those communities. Local officials are used to having to deal with different jurisdictions – particularly when it comes to the police having to figure out which state’s attorney’s office to contact and whether they’re dealing with the Medical Examiner’s office on the West Side or one of those coroners in the outer ring of cities at the edge of the Chicago area.

Which means I have faith in the ability of the local police to figure out for themselves how to handle the dichotomy that would occur should it turn out that any “concealed carry” measure winds up exempting Cook County as a political compromise that lets the rural communities of Southern Illinois have their pistol-packin’ mamas while leaving the portion that accounts for nearly half the population of Illinois to decide for itself what sensible restrictions ought to be in place for firearms possession.

The simple fact is that we have many laws in Illinois that are passed with exemptions for any community with 3 million or more people (which means Chicago is exempted) or 5 million or more if the intent is to exempt all of Cook. There even are laws written explicitly for Chicago and Cook County.

HONESTLY, I BELIEVE the fight by the firearms advocates over this issue is that they view it as a way of forcing the rural mindset onto the urban area that accounts for so much of Illinois’ population. An exemption totally undermines that effort!

Which is why the NRA types earlier this year talked of deliberately opposing any Chicago-oriented bills as payback for opposition to “concealed carry” and are now saying they would kill off any bill on the issue that tries to exempt Cook County.

Who knows? They might well find out that those communities that are split between the counties will try to push for local measures that would unify the municipality – most likely in favor of firearms restrictions for the whole community!

Gee, the idea of people realizing that a pistol in the hands of a panicking person who thinks their personal safety is at risk might be just as dangerous as all the “criminals” they want to fear! That probably hurts their ego more than anything else.

  -30-

Monday, April 22, 2013

Could Koch brothers breathe new “life” into Chicago Tribune? Define “life!”

I have to confess to having to fake outrage at the thought of the Koch brothers potentially becoming the new owners of the Chicago Tribune.

The Koch brothers' new Chicago office? The New York Times seems to think so
 
Yes, I disagree with the political ideals espoused by the brothers. And I think it would be cheesy for them to use the newspaper as an arm of their own personal propaganda.

BUT LET’S BE honest. We’re talking the Chicago Tribune of Col. McCormick. Seeing the newspaper being used in such a manner might well be completely familiar to the oldest of readers.

Even though McCormick himself died in 1955, it wasn’t really until the mid-1970s that his influence was really eradicated from the publication’s quirks. And there are some readers who are convinced that the conservative tendencies never really went away.

So the idea that the Chicago Tribune is a “conservative” newspaper? What else is new. It just means a different family name atop the mast-head.

Now the reason this is being stirred up again is that the New York Times on Sunday felt compelled to publish a story about how the Koch brothers – who have spent countless millions to try to influence elections with candidates of their ideological ilk – are among the entities who might buy the Tribune Co. publications.

IT ISN’T NEWS that they’re interested, along with several other entities – including Newscorp head Rupert Murdoch. But it seems that most of the business entities expressing interest in the Tribune Co. newspapers being for sale are really interested in buying the Los Angeles Times.

Murdoch himself seems to like the idea of taking over the LA Times just like his people took over the Wall Street Journal a few years ago.

Only the Kochs, the New York Times reports, seem willing to buy all the publications – including our city’s very own Tribune. Which is the preference of Tribune Co. types. They want one huge payday from a mass sale – rather than several deals for smaller amounts and the possibility that a publication or two might not be able to draw sufficient interest from would-be buyers.

Personally, I’d rather see the Chicago Tribune wind up in the hands of someone with an interest in Chicago proper.

BUT IT SEEMS that the only people willing to take on that kind of media property are those Wrapports types who took advantage of the Chicago Sun-Times’ lesser business status to buy themselves a daily Chicago newspaper with a lower price tag than the Chicago Tribune would command.

I don’t know if there is anyone else out there with the kind of whimsy to buy the Tribune – even if it gives them a chance to work out of that 24th Floor office that once was the working place of the Colonel himself!

So we may well get the Kochs as a part of our media scene – although personally I find that as less of a shock to the local scene than the idea that WGN-TV, WGN-AM, CLTV and ALL THE OTHER media properties that make the Tribune a news goliath will no longer be connected to the Chicago Tribune proper.

If anything, such a buy may well ensure the continued existence of the Chicago Tribune brand name, since the ideologically-aligned newspapers in our nation (the New York Post, the Washington Times and others) wind up with ownership who are more interested in using them for political statements and other ego-boosting activities.

WHICH MEANS THE financial bottom-line just doesn’t matter as much. If it did, the New York Post would have died decades ago! And the Times in Washington would NEVER have been created!

And I’ve always taken the attitude that I don’t care if newspapers are blatantly ideological in their leanings – so long as they’re honest enough to admit their biases.

Because the bottom line is that we all can simply ignore any publication that feeds us too much nonsense on its pages or its websites. That IS the real American Way – not the trite trash that the Kochs might choose to spew at us if they succeed in making this purchase.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

We’re headed for chaos! A ‘firearm’ situation as messed up as redistricting

The mere mention of firearms these days brings a blackened mood over the Statehouse, such as in this century-old postcard

Our state legislature is really a stubborn lot!

Just one day after the Illinois House of Representatives rejected a bill that would have permitted for a “concealed carry” law that would give great discretion to local police to decide who actually gets a permit to carry a pistol on their persons, the same legislators knocked down a measure that would have ensured just about anyone who wanted such a permit would be able to get it.

SO ONE DAY after the National Rifle Association types were able to crow about how they knocked down their dreaded bill, their fantasy bill got knocked down for the count.

Which means that what we have in Illinois is a situation where everyone is digging in their heels on the issue of gun control measures. They’re using their political powers to ensure that the other side doesn’t get what they want.

“Victory” is being defined as the opposition losing!

And the rest of us are confused about what will wind up happening.

BECAUSE WE’RE IN the situation where a Court of Appeals for the Midwestern U.S. (and based in Chicago) has given Illinois until mid-June to come up with a law that permits some people the ability to carry a pistol in public for their own defense.

If the court winds up having to get involved because the political people weren’t able to pull their heads out of their behinds, then we’re truly going to get a situation that everybody hates.

I suppose it’s possible that the next month-and-a-half could see our government officials come together and reach some sort of negotiated deal that could be approved prior to the state Legislature’s scheduled adjournment at the end of May.
Soon to be a common Illinois sight?

Then again, it’s always possible that the Chicago Cubs could play far above their abilities and actually win a championship of sorts. In short, fat chance!!!

ANYBODY EXPECTING SERIOUS compromise is missing the point of our modern-day government structure with all of its politically partisan leanings.

It’s kind of like the redistricting process, which in most decades winds up being resolved with a random lottery because the two sides can’t even come close to negotiating a serious deal on legislative and congressional boundaries.

The lottery process was written into the Illinois state Constitution on the theory that the randomness of it all (with one side getting absolutely nothing) would be so scary that it would force people to talk.

Instead, the natural greed of political officials makes them like the option of getting everything (with their opposition getting nothing) that they don’t even try to talk.

THAT IS THE same mindset at work here. Everybody is holding out for what they want – which in many cases seems to be ensuring that the opposition gets stuck with something they detest.

Such as the plans being put forth by the firearms advocates who think they’re making significant progress by including a few places (such as government buildings) in which people could not bring a pistol – even if they have a permit.

I can’t help but notice they insist that CTA trains and buses NOT be included on any exempted place. As in they WANT the ability to have a pistol on them if, by chance, they happen to be riding the “el.”

I’m sure they’ll give some jibberish about wanting to protect themselves from potential muggers. Although it strikes me more as the mentality of those people in other states who persist in carrying a holstered pistol while visiting a Starbucks franchise.

THEY JUST WANT to get in the face of people they see as different from themselves. It’s the bully mentality at work.

This may well be less about the firearms themselves and more about payback for the current partisan situation where the two-thirds of Illinoisans who live in the Chicago area predominate over the one-third that lives in the rural parts of the state.

After seeing the NRA-preferred measure go down to defeat Thursday, an NRA spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times, “Chicago’s not going to get their own permitting system.”
Will we hate it as much as these boundaries?

Is this really about the rural parts of the state asserting themselves on this issue out of some sense of political payback for the election results of 2010 and 2012?

YES, I’LL ADMIT to being wary of the firearms advocates and their interests – mainly because too many of the ones I have met seem to be a little too eager to have a legal justification to shoot someone else!

But I’m also aware of the definition of “compromise” and realize it means getting only a part of what we want – instead of seeing the results of a political stalemate, doing nothing and getting stuck with something we all despise.

Just think! We in Illinois could get stuck with a “concealed carry” practices that causes as much bickering as the redistricting process does.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

When it comes to this week’s heavy rains, let’s keep a sense of perspective

Learning that Gov. Pat Quinn was traveling across the Chicago area on Thursday to survey flood damage, and also held meetings in Springfield with high-ranking officials before declaring a “state of emergency” for all of Illinois, you’d think we suffered something of historic proportions.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathan Monken discussing Thursday's weather predicament makes things seem more ominous than they really are for most people. Photograph provided by State of Illinois
 
But let’s be honest. I really suspect that the bulk of us had our days tampered with much less than those individuals of West, Texas – the rural town near Waco where some fertilizer ignited and exploded.

THE END RESULT killed or maimed a significant portion of that town of some 2,400 people.

Most of us just had our lives inconvenienced by the rain – although I couldn’t help but notice that The Weather Channel Thursday morning gave equal play to both the Texas explosion AND heavy rains hitting DuPage County.

Some of us may have got stuck on the interstate for a couple of hours – turning their typical half-hour commute into an ordeal.

Others may have had their basements soaked. Although for many, that happens whenever there is a heavy rainfall. It’s not the end of the world as we know it!

IN MY CASE, I have a stinky bathroom. Or perhaps I should say, a stinkier-than-usual bathroom.

For it seems that the creek that runs right by my residence did rise to higher-than-usual levels due to the steady rainfall that began Wednesday afternoon and was still ongoing as I write this commentary on Thursday. Weather forecasts are predicting that Mother Nature’s waterworks will come to an end early Friday.

Whenever that creek level gets high, it interferes with the sewage lines in my neighborhood. In my case, the other end of the block gets hit with flooding.

My place usually sees the toilet bowl water levels fluctuate.

IN THIS CASE, I woke up to the feel of cold toilet water all over the bathroom floor. It seems the bowl overflowed sometime during the overnight hours.

My day started out with me having to mop up the bathroom floor. A couple of other times, I had to re-mop as more water came.

Yet we’re not talking about large amounts of water. It does not seem to be spreading to any other part of my humble abode. I have a smelly bathroom that I’m probably going to have to get down on my hands and knees and scrub clean before I’ll feel truly comfortable using again.

But that is do-able. It is not tragedy.

SOMEHOW, I SUSPECT my story is closer to the real-life impact – a minor inconvenience – of Thursday’s “state of emergency” than any images people would create in their minds.

Now if, by chance, someone out there reading this is suffering a major calamity, I feel for you. But it would be wrong to think that everybody is in that situation. Which is what I remember from the date Sept. 11, 2001 – which for many of us was merely a date on which we had to go home early from work when city officials evacuated the Loop – “just in case” something was plotted for Chicago too.

It wasn’t!

PERRY: Oh, be quiet!!!
The true disaster is that aforementioned incident in West, where as I write this some three people are dead and about 170 suffered some form of injuries. And about 50 homes were destroyed by the explosion – which some have said had the physical impact of the kind of bomb the military might drop on an enemy in wartime!

WHICH OUGHT TO be the focus of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s attention these days – helping those people in their time of need.

Instead of trying to defend those tacky radio ads his state is spending precious tax dollars to make ludicrous claims that the Lone Star State is a preferable place to the Land of Lincoln in any aspect!

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