Wednesday, April 30, 2014

EXTRA: Ill. still recommends $100M for future Obama presidential library

Do Ed Sullivan and ...
After all the hub-bub and excitement, the rants and rages, and all the talk of how sleazy and corrupt the deal was, it seems that an Illinois House committee STILL gave its recommendation to having the state kick in some funds to the effort that could someday see the President Barack Obama library and museum locate in Chicago.

Remember a few weeks ago when the Illinois House Executive Committee recommended the measure, largely because Republican members of the committee didn’t realize the committee was still meeting, even after expanded gambling was debated?

... other Republican members ...
THAT CAUSED QUITE the stink, to the point where Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, sent the proposal back to committee where it got reviewed again.

That occurred on Wednesday at the Statehouse in Springfield (rather than in Chicago at the Bilandic Building, as it occurred last time).

The committee met. People spoke. Outrage was expressed. And in the end, that committee voted 7-4 along purely partisan lines to recommend the bill that calls for the use of $100 million in state funds for the project – for which Chicago is competing against New York and Honolulu interests.

... of Ill. House Exec committee ...
This was never in doubt. The Democrats do control the General Assembly (and even if a GOP candidate were to become governor, he’s going to learn how unpleasant Michael Madigan can be to work with if one gets too pushy).

BUT NOW, THE Republican members of that committee are on the record as voting “No” against something that could be seen as supporting the image of the GOP “anti-Christ” himself – Obama!!! (That’s how ridiculous the rhetoric gets, at times).

... now have clear partisan conscience?
I hope Executive Committee Republican spokesman Ed Sullivan, Jr., R-Mundelein, along with committee member Reps. Renee Kosel, R-New Lenox; Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford; and Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, feel better. (I sense the sarcasm dripping from that sentence).

Now, nobody can imply they would vote “Yes” for something that might actually be a tourist attraction. Or at least more of an attraction than the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich.

And just in case anyone has any doubt, it is very likely that the Democratic margins of controlling the General Assembly will prevail. This WILL pass the Legislature and get signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn – no matter how much rhetoric is mustered up by the political opposition.

  -30-

Ranking term limits with debates and sombreros as mark of a loser

I have some very unofficial rules I have developed for myself during my time as a reporter-type person in determining the legitimacy of political candidates.

RAUNER: Money, and term limits?
The first candidate who complains that his opponent won’t debate him (or her) is a loser (and a whiner).

THE FIRST CANDIDATE who puts on a sombrero at a political rally, thinking it will get him the Latino vote, is un tonto – and a loser.

And most importantly, the first candidate to come out and try to make an issue of term limits is probably someone so insecure that the only way they think they can win is to create a situation where the opponent can’t even run!

The reason I bring this issue up is because of the degree to which Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner is trying to use the “term limits” issue to his advantage. A committee he's involved with will file petitions Wednesday to try to get a state Constitution amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Pat Quinn is a long-time political hack who shouldn’t even be allowed to run, is what Rauner would have us think.

HECK, RAUNER BACKERS are going so far as to remind us how Quinn himself once led an effort to try to impose term limits for state government officials. Meaning Quinn is now a hypocrite.

He should hang his head in shame and slink off into the political sunset. Unless you’re one of those ideologues who believes that any government official who doesn’t pursue a socially-conservative agenda is a criminal who ought to serve time in prison!

QUINN: '14 his last election?
Yes, I’m mocking the kind of people who get all worked up over term limits because they’re more interested in creating fantasy situations for government – rather than trying to present themselves as the best possible candidate who we, the people, ought to pick instead of some long-time incumbent.

Maybe it’s because I really do believe that the real “term limit” is Election Day, when we can dump anybody we really can’t stand. It does happen! Incumbents do lose!

MADIGAN: Is '18 her 'turn?'
INSTEAD OF TELLING us why we should want to vote for him (other than his primary rhetoric about how he’d be the guy who would dump all over organized labor), we’re getting cheap talk about how Quinn shouldn’t be able to run.

Quinn took this issue seriously enough that he came out and said this week he won’t be running again after this election cycle.

SHIMKUS: Broken promise?
For if he wins, it would be his second four-year term as governor, along with the couple of years of Rod Blagojevich’s last term that he was unable to complete.

Actually, that probably is enough time for any one person. It would be the way for Quinn -- the man whom we also remember for his token loser campaigns for U.S. Senate and Illinois lieutenant governor (in '98) to go out on top. Here’s hoping that if the Mighty Quinn prevails on Nov. 4, he keeps his word.

BECAUSE NOT ALL political people do.

Take Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill. He’s a member of Congress from near St. Louis whose district includes much of Southern Illinois. He first got elected to Congress in 1996, and he made a promise back then that he wouldn’t serve more than 12 years.

Let the voters decide?!?
By 2008, that promise didn’t seem to matter as much. He kept running. Heck, he’s still a member of Illinois’ congressional delegation.

Nobody in that district seems to hold it against him that he didn’t keep his word about term limits. I don’t even really get worked up about it.

IT JUST REINFORCES my viewpoint that when a candidate comes out and rants and rages in favor of limiting how long people can hold public office, what they most likely mean is that they want limits for people of the other political party who might challenge them someday.

Most certainly not for themselves!

  -30-

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are we really any different from Clippers’ owner when it comes to race?

I see that the National Basketball Association plans to make an announcement Tuesday to impose some punishment on the owner of the never-won-anything Los Angeles Clippers on account of his recent remarks to a girlfriend about how much he hates it that she associates with black people.

Clippers' unwelcome 'houseguest'?
But I’m not sure I see the point of such punishment for Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.

THERE ARE TIMES I wonder how many of the people who are piling onto Sterling these days have thought much about how guilty many of us are in feeling the same way that he does about modern-day race relations.

I heard a summary first of what was supposedly caught on tape of a conversation between Sterling and Vanessa Stiviano – one in which he lambasts her for associating with so many black people and makes it clear he does not want her to bring any of them around him.

When I heard the actual recording, I have to admit that it sounded much less incendiary.

By that, I mean it sounded much like the thoughts that are felt by many people all across the Chicago area who make sure they live in the “proper” neighborhood or the “right” kind of suburban community.

WHICH USUALLY TRANSLATES to them wanting to be surrounded by individuals just like themselves racially or ethnically. “Diversity” is a sentiment they may give lip service to, but often don’t really want to experience all that much of.

Unless, perhaps, it means eating out at an ethnic (albeit, not too funky) restaurant occasionally. Although some people don’t even want to go that far.

So the fact that Sterling doesn’t want to be around black people? I suppose that’s his right. And our benefit, because we really don’t want to be around him, either.

What does Doc think of his boss?
There are times that I think people like Sterling suffer the ultimate punishment, and it’s completely self-inflicted. They surround themselves with like-minded people, and they all wind up being miserable together.

ALTHOUGH I PERSONALLY think the real victim in all this are any black people who, by circumstance, are in situations where they have to be around him. Why be around a grouchy, miserable ol’ cuss like himself?

Let the rest of us experience our joy in life by not having to deal with people of the sentiment of Sterling!

I really don’t think that anything the NBA could say or do would have any real effect on the way he thinks – even if they went the route that Major League Baseball did a couple of decades ago when then-Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott (another ol’ cuss, even if of the opposite gender) let it be known that maybe there were a few redeemable qualities to Adolf Hitler.

She wound up being pressured to sell the ball club to less-outspoken interests. Just as some are saying that perhaps Los Angeles Dodgers owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson (also the one-time Lakers player) should buy out Sterling’s share of the Clippers.

IT MIGHT HAVE some sense of irony, in that it was Stiviano’s admitted admiration of Johnson that caused Sterling to go into rant-mode.

But somehow, I suspect it will just make Sterling (and his admirers, who are now keeping a low profile publicly) think they’re the “victims.” I can already hear their cries of “political correctness” running amok.

Personally, I think the worst thing that could happen to Sterling is if Stiviano and his wife, Rochelle, were to pair up against him. Currently, the wife has a lawsuit pending against the girlfriend because of all the gifts her husband has given to Ms. Stiviano.

Most attention Clippers ever received?
That’s the lawsuit in which Rochelle’s attorneys wrote that Stiviano, “engages in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce and then … receives as gifts transfers of wealth from older men whom she targets for such purposes.”

OUCH!!!!!!!!!

Just think of the damage they could do to him if they worked together? I don’t think the NBA could come close to matching that kind of venom!

  -30-

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chicago Yankees? Not as ridiculous as you might want to think it sounds!

I rooted for the New York Yankees when I was a kid (back in the era of Billy Martin vs. Reggie Jackson vs. Thurman Munson, all up against George Steinbrenner), and even today can’t count myself amongst the types of fans who claim “Yankee Hatred.”

Back when Bucky wore 'red' socks
I just don't see the point. Apparently, I’m not alone. Not even in Chicago.

THE NEW YORK Times last week gave us a graphic based off a Facebook study that determined how big each major league baseball club’s fan base was geographically.

It’s not the most scientific of methods – people who indicated they “liked” the Facebook page of a particular ball club were counted as “fans.” It's about as scientific as an Internet poll asking people if they're a "Brittney" or a "Christina." But the graphic literally makes it possible to see – by zip code – which team dominates the local baseball fans.

Guess what?

The White Sox dominate on Chicago’s South Side and surrounding suburbs going down to Kankakee County, while the Cubs rule/drool in the northern part of the metro area. And yes, the Cubs have a regional fan base that extends into the rural Midwest, while the White Sox are purely an urban phenomenon.

LOOK AT A national map, and you see a swath of baby blue across northern Illinois, eastern Iowa and northern Indiana. With a big black blotch right in the middle – that blotch being the White Sox fandom that screws up the Cubbie perception that they prevail over all in their path.

'Joey Pep' in baby blue
None of this should be a surprise. It fits in with the commonly-accepted, and century-old, idea of the South Side/North Side split between the ball clubs.

But what caught my attention while going through the zip-code through zip-code breakdown of Chicago was that there were also stray out-of-town teams that get some fandom here.

And in most cases, it really is the hated Yankees.

Half a season in 'other' pinstripes
RIGHT IN THE zip code where U.S. Cellular Field is located, 5 percent of the locals are Yankees fans. Just as in Beverly and in 60601 – the heart of downtown Chicago.

In Hyde Park, that figure of Yankees fans boosts to 8 percent. Although it should be noted that that one South Side neighborhood was the lone Cubs outpost to the south of Roosevelt Road – albeit by only 35 percent for the Cubs and 34 percent for the White Sox.

A native Chicagoan Yankee
Of course, this shouldn’t be a complete shock. Anybody who ever attends a ballgame when the Yankees make their annual trip to Chicago knows there is a contingent of fans root, root, rooting against the home team.

It’s like the Yankees have become the default favorite team – a trend that makes sense in parts of the country that have no other ball club locally to root for.

ALTHOUGH THERE IS one other thing I noticed – it seems to be limited to the South Side, where the Yankees are “Team Number Three” across the region. But to the north, it seems fans who don’t want to root for either black and silver or baby blue root for the Detroit Tigers or the Boston Red Sox.
It ended for Sparky at Comiskey

Go to Lincoln Park or Old Town, and it’s the Red Sox who are the next favorite team – 4 percent. Which might be all the more reason for a Sout’ Side Yankees fan to look down on the tawny set who reside there. While those living around Wrigley Field consider the Tigers their next ball club (4 percent) to root for.

For what it's worth, my favorite ballplayer as a kid was Yankees outfielder Lou Piniella -- even with that notorious temper. But my adult self always thought that his temper and Yankee ways just contradicted that Cubby blue.
NY "Louuuuuus" were Chi "boooos"

With all the on-field gaffes he had to cope with, it's a wonder he survived the experience to go back to New York as a part-time baseball broadcaster.
 
FOR THE RECORD, Cook County as a whole roots 40 percent for the Cubs, 38 percent for the White Sox and 4 percent for the Yankees, as opposed to 47 percent of Will County residents rooting for the White Sox, 37 percent for the Cubs and 3 percent for the Yankees.

Sound pretty contrarian? Perhaps it is. Although there was another figure I noticed that showed me the real malcontents of Chicago baseball fans. It’s 28 percent.

It is both the number of Wrigley Field-area residents who root for the White Sox AND people surrounding U.S. Cellular Field who root for the Cubs. Talk about people whose houses likely get egged every Halloween.

And those who spark a civil war each summer that only ends when the Chicago Bears pull their annual sports uniting act of the city each autumn.

  -30-

EDITOR'S NOTE: My own Facebook page doesn't indicate my "liking" of any particular major league ball club. But if anyone ever does a study of defunct professional sports teams, I'll turn up as a fan of the Chicago Sting.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Will Northwestern gridders feel fortunate they’re being allowed to play football? Or will they look out for self?

Members of the Northwestern Wildcats football program got their chance to vote on whether they can organize themselves as a union, but we’re not going to know the results for quite a while – if ever.

Ryan Stadium? Or a union shop?
I suspect if the university gets its way, we’ll never get a vote tally from the National Labor Relations Board. Just as they enforced the concept that the Evanston-based campus is private property, and they restricted who could be at the Welsh-Ryan Arena – where the voting took place.

SUPPOSEDLY, IT’S THE players who wanted this sense of privacy on Friday. Although I suspect most of them don’t really care either way, and it’s the university that doesn’t want the site of players talking to reporters about how much they’d like the additional protections that come about from unionization and collective bargaining.

The closest I ever came to being in this situation was a few months after I graduated from college, and I was writing for a suburban newspaper that was going through the process of trying to establish ourselves as a chapter of the Newspaper Guild.

We got as far as an election, and yes, I voted “yes” for union. But a slight majority of my colleagues voted “no,” and the union effort failed.

I’m sure the football players in recent weeks have been getting bombarded with information from both sides, trying to influence the young men of now how they want the football program to be in decades to come.

WHAT I RECALL of my own “union” experience is that I had to go through a summer and autumn of information bombardment before our election came about! Being told by one side how valued my talents were, and by the other how incredibly replaceable I was.

It was an intense-enough experience that I have no interest in going through that process anywhere else. Which I’m sure the Northwestern players will feel following Friday’s vote.

In listening to the rhetoric that has been spewed in recent weeks about the Northwestern situation, I can’t help but notice its similarity to my own memories. Some people want to emphasize how talented these particular athletes are, while others – particularly those who like to devote their lives to athletics – want to believe that people ought to be thankful to live in that world.

And if there happens to be circumstances involving injury that prevents them from playing any longer, perhaps it’s their own fault for getting injured. Some people (and not just in athletics) seem to be inclined to look the other way and ignore the problems that exist.

PERSONALLY, I’M INCLINED to think that the concerns of players about what becomes of them if they suffer a disabling injury is a legitimate one. Universities make enough money off their athletic programs that they ought to have some concern for the physical state of their players.

For as much as the big-time college athletic programs demand of their players with regards to time commitment for practice and promotion, it is difficult – if not impossible – for many of them to be serious students. Even if they were inclined to be!

Universities ought to be taking their students’ personal welfare more seriously. If anything, THAT is what I would hope would be the outcome of this labor situation.

Let the colleges improve conditions for their players to the point where those student-athletes would literally feel like they’re students just like everybody else on campus. And that the idea of needing a labor union to represent their interests would seem to them to be a tad bit of overkill.

  -30-

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chutzpah; even by local standards for government corruption in Cook

Carla Oglesby is a former staffer for Cook County government who received a prison sentence this week for allegedly figuring out how to divert county government contracts to a company she owned.

THOMAS: In charge of a TIF
Her behavior during the few months she was former county board President Todd
Stroger’s deputy chief of staff was so brazen that prosecutors called it the “rape of Cook County.”

YET IN THE ongoing saga that is government corruption in Cook County, she might not even be the most outrageous official this week.

A part of me thinks that honor goes to John Thomas, a real estate developer who now faces charges in U.S. District Court for allegedly using funds from a tax increment finance district connected to the marina in suburban Riverdale – which is just across the Cal-Sag canal from Chicago.

He had a court appearance Wednesday, and used his time following the hearing to complain that he’s the one who is being prosecuted.

Thomas also says he wants nothing more to do with the marina in Riverdale – as though if he can’t use its money to cover his own living expenses (the Chicago Sun-Times reported that he was covering the payments on his downtown condominium), then he no longer wants to be bothered with the facility.

THAT’S SOME ATTITUDE for a real estate developer to take. The real hard-core developers are the ones who think they can make money out of any property, in legitimate ways.

Of course, the degree to which Thomas was trying to skirt the rules of our society seem to extend beyond this one scam. He previously faced criminal charges, but managed to avoid prison that time because of the information he was able to provide about politically-connected developer Antonin Rezko (remember him?).

There’s also the fact that U.S. District Judge James Zagel had put restrictions on Thomas’ being able to use a telephone or the Internet (so as to reduce his contact with the outside world).

OGLESBY: In charge of Cook?
But the judge learned that Thomas is using his wife’s cell phone, and the Internet connection through Google TV to send out e-mail messages.

THIS IS A defendant who is going to have to be watched like a hawk while the criminal charges are pending. This is NOT a routine case, by any means.

Some $370,000 that he is alleged to have gained from the Riverdale Marina TIF was likely just the starting point. And while I’ll be the first to admit that Riverdale Marina has become decrepit, consider its potential if the money had wound up going to fix the place up.

Although the fact that Thomas was crass this week shouldn’t excuse Oglesby – who got the 6 1/2-year prison sentence for allegedly using her government office to divert $325,000 worth of county contracts to the public relations firm she previously operated, and also to some close friends.

What makes her case interesting is that all the activity occurred in a two-month time period.

OGLESBY HAD BEEN a spokeswoman for Stroger’s unsuccessful re-election bid in 2010, but she got the political consolation prize, of sorts, of being put on the county payroll during that time period between the primary election and the time late in the year when Toni Preckwinkle took over the post.

She wasn’t in government for long. But she appears to have not wasted any time in getting a benefit for herself.

Now I realize as much as anyone that the reason people work is for some personal gain. Very few people work for purely altruistic reasons.

But this is taking personal gain to an extreme. Even the idea that corruption is vague and hard to define doesn’t come close to justifying the attitudes expressed this week by either Oglesby or Thomas.

  -30-

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Oberweis still not a backer of needed reform of our nation’s immigration laws

I’m not the least bit surprised to learn that Republican Senate candidate James Oberweis remains opposed to any serious reform of our nation’s immigration policies.


OBERWEIS: Regards reform as 'amnesty'
A group calling itself the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition tried this week to convince Republican-leaning people that business interests would benefit if we did a serious revamp of immigration policies to eliminate all the bureaucratic flaws that currently exist.

I ALREADY CRITICIZED the group for relying too much on political historical figures such as Jim Thompson or Denny Hastert to try to sway a new generation of Republicans – one that wants to view the issue purely in ideological terms.

Such as James Oberweis, who is making yet another run for political office – this time for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Richard Durbin.

Oberweis, who has run for governor, Senate and Congress before finally getting a state Senate seat in Springfield, really seems determined to be a part of the Washington political scene.

Hence, the Senate campaign – he’s the “top” of the GOP ticket, even though Republican operatives will want to claim that gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner is.

OBERWEIS IS THE guy whose many past gaffes includes that campaign ad he ran a decade ago that stirred up immigration policy. The one that had him flying in a helicopter over a yet-to-be-remodeled Soldier Field, while telling us that the number of foreigners slipping their way into the country without a valid visa was large enough to fill up the Chicago Bears’ home to capacity every single day.

It was such a tacky viewpoint to have on the issue that the ad is still remembered. He’s going to have to live down the shame of such nonsense every day for the rest of his life.

On a certain level, he even realizes that. Oberweis is now saying his ideas were naïve and not well thought out. Meaning, he doesn’t want to be criticized for the ad any longer.

But has he really changed? Was he listening in the least when he attended the immigration forum held Tuesday in Chicago?

IT DOESN’T SEEM so. For Oberweis is still using the word “amnesty” to try to lambast the idea that immigration policy is flawed, and that we have to figure out a way to allow the nearly 11 million people now living in this country without a valid visa to remain legitimately, and openly.

RAUNER: No comment?
He talks of “non-immigrant visas” for adults who came to this country, as though he’s determined to keep such people in their own separate class. That kind of motivation is what causes much of the bureaucratic nonsense we get from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It’s when we get past that kind of thought process that we might be willing to move forward on immigration policy, and get Congress to finally approve something into law.

Because the status quo just doesn’t work. That ought to be the one point all of us should agree on.

I FOUND OBERWEIS’ opposition more humorous. Although Rauner’s thoughts, or lack thereof, also have their moments of jocularity.

The member of the 0.0001 percent of our society says he hasn’t really studied the issue, and also thinks this is something for President Barack Obama and Congress to resolve.

Technically, he’s right on the latter point. Although how many of those Congress members would be swayed by their governor taking a stance on the issue is something to wonder. Then again, trying to say nothing is in character for Rauner – who continues with his “Wizard of Oz” mentality.

The real Rauner?
 
“Immigration policy” was the curtain that Rauner didn’t’ want us to look behind on Tuesday. Does that make the Business Immigration Coalition the equivalent of Toto, ripping open the curtain to show us just how ordinary Oz/Rauner truly was – and is?

  -30-

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Catching gangbangers on bikes?

In theory, it sounds like it ought to make some sense.

Soon to be seen all over non-touristy Chicago
Yet the idea that special patrols in the city’s most street gang-infested neighborhoods will be put on bicycles just creates an image that might work against any such police efforts.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL made the announcement last week, saying that about one-third of the 360 officers assigned to units that patrol the heavy-gang areas have already been issued bicycles and trained how to handle themselves in potentially-hazardous situations.

But what happens the first time that a gang situation, which is all about intimidation, occurs and a police officer arrives at the scene while wearing his bicycle helmet and those short pants that bike riders would wear?

It’s about as unintimidating a sight as we could be asked to see. I don’t know if we’d have gang members laughing their tushes off, or what.

But we’d definitely be seeing a situation where an officer would be at a disadvantage – primarily because the whole idea of a cop on a bike is that he’s not bogged down with all the gear that might come in necessary in a potentially-violent situation.

THE WHOLE IDEA of police on bicycles can work at public events or in certain situations because they create the illusion that police are on hand, without creating an image that is too intimidating.

You don’t want to turn something like “Taste of Chicago” into a “police state” atmosphere! And Chicago definitely didn’t want to have an overbearing police impression (although it wanted the force of one) back when the whole NATO gathering in Chicago took place.

While I’m not convinced that creating a “police state” atmosphere in the Englewood neighborhood is the solution either (you’ll just create more resentment amongst the people who live there), it definitely takes more of a sense of intimidation to grab attention in certain neighborhoods.

I just don’t buy into the line of logic that Emanuel is offering up to justify this change.

WHICH IS THAT having more officers on foot in the neighborhoods will let people living there get to know the police better. And will make them more trustful of the police to the degree that they may have faith in law enforcement to protect them from the gang members.

Who get most of their power these days from the perception that they’re more powerful than the police! It certainly isn’t that they’re more well-liked than the police. People know who it is that is ripping them off and holding back their neighborhoods from ever amounting to much.

A cop on a bike would have greater maneuverability than officers in a squad car, particularly when chasing a person on foot who may try to dart and dodge into obscure corners of a given neighborhood.

Perhaps. But somehow, I think a gang member would be more intimidated by the sight of the squad car.

NOW I DOUBT that da mare is about to be influenced by this commentary. We probably will get more cops on bikes in the future.

I’m just curious to know what happens if a police officer is caught in public riding his bicycle without wearing his helmet. Will he get some sort of discipline? Because it is an offense that leads to unsafe conditions.

And what happens if the same gangbangers whom a police officer on bike is trying to catch wind up snatching his bicycle? Will being able to ride around on a city-owned bicycle become some sort of perverse status symbol for these people?

Or are we going to get our court system loaded up in the future with a backlog of cases of Grand Theft, Bicycle?

  -30-

You’d think it was still 20th Century by composition of immigration forum

“House Speaker” J. Dennis Hastert. “Governors” James R. Thompson and Jim Edgar.

Those were the “big names” for a political forum held Tuesday by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to try to persuade people that it’s good for our economy to revise the federal immigration laws so as to make sense of our policy.

SOMEHOW, I SUSPECT this collection from Illinois’ political past didn’t do a thing to persuade the ideologues of our society how their allegedly hardline approach to immigration (it’s actually more bigoted than anything else) reform is harming us. For all I know, the forum was regarded as a RINO-fest, and nothing more!

Then again, that is the real partisan split within the allegedly grand old party that is keeping so many issues bottled up politically.

Check out this weblog’s sister site, the South Chicagoan, for a more detailed account of what occurred at the Chicago Club. And whether or not anybody was listening to the men who are now nothing more than oil portraits hanging from musty political halls.

  -30-

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weekend shootings in the dozens; is this going to be a Chicago habit?

Initially, it sounded like one of those quirky stories that can enhance a news report – 36 people shot last weekend in a 36-hour time period.

EMANUEL: Looking to place blame?
Most of them survived – fortunately. But the 36 in 36 does have a nice ring to it – particularly since it happened only once. When would we get something comparable?

THE SCARY PART is that it only took one week. This past weekend, some 37 people were shot in Chicago, with nine winding up dying.

Is Chicago’s population now going to endure a three-dozen reduction each weekend? Somehow, I doubt the birth rate each weekend will balance things out.

Although I also find it saddening to realize that the last outburst of springtime violence came during the Easter weekend. The religious holiday devoted to the concept of rebirth wound up being more a tribute to the misery of Good Friday.

We’re also likely to get an outburst of the rancid rhetoric from political ideologues who are determined to want to believe Chicago is some sort of hellhole in which people are gunned down every day for no good reason.

THAT IS THE primary reason why I am disgusted by the violent outbursts – which don’t some quite so cute any longer.

Let’s only hope we don’t get 38 people shot this coming weekend. That would be just a little too cutesy to be taken seriously.

Less cutesy is the way political people are trying to spin the happenings.

KELLY: Jobs, not guns!
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he thinks it’s a matter of values – although is he trying to tell people to impose good values. Or is he trying to find people to blame for imposing crummy values?

I’M STILL TRYING to figure out the answer to those questions. Because it comes across like he’s more interested in placing blame, than finding a solution.

“Every child deserves a childhood, regardless of where they live,” Emanuel said during an unrelated press conference. “But to do that, our city and community, the neighborhoods that make up this city, cannot live by a ‘code of silence.’

“They have to live by a moral code,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. Does this mean Emanuel thinks some people bring violence on themselves? Just because they happen to get a lot in life that puts them in one of the city neighborhoods that officials have chosen to ignore whenever possible.”

McCARTHY: More cops, less violence?
Actually, I find myself more sympathetic to the thoughts of Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., who Monday night used a suburban East Hazel Crest appearance to say one of the reasons she wants to push for more programs focused on job creation is that she thinks providing more employment reduces the number of people who will feel compelled to use violence to try to get something out of life.

“NOTHING STOPS A bullet like a job,” she said, while adding she perceives the problem of violence as something that extends beyond Chicago or urban communities.

“It’s not an urban problem, it’s an American problem,” she said. “We want people to be responsible.”

Although there’s a practical notion to the way that police Superintendent Garry McCarthy wants to view the problem – he wants more police on the streets.

Which might not have the effect of reducing the social issues that create conditions spurring violence to higher levels. As McCarthy sees it, we might be focusing too much on the recent outbursts, which the Chicago Sun-Times reported he referred to as a “bad week” for Chicago.

A MORE LONG-RANGE approach probably needs to be taken. As McCarthy puts it, “our success doesn’t have to do with what happens today or tomorrow or what happened last week.

“It’s really going to be what happens in two years from now,” the superintendent said.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Does Oberweis really want Kirk support? Or to put senator in place?

It always amazes me when political rivals publicly expect their opponents to support them following an election.

KIRK: Keeping quiet for party loyalty
Any public statements of support would be half-hearted, at best. Outright lies, more likely.

IF I HAD managed to win a political primary election against a challenger who was ideologically opposed to me, what I would most want is that opponent to keep his (or her) mouth shut during the following general election cycle.

Don’t keep harping on how much you don’t agree with me. Accept the fact that you lost the primary election, and gear up for the future election that you will seek to win.

That’s basically the attitude I have with regards to Republican Senate nominee James Oberweis and whether he should expect any support from incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., in his bid to defeat Illinois’ other U.S. senator, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., come the Nov. 4 election.

Now I know that, strictly speaking, Oberweis and Kirk don’t fit my theoretical scenario.

KIRK DIDN’T LOSE to Oberweis in the primary elections held last month. Doug Truax did, and he has withered away in the public eye. Nobody expects him to say or do anything publicly. If anything, it would be regarded as tacky if he tried to seize the public eye any longer during this particular election cycle.

But Kirk has managed to offend his political colleagues – first by saying he has developed a relationship with Durbin during the past few years and doesn’t want to jeopardize the work they’re trying to do on Capitol Hill on so many issues.

Traitor!!!! RINO!!!!

OBERWEIS: Doesn't want undermining
Since, he has said he will campaign a bit on behalf of Oberweis. Which has the same people who want to label Kirk questioning how sincere anything he could say on Oberweis’ behalf could be.

HE REALLY OUGHT to go out of his way to avoid anything involving the election cycle – and focus on being a senator, since his term runs for two more years.

For the fact is that Oberweis is the favorite candidate of the conservative ideologues who want a government that will reinforce their views on so many social issues.

While Kirk is the more moderate. He’s got a solid enough supportive attitude toward military issues and certain economic questions that he wouldn’t fit in with Democrats – and people who say he’s really a Democrat are just being nonsensical.

TOPINKA: The GOP big winner?
On those social issues, Kirk is more influenced by the fact that he’s a North Shore suburban resident (Highland Park, to be exact). He’s urban in his viewpoint, compared to the fact that the majority of Republican officials these days tend to reflect the rural perspective of our society.

I EXPECT KIRK will wind up trying to do as little as he possibly can – largely because the kind of people who are Kirk supporters are the kind who will have serious trouble coming around to vote for Oberweis.

They are the reason why serious Republican operatives are writing off the Senate seat from Illinois as un-winnable, and are focusing their political efforts on backing Bruce Rauner’s bid for governor.

Pat Quinn politically is more vulnerable than Dick Durbin. Although it’s very possible that the outcome of this year’s election cycle could be both Quinn and Durbin keeping their electoral offices for another term (four years for governor, six for senator) – with the GOP victory coming in the form of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka taking down Sheila Simon’s political aspirations.

People who think that Kirk could do anything to bolster Oberweis’ chances are merely dreaming. If he’s really the GOP loyalist that I believe he is, he’ll pipe down until Nov. 5 – then speak out all he wants!

  -30-

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wishing Buehrle back on Sout’ Side

It’s early in the baseball season. Nowhere near enough ball games have been played to be able to say a team is doing well. Or poorly.

But I couldn’t help but notice the record of pitcher Mark Buehrle in Toronto (what with four wins, no losses and an earned run average of 0.64) and wish the Blue Jay were still wearing black socks.

THE FORMER CHICAGO White Sox pitcher achieved enough here during his career (a pair of no-hitters, a World Series appearance and all those Opening Day starts) that he’s always going to be remembered primarily for what he did here. His stints with Miami, Toronto and any other ball club he ever pitches for (maybe someday the St. Louis Cardinals he rooted for as a kid) will be the add-ons of a professional career that is very impressive for a guy who was drafted in the 38th round out of a junior college in Missouri where he played ball for a year.

But you have to admit he’s had an impressive season’s start – most recently pitching just over seven shutout innings Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians.

Starting pitching may not be the White Sox’ weakness this season. But you have to wonder how much better the South Side ball club would have in 2014 if that 0.64 ERA were done here.

For those of you who don’t comprehend, an earned run average figures how many runs he gives up in a typical nine-inning stretch. Thus far, he gives up about two-thirds of a run.

HE’S BOUND TO have a bad outing eventually that will shoot his ERA up to a more normal-sounding figure (something that starts with a “3.” rather than a “0.”

I’d definitely think that 2013 wouldn’t have been quite as atrocious if Buehrle had been around, ensuring that losing streaks didn’t get quite so long if he had been pitching.

But ’14 is ’14. The White Sox seem to be on their way to being a team that will win about 80 ballgames – and no more.

Although as evidence of how early it is in the season, Buehrle’s Blue Jays ball club is 10-8 and in first place in their division (tied with the New York Yankees), while the White Sox are 8-10 and in fourth place – only a half-game ahead of the Cleveland ball club that Buehrle beat.

ON THIS EASTER Sunday (when perhaps we should have higher ideals in mind than the doings of a mediocre ball club), we should wait for the next significant holiday (Memorial Day) before we start seriously paying attention to the standings.

Maybe then, Buehrle himself won’t have quite so impressive a record. Or maybe he’ll be even better.

And maybe, by chance, the 35-year-old who likely has another two or three seasons left may wind up returning to Chicago for a career-ending stint that would make some fans happy while waiting for the White Sox to put together a team that would actually contend for a league championship.

Which I still suspect will come to the South Side and Bridgeport before it manages to work its way up to Lake View.

  -30-