Thursday, October 19, 2017

Only the rich can run for office – is that our political trend of the 21st Century?

I remember once hearing a debate of sorts (it was actually just a couple of political operatives being cranky and arguing amongst themselves) over the appropriateness of would-be government officials paying for their own campaigns.

KENNEDY: The political pauper of 2018 cycle?
One was all for it – feeling that it was somehow wrong for a person to expect other people to come up with the cash for them to afford all the trappings of a successful campaign.

WHILE THE OTHER was convinced that something essential to our existence was being lost if we relied on big money guys for political candidates. “Do you really want a system where only the rich can run for office?,” he asked.

For better or worse, it seems that is the direction we have turned to.

Take our state’s upcoming election cycle for Illinois governor – where we’re more than a year away from Election Day, yet the candidates have already spent some $102 million collectively on their efforts to put their own names forward while also taking down the reputations of the people daring to challenge them.

With some 12 ½ months remaining before the Nov. 6, 2018 elections, who’s to say how much the final total spending will amount to? The academics who devote their attention to politics and government already are calling this the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history, with candidates acting as though they think the election is this November rather than next.

PRITZKER: Entirely self-funded
THE SITUATION IS so outlandish that Chris Kennedy, a member of the not-quite pauperish Kennedy political family, is going around semi-jokingly saying he “thought” his family was wealthy – until he saw the kind of money his would-be opponents for governor were putting in on their own behalf.

Consider that the $3.4 million Kennedy has come up with for his own campaigning thus far buries all the other fringe political candidates with dreams of being the “big shot” of the Statehouse Scene.

But Kennedy himself gets lumped into the fringe candidate category because he doesn’t even come close to the kind of money the top two candidates for the gubernatorial post offer up.

RAUNER: Practically funding entire GOP
J.B. Pritzker, of the family that includes amongst its financial assets the Hyatt Hotels chain, has come up with some $28.2 million – all of which comes from his own money. He’s not raising anything from the public.

WHICH IS WHY the Democratic Party political bigwigs (including state party Chairman Mike Madigan) like him – he makes it possible for them to focus their fundraising efforts in support of other candidates – including the state attorney general fight that it seems Republicans are focusing their efforts on in order to win something, anything, come the November 2018 elections.

But before one can go around saying the Democrats are the big-money guys out of touch with the “real people,” one has to contemplate Gov. Bruce Rauner – who has some $70.9 million available for his campaign. With the bulk of that ($50 million) being his own money.

Personal donations he has made to himself to bolster his chances of re-election, and the election chances of other Republicans wishing to run for seats in the General Assembly.

The state Legislature has been the entity that has kept Rauner from implementing his alleged “reform” agenda – most of which really is nothing more than measures meant to whack at the influence of organized labor within government. Rauner hopes he can buy a more favorable Legislature to support his political desires.

ALL OF THAT money is the reason that Rauner can’t be counted out, despite the fact that he has peeved a significant segment of the Republican electoral base with issues they perceive as violating their social conservative principles. Rauner hopes he can buy enough votes come Election Day to win “four more years” in office.
Times have changed since Daley & Uncle John

While Pritzker hopes he can spend enough to overwhelm any potential competition, then take advantage of the significant number of Illinoisans (most of whom admittedly live in and near Chicago) who are thoroughly disgusted with the 2 ½ years we’ve had of the Rauner Administration and want him gone come January of 2019.

Which reminds me of that long-ago quarrel at the Statehouse. “Do you really want a system where only the rich can run for office?”

It seems that is exactly what we have – at least for the top posts. Perhaps someone without personal wealthy can still run for city Clerk or Illinois treasurer. In the end, it seems the wealthy can be just as much political hacks as those without.

  -30-

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Will Chgo mystery bid entice Amazon?

It was with much fanfare, combined with secrecy, that Chicago city officials this week officially submitted their bid to Amazon.com, offering up a proposal by which the company would build its second corporate headquarters somewhere in the Second City.
What kind of bid concocted at City Hall ...

I emphasize “somewhere,” because city officials weren’t eager to share any details of what it is they’re offering to the Internet retail giant to entice them to want to come here, rather than to Atlanta, St. Louis or any other city that plans to get involved in the bidding process.

OF COURSE, CITY officials were eager to make grandiose statements about how Chicago has the “talent, transportation and technology” to be a worthy site for the new corporate offices that Amazon wants to build to supplement their existing Seattle-based facility.

But for anyone expecting a definitive answer as to whether Chicago is offering up the old Post Office downtown, the former Michael Reese Hospital site on the South Side or a site somewhere along the north branch of the Chicago River, forget it.

That’s a secret. City officials fear that somehow letting it be known publicly what they’re offering up will somehow hurt the city. Almost as though they think some other city will magically be able to duplicate what Chicago offers up as part of their own bid.

Which is highly unlikely, to tell the truth.

PERSONALLY, I WONDER about the possible re-use of the hospital or post office facilities. It would be nice to see such one-time prominent locations in Chicago be put to use – recycled, of sorts, in ways that will continue to keep them relevant for years to come.

Somehow, I suspect that Amazon types will want to think new and shiny, and if they’re contemplating Chicago at all would most likely be swayed by the artistic architectural drawings that could be created for any new site along the river.
... would attract Amazon.com ...

I suspect they’ll be scared away from thinking in the least about Chicago’s South Side – and probably would be equally terrified of those people who talk up the idea of Gary, Ind., as an Amazon site that would be very close to Chicago without actually having to endure the so-called drawbacks of city living.

Although I also think people who want to criticize urban life most likely are missing the whole point of why Amazon wants to build a new facility in the first place.

I MUST CONFESS to finding some of the speculation from other cities intriguing. Such as the Georgia municipality near Atlanta that is willing to approve the de-annexation of more than 300 acres of land for an Amazon site.

That would literally allow for creation of a new community that could be called Amazon, Ga. – they could be their very own city and govern themselves. They wouldn’t have to listen to any government officials. They could become, in a sense, the ultimate corporate town.

Would Amazon.com truly like to be the masters of their own domain, so to speak? Or is that just an old “Seinfeld” gag that the younger-minded of Amazon.com executives (it is a 25-year-old gag) wouldn’t appreciate?

Or could it be that the last thing Amazon.com officials would want to do is have to manage their own local government? Having to worry about one’s own trash pickup or street maintenance? Easier to have someone else worry about such tasks while they focus on the business of making goods available for sale at competitive prices.

BECAUSE OF THE city secrecy, I can’t even begin to speculate as to how Chicago’s bid competes with the inevitable collection of tax breaks that municipalities will offer up – seeing how much they can sacrifice short-term to Amazon.com in hopes that the company’s financial benefits will help them long-term.
... to want to come to the land of the Picasso?

That 50,000-jobs total is going to be tossed out repeatedly in coming years, even though the reality is that it would take many years for the number of local employees working at a new Amazon.com facility to equal the tally.

Maybe we’ll learn more once the application process is complete by Thursday – although just when Amazon.com officials plan to make their decision remains to be seen.

Ultimately, Chicago and the other cities interested in becoming the home address for the Amazon.com facility are at the corporation’s whim, and they’ll tell us what they’re going to do whenever they feel like it – not exactly a comfortable spot for Chicago to occupy.

  -30-

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Should we respect people who want to use “Merry Christmas” as a weapon?

I have my own reasons for being upset with President Donald J. Trump and his attempt recently to use the upcoming winter holidays as another weapon in his ideological war for the mood of the nation.
Would the Macy's department store on State Street offend the presidential sensibilities for winter holiday celebrations. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda
It’s that Trump is just as guilty of watering down the Christmas spirit as those people he thinks he’s lambasting.

FOR TO ME, part of the problem with people losing the meaning or point of the Christmas holiday is that we start taking up its trappings so early. We’re not even at Halloween yet, but there are some people already preparing for the onslaught of Santa Clauses, reindeer and snowmen.

Trump, by bringing up this issue so early, is just as bad!

It’s too early to be thinking about Christmas, particularly since it’s still too early to be giving the Thanksgiving holiday much regard.

That bothers me just as much as the fact that he’s trying to turn the concept of “Merry Christmas” into a weapon that people hurl at those who happen not to share in their beliefs.

SOMEHOW, I CAN’T help but think the true concept of the birth of Christ, with all the significance it carries to those of Christian religious faiths, is grossly disrespected by using such an image to taunt other people.
Does the holiday menorah in Chicago have to go in a Trump-inspired world?
For the record, Trump made his holiday-related rant to a gathering of the Values Voter Summit, put together by the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. He let it be known he’s all for “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” which is how he wants to perceive those people who use “Happy Holidays” as an all-purpose greeting to accommodate everybody’s particular winter holiday.

Odd that an attempt to include everybody is somehow seen as a taunt by those who want their own perceptions to prevail over all in our society, and our society to dominate over all that exist on this Planet Earth.
Sufficient religious display for people about to embark on airline flights?
Which makes me wonder if life is ever found to exist on other planets throughout the galaxy, will the people in support of this Age of Trump that we’re now in try to start up a crusade to ensure that alien races acknowledge and properly worship the so-called superiority of Donald J. Trump?

THE WHOLE EFFORT sounds absurd when you put it in those terms. Then again, absurdity has never stopped the Trump types from spouting out their latest ridiculous rhetoric.

Including the president’s own desire to make “Merry Christmas” a priority. Will this rank up equally with making sure those ingrate pro football players stand at attention during the National Anthem? Or is that article in The New Yorker where Trump criticizes Vice President Mike Pence evidence that he's already moved on to something else?

Does it all mean that Trump has the attention span of a gnat, and has become bored with that issue and needs a constant influx of confusion and mayhem to keep himself amused?

Sufficient holiday adornment for our govt. buildings?
The whole while ignoring the real problems that confront our society and our planet. Which he probably thinks of as boring details that could better be delegated to someone else so he’ll have time for another Mar-A-Lago-style weekend with golf.

BUT BACK TO the Christmas crusade, which may also be an effort at misdirection on the part of Trump, who was getting some criticism for even attending the gathering of religious-oriented individuals.

Trump is the first U.S. president to ever attend the group’s gatherings, and some activist-types were quick to point out that many of the people inclined to attend were those who use their religious beliefs to justify their white supremacist attitudes towards life.

As in “God Hates You” because you’re not a white Southern male – an attitude I have trouble accepting as being a part of any legitimate religious faith.

Just as I can’t believe that anybody seriously believes in using “Merry Christmas” as their winter holiday weapon of choice, when the attitude they’re really expressing with such talk is something more along the lines of, “Bah, Humbug!”

  -30-

Monday, October 16, 2017

Cubbies create nothing but a yawn from me, but White Sox offer no guarantees

I am a life-long Chicagoan interested in baseball who must confess that the presence of the Chicago Cubs in the 2017 baseball playoffs trying to get themselves a second-consecutive World Series berth leaves me emotionally flat.

Chicago baseball fans debate ...
I honestly could care less what the Cubs do this year. And not just because my interest in the local baseball scene focuses on the chances that the Chicago White Sox’ rebuild, with an intense “Cubano revolution,” will result in success.

BECAUSE OF THE White Sox interest, I’m an American League fan – one whom I must admit as a kid enjoyed the New York Yankees ballclubs of the mid-1970s and still remembers that two of their preeminent ballplayers were former White Sox Bucky Dent and Rich Gossage.

... which World Series relevant
I went into this year’s baseball playoffs focusing attention on the Cleveland/New York matchup, figuring that I’d wind up rooting for whichever team prevailed in that early round to go all the way to win the American League championship – then the World Series.

As for the National League? I check the box scores , but really don’t care which team wins. I only want them to ultimately lose to the American League champions.
If there is Yankee success in '17,...



I only saw the last two innings of that final Chicago/Washington playoff game – and will always believe the Cubs were downright lucky to get that 8th inning pickoff play ruled in their favor because it put to rest the rally that WOULD HAVE resulted in a Washington victory (and the Cubbie faithful crying in their beers).

BUT REALLY, I’M not rooting against the Cubs at this stage of the playoffs Eventually I’ll root for either New York or Houston to beat up on either Los Angeles or the baby blue Bruins of the North Side – whichever prevails this week.
... it could be due to a trio ...

The part of me that roots for the White Sox during the regular season almost wouldn’t mind a Houston/Chicago matchup. It would be downright funny if the Astros – who only once in their history ever made it to the World Series; losing to the White Sox of 2005 before transferring leagues in 2013 – beat up on the Cubs!

White Sox fans mostly are apathetic about the playoffs (even though Cubbie faithful is deluded enough to think the whole world is obligated to root for their ball club), but would get a kick out of history recording the Houston Astros losing to their team, while beating the Cubs.
... of ballplayers with Chicago ties

Not all of Chicago is getting all worked up over Cubbie-mania. There are those of us with real lives, and those of us who are still living off the memories of that aforementioned ’05 World Series victory that was the first for a Chicago ball club in this century

JUST AS REGARDLESS of what happens with the Cubs against the Dodgers this week, Cubs fans will still have their memories of 2016 how they nearly blew a Game 7 lead to the Cleveland Indians, but managed to win in extra innings.
If Jose Lobaton hadn't been picked off ...

It’s the inherent character of Chicago baseball that fans have their team to root for – and the other might as well not exist.

The only way we’d ever get Chicago united over a post-season round of baseball playoffs is if we were to ever get the proper circumstances for an all-Chicago World Series.

Which is the goal of the White Sox re-build, to put their ball club in contention for a World Series berth at the same time that the Cubs may still have ballclubs in contention. That would be a circumstance that would create memories Chicagoans would talk about for the rest of their lives. Which when you consider how young some baseball fans are these days could easily stretch to the final days of the 21st Century.
... it's likely the 'L' flag would be flying in the minds of Cubs fans
OF COURSE, THERE’S there’s always the problem that there are no guarantees in baseball – just like there’s no crying (remember the film "A League of their Own?"). Nobody knows just how the baseball season will play out until the ballgames are actually played.

It was just a couple of years ago the Pittsburgh Pirates had contending teams that were supposedly going to end decades of losing. Yet they haven’t won a thing – and their window of opportunity may now be over. Similar to those Seattle Mariners teams of the late 1990s to early 2000s – including the 2001 team that still has a record for the most wins in a season, but no league championship or World Series title to show for it. There also are many American League teams throughout the years that represented Boston, Chicago or Cleveland -- to name just a few examples of teams that came so close to winning it all.
A revival in Chicago?

Or maybe the story of coming years will be the resurgence of the Yankees (who haven’t won a World Series since 2009). What if the Yankees were to beat the Cubs in this year’s World Series, and have continued success that prevented the White Sox from winning a World Series birth in the near future?

Could the “Damned Yankees” be the uniting factor for both sides of Chicago baseball in years to come!

  -30-

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Just what did the Bambino mean by pointing the way he did in ’32 Series?

Already the speculation is starting up – a World Series matchup this year between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, who late Thursday managed to hold off the Washington Nationals and make it to the final round of National League playoffs.
If it turns out that we get a New York/Chicago World Series brawl (we won’t know for sure for more than a week), there’s one thing we can be assured of – we’re going to get countless replays, and analysis, of that video snippet from 1932.

YOU KNOW THE one I mean – the one in which Yankees slugger Babe Ruth hit what was to that date one of the longest home runs at Wrigley Field. Just before hitting the pitch to straightaway center field, the Babe made that pointing motion.

That much is fact. What is debatable is just what was Ruth’s intent when he made his arm motion?

Legend would have it that Ruth was pointing to a specific part of the ballpark, then proceeded to hit the very next pitch to that exact spot. While people eager to dump on Yankees legends or who are appalled by the outcome of that particular World Series (the Yankees swept the Cubs in four straight games, then did it again when the two teams confronted each other in 1938) will have us believe that Ruth was just clowning around.

They’d say that Cubs pitcher Charlie Root should have given the “big baboon” an old-school brushback pitch rather than something he could hit hard and far.
Whether '32 or '88,...

THERE ACTUALLY ARE home-style movies shot during the game played Oct. 1 (the Yankees had already won the first two World Series games of ’32 played at Yankee Stadium) where Ruth’s arm motion just prior to the final pitch of the at-bat are clear.

What was his point? That is an issue we’ll get to debate over and over if it turns out that the 2017 World Series really does become a Yankees/Cubs matchup.

I suspect we’re going to be sick and tired of the debate – particularly Cubs fans, who aren’t going to want to be reminded over and over of a moment where they didn’t come out on top.
... the outcome remains the same for Cubbies

In fact, that could be the part of a Yankees/Cubs World Series match-up most depressing for those fans of the baby blue Bears – the fact that historically, the match-ups always make the Wrigley Field faithful look lost.

CONSIDER INTERLEAGUE PLAY this season gave us a matchup between the two back in May – with the Yankees taking all three games (including the one that went 18 innings).

Of course, the alternative for the Cubs at this point would be a Houston/Chicago World Series matchup – which would actually be a replay of sorts of the 2005 World Series (the only time the Astros ever made it all the way).

But back then, Houston was a National League city, meaning they lost to the American League champion Chicago White Sox. Something I’m sure Cubbie faithful don’t want to think about, particularly since the actual White Sox/Astros matchup was far more interesting than an Astros/Cubs pairing would ever be.
Yankees fans twice dug out their brooms,...

The other alternative could be the one that I’m sure many baseball observers outside of the North Side would prefer – a New York Yankees/Los Angeles Dodgers matchup.

MARKETS NUMBER ONE and two taking each other on (rather than one and three). Yankees/Dodgers would certainly be a more competitive matchup – 8 Yankees victories compared to 3 for the Dodgers, although 2 of the Dodger victories came in the last 4 of the matchups.
... could new Yankee star lead to 3rd sweep?

Fantastic catches by Dodgers outfielders Al Gionfrido and Sandy Amoros, a perfect game by Don Larsen and that three-home run game by Reggie Jackson (or the one where his hip allegedly interfered with completing a double play) are just among the many historic baseball moments that have come from Yankees/Dodgers World Series matchups.

The Babe’s “Called Shot” was cute. But Yankees/Cubs matchups have given us little more than the sight of Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio beating up the Cubs.

Are we really eager to see a 21st Century matchup that would allow Yankees slugger Aaron Judge make up for his less-than-stellar performance this week against the Cleveland Indians by smacking the cutesy Cubbies about?

  -30-

Friday, October 13, 2017

Balancing the budget; what will we cut?

It will be interesting to see just how Cook County government manages to balance out their budget for the upcoming fiscal year; what with the fact they now have a $200 million hole.

PRECKWINKLE: Looking for pop tax alternative
That is the amount of money the county would have expected to receive from the soon-to-be defunct pop tax, the penny-per-ounce charge on purchases of pop and other sweetened drinks.

AFTER NOV. 30, that tax won’t exist. So when the new fiscal year begins Dec. 1, there’s going to be a short-fall in anticipated revenue.

Are we merely going to see the county try to concoct some sort of alternative tax to replace the revenue they were expecting to get from the pop drinkers of the Chicago area? Or are we going to get some county agencies and programs get their funding levels cut to the point where essential services will be slashed?

County board President Toni Preckwinkle hinted throughout the barrage of propaganda put out by the American Beverage Association against the pop tax that health care services the county provides would suffer.

But Cook County Board members largely were not swayed by such arguments. In voting overwhelmingly to repeal the same pop tax that many of them voted last year to implement, they called Preckwinkle’s bluff.
TOBOLSKI: Eager to slash Cook budget

THEY’RE GAMBLING THAT there really is enough “fat” in government budgets that things can be cut without impacting essential services.

Either that, or they simply don’t care, or consider those services to be essential to them. They may just not care about the kind of people who actually have to rely on Cook County-funded services to maintain their health.

That certainly was the sentiment of county Commissioner Jeffery Tobolski, R-McCook, who earlier this week said he looks forward to cutting the county budget. “What we have (in revenue) is what we have to work with,” he said. “There are some tough decisions that have to be made.”
SUFFREDIN: Fears future tax hikes

Of course, the counter-point to that view was expressed by Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, who was one of two commissioners (the other being Jerry “the Iceman” Butler, D-Chicago) to vote against repealing the pop tax.

IN A STATEMENT he issued following the Cook County Board’s vote on Wednesday, he pointed out that one part of the pop tax was a promise that Cook County government wouldn’t consider raising any more taxes until at least 2020.

A move he said would have provided significant benefits to people living in the county. Now, they could face whatever alternate tax hike county officials concoct in their minds to try to make up for the revenue lost from the pop tax, which is necessary because, he claims, Illinois government owes Cook County some $186 million in reimbursements it hasn't been making -- which accounts for nearly the entire hole in the county budget.

In my mind, different taxes is a scary thought – one far more onerous than the roughly 20 cents extra I was paying any time I purchased a bottle of Coca-Cola (something I indulge in maybe twice a week).
BUTLER: Voted for pop tax AND against repeal

So now, county officials have the rest of October and November to figure out how to put together a budget that doesn’t leave Cook County government in serious debt come Nov. 30, 2018.

I KNOW COOK County Treasurer Maria Pappas said she offered up her portion of the county budget with a 10 percent cut in everything, and expects she’s now going to have to slash every line-item in her budget by another 2 percent.

Whether enough other officials are capable of taking such a hardline approach is questionable – I suspect many are trying to figure out what alternate item could be taxed. Of course, it has to be something that most people would feel wouldn’t impact them.
Anti-taxer mailings to pressure county commissioners continue, as now the activist-types want to ensure their desired spending cuts get imposed when the Cook County Board approves its 2018 budget sometime next month
Perhaps that is why some have suggested that the medical marijuana purchases now becoming common in parts of our state are a more acceptable item to tax.

It seems the image some people have of “deadheads” being forced to pay up is more acceptable to them than themselves having to pay whenever they buy a bottle of that beverage whose original recipe included a jolt from the coca leaf. Why else would we call it “Coke?”

  -30-

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Can one really ‘give back’ a campaign contribution once money was spent?

Let’s say one thing up-front; the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein probably is a pig!
Weinstein still has his Oscar

The reports are coming out about how Weinstein has treated various women – including many who appeared in the films he produced. We may hear in coming days of more and more actresses willing to admit publicly of things they were pressured to do for Weinstein’s gratification.

BUT THERE’S ANOTHER thing we’re going to see a lot of in coming days – political people trying to rewrite history in ways that would make it appear they never relied on Weinstein’s financial support to get themselves elected to office.

For Weinstein throughout the years has been one of the big-money interests who has supported Democratic Party candidates for high-ranking office across the nation. It was supposed to be evidence that Weinstein was a “progressive-minded” guy with high-minded ideals on many social issues.

Now, we have many political people checking their campaign finance records to see how much money they ever received from Weinstein – and are now going out of their way to publicly make charitable contributions of their own for identical amounts.

Just a couple of examples include Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. – both of whom would like for us to believe they never took Weinstein’s money.


OBAMA: $61,900

WORKING ON WOMANHOOD is a Chicago-based group that has received $10,900 from Emanuel, and will get another $2,000 in the near future. The larger figure is the total of two donations Weinstein made to Emanuel mayoral campaigns, while the $2,000 is for a donation Weinstein made to an Emanuel congressional campaign back in 2004.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported that $1,000 will be donated to the American Red Cross by Durbin – an effort to erase the contribution Weinstein made back when Durbin first ran for the U.S. Senate back in 1995.

Now before anybody thinks I’m trying to single out Emanuel or Durbin for abuse, keep in mind that I realize this is a common tactic by political people who certainly don’t want to be tainted by their ties to someone who later turns out to be scummy in nature.
EMANUEL: $12,900

There have been many charitable organizations used by government officials to try to erase their potential sins-by-association. I’m sure the organizations were able to put the money to good use.

BUT JUST AS I always thought right-wing idiots who wind up taking money from white supremacists or other leeches on our society shouldn’t be able to erase their stain so easily, I’m not sure that anybody should be so quick to dismiss the Weinstein affair.

What we really need is an honest accounting of his behavior and efforts to try to raise the level of conduct in our society so that we stop harassing women just because. Merely giving up some money that came from campaign contributions seems like a lazy effort to make the problem “go away” without doing anything to make it actually go away.
DURBIN: $1,000

Besides, my own gut feeling is that the money donated to campaigns by Weinstein certainly got spent years ago. Trying to give it away now doesn’t erase the fact that there was a Weinstein impact to the past elections.

It seems like a lazy response to a very real problem.

WHAT WE NEED is for people to speak out with more than their campaign wallets. Take former President Barack Obama (whose own presidential re-election campaign of 2012 received over $61,000 in Weinstein donations) – he and one-time first lady Michelle issued their statement denouncing Weinstein’s behavior and saying, “We should celebrate the courage of women who have come forward to tell these painful stories.”
TRUMP: Saying as little as possible about issue

Which stands out compared to the thoughts expressed on behalf of our current president. Donald J. Trump admitted recently that he knew Weinstein personally, and was “not at all surprised” to hear such stories.

Of course, Trump himself probably can’t go farther in being critical of Weinstein because there are many tales out there of pre-presidential Trump behaving in a boorish manner – many of which he told about himself throughout the years during appearances with broadcaster Howard Stern.

Which is just as much a problem as those elected officials who think they can make a perception problem go away by “returning” money they really spent years ago.

  -30-

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ditka tops Guillen in ranks of former Chicago sports guys turned goofs?

There are those people who like to rag on one-time Chicago White Sox shortstop and manager Ozzie Guillen as some sort of irresponsible goof – somebody who despite his significant athletic accomplishments for Chicago ball clubs is just too much of a goof to have around.
How does not seeing racial oppression ...

But after learning of one-time Chicago Bears tight end and head coach Mike Ditka’s latest railing on national television, I can’t help but think that Ozzie is nowhere near as absurd.

FOR THE RECORD, Ditka (who led the Chicago Bears to their only Super Bowl victory ever back in 1986) was on the Westwood One pregame show prior to the Monday Night Football game featuring the Bears against the Minnesota Vikings felt compelled to ignore the questions about the Bears’ ongoing struggles to find a competent quarterback.

Instead, he wanted to rant about the fact that many professional football players feel compelled to SUPPORT the protests taking place in recent weeks during the National Anthem rituals that take place prior to pro football games.

Those protests started last year with one player trying to express his concern about harassment of individuals based on race. When President Donald Trump felt compelled to get involved in this issue with his nonsense talk about “firing” football players, those players started showing solidarity with their colleague.

Ditka made a point of saying he’d “bench” anybody who dared do such things on any team he coaches. But the part that gets the national attention was Ditka’s claim that, “There has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of,” adding later, “I don’t see all the social injustice that some of these people see.”

... compare to 'respect' for Fidel Castro?
IT’S NOT SURPRISING to learn that a professional athlete lives his life in a cocoon that isolates himself from the daily realities of our existence. I also don’t doubt these guys think their physical skills in playing a ballgame at a high level somehow makes them worthy of living life in such isolation.

He may be the guy who doesn’t read the papers, except for the sports section so he can know which sportswriter to complain about for writing something he chooses not to agree with.

But it would be an exaggeration to say we haven’t had oppression in the past 50 years – although at least now the law is such that the people who try to pull off the most extreme instances can be prosecuted, rather than thinking the law is on their side.

These two youngsters likely never realized ...
Or maybe Ditka is just one of those types who thinks that certain people are supposed to accept the fact that they’re entitled to receive a certain level of harassment from society as a large?

I THINK THIS puts Ditka in a comparable category with Guillen, who led the White Sox to a World Series title back in 2005 – a moment that for some Chicago sports fans is more significant than that Bears Super Bowl title.

Remember all the loudmouth incidents when Ozzie played for, and managed, Chicago. Like Ditka, Guillen later got a one-year stint managing/coaching elsewhere (Miami for Ozzie, New Orleans for Ditka) and now is to the point where his only sporting value is as an occasional commentator for broadcasts.

Sports fans in Miami still haven’t forgiven Ozzie for his saying all those years ago that he actually had a certain level of respect for Fidel Castro – which I’m sure they feel is as absurd as Ditka trying to claim that no one has been oppressed in this nation. Personally, I always thought of Fidel as more of a third-rate, petty tyrant than a true world threat.

Just because many of the individuals who are oppressed belong to groups whom Ditka and people like him would prefer not to have to acknowledge. Which is the truly offensive part of all this cheap talk.

 
... the highs, and lows, they would reach
PERSONALLY, I’M MORE offended by Ditka, merely because his rant is so ridiculously simplistic – as in it’s difficult to believe anybody could think of life as being so basic. I couldn’t help but notice a report that one-time star quarterback Joe Namath responded to Ditka by saying “da coach” ought to look up the meaning of the word “oppression” to realize it has occurred.

It makes me wonder if Ditka is now material for Saturday Night Live – the show where he once was idolized in those “Super Fans” sketches. Would those same fans now ponder whether Ditka has gone goofy in his old age?

Just like some are pondering whether Guillen has lost it in his middle age, to the point where the most recent report I saw about Ozzie was speculating whether he’d be considered for the Detroit Tigers managing job that is now open.

He’s not in line for it, no more than any team would seriously want Ditka hanging around their sidelines during game time. A sad ending for two of the most intriguing ballplayers-turned-coaches to be a part of the Chicago sports scene in our lifetimes.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: One major Ditka/Guillen difference -- Ditka is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, whereas few people took seriously Guillen for the Baseball Hall of Fame the one year he was actually on the ballot. Which most likely is evidence that the baseball version in Cooperstown, N.Y., deserves more credibility than the football version in Canton, Ohio.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

EXTRA: ‘Pop tax’ shifts – you can buy cheaper pop in Cook Co. come Dec. 1

Cook County Board members voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to support an ordinance that repeals the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages – the tax that was enacted with a tie vote that had to be broken by board President Toni Preckwinkle herself.

SUFFREDIN: Lone remaining tax backer
Which means that the American Beverage Association’s “Can the Tax” lobbying effort was heard loud-and-clear.

IT DOESN’T MEAN that there was really a consensus of thought about this issue – which was supposed to raise some $200 million per year to balance out the budget and ensure that county-run healthcare programs and facilities would be fully funded.

All but one of the county board members who previously supported the tax (Larry Suffredin of Evanston was the lone 'no' vote) voted “aye” in favor of the ordinance to repeal the measure that came up Tuesday during a finance committee session.

But some of the people who previously supported the pop tax made it clear they weren’t happy about feeling pressure to vote to repeal it come Dec. 1 – which is the date that a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year takes effect.

Jesus Garcia, D-Chicago, said government officials will have to deal with potential budget shortfalls when they give approval to that new budget sometime next month.

“RESIDENTS OF COOK County sent a strong message how they felt about this revenue measure we tried to utilize to balance out the budget,” the former mayoral candidate said. “This budget is a statement about our morality, values and compassion, or lack thereof. We still face a revenue challenge to provide services to the needy.”

While Stanley Moore, D-Chicago, said he thinks he should get credit for initially supporting the pop tax. “I have shown I will take the hard vote, if need be,” adding he fears there will be “cut, cut, cut, cut at the expense of the disenfranchised.”

Suffredin, the lone opponent of pop tax repeal, said he believes the county suffers financially because Illinois government is not providing the full amount of reimbursement it is supposed to provide for healthcare programs.

While Deborah Sims, D-Chicago, said she was bothered by being pressured to change her vote. “It’s not fair that nine of us (who supported the pop tax) take the heat, and everybody else walks away free.”

NOT THAT EVERYBODY was concerned about reductions in healthcare services by Cook County government. Jeffrey Tobolski, R-McCook, said he anticipates such cuts in spending.

“What we have (in revenue) is what we have to work with, there are some tough decisions that will have to be made,” he said.

As for the politicking, Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, said he was “overjoyed and elated this tax is going to go away.” Although Tobolski was most blunt, saying, “I’m glad this damned thing is over.”

Of course, we’ll get to re-do the issue again Wednesday, as the county board will meet as a full board, rather than as a committee, which means that Jerry “Iceman” Butler, D-Chicago, will get his chance to add his thoughts for the record – assuming he shows up for the county board meeting rather than being absent, as he was on Tuesday for the finance committee session.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The official info that Cook County government put forth to try to justify the pop tax they enacted Nov. 10, 2016 that took effect at the beginning of August of this year.

Will ideologues ruin Preckwinkle reputation the way they did Ogilvie?

Presuming that Cook County Commissioner John Daley and three others who indicated last week they changed their minds about the pop tax keep to their word, it would seem the tax meant to ensure the county can cover its financial obligations for health care services and other expenses will wither away.
If signs like this really stirred up anti-pop tax attitudes, will their hostility carry over to hurt Toni Preckwinkle come 2018 Election Day? Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

It creates the potential vote by the Cook County Board later this week of 12-5 (or maybe 13-4) in favor of an ordinance to rescind the penny-per-ounce on pop and other sweetened beverages. Which county board President Toni Preckwinkle will veto – but is a strong-enough vote to over-ride her – if it holds fast.

NOW SOME PEOPLE are not considering this sufficient suffering for Preckwinkle. They’re determined to stir up resentment at the polling place – getting enough people to vote against her re-election bid next year because she had the nerve to realize that the county has financial obligations that must be met.
PRECKWINKLE: Remains firm on pop tax

People in the real world don’t get to tell bill collectors we don’t have the money so we’re not paying. In reality, we have to come up with the finances to meet our obligations. We need to pay up!

Which is why I have consistently thought (and still believe) that this pop tax that adds about 20 cents to the bottle of Coca-Cola I occasionally buy is something we all have to pay – if we really need to have those carbonated beverages in supply.

It also is why I’m not terribly sympathetic to the lobbying efforts of the American Beverage Association – which represents the pop manufacturers who probably don’t want anyone else managing to get a larger cut of the money paid by people when they feel the need to buy pop.

THEY WANT IT for themselves. Understandably, but not a high-minded cause by any means.
OGILVIE: Insisted Ill. needed income tax

The trick is to see how, in coming months, this issue plays out. Will people really hold a grudge against Preckwinkle – and carry out their revenge on Nov. 6, 2018 by voting ABP?

The one thing that Toni has going in her favor is that as of now, the Anybody But Preckwinkle vote literally has nobody else to pick. People who were contemplating seeking the Democratic nomination for Cook County Board president have decided not to do so. As for the Republicans, their political party may get bogged down in the mass of anti-Trump and anti-Rauner rhetoric to put up a serious challenger.

But there are those people who can manage to get worked up at the “T” word just as much as many ideologue-minded Republicans will get worked up at the “A” word tying the governor to abortion.

Is there a 'Dan Walker' type for county?
I’M SURE THERE are those looking back to the 1972 election cycle – the one in which incumbent Gov. Dick Ogilvie lost to Democrat Dan Walker; in large part because one of the major accomplishments of Ogilvie’s one term in office was that Illinois implemented its original state tax on residents’ incomes.

Ogilvie (himself a former Cook County Board president who used that post as a springboard to the Statehouse Scene) argued that the state’s finances had become so unstable that the tax was necessary. Financial experts will argue that the tax turned out to be essential.

Yet there were enough people who voted against Ogilvie because of that tax that he wound up losing re-election.

Could governmental history repeat itself by stirring up enough people p-o’ed by the thought of paying a few more pennies each time they buy pop (which is expected to add up to a few million dollars to balance out the county budget)?

Daley name still influences our government
OGILVIE WASN’T HELPED by the fact that Dan Walker and his walk across Illinois caught the imagination of many as a viable alternative (although I know many of the same ideologues who still denounce Ogilvie’s income tax view Walker as an even worse choice).

As I already stated, as of yet, there is not really a credible challenger to Preckwinkle – although it’s always possible that there’s somebody currently out there passing about nominating petitions to try to get on the ballot for the March 20 primary.

But could she wind up going into our local political history as the woman who pushed for a tax to ensure that Cook County met its expenses – only to be penalized at the polling place?

In a world that could seriously elect Donald J. Trump as president with only 46 percent voter support, anything is possible.

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