Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 - General Election

President of the United States:

Barack Obama & Joe Biden
Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan

I don't ever remember such a contentious election, cranked up by the deep pockets of conservative causes and new laws that allow unlimited spending. And having an African American as the target for their no-compromise fury has probably cranked it up even more -- just as it did in Chicago politics when Harold Washington became mayor.

This has become a referendum on the  role of American central government, driven by powerful economic players who don't want to be controlled by it and riding on the compelling ideology of Freedom, the one ideal that Americans share the most.

This is also the first election to which I have ever made a contribution, figuring that's an inescapable responsibility to even the playing field for candidates who represent public rather than private interests.

So now I get an email, or two, every day soliciting me for additional contributions, driving me to finally just mark all communications from the Obama campaign as spam

Yes, winning is important, and money is important to winning.

But winning isn't everything -- and it's a shame that the campaign does not realize its potential to be a source of information as well as sales pitches.


But even if his campaign emails are annoying, Barack Obama has got to be the best President for whom I have ever voted.  He had lots of help from Dubya whose unpopularity gave him both the Presidency and both houses of Congress, so we could finally have something like  national healthcare and begin to re-regulate the financial industry.  Unlike Clinton, he hasn't done a pratfall  with personal misbehavior. He's a smart, serious, and  competent guy.  And I don't think it's coincidental that Bin Laden was finally hunted down and killed during his tenure as commander in chief.

By the way, I do support both Dubya's invasion of Afghanistan and Obama's war on the Taliban, as an appropriate response to that regime's  support of international terrorism.  Even if it appears that they will return to power the moment our troops leave the country. 


Representative, 7th District
2 Year Term, Vote For 1

Danny K. Davis
Rita Zak
John H. Monaghan

Rita Zak's website offers absolutely nothing besides a purely ideological "freedom" rant.
But at least that's more than John H. Monaghan offers. He's got no website and didn't even care to fill the Chicago Tribune's questionnaire. What a cipher!

Once again, Danny K.Davis has no serious opposition. He doesn't appear to offer an independent mind concerning anything, and if you look at his campaign website, it appears that he is not running. He's just sitting -- waiting for an automatic return to office. But after his endorsement of Rory Hoskins in our local state primary, I'm inclined to give him some respect. He's not completely asleep at the wheel.


State Senator, 4th District
Vote For 1
Kimberly A. Lightford Democratic
State Representative, 7th District
2 Year Term, Vote For 1

And shamefully enough, Lightford and all the other non-judicial candidates on our ballot are running unopposed.

This is NOT democracy at work.

This is the consequence of a failed local Republican party.

Emanuel "Chris" Welch Democratic
Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, MWRD

And nowhere is that failure more painful than in the unopposed candidacy of this self-serving charlatan who has been abusing our local school district for the past decade.

I'm going to write-in Rory Hoskins, his opponent who narrowly lost the primary, but who would have won if Republicans had voted in it.


Metropolitan Water Reclamation 6 Year Term, Vote For 3

A good job for environmental activists - so mostly I'm picking the Green Party

Debra Shore Democratic 41 --- yes

Kari K. Steele Democratic 42

Patrick Daley Thompson Democratic 43

Harold "Noonie" Ward Republican 44

Carl Segvich Republican 45

Dave Ehrlich Green Party 46------------yes

 Karen Roothaan Green Party 47

Nasrin R. Khalili Green Party 48........yes


State's Attorney, Cook County 4 Year Term, Vote For 1 Candidate Name Party Ballot #

 Anita Alvarez Democratic 51

Lori S. Yokoyama Republican 52........ yes

Much as it pains me to vote for a partisan Republican, it makes no sense to forever have a Democratic State's attorney in a such a solid Democratic county.


Clerk of the Circuit Court, Cook County 4 Year Term, Vote For 1 Candidate Name Party Ballot #

 Dorothy A. Brown Democratic 53 ..... yes

Diane S. Shapiro Republican 54

It does appear that Brown badly needs to be replaced by someone less like a party hack -- but I cannot bring myself to vote for the shrewish right wing ideologue who is running against her.


Recorder, Cook County 4 Year Term, Vote For 1 Candidate Name Party Ballot

# Karen A. Yarbrough Democratic 55

Sherri Griffith Republican 56................. yes

This job is a patronage rat's nest for career politicians - and I don't see why it should be a fiefdom of the democratic party.  Here's another opportunity to encourage no encourage non-radical Republicans to participate in local government


Here's the judicial candidates  that have gotten the most negative evaluations:

Cynthia Brim
Christophoer Donnelly
James Egan
Pamela Hill-Veal
Gloria Chevere

State Supreme Court: Theis .... yes

4th subcircuit:
Gallagher, Maloney


Referendum:..... Yes

The new section would require a three-fifths majority vote of each chamber of the General Assembly, or the governing body of a unit of local government, school district, or pension or retirement system, in order to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system

Two groups oppose this measure:

the unions for public employees -- because it affects their opportunities for better pensions
right wing nut cases --- because they oppose anything proposed by Democratic leadership

So it looks like a good idea to me.  The problem with pension benefits is that they are easier to give than salary raises because they affect budgets of the future, not the present.

Which is exactly why it should be made more difficult to give them.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

2012 - Interview with a billionaire

Already having enough ways to waste time, I try to limit my political interests to specific electoral contests.

But since an election is now pending -- and since our local newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, has offered this fine interview with local billionaire, Kenneth Griffith, I thought I might waste a few minutes responding to his ideas.

The first interesting topic to be raised were the recent tax breaks that the State of Illinois gave Sears and the Chicago Board of Trade to keep their central offices in Illinios.

Griffith said that"as morally corrupt as it is for me to imagine asking for that check, it is profoundly more corrupt for the state to pay it."

So then, the journalist, Melissa Harris, asked him whether he would speak about that moral corruption with his colleague, Eddie Lampert, the Chairman of Sears Holdings.

To which Griffith replied: That's not fair; given CEOs have duties to their shareholders. If the state's willing to hand out gifts, there are many who feel compelled to go get them.

But a payment that has been extorted could hardly be called a "gift", could it? Sears was threatening to move to another state in order to get the tax breaks that the Governor of Illinois eventually gave to them.

Currently, American law allows the states to pay companies to locate within them, but does not allow them to demand payment from companies when they pick up and leave. Perhaps that unbalance ought to be changed, but it does not appear that Griffith has expressed any interest in that larger issue.

It's also interesting to note that Griffith does not mention the duties that a CEO might have to anyone other than the shareholders.

The next issue to surface was gambling.

Griffith has made many contributions to local politicians and the one issue that he has raised with them is casinos.

He doesn't want any in the city of Chicago.

Melissa Harris then asked him how speculation in the stock market was any different from gambling in a casino, to which Griffth replied:

I think there's a huge difference. Gambling is entertainment. We have great destinations for that, like Las Vegas. Just not in Chicago. Financial markets, what one often refers to as speculation, is really the force by which we move capital to the best and highest use. Investors who find the best businesses to put their money behind are rewarded for their research. It's not the prettiest way you can ever imagine to allocate capital. But if you look across the entire world, it's the best way we know to allocate capital.

Ok - so if gambling is entertainment, one still might ask why it does not belong in the city of Chicago where entertainment is a major industry.

And businesses that own casinos can be traded on the stock exchanges just like any other, can't they? So wouldn't they qualify as "the best and highest use" as they attract investment?

Just how did that notion of "best and highest" get attached to financial investments anyway? That makes the financial markets part of an ideology, a belief system, rather than just the practical matter of either raising cash or looking for high returns on investment.

Griffith is more than a little sensitive about the morality of gambling, possibly because he recognizes that his own career was built upon taking risks for the benefit of nobody but oneself.

The next issue was his relationship with, and his admiration for, the Koch brothers "primarily because I share their fundamental belief that economic freedom is core to the ethos of our country. It's the idea that any person can pursue their dreams, whether it's starting a business or who they choose to work for. It's made America America. Our founding fathers came to the country for freedom and the Kochs embrace this idea of economic freedom in a way I rarely see put forth today

It would be more accurate to say that the founding fathers embraced the idea of freedom for some and slavery for others, and that the change to the idea of freedom for all required a civil war and then a hundred years of patience and determination.

But it's more important to realize that nobody is currently challenging anyone's freedom to "pursue their dreams, whether it's starting a business or who they choose to work for." -- unless those pursuits are deemed harmful to others.

Once upon a time, it was reasonable to be concerned about the USSR and Communism, but that disappeared in 1990, and actually was in decline for the 40 years previous.

Then Melissa Harris asks a good question:
Don't you also see how some of their (the Koch brothers) ideas are economically reckless, in that they involve pretty much a destruction of our regulatory system?

In response, Griffith totally avoided the issue of regulation, but raises, instead, the issue of government subsidizing green industry, like the support that was given to the now-defunct Solyndra company - reminding us how the principles of that company contributed to the Obama campaign and exemplified the Koch brothers' belief that
" it's a matter of principle first and foremost that where government finds itself involved, corruption finds itself at the table."

But happily, Harris holds him to her question and asks whether government has a right to regulate a company (like Midwest Generation) to keep it from polluting the Chicago neighborhoods near its facility - and Griffith must concede that :
"no company is entitled to engage in acts that hurt innocent third parties."
(regardless, one presumes, of how the revocation of that entitlement infringes on their right to pursue their American dream)

At this point, Harris returns to an issue raised earlier, the access and influence that wealthy contributor have upon the political candidates whom they sponsor.

Is it too much?

Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet. And so I hope that other individuals who have really enjoyed growing up in a country that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness "

As you can see, Griffith is quite idealistic in his response, and I do feel that his idealism is genuine, if self serving. But he has, indeed, avoided the question which asked whether super-wealthy people had too much influence on the American political process, rather than whether each one had the responsibility to contribute as much as he could.

There are many highly responsible career paths, in education, the military, scientific research, medicine etc that will never make a person super-wealthy. So one might ask whether our political process is best served by skewing it towards the interests of those professions that specialize in building wealth.

At this moment in time, these values are under attack. This belief that a larger government is what creates prosperity, that a larger government is what creates good (is wrong). We've seen that experiment. The Soviet Union collapsed. China has run away from its state-controlled system over the last 20 years and has pulled more people up from poverty by doing so than we've ever seen in the history of humanity

Has Chinese capitalism run away from the state -- or has it been sponsored by a one-party system that controls and has been enriched by it? (sort of like the local politics of Chicago) And will it be sustainable without an endless pool of peasant workers willing to work for negligible wages?

Griffith's capitalist idealism is sustained by a rather narrow and distorted view of both American and world history.

Finally, Harris takes us to Griffith's primarily concern with politics: the regulation of the financial industry.

Is the crash of 2008 analgous to the pollution caused by unregulated factories?

Griffith pins it mostly on a corrupt and inept government programs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but allows that there was a "lack of discipline" on Wall Street that contributed to the disaster.

Here's the concluding exchange:

Q. How would you try to convey to someone on the street, that you and your ilk are not evil? How would try to explain to them that you're not just acting out of self-interest? What would you say to them to make them trust you?

A. (45 second pause.) I think if you look at the realm we're discussing, which is the political realm, I think it would be impossible to find an action by any politician intended to specifically favor either my firm or myself. That's not the driver of my involvement. And with respect to the role my firm plays, I'm proud that we've created well over 1,000 high-paying jobs in Chicago, and I'm very proud of the involvement of my leadership team in the city.

Since Griffith equates economic self interest with public interest, I'm one person on the street who is not inclined to trust him to act for anyone's benefit other than his own.

And if he has never sought a specific favor from a politican, I would guess that it's only because the opportunity has not yet arisen.

After all, in his mind, he would only be asking for "a gift"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 - March Primary (Democratic)

One last mailer, on the weekend of the election, has helped me make some choices in several contests.

It's a cooperative effort among many candidates, including Chris Welch.

Since his mis-behavior as a public official is a matter of public record (as explained below), his endorsement by all the other candidates listed on the flyer is serious mark against their sincere interest in public service.

So they have made my job a lot easier.


U.S. Representative: 7th District

Jacques A. Conway
Danny K. Davis

I might just sit this one out.

Davis is so complacent, he hasn't yet changed his campaign website from the February 2010 primary.

While Conway seems to be in over his head. He recently resigned his elected position on the Oak Park school board because he was too busy with personal matters -- but now he wants to run for Congress?

And apparently he's still too busy to make his own campaign website.

State Representative : 7th District

Emanuel "Chris" Welch
Princess C. Dempsey
Beyonca Johnson
Rory Hoskins

Some relevant journalism:

Here's the report of Welch using the Proviso 90 School District funds (he's been chairman of the board) to defend himself from a lawsuit for libelous statements published on an anonymous blog that was proven to be his.

And here's the report regarding the aftermath of a relationship he had with a school district employee, Beyonca Johnson, whom he fired after they broke up and who is now running against him in this election.

Sounds like Welch and Johnson should be in the Jerry Springer show, not the Illinois state house.

Princess Dempsey still seems to be all about herself.

Hoskins served admirably on the Forest Park city council, providing an alternative to the voice of the majority. I'm voting for him.

This campaign has featured many mailings, and I don't want to know where all the cash came from to pay for them.

But the above is the most pathetic - as Welch compares himself to Barack Obama, suggesting that an endorsement might run in both directions.

Here's the flip side of the above mailing, with the list of who actually has endorsed Chris Welch.

The various suburban mayors and teachers unions like to trade favors, but why is the Sierra Club endorsing a candidate who has a negligable record on the environment and a damning record otherwise ?

And it's interesting to find two Cook County Commissioners, Earlean Collins and Jeff Tobolski on the list.

I won't be voting for them anytime soon.

Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Vote For 3

Stella B. Black
Debra Shore Democratic -- NO
Kari K. Steele Democratic --- NO
Patrick Daley Thompson Democratic
Patricia Young Democratic
Patricia Horton


Clerk of the Circuit Court, Cook County
Dorothy A. Brown Democratic
Ricardo Munoz


Judge, Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District (Vacancy of Cahill)

Pamela E. Hill-Veal Democratic 111
Mathias William Delort Democratic 112 --- NO
Kay Marie Hanlon Democratic 113
Mary Brigid Hayes Democratic 114 -- YES
James Michael McGing Democratic 115
Laura Marie Sullivan Democratic 116

Judge, Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District (Vacancy of Johnson Coleman)

Nathaniel Roosevelt Howse, Jr. Democratic 117 -- YES
Kathleen G. Kennedy Democratic 118

Judge, Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District (Vacancy of Gallagher)

Patrick J. Sherlock Democratic 119
P. Scott Neville, Jr. Democratic 120 --- NO
Marguerite Anne Quinn Democratic 121

Judge, Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District (Vacancy of O'Brien)

Jesse G. Reyes Democratic 122 --- NO
Rodolfo (Rudy) Garcia Democratic 123
William Stewart Boyd Democratic 124 --- yes
Ellen L. Flannigan Democratic 125 ---- no
Don R. Sampen Democratic 126

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Conlon)

Karen Lynn O'Malley Democratic 141 -- YES
Jo Anne Hopson Guillemette Democratic 142 --- no
Stanley L. Hill, Sr. Democratic 143 -- NO

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Kirie Kinnaird)

Kevin Cunningham Democratic 145 -- YES
Erica L. Reddick Democratic 146 -- NO

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Moran)
Vote For 1

Russell W. Hartigan Democratic 147

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of O'Brien, Jr.)
Vote For 1

Cynthia Ramirez Democratic 149
Gerald V. Cleary Democratic 150 --- yes

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of O'Mara Frossard)

Nichole C. Patton Democratic 151
Kevin W. Horan Democratic 152 ---- yes
Diann Karen Marsalek Democratic 153
Rodrick F. Wimberly Democratic 154

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Pucinski)

Edward J. Maloney Democratic 156 --- yes
Lorna Ellen Propes Democratic 157 -- NO

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Simmons, Jr.)

Michael A. Forti Democratic 158
Jessica A. O'Brien Democratic 159 -- yes
James A. Wright Democratic 160

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Stewart)

Pamela M. Leeming Democratic 161 --- yes
Terrence M Jordan Democratic 162
Deidre Baumann Democratic 163
Mary Margaret Burke Democratic 164
Sammy W. Lacey Jr. Democratic 165
Rhonda Sallee Democratic 166
Steve Demitro Democratic 167

Judge, Cook County Judicial Circuit (Vacancy of Ward)

Alfred M. Swanson, Jr. Democratic 169
Denise Marie Nalley Democratic 170 --- no
Elizabeth Mary Hayes Democratic 171 --- no
Joan Marie Kubalanza Democratic 172
Peter J. Vilkelis Democratic 173 -- yes
Brian J. Stephenson

Judge, 7th Subcircuit (Vacancy of Toney)

Arthur P. Wheatley Democratic 187 --- yes
Mable Taylor Democratic 188
Kimberly D. Lewis Democratic 189
Mark Battaglia Democratic 190