May 31, 2005

What we're missing on the Illinois Channel

This week's highlights, from the Illiniois Channel:

May 31, 2005

From the State Capitol: Howard Peters III, Sr. Vice President with the Illinois Hospital Association, dis­cusses the legislature’s agreeing to place caps on non-economic damages in Medical Malpractice cases.

From Springfield: Greg Baise, President of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, discusses how a new law will reform Illinois’ Workers Compensation law and may lead to savings for Illinois businesses.

From the State Capitol: State Representative Mike Boland (D) discusses legislation that would create a new lottery game designed to pay for additional Health Care for Veterans.

From Capitol Hill: Illinois Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Barack Obama (D) brief Illinois residents on a series of issues being debated within Congress.

From the State Supreme Court in Springfield: the case of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce v. State Budget Director John Filan. This case addresses the constitutionality of raising business fees to cover the cost of general government operations.

Video-stream: With a broadband Internet connection, each program can be video-streamed separately by going to and clicking on the pro­gram’s photo.

Former FBI official revealed as playing role in famous porn flic

W. Mark Felt, which may be a stage name, was revealed to have played an important role in the ... er... seminal porn movie, "Deep Throat" the aging former FBI official revealed to a Vanity Fair reporter.

But seriously folks.... as you no doubt already know, Deep Throat, the crucial background witness who kept Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein focused on key aspects of the Watergate scandal which resulted in the revelation of criminal abuse of power and corruption in the Nixon White House, has been revealed at last.

W. Mark Felt, who was a high ranking FBI official, stated that he was Deep Throat in a Vanity Fair piece, and after initially waffling, Bob Woodward finally confirmed the fact.

Some reactions from journalists here.

As I was watching Crossfire earlier, Lawrence Eagleburger, a guy that has been at the top of several administrations, made a remark that was allowed to go by uncommented upon, but which to me was very telling. In remarking about the revelation of Felt, Eagleburger said, "I'm surprised Felt didn't end up dead somewhere."

Yup, next time you hear someone wondering why the guy that wrote a book before the 2000 election exposing Bush's cocaine use ended up being found at room temperature in some obscure motel room, or why a woman trying to bring a suit with serious allegations against Bush in Texas suddenly was found dead, or why one of the Bush maids apparently managed the remarkable feat of running over herself with her own car with no one around to witness it, all verifiable facts... think twice before dismissing it as fantasy that our leaders are not above using murder as a tool. Our goverment, especially the Bush administration, with their extensive connections through the CIA and other international goon squads, make the Mafia look like amateurs.

Pat Buchanan and other neanderthals are blathering on and trying to re-write history by saying Felt was a fink and his actions dishonorable and trying to rehabilitate Nixon once again. What do you think?

What should I do??

I just got this e-mail, and it sounds like the chance of a lifetime! What should I do? It looks and sounds so legitimate.










Boy! It sounds like my ship is about to come in!!!!

(this has to be literally about the thousandth variation of this Nigerian scam I've gotten. But they never give up. I'm just wondering what they hope to gain? I assume they get rubes to send them all their personal bank account and credit card info?)

Another bogus "Homeland Security" handout

"Homeland Security" is and always has been a joke. It is literally impossible, despite so much sound and fury and hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent, to do anything but marginally improve the ability of government to respond to and manage large scale attacks.

But the politicians and others saw a gigantic opportunity post 9-11, and in the best spirit of good old American greed, any number of agencies, schools, and businesses have been working like mad to get their slice. I'd hazzard to say that if 25% of the money has any tangible effect, it would be a miracle.

The least we should expect the government to do is to try to ensure that the money, and there's LOTS of it, gets spent in ways that actually improve our security. I mean, they should at least give the appearance that there's been some thought involved.

Now, in addition to East Moline getting tens of thousands for "Homeland Security" and having the fire department spend it on equipment to exhaust diesel fumes out of the firehouse, Scott County just got a handout as well.

They received $12,500, a nice chunk of change to be sure. And just how are they spending it to ensure that Scott County residents are safer against a terrorist threat? Why of course they're buying an incredibly expensive "thermal imaging" unit for the Sheriff's office like the other cool cops have. They say it will make it easier to catch bad guys who might be running through a corn field at night. One might think a helicopter with a nightsun spotlight might do almost as well, but, ya gotta have this high-tech stuff or the other cops will laugh at you I guess.

Oh, and did I mention that the Scott County Sheriff's office already HAS a "thermal imaging" unit? Well they have. This one, they say, will be "supplimental."

It's Christmas boys and girls. Pick out a toy and we'll buy it for you.

May 30, 2005

The guests who would not leave

Anyone remember the skit from SNL of years ago where John Belushi played... dun dun DAH!!!! THE GUEST THAT WOULDN'T LEAVE!!!! No matter what the couple who lived at the place did, no matter how broad the hints they dropped, Belushi just would not leave. Of course, the skit would have been even funnier if the hosts finally decided to set their house on fire out of desperation to get him to leave. But that would have been too hard to believe, right?

Well, from the truth is stranger than fiction files, we have this story.
GENEVA, Ill. (AP) -- A 46-year-old Kane County resident allegedly set his own home on fire in order to get two visitors to leave, police said.

Dean Craig was charged with felony arson after allegedly splashing rubbing alcohol on the floor of the two-story home in Aurora Township and using a lighter to ignite the fire around 1 a.m. Sunday, the Kane County Sheriff's office said.

When authorities arrived at Craig's home, which is owned by his mother, it was engulfed in flames, police said. Craig and his two guests were not injured.

Craig allegedly had asked two visitors to leave, but when they refused, he threatened to light his house on fire, police said.

Craig was being held Monday at the Kane County Jail on $25,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 9.
I've been tempted, but don't know if I would have gone quite that far. I usually just hide all the remaining booze and announce that I'm just plain out of alcohol. That usually does the trick.

May 28, 2005

Vote expantion measure passes house

This seems like this is some very good news. A bill with provisions designed to increase the ability of more people to participate in elections has passed the Illiniois House today and will be sent to Gov. Blagojevich for his signature.
The package, which passed the House on a 62-51 vote Saturday, would require the creation of voters' guides, time off from work for voting in some circumstances, the inclusion of voter information in college registration materials, and the availability of online voter registration through state agency Web sites.
Republicans are squealing like stuck pigs, so it must be good. Hope Blago puts the ink to this one. Who can be against more people being able to vote more easily? Oh yeah, Republicans.

O'Brien profiled in Times

I'm a bit behind on this, but Barb Ickes of the Times did a nice profile of Pat O'Brien earlier this month. An alert reader sent me a copy in .pdf format and you can view it here.

If for some odd reason you don't have the Adobe Acrobat plug-in for your browser, it should offer to install it automatically when you click on the link. If you still can't view the file, go here and download and install the reader for your platform.

Zinga gets same Evans bashing letter published in Dispatch

As I posted about here, Andrea Zinga got a letter to the editor published in the Q.C. Times in which she attempted to lay all blame for Arsenal job losses at the feet of Lane Evans with rather uninformed and dubious arguments.

Apparently feeling it was just too good to pass up, the Dispatch today features the exact same letter prominently below their masthead in their "Views from the QCA" column on the editorial page.

They can "get 'er done" for gambling interests, but what about citizens?

A piece in the Dispatch/Argus today shows that while Pat Verschoore and Mike Jacobs will jump like scalded dogs to swing into action and "fix" problems threatening to impact Jumers Casino Corporation, making it a top priority and devoting enough energy to get it done, when it comes to ensuring that local residents get a slice of the pie, things aren't as optimistic.

While Sen. Mike Jacobs practically breaks his arm patting himself on the back for getting a bill passed in the Senate that fixes a legal technicality that threatened to hold up Casino Rock Island's desired move to the pristine wetlands near I-280 and SR-92, Illinois counties with gambling operations in their area are now asking for a little slice off the top and being told not to hold their breath.

Rock Island County Board chairman Jim Bohnsack, D-Edgington, and board member Phil Banaszek, D-Moline, met with officials from Kane, Will, St. Clair, Tazewell and Madison counties in Springfield earlier this week to discuss an amendment to a gaming bill that would give counties 1 percent of their respective casinos' adjusted gross revenue.
Vershoore and Jacobs also met with the county's officials in Springfield.

That 1%, based on last year's figures, would translate into $383,000 much needed dollars a year being pumped into Rock Island County coffers.

But the prospects for getting this done sound dismal. In the legislators favor, it must be said that the county officials were slow to get off the dime, and are asking for the proposal very late in the game making it more unlikely that any action will be seen this year. And with anti-gambling fundie influence being what it is in the House, passing a gambling bill is going to be even tougher in the future.
"The gaming bill we had isn't going to happen," Rep. Verschoore said, "but things are changing by the minute."
It appears that the county officials came up with a bright idea, but a little late in the game. If this needed revenue is lost, they must take at least partial responsibility.

Getting a gambling bill passed will doubtless be tough. Verschoore and Jacobs have proved to be willing to work hard for Casino R.I. They've been critical in helping Casino R.I. get theirs. Now can they manage to get a gambling bill through that includes some wider public benefit from their efforts?

May 27, 2005

Doprah's Book Club

I got a batch of books yesterday and thought I'd try to see what you're reading or have read recently.

I'm finally getting around to reading "The Price of Loyalty" by Ron Suskind, which is the story of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil's journey through the bizarre place known as Bushworld. I'm also hoping to get to "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties", by Craig Unger. I'm almost afraid to read it.

So what books are you reading? What have you recently finished? And what's your review? Well written? Would you recommend it? Was it enlightening? Enraging? Funny? Any books you're curious about or want to read? Maybe someone has already read it and can give you some insight.

Let us know what's on your reading list these days.

Slow news day

It appears that there's not a hell of a lot going on, unless you count the tragic suicide of a lovestruck young man in Davenport and the fact that the guy easily took an officers's gun and squad car before using the cop's gun on himself. That's not exactly political, just sad on many levels.

The bill fixing a technical glitch that was threatening to hold up the move of Casino R.I. passed the Senate and Sen. Jacobs was excited about the first bill with his name on it to pass. The Gov has already said he'd sign it, so goodbye wetlands, hello gamblers, goodbye herons, snakes, fish, and other critters, hello earthmovers, cement trucks, and sprawling parking lots. Goodbye dark, peaceful and mysterious nature, hello bright lights, C-list bands, drunken patrons, and clanging slot machines.

May 26, 2005

The doctor is: out.

Due to non-blog matters, I haven't been able to devote much time to the site in the past few days (well, none, really) and so haven't dug up any posts. Hope to get back in the saddle soon.

In the meantime, here's a free thread to talk about whatever you wish. Who's going to be the candidates for president in '08? What's Boland's next move? Who's going to challenge Evans? What Dem would be good to succeed him if and when Evans retires?

Comment about anything you'd like.

Have fun.

May 25, 2005

R.I. Casino skid greasing bill passes out of Senate committee

A bill sponsored by Rep. Pat Vershoore which serves to clarify jurisdictional disputes in order to allow Illinois casinos the ability to move their operations a limited distance from their base of operations passed out of executive committee by a unanimous vote. The measure now goes before the full Senate.

Some of those morally opposed to gambling view this as a further expansion of gambling and oppose the move for this reason.

Among them is Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems.

Ms. Bedell told the committee the bill would only allow for the further victimization of poor people, noting many of the casino's slot machines accept low-denomination coins.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, took exception.

"They need to relook at their view. The fact is the Casino Rock Island is in a position now where they have to go after nickel players. ... By moving out into a larger area, they will see weekend-destination tourists." he said.

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May 24, 2005

Rock Island # 6 in nation on "Salary Value Index" list

I was half watching CNN this morning when I thought I glimpsed the words Rock Island up on the screen. Turns out I had. The report was about coming up with a "Salary Value Index" based on the cost of living vs. average salary in cities across the U.S.

The Top Five Cities are in order; New London, CT, Huntsville, AL, Baltimore, MD, Harrisburg, PA, and Tulsa, OK.

Rock Island just missed being included in the top 5, coming in 6th, with Moline making the list in a strong 16th place. Davenport also made the list, but waaaaaay down in 101st place, only a few spots above Chicago.

Other regional cities that made the list are; Des Moines in 75th place, Rockford at 79th, and Peoria in 85th.

Here is how their web site explains their methodology;
In creating the "Salary Value" index, correlated the latest city-by-city pay information against a "market basket" of living costs that included property values and staples such as food and energy. Unemployment rates per metro area were also considered. Metro areas of 250,000 or more residents were included. A metro area is defined as a radius around the city that is generally commutable for an employee.
View the complete list here.

Residents to Mercer County: More services, less taxes.

Another result of the mindless and largely conservative "no tax, no way, no how, no matter what" hysteria.

Cutting jobs, reducing the hours the Mercer County courthouse is open, and freezing salaries may be discussed when the Mercer County board and the county's unionized employees resume contract talks next month.

"I'm sure all these options and scenarios should be looked at and will be looked at," said county board chairman Tom Harris. "I'm sure with whatever option we choose, somebody's going to get hurt and disappointed."

This spring, voters rejected a proposed sales tax that would have been used to help pay for the county's law enforcement operations. The idea was to free up money from the general fund for other uses. County officials had warned that if it failed, layoffs could be an option.

May 23, 2005

Thodos administration to hold Q&A session

The first town meeting with the new administration of the city of East Moline will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the South Moline Township Senior Center, 637 17th Ave., East Moline.

All elected officials and staff have been invited. There will be some information on what the coming year will bring and how it will be funded. Questions from the audience will be answered by officials. Suggestions also will be welcomed. Any questions or suggestions will be forwarded to the aldermen or officials that are not present. No question or complaint will be ignored.

Sounds good. This might be the place to try to get those pressing questions answered.

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Over 1,600 Americans dead, based on a pack of lies

As stated forcefully and truthfully by British PM Galloway in his testimony in the U.S. Senate this week, over 1,600 U.S. service men and women have had their lives snuffed out in Iraq based on a pack of lies. Bush administration lies.

This is at long last being reported as straight news, but since this is the Bush regime, even the most prominent press know that it must be soft-pedalled lest they get hammered and demeaned.

Apparently the Washington Post, that venerable paper, feels that proof that Bush, Powell, and others lied directly to the American public and the world which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people and 1600 and counting U.S. service members only merits a story on page A26.

All of their scare tactics to stampede the country into war with Iraq was pure crap, and it was known at the time that the information was, at best, shaky when both Bush and Powell presented it to the world and the nation as solid fact.

People should be calling for Bush's head! Yet this story is on page A26 of the largest paper in D.C. Walter Pincus lays it out here.
It has been clear since the September report of the Iraq Survey Group -- a CIA-sponsored weapons search in Iraq -- that the United States would not find the weapons of mass destruction cited by Bush as the rationale for going to war against Iraq. But as the Walpole episode suggests, it appears that even before the war many senior intelligence officials in the government had doubts about the case being trumpeted in public by the president and his senior advisers.

The question of prewar intelligence has been thrust back into the public eye with the disclosure of a secret British memo showing that, eight months before the March 2003 start of the war, a senior British intelligence official reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that U.S. intelligence was being shaped to support a policy of invading Iraq.

Moreover, a close reading of the recent 600-page report by the president's commission on intelligence, and the previous report by the Senate panel, shows that as war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs.

These included claims that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium in Africa for its nuclear program, had mobile labs for producing biological weapons, ran an active chemical weapons program and possessed unmanned aircraft that could deliver weapons of mass destruction. All these claims were made by Bush or then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in public addresses even though, the reports made clear, they had yet to be verified by U.S. intelligence agencies.

For instance, Bush said in his Jan. 28, 2003, State of the Union address that Hussein was working to obtain "significant quantities" of uranium from Africa, a conclusion the president attributed to British intelligence and made a key part of his assertion that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program.

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May 22, 2005


Seen on Bartcop:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're 30 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am," replied the balloonist. "But how can you tell?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, then you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met but, somehow, now it's my fault."

Zinga zings Evans

I finally found what a commenter mentioned in a comment to a completley unrelated story below. Here's the letter to the editor in the Q.C. Times from talking head, Andrea Zinga. What's your opinion of her opinion?

Zinga: Evans must be held accountable for BRAC job loss

This is outrageous. Once again, the Quad-Cities takes it in the gut for an ineffective congressman.

BRAC makes its recommendations and now there’s an 85 percent likelihood that we are losing 1,982 more jobs. The fact is that some 2,000 of our permanent residents now face an uncertain future. For some of them--former employees of Maytag, Case, Caterpillar, IH, Butler, Gates--they face it again.

These jobs are not being eradicated. They’re being moved to places like Baltimore, Indianapolis, Houston and Columbus, Ohio.

Look at which states and areas gained jobs and which lost. In Illinois, the overall loss is 2,700 jobs. At 1,982 we take the hit. The Defense Department also estimates that almost as large a number of related jobs in the community will disappear in the wake of final action.

Why is this? Well, one reason is probably that, if the Department of Defense has to stick it to a Congressman, it might as well be Lane Evans. He never votes for them anyway. Through the years he has voted, over and over and over again, against defense, against the military, against the lives of our fighting men and women, against our livelihoods in the 17th District.

Last election he decided he’d better “talk the talk” regarding the Arsenal. Remember? He said he would be working hard to expand civilian employment there.

At the Quad-City Development Group’s news conference Friday, the congressman told us he will “fight” and “protest.” Just how many times are we willing to go through this charade?

We need a congressman who fights for us on the front side, not the back side, of these devastating decisions.

At the town hall meeting at 7:30 a.m. Monday, the congressman stayed 10 minutes before leaving "for a meeting with BRAC commissioners, one that by his own acknowledgement had not been set up yet, on a day the commission was involved in hearings.

There were some winners in Illinois. Peoria’s military base gains jobs. Active Congressman for Peoria: Ray LaHood. In southern Illinois, Scott Air Force Base gains 700 jobs. Active Congressmen for that area: John Shimkus and Jerry Costello.

I said in my last campaign that Lane Evans is ineffective. That for 22 years, we have watched 12,000 jobs leave the 17th District on his watch. Barely a half-year into this term, that number grows to 14,000.

I do want to salute the massive local effort at lessening the impact of BRAC, which helped us retain the manufacturing sector on the Island.

Of course we are at war, and the manufacturing sector is performing magnificently. But, so do those 1,982 white-collar employees.

If our congressman can’t help us hold onto Arsenal jobs in war, what does that bode when we’re again at peace?

For that matter, how efficient is it, economically or in any other way, to have three local task forces, two paid lobbyists, a $100,000 per year injection from eight of our area cities, and the congressman’s staff, all scrambling to do what he should be doing--and that’s standing up for the people he claims to represent.

How long are we going to accept the excuse that he’s “doing the best he can”? Even discounting the temporary nature of the 181 jobs in JMTC (Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center), more than two-thirds of the net loss of base jobs in Illinois is in this one Congressional district--from an Arsenal with unique capabilities, available space, a secure location and a decorated workforce.

Every time we have voted to give Lane “just one more time” we have effectively voted to kill another 1,500 to 5,000 jobs. When do we begin to hold him accountable?

Andrea Zinga
Guess Andrea's core argument is that Lane isn't Republican and she is. Pretty weak.

A message from Pat O'Brien

The following appeared on the editorial pages of the Dispatch/Argus Friday.

Dear Citizens of Moline:

I wish to publicly thank everyone who was involved in so many different and wonderful ways during my recent campaign for mayor of Moline. It was a truly gratifying experience to realize such loyal support while equally overwhelming to see how much people wanted to give of themselves by donating their time, their financial and their moral support to me and my family as we journeyed the long campaign road.

When someone refers to running for office, that's exactly what it is – “running” from day until nightfall. The excitement is like none other in life and can prove very taxing after a while. However, as disappointed as we all were on April 5, I would not have changed anything about my campaign except the outcome. Today, I am not tired and do not despair, yet rather I stand proudly looking back at the accomplishments that have been made by me and my team, and I anticipate only the good that will come to us in Moline's future, and hope that I can continue to be a working part of it.

Quite a few nice surprises occurred along the busy trail of constant campaign events, concerns and adventures that made up our grand plan and for those involved in those experiences; we have shared a strong bond that can not be broken while holding close such priceless memories that are more worthy than words can express and will always be shared spoken and unspoken in our mutual times together.

In the modern day bash and run of today's ugly political campaigns both on the local and national level, the O'Brien for Mayor Campaign was a simple proud creation consisting of pure issues and ideas of vital importance to the average person who gets up and goes to work daily and pays their taxes. All those associated with the O'Brien Team can point with both honor and dignity to the upbeat platform we shared and the standards we set by constant focus on the naked truth of the official city council record.

The O'Brien Team never felt we had to use negatives in our message, and for that we stand tall and proud as a group of everyday people who truly care about the future of our Moline. We held a standard that did not allow for any other groups to represent us or tarnish our shining ideals but kept always focused on the importance of only the issues each day as we labored as a team to do the work at hand.

I recently spoke on the council floor in my official office as an elected representative a final time during my fast-expiring term after eight years of service, and a new face will take my seat. For those of you not in attendance, I shared my thanks with the city staff for making the council look good at all times because of their hard work, and I thanked the citizens for working with me shoulder to shoulder to effect some good changes while voicing their opinions on such matters as they came before the city.

I may not have agreed with everything that came before me but that is not your job as an alderman. If elected, you must have the convictions to stand tall and if you feel something is wrong, have the guts to stand in opposition. My belief is that an elected official does not simply fill a seat but is placed there by the honor and will of the people, and the job is to consider all the facts yet listen hard to those he represents so then to honestly represent the opinion and action that best suits the entire city and all its citizens.

Some of you know that I do actually run (or slowly jog) on our city streets as a form of physical exercise so it's safe to say I will never stop running for something. I hope that we will continue to greet each other in the days ahead for many years. My final word for now and to all is that I will be there for all of you in need and I will be hoping for only the best for the City of Moline.

Pat O'Brien, a former 2nd Ward alderman, was a candidate for mayor of Mollne.

Let's hope we see Pat serving our area in some capacity soon. He will be missed in city government.

Black Hawk's Revenge

A Sac-Fox chief recently appeared in Springfield and outlined extensive and interesting plans for business ventures in northwest Illinois on lands taken from the tribe's ancestors.
Kay Rhoads, chief of the Sac & Fox Nation, said her group of Oklahoma-based Indians hopes to take advantage of the special legal status given Indian tribes as it pursues a host of business endeavors.

In fact, she went so far as to say she is "98 percent sure" the tribe's ambitious development endeavor will come to fruition. Ms. Rhoads and others met with state officials Tuesday in hopes of paving the way for future cooperation.

Among early ventures her tribe is considering are building a 150-room hotel on a bluff in Savanna and a gasoline-blending facility at the former Savanna Army Depot site. The tribe also is considering a vineyard on the depot site.

As part of the tribe's longer-term vision for the area, a grain terminal is being considered for the Case-IH plant site in East Moline.

A $200 million ethanol/biodiesel plant also is under consideration, Ms. Rhoads said. She initially said the plant was under consideration for the Savanna site, but Friday Todd England, a member of an economic-development firm appointed by the tribe, said the Quad-Cities also could be under consideration for the plant.

Such a plant would employ 45 to 60 people, Mr. England said. It would take several years to build the facility and that would generate construction jobs as well, he said.

Business endeavors by Indian tribes can be afforded certain legal advantages unavailable to other businesses, such as exemptions from state corporate income taxes, some federal labor laws and local property taxes, said Richard Collins, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School.

Mr. Collins, an expert in American Indian law, said Indian tribes have been able to block workers from organizing unions in many of their businesses on reservations by contending tribes are exempt from federal laws regarding collective bargaining.

But obtaining the special legal status afforded to an Indian reservation is contingent on whether the U.S. Department of Interior agrees to hold the land in "trust" for the tribe, Mr. Collins said.

Generally, if a state in which the land is located objects, the Interior Department is reticent to give the land the special status, he said.

Mr. England said the tribe soon would petition the Interior Department to have about 82 acres in the Savanna area designated as tribal lands. It would encompass land to be used for the vineyard, lodge and ethanol-blending facility, he said.

The Sac and Fox were forced out of Illinois in the 1800s and now are headquartered in Stroud, Okla.

But Ms. Rhoads, the great-great-great granddaughter of the leader Black Hawk, said there is a desire now to invest in the tribe's ancestral homeland.

Building the lodge and a gasoline-blending facility in Savanna are the tribal nation's top priorities. But neither is among the group's most ambitious.

The facility for blending gasoline and ethanol could be brought on line relatively quickly, said Louis Jullien III, an economic-development consultant appointed by the tribe. In turn, this smaller venture could lead to further development that includes a $200 million ethanol generation facility.

Financing likely would come from a combination equity/bond offering on Wall Street, Mr. Jullien said.

Ms. Rhoads said she's working with the federal government to have the some of the land at the Savanna Army Depot converted into tribal lands, noting that Indian tribes are given preference when surplus federal lands become available.

Because the Savanna facility is owned by the federal government and not currently on the property-tax roles, it should be able to convert the land into recognized tribal land relatively quickly, she said.

But it likely would take at least a year to make the privately held Case-IH site Indian land, she said, adding that tribal members have taken only a cursory drive by the property, which state Sen. Mike Jacobs is promoting for development.
Well, it's nice to have an interested party for the Case/IH site, but the article states the facility would only employ roughly 15 people, and if the "experts" are correct, there would be no union, no state corporate tax revenue, and no local property tax. Sen. Jacobs might have a hard sell on his hands if he decides to back this effort.

May 20, 2005

George Galloway, Patriot

George Galloway, the feisty independent MP from Britain, has been a favored whipping boy of the cretinous Norm Coleman, R-MN, chairman of the committee trying to whip up opposition to the U.N. and trying to magnify it's so-called "oil for food" scandal.

Some right wing ideologue told Coleman, not the sharpest tool in the shed, to get Galloway before the committee and rake him over the coals. Big mistake. Coleman plays the usual Republican style politics, long on B.S. accusations and sensation, lean on facts. Galloway doesn't play that. He put Coleman and the Bush regime squarely in it's place, speaking the truth that no U.S. politician, Dem or Republican, has the honesty or "testicular virility" to dare utter.

The text of his statement to the committee can be found here. (He also tells off Christopher Hitchens, the drunken pathological Clinton hater, which is a thing of beauty.)

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I'm RICH!!

Just a word of thanks to all you parsimonious readers out there for generously taking the few seconds it takes to click on some of the ads in the sidebar. It's painless, you just click on the ad, go to the site, click your back button, repeat.
Since it's inception 41 days ago, your clicks have earned yours truly a stunning $3.18. Keep it up. I've almost got enough to buy that bottle of Maalox I've had my eyes on.

Illinois Republican corruption; the gift that keeps on giving

From the AP story in the Chicago Trib:
A one-time top aide to former Illinois House Republican Leader Lee Daniels has been charged with using state employees to work in campaigns on state time and trading $1.3 million in taxpayer money for a no-show job in the private sector for a favored candidate.

Michael Tristano, 49, of Glenview, a former chief of staff to Daniels, was charged in the nine-count federal indictment with fraud, theft and extortion conspiracy.

There was no allegation of any wrongdoing on the part of Daniels.

Tristano was one of the most powerful staff at the Statehouse in Springfield in the 1990s heading a staff of 100 with a $5 million budget. Outgoing Gov. George Ryan named him to a seat on the Illinois Pollution Control Board in 2000 and his wife, Sandra, is a Cook County judge.

The Tristano indictment, assigned to U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle, grew out of the seven-year federal investigation of political misconduct under Ryan. It was returned Wednesday and announced at a news conference Thursday where officials remarked on the growing barrage of political corruption cases in Illinois.

Robert D. Grant, Chicago's top FBI agent, said that this city has only the fourth largest complement of FBI agents nationwide but more agents at work on corruption than anywhere else.

"The fundamental question is, is there something inherently wrong in this state?'' he said. [Depends on what your definition of "is" is. My neighbor's cat could answer that one.]

Daniels, who remains a member of the Illinois House, said he had no comment about the indictment of his former chief of staff.

Though the indictment contained no allegation of wrongdoing by Daniels, the former Republican leader from west suburban Elmhurst has been another focus of the federal government's investigation. Fitzgerald said the investigation is ongoing.

At the Statehouse in Springfield, Daniels' successor, Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, told reporters that "if what is alleged in this indictment is accurate or true, it's inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.''

"Our office has been fully cooperative with the U.S. attorney's office, since Day One -- fully cooperative -- and will continue to be,'' Cross said.

The allegations are not new but grew out of the government's investigation of former Ryan aide Scott Fawell, now serving a 61/2-year racketeering sentence, and Republican political consultant Roger Stanley, a one-time state representative sent to prison for corruption.

Daniels, a state representative since 1975, was House Republican leader from 1983 to 2003 but stepped down as allegations of state employees doing campaign work on state time shook his grip on the GOP caucus. He also resigned as state Republican chairman as the scandal grew. He was working on the House floor Thursday.

The alleged offenses took place when Daniels and his Republicans were fighting fierce duels in many districts with Speaker Michael J. Madigan of Chicago and his Democrats for control of the House with bills meaning millions of dollars to labor and business hanging in the balance.

Tristano allegedly sent House staffers into hotly contested districts, ordering them to use their vacation time, compensating time off and sick days to do the work. He lied to authorize payment of travel expenses for the employees who went out to campaign, the indictment said.

It also said he arranged a grant of $1.3 million to the south suburb of Willow Springs that would benefit a real estate partnership in which Stanley had an interest. In return, the partnership gave a no-show job to a southern Illinois House candidate so that he would not have to work and could devote his full time to campaigning, according to the indictment.
They say any publicity is good publicity. For the beleaguered Illinois Republican Party and GOP leader Cross, this certainly isn't.

The Capitol Fax Blog reveals the ugliness from up close here.

May 19, 2005

Who, what, when, and, ........?

I must be getting cranky or something, but this piece in today's Dispatch I found pretty annoying. It purports to cover neighbor's complaints about an Alternative High School located near their home in Moline and details all the various actions they've taken and are planning to take, the reaction of the police department and school board head, and more.

But nowhere in the entire piece does it mention one word about where this school is located. Grrrrrrrrr. The story is ABOUT the location of this school, yet they didn't bother to mention where it is? Isn't that pretty basic info that should be included? I thought reporters were supposed to get the 4 W's at the very least.

Casino move legislation expected to pass House today

Rep. Pat Vershoores measure to sidestep the obstacle posed by a legal opinion from Attorney General Lisa Madigan is expected to pass the Illinois House today, Vershoore said.
Sen. Mike Jacobs apparently dosn't have any idea if there are enough votes to pass the measure in the Senate, but he assures us, ""I won't say whether we have enough votes. But I will say I have an excellent relationship with both Republicans and Democrats. But I'm hopeful that I will be able to work with them to get enough votes." That excellent relationship ought to assure passage one would think.

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Blago & Delilah

Showing that famous Republican wit, these wild and crazy guys have this photoshopped picture of Blagojevich posted on the Illinois House Republicans site. As part of their thoughts on what Blago needed to do to get off the slippery slope he finds himself on, a commenter suggested that he get rid of that big mop of hair, among other things.
Well, here's what it would look like if you got your wish.

"Downing St. Memo" confirms obvious

An underreported story emerged during the recent British elections of a leaked memo from a top British intelligence official. The memo was shared with Tony Blair and others and proves what every person with even rudimentary ability to see through the obvious crap that the Bush administration and their hacks have been selling us about the war. The "war" was needless, and a trumped up sham. The war was planned and decided upon long before any reason was invented, and the plan all along was to try to justify the invasion Bush and his chicken hawk pals had been lusting for for years with a combo of terrorist tie-in and WMDs.

At the risk of being repetitive, I direct you once more to Paul Krugman's excellent article in the Times for more on this and other matters.

May 18, 2005

Governor Rod remains opposed to "tax-swap" plan

Hundreds of people swarmed the Statehouse Wednesday to lobby for transforming the way Illinois pays for public education, but Gov. Rod Blagojevich continued to oppose the idea because it would raise taxes.

A new analysis of the plan concluded that Illinois homeowners would, on average, see a 20 percent increase in their overall tax burden.

The Chicago Tribune reviewed information from 5.2 million Illinois tax returns filed in 2004. The smallest increase it found was less than 7 percent in one Waukegan ZIP code. The biggest increases were more than 40 percent in parts of Chicago's Loop and some downstate ZIP codes.

Blagojevich cited the finding as he reiterated his opposition to the "tax swap" concept.

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Blago: My testicles are virile.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich is defending his use of the phrase "testicular virility" to describe his ability to make tough decisions.

The remark prompted both laughter and complaints that it was sexist and an undignified thing for a governor to say.

But Blagojevich called such objections "complete baloney."

"I think the people understand that means: Do you have the fortitude -- if you're a man or a woman in leadership -- to put the people first?" he said Wednesday. "It's all about having the fortitude to fight for the people."

Blagojevich made the remark Monday in explaining his decision to temporarily close a landfill run by a distant relative of his wife.

"This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that, knowing what's coming you're way?" Blagojevich said then. "I say I do."

I agree with Gov. Rod. This is obviously baloney. Everyone knows that when you talk about your virile testicles, you're talking about putting people first and fighting for the people. That's obvious. Isn't it? Er.. maybe not.

The Trib's John Kass has a humorous take on the matter.

Illinois "Tax Swap" legislation at a glace

The Trib has an informative interactive gizmo for calculating, based on average income for your zip code, what your new tax bill would be if the proposed "tax swap" legislation is adopted in Illinois.

This measure sounds practical and desirable at first glance. As the Trib puts it: "State lawmakers are considering a $5.8 billion tax reform plan that would increase the income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent, and reduce school property taxes by about 30 percent.

The idea is to bolster aid to public schools while lessening reliance on local property taxes that create disparities between wealthy and poor districts. If the tax reforms are approved, the basic state school aid for 2006-07 would rise significantly — from $4,964 per pupil to $6,100"

But the results are not pretty. Take a look and plug in your zip code, or follow their instructions for how to calculate how this would impact your individual taxes.

Thanks to alert reader Cal Skinner for pointing me to this site.

Former Delay aide to run for Hyde seat in Illinois

State Sen. Peter Roskam, who has mixed conservatism and diplomacy to become one of the Legislature's key voices on the right, announced Monday that he will run for the congressional seat being vacated by Henry Hyde.

His candidacy could produce a struggle over which direction the Republican Party should take in the Chicago suburbs. Roskam might very well face a challenge from a candidate with more moderate views on abortion, gun control and other social issues.

Roskam is shaping his candidacy as an extension of Hyde's 32 years in office.

DuPage County GOP Chairman Kirk Dillard endorsed Roskam by calling him "a younger version of Henry Hyde."

Roskam praised Hyde's ability to stick to his principles without being harsh and said he wants to adopt the same approach.

"I think we've got to move away from ascribing bad-faith motives to political opponents," Roskam said. "The people who disagree with you aren't your enemy. They're your opponents."

After serving as a congressional aide to Hyde and Rep. Tom Delay of Texas, now the embattled House majority leader, Roskam was elected to the Illinois House in 1993 and served until 1999. In 2000, he was appointed to the state Senate.

As a legislator, Roskam, 44, often takes the lead in explaining the conservative viewpoint during floor debates -- almost always in calm, reasoned tones. He has spoken out against the state moratorium on executions, government support of stem cell research and legislation to protect gays from discrimination.

He has also been a frequent critic of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, including questioning the Democrat's plan to mortgage the state's Chicago headquarters and demanding public information about a major pharmaceutical contract.

Roskam could face serious challenges for Hyde's seat in Chicago's western suburbs. Recent election results suggest more suburban voters -- particularly women and Democrats moving into the area -- are looking for more moderate candidates.

Sen. Carole Pankau, a moderate Republican from Roselle, said she is considering a run for the nomination. She met last week with Hyde, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other members of the state's congressional delegation and said she got a good response.

Both Pankau and Roskam oppose abortion, but Pankau makes an exception in cases of rape and incest. Roskam says he feels it is appropriate only when the mother's life is in danger.

Roskam opposes most gun-control measures. Pankau says she is open to restrictions that don't interfere with law-abiding sportsmen.

"I think I will make a very strong opponent against him," Pankau said.

Democrat Christine Cegelis, who got 44 percent of the vote against Hyde in 2004, is also likely to run again. [Attorney Peter O'Malley of Wheaton has also expresssed intrest.]

Roskam is an attorney and lives in Wheaton. He is married, with four children. He ran for Congress once before, losing in the primary to Judy Biggert in 1998, who went on to win the seat.

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May 17, 2005

Politician e-mail addys

If anyone is aware of the e-mail addys of local politicians, would you please let me know? Just send them in e-mail please, as I'm not sure they'd want them widely publicized.
I'd just like to be able to contact either them or their staff if needed. Thanks.

Banned at City Hall

Just got a note from "Fly-on-the-wall", the proprietor of the "Daily Davenport Politics" blog covering primarily issues from across the ditch in Davenport. It appears that his blog has been blocked from being accesses by computers at city hall.

Congratulations Fly. Don't forget to thank whatever bonehead made that move for all the free publicity you should get from it.

A message from Sen. Harry Reid...

Dear Friend,

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has informed me that tomorrow he will bring the nominations of Priscilla Owen and Janice Rogers Brown to the floor of the United States Senate. The Senate has already rejected both of these judges and now Bill Frist is threatening to impose the “Nuclear Option”, effectively ending free speech in the Senate, breaking the rules to end Democrats right to filibuster, in order to pass these extreme nominees.

Next week I need all of you on the email list to stand with us. I want to use your voice as part of this debate. Tell me and in fact the American people why this debate is important to you and I will use some of your statements on the floor.

George Bush has gotten more than 95% of his judicial nominations confirmed – but it isn’t enough. The “Nuclear Option” is just another example of Republicans striving for absolute power in Washington, DC. They don’t have the votes to pass these nominees so they abuse power and break the rules to get their way. If they win, it spells the end of the checks and balances the founding fathers envisioned in our constitution.

And if that wasn’t enough, the judges George Bush has chosen to serve on the federal courts are simply unacceptable because of their actions and judicial temperaments. Janice Rogers Brown has called Social Security a form of “cannibalism” and has consistently used her position to advocate for an extreme ideological agenda. In one opinion she argued that racial slurs are protected by the first amendment, even when they rise to the level of illegal race discrimination.

Priscilla Owen is no better. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales - who is now Attorney General– served with Owen and has called her opinions “an unconscionable act of judicial activism." She has even sought to twist the meaning of an important state civil rights law making it much harder for employees to prove that their rights were violated.

This is the most important fight of my political life but working together we can defeat the forces that wish abuse power to destroy freedom of speech in the United States Senate

Lend your voice and stand with me on the floor this week. There has never been a more important time.

Thank you,

Senator Harry Reid

Illinois begins to wake from the nightmare

A recent poll shows President Bush's approval rating among Illinois voters has slipped since last fall, especially downstate and in Chicago's collar counties, which are traditional Republican strongholds.

Approval of Bush's overall performance was 41 percent in Illinois according to results from a statewide Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll published Monday -- down from 45 percent in a similar poll in October.

Bush lost Illinois in his Nov. 2 presidential victory, with Democratic nominee John Kerry winning 54.8 percent of the vote compared to Bush's 44.5 percent.

The poll shows 47 percent of downstate voters approve of the job Bush is doing -- down from 57 percent before the election. His approval rating in the collar counties slid from 53 percent last fall to 46 percent.

The latest results also show waning support among voters statewide for Bush's handling of the Iraq war and skepticism about his plan to fix Social Security by letting younger workers put a portion of their payroll taxes into personal accounts.

Statewide, 47 percent of voters said they thought Bush's plan for Social Security was a bad idea, while 33 percent liked it.

Nearly half of respondents in the collar counties, or 49 percent, said the war in Iraq has gone worse than they expected, while 14 percent said it has gone better. Among downstate voters, 45 percent said the war has gone worse than expected and 12 percent said it has gone better.

DePaul University political science professor Wayne Steger said continued weakening of voters' support for the war could further erode Bush's popularity and hurt Republicans' election prospects next year.

"If we are talking similar casualties, similar costs, next year at this time ... Republicans in general are going to be in trouble," he said.

The telephone survey of 1,200 Illinois registered voters was conducted May 5-10 by Market Shares Corp. of Mt. Prospect. The poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Could it be that Illinoisans, like the country in general, are finally emerging from their fear-induced coma?

It reminds me of a story, if I can reconstruct it. It seems that a Republican saw an ad in the paper that read "Republican puppies for sale." Of course, being Republican, the idea of having a Republican puppy held great appeal. He'd likely name the dog "Reagan" if it was a male and "Coulter" if it was a bitch. (ahem)

The ad listed a farm out in the country, and the guy couldn't get away for almost a week to go pick one out. When he finally got out to the farm, he asked the farmer if he still had the Republican puppies for sale. "Nope," said the farmer, "These are Democratic puppies." The Republican was flustered and sputtered, "But just last week you said they were Republican puppies!"

"Yup." the farmer replied, "But now they've opened their eyes."

Hey, thanks folks, you've been great. I'm here all week. Try the veal and don't forget to tip your waitress.

Bill Moyers

From his days as LBJ's press secretary to his later career as a journalist, Bill Moyers has been a top-notch reporter and writer for decades. He consistently delivers thoughtful, well-researched, and enlightening reports. I taped his latest project, "NOW", a news program on PBS, each week and looked forward to watching it. It never disappoints me, and is literally the only place one can still find accurate and thoughtful long-form reports on things the mainstream corporate media refuses to touch. And the reports often factually and calmly show the devastating effects of Bush policies that are not reported anywhere else.

Moyers left the program some months ago, but it is still airing in this area at 9:00 p.m. every Saturday with a new host, David Brancaccio, and retains it's high quality.

Moyers delivered a moving and powerful speech Sunday in St. Louis to the National Conference for Media Reform in which he addressed the recent criticism of himself and "NOW" by the newly appointed head of CPB, or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson. The normally restrained Moyers has had enough of right-wing thugs trying to control the media, and the revelations in his speech are enough get anyone's blood stirring.

The Disaster Monkey has appointed Tomlinson, a right-wing zealot who denigrates the idea that the airwaves belong to the public and a firm believer in corporate media dominance of the airwaves to head the CPB. Like most Bush appointees, this one is devoted to destroying the very institution he is entrusted with.

Addressing these right wing & corporate foes, Moyers said,
Who are they? I mean the people obsessed with control using the government to threaten and intimidate; I mean the people who are hollowing out middle class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class to make sure Ahmad Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil; I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into Karl Rove’s slush fund; who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets; I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy. That’s who I mean. And if that’s editorializing, so be it. A free press is one where it’s okay to state the conclusion you’re led to by the evidence.

Moyers speech is required reading. No kidding. I seriously encourage everyone to watch it live if you can catch it again on C-Span, or go to their site and watch it by streaming video. Failing that, you can download an MP3 file of it, watch it by streaming video, or read and/or download the transcript for later reading at

Please do. It is informative and will give you a good taste of the truly alarming and radical change being foisted upon our country by corporatist ideologues who are out to do nothing less than silence any independent national media who doesn't toe to party line. Even when it's a service chartered to serve the public free from any sort of ideological interference.

Common Cause has an online petition to send the message to the CPB that we don't want them messing with our PBS. The CPB Board has already recommended moving away from news programing and focusing more on music. Go here to sign on to the petition. They're hoping to get 100,000 signatures.

May 16, 2005

How did those recruiters get your phone number? The Feds forced your child's school to provide it to them.

A company who also happens to be a great idea, Working Assets, is a company that provides wireless, long-distance, and local phone services as well as credit cards. The cool thing about them is that in addition to their offering a good product at reasonable rates, you can round up your bill as much as you desire and they donate that part to a variety of progressive causes and groups. (plus, I got a free pint of Ben & Jerry's every month for a year just for signing up for their long distance service.... sweet! (no pun intended) I highly recommend that anyone interested check into switching to their services. It's a great way to spread the word and support worthy causes.

They also provide "Action Alerts" from time to time by email to their customers who wish to receive them. Their latest urges people to support Rep. Mike Honda's bill to "fix" a part of the patriot act.

I'd heard about this issue months ago, though it got no wide-spread coverage. It is a little known provision smuggled into the odious Patriot Act and decrees that all High Schools in the entire country is required to hand over the private personal data for every student, including phone numbers and home addresses. If the school refuses to comply, they could stand to loose critical federal funding.

The only saving grace, if it could be called that, about this radical and intrusive measure is that parents can "opt-out" of the list, but they have to A. Be aware that this is an option, and B. Be able to figure out how to get it done.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-CA, has introduced H.R. 551, a bill which would amend this portion of the Patriot Act by providing that the Feds could only access private information about students if their parents "Opt-in" to the plan, rather then their having authority to gather the data unless they pro-actively "Opt-out", as it currently stands.

Act For Change, Working Assets political action component, is asking people to be "Citizen Co-Sponsors" by signing an online petition to send to Honda indicating support for his ammendment which can then be used to attract co-sponsors for the bill. Help out if you'd like Rumsfeld to keep his hands off our young people.

Development groups, here's your ticket

This is certainly going to be a growth industry...
Iowa close to landing new veterans' cemetery

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa is on a priority list for a new veterans' cemetery, an official with the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs said.

Iowa is on the brink of gaining a $7 million cemetery in one of four counties in central Iowa.

"The $7 million (federal) grant will pay to build the cemetery, but once it's ready to go, the state has to take over operation," said Patrick Palmersheim, director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs.

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How to play post BRAC Arsenal game very complex

The Dispatch mentions in a piece today that even the true number of job losses at the R.I. Arsenal are still unclear. The initial numbers released didn't square with the number of people employed on the Island. After Arsenal officials crunched the numbers, the figure increased from the reported 1,263 net loss to 1,705, not good news.

Adding to the complexity of plotting a post downsizeing lobbying strategy is the fact that the effort has so many fronts. The closures and "realignments" around the country pit military facilities against each other as most downsizing recommendations are essentially consolodation plans, with workers from two or more sites being downsized and consolodated at fewer sites.

So the Arsenal Development group, headed by R.I. Mayor Mark Schweibert, and the Quad City Development group, led by Thom Hart, and all others involved have to argue that the Arsenal is a more logical choice to locate the various commands and departments and that other bases should send their downsized employees here. But at the same time, they must fight a rearguard action by fighting against having even more Arsenal workers reasigned to other bases.

Essentially, it's a zero sum game for all military facilities, and they'll be fighting tooth and claw to get as many of the remaining pool of workers as possible.

So the announced cuts at the Arsenal may actually get worse if other bases can convince panel members that remaining Arsenal workers should be moved elsewhere, but if the Arsenal lobbying groups efforts are sucessful, the cuts won't get worse, and there exists the potential that workers from other sites might actually relocate to the Arsenal.
A difficult and complex task at best.

Thom Hart reveals that a few months before the recommendations were issued, they had heard "rumblings" that the entire Rock Island Arsenal might be shut down entirely.

The fact that didn't transpire is about the only comfort to be gotten from the situation.

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Russert is a mook

I know this might sound petty, but it's been driving me nuts for a long, long time now. Has anyone else noticed how Tim Russert, a guy paid multiple millions of dollars a year to hold down one of the plum positions in broadcast journalism, can't freaking read a few paragraphs without mucking it up?

Every week he does his schtick of dredging up some quote or another designed to supposedly put the heat on a guest. And then he tries to read it. This is a guy who brags about how much work he puts into being prepared for his show, but every single week without exception, when he attempts to read a couple simple paragraphs from a page right in his hands, he ALWAYS messes up. And I mean ALWAYS. I can't think of a single time when he's actually read the words as they appear on the screen. And often he messes them up so badly that if someone weren't reading along, they'd get a completely different meaning from the piece.

Don't you think that one should at least be literate to be the host of Meet The Press?

New Font

What's your opinion of the new font for posts? I'm trying to make things a bit more legible and distinct. Tell me if it's an improvement or if it sucks.

Blago's blockbuster ethics/campaign finance proposal

Governor Blagojevich recently issued his proposals for reforming campaign finance laws and ethical guidelines for elected officials, their families, PACS, lobbyists, those with business with the state, and contributors.

"The Decatur Democrat", is a great blog run by an anonymous blogger who goes by, oddly enough, "The Decatur Democrat." He focuses primarily on central Illinois political goings on, and has meticulously laid out the components of Gov. Rod's proposal.

They sound very strong, reasonable, and very desirable, at least from a citizen's point of view. They're likely to make politicians and bag men everywhere break out in hives. I see no downside to any of them, unless of course you're a pol or someone who buys or sells access and/or influence.

What are the chances they get enacted without them being re-jiggered to the point that the originals are unrecognizable?

Here are a few, but go read the rest within his post. It's generating tons of comments, as one might expect.

* Prohibits family members of state employees, including those of legislators, from lobbying the state (including all constitutional offices, state agencies and state regulatory boards) or from serving on state boards or commissions for which they receive compensation.

* Conflict of Interest Provision. The Governor’s plan prohibits a public official or public employee from voting or making an official decision if the official or employee (or a business or organization they or a family member is associated with) has a financial interest in the vote or decision.

* Prohibits any officer of any state campaign organization from receiving state contracts, lobbying the state (including the office of the Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Comptroller and Treasurer, state agencies or state regulatory boards) or from participating in investments involving the state.

* Completely prohibits contributions from corporations and unions. This would be Illinois’ first limitation on contributions from any corporate entity.

* Limits individuals to contributions of $2,000 per candidate per election. This would be the first limit ever placed on donations to candidates by individuals in Illinois.

* Limits Political Action Committees (PACs) to contributions of $5,000 per candidate per election. This is the first limit ever placed on donations to candidates from Political Action Committees (PACs) in Illinois.

* Limits state party contributions to $5,000 per candidate per election.

* Limits contributions to state parties and PACs to $5,000 a year from individuals or other PACs.

* Prohibits an individual from contributing more than $40,000 in total contributions to all candidates, party committees and PACs in any election cycle.

* Requires Disclosure of Lobby Contracts and Improved Lobbyist Regulations. Current law requires lobbyists to list their clients and gifts on public disclosure forms. The Governor’s plan requires lobbyists to disclose the terms of their contracts, including fees and exactly who they lobby.

* Closes the Revolving Door between Public Officials and Lobbying Firms. Current law places a one-year prohibition on former state employees working for companies they regulated or to which they awarded contracts. The Governor calls for extending the law by requiring a one-year prohibition on all former legislators and state employees lobbying.

Read the rest at Decatur Democrat.

Will IL Republicans take a ride on the Wayback Machine?

Former Gov. Jim Edgar, spurred by encouragement from business and Republican leaders, said he has not ruled out a run for the state’s top job in 2006.

The two-term governor, who left office in 1999 after deciding not to run for a third term, said Friday he has no plans to become a candidate. But, he added, "I never say never."

At least six other GOP leaders have expressed interest in running against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who in 2002 became the first Democrat to win the state’s top office in more than a quarter century.

Edgar briefly considered coming out of political retirement to run for the U.S. Senate last year — encouraged by Republican leaders including President Bush — but decided against it.

The former governor said Friday that another term as governor is “more attractive than the Senate,” the Chicago Tribune reported in its Sunday editions.

White House adviser Karl Rove lobbied for an Edgar ticket that would include state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka running for lieutenant governor during a recent visit to Illinois, the Tribune reported, citing Republican sources.

But Topinka has expressed interest in running for governor herself.
"The only race Judy is weighing is governor," her campaign said in a statement Friday.
Well, it's not like the Republicans aren't used to digging around in the past for candidates. They ran Bob Dole didn't they? And Bush is only a frontman for all the old Nixon/Ford/Reagan/Bush Sr. crooks. Since they want to lead the nation backwards, it kind of makes sense.

May 15, 2005

Blago numbers take a plunge

From the Trib...

Winds of change may have put Rod Blagojevich in the governor's office, but a steady buffeting of allegations over mismanagement and "pay to play" politics have soured a growing number of Illinois voters on the first-term Democrat, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows.

Blagojevich has generally enjoyed healthy approval ratings since taking office two years ago, but the survey found more voters now say they disapprove of the way he is doing his job than say they like it.

Perhaps even more troubling for Blagojevich, only one-third of voters say they want to see him re-elected next year while 45 percent say they don't, according to the poll.

The poll's findings came as an investigation by Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine, probing allegations that plum positions on state boards and commissions were traded for campaign donations to Blagojevich, entered the subpoena stage.

Sources close to the investigation said more than 20 grand jury subpoenas, seeking documents involving Blagojevich appointees, had been handed out by prosecutors.

The job-trading allegations are but one of a steady series of problems that has sent Blagojevich's job approval rating crashing to 35 percent among the 1,200 likely voters surveyed in the Tribune/WGN-TV survey. Another 44 percent said they disapproved of the governor's job performance, while 21 percent had no opinion.

In a similar Tribune/WGN-TV survey last fall, Blagojevich was riding a favorable wave of voter sentiment, with 52 percent crediting him for the job he was doing while only 28 percent disapproved.

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We Distort, You Deride, Scott Co. State's Attorney Bill Davis gets the Fox "fair and balanced" treatment

Scott County State's Attorney Bill Davis has found himself a victim of typical Fox news lies and distortion by Bill O'Reilly, the bombastic blow-hard and kinky phone-sex aficionado (Falafel anyone?) Surprise, surprise, O'Reilly and his guest distorted and blatantly lied about Davis in their attempt to feed red meat to the gullible right-wing morons in their audience. O'Lielly, who calls his show the "No-Spin Zone", spun a local story like mad to try to rile up the fundy rubes that soak up his drivel like so many sponges. And notice how the Dispatch felt it necessary to put "lies" in quotes in the headline. I guess a blatant lie isn't a lie when it's uttered by the right wing.
Scott County prosecutor miffed by Fox `lies'
Bill Davis is riled about The O'Reilly Factor.
The veteran Scott County prosecutor said a guest on Bill O'Reilly's show on the Fox News Channel disregarded the facts from an interview with him Tuesday.

"I was stunned. I wasn't misquoted. They actually lied about what I said," Mr. Davis said Friday.

Lis Wiehl, a Fox News legal analyst, interviewed Mr. Davis over the phone about Rebecca Mann, who was arrested May 8 in Davenport and charged with public intoxication and prostitution.

Davenport police say Ms. Mann, who was 7½ months pregnant, had a blood-alcohol limit more than three times Iowa's legal limit to drive. The officer originally charged her with child endangerment for being drunk and pregnant. Mr. Davis said he stated the arresting officer's "heart was in the right place" by charging her.

On the show that aired Tuesday, Mr. O'Reilly said Ms. Mann "walks out the door with no charges."

That, Mr. Davis said, was a lie.

"They portrayed it as if I was confused, the country bumpkin, and that I dropped all of the charges, which is untrue," Mr. Davis said.

Ms. Mann still faces charges of prostitution and public intoxication, court records show.

Mr. Davis only dropped the child endangerment charge against Ms. Mann on Monday because Iowa law says a fetus is not considered a child.

Ms. Wiehl said Mr. Davis should have tried to take Ms. Mann off the street until her baby was born. Ms. Mann bonded out of the Scott County Jail hours before the show aired.

Mr. Davis also was critical of the show's portrayal of his role in the case.

Ms. Wiehl said Mr. Davis "threw his arms up" because Iowa doesn't have a law protecting fetuses. She later said "any regular person, not a prosecutor, would say I'm going to have to look out for this fetus."

"It's a low-level beef to him (Davis), right?" Mr. O'Reilly asked Ms. Wiehl.

"Yes, but it shouldn't be," she responded.

Ms. Wiehl continued her attack on Mr. Davis by saying with the facts of the case, Mr. Davis could have done more.

"A prosecutor can always find a way. There is some charge. There's some avenue to go with," Ms. Wiehl said.

But Mr. Davis said he has done all he could according to the letter of the law. The facts of the case only warranted the prostitution and public intoxication charge. As for keeping her in jail, Mr. Davis has no say in it.

"What really upsets me is that we are a nation of laws, but they don't want that," he said. "There is no criminal charge for endangering the well-being of an unborn child."

Since being discussed on The O'Reilly Factor, Mr. Davis has been inundated with e-mails and phone calls from all over the country who are disgusted with his treatment of the case. A few have apologized after Mr. Davis told them the show was full of errors.

"I'm just flabbergasted that people take his (O'Reilly's) word as scripture," Mr. Davis said.

Dana Klinghoffer, spokesperson for Fox News, said Mr. Davis shouldn't be angry with Mr. O'Reilly because Ms. Wiehr was only a guest on the show.

Until Ms. Mann's next court appearance on May 26, Mr. Davis can do little to her.

"She has rights to her privacy, and we have the right to inform the Department of Human Services to her and her child," he said. "I can tell you we've done our job, and they're doing theirs."
Davis should visit Media Matters for America and find out how this is business as usual for "Faux News" and the rest of the right wing noise machine.

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Pro-Business group moves to influence Davenport city council races

An interesting piece in the QC Times today highlights the efforts of a spin-off of the "Davenport One" group, the Republican influence group who have been employing very slimy tactics to head off the effort to move Davenport's casino operation further upriver and provide an attractive greeen space along Davenport's riverfront.

A PAC called "Grow Davenport" has been in operation for a while, and now announced that it's hired a WIU student and former intern for the Davenport One group to be a full-time employee focusing on identifying candidates for Davenport City Council and then financing them and running their campaigns. As usual for these well financed and low-profile, high-influence business lobbys, they try to maintain the charade that these two groups have no connection, even though they share several board members.
Lots of interesting and rather disturbing info in the article here.

May 14, 2005

Wonk food

Terry McAullife's front-loading of the primary schedule has always been controversial, and it certainly has a lot of downsides. Now Dems are attempting to find a better way.
Democrats, looking to reverse their fortunes after two straight White House defeats, met Saturday to hear competing proposals to revamp the election calendar used to choose a presidential nominee every four years.

The three major proposals would focus on regional primaries. Two of those proposals would allow Iowa and New Hampshire to retain their leadoff roles in the candidate selection process.

A third plan, offered by Michigan Democrats, would create a rotating series of six regional primaries. A different region would launch each presidential nominating season.

That plan would allow single-state contests to begin the process, but those states would be rotated. "Share the wealth," said Michigan Sen. Carl Levin. "I would not lock in specific states."

Activists from Iowa and New Hampshire vowed to fiercely defend their leadoff status, and said the problem the party faces is excessive "front-loading." In 2004, 30 states had held delegate selection contests by mid-March.

Former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen argued that the crush of early states takes influence away from voters in later states.

"I think front-loading is one of the issues we want to address," said Shaheen.

Tina Abbott of the Michigan Democratic Party argued that the leadoff roles of Iowa and New Hampshire give two tiny and unrepresentative states disproportionate influence on whom the party picks.

"This must be changed," Abbott said. "Under the current system, millions of votes in later states count for nothing."

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin defended his state's position. "It emphasizes face-to-face politics, not big money," he said. "There should be a role in the beginning of our process for the party faithful."

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch argued: "With 85 years of ingrained tradition, the New Hampshire primary forces candidates to answer questions. Having that opportunity not only makes them better candidates, it makes them better presidents."

Levin, however, said, "What's at stake here is nothing less than a struggle for political equality and political relevance." He blasted "this perpetual privilege that two states have."

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Hey Republicans, whatcha got?

To the Republicans out there. (at least I hope you're out there) With your party pretty much in a death spiral since your disasterous experience with Ryan and then running certifiable loon Alan Keyes for Senate, just what are you going to do for the next race for Governor?

Who ya got? Who's going to go up against Blago (if he's the Dem candidate... nothing's 100%) You have Judy Baar Topinka making noises, and ultra-rightist milk tycoon Oberweiss out there shooting himself in the foot with alarming regularity. So who's your world-beater? Who's going to be the horse you ride to the Governor's mansion next time around?

And out of fairness, I suppose Dems can chime in with their thoughts on the matter as well.

May 13, 2005

BRAC report is released

8:36 a.m. The 29 page Pentagon base closure/reduction report has just been released moments ago.

Out of the current 6400 jobs, the R.I. Arsenal is to lose 1,263 jobs net with 1,417 civilian jobs lost and 154 military jobs added.

The Rock Island Arsenal is on the Pentagon's list of base realignments, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin's office said this morning.

A Quad-City Development Group official confirms that the Pentagon’s list of base closures and realignments would cost the Rock Island Arsenal 1,263 jobs.

Ron Summers, a spokesman, said that 1,417 civilian jobs would be lost, though 154 military jobs would be gained if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recommendations would be enacted. Development group and congressional staffs were analyzing the recommendations this morning, so no further details were available.
The recommendations will now go to the 9 member Base Realignment and Closure commission which will look at the report and make their own recommendations to the White House.

Republican Family Values, exhibit # 954,335

The far-right oh-so-pius Republican mayor of Spokane, WA, a champion of anti-gay legislation while he the majority leader in the Washington senate, was revealed to be a gay pedophile who used the perks of his office to lure young men he met in online chat rooms. This sort of comi-tragic revelations are routine.

Adding to this story is the debate over the tactics employed by the Spokane Spokesman-Review as part of their investigation. They hired an outside computer expert to pose as a 17 year old male and some say entrap James West, who cruised chat rooms online using the screen names "Rightbi-guy", and "Cobra82nd", a reference to his service in the Army's 82nd Airborne division.

But that's only a side-show, as further investigation has uncovered that West offered two young men jobs and perks if they would have sex with him, and once offered a young man, whom he later appointed to the city's human rights commission, $300 to go swimming naked with him.

And now West is
playing the victim, appealing to a civil rights commission and crying that he's being attacked soley for being a gay man. What kind of nerve does it take a person who has spent part of his career enacting legislation that makes life miserable for gays to now suddenly act as though he's a poster-boy for gay discrimination?

Many, many, many of the right wing's most vocal bible-thumpers and loudest moralists are simply over-compensating for their inner demons and sexual desires. It's a mental disorder, and the entire party is largely based upon it. And they currently rule the country and by extention the world. How nice.

Nobodies on the net

Granted, local politicians may not be too familiar with this new-fangled internet thing (or as Bush refers to it, the "internets"), it's only been around for oh, about 30 years or so, but one must seriously marvel at the fact that as far as I can determine, not one of our state representatives from the area has a web site. Not Boland, not Jacobs. (Though alert commenter HUD provided the web address which is a very basic site for Vershoore. (there's also a and a, but they're something completely different) Of course, Evans, Durbin, and Obama have sites. Most politicians have had them for years.) While multiple millions of others are flying down the "Information Highway", our local pols are sitting in the driveway stuck in park.

Sites aren't all that difficult to create, as witnessed by the fact I've managed to create a few with what few still functioning brain cells I possess. And given the fact that millions of 13 year olds have created their own sites as well as damn near every business no matter how small or obscure, isn't it a bit peculiar that our legislators haven't? Hell, even candidates from weird fringe parties have websites. But not our crew.

These are people who live and die by communication. They spend greater or lesser amounts of time in a ceaseless quest to get their message out and let their constituents know just what wonderful works they're accomplishing for their benefit. They are, perhaps more than any other profession, dependent on the media and getting their message out to the largest number of people possible.

And yet not one of our representatives in Springfield have even a rudimentary web site, ignoring only the the most massive communication revolution since the invention of the printing press.

They and their staffs spend endless hours chasing after press coverage and writing that wonderful speech, or getting quoted in the press or getting TV coverage of this or that appearance. Some spend as much time chasing publicity, if not more, than they do actually attending to their duties as legislators.

Yet apparently they're not quite sure about this internet thing. How else to explain their not utilizing such an obvious tool to get the word out?

They could have all the PR they wanted on their site. They could have press releases touting and explaining the wondrous legislation they were sponsoring or promoting, and they could update it almost instantaneously. They could have pictures of themselves surrounded by the elderly, hard hat workers, minorities or children or better yet, minority children.

They could to a certain degree bypass the press and just put up what they want. If anyone wanted to find out what they're working on, they'd be just a few clicks away, 24 hours a day, 365 days a week, and from literally anywhere on earth. If a politician wanted to put forth his views on anything at all, it would be there for all to see.

They could register, design, and maintain a website for as little as $200 a YEAR (this would barely cover a dinner tab for some) and it would be available to literally millions of people for only pennies a day. But apparently this idea has never entered any of the minds of these guys or their staffers. Guess they like it better doing things the way it was done in the disco era.

As it stands, if I'd like to report on what they're currently working on, or if someone mentions a bill their guy is sponsoring, I have absolutely no way to find out what they're talking about, and therefore it doesn't get mentioned. In light of their position, you'd think they'd want to do everything they could to make this information easily available, but apparently, they expect interested parties to spend a few hours searching in vain through mind-numbing legislative databases for any information on what they're working on.

Despite my repeated urgings, not a single staffer or politician has ever e-mailed The Dope to get the word out about their man or woman. Guess they just don't need the publicity. And the fact that they haven't bothered to establish a presence on the web seems to confirm it.

How are things in Iraq? Just great if you're not too detail oriented

In Newsday:
WASHINGTON -- An unchastened insurgency sowed devastation across Iraq Wednesday as experts here said the country is either on the verge of civil war or already in the middle of it.

In the course of the day: Four car bombs detonated in Baghdad; a man wearing explosives at an army recruitment center in Hawija, north of Baghdad, blew himself and many others up; a car bomb exploded in a marketplace in Tikrit, north of Baghdad; and the country's largest fertilizer plant was heavily damaged by a bomb in the usually quiet southern city of Basra. Meanwhile, U.S. Marines were winding up a remarkable pitched battle against surprisingly well-equipped and determined insurgents on Iraq's western border. Some 76 Iraqis were reported killed and more than 120 wounded in the one day of violence.

Props to Roger Ailes for the headline

The end of democracy as we know it.

The attempt by the Republicans to subvert long established congressional proceedure in order to deny the minority their only means to block radical right judicial nominees is heating up. This is and will continue to be a big story, with the usual avalanches of misinformation, lies, and inaccurate stats, being spewed to try to make this assault on democracy seem reasonable.

But though the noise is loud and constant from both sides, few people in the public are even aware of what's being discussed. So as a service, here is a primer on what would happen were the Republicans to actually attempt this "nuclear option."

The key in all of this is the difference between a simple majority, or 51 votes in the senate, and a so-called "super-majority", or a 2/3 majority required to approve treaties, and other measures, including invoking cloture, which ends all debate. To do this has always required a "super-majority" or 2/3 vote.

This has been an established rule to protect the rights of the minority party, whomever they may be. A filibuster is the last resort of the minority blocking action in the Senate. The Republicans currently are not able to muster a 2/3 majority in order to pass cloture and end debate. Though they hold complete and utter power in all three branches of government and the economy, they are fighting mad that the minority still reserves the right to use this tiny thread left them with which to oppose the majority.

The Republicans are not concerned with the disasterous precedent this would set. They are feigning outrage and risking a lot of political capital in order to crush this last speck of opposition in their path. And all in order to put in place only FIVE of their most radical judicial nominees out of hundreds already confirmed. It is a bully tactic simply for the purpose of exerting total control.

The "nuclear option" would be set in motion when a judicial nominee is brought to the floor by Republican majority leader, Bill Frist. Frist would then make a point of order and argue that the advice and consent clause of the constitution requires that the senate have an up or down vote on the nomination.

This is of course highly debatable, and flies in the face of Senate history. This point of order is made to the president of the Senate, who happens to be everyone's pal, Dick Cheney. Cheney, would agree with this point of order and thereby rule that this requires that the nominee be brought to a vote.

Under the rules of the senate, this ruling could then be appealed to the Senate, enabling the Senate to approve or disapprove it. The Democrats would assuredly attempt to do so.

But as soon as the Democrats appealed the ruling, Frist would then move to table the appeal. A vote to table the appeal only requires a simple majority, one which the Republicans could easily muster. And furthermore, it's not subject to filibuster itself. If this motion to table the appeal succeeds, then the Vice-President's ruling would stand, and the Democrats would be procedurally prevented from employing the filibuster.

The Republican nominee would then immediately be brought up for a vote on the Senate floor and pass with a simple majority of Republicans. And they could repeat the process for as many nominees as they wished.

By this maneuver, the Republicans would effectively eliminate any minority voice and ram through every single Bush nominee while the Democrats could only stand impotently by. They'd acheive this by perverting a well established Senate rule, a power grab which they would achieve by a procedural trick which evades a super-majority vote.

This is the simplest scenario, but gives you an idea of how they hope to subvert our system of checks and balances and resort to such an extreme measure in order to confirm only FIVE of their most radical nominees out of the hundreds of nominees which have already been confirmed. They are doing this simply to ensure that EVERY one of Bush's nominees are assured of confirmation. Nothing short of total victory is acceptible to the Republicans.

The arguments for this measure are typically flawed and deceptive. There is much more to this that can be gone into here, but it's clear that the right to filibuster is well-established and has been depended upon and defended by both parties.

Auth nails it. We're up against rampant abuse of power. And some Dems still say we shouldn't complain or "bash" these people so much??