October 31, 2005

Good question

A Quad City Times reader gets it:
Bush is failing in the business of running a country

When I ask a good number of my Republican friends what they like about George W. Bush, they are quiet for several moments, and the finally come up with, “He knows how to run a business, and manage people.”

We’ll ignore the fact for the the time being that he ran every business he was handed by his father’s debtors into the ground, to focus on a fun analogy.

Let’s pretend the United States of America is a giant business who has made an enormous investment. Untold billions of dollars in capital and even more in human life. The investment is not going well and continues to drop in value. Turns out, the insider information the public was fed was a bunch of lies. GWB continues telling investors that it is going great. Fires anyone who disagrees. Repeats the same marketing jingo over and over hoping that stock will go up.

However, the investment is rapidly turning into a real bum decision, and GWB is running out of jingo. So what comes next? The most surreal of all possible explanations: “That we must honor the $10 billion we have lost, by losing $20 billion more.” Is this a sound way to run a business? Or a country?

Todd Reed

Any Bush supporters care to answer? Didn't think so.
By the way, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asking, "Has Bush's Presidency Been a Success or Failure?" resulted in fully FIFTY-FIVE PERCENT of respondents saying they think it's been a failure, while 42% feel it's been a success.

But what really puts it in perspective, is that when the exact same question was asked about the Clinton Presidency only ONE MONTH after he was impeached by the by the house, SEVENTY-ONE percent felt his presidency was a success, while only 25% felt it was a failure.

Perhaps some of our Republican bretheren might comment on that as well?

Sarah Kolb trial begins

In what will undoubtedly prove to be a showcase trial for all involved, drawing enormous amounts of publicity even on a nationwide scale, the trial of Sarah Kolb, the now 17 year old charged with the grisly murder of 16 year old Adrianne Reynolds.

8 of the 12 jurors who will hear the case were seated today, with jury selection to continue Tuesday morning, with opening arguments slated to begin Wednesday.

Politically, this is Terronez's golden moment, but he's going up against some very tough opposition in public defender Dave Hoffman, an experienced, tough, tenacious, and very sharp attorney in his own right.

Of interest is the fact that another defendant, Cory Gregory, was not listed on the witness list for the prosecution.
Cory C. Gregory, 17, of Moline, is also charged with murder in the case. Nathan Gaudet, 16, of Moline, pleaded guilty in March to concealing a homicide in connection with the case.

During jury selection this morning, prospective jurors were read a list of 46 names of people who may testify for the state, and a list of 28 names of people who may testify for the defense. Mr. Gregory, who last week was negotating with prosecutors about the possibility of testifying against Ms. Kolb, was not among those listed by the state. Mr. Gaudet was listed, as were various police officers, forensic experts and teachers and students from the Black Hawk Outreach Center.

Twelve jurors and two alternates will be chosen to hear the evidence. Selection of the 14 was expected to take up to two days, and the presentation of evidence about 10 days to two weeks.

State's Attorney Jeff Terronez is the lead prosecutor. Public Defender David Hoffman is the lead defense attorney. The trial is being held in the Rock Island County Justice Center.

Ms. Kolb, dressed in black slacks, a white turtleneck and a gray sweater, turned occasionally and smiled at members of her family. She was arrested and charged in the case Jan. 26, hours after Ms. Reynolds body was found. She's been in custody since.
NOTE: this is an old story on this case. To get to the main page, click here and scroll down for a more recent post.

To get to a post on the verdict, click here.

Iowa's first primary status on shaky ground

Hoping to scare the stuffing out of your favorite Democratic activist tonight? Just show up at his or her door dressed as a 2008 presidential nominating calendar that dumps Iowa’s first-in-the nation caucuses.

And don’t forget the smelling salts.

Iowa Democrats have been spooked for more than a year since the Democratic National Committee set up a commission to consider changes in the nomination calendar. The panel was formed after an Iowa-anointed Democratic dream team of John Kerry and John Edwards lost a bitter fight for the White House.

Party leaders from Michigan, New Jersey and other states turned up the volume on chronic complaints that Iowa and New Hampshire – home of the first presidential primary – are poor places to start picking a nominee. They’re too white, too rural and too cold, critics charge. And besides, they stuck us with losers.

Democrats did what they do best – they lost, searched furiously for a scapegoat and appointed a big commission. All that’s left to do now is make things worse.

After several meetings, the 40-member commission has decided that Iowa and New Hampshire should share the early spotlight with two or more other states. Ideally, those new additions would have a population of less than 5 million, a minority population of 15 percent or more and would be closely-contested “purple’’ swing states.

South Carolina often is mentioned, although President Bush’s 14-point win there hardly makes it a battleground. Nevada and New Mexico, with large Hispanic populations and tight 2004 presidential contests, are the best examples. Colorado and Arkansas also are possibilities.

The commission is scheduled to meet for the final time on Dec. 1 to vote on a revised strategy and submit that plan to the Democratic National Committee and its chairman, Howard Dean. But the Washington rumor mill already is churning out proposals allegedly being considered.

The good news for Hawkeye State Democrats is that nearly all of those rumored options keep Iowa in its traditional pole position, at least for 2008.

“If there is a consensus, it appears to be that Iowa goes first, in my opinion,’’ said Roxanne Conlin, a veteran Democratic activist and Des Moines attorney who is representing Iowa on the commission along with fellow attorney Jerry Crawford.

“I think it’s possible we will be struggling the rest of, at least, my natural life to keep our state first. I’ve been through this battle myself three times,’’ Conlin said.

New Hampshire Democrats, on the other hand, are freaking out.

Their latest bout of anxiety was sparked by a plan detailed on the National Journal’s Hotline Web site. The “leaked’’ proposal called for putting Iowa’s caucuses on Jan. 14, 2008, and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 29 while allowing two or more other states to hold caucuses in between.

Under than scenario, New Hampshire would slip to the fourth slot or worse. Granite State Democrats have vowed to fight.

But if party leaders do decide to demote New Hampshire, clearly Iowa is next. Once Democrats vanquish one half of the dynamic duo, booting the other will be effortless.

That would be bad news for Iowa Democrats who have successfully used the caucuses to build organizations, raise money and cover their walls with photos showing them arm-in-arm with party luminaries.

But the argument could also be made that Iowa, once a unique and intimate presidential proving ground, has become merely a stage prop in a national campaign that starts too soon, costs too much and offers little more than a daily drumbeat of charges and counter-charges.
What's your opinion? Would letting states other than New Hampshire and Iowa essentially pick the Dem nominee be a good move? Why? What are the downsides to having these two states play such a prominent role in chosing the Democratic presidential candidate?

Bush veers right in second go at Supreme Court nominee

U.S. President George W. Bush nominated conservative judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court on Monday in a move likely to set off a partisan battle with Democrats as he tries to right his struggling presidency.

Bush acted quickly to find a nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for the lifetime appointment on the highest U.S. court, after loyalist Harriet Miers withdrew from consideration on Thursday under fierce attack from conservatives within Bush's Republican Party who questioned her credentials.

Bush, appearing with Alito in the White House, emphasized Alito's lengthy resume, after Miers was attacked for lacking much of a background.

Alito is a former Justice Department official and federal prosecutor and has been an appeals court judge for 15 years. He has argued a dozen Supreme Court cases.

Bush said Alito has "shown a mastery of the law, a deep commitment of justice, and he is a man of enormous character."

"I'm confident that the United States Senate will be impressed by Judge Alito's distinguished record, his measured judicial temperament, and his tremendous personal integrity," he said.

Democrats vowed to give careful scrutiny to Alito, who is considered a conservative in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, who they frequently criticize as too far to the right.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wondered whether Alito was "too radical for the American people."

"I look forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers," Reid said.


Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy called Alito a choice made from weakness and said Bush had picked a nominee "whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing."

"Alito could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right, placing at risk decades of American progress in safeguarding our fundamental rights and freedoms," Kennedy said.

Republicans quickly rallied behind the beleaguered president, who is coming off one of the toughest weeks of his time in office after the withdrawal of Miers and the indictment by a federal grand jury of Lewis Libby, a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

"With this selection, the president has chosen a proven nominee that meets the highest standards of excellence," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican.

Conservative activist Manuel Miranda, who helped lead the charge from the right against Miers, voiced strong support of Alito.

In a reference to the Miers pick, Miranda said that with Alito, Bush "has ended the corrupting practice of stealth nominations, a presidential act of statecraft for which he will be long remembered."

Alito, 55, is sometimes given the nickname "Scalito" -- a comparison to Scalia, who shares his Italian heritage as well as his reputation for conservatism and a strong intellect. He is a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
"Scalito"?? That can't be good.

It's Chili Season, y'all

Chili is a wonderful dish. Like barbeque, it lends itself to improvisation and people can put their individual stamp on it in many ways.

Some like it with beans, or, as in major chili cook-offs where beans are strictly forbidden, without. There are endless possibilities, but only some are truly great.

When I make chili, I never have a clue as to what it will end up being or how I'll end up cooking it. I start with the intention of pretty much following accepted practices, but never fail to veer off into improvisation, flying by the seat of my pants until I finally step away and let the concoction simmer and blend and await the results.

Such was the case last night, and, though a final definitive judgement isn't in just yet, I think I have a winner.

Any chili heads out there? What's the best chili you've ever eaten, why, and where did you get it? Got any hot tips or killer recipes? Let us know! If we get enough, I'll put 'em up on a separate page for future reference.

And if you're nice, I just MAY share my recipe for Chile del estilo de Dope. You might hate me, hate the blog, hate life, but you might love my chili. (Of course my recipe is just a guideline. It will be YOUR chili when you make it.)

"Bug bite" or big problems? GOP figures differ

Two of the no doubt endless stream of presidential hopefuls from both parties who manage to make their way to speaking gigs in Iowa have offered up diametrically opposed views of what the recent flurry of horrible news for the Bush administration mean for the Republican party.

Newt Gingrich, reponsible for showing the Republicans how to lie and use language to portray liberals and Dems as truely evil, reprehensible, loathsome, immoral creatures, was in Iowa to stir the pot for his expected run. When asked about the recent revelation that the Republican run government is an unmitigated failure, he had this to say:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Saturday that Republicans must "get our act together" or face a significant defeat in next year's midterm elections.

Gingrich said voters gave Republicans virtually blanket control of the government and the party hasn't responded by living up to expectation.

"When they give you the White House, the House and the Senate, they really do expect you to deliver," Gingrich said. "If we don't get our act together, we could lose a lot of seats in the House and Senate -- we might lose control of the House and Senate."

Gingrich, who has expressed interest in seeking the Republican presidential nomination, was in Iowa Saturday, raising money for legislative candidates across the state.

"I think Republicans have a real challenge," Gingrich said at a fundraiser at a pumpkin farm near Grinnell. "We're either going to be the party of change or we're going to be the party of defeat."

"People did not hire us to have a big deficit, to have government fail totally in New Orleans," Gingrich said.

He said the problem is made worse because Republicans have spent decades persuading voters that the GOP understands how to run the government.

"We're supposed to be the party of management," Gingrich said.

He said Republicans are in danger of becoming the party of ineptitude, which he said is the worse label any party can be given.

"There's no way you can look at New Orleans and not think we have to have profound change in the way government operates," Gingrich said.

The problems grow for Republicans with the potential spread of the Avian flu, Gingrich said.

A worldwide pandemic would require fundamental reassessments of the way health care is run and financed, Gingrich said.

He said there is little indication the government understands that.

"I'm not reassured by anything I've seen," he said.

Gingrich said Republicans have the opportunity to rebound but haven't shown signs of understanding what needs to be done.

He said the fight over failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers could fade quickly if President Bush names a new nominee with solid judicial credentials.

It was Gingrich's third visit to Iowa since he expressed interest in seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

Gingrich said he'd make a decision on a presidential bid after next year's midterm elections.
Seems even Newt can't ignore the obvious any longer. But it's refreshing to hear a Republican tell it like it is.

But it's never hard to find a Republican who's perfectly willing to ignore reality in defense of their precious power. Mitt Romney, the Mormon pretty-boy who also harbors delusions of becoming president, speaking in Davenport described the unraveling of the Republicans as nothing more than "bug-bites".
"I look at what's happening in Washington and I'm sure in the realm of wish fulfillment and dreams, the Democrats are hoping that a couple of irritating bug bites that we've gotten over the past few days in Washington are going to cause us to turn around and run in the other direction," Romney said.

Which is it?

And Republican readers, feel free to chime in too. Perhaps your comments won't devolve into some bitter personal feud monopolizing the comments and driving others off.

October 29, 2005

Video Saturday

Today I offer four pieces to amuse, enlighten, and perhaps disturb you. Check them out, and don't forget to leave your thoughts and/or reactions.

Chicken Soup for the Bush Hater's Soul

The Dope was just sent this from a friend in Italy. The rest of the civilized world still has a free press and a vast majority loath Bush and his administration's policies, and increasingly fault Americans themselves for not doing more to stand up and stop them.

--Contains naughty language and shows absolutely zero respect for our glorious leaders. And for our more delicate Dems, be aware that it doesn't contain any postive policy alternatives from a Democratic perspective either. Sorry. --


Requires Macromedia Flash Player. You probably already have it. If not, click here.

And as an extra special Halloween bonus feature, here's an oldie but goodie along the same theme but with a bouncier beat.

CLICK HERE and sing along!

But be warned. You'll be humming it in the back of your mind for days.


The following clip is NOT for everyone. I post it due to my belief that any readers who want and can handle the brutal truth should have it available to them. It shows graphic scenes of carnage involving our incredibly brave and dedicated servicemen serving in Iraq which the American public is prevented from seeing in our media. It is powerful and not for the faint-hearted.

With the 2000 dead soldier milestone recently past, there were those on the right that attempted to dismiss the number's significance, suggesting that compared to other more deadly wars, this really isn't too bad.

Watch THIS PIECE and then try to suggest that 2000 soldiers slaughtered and countless mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives, lovers and friends left in anguish and pain that will linger for the rest of their lives, and the hundreds of thousands of severely wounded, paralyzed, blinded, and psychologically scarred servicemen and women is really not that high a price to pay.

And as always, the question remains. Why?

On a more hopeful note, THIS CLIP was shot in Los Angeles.

I see it as inspirational proof that we still have a country and constitution worth fighting to preserve.

A Chicken Voting for Col. Saunders

Kurt Allemeier has this story in the Dispatch:
A group of Quad-Cities area women who say they've been taken for granted by an ineffectual Democratic Party have formed the African-American Republican Women's Party, a first-of-its-kind organization in Illinois.

The group will install its officers at a 3 p.m. meeting Sunday at Bennigan's in Rock Island.

The Rev. Jacqueline Walls, who serves as the group's president, said it shouldn't be surprising that the first GOP party for African-Americans starts in Rock Island County, a long-standing Democratic stronghold.

"I think it is a prime place to have it because it is so Democratic," said Rev. Walls, of Rock Island's First Judeo Apostolic Church. "They take the African-American vote and take it for granted."

Locally, the party in charge has failed, with jobs leaving the area and little to show in economic development, especially in Rock Island's west end, said Lois Allison, the group's vice president.

"I haven't seen anything for 30 years," Ms. Allison said. "A long time ago, this used to be a place where, if you didn't have a job, you didn't want a job.

"It needs to change here," she said. "If it isn't working, try it another way."

African-Americans are just assumed to be Democrats, with grandparents and parents before them brought up with the party, Rev. Walls said. That has to change.

"The Democratic Party needs to hear us," Rev. Walls said. "We're not going to be pushed aside every two years until they need us.

"I don't think it is inclusive any longer, but exclusive," she said. "They only come to us when they want something."

The group has immediate goals, she said, including building a membership of 100-150 active women ready to work for the primary in March, registering voters and volunteering with candidates.

"It is time to retire some of the people who have been working for us," Rev. Walls said, singling out U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island. "We need to get someone else in there, some women in there."
There is nothing as blatantly fake as these groups of Republican Blacks. There's been a huge and lavishly funded effort by the Republican party to try to make inroads with black voters, and judging by the recent poll that put black approval of Bush at 2%, it's not going too well.
But they've managed to snag a few black preachers who are willing to do their bidding, and despite massive efforts to get them book contracts, speaking tours, and media appearances, it's gone largely nowhere.

While some of their complaints are likely legitimate, this group and others like them are only in existence due to the efforts of the Republican party to take away tradidional black support from the Democrats. The fact remains that without the black vote, the Democratic party would never again win an election, and the Republicans know it.

Now they've decided to start this supposed grass-roots group here. What do you think?

October 28, 2005

IL House votes to abolish riverboat gambling

Aiming at an industry that is "broke," House Democrats voted overwhelmingly Thursday to abolish casino gambling -- a move that could end talk of gambling expansion and bolster the political fortunes of socially conservative, Downstate Democrats.

The surprise development came on a busy legislative day that also featured a defeat for Gov. Blagojevich on gun legislation, but victory for him with final passage of his children's health insurance plan.

The plan to dismantle the state's casino industry passed the House 67-42. It likely will be blocked by the Senate, where Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), an ardent supporter of new casinos, branded the proposal "irresponsible."

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who played a key role in allowing a House vote, said riverboat gambling as an Illinois institution is "broke" and needs retooling.

"A small group of people became millionaires because of Illinois riverboat gaming, but the people of Illinois have never received a fair return in exchange for these monopolies," Madigan said. "I think we should go back to the drawing board and start over."
What can Sen. Jacobs think of this attempt to wipe out the industry his father was largely responsible for creating in the state?

Blago nominee for utility regulator faces opposition

The head of the Senate committee that must approve Governor Rod Blagojevich's nominee for head state utility regulator says the nominee should consider withdrawing.

Last month, Blagojevich nominated prominent consumer advocate Martin Cohen as chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Cohen is former director of the Citizens Utility Board.
Democratic State Senator Rickey Hendon of Chicago said yesterday that there's bipartisan concern Cohen might not be impartial on utility rate increase requests. Hendon co-chairs the Senate Executive Appointments Committee.

Cohen has insisted he'll be evenhanded and Blagojevich is standing by the nomination. The governor says consumers need an advocate on the I-C-C.

Cohen could face a Senate vote next week.
Cohen can be nothing but good news for the consumers of Illinois. I hope the legislators who are more beholden to the utility companies than the citizens they represent don't scuttle his nomination.

Blago's "All Kids" program a done deal

SPRINGFIELD -- Despite Republican protests, it took all of three days for Democrats to push through Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to provide health care to Illinois' uninsured children.

The final hurdle had been the Illinois House, which approved the All Kids program Thursday afternoon. The fast-tracked legislation flew through the Senate the day before.

Chalk one up for Blagojevich and the Dems, but now let's see if the plan is just an inspirational gimmick or actually workable.

Margery Benson, a true trailblazer

Though this is belated, I thought it appropriate to honor and make note of the remarkable career and life of Margery Benson, a woman who certainly made her mark on local Democratic politics and the community.
As a Dispatch/Argus editorial states:
Quad-Cities women lost a trailblazer and future public servants a role model when Margery R. Benson, 76, of Rock Island died Saturday. [Oct. 8th]

She was the first woman to be elected to the Rock Island City Council, the first to be elected city clerk and she ran a high-profile, though unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 1988, another first for women.

A Rock Island High School and Augustana College graduate, Ms. Benson taught physical education in the Rock Island public school system and was later a successful businesswoman. Throughout it all, however, she remained an active community servant and volunteer. That included serving the Rock Island Planning and Zoning Commission, Martin Luther King Center Board, as an active members of the Rock Island County Democratic Party and with Illinois Women in Government.

For a time she was a political animal, and a successful one. "I'm not glib enough to say I have an answer for everything," she said during her successful city council bid. But she did have opinions and ideas. While she didn't shy away from her trailblazer status, neither did she emphasize it. For example, when ran became the first woman to run for Rock Island mayor in 1988, she told The Dispatch, "Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman," while adding, "hopefully we're at a point in time when sex is no longer a determining factor."

She once said her role models tended to be women "who have made sacrifices in their personal lives to make contributions to others." That included Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned her membership in the DAR after the organization rescinded an invitation to contralto Marian Anderson based on her race. "She had the courage of her convictions. I really admire that," she said. The same could have been said of Ms. Benson, who besides politics also served the community through such organizations as Rock Island Junior Baseball, the NAACP, St. Anthony's Auxiliary, and the United Cerebral Palsy of Northwestern Illinois.

Though she gave up running for office after a failed bid for county board, she continued to give to the Quad-Cities and the larger community. For example, she served on the American Red Cross National Disaster Action Team after after hurricanes in Florida in 1992 and in San Francisco in 1990. Her commitment to disaster relief continues even after her death. Her family asked that, in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Red Cross.

She said, "I think it's wonderful when you have the opportunity to contribute to your community based on your education and experience and interests."

Ms. Benson did all that and more, by serving as a role model for future leaders, male or female. Our condolences to her family as we join them in celebrating a public life well lived.

In face of soaring gas prices, Oil giants post record profits

By most familiar comparisons, the $9.92 billion profit earned by Exxon Mobil Corp. in just three months is almost unimaginable. It would cover all Social Security benefit payments for three months. It would pay for an Ivy League education for about 60,000 kids. It would pay the average list price for more than 160 Boeing 737s. It would fund the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than two months.

Yet oil industry representatives and Exxon Mobil yesterday made a game effort to cast the record profit, earned during a quarter in which the Gulf Coast was shattered by hurricanes and gas prices rose well above $3 a gallon, as middling at best.
On Tuesday, ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly-traded oil company, announced net income of $9.9 billion for the most recent quarter, eclipsing analyst expectations and dwarfing the $5.68 billion reported for the same quarter a year ago. It was the largest quarterly profit ever for a U.S. company.

ExxonMobil wasn't alone. Royal Dutch Shell said today that profits grew 68 percent, to $9.03 billion, last quarter. Earlier in the week, BP announced profits at 34 percent above last year's levels, and ConocoPhillips saw revenue jump 43 percent.

The reason? High gas prices.

"The recent hurricanes in the U.S. have impacted our results. However, underlying performance is strong, amplified by high but volatile prices of oil, gas and products," BP Chief Executive Lord Browne said in a statement announcing the company's performance.

Despite temporary interruptions to refinery and delivery operations after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the Gulf Coast, an accompanying surge in prices at the pump allowed oil companies to bolster their earnings.

"What might have been lost in terms of production and refining capacity was more than made up for by the hurricanes driving oil prices up a couple dollars a barrel," said John Parry, an analyst with John S. Herold.

The oil giants' windfall is a stark contrast to the ugly scenes around U.S. gas stations in September — hours-long lines of drivers desperate to fill up, despite prices that often topped $3 per gallon. Some politicians are questioning why oil companies profited so much while consumers struggled to fill their tanks.

Isn't the free market beautiful? It couldn't be clearer. Gas prices go up, you fork over more hard earned dollars, it goes directly from your pocket to the oil company's bottom line. No shortage of refinery capacity, or any of the other justifications put forth for the huge jump in gas prices. Just pure unadulterated price-gouging.    

October 27, 2005

NYT: Scooter indicted, Rove spared... for now

Just in.....

The NY Times is reporting that Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby will be indicted tomorrow.

Rove will not be indicted... for now, but he is still "under investigation" and the prosecutor Fitzgerald is asking to re-institute a Grand Jury, which would indicate he well may have more up his sleeve.

This could be the beginning of something big.

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Illinois Democratic Central Committee members up for election once more

Each of Illinois' 19 congressional districts elects two representitives, one male, and one female, to serve on the Illinois State Democratic Central Committee, which in essense is the Democratic party apparatus in the state.

They serve as party organizers and fund-raisers and are generally charged with maintaining and invigorating the Democratic party in their districts.

Our two 17th district Central Committee representitives are, and have been for some time, Don Johnston and Mary Boland, both of whom can be expected to appear on the March '06 primary ballot.

Will anyone emerge to challenge either Johnston or Boland? Should someone? Is new blood called for? And if anyone were to challenge either of them, who would be a good candidate or candidates?

Speculate to your heart's content.

President Dilbert

So now they tell us. With the Bush administration spiraling into political free fall, conservative elder statesmen have suddenly begun speaking publicly about the regime’s manifest failures. Meanwhile, aides whisper to reporters that the president’s losing it, pitching temper tantrums, lashing out at junior staffers and blaming everybody in the White House for his problems except himself. “This is not some manager at Mc-Donald’s chewing out the help,” a source close to George W. Bush told the New York Daily News. “This is the president of the United States, and it’s not a pleasant sight.”

No, I don’t reckon it is. Naturally, Bush, like Richard Nixon before him, also gives the press a “big share “ of the blame. Backstairs gossip aside, however, the most powerful indictment of the administration’s malign incompetence is coming from former insiders. Col. Larry Wilkerson was Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff throughout Bush’s first term. A career soldier, he’s also served as director of the U. S. Marine Corps War College. In short, he’s anything but a fuzzyminded pacifist.

Republican congress slashes programs benefiting middle class

Largely to find money to pay for damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and to ensure that even more tax cuts for the wealthy are rammed through, the Republican controlled congress is busy slashing programs which benefit the middle and lower class. This includes blocking efforts to increase spending for programs to assist the poor with exploding heating costs this winter.

The Senate decided yesterday the money was not there for a substantial spending boost for the federal home heating program, deflecting arguments that soaring energy prices could force the poor to choose between heat and food this winter.

Senators voted 54 to 43 in favor of a proposal to boost the fiscal 2006 budget for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program from $2.2 billion to $5.1 billion. A 60-vote majority was needed to approve new spending not coupled with equivalent spending cuts.
Republicans also took advantage of a need to cut budgets to find money for disaster relief by slashing many other programs for the middle class, rather than touching one dime of the massive tax breaks for the most wealthy in the country and corporations, though they are considering cutting farm subsidies.
The Senate rejected several other efforts to stretch the budget to obtain more money for popular programs. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) sought an extra $5 billion for education grants for low-income children, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) wanted $4 billion more for the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts.

More politically difficult votes -- to cut Medicaid, food stamps and farm subsidies -- are on tap today as more panels weigh in on the bill. It was originally intended to cut $35 billion in spending over five years, but after pressure from conservatives, GOP leaders directed committees to cut an additional $15 billion to help pay for hurricane recovery.

The House Agriculture Committee announced a plan to cut the food stamp program by $1 billion as part of a larger effort to slice $4.2 billion from federal agriculture programs.

The right is always trumpeting their moral convictions, as if they have exclusive claim to such things. Well, one thing appears likely, and that's that, though they may not have morals as we know them, they'll have a lot of convictions soon. Get it? Convictions...
Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal, and don't forget to tip your waitress.

Harriet Miers withdraws name from consideration

Is this good, bad, or neither? Will the radical right now bully Bush into sending up an even more out there movement conservative ala Janice Rogers Brown? Here's a rogue's gallery of potential Bush picks, most of which don't bode well for the court. It was published before John Roberts was appointed Chief Justice.

And for yet more evidence that this gang not only can't shoot straight, but have less than no respect for telling the truth, we have this attempt at spin:
Miers said she abandoned her quest for confirmation rather than give in to Senate demands for documents and information detailing her private advice to the president.

Senior lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they had made no such request. Instead, Republicans and Democrats said politics forced her to withdraw, particularly the demands of Republican conservatives who twice elected Bush and now seek to move the high court to the right on abortion and other issues.

"They had a litmus test and Harriet Miers failed that test," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

NO Doubt About It, White Sox 2005 World Champions

Far be it for The Dope to inject politics into a sporting contest, but... The solid blue state working class team handed the Bush-loving red state team's their asses! OH! That's gotta hurt. And right in front of Babs "Let Them Eat Cake" and Poppy Bush. Choke on it, Texas. There, I've gotten that out of my system.

The SOX played like losing was simply not an option. What a solid, gutty, amazingly skilled team. From a die-hard Cub fan.... ALL HAIL THE SOX!!!! Thanks for beating the Texans like a rented mule.

After reading all kinds of touching emotional and heartfelt messages from Sox Fans at the White Sox Interactive World Series post game thread with many grizzled Sox fans confessing to shedding tears of joy over their guys, I came across this from a young female Sox fan:

"Screw all you guys that CRIED. I BARFED!!! Chunks of joy..."

Her website explains, "How did I celebrate the Sox winning the WS? By barfing...Yes. I screamed, cried, and then ran upstairs and barfed because of happiness."

Now that's a White Sox fan!

Adam's not off to a good start with this driving thing

Maryella Wallace was sleeping peacefully in her bedroom June 23 when she awoke to the sound of squealing tires and a car crashing through the wall.

A driver had crashed into the one-story home, hitting her bed and destroying the mattress and frame. She was covered in plaster that fell from the wall, but escaped without serious injury.

The driver pulled out of the house, leaking oil all over the front lawn before driving away.

Four months later, the house is repaired and, with the exception of a patch of dead grass killed by the motor oil, it is hard to tell what happened. The Davenport home in the 2300 block of Rusholme Street sits one house away from the nearest intersection and at least 20 yards from the road.

Maryella and her husband, Ronald Wallace, were surprised to learn this week that the man who allegedly crashed into their home finally was arrested.

Adam Carney Conn, 22, of 2857 Fillmore Lane, Davenport, is charged in Scott County District Court with five counts stemming from that night, including striking fixtures upon a highway, control of a vehicle, driving under suspension, speeding restriction and driving under suspension with habitual violations and non-payment of fines.

Afterward, the Wallaces found pieces of their house several blocks away. Aluminum siding was left scattered across the bedroom floor.

“You could see where his tires spun on the carpet,” Ronald Wallace recalled.

Conn was in custody Tuesday at the Scott County Jail on $10,500 bond — the same amount as the property damage listed in the court file, but the Wallaces say it cost about $15,000 to repair their home.

According to the charges, Conn allegedly avoided being caught by police a couple of times the night of the accident. A Davenport officer tried to stop a vehicle at 2:30 a.m. June 23 at 2399 W. Central Park Ave. for speeding, court records state, but as the officer was walking to the vehicle, the driver took off.

About five minutes later, while turning from Pine Street onto Rusholme Street, the driver lost control and crashed through two yards before hitting the Wallace home, according to court records.

A Davenport officer later identified Conn through a police mug shot. An arrest warrant was filed, but Conn was not found until Saturday morning.

Some walk the walk

The Times has a piece on a local group, including a mother whose son is soon to ship out to Iraq, who have had the courage and conviction to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well.
For Caryn Unsicker and about 25 other people who joined her as usual on the corner of 16th Street and John Deere Road in Moline protesting the conflict in Iraq, Wednesday marked another emotional milestone in the war.

They joined people in communities across the nation conducting vigils to mark the 2,000th death of a U.S. service person.

“We’ve been out here every Wednesday at this time for the past seven weeks,” Unsicker said. “I’ve now heard that 2,001 young men and women have died.”

Unsicker, of Silvis, Ill., drove to Crawford, Texas, in August to support Cindy Sheehan who lost a son in Iraq and was trying to get an audience with President Bush.

She said that each death in Iraq has been needless and should be lamented.

“I had a problem with marking the 2,000th death,” she said. “Each death, beginning with the first, is equally important. Every time one dies my heart breaks.

“My 20-year-old son, a Marine, will be heading to Iraq in March,” she added. “He’s gung-ho and believes in his cause.”

But she said she believes him to be wrongheaded.

“I’m just a Midwest mother and I even knew there were no weapons of mass destruction,” she said.

Mary Woods of Moline said she cannot believe the state of things.

“I just keep shaking my head,” she said. “It just seems to get worse.

“I can’t believe the apathy of the people,” she added. “They don’t seem to care how badly they’ve been treated. We’re becoming a third-world country and nobody seems to care.”

If you happen to see them at their spot, give them a thumbs up or honk in support for what they're doing. I'm sure that they get constant abuse from wing-nuts and anything positive must be appreciated. Those who disagree with this government should not be made to feel isolated and alone.

Better yet, if you agree that the war is a mistake, by all means consider joining these patriots even if only for a short while.

The apathy about what our government is doing in our names and with our money by the American public is nothing short of appaling. Our cozy little consumer culture stupor is what Bush and his ilk depend on to get away with their thefts and quest for empire.

This is OUR government people, no matter how much it often appears otherwise. Sometimes you just have to snap out of it, as these people have. Your grandchildren will wonder why you sat by and did nothing.

How the Moline Council voted on automated garbage collection

Dick Potter, 4th Ward
Phone: (309) 764-7213e-mail: dpotter@moline.il.us

Bill Adams, 5th Ward
Phone: (309) 762-1811e-mail: badams@moline.il.us

Mike Crotty 6th Ward
Phone: (563) 529-1916(309) 755-1101 ext. 223 (work)e-mail: mcrotty@moline.il.us

Dorothy Armstrong, 7th Ward
Phone: (309) 762-0256email: darmstrong@moline.il.us

Alds. Arcilia Dominguez, 1st Ward
Phone: (309) 757-1296(309) 736-3646 (Floreciente Off.)e-mail: adominguez@moline.il.us

Michael Carton, 2nd Ward
Phone: (309) 912-3552e-mail: mcarton@moline.il.usAOL Instant Messenger: MichaelTCartonWeb Site address:

Scott Raes, 3rd Ward
Phone: (309) 762-6103e-mail: sraes@moline.il.us

Kent Breecher, At-Large
Phone: (309) 762-1062e-mail: kbreecher@moline.il.us

Home addresses found in post below.

On a related note, Davenport is currenty considering whether to institute automated trash collection, and a Times editorial thinks the idea is just peachy.

October 26, 2005

Evans acts to protect area residents, workers

Rep. Lane Evans, upon hearing complaints from a watchdog organization about shoddy and dangerous practices by the company employed to demolish the old Case/IH plant on the Moline/East Moline border, contacted the appropriate agencies and got action to protect both workers and area residents from being exposed to hazardous asbestos.

In addition to finding several workplace safety violations, it also found that the company was not taking appropriate measures to ensure that the massive amount of asbestos contained in the building was contained and prevented from contaminating the area.

Sometimes government works. If Zinga or another Republican was in office, they'd likely consider allowing tons of cancerous asbestos dust to be released into the air and blown over thousands of residences to be environmental nit-picking. They just hate OSHA and think it should be abolished. They'd feel that any sanctions against the company would be an unfair impediment to business and likely would have protected the demolition company. Especially if they'd invested in a fat donation to their campaign.

As an aside, the Bush administration, led by Dick Cheney in this instance, rammed through legislation protecting asbestos companies from being sued for causing the deaths of thousands of workers, mainly because Cheney had business interests with the asbestos mining and producing corporations out west.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has slapped $56,000 in penalties on a company demolishing the former CNH Global Case-IH plant for violating a total of 17 workplace safety rules.
OSHA gave out other penalties for violations ranging from making sure employees didn't eat or drink around asbestos to not making sure employees wore protective gear and not disposing of asbestos-containing materials properly.

A watchdog organization, which wanted to stay anonymous, contacted U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island, and his district representatives in May about safety and health violations at the site. Rep. Evans and his office notified state offices, including the OSHA Peoria office.

"We would like to see a temporary restraining order put on the company," said Phil Hare, Rep. Evans' Moline district representative. "They're still not complying. The company ought to cease and desist" demolition.

Asbestos is a common, naturally occurring mineral fiber in the ground. If inhaled at high levels over a long time, however, it can cause severe lung damage and lung, chest or stomach cancer that develops many years later, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

OSHA ordered Champion officials to stop breaking workplace safety rules last week. Champion has 15 working days to pay the $56,000, unless the company contests the violations within that time period.

The Illinois Attorney General's Office filed a complaint in May with the state's Pollution Control Board against the company.

In 1997, Champion also violated federal law by causing asbestos to become airborne by not properly disposing of materials containing it.
Note to anyone living on the east side of Moline or west side of E. Moline. Try not to breath.

Moline council mandates automated trash collection

Dispatch Argus photo by Dan Videtich

The Moline Council vote on automated garbage collection:

VOTING FOR: Alds. Dick POTTER, 4th Ward; Bill ADAMS, 5th Ward; Mike CROTTY 6th Ward; and Dorothy ARMSTRONG 7th Ward.

VOTING AGAINST: Alds. Arcilia Dominguez, 1st Ward; Michael Carton, 2nd Ward; Scott Raes, 3rd Ward; and Kent Breecher, At-Large

POTTER, ADAMS, CROTTY, and ARMSTRONG need to hear from you. (see contact info below)

The Moline City Council voted to institute automated trash collection at Tuesday night's council meeting, deciding to give residents less service at a higher cost.

The move will cost the city $720,000 to purchase specialized garbage cans, and will result in much poorer service and increased costs for residents, but supposedly could save the city $100,000 a year.

So let me see. It will take over 7 years just to recoup the cost of the trash containers, and this isn't even taking into account the cost of new automated trucks?

From yesterday's Dispatch article:
The city council is scheduled to vote on automated garbage collection tonight, a proposal that would cut services to residents but could save the city $100,000 a year.

To launch the program in late summer 2006, the city would need to spend $720,000 to buy 16,000 specialized garbage carts. The resolution calls for the carts to be bought with an eight-year loan out of capital improvement fund reserves at 3.5 percent interest.

Automated collection could cost residents more. Only one 48- or 96-gallon cart would be picked up each week per household. Anyone needing more than one cart would pay $45 a year and a $45 a year disposal fee.

Under the current system, residents can dispose of as much garbage as they want.

Right now, bulky waste pickup is free each week. That would change, allowing residents one free pickup a year. Each call thereafter would cost $25.

The potential savings to Moline comes from a combination of fewer needed workers, reduced worker compensation costs and less trash, said public works director Mike Waldron.

The city would need four less sanitation workers, as only a driver is needed to work each route.

Because the system is automated -- a large arm extends from the truck and picks up the cart -- the city expects fewer workers’ compensation claims. The sanitation department has the most claims in the city and in the past year has had the equivalent of two full-time workers on light duty or off work due to injury.

Mr. Waldron has said when automated systems are implemented, recycling increases. The city expects to save money by paying for less trash to be put into the landfill.

The city is scheduled to replace five rear-loading dump trucks next year. Mr. Waldron has said those could be replaced with five automated trucks, which cost about the same, so there would be no extra cost for equipment.

To sum up, for Moline residents:

BEFORE: Any size container.
NOW: Choice of ONE 48 gal. or ONE enormous 96 gal. trash cart.

BEFORE: Any amount of containers could be set out.
NOW: If you sometimes have more garbage than would fit in one 48 gal. container, you'd need to either lug a mammoth 96 gal container to the street and back and then store it somewhere during the week, or pay NINETY dollars a year for the priviledge of having a back-up 48 gal. container.

BEFORE: The elderly or those who don't generate much garbage could use a small container or simply set out a trash bag. If it was not in an exact spot, the garbage men would retrieve it.
NOW: It doesn't matter if you are only throwing out one banana peel, you have to lug at least a 48 gallon container to an exact spot on the street or alley and back again.

BEFORE: If you had problems with racoons getting into trash, you could get containers with locking lids.
NOW: If they are like other municipalities with automated pick-up, containers have flap lids which fall open once container is knocked over.

BEFORE: Residents can place garbage can anywhere convenient where garbage men can access it within several feet of curb.
NOW: Must lug cart to spot where truck can get within a couple feet of it. Container must not be anywhere near parked cars or other obstacles.

BEFORE: Garbage men did a good job of picking up cans and keeping spillage to a minimum.
NOW: Mechanical arms will grab can and shake it out. Anything spilled on the street will remain there as the truck lumbers off.

BEFORE: Garbage men would put cans back in the same spot or toss them up into yard.
NOW: If you have to put your huge cart out in the middle of the street to avoid parked cars, it will remain there until you can get to it, likely blowing over and blocking the street.

BEFORE: If you had large objects, you could put them out with your garbage any time.
NOW: Large items will only be picked up ONCE A YEAR and $25 a pop thereafter. It's not clear if this once a year pick-up is scheduled or they plan to somehow keep track of whether a resident has already had their one allowed large item pickup per year.

And worse yet, it will put an end to the decades long Dope family tradition of giving each of the garbage guys a nice little envelope with some cash in it and a bottle of good liquor around Christmas time each year. Somehow driving a truck around pulling a lever and never having to get wet or cold or deal with garbage just doesn't seem to inspire the same gratitude.

Next time you see the Mayor or your alderman, be sure to let them know how grateful you are that they got themselves into a giant financial hole and decided to implement this scheme. Or better yet, give 'em a call or send 'em an e-mail by clicking on the e-mail links below. One alderman even publishes his AOL Instant Messenger handle.

CLICK HERE if you'd like to see their mug shots and be able to find out a little about who you're dealing with.

If you're not sure who your alderman is, a ward map can be found HERE.

Alderman, Ward One
Arcilia 'RC' Dominguez

711 1/2 - 4th Avenue, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 757-1296
(309) 736-3646 (Floreciente Off.)
e-mail: adominguez@moline.il.us

Alderman, Ward Two
Michael Carton

359 29th Avenue, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 912-3552
e-mail: mcarton@moline.il.us
AOL Instant Messenger: MichaelTCarton
Web Site address:

Alderman, Ward Three
J. Scott Raes

1813 - 27th Avenue Place, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 762-6103
e-mail: sraes@moline.il.us

Alderman, Ward Four
Dick A. Potter

1136 25th Street, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 764-7213
e-mail: dpotter@moline.il.us

Alderman, Ward Five
Bill Adams

2937 16th Avenue, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 762-1811
e-mail: badams@moline.il.us

Alderman, Ward Six
Michael Crotty

1141 - 48th Street, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (563) 529-1916
(309) 755-1101 ext. 223 (work)
e-mail: mcrotty@moline.il.us

Alderman, Ward Seven
Dorothy Armstrong

4603 - 50th Street, Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 762-0256
email: darmstrong@moline.il.us

Alderman, At Large
Kent Breecher

1516 45th Street
Moline, IL 61265
Phone: (309) 762-1062
e-mail: kbreecher@moline.il.us

Sox up 3-0 in Series

1:20 AM CST
In the longest game in World Series history (for real) it took the White Sox 5 hours and 41 nailbiting minutes to knock off the damn Texans 7-5 in game 3 to threaten a 4 game sweep. Another great game
Game 4 today at 7 CST.

Legislators in Veto Session... AllKids hot issue

The General Assembly met Tuesday for the start of the veto session which is to run through Thursday, then resume Tuesday, Nov. 1, for three more days.
A plan to cover uninsured children is undoubtedly the hot topic before the General Assembly today, said State Senator Gary Dahl.

“But, if I were asked to vote on it today, I would have to vote no,” the Granville Republican noted Monday, prior to the start of the six-day fall veto session, which got under way this morning.

“I know nothing about the governor’s All Kids healthcare insurance program. There’s thousands of questions and no answers. What we know about it is what you know — what’s in the newspapers about it,” he added.

“You’d think he’d come up with a really good, viable plan for children and their families, and legislators would work on it — work the bubbles out, get a good plan and get it going, before he did the round-the-state publicity thing promoting it.”

The All Kids program, covering about 125,000 children, is estimated to cost taxpayers $45 million the first year, and upwards of $100 million. The Blagojevich Administration proposes to pay for the program by moving a good share of the state’s Medicaid recipients into a managed care system, Dahl’s office noted in a prepared release.

There are concerns, though, that expanding the Medicaid system will further delay payments to state healthcare providers. Illinois currently owes $1.5 billion to healthcare providers throughout the state, the release added.

“The governor has just a ton of people promoting this program,” Dahl said. “He’s pulling out all stops. He’s got 200 endorsements, supposedly, but now people are saying they didn’t agree to endorse it.

“I have no idea how you stop this — it’s all abut the next election, and has nothing to do with the kids. A year ago, during my very first day on the Senate floor, it became very obvious it’s all about the next election.”

And meanwhile, the trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan continues. A good spot to keep abreast of it's progress is at CBS WBBM channel 2's Ryan Trial Blog.

October 24, 2005

Keithsburg, the new Sin City?

Keithsburg, IL is a very sleepy little river village on the Mississippi about 50 miles from the Quad Cities, southwest of Aledo and south of New Boston.

It was devastated by the 1993 flood, which all but destroyed the tiny town. Now it seems a Peoria businessman sees big things for the town, as in big ta-tas, evidently.
KEITHSBURG -- A little more than a year ago, Guy Brenkman was a very unpopular man in many parts of Keithsburg.

Last fall Mr. Brenkman, owner of FantasyLand in Peoria, suggested opening a lingerie shop and gentlemen's club at the former Lighthouse Restaurant. It would have been the only adult entertainment business in Mercer County.

News reports of the proposal caused a swarm of phone calls and walk-ins at city hall by people voicing displeasure with the city council for even considering a gentlemen's club. City officials yanked a presentation on the business from a council agenda, and the issue seemed to die away.

Now Mr. Brenkman's back with a proposal, under the name Keithsburg Properties LLC, to refurbish about 60 percent of the downtown.

Mayor James Stewart said Mr. Brenkman's interest in Keithsburg stems not only from a business standpoint, but because "he just liked Keithsburg and he thought it would be a good place to call home."

Now Mr. Brenkman wants to turn the former Lighthouse Restaurant into a bar and grill called "Bikinis." On his application for a liquor license, he said the restaurant will be similar to the national chain "Hooters." The north half of the former Lighthouse property will be his home.

The liquor license was approved earlier this year by the city.

But the plans don't stop there, according to city officials. Mr. Brenkman wants to turn buildings, which have been mostly vacant since the 1993 flood, into such businesses as a barber shop, a women's clothing store, a salon, a hardware and general merchandise store, a laundromat, an outdoor sporting goods store and possibly a branch office for a bank, and then lease them out.

He also bought the Keithsburg Motel, which he plans to keep open year-round with daily, weekly and monthly rates.

Mayor Stewart said community reaction to the plans has been mixed. Some support the plans, while others don't like the Bikinis bar idea -- or any idea from the man who wanted to bring in a strip club.

"I just tell them, 'If you don't want him to buy them, go and buy them yourself and refurbish them,'" Mayor Stewart said. "We need to get these off and running and build from there. Maybe things will start to be abuzz."

Mr. Brenkman didn't return calls seeking comment.
Sounds like Mr. Brenkman found an out of the way town which is on the ropes and is pretty much attempting to create his own town, complete with titilating restaurant, motel, bank, and other businesses.

It could be he's planning to eventually create a little sin city, with strip clubs, restaurants, motels, and whatever else dovetails with selling sex and booze, right in Mercer County. Can gambling be far behind?

Mercer County is up against it financially as well, which might weaken their objections.

Maybe Keithsburg can re-invent itself in the image of the East Dubuque of old, where along about a mile of Sinsinawa Street, known as Sin Street, there was an unbroken string of stip clubs, bars, and motels down both sides of the dead end street. It thrived on the sin and booze business especially since it bordered Iowa where the drinking laws were quite a bit more restrictive.

In this respect, perhaps Mr. Brenkman is wanting to get things set up in anticipation of the proposed bridge over the river near Keithsburg.

It's just a happy coincidence that he found a dull, unattractive, largely ruined river town so attractive that he decided it would be a good place to live.

October 22, 2005

¡Hey gente! ¡Hay un gran restaurante mejicano nuevo en Moline céntrico!

...and it's called "La Flama". I enjoyed a Mexican feast there the other night and highly recommend it. It's located in the old Josephson's Jewelry store in downtown Moline and they've retained the old tile floor, which is nice touch.

They offer home made tortilla chips and homemade salsa at the table and it's delicious. The menu is varied and allows a lot of choice. You can mix and match various Mexican standards to create your own meal, as well as being offered several choices of fillings. The menu also includes dishes not normally found at lesser Mexican places. The food isn't standard americanized Mexican either, but very well prepared and quality dishes. And the prices are very reasonable to boot.

They also offer a variety of Mexican cerveza as well as top-shelf tequilas for those who enjoy a cocktail or two with their meal.

It's a bit hard to spot, as it occupies a narrow portion on the west side of it's building and the other side is dominated by a new sports bar, apparently. There's parking in back along the alley and the entrance door is just around the corner on the west side of the building near the bank drive-thrus.

It's really a thrill to have a good restaurant in downtown Moline where you can get a good meal without having to make a bank withdrawal to pay for it. Business appears to be good, and I wish La Flama success. It's taken Moline about 15 years, but as the numerous bars and restaurants come and go and the popular ones start to stick, they just might succeed after all.

La Flama Restaurant
1514 5th Avenue, Moline
Phone: (309) 797-3756

Note: The Dope has no affiliation with La Flama. Not being able to weasel a free dinner for a mention is one downside to anonymity.

Cliche question of the day

I'm curious. Though it's a trite question, if you could spend a few hours at an intimate, leisurely dinner with any person, either historical or current, who would it be and why?
An artist? Musician? Athlete? Politician? Religious figure? Writer? Scientist? Explorer? Inventor? Ancestor? It can be anyone. Give it some thought and share it here.

Try to pick one, but if you find that impossible, give a short list and include reasons why.

(Sorry, no sexual fantasies allowed. We're talking conversation here.)

Powell aide blasts administration foreign policy "cabal"

Here's how two sources reported the speech by former Colin Powell aide Col. Lawrence Wilkerson to the New America Foundation.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. foreign policy is being made in secret by a small "cabal" of powerful people like Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a former top Bush administration official charged yesterday.

Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell until they left office in January, unleashed possibly the broadest attack on the Bush administration from one of its own since former Counter Terrorism Chief Richard Clarke last year.

Wilkerson said "we have courted disaster in Iraq, North Korea and Iran" and said that if there is another attack in the U.S. such as a nuclear explosion in a U.S. city "you are going to see the ineptitude of this government."

He accused President George W. Bush of "cowboyism" in dealing with foreign leaders and said that Cheney and Rumsfeld and others could not be kept under control by a president "not versed in international relations and not too interested in them either."

The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Speaking at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank, Wilkerson said his central complaint was that too much power was centered in too few people who kept the rest of the bureaucracy in the dark.

There was a "cabal between Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on critical decisions that the bureaucracy did not know was being made."

Asked what role Bush played with the "cabal," Wilkerson said the president "was very integral to the process. When the president's [intervention] was needed the president's office was entered by one person and the president's consent was obtained," Wilkerson said.

Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded Powell, failed to intervene to stop the "cabal" because she made a calculated decision "to build her intimacy with the president," rather than confront his other advisers, Wilkerson charged.

He indicated that this flawed, secretive process contributed to what he thought was a bad decision to go to war in Iraq.

But Wilkerson said that any decision by the Bush administration to leave Iraq "precipitously" would result in Iraq's neighbors sending in troops and creation of a breeding ground for terrorists like Afghanistan, leading to another major war involving the United States.

"We will have to go back and take the Middle East within a decade," if that happens, he said.

The Bush administration never planned for what would happen in Iraq after the war, he said.

"There was simply no plan with regard to postwar Iraq," other than some contingencies for humanitarian assistance, he said.

Wilkerson said that Powell, for whom he worked for 16 years at the Pentagon as well as at State, did not agree with his decision to go public with his criticisms, and it had led to a breach between them.

Powell is "one of the world's most loyal soldiers and feels we will overcome these problems," Wilkerson said.
Colin Powell's right-hand man has launched a blistering attack on the White House, describing President George W Bush as "cowboyish", his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as "extremely weak" and American foreign policy as "courting disaster".

The attack came from Col Larry Wilkerson, who for four years was Mr Powell's chief of staff at the state department during the first Bush administration.

In a sometimes savagely phrased speech at a Washington think-tank, the former US marine said that the Bush team had so damaged the country's foreign policy machine that he was "not sure that the state department even exists any more".

The result was that America's relations with the world had taken a pounding. Asked about the efforts by Mr Bush's key aide Karen Hughes to sell America to the Muslim world he said: "It's hard to sell shit." In remarks quoted by the Washington Post, Col Wilkerson said: "If you're unilaterally declaring Kyoto dead, if you're declaring the Geneva Conventions not operative, if you're doing a host of things that the world doesn't agree with you on and you're doing it blatantly and in their face, without grace, then you've got to pay the consequences."

The speech lifted the lid on the disagreements that were hinted at but rarely admitted for most of the first Bush term.

Mr Powell was known to feel that he was cut out of foreign policy-making by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Col Wilkerson said that had damaged America's foreign policy. "What I saw was a cabal," he said. Bypassing the state department, America had "courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran".

He added: "You've got a president who is not versed in international relations and not too much interested in them either."
The tragedy is that not many people spoke up sooner about this run-amuk "cabal" and that Powell let his loyalty to Bush destroy his highly regarded reputation.

The full transcript of Wilkerson's damning remarks as well as commentary can be found at "The Washington Note" here.

More Arrogance of Power

This story is a couple days old, but worth noting.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, while Rush Limbaugh has been carried on U.S. Armed Services Radio, broadcast to our troops and by extention, millions of people in countries around the world, there is no comparable voice on the left to counter Rush's lies and distortions. The fact is that many people around the world are getting their political information about the U.S. from ... yep.... El Rushbo. And you're paying for it.

AFR's mission is described on their site as, "AFRTS is the American Forces Radio and Television Service. It is part of the Department of Defense, and is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. The AFRTS mission is to communicate Department of Defense policies, priorities, programs, goals and initiatives. AFRTS provides stateside radio and television programming, "a touch of home," to U.S. service men and women, DoD civilians, and their families serving outside the continental United States. AFRTS includes the Radio and Television Production Office (RTPO), The Pentagon Channel NewsCenter, and the Defense Media Center." Apparently, the consider the blatant right-wing propaganda of Limbaugh to be "a touch of home".

It reports that AFR, "...provide(s) multiple television and stereo audio services to over 1,000 outlets in more than 175 countries and U.S. territories, and on board U.S. Navy ships."

Taxpayer funded broadcasting of Limbaugh around the world is, of course, yet more evidence of the sheer arrogance of power in this administration, and amounts to us paying Rush Limbaugh to broadcast Republican propaganda around the world.

Iowa's Sen. Tom Harkin long ago got a non-binding resolution passed asking Armed Services Radio to either drop the big fat idiot or add a comparable show from the left to provide balance. Showing that the administration truly believes that they OWN the country and government, they did nothing.

Now, after years of this outrageous situation existing with nothing being done, , the Pentagon finally indicated that it would begin airing the first hour of the Ed Schultz show on ASR beginning on Oct. 17th. Ed Shultz is a moderate-left radio host based in Fargo, North Dakota. He's been carried on Air America's network, though he's not affiliated with them. I've listened to him a lot and he's good. Not only is he an experienced and professional host, he tends to be a moderate, midwestern brand of liberal with a broad appeal.

Just hours before the show was supposed to begin airing, in a fit of arrogant pique, the same Pentagon press flack that was caught rehearshing troops for Bush's phoney "chat" with them informed Schultz's producers that they were not going to air the show. Then they lied and said it was all a mix up and that it was never decided that they'd air the show.

Schultz explains:
"Armed Forces Radio notified us that we were supposed to start on (Monday)," said Schultz, who broadcasts from Fargo, N.D. "Then my producer got a call from Allison Barber at 6 a.m. saying it's not going to happen. I don't know now if it's ever going to happen. They never gave us a reason."

Barber is the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary for internal communications.

She was at the center of an embarrassing episode last week when an open mike caught her rehearsing with soldiers in Iraq who were about to talk with President Bush on a televised teleconference call about improving conditions there.

Among those criticizing Barber for "a publicity stunt" was Ed Schultz.

"I called it a joke, an organized event, and compared it to Bush's phony town meetings on Social Security (reform) and the campaign rallies last year where people had to sign a loyalty oath to get in," Schultz said in an interview.

"I might have poked a little fun at Allison Barber, too. But that's talk radio."

Barber was traveling yesterday and couldn't be reached. But Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said "an unfortunate communication from a staff member to the Schultz show" led to the mix-up.

"The Schultz show was never actually scheduled," Whitman said, adding that "it is one of several shows being looked at" as the network considers schedule changes. "This has nothing to do with (Schultz's criticism of Barber and Bush). I understand how one could be suspect, though, given the timing."

AFR, which reaches more than 800,000 military listeners overseas, has long carried Rush Limbaugh's conservative talk show. Democrats had complained for equal time, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, secured a nonbinding resolution in the Senate urging AFR to offer more political balance in its programming.

Schultz said his show's distributor, Jones Radio, was informed by e-mail on Sept. 29 that the first hour of his three-hour program would be broadcast daily on AFR beginning Monday.

Then came Barber's call pulling the plug.

Schultz, who calls himself a "gun-toting, red-meat-eating lefty," said AFR badly needs political balance.

"I'd say there probably are some Democrats serving overseas who might appreciate a different point of view," Schultz said. "What am I going to say about the Bush Administration that Rush Limbaugh hasn't already said about Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy?"
Gen. Wesley Clark's political action committee has sent out an e-mail urging people to take action against this injustice,
Last year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a resolution that was unanimously passed by the Senate, urging Secretary Rumsfeld and Armed Forces Radio to ensure more political balance in programming.

It looked like progress was being made when the Pentagon agreed to air the first hour of Ed Schultz's daily radio show live on Armed Forces Radio every day. Then, only hours before the first show would have been broadcast, the Pentagon suddenly reversed the decision and refused to air Ed's program.

We must let our voices be heard and exercise leadership to help ensure that the spirit of Senator Harkin's resolution — and the spirit of fairness — are at play on taxpayer financed programming.

Send an email to your Members of Congress now — urge them to enforce fair play on Armed Forces Radio!
Sign the petition here.

The sample letter found at Clark's site which people can edit and sign makes perfect sense:
It was just 11 years ago when 70 Republican Members of Congress, led by then Congressman Robert Dornan (R-CA), demanded that President Clinton's Secretary of Defense Les Aspin broadcast Rush Limbaugh's radio and television programs to the military.

Well if Armed Services Radio is good enough for Rush Limbaugh, it's certainly good enough for Ed Schultz.

I urge you to call on the Pentagon to honor their promise and air the Ed Schultz Show on Armed Forces Radio. It's time to restore political balance in the programming being broadcast to our men and women in uniform.

October 21, 2005

State sets up web site for Blago's Kids Health Initiative

Those who want to find out more about Govenor Blagojevich's proposed health care coverage for all Illinois kids can find information from the Governor's perspective at http://www.allkidscovered.com/

If anyone finds any solid information there on where the funds for this worthy intitiative are to be found, let us know.

Some stats from the area.

Percent of kids uninsured / number of kids uninsured

Rock Island County - 9.2% - 3,477
Whiteside County - 7.6% - 1,220
Henry County - 8.1% - 1,106
Mercer County - 8.0% - 357
Caroll County - 7.9% - 337

IL House Dems like reform... a little.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois House Democrats floated a proposal Friday that tightens state ethics and purchasing laws but leaves out the sweeping changes backed by other party leaders.

The plan crafted by House Speaker Michael Madigan's staff ties together reforms for state and local pension systems, state purchasing, ethics rules for state employees and naming rights at state facilities.

The State Government Administration Committee discussed the proposal but took no vote. House leaders hope it will serve as a framework for action in the Legislature's fall veto session, which begins Tuesday.

"Clearly, I think these are important issues that need to stand on their own merit," said state Rep. Gary Hannig, D-Litchfield. "We need to move forward with them, and they're an effort to try to raise the standards here in Illinois."

The proposal does not include Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal to sharply limit the size and source of donations that politicians accept. It also omits Comptroller Dan Hynes' plan to restrict donations by people who do business with the state.

Madigan wouldn't comment after the hearing. His spokesman said there were too many questions surrounding those ideas.
It's unfortunate that the House Dems won't endorse measures which would have a direct effect on the corrupting influence of big money influence, but rather seek to preserve the status quo and nibble around the edges of true reform.

Any insiders who can provide some insight into this issue?

Evans fundraising surpasses rivals

From the Times:
U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Ill., raised far more money between July and September than his Republican rivals, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, or FEC.

Evans raised $239,962 during the 3rd quarter, nearly three times what he took in during the 2nd quarter of this year. The Rock Island congressman, who will seek a 13th term next year, reported $178,503 in the bank at the end of September. That is more than twice what he had at the end of June.

Evans also began to make payments on a $185,000 fine he agreed in June to pay in order to settle FEC allegations that he violated election law during the 1998 and 2000 campaigns. Evans, who did not admit to the allegations, agreed to pay the fine over nine months. The first installments totaled $80,000, leaving him with $105,000 left to pay.

The payments amounted to more than half the $141,816 Evans reported spending during the quarter.

Meanwhile, Jim Mowen, a Rock Island real estate broker and developer, reported raising $30,616 during the three-month period, making him the top fundraiser of the three Republicans who have said they want the job.

Mowen spent $10,564 and ended the period with $43,881 in the bank, according to the report. So far, he has raised $67,451.

Andrea Zinga, the party’s 2004 nominee who announced last week that she would run again, reported raising $2,645 and spending $4,810 for the quarter. She ended the period with $1,697 in the bank and $55,909 in debt.

Thus far in the campaign cycle, Zinga has raised $32,056.

Brian Gilliland, an Aledo man who has said he also will run, did not file a financial disclosure report, according to the FEC Web site.

Straight outta Whiteside

MORRISON, Ill. — Whiteside County State’s Attorney Gary Spencer made a public plea for increasing funding for his department before the Whiteside County Board this week.

In a presentation to the board, Spencer said the Public Safety Committee had recommended that the state’s attorney’s office budget for 2005-06 be set at $795,000. Although this is an increase of about $9,000, or just under 2 percent, from the previous year’s budget, it was $61,000 lower than Spencer had requested.

Spencer’s request for $856,325, an 8.9 percent increase, includes funding for a new investigator’s position and pay raises for existing staff. Fifteen people currently are employed in the attorney’s office, including Spencer.

Spencer noted that the workload for his office is four times larger than when he became state’s attorney in 1981. He said new crimes such as identity theft, online fraud and child pornography have added to that total.

Whiteside board honors retiring county clerk

MORRISON, Ill. — The Whiteside County Board has honored outgoing County Clerk Dan Heusinkveld, who has worked for the county since 1954.

Heusinkveld joined the county clerk’s office in 1954 as a deputy clerk and won election to the top job in 1970. He last won re-election in 2002.

He recalled many of the changes in his career that started with lugging large containers of paper ballots up stairways and ended with electronic voting machines and Internet access.

Deputy clerk Dana Nelson is scheduled to take over Heusinkveld’s position on Nov. 2.

Overwhelming crowds, security, theaten Port Byron Tug-Fest

PORT BYRON, Ill. — Port Byron Police Chief Steve Rathburn’s surprise request to resign from his duties as head of Tugfest security has the mayor and at least one village trustee thinking of scaling back or scrapping the party that surrounds the annual tug-of-war contest with neighboring LeClaire, Iowa.

Rathburn’s request — brought up at a recent Village Board meeting — was voted down with Mayor Mike Ferretti casting the deciding vote. Still, Ferretti shares his police chief’s concern with the massive crowds and difficult law enforcement logistics surrounding the summertime event.

“I think the festival is outgrowing the village,” he said. “I believe there are some trustees on the board that feel that way as well. It’s lucky we’ve never had a catastrophe or fire where the crowd is congregated. It would be very hard to get necessary equipment to the area.”

Ferretti said he is not in favor of halting next year’s Tugfest, but “whether it will be there in 2007 is still up in the air.”


Sox-Astros. Well?

Here's a place for all you armchair managers to tell us all just how the World Series is gonna go. Extra points for predicting a humiliating defeat for the Astros.

IL Comptroller Dan Hynes not optimistic on state's grim budget picture

Despite the massive budget hole the state is in, it's notable that Hynes still supports Blago's child health care initiative.
SYCAMORE - State Comptroller Dan Hynes told the DeKalb County Democrats Thursday that he doesn't know where Illinois can find new revenues to balance the state budget.

“We're not real long on ideas in that area,” he said. “That's kind of why we're in the situation we're in. ...We're seeing economic growth, but we're spending it as fast as we're bringing it in.”

Hynes said Illinois has $2.5 billion in debts it can't pay, with much of the money owed to health care providers who are waiting to be paid through Medicare.

“We're basically borrowing on the backs of our providers,” he said. “I don't think there are any major health care providers with the state that do not have a line of credit and have to go to the bank in anticipation of getting paid by the state. We're making them borrow so we don't have to.”

Hynes said a $1 billion short-term loan to pay down the backlog of bills is only a temporary fix, as the loan has to be paid back within the year. Nonetheless, he came out in favor of Governor Rod Blagojevich's program to provide health benefits to all children in the state, an initiative Republican opponents say can't be financed when Illinois is having trouble paying Medicare bills as it is.

Delay booked for corruption charges

Smile now, bug man, pretty soon you'll be the girlfriend of the guy with the most cigarettes.

October 20, 2005

Despite high poll numbers, Topinka expected to bow out of Governor's race

State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka set an end-of-week deadline to reveal her decision on running for governor -- but as of today, the answer is no.

Topinka, 61, the only Republican statewide officeholder, instead is looking at a bid for a fourth term as treasurer, where she can still be a major player in state policy.

Polls show Topinka leads a crowded Republican gubernational primary field. And she is well-positioned to win the Illinois GOP nomination for governor.

But a primary could leave her broke. Topinka would start a general election campaign against Gov. Blagojevich staring at his war chest, expected to swell to $20 million by next year. Blagojevich will be able to save money because he faces no substantial primary challenger.

Topinka's was on top of a poll of Republicans for their pick to run for governor.

(Angus Reid Global Scan) – Judy Baar Topinka is the leading contender in the race for the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination in Illinois, according to a poll by Market Shares Corp. released by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. 44 per cent of Republican voters in the Prairie State would back the state treasurer in the party’s primary.

Investment manager James Oberweis is second with 15 per cent, followed by state senators Bill Brady and Steve Rauschenberger with seven per cent each, and businessman Ronald Gidwitz with four per cent. The Republican gubernatorial primary is scheduled for Mar. 21, 2006. The general election will take place in November 2006.

Rod Blagojevich—a Democrat—has acted as governor in Illinois since January 2003. The former U.S. congressman defeated Republican Jim Ryan in the November 2002 election with 52 per cent of the vote.

Since 1949, Illinois has had five Republican and five Democratic heads of government.

Polling Data

Who would you vote for in the Republican gubernatorial primary?

Judy Baar Topinka

James Oberweis

Bill Brady

Steve Rauschenberger

Ron Gidwitz

Source: Market Shares Corp. / The Chicago Tribune / WGN-TVMethodology: Interviews to 450 likely Republican primary voters, conducted from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9, 2005. Margin of error is 5 per cent.
I've long felt that Topinka wouldn't go for Governor. She has a lot of baggage and subtle signs led me to believe she's not inclined to put herself through it.

If Topinka bows out, how then would the remaining Republican candidates match up against Blagojevich, who is enduring some truly awful poll numbers these days?

The more things change...

Nixon looks looser than Bush.

The anti-life Pro-Lifers

And alert friend of the blog pointed me to this piece by blogger/humorist/writer Bill Shein which makes an important argument for Democrats and progressives.
The tragic irony is that today's allegedly pro-life politics have given us increased poverty, millions without medical care, war, rapid environmental destruction, and fiscal policies that put the short-term economic interests of the few ahead of the long-term survival of the human race — a state of affairs that is anything but pro-life.

Until we broaden the meaning of pro-life and change the way it is used in our political discourse, we will continue to endure government priorities that are nothing of the sort.
Read the entire essay here.

Former RI lawyer, now IL Supreme Court Justice sues over bicycle accident

Showing that he firmly believes in product liability lawsuits, former Rock Island lawyer and current Illinois Supreme Court justice Tom Kilbride has filed a lawsuit stemming from a bicyble accident in June of 2003 in which he suffered serious injuries.
The suit filed by Justice Thomas Kilbride, who lives in Rock Island, claims that he was injured June 12, 2003, while riding a 2001 Sedona Men’s LX Comfort Mountain Bike.

The suit names several companies as defendants, including Alhonga Enterprises, Chang Star Corp. and Lee Chi Enterprise Co., all of Taiwan; Promax USA and Austin Enterprise Inc., both of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Giant Bicycle Inc. of Newbury Park, Calif.

The suit originally was to be heard in Rock Island County Circuit Court but recently was moved to U.S. District Court, Rock Island, at the request of the defendants.

The lawsuit has 12 counts of both negligence and product liability, and claims Kilbride suffered internal and external injuries of a “permanent and lasting nature.” It did not give details of the injuries.

The suit claims the bicycle contained a manufacturing and design defect which caused the brake coupling to fail. Because of the defect the bicycle broke and became uncontrollable and inoperable, the suit claims.

The suit was filed by the Healy Law Firm of Chicago. It does not seek a specific dollar amount.

Full Bio and Statement from Rep. Mike Boland

Due to space constraints, only basic info was provided in the Boland discussion post.

The following is the complete unedited statement submitted by request from Boland's Cheif of Staff, Mike Huntoon. It contains comprehensive background and information about Rep. Boland and press releases regarding Rep. Boland's work in the Illinois House.

Comments are not allowed for this post. Please leave any comments in the Boland discussion thread.

Submitted October 20th, 2005


Hello Inside Dope and Inside Dope readers. I am Mike Huntoon. I serve as the Chief of Staff for Representative Boland's Legislative office located at 4416 River Drive in Moline. I'll be making the initial responses on Representative Boland's behalf, in order to fulfill the request by the Inside Dope for comments from local politicians and/or their staff.

I would like to begin by thanking the Inside Dope for this opportunity to present Representative Boland's recent record of accomplishments in greater detail than is often allowed in small news bites on television, or on radio, or even in newspapers.

Representative Boland prides himself on providing quality public service for his constituents, and he has brought a wonderful background of public service to his job as our State Representative. His past record of service before being elected to serve as State Representative includes:
Being one of the original founders of the Citizens Utility Board (C.U.B.)
A 30 year record of service as a school teacher, as well serving on the local school and library boards, and a wide variety of Democratic political activities.

So perhaps in order to give the readers of the Inside Dope the best possible picture of Mike Boland, it would be best to begin with a brief biography as an introduction to our current State Representative.

State Representative Mike Boland Biography

Full Name: Michael J. Boland
Occupation: Educator, State Representative
Past Government Experience: School Board, Library Board
Education: B.A. in History, Upper Iowa University . M.S.ed in Social Science (History, Political Science, and Sociology) from Henderson State University. 48 semester hours Post-Masters from Western Illinois University and University of Iowa.

Committee Assignments
Financial Institutions (Chairperson)
Appropriations-Public Safety
Labor; Telecommunications
Agriculture & Conservation
Workers' Compensation and Unemployment
Pay Day Loans, Subcommittee (Sub-Chairperson).

Past Committee Assignments
Appropriations-General Services - Vice Chair
Appropriations-Higher Education
Elections & Campaign Reform - ChairGaming
Chairman - Elections and Campaign Finance Reform
Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Distribution
Registration and Regulation
Veterans - Vice Chairman
Elementary and Secondary Education
State Government and Elections
Commerce and Labor
Children and Youth

"Outstanding Legislator of the Year" - Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
"Taxpayers' Friend" - National Taxpayers United of Illinois
Advisory Board for the Boys & Girls Club 2001
Retired Teachers Award
Veterans of Foreign Wars- Loyalty Day Award
National Alliance for Mentally Ill Award
Farm Bureau Activator Award
Exemplary Friends of Libraries Award
American Legion Award
"Golden Helmet" Award from Firefighters

Mike Boland was born on August 20, 1942 in Davenport, Iowa. A former teacher with the East Moline school district, Representative Boland is married and has two daughters. His education includes Upper Iowa University, where he received his B.A., Boland earned a masters degree at Henderson State University. Boland also completed 43 semester hours of post masters degree work from Western Illinois University and the University of Iowa.

Mike Boland has been active in his community throughout his entire life. In 1970 he was elected delegate for the District, County and Iowa State Democratic Conventions. Boland served several years on the East Moline Library Board and was also elected to the United Township High School Board of Education. In 1976, Boland was a member of the East Moline Bicentennial Committee. Boland was elected as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Midterm Convention in 1978 and as delegate to the Democratic National Presidential Nominating Convention in 1980 & 2000.
Boland was one of the founders of the Citizen's Utility Board (C.U.B.) and served on the Board of Directors for ten years, including two terms as Vice-President. Boland's tenure as State Representative is a perfect compliment to his outstanding 30-year teaching record. Mike Boland has represented the 71st District since January of 1995.

In order to properly recount Representative Mike Boland's accomplishments of 2005, it's necessary to revisit the final days of the prior General Assembly and discuss the passage of an amended HB 1000. The Senate version of HB 1000 would have seriously weakened the current state laws regarding professional fireworks displays. Representative Boland spoke against these changes on the House floor, but the amended Senate version of HB1000 was passed (a vote to concur with Senate amendment #1) by the Illinois House on 1/11/2005 by a very narrow 61-56 tally.

Working together with a variety of firefighter organizations, Representative Boland then called on Governor Blagojevich to veto this legislation. Here then is a copy of Boland's news release on that topic.

Boland Calls On Governor To Veto Bill That Weakens Fireworks Law

MOLINE - Representative Mike Boland is calling upon Governor Blagojevich to veto legislation pushed through in the final hours of the 93rd General Assembly which would greatly weaken the Pyrotechnic Displayers Licensing Act. The current law requires those displaying Class C firework to be trained, tested, and requires the person securing the fireworks permit to carry liability insurance. It also requites the local fire chief to sign off on all fireworks displays and allows indoor fireworks to only be used in buildings with a sprinkler system.

Boland said "HB1000 would gut the current law by removing the indoor displayers of Class C fireworks from state training and testing requirements and would also take out the sprinkler requirement if Class C fireworks are used in an indoor show." The East Moline Democrat argued against HB 1000 in debate on the House floor saying that Class C fireworks are the cause of 88% of fireworks related injuries seen in hospital emergency rooms.

"The majority of fireworks injuries are to children under the age of 15," Boland said. "It is irresponsible to put these types of fireworks into untrained hands, the majority of whom are children," Boland stated. "This is undoubtedly why the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians opposed this dreadful legislation," he added.

Boland, a 10 year veteran of the Illinois House of Representatives, listed the other groups opposed to HB1000, including the Office of the State Fire Marshall, the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, the Illinois Firefighters Association, the Illinois Fire Service Association, Associated Firefighters of Illinois, the Chicago Fire Department, Professional Firefighters of Illinois, the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts, the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association and the Illinois Fire Service Training Institute.

"The experts in the field know this is bad legislation, They know that Class C fireworks were involved in the Rhode Island Night Club fire and the recent Argentina fire. They know that last July two people were killed (one in Calumet City, Illinois) because of misuses of Class C fireworks.", Boland stated. "If this bill is not vetoed by the Governor medical and property insurance claims will rise and greater burdens will be put on local fire, police, and EMS services which are funded by taxpayer dollars. " Boland emphasized. "A veto by Governor Blagojevich of HB 1000 will be a win- win- win situation, a win for public safety, a win for insurance consumers and a win for taxpayers," he concluded.

# # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

In the end, Boland and his firefighter allies were successful in their effort to prevent the final passage of this legislation. On 4\8\2005 Governor Rod Blagojevich Vetoed HB1000 as amended by the Illinois Senate, putting to rest this attempt to weaken Illinois law concerning fireworks displays. Although this effort will never show up on a list of standard legislative accomplishments, the defeat of HB1000 was truly representative Boland's first legislative accomplishment of 2005.

Another important, but often overlooked facet of serving as State Representative includes supporting local organizations in their efforts to receive grants from State, Federal and Private sources. Here is a news release from Februrary 2005 outlining one successful effort to help a local non-profit better serve the needs of the community. In this particular example, it was the second time Boland and his staff had been able to help assist this particular non-profit group in getting grants to fund their efforts to bring computer technology to under-served communities.

Boland Support for Non-Profit Group Helps to Net Grant

MOLINE, IL State Representative Mike Boland (D-East Moline) announced today that due to Boland's and his office staff's assistance, a local non-profit group is due to receive a $15,000 grant. The head administrator of Technology Now Associates, Jim Garbet, recently notified Boland of the award and thanked the State Representative for his district office's efforts in helping to secure the grant. Technology Now Associates is a local non-profit group working to bring computer and technology training to under served communities. The $15,000 grant award is from telecommunications giant SBC as a part of that company's Excelerator Competetive Grant Program.

"I am very proud that my office could help Technology Now Associates' effort to get this grant and help to bring technology to under served communities here in the Illinois Quad Cities," Boland stated. "My office staff helped to get the ball rolling, by taking the initiative to notify Technology Now Associates of this grant opportunity back in July, and then following up with a letter of support for the actual grant application in August," he added. "All too often my staff and I never hear back from non-profit groups after providing letters of support, so we were absolutely thrilled to hear from Jim Garbet that his organization was going to get an award," Boland continued.

"I'm told that Technology Now Associates had applied for SBC grants without success in the past, so I'd like to think our efforts and assistance helped make a difference in this success," Boland commented. "My office had already provided assistance to Technology Now Associates in securing a state grant to provide computer access and training for the Hispanic community in Moline, so we already knew of their good work and were happy to assist again with support for this grant proposal," he said.

"I've always been willing to put my personal efforts and support behind worthy ideas and ideals, like Technology Now Associates shows in working to gap the €˜ €˜digital divide' for minority youth," Boland said. "Whether it was in the days when I was working as a founder of the Citizen's Utility Board, or during the many other battles I've fought for working men and women, I've been a man willing to put my personal time and effort into worthwhile projects and causes," he emphasized. "I hope my continued efforts and support for non-profit groups and agencies serving the community speaks loudly that I remain true to my core constituencies and ideals; I have not, and will not, forget my roots and the folks who elect me to serve them," Boland concluded.

Boland's district office regularly receives notices about available grants and assistance to non-profit groups in Illinois from Federal, State and business sources. Interested non-profits groups are encouraged to contact Boland's district office to be added to his grant information notification e-mail list. Boland's office also can provide assistance to local agencies seeking grants by providing letters of support for worthwhile grant applications by non-profit groups. Boland's district legislative office is located at 4416 River Drive in Moline and can be reached by phone at 309/736-3360 or via email at ILRepMikeBoland@aol.com.
# # # #

Representative Boland has a longstanding record of working with Firefighter's and first responders to craft and pass legislation to benefit these brave public servants. During the most recent session of the Illinois General Assembly, Boland sponsored and passed into law a measure to make the impersonation of firefighters a crime. Boland's legislation (which was initiated due to an incident in the wake of the tornado that ravaged Utica, Il) closed a loophole in the law concerning firefighters, it was already a crime to impersonate a Police Officer, a Doctor or an Attorney.

Governor Signs Boland Bill Making Impersonation of a Firefighter a Crime

SPRINGFIELD - Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Mike Boland (D -East Moline) that makes impersonation of a Firefighter or an Emergency Management Worker a felony passed was signed into law last week by Governor Rod Blagojevich. House Bill 596 makes the impersonation of a firefighter a Class 4 Felony in Illinois, carrying a possible prison sentence of up to 6 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

"This is common sense legislation and I am pleased to see such broad bipartisan support," Boland said. "Currently in Illinois it's a crime to impersonate a police officer, a doctor, or a lawyer," he continued. "Our communities depend on the bravery of our Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians, and there's no doubt in my mind that they deserve the same kind of protection," Boland added. "This bill will help to assure that nothing interferes with the trust that the public places in these dedicated men and women," Boland asserted.

Boland's legislation was written in response to an incident which arose after a tornado devastated the town of Utica last spring and claimed the lives of six people. While emergency crews worked hard to coordinate the rescue efforts, a fire truck approached with men claiming to be trained and authorized firefighters. Authorities discovered this to be untrue, and they denied the men access to the site and detained them. However, law enforcement officials were not able to charge the imposter Firefighters with any criminal act.

"More than anything else, this bill addresses a serious safety issue," Boland said. "It takes years of hard work, dedication, and training to become a Firefighter or an Emergency Management Worker. If an unqualified person tries to intervene in an emergency situation they are not only putting themselves at risk, but also endangering the lives and well being of the of the trained professionals actually responding to the emergency. This bill sends a clear message that there is no room for amateurs when lives are on the line," Boland concluded.

Mike Boland represents the 71st District, which includes portions of Rock Island, Henry, Whiteside, and Carroll Counties. Boland is serving his 6th term as State Representative, and has been awarded the Legislator of the Year award by Illinois Firefighters, as well as one of their highest honors, the Golden Helmet Award.

# # #

In two prior sessions of the General Assembly, Representative Boland served as Chairman of the House Committee on Elections and Campaign Reform (he is currently Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Institutions), so he has a strong background in working to help make elections and government more ethical, accountable and efficient. The following news release outlines the provisions of HB 2455 which was signed into law by Governor Blagojevich on 8/16/2005.

Boland Calls For Free Flow of Financial Data on Public Officials
State Representative Calls on Governor to Sign HB 2455

MOLINE - State Representative Mike Boland (D-East Moline) called today on Governor Blagojevich to sign into law reforms concerning individuals who view the economic interest statements of candidates or public officials. Representatives Paul Froehlich (R-Schaumburg) and Mike Boland's teamed together to advance this proposal which would do away with existing "Soviet-style" provisions in the law that impede the free flow of information about the financial interests of those holding or seeking public office.

Froehlich and Boland's House Bill 2455 would do away with the requirement that County Clerks send a notice to any public official or candidate required to file a Statement of Economic Interests with the Clerk whenever a reporter of anyone else looks at the Statement. The current Illinois Government Ethics Act requires the person looking at the statement to first fill out a form stating their name, occupation, address, telephone number, date of examination, and their reason for looking at the statement. The Clerk must then send a copy of this form to the official whose statement was examined.

"The effect of the provision is to intimidate individuals into not looking at information that should be available to them just for the asking," Boland said. "A person who considers looking at a politician's Economic Interest Statement may very well decide not to because they don't want to risk the wrath or disdain that the politician may have in response," Boland added.

Froehlich and Boland introduced the bill at the request of Sangamon County Board Representative Sam Cahnman, who recently received a notice from the Sangamon County Clerk that someone had looked at his Economic Interest Statement, and was surprised this law was still on the books. Sam Cahnman also related stories to Representative Froehlich and Boland about instances where politicians have launched verbal attacks on researchers, lobbyists, or reporters because of receiving a notice that their Economic Interest Statement had been viewed. A similar provision in Illinois Election Code existed for people who looked at a candidate's financial disclosure reports, a listing of who made campaign contributions and how they were spent, but it was repealed in 1998.

"The purpose of the Statement of Economic Interest, which must be filed annually, is to disclose potential conflicts between the official or candidate's financial interest and their official or their potential official duties," Boland stated. "The theory is to let the sun shine in by putting everything out in the open and then letting the voters decide if they want a public official who, for example, acts in his own financial interest as opposed to the interest of the governmental entity they are serving," Boland said. "For Economic Interest Statements to do their job, there must be free and unimpeded flow of the information in the statements, and under current law there is not," Boland. concluded.

The notice provision in existing law does not apply to legislators' Economic Interests Statements that are filed with the Secretary of State, because those documents are already available for inspection on the internet. HB 2455 passed out of the Illinois House with unanimous support in March, and the State Senate approved the measure without a single dissenting vote in May. Froehlich and Boland's proposal currently awaits signature into law by Governor Rod Blagojevich.
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Another legislative accomplishment of Representative Boland's during the 2005 legislative session was the passage into law of a bill known as a "Child Labor Ban". As mentioned in the following news release, this bill was modeled on legislation passed by Boland in an prior session of the General Assembly that was known as the "Slave Labor Ban".

Child Labor Ban Signed Into Law
Boland Bill Will Help Prevent Foreign Child Labor Abuses & Protect American Jobs

MOLINE - State Representative Mike Boland (D-East Moline) announced today Governor Blagojevich signed a bill that Boland had passed from the Illinois General Assembly to prevent Illinois tax dollars from being used for the purchase of goods made by foreign child labor. HB 2460 would create the State Prohibition of Goods from Child Labor Act, which would require contractors providing goods to the state to certify that the products were not made by child labor. Boland's "Child Labor Ban" passed from both houses of the General Assembly with strong bi-partisan support and was signed into law by the Governor yesterday.

"The exploitation of children in foreign countries to produce goods exported to the United States is a serious problem facing both our state and nation," Boland stated. "Many citizens who carefully track their purchases and investments to avoid contributing to the exploitation of children would be shocked and appalled to hear that their tax dollars might not be used as carefully," he added. "With the passage of this legislation, folks will be assured that their tax dollars aren't being used to purchase goods made by exploited children," Boland said.

"The problems associated with goods produced by foreign child labor are not just a moral issues, they create economic problems as well," Boland stated. "No hardworking men or women here in the "Land of Lincoln" should be forced to compete with children from third world countries for a job," he continued. "By passing this "Child Labor Ban" we can help to protect both the jobs of Illinois workers and the welfare of foreign children," Boland emphasized.

"Child labor is a pervasive problem in the developing world," Boland said. "According to the International Labor Office, the most current estimate is that there are as many as 211 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 working across the globe," he added. "Banning the State's purchase of goods made with child labor is one way we can think globally and act locally' to end the physical exploitation of children in the developing world, and the economic exploitation of working men and women in Illinois," Boland concluded.

Boland's Child Labor Ban is similar to legislation he passed in a previous session of the General Assembly to prevent the State's purchase of goods made by political and religious prisoners overseas.

Not long after the terrorist attack on 9-11 and the ensuing invasion of Afghanastan and Iraq, Representative Boland was the primary sponsor of legislation which created the Military Family Relief Fund - a bill which created a voluntary income tax check-off with procedes to go to help relieve the financial burden of the familes who have had a member called to active duty with the National Guard or Reserves. Illinois was the first state to take this sort of action, and now following the template of Boland's Military Family Relief Fund Act many other states have created similar military family relief funds.

Again working to provide support and assistance for our brave men and women serving in the various branches of the Armed Services, Boland sponsored and helped to pass legislation creating a special lottery game with proceeds to help with the health care costs for Veterans.

Boland Bill Will Create Illinois Veterans' Assistance Fund
Dedicated Lottery Game Could Generate $10-12 Million To Help Illinois Veterans' With Variety of Problems From Homelessness to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

SPRINGFIELD - State Representative Mike Boland (D-East Moline) proudly announced today that Governor Rod Blagojevich has signed legislation that Boland had sponsored to aid soldiers returning from military service in the war against terrorism. Representative Boland was the Primary Sponsor of HB3472 which would create a special dedicated fund to assist all veteran's with post-traumatic stress disorders, homelessness, health problems, disability benefits and long term care. A special lottery scratch-off game dedicated to Illinois' veterans will provide the mechanism to finance the "Illinois Veterans Assistance Trust Fund" which this bill creates. Boland's HB3472 passed from both the Illinois House and Senate with bipartisan support and was signed into law by the Governor on August 15, 2005.

"Many active duty and returning soldiers, as well as their family members, are now reporting clinical signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as depression or marital and family discord," Representative Mike Boland stated. "Many will come home suffering from physical or mental health problems, and some face the prospect of inadequate health care or even homelessness. The Illinois Veteran's Assistance Trust Fund can provide a way to help address these problems," Boland added.

"Our great 'Land of Lincoln' is home to more than 900,000 veterans dating back to World War II, and we currently have 5,900 Illinois National Guard members and reservists on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan," Boland said. "And while many assume that our country's veterans are well taken care of, the reality we face here in Illinois is quite different," he stated. "Knowing when and where to turn for help can make a real difference for some of these valiant folks who have put their lives on the line for freedom," Boland asserted.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) often result in a domino effect of negative consequences. The first signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders often begin as sleep disorders, panic attacks, violent outbursts and acute anxiety. If untreated, PTSD often culminates in drug abuse and even homelessness. A national survey from 2003 estimated that nearly a half million veterans experienced homelessness, and that as much as 25% of all homeless males were veterans of military service.

The VA currently funds fewer than 200 beds in Illinois homeless shelters, yet it is estimated that there are about 20,000 veterans without roofs over their heads in Illinois. And veterans lucky enough to have a home may still lack health insurance. A recent study - "America's Neglected Veterans" - revealed that 1.7 million veterans nationwide did not have health care insurance nor did they receive ongoing care at VA hospitals.

"The funding to assist our brave protectors of freedom, to create and fund the Illinois Veteran's Assistance Trust Fund, will come from a new lottery scratch-off game modeled on West Virginia's popular €˜Veterans Cash 5' game," Representative Boland stated. "The simple addition of that one game to their lottery lineup raised $2.4 million to benefit West Virginia's veteran's nursing homes. It's estimated that a similar game here in Illinois would generate $10-$12 million to assist the brave soldiers who have come home from their role on the front lines," he added.

"The bottom line is that the people on the homefront are eager to help the troops," Boland said. "And the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our safety, are finding that they return from one war only to face a different battle at home, the battle to get the health care assistance they both need and deserve," he continued. "This proposed new lottery game gives everyone a convenient way to express their appreciation to Illinois vets, and to make sure they get what they deserve when they come home," Boland concluded.

In a previous session of the legislature, Boland helped pass legislation known as the Military Family Relief Fund, which is an voluntary income tax check-off that funds financial assistance for the families of Illinois National Guard and Reservists who were called to active duty to fight the war on terror. For further information about the already existing Military Family Relief Fund or the newly created Illinois Veterans Assistance Trust Fund please contact Representative Boland's district legislative office. Boland can be reached by phone at 309/736-3360 or by mail at: 4416 River Drive; Moline, IL 61265.
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NOTE: The following additional press release was submitted as a comment in the Boland discussion post October 21, 2005 and moved here due to it's length.

In my earlier submission on behalf of Representative Boland I briefly mentioned legislation Representative Boland had passed in a prior session of the General Assembly creating a Military Family Relief Fund. As the following news release will describe in further detail, this legislation provided Illinois Taxpayers with the ability to make voluntary donations to a state fund to assist National Guard and Military Reserve families across Illinois.

Not only was this effort a success in Illinois, it has served as a template for many other states to follow suit in creating similar funds. Here is the full news release announcing the signing of the Military Family Relief Fund into law.

Tax Checkoff Will Fund Aid for National Guard & Military Reserve Families

MOLINE, IL—Illinois State Representative Mike Boland (D-71) looked with pride today, as Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation to provide aid for families of Illinois National Guard and military reserve members called to active duty as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and our ongoing war on terror. House Bill 2742, which Boland introduced to the legislature and sponsored, will create the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. This newly created fund will provide financial assistance for military families during this time of national crisis. Funded by a voluntary state income tax check-off, Boland’s proposal is similar to current voluntary check-offs for wildlife preservation, child abuse prevention and breast cancer research. This legislation passed both the Illinois House and Senate without opposition before being signed into law by Governor Blagovich.

“The brave men and women patriots who have been placed on active duty are on the front lines of our ongoing battle against terrorism,” Boland stated. “Here on the homefront, our obligation is to make sure the families of our fighting men and women are not in financial distress,” Boland said. “Many Illinois military families have taken dramatic reductions in their income because military pay is substantially below their normal civilian salary,” he continued. “The Military Family Relief Fund can, and will, provide some much needed assistance for these families while giving Illinois taxpayers a direct and efficient way to contribute to our fighting men and women,” Boland explained.

“I’ve met with the spouses of some of our civilian solders who’ve been called up,” Boland said. “For example, I talked with one mother who has three children under the age of 6. Her husband has been called to active duty, and their family is struggling to make ends meet,” Boland explained. “This example strongly illustrates why I introduced this legislation. We need to provide appropriate support and assistance for military families so our soldiers can worry about the enemy and not the everyday welfare of their wives and children,” Boland stated.

Boland’s proposal includes assistance for the families of reservists from all branches of the United States Armed Services who are Illinois residents and have been placed on active duty status due to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Families of Illinois National Guard members would also qualify if they had also been placed on active duty. Under Boland’s proposal, the Illinois Department of Military Affairs will be responsible for establishing eligibility requirements and setting rules for the grant program.

Current voluntary donation checkoffs already on the State of Illinois individual income tax form include: wildlife preservation, child abuse prevention, Alzheimer’s research, homeless assistance, breast cancer research, prostate cancer research, and the World War II Memorial fund.

During a previous term in office, Boland served as Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. For more information on the Military Family Relief Fund, please contact Boland’s district legislative office at 4416 River Drive; Moline, IL 61265; or by calling 309-736-3360.

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