Sunday, August 31, 2008

Democratic Convention Notes

From Alderman Lyle:
The weather was fantastic, warm to hot during the day and cooler in the evenings, with no rain. The City of Denver went all out to make visitors welcome. From the welcome signs at the airport and in all of the downtown stores to the Downtown tourist information volunteers stationed on corners, you were treated warmly. Denver is a smaller City than Chicago and had to summon help from 52 different municipal agencies around the State (not including the huge contingent of Secret Service Agents). There were buses and bus drivers from different Cities which did cause some circuitous routes back to the hotel as well as Police Officers and others.

While the Convention schedule was grueling enough, the city of Denver also had events and hundreds of other groups and entities held events. One count listed 300 plus different shows, concerts, meetings, luncheons, dinners, receptions, presentations, outings and of course parties. This being my first convention, I didn’t really know the drill in advance and being an elected delegate from the 1st Congressional District here in Illinois our plate was pretty well filled. Each State pretty much stays in the same hotel. Illinois, Wisconsin and the Virgin Island Delegations stayed at the Marriott downtown. Each morning at 7:45 there was a Delegate breakfast for our Delegation. At the breakfast we listened to ‘this is why we are here’ speeches from labor and the political leadership of the State. We got updates on activities and then received our credentials and tickets to that day’s events.

We would leave the breakfast at 9 a.m., get our credentials (a 20-30 min. process) then head off to the Denver Convention Center for Caucuses or issue driven meetings. There were African American Caucuses, Women’s Caucuses, GLBT Caucuses, Senior and Youth Caucuses to name a few. Then we would break for lunch. On Monday the City of Chicago Black Caucus jointly hosted a Bar B Q lunch with Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. The luncheon was held at a wonderful neighborhood restaurant with ‘kickin food. It was our attempt to make sure that some of our money went into the Communities of Color plus the owners Sam and Jennifer Taylor were Chicago natives who went to Colorado for College and fell in love with Denver. On Thursday the Illinois Democratic Women held their Luncheon and a surprise visit by the Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama turned the luncheon out. About 4:00 p.m. we would head for the Pepsi Center for the Convention activities, except for Thursday when we went to the INVESCO Center. The Convention program went from 4 – 9 p.m. and then we would start the trek back to our hotels or to parties. Personally I never made it to one party that wasn’t in our hotel because we had major bus transportation problems. By the time we got back on most nights I was whipped and hungry or just whipped. In fact the one real downer to the whole event was the transportation, but that’s another discussion

Over all it was awesome. The recognition of gravity of the situation, the historical significance of what we were undertaking and the difficulties that lay ahead for us as a Nation caused tears to flow on many nights, not just Thurs. I’ll share some of those moments with you in my next entry.
I look forward to that and any photos that the alderman may have. I wish I had been able to catch coverage of this convention. For those of you not in the loop, if you've missed Obama's acceptance speech then go here to Electronic Village.

The GOP convention starts on Monday. I'm not sure how much coverage of that I'll do, but when blogging starts back for good on Tuesday there will be some posts on that.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rep. Monique Davis in the news this week

Rep. Monique Davis, who represents part of the 6th ward, has been in the news this past week due to the Democratic National Convention.

A couple of appearances included CNN (a post-speech interview on Monday), and NPR (a traveler from Chicago who came to the covention, despite not being a delegate, to hear Obama's speech. He sat next to Rep. Davis on the shuttle bus from the covention center to Mile High Stadium.

I also apologize for no links or specifics...the stories came by so quick, I didn't get a chance to write them down

feel free to add any in the comments section.

Friday, August 29, 2008

20th Ward on the right path, residents say

What happened there since the now guilty Arenda Troutman was ousted from her 20th ward seat last year:

Crime has been on a decline and residential development has sprouted, both welcoming signs in a South Side ward that is now under the helm of a new leader. Things are now on the right path, residents said.

The 20th Ward, which borders the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Wards, and includes portions of Woodlawn, Washington Park and Hyde Park, is now under the leadership of Alderman Willie Cochran, a former Chicago police officer.

Cochran won in a landslide victory during the Feb. 2007 aldermanic election over former Alderman Arenda Troutman, a 17-year city council veteran.

Troutman’s political demise was rushed by corruption allegations, though she vehemently denied any wrongdoing in 2006 when the allegations mounted. She did an about-face earlier this month when she pleaded guilty August 6 to mail fraud and income tax evasion. The former alderman could face up to 56 months in prison when she is sentenced in December.

Many of the ward’s residents, along with Cochran, were critical of Troutman and the turn the ward took as a result of her “negligence.”

Cochran said during his campaign that residential and business development had stalled in the ward, city-owned vacant lots weren’t kept up, and Troutman was not around for her constituents.

I've done other articles from the Defender on this blog. Unfortunately Cochran didn't respond to Defender requests to interview him. That would be very unfortunate, but it seems like new leadership is what's needed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ald. Toni Foulkes: Good first year, more work to do in ward

Chicago Defender:

The diverse 15th Ward, led by Thomas for eight years, borders the 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th Wards, and includes portions of Chicago Lawn, West Englewood and West Lawn.

“Our diversity mirrors Hyde Park, except we don’t have the money they have. The ward’s ethnic makeup is Black, Hispanic, Polish and Lithuanian,” Foulkes told the Defender during a recent ride-along through the ward.

Foulkes’ first few months in office were spent fielding residents’ requests for speed bumps, improved street lighting and just basic cleanliness of the ward.

“When I call with a request about things needing to be done about the lights being out, or the trees needing to be trimmed, she always answers. The former alderman was the same way, so I hope she continues being available,” resident Leeora Thomas said.

The alderman is currently working on maintaining the “family” pride the community has taken in various parts of the ward, hoping it will spread to those areas that need additional attention.

“The residents help out a great deal because I can’t be everywhere all the time. They are my eyes and ears. They care about the community just as much as I do. I could not have done it so far without them,” Foulkes said.

While her constituents “keep the yards clean and beautiful,” Foulkes said that has not kept the foreclosure beast out of her ward, or shed the crime-riddled image that West Englewood has endured for the last few decades.

“Last year, we had about 230 foreclosures in West Englewood alone. That's too many,” she said, adding that during her quarterly community resource meetings, information is available about avoiding the pitfalls of foreclosure.
Another story about an aldermanic winner from last year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Izola's featured on NATIONAL Public Radio

Chatham's Izola's Restaurant on 79th street was featured NPR's new short series, "Take Me to Your Leader" yesterday (Monday, Augst 25). According to NPR, "The trip is an attempt to get away from the hype surrounding the political conventions in Denver and St. Paul — and to talk to people (and leaders) from Chicago to Phoenix."
Click the link above to get more details on the story.

It's brief, but gives you a taste of the restaurant -- and the neighborhood.

85 year old Izola White has run her restaurant for 50 years, and has had several politicians dine there, some on a regular basis.

Izola's is open 24 hours, 6 days a week (closed on Wednesday). It's cash only -- so don't bring your credit card (but an ATM is on the premises).
Check out the Metromix review here.

The address is 522 E. 79th St. (near St. Lawrence Avenue), Chicago IL 60619
Other area restaurants to check out include nearby Captain's Hard Time Dining, Army & Lou's, 5 Loaves and Mather's More Than a Cafe.

I see that Uptown Update has opened an online store

It's back!!! Originally posted on August 14th. Will stay on top until the whole blogging break is over.

You can check them out here.

In recent days I've started using Google Ads here with the idea that perhaps this blog could makes some money. Not that money is the important reason for this blog. Still what if this blog had their own online store?

Just for fun, I'd like to see what you guys would like to see in a proposed Sixth Ward store. Let's have a little fun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Blogging will be sporadic

I announced what was going on over at my original blog. I'll see you sometime after Labor Day when regular posting will resume. Until then the other blogger here JP Paulus is in charge. And read his latest blog, it's another one that should go onto the neighborhood blogroll.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lone accountant takes on IRS and wins

For those of you who do NOT care for tax time from the AP:
It took seven years, but Charles Ulrich did something many people dream about, but few succeed at: He beat the IRS in a tax dispute.

Not only that, but tax experts say potentially millions of other taxpayers could benefit from his victory.

The accountant from Baxter, Minn., challenged the method the IRS has used for more than 20 years to tax shares and cash distributed by mutual life insurance firms to their policyholders when they reorganize as public companies.

A federal court recently agreed with his interpretation
Via Newsalert!

Pastor encourages school boycott


On that same tack with a story that favors the school boycott also from CLTV.

Englewood residents oppose school boycott

Story from CLTV.

Joe Biden Introduction

In case you want to see a message from Obama's VP pick.

McCain's response

To Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his VP running mate.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barack Obama in Springfield, IL



Today the Obama campaign had a rally not too long after news broke about Obama's running mate, fellow US Senator, Joe Biden (D-Delaware).

Glad to see Emil Jones go

Bnd.com:
So long, and good riddance to Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. His retirement announcement this week is some of the best political news Illinois residents have had since George Ryan went to jail.

This is definitely addition by subtraction. With Jones gone and no longer running the Senate, legislative gridlock may finally come to an end.

Jones basically ceded his power to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. For instance, when Blagojevich vetoed the state budget last year, Jones refused to call a vote to override him -- even though there surely were enough votes to do so. The original vote on the budget was 52-5.
This editorial took a swipe at Jones' installation of his son to replace him on the ballot and essentially his state senate seat when he retires next year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Jr. Senator from Illinois

Clout City discusses Congressman Jesse Jackson and him talking about taking Obama's Senate seat should Obama win the Presidency in November.

Daley and most aldermen skip furlough days

Clout St:
Mayor Richard Daley and the City Council have forced city workers to take as many as five unpaid days off in the last two years, but the mayor and most aldermen have not shared in the hardship.

Unlike the workers, elected officials are not required to skip paychecks but could do so if they want to show solidarity as the city struggles through its worst budget shortfall in decades.

According to records obtained by the Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act, only 20 of the city’s 50 aldermen have taken furlough days since the beginning of 2007. The mayor took none.

Daley spokeswoman Jacquelyn Heard said Friday that was a mistake the mayor would soon rectify.

“Quite honestly, it was an oversight on the part of staff who forgot to remind him to take days off,” Heard said. “He kept working, as he tends to do.”
You can find more info if you read the whole post.

"Threemil" appointed to the ballot

Emil Jones III is slated to replace his father, Senate President Emil Jones on the ballot for his state senate seat. The Capitol Fax has the round-up, but I want to show another aspect of this story.

State Rep. Monique Davis had a problem with this and put up her own candidate for Jones' state senate seat. That person wasn't likely to win, however, there was a point to it. Excerpt from WLS-TV:
"I don't know him. I've never met him. And I'm sure he's a fine person," said Rep. Monique Davis, (D) Chicago.

Davis is one of the two state representatives who serve within the 14th state senatorial district that includes parts of the city and south suburbs. Davis said she never met the younger Jones, and if she saw him on the street she wouldn't recognize him:

"I think there's some other people perhaps who could better represent us in that senate seat," Davis said.
...
Davis complained that the elder Jones, by announcing his retirement Monday, did not leave other prospective candidates time to mount a campaign for the nomination - other candidates, like her own son:

"He worked with me and Harold Washington and worked in government. He was a researcher. And he's also a former staffer for (house) speaker (Michael) Madigan," Davis said.
Another story from the Sun-Times as to the candidate Rep. Davis put up against "Threemil":
State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) nominated a candidate to run against the son of Senate President Emil Jones Jr. (D-Chicago) during the little-publicized meeting at the 34th Ward Regular Democratic Organization office, 507 W. 111th Street.

Davis' nominee, 73-year-old retired schoolteacher Dozier Thomas, didn't score any votes. But Davis used his candidacy to make a point that others should have been encouraged and given time to seek the South Side and south suburban seat the elder Jones is vacating after 25 years.

"The public, in my opinion, should be much more involved," said Davis, a fierce opponent of the Senate president despite living in his district. "You have a meeting, and anyone interested should come and present yourself to the public. Then there could be a final meeting."
The Senate President won this round, unfortunately...
At the meeting, the elder Jones defended his decision to anoint his 30-year-old son and asserted he would remain active in politics after he retires in January.

"Just because you're in public office does not mean you're a second-class citizen," he said. "And I respect fathers who take care of their children. So would I support my son? Sure I'm going to support my son."
Another quote...
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn says by putting a son in place, Senator Jones is doing what Lipinski and Cook County Board President John Stroger, among others, have done. He said he believes it's wrong.

"I think voters ought to have much more of say-so in an election contest to nominate who they want," Quinn said.
I hope no one would argue with that.

Growing chance of CTA fare hike

Sun-Times:
Despite higher ridership, the CTA is leaking money due to higher fuel and labor costs, while losing out on expected revenue from the real estate transfer tax and from an increase to the local sales tax. Both increases were part of the bailout that averted massive service cuts this year.

Last January, the state legislature found new revenue for the CTA, Metra and Pace by increasing the sales tax in Cook and the collar counties by a quarter of a percent. Chicago increased the real estate transfer tax by 40 percent, for an expected $100 million in new annual revenue for the CTA.

But because of the real estate slump, the transfer tax is bringing in only about half of what was expected so far this year, according to Joe Costello, chief financial officer for the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, Metra and Pace.

"It's significantly below what we were hoping," Costello said. Revenue from the new sales tax is also about 9 percent lower than expected.

Local transit agencies are also taking a hit from free rides for seniors, a program tacked onto the bailout bill by Gov. Blagojevich.

Since March 17, when the free ride program was implemented, through June, it has cost the RTA $9.3 million, and more seniors are applying for free fare passes, according to RTA spokeswoman Diane Palmer.

The RTA could lose $30 million a year to free senior rides, and another $10 million to free rides for the low-income disabled when that program takes effect.

The governor's decision last month to cut the state's reduced-fare subsidy will slash $16 million from the CTA's budget this year, and another $30 million in 2009.
Tough times ahead for those of us who rely on public transportation.

Democrats formally pick Emil Jones' son for ballot

Threemil or Emil Jones, III is formally picked by Democrat leaders in the 14th Senate District to stand for election on the ballot for his father's state senate seat. Story from Clout St.

Second City Cop is on to something

Yeah this might be a hitch onto the plan for Rev. Meeks to enroll CPS kids at New Trier high school courtesy of Second City Cop...
Bad news dude. All those kids you were going to bus out to Winnetka to illustrate the disparity in school funding by making them miss the first day of the 08-09 school year?

They just missed the first day of classes at New Trier.

So not only are they going to be behind in terms of funding, they're already behind in terms of learning. Again.
OUCH!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

McCain in the House: All seven of them

From Hotline TV.

It’s Gephardt

Does ArchPundit really think that former Missouri Congressman and Democratic House Minority leader Dick Gephardt could possibly be Obama's choice to be the Democratic nominee for Vice President?

Is the gun control debate really about race?

I'm not a proponent of gun control, but I want to share this post over at Illinoize from Yellow Dog Democrat. Something to consider although I haven't seen a lot of chatter on gun control or DC v. Heller fallout in a while. Just something to consider.

Right -Wing Group Ties Obama to Domestic Terrorist Bill Ayers



Via Newsalert!

Chicago's black politicians building own dynasties

In light of the story regarding Emil Jones wanting to hand his seat to his son. The son might have to sit for election for the state Senate, effectively replacing his father on the ballot since Jones intends to retire after the end of his current term. Story from the AP:
In a city where the mayor holds the job his father once did, politics can seem little different from the early years of the legendary Democratic Machine. But the faces of political privilege, long dominated by white ethnic groups, have changed as powerful black politicians unabashedly use their clout to build new dynasties.

The next in a long line of successions has been set in motion by Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, one of Barack Obama's first political mentors, who in announcing his retirement this week made it clear he wants his son to take his seat.

It's the latest twist on the "it's our turn" catch-phrase popular when Chicago elected its first black mayor in 1983, said Laura Washington, a professor at Chicago's DePaul University.

"It also means it's our turn to be as corrupt and irresponsible to the democratic process as their white predecessors have been," said Washington, who also is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist.
...
Democratic leaders obliged when late Cook County boss John Stroger retired after suffering a stroke and asked that his son replace him on the ballot, an election the younger Stroger eventually won. An influential black Cook County commissioner also paved the way for her son to take her seat when she retired two years ago _ just weeks after winning re-election.

And a powerful black Chicago alderman got his daughter on the City Council when she was appointed to replace him by Mayor Richard Daley, only to lose an election for a full term to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson's wife.

Still, at least one observer contends Jones' move to pass on his seat could be used to hurt another black politician whose career he helped nurture: Obama.

The Democratic presidential candidate has downplayed his connections to the unsavory side of Chicago politics, but Jones' blatant move could put them back in the spotlight for Obama's critics.

"People are going to sit up and say, 'Wow, (Obama's) coming out of this,'" said Dominic A. Pacyga, a professor at Chicago's Columbia College.
While your at it today, a couple of local aldermen will help to make a decision as to whether or not Emil Jones, III (he's being referred to as Threemil over at the CapFax) will take his father's slot on the ballot. You will see that in this "letter" to the outgoing Senate President from Kristen McQueary of the SouthTown. You can read about the anoinment of Threemil at the CapFax.


Public housing museum moves closer to a permanent home

Chi-Town Daily News:

The Chicago Housing Authority plans to donate a historic West Side housing project for the creation of a museum telling the story of public housing in America.

Acquiring the land and property at 1322-24 W. Taylor St., part of Jane Addams Homes, will be a major step forward for the National Public Housing Museum, which began a decade ago as the brainchild of Deverra Beverly, president of the local council for the CHA's ABLA Homes.

"It's a huge, significant milestone for the museum," said project director Susanne Schnell. "This sends a positive signal to all potential funders that we have a permanent home."

The donation is contingent upon the nonprofit raising the $17 million it will cost to build the museum, but the blessing from the CHA's board of commissioners will make it easier to attract funding from both the federal government and private philanthropists.

This museum will have oral histories in addition to educational programs around the city. I wonder what other type of exhibits they'll have in store for this museum. While I'm sure there will be positive stories, there should also be some bad stories about public housing. The lesson at least should be what happens when governmental agencies fail to either police these units but also maintaining them. Perhaps even the folly of policy with regards to public housing.

Alderman gets powder-filled letter

Sun-Times:
Ald. Michael Zalewski on Wednesday received a suspicious letter filled with black powder and a note that read, "Poison to kill the alderman of the 23rd Ward."

Zalewski (23rd) called police after noticing the black powder about 7 a.m. The return address read: "FOP member, black Ford Explorer," and included what appeared to be a license place number, Zalewski said.

Detectives and evidence technicians responded to Zalewski's office and confiscated the letter.

"They told me they didn't think the powder was anything lethal or poison," Zalewski said.

Zalewski said he's not sure why he would be the target of threats, especially from someone claiming to be associated with the Fraternal Order of Police.
Odd! It was mentioned that in June elected county and city officials received letters with powdery substances. This letter to Zalewski connection to those other letters is uncertain according to this article.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

City Colleges of Chicago chancellor will retire

AP:
The chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago says he plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

Wayne Watson was appointed chancellor of the system of 7 community colleges in 1998.

Among the achievements in his tenure were faculty seminars for teachers to improve their skills and Project Align, a program in which local universities work with Chicago Public Schools students. Watson also oversaw vocational training programs for students in health care, the culinary field and construction.

The 62-year-old Watson says the past decade has been challenging and rewarding.

U.S. Energy Savings -- Savior or Scam?

From YouTube user artistmac:
After every major utility outage in Chicago, a company called U.S. Energy Savings sends squads of young kids door to door, possibly hoping to catch homeowners and business owners at a vulnerable time.

For strangers who just show up at one's door without an appointment, they're just a little too eager to look at residents' utility bills, and that's not info I share with just anyone.

Have any of you have any dealings with these people, and if so, have you seen the enormous savings they claim consumers will enjoy?

PodcastChicago.tv

If you watch Channel 23 for those of you who have Comcast Cable TV you can watch programs that revolve around the CTA, Chicago Police, Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Park District at the aforementioned website, PodcastChicago.tv. Check them out and make sure you have a compatible video player.

Who calls the shots in your back yard?

Clout St:
City politicians call Chicago a national model for how to involve the public in real estate development debates. But the view from the streets of the city's neighborhoods is markedly different.

When a longtime homeowner tried to speak up at the only City Council hearing on a project in his Far North Side neighborhood, aldermen threatened to toss him from the room for trying to ask questions.

"I'm feeling like chopped liver," Hugh Devlin, who lives in the 50th Ward, said after the council rubber-stamped his alderman's approval of a proposed seven-story, 90-unit building that he and many other neighbors oppose.

In the ongoing "Neighborhoods for Sale" series, the Tribune has documented an insiders' game in which aldermen rake in millions of dollars in campaign cash from developers, zoning lawyers and architects while often overriding the concerns of homeowners and city planners. Out-of-scale buildings leave existing homes in their shadows, the result of nearly 6,000 council-approved zoning changes in the last 10 years that have transformed neighborhoods.
Hat-tip Uptown Update!

BTW, this is probably slightly off topic, but a story about NIMBY-ism in Chicago's third ward involving the Ald. Dowell and the University of Chicago from Hyde Park Progress.

Charge it to my account, part 2

Clout City takes a look at expenses for Chicago's 50 aldermen.

Lt. Governor wants lawmakers to vote on their pay raises

Perhaps in response to the noise about state legislators getting a payraise during difficult economic and budgetary times from Clout St...

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday proposed a constitutional amendment to require state lawmakers to vote for pay raises if they want to see the extra money in their paychecks.

Under the current setup, members of the House and Senate automatically get pay hikes unless they vote to reject them. Quinn called that system "sneaky" and "backwards" and said lawmakers instead be forced to put their votes on the line. If they voted against the raise, they would not get it under Quinn's plan.

The amendment, backed by Rep. Paul Froehlich (D-Schaumburg), would also force legislators to vote on any pay hikes within 30 calendar days.

Quinn's proposal is a long way from becoming reality, however, and lawmakers must sign off on the change before it could be added to the ballot for voters to decide on.

Obama attacks as McCain closes in

Courtesy of Hotline TV.

Lawsuit: Ill. school funding is unconstitutional

AP:
The Chicago Urban League is challenging Illinois' school funding system.

The group filed a civil rights lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County against the state and the Illinois State Board of Education. It claims funding schools based on property tax revenue is unconstitutional and violates the 2003 Illinois Civil Rights Act.

League president Cheryle Jackson says minority children aren't getting quality education. She wants changes to make funding more equitable.
Interesting but how else can the public schools can be funded?

The State of on the CPS boycott

The State of blog talks about this coming boycott starting off with...
Illinois is the seventh richest state in America but is next to last on public school funding. That’s one reason why some African-American community “leaders” are telling many families to keeptheir kids at home on the first day of school on September 2nd. Last week a group of city ministers called the Boycott “morally wrong.”
And then closes with this...
The State Of . . . the boycott. This is real ol’ school, but can it be effective. How ill missing one day of school go toward fixing school funding? Wouldn’t it be better if these same families voted for politicians who would actually fund their schools? Or would it be better for these families to get together and start their own charter schools?
ADDITION: The Capitol Fax has more about this court action.

July Casualty Totals: Chicago 52 - Iraq 13

From the Chicago Daily Observer via Newsalert.
July casualty figures are nearly finalized for Iraq and Chicago, with Chicago having 4 times the number of murders as US Military Casualties in Iraq.

By my count, 7 of the casualties in Iraq were the result of hostile fire, the other 6 were accidents. Accidents, of course, are not regarded as homicide in Chicago.

In response to a previous comment, 4 homicides were counted in Sen. Obama’s former State Senate District, with the adjacent wards adding 13 more homicides.

Calculations may vary for Chicago, as ongoing cases are not consistenly included in homicide statistics. In Iraq, injuries which later result in death are counted in the month of the death rather than month of the injury.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Veepstakes

From Hotline TV!

Community groups wanting say in Chicago's Olympics bid

The main story in today's Chicago Business Today.

Obama may announce VP pick in Springfield

From Greg Hinz:
Barack Obama may be returning home to Illinois on Saturday to announce his choice of a vice-presidential running mate.

That, at least was the hot rumor among political insiders Tuesday, as talk spread of an apparent Obama rally set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Old State Capitol in Springfield — the same place where he announced his candidacy for president a year-and-a-half ago.

There was no immediate response from the Obama campaign. But one source close to Mr. Obama confirmed that such a possibility is under review, with a second Springfield source saying top Obama backers are being notified of a Springfield event.

Meanwhile, political Web site Capitol Fax reported that a planning meeting for an Obama Springfield event was held Tuesday morning.
...
Another source close to Mr. Obama said the Springfield rally could be one of a series of stops with the new running mate, though not necessarily the stop at which the announcement is first made.
The Democrats will convene their nominating convention next week in Denver.

The Capitol Fax has a roundup about Obama's return to Springfield.

Jones III vs. Spanky the Clown?

Gregory Tejada has a more than complimentary post over at Chicago Argus about the soon to be retired Senate President, Emil Jones.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Child care isn't cheap in Cook County

Southtown:

Parents in Cook County pay as much for child care as for their mortgage, according to a report due out today by an Illinois child advocacy group.

And the group's president said the government doesn't do enough to help parents, some of whom place their children in someone else's hands only to commute to low-paying jobs.

The report reflects a backward attitude among federal officials, Illinois Action for Children president Maria Whalen said.

"We as a country are Third World in our approach to child care," Whalen said. "Most industrialized countries have the realization that quality child care contributes to the overall health of their communities."

Whalen's group surveyed child care providers and families in different regions of Cook County to determine the cost and availability of child care.

The group studied the same issue in 2000, and Whalen said this year's results showed a 26 percent to 34 percent increase in child care costs. That surpasses the growth of inflation for the same period, which was 21 percent.

Cook County families on average pay between 17 percent and 29 percent of their total household income on child care, the report found.

Even if parents find child care they can afford, that doesn't mean it meets their standards.

Bronzeville Children's Museum set to open in new home

Tribune:
"Kids this age learn from interaction," said mother Teri Montes, daughter-in-law of Peggy Montes. "So I could read them a book about African-American history, but it won't mean anything."

But when her 5-year-old twins walk into a play hospital, touch a replica of a human heart and then learn about the first African-American doctors, it's a whole different story, said Teri Montes.

Though never located in Bronzeville, the museum, at 9301 S. Stony Island Ave., is named for the tony black Chicago neighborhood, where the first African-Americans were said to settle in the city. The facility would have celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year at its Evergreen Park location, but it decided to move because of to space constraints, Peggy Montes said.
A place to take your children but without having to take them to the Chicago Children's Museum downtown.

Quote of the day: Englewood's turning tide?

YoChicago talks about Englewood's turning tide.

Jones wants his son to succeed him

In an interview from Crain's Greg Hinz:
Mr. Jones confirmed that he would like his son, Emil Jones III, to succeed him in Springfield. “That would be nice,” he said. But he declined to elaborate, saying only that, “more than likely,” he would resign his position and be replaced on the November ballot by his son.
Well this quote is the focus of this post, but there are other subjects touched upon in this article. The quote unfortunately will reek of nepotism that we have seen in this state as of late. Some might be complaining not of nepotism but denying voters a true choice at the polls.

Before I go on to another subject, here's something else of note in a Sun-Times article involving Sen. Jones...
Jones, a former city sewer inspector, endured criticism for taking tens of thousands of dollars in interest-free loans from his campaign fund and for multimillion-dollar, no-bid government contracts steered to a technology firm headed by his stepson, John Sterling.
This story and the quote is via Newsalert!

You can see more updates over at the Capitol Fax.

Thousands Pay Respects to Bernie Mac

Video courtesy of the AP on YouTube.

Also check this out from the weekend memorial service.

Senate President Emil Jones to retire

Tribune:
Powerful Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr. is expected to announce Monday that he soon will retire, sources close to him said Sunday night, which will leave Gov. Rod Blagojevich without one of his closest allies.

Jones, who turns 73 in October, long championed more money for schools and education funding reform and made them his top priority as Senate president, a post he has held since 2003. He also has been a major voice for social justice.

His decision, not officially confirmed, likely opens a free-for-all to succeed him. Possible candidates to succeed Jones, a Chicago Democrat, as president include Sens. James Clayborne of Belleville, Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston; John Cullerton, Rickey Hendon and Donne Trotter of Chicago; and Terry Link of Waukegan, who doubles as Lake County Democratic chairman.

Jones' name is on the Nov. 4 ballot with no opposition. He could remain on the ballot and throw the choice of his successor in the Senate district to local party leaders.
Surprise! And it might have been for the governor's people as well, especially since the governor declared himself an honorary homeboy because of his relationship with the Senate president. I almost wonder what prompted this. You can read a round-up over at the Capitol Fax.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update on Cook County

From Marathon Pundit who refers to Cook County as the worst governmental body in the nation discussing some raises being offered to county employees.

Rick Kogan on Chicago Aldermen

An old CPR program from February 26, 2007, very interesting interview with a man who in 2006 wrote a series of columns in the Tribune magazine about all 50 Chicago Aldermen or at least those who sat on the city council during that time.

Q&A with Meeks on parents, schools

From the Southtown:

"School funding" is becoming the new "gun control."

Raise the subject with your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends, and be prepared for a necktie-loosening, shirt sleeve-rolling, handkerchief blotting, down-and-dirty fight.

Why? Because the politics of school funding have little to do with schools or money. The conversation quickly evolves into a debate about class, race and parental responsibility.

State Sen. James Meeks' controversial plan to bus Chicago kids to Winnetka's New Trier High School on the first day of school is igniting this very debate. He wants the state to lease the Illinois Lottery to a private company and use the cash to infuse more money into public schools, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed in 2006. Instead, lawmakers are looking at the lease idea to fund a statewide construction plan.

I asked Meeks about this and other issues readers raised in response to a column I wrote supporting Meeks' idea.

There is a lot of things Meeks is saying about the public education system. This column is worth reading.

Eye on Chicago: School Boycott

CPS Board President Rufus Williams was on WBBM-TV Sunday morning to discuss this school boycott being organized by Rev. James Meeks (who not only is pastor of Salem Baptist Church, but also a state senator).

50 people who make Chicago a better place

Apparently this is part 1 of a series check out all the stories, but especially check out this story from the Roseland neighborhood. Diane Latiker was featured in a story in the Chicago Tribune earlier this summer:

She is the mother of eight, and with only one still under her roof, Diane Latiker decided to invite an entire community of children into her home.

Drive by her home today at 116th and Michigan, and you'll see the house with the funky airbrushed sign for her five-year-old crime-prevention program: Kids Off the Block Inc.

The nonprofit after-school program, open to kids 12 to 19, typically draws fatherless males who can get help with schoolwork or tap in to talents by joining programs ranging from music and drama to sports.

The goal is to redirect kids away from gang life, and Latiker, 51, says she's helped hundreds do that while stemming crime in her own neighborhood.

Oh and another story about a man who works for the University of Chicago who wants to help black kids graduate from high school and be prepared for college:

Larry Hawkins once coached basketball player Cazzie Russell and groomed him for stardom.

Since 1968, as director of the office of special programs at the University of Chicago, Hawkins has helped thousands of young African Americans graduate from high school and prepare them for college and beyond.

Hawkins annually tutors, teaches and counsels hundreds of grammar school and high school students. In the last 40 years, about 200 youngsters have participated in his program each summer, and about 85 percent have graduated from high school and gone on to college.

Interesting piece worth your time on this nice Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Illinois Sheds More Jobs as Consumers Tighten Spending

CPR:
The federal government said prices rose sharply in July. The Illinois Department of Employment Security also came out with new numbers. It says the Illinois economy shed 9,700 jobs last month. Labor market economist Mitch Daniels says the two trends are related.

DANIELS: When consumers tighten their spending, then you have employers sometimes especially feel that and start to be a little more cautious in their employment levels.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.3% last month. Sectors that have suffered in this economy includes leisure, office temp help, hospitality, trade and transportation.

Sports owners fund McCain, shun Obama

A dispatch from the Presidential campaign courtesy of the Politico:
Sports team owners may not be John McCain’s answer to the Hollywood elite, but they’re overwhelmingly supporting his presidential campaign over Barack Obama’s.

Through the end of June, team owners in the four major sports and their families have given to or raised as much or more than $3.2 million for McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, compared with as much as $615,000 for his Democratic rival Obama, according to a Politico analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission, the campaigns and interviews.

Not only did McCain raise more than Obama from the owners in each of the four major professional sports leagues analyzed, but McCain even raised six times more from the owners of teams in Obama’s hometown of Chicago.

Sam Zell, the owner of baseball’s Chicago Cubs, gave more than $22,000 to McCain’s committees, though he also gave Obama $2,300, as did the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, who gave that much to both McCain and Obama.
Via Newsalert!

First major black nominee for president 150 years after Lincoln-Douglas debates

AP:

Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for president later this month - 150 years after Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas engaged in landmark debates over slavery.

Obama is the nation's first black to win a major-party nomination. He's also a U.S. senator from Illinois. That's the post Lincoln and Douglas were sparring over in debates beginning in late August 1858.

Lincoln lost that election but was soon president and took action to end slavery.

Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo (GHEL'-zoh) of Gettysburg College says it's quote -- "breathtakingly stupendous" -- that a black could be a nominee so soon after black emancipation.

He says most Americans think that's a long time but it's not compared to the slow pace of improved race relations worldwide over the centuries.

Friday, August 15, 2008

UNCF's Walk A Mile To Save A Mind

If you joined the Defender's e-mail list then you would see an announcement for a walk-a-thon for the United Negro College Fund on September 13th. The Defender is a sponsor.

Air and Water Show on Chicago Business Today

In addition to news about the city's budget shortfall that could lead to layoffs we get a little piece of this weekends Air and Water Show in this videocast from Crain's.

The Air Show is this weekend


I was walking along Michigan Avenue and near Lincoln Park when I took these pics. It looks like the city will take any event to promote their 2016 Olympic bid. Other than that the city is getting ready for the Air Show. Are any of you going? I actually haven't been to any in a few years.

Mayor Daley Says 'We're In A Recession'

WBBM-TV via Capitol Fax Morning Shorts:
Mayor Daley isn't mincing words - one word in particular: recession. CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports.

"We're in a recession," Mayor Daley said. "No one wants to admit it, but we are in a recession."

Mayor Daley laid it on the line the same day city officials announced Chicago's biggest budget shortfall ever.

"It's a crisis, not only in the private sector, in the public sector," Daley said. "The public sector is not immune from this economy."

Daley's financial officer says Chicago is facing a $420 million budget hole - which means cost cutting will likely occur across the board to make ends meet. Officials say revenues are down and that, combined with record high fuel prices, a slumping real estate market and larger than expected snow removal costs - have put the city deep into the red.

"It is unprecedented," said Ald. George Cardenas (12th).

Cardenas estimates the city will have to layoff 1,800 people to help balance the budget.
Someone might disagree with the mayor. It doesn't matter if it's the opposition or the economists or any other business cycle experts. That being said this is a tough economy out there right now.

Englewood Gets Condo Conversion

CPR:
Englewood has one of the highest foreclosure rates in Chicago. So it may come as a surprise that one local developer is going out on a limb by marketing a new property as the neighborhood’s first condo conversion. But it may be another symbol of the South Side neighborhood’s attempt to turn the tide on a history of disinvestment and housing woes.

I’m standing in front of a vintage greystone on 64th and Stewart. The building is graceful and the landscaping is elegant. On either side there are vacant lots, a norm for Englewood. Inside, workers are converting the building into a six-unit condo.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But in Englewood, there’s hardly a glut of development.

I get a tour of the model unit. Maple floors, stainless steel, granite countertops, a garage being built out back. Developer Beth Vorwaller says she’s trying to bring North Side accoutrements to the South Side.

VORWALLER: I like the idea of if I can make a little bit of money, but offer upgrade a neighborhood, I’d rather do than work in already expensive neighborhoods. I’m a big supporter of the South Side.

This building Vorwaller purchased for this project had sat vacant for two years after the bank foreclosed on it. The city gave Vorwaller some tax incentives to build, and the units range from $135,000 to $215,000 for a duplex.
If Englewood is coming back this could be the start. Think about it.

Mayor says Olympics here shouldn't be costly

Tribune:
Mayor Richard Daley said Thursday that the Beijing Olympics was "something to see," but he doesn't feel pressure to match China's grandiose display should Chicago host the 2016 Games.

"The Beijing Olympics was their coming-out party," Daley said in his first meeting with Chicago media since his trip. "China spent between $45 billion and $80 billion. All of the Olympics combined haven't spend that. . . . This is their statement to the world: 'We're here, we're not going away and we're going to compete against you continually, on business, on politics, whatever it is, we are here to stay.' "

Daley watched the $300 million opening ceremony but said Chicago won't match it.

"You don't compete there. In 2012, in London, they're not going to spend that much money," Daley said.

The mayor quickly added that the organization of Chicago 2016 would be "completely different." He reiterated his promise that no local taxpayer dollars would be used to put on the 2016 Olympics.
According to the article private money would be used for these Olympics. I was about to be cynical when I saw this headline, however.

Screen 2 Study Area Open House Presentations

This is for the Red Line's proposed expansion to 130th Street directly from the official CTA website:

CTA will hold a public open house to receive input on preliminary findings from the Screen 2 of the Alternatives Analysis Study for the proposed Red Line Extension project. The proposed Red Line Extension would relieve significant bus and passenger congestion at CTA’s existing 95th Street Red Line station and better manage future traffic growth. The Alternatives Analysis study will examine all possible transit options and determine a Locally Preferred Alternative for the project.

Screen 2 meeting dates and locations are being scheduled for Fall 2008.

Hat-tip CTA Tattler!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Public Affairs - Political Shoot-Out Hosted by Tom Roeser

Jeff Berkowitz of Public Affairs is on the radio with Charlie Johnston, a Republican activist discussing state issues, the Presidential race, Chicago political history, and national issues on WLS-AM hosted by Tom Roeser.

Looking for a job?

Target is hiring for it's new store located at 119th and Marshfield off of I-57. There is a job fair for this location at the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park, 11413 S. Vincennes in Chicago. There was one today but there's still Friday from 9AM to 5PM and Saturday 9AM to 1PM.

Target is looking for team members that deliver fast, fun & friendly service to Target guests in addition to helping keep the Target brand experience consistent, positive and welcoming. Positions include brand attendant, cashier, clerical, fitting room, food service, presentation, pharmacy, price accuracy, sales floor, service desk, and Starbucks.

If you saw this already chances are if you saw this in Wednesday's Chicago Tribune.

State GOP looking past Obama to 2010

We saw an example of the Democratic field for governor, what about the Republicans:

Despite feuding among Democrats that has dominated Illinois politics, Republican leaders conceded Thursday that a GOP revival in the state isn't likely until 2010 given a fall election featuring Barack Obama at the top of the ballot.

As Republicans launched their celebratory day at the Illinois State Fair, by far a lower-key affair compared to Wednesday's Democrat Day in Springfield, much of the discussion looked ahead to the next round of statewide races for governor and other offices in two years rather than this year's fall campaigns.

...

Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington, among several potential 2010 candidates for governor to attend a morning breakfast of Republican county chairmen, chided some of his GOP legislative colleagues for backing a Blagojevich-driven construction plan.

"Some of the Republcians have been put into a position to where they feel they've got nothing else to do but trust," said Brady, who has opposed the governor's construction plans. "Do I applaud our leadership for trying to do something to work across the aisle? Yeah. It's just not something I would have negotiated or I would have supported."

Besides Brady, an unsuccessful 2006 Republican primary candidate for governor, other 2010 statewide hopefuls at the morning breakfast included DuPage County State's Atty. Joe Birkett, the unsuccessful GOP contender for lieutenant governor in 2006, Sen. Christine Radogno of Lemont, who lost a bid last time for state treasurer, and Sen. Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, who was defeated in the 2006 race for secretary of state.

Robert Kjellander, the retiring Republican National Committeeman for the state, acknowledged that what he called "Obamamania" will be a significant hurdle for Illinois' GOP candidates to overcome this year.

What you see is actually two articles in that post. The GOP hasn't been doing very well in the state and the environment isn't in their favor.

Statehouse Dems show new interest in privatizing lottery

AP:
The Illinois House approved new versions of legislation that Gov. Rod Blagojevich had rewritten to cut taxes for disabled veterans and lower insurance costs for college students.

Speaker Michael J. Madigan also said Wednesday that House Democrats may reverse course and support the governor's idea of privatizing the lottery to pay for a statewide construction program.

But Madigan cautioned that his caucus still has deep doubts about whether the governor can be trusted to oversee that program fairly. They won't be pushed into a deal, he said.

"We're not prepared to have things dictated to us. Everybody in the building ought to understand that," said Madigan, D-Chicago.

Blagojevich has begun a campaign of using his amendatory veto power to make dramatic changes to legislation approved by the General Assembly. He calls it "Rewrite to Do Right."

One of his rewritten bills would exempt disabled veterans from paying property taxes. Blagojevich's office estimates 16,000 people would qualify for the exemption, which would apply to veterans with at least a 50 percent disability.

Local governments would lose $35 million to $40 million in tax revenue, said the sponsor of the legislation.

The House voted 78-12 to accept the governor's changes.

Perhaps the personality clash is easing and the governor might get some of his proposals passed. According to this article, however, there is still issues of trust. Perhaps the governor can actually prove himself to be trustworthy. We'll have to see.

One more excerpt:

Lawmakers also approved a rewrite that would let parents keep college-age children on their health insurance. Unmarried children could stay on their parents' health plans up to age 26 under the legislation.

It was approved 70-21. In a news conference afterward, Blagojevich denied it would increase costs for insurance companies or businesses that provide health care for employees.

Asked if approving the governor's changes was meant as an olive branch, Madigan said, "You could take it that way, if you wish."

Madigan's majority leader, Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, said the changes could be challenged in court, creating an opportunity for the courts to spell out the limits of the governor's amendatory veto power.

The state Senate now has 15 days to consider the governor's vetoes or the legislation dies. The Senate is not in session, so that would require bringing senators back to Springfield.

State unemployment up to 7.3%

AP:
Illinois' unemployment rate has increased to its highest level since September 1993.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says July's rate of 7.3 percent marks an increase of 1.9 percentage points since April.

Officials say 491,300 people were unemployed in Illinois, which is the highest level since June 1992. That number is up almost 122,000 since April.

Employment Security Director James Sledge says the increase shows the impact national economic struggles are having on Illinois' job market.

Challengers lining up for 2010

From WBBM-TV talking about potential challengers to the unpopular governor Rod Blagojevich with only 18 months before the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

A concealed carry revolution in Illinois?

From the Right of the Star blog via Instapundit:
Voters in Ogle County may soon join a growing number of Illinoisans who can cast a vote for president this November and, on the same ballot, decide whether their neighbor can pack a pistol.

An Ogle County Board committee approved a request from Winnebago County officials to place an advisory referendum on the November ballot asking Ogle voters whether they want to see concealed carry legislation in Illinois.

The request was one of the 101 unsolicited letters that Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen’s office sent to every county in the state about a week ago, putting Winnebago County on the front lines of a statewide concealed carry debate.
...
Representatives from other Illinois counties, including Effingham and LaSalle counties, also have looked favorably on Winnebago County’s referendum request in recent weeks.
Should there be conceal carry in Illinois, especially with a permit?

48 high schools to get CTA 'smart cards'

Wow this is interesting, Tribune:
Students at 48 Chicago high schools will be issued a combined school ID and CTA reduced-fare card this year under an agreement approved Wednesday.

The initiative, aimed at increasing transit use among students and cutting CTA administrative costs in the existing reduced-fare program, will be expanded to all Chicago Public Schools high schools within 18 months, said Lydia Murray, chief of staff to CTA president Ron Huberman.

About 90,000 Chicago high school students are eligible to ride CTA buses and trains at the reduced fare of 85 cents, and 15 cents for a transfer, on school days from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Integrating student IDs with a CTA "smart card" increased student ridership and reduced the number of lost ID cards by 50 percent during a two-month test at Carver Military Academy and Prosser Career Academy during the past school year, officials said.

The CTA reported faster boarding times with the use of the student smart card, which is similar to the CTA Chicago Card. Users can add value to the card at CTA vending machines.
$500,000 expected savings for this program.

Chicago Will Also Take It to the Streets


Via the 13th Floor. A story about Chicago starting a new initiative where some major thoroughfares in Chicago are shut down to cars but for bikes.

City cuts to hit all levels

Sun-Times:
Chicago has a $425 million budget gap that will require a "paradigm shift" in services the city provides, the way they are delivered and the number of employees and agencies responsible, top mayoral aides told organized labor on Wednesday.

In a closed-door meeting with 40 union leaders, Mayor Daley’s chief-of-staff Lori Healey, Chief Financial Officer Paul Volpe and Intergovernmental Affairs Director John Dunn promised that redundant layers of middle management would share the burden of employee layoffs.

"This is not an exercise where we’ve said to department heads, ‘Cut a bunch of people and give us their names.’ We’re gonna … find areas and functions that don’t make sense. … It’s not focussed at unions. Managers, commissioners, deputy commissioners," will be included, Dunn was overheard saying.

"People want to get their trash picked up, their trees trimmed, their buildings built. They don’t really care about the bureaucrats. We’re looking at all that stuff."
Article via Newsalert in a post entitled, "Chicago's $425 Million Budget Deficit May Jeopardize Credit Rating". Also noted from Newsalert:
For more on Chicago's decline.For how Chicago has lost more people than Detroit(according to census estimates) since the year 2000.
Perhaps saying at least we're not Detroit isn't cutting it anymore.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

3rd Chicago cop charged in insurance fraud case

Story via another blog from Steve Bartin at Newsalert named Overpaid Government Worker.

A widening federal probe into cops taking payoffs tied to insurance or towing scams has led to fraud charges against a third officer.

The probe could reach at least a dozen police officers, sources have said.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Chicago Police Officer Scott Campbell, 42, with setting up a scheme to make it look as if someone had stolen his 1996 green Volkswagen Passat.

Federal prosecutors say Campbell arranged to have the car taken and sold in pieces. State Farm Insurance paid Campbell about $4,000 for what they believed was a stolen vehicle.

"I expect we will be able to resolve Mr. Campbell's matter short of trial," his lawyer Jeffrey Steinback said. "Scott is a fundamentally good man who is going to confront his problems directly and honestly."

Joseph DeMichael, 43, of Chicago, was charged with scheming with Campbell by taking the car home, dismantling it and selling the parts.

Campbell and DeMichael are new defendants in an existing case involving Chicago Police Officer Joseph Grillo and Collision Towing owner Jim "Meatball" Athans. Grillo and Athans were charged with helping Campbell carry out the insurance scam. Grillo and Campbell have been relieved of their police powers, department spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

The new charges mark a widening of an ongoing federal probe into alleged bribe-taking by police officers.

I just want to say that not all police officers engage in this activity.

Apartment renters caught in foreclosure net

Defender:
Like so many Black homeowners struggling to keep their homes, the foreclosure crisis is also affecting many Black renters.

There were 90,782 foreclosure filings in Illinois last year, a 25 percent increase from 2006, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a California-based real estate company that tracks foreclosure activity in 50 states. Cook County is the largest county in the state with a population of 5.3 million, and it recorded more than 30,000 foreclosures in 2007.
Renters aren't even safe.

Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair--Two lists to consider

Marathon Pundit with both 10 questions for the Governor on gas prices and 10 quotes Democrats use as an excuse to not take a pic with the Governor. One is more serious, but the other is to be humorous.

48 high schools to get CTA 'smart cards'

Wow this is interesting, Tribune:

Students at 48 Chicago high schools will be issued a combined school ID and CTA reduced-fare card this year under an agreement approved Wednesday.

The initiative, aimed at increasing transit use among students and cutting CTA administrative costs in the existing reduced-fare program, will be expanded to all Chicago Public Schools high schools within 18 months, said Lydia Murray, chief of staff to CTA president Ron Huberman.

About 90,000 Chicago high school students are eligible to ride CTA buses and trains at the reduced fare of 85 cents, and 15 cents for a transfer, on school days from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Integrating student IDs with a CTA "smart card" increased student ridership and reduced the number of lost ID cards by 50 percent during a two-month test at Carver Military Academy and Prosser Career Academy during the past school year, officials said.

The CTA reported faster boarding times with the use of the student smart card, which is similar to the CTA Chicago Card. Users can add value to the card at CTA vending machines.
$500,000 expected savings for this program.

CPS Chief Threatens Lawsuit Over Education Funding

CPR:
The superintendent of Chicago Public Schools is threatening the state of Illinois with a lawsuit if lawmakers don't come through more money for schools. Arne Duncan's comments come a day after the legislature all but blew-off a special session called to discuss education funding.

The legislature didn't consider anything on schools yesterday. That annoyed district head Duncan, who mocked Governor Rod Blagojevich for not paying enough attention to the issue.

DUNCAN: The governor went and patted some cows at the county fair.

He means state fair, but the point's the same. Duncan says Illinois leaders should stay in Springfield until they work out how to get less-affluent school districts more money.

DUNCAN: If they can't do the right thing legislatively - and we need to be hopeful that'll happen - maybe we have to challenge them through the legal system. Maybe it takes a class action lawsuit.

School officials tried a lawsuit over education funding in the 90s; it was dismissed.

Cut to the bone

Clout City on the cuts to the city's budget.

Chicago Argus on the payraise issue

Gregory Tejada sees a big issue when the legislature has to vote on pay raises. It's not just about the constitutional officers, legislators, or even state judges. It's also about state workers they may need the hikes just as much. The Argus says "it's an all or nothing proposition".

Latest special session raises more questions

AP:

Q: What does Blagojevich want lawmakers to do?

A: On construction, he wants them to approve a $25 billion plan to rebuild roads and bridges, with the money coming from privatizing the state lottery. On education, it's not clear. The Democratic governor called the special session but isn't saying what he hopes it will produce.

Q: What does he say about schools?

A: Blagojevich says black lawmakers want to discuss school funding, so the special session offers them a chance to present their ideas. But the governor says he still remains opposed to raising taxes to help schools. He also rejects another idea - eliminating property taxes for schools as a way to force the state to re-examine its funding system.

Q: What do black lawmakers say about the session?

A: That Blagojevich called it, so it's his responsibility to present an agenda.

Q: Will the session on education accomplish anything?

A: Probably not. Illinois leaders have been arguing for decades about the best way to close the funding gap between wealthy and poor schools. Lawmakers aren't likely to solve the problem in a single afternoon. There's a slim chance, however, that the session might put schools at the top of the agenda for future sessions Blagojevich says he may order this fall.

You should read more of these. Of course the only other issue that's being tackled is the issue of a statewide capital plan. This piece can also be seen as a criticism of Blagojevich calling special sessions that essentially accomplish little to nothing.

Black Aldermen respond to education funding

Responds to the attempt by Rev. James Meeks (also a state senator) to organize a boycott of the first day of school and attempt to register CPS students at New Trier High School in Winnetka. Alderman Anthony Beale of the 9th Ward says that he wants to support the children. He said that if the teachers want more money then they should be able to demonstrate if the kids want more money then the kids should be able to demonstrate. Of course that is preferaced by saying that they don't want this boycott.

Here's a direct link!

State lawmakers reject pay raise

Clout St:
The Illinois Senate rejected a 7.5 percent pay increase Tuesday following weeks of withering public pressure to turn down the money.

The 47-0 vote (with three senators voting "present) came only weeks after lawmakers got 3.8 percent cost-of-living increases on July 1. That bumped the based salary of a rank-and-file lawmaker to $67,833 and legislative leaders close to $100,000.

Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said it would be "unconscionable" to vote for a pay increase---a sentiment echoed by Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), who said it's "no time" to approve a pay increase for politicians.

Despite his strong support for the pay hike, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) allowed a vote on the measure that had to be rejected or the pay raises automatically would have taken effect.

Jones decided to allow the vote following weeks of criticism from citizens and editorial boards.
I followed this yesterday watching the state senate feed provided by the Illinois Channel. An interesting debate and also noted were three Senators who voted "present". Who were they?
The three senators who voted "present" were Jones, Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) and Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago).
Also noted the house met for 21 minutes on Tuesday.
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol Tuesday to tackle education funding at the command of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but the House adjourned after 21 minutes.

And most of that time was filled by two lawmakers who ripped the governor for calling them into special session but failing to submit legislation for them to consider.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) chided Democrats for six years of "dysfunction," but he said all the blame for Tuesday's "debacle" rests with the governor.
What a day Tuesday was!

Quick update

If you want to send an e-mail be advised that it will be subject to publishing onto the blog. I like to take pains to respect the wished of the sender if they would prefer it not be made public. If you don't want your message to be made public please indicate that in your message.

Of course in publishing an e-mail it is up to my discretion as to how to edit it. Although the sender may advise as to what information can be published.

Usually I like to ask first in publishing content from an e-mail, but I think I want to make a more straight-forward policy as far as e-mail messages. Oh and this will take effect on the date that this message is published.

Any questions or concerns you can use this post to sound off or send a private e-mail.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Meeks seeks aldermanic support for protest

AP:
Illinois State Senator James Meeks is trying to drum up support among Chicago aldermen for his effort to have Chicago Public Schools students boycott the first day of classes next month in a protest over a lack of state funding.

However, an alderman says he is not going to get aldermanic support for the tactic.

Alderman Freddrenna Lyle says there is no consensus among Chicago's black aldermen to support Meeks' boycott call. She says the bottom line is that everyone want the children in school.