Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mayberry This Ain't

Just when I thought that there was nothing to really blog about, given the campaign season and the fact that we haven't been in session, comes this doozy:

With an upcoming trial poised to focus (even more) attention on the Governor's operations, one would realize that it is only natural that the Governor would be confronted by (even more) questions about the issue of how he has run his administration and his campaign apparatus.

But rather than find an thoughtful way to try to manage the issue, the Governor busts out his best Opie Taylor impersonation and tries to turn the table on the press.
There is a bigger issue, and it could suggest why those newspapers are gettin' skinnier and skinnier. Because these guys like to write about stuff that don't really matter to people.
Wow. With a straight face no less.

- This from the Governor that charged into office on a stated mission from God to clean up corruption in state government, only to give us five more years of the headlines that Illinoisans had been sick of seeing in the years leading up to his first election.

- This from the Governor that promised two years ago to 'rock the system' and reform campaign finance in Illinois, then did - nothing.

- This from the Governor who has bottled up House Bill 1, which would end pay-to-play politics in our state, since LAST APRIL.

I think it's pretty clear who this stuff 'don't' matter to. Aunt Bea must be turning in her grave.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where there's Fire...

there will be the ugliest jerseys in professional sports.

Just saw this and thought it was a joke at first. It's not. Behold the new home jersey for the Chicago Fire.

The Aristocrats!

I'm not really sure what to do with the following story, and maybe it's just because it's been a long last few days, but something about this just struck me as as a great set-up for a funny punchline:
SPRINGFIELD — Since taking office in 2003, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been criticized for not living in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

State records, however, show the governor had a pretty good reason for not staying overnight in the 153-year-old home late last year.

According to documents filed with the Illinois Auditor General, there was a water leak in the governor’s private quarters on the upper floors of the mansion in November.

The leak damaged the ceiling of the mansion ballroom and threatened a walnut-paneled library next to the ballroom. Because of the leak and the resulting repairs, mansion director David Bourland shut off the water in the governor’s private apartment...The cost to fix the problem: $20,986.

Six of One...UPDATED

I don't have the time to do an extensive post right now, but I just have to put this thought out there.

I just got done listening to the Governor's Q + A at a northside senior building today, in which he says that his problem with the sales tax increase is that the sales tax is
'A regressive tax that disproportionately affects low-income people'.
This from the same Governor that is proposing a massive gaming expansion in order to fund a capital bill. Does he not realize that gambling is the most regressive revenue generator out there?

Or is that only an issue when it's convenient for him?

UPDATE - I also picked up on this gem from the Governor:
"To give seniors a free ride on public transportation, I don't think that takes a lot of political courage."
Correct. But to admit that it's a poorly thought-out idea, doesn't bear a rational relationship to needs or policy, was done outside the legislative process, and that the transit systems can't afford it - that does take political courage.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Apathy, Shmapathy

I don't think that anything can measure the excitement that Barack has created about the Presidential race as does the torrid pace of new voter registrations.

I sent out an e-mail last week to remind people about the looming deadline and to encourage them to participate in this historic election. The replies were all marked by an almost giddy eagerness by people about the election.

In my little neighborhood district office alone, we registered dozens of new voters on just Monday and Tuesday, which was the deadline. First time voters, recent grads still registered in another state, people bringing their roommates in to register, but all people looking forward to February 5th.

(By the way, unregistered voters can still register and vote, but it must be done at the Board of Elections. When registering during the “grace period,” a person needs to show two valid pieces of identification, one showing the current residence address.)

According to Jim Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Elections, between January 3, the day of the Iowa caucuses, and January 8, when traditional voter registration closed in Illinois, nearly 20,000 city residents signed up to vote. And the registrations were "heavily skewed" to people under 30, Allen said.

Now obviously, in my opinion, a lot of this is Barack-centric. But what's magnifying it even more is his timing. We have a leader with the charisma to win young people over and the substance to back it up who is hitting the scene in a perfect convergence with the YouTube etc. explosion that has irreparably changed the political landscape by drawing in this same demographic.

The same way that a telegenic John F. Kennedy may have closed the door on a sweaty Richard Nixon during their televised debate (at the old CBS studio on McClurg Ct. btw), Barack is a natural to appeal to the MySpace generation, evidenced only in part by the wave of online contributions received by the campaign.

So what does it mean? If the country stays on the pace reflected in the record turnouts in Iowa and New Hampshire, with many of the new participants being newly-engaged young adults energized by the 'tall, skinny kid with the funny name', we may soon be calling him Mr. President. And I'm good with that.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Common Sense Thrown Under the Bus

I guess you can ignore my last post. Leave it to the Governor to get me back to blogging before I can even leave for home. No sooner had I sent an e-mail out to thousands of my constituents telling them that the bill had passed and the only thing standing in the way of it becoming law was the Governor, that very same Governor decides to amendatorily veto the bill.

In what can only be described as a bizarre misdirection to get around his vaunted, but unwarranted, no-tax pledge, the Governor issued a statement that, while he is willing to break his pledge, he is going to change the bill in order to allow senior citizens to ride public transportation in Illinois for free.

In his statement, the Governor said "I'm particularly concerned about seniors who live on fixed incomes and who don't have the ability to absorb a higher sales tax without making cuts in other areas. That's why I will rewrite the bill to allow all senior citizens in Illinois to take public transportation for free."

Where should I even start with the outrageousness of this latest action? Let's try these:

1. The bill is the product of unprecedented negotiations and compromise by elected officials, transit leaders, union leaders, pretty much everybody but the Governor. His action, once again, tries to supplant his unilateral will over the greater good, not to mention common sense.

2. A .25% sales tax increase amounts to a penny on a $4 purchase. A quarter on a $100 purchase. This is a reasonable price to pay for the benefits of a good mass transit system, benefits realized by riders and non-riders alike .

3. The seniors on fixed income who the Governor is so concerned about get absolutely NO benefit from the Governor's action if they are not mass transit users.

4. The tax is only imposed on consumers in the RTA service area. What's the basis for providing free rides to seniors on downstate mass transit since they aren't impacted by the sales tax increase? This measure also cuts into the revenues of these transit systems at a time when we passed a bill trying to give them more funding, not less.

Lastly, by virtue of his actions, the bill which passed the House with a slim margin of 62 votes, now has to go back for reconsideration, thus risking it again being held hostage by the capital bill/gaming bill proponents.

I could keep going, but I really want to get on the road. File today under the category of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Ramping Back Up

As I said a while ago, I have been in somewhat of a blogging drought of late. But with session starting back up, the wheels are turning again, and I have a number of topics in mind and in the works.

I'm leaving Springfield in a few minutes to head home (in a drive that will be much more pleasant now that we passed the mass transit funding bill), but I should have some thoughts up on some pending matters in the very near future. There are definitely some issues that merit discussion.

While it's been nice to take a breather from blogging, I looking forward to firing the engines back up.

Stay tuned.