Friday, October 31, 2008

More info to use for November 4th

From the 6th Ward Democrats e-mail blast:
Polls open: 6:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Questions about voting?

Chicago Board of Elections - 312/269-7900

For info and a ride to the polls:

6th Ward Dem. Organization - 773/994-5747

6th Ward Service Office -773/846-7006
You can't say they'll never work with you. ;)

BTW, if you don't know where to go and you're web-savvy you can visit this page at the Chicago Board of Elections website.

6th ward early voting

9200 Sixth Ward early voters and 1000 people early voted on the last day according the 6th Ward Alderman and Democratic committeeman Freddrenna Lyle. From her email blast:
I arrived at the Whitney Young Library at 6:00 p.m. on 10/30/08 and there were lines on both sides of the front door; all the seats in the polling area were taken and another 100 people were in the library in chairs and sitting on the floor among the book stacks. (Talk about a civics lesson for the children using the library!) It was absolutely unbelievable! There were 9 voting booths all occupied. About 7:30 p.m. two additional machines arrived. It was after 11 p.m. before the last of 1000 plus persons finished voting.

Some of those voters had gone to Young Library on other days and didn't have time to wait. So they returned on Friday to even longer lines. The ballot was still long; people without Palm Cards (sample ballots) still took 15 mins. or longer to vote; the room was still tiny and thus the 3-6 hour wait. Some left and returned; went to McD's and returned; sent someone for food and coffee; and others just endured the long wait patiently because they wanted to be a part of history.

I talked to retirees, teachers, a doctor, police officers, homemakers, students, folks looking for jobs, and folks who had long ago stopped looking for jobs and most said they would wait all night if necessary. Phenomenal, awe inspiring, as the kids say it was the bomb! The talking heads bet on folks not coming out to vote. Tuesday night they'll realize how terribly wrong they were. The people I saw at the library waiting were people on a mission.

Justice delayed

Three reasons Eric Zorn gives no credit to Gov. Blagojevich for granting 26 pardons this week.

Pro con-con commercial

Also via CapFax! You can check out a negative con-con ad.

Turnaround schools show improved ISAT scores

Chi-Town Daily:
Chicago has almost 500 public and charter elementary schools, and the Harvard School for Excellence’s test scores usually have ranked among the city’s worst.

However, officials at the South Side school are encouraged by the 2008 Illinois Standard Achievement Test scores released today.

Forty percent of Harvard’s students met or exceeded state standards in the tests administered last spring, according to Illinois Board of Education data. That's an increase of 8.2 percent from 2007.

The results are signifcant because Harvard is in the second year of a district-mandated turnaround process that involved replacing nearly the entire staff and outsourcing management of the school.

CPS plans such turnarounds at several more schools in coming years, and educators and parents were anxiously waiting to see how the process would affect test scores at Harvard and other schools.
This also gives me an idea of a blog post. Though a little different than the last idea for a blog post.

BTW, there are more plans for "turnaround" schools:
"We want to look at four or five high schools next year and [even] more elementaries. Every year, we're gonna grow this," Duncan said Thursday after joining Mayor Daley at Orr for a news conference to highlight the 11th annual "Principal for a Day" program.
I have one suggestion!

Group to introduce fund to assist low-income homeowners


Forrest Claypool, Mike Quigley and Larry Suffredin plan to introduce an ordinance at next week's board meeting to establish that fund, which could use revenue from the county's sales tax increase. Homeowners who qualify could receive up to $700 to offset the cost of tax increases.

Houlihan says it would take between $55 and $125 million to create "targeted property tax relief" to people who really need it. In addition to sales tax revenue, Houlihan suggested money from Chicago's expiring tax increment finance district be used to fund the circuit breaker program.

Mayor Daley called the idea a "political stunt," and county board President Todd Stroger said the proposal was dead in the water. But Houlihan and Claypool said this "targeted property tax relief" is the kind of thing people struggling to pay their bills and public officials should change their mind about the plan.

Is Clayborne a long shot, or frontrunner, for Illinois Senate president post?

From Chicago Argus where a south side state senator, Donne Trotter, figures. Basically Gregory Tejada is making a connection between a state senator donating their own campaign cash to other campaigns to the likelihood of any candidate for Senate President to suceed Emil Jones next year.

Third Generation Chicagoan on the South Side

Chiming in on comments made in her encounters with north siders springboarding off of the Hudson tragedy:
On a sad note about a horrific tragedy to a whole family, worse yet a young child was murdered. But as I deal with North siders at work they say things like, "well people on the South side are always killing each other" and "Why didn't Jennifer move her family to a better area"

Let me tell you, first off we aren't always killing each other on the South Side. Next this was a domestic situation, as unfortunate as it is. And finally the Englewood area that Jennifer's family live in, is NOT a bad neighborhood!

Ok whenever someone wants to move to Chicago from out of State, Downstate, or wherever they move from, they move to the North Side, Wrigleyville, Bucktown, River North, etc. If they have more money they move to Lincoln Park or the Gold Coast. Which is just fine with us South Siders because we don't want all the transplants, we like to keep it real, and we are a whole bunch of real people on the South Side and want to keep it that way.

But I am tired of all these comments that this tragedy happened because, well, they are living on the South Side and this supposedly is the norm. I have very calmly said that this is a fairly good neighborhood that this tragic event started in. Then I get "your neighborhood is worse?" or "IT IS?" I wonder how many of these Northsiders have been South of Chinatown? or the University of Chicago, Science Museum, well, Hyde Park? Actually it's not a bad thing, because the traffic and congestion on the South Side beats the North Side for ease of getting around any day!

Reasons behind flat high school scores

Illinois grade school students have improved steadily on state exams in the five years since a federal law put pressure on schools to increase scores or risk sanctions. But over that same period, high school scores flatlined.

Teens fared no better on math and science exams this year than they did in 2003, according to Illinois State Report Card data made public Friday. On reading, 11th graders scored worse.

It might appear that Illinois' elementary and middle schools are making great strides while high schools are faltering. But new research suggests something else: that the standards for meeting expectations in the elementary test are so low and the high school expectations—by comparison—high, that there is a troubling disconnect between the two tests.

Students who just pass the bar in 8th grade have little hope of earning even a minimal score on the college entrance exam required of Illinois juniors, the study found.
Related CPR provides a pair of links to look at the scores of local schools.

Roland Burris cut's an anti-con-con ad for the radio

Listen to it here. Via CapFax.

Aldermen gripes abotu budget cuts

Clout St:
City Council griping about Chicago's financial woes reached its loudest volume Thursday as Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi testified about Mayor Richard Daley's 2009 budget proposal.

The mayor's budgets often have passed with the support of all 50 aldermen, but this year nobody is happy with plans to lay off almost 1,000 city workers. Daley said the cuts are necessary to erase a $469 million budget shortfall.

"This budget is becoming to me more and more unacceptable," Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) said as she questioned Picardi.

Added Ald. George Cardenas, among Daley's most loyal allies in the council: "I cannot support this budget as it stands. There is a lot of fat in that budget, there's no doubt."

Council members worried about the effect of budget cuts on garbage pick-up and other services provided by Streets and Sanitation, the largest City Hall department.

Chicago area's best schools

Chicago claimed four of the state's 10 highest-scoring public high schools, six of the top 10 middle-grade schools, and four of the top 10 elementary-grade ones.
Hawthorne Scholastic Magnet — No. 4 statewide for its middle-grade scores — was the only Chicago top-10 standout that doesn't use tests to pick its kids, but as a magnet school, it does use a race-based lottery.

Hawthorne kids are motivated to excel, said Principal Anna Alvarado, because "they all want to go to one of the selective-enrollment high schools. Our kids aspire to that."

Chicago — with 84 percent low-income kids — dominated not only the top but the bottom of the Sun-Times' lists, producing 42 of the 50 lowest-scoring high schools; 39 of the 50 lowest-scoring middle-grade schools and 46 of the 50 lowest-scoring elementaries.
In the Sun-Times' analysis Northside College Prep High School was the top secondary school in this state.

Another term for Blago in the cards?

Let's hope not. I didn't think he'd get a second term in fact!
Gov. Rod Blagojevich is signaling that he might run for a third term, despite approval ratings about the age of an eighth-grader.

He hilariously explained last week that his bad poll numbers were due to the struggling economy and that, if the election for governor were held Tuesday, he would win. There’s always something new with Mr. Blagojevich, for whom governance is campaigning by other means.

But wait a minute. The road to four more years is in sight.

There are at least three Democratic leaders who anticipate he will step down or who have every reason to lead a revolt in the party. Others will certainly surface.

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Comptroller Dan Hynes are seriously thinking about a run for governor; Attorney General Lisa Madigan, on her own abilities and with the backing of her powerful father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, must be considered a serious candidate.

That would make a Democratic primary as entertaining and flamboyant as the state government has been these past six years. As we’ve learned during that time, anything can happen.
2010 almost seems like a long way but from now to about the primaries it's about a year. I'm sure those who have been planning to run have gotten their resources together. Hopefully they'll continue to get their resources together.

Blagojevich Opposes Constitutional Convention

Well this isn't a big surprise is it?
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Thursday came out against a referendum asking voters if they want a constitutional convention. Blagojevich says Illinois' tax code needs to be changed. But he says there are better ways to do that.

BLAGOJEVICH: You can do that legislatively, and you can do that by referenendum, and you can do it without opening up a whole constitutional convention, which, from my point of view, could be costly and could upset the delicate balance between the legislative branch and the executive branch.
Question: Does he actually think anybody is listening to him?

More from Clout St:
The governor said he likes the "concept" of a constitutional convention, but said it could be a costly endeavor that "could upset the delicate balance between the executive branch and the legislative branch."

Critics have accused Blagojevich of doing a lot himself to upset that balance by going around the General Assembly to push his pet-causes, such as health care expansion.

Blagojevich, however, defends his governing style.

"Thank God that the constitution gives the executive branch a lot of power to get around the legislative branch," Blagojevich said, adding that without his ability to issue executive orders or use his amendatory veto power there would be no free mass transit rides for seniors or free breast and cervical cancer exams for women.

"If the constitutional convention were to occur and there was an effort to erode the executive branch's ability to do those things, then I think less good things would happen for people," Blagojevich said. 
Or perhaps one less tool to be exploited by a grandstanding politician.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CTA board gets earful from riders

Chi-Town Daily News:
About 100 transit riders and advocates for the low-income and disabled turned out last night during the Chicago Transit Authority’s public hearing on its proposed 2009 budget.

Many expressed disdain for the CTA's proposed fare hikes.

“Working people cannot pay this month for transit,” said Mario Garcia, 21, a Pilsen resident who told the board he rides his bike rather than wait for buses that show up only sporadically on his route.
“A lot of people live on fixed incomes," Garcia said. "It’s too much. Leave the fare alone.”
“Every nickel and dime makes it harder to buy eggs, meat and oatmeal,” said Alfred Rogers of the Southwest Latino Organization.
Rider Robert Stone drilled the board on the agency’s "doomsday" campaign of  late 2007,  questioning why the CTA still finds itself short of cash.

“It hasn’t been a year since doomsday and now we have a fare increase. Why? Incompetency,” Stone said.

However, a few audience members praised the board for hiking fares instead of cutting service. Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation government research organization, praised the CTA for cutting expenses internally before asking riders to shoulder more of the costs.

The proposed budget calls for the CTA to operate with 531 less employees through a series of layoffs, elimination of vacancies and fewer staffing needs associated with construction projects.

“We believe it is a reasonable and responsible plan because it maintains service. Although fare increases are difficult, they are necessary,” Msall said.

“It’s still a bargain compared to parking and the costs associated with driving.”

But Charles Paidock, secretary of the transit advocacy group Citizens Taking Action, criticized the Civic Federation for being out of touch with struggling workers.

“Poor people do not think a transit fare is cheap,” Paidock said.
The meeting where the CTA votes on the budget itself will be at a 10 AM meeting at CTA HQ.

Ex-Cook prosecutor claims age discrimination

Christine Opp was 57 when she was fired. She alleges age discrimination, and claims the state's attorney's office violated the federal Shakman decree outlawing politics in hiring and firing.

Opp said her firing came after the office was ordered to cut its budget by 17 percent. She claims months later, the office started hiring assistant state's attorneys out of law school.

The federal lawsuit seeks $309,000 for age discrimination and $2 million in punitive damages.
Whoever will be the new state's attorney might need to work on that.

RE: Progressive Advocacy on Cook County Judges

An earlier comment from this post :
All of these Judges are Black. Is the Alderman in support of removing them from their seats?
Response from the Alderman who said she's been busy with the Hudson murders and City Hall budget hearings:
The recommendations I made and passed out on a sample ballot encourage the voters to vote for each of these Black Judges.  It is always interesting to see the main stream media routinely recommend and endorse Judges who are disrespectful to Black litigants, abusive to Black lawyers, and generally unwilling or too lazy to keep abreast of the changes in the law.  As a result I usually discount most of their recommendation regarding Black Judges.  While there is at least one Black Judge on my list that needs to work on their performance those shortcomings are not sufficient to call for that person's removal from the bench.
There you have it!

Section 8 Voucher Holders Info Event Tonight

Announcement was posted at the Broken Heart of Roger's Park. There should be some meetings down in this part of town about Section 8 people. I may have had my complaints as another had in an email to the blog. Surely there are some other stories about Section 8 people in the ward.

Garbage collection cuts could be deep

Mayor Daley wants to shrink the size of 80 more garbage collection crews -- to one laborer on a truck instead of two.

But he might not stop there.

The Streets and Sanitation Department is conducting a field test this week with a $200,000 truck that requires no laborers. It has a mechanical arm that picks up carts and dumps the trash in the side of the truck.

If carts are not lined up properly, the driver has to stop the truck, get out and move the carts into place.

The success of the experiment is in the eye of the beholder.

Lou Phillips, business manager of Laborers Union Local 1001, argued that the North Side pilot has been a "disaster," with garbage spilling out into the street and crews sent in afterwards to clean up the mess.

The Laborers Union has filed an unfair labor practices complaint claiming the city violated an agreement to give the union advanced warning of "new technology" that effects union jobs.

State Constitution: If it’s not broke . . .

Cheryl Jackson:
While both sides have valid arguments, we at Chicago Urban League feel it is important for voters to remember that the vast majority of the problems African Americans face do not stem from flaws in our state Constitution. A shortage of good-paying jobs, failing schools and lack of access to capital to fund businesses–none of these problems will go away by attacking our state Constitution with a red ballpoint pen. High crime rates, scarce affordable housing and deteriorating infrastructure in our neighborhoods–these are social ills that cannot be blamed on the Constitution. In fact, the estimated $40 million to $80 million cost of a Constitutional Convention could be better spent purchasing computers for public schools on the South and West sides, or hiring more highly skilled teachers in the toughest neighborhood schools.

As for education funding, the Constitution already clearly spells out the responsibility of the state to provide a high quality education to all of its citizens, and it's high time for Illinois lawmakers to honor that.

In 1808, the designers of the state's original Constitution wrote in a useful feature for making changes to the document: It's called an amendment. We, at the Urban League, believe the tools to lead Illinois forward are already in the hands–or certainly within reach–of our legislative leaders. The other tool lies in your hands. As a voter, you have the power to elect the candidates you believe will make the changes our community needs. If you're not informed about who you want to vote for, their policies and their track records, then I suggest you do your homework before Tuesday rolls around.
A couple of Con-Con items from CPR
Constitutional Convention Debate Draws Big Donors
Supporters of Constitutional Convention Push Forward 

Todd Stroger addresses City Club

Audio courtesy of CPR.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

6th Ward Democrats needs election day volunteers

From the Chair of the Sixth Ward Young Democrats
Hello Everyone,
The 6th Ward office needs volunteers for election day this Tuesday.  We can really use your help!  We desperately need more "Passers".  "Passers" pass out palm cards & voting info. at polling locations from 6am to 8pm.  If you can work the entire shift you can receive payment and 2 meals.  If you are not available to work the entire shift we can possibly work out 1/2 shift accommodations.  We also need volunteers to drive seniors to polling sites, deliver food, or help answer phones.  If you are available to help please reply to this e-mail  OR  kcharris36 (AT) hotmail (DOT) com .  As you know, this is a very important election & a historic moment in history.  Please consider getting involved this election day ... DO IT FOR BARACK!  :-)
Thanks for your support

Condi Rice: Children of color worst hit by failing schools

In an appearance before an annual gathering of powerful women, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the failing American education system has become “the most pressing national security issue in this country right now.”

Rice, the highest-ranking African-American in government and the first Black woman to hold the post, made the remarks at The Women’s Conference on Oct. 22, a yearly event organized by California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Taking the Long Beach Convention Center stage to resounding applause from the nearly 15,000 in attendance, the statement by Rice — who previously served as President Bush’s national security advisor and was once the chief academic and budget officer at Stanford University — was particularly striking in light of her deep involvement in a global conflict against terrorism and the central role she plays in helping to oversee lengthy wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The state of education, in K-12, in this country is a national security issue,” she said during a discussion moderated by CNN host Campbell Brown. “And frankly, (it is worse) for underprivileged kids and children of color. I have long been in education, and it breaks my heart…to know that a (future) president of the United States could be sitting in one of these public schools that are basically warehousing. That makes me very sad. As secretary of state, that terrifies me.”

This gives me an idea for a future blog post.

Watchdog or Lapdog?

Chicago Reader on the race for Cook County State's Attorney.

BTW watch these to programs on Public Affairs with Tony Peraica and Anita Alvarez.

Tony Peraica

Anita Alvarez
Both programs were taped before the February primaries.

Obama & McCain different on issues affecting black Americans

From the Defender. There's no big surprise here is there?
Issues that disparately affect Black people such as affirmative action, voting rights for ex-felony offenders, voting rights for D.C. congressional representatives, racial profiling, police brutality, mandatory minimum sentences, and the death penalty are just a few of the issues that have barely - if ever – been publicly addressed by either candidate during the intense race.

“It was made clear at the time that the responses received would be reproduced and distributed to the NAACP members and communities so that we could make informed decisions when going to the polls,” says Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau. “The questionnaire contained… issues of crucial importance to the NAACP and the communities we serve.” The 39-page document, compiled by the historically non-partisan civil rights organization over the course of a year, allowed the candidates to give candid views in 200 words or less. For space and brevity, the NNPA News Service has excerpted quotes from the responses. The following are verbatim excerpts from the questionnaire:

• What specific actions will you take regarding equal opportunity programs?

MCCAIN: “The affirmative action remedies designed 40 years ago should be reexamined…Our efforts to promote equal opportunity should focus on those who are disadvantaged. In access to quality education, we should focus on poorly performing schools that are not effectively educating our students, not on the students’ race. In access to government contracting, government set-aside programs should focus on disadvantaged enterprises and employees, not their race, ethnicity, or gender.”

OBAMA: “I support affirmative action. When there is strong evidence of prolonged and systemic discrimination by organizations, affirmative action may be the only meaningful remedy available…We shouldn’t ignore that race continues to matter: To suggest that our racial attitudes play no part in the socioeconomic disparities that we often observe turns a blind eye to both our history and our experience – and relieves us of the responsibility to make things right.”

Read the whole thing for more quotes on different issues by both McCain & Obama.

Chicago's Top Cop Questions 'War on Drugs'

Jody Weis says rising violence is a bigger issue for police on the street.

WEIS: I hate to say it, but if you have a gang that’s simply selling drugs and not killing anyone, that’s not on our priority list. There are far too many that are engaged in simple violence.

Weis says the price of cocaine hasn’t gone up in almost twenty years. That leads him to believe the supply remains steady, despite government efforts to stop the flow of drugs.

When asked if marijuana should be legalized, Weis wouldn’t offer a direct answer. He says that question should be left to legislators.
Now if only someone could take Daley on for his stance that on guns that he had espoused the other day.

Transit Riders Sound Off on Planned Fare Hikes

We asked bus riders in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood how the fare hikes would affect their transit habits.

RIDER 1: It really don’t because I gotta deal with it. I mean, I don’t have a car right now, so I gotta just deal with it, suck it up, make room for it.

RIDER 2: I’m definitely in the market for a bicycle, for sure. I already can’t see the fare hikes justified with all the construction and the random trains stopping for nonsense.

RIDER 3: As long as they don’t cut service, you know, then I’m okay.
You can have your say on these hikes this evening at CTA HQ at 6PM.

What do you have to say about these hikes now?

Ballot includes votes for judges

Voters casting ballots for county, state and federal lawmakers in the General Election on Nov. 4 are reminded to continue towards the end of the ballot and vote for 70 nonpartisan judges looking to fill or retain judgeships.

Because judges do not have opponents, voters must cast a “yes” or “no” vote. Each judge seeking retention must receive at least a 60 percent “yes” vote to remain on the bench.

Retention judges preside over thousands of cases filed each year in Cook County. The cases include issues challenging the judicial system, child custody, criminal matters and divorce.

Among the 64 judges rated “Qualified” by the Chicago Bar Association are Diane Gordon Cannon, Sharon Johnson Coleman and Shelli Williams-Hayes.

Sneed on Paul Vallas

Michael Sneed:

He wants reform! Sneed hears former Chicago Public Schools chief Paul Vallas, who wants to re-enter Illinois politics, will make his presence known Sunday.

• • Explanation: Word is that Vallas, who is eyeing a bid for governor, is planning a news conference this weekend to endorse holding a state constitutional convention.

• • Back story: Vallas, who has maintained his residency here despite taking a job as New Orleans school chief, might run as a Republican. A Con-Con means reform.

When he made his first run for governor back in 2002 he ran in the Democratic Primary with the current Governor Rod Blagojevich. He also ran with former state attorney general Roland Burris. At that time, his run for Governor wasn't too far behind his leaving the Chicago Public Schools.

On another day, I think I read on the Capitol Fax that he was eying a run for Cook County Board President as a Republican as well. If he's serious I would expect we'll know more at some point.

Headed for Obama’s Election Night rally? Take a ticket

You'll need a ticket if you want to attend Barack Obama's outdoor Election Night event in Chicago.

The campaign sent an e-mail Tuesday inviting only supporters from Obama's home state of Illinois. To get tickets, people need to sign up at a Web link for a printable ticket that'll be e-mailed before the Nov. 4 event in Grant Park. Only one request per person is allowed. Each ticket admits two people.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, it appeared there already was a wait list for tickets.

Gates open at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 for the event, which will take place in a field at the south end of the lakefront park.
Is that place going to be packed on Election Night or what? Well CPR has more on that:

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says he hopes more than a million people will come downtown on election night. Recently, a city official said the site of Barack Obama's election night rally would only hold 70,000.

Chicago officials have been quiet about how they'll handle an overflow of Obama supporters. But, Mayor Daley says he's confident people who attend the open-air rally will be safe and secure. He says the U.S. Secret Service will bear the chief responsibility for monitoring public safety.

DALEY: We don't screen anybody in the park. No, no. That is up to the Secret Service in regards to their venue.

A spokeswoman with the city's emergency management office says there will be a tight security bubble at Grant Park. Jennifer Martinez says the office will follow the lead of the Secret Service, FBI, and Chicago police.

Presidential Poll

Just under the e-mail address is a presidential polls I set up courtesy of Newsvine. Who does the 6th Ward support for President or indeed anyone who reads this blog. Make your choice known. Thanks!

Study says special taxing districts costing Chicago coffers $555 million

Clout St:
Chicago property tax revenue diverted from schools, parks, day-to-day city expenses and other local government operations to city development projects increased by about $55 million in 2007 to $555 million, an 11 percent jump from the previous year, according to a report released today by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Some critics of tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, say they are partly responsible for the city's current budget shortfall, pegged at $469 million. To address the gap, Mayor Richard Daley has proposed layoffs and increased fees and taxes for 2009.

"While TIF districts are intended to help blighted areas, they also place a greater burden on other taxpayers to support the schools, parks and other services," Orr said.

When a TIF is formed, property taxes paid to all local governments in the development area are frozen for up to 23 years. The increment—additional property tax collections that result from rising property values—are then placed in a fund to subsidize development, with the aim of getting developers to invest in areas they would ignore without TIF assistance.

Budget Watchdog: CTA Fare Hike 'Necessary and Appropriate'

A budget watchdog group has come out in support of the Chicago Transit Authority's proposed fare hike. The Civic Federation says the 25-50-cent increases are necessary to offset fuel costs, and to pay for free rides mandated by the state.

Laurence Msall is the group's president.

MSALL: Instead of cutting service, which would be a very bad decision, the CTA is going to maintain its level of service, and go with relatively modest, but clearly reasonable, fare increases.

Msall applauds the CTA for belt-tightening, including hundreds of layoffs. But he is concerned about one aspect of the budget: the CTA says it needs billions in capital construction funding from the state, money that is far from guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gas Update for Tuesday...

As Friday came, it looked like the gas gap was normalizing. It was ~ $3.03 in Chatham, and $3.09 in Deerfield.

Now, this evening, it was $2.75 at the BP at 76th & State, but still $3.09 - $2.99 in Deerfield.

(The gas prices varied in the neighborhood; i saw $2.89, $2.99 and $3.09, all within a mile of each other, in addition to BP''s $2.75)

I still don't get the gas gap, but i certainly appreciate it!

(And i think others are too -- the BP was EXTREMELY busy!)

State GOP sues over suspect voter registrations

Clout St:
The Illinois Republican Party on Tuesday sued the Lake County clerk to force a closer examination of up to 5,000 voter registrations suspected of being fraudulent, a move that could delay the ballot count in the northern suburbs.

The lawsuit asks that the clerk’s office be required to separate the suspect registrations so they can be authenticated before they are added to official totals, a process that could take up to two weeks, officials estimated.

"We want to ensure that bad votes don’t get counted," GOP attorney John Fogarty said.

The lawsuit also requests special scrutiny of all registrations submitted by a Chicago-based group called Citizen Action Illinois. The suit claims the group delivered thousands of "fraudulent, incomplete or illegitimate" voter applications to the clerk’s office in Waukegan.
Some bad habits die hard!

CTA riders get shot at budget, proposed fare hike

Chi-Town Daily News:
Transit riders can voice opinions on proposed fare increases tomorrow night during the Chicago Transit Authority’s public hearing on its 2009 budget.
The meeting is scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake.

The proposed fare hike comes during a time when an "informal" study by an advocacy group for transit riders found Chicago Transit Authority rates are among the highest in the nation.

The study found the nationwide average for a basic fare is $1.53, compared CTA's rate of $1.75 per bus ride or $2 for the El. Weekday passes nationwide average $17.80 and monthly passes average $58.43, while the CTA charges $24 for a weekly pass and $75 for a monthly pass.

The results of the survey are based on current CTA rates. The Citizens Taking Action survey results are similar to a 2007 Daily News analysis which found the CTA had the most expensive fares of the nation's largest transit agencies.

Another Daily News investigation found the CTA pays among the highest wages of any major U.S. urban transit system, devotes a bigger share of its operating budget to payroll than all but a few other big systems, and had created fiscal chaos by mismanaging its pension system.
If you care about CTA fares and not wanting to pay more, you might want to pay the CTA board meeting a visit.

Chicago home prices down less than U.S. in August

Chicago prices fell 9.8 percent in August compared with August 2007, the Case-Shiller numbers show. Local prices were unchanged compared with July.

Vote "Yes" for Illinois "Con-Con"

Via Marathon Pundit!

Also read this column by Phil Kadner!

Despite what people tell you, no changes in the constitution can be made without a final vote at the ballot box.

All the corrupt, powerful forces that have controlled this state oppose the constitutional convention.

If you trust them, vote "no" on Tuesday. If you don't, vote "yes."

Chicago 2016 is hosting a "Why Chicago" video contest

I just got this email this afternoon:

I’ve been reading your posts on the Chicago 2016 effort, and I want to invite you and your readers to help America win the Host City privilege by participating in a new video contest. Some of the earliest submissions have been passionate, funny, whimsical and even moving. Check them out here.

Starting today through November 25, 2008, you can visit to upload (or just vote) on user-generated videos that capture the spirit of Chicago and tell the world why the Windy City should host the Games in 2016. Finalists will be selected by a panel of judges based on a combination of popular vote and the following criteria:
  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • relevance to the "Why Chicago" theme
  • production quality
The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to Vancouver for a behind the scenes tour of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and have their video featured on NBC 5 News Today.

Second place will win $5,000 worth of video production equipment of their choice

And you don’t have to upload a video to win. One lucky voter will be chosen at random to win a trip for six to the United States Olympic Committee's (USOC) headquarters in Colorado Springs to see the USOC's world-class training facilities, watch Olympians and Olympic hopefuls train and participate in a U.S. Olympic sport experience.

I hope you can participate, either by creating a video, voting, or letting others know about the “Why Chicago” campaign. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions – thanks!

If you're interested I'll forward the e-mail to you. But here's the company website that Mr. Steve Elwell represents at Hill & Knowlton.

Amid budget pain, aldermen try to save "jumping jacks"

Clout St.:
Chicago aldermen afraid of catching grief in their wards are looking for ways to keep the “jumping jacks” program that provides bouncy, inflatable playgrounds for children but is slated for elimination in Mayor Richard Daley’s proposed 2009 budget.

“We, as elected officials, are going to hear it," Ald. Ed Smith (28th) said Monday, contending residents would be upset at the demise of a program that provides entertainment for many children who don’t have much. “People are not going to understand why the program is taken out."

One alderman said the cut, which is slated to save $800,000, simply would not go through.

“We are going to put that back in, so maybe we need to make cuts somewhere else," Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said during a series of budget hearings to consider Daley’s spending proposal.

The mayor’s plan for next year includes cuts as well as fee and tax increases to close a $469 million shortfall.

If You Don't Want Change, Vote No

Rich Miller's syndicated column addressing the arguments against a con-con.

ADDITION: Also from the CapFax, US Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is in support of a con-con...
Today, Tuesday, October 28th at 1:30pm Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and Alderman Sandi Jackson will join Lt. Governor Pat Quinn in endorsing a “yes” vote on the November 4 Constitutional Convention.
Awesome news!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Englewood residents discuss violence in their community

What figures in this video report from WBBM-TV is the Hudson case where Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and now her nephew were murdered this past weekend.

Who might replace Obama in the US Senate...

Assuming that he wins the Presidency in a weeks time. Perhaps one of our local state senators. Michael Sneed:
•  •  To wit: Sneed hears Gov. Blago, who dismisses reports of a federal probe, wants to run for office again -- and believes replacing Barack with an African American is a smart political move. But he is being urged to select state Sen. Donne Trotter, a close friend of Obama mentor/Senate President Emil Jones, to fill the spot.
Also worth reading from Rich Miller at CapFax on an instance of Obama replacement speculation has jumped the shark.

Cook County Employees Tattling On Each Other More

It looks like more people are tattle-telling on Cook County employees. The Sun-Times reports that investigations into misconduct by county employees have spiked this year, with 44 new investigations between July and September. There were only eight new investigations during that same time last year. Joseph Price, the county's former inspector general who was replaced this month, began a total of 91 new investigations so far this year.
The conclusion they made is one I would come up with, job insecurity.

Chicago Public Libary circulation skyrockets

Circulation of library materials during the first nine months of this year is up a whopping 28 percent over the same period a year ago as Chicagoans look to cut expenses.

“As the economy has become more difficult, more people are … saying, ‘I’m coming to the library. Instead of buying the book, buying the CD or buying the movie, I can borrow it, enjoy it and return it,’” Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey said today, after testifying at City Council budget hearings.

For two years, audio books and music have been available for downloading at

Last month, the library system made its first 500 movie titles available — in addition to the thousands of movies that can be checked out in person.

“At the end of the three-week loan period, it removes itself from your device and returns itself to us. So, you’re never gonna be overdue,” Dempsey said.

For library materials that must be returned, fines will double in 2009 — from 10 cents per day per overdue item and a maximum of $5 to 20 cents a day per item with a $10 ceiling. It’s the first increase in library fines since 1991.
How is the current economic situation affecting the public library?
The library is also laying off five employees, cutting 166 vacant, full-time jobs and 177 part-time positions.

In the past, such dire budget cuts have been accompanied by threats to reduce library hours. But, Dempsey said this is hardly the time for that.
To be sure I have rented movies out of the library in the past. Some movies to recommend from me will include Nixon (by Oliver Stone who also directed the current W), A Clockwork Orange, and of course Morehouse Men for that young man in the family thinking about college.

Legal association requests hiring of minority or women owned business

A press release:
Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias has announced that up to $1 billion in interest-earning deposits will be made available to Illinois banks and credit unions to alleviate the credit freeze. This will enable banks and credit unions to lend money to businesses and consumers throughout the state.

The U.S. Treasury Department is buying shares in some of the largest banks in the country under the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP). As part of the federal legislation outlined in TARP, which authorizes the Treasury Department to purchase up to $700 billion in troubled financial assets, TARP requires the U.S. Treasury Department to involve minority- and women-owned businesses in the process. The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) is a national trade association that promotes diversity in the legal profession by fostering the development of long lasting relationships between pre-eminent minority- and women-owned law firms and private and/or public entities. NAMWOLF is already offering its services to the U.S. Treasury Department to provide connections to legal counsel during the bailout period; in addition they will extend their resources to the banks in need of legal counsel. NAMWOLF extends this offer to the Illinois banks as they consider state-funded deposits, and may be in need of legal counsel.

"The Illinois State Treasurer has taken significant steps to keep the financial system moving in the State of Illinois," said Yolanda Coly, managing director of NAMWOLF. "All locally-owned businesses will be eager to help with this process, but as the banks seek out legal counsel, NAMWOLF is pleased to offer assistance in finding qualified, experienced minority- and women-owned law firms in Illinois."

State Offers Help for Low-Income Families Heating Homes

WBBM 780 AM:
The government increased LIHEAP’s previous funding by $118 million, which will be used to help low-income residents heat their homes and some of the money will go to the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP).

Both LIHEAP and IHWAP are energy assistance programs for those with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, the release said.

To qualify, a single-person household must have an income of up to $1,300 per month, a two-person household up to $1,750 and a family of four can earn up to $2,650, the release said.

“Working families throughout Illinois are struggling to make ends meet as prices for food, housing and gasoline skyrocket,” Gov. Rod Blagojevich said. “I’m happy to announce that this year we can help more working families, seniors and others to stay safe and healthy as temperatures drop.”

Various “community action agencies” statewide will begin accepting applications for energy assistance Nov. 1, which are approved on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, residents can visit the Keep Warm Illinois website at or call (877) 411-WARM.

Supporters Push Constitutional Question

Supporters of the measure rallied two weeks ago to try to stir Illinois residents to vote "for" a measure to hold a state constitutional convention. They gathered again Sunday to push their message that future generations would benefit from revamping the state's constitution.

Some proponents want to be elected as delegates who would go to the state capitol and decide what changes should be made. They say it could be the most effective way to get things done.

"There is complete gridlock," one supporter said. "There is absolutely no ability to have any kind of amendments that have any substance to be put forward by legislators on our behalf."

Under the plan, supporters say delegates could vote to reform school funding and increase the amount the state pays school districts. They could also vote for property tax changes that could benefit homeowners.

"We need reform," said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, one of the supporters. "We need property tax reform. We need more equitable funding for our schools. We need to do something about the high utility rates that are hurting so many families. We need to do something about the lack of ethics in state government and local government."

Quinn said he doesn't envision a broad rewrite, just changes in some articles of the constitution.
The Presidential race isn't the only important item on the ballot. A con-con is just as important.

Jesse Jackson Jr. hopes to replace Obama in Senate

The Hill:
Illinois political insiders say Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who defended Barack Obama after his father famously threatened to castrate him, is the favorite to replace the Democratic nominee in the Senate. 

Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) scolded his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, publicly after his comments were caught unexpectedly on tape before an interview with Fox News this summer.

But Jackson Jr.’s path is by no means assured. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) also wants to replace Sen. Obama (Ill.) in the upper chamber if he is elected president.

This gives Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who must choose between an African-American political scion and a close ally of the labor movement, a difficult decision.

Jackson has made plain that he would like to succeed Obama in the Senate.

“If Sen. Obama wins -- and I’m optimistic that he will, I indeed would be honored and humbled to succeed him in the U.S. Senate,” said Jackson in a statement. “But, in the end, the decision rests with Gov. Blagojevich and I’m confident that he’ll make an appointment in the best interest of the state as well as the nation.”

Jackson’s case is strengthened by the fact that Obama is the only African-American member of the Senate. Presumably, Obama would like to see at least one African-American representative in the chamber.
Whatever happened to the idea of him running for mayor of Chicago?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hudson sister pleads for son’s safe return

The sister of Jennifer Hudson, Julia Hudson is pleading for the safe return of her son after the murder of her mother and brother. Sun-Times:
“I don’t care who you are, just let my baby go,” said Hudson, speaking at the Pleasant Gift Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side. “Please, I just want my son.”

Though her son, Julian King, has been missing since his relatives were found shot to death in their home Friday morning, his mother still believes her only child is alive.

“I have to believe that he’s OK,” said Hudson, 31. “I have that hope that he’s OK, I have that faith that he’s OK.”

Her sister, Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson, flew to Chicago from Florida on Friday night to identify the bodies of her mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, at the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Donerson, 57, and Hudson, 29, suffered multiple gunshot wounds, and at least one of them also had defensive wounds, police said.
It should be noted that there is a suspect in these murders:
William Balfour, a man suspected in the deaths, was arrested Friday but had not been charged, law enforcement sources revealed.

Police spokeswoman Monique Bond, who declined to comment Saturday on a suspect, said no one has been charged.

Bond said investigators were talking to a number of people in custody, but she declined to elaborate. An Amber Alert issued statewide Friday, which remained in effect Saturday, said Balfour was a suspect in the double homicide.

Records from the Illinois Department of Corrections show Balfour, 27, is on parole and spent nearly seven years in prison for attempted murder, vehicular hijacking and possessing a stolen vehicle. Public records show one of Balfour's addresses as the home where Donerson and Jason Hudson were shot.

Balfour's mother, Michele Balfour, said that her son had been married to Hudson's sister, Julia Hudson, for several years, but that they were separated. She also said Donerson had ordered him to move out of the family's home last winter.

Family friends said King is Julia Hudson's son, but authorities would not confirm that.
I hope that boy is found!

Editorials on the con-con

All from To start we look at a piece that says that the current state constitution works by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar:
llinois government may not be working, but our constitution works.

Throughout most of the nearly four decades since voters approved the state constitution, several governors and hundreds of legislators found common ground to move Illinois forward.

I worked with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to put state finances on solid footing, balance the budget, make Chicago Public Schools more accountable and help thousands of people move from welfare to work. Under this constitution, we have seen major capital improvement programs and advances that enhanced our economy and quality of life.

Our constitution, regarded as one of the best in the nation, certainly does not require the sweeping rewrite that a convention could produce. Like the U.S. Constitution, it is an enduring, broadly worded document that protects our rights, lays out a sound framework for governing and is insulated from the passions of the moment.

Consider an alternative document in California. The California Constitution allows for the initiative and referendum process that resulted in powerful interest groups convincing uninformed citizens to support laws that have a significant impact on state and local budgets. This process, touted by many constitutional convention proponents in Illinois, has put California taxpayers in a precarious financial position and left them paying the bill.
Here's a piece in favor of a con-con:
Some say we shouldn’t change the rules that control the politicians, that we should just change the politicians. We can change politicians, but politicians don’t change. Expecting all politicians to suddenly become virtuous is like expecting wolves to suddenly become vegetarians.

Some say we can’t afford a convention because it would cost $78 million, as though all election costs have to be borne by the convention, as though delegate selection and amendment voting can’t be done at regular elections. The $78 million figure comes to about $336,500 per elected delegate. Perhaps that estimate tells us why the state borders on bankruptcy.

Some say delegates may interfere with public pensions.

Concern for public pensions actually is a reason to vote for con-con, not against it. State government mismanagement, which includes failure to fund public pensions, has brought the state to the brink of bankruptcy. When the state is insolvent, so are pension funds. Our next opportunity for reform like this doesn’t come around till 2028. Failure to act now makes it unlikely there will be any pension funds by then.
I was unwilling unfortunately to really excerpt this thing but this is pretty good and worth reading the whole thing. It answers a lot of fears and concerned about convening a con-con.

Another piece not in favor of a con-con:
From the staggering financial expense to the erosion of strong protections on issues such as discrimination and tax caps, the chamber board believes the constitutional rewrite would be a costly and ineffective measure to address our state’s real problems.

The public resources that would be allocated to the constitutional convention — approximately $100 million and countless hours of our politicians’ time — could be put to better use in addressing our state’s real issues: budget deficits, school funding and crumbling infrastructure. 

If approved by voters, the constitutional convention wouldn’t be held until 2010, giving legislators a pass to do nothing until that date to address the state’s problems. The problems and challenges within our state cannot be attributed to flaws in our constitution, when in fact, the Illinois Constitution is considered by many legal scholars to be a model for other states to follow. By allowing politicians, special-interest groups and single-issue groups to rewrite our constitution, we could face the possibility that these problems would amplify. 
A piece in favor of the con-con...
Illinois voters will be presented with a historical opportunity to fix the structural problems that plague Illinois government and fix deficiencies and loopholes in our current constitution. There are problems that can only be fixed in a constitution, but the entrenched interests have come out saying a convention is unnecessary. Here is why they are wrong.

There are two arguments that a constitutional convention is inadvisable: the necessary changes can be made through other means (i.e. electing better politicians) and that there is no way to ensure that reform-minded delegates get elected. Skipping past the individual merits of these arguments for a moment, the arguments perfectly illustrate the problem. On one hand, we need to elect better politicians (I agree); on the other hand, we can’t enough elect good politicians to make a difference (I also agree). The opposition to a convention presents no solutions, just another intractable problem.
Finally this next piece basically runs down the issues of the con-con and the fact that it's on the ballot. Some of this has already been seen from time-to-time:
Whether a convention happens depends on the vote totals on the referendum question. There will be a convention if 60 percent of the people voting on the question say “yes” or if a majority of the people voting in the entire election vote “yes.” Otherwise, there will be no convention.

If voters authorize a constitutional convention, two convention delegates would be elected from each of Illinois’ 59 state Senate districts — a total of 118 delegates. Whether those prospective delegates would run for office on a partisan basis or a nonpartisan basis would be up to the General Assembly to decide as it worked out the mechanics of conducting a con-con. To be eligible as a delegate, a person must be a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old and who has lived in his or her state Senate district for at least two years before the delegate election.

Supporters of a “con-con” say that voting yes will offer an opportunity to fix what ails state government. Opponents say a yes vote won’t repair the problems because they’re caused by the individuals currently in government, and not by the constitution, which remains fundamentally sound.

The two sides of the debate have attracted an unusual mishmash of individuals and groups.
Some things to consider before you go to the ballot box on Nov. 4th. That is if you haven't early voted already.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Letter: Governor ignoring needs

A letter to the editor on the Governor's refusal to release funds for the care of abused and neglected foster children.

Con-Confusion: Ballot language still at issue

Clout St:
There seems to be some confusion about the revised language voters are supposed to get with their ballots on the question of whether to rewrite the Illinois Constitution.

A Cook County judge and an appellate court approved "corrective" language after critics said the ballot question seemed written to encourage votes against holding a constitutional convention.

But supporters of a convention say they are hearing the new language is not being distributed statewide, and that was indeed the case in St. Clair County this week.

County Clerk Bob Delaney said Thursday that he had not been distributing the “corrective notice” because he and the county state’s attorney didn’t think the original ruling applied statewide.
Apparently different interpretations of rulings.

City home sales dive 16%; median price tumbles 13%

Home sales in Chicago plunged 16% in September, while sales in the nine-county area fell at a much slower rate, according to a report released Friday by the Illinois Assn. of Realtors.

In the city, a total of just 1,770 single-family homes and condominiums were sold in September, compared with 2,108 during the same month a year ago.

In the entire Chicago area, sales last month dropped 6.2%, to 6,371 homes, compared with September 2007.

Meanwhile, the median sale price for Chicago-area homes in September was $224,000, down 13% from $257,500 during the same month a year ago.

"If there was any good economic news in the last month, it would have to be the universal realization that the downturn in the economy has reached proportions that have many analysts suggesting that it is by far the worst since the Second World War," Geoffrey J. D. Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release announcing the sales figures.

Weis outlines plans for combating gangs, drugs

Weis promoted what he called the "Mobile Strike Force," which will combat gangs through arrests, search warrants and gun seizures. He says the unit would consist of about 150 existing officers divided into about a dozen teams.
Another part of this discussion was police beats:
With police hiring slowing to a crawl and Chicago homicides outpacing New York and Los Angeles, Police Supt. Jody Weis vowed Friday to deliver on a promise made and broken by at least four of his predecessors: beat realignment.

“They haven’t been moved around since 1978. That’s three decades of people making empty promises. Nothing against my predecessors, but at some time, you’ve got to look at a problem and say, ‘I know I can’t make every one of the 50 aldermen happy, but we have to make sure we have the right resources in the right locations,’ ” Weis said.

“I'm 100 percent committed to that. … I know we’ll upset some people. But we have to have fair police service to every community.”

Testifying at City Council budget hearings, Weis refused to commit to a deadline. He said he’s more concerned that it’s “done right” than fast.

It will be done based on a formula that weighs violent crime most heavily, along with property crime, poverty, unemployment, population density and high-threat targets. He acknowledged that some wards will see the police presence drop.

“If we move people into other districts and other wards, we’ve got to take from some other place,” he said. “… I want it to be based on factors that ensure all citizens … get equal police coverage based upon the threat that they’re facing.”
Well City Alderman doesn't exactly hold him responsible for the rising crime in Chicago:
But two hours into the hearing, aldermen were considerably more genteel and complimentary of the superintendent's performance, 10 months into his term, compared to his last appearance before the same body this summer. Aldermen acknowledged Weis' efforts to revamp his department in the face of rising crime.
Several aldermen lamented cuts to the department, saying they wished the city could find money elsewhere to provide more officers, but didn't offer any suggestions as to where that money would come from.  Weis acknowledged the city's plan to slow hiring and filling of vacancies, with only 200 officers expected to be hired next year.

Still, the rise in violent crime, at almost 15 percent increase in homicides at the end of September, came up repeatedly, with many aldermen questioning what police are doing to fight gangs and drugs.
Tough times the budget situation and the crime situation.

Blagojevich blames economy for low approval rate

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is blaming his low approval rating on the nation's slumping economy.

The governor says his 13 percent job approval rating is unrelated to the federal corruption investigation that's been swirling around his administration.
At a news conference in Blue Island, Blagojevich continued to deflect questions about the federal investigation. The governor says it isn't unusual for politicians to be scrutinized.
I can't believe that he still thinks that in this current enviroment that he'd still win. Would he say that as 2010 gets closer?

Gay-Friendly School On The Ropes?

Progress Illinois seems to disagree with the Mayor decision to pull the plug on the "gay-friendly" school:
The Pride Campus student body would include a half-and-half mix of gay and straight teenagers, so it's unclear how Daley could suggest it would "isolate and segregate" students. Daley's complaint is also undermined by his previous support for schools that similarly separate students with certain backgrounds or interests. Military academies and single-gender academies have boomed under his administration. And magnet campuses -- which tend to attract more privileged students -- have also spread.

Public League playoffs kick off

Whatever has happened has already but this article should be noted for the mention of two public high schools. Not sure if they're in the playoffs, but they're contained in this Defender article.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother found dead

This story was in the 6th Ward Everyblock feed:
The mother of singer and Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson was one of two people found shot to death inside a home Friday.

Police have confirmed Hudson's mother, Darnell Hudson Donerson, 57, is one of the deceased. The home where the bodies were discovered is at 7019 S. Yale in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. Property records indicate the home belongs to Donerson.

The other victim has been identified as Jennifer Hudson's brother, Jason S. Hudson, 29.

A search is under way for a young boy who is missing from the home. A child, possibly Jennifer Hudson's 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, is missing, according to sources. Police are searching for an SUV that was seen in the area, a 1994 white Suburban, Illinois license plate number X584859.
I saw this story also at Chicago Breaking News blog.

State constitution battle unpredictable as Springfield

Clout St:
Voters will be asked Nov. 4 to decide whether to rewrite the Illinois Constitution, and the answer may depend in large part on how they feel about a state government plagued by scandal and dysfunction.

The campaigns to influence that decision have taken on all the trappings of a fight between arch-rival politicians, filled with misrepresentation, inflated rhetoric and viral e-mails. Even the way the question appears on the ballot was subject to court challenge and continued complaints about fairness.

At stake are the words of the 1970 Illinois Constitution—still regarded as one of the most progressive in the nation. Praised by Republican and Democrat alike, it banned sex discrimination before the warring over the federal Equal Rights Amendment, protected the rights of the disabled and condemned acts of hate based on religion, racial or ethnic background.

Still, even fans acknowledge the constitution's flaws.
Read the whole thing and while you're at it read up the con-con roundup over at the CapFax.

Stroger aide says no tax increase in new budget

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger trotted out the senior members of his staff for a town hall-style meeting Thursday night in South Holland, touting their achievements in improving county government.

Before many Southland officials and members of the public at South Suburban College's Kindig Performing Arts Center, Stroger and staff avoided any doom-and-gloom scenarios.

Sean Howard, a spokesman for the county health care system, predicted a quicker budget process this year, with no recommended tax increases. Stroger's 2008-09 budget recommendations still are being drawn up and have not yet been presented to the county board.

Howard credited the 1 percentage-point sales tax increase that took effect July 1 and a new health care board that oversees the county's hospitals and clinics with resulting in the better financial forecast.

State: Unemployment up in all Illinois cities

Officials say the unemployment rate is up in all the state's 12 metropolitan areas.

Rockford had the highest unemployment rate at 8.8 percent in September. The northern Illinois city also had the biggest unemployment jump, a 3 percent increase from September 2007.

Second-highest was Kankakee-Bradley with 8.5 percent, followed by Danville, in east-central Illinois, with 8.4 percent.

National Democrats dump on Rod in House race

This is certainly not helping the Governor at all. Crain's:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s own party now is ripping him in an effort to win a southwest suburban congressional seat.

In an action that veteran political activists say they believe is unprecedented, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the national election arm of U.S. House Democrats, this week quietly began airing broadcast TV ads in the Chicago media market that link an incumbent — if unpopular — governor of its own party to Marty Ozinga, the GOP candidate for Congress in the Joliet-area 11th District.

“Concrete’s a dirty business, especially for Republican Marty Ozinga,” says the announcer as video switches from a truck pouring cement to a picture of Mr. Ozinga, who owns a concrete company. “Republican Marty Ozinga and his companies gave 23 grand to Rod Blagojevich,” it continues, showing a picture of a pained-looking governor.

Mr. Ozinga, the ad concludes, is “the last guy you’d send to clean up Washington.”
I just saw this article at NBC Chicago asking if Blagojevich is the most hated governor in the nation:
The governor has become such a polarizing figure that both Republicans and Democrats are using him in negative ads. State Sen. Debbie Halvorson, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 11th district, is now using the contributions of businessman Marty Ozinga, her opponent, to Blagojevich as a reason to vote for her.
Blagojevich's approval ratings are lower than George Ryan's during his last weeks as governor when it was clear he was the target of a federal probe. With Blagojevich's top fundraiser Tony Rezko soon to be sentenced and talking to federal authorities, there is heightened speculation Blagojevich may soon face the same fate as Ryan.
Perhaps the only folks who will still speak in favor of the governor are those who'd like to replace Sen. Barack Obama should he win the presidency. The governor will get to appoint Obama's replacement, and there is a long list of those who'd like that job. In fact, the governor could even appoint himself.
I suppose this ought to be a lesson for those involved in politicans parties. I know that we generally elect party nominees in primaries, but the Governor just has to be a poster child for...

Well I'm not sure. It's got to be for good vetting. Perhaps that's not the correct word, but surely there are some lessons to be learned in this. Although I can understand if no one can ever account for general unpopularity.

Baxter donates $5M to public schools

Mayor Daley’s goal of making science fun for Chicago Public School students — and improving historically dismal science test scores — got a $5 million shot in the arm Thursday.

Deerfield-based Baxter International made a five-year, $5 million donation with the potential to touch the lives of 75,000 junior high and high school students and improve the skills of 450 teachers by 2012.

Specifically, Baxter’s generous Science@Work gift will include: $1 million to help launch two new Renaissance 2010 schools, each serving up to 600 students; $2 million to develop a Biotechnology Center of Excellence at Lindblom Math & Science Academy, where Baxter employees will volunteer, and $2 million to train 96 teachers each year, 66 or them at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Over the five-year life of the grant, 90 percent of the system’s 500 biology teachers will get training. The donation also will bankroll so-called “Baxter Boxes” filled with tools and materials used to teach biotechnology to teachers.
From The Capitol Fax morning shorts.

RTA could lose money because of AIG woes

The Regional Transportation Authority is among about 30 transit agencies around the nation that could be on the hook for millions of dollars because of the woes of insurance giant American International Group.

Executive director Stephen Schlickman said Thursday the RTA alone could have to kick in $105 million.

According to Schlickman, the issue involves "lease-back" deals struck by the CTA and Metra in the 1990s. With the deals, transit agencies sold or leased assets like rail cars and facilities to investors, then leased them back. The agencies got the cash, and investors got a tax credit.
Here's more from the Sun-Times:
The RTA is working with other agencies to try to get the U.S. Treasury to guaranty AIG’s credit or to find some yet-to-be-determined legislative fix, Schlickman told the RTA board. AIG was saved by a federal bailout.

According to Joe Costello, the RTA’s chief financial officer, the CTA has nine transactions with a total exposure of $61 million — including one involving the L’s Green Line. Metra has one deal with a $44 million exposure.
Jon Hilkevitch has more on the arrangement that might cause the RTA some problems:
The problem stems from AIG's leading role years ago in complex financing schemes known as lease-leasebacks, which the transit agencies entered into to borrow money to buy new trains and buses and improve deteriorating facilities.

The practice is no longer allowed under federal law, but here's how it worked:

Private investors leased transit assets from the agencies and made upfront payments. In return, the private partners took advantage of tax breaks stemming from asset-depreciation clauses in the tax code that were not available to the public transit agencies. The agencies leased back the assets at a low rate.
The maneuver ran into trouble when AIG, the main player in deals that provided financial backing for the transactions, last month failed to maintain its credit rating, RTA Executive Director Steve Schlickman said.
This financial crisis is all a big mess isn't it?

Schools need to get out of the bedroom

Well a little late now since it was reported yesterday that Daley put the brakes on a school for homosexual public school students. This is worth noting however and I tend to agree from the Sun-Times:
The Chicago Board of Education approved 13 new schools Wednesday and put off voting on five others -- including a school serving lesbian and gay students that ignited the most controversy at its monthly meeting.

"The schools need to get out of the bedroom and back to the 3 R's," an angry, opposed parent, Kathy Reese, told the board.
"This is why Johnny still can't read because the children are being used as pawns to further a political agenda. We should be helping them out of that lifestyle, not helping them into it," Reese said.
This parent was on the right track to be sure. The schools need to be focused on the three Rs. The rest of her comments however is a long way from keeping the schools out of the bedrooms. I understand what she's saying but the schools indeed need to be focused on the three Rs. Not sure they should be involved in either helping them out nor helping them into a lifestyle.

Grim stat: Chicago ahead of N.Y., L.A. in murders

As police Supt. Jody Weis returns to the hot seat during a City Council budget hearing today, Chicago is outpacing New York and Los Angeles in 2008 murders.

Chicago, whose population is dwarfed by those cities, posted 426 killings through Tuesday, compared with 417 in New York and 302 in L.A.
At the end of 1998, Chicago made international headlines as the U.S. "murder capital" after surpassing New York's homicide totals for the first time ever. Chicago shed that dubious distinction when murders plummeted over the last decade.

In 1998, there were about 700 murders here. Chicago is on pace to exceed 500 murders by the end of 2008.
Via Newsalert!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Listen to me very carefully!!!

Comments that border on defamation or better yet uses some guy's personal life as an argument against an article that said author wrote well better believe that this comment will be zapped before it ever sees the eyes of the public. If it was worth mentioning to talk about  this kind of stuff you're argument was already weak! Please remember that comments on this blog are moderated so it pays to consider what you write.

This is not the place to make such an accusation or charge. If you want to say something about a given author's personal life then I suggest you START your own blog! Please do not use this one as a platform.

Thank you in advance.

Daley nixes plan for gay high school

Mayor Daley on Thursday put the brakes on the Chicago Board of Education's controversial plan to open the city's first high school serving gay and lesbian students.

One day after his handpicked school board put off a vote on the School for Social Justice Pride Campus, Daley explained why -- by expressing his misgivings.

"You have to look at whether or not you isolate and segregate children. A holistic approach has always been to have children of all different backgrounds-- in schools. When you start isolating children and you say, 'Only 50 percent here, 40 percent here' -- same thing we went through with the disabled -- then you want to do that when they're adults," Daley said.

"It's controversial. Some people are for it. Some are against it-- The Board of Education has to make the decision whether it's good for isolating children. I don't know-- I'm just saying that's one of the problems-- You start identifying them."

Daley insisted he was not behind the board's decision to put off a final vote on Social Justice High until Nov. 19. The school would serve a 50/50 population of gay and straight students.

But he said, "It's something that the Board of Education has to work out and really understand what it's trying to do."
Well it's easy for me to say that Daley made a good move here. I would like to see other issues addressed in the schools though. Especially the issue about third world math scores by CPS students.

Local jobless rate dips in Sept.


The September unemployment rate for the combined Chicago, Naperville and Joliet area was a seasonally adjusted 6.6%, according to figures released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. That compares with August’s 7.2%.

The Chicago, Naperville and Joliet metro area includes Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties.

September was the second consecutive month that the unemployment rate for metro Chicago was lower than the statewide rate. That rate was 6.9% in September, down from 7.3% in August.

The nationwide unemployment rate in September was 6.1%.

While October’s jobless rate for metro Chicago won’t be known for several weeks, the figure could rise if national trends are any indication.

Also from Crain's Chicago area Foreclosure rates rise slower than national rates:

The number of foreclosure notices in the area rose nearly 42% during the third quarter, to 22,069 homes, compared to the third quarter, 2007, according to foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac Inc.

But nationwide, the number of notices shot up more than 70 percent, to 766,000 homes, during the third quarter, compared to the year-earlier period, the Irvine, Calif.-based company said.

One in 144 Chicago-area homes received foreclosure notices in the third quarter, a rate that ranks the Chicago area 31st in foreclosure rates among metropolitan areas nationwide.

Skyway considers open-road tolling

Drivers who save time and money by using open-road tolling on the Illinois Tollway might someday enjoy the same benefits on the Chicago Skyway.

The Spanish-Australian consortium that's paying the city $1.83 billion for a 99-year Chicago Skyway lease is laying the groundwork for open-road tolling.
Chicago Skyway Concession Co. is asking the Illinois General Assembly to authorize camera enforcement and administrative adjudication of Skyway toll violators.

The company, which uses gates to stop toll cheats, would be responsible for installing surveillance cameras and mailing violation notices. But drivers who refuse to pay or contest their tickets would be processed through the city Department of Administrative Hearings. In exchange, the city would assess and pocket a yet-unspecified fine.
If I recall correctly there's only one toll both on the road just before 87th. Continue east on the Skyway the next toll booth is just as you cross into Indiana. I don't see an advantage to open road tolling here to be honest.

Alvarez money from subordinates issue in prosecutor's race

Clout St:
Cook County state's attorney candidate Anita Alvarez has accepted nearly $30,000 in campaign contributions from at least 85 employees within the office, even as other politicians have stopped the practice.

Most of the donations were relatively small, topping out at $1,000. But in a state where bosses have come under fire for shaking down their employees, it's a position that contrasts with the Democrat's message that she's the candidate to change the "good ol' boy mentality" in the office.

It has also provided plenty of fodder for her Republican opponent, Tony Peraica, who said it was improper to take cash from subordinates and shows Alvarez lacks the proper judgment to hold the county's top legal office.

He is calling on Alvarez to return the money, but she said Wednesday that's "unnecessary" because she is not breaking any laws or ethics rules by accepting them.

Alvarez holds the No. 3 post under outgoing State's Atty. Richard Devine but has been on leave for a year to campaign. She characterized the donations as tokens of support from friends she has worked "in the trenches with" during her 22 years at the office.
BTW, I would like to add this post from Clout City about her thoughts about the indictment of Jon Burge earlier this week.

Low-income disabled to ride free on CTA, Metra, Pace

Low-income disabled people will be able to ride buses and trains for free in the Chicago area starting Friday.

It marks the latest expansion of a free-rides push that started in March after Gov. Rod Blagojevich granted free rides to senior citizens.

The free rides to seniors and to disabled people who are enrolled in the State of Illinois Circuit Breaker Program applies to fixed-route service on the CTA, Metra and Pace.

People who use door-to-door paratransit service must continue to pay. But transit officials say they hope the lure of free rides will lead paratransit users who are able to use the regular main line service to switch to fixed-route transit, cutting the cost of providing paratransit.
Once this new entitlement gets started. It doesn't stop and on top of that it costs money. Transit could be more expensive because of this. At the same time at least they hope to cut the cost of providing paratransit, but that's if they can convince disabled riders to take fixed route transit.

Chicago paying to maintain Millennium Park

Testifying Wednesday during City Council budget hearings, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg said those who were going to fund the conservancy are the same people who raised money for the art in the park. She said they later discovered it would cost a lot of money to run the park.

Weisberg said the $8.1 million pays for everything from landscaping, maintenance and repairs to security and sanitation. About $6.4 million of that money goes to MB Real Estate, the property manager running Millennium Park.

Study: Third-World math scores in Chicago

The comparison between Chicago, 10 other large urban U.S. school districts and dozens of foreign countries found Chicago ranked close to Slovenia and Armenia and far below economic competitors such as Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.

"Our urban district students are performing no differently than many Third World nations,'' said study co-author John Dossey, an emeritus math professor at Illinois State University. "It doesn't bode well.''

Although CPS math scores have improved since 2003, fourth-graders still tested worse than all but Cleveland and Washington, D.C., in the United States. Just 13 percent of CPS eighth-graders were proficient in math, putting them on par with students in countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Jordan and Macedonia.

"It is alarming,'' said Gary Phillips of the American Institutes for Research, which released the report.
I would like to know how they come up with these measures. How do they determine that CPS students don't know their math just as students in third-world nations don't know their math?

Measured alone, I'm not sure that I'd be surprised that CPS students don't know their math. The question is what do we do about it. Do we throw more money at the schools? Do we find more qualified teachers? What can be done?

Via The Capitol Fax morning shorts.

Poll: Blagojevich Approval Rating Only 13 Percent

A new poll indicates that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's approval rating among Illinois voters is even lower than the rating for President Bush.

Blagojevich has said he considers himself a great governor. But a survey by the Chicago Tribune indicates that three fourths of Illinois voters do not think Blagojevich should run for a third term.

The survey also showed an approval rating of only 13 percent for Blagojevich. Recently, President Bush's approval rating has hovered around 20 percent.

The Tribune story by reporter Rick Pearson says Blagojevich is experiencing "the lowest ratings ever recorded for an elected politician in nearly three decades of Tribune polls."
I wonder what the governor really thinks of his performance and of these polls.

Perhaps activities like this won't help him in these polls:
First, Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave out state-subsidized health care without permission.

Now, he won't tell taxpayers how many people are participating, how much tax money has been spent, or even which state account he's using to keep funds for the program.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services' rejection of The Associated Press' request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act amplifies the mystery surrounding Blagojevich's FamilyCare program and the administration's reputation for secrecy after promising open government.

It comes 3½ weeks after a state appellate court ruling questioned whether the records even exist. The ruling upheld a lower-court order last spring that Blagojevich dismantle the program he didn't have authority to expand.

Barring a Blagojevich victory on appeal to the Supreme Court, the information will be crucial as HFS tries to unravel what it's created.
He may be right on the issues but terrible on the execution.

Here's yet another indication of his unpopularity:
Blagojevich campaign spokesman Doug Scofield said Wednesday the governor simply is not giving money to other candidates this fall.

When Blagojevich won in 2002 and was re-elected in 2006, he became one of Illinois' most prolific political fundraisers. However, that ability slipped as his popularity has plummeted.
To be honest, he's never struck me as a particularly popular politician. But in the time since he's been re-elected governor he's really gone down as far as popularity.