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Friday, February 27, 2009

Aurora Fire Chief Tim Oelker Steps Aside


Tim Oelker, the City of Aurora's Fire Chief, announced he is retiring from the Aurora Fire Department, effective April 3rd.

The 57 year old Oelker was born in Aurora and has been with the Aurora Fire Department since 1979, becoming Chief in November 2005.

The number of full-time firefighters has grown to 207 in Aurora, although many say the department has become "top-heavy" with layers of management.

Chicago Bulls Fans Lose Two | Johnny "Red" Kerr and Norm Van Lier

Just like that, two of the Chicago Bulls most well-known personalities are gone. Former Bulls player and broadcaster Norm Van Lier died at the age of 61 and then former coach and broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr died at the age of 76.

After a standout career in high school, leading the University of Illinois to the Final Four and a 3-time NBA All-Star career, Kerr was the Bulls first coach in 1966-67 and a familiar face to everyone on the broadcast side during the Michael Jordan era.

"Stormin" Norm Van Lier was one of the Chicago Bulls superstar from the 1970's. Van Lier and Jerry Sloan teamed up with the Bulls to form one of the NBA's most competitive and famous backcourts. In the early 1990's, Van Lier became a pre-game, halftime and post-game analyst for Comcast during the Michael Jordan era of Bulls championships and the rebuilding years since.

On February 10th, Johnny "Red" Kerr was honored by the Chicago Bulls in a special presentation that included Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and Barack Obama.

Watch the full tribute below:

Johnny Kerr Tribute - Part 1 | Intro scoreboard video


Johnny Kerr Tribute - Part 2 | David Stern, Jim Durham



Johnny Kerr Tribute - Part 3 | Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Barack Obama


Johnny Kerr Tribute - Part 4 | Matt Kerr, Johnny Kerr's Own Words



Norm Van Lier telling it like it is | March 2008

Thursday, February 26, 2009

West Aurora School District 129 to Hold Public Forums on Financial Reduction Plan and School Closings; Todd and Lincoln Schools May Close

Thanks to the fiscal irresponsibility of your State of Illinois executive and legislative elected officials and the failure to pay over $5.2 million of money owed to West Aurora School District 129, the district is being forced to consider a financial reduction plan and the closure of two schools, Todd and Lincoln.

District 129 will hold three public forums, including one each at the schools under consideration to be closed.

March 2nd - 6pm,
West Aurora High School Cafeteria (enter Door #22) | map

March 11th - 7pm
Todd Early Childhood Center | map

March 12th - 7pm
Lincoln Elementary School | map

See inside for an explanation by the school district of the situation and the details of the financial reduction plan...

Note: We appreciate the district's open and transparent approach toward dealing with these important matters.

Obama Promises to Slash Spending By $2 Trillion and Cut Deficit By 50% | Will State and Local Governments Get the Hint?



President Barack Obama is making a promise we intend to force him to keep, which is to slash wild federal spending by $2 Trillion and cut the deficit (i.e. debt) of the United States by 50%.

But, when it comes to wild spending and skyrocketing debt, some argue the federal government of the United States is still in much better shape than many states and local governments.

AFTER the stimulus package pours billions into the bank accounts of state and city governments, will state and local governments (municipalities, counties) get the hint or continue to make the same fiscal mistakes?

Burris' Son Got State Job From Blago Administration | Pay-to-Play or Random Coincidence?

Roland Burris II, son of Sen. Roland Burris, was appointed to a $75,000 per year state job with the Illinois Housing Development Authority on September 10th, according to a report by the Sun-Times.

While the Sun-Times is making an issue of tax problems and a foreclosure the younger Burris was experiencing, the more relevant question is what role, if any, did former Governor Rod Blagojevich and the senior Burris have in landing the job, given pay-to-play allegations and federal investigations into the hiring practices of the Blagojevich administration.

As more facts emerge, it appears the senior Burris had his eye on President Obama's U.S. Senate seat for a while.

Should Sen. Roland Burris resign because of the cloud that hangs over him or should he stay?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama's Prime-Time Address to Congress and the Nation - Focus on the Economy | Gov. Bobby Jindal's Response

President Barack Obama's Speech to Congress


Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal's Response

Sen. Dick Durbin Tells Sen. Roland Burris to Resign | Burris Tells Durbin No

In the latest episode of Chicago and Illinois Corruption and Politics, the political drama of Sen. Roland Burris continues to evolve. Now, his not-so-buddy, yes-buddy, maybe-not-buddy Sen. Dick Durbin is making it clear he thinks Burris should resign.

"I told him that under the circumstances, I would resign," Durbin said to reporters after meeting Burris.

But according to Durbin, "He (Burris) said, 'I'm not going to resign.'

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Canadian National Files Appeal to Squirm Out of Paying for Railroad Impact and Help Daley Stick the Bill to Aurora, Naperville Taxpayers

Canadian National (CN) has filed an appeal of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) decision to require 67 percent of the mitigation costs for the impact of creating an overpass or underpass at Ogden Avenue in Aurora, Illinois.

Instead, CN says they should only have to pay 5 or 10 percent of the costs, which is estimated at over $50 million for creating a solution for just the one intersection. The railroad, which is helping Chicago Mayor Richard Daley shove railway freight traffic to the suburbs, wants to stick the bill to the taxpayers of Aurora, Naperville and other suburban communities like Barrington.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner said about CN and its CEO Hunter Harrison:

"This is just robber baron Hunter Harrison at it again...rape, rob and pillage every city, town and village."

Aurora Alderman Rick Lawrence, spoke out during a radio interview with Chicago Public Radio about the role of Chicago politicians in their role and responsibility in the massive financial impact on the suburbs and appeasment of Daley at the expense of taxpayers in communities like Aurora and Naperville, even at the same time suburban taxpayers have been hit with tax increases to bailout Daley's failures, such as the CTA.

"If this benefits the quality of life in Chicago, well, maybe Chicago needs to throw in some money in there since we've bailed them out on their CTA debacle."

Weisner, who co-chairs a coaltion of communities against CN's merger and impact, says a federal appeal is pending to review the merger and its impact, but that CN must pay more, not less for what it will do to suburban communities and has also asked for federal stimulus money for communities like Aurora that will have to spend tens of millions they don't have.

CN isn't waiting long to begin destroying quality of life in the suburbs. Starting in March, they will increase freight train traffic and it is expected to cause massive delays and train frequency, jeopardizing public safety and causing a chain-reaction of problems for the heavily populated region of Fox Valley communities.

Lawrence says those who are benefiting from the railroad impact should pay for it, from CN to the nation to the City of Chicago. He says those will suffer the impact should not also have to pay for it.

While CN wants Aurora taxpayers to pay 90 to 95 percent of the cost, Lawrence emphasizes, "The only acceptable cost to us is zero."

Naperville Moves to Close $11 Million Budget Hole | Job, Spending, Overtime, Training, Landscaping Cuts | Aurora's Cuts Coming Soon?

The City of Naperville is addressing revenue shortfalls that have created a $11 million hole with various spending cuts, according to the Daily Herald.

In addition to wiping out 23 vacant jobs, Naperville also has eliminated 20 existing positions and is limiting pay raises to 2.25 percent, while city council members note most of the private sector is experiencing job loss or zero percent raises.

Spending cuts include overtime, training, landscaping costs and other areas. Chris Smith, Director of Finance, says Naperville will keep its property tax rate flat at 71.66 cents per $100 equalized assessed value (EAV).

The City of Aurora, which is also considering major spending and cost reductions, has a property tax rate of $1.91 per $100 equalized assessed value (EAV).

Aurora's Alderman-at-Large and Finance Committee Chairman Bob O'Connor says Aurora's rate is "flat, too."

O'Connor is being challenged by write-in candidate Guadulupe Garcia in the April 2009 election.

Economic Memo to President Barack Obama | By Rick Santelli



As President Barack Obama prepares to address the nation tonight on the nation's economic crisis and the proposed solutions, the markets continue to tank to the lowest levels since 1997, long before even the blogosphere or YouTube existed.

CNBC's Rick Santelli, who lives in the western suburbs of Chicago, has given his view to President Obama, which has spread like wildfire. Check it out and share your view.

Temp Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Wants to Run in 2010 | Will Extreme Makeover Fool Illinois Voters?

Temporary Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he has no reason not to run in 2010 and thinks he is doing a good job so he will run, according to published reports.

Quinn, who conveniently looked the other way on the corruption and numerous federal investigations into Blagojevich (and Chicago's City Hall for that matter) while running for re-election as Lt. Gov in 2006, has been undergoing an extreme makeover to fool voters into thinking that he's been against corruption all along, even though he's endorsed and supported the corrupt regimes that have exploited the people of Illinois.

Other says that among leading Democrats considering a run for Governor, Quinn is actually the better choice if you consider Lisa Madigan, who's entire political career has been set-up by her father, Michael Madigan and the old-guard structure of Illinois politics.

So, what's the alternate for Democrats? Will a Republican candidate emerge that can appeal to both sides, not be part of the problems of the past and be the necessary change Illinois needs?

Will Republicans nominate someone who can put the state on a new track, not just take it back to the past?

Who should be the next Governor of Illinois?

Bank Nationalization | Coming Soon or Avoid at All Costs?



Should the United States nationalize banks that are in "trouble" and take them over completely, either temporarily or forever?

Has the government already indirectly intervened by pouring billions into the financial system?

Would government ownership make the situation any better or worse?

Can the marketplace and private sector solve this on their own?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kane County Democrats Meet-n-Eat | Who Will Emerge Running for What in 2010?

Rep. Bill Foster speaks to the Kane County Democrats

Kane County Democrats hosted their annual "Truman Dinner" in Aurora this past weekend with guests that included state elected officials such as Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Dan Hynes and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Many other elected officials, including Congressman Bill Foster, Mayor Tom Weisner, State Sen. Linda Holmes and State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia were also present.

With candidates vying for varoius positions in 2010, who do you think will run for what?

Slumdog Millionaire Dominates Oscar's and Wins Best Picture of the Year



Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture and several other awards at the 81st Academy Awards.

See below for the cast before the show, including the kids...

Meet the Press | Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gov. Charlie Crist



Meet the Press with David Gregory
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Florida Governor Charlie Crist
Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rep. Foster Visits West Aurora School District 129 and Promises Really Big Check Coming Soon from Federal Stimulus

Rep. Bill Foster and Superintendent James Rydland

Thanks to the incompetent fiscal management by the elected officials of the State of Illinois, most school districts face a financial crisis from delinquent payments from the State to schools.

West Aurora School District 129 has a $5.2 million hole directly related to the past due payments not received from the State of Illinois.

With the massive trillion dollar spending spree being touted by President Barack Obama, some of those funds are designated for programs like Title 1, early childhood and special education.

Rep. Bill Foster visited West Aurora High School on Thursday to say more than $4 million of that federal spending should be coming to West Aurora School District 129.

Superintendent James Ryland said they would gladly accept the funds given the financial crisis created by the State of Illinois.

The funds, which will come from the U.S. Department of Education and sent to the state theoretically will be distributed to school districts based upon existing standards and proportions, but given the state's recent history of incompetence, only the receipt of the actual funds will be confirmation that it's a done deal.

Here's some of what area school districts can expect:

East Aurora $5,652,000
Indian Prairie $4,843,000
West Aurora $4,356,000
St. Charles $2,781,000
Oswego, $1,703,000
Batavia $1,419,000
Geneva, $1,190,000
Kaneland $671,000

>Watch the entire press conference

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Election 2009 | Alderman Rick Lawrence Gets Unanimous Vote of Endorsement by Aurora Police Union

In what may be an unprecedented vote, Aurora's Police Union not only voted to make an rare endorsement of Alderman, but voted unanimously to endorse Rick Lawrence for re-election for Alderman of the 4th Ward. Copy of letter:

To the People of Aurora,

With over 150 years of dedicated service to the people of the City of Aurora, the second largest city in the State of Illinois, the sworn members of the Association of Professional Police Officers

We value the leadership of our elected officials to work together with our sworn members, who are committed to the best interests of the community as our highest priority.

On February 9, 2009, the Association for Professional Police Officers met with Rick Lawrence and considered his candidacy for re-election as Alderman of the 4th Ward of Aurora.

Rick Lawrence has faithfully served the community with integrity and dedication. With mutual respect and cooperation, he has worked together with our members to make Aurora a safer and better place to live.

We, the sworn officers of the Association for Professional Police Officers, are proud to have unanimously voted to endorse and support Rick Lawrence for Alderman of the 4th Ward of Aurora and encourage our fellow citizens to do the same for the April 7, 2009 election.

Respectfully,

Dave Hornburg
President
Association of Professional Police Officers (APPO)
Aurora, Illinois

Election 2009 | Debate the Debate of the Aurora Mayoral Race

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and his two challengers, Alderman Stephanie Kifowit and Alderman Richard Irvin, met Wednesday evening in a mayoral forum at North Island Center.

The forum was sponsored by various business organizations so the questions submitted were mostly related to business.

Daily Herald excerpts:

"Residents nearly filled Aurora's Copley Theatre, 8. E. Galena Blvd. for Wednesday night's forum, hosted by the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Quad County African-American Chamber of Commerce."

Tom Weisner...

During his first term, Weisner boasted, crime rates sunk to a 30-year low, the city has become a leader for instituting eco-friendly initiatives and he said, the city has made "great strides" in attracting new development throughout the city.

The simple fact is, for the first time in a long time, we are making progress in our downtown.

Stephanie Kifowit...

Third Ward Alderman Stephanie Kifowit also took shots at Mayor Tom Weisner, in what was at times a two-on one battle, by promising to rid the city of it's strong mayor and chief of staff philosophy by hiring a full-time city administrator to handle the daily duties of the city and "rid the mayor's office of politics."

"We are the only community where a political person takes money in one hand and doles out permits with the other," Kifowit said, referring to Weisner's hefty war chest.


Richard Irvin...

"They call us the City of Lights and I don't believe we're called the city of lights because we were the first community with electric street lamps," Irvin said, waxing poetic. "They call us the city of lights because of the light of hope that shines in each and every one of your eyes; hope that we can be better, that we can make a difference, that we have a government that won't raise our taxes..."

For those that attended the mayoral forum, what impressed you about the candidates?

> Daily Herald story

Note: Video clips of forum will be broadcast here when available

Roland Burris, Same Tune, Different Person | I Have Done Nothing Wrong

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Election 2009 | Kifowit's Campaign Manager Resigns and Campaign Falls Apart As Aurora Mayoral Race Moves Into Higher-Profile



Explosion or implosion?
Alderman Stephanie Kifowit's campaign for
Mayor of Aurora is falling apart with another huge blow
(viewer discretion advised)




Just before the first mayoral forum, Alderman Stephanie Kifowit's campaign for Mayor of Aurora is falling apart with the resignation last week of her campaign manager, Liam Flynn.

Flynn resigned, leaving Illinois to pursue other political opportunities on the east coast. He says he is "glad" to be moving onto better things.

Kifowit had touted Flynn's role and campaign experience, but in multiple emails to supporters since last week, she failed to disclose the resignation.

Is this the type of "transparency" she claims she would bring to City Hall?

Sources say Kifowit would not listen to Flynn's advice and strategy, instead micromanaging the campaign.

Is this an example of the "leadership that listens" slogan Kifowit has been using?

Kifowit's campaign has been faltering in both finances and dwindling support, with no progress and things going backward. Flynn chose not to go down with the sinking ship, according multiple sources.

As reported earlier, Kifowit's campaign events have had few supporters. Her message from changing from a full-time mayor to city manager has failed to catch on.

Despite over $400,000 in "doll donations," Kifowit has very little cash and ended up selling the dolls as $2 trinkets at flea markets.

A complaint was filed by a prominent developer about an possible alleged shakedown for campaign contributions. Later, after getting zero donations from city contractors or developers, she then said she would not take any such donations.

With the first mayoral forum tonight and the campaign moving into higher-profile, Kifowit's campaign is falling apart at the wrong time.

Is this her campaign's fatal blow?

NOTES: Tonight's mayoral forum is between 5:30 and 7:30pm at Copely Theater at North Island Center (map) includes Kifowit, Mayor Tom Weisner and Alderman Richard Irvin. Click here to register if you wish to attend.

Last week, the Beacon-News did a story on the campaign manager of the mayoral candidates. Despite being given the information on the resignation of Kifowit's campaign manager, the Beacon-News failed to share this development with its readers.

Under managing editor Mike Cetera, the publication's own implosion continues to worsen and its parent company CEO has resigned, too.

West Aurora School District 129 Restructures As State's Delinquent Payments Balloon to $5.2 Million

Due to the failure of the State of Illinois and all of its elected officials, West Aurora School District 129's past-due payments owed by the state have ballooned to $5.2 million as of Tuesday.

District officials and the school board have been contemplating various measures to deal with the financial crisis caused by the state that mandates certain programs, but has failed to fund them.

As a result, the district is being forced to restructure non-mandated or optional programs.

At Tuesday's meeting, the West Aurora School Board voted 6-1 to restructure drama classes from an elective course for middle school students to having a double block of language arts instruction instead, extending each of the class periods and overall school day to six hours and 53 minutes.

While some believe this is a reduction in drama opportunities, district officials say it's restructuring and may provide greater opportunities since drama will be made more consistent across the district and can be taken by 8th grade students as a choice instead of a foreign language.

NOTE: Several viewers report a woman who identified herself as Alayne Scatterday, also known as Alayne Weingartz, addressed the board with confusing statements and far exceeded her allotted time to speak. As the City of Aurora's so-called corporation counsel, Weingartz has routinely shut-off people during their public comments if 3 minutes have expired.

Fleecing of America? | Should Congress Apply the Same Standards of Frivolous Expensive Flights By Corporate Execs to President Barack Obama?

Congress correctly lectured auto executives for flying around in their corporate jets at the same time they were seeking to spend taxpayer money during a financial crisis.

From auto executives to financial executives, there's been heavy criticism on spending money that isn't necessary and could be done either cheaper or avoided.



So, should this same standard apply to President Barack Obama, who is jet-setting across the country at massive taxpayer expense for campaign-style opportunities such as Lincoln's birthday in Springfield, a trip to Florida, a visit to Peoria, Valentine's weekend in Chicago, stimulus bill in Denver yesterday and now a housing photo-op today in Arizona?

Are these trips all "necessary" and "best" use of taxpayer funds during an economic crisis?

Should White House travel fasten or tighten their belts? It's your money.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Election 2010 | Linda Chapa-LaVia Explores Running for Lt. Governor of Illinois


Sources have confirmed Illinois State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia (D-Aurora) is exploring a run for Lt. Governor of Illinois in 2010.

Chapa-LaVia has considered various races from Congress in 2008 to Mayor of Aurora in 2009 but a statewide run for Lt. Governor in 2010 is the current target.

With several Democrats considering positions from Governor to U.S. Senate, this would be her first statewide run if she proceeds.

Chapa-LaVia recently won re-election in 2008 for the 83rd District State Representative against Republican Joan Solms.

Aurora Crime Stats for 2008

The Aurora Police Department has released crime statistics for 2008 showing an overall drop of 4 percent, which includes drops in property and violent crime.

767 property and 4,380 property crimes

4,380 propery and 767 violent crimes in 2008. Nationally, the drop in property crimes has been 2.5 percent. Violent crimes have dropped nationwide 2.5 percent.

"The latest crime statistics refinforce the impressive successes made against criminal activity in Aurora even as the population has exploded over the past three decades," said Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner.

Police officials, including Chief Greg Thomas, say a combination of federal help and technology has helped to combat gang-violence.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, who was awarded by the Illinois State Crime Commission in 2008, says that the COP's (Community Oriented Police) has worked well with him to target chronic and serious problems.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roland Burris Ignites New Twist in Blagojevich's Senate Seat Sale Controversy

Here's the newest twist in the Blago-Burris controversy:


Here's Burris on Sunday during a press conference:


Just when we all thought the Roland Burris Show was over for now in regard to the alleged sale by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat, it appears Burris failed to be completely forthcoming at the Illinois House Impeachment Panel and about the solicitation for contributions in connection to the senate seat.

Burris had discussions with five Blagojevich aides, including John Harris (Daley's whiz kid), John Wyma, Doug Scofield and Lon Monk.

Did Burris lie or just not reveal the whole truth? Burris held a press conference on Sunday to address the issue, but another controversy that's emerging from this is the actions of Illinois House Democrats who didn't reveal the new information even though Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie had it for weeks.

Chicago Tribune provides these links for more background:
>Burris audio clip from January
>Burris audio clip from Face the Nation appearance
>Burris letter to Rep. Currie and Affadvit

Meet the Press | David Axelrod on Stimulus, Spending, Politics, Banks, Autos, Cheney, etc


Meet the Press with David Gregory
David Axelrod and Political Roundtable

Meet the Press "Green Room"
Courtesy David Gregory

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Has Barack Obama Won the Stimulus Spending Spree at the Cost of Broken Promises?



Local political rockstar Barack Obama, now President of the United States, was correct during his campaign that politics as usual needed "change" and serious transparency was needed in government at all levels. So, as he prepares to sign a stimulus bill with millions and billions of taxpayer expense on top of a trillion dollar debt, did Barack Obama stick to his promise of transparency and open view or did he veer off-track into the Rahm Emanel, Daley-style of politics as usual?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Lockdown and Heartless | Commentary By Kanye West



Love Lockdown with Lyrics
By Kanye West

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak (Bonus Video Version) - Love Lockdown



Heartless with Lyrics
By Kanye West

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak (Bonus Video Version) - Heartless

Congress Approves $787,000,000,000 Spending Spree (aka Stimulus) | How Illinois Reps Voted...

After barely getting the 60 necessary votes in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House approved a $787 Billion spending spree (aka "economic stimulus" and not including the interest to pay for the debt or any of the financial system bailout) in a 246 to 183 vote on Friday.

7 Democrats in the U.S. House joined all Republicans in voting against the package.

Here's how the Illinois delegation from the U.S. House voted, including Bill Foster, Judy Biggert and Peter Roskam:

FOR SPENDING $787 Billion: Bill Foster, Melissa Bean, Jerry Costello, Danny Davis, Luis Gutierrez, Deborah Halvorson, Phil Hare, Jesse Jackson, Bobby Rush, Jan Schakowsky

AGAINST SPENDING $787 Billion: Judy Biggert, Peter Roskam, Tim Johnson, Mark Kirk, Donald Manzullo, Aaron Schock, John Shimkus

PRESENT: Dan Lipinski

...how would you have voted and what happens if this doesn't jumpstart the economy?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln | Gettysburg Address





Abraham Lincoln Books via Amazon:


Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

A. Lincoln: A Biography

Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon

Election 2009 | Aurora Election Commission Rules 2-1 to Reject Objections to Campos in Aurora Township Democrats Controversy

After six hours of testimony over two days, the Aurora Election Commission voted 2-1 to reject the objections over the Democrat's nomination of Christina Campos for Aurora Township Supervisor.

Paul Greviskes and Annie Craig had filed objections over the caucus results and process.

Blagojevich Airs Dirty Laundry of Illinois Government


Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared on WLS-AM Radio's "Don & Roma Show" and started to air some of the dirty laundry of Illinois Government, including the following random excerpts:

>Another legislative leader came to us because one of his members was sleeping with his secretary. And then the wife found out and she wanted that secretary fired. But this guy was in love with his secretary, so he goes to the legislative leader, they come to us, they want us to hire this woman so that we can keep that guy happy and, you know, then hope that they might work with us on some issues.

>My state senator here, who is the senate president, John Cullerton, drives around the neighborhood in a Jaguar. He works in a politically-connected law firm that does business, that gets businesses, you know, from state government.

>Think about it. They want to raise taxes on the working guy. There are 10 Democratic state reps who are double dippers. They take their marching orders from Mayor Daley.

There’s another fact that your listeners probably don’t know: For every dollar that’s raised through a state income tax, the city of Chicago gets what’s called a local government distributive share. So they get a piece of it.

>So those 10 double dippers. Rep. Joe Lyons (D-Chicago), for example, Rep. [John] D’Amico (D-Chicago) and a lot of these other guys who have big city jobs and they get paid $70,000 or better as state reps part time, are gonna raise taxes on people to pay for their two government jobs because the mayor gets a piece of the action to pay for that job that they have a (the city department of) Streets and Sanitation. It’s sickening. And wrong....

>Listen to Blago interview | Part 1 | Part 2

Congress Asks Bank CEO's: What Did You Do With the Money?



Congressman Ackerman asks Bank CEO's, including JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, to explain where the billions went.

Do you believe the credit crunch will be eased by giving banks more billions?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Kinda Sorta Unveils Trillion(s) Bailout | Stock Market Answers with Plunge



U.S. Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner
Multi-Trillion Dollar Financial Bailout Announcement


On the same day the U.S. Senate has taken a major step toward approving the massive trillion dollar (when you include the cost of interest) economic stimulus (spending) package and just when you thought things couldn't get any more confusing with the financial crisis, President Barack Obama's Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner threw a curve into the equation with the kinda sorta announcement of a potential financial stability (bailout) plan that could cost trillions.

Geithner said the new strategy "will cost money, involve risk and take time."

That type of strategy with uncertainty resulted in a stock market plunge on Tuesday.

From the credit crunch to what to do about "troubled assets" to how to allow capital to flow to how all this will be paid for, what would YOU do to make our financial system work?

Planned Parenthood Makes Choice to Heat Up Planned Parenthood Controversy in Aurora and Encourage Protest



Planned Parenthood is having a "Community Forum" on Wednesday, February 11th at the Eola Community Center (map) in Aurora from 5:30 to 6:30pm.

After becoming Ground Zero in the nation's abortion debate and the extensive controversy, litigation and questions about zoning, protests and other related issues, why is Planned Parenthood hosting a community forum in Aurora of all places where there's obviously going to be significant protest?

The Fox Valley Park District, which operates the space for the event, now has the burden of dealing with the complications of hosting such an event from security to how it affects the normal activities at the facility.

Planned Parenthood, upon learning that the Pro-Life Action League and Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood would be holding a protest at the same time, changed their registration process for the forum by asking for email requests and saying they would require a photo I.D. to enter the public building.

Viewers on both sides of the abortion debate have asked why Planned Parenthood didn't just hold the forum at its own facility or another community.

The forum is being used to get support for Illinois HB 5615, being called the "Reproductive Justice and Access Act" which according to the pro-life group, would remove any restrictions on abortions, including parental notification.

Beacon-News Asked to Retract Story on "Black Leaders"

The Aurora Beacon-News recently blasted a headline "Black Leaders Support Weisner" from a meeting with people from various churches, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns and Theodia Gillespie from the Quad County Urban League.

Bishop William Bonner, former Aurora Police Chief Bill Powell, Rev. George Marshall, Pastor Julian Spencer and others were among the participants.

While there was praise for Weisner during the meeting, there were two serious problems with the story.

First, it was just a meeting, not intended to be an endorsement or official "support" as the Beacon-News suggested. The participants of the meeting have asked the story to be retracted.

Second, considering we have just elected our local political rockstar as President of the United States, who happens to be "black" or "African-American," we are puzzled as to why the Beacon-News is taking the political progress and discourse backward by saying "black leaders" support this or that candidate.

Would it make sense to say "White Leaders" support this or that candidate?

And, what qualifies as a leader? Is it a position of clergy in a religious institution? Is it elected office? Is it a current or past job title in any organization?

We encourage those who support any candidate to express themselves as they wish, but we think the era has passed to insert racial politics into something that isn't.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
-Dr. Martin Luther King


Barack Obama's Campaign Speech on Race | 37 min

Forbes Names Chicago 3rd Most Miserable City | Weather, Commutes, High Taxes and...Corruption? What?

Richard Daley, Mayor of Misery

Forbes has listed Chicago the #3 most miserable city, behind Stockton and Memphis.

Despite Obama and Oprah, aside from the obvious factors of lousy weather, lousy commutes, high taxes, high unemployment, struggling economy, one particular factor got our attention.

CORRUPTION

What? How could that be possible? Gov. George Ryan is in prison and Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been impeached.

Maybe Forbes realized what most media ignored during the Blagojevich circus, which is that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is still the main reason the culture of corruption has thrived.

On the bright side, at least the list was about overall misery with multiple factors.

When it comes to just corruption in the largest American cities, thanks to Richard Daley, Chicago is second to none.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

President Obama's First Prime-Time Press Conference | Is Our Local Political Rockstar Changing Washington or Being Changed So Far?



President Barack Obama
First Prime-Time Press Conference
White House | 58 minutes


There's so many issues, from the trillion dollar stimulus (spending) package with interest and debt, to two ongoing wars to whether the financial crisis will get better or worse, but in addition to those and many others, is Barack Obama, the local political rockstar who became President of the United States, changing Washington or being changed by Washington so far?

Yes, it's early, but a couple weeks into the Obama Presidency, what's the initial review?

West Aurora School District 129 Draws Full Crowd on State's Funding and Failure to Pay | Local Legislators AWOL

A standing room crowd attended a discussion by West Aurora School District 129, led by Superintendent Dr. James Rydland, on their fiscal situation, funding and failure to pay millions owed by the state, where to cut and the broader issue of school funding.

Viewers report the discussion was about three hours of serious review of the issues, challenges and solutions. Aurora Alderman Rick Lawrence and Alderman Stephanie Kifowit were both reportedly in attendance, but not our state legislators.

For the benefit of district officials, we encourage anyone who attended the forum to comment on what was learned and what should be done to address the fiscal crisis being created by the failure of the State of Illinois to pay funds owed to the district.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Residents Living Near Aurora University Seek Stronger Oversight and Standards for Off-Campus Housing

As Aurora University has continued to expand and grow, the number of students who live near the school in private rental off-campus housing has also grown along with the issues that come with it.

"Rooming houses" or "boardinghouses" have been increasing, but west side residents in the 4th ward neighborhood say many times there are problems such as home maintenance, underage drinking, parking and high-turnover related to college students that contradictsthe character of the neighborhood.

In a frontpage story on Sunday, the Daily Herald interviewed residents and city officials about the situation and what to do about it.

Ron Anderson, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years, told the Daily Herald:

"The house across me has had 15 occupants in less than four years and the partying is unbelievable. It's mostly underage students who can't drink on campus but I can tell you they go through two kegs a week over here. Living in this neighborhood we loved has really turned into nothing but a headache and a problem."

Another resident, Sue Gouldsberry, said there are often off-campus parties that result in noise and parking issues, changing the quality of life.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, who's ward includes Aurora University, agrees with the residents the problem exists and the unique situation for college off-campus housing addressed to protect the neighborhood and maintain a cooperative relationship between the residents and Aurora University.

Lawrence has proposed to Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and the Planning and Development Committee (P&D) considering ordinances and solutions in other communities with off-campus housing issues such as creating an overlay district that would apply increased standards and licenses for off-campus housing to insure better quality, prevent problems and make it easier to address any issues that come up.

Currently, Alderman Lawrence and COP (Community-Oriented Police) officers have implemted a program to meet students they know of who live off-campus and try to address these issues in preventive "good neighbor" manner.

The P&D Committee is expected to consider the proposal and Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner supports the effort to address the growing problem.

However, Rosario DeLeon, Director of Neigbhorhood Standards, doesn't seem to agree with the residents or most city officials that a problem exists. He told the Daily Herald:

"I don't know if I could tell, just by looking at them, which homes were owner-occupied and which are rented to students..."

Alderman Rick Mervine, who sits on the P&D committee disagrees and says that it seems the problem needs to be addressed.

According to the residents, there is not only a problem, but a growing one that requires a solution.

>Daily Herald story

Note: Many residents have contacted us about this issue and conveyed their appreciation to the Daily Herald for reporting on the story, but noted the other local newspaper, the Beacon-News, has been AWOL.

Illinois Pushes Gambling Expansion Despite Drop in Revenue | Aurora's 2008 Hollywood Casino Revenue Drops Again

Most major retailers when faced with dwindling revenue from multiple locations tend to delay expansion or, even worse, close existing stores.

When it comes to casino gambling, the State of Illinois is taking a much different approach. Make the problem worse for existing casinos and the communities they exist in.

To compensate for a drop of an estimated $177 million statewide in gaming tax revenue, Illinois has awarded the 10th casino license to Des Plaines, which would pay the state for a license, but would also likely adversely affect and dilute the gaming tax revenue and attendance at other suburban casinos, such as Elgin and Aurora when Des Plaines opens in 2010.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Casino's gaming tax revenue to Aurora dropped to a 5-year low for 2008 with total gaming tax revenue for the City of Aurora at $12.6 million, according to Brian Caputo of the City of Aurora. That's $2.8 million less than the previous year.

The 2009 budget projected $13.2 million and Caputo says the city will adjust its numbers as numbers for January are reported.

Congressman Peter Roskam Talks Stimulus and Political Future on Fox News Chicago Sunday



Congressman Peter Roskam
Fox News Chicago Sunday
Economic Stimulus
Political Future

Friday, February 06, 2009

Election 2009 | Aurora Mayoral Race; Kifowit Proclaims "Heat is On"


According to a published report, Aurora Mayoral Candidate and Third Ward Alderman Stephanie Kifowit has declared the "heat is on."

No, she's not talking about heating up the mayoral race with her opponents, Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and Alderman Richard Irvin. She's talking about actual heat for campaign office.

An email referenced by the Beacon-News that was originally distributed by the Kifowit campaign asked people if they could "spare a nickle" this weekend and said their heat was turned off.

Kifowit responded with "It's not true at all. Our heat is on. We have money in the bank," and she continued with "And, I certainly know how to spell 'nickel.'"

The reality is Kifowit's campaign has very little campaign cash on hand, according to the most recent official filings, despite receiving over $400,000 in donations of dolls in 2008, which she then sold at various flea markets and shows as $2 trinkets.

As previously reported, Kifowit's campaign events have drawn few supporters despite her presence at almost every event around the City of Aurora.

It does not appear her message of changing Aurora's government from mayor to a city manager has worked. Many observers say she has yet to differentiate herself from opponents.

Anyone within the City of Aurora who has no heat is encouraged to call 630-264-INFO instead of distributing an email solicitation.

CN Railroad Seeks to Fast-Track Negative Impact on Suburbs | Aurora Fights Back and Demands Solutions from Chicago Mayor Daley and Friends

Ogden Avenue (Rt. 34) crossing in Aurora
Increased freight train traffic is starting soon and
could cost quality of life, public safety risks and
millions and millions to address the problem

Canadian National (CN) has announced they are planning to expedite the increase of freight traffic and destruction of quality of life in Aurora, Naperville and other communities along the EJ&E tracks much sooner than many had anticipated.

As early as March, train traffic will increase even though CN has yet to commit to how they will remedy the negative impact on communities or pay for such costs.

Aurora, Naperville, Barrington and other suburbs are fighting back, both in court in a federal appeal and addressing the accountability of elected officials who are willing to shove freight traffic from Chicago at the expense of suburban taxpayers.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner is co-chair of a coalition of suburbs (TRAC) fighting back and pursuing a federal appeal on the Surface Transportation Board's (STB) approval of CN's purchase.

On Thursday, during a radio interview with Chicago Public Radio, Aurora Alderman Rick Lawrence, who has supported the efforts of Weisner and the coalition to fight the railroad and make sure the STB reviews the matter properly, says suburbs must also address the hidden opposition, which is the City of Chicago and Mayor Richard Daley.

Lawrence says Daley wants the freight traffic out at the expense of the suburbs. He points out suburban taxpayers not only fuel much of the economy of the City of Chicago, but when it comes transportation, suburban taxpayers have had to help pay for Daley's CTA:

"If this benefits the quality of life in Chicago, well, maybe Chicago needs to throw in some money in there since we’ve bailed them out on their CTA debacle."

Daley, who is trying to pry billions for Chicago out of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus spending package with the help of his loyalists Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarret, always complains the City of Chicago needs more money.

From the CTA, O'Hare, Chicago Public Schools and many of Daley's other debacles, he now also wants to spend about a half-billion dollars more on a temporary city-controlled stadium for the Olympic bid that is only necessary due to Daley's $700 million cost to taxpayers in mistakenly renovating Soldier Field in a way that eliminated it from being used as the main Olympic venue.

At the same time Daley pursues billions of taxpayer funds, he is sitting on close to $6 Billion in cash from his recent deals to lease the Chicago Skyway, Midway Airport, downtown parking garages and parking meters.

Lawrence says any economic stimulus package involving infrastructure should make the suburbs the first priority and communities such as Aurora and Naperville should bear zero cost and negative impact for the benefit of CN railroad and Daley.

"...you want to destroy a small community. You talk about economic stimulus, throw this project into our city, you’ve just destroyed our economy. Financially, it could really hurt us."

He also says that elected officials, including Sen. Dick Durbin, who defer to Daley's wishes, but fail to protect the taxpayers of Aurora, Naperville and other communities should be held accountable.

Meanwhile, Jim Kverdaras, a public affairs manager of CN, sidesteps the impact and cost on local communities and focuses instead on the larger transportation issue:

"Railroad transportation is a building block of the economy. All the business and industries that have use for rail, especially those that come through Chicago, which is widely recognized as the transportation hub of North America."

Alderman Lawrence says again the bottom line is that the only acceptable solution is zero cost to taxpayers of communities such as Aurora and Naperville and that if Chicago, CN and the rest of the nation benefit from this, then they should all pay for it.

>Listen to the Chicago Public Radio report (mp3)

Election 2009 | Kane Judge Flip-Flops on Aurora Township Democrats Controversy; Eventual Shift to Aurora Election Commission

Kane County Judge Michael Colwell has flip-flopped on his earlier ruling over the controversy over objections to the Aurora Township Democrats caucus and nominees for Supervisor.

The judge, who has a reputation of blasting people with tirades from President George W. Bush to attorneys in his courtroom, first punted the issue back to the Aurora Township Board, preventing the Township Clerk from certifying the results.

The Aurora Township Board determined it had to punt the issue to the Aurora Election Commission, but in order for them to hear the issue, the results have to first be certified, so the matter ended up back in court, where Colwell now has ruled the results must be certified.

With the results now being technically certified by Colwell's flip-flopped ruling, the Aurora Election Commission could hear objections in a hearing next week.

Objections were filed over the results of the caucus over election victory of Christina Campos for the Democrat's nominee for Supervisor. Candidates Annie Craig and Paul Griveskes came up short and said state law and rules were not followed properly.

IF there is a re-vote, who would you choose?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Illinois | State of Fiscal Irresponsibility, Corruption and More Taxes? $9 Billion Hole Can't Be Blamed on Blago Alone

If you listen carefully to state politicians, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the new Governor Pat Quinn and the old cronies of Illinois, nobody seemed to have a clue the state's finances were in such bad shape until now and it's all Blago's fault.

However, last we checked, the Illinois General Assembly led by House Speaker Michael Madigan and former Senate President Emil Jones, have been passing budgets that continued to spend money on everything one could imagine, even with sales tax increases to help bailout Daley's CTA mess.

With the highest sales taxes in the nation thanks to the Daley-Stroger control over Cook County, state politicians, especially Illinois Democrats, are talking about a possible income tax increase, exactly what former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich warned they would push for.

As Illinois and Chicago continue in a corruption crisis, is raising income taxes the answer or just making the situation worse?

West Aurora School District 129 Moves to Trim Expenses; Fiscal Responsibility 101 Lesson for All

West Aurora School District 129 is taking steps to trim expenses with state funding delays.

A public brainstorming session will be held on Monday, February 9th, 5pm, at West Aurora High School (Room A206).

There is approximately $3.7 million in payments owed by the State of Illinois, but with a $9 Billion state deficit, it's not clear if that will change the problem for the district, even if there is federal economic stimulus funds.

We applaud West Aurora School District 129 for being fiscally responsible under the circumstances and encourage all other local government entities to do the same.

What are the ways to reduce expenses and/or increase revenue for the school district?

East Aurora School District 131 Moves Forward with Magnet Academy

The East Aurora School Board has approved a plan to establish a "Magnet Academy" by 2012.

With an emphasis on math, science and technology, there are 5th and 8th graders enrolled this year.

Next year (2009-2010), additional grades will be added including 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th.

In 2010-2001, the 3rd, 7th and 10th grades will be added. 11th grade will be added in 2011-2012 and 12th grade in 2012-2013.

The district will be having an open house on February 10th at 5pm at the East Aurora High School Freshman Center.

Questions can directed to 630-299-5531.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blagojevich Begins Second Blitz on NBC's Today Show | Did Illinois Dems Attempt to Buy Blago's Senate Pick At Taxpayer Expense?



Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is making his second media blitz in New York and appeared this morning on NBC's Today Show.

Blago says some leaders attempted to buy his senate seat choice and buy him out of the process in exchange for the rest of his salary and security detail for two years, all at taxpayer expense.

Should the same impeachment and legal standards being applied to Blagojevich be applied to anyone who may considered and/or conspired to use taxpayer funds as leverage to gain control of the Governor's office and senate seat choice?

Sen. Chris Lauzen's Speech | Blagojevich Impeachment Trial



Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen's Speech
Senate Impeachment Trial of Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Daschle Drops As Obama's Health Czar On Yet Another Tax Controversy | Maybe It's Time to CHANGE and Simplify the Tax Code and Process



Former Sen. Tom Daschle bites the dust as President Obama's HHS (Health and Human Services) Secretary nominee due to tax problems, although he also violated the spirit of Obama's new rules against the revolving door of lobbyists.

With the tax problems and "honest mistakes" of multiple nominees, perhaps President Obama may want to apply his "CHANGE" idea to the tax code and process, so that every American taxpayer can pay their fair share without hiring a CPA, attorney and financial analyst.

***UPDATE: Daschle's problems are also related to his limo and driver. Seems that he's "changed" a lot. Could this video of an old campaign ad posted online helped convince him to withdraw?

Election 2010 | Illinois Democrats Want to Move 2010 Primary for Political Purpose...Again

Illinois Democrats moved the 2008 primary election from March to early Februrary to help Barack Obama gain electoral votes.

Now, they want to move it again for 2010. Pat Quinn, the replacement for Rod Blagojevich, says he wants to shorten the campaign season and conveniently make it easier for him to run for Governor. He would like to see it moved to August or September.

Some Repubicans want to move it to June and some want to keep it in February or March.

Regardless of this or that candidate, when should the primary be held for 2010 and beyond? The current schedule is for the primary to be held on Feburary 2, 2010, one year from now.

Pat Quinn | Politics As Usual

After helping push Rod Blagojevich over
the political cliff, when is Pat Quinn going to
explain what he knew and when did he know it?

After serving for years as his lieutenant governor
and being aware Blago was under federal investigation,
this is what Pat Quinn said about Gov. Blago in 2006:

"(Blagojevich has) always been a person who's
honest and one of integrity. I have confidence the
governor does the right thing all the time."

-Pat Quinn, September 15, 2006

Monday, February 02, 2009

Was Rod Blagojevich, Pay-to-Play and Corruption the Exception or Rule of Chicago and Illinois Politics?



A unanimous vote against Rod Blagojevich, pay-to-play, corruption.

If you listen to the speeches, one would think everyone is outraged by this type of conduct in Illinois and the "Chicago way" of politics goes against the moral, ethical and civic values of our politicians.

But wait...are there a lot of hypocrites from legislators to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley who have engaged in "Chicago way" of politics and fixed the system for the benefit of both Democrats and Republicans who play the game?

Pat Quinn, the new Illinois Governor, when most everyone knew Blagojevich was under federal invesitgation, campaigned just two years ago saying Blagojevich was a person of integrity.

Lisa Madigan, who is the political combine's best hope in 2010 to keep the cycle of old-style politics going, takes money from lobbyists and cronies as she works as the state's chief legal officer and says the reason she has knowingly ignored the violation of state laws by her fellow politicians is because she might "trample" on what the Feds "might do someday."

How many times in the last month have we heard a politician say "everyone knew there's been a history of federal investigations into the Office of the Governor" yet act shocked at what is going on?

How many politicians have had the courage to point out at the same time Mayor Daley's administration has also numerous federal invesitgations into corruption along with convictions?

Some Illinois Senators correctly have pointed out during the impeachment trial Blagojevich didn't just do everything without help or people and cooperation by other corrupt people.

On the day Blago was arrested, so was John Harris, his Chief of Staff, who was formerly the whiz kid of Mayor Daley and responsible for the midnight destruction of Meigs Field, something that some might argue is an "abuse of power."

Those who think Rod Blagojevich is the worst person in the world should be careful. He's not even the worst person in Chicago or Illinois.

He's just the fall guy for the political system that doesn't like all this attention on the way business is done and the game is played.