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Thursday, April 30, 2009

100 Days Press Conference with President Barack Obama

Press Conference with President Barack Obama
White House | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Also, see below for a photo review of Obama's first 100 days
(photos provided by the White House):

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Probable Swine Flu Cases in Aurora, Batavia

The Kane County Health Department today recommended that the Rotolo Middle School in Batavia and the Marmion Academy in Aurora close temporarily following the identification of a probable swine flu case in each of the schools. This is a preventive measure designed to help break the cycle of disease transmission and protect students, faculty, staff, administrators, and the larger community.

>Kane County Health Department Information Line on Swine Flu
Call 630-208-3315 (8am to 8pm weekdays, 9am to 1pm Saturday)

>Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Swine Flu

>See inside for more information

Government Transparency | It's Classified

HR8791 Homeland Security Bill (2008)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sen. Arlen Specter Swtiches Parties

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa) is changing political parties to become a Democrat.

Reports say he was in danger of difficult primary election battle next year as a Republican.

Start Your Engines, Aurora Small Business Community Revs Up to Stop Auto Shop Ordinance That Would Regulate Everyone, Extract Fees, Restrict Freedom

A controversial proposed ordinance to regulate auto shops will once again be discussed at Aurora's Government Operations (G.O.) Committee meeting on Tuesday at 4:30pm.

The ordinance, allegedly intended to address problems with noise and nuisance of repair facilities within neighborhoods, was proposed by 7th Ward Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns and drafted by the city's current so-called corporation counsel, Alayne Weingartz.

Widespread opposition to the ordinance has been building since it surfaced in late 2008 and the Daily Herald now reports "Expect there to be more mechanics at Aurora's City Hall on Tuesday than in a NASCAR pit row."

In what many call a case of government trying to swat a fly with an atomic bomb, instead of the ordinance targeting so-called isolated problems of "chop shops" in a neighborhood, it impacts everyone else.

Even if you aren't a mechanic. As long as you do any type of work on a vehicle, even if not for money or compensation, you are defined an "auto repair shop" by the ordinance and must be licensed by the city for $100 per year and pay a $5,000 bond.

Need to pour winshield washer fluid under your hood? What about inflating your tires? Washing your own car?

Should a battery jumpstart in your driveway at 10:01pm or 5:45am constitute an auto repair and therefore require an annual license and bond?

Auto shop owners, the usual ones and the not-so-usual ones, would be prevented from operating from 10pm to 6am. Even if nobody is making any noise or causing any disturbance to anyone.

Among the many controversial aspects to the legislation, any "auto repair shop" would be required to make customer records available to the City of Aurora upon demand for any reason without any basis, justification or due process.

According to the Daily Herald:

Fourth Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence said the ordinance is unnecessary because state and local noise and parking laws already address the issues that worry Hart-Burns.

"As an alderman, I already have the necessary tools at my disposal to address concerns. In the rare situation where an owner may not be cooperative, we have been able to work together with our police department, zoning and property standards to enforce existing laws and regulations to address the concern," he said.

"Politicians talk about supporting small business and how they are the key to our economy and the success of our community, but this will only discourage business, including those that operate successfully and cooperatively, and create an unfriendly and adversarial atmosphere in which to operate."

Many auto repair shops are concerned about being targeted when many other business types, from dry cleaners to pharmacies to lawyers to physicians, are either not treated the same way or should be very concerned they could be next.

As one small business owner told, "if they can do this to auto shop owners, define basically anyone as an auto repair shop beyond what the State of Illinois licenses and make these bizarre restrictions, extract fees and demand proprietary information, then everyone should be worried."

Daily Herald further says:

Brian Barnwell, the owner of Brian's Auto Service for nine years on Oliver Avenue, told the Daily Herald "I'm a pretty conscientious business owner and I understand the need to get along with my neighbors so that's single biggest issue is that they would require us to have local business licenses but that wouldn't be required of any other business."

Erin Lyle, co-owner of Marty's Auto on Rathbone Avenue, told the Daily Herald "We have three houses right next to us and we've never had a noise or nuisance issue...they're (city) not picking on tattoo parlors or grocery stores or anyone else."

Alderman Hart-Burns, who chairs the G.O. Committee, may have isolated situations in her ward that need to be addressed and we strongly encourage those specific problems to be addressed with existing laws and regulations.

Other city council members, including 5th Ward Alderman Whitey Peters, say they will oppose the legislation and find it unnecessary to further license auto repair shops.

While small business owners and individuals are not permitted to make public comments at the G.O. Committee meeting they plan to attend, you may speak up to 3 minutes at Tuesday's Aurora City Council meeting at 6pm (see details below).

>Government Operations Committee
Tuesday, April 28, 4:30pm | agenda
Aldermen's Office, 60 E. Downer, Aurora | map

>Aurora City Council
Tuesday, April 28, 6:00pm | agenda | large bills
City Hall, 44 E. Downer, Aurora | map

>To speak at the Aurora City Council meeting
Contact City Clerk Cheryl Vonhoff at 630-844-3615

Guaranteed Maximum | Subject to Change

We noticed this item on the Aurora City Council agenda for Tuesday:

>Resolution Amending the Construction Manager Agreement with Leopardo Construction Company, Hoffman Estates, Increasing the Guaranteed Maximum Construction Price to $63,747,991.00 to Include the Purchase and Installation of an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) in the Amount of $769,274.00 for the Aurora Police Headquarters E911 Center.

Since President Bill Clinton helped us all realize the definition of a word depends on who's defining it, we are assuming in this case the definition of "guaranteed" and "maximum" are subject to change anytime. For the rest of us, "guranteed maximum" might mean something different.

The UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is to allow the 911 center computers to continue to function for 9 minutes until a backup generator can kick in.

At $769,274 that would be $85,475 per minute or an hourly rate of $5,128,493.

Please note the new (or old) "guaranteed maximum construction price" is only about half of the estimated costs of the new police palace. The full costs are not determined, but are currently estimated to be in the range of $125 million.

Here are some of the other items the Aurora City Council will consider on Tuesday:

>$528,000 for a generator at Aurora's City Hall

>$30,000 (est) for outside legal services

>$739,943 for 2009 citywide sidewalk program

>$12,368 for annual maintenance for McCarty Park water fountain

>$6,932 to Merrimac Solutions for "misc computer items"

>$120,700 for Cisco card access system for new police palace

>$211,616 for Cisco networking equipment for new police palace

>$704,632 to Wegman Construction for new police palace

Here are some of the items the Finance Committee will be considering at their meeting (agenda) on Tuesday at 3pm at City Hall, 5th Floor:

>$30,000 for software for the Aurora Police

>$4,306,767 for 2009 street resurfacing from Geneva Construction

>$1,459,900 for more Cisco equipment for the police palace

>$1,306,247 with ComEd for underground electrical work for "music garden" at proposed RiverEdge Park

>Million Dollar Ward Slush Fund

Plane Fiasco Over New Yok City

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine Flu | Proceed with Caution

Note: Europeans have been advised against travel to the United States and Mexico unless it's essential travel.

60 Minutes | Interview with Vice President Joe Biden

60 Minutes Interview with Vice President Joe Biden

Meet the Press | Robert Gibbs, Swine Flu, Torture, Obama Presidency, King of Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Iran, Leadership

Meet the Press with David Gregory
Robert Gibbs, King of Jordan

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs weighs in on President Obama's first 100 days in office and the escalating debate over torture. Then Jordan's King Abdullah II joins us to discuss his meeting with President Obama; prospects for peace in the Middle East; the fight against terrorism and the global economy. Plus, insights and analysis on the first 100 days with two Pulitzer Prize winners: the newly awarded Jon Meacham of Newsweek magazine and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Chicago Bulls Win Double-Overtime Thriller to Tie NBA Playoff Series at 2-2

Chicago Bulls defeat Boston Celtics in a double-overtime NBA playoff game to tie the series at 2-2.

Jarron Gilbert | Chicago Bears 2009 Draft 68th Overall Choice

With the 68th overall choice in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Jarron Gilbert from San Jose State.

Friday, April 24, 2009

City of Aurora Parks Director Exits for Aurora University

Jim Pilmer, City of Aurora's Director of Parks and Recreation is leaving on May 8th to take a new position with Aurora University, where he has a daughter who is a student.

Daily Herald reports:

"Pilmer joined the city in 1999 as director of downtown services. In April 2001, he was appointed chief of staff by Mayor David Stover, and in June 2002, he began his role as director of parks and recreation.

In his current position, Pilmer oversees the management of 12 playgrounds, three community parks, 12 neighborhood parks, two 18-hole golf courses, one three-hole junior golf course and a muncipal zoo. Despite the range of responsibilities, Pilmer said he sees several similarities between the project management and facility-care aspects of his current job and what he expects to be doing at Aurora University."

Rosario DeLeon will be the interim director.

What's your view on the what Aurora should or shouldn't do in the future with parks considering the Fox Valley Park District also overlaps the city?

Is Pilmer's exit a sign of many changes to come in the next administration?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back to the Future | Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is the NBA Rookie of the Year...Could He Be Like Mike?

Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is the 2008-2009 NBA Rookie of the Year.

With flashes of Michael Jordan-like moments, can Rose take the Bulls back to the future with an NBA Championship?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture Memos

Should the CIA "torture memos" have been released by President Obama and what should happen to anyone who may have authorized any torture?

Earth Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

West Aurora School District 129 Votes to Close Lincoln School and Save Taxpayers Money

With the closure of a 100 year old school, there is no doubt plenty of memories, aside from the affect on the current students, but in the end, West Aurora School District 129 is making the best choice for its taxpayers and the future.

In an unanimous vote, the school board voted on Monday to close Lincoln School, which is projected to save a million dollars in maintenance and upgrades to the very old structure and close another million in administrative costs.

The students will be transferred into other schools within the district after the conclusion of the 2008-2009 school year.

Despite the obvious emotional attachment many may have for the school, we commend the district for taking the right action for the best interest of all instead of clinging to an old structure that is costly.

Did Carrie Prejean, Miss California, Get Punished for Being Honest About Her Disagreement With Gay Marriage?

Carrie Prejean, Miss California and runner-up for Miss USA on Sunday evening, was asked a question by blogger Perez Hilton about gay marriage. She answered it honestly and was blasted by many because she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Did her answer cost her the Miss USA crown? Many, including Perez Hilton, are still blasting her for her answer, but we say she wins for standing up for what she believes is right.

President Obama's $100 Million Trim Around the Edges | Memo to Our Local Political Rockstar: Need to Go Big

When the United States is pouring billions into bailouts for the financial, auto and bad government industries, how much is $100 million of savings in the big picture? Not much, but that's the "challenge" President Barack Obama has given to his departments to cut from spending.

We say that's not enough and the Obama administration needs to set an example to the numerous other government entities with habits of wild spending and make cuts that are bold and CHANGE the ways of the past.

Government entities, including the State of Illinois and City of Chicago and everywhere else in between are holding their hands out for billions in taxpayer funds that will bailout their fiscal irresponsibility and incompetent decisions. We shouldn't enable the mistakes of Main Street anymore than Wall Street.

Remember, it's YOUR money.

Interview with Andy Shaw | Illinois Politics, Chicago Corruption, Ryan, Blago, Daley, Obama

Interview with former ABC7 Political Reporter Andy Shaw
WTTW's Friday Night Show with John Callaway

Monday, April 20, 2009

Election 2010 | 14th Congressional District Seat for Illinois

In less than a year, unless the date is moved, Election 2010's primary will be held in Illinois and who runs for what is underway behind-the-scenes.

Bill Foster (D), who won the 14th Congressional District seat of Illinois that was held for many years by Denny Hastert (R) who retired, may have a variety of opponents, including Denny Hastert's 31-year old son, Ethan.

The younger Hastert says he's talking to people, but hasn't made any decision yet.

State Sen. Chris Lauzen ran for the seat, but Jim Oberweis won in a very heated primary and then lost to Foster. Would Lauzen run again? Should Lauzen run again considering his senate seat's term expires at the same time?

Foster barely won his primary over John Laesch, who some Democrats are encouraging to run again. Some say Foster's win over Oberweis was more about the vote against Oberweis than a vote for Foster, so Foster is vulnerable in an election that will lack the Obama effect and may highlight the problems of Democrat leaders in Illinois from Blagojevich to Daley to Burris.

Aurora is very important to who wins the 14th Congressional District seat. Election 2009 had landslide victories for both Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and Alderman Rick Lawrence.

Who do you want to see run for this seat in 2010?

Obama Diplomacy or Foreign Policy Blunder? | Castro, Chavez and Ortega

President Barack Obama is shaking hands with people like Hugo Chavez, so what does that mean in the big picture? Smart diplomatic move or foreign policy blunder?

At the Summit of the Americas, Chavez even took the opportunity to give Obama a book, which has surged near the top of

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

After easing some travel restrictions with Cuba, is Obama's strategy of reaching out to those nations and leaders the U.S. has had poor relations with a good or bad move?

Congestion Reduction on the Aurora-Naperville Border

North Aurora Road (Indian Trail Road) in Naperville
Daily Herald photo

The City of Naperville, City of Aurora and Naperville Township will jointly address a congestion obstacle on the Aurora-Naperville border on North Aurora Road (Indian Trail Road in Aurora).

Daily Herald reports one part of project will be to replace the underpass at North Aurora Road, which will involve the three entities.

The other part will be to widen the area, which will be a project between the City of Naperville and Naperville Township.

The project's construction target is 2013 or 2014 and the estimated cost is $30 million for the underpass and $4 million for widening.

For More Information:
>City of Naperville Public Open House
>Thursday, April 23rd, 4:00 to 7:30pm

>Longwood Elementary School (map) in Naperville.
>North Aurora Road proposal information
>Project Engineer, Andy Hynes, 630-548-2958,
>Public Open House info (pdf)
>Survey Summary (pdf)

Meet the Press | Economy, Cuba, Torture, Fuzzy Math. Tea Parties

Meet the Press with David Gregory
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Larry Summers

Friday, April 17, 2009

Expect the Unexpected | Susan Boyle's Dream Spreads Around the World

Susan Boyle's dream on the show, Britain's Got Talent, has spread across the world.

For those who wonder if it's still possible for anyone to dream big, step forward and give it your best, watch the video.

Federal Power vs. State Rights | Don't Mess With Texas

Texas is saying thanks, but no thanks to some of the economic stimulus because of strings attached.

Other states are saying by forcing stimulus money into failed programs, the Feds are rewarding incompetence.

In Illinois, from state government to Chicago's City Hall that have been fiscally mismanaged, giving billions may put a smokescreen over deep problems that will be ignored instead of changed.

Should states be able to say no to President Obama's economic stimulus funds?

OpenlineBlog 4.0 | Coming Soon...

Aurora's Hollywood Casino Update

Last year in March 2008, Aurora's Hollywood Casino had over $21.1 million in revenue.

This year in March 2009, they had about two million dollars less at $18.9 million in revenue.

The City of Aurora received $12.6 million in gaming tax revenue in 2008, yet they project to receive $13.2 million in 2009.

For comparison, here are revenue numbers (in millions) for three area casinos:

Elgin Casino--------------------$27.3

Joliet Harrah's---------------$25.4

Aurora Hollywood-----$18.9

>Full Illinois Gaming Board Report for March 2009

Election 2010 | Schillerstrom Will Run for Governor of Illinois in Growing Field of Candidates

DuPage County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom is planning to run for Governor of Illinois.

Already, there are various names that have surfaced for Governor, including Sen. Bill Brady, Doug Whitley and Joe Birkett.

Birkett, who is DuPage County's State's Attorney, means that DuPage voters could have a choice among their own.

Whitley, who was President of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, is from Batavia. Brady is from Bloomington, Illinois.

On the Democrat side, temp Governor Pat Quinn is likely to seek election, but may have a challenge from Lisa Madigan, who currently is Illinois Attorney General.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano Squirms on Concerns of Right-Wing Extremists

President Obama's Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano has been squirming to explain her department's "concerns" to watch for those who participate in demonstrations against the government to veterans who may become "right-wing extremists."

On Thursday, Napolitano dismissed criticism of her agency's intelligence assessments and defended a recent report that says some military veterans could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or lone acts of violence.

The report was "an assessment, not an accusation," Napolitano said. "We do not mean to suggest that veterans as a whole are at risk of becoming violent extremists."

Napolitano described the report, issued last week, as part of the department's routine of analyzing intelligence information to give law enforcement agencies guidance on possible security threats

Transportation | Obama Pushes Ahead for High-Speed Rail, Pace Experiments with Rapid Bus Transit for I-55

President Barack Obama is moving ahead with a high-speed rail plan and planning to spend $8 billion to jumpstart it.

One of the ten corridors under consideration include a Chicago-based midwest hub, connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.

With the Chicago metropolitan area's population being much larger in the suburbs than the City of Chicago, would it make more sense to have the hub in the suburbs next to a Metra line connecting into downtown or place the hub in downtown Chicago?

Meanwhile, the RTA and Pace have announced they will soon proceed with a Rapid Bus Transit experiment between suburbs like Bolingbrook and downtown Chicago on I-55. The left shoulder of I-55 would be used by the bus to bypass traffic.

Chicago Area Fires Up Tea Party Protests Against Wild Spending and High Taxes

From Chicago (above), the nation's capitol of corruption,
high taxes and wild spending, protests and tea party rallies
spread across the United States on Wednesday, including
local rallies in Naperville (see below) and Oswego, Illinois

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

City of Aurora Considers Fireworks Show Move to July 3rd; Same As City of Chicago

The City of Aurora's Government Operations (G.O.) Committee approved a change to move the annual Independence Day fireworks show to Friday, July 3rd for this year, which would be considered by the full Aurora City Council in few weeks.

According to Gina Moga from the City of Aurora's Special Events, the reason for the temporary change for one year is because July 3rd falls on a Friday and would provide flexibility for people to travel for the weekend.

The change would also mean the City of Aurora would have their fireworks show at the same time as the City of Chicago, which usually has their show on July 3rd. The largest cities in Illinois would be the same.

What do you think? Friday, July 3rd or Saturday, July 4th?

Election 2009 | To Waste or Not Waste Taxpayer Dollars? Aurora City Council Votes 11-1 to Waste

The Aurora City Council voted 11-1 on Tuesday to spend (waste) further funds on legal fees that are an estimated $30,000 for the controversy surrounding the Aurora Township Democrats Caucus that resulted in objections, court case and re-vote.

Nobody has been able to explain how such a staggering amount of legal fees were racked up by the Aurora-based law firm of Mickey, Wilson, Weiler, Renzi & Andersson at the expense of Aurora taxpayers while it appears the candidates themselves didn't have anywhere near such legal fees.

Alderman Rick Lawrence said since this was a township dispute, the fair thing would be for the township to handle the costs of the dispute and determine if they could spread the cost to all township taxpayers, including those that do no live in the City of Aurora or recover it from the Aurora Township Democrats or the candidates that pursued the matter.

Lawrence was the only city council member to vote to not waste City of Aurora taxpayer funds on the Aurora Township dispute.

However, others on the Aurora City Council reportedly justified the expense by saying since Aurora has the Aurora Election Commission, the City of Aurora taxpayers were "obligated" to just pay the bill.

To complicate matters, there are convoluted and inconsistent policies related to how the Aurora Election Commission operates with townships and counties that are part of the City of Aurora.

Aurora Township is within Kane County, but includes portions of other communities, such as North Aurora and Montgomery. While Kane County funds a portion of the Aurora Election Commission, it does not pay for all expenses and none of these bills.

Meanwhile, the Aurora Election Commission currently handles the voters of Aurora that reside in Kendall and Will Counties but receives zero payment from those counties.

DuPage County handles the voters who reside in the DuPage County portion of Aurora, yet as City of Aurora taxpayers, their funds are being used to pay for the dispute in Aurora Township (DuPage voters of Aurora live in Naperville Township).

All of this further illustrates the absurdity of Aurora's election infrastructure. When the Aurora Election Commission was formed, the vast majority of residents lived in Kane County, but in today's situation, a signficant portion of the city does not even use the election commission.

Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham says if the Aurora Election Commission was eliminated, his office would still have an Aurora location to serve residents so there would be no inconvenience.

Since Aurora is in the unique situation of multiple counties, let's eliminate the Aurora Election Commission so we have a fair and equitable system where each county handles AND pays for its resident's election needs.

Aurora Township should step forward and reimburse the City of Aurora for the costs associated with the dispute that is no fault of City of Aurora taxpayers and no relation to those who live outside of Aurora Township, but within the City of Aurora.

Kane County Targets Furloughs and Unpaid Holidays to Reduce $3.8 Million Budget Deficit; City of Aurora Considers Options

The Kane County Board is trying to come up with ways to save $3.8 million from their budget, including using furloughs and considering some unpaid holidays.

According to the Daily Herald, shifting just four of ten paid holidays to unpaid would save close to a million dollars per year.

Other local governments, including the City of Aurora, have serious financial challenges to address and must come up with ways to reduce spending and expenditures.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner told the Daily Herald:

"I think there's going to have to be a number of decisions that have to be made in terms of pay increases across the board within the city, in terms of hiring, in terms of consolidating departments to reduce expenses.

We're going to have to be looking at the things other cities are looking at in terms of pay increases, furlough days. If the economy and revenue situations continue to run in the negative direction, we have to be ready to deal with it."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Illinois and Chicago Corruption | Blagojevich Pleads Not Guilty

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagjoevich plead not guilty today to various corruption charges as Illinois and Chicago's culture of corruption take center stage again.

On Thursday, John Harris, who was Blago's Chief of Staff and one of Mayor Daley's whiz kids and responsible for carrying out the destruction of Meigs Field, will be at court.

Rally Time | Chicago Tea Party Protests By Taxpayers of Wild Spending and High Taxes Spreads Across the Nation on Tax Day

CNBC's Rick Santelli spoke up about the financial foolishness of the government and proposed a tea party in Chicago to send a message to Washington. Just around a week later, over 40 protests were held across the nation, including Chicago.

Chicago, under the leadership of Daley, Stroger, Madigan and others, is the perfect place to highlight high taxes, wild spending, fiscal irresponsibility and corruption.

On Wednesday, April 15th (tax day), tea parties will spread all over the United States to hundreds of cities, including Chicago and other local communities such as Naperville (City Hall at 12 noon) and Oswego (Hudson Crossing Pedestrian Bridge at 5:30pm).

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Gun Rush and Conceal-n-Carry

There's a rush on the purchase of guns in America with the election of Barack Obama as President.

From bans on weapons to serialization and taxes on bullets, people across the nation have been stocking up. See the 60 Minutes video above for background.

In Illinois, there's various bills on the ability of citizens to conceal-n-carry guns, which is currently not allowed. Proponents of the bill point to lower crime statistics for states that allow concealment since the bad guys, who ignore whatever law, are forced to assume anyone else may be armed.

What is your view?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fatal Plane Crash in Sandwich near Route 34

Two people were killed Saturday afternoon when a single-engine small plane crashed in a field near Sandwich Airport and Route 34 (map).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Election 2009 Aurora Voter Turnout and Looking Ahead to 2011

Voter turnout hovered around 20% for Election 2009 in the City of Aurora and some people (such as the boys at the bankrupt Beacon) say there must have been election fatigue or apathy.

We say no.

This year, there was no primary, so under normal circumstances, there would have been an election in February. Instead, there was a wider gap between elections since the City of Aurora election was held in April.

The voter turnout was lower citywide because of a low-key mayoral election. Tom Weisner won a landslide with Richard Irvin getting a defeat even worse than 2005. Stephanie Kifowit says she doesn't look at it as a loss. Maybe she means because she won the battle for last place.

Rick Lawrence's landslide victory in the 4th Ward is the only other race where there were three candidates. In his case, the 4th Ward turnout was significantly higher than most of the city, which make Lawrence's 60% vote against two other opponents impressive.

Weisner and Lawrence dominated their races to the point where even if you combined the votes of their challengers, they still would have won.

The obvious "what if" scenario was if both Weisner and Lawrence had run for mayor at the same time. That race would not have been low-key or a lower voter turnout with none of these excuses of voter fatigue or apathy. On the contrary, that race would have likely generated the highest voter turnout in recent history for a municipal election.

The higher voter turnout in November was because there were candidates (including our local political rockstar Barack Obama), races and issues that motivated people to vote.

Most people expected easy victories for both Weisner and Lawrence.

However, for those disappointed there was no significant change on the Aurora City Council, 2011 will not necessarily be like 2009.

Despite the off-year (no mayoral race), Ward 1 (Abby Schuler), Ward 3 (Stephanie Kifowit), Ward 5 (Whitey Peters), Ward 6 (Mike Saville), Ward 8 (Rick Mervine) and Alderman-at-Large (Richard Irvin) will each have their terms expire.

We expect at least three of those seats, if not more, to have new names two years from now.

Election 2009 | Aurora Township Republicans Continue Exit Strategy; Does Party Affiliation Still Have Relevance?

Aurora Township Democrats haven't really had the best of times recently with the caucus controversy, but at least they could rely on the continued exit strategy of Aurora Township Republicans from elected office.

All Republicans lost in Tuesday's election with the exception of Dr. Monica Silva for Aurora Township Trustee. Township Assessor Davis Offutt was unopposed.

Aurora Township Chairman and Kane County Board Member Bill Wyatt, who ran for Mayor of Aurora in 2005, had hoped the Blagojevich scandal and numerous mistakes by Illinois Democrats in recent months would have helped provide an opportunity for a comeback for Aurora Republicans.

We believe the best interests of Aurora is for high quality candidates, regardless of political party, but that raises the question being asked in many suburban communities.

Is the relevance of political affiliation becoming less important in local elections?

Are Democrats doing well in Aurora because they are really doing well or because Republicans have had problems and last November, Barack Obama carried Democrats with him?

What does it mean to be Republican or Democrat today?

What if partisan races were non-partisan? Would we end up with the same people or something much different?

Election 2009 | Should City of Aurora Taxpayers Get Stuck With the Bill for the Aurora Township Democrat Caucus Controversy?

The controversy surrounding the Aurora Township Democrat Caucus that ended up in Kane County Court, but then got punted to the Aurora Election Commission by Judge Michael Colwell who flip-flopped on his earlier decision, is now being punted onto the table of the Aurora City Council and the checkbooks of Aurora taxpayers.

A staggering $30,000 in legal bills have been stuck to Aurora taxpayers. Aside from the absurdity of the legal fees and the apparent "charge anything because taxpayers will pay for it" attitude by attorneys and law firms that do business with government entities, it appears there's an assumption City of Aurora taxpayers should pay for it.

However, 4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence says it doesn't make sense the City of Aurora should have to pay for the full cost considering Aurora Township includes other communities, such as portions of North Aurora and Montgomery.

"Why are Aurora taxpayers always being stuck with the bill of everyone else and problems we neither created nor had any control over?" said Lawrence.

Aside from communities that are part of Aurora Township not having to pay for the expense, Lawrence also points out by making City of Aurora taxpayers pay for the legal expenses, taxpayers who live in other townships within Aurora, including Naperville Township and Wheatland Township, would indirectly pay for a portion of something they have nothing to do with. Residents of Aurora who live in DuPage County don't even deal with the Aurora Election Commission.

Lawrence says the better approach is for Aurora Township to pay for the costs and the burden of that cost be shared by all taxpayers within Aurora Township.

But, Annie Craig, outgoing Supervisor of Aurora Township, says they don't have the money to pay these bills.

Lawrence also notes this situation once again illustrates the unusual situation of Aurora having its own election commission that handles a portion, but not all of Aurora and says the simple solution is to have each county handle its own residents for elections.

If the Aurora Election Commission didn't exist, the responsibilities of Kane, Kendall and Will County residents would be handled by the respective counties, just like DuPage. And, in a situation like this, City of Aurora taxpayers would not be stuck with any bill.

Kane County says they would still maintain an election office in Aurora if full responsibility were shifted to them, so the Kane County residents of Aurora would not see any difference in convenience.

Do you believe the Aurora Election Commission should be eliminated?

Do you believe Aurora taxpayers should pay for an issue that affects non-Aurora residents?

Do you believe Naperville Township and Wheatland Township residents of Aurora should have to pay for an Aurora Township problem?

Do you believe DuPage County residents of Aurora should pay for a situation involving the Aurora Election Commission?

The legal fees will be discussed by the Aurora City Council on Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Election 2009 | Weisner and Lawrence Both Win Landslides in Aurora

Tom Weisner and Rick Lawrence both cruised to landslide victories on Tuesday in Aurora.

Note: Results are not official until certified

>Mayor of Aurora


>4th Ward Alderman


Election 2009 | Aurora Township, Aurora, North Aurora, East Aurora, West Aurora, Indian Prairie

Election 2009 Area Results:

>Aurora Township Supervisor - Christina Campos wins

>Aurora Township Trustees - Dr. Monica Silva only Republican to win contested race, Dolores Hicks, David Moore and Bill Catching win

>Aurora Township Highway Commissioner - John Shoemaker, a nurse, wins three-way race

>Aurora Township Clerk - Juan Thomas wins re-election

>Aurora Alderman-at-Large - Bob O'Connor survives a write-in challenge from Guadalupe Garcia

>Aurora 8th Ward - Rick Mervine wins against Jason Minalga

>Village of North Aurora - Dale Berman wins

>West Aurora School Board - Neal Ormund, Mark Bradford, Jonathan Wood win

>East Aurora School Board - shakeup on board continues; Fernando Salinas ousted, Fernando Chapa, Linda Chapa's brother loses; Juanita Wells survives; three new board members of Stella Gonzales, Annette Johnson, Anita Lewis

>Indian Prairie School Board - Susan Rasmus, Cathy Piehl, Dawn DeSart, Chris Vickers all win

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Election 2009

>AURORA ELECTION RESULTS(Kane, Kendall and Will County portions of Aurora)


>KANE COUNTY ELECTION RESULTS(excluding City of Aurora)

>KENDALL COUNTY ELECTION RESULTS (updated)(excluding City of Aurora)



* * * * *

>Aurora Election Commission
Kane, Kendall and Will County residents of Aurora
Call 630.897.4030

>DuPage County
Including Aurora DuPage residents
Call 630.407.5600

>Kane County
Except City of Aurora residents
Call 630.232.5990

Call 630.208.5328 for voter fraud
Kane County State's Attorney's office

>Kendall County
Except City of Aurora residents
Call 630.553.4104

>Will County
Except City of Aurora residents
Call 815.740.4794

Monday, April 06, 2009

We the People | Commentary By President Ronald Reagan

With the latest indictment of an Illinois Governor to the chronic dictatorship from Chicago's City Hall, there are plenty of examples of politicians who have not only ignored the best interests of people, but have used government to enrich themselves, their friends or their power and ego.

On Tuesday, there are various local elections, including the City of Aurora, Aurora Township, Naperville Township, Village of North Aurora, School Boards and other races.

Some candidates have a track record you can judge. Some talk about what they would do different. Some are seeking their public office to work for the government while others are seeking public office to work for you.

Regardless of your preferences, we urge you to demand the best from our elected officials, the highest quality of government and express yourself.

Election 2009 | Alderman Rick Lawrence, Making Aurora a Better Place to Live; Promise Made, Promise Kept

In the race for 4th Ward Alderman, even Rick Lawrence's two challengers have heaped immense praise for his efforts, accomplishments and making his near west side ward and the entire city a better place to live.

With a ward that includes some of the nicest and most challenging areas of Aurora, from Aurora University to Jericho Circle to West Aurora High School to Randall West to portions of downtown Aurora with voters who are tuned-in to the issues, Alderman Lawrence came into office and did things the right way.

In just four years, Mr. Lawrence has made significant positive impact on every area in his ward, every issue and made the entire City of Aurora better for it.

Without Lawrence, the most successful development in Aurora's history, the $100 million mixed-use River Street Plaza project in downtown, would not have happened. And, that is just the start of a positive chain-reaction to come.

He has addressed issues on schools and finding cooperative solutions to many complex problems. With his construction knowledge, he has pushed for higher-quality, better planning and more accountability for our neigborhood infrastructure.

Rick Lawrence is second to none on the city council when it comes to fiscal responsibility and protecting your taxdollars and making sure the right questions are asked.

He has aggressively worked to combat crime to improving public housing such as Jericho Circle and dealing with the quality of life issues that affect every neighborhood.

The Illinois State Crime Commission recognized Lawrence for the 2008 Excellence in Government Award. The Aurora Police Union (APPO) not only made the rare endorsement of an alderman for Lawrence, but they did something that's never happened with any other candidate to our knowledge.

They voted unanimously.

Perhaps most importantly, Lawrence has changed the model for what we should expect, the results and accountability with our elected officials. Thanks to Lawrence's efforts, more people know and care about what goes on.

He puts the taxpayers interests first and isn't afraid to ask questions, stand up for what is right and take whatever steps to get things accomplished. He's not going to accept the status-quo and he has brought positive change to Aurora.

Most of our viewers would have preferred to see Rick Lawrence run for Mayor, but we respect his decision at that time and we look forward to his future plans because he already has become one of the most effective elected officials in the history of Aurora and have no doubt he will be the next Mayor of Aurora if he chooses to seek that or any higher office. He has earned our trust.

In the meantime, Mr. Lawrence has kept his promise to make Aurora a better place to live and we urge our viewers in the 4th Ward to express their appreciation loud and clear on April 7th.

Election 2009 | Aurora Mayoral Race Review

Voters in Aurora will choose among Tom Weisner, Stephanie Kifowit and Richard Irvin for Mayor.

Regardless of who you support, what percentage of votes will each candidate likely get?

Election 2009 | Aurora's Alderman-at-Large

Most people agree Aurora Alderman-at-Large Bob O'Connor is a nice guy and has been on the city council a very long time.

He even once ran for mayor and almost won...back in the 20th century.

With his experience and critical role as Chairman of the Finance Committee, we can't figure out why he's been so quiet for the two previous administrations.

During the Stover administration, he failed to push for necessary investments off infrastructure and capital projects. During the Weisner administration, he has simply rubber-stamped any proposal rather than taking them and figuring out how to make them better or say no at times, which is neither in Weisner's best interest nor the taxpayers. And the million dollar slush fund idea for city council members is making a bad situation worse.

Now comes a write-in candidate, Guadulupe Garcia, who's focus has been on the issues of fiscal responsibility, asking questions and taking the responsibility of a city council member to do more than just occupy a chair. From what we hear, she's also nice, but she's got a clear understanding of what matters to taxpayers.

We appreciate Mr. O'Connor's service to Aurora, but it's time to have an Alderman-at-Large who will be more relevant, more tuned-in and a better choice for the future.

We believe the small extra-step to write-in GUADULUPE GARCIA for Alderman-at-Large is in the best interests of the taxpayers of Aurora.

Election 2009 | Aurora Ward 8...Most Unpredictable Race?

Whatever happens on April 7th for Aurora's 8th Ward race between Jason Minalga and Rick Mervine to fill the term of former Alderman Chris Beykirch, the seat will be up for election again in 2011 when Beykirch's term was supposed to expire.

Beykirch, who is now working in economic development for the City of Aurora, voiced opinions on issues, whether you agreed or disagreed.

Mervine, who has been under criticism for donating $29,000 of taxpayer funds to various PTA's preceding the election, has not really voiced much of anything during his brief interim tenure on city council other than he's lived in Aurora and was paid by the City of Aurora to work on things like the Midwest Literary Festival, which did not succeed.

Jason Minalga, who's story about his house and how he had to deal with the City of Aurora got him to know how the city works or doesn't work well, has raised issues of fiscal responsibility, which are needed. However, with a career that involves substantial travel, we aren't sure he will enjoy the grinding constitutent work of a city council member to do the job the right way.

We believe this race may be the most unpredictable and encourage our 8th Ward viewers to choose wisely on who should fill Chris Beykirch's term for two years to serve the taxpayers on Aurora's far east side.

Regardless of who you prefer, who do you think will prevail?

Election 2009 | Aurora Ward 2, Ward 7, Ward 9, Ward 10 - Voters Have No Choice

The most unfortunate part of Election 2009 in the City of Aurora may not be as much the choices we have, but the choices we do not.

With 7 city council seats up for election (including the interim seat for the 8th Ward), only THREE are contested (Ward 4, Ward 8 and Alderman-at-Large).

Regardless of who is mayor, the Aurora City Council already has full power to determine, allow, stop, start and change anything with the City of Aurora, including the duties of mayor and 2009 is a lost opportunity to make a powerful difference.

Ward 2 - Juany Garza has not offered any contribution to the Aurora City Council other than saying "yes" to whatever she hears Alderman Abby Schuler say, sitting to her right at city council meetings.

Garza's record includes spending thousands of ward slush funds on everything from shopping trips to fences to mysterious services for her friends. Her ward covers a significant portion of downtown Aurora and the east side of Aurora that desperately needs bold change. However, she is running unopposed.

Ward 7 - Scheketa Hart-Burns is a longtime city council member who can sing, pray and can make great speeches, but how has her ward improved the last four years? Hart-Burns has moments where she speaks out on issues, sometimes she has good points, sometimes she is on the wrong side of important issues, but we believe she would better serve her ward by being a truly independent voice and making much stronger effort to reverse the chronic problems of her ward. Her ward slush funds expenditures are dangerously similar to Juany Garza and that must come to an end. She is running unopposed. We urge her to cease putting city council items on "consent" and get into the trenches of the issues.

Ward 10 - Lynda Elmore, who's ward includes areas such as Stonebridge (where she lives), has missed an opportunity to be an independent voice to force Aurora to dramatically improve citywide and rise to highest-quality. She has had positive moments on a few issues, such as the new Metea Valley High School on Eola Road, but she went AWOL on other issues, including Planned Parenthood (in her ward) and numerous blunders from the drive-in theater fiasco to failing to speak up for fiscal responsibility. She is running unopposed.

Ward 9 - Leroy Keith is clever, highly manipulative and tries to emulate Napoleon. The lab tech, who has been feeding off of taxpayers for decades and is clueless about the private sector, believes the public serves the government instead of the government being public servants.

His track record as Alderman includes wild spending, supporting every possible tax-and-fee increase, closed-door meetings, communist-style tactics and a wide array of incompetent decisions.

Unlike the above races, he had an opponent (Michael Ochs), but made sure to knock him off the ballot. In the previous election, Leroy Keith almost lost to a candidate who openly said he would not serve or campaign.

With Leory Keith's fiscal irresponsibility on the City of Aurora's Finance Committee, it's unfortunate he is running unopposed because he is one of the worst alderman in the history of Aurora and likely would have lost even if he was running against Bozo the Clown (yes, we would endorse Bozo the Clown over Leroy Keith).

For the above races, there is no choice and that's too bad for the people of Aurora, the second largest city in Illinois.

Except for Leroy Keith who will continue to prove his incompetence for 4 more years, we hope the others will learn from their considerable mistakes and demonstrate dramatic improvement during their new term that will include the city's most serious financial challenges ever.

NOTE: We urge people to start thinking now about Election 2011. Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 5, Ward 6, Ward 8 and Alderman-at-Large will be up for grabs and we hope there will be candidates that emerge to give the people of Aurora strong choices.

Election 2009 | School Board Races; West Aurora District 129, East Aurora District 131, Indian Prairie District 204

With three of the largest school districts covering portions of Aurora, Naperville, North Aurora and Montgomery, the choices for School Board are:

West Aurora School District 129

Mark Bradford, Robert Littler, Neal Ormond, Jonathan Wood

>Watch West Aurora School Board candidate forum

East Aurora School District 131

Samuel Carson, Fernando Chapa, Stella Gonzalez
Annette Johnson, Anita Lewis, Fernando Salinas, Juanita Wells

>Watch East Aurora School Board candidate forum

Indian Prairie School District 204

Michael Crockett, Dawn DeSart, Doug DiFusco, Eric Hepburn
Jerry Huang, Yuming Huang, Donald Moscato, Cathy Piehl
Susan Rasmus, Mark Rising, Michael Strick
Christine Vickers, Janey Wagner

>Watch Indian Prairie School Board candidate forum

Obama Tells Europe America Has Been Arrogant

Did President Obama's statements to Europe referring to arrogance of America go too far or was it the new diplomacy?

Election 2009 | Naperville City Council...Crowd Control

While there are only three contested races in Aurora for city council seats (4th Ward, 8th Ward and Alderman-at-Large), there are SIXTEEN candidates seeking five seats on the Naperville City Council for the April 7th election.

Seeking 4 year term (choose 4):

Ken Bochenski, Judith Brodhead, Jim Derkacy
Raj Durga, Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong, Doug Krause
Kamala Martinez, Joe McElroy, Timothy Messer
Kenn Miller, Charles Schneider, Janet Trowbridge

Seeking 2 year term (choose 1):

Jim Boyajian, Bill Eagan, Kevin Lynch

>Watch the Naperville City Council candidates

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Election 2009 | Sticking It To 'Em, Bankrupt Beacon and Kifowit's Mutual Desperation

With the Beacon-News (aka "fishwrap") deteriorating deep into bankruptcy and Aurora 3rd Ward Alderman Stephanie Kifowit's mayoral campaign going in circles, it appears mutual desperation has stuck them together.

After endorsing Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, the Beacon boys gave Kifowit an offer she wouldn't refuse in exchange for money to stick her photo on the front of their dwindling circulation base.

The Beacon-News, which has had widespread problems with journalism ethics, apparently decided the deal with Kifowit was lucrative enough to slap her on top of their own name, regardless of how ridiculous it makes them (or her) look.

Kifowit, who's campaign pushed a city manager idea, only to change it recently to city administrator, has had numerous flip-flops.

She is now against taxes and wild spending after voting for them.

She now says she is for ethics after stalling Alderman Rick Lawrence's campaign finance reform proposal.

She is against campaign contributions from city contractors and developers only after soliciting them and failing to get any.

She was against Planned Parenthood before she was for it and now we aren't sure what her position is.

And, what's her final push with only a few days to the election?

Going after the old-guard voters in Aurora who are the primary readers of the bankrupt Beacon.

Polls indicate the real battle for mayor is not who will win, but who will finish last.

If Kifowit 's grand plan is to stick with the Beacon, she might win that race.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Corruption of Chicago and Illinois | Blagojevich, Aides, Brother Indicted

Rod Blagojevich, Rob Blagojevich, Chris Kelly
Lon Monk, William Cellini, John Harris
(Tribune photo)

Rod Blagojevich and his power team, including his brother and aides, have been indicted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

From Daley whizkid John Harris (who destroyed Meigs Field) to Robert Blagojevich, there's diverse charges ranging from campaign contributions to state contracts to jobs and more.

>Read the full indictment

Meet the QB | Jay Cutler Traded to Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears traded QB Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos for QB Jay Cutler.

The Bears also acquired Orlando Pace.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009