Is waterboarding torture and should it be permitted as an enhanced interrogation technique by any government?
Friday, May 29, 2009
Is waterboarding torture and should it be permitted as an enhanced interrogation technique by any government?
Apparently a lot more than a corruption pandemic from Chicago to Springfield.
Illinois Democrats pushed campaign limits through the Illinois Senate that are designed to keep the system rigged and some say may actually be worse than doing nothing at all.
The so-called limits per year instead of per election cycle (which means incumbents are protected) are $5,000 for individuals, $10,000 for uinions/corps/pac's and $90,000 cash from state political committees and UNLIMITED in-kind contributions (goods, services, political operatives, mailings, etc).
In other words, limits-in-name, but same-old-game (or worse).
We urge our viewers in Illinois to not be fooled and throw out any elected official (Democrat or Republican) who supports the political mafia's control over Illinois and allows the corruption and pay-to-play pandemic to continue.
>Vote from Illinois Senate was 36 to rig the system, 22 against the ethics scam.
>For our local viewers, State Sen. Linda Holmes voted to rig the campaign finance system, create loopholes and protect incumbents. State Sen. Chris Lauzen and State Sen. Randy Hultgren voted against the ethics scam.
>Text of legislation
State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Plainfield) said "We are talking about people here that are not looking to abuse a drug...to sit here and say that this drug has the potential to be abused, therefore, we should not be voting in favor of this bill...well, then go home and empty out your medicine cabinet because all your pain medications and all your sleep medications have the potential to be abused."
Will this session be the one where we charted a definitive new course and returned to our proud roots as the Land of Lincoln - or did we squander the opportunity and thereby remain fodder for Saturday Night Live's next popular skit?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
City of Aurora and Labor Unions Collide on Contract Negotiations, Fiscal Situation | Third-Party Mediation Coming Soon
Susan Boyle, who's performance on Britain's Got Talent skyrocketed her into worldwide attention, appeared again on the semi-finals, this time with the world watching.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Chicago, Illinois Corruption Pay-to-Play Pandemic Continues | FBI Wiretaps Could Sink U.S. Senator Roland Burris with Blagojevich Scandal
>Read the transcript (pdf)
$1.7 million is the cost of the design and "public outreach," not the actual construction, which is expected to be approximately $12 million for Phase 1.
4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence reportedly questioned the increased design cost since the vast majority of the project includes walkways, landscape and a stage with a small building. He cautioned against the pace of spending.
City staff member Stephanie Phifer, who says there has been extensive public input and public meetings into the park design between staff and "stakeholders" told the Aurora City Council the design costs were reasonable, they will seek donors toward the project later and renderings of the designs would not be available until a donor package was ready.
According to the Daily Herald, the City Council approved various land swaps between the City of Aurora and Fox Valley Park District to provide for a contiguous land parcel for the park. The City of Aurora will also pay ComEd about $1.3 million for various electrical work.
As part of the deal, Fox Valley Park District would get free use of the park and music garden for their own purposes 8 times per year at no charge. Downtown Alive, which is being moved to Galena Boulevard in 2009, would be moved to the new park's music garden with an estimated capacity of 8,500.
The original design included large tension structures and other amenities that have since been changed and/or reduced by recommendations by a "committee of stakeholders" that has apparently been meeting and selecting what should or shouldn't go into the park.
One of the unknown factors related to the park involves the donors who were supposed to have funded most of the cost. Thus far, donors have not stepped forward for the park as expected and city staff claims it will be necessary to build Phase 1 first and then seek donors.
>Daily Herald on land swaps
>According to viewers, City Council members voted as follows: Alderman Lawrence and Alderman Irvin voted NO. The rest of the City Council asked no questions on the increased costs and voted YES.
>Downtown Alive will move to Galena Boulevard in 2009
Aurora City Council Votes to Give City-Owned Elks Club Building to Developer | Future of Aurora Election Commission
The City of Aurora, which previously purchased the building in 1999 for $937,000 will "sell" the building to the developer for $850,000 and then give it back, including $550,000 upon certificate of occupancy for the building and the remaining over time.
The developer also plans to seek reimbursement for many expenses as part of the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district.
The developer, Steve Arwady, says he wants to renovate the upper three floors into 19 condos at a cost of $1.1 million of interior work. He says he will be doing another $1.1 million of exterior work and will have total costs of $3.4 million.
With the previous history of the building having a failed development, 4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence expressed concern about the city giving funds back to the developer regardless of any sales of units and without any recourse for the city to recoup its investment if the developer does not produce.
The first floor of the building would include a restaurant, but at Tuesday's City Council meeting, when the developer was reportedly asked about what the retail tenant would be investing into the deal, that information was not provided to the city council.
Bill Richards, Chairman of the Aurora Election Commission, also reportedly addressed the City Council and expressed concerns about relocating and that it was not clear how, when or where they would move to and they may or may not be able to exist with the developer.
The Aurora Election Commission, which has its own confusing existence as it serves 3 of 4 counties that have portions of Aurora, but is only funded by Kane County and the City of Aurora, could have up to 18 months to remain in the building. An art gallery and sales office for the 19 condo units are also being planned for the first floor if the project proceeds as the developer claims.
We encourage the City of Aurora to consider this opportunity to eliminate the Aurora Election Commission and instead allow the Kane County Clerk to select their own location for a satellite office in or near downtown Aurora if the Elks Club project proceeds.
For our local viewers in Aurora, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Oswego, Montgomery, North Aurora, Plainfield, please urge State Sen. Linda Holmes to not punish taxpayers of Illinois with more tax increases and instead establish fiscal responsibility and ethics reform.
Tell State Sen. Linda Holmes to say NO to massive tax increases:
>Springfield Office 217-782-0422
>Plainfield Office 815-609-3711
Gay activists are attempting to push civil unions and/or gay marriage in other states, including Illinois.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Illinois General Assembly, Chicago Mayor Daley Gaga Over Gambling Expansion with Video Poker | Aurora, Hollywood Casino, Illinois Gaming Board Impact
It would be the first time legalized gambling was permitted in Chicago. Mayor Daley (D-Corruption), who many believe is paving the way for a massive casino in Chicago, gave this reason for why gambling should be expanded:
"Well, everybody thinks gambling is bad. Let's be realistic, everybody does. But why is it in Mississippi? Why is it all over? It's even in Illinois. If it's that bad, then whey did we wallow it to happen if everybody thinks it's that bad?"
Aaron Jaffe, Chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, isn't so gaga, saying it would not only make it difficult to limit addicted gamblers who have otherwise been banned from casinos, but would create a complex administrative difficulty with gambling in so many locations. The estimated $300 million in revenue video poker may generate may be offset by the cost of administering it.
Many also say video poker will have an adverse impact on existing casinos, such as Hollywood Casino in Aurora and communities may see further reductions in gaming tax revenue.
So, how did Aurora-area legislators vote on gambling expansion with video poker?
>Sen. Chris Lauzen and Rep. Kay Hatcher voted NO.
>Sen. Linda Holmes, Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia voted YES
(Cross, Senger, Schmitz, Hultgren also voted yes).
>HB255 (Senate voted 47-12, House voted 86-30)
The bill moves to the desk of Illinois temp Gov. Pat Quinn, who is expected to go along with it despite prior statements opposing gambling expansion.
Should the State of Illinois gamble with video poker?
President Barack Obama | Supreme Court, Health Reform, Auto Industry, Pragmatism, Bush, GITMO, Torture, Family, Sacrifice
Interview with President Barack Obama
Supreme Court, Health Reform, Auto Industry,
Pragmatism, President Bush, GITMO, Torture, Family
Monday, May 25, 2009
Memorial Day | Andy Rooney Commentary, Tracking U.S. Military Who Died in Iraq, Afghanistan with Google Earth
>Download Map of the Fallen
(you must have Google Earth 5.0 already installed)
>Download Google Earth
Saturday, May 23, 2009
When you need to burn a newspaper, given the journalistic implosion by editors such as Mike Cetera and Dave Parro along with their financial bankruptcy, we recommend firing up the local fishwrap (aka "Beconfused" or "Beacon-News") for your grill.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
As taxpayers are getting squeezed from all angles, it appears certain Illinois Democrats are preparing to dramatically complicate the problem, extract more money from you and continue the bad habits of wild spending.
We urge viewers to contact Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia and ask her to say NO to massive tax increases and instead say YES to massive fiscal reform to put an end to the wild spending at the expense of taxpayers.
Spread the word and contact Linda Chapa-LaVia to vote NO on tax increases:
>Springfield Office 217-558-1002
>Aurora Office 630-264-6855
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The bill, which has yet to be signed by Illinois temp Gov. Pat Quinn, would stop the state from reducing the amount of funding to a school district when it passes a referendum to increase more local taxdollars.
According to Rydland, the effect could be significant on the finances of a school district like West Aurora, which passed a referendum in 2007 for $14 million, but saw it's state funding decreased by $10 million.
SB 2051 passed 56-0 in the Illinois Senate and 104-1 in the Illinois House.
Local legislative co-sponsors included State Sen. Chris Lauzen, State Sen. Linda Holmes, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia and State Rep. Kay Hatcher.
Note: According to our viewers, the local fishwrap (aka "Beaconfused) may have done a similar story and they incorrectly named only Chapa-LaVia as a sponsor of the legislation. SB 2051 was first introduced by Sen. Crotty and then Sen. Lauzen was the first local legislator to sponsor the bill. Chapa-LaVia was not added as a sponsor until two months after the legislation was introduced. Click here for a list of the co-sponsors and when they were added.
The ban apparently does not prevent one from using a GPS system on a mobile device, but one cannot "surf the web" while driving.
While public safety is important and we strongly urge drivers to use common sense and caution at all times, not just when looking at a mobile device, do you agree a law should exist to ban you from ever using a mobile device for text or web while driving?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Illinois government had this system until 1982 when a guy named Pat Quinn, who is now the temp Governor of Illinois, pushed an effort to reduce the number of legislators, which many say caused the consolidation of power for legislative leaders that has led to corruption and "who you know" politics to thrive in Illinois.
Quinn's appointed Illinois Reform Commission is recommending term limits for legislative leaders and a fair redistricting process to address part of the situation that Quinn helped to create.
The previous system had "cumulative voting" and it created situations where almost every House district had members from both political parties. Voters woud have options of casting three votes for one candidate, split for two candidates or a vote each for three candidates.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has also taken advantage of the consolidated power. Because so many districts are part of the City of Chicago and many of those representatives are under his control, he is able to influence much more control over who the legislative leaders are and how the system works (or doesn't).
Many say reducing the number of districts, but spreading the representation would create better balance of power.
We say it's time to call the bluff. Quinn says the state would be forced to slash the budget by 37% if no income tax increase is passed.
Good. Because in reality, if spending were drastically cut, it would force the state to finally have spending priorities on the things that are important instead of the current wild spending that gives priority to cronies and waste.
Some of the threatened cuts include education, healthcare, seniors, public safety, human services, economic developmen, agriculture and funds to local government. For some reason, they aren't threatening to cut their own salaries.
Unfortunately for Illinois taxpayers, the political mafia that runs the state (including Michael Madigan, Richard Daley) is trying to figure out ways to stick it to you. Even certain so-called Repubicans, like former Gov. Jim Thompson, are trying to extract billions from taxpayers to pay for the incompetence of Illinois politicians by supporting a tax increase.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who predicted the tax threats, was right about what would unfold if he was taken out.
The proposed tax increases don't invest in our future, but rather try to pay for the past and ongoing fiscal irresponsibility.
Please contact your state legislators and urge them to say NO to any tax increase from the State of Illinois to get them out of the $12 billion mess they created.
Tell them taxpayers are not going to give them another bailout.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Ground Zero Shifts from Aurora to Notre Dame on Nation's Abortion Debate | Obama Honor Causes Chain-Reaction; Watch the Commencement Speech
Obama Notre Dame Commencement Speech | Part 2
Obama Notre Dame Commencement Speech | Part 3
Obama Notre Dame Commencement Speech | Part 4
Much of the criticism is about Notre Dame and their role in honoring Obama and not necessarily opposing Obama's speech itself.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Chicago Mayor Daley and the City of Chicago have been trying to limit big box retailers.
Torture, Waterboarding, Military Tribunals | CIA Strikes Back at Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Latest Recall; Obama Changes Tune on Military Tribunals
She appears to have known about it since 2003, but says the CIA was misleading.
Who do you believe? Nancy Pelosi or the CIA?
Meanwhile, President Obama, after a flip-flop on release of GITMO abuse photos, has now changed his stance on military tribunals, saying they can exist with some tweaks.
Will the Illinois General Assembly stop the pandemic or continue to spread the disease?
Can they shut down corrupt regimes like Chicago Mayor Daley? Can they implement campaign contribution limits? Can they create real transparency and accountability?
What reform do you want to see and what do you think will actually happen?
As a bankrupt company, Chrysler is looking to survive and one of the ways is eliminate dealers that are lower volume.
Some say the situation could have been worse with closing all dealerships. Franchises could still operate as "used car" dealers or seek other brands eventually.
Meanwhile, GM is considering dramatic measures if it goes into bankruptcy and will do the same to 1100 dealerships initially.
>Chrysler | Chicago metro closings
View Chrysler dealerships targeted in the Chicago area in a larger map
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
On Sunday during an appearance on Face the Nation, Cheney took the opportunity to slam former Secretary of State Colin Powell for his endorsement of then-candidate Barack Obama.
Deng, who is originally from Sudan and was placed in the local area by the World Relief organization, will be released from prison in about 30 years when he is 47 years old.
It's still not clear who actually shot Bethell, who's body was found nearby two months after she went missing around Halloween of 2005.
Deng was involved in a crash with Bethell's car and then got into a car with someone else.
We urge prosecutors and investigators to continue to seek anyone else who may have had a role in this tragedy before this case can truly come to a resolution.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
White House Correspondent's Dinner
Washington Hilton, May 9, 2009
President Barack Obama
Comedian Wanda Sykes
Meet the Press with David Gregory
Presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan
Foreign Policy Roundtable
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Drew Peterson Arrested, Indicted and Held on $20M Bond for Murder of 3rd Wife, Kathleen Savio with 4th Wife, Stacy Peterson, Still Missing
(Herald News photo)
With national media attention on this local story ever since his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, went missing on October 28, 2007, the investigation into Savio was pursued again after initially being ruled an accidental drowning in a bathtub.
Some say that while Drew Peterson may have been convicted long ago in the court of public opinion, there is limited evidence and that hearsay testimony between Stacy Peterson and a pastor may be used to prosecute Drew Peterson and could be a challenge.
"We are very confident in our case" said James Glasgow, Will County State's Attorney.
One of Peterson's attorneys said "Although he is disappointed with the decision of the state, he looks forward to the opportunity to once and for all prove his innocence in a court of law."
As part of the bizarre saga surrounding Peterson, aside from children from his previous marriages, another woman, Christina Raines, and her children, were recently living with him.
Drew Peterson is being held on a $20 million bond.
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Thursday, May 07, 2009
Meanwhile, Cross shot back in a speech saying Madigan is abusing his power by alone deciding which matters can come up for a vote.
Which brings us to this question...what is the role of legislators in Illinois if the legislative leaders, regardless of political party, have so much control over the legislative process? What's the role and purpose of everyone else?
Is a system where a few, such as Madigan or Mayor Daley's whims, decide what can be discussed or voted upon, good for the region or state as a whole?
Locally, State Sen. Chris Lauzen is one of the few legislators who speaks up, even when it's not in line with the Republican establishment. Which Democrat legislators speak up?
Are State Rep. Linda Chapa-LaVia, who is considering a run for Lt. Governor and State Sen. Linda Holmes, both Democrats, more likely to go along with legislative leaders or are there examples where they go a different way?
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Weisner easily defeated city council members Richard Irvin and Stephanie Kifowit for Mayor. According to our viewer reports, Irvin was reportedly not present for the city council's Committee-of-the-Whole or for the inauguration ceremony.
Lawrence's 4th Ward had among the highest voter turnout in the City of Aurora and he had two opponents who actively campaigned. He won a 3 way landslide with over 60% of the vote.
If Weisner does not seek another term, Lawrence is considered by most to be the front-runner for a future race for Mayor of Aurora.
Other city council members, including those that did not have opponents or strongly contested elections, were also sworn-in. That includes 4 year terms for Juany Garza (Ward 2), Scheketa Hart-Burns (Ward 7), Leroy Keith (Ward 9), Lynda Elmore (Ward 10), Bob O'Connor (Alderman-at-Large) and for a two year term, Rick Mervine (Ward 8).
Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 5, Ward 6, Ward 8 and Alderman-at-Large will be open for election in 2011.
New members Stella Gonzales, Annette Johnson and Anita Lewis are replacing Fernando Salinas, Ken Maurice and Bob McCue, the new all-women school board with Rayanne Carlson and Carol Farnum also has a new president, Dee Weaver.
After the second phase of change to revamp the school board, we wish the new school board success in taking bold and aggressive steps to reverse the chronic problems of the past.
Former President Al Rhea resigned from the board last month.
Mark Bradford, who won a seat in April's election, has been sworn-in as the newest member of the school board.
In the midst of a 3 year contract that expires in July 2010, Daeschner told the Daily Herald he is interested in the opportunity to work with more at-risk students.
Kory Atkinson, one of the outgoing trustees, says the trustees who received massive amounts of funds should abstain from any votes that involve faculty issues to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
According to the Daily Herald:
Atkinson Monday night displayed two oversized checks with a combined value of $100,000 that he said symbolized the amount of money teachers unions have spent on the campaigns of the four trustees. One check showed $30,000, and the other showed $70,000 and represented the amount spent in the most recent election, Atkinson said.
While Illinois considers campaign finance reform to deal with the widespread corruption epidemic from Chicago to Springfield, many say campaign contribution limits should apply to unions or even be banned so only individuals can contribute to a campaign.
Do you believe unions give significant campaign contributions with no expectation of favorable votes and treatment? Is it all just a coincidence?
A spokesman for Madigan told the Daily Herald "We're not going to spend any time on it this year."
However, other legislators, including various Democrats, feel different, such as State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan), who wants to push gambling expansion now that Waukegan is on track to receive a casino license.
Link says the State Senate may force the issue in front of the the Illinois House.
Should the State of Illinois limit or allow further casinos?
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
On Monday, Giannoulias defended the purchase by saying the expense is a reasonable operating expense because it's used at times to market the Bright Start program, although his office could not explain how much it was used for marketing and how often it was driven by Giannoulias.
Records show the college savings investment the treasurer's office oversees lost $85 million last year.
But, Caterpillar didn't exactly go along with that plan. Jake Tapper of ABC News questioned White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the flip-flop. See Gibbs squirm in the video.
Caterpillar is one of the largest employers for our local viewers in the Aurora/Naperville vicinity.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Daily Herald asks a similar question "Should kids accused of crimes be kept out of school?"
"Faced with a student accused of rape, Barrington High School officials responded by suspending the student.
But in Naperville's Indian Prairie Unit District 204, an 11-year old student accused of a similar crime continues to attend classes, with officials there saying their options are limited."
And more on the Naperville situation:
"At issue in Naperville is what to do with two Gregory Middle School students, ages 11 and 12, who face felony charges of criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assualt resulting from a November incident with a classmate at a Naperville home.
The 11-year old also faces a misdemeanor count of battery for a separate alleged incident involving the same victim - this time at school."
Because of questions on being able to remove students from a school when an incident happened off-campus, State Rep. Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) responded by proposing legislation to make it easier for schools to remove students.
That legislation was stalled by the leadership of the Illinois Democrats in the Illinois House on concerns about the consitutionality of the proposed law.
So, what do you think?
Should schools be allowed to remove students accused of crimes even if it relates to something that happened off-campus?
Friday, May 01, 2009
The travel industry has reacted by saying Biden's comments are fear-mongering.
Then, to make matters worse, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs attempted to explain what the Vice President "meant" to say (see below).
Then, see this:
After the release by the Obama adminstration, some say Rice may be subject to allegations of war crimes for her role in authorizing waterboarding, which the Bush administration said was legal and the Obama administration says is not permitted.