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August 28, 2006

36th info on the web


James Beals, in a comment on the previous post, passes along the info that his campaign website is up.

I'm assuming it will be fleshed out with issue stuff as time goes by.

Mike Jacobs doesn't have a campaign website, but perhaps more useful are the links off his official state site. One link is to all bills he's joined in sponsoring; another is to committees he sits on, and the bills that moved through each.

Posted by jcb at 07:39 PM | Comments (69)

August 24, 2006

Another GOP barbeque

So the preacher sold an apple pie for $60.

Couldn't have been too tough, though; the bidders were the RICO Republican faithful gathered for a barbeque at Inndian Bluff tonight.

The Rev. Scott Culley, the GOP's County Board district 8 candidate, even worked Mom into the pie pitch. He said she'd helped him make a practice pie, before he made the actual auction pie.

To cinch the deal, he declared the pie to the calory-free. He instantly said he was repenting for that statement but it didn't deter the bidders, who in running the price up to $60 made his pie the biggest money-raiser during the candidate pie auction.

I thought about the calory-free apple pie later, when congressional candidate Andrea Zinga was talking about lowering taxes and the evil "death tax" and being in favor of "more deductions, not more taxes."

She didn't say anything about the ballooning federal deficit, which used to be a matter of great concern to Republicans, back in the pre-George W. Bush days when they were the party of fiscal responsibility.

Anyway, she's also a strong believer in the second amendment and knows how to shoot; she thinks healthcare is the issue that Congress has ignored, and whatever is done shouldn't result in government being the provider; she's for tort reform, and got in a shot at Democrat Phil Hare because the "trial lawyers" have given him money; and she's way in favor of increasing ethanol production.

Didn't hear anything and Iraq or immigration, until someone asked about the latter. She's in favor of closing the borders and fixing they system so that employers don't have to wait so long to figure out the status of immigrant workers.

She also urged everyone to their church and social groups and schools and "do something bold. Talk a little politics." That's good advice; we need people talking politics everywhere these days.

Sheriff candidate Kraig Schwigen said he was urging people to view he and Democrat Mike Huff as applicants for a job. He said he's willing to provide a full resume and will authorize whoever wants to do a criminal background check on him, just like he does on people he hires.

Schwigen's got a cool car -- a '49 Plymouth decked out in black and white paint, with a badge on the door. Pretty eye-catching.

None of the state candidates were present; neither was state senate candidate James Beals. Chairman Susie Carpentier said he's in Malaysia.

So state rep. candidate Steve Haring and a couple of county board guys rounded out the candidate line-up. Carpentier said they served about 200 porkchops.

Everybody seemed to be having a nice time, and the crowd even got a touch of good stump speech-making, from Zinga. She delivered her lines well, and got considerably more than the required polite applause several times.

Posted by jcb at 09:54 PM | Comments (46)

August 23, 2006

Fighting political abuse in Davenport

Davenport voters -- or at least the 18.8 per cent who cared -- just soundly rejected a proposal by "Citizens for Smart Governance" (read DavenportOne) to re-structure the city council by changing terms from two years to four.

New idea: this one from "The Committee Against Political Abuse," which wants to abolish the two aldermen-at-large slots on the council. Spokesman Phil Yerington (yup, the former mayor/police lieutenant) also says a state audit of city finances ought to be done, and asked that we all call him up to report "situations that are suspicious." Ummmm ... what about committees against "political abuse" with former mayors as their front people? That count?

Anyway, whether having at-large council members is a good thing is one of those questions professors of government could debate until the second coming without reaching any definitive resolution. The basic in-favor idea is that at-large alderpeople, being beholden to voters city-wide, will keep the "big picture" in mind, and bridge the gap that might otherwise appear when ward alderpeople think first of more parochial issues.

Like most every possible governing structure, how it works in practice depends pretty much entirely on the individuals who flesh it out. In Davenport, each of the eight wards have one council member, and two are elected at-large. Of the current pair, Jamie Howard was re-elected last year and Ian Frink is in his first term.

Since Howard was re-elected, it seems likely that voters city-wide were on the whole satisfied with her. Frink, who beat out several other candidates, seems to have a view that extends beyond his home ward. His blog (ianfrink.blogspot.com) reflects that he's holding regular meetings throughout the city, discussing policies and proposals important throughout the city and answering questions from whoever wants to ask.

Much is being made of the facts that 1) Howard and Frink both live in the sixth ward, and 2) generally vote with the council bloc that is pushing ahead with controversial downtown redevelopment projects. Neither fact really is any kind of evidence against the at-large system. Voters knew where the two lived when they elected them; voters can give them the boot if supporting downtown is the wrong policy, in the big picture.

I'm not sure a state audit is needed either. Lots of the unhappiness about city finances goes back to downtown re-development. The city has made a raft of deals with profit and non-profit groups over the last six years or so. The deals no doubt resulted in a much spiffier downtown.

But all isn't working out perfectly. In addition to the capital expenditures that came out the city's pockets, city subsidies required for some of the projects are turning out to be larger and longer-lasting than anticipated. Various leases aren't producing as much revenue as predicted; there are still major projects to under take. A sound re-assessment of where we are would be good. Just not sure a state audit is needed; I'd hope a council with the city's interests at heart could gather and evaluate the numbers and make whatever policy changes are needed without dragging in a flock of auditors.

But maybe not. Maybe the Committee Against Political Abuse will end up with enough tips about "situations that are suspicious" to warrant an outside look. At the moment, though, I'm suspicious that the politics of personality is riding high, to the detriment of us all.

Posted by jcb at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2006

The price of political pandering: $510,528.64

So the next time you run into Mike Jacobs or Mike Boland or Pat Verschoore, you might ask them if that warm and fuzzy feeling was worth $510,528.64.

That's how much a federal judge ordered the state to pay the trade associations that won a decision that Illinois' 2005 video-violence law is unconstitutional. The ruling that the bill didn't pass constitutional muster was hardly surprising; in fact it was kind of a sun-will-come-up-tomorrow situation.


Sen. John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat who was one of only five senators to vote against the bill, warned during the debate that the measure was deeply flawed, couldn't pass a court challenge. He even warned that the state would get stuck with the lawyers' bills that were sure to come. Rep. Bill Black, a Danville Republican who voted 'present' when the House passed the bill said, 'What we have is all we ever get -- all fluff and no stuff.'

David Vite, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, boiled it down to the nail-on-the-head essentials: ``It's pandering, and it's wrong,'' he said.

Pandering ...good word, that.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich got the ball rolling with a big todo about how the state needed to protect teens from the violence and sex to be found in some video games. He had a great hook -- some company had just brought out a first-person shooter in which the scenario was the Kennedy assassination. Outrage and dismay were the general order of the day, and what politician can resist 'doing something' when the public's outraged? (Being a glass half-full guy, I thought, well at least the game - players now know who Kennedy was.)

There were press conferences and editorials and much knashing of teeth by lawmakers who know an easy headline when one comes along. Never mind that most all of them knew the bill was bad. Who was going to vote against this mom-and-apple-pie measure, and hand a future opponent an easy tv ad?

It passed the Senate, 52-5, with one 'present' vote. In the House, it was 91-19, with six 'present' votes. The Q-C delegation, Sen. Jacobs and Reps. Boland and Verschoore, voted for it. The governor signed it into law, with much self-congratulatory rhetoric all around. All was well.

Except. Except that the bill never went into effect. The retail merchants and the two software trade groups went to court immediately, got a ruling that the law was unconstitutional and an order forbidding its enforcement, all before the Jan. 1, 2006 effective date.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly said, among other things, that the state came 'nowhere near' showing that the law was constitutional. He also said, 'If controlling access to allegedly 'dangerous' speech is important in promoting the positive psychological development of children, in our society that role is properly accorded to parents and families, not the state.'

Now, in the wake of that entirely predictable ruling, comes the entirely predictable lawyers' bill. The trade associations asked for about $650,000. Judge Kennelly trimmed that back to $510,528.64 . That's hardly the total tab, though. As Sen. Cullerton points out, 'The amount ordered paid to the plaintiffs by Judge Kennelly doesn't even count the substantial fees the state will have to pay its own lawyers.'

Oh, one more thing. The meter's still running. The state has appealed the ruling on constitutionality. More money on state lawyers. More bills to arrive from the other side's lawyers.

Gov. Blagojevich and the others who hopped on his band-wagon may have seen this stunt as a cheap and easy way to score points.

Easy maybe. But not cheap. Only cheap thing here is the politics being played.

Posted by jcb at 08:39 PM | Comments (34)

August 16, 2006

Schwigen and Huff

Per a suggestion below, here's a string on the Rock Island County sheriff's race between Mike Huff and Kraig Schwigen.

Huff, you will recall, defeated long-time incumbent Mike Grchan in the Dem primary; the GOP, which had no primary candidate, later appointed Schwigen as its candidate.

Huff's a sergeant on the force; Schwigen's a lieutenant.

Not much going on in the race that I'm aware of, though I did see Huff and supporters had a tent at Tugfest in Port Byron.

The money reports incident both Huff and Schwigen are each the primary source of money for their campaigns.

Huff has a campaign website. If Schwigen does, I've not been able to find it with a cursory search.

Posted by jcb at 05:50 PM | Comments (66)

Third-grade time at Davenport city hall

Back in March, the Davenport city council was doing hot, heavy (and mostly pointless) battle over the chain of command for city attorney Mary Thee. Should she continue to report to city administrator Craig Malin, or to the council?

'Will she give an opinion to please her boss?' one proponent of change asked. The first answer to that, of course, is that if the city attorney was inclined to provide an opinion that pleased the boss, then the boss -- administrator or council -- wouldn't be getting best advice. That's kind of scary.


Anyway, after quite the circus -- a 5-5 tie vote broken by the mayor, and then a 6-4 re-vote, the outcome of which was vetoed by the mayor -- Ms. Thee continues to report to Mr. Malin.

We now know for sure that she doesn't necessarily write opinions designed to please the boss. Noooot hardly.

Her opinion is that Mr. Malin improperly gave himself a couple of cost-of-living pay increases, and that in doing so he breached his contract with the city. Six of the 10 alderpeople agreed with her this week. Mr. Malin's been formally notified he needs to re-pay the city some $3,000 within 90 days.

Mr. Malin says he acted properly, in keeping with past practice, when he took to COLA raises. But he suggested early on that he would just donate the disputed amount to charity. No more: At last word he'll be consulting with his attorney on Friday about what his next step should be.

I feel some big legal bills coming on. And over a $3,000 dispute that a bunch of third-graders could have worked out during recess.

'course, the council's been doing plenty of things of late that would make third-graders look good. Kind of a trademark of a bunch that approved a 'code of conduct' calling for respectful dealings with each other. Scratch that.

There's no 'respectful dealings' with each other, or with city taxpayers, when one faction or another is stalking out of council meetings so that there's no quorum to conduct business. That was the tactic back in February when Ron Van Fossen, Shawn Hamerlinck, Keith Meyer, Ray Ambrose and Bill Lynn disappeared, stalling a decision on a downtown development idea involving the Freight House.

We got a repeat performance during one of the Malin-related meetings, but with different actors -- Charlie Brooke, Barney Barnhill, Ian Frink and Jamie Howard took the hike this time. So nine of our 10 alderpeople have demonstrated they're in favor of taking their toys and going home if they can't have their way. Makes me proud of my council.

No wonder there was a big move recently to change the system. But changing the term of office from two years to four was an idea whose time still hasn't come. At best, it's a theoretical fix. In the end, having two- or four-year terms one of those six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other choices, kind of like picking who the city attorney reports to. If you got the right people, it doesn't make any difference.

As it stands now, I'm doubly happy the term-limit change proposal failed. It's pretty clear we don't have enough of the right people, and I suspect I'm not alone in being glad I'll have a crack at picking a new bunch sooner rather than later.

Posted by jcb at 10:13 AM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2006

Haring-Boland

"Kate Nelson" inquires below about money matters in the Haring-Boland 71st District race.

As previously posted, Here are the links to the disclosure reports, and the amount each had on hand June 30: State Rep., Mike Boland, District 71: $137,011.02.

Steve Haring: $12,040.09.

I haven't had time to look at them. Kate (or anyone else) feel free to snoop around. Let us know what you find out.


Posted by jcb at 10:19 PM | Comments (117)

August 11, 2006

Life in the 17th?

Frequent commenter Robbie posted the following on an un-related, older discussion. Am adding it here in an attempt to find out if there's life in the Zinga-Hare race:

"A side note, though I dont know if anyone will notice since this post is kinda old now... I saw Phil Hare speak in person for the first time today on my lunch break. Though I am a staunch democrat and have no chance of voting for Zinga, I still feel like if he doesn't do a whole lot to impress me, I will simply undervote and skip him.


"With that said, I did feel like he had a lot of good things to say. He certainly has never seemed like the most polished guy, but as I sat and listened to him, he made sense. He talked about a lot of issues and gave his opinions fo how they should be handled. Certainly he didn't offer up complex solutions, but I felt he gave a good overview of each issue that was asked about.

"I really wish this race would get more attention. It was my impression that the race was going to be tight, so I just assumed there would be more info about it floating around. Though it is hard because of the above mentioned fact that neither have a website wirth a damn."

Posted by jcb at 02:03 PM | Comments (59)

August 09, 2006

The abortion question

Comments on this post have drifted, hence this post.

So how did we get from payday loan bills to Sen. Clinton's views on choice? I got no clue what the references to her as pro-life are based on.

Here's a May 15, 2006 statement from her senatorial website in which she says, "I believe it's more important than ever that we fight to protect a woman's right to make her own decisions about her reproductive health." Sounds pretty pro-choice to me.

It is an issue on which political candidates need to clearly declare themselves.

Sen. Jacobs, so far as I've ever heard, read or seen, is pro-choice. I don't know that he's ever declared himself on some of the peripheral questions, parental notification and what-not. I suspect, though, that one of the commenters may have caught the senator's views when he/she said that the pro-choice question is like being pregnant -- you either are or you aren't.

Mr. Beals has said several times that he is pro-life, a position that often has an "except" after it, with the first one involving rape and incest.

So far, Mr. Beals has not answered the question of whether there are any "excepts" in his position. It has to be answered between now and Election Day.

Be on notice that any comments of the "baby-killer" sort aren't going to show up here.


Posted by jcb at 07:46 PM | Comments (41)

August 07, 2006

On special interests and special interests...

The phrase "special interest" is much over-used these days, slung about as a pejorative by politicians and the media and aimed blunderbuss style at just about everyone.

Actually, a good many of groups derided in some quarters or another as "special interest" would be more accurately described as "general interest" -- that is, they represent and argue the views of a great many people.

An excellent example are the advocacy groups working both sides of the abortion issue. Whichever side they take, they are making the arguments and supporting the candidates that represent the views of millions of people. Same's true for lots of advocacy groups on lots of issues -- they represent some considerable general interest among voters.

A true "special" interest has a much narrower base. Let's consider the case of the Consumer Lending Alliance of Tallahassee and/or Crawfordsville, Fla. It's very special interest is protecting the payday loan industry from legislative crackdowns on the outrageously high and rapidly compounding loan rates extracted from people desperate for a few bucks to get by until, well, until payday.

Curiousity about the Consumer Lending Alliance was prompted by the fact it gave money to two Q-C legislators --$1,000 to Sen. Mike Jacobs and $250 to Rep. Pat Verschoore.

But that ain't nothing -- since 2000 the group has made 266 contributions of Illinois political candidates, in the aggragate amount of $170,000.

Besides its narrow base, Consumer Lending Alliance displays two other classic symptoms of the "special" interest: No. 1., it gives money freely to candidates of both parties, and No.2, gives it most freely to the power-brokers of each party.

Thus the Consumer Lending Alliance has given $15,000 to Gov. Rod Blagojevich; $4,200 to Sen. President Emil Jones (D) and $7,750 to Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson; $3,000 to Democrat Leader Mike Madigan (D) and $13,500 to GOP House Leader Tom Cross. Covering the bases, you see.

I wasn't able to find a website for Consumer Lending Alliance, but if you put the phrase in"" marks and google it, you'll find lots of references to it in lots of states -- Illinois is hardly the only legislature under pressure to do something about the predatory lending rates charged by the payday loan companies.

(To see the full list of the alliance's contributions to Illinois politicians, go to this page on the SBOE site and enter "consumer" in the first field and "tallahassee" in the city field. Repeat the operation with "crawfordsville" in the city field.

Whilst poking about, I also took a look at Partidos Del Internet, which with a $5,000 contribution is Sen. Jacob's single largest donor this year. Among other things I found out that Sen. Jacobs' father, the former Sen. Jacobs, is a registered lobbyist for the company, listed at a Schaumberg address in the disclosures.

I also found Poker Lover, which says on its site that Partidos Del Internet Ltd. is its software development partner, and all pages on the site are copyrighted by Partidos Del Internet S.A.

The site says Poker Lover is a Costa Rican business. So I guess it's fair to wonder why the Illinois partner of an off-shore internet gambling operation is being so generous with the Q-C's senator.

Posted by jcb at 09:27 PM | Comments (32)

August 05, 2006

Senate races and money

So I've been whiling away time I should have spent mowing the yard poking around in the Illinois Board Elections database, mostly looking at state Senate candidates.

Sixty-five people sought their party's nomination for one or another of the 39 Senate seats open this year. Of the 65, 11 spent at least $100,000 in the Jan.1-June 30 period that encompassed the March primary. The Q-C's own Mike Jacobs was No. 8 on the Big Spender's list, with $142,178 in outlays during the period.

In three instances, the Big Spenders faced each other in the primary.

-- In the District 48 Republican primary, Randy Hultgren spent $232,191 to top Richard Furstenau, who spent $144,639. (Vote was 14,867-9,823)

-- In the District 12 Democrat primary, Martin Sandoval spent $214,811 to beat Eduardo Garza, who spent $122,444. (Vote was 8,056-6,071)

-- In the District 33 Dem primary, Dan Kotowski spent $197,195 to fend off James J. Morici Jr., who spent a whopping $373,092. (Vote was 8,453-4,778, which means Morici spent $78.08 for each vote.)

Two of the races were particularly one-sided as far as money goes.

In District 1, Antonio Munoz spent $126,610, while steam-rollering Oscar Torres, who spent but $5,990. With his 21-1 spending advantage, Munoz swamped Torres, 10,657-3,058, or 77%-23%.

In our own District 36, Jacobs spent $142,178, while Paul Rumler spent just $7,965 -- about an 18-1 advantage for Jacobs. His margin of victory was 8,341-6,528, or 56%-44%. Put another way, Jacobs spent $17.04 per vote, while Rumler spent $1.22.

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Among all 65 Senate candidates, Jacobs was far and away No. 1 in the category of un-itemized expenditures. Of the $142,178 he spent, $17,848, or 12.3 percent was un-itemized.

In comparison, the biggest spender, Morici, had outlays of $373,092, of which only $1,234, or .03 percent, was un-itemized.

(Disclosure law requires itemized disclosure of all people and vendors who receive more than an aggragate $150.)

Among itemized expenditures, Jacobs largest disbursement was to campaign manager Pat O'Brien, $27,376. Other staff/labor payments went to Casey Jacobs, $2,809; Hannah Radosezich, $2,776; and Janet Oltman, $1,400.

Other expenditures include $14,250.00 to Cooper & Secrest Associates, of Alexandria, Va., for polling.

T.C. Marketing of Blue Island got $12,206 for mailing/marketing; Brecker Press of Chicago got $14,696 for printing/mailing; Review Printing of Rock Island got $5,070 for printing tickets and yard signs.

There is also $14,925 going to various restaurants and clubs for "campaign food" and parties.

Here's the link to the full report.

Posted by jcb at 09:47 PM | Comments (61)

August 01, 2006

Nope, didn't have legs; and the search for better

The answer to the question posed in this post is no, Phil Hare's double-donations got no legs as an issue.

The Republicans soon fell to re-fighting their primary; a good many other folks drifted off into the need for something better.

Here's that part of the string:

------------------------

This thread reminds me why I long for a third party, as do 70+% of the public, if polls are to be believed.

Locally and nationally, the Democrat Party represents mindless zombies. My jaw bruised my sternum when so many of the committeemen voting for the selected Hare, said "hey, if Lane wants Hare, that's good enough for me". Local Dems have surrendered both their brains and their cojones to the party. Nationally, Dems will move to the right of Patrick Buchanan, if they can attack GWB. Let's get real----the Democrats stand for nothing except winning elections.

But the Republicans are just as pathetic. After 40 years of Democrat control in the Congress, the Republicans finally win a majority. Their "Contract With America" stipulated that less government, more personal responsibility and lower taxes was needed. But thanks to GWB and his "compassionate conservatism" and a decade in power, the Republicans have demonstrated that they are every bit as corrupt as the Democrats. Some choice, huh? ILDC just parrots the Democrats when he implies Republicans should surrender their hearts, minds and cojones to The Party. Pathetic.

Anyone who wants to join me in supporting a political party that represents the people, not the powerful, speak up!

Posted by: paladin at August 1, 2006 01:29 PM

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Paladin,

For the past months you've been on this blog whining about the local "politburo."

Well, no one gives up power for the hell of it! A better matched competitor has to take it from them. In politics, it's not easy to do. It doesn't happen over night. It takes work.

And the fact is that grassroots volunteers win elections. It's the people that put the signs in, talk to their neighbors, raise money, make phone calls, drive senior citizens to the polls that have an impact on elections. If you don't have that then you don't have anything.

And if you think that this area is better off because of the D's dominance, where Democrat PC's don't even have any political leverage, let alone your average voter, then we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

Posted by: Anonymous at August 1, 2006 03:33 PM

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Paladin,

As I have likely slit my throat with the local Republicans, count me in. I would love to see what a group of people can accomplish if they care about nothing other than the people and the issues that affect those people (and lose all of the 'agenda's').

Posted by: Jim Mowen at August 1, 2006 04:38 PM

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Paladin ...

There are times that this life-long Democrat begins to wonder about the two-party system that spends an inordinate amount of time taking care of their own, sometimes at the expense of solving problems. That's what led to Ross Perot in 1992. I was a Paul Tsongas supporter, because he had that independent streak and because he had a single-minded focus on the deficit.

Illinois election law is stacked in favor of the Republicans and Democrats. Independents in this state stand about as good a chance at success as a snowball rolling outside 5th Avenue in downtown Moline tonight. That doesn't mean folks shouldn't try, but those are the odds, in my view.

Posted by: grillmaster deluxe II Jr. at August 1, 2006 07:13 PM

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Too late for any independent candidates this year; June 26 was last day to file.

Take a look at the BOE memo for non-Dem/Rep candidates. Next time will be along soon.

Posted by: jcb at August 1, 2006 10:50 PM

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The 2008 Congressional elections will be normal elections - my guess is there will be strong challengers from both parties. There is really no chance for an independent candidate to win - so establishing a coalition of voters under the banner of one of the parties is the only means to accomplish a congressional victory.

In 2008 there will be more voters due to the presidential election - the fact that both parties at the national level will have multiple presidential candidates will draw an even higher number of voters to the polls. That means more moderates -- voters the local party leadership has less control over.

My opinion is that a downstate Democrat is the best option - so the coalition would be with downstate Democrat and moderate Republican voters married up with a strong base of support in RICO. That type of candidate is the only one that can upset the balance - a Dem from RICO will most likely always be apart of the RICO party system with little autonomy - the Republicans will generally look for name recognition or money - both would be the best option.


That is why it is difficult to get an average person to win even a primary election. Those who are dissatisfied are too splintered --how do you build a coalition of splintered parts?

Posted by: Rob Mellon at August 1, 2006 11:33 PM


Posted by jcb at 11:31 PM | Comments (16)