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October 11, 2006

Time for "none of the above"

If one is to judge by the public comments on blogs and those attached to news stories on newspaper websites, the public is in a nasty mood.

The expected partisanship lacks any attachment to civility; there's a vicious name-calling air to it. Running through it, as well, is a non-partisan despair with the political system, with an almost pitiful plea for a choice beyond that being offered by the political parties.

While the mostly anonymous comments are often dismissed as the ranting of the unwashed, the general mood evident in them is reflected in national polls showing massive unrest among voters.

So maybe it's time for "none of the above."

Here's a couple of questions for legislative candidates on both sides of the Mississippi: Would you vote amend state law to include a "none of the above" line on the ballot in every race? And what version of "none of the above" would you support?

Though you don't hear that much about it, those questions are getting asked in a lot of states these day.

Nevada already has such an option on its ballot; has had since 1976. It's shortcoming is that even if "none of the above" wins, it really doesn't. If NOTA gets 90 percent of the vote, the candidate who gets the majority of the remaining 10 percent gets the office.

Massachusetts has legislation pending that would impose a binding NOTA -- that is, if NOTA wins, then a new election would be immediate called.

Another proposed variation would simply leave the office vacant for a term if NOTA wins -- that is, voters would be saying "we'd rather have no one than one of those people."

In the U.S., http://www.nota.org/ keeps track of and encourages NOTA movements in various states.

There's an international NOTA movement, too. http://www.noneoftheabove.ie/ details efforts in Ireland. Spain already has NOTA. Russia did, until the Duma voted this year to ditch it in elections in 2007 and thereafter.

While the Duma voted 347-87 to eliminate NOTA from the ballot, polls indicate Russian voters would prefer to keep it, by a 46-42 margin (12 percent said the question was "hard to answer.")

Therein lies a lesson, in all liklihood. If NOTA is to arrive here, it probably won't be through legislative action. Some citizen-based activism will have to drive it.

Nonetheless -- it you get the chance, to ask the legislative candidates what they think about the idea.

Posted by jcb at October 11, 2006 11:15 PM


Bring it on - NOTA!

Blago (who will be in prison befor ethe end of his term) or JBT (who is not much better) - NOTA!

Hare (who will continue the fine work (NOT!) that Evans did - lost jobs, no growth, no attention to economic development) or Andrea (It's all about the jobs!) Zinga who does not know the first thing about creating a job or economic development and will be nothing more than Hastert lapdog - NOTA!

Go Steve Haring...

Posted by: Anonymous at October 12, 2006 06:51 AM

There certainly are a couple races that NOTA would be helpful. I actually like the idea. I am all for the system that says if NOTA wins, then no representative. If a majority of the people feel that no candidate is better than the crappy two they have, then it will be a wakeup call for the entire system. What we have now is not working. I wish we could get more parties involved and have a multi-party system where different groups would have to work together to get things accomplished. The negative campaigns of the republicans have forced both parties to focus on anything but issues of they area they represent. Its sad.

Posted by: Robbie at October 12, 2006 09:45 AM

To bad Illinois Quad City residents don't have an alternative newspaper!

Posted by: NARALsupporter321 at October 12, 2006 09:57 AM

Robbie, here in RICO, we don't even have two choices----we have no choice. The Democrats have dominated the area for a generation and the Republican Party up and died with no hope of revival. Almost all "elected" offices are given to Democrats with no opposition. John Gianulis pretty much determines who "our" representives will be.

But I have to say I find your childlike belief that only Republicans run negative campaigns charming. If only it were true. Unfortunately, Democrats are as down and dirty as any Republican, they even go dirty against their own.

Posted by: paladin at October 12, 2006 12:46 PM

Since you seem so aware of all workings of politics Paladin, I am personally shocked that you haven't thrown your best bonnet into the political ring.

Democrats may dominate this area, but it's the voters that go out on election day and mark their ballots. Only a small percentage of people are willing to demonstrate this right as Americans.

I hope you offer to help get out the vote!

Posted by: Anonymous at October 12, 2006 03:08 PM

I just heard Boland's ad accusing Haring of lying. The ad says that "Haring is ducking his record - Haring only speaks of Boland's record - and Haring lies"

Then the ad says nothing about Boland,
Speaks only of Haring - and in abvious lies and twisting of reality.

Whoever came up with this ad did little to help Boland, but rather just communicated that Boland is extremely scared. I could not believe what I was hearing...

A Boland fan would not see the reality of the ad, anyone else just got a step closer to voting for Haring.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 13, 2006 07:25 AM

Go Steve?

He was the economic development coordinator for something like a decade in what is still one of the poorest regions of the state.

The voters already turned down Steve once, and that was back before Thomson was opened.

There's a lot of bad candidates out there, and Steve haring is a poster child for voting "none of the above"!

Posted by: Billie-Joe at October 13, 2006 08:47 AM

Haring has lied about Boland's record - the House Republican's screwed up and will be called on it!

Posted by: Mark M Words at October 13, 2006 07:48 PM

"This race needs a "none of the above".

I didn't really care about this race, but slightly preferred Huff. But not anymore. I can't believe how low Huff supporters will stoop. It's disgusting and seems a bit desperate."

Glad Jcb picked up on my idea. Thanks for fleshing it out. It truly should be an option.

Posted by: Ick at October 15, 2006 06:43 AM

Even though I kvetch about the lack of choices for RICO voters, I'm not sure I'd want to be an undecided voter in Iowa's First District either.

How would a nonpartisan voter decide between an evil Bushbot and an evil Liberal Trial Lawyer? Tough call.

So thank heavens for the Politburo. They are The Deciders so we don't have to be. (snork!)

Posted by: paladin at October 15, 2006 02:03 PM

I will vote for Dennis Ahearn for State Rep as a wright in. I am a democrat but with all of the controversy surrounding Mike Boland and the Pay to Play scam that he is playing I will vote Ahearn. This is third party info from the Dispatch/Argus not comming from the Dirty Republican so it can be trusted. Boland can not be trusted though.I encourage other Democrats to do the same thing.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 17, 2006 09:50 PM

If anyone wants to know the "rest of the story" concerning about the controversy surrounding Mike Boland's scholarships, here goes.

Since I work as Bolandís Chief of Staff during the day, I am imagining that there are folks out there waiting for my comments about the scholarship situation. I seem to have somehow ended up in the role of Bolandís online spokesman on blogs during my personal time.

The simple answer to give is that Alleyene Suehl deserved the scholarship she got, she won it based on her own merits. Of course that answer wonít satisfy everyone, so Iíll try to explain all the details to the best of my ability.

For the record, the only legal requirements concerning General Assembly Scholarships are that the student receiving the scholarship reside within the boundaries of the Representativeís district, and the tuition wavers only apply to State of Illinois Universities. Any other standards are set by the Representatives and Senators themselves. Each Illinois Senator and Representative is allowed two full four-year scholarships per year. Representative Boland splits his up into 8 full year college scholarships. If a student doesnít choose to use the summer semester of their scholarship, Boland gives the unused portion to a different deserving student.

Mike Bolandís scholarships are awarded based on a broad range of criteria. Because academic achievement is important, Boland looks at the studentís grade point average and the kind of classes they are taking. He also considers extracurricular activities, and he does look at financial need, but itís not the primary criteria.

Willingness to give back to the community is really the most essential qualifying factor. Every year Representative Boland gives a speech to his scholarship recipients, stressing that their scholarship comes from the taxpayers, and that he expects his scholarship recipients to find a way to pay back the investment to the community.

The Scholarship application weíve developed at Representative Bolandís office is several pages long, and it includes an essay question at the end. When itís all said and done, after reviewing grades, and financial need, Mike actually tries to picture what each applicant might have to offer back to the community, and he makes his final determination from there.

Itís not like we keep these scholarships a tightly guarded secret. In past years weíve sent out letters to guidance counselors announcing the scholarshipís availability, and Iíve written and submitted news releases to the media announcing them. Iím not sure how much attention the counselors paid to the notice, and I donít remember ever getting any coverage in the Argus / Dispatch either.

I believe that most years we get about twenty or twenty-five applicants at Mike Bolandís office, and because of our ability to award unused summer semesters along with the normal full year scholarships, we are usually able to offer some kind of scholarship to about half of our applicants.

When Mike Boland awarded Alleyene Suehl a scholarship, he knew it would very likely be used against him by his political opponents. Boland and I discuss potential scholarship recipients several times during the review process, and I told him heíd get slammed hard for giving a scholarship to a large contributor. I even speculated it could cost him his House seat and thus it could cost me my job as well. As our discussion continued, Boland asked me if Alle (pronounced like the word - alley) deserved the scholarship based on her own merits.

Alleyene served in our office as an intern in the summer of 2004, and again in 2005, so I know her personally. She is a strong student, who was involved in organized athletics, as well as a great number of other community activities. Alle was also the recipient of a number of awards and honors. In addition to her school and extracurricular athletic commitments, I also noted Alle worked part time, and that she and her family had served as hosts for several foreign exchange students. Alle even brought one foreign exchange student along for her internship at Mike Bolandís office. That was a really great experience for us all, allowing a wonderful young exchange student to see (and participate) in Illinois State Government up close and personal.

Thinking honestly about Alleís attributes in comparison to the other applicants, I had to admit, based on all the criteria we use to judge candidates, that Alle was one of the very best. In fact, I can only think of a relatively small handful of students, in all my years with Boland, who could match up across the board to all of the attributes Alle exhibited. There was no way I could deny that, based on merit, Alleyene Suehl was more than qualified.

Mike Boland and I both know it would be wrong to give someone a scholarship because of a campaign contribution. But, turning the question on itís head, we had to ask ourselves if it would also be wrong to totally rule out a scholarship applicant because of a campaign contribution by her mother. Was I really willing to look Alle Suehl in they eye and tell her, ďYou were the best candidate that applied, but we canít give you the scholarship because your mom is politically active.Ē

Mike Boland chose not to penalize Alle Suehl because of her mother. He decided that doing the right thing by one young girl was more important than what people might think about the action in political terms.

For the record, in 1995 Mike Boland set his top income threshold for scholarship recipients at $100,000 total household income. In 2003 we reviewed and revised that to an upper limit of $120,000 household income to allow for 8 years of inflation. Most of the scholarships go to students with families who make far less. We try to look at the entire picture, and envision what the student might bring back to the community.

For the record, Jerimiah Posedel, who was a staff person for Congressman Evans, once applied for and received a scholarship from Representative Bolandís office, based upon his own merit. I am sad to say that Jerimiah was let go by Lane Evans because he got the scholarship from our office, at least thatís what I read on The Inside Dope - http://theinsidedope.blogspot.com/2006/05/evans-officially-out-of-race-former.html As should be obvious from that article, Jerimiah Posedel was free to endorse someone other than Boland for Congress, we award scholarships based on merit, not political considerations, and we donít ask anything in return for the scholarships we give out!

For the record, relatives of John Gianulis, Rock Island Democratic County Chairman and Chairman of the Statewide Democratic County Chairmanís Board, as well as (until recently) a top employee of Governor Blagojevich - http://theinsidedope.blogspot.com/2006/09/gianulis-to-retire-from-blago.html - also had relatives apply to Bolandís office for scholarships. Because we award scholarships based on merit, and not political considerations, we were NOT able to offer a scholarship to Johnís relative!

Now, I hope the situation is a bit more clear to everyone, at Mike Bolandís office we give scholarships based on the merit, not for political favors or contributions, but despite whatever the political ramifications might be, based upon merit.

Posted by: Mike Huntoon at October 18, 2006 05:44 AM

As much as I like the idea of a "none of the above option" and think it would be a great addition to our ballots I think political reform needs to go further in this state. When was the last time this state had a Governor that somehow was involved in political favor scandals? It is ridiculous that we as a state have to continue to put up with political corruption at the highest state levels. And the corruption follows both parties into office. Here is another question to think about; when was the last time we had a governor that didn't have their stronger political ties interests in Chicago, that is well known as to have the most crookedness in politics in possibly the whole nation, while the rest of the state gets stuck with leftover considerations? Is there any wonder that all our Governors are so crooked with such close and tight ties to crooked Chicago Politics! Until we divorce our highest state level policy making from Chicago, every other region in the State of Illinois going to be stuck as that insignificant part of Illinois that gets tossed an occasional gnawed bone. We need to reconsider the way we choose Governors. Chicago has way too much influence in the way the rest of the state prospers or decays! We should redesign the way we select a governor to a way similar to the way the nation selects a President through electoral votes. It would give teh rest of the state more of a say in state direction. It would force Politicians to leave the Chicago city lines and visit the rest of this state. It would force the Governors to actually push for progress in the rest of the state instead of just paying us lip service and hand out empty promises that they decide not to fulfill after they get elected. We need reform in a way to assure that all the state is represented and not just the areas where the crooked politicians sleep and party!

Posted by: NMP at October 18, 2006 01:21 PM

I like that Mike has a mouthpiece that answersfor him. This way they can't come back and use his words against him. This is a great idea which Hyuntoon as a loyal soldier takes on with gusto. Great job Huntoon.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 18, 2006 01:58 PM

On various local blogs, I see some anger with the way things are. Some say they will write in alternatives. Well, amen to that. Closer to the election, I intend to solicit names for a write-in campaign for all those Democrat positions unopposed on the RICO November 7th ballot. With jcb's OK, I will ask for names to write-in here at PP. I will ask for names to oppose Verschoore on down to county board seats and dogcatcher. Or any other position where serious candidates are lacking (i.e. 17th Dist.). We can't have NOTA now, but we can voice our dissatisfaction with the current political powers.

Look for my call to action.

Posted by: paladin at October 18, 2006 04:44 PM

Mike, that was a lovely story, thank you for clarifying the facts. However, the family was able to pay for the education of the daughter themselves, based on income (let alone, likely life insurance that the father had).

You cannot tell me that there were no other candidates, even if slightly of lower quality that NEEDED the scholarship far worse and that might not have the ABILITY to go to college without it.

Weave whatever story you so desire, but a payoff is a payoff. (Blago insists that his daughter deserves $1,500 birthday checks as well).

Posted by: not convinced at October 19, 2006 07:20 AM

Paladin -- good luck, and feel free to promote whoever you want to here.

Related to this is the following Q&A from the Rock Island County clerk's website:

Q: May I vote for a write-in candidate?

A: Write-in votes will count only for candidates who have filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate by 5:00 P.M. on the Tuesday before the election.

Posted by: jcb at October 20, 2006 11:27 AM

jcb, thanks for the info from the County Clerk's office. But I'm not promoting any particular person for office, I'm just attempting to stage a NOTA style protest.

When I voted in the Dem primary, I had two goals in mind: 1. to defeat the odious Mike Jacobs so as to register a protest against the corrupt way he was "selected", and 2. to register a complaint about Lane Evans running for another term since the man was obviously not physically able--- Evans was barely coherent, yet he was convinced he could win. And he probably could have if Felker hadn't outed him.

Well, the Jacobs thing didn't work out, but when I wrote in my candidate opposing Evans, I didn't stop there, I continued to fill in the many positions held by unopposed Democrats, just using names off the top of my head while standing in a voting booth. Later, when the D/A published the breakdown of votes, Lane Evans had over 100 write-in votes against him in RICO alone.

So, in a couple of weeks, here at PP, I will ask your readers for suggestions for names to literally "fill in the blanks" of unopposed Democrats. I mean legitimate names, not Bugs Bunny and that sort of idiocy.

I know that Democrats are against one-party rule when the party is Republican, but many of us object to all one party rule, including this corner of IL. Writing in names to oppose the unopposed will, I hope, send a message that some of us are not happy with the death grip one party has on our area.

Posted by: paladin at October 20, 2006 01:16 PM

Mr. Hutton forgot to mention Posedele isn't from the Quad Cities. Posedele is from Chicago. Why Boland gave Posedele a scholarship rather than someone that was raised and lives here is beyond my understanding.

Posedele was here as a "hired politcal gun" in Lane's campaign. As soon as possible, Posedele moved away and is now attending law school. One fact is clear, Posedele has bruned all his bridges and he isn't coming back to the QC's. Consequesntly, Boland's scholarship may have helped Posedele, but it didn't help us. What a waste!

I also noticed that Clarence "Clix" Vynke, one of Boland's big politcal backers, got a scholarship for his grandaughte. While I am sure she is a lovely girl, one can't help but wonder how she won the award in the first place.

Boland should return the tainted $16,000 he took from this woman in Fulton. If nothing else Boland should donate the tainted cash to charity as Blago has done with cash from Tony Rezko. If Boland doesn't do something quick, he's going to find himself on the outside looking in.

Thankfully, Mike Boland has ammassed three seperate state pensions and his politcal wife, South Moline Trustee Mary Boland, has accumulated two state pensions! Not bad for a couple of reformers! Who said politcs doesn't pay?????????????????????????Sheeeeshhhhhh!

Posted by: Funinthesun at October 20, 2006 01:43 PM

I thought the real story about J.P.'s scholarship was the vile way Phil Hare treated the young man for daring to ask Boland for anything!


And before you go spreading more falsehoods, I know Boland spent 30 years as a school teacher and earned a pension there, he's got to be earning some pension from the General Assembly too, but where the heck do you get any kind of third pension?

Stick to the facts!

Posted by: Bobbi-Sue at October 21, 2006 03:56 PM

The article in the paper about Boland was cartoon journalism.

If you ask Elmer Fudd about Buggs-Bunny you will certainly get something quotable about that "rascally rabbit", but that doesn't make it real or make it news.

Scott Reeder allowed the Jacob's to do their Elmer Fudd impression, but made a cartoon of himself in the process.

Posted by: Looney Tunes at October 22, 2006 07:23 PM

Boland and his band of looney tunes are at it again. When the going gets tough point your finger and blame someone else. The artical had plenty of people that had negative things to say about Boland. Scott Reeder, Bud Ford both have Boland supporting Republican because he lost his bid for Senate. Sour Grapes. Joel Brunsvold, Don Wooten, and John G. on Mike as a legislator and person.
What is Boland thinking. He needs to put his effoorts in helping the Democrats and not tearing us down. Haring is your opponent. Not the Democratic party.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 23, 2006 09:57 AM

It's my belief that Scott Reeder is the cartoon journalist, and last I heard he was neither local, nor was he a Democrat.

Only an egomaniac would think that the comment was about anyone other than Scott Reeder . . .

Like Carly Simon would sing, "You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you . . . don't you?"

Posted by: Got to keep those looners on the path at October 23, 2006 05:41 PM

I actually think that I am going to vote for the Green Party candidate for Gov.

Sounds reasonable - fair platform - far better option than the D or the R.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 25, 2006 03:29 PM