Monday, July 25, 2005

How to sell patronage

j^3 is asking supporters to choose the best among four ads touting his Peotone patronage grab. Think I'm being cynical about j^3? Just read the ads... See, for j^3, the impetus for building an airport has little to do with "reducing flight delays" or "close-to-home convenience." It's all about creating patronage jobs -- that he would control. I personally like option 1. Not only does it have the pretty blue background (sky-like...yah get it?), but it also tellingly captures the true j^3 -- one hand out, looking somewhat stilted as he tries to direct your attention to the 15,000 jobs figure...while the other hand is tucked neatly behind his back. (Patting his wallet?) Wait a he missing a hand? Anyone out there know? The slogan at the bottom of the ad is a little dry. Maybe jazz it up a little, like "Come fly the Rainbow/PUSH skies!!!" or "Give me the land, and I'll show you my other hand" By the way...if the airport is built, I wonder who will get the lucrative concession deals?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Can I just say...

...Patrick Fitzgerald is the shiznit. This man has a passion for taking out the trash, first in NY, then in IL and now in DC.

Memories of a judge

Bush's Supreme Court nominee John C. Roberts apparently grew up along Lake Michigan in NW Indiana. On NBC-5 news tonight, they interviewed a 7th grade classmate of Roberts. The classmate's one recollection of him was that in an assignment in which they had to generate an idea for an invention, Roberts came up with a brilliant idea: to create a self rotating fork that will automatically wind up your spaghetti noodles for you. A few minutes ago, Senator Kennedy issued a statement denouncing the invention. UPDATE: The Illinois Leader's headline story is not about Roberts, exactly, but about how Dick Durbin called Roberts controversial. They also ran a big picture of Dick Durbin next to the article. Do you think the Illinois Leader is secretly in love with Dick Durbin? Is that why everything always gotta be about Dick Durbin? Just out of curiousity, I did search of the Leader's site on "durbin" -- 1092 posts came up. A search on "hastert" revealed only 653 posts. So I ask you, Illinios Leader, who's in your dreams tonight?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ditka vents his frustration on CTA busses

Ditka, in testifying before Chicago City Council on their proposed bar and restaurant smoking ban:
    “Now, I drove down Michigan Avenue yesterday, and I bring this up as a point. I got behind a CTA bus, and I thought I would be asphyxiated,” Ditka said. “Are we going to outlaw CTA buses?”
Damn straight, man. Something needs to be done about those old busses. I thought they were supposed to have gotten rid of those things by now...???!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Morrison barks up the right tree

...for a change. Yes, I'm as stunned as you, but I found myself agreeing with the gist of her latest column, which is basically a book review of Redevelopment: The Unknown Government, by Chris Norby, apparently an elected official in Orange County California. I haven't read the book, but I gather from Morrison's article that the "unknown government" refers to influential real estate developers and the TIFs and tax breaks and other laws that fuel development. Says Morrison:
    "It is time we began to get our thinking straight. Our tax dollars were never meant to be dumped into private ventures such as development. Our tax dollars were meant to provide needs for the public such as schools, libraries, fire districts, police and other civic services. ... "In California, Norby says the “unknown government” is supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby and backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers. Your state no doubt has its own supporters ready to line their pockets. It doesn’t take long to figure out development is not really coming to your town to benefit you, but someone will reap the profits at your expense. It is important to understand this unknown government provides no public services. “It does not educate our children, maintain our streets, protect us from crime, nor stock our libraries,” Norby states. Anyone involved with a TIF district realizes this tax money does not go back to support any of the above public needs as the property taxes stay in the development area for up to 30 years or more.
It's funny how Morrison's conservative populism has gotten so extreme that she's actually boomeranging back into the arena of common sense. Instead of blaming the environmentalists, who are essentially reactionaries to environmental, cultural and economic decay, she now, perhaps for the first time, recognizes one of the true causes of that decay: TIF districts, corporate welfare and politically connected private developers. That is, when big business runs your community, everybody loses. This is part of the reason why I joined the Green Party. The Democrats, like their Republican twins, with regularity, sell out our communities to developers and other private interests. And the Greens are dedicated to making sure communities are governered by the people who live there, not some faceless profiteering entity. Or as the Wisconsin Green Party says it so clearly in their platform (I know other state parties agree, but Wisc. was the first up in the search):
    The Greens believe that government decisions should be made as close to the people as possible. When money comes to a community from the state and federal government, the people of the local community must have greater say in how that money is spent. ... Giving individuals or corporations tax breaks is similar to spending, since it deprives the government of revenue it would otherwise receive. Therefore, special tax breaks should only be granted when there will be a benefit to society to justify the cost. In particular, the Greens believe that the state just crack down on tax incremental financing (TIF) tax breaks, which are often granted in questionable situations.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Suspicions confirmed

Yesterday's Sun-Times article on a Jesse Jackson Jr. pretty much confirmed my suspicions: He is trying to position himself as the "pro-patronage" candidate for the 2007 mayoral race, accusing Daley of handing out the jobs to the wrong people:
    In discussing Daley and his father, the late Richard J. Daley, Jackson said the elder Daley's political machine was built on organized labor and city workers and was more grass-roots oriented than the current machine. The current mayor employs a "pinstripe patronage system'' that relies on private contractors and rich donors, Jackson said. He knocked the current mayor's attempts to privatize many city services....
We always knew Jackson was pro-patronage. He is, after all, pushing for a superfluous third Chicago airport. But now we see clearly that he wants to style himself after the elder Daley and rule a huge patronage army. This is not good. Patronage=oppression.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Book plugging

I'm about 100 pages into Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas?. So far, it's kind of an ethnography of the state located smack dab in the middle of America. He also spends considerable time derailing the myth that Kansas is home to the most normal, average people there are, pointing to Kansas' history of political extremism. Really interesting.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jackson Jr., the phony reformer

The Tribune has a piece on how Jesse Jackson Jr. plans to start registering 150,000 of the estimated 650,000 unregistered voters in Chicago. This is the mark of a lousy, self-serving elected official. Apparently, the fact that there are 650,000 unregistered voters was of little consequence to him all these years, that is until he is ready to run for a new job. Now all the sudden, he's all about registering voters. His self-serving motives aside, I hope he is able to make a big dent in the 650K. The piece also covers Jesse Jackson Jr.'s rally of 300 supporters, many wearing "Jr." buttons. Do note that just a few days ago, the JJJ camp denied any connection to a city employee named Frank Coconate, who handed out a bunch of "Jr" buttons to his coworkers in the Water Dept. Now, if you are a breathing, blinking Chicagoan, you know the Water Dept. has been hit recently with the Hired Truck investigation, in which accusations range from taking bribes to dealing drugs. Daley, perhaps in an attempt to save himself politically, has begun his own internal crackdown on city-worker scams. And to show he means business, he's ousted a lot of top city officials. Then he cracked down on punchclock frauds. It's only going to get uglier. The Water Dept. employees who have worked so hard politically for Daley have got to be upset. Suddenly the guy who they've so loyally supported is threatening to hang them out to dry. And then these Jr buttons suddenly appear on the scene at the Water Dept., as if to say, "Stick with Daley and you might lose your job. Support Jr. and it's back to the status quo."

Novak on the Daley/Durbin spat

Just in case you ever thought venerable conservative columnist Bob Novak had a clue, you should read his column on the Daley/Durbin feud. Prepare to laugh out loud.
    "Daley sees Durbin as typical of today's negative, Washington-oriented Democratic Party. Daley, a born and bred loyal Democrat, is a builder rather than a political hit man. … "Daley seldom speaks out publicly about his party. He did in April 1995 when I visited his office. … "But Democrats nationwide might well consider the occupant of Chicago's City Hall as a model.
Now I really have heard everything. But I can see why Novak has a fondness for Daley. After all they both have something in common: They both shit their pants every time someone says the name Patrick Fitzgerald.