URBAN PHILOSOPHER
Conscience Laureate

Friday, October 29, 2010

I POSTED THIS BLOG IN SEPTEMBER OF 2009.  IT IS MY FAVORITE.  SO, BECAUSE WINTER IS FAST APPROACHING, I AM RUNNING IT AGAIN.


PRIVATE SNOW PLOWING TRUCKS

Nothing is certain in Chicago but death, taxes and snow. Last year (2008) in a fit of budget pique, Mayor Daley announced the city was cutting back on the snow plowing of side streets. It was almost as if the ukase were pronounced as a punishment to Aldermen who would have to bear the brunt of their constituent’s complaints while the Mayor’s guffaws could be heard chortling through City Hall.

The Daley administration has set forth a proposal to hire private companies to plow side streets this winter as a way to save money. Two options are being explored: one contract would pay a set monthly price for December through March and also half of November and April and the other option would have the city pay an hourly rate when services are needed.

The Chicago Tribune reported that “several aldermen said they were caught off guard when Daley officials told them of the proposals last week, and they want to have more input into potential changes in such a key city duty." Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said, "Nothing is more integral to city services than police and fire and city snow removal. I think we have to approach this with a degree of trepidation."

I don’t like either option. Option one is the monthly rate plan. How can one decide in September how much snow is going to fall in the upcoming winter and be able to determine what the rate plan should be? One could use past and future weather charts to try to determine an expectation of how much snow will fall, but a “guestimate” is not how the city should decide pricing on anything.


Option two is the hourly rate. Under the hourly rate the snow plow driver would have no incentive to clear the street quickly. The longer it takes them to plow, the more money they will make. The hourly rate is just an inducement to plow slowly.

Not being just a naysayer; I have two options of my own to propose. One would be for the city to determine a flat rate per side-street. The snow plowing companies could bid on how many and what streets they want to plow. When snowfall reaches a certain level, the company would send their trucks out.

My second idea, whimsical though it might be, would to equip the Laz parking meter enforcement aides with riding snow blowers. It is a work-force that currently exists. The aides have to be on the streets checking if cars have valid parking receipts, so they are already in the field. I researched on-line and the riding snow-blowers have a speed of 6-8 mph—about the velocity one travels in a car in the city during inclement weather. Give the aides a few more bucks an hour and they could do the job.

So why hire trucks when just a blow job will do?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

EVERYONE IS A DUMMY!




My friend Linda Shafran described my blog writing style perfectly as, “Kathy is pissed off and they are dummies.” Today’s posting is a perfect example of that mind-set. I am mad at people who spend a lot of cash on Halloween costumes because it is a stupid waste of money!


Last year, on October 30th, I posted a blog called, “Halloween; A Senseless Excuse To Eat Candy.” I ended the posting with, “ I might sound like an old curmudgeon being so negative about a day that so many other people enjoy celebrating, but at least let us show some honesty in why we enjoy October 31st. It has nothing to do with honoring dead souls; it’s all about the candy. “ This year it is all about the costumes!


Crain’s Chicago published a story about adults spending a lot of money on costumes to attend charitable events on Halloween weekend. One such event is a fund-raiser for the American Diabetes Association. The ADA is a wonderful organization but they encourage guests attending the event to wear a costume instead of black-tie. One could be creative and cleverly design something out of old clothes already in their closet, but women involved in the event are quoted bragging about their expenditures.

Not wanting to embarrass this one woman any further about her foolish extravagant worthless spending, I am omitting her name. She forked out $1500 on a Marie Antoinette costume. Crain’s wrote, “She spent $800 on a custom-made, 18th-century dress with a plunging bodice, bell sleeves, elbow-length gloves and petticoat skirt. Then she purchased two platinum wigs at Fantasy and had them woven together to create the character's signature towering hairpiece, with ringlets, flowers and butterflies for good measure. “

Many times I have spent more than $1500 on an outfit at St. John. But I have bought suits or dresses that I can wear more than once, and for years. How often does one have the opportunity to dress up like Marie Antoinette? Not unless one plans on standing on Michigan Avenue as a street performer!

It is not only women who are stupid. Sonny Balani of the eponymous Balani Custom Clothiers had to this say about a customer, "He wanted to be the Joker for Halloween, and he had no problem dropping $2,000." Crain's reported the "staffers spent some 20 hours researching photos of actor Heath Ledger's Joker in the film "The Dark Knight" and stitching together the outfit. The client, Mr. Balani says, “also grew out his hair for months and hired a professional makeup artist to help him appropriate the character's scraggly, white-faced countenance."


For Mayor Richard Daley’s annual Halloween Ball which benefits the Cultural Center, one attorney (again I won’t name him to protect the stupid) told Crain’s that he, “…outfits his entire 10-person table in matching gear. The result, whether it's penguin suits or Elvises (“Elvii,”), can cost four figures.”


What makes this costume spending so maddening to me is that people are wearing them to CHARITY galas! Events that are raising MONEY for important medical research or for the arts, etc. Instead the guests choose to give cash to a tailor so they can look stylish just for one night instead of donating it directly to the not-for-profit.

Mayor Daley wears the same pumpkin decorated vest every year to his event at the Cultural Center. If that is good enough for Hizzoner, it should be good enough for everyone else in the room.

I will dress up as a dummy this Halloween but you won’t know it’s me because I will be surrounded by the real dummies who are wearing costumes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SLASH AND BURN














On Monday,Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson unveiled a 51 page report on how to cut the city’s budget that is really just smoke and mirrors! I could have as pathetically devised a way to cut $250 million if I had just suggested getting rid of the entire public transit system and all garbage pick-up or some other such nonsense.

While previous Inspectors General have not considered the budget part of their job description, Ferguson’s writes in his cover letter, “The IGO is charged by ordinance with promoting economy, efficiency, effectiveness and integrity in the operations of the City government. This report is our first attempt in doing so through the analysis of budget options and is modeled after reports done by both the Congressional Budget Office at the federal level and the Independent Budget Office in New York City.” Will we soon hear that this former U.S. Attorney is running for Mayor? Think Giuliani.

I read through Ferguson’s report, so you don’t have to. Below are my Top Ten favorite pathetic budget slashing ideas that no Alderman would ever agree to.


(1) Eliminate subsidized water and sewer usage for not for profits. (I wrote a blog which facetiously included that thought on October 11th);

(2) Charge a fee for not for profits that receive city garbage collection;

(3) Eliminate free sewer service for seniors;

(4) Eliminate property tax relief grants;


(5) Eliminate the Jumping Jack programs at parks and festivals. ( The alderman already voted against eliminating that 2 years ago.);


(6) Charge for Blue Cart Recycling. (Hardly anybody is using that program now, so if it costs money who will pay for it?);

(7) Eliminate home buying assistance for police officers, firefighters and teachers;

(8) Eliminate city funding for tuberculosis;

(9) Cut traffic aides in the Loop;

And drum roll please for the worst idea to save money:

(10) Reduce fire staffing apparatus to four persons!

If my home ever caught on fire I would want as many responders as possible. I hope Ferguson never smells smoke at his house because they just might let it burn down!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

C_N_FL_CT _ F _NT_R_ST ( Vowels cost $150)














One would not think of the name Pat Sajak when looking to refer to a pundit. But since the definition of pundit is a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner, usually through the mass media, he IS one because of his blog and his commentary in National Review. If one thinks about it, why can’t his opinions be given the same weight as any other pundit? Just because he is a TV game show host does not make him any less knowledgeable about politics than other self-proscribed political analysts.

His posting last week on-line for National Review made sense! It was a reprint of what he had written on http://www.ricochet.com/, a compilation of conservative conversations, that includes such contributors as Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Rupert Murdoch, founder and Chairman of News Corp.

Below is what he wrote, followed by my commentary.

Public Employees and Elections: A Conflict of Interest?

None of my family and friends is allowed to appear on Wheel of Fortune. Same goes for my kids’ teachers or the guys who rotate my tires. If there’s not a real conflict of interest, there is, at least, the appearance of one. On another level, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself from nearly half the cases this session due to her time as solicitor general. In nearly all private and public endeavors, there are occasions in which it’s only fair and correct that a person or group be barred from participating because that party could directly and unevenly benefit from decisions made and policies adopted. So should state workers be able to vote in state elections on matters that would benefit them directly? The same question goes for federal workers in federal elections.


I’m not suggesting that public employees should be denied the right to vote, but that there are certain cases in which their stake in the matter may be too great. Of course we all have a stake in one way or another in most elections and many of us tend to vote in favor of our own interests. However, if, for example, a ballot initiative appears that might cap the benefits of a certain group of state workers, should those workers be able to vote on the matter? Plainly, their interests as direct recipients of the benefits are far greater than the interests of others whose taxes support such benefits. I realize this opens a Pandora’s box in terms of figuring out what constitutes a true conflict of interest, but, after all, isn’t opening those boxes Ricochet’s raison d’ĂȘtre?


Who’d have thunk that it would be Pat Sajak who would start such an interesting dialogue? What he wrote makes perfect sense, even though a system could never be implemented where certain voters could recuse themselves from casting a ballot on a self-serving issue.

The conversation has been started. It is now up to us t_  f_n_sh  _t.

Monday, October 25, 2010

WHOSE MONEY IS IT?








Today we have two stories about money that beg the question,” Whose money is it to spend?”

(1) Groupon (a web-based coupon company) has just received a $3.5 million handout from Governor Patrick Quinn as an incentive for hiring 250 workers for their Chicago headquarters office instead of one of their other offices.


Governor Quinn justified the expenditure by saying, "We want to keep 'em here. It's a competitive environment."

Divide the money by the number of employees and it figures out at about $14,500 per worker. That is a nice incentive for any company!


The $3.5 million is actually a small amount when compared to the $135 million that company received back in April from Digital Sky Technologies (DST), a Russian investment firm. But did Quinn or Groupon President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Solomon mention that money when they spoke to reporters about the deal the state gave the company. DST got stock in the company for their investment, where are the shares for Illinois?

Since the money the state is using for the subsidy belongs to the citizens of Illinois, whose money is it that the Governor spent? Is the state really going to get anything for the dough?

I went to the Groupon web site to check out job opportunities. There are 67 positions listed with 21 for the Chicago office headquarters. Forty-two of the jobs are for account executive position in cities throughout the country like Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Richmond, Indianapolis, Kansas City Baton Rouge Tucson, Tulsa etc. The account executives need to physically be located in the cities where Groupon wants to make relationships with business owners. So those jobs are not coming to Chicago.

Under job opportunities on the Groupon website, there are 67 positions listed with 21 for the Chicago office. Forty-two of the jobs are for account executive position in cities throughout the country like Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Richmond, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Baton Rouge, Tucson, Tulsa, etc. Since the account executives need to be physically located in the cities where Groupon wants to build relationships with local business owners, those jobs are not coming to Chicago.

One would think that at the very least, Groupon would have listed 250 open positions on their web site so it would seem like there were 250 jobs to be had for the $3.5 million welfare check they are getting.

(2) Cook County Commissioner William Beavers just received a subpoena from the U.S Attorney’s office looking into the spending of his $1200/month Cook County expense account. His reaction to a Sun-Times question about it was, "It's just a subpoena." Wow! The last time I received a subpoena from the Feds, I was worried. Wait! I have never received a subpoena from anyone! If I did, I know I would be concerned.


The monthly allowance is for miscellaneous expenses relating to a Commissioner's job, such as gas, parking, meals, office supplies, mileage reimbursement or utilities.


According to the Sun-Times, “Beavers, who calls himself ‘The Hog with the Big Nuts,’ has been upfront about pocketing the cash. In 2007, his expense report contained just one sentence: "Commissioner Beavers will claim his FY 2007 contingency as income." On Wednesday, Beavers declined to answer questions about the contingency fund or whether he claimed payments as income on his tax returns.”


Documents obtained by WGN News and The Better Government Association show, for example, in May 2009, Commissioner Beavers reported spending just $162 of his $1200 monthly allowance. On another, he claimed $1900 in expenses over a three month period.


The monthly allowance is for expenses relating to a Commissioner’s job. How can he pocket it if he does not spend it according to the guidelines? Whose money is it?


Career politicians keep spending and misusing the money that we taxpayers provide them. There is one week left before the election, so spend your vote wisely or it could cost you a lot in the future! It’s your vote, not theirs.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CHICAGO STORIES TIMES FOUR



Some random comments on events in my life and the lives of Chicagoans.


(1) I attended a panel discussion of the 50th Anniversary of the first Kennedy/Nixon debate. One of the panelists was Sander Vanocur, an NBC reporter back in 1960, who was one of the questioners at the original debate. Talk about reliving history! Fascinating event! After the program, an audience member asked Vanocur if he had any comments on the upcoming Chicago Mayoral race. He had one: “Don’t let them Rahm him down your throats.” I could not agree more! I don’t understand why the Chicago media has appointed Emanuel as the presumptive heir to the throne. As I said to Monsignor Boland, “The newspapers are treating Emanuel as the Second Coming of Christ.” Well, Emanuel is Jewish so we know he has one trait in common with Jesus.



(2) On Friday, October 8th, I published a blog about how upset I was with newly posted anti-Israel ads on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses. I concluded the posting with, “To paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan, I am shouting out to the CTA President, “Mr. Rodriguez tear down those ads!” As luck would have it, I attended the same event as Rodriguez this week, The Kathy Osterman Awards, and spoke to him about my blog. He told me that he was also upset about the ads, but legally could do nothing. Because I felt I had maligned him in the blog, I asked him to write a statement explaining the CTA’s position. His statement is reprinted below:


“I understand that there are some people who will find the ads—and other ads for that matter—offensive.


As the president of the CTA, however, I can’t judge such things according to my own personal views. The CTA is a public entity and publicly funded. It is governed by laws that protect people’s rights including the right to free speech. We’re not always in agreement with what advertisers say or promote, but in accordance with the Constitution, the advertisers have the right to say them.


In this case, there was no legal basis for the CTA to reject the ads, even though they espouse a political message that is objectionable to you and others. In the recent past the CTA rejected some potentially controversial ads on another subject and was sued. We lost that case and had to allow the ads to run.


The CTA has established guidelines for advertising on its properties. For example, ads cannot be legally obscene or portray graphic violence. They cannot be directed at inciting imminent lawless action. For testimonial type ads such as these, the CTA can require – and did require – that ads disclose the name of the organization purchasing the ads. As long as advertisements conform to the guidelines, the CTA cannot deny an advertiser’s right to run an ad.”



 (3) The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) received a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to “study effective ways to seek, test and treat inmates with HIV.” Dr. Lawrence Ouellet, research professor of epidemiology and one of the principal investigators, said, “Each year, an estimated one in seven individuals infected with HIV passes through a correctional facility which suggests that these facilities are key sites for public health interventions targeting HIV/AIDS.” A waste of $7 million. An HIV test costs $7. Make every inmate take one and charge their commissary account for the test. Cost to taxpayers: zero dollars and NIH can spend their money elsewhere. If the inmate tests positive, castrate them. Cost to taxpayers: priceless.



 (4) Two stories on collecting unemployment benefits have popped up in Chicago.


(a) Carla Oglesby, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s former deputy chief of staff, has filed for unemployment benefits. Ogelsby resigned after being accused of allegedly stealing $300,000 from taxpayers. She is facing felony public corruption charges and is free on bail. She filed the claim with the Illinois Department of Employment Security on October 10, six days after she was arrested. An application for unemployment benefits may be denied if the job was lost through misconduct, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.


Since we have to say she “allegedly” stole the money, then we should “allegedly” send her unemployment checks.


(b) Anthony Boswell, the Denver attorney hired by Mayor Daley to oversee hiring practices in the city of Chicago-- only to be stripped of that responsibility and resign—has a new dispute with City Hall. Boswell filed for unemployment last month to obtain weekly benefits of $534 for 26 weeks, based on his $161,856-a-year salary. He might have resigned but, at the time, he was about to be fired. Inspector General Joe Ferguson had written a report recommending that Boswell be fired for accepting Spanish lessons on city time from a consultant over whom he had contracting authority, "without regard to the obvious conflict of interest" that "abused the consulting relationship."


"Even worse, Boswell lied about the situation when the IGO asked him about it. Boswell deliberately mischaracterized the lessons as culture and diversity lessons," the report stated.


Since the city is self-insured for unemployment claims, payment would cost taxpayers money. When Boswell is formerly denied the claim, maybe they should have Donald Trump tell him, “Estas despedido.” Let’s see if those Spanish lessons paid off!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

IS SOMETHING BETTER THAN NOTHING?



On November 2nd, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to adopt a state constitutional amendment that will allow for recall of the Governor. I checked “NO!” on my ballot. (I did early voting.) I feel in this case, something is NOT better than nothing!

Having a gubernatorial recall amendment as is currently worded is like having a life jacket during the sinking of the Titanic. You might think you have protection, but you are still going down with the ship! Voting “no” would send legislator’s back to the drawing board to write an amendment that should have shark’s teeth.

As proposed, a recall would first require hundreds of thousands signatures on a petition (at least 15% of the total votes cast for the Governor in their election!). To ensure “good signatures,” a petitioner always needs to get at least double the requirement, so we are actually looking at more than ONE MILLION signatures needed.

A recall would also require an affidavit signed by at least 20 State Representatives (10 Republicans, 10 Democrats) and at least 10 State Senators (5 Republicans, 5 Democrats.) That is 15 legislators from the Governor’s OWN party. The measure also only allows for recall of the Governor, NOT any other elected official. Are only Governors crooks or bad leaders?


Oregon was the first state to give voters the power to recall a governor during the Progressive Era in 1908. Should Illinois voters pass this amendment, we would become the 19th state to adopt such a measure. Recall has only worked twice in the history of our country: North Dakota's Lynn Frazier (1921) and California's Gray Davis (2003).


If approved by 60% of the voters, the proposed measure would add a new section, Section 7, to Article III of the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Constitution definitely needs revisions and the Illinois electorate should have voted for a Constitutional Convention when they had the chance in the 2008 election, which I was in favor of, but they failed to vote for an entire revamp and should not accept this watered-down amendment now.


The amendment was proposed by Illinois State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) and Rep. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst). Franks said, "If any state needs to give the voters the power of recall, it is Illinois with its long record of malfeasance in office. The numerous failings of our former governor are an indisputable example of why recall is necessary." I agree with Franks that a recall is necessary, but a recall amendment should not just hold true for the Governor!


In opposition, Rep. William Black (R-Danville) said that although "this is the best we can do at this time," the proposed recall amendment doesn't represent "true citizen-initiative recall." He also stated that the proposed amendment, if used during Blagojevich's tenure, could have easily been circumvented.


If the petition drive succeeds, then, the proposed amendment says: “If the petition is valid and sufficient, the State Board of Elections shall certify the petition not more than 100 days after the date the petition was filed, and the question ‘Shall (name) be recalled from the office of Governor?’ must be submitted to the electors at a special election called by the State Board of Elections, to occur not more than 100 days after certification of the petition.“ That means the state would have to spend millions to hold a special election! Most of the time the state is broke, so where would the money come from?


Do I have an answer as to what the correct wording of a recall amendment should be? No, I just feel that if the state has one, it should have teeth to sink any elected official, not just the governor!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

QUINN STILL LETTING HIS PEOPLE GO!!


Drawn by Scott Stantis for the Chicago Tribune

On September 20 2009, I posted a blog, “Quinn Says Let The Prisoners Go,” about about the Illinois Governor's early release plan called Meritorious Good Time (MGT). Back then it made no sense morally or economically. Then in August 7th this year, I wrote, “I Told You So,” about how the plan was still not effective and included a quote from then Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff Jerry Stermet who said, “The accelerated MGT program was a mistake." Well guess what? MGT is still happening!


State Senator Christine Radogno (R-41st District), Republican Minority Leader in the Illinois Senate sent out a newsletter that said, “Governor Pat Quinn is granting early release to convicted felons on a near daily basis, even as he buys ads and makes public statements designed to portray himself as having shut down discretionary early release programs in Illinois.


In fact, more than 2,000 felons have been released in the past three months, even though Quinn recently released a television ad that references early release and says he ‘took action and shut it down’ and adds he ‘stopped it cold.’ “


Is Quinn a liar, liar pants in fire? Read on.


Quinn's claims impelled State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) to investigate.” Since late July, Governor Quinn has allowed these convicted felons to leave prison early under the controversial MGT or Meritorious Good Time program." said Dillard "In fact, on the very same day that he began running a commercial claiming to have shut the program down 'cold' he released 22 felons."

Radogno’s newsletter also pointed out, “In fact, as of Oct. 15, three hundred felons have been released so far this month due to the discretionary good time awards. These include dangerous offenders, such as aggravated sexual abuse, aggravated battery of a pregnant person, aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a family member, numerous firearm offenses and at least three individuals convicted on murder charges.”

Under SB 3411, which was signed by the Governor on July 19, the Department of Corrections is required to post online the names and criminal history of every prisoner granted meritorious good time. The list can be viewed under the "Community Notification of Inmate Early Release" on the Illinois Department of Corrections website. (http://www.idoc.state.il.us/subsections/search/CNER.asp)

I randomly clicked on three names to get information about their sentences and release dates. (I originally had printed the full names of the prisoners until a friend e-mailed me  her concern that I needed to protect myself.  So I have edited the last names.)

(1) Marcos A
He was incarcerated on 10/31/2006. His sentence for manufacture and delivery of cocaine was 12 years. He was released on September 13, 2010, serving less than 4 years.

(2) Tracy A
She was incarcerated on 5/27/2009 and was sentenced to 4 years for possession. It was not her first visit to the rodeo, but she was released early this past September after serving only 16 months of her 48.

(3) James A
He was incarcerated on 8/14/2008 with a 7 year sentence for burglary. He was released last week, October 15th, after serving only two years.

The list on the Department of Corrections web site is pages and pages and pages long. I am sure if I kept checking I would have found some murderers and pedophiles.

Back in August, when we thought the MGT program had been terminated, I concluded the blog by writing:

Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” Since Quinn is not a wise man, we have to hope the voters of Illinois are and don't allow him to keep Illinois' highest elected position, the Office of Governor.

This time I conclude with Ben Franklin’s,"Well done is better than well said." Quinn said he did it, but he did not do it. Stick a fork in him; he is done.





Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ISAT, The Punch Line


Education officials and government administrators have crowed every year when standardized testing scores have gone up even miniscule percentages. I have written many times in frustration how I didn’t understand why officials are pleased with scores that still put Illinois high schools in the bottom tier of achievement. From a story published in the Chicago Tribune on October 18th, we learn that essentially the “books might have been cooked” and the number of students passing should be even lower! I never saw that punch line coming!

How did the “books get cooked?” The State of Illinois lowered the number of points it takes for a student to pass the various sections of the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests (ISAT)! So more students were ranked as passing because it took less correct answers to pass!


According to the Chicago Tribune, “Back in 2006, it took 36 of 56 points — about 64 percent — to pass the fifth-grade reading test. Now, it's 31 points, or 55 percent. The third- and fourth-grade reading tests used to require 61 percent of possible points. This year, it's 54 percent.

Compared with 2006, fewer correct answers are required to pass 11 of 12 Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in reading and math, state data show, raising questions about how much students really have to know. Meanwhile, passing rates on the exams have risen, assuring parents and the public that schoolchildren are making gains.”

Illinois State Board of Education officials attribute the “lowering of the bar” to a standard statistical process in testing called "equating," which is used to make sure that tests are analogous during different years, even if the difficulty of questions varies. “Equating” would seem like a reasonable answer if the number of correct answers required for passing fluctuated year to year, but the requirements have gone DOWN every year!


The Tribune quoted a number of outside experts who don’t agree that “equating is the answer for the lowering of the standards for passing.


(1) Sherry Rose-Bond, a Columbus, Ohio, school testing official on the board of directors of the National Council on Measurement in Education and past president of the National Association of Test Directors said, “It absolutely does not make sense. While slight variations can be expected in correct answers required year by year. You're not going to have this steady downward tangent."

(2) Robert Linn, a professor emeritus of education and past president of the American Educational Research Association, agreed that a steady or big drop in passing requirements "would not be typical unless the state is intentionally trying to do that."


(3) Psychometrician John Wick, a testing consultant and former testing adviser for the state board, is very familiar with equating, and he senses something amiss. Wick has highlighted declines in ISAT passing requirements in a study posted on his Web site, (http://www.wickpartners.com/), including the steady drops in fifth-grade reading since 2006.  State testing consultants may attribute the changes to "an innocent equating issue," Wick wrote, but equating should involve small changes "usually driven by randomness.'' The drops he's seeing "do not look random to me."

The Tribune began reviewing data and “found that today's students were getting more wrong answers in several test areas compared with five years ago. Even so, passing rates statewide had risen.

The newspaper then requested information showing how many points have been required to pass the 14 ISAT tests in reading, math and science for the last five years, and was provided the data by the State Board of Education. On half the ISAT exams, the Tribune found, students can get less than 50 percent of total points and still pass.”


I am not being critical of the State Board of Education because I don’t have enough information. But the fact is that it takes less correct answers now to get a proficient rating than it did a few years ago, that does not seem right.


If any numbers are going to be altered, I vote for changing height and weight measurements. I would like to be 5’8” and weight 110 pounds. Can anyone take care of that?

Monday, October 18, 2010

BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!








I am 13 billion percent against the proposed one-time $250 payment to recipients of various forms of Social Security benefits. I picked that percentage because the total cost of the payout will be approximately $13 billion to the between 50 and 58 million SSI benefit recipients. For the sake of argument, I am using $13 billion as a mean. So a small $250 check results in a massive payment when millions of people are receiving it.

Administration officials said there were no plans to offset the cost but would negotiate with Congress to find a way to finance the payments. How can Washington give away money away they don’t have? Regular people can’t do that!

I am not a cold-hearted, tight-fisted, greedy Scrooge-like person for being against this plan. I understand that Social Security recipients did not receive a “raise” this year because there was no increase in the Cost of Living Allowance, but practically nobody working in the real world received a raise either. Government employee friends of mine, who normally live in a fantasy world, have not received raises for a number of years.

According to the Social Security Administration, every year, the government automatically adjusts Social Security payments based on the nation's inflation rate. For an increase in payments to occur, consumer prices must be higher than when the last increase was awarded. Consumer prices were NOT higher in the past year, so there should be no increase in benefits. The Democrats are looking to side-step the established rule.

So was this plan devised because politicians really care about seniors, people receiving SSI and veterans? Or is it because we have an election coming up? Ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, of course, supports the measure and is terrified that the mid-term elections will change the course of Congress.
 
Tell 50 million Americans that you will be giving them money and they will vote for you. It is pay-for-play politics at its worst because it is being done on a national scale!

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made it tougher for Republicans to vote against the measure when he said, “We urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support our seniors, veterans and others with disabilities who depend on these benefits.” Worded that way, it makes it as difficult to vote, “No,” as it would be viewed to vote against pictures of cute babies and puppies!


Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, was at least a voice of reason. He said, "It will be difficult for many seniors to deal with the lack of a COLA [Cost of Living Allowance] for a second year in a row, but that will pale in comparison to the actual hardships future Social Security recipients will experience if Congress continues to ignore the program's underlying financial problems. We must put Social Security on a path to long-term solvency, and the sooner we do so, the better it will be for both taxpayers and beneficiaries alike."


To prove that I am not cold-hearted and randomly against spending $13 billion the country does not have, I have some other thoughts for the money. For the same expenditure, the government could foot the bill for every woman in America, who does not have health insurance coverage, to have a pap smear and a mammogram. We would take the left over money and pay for every uninsured child to have an eye exam and get glasses.


Money spent that way would benefit more than 50 million people and get Democrats all the votes they need. Plus, it would save lives, an even more important benefit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chicago Stories Threepeat


Some random musings that have been floating around my brain this week.

 (1) I just accepted every friend request I had on Facebook. I had no idea who 99% of the people were, but if they want to be my friend, why deny them the pleasure? I think “collecting friends” to pump up your page makes people feel important. I only have real friends on my page. Better to have 25 friends and one million dollars than $25 and one million friends. At least I think so.



(2) Part of the corked bat that Sammy Sosa got caught with in a Cubs game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 3, 2003 is for sale on-line at a sports memorabilia site. (www.schulteauctions.com) Auctioneer Ray Schulte says the barrel could fetch anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 by the time bidding ends Oct. 31. The bid on Tuesday, October 12th at 10:19 a.m. was $5050. Also on the same auction site was an original B&W photo of Babe Ruth from the 1928 World Series. The current bid on that was zero! People really have their heroes mixed up!



(3) Everybody hates the parking meter boxes in Chicago, unless they are a shareholder of Laz Parking that got the deal when the meters were privatized. There have been countless stories how this fiscal blunder could cost Chicago billions of dollars in unrealized revenue. Some person or persons is so mad they have stolen 20 meter boxes in the last month. Each box weighs about 200 pounds. The removal process takes time You can’t just carry one of them off on your back. Plus they are anchored to the sidewalk!. Are passers-by ignoring the criminal act because they hate the meters too? The irony is that for all the laborious work, I bet there is not that much cash to steal from the box because people use credit cards to pay the money-eating monsters. These thieves should pay attention to infamous bank robber Willie Sutton who said he robbed banks because that is where the money was! The only money in the meters is in the pockets of the Laz executives!



(4) Early voting started this week. In 2008, a presidential election year, about 700,000 people early voted out of 4.76 million registered voters in the six-county area. At the time, Cook County Clerk David Orr said, "Each day seems to break a record. This is the most intense presidential election I've ever seen. People are willing to stand and wait. They're just so intent on it." The Tribune predicted, “In Chicago, early turnout is expected to exceed 25 percent of the total vote, or about 245,000 of the 1.2 million expected to cast ballots.” The political pundits are saying the totals will be nothing like that this year for a mid-term election. This is insane! It is more important to me who the next Governor of Illinois is (subliminal hint: Scott Lee Cohen) because, as the late Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the House was quoted as saying,” All politics are local.” But O’Neill revealed in his autobiography, “Man of The House,” it was actually his father who said it to him when he lost a race for the City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts. So the pundits are wrong when they constantly misquote O’Neill and maybe they will be wrong about the midterms.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

OFFENSIVE TO WHOM?












The big media story in Chicago this week is a memo that Lee Abrams, the Tribune Company’s Chief Innovation Officer, e-mailed companywide. The memo contained what people felt was offensive content. Employees went wild, filed complaints and even “ratted on themselves” worldwide in a story written by Tribune media writer Phil Rosenthal, first published online on the Tribune’s “Breaking News” page. The print edition the next day also contained the story.

Rosenthal reported,” Abrams sends notes to staff each week encouraging them to reinvent the media business and not be chained to convention. The memos are generally an impressionistic pastiche of ideas, observations and links to outside sources.”


The memo contained links to video newscast parodies from theonion.com. Rosenthal wrote that one section of the memo was a panel discussion of the need for educators to accept that “students don’t give a (expletive).” Another was a fake report on the crash of a bus full of reality-show contestants “spilling more than 2,000 pounds of slut” on the highway. The Onion’s bus crash video included women grinding against each other and kissing. It concluded with the fake anchor urging the fake correspondent on the scene to “stay safe out there, and don’t (have sex with) any of those sluts.”


The Onion is a satirical, sarcastic newspaper that publishes outlandish fake stories. I published an Onion-like story myself on this blog on April 20th. (The Drinking of Water Banned In Chicago) Since the Tribune took over the ad sales, publishing and distribution this past summer of the Onion’s print edition in Chicago, it is not that outlandish that a Tribune executive in charge of innovation would reference the publication.


One might say that because I have worked with Jerry Springer and Mancow Muller, I am jaded and it takes a lot to offend me. That is not true. I am offended by anti-Semitism, racism, pedophilia and many other subjects. But a memo with some boobs and foul language? Who cares?


Well Chicago Tribune Editor, Gerould Kern cares and said, “I thought it was offensive and I thought it was completely inappropriate to be sent out in a workplace setting to everyone in this company. We’ve had some employees complain as well, and I took it to HR.”


In a recently filed lawsuit in Oregon, waitress Jessica Webber, claimed she was forced to quit her job at the Markum Inn because it was a hostile work environment. The details? In a “practice run” for future bachelorette parties, the male owner of the restaurant allegedly solicited for sexual advice, gave lap dances to employees, removed his underwear, asked women to rub lotion on his penis and play “ring-toss” on his naked organ.


Now that is offensive. But a memo about sluts? Big deal! Well, it was a big enough deal to the Tribune Company because Abrams has been suspended indefinitely without pay. Without a salary, how will he pay for his onions?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CLOWNING AROUND ALLOWED!





I have often been called a buffoon and now I have a chance to “officially” be one!

Years ago, my company did the public relations for the Thanksgiving Parade. Back then it was sponsored by the Brach’s candy company and traveled down Michigan Avenue. Now it is called the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade and goes down State Street. This account was so much fun; we should have paid them. I am honored that the parade organizers respected my work so much that they still send me 8 VIP tickets every year to watch the parade from a special reviewing stand on State Street. My view might be different this year, if I decide to become a member of the inaugural Chicago Clown Corps.


Phil Purevich, Executive Director of Chicago Festivals (www.chicagofestivals.org), has created the most clever way to let “regular people” became a part of the parade festivities. He has inaugurated the Chicago Clown Corps., where for $1500, anyone can become a clown (my third grade teacher would say I already was one!) and march in the parade. Here is what your money gets you:



BENEFITS:


--Professional Training by a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown


- Customized Clown Suit including big shoes and red nose


- 4 Tickets to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Barnum’s FUNundrum!


including chance to perform in “Clown Alley” during the show


- 3 VIP Experience Passes to the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade and much,much more!


Being a fashion maven, the thought of having a customized clown suit hanging in my closet is quite exciting! What about the clown shoes? My Manolos would be jealous!

The parade takes place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25th and runs from 8am - 11am. The route it follows is north on State Street from the Congress to Randolph. Because both WGN-TV and WGN America cover the parade in its entirety and lots of other media will be present, this is a real chance for the fame I desperately crave!

I once got to play Illinois Lottery ball number 11 at the 10 year anniversary party of the inception of the lottery. That was fun; but being a clown? Even more fun!

Purevich, told me, “This is a chance for every grown up to realize their childhood dream of running off and joining the circus!” If anyone is interested in becoming a member of the Clown Corps., he can be reached at (312) 235-2216 or philip.purevich@chicagofestivals.org.

If I become a clown, how will anyone recognize me under all the make-up and costume? Because I am not a politician and the Diet Coke can in my hand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

WHITMAN NO CANDY IN CALIFORNIA





The California gubernatorial race has heated up to proportions we have not seen in Illinois over one candidate’s aide calling their opponent a whore and getting caught on tape. What fun!


In the Midwest, the name Whitman means a candy sampler, in California the name means former eBay CEO Meg Whitman or “whore,” who is the Republican nominee for Governor. Her opponent is current California Attorney General Jerry Brown who was the California Governor from 1975-1983. Brown previously compared her to Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels. Maybe “whore” is a step-up in labeling!

The Los Angeles Times broke the story last week of a private conversation in September that was recorded on voicemail. Brown was leaving a message at a union office. He thought he phone connection was cut. Au contraire!


The LA Times story:


“The comment came after Brown called the Los Angeles Police Protective League in early September to ask for its endorsement. He left a voicemail message for Scott Rate, a union official. Brown apparently believed he had hung up the phone, but the connection remained intact and the voice mail machine captured an ensuing conversation between Brown and his aides.


With evident frustration, Brown discussed the pressure he was under to refuse to reduce public safety pensions or lose law enforcement endorsements to Whitman. Months earlier, Whitman had agreed to exempt public safety officials from key parts of her pension reform plan.


“Do we want to put an ad out? … That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be – that they’ll go to Whitman, and that’s where they’ll go because they know Whitman will give ‘em, will cut them a deal, but I won’t,” Brown said.


At that point, what appears to be a second voice interjects: “What about saying she’s a whore?”


“Well, I’m going to use that,” Brown responds. “It proves you’ve cut a secret deal to protect the pensions.”


The audio can be heard at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/10/an-associate-of-jerry-brown-calls-meg-whitman-a-whore-over-pension-reform.html

The Whitman campaign responded with, "The use of the term 'whore' is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California. This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman. At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording."


The Brown response? "This was a jumbled and often inaudible recording of a private conversation," said Brown's campaign manager Steven Glazer. "At times our language was salty. We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended."


The police union has since endorsed Whitman.

That would seem like the end of the story, but it gets worse. Where do women's organizations stand in castigating the Brown campaign? Less than 24 hours after the slur, the National Organization for Women (NOW) endorsed Brown! In my mind NOW does not have a great endorsement history. They endorsed Bill Clinton, when his track record of treating women was well known years before the Monica scandal, and then endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.


The Whitman campaign responded by saying, “Meg Whitman is a pro-choice woman who was ranked among the world’s most accomplished women in business. She’s now running to become the first woman governor in California’s history, and on the same day that it’s reported Jerry Brown’s campaign called her a ‘whore,’ the National Organization [for] Women endorses him. It’s official: NOW is a partisan organization.”


I don’t understand how NOW endorsed Brown. The word “women” is in its name!


I guess they didn’t want to endorse a “whore.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Water, Water Everywhere but Nary a Dime to Drink!
















The Sun-Times published an incredible multi-part series on how water bills are tabulated in the City of Chicago and the difference it makes whether one has a meter or not. The list and pictures of each Alderman’s home or condo building, their addresses, the square footage and the amount of their water bill was fascinating. But other things I learned were even more fascinating.


The paper reported,” City Hall provided more than 5.8 billion gallons of water last year to charitable organizations. Among them were the Shedd Aquarium and other museums that charge admission; the Latin School of Chicago and other expensive private schools and universities; and religious charities, including the Archdiocese of Chicago. Fred Barbara's garage was among the charitable accounts, records show.”


That paragraph taught me two things, one that charities get free water and two, that Fred Barbara has a garage that is considered a charity. A lot of information to swallow from just a few short words.


First, to charity water. The Sun-Times said, “If City Hall charged those charities and non-profit organizations for water, the total bill last year would have come to $10.1 million.“ I have no problem with what I consider “legitimate” charities not having the spigot turned on for payment, but Latin School? The high school tuition is $26,985 a year! If a parent can afford to pay that, they can pay a water bill!


I guess that will continue if Rahm Emanuel wins the election as the next Mayor, because that is where he wants to enroll his children. Since many students are the sons and daughters of prominent Chicago politicians and businessmen, the clout will continue. Just as a side note, Gery Chico’s (another candidate for Mayor) children attended public schools. But they are not good enough for Rahm!


Now to Fred Barbara, nephew of late Chicago Alderman Fred Roti, best remembered from the Hired Truck Program Scandal and his part-ownership in Park Grill at Millennium Park that will pay no property taxes for 20 years because of a sweetheart deal with the Chicago Park District, also did not have to pay for water or sewage at his garage. The total past due bill? $31,079!


The freeload water got turn off three months ago, according to the Sun-Times when a reporter asked the Daley administration why it was treating Barbara's garage as a "charitable account.'' City Hall says it was an error and has since billed him. Barbra is disputing the bill. Mayor Daley’s response at a recent press conference to the question of why Barbara was not charged for 20 years? "How should I know?" As they always say on Family Feud, “Good answer.”


Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ends with:

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.


We are sadder and wiser having learned about the free water those with clout get, but will the city get paid? No, it’s just a pipe dream.

 
 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Good for the Goose, Good for the Gander



On August 27th, I wrote a blog called, “When is it my Turn to be Offended?,” about the removal of ads from Chicago cabs because they offended Muslims. Now, as an offended Jew, I am calling for the removal of the newly installed anti-Israel ads placed on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) buses. Let’s see if these ads come down.

Back in August the explanation of why the taxi ads were removed was stated by Yellow Cab CEO Michael Levine, "Recently, the head of the group 'Stop the Islamization of America' took out ads on Chicago-area taxis. The ads in question were carried by independent affiliates of Yellow Cab Affiliation. The fleet owner was contracted and paid by an independent advertising company specializing in taxi top advertising."

"When Yellow Cab became aware of the ads three weeks ago, we immediately called the advertising company and asked to have the ads removed. We were told that they were taken down, but we found out today that three such ads were still running. They will be removed today. Yellow Cab does not regularly approve advertising content carried by our affiliates, but we do reserve the right to ask them to remove ads that offend either the drivers or the public."

The CTA needs to know that the anti-Israel ads offend Jews and should be taken down immediately. (I was alerted to this story by Cheryl Lewin, Chicago co-chair for AFSI {Americans for a Safe Israel},and then spoke with some Jewish friends to make sure I was not being overly sensitive.)


A group called The Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, (www.TwoPeoplesOneFuture.org), was scheduled to hold a press conference Friday morning (I wrote this ahead of time) to announce their month-long campaign opposing military aid to Israel. From a press release, their stated purpose is, “The CTA campaign calls upon our fellow Chicagoans to add our voices to the growing chorus of opposition to our government¹s costly and counterproductive support of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians. As Americans, we have the ability to change the dynamic of the whole conflict through one act: stopping military aid to Israel.”

I went to the group’s website and read their “Fast Facts” page. Because I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to refute their “facts,” I received help from Richard Baehr, the chief political correspondent for American Thinker, a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans. (www.americanthinker.com.)

The “facts” according to “Two Peoples, One Future” are listed first with the answers from Baehr highlighted in red.

Fast fact: Between the years 1949 and 2008, the United States granted $58.6 billion in military aid to Israel.


Almost all of that aid was spent in the United States, creating jobs. From 1949-1989, Israel was frontline state allied with the United States against the Soviet Empire. Now Israel is our ally against Islamic radicalism. It is a lot cheaper to send military aid to Israel to defend itself, then for our country to send troops as we have done in Korea, Japan and Western Europe.


Fast fact: A whopping $30 billion in U.S. military aid has been promised to Israel for the years 2009 to 2018.

85% or more of this money will be spent in the United States.

Fast fact: Approximately 500,000 Israeli settlers live within the occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law.

Nonsense! Gaza is not occupied. Where are the IDF or settlers in Gaza? The West Bank is legally unallocated territory still, under the rules of the British mandate since the Arabs chose to go to war rather than create their own state in 1949.

Fast fact: There are approximately four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Again, nonsense. The best estimate of Arab population in the West Bank and Gaza is 2.5 million, not 4 million. Only 1.5 million are living in the West Bank. Arabs in Jerusalem are offered the right to be Israeli citizens. The city is not divided into east and west.

Fast fact : Between September 29, 2000 and August 31, 2010, 1,084 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, while 6,408 Palestinians were killed by Israelis.

So what does that prove? Is a nation supposed to fight a war (in this case started by Arabs) and make sure it has as many soldiers and civilians killed in war as its enemy? Has the United States fought this way? Has any nation? The goal of war is to win quickly. No nation in the world is more careful than Israel to avoid unnecessary casualties.

Fast fact:  Weapons purchased by Israel using U.S. military aid are used against civilians in violation of U.S. laws.

Nonsense. If this were the case, United States Law would end the sale of these weapons.


I am contacting the CTA (1-888-282-8891) to let them know that the anti-Israel ads offend me, as all supporters of Israel should do also. To paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan, I am shouting out to the CTA President, “Mr. Rodriguez tear down those ads!”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WHISTLE BLOWING ON MYSELF



The original intent of this blog was to laud Chris Geovanis, the Cook County press secretary who blew the whistle on Carla Oglesby, Deputy Chief of Staff to County Board President Todd Stroger, who was charged this week with a series of felonies, including theft of government money exceeding $100,000 and official misconduct. Then I “Googled” Geovanis’ name and where my research led me made me ill.


Some background for those not familiar with the way the Cook County operates. At the County Board, contracts worth less than $10,000 do not have to be scrutinized by the Board. So it is fairly easy to get a contract approved for $9,975 if one has the authority to sign for it. Oglesby owns a public relations firm and some other companies so she authorized contracts for less than $10,000 each and approved them herself. That authority had been given to her by Stroger.

As Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez explained it at press conference,” Today’s charges allege that Carla Oglesby rigged a series of sham, no-bid contracts with companies that were allegedly being hired to perform communications work for Cook County government. In this process the county was defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for work that was never performed.''


The Sun-Times reported that authorities also allege Oglesby was involved in signing off on payments for more than a dozen no-bid contracts with purported communications companies, several of which were incorporated after the contracts were signed.


This was discovered because, according to the Sun-Times,” One county employee told investigators that she was asked to hurriedly prepare press releases in April regarding the flood relief grants because of concerns the "feds'' would take the money back if the county could not provide proof any work was being done, according to court documents.


However, prosecutors said, Oglesby later provided those press releases and other materials produced by county employees to investigators -- and claimed CGC ( Editor’s note--a PR firm awarded a $9,975 contract to produce the press releases) had done the work.


Chris Geovanis, who works on Stroger's communication staff, said it was her own work that had been passed off as CGCs -- and so Geovanis blew the whistle.


“I became concerned that there may have been in fact some issue relating to this one contract, which credit might be taken for work that was actually done by my office, at my desk, by myself. I passed that along up the chain of command,’ Geovanis said, adding: ‘It was my belief that yes, it was Carla Oglesby's company that was claiming credit for this work.’ “


After reading all the stories about how Geovanis then went to her superiors to report the conduct, I was prepared to hold a parade in honor of an honest Cook County employee who reported illegal conduct when she saw it.


Then I “googled” her name and the first match was for her posting on Linkedln the business networking site. I clicked on it and discovered that besides being a full-time County employee since 2002, she is the founder and principal of her own PR firm!

Geovanis describes the firm herself on Linkedln as:

Principle (sic)
HammerHard MediaWorks
(Public Relations and Communications industry)
1996 — Present (14 years)


Provide full service communications, media analysis and planning services -- including issues research, drafting of media alerts and press releases, pitching stories, developing and managing media marketing strategies -- for a wide range of organizing projects and community groups. Work with local groups to craft media, networking, organizing and outreach strategies on a variety of issues, ranging from anti-war efforts to multi-cultural education advocacy. Provide hands-on training through seminars and workshops in media analysis, planning, organizing and outreach. Research, write and edit grant proposals, policy summaries, position papers, solicitation pieces, training manuals, newspaper and magazine articles, etc., for groups that include civic projects in Chicago’s African American and Latino communities, on topics that range from immigrant rights to civil liberties. Plan and promote topical forums and fundraising events. Conduct direct press research, advance work and outreach on behalf of clients.

The web site for Hammerhard (http://www.hammerhard.org/) lists:

Groups with whom we have a standing relationship or have worked with recently include Jewish Voice for Peace, the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism, Carpenters for a Democratic Union, Peace Pledge/Chicago, the Free Palestine Alliance, the Arab American Action Network, Houston Global Awareness, People Power Can End the War Coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, Smartmeme, PERRO -- the Pilson Environmental Rights & Reforms Organization, Democracy Uprising, the DNC to RNC March Project, the Stop CAT Coalition, the 8th Day Center for Justice, ISM -- the International Solidarity Movement, Chicago Action Medical.”

I started wondering how someone could work full-time at Cook County and run a communications firm with so many clients. Then I looked at the names of the groups she works with.


Don’t be fooled by the name “Jewish Voice for Peace.” It is basically an anti-Israel organization calling for “Israel to end its 40+ year-old Occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.”


Then I discovered that she was a featured speaker at the 2004 AL-AWDA, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition Second International Convention.


Further searching revealed a story on Cook County Commissioner Tony Pericia’s web site on May 23, 2009 (www.reformcookcounty.org) that told about a Chicago Reader profile of Geovanis, “Aside from pleading her loyalty to the Stroger family (John and Todd), Ms. Geovanis gives us a look at her “after hours” pro bono work, in which she refers to Israel as a “racist state.”


Googling her name will bring up multiple articles about Geovanis’ work with anti-Israel organizations. I won’t list them all here. I hope she chokes on her “f***ing” whistle.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

IF YOU HAVE TO STUDY, THEN IT’S NOT FUN!

I was not going to do a blog on the latest sexual behavior study until my friend Ron (last name withheld to protect the innocent!) e-mailed me saying that he was looking forward to reading my blog about the report. I e-mailed back asking if I could attribute the “story lead,” to him. He replied, “If you felt that my name lent any weight to the topic then you could certainly use it for attribution purposes. However, since my memory of sex is failing, the blog would be better served if you attributed it to some sex crazed 17 year old.” So this one is for Ron!


There were a number of findings in the study that was published in a special issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine that researchers think is the largest, most comprehensive national survey of Americans' sexual behavior since 1994, that I found most interesting. Since most of you won’t have the time to read the through all 130 pages, I will relate them here. (http://www.nationalsexstudy.indiana.edu/)  The findings are highlighted in red.


(1) 85% of men said their latest sexual partner had an orgasm, while only 64% of the women reported having an orgasm in their most recent sexual event. So that means that 21% of women are faking it. I think more, but that question was not asked. The deli scene in the movie “When Harry Met Sally” finally made men realize what great actresses women are in the bedroom.


(2) There is enormous variability in the sexual repertoires of U.S. adults, with more than 40 combinations of sexual activity described at adults’ most recent sexual event. There are not talking positions here, but actual activity. I can think of about 10. No need for anyone to send me a comment with their thoughts on this item.


(3) While about 7% of adult women and 8% of men identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, the proportion of individuals who have had same-gender sex at some point in their lives is higher. For example, 15% of the men aged 50-59 said they had received oral sex from another man at some point. If a man receives oral sex from another man, he is gay. Nothing wrong with that, just admit who you are.


(4) Many older adults continue to have active pleasurable sex lives, reporting a range of different behaviors and partner types. In the category of women aged from 60-69, 42% were having intercourse. I can hardly wait until I reach that age, maybe I’ll get lucky then!


(5) According to the study’s findings, 1 of 4 acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. (1 in 3 among singles). Whether one is married or not, condom use should be 100%. All men cheat, so a woman has to protect herself from disease. Haven’t the respondents of this survey read a newspaper in the past 20 years?


One has to wonder how many people really told the truth when answering the questions. I almost always lie when I get a survey call. It is amusing to know I might be skewing the study. Almost as much fun as actually having sex.