URBAN PHILOSOPHER
Conscience Laureate

Monday, February 28, 2011

LYING BY OMISSION







I just love when a politician, former or current, gets nailed in an investigation, tries to keep it hidden and then gets caught. My mouth started salivating when I read about how Judy Erwin, one of Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s transition team co-chairs, resigned two days after her appointment because of ethics violations at her previous job as Executive Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE.) Ironic but Erwin was also a co-chair of Emanuel's mayoral and congressional campaigns.

Let’s look at a synopsis of the crime.

The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission investigated Erwin for using staff resources from her IBHE office, participating in political campaign fund-raising and using her state office phone and e-mail during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The investigation found that she violated Illinois’ ban on political activity from a state-funded office between July 2008 and February 2009! It was not a once or twice ethics violation of using a state e-mail address by mistake or making a few personal phone calls. The violations took place over an EIGHT MONTH period!

When told of the investigation, Erwin cooperated and admitted to what she had done. She paid a $4,000 fine, reimbursed the state, resigned from her job in August of 2010 and agreed never to work for the state government again. Her excuse to the Chicago Tribune last week, “…she got careless while she was busy at work. The former state representative said she hoped her 30 years of work in state government would outweigh the commission's ruling.”

She worked for the state for THIRTY YEARS, including a stint as an elected state representative, so she certainly knew what she was doing at the IBHE was illegal, immoral and unethical. This was no neophyte to politics; this was an expert in government! It makes the crime even more heinous!

The Illinois Ethics Commission was not filed until February 16, 2011 (more than TWO YEARS after her violations!) and it reported that Erwin stated, “she "was not careful enough in separating her political work from her state responsibilities ... and also that she had become accustomed to using administrative assistants in the private sector in a way that is not permitted in the public sector."

The report also showed, "The atmosphere for IBHE employees must have been heavily colored by Ms. Erwin's political activity on the job.” It found "particularly troubling" her explanation that she made a campaign contribution to a state representative who was the chairman of the higher education appropriations committee, "This suggests that she was responding to a real or imagined pay to play incentive within state government."

Isn’t pay to play why former Governor George Ryan is serving time in prison and what the charges are against former Governor Rod Blagojevich? Has Erwin been living under a rock these past years and not know this?

Obviously Erwin knew the report was issued on February 16th, but did she tell the Emanuel team after his election on February 22nd? Didn’t she think some reporter would discover it? How could she be so arrogant to accept a position as a co-chair on Emanuel’s transition team and then leave him hanging out to dry?

After the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press got on the story, Emanuel spokesperson Ben LeBolt said he had not seen the ethics report. "Judy Erwin is a friend of Rahm's with a wealth of experience and he'll continue to consult her public policy knowledge." LeBolt also said that members of the transition team had been vetted. What? Who did the vetting to miss something this big?  Simple question would have been, "Why did you leave your last job?"

So Rahm wants to continue to continue using Erwin as a consultant because of her public policy knowledge, knowing she violated Illinois state ethics? I guess I was na├»ve in hoping for a modicum of morality from the new mayor. This story proves that Chicago ain’t ready for reform.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Curiouser and Curiouser


In a recent Chicago Stories blog, I wrote how it seemed odd that Cheryl L. Hyman, chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC,) sent out an e-mail to faculty and the PR newswire announcing that she is recommending the appointment of Donald J. Laackman as the next President of Harold Washington College on the Sunday night(February 20,2010) before the President’s Day holiday and two days before the Mayoral election. I did not understand why the story was basically “being buried.” Of course, there was nothing in the newspapers about the announcement because the municipal elections over-shadowed anything else. Now the story, as Alice in Wonderland said, has become, “curiouser and curiouser.” More on that later.

First, some background that came directly from a City Colleges press release.


“About City Colleges of Chicago
The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), District 508, is the largest community college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, with 5,800 faculty and staff serving 120,000 students at seven campuses and thirteen satellite sites city-wide. The City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, launched by Chancellor Cheryl Hyman shortly after her appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley in March 2010. Reinvention is a collaborative effort to review and revise CCC programs and practices to ensure students leave CCC college-ready, career-ready and prepared to pursue their life’s goals.

CCC includes seven colleges: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College. The system also oversees: the Washburne Trade School, the French Pastry School, two restaurants, five Child Development Centers, the Center for Distance Learning, the Workforce Institute, the public broadcast station WYCC-TV Channel 20 and radio station WKKC-FM 89.3 FM.”

Smart idea to try to reinvent themselves because the graduation rates range from a pathetic 3.4% at Harold Washington College to 13% at Malcolm X. Also, according to City Colleges, “right now over 80% of our programs have less than 45 students completing per year.”


How will they become a viable operation? The Reinvention web site tell us:

What Are the Goals of Reinvention?:
Chancellor Cheryl Hyman says the heart of our Reinvention effort is ensuring student success and the Reinvention plan has four student-centered goals:

• Increase the number of students earning college credentials of economic value
 • Increase the rate of transfer to Bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation


• Drastically improve outcomes for students needing remediation


• Increase number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.

Now that you know the background, we return to the rest of the story.

On Wednesday, February 23rd, three days after announcing the recommendation of the appointment of Donald Laackman as President of Harold Washington College, the Board of Trustees of CCC voted to “redefine the role of college president at its seven colleges and called for current presidents and new candidates to apply for the revamped position.”


Board Chairman Martin Cabrera Jr. said, “We have made student success the focus of our reinvention efforts, and going forward, we must measure the performance of our leadership and staff against that goal. By re-defining the role of our college presidents, we are making it clear that our institution, including the Board and senior leadership, has clearly defined goals that increase accountability and ensure CCC is providing value to our students.”


The press release CCC sent out also said, “Today, the Board also approved the hiring of a professional firm to undertake a national search for candidates. The current presidents have been encouraged to re-apply for the redefined positions. The Board of Trustees anticipates naming its president selections as early as May.”

So basically all the various college presidents must resign and reapply for their own jobs. But since the Board is hiring a national search firm to find NEW presidents, what are the odds that the OLD presidents will be re-hired? And just three days ago they named a new president for one of the colleges. It does not make any sense!

I guess the Board wants us to be like the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland who said, “If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”





Thursday, February 24, 2011

WERE THEY CORRECT?








Below is an analysis of the Chicago Aldermanic races by comparing the endorsements bestowed to who actually won. The first line is who the Sun-Times picked, the second line is the Tribune and the last line is the winner or the run-off names. I just thought it would be fun to see which of the two newspapers backed the correct horses. I have not seen this done by anyone else, so I wanted to do something different.



For scoring purposes, I am giving give two points for each correct winning pick and one point if the newspapers’ choice made it to a run-off. The totals and the winning newspaper will be listed at the end of the blog. I did not put in the ward races that were uncontested because there were no endorsements in those wards. It took me forever to type all this information in, so I hope you all appreciate my hard work!

1st Ward


Proco”Joe” Moreno


Proco “Joe” Moreno


Proco “Joe” Moreno


2nd Ward


Genita Robinson


Genita Robinson


Bob Fioretti

3rd Ward


Pat Dowell


Pat Dowell


Pat Dowell

4th Ward


Will Burns


Will Burns


Will Burns

5th Ward


Leslie Hairston


Leslie Hairston


Leslie Hairston

6th Ward


Freddrenna Lyle


Cassandra Goodrum-Burton


RUN- OFF- Lyle and Sawyer

7th Ward


Sandi Jackson


Sandi Jackson


Sandi Jackson

8th Ward


Michelle Harris


Faheem Shabazz


Michelle Harris


9th Ward


Anthony Beale


Anthony Beale


Anthony Beale

10th Ward


Richard Martinez


John Pope


John Pope

11th Ward


James Balcer


James Balcer


James Balcer

12th Ward


Jesus Iniguez


Jesus Iniguez


George Cardenas

15th Ward


Toni Foulkas


Felicia Simmons-Stovall


RUN-OFF- Foulkas and Lopez

16th Ward


JoAnn Thompson


JoAnn Thompson


RUN-OFF- Baskin and Thompson

17th Ward


Latasha Thomas


Latasha Thomas


RUN-OFF- Thomas and Moore



18th Ward


Chuks Onyezia


Chuks Onyezia


Lola Lane


19th Ward


Matthew O’Shea


Anne Schiable


Matthew O’Shea

20th Ward


George Davis


George Davis


RUN-OFF- Cochran and Smith

21st Ward


Howard Brookins, Jr.


Howard Brookins, Jr.


Howard Brookins, Jr.

22nd Ward


Ricardo Munoz


Ricardo Munoz


Ricardo Munoz

23rd Ward


Michael Zalewski


Michael Zalewski


Michael Zalewski

24h Ward ( There were 18 people running in this ward!)


Melissa Williams


Valerie Leonard


RUN-OFF-Dixon and Chandler

25th Ward


Danny Solis


Danny Solis


RUN-OFF- Solis-Morfin


26th Ward


Roberto Maldonado


Roberto Maldonado


Roberto Maldonado



27th Ward


Walter Burnett, Jr.


Walter Burnett, Jr.


Walter Burnett, Jr.

28th Ward


Jason Ervin


Jason Ervin


Jason Ervin


29th Ward


Deborah Graham


Deborah Graham


Deborah Graham


30th Ward


Ariel Reboyras


Ariel Reboyras


Ariel Reboyras

32nd Ward


Scott Waguespack


Scott Waguespack


Scott Waguespack

34th Ward


Carrie Austin


Carrie Austin


Carrie Austin

35th Ward


Rey Colon


Rey Colon


Rey Colon

36th Ward


John Rice


Nicholas Sposato


RUN-OFF- Rice and Sposato

37th Ward


Emma Mitts


Emma Mitts


Emma Mitts

38th Ward


Tom Caravette


Tom Cullerton


RUN-OFF- Caravette and Cullerton

39th Ward


Margaret Laurino


Margaret Laurino


Margaret Laurino


41st Ward


Mary O’Connor


Thomas Patrick Murphey


RUN-OFF- O’Connor and Gavin

43rd Ward


Michelle Smith


Tim Egan


RUN-OFF- Smith and Egan



45th Ward


John Arena


John Arena


RUN-OFF- Garrido and Arena

46th Ward


Emily Stewart


Emily Stewart


RUN-OFF- Phelan and Cappleman


47th Ward


Ameya Pawar


Ameya Pawar


Ameya Pawar


48th Ward


Harry Osterman


Harry Osterman


Harry Osterman

49th Ward


Joe Moore


Joe Moore


Joe Moore

50th Ward


Debra Silverstein


Greg Brewer


RUN-OFF- Silverstein and Bernie Stone

According to the "Kathy Scale," the Sun-Times garnered 62 points, while the Tribune received 55 points. But those scores will change after the run-off election in April. In the 2nd, 12th,18th, 20th, 24th and 46th wards, neither newspaper endorsed a candidate who either won or is in a run-off. In wards 36, 38 and 43, the two candidates facing in the run-off were each endorsed by a different newspaper.

I did all this work, so you didn't have to! My gift to the voters of Chicago.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

JUST CALM DOWN!

I have written before how I hate when pedestrians  do not pay attention to the Do Not Walk signs. Last September I wrote, “This especially maddens me at the corners of Huron/Michigan (going west on Huron) and Erie/Michigan (going east on Superior). I have embarrassed many friends when I have yelled at the pedestrians screaming, “The signal says don’t walk. You suburbanites don’t know how to follow the signs!” I have now discovered that my “sidewalk rage” is real and that there is a condition known as Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome (PAS). So it’s not my fault and like all good Americans, I can blame my belligerent state of mind on an illness!

The University of Hawaii has produced a study listing what traits are proof of the manifestation of PAS. I have many of the symptoms of this “disease,” and will be calling my doctor for treatment. I wonder if I can get Social Security disability payments until I am cured.



Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome


• Having denigrating thoughts about other pedestrians

• Walking by a slower moving pedestrian and cutting back too soon


• Feeling competitive with other pedestrians


• Acting in a hostile manner


• Feeling stress and impatience when walking in a crowded area


• Walking much faster than the rest of the people


• Not yielding when it's the polite thing to do


• Walking on the left where most pedestrians are walking on the right


• Muttering at other pedestrians


• Bumping into others


• Not apologizing when expected


• Making insulting gestures


• Hogging or blocking the passageway, acting uncaring or unaware


• Expressing pedestrian rage against a driver


• Feeling enraged at other pedestrians and enjoying thoughts of violence

An example of another waste of tax-payer money on useless information, in 2006, the City of New York and the NYC Department of City Planning produced a study that showed smokers walk 2.3% slower than the average walker's 4.27 feet per second. Tourists creep along at an 11% more-leisurely rate than the average walker, while cell phone talkers walk 1.6% slower, according to the report. So a smoking tourist talking on a cell phone is practically standing still since their pace is so slow!

So I am totally blameless when I scream at pedestrians who ignore the flashing Do Not Walk signal. Maybe if I shoot one of them, the police will give me a PAS.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CHICAGO STORIES-February Musings



Blog readers might wonder why I sometimes provide a background explanation when I write about some seemingly obvious topic. That is because, somehow, I have people from all around the world who read my blog. I have 23 people from Canada, 22 from the Ukraine, 21 from Germany, 18 from Poland, 14 from France, 14 from the United Kingdom, 11 from Latvia, 8 from India and 7 from Singapore. How they found me I will never know.

DIBS
Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune / February 15, 2011






Hence why I will explain that "dibs" is a Chicago tradition where people feel that if they clean the snow from a parking space on the street, they can “own” it even after they pull their car out of the spot, by putting lawn chairs, boxes or other flotsam and jettison in its place. I wrote about not liking “dibs” last December,  when I told the story of a neighborhood group called, “Chair Free Chicago.”

Now, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has announced that because the temperatures are rising and snow is melting, they are calling an end to “dibs” for now and residents need to remove the junk form the streets. A press release issued by Streets and Sanitation said, "Given this extended period of warmer weather, we are asking residents who have placed items in the street to save parking spaces to please begin removing those items. As snow melts, these remaining items add clutter to the public way." They also said they will start removing from the street any debris that remains.

Finally, the side-streets won’t look like Fred Sanford’s junk yard anymore. If it were only that easy to get rid of “junky” politicians with their bloated payrolls full of relatives and cronies. But I guess Chicago can only clean up one type of a mess at a time.


OPRAH BEHIND THE SCENES










My good friend, WLS radio personality Jake Hartford alerted me to a show on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) called, “25 Years Behind The Scenes.” Because Oprah feels the last year of her show is so incredibly important, she is sharing with viewers what happens “behind the scenes” of each show. I have never watched "The Oprah Show," but Jake assured me that “Behind The Scenes,” was must see TV. He was correct.
 Since the Oprah staff is editing the show, one would think that it would be total fluff, au contraire! Oprah without make-up is a scary sight! Watching the edited footage makes one wonder how incredible the unedited content must be. It is obvious that the staff is petrified of her and each of her pronouncements is treated like a ukase from the czar.

In a recent staff meeting, we were treated to a conversation that Oprah was having with senior producers about how she never has a bowel movement in a public bathroom. She spoke of how she “really had to go,” the other day when she was at her health club and then stayed in the stall until after a janitor left the facility because she did not want the worker to know what she had been doing. I am not making this up. Oprah is so petrified that the world would realize that she defecates like “regular people,” she controls her bowel movements to only occur when she is at home. What power she has over her body. No wonder she is such a big star.


NATURAL GAS


People’s Gas and North Shore Gas, which are subsidiaries of Integrys Energy Group Inc., are asking for a rate hike even though, just last year, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved a rate hike for the companies that averaged between $48-$66/year per customer.


Now, Peoples Gas is proposing a rate hike that would add about $108/year to a typical small residential customer's bill and North Shore Gas is seeking a rate adjustment that would mean a $36/year increase for the typical customer. The increase applies only to the delivery charge, with taxes and the cost of natural gas remaining the same, the utility said in a statement. Delivery costs represent about 40 percent of a Peoples Gas customer's bill. North Shore Gas customers' delivery costs amount to about 30 percent of their bill.

Will Evans Jr., president of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, said, “We understand many of our customers are struggling with rising costs just as our company is grappling with the ever-increasing costs of doing business. The proposed rate adjustment we are seeking for the company is vital in order to access the capital necessary to continue investing in the safety and reliability of its infrastructure."

I don’t know anything about natural gas, so maybe the companies need the rate hike. But I don’t understand the difference in the proposed rate hikes. If the same company owns both smaller gas companies, why wouldn’t the rate hike be the same across the board? Why would People Gas customers have to pay almost three times as much for the increase than North Shore Gas customers? Maybe like Oprah they only will expel their natural gas at home so it will cost more then expelling just anywhere!

WHY ANNOUNCE ON SUNDAY NIGHT?




Sunday night at 10:22 p.m., Cheryl L. Hyman, Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, sent out an e-mail to faculty announcing that she is recommending the appointment of Donald J. Laackman as the next President of Harold Washington College. A press release was sent out also on the PR Newswire. I don’t know Laackman, but he has great credentials. What I am suspicious of is why send out an important announcement of a new President on the Sunday night before a holiday and two days before the Mayoral election? Shouldn’t the new Mayor have any input on the new President?

The press release also contained the statement, “The City Colleges of Chicago is in the midst of a Reinvention, launched by Chancellor Cheryl Hyman shortly after her appointment by Mayor Richard M. Daley in March 2010.” Proves my point. The new Mayor should be part of the decision process. I guess Hyman jumped the gun so she could have the glory of the appointment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day

I am thrilled to announce a new face was carved on Mount Rushmore in honor of President's Day 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

THE WICKED WITCH CONTINUES HER RANT










On January 11, 2011, I posted a blog, “Some Claimed to be Anti-Semitic,”  about veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas being hired by the Virginia-based Falls Church News Press as a columnist. In that posting I chronicled month by month the downfall of Thomas, starting with her remark on May 27, 2010 when she said in an interview with Rabbi David Nesenoff, “The Jews should get the hell out of Israel,” until her hiring by the newspaper last month. When announcing his newest employee, owner-editor Nicholas Benton said, “She is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic." Benton made that statement on January 10, 2011; I wonder if he would still make it today?


On February 16th, Thomas appeared on The Joy Behar Show on HLN and angrily defended what she had originally said about Jews suggesting they “go home” to Germany and Poland and “get the Hell out of Palestine.” She even reiterated the sentiment adding, "They didn't have to go anywhere after World War II. They weren't being persecuted anymore but they were taking other people's land." When Behar asked her if she would take back any of her original comments, Thomas replied, ”Hell no."

Thomas also said there is an environment of hostility to anyone who criticizes Israel. “We have organized lobbyists in favor of Israel. You can’t open your mouth,” Thomas complained. “I can call the President of the United States anything in the book, but you say one thing about Israel, and you’re off limits.”

Her only regret about her original remarks was “everybody misinterpreted it and distorted it…and I should’ve kept my mouth shut probably.”

She had already told reporters back in December 2, 2010, at a diversity workshop in Dearborn, Michigan, that the remarks she made to Rabbi Nesenoff were "the truth” and "I stand by it, I told the truth.” So then why did Behar think that Thomas would say anything different on her show? The wicked witch is still flying on her broom; I just wish she would fall off and die. And, “Hell, no,” I don’t regret I said that.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

DISCRIMINATING AGAINST POTENTIAL EMPLOYEES







A story in the New York Times last week told about companies that are adopting strict employment policies, “that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living. The new rules essentially treat cigarettes like an illegal narcotic. Applications now explicitly warn of “tobacco-free hiring,” job seekers must submit to urine tests for nicotine and new employees caught smoking face termination. This shift — from smoke-free to smoker-free workplaces — has prompted sharp debate, even among anti-tobacco groups, over whether the policies establish a troubling precedent of employers intruding into private lives to ban a habit that is legal. “If companies want to hire people based on reducing health care costs, I have a few statistics I would like to share.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Hispanic women have the highest incidence rate for cervical cancer. African-American women had the second highest rate of getting cervical cancer, followed by white, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. Treating cervical cancer is expensive; better not hire a Hispanic woman! Add to that the facts that fourteen percent of Hispanics have been diagnosed with diabetes compared with 8 percent of whites. They have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes, and they are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Hispanic men aren’t looking like healthy hires either.


The Center for American Progress reports that adult obesity rates for African Americans are higher than those for whites in nearly every state of the nation—37 percent of men and nearly 50 percent of women are obese. African Americans have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease than other groups. Nearly 15 percent of African Americans have diabetes compared with 8 percent of whites. Not looking good health wise for African-Americans!


What about American Indians and Alaska natives? They should be healthy? Wrong! The prevalence of obesity is higher than that for any other population group. American Indian and Alaska Native adults were 2.1 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes. They were almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes in 2006. In general, this group is 60% more likely to have a stroke than their white adult counterparts and American Indian and Alaska Native women have twice the rate of stroke than white women.


Cancer and other diseases are not really a person’s fault, but obesity is brought on by eating too much (just shut your mouth) and the same holds for alcohol consumption. Let’s allow companies to discriminate against fat people and alcoholics if we are going to ban smokers.


Survey data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicates that adult drinking (12 or more drinks in the past year) and adult heavy drinking (five drinks on a single day at least once a month) are most prevalent among American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiian. Another reason not to hire from this group.


In 2009, African Americans had 20.5 times the reported gonorrhea rates of Whites and 9.1 times the reported rate of syphilis. Sexually transmitted diseases are easily preventable, so anyone who gets one is totally at fault. We don’t want to hire those kind of stupid people do we?

While I am being sarcastic, I might not be that far from the truth.


The New York Times story also reported, “One concern voiced by groups like the National Workrights Institute is that such policies are a slippery slope — that if they prove successful in driving down health care costs, employers might be emboldened to crack down on other behavior by their workers, like drinking alcohol, eating fast food and participating in risky hobbies like motorcycle riding. The head of the Cleveland Clinic was both praised and criticized when he mused in an interview two years ago that, were it not illegal, he would expand the hospital policy to refuse employment to obese people.“


Refuse employment to obese people? Why don’t we just ask a psychic to channel Adolph Hitler and get his opinion on discrimination in hiring practices? Heil and hire only healthy people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

FACE- TO- FACE CONFRONTATION



Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) sued the American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc, because of a disagreement of why Dawnmarie Souza, a union employee, had been fired. The Connecticut-based ambulance company claims it fired the worker because of complaints about her work, while the employee claimed she was terminated because she criticized her boss on Facebook. I feel either scenario is cause for firing but, probably, those who are employers will agree and those who are employees will feel the opposite.


The NLRB filed the suit arguing the worker's negative comments were protected speech under federal labor laws.

According to the Associated Press, “Under the settlement with the labor board, American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. agreed to change its blogging and Internet policy that barred workers from disparaging the company or its supervisors. The company also will revise another policy that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without permission. Both policies interfered with longstanding legal protections that allow workers to discuss wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers, the board said.”

So a company has a policy stating that employees should not disparage their employer and it turns out to be illegal. One would think it would not have even been necessary to set a policy forbidding vilifying the boss because an employee would know as a matter of good conduct to only speak civilly about the person signing their paycheck. Think of the triumphant glee of the workers now that they know they can mock and ridicule the boss and suffer no consequences.

I looked back at my old employee file from when I had a company and had forgotten that I had fired three people, at different times, for personal use of the company e-mail system. In all three cases, the employees had been on vacation and I had checked their company e-mail accounts to make sure that a client was not trying to reach them. I guess I was lucky that none of them had gone to the NLRB.

Chuck Cohen, a labor and employment lawyer and former NLRB member during the Clinton administration was quoted in the AP story saying,

"The line can go over to disloyalty or disclosure of truly confidential information. This is not without boundaries, but we just don't have a good sense yet of where the boundaries are."

So neither employers nor employees know exactly what is or is not allowed. I only know that if I had an employee who posted on Facebook an expletive filled rant against me, I would fire them. The NLRB be damned!




Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I am Ready for My Close Up, Mr. DeMille




The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) describes itself as, “our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” They emphasize the right, “to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.” So are surveillance cameras in public places an intrusion? They think so, I don’t.


The ACLU’s latest foray into Chicago is their calling for a moratorium of the City of Chicago expanding its video-surveillance system. Chicago’s network of more than 10,000 public and private cameras is the most extensive and integrated in the country.

Last week the ACLU issued a report that said, “Chicago’s camera network invades the freedom to be anonymous in public places.” Wait a second! If one is in a PUBLIC place, how can they expect PRIVACY? They are out in PUBLIC! Everyone can already see them face to face! So one’s anonymity is already breached! The only way someone could walk around in PUBLIC and not be seen is if everyone else were wearing a blindfold!

I support having as many cameras as possible aimed at me as I traverse the city, it proves where I am at a particular moment in time and provides an eye-witness account of what happened if I am mugged or robbed.

When it was announced last year that former Chicago Public School Board President Michael Scott was found dead in the Chicago River, I first assumed that he must have been taken hostage and killed. But because of Chicago’s extensive camera system, it was proven that he drove himself to the river bank and committed suicide. There was no foul play involved.

Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) Executive Director, Jose Santiago, issued a rebuttal to the ACLU. “The cameras supplement the work of police personnel in the field, and save local taxpayers money by freeing up police resources to protect other areas not covered by surveillance cameras The City of Chicago’s extensive surveillance camera network operates on the public way. The cameras are not monitored 24 hours a day unless there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation utilizing the cameras in the area. The cameras have helped the Chicago Police Department solve over 4,500 crimes since 2006. In addition, the presence of cameras has prevented an untold number of crimes, because their presence sends the message that you will be caught if you commit a crime within sight of a camera.”

The ACLU report also said that the millions of dollars spent on cameras could have been used to put more officers on the street. WRONG!! According to OEMC, “Operation Virtual Shield cameras were funded by Department of Homeland Security grants at no cost to local taxpayers or impact to the City’s budget. These funds could not be used to hire traditional public safety personnel, such as police officers.”

So who do we believe on the money issue? The ACLU or OEMC? I am going with OEMC on this one.

I am grateful that Chicago has such an extensive system except for the fact that I have to do my hair and make-up every time I leave the house. I don’t want to get caught not looking my prettiest when it is time for my close-up.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I DON’T KNOW NOTHIN' 'BOUT BIRTHING BABIES, MISS SCARLETT!














In the movie, “Gone With The Wind,” maid Prissy (played ) by Butterfly McQueen) declares to lead character Scarlett O’Hara Butler, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies," after earlier protestations that she knew exactly what to do. Hospitals are now protesting allowing the use of video and still cameras in the delivery room until after the birth of the baby and I agree with that decision.

Parents are claiming that they have a right to take the pictures and many hospitals are responding that the medical staff has a right to privacy because of the ubiquitous posting of videos on the Internet. Because no national organization, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Hospital Association, is tracking statistics on how many hospitals allow photography, it is impossible to tell how many hospitals have instituted the ban.

Dr. William C. Hamilton, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Meritus, Medical Center in Maryland said, “Deliveries are complicated. No one wanted to be distracted. I’m not a baseball catcher with a mitt, just catching a baby.”

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston also bans cameras during births, said Dr. Erin E. Tracy, an obstetrician there who also teaches at Harvard Medical School. “When we had people videotaping, it got to be a bit of a media circus,” Dr. Tracy said, adding that the banning of cameras evolved through general practice rather than a written policy. “I want to be 100 percent focused on the medical care, and in this litigious atmosphere, where ads are on TV every 30 seconds about suing, it makes physicians gun shy.”

Certain events in life are supposed to be kept private like the actual moment of conception and the trip through the birth canal. I will happily view the video of your trip to the Grand Canyon, but please spare me the bloody birth of your child.

Friday, February 11, 2011

MAKING A FEDERAL CASE ABOUT SODA TAX











The Chicago Federal Reserve Bank issued a study last week on the impact of expanding taxation on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs). In the old days (pre my hating Coca-Cola  Part 1 and Part 2), I would have argued against the tax expansion for purely personally reasons of loving Diet Coke. Now that I no longer support the Coca-Cola Company, my argument against the tax has to do with the study’s references to combating obesity by raising the costs of SSBs. The Federal Government should not be making a taxation decision based on caloric intake measurements.

Because the Federal Government is obsessed with obesity, in arguing for raising taxes on SSBs, the Fed’s write, “Two conditions would need to be met in order for an expanded soda tax to affect the rates of overweight and obesity. First, increased taxation would need to lead to reduced consumption of soda. Recent research suggests that soda consumption is modestly responsive to price changes. According to a recent study by Andreyeva, Long, and Brownell, an increase in soda price of 10% would decrease consumption by somewhere between 2.7% and 8.1%.11 Second, lower soda consumption would need to result in a reduction in overall caloric consumption.”

A recent study that estimated the impact of a 40% tax on all SSBs found that the tax would reduce an individual’s calories from SSBs by about 17 calories per day and calories from consumption of all beverages by 12 calories per day.


Think about that last line. If the Feds impose a FORTY PERCENT tax on soda, caloric intake would be reduced by only a few calories! How will that impact obesity? Not!

The Federal Reserve study also showed, "We also observe that SSBs represent a larger share of the spending of the poor than is true for the overall population. As a result, a soda tax would likely have a disproportionate effect on the less educated and poor groups; these groups are also more likely to benefit from the SNAP program.”

So why would it matter if a large portion of the population that drinks SSBs also receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits? Because according to the Food Security Act of 1985, a state can’t participate in the Food Stamp program if sales taxes are collected on food purchased with food stamps. So no state currently collects sales tax on soda (or any other goods) purchased with SNAP benefits.

So if people on SNAP don’t pay sales taxes on the soda, how will RAISING the sales tax deter them from drinking sugary beverages and saving 17 calories a day?

Since the sales tax will have no impact on the poorest portion of the population, and that who is government wants to deter  from drinking SSBs, and only 17 calories a day will be saved, what’s the point of the tax? I guess to raise money to be able to pay for another stupid government study.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

WHY DID THE CITY SAY “YES"?




Let’s pretend you get a call from a television producer. He tells you that FOX television has developed a prime time show about you. They want to shoot all the footage inside your home, but they will make your residence look as slovenly as it could. You, personally, will not be on the show, but the actors, who will portray you and all of your friends, will make you and they appear corrupt and wretched as possible. They will take every stereotypical trait that exists about your “kind” and exaggerate them to expose you in the worst light. By the way, you would not get paid anything for agreeing to have your reputation destroyed. Would you say, "Yes"? Of course not! So why did the City of Chicago allow access to the production company of the new show, “The Chicago Code?”

I watched the show’s debut last Monday night and had to turn it off after ten minutes because I was so offended by the depiction of the City of Chicago itself as a hotbed of corruption (Which it is, but why are we publicizing that to the world? Let’s keep our dirty laundry to ourselves!) Yes, Chicago has crooked Aldermen who have gone to jail, but as a City do we want to show that to an international audience?

Should the city’s new tourism slogan be, “Come to Chicago. Land of Corruption?” That is what the city must obviously want to depict or why else would they have allowed the production company access to City Hall and City Council Chambers.

Let’s just tweet it with exactly 140 characters—“Chicago has corruption. Let's share that with the world by helping a TV production company shoot a fictional TV show and pretend it's real.”

Did "The Powers That Be" in the Chicago film office not look at the script first before approving the shoot and see how the city was going to be portrayed?


Maybe they got tricked like I did when I played the part of a caller into a fictional radio show for "Chicago Code" like when Mancow called me and asked me to pretend to be calling into his show?

I spoke to a few Chicago police officers and asked them what they thought about the show and if it were at all realistic. They agreed with me that the show was bogus and that they did not like how the police were portrayed. And then one of them gave me the answer to the question of “Why Did Chicago say Yes?" Somebody must have been paid off! So perfect, so typical! We, as Chicagoans, do know that IS the Chicago Way.









Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Chicago Code Case Study


I had been readings stories about a group called "For A Better Chicago," a political group that was able to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars donations anonymously because of a tax code rule.  The whole organization was very suspicious to me and I had planned on writing about it.

But then my friend Kelly Tarrant wrote an article for the Examiner about the Aldermanic race in the 32nd Ward and how "For A Better Chicago" was trying to influence the outcome.

Since her research was so massive, and her story so well written, I have chosen to re-print it below.

A Chicago Code Case Study
by Kelly Tarrant for the Examiner
 Note: The Examiner requested an article along the “Chicago Code” theme. Specifically they asked I write about politics and corruption. At the time I had nothing to write on, as I am sitting out of this cycle. However the Progress Illinois article on the election tricks being played in the 32nd ward caught my eye. Since I do not live in the 32nd Ward, nor have I ever met or spoken to any of the 32nd ward candidates or the 32nd Ward Alderman Waguespack, I figured this would be the best, most objective ward for me to write on. The 32nd Ward is also a filming location for the TV series Chicago Code.



Because we’re real, we know that there’s one main reason that we’re so popular: This is where the art of corruption was perfected. At this point, it would be a mistake to clean up City Hall. Bad for business. –Paige Wiser Sun-Times.



Progress Illinois reported recently that there were “tricky tactics" being used in the 32nd ward. Ald. Waguespack said a Florida-based firm was "push polling" 32nd Ward residents, distorting his positions. One Wicker Park resident received a call on Jan. 26, 2011 from a company named “On Target Research Co.”

Why would Waguespack, a progressive, independent Alderman, be a target of push polling?

Says Waguespack in an email to his supporters “The opponents of reform are more comfortable with the old way of doing business, where backroom deals and pay-to-play politics benefit them, at taxpayers' expense. I think we have had enough of that. We overcame a similar smear campaign in the 2007 election, because 32nd Ward voters are savvier than my opponents think.”

Tribune reporter John Kass also understands why Ald. Waguespack would be targeted. “There was one fellow who would have defeated Daley in a one-on-one race, reform Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd. Waguespack terrified City Hall by actually speaking up against the cost of corruption. He began criticizing that terrible parking meter deal. He promised that if elected mayor, he'd hire IRS agents to conduct forensic audits of every department going back 20 years. Almost immediately, Daley stepped down. Then the usual suspects — those who'd never dare challenge the mayor — crawled out of the bush and made like change agents. In such a crowded field, poor Waguespack was forced to withdraw.”

So I began the quest to crack the mystery of who is behind the push poll and see if in fact our politics is still following a Chicago Code.

The Candidates

Dave Pavlik

Among the candidates looking to unseat Waguespack is David Pavlik, whose mother works for Ald. Richard Mell (33rd). According to Chicago News Cooperative, records show Pavlik’s “campaign received help collecting nominating signatures from Ed Korczynski, a member of Mell’s 33rd Ward Democratic Organization, and Pavlik’s petitions were notarized by former 35th Ward Ald. Vilma Colom, a Mell protege. But Mell said he is not supporting Pavlik.”

According to LinkedIn, he recently got a job in Gov. Pat Quinn‘s budget office and previously worked for the state transportation department for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It is unclear if Mr. Pavlik has taken a leave of absence from the state while pursuing his campaign. On his website he says “I also assisted in the coordination and passage of Illinois Jobs Now, a multiyear, $34 billion Capital and Jobs bill that will create over 500,000 well paying jobs over the next 10 years.” He goes on to say “These experiences have provided me with the tools I need to be a leader in addressing the budgetary challenges facing the city.” Unfortunately an Illinois appellate court has decided Illinois Jobs Now is unconstitutional. The court has tossed out higher taxes on certain grooming products and liquor and legalized video gambling that were supposed to pump funds into the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now program.

Gov Quinn says "While the administration's request for a stay is pending with the Illinois Supreme Court, capital projects already in progress will continue as scheduled. We would expect the Supreme Court to rule on the request for a stay in the very near future." So construction that has already begun can continue while the court decides the future of this program.

Looking through his D2’s I do not see a connection with the Push Poll. I did receive a scan of a flyer he was using during a “Shovel for Votes” campaign during the recent blizzard that we had. That seems as controversial as the Push Poll. So there is still a Chicago Code here.

Bryan Lynch

Mr. Lynch’s experience goes back to being a worker for then Alderman Ted Matlak. Mr. Lynch was a very active and vicious campaigner as he went door to door and worked at the polls for Matlak. He worked with city employees and specifically water department personnel. On the IVI-IPO questionnaire he states that he walked his precinct for Gore, Durbin, and Kerry in past elections. But somehow left off his nearly 8 year political work for the Gabinski/Matlak machine. From 1995 to 2002 he worked for the city of Chicago in the law department and then the building department. After he left the city he did condemnation legal work for clients who sued the city. His clout and connections to people at the city would come in handy.

Most alarming is that Lynch received $5000 from a company called Hillcock and Loomis. This company was dissolved in 1988. Why would someone make a contribution from a dissolved company from 22 yrs ago?

Two years later the same address was re incorporated as Q.C. ENTERPRISES, INC. with its President being Sandra Andritsis. On a website this same address is listed as Construction Building Service with clients such as Abla-Fairfield-Marcy Newberry-Near Westside. Construction Building Services was voluntarily dissolved in 2008.

Back to Q.C. Enterprises. It has bid on several projects including city wide RFP’s for fencing as well as tile for new construction. The lead contact person for these bids is either Sandra or Fannie Gasparik (a.k.a. Weinshenker). Q.C. does very well with their bidding, as they are deemed a minority/woman owned business. For example, last year Q.C. received a 60,000 bid for tile work at the West Humboldt Branch library.

One reason the check came from a 22 year old dissolved company instead of Q.C. might be that Q.C. has been in trouble recently. Ms. Gasparik, one of Q.C.’s contacts on many RFP’s, is mentioned in the City of Chicago’s debarred list several times. She was mentioned in a Tribune article about “Operation Cookie Jar”, in which she was charged with theft of government property and theft for allegedly sending fewer liners than the contract called for while falsifying records to make it appear the full amount had been sent. The scheme allegedly cost the city $180,000.

Q.C. Enterprises was also included in a June 2010 Chicago Inspector General report “Q.C. Enterprises, Inc. subcontracted to two other companies… Neither of these companies was listed by DPS as a certified WBE."

Perhaps Mr. Lynch paid for the push poll. On his D2 reports he did pay Fako & Associates of Lisle, Illinois to do polling work. It is unclear if he is behind the Poll, but it is clear that there is a Chicago Code here.
 Brian Gorman
 Brian Gorman announced to run for alderman Nov. 18, 2010. He works for Organizing for America. It’s unclear if Mr. Gorman has taken a leave of absence from OFA while campaigning. He has ties to John Fritchey, the ward’s Democratic committeeman.Gorman worked on voter registration for Fritchey’s unsuccessful 2009 campaign for Congress. According to the State board of elections, Gorman received $1,000.00 on 7/20/2009 from the 32nd Ward Democratic party (Fritchey) to campaign against Quigley. Fritchey lost that bid.

Fritchey helped elect Waguespack to the City Council in 2007. He has had a change of heart, and was recruiting candidates to run against Waguespack . Alderman Bernie Stone said that Fritchey approached him to see if Stone’s daughter would run against Waguespack. Stone turned him down. Waguespack believes that Fritchey is upset about zoning changes that Fritchey wanted Waguespack to approve. Fritchey has denied that.

Recently Gorman attended a Local School Council meeting at Audubon school. On his website he notes “parent’s have raised a huge sum of money and took the initiative... it warrants that they be supported by their alderman.” Recently Gorman received $3000 support from a Audobon parent, according to his A1’s. She is also a major donor, through her foundation, to the school’s capital cost for the proposed new site. The Roscoe Journal explains “Despite the overwhelming parent support of the proposed new high school, a handful of commenters opposed the creation of a new high school that overlays existing neighborhood high schools and competes for limited CPS funding. Commenter Bob Miltonberger supported the proposed new Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy, but suggested CPS should instead be funding neighborhood schools “[Is it] the most efficient use of CPS operating funds?” asked Miltonberger. “[Is] this is the best use of our taxpayer dollars, rather than investing in an existing CPS asset?” The proposed 500-student Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy, would open in 2011 and be located in unused space in the private, Catholic Gordon Tech High School, 3633 N. California Ave. Gordon Tech and the new Audubon school would share a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a library and science class spaces.”

Looking through Mr. Gorman’s D2’s I do not clearly see an expense for a push poll. Although the script for the push poll is right in line to what Mr. Gorman has said several times at several forums. So I believe there is a Chicago Code here too.
 "This is going to be the biggest turnover in the City Council since the '70s," said Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor who was an alderman during most of that decade.



Hidden Threat- The Threesome
In looking at who could have sponsored the push poll against Alderman Waguespack I stumbled on For a Better Chicago PAC. This Pac has been covered in many articles since December 2010, mainly because it has $850,000 from undisclosed sources to disperse to Aldermanic races that fit its agenda. Its support is suppose to come in either monetary or in-kind support such as "getting out the message."

The way that the For a Better Chicago PAC got around disclosing the true source of the $850,000 is that the PAC received two large contributions from a 501 c 4 charitable organization. So technically the For a Better Chicago PAC rightfully discloses that the $850,000 came from this charitable organization. Stepping back I looked into this charity. It is also called For a Better Chicago. It is classified as a 501 c 4 organization. These charity organizations do not need to disclose where their money comes from. They are free to support political agendas. While For a Better Chicago PAC/Charity would like to claim that they are set up like labor unions and chambers of commerce, the big difference that I see with For a Better Chicago PAC/Charity is that they are founded by business/political operatives. Labor organizations have a membership directory which feeds into its causes. One does not need to ask where a labor organization is getting their contributions from. It comes from dues etc.

For a Better Chicago PAC has created a threesome of force to help ensure its agenda. The real inventiveness is the marriage between this PAC/Charity and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and a little known political organization called the Freeman Institute.


The Freeman Institute
In 2007 the Freeman Institute, a political consulting firm, was active in a few races. Most notably was in the 49th Ward. Don Gordon challenged incumbent Joe Moore and both went to a runoff. During the runoff, which Moore barely won by 251 votes, Gordon hired the Freeman Institute.

The Freeman Institute’s mission is to prepare candidates to run for office. They ultimately want to create a pool of campaign-ready candidates to run for offices, being able to sustain the campaign trail, as well as the fundraising aspects etc. Thus their title “institute”.

The institute also does strategic work, and was hired about 18 months ago by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to help the Chamber better prepare for the 2011 Aldermanic elections. The Chamber seeks a more pro-business city council. The Institute has worked closely with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce in the past, helping to sway public opinion on Walmart.



For this election cycle, Freeman Institute studied the city council and their track record and came up with legislative “profiles” of business friendly council members. The Institute’s challenge is to change the dynamics of the council. They claim to want to change the Labor versus pro-growth conversation in the city council, making it lean more towards the pro-growth/business friendly city council.

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
In Jan, the Chamber formed a Jobs for Growth council with 20 members of the current city council on board. The directive is to serve as a channel between pro job/pro growth alderman and the business community. They hope to give an opportunity for the Aldermen get policy briefing that is “two-way.” The Chamber sees a lot of innovative companies that they are incubating, so to speak. They hope to channel this and find homes for them in the wards. Where it gets questionable is ultimately by doing this, the Chamber/PAC/Freeman Institute hopes to provide a platform for investors. They say dollars can “land” in the funds of specific campaigns for alderman who are Chamber/PAC/Freeman friendly.

For A Better Chicago

Greg Goldner is founder of Resolute Consulting, a communications and public affairs firm, and is also founder of the For a Better Chicago PAC/Charity. His experience includes managing Mayor Richard M. Daley’s reelection in 2003. He also managed Rahm Emanuel’s first congressional campaign. Rob Nash, a former director of government relations for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, is also a Resolute Consulting employee as well as PAC/Charity founder. David Smolensky also works for Resolute Consulting. His past experience includes being a major player in Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 education initiative. Smolensky is also a founder for the PAC/Charity. Ben Lenet is the Executive Director for the PAC. He once served as Deputy District Administrator for Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. for about 4 years.


Says Mark Brown in a Jan. 23rd, 2011 Sun-Times article (Who’s funding group donating to City Council candidates? Don’t ask) he says, “it’s an outrage in this day and age that we would still allow secret campaign contributions to influence our elections. It’s an outrage that some of our city’s rich folks would feel so strongly about who sits on the City Council that they would put up their money but won’t put up their names.”Greg Goldner considers the 501 c 4 and PAC relationship like the same structure as labor unions and chambers of commerce. During the 2010 election cycle, 501(c)4 organizations were used extensively to keep corporate political donations secret. The spending benefited Republican candidates for office "overwhelmingly," according to the Sunlight Foundation. Millions in "independent expenditures" from 501(c)4s paid for seemingly wall-to-wall television ads bashing Alexi Giannoulias' campaign for the U.S. Senate, for example.

Nonetheless, David Morrison, a spokesman for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, did not rule out filing a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections about For a Better Chicago. "It's not disclosure," he said.

So what are the hot topics for this PAC? For one, Goldner believes what makes good neighborhoods is having a stable middle class. Being able to send your children to public school is of paramount importance. Goldner claims that the middle class by definition has the choice to live where they want to live. He does not see any benefit in pointing fingers at what is wrong or who is to blame underperforming schools. His tone hints that of his business partner David Smolinsky’s past experience with Renaissance 2010. As mentioned, Smolinsky played a role in the Renaissance 2010 school initiative. The Teachers Union, however, does not support this initiative as it promotes the closing of schools which are underperforming and instead promotes Charter School/privatization options. This is clearly an anti-union sentiment.

Mayoral candidates have more opportunity for news coverage and raising money than aldermanic candidates. For that reason, For a Better Chicago PAC is concentrating on the Aldermanic races. It received about 100 completed questionnaires from which they picked their endorsements. As in most races, candidates receive hundreds of questionnaires to fill out for endorsement purposes. I would give candidates the benefit of the doubt for filling out this questionnaire, as they probably assumed that this PAC had transparent income.

For the most part their support will be helping these endorsed candidates communicate. Goldner wants to have control over the messaging. The communication will be on issues that For a Better Chicago cares about. Those issues are as vague as its source of money.
 The PAC has published it entire list of endorsed Aldermanic candidates. To date, it has given monetary support of $10,000 each to Ald. Anthony Beale (9th); Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16th); Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th); Ald. Deborah Graham (29th); and Ald. Carrie Austin (34th). Says Sun-Times reporter Chris Fusco these contributions “could signal that For a Better Chicago seeks to counterbalance organized labor’s impact on aldermanic races.”

So where did the money come from?


Recently a Progress Illinois article noted that the first real disclosure to the For a Better Chicago PAC occurred last week. An A1 disclosure shows the PAC received a large contribution from an individual named David Herro. Progress Illinois concludes that the PAC must have “conservative ties” since David Herro historically has given to Republican initiatives on the national level.


But actually I find this a clue to answering the larger question of where the $850,000 501 c 4 money may have come from. Herro is not only conservative, but he has direct ties to Wal-Mart. Harris Associates, which is where he works, is invested in the big-box retailer. In fact the firm Harris Associates has distributed more than $140,000 to Walmart-friendly candidates, according to state records.


Recall the Joe Moore election of 2007. His challenger Gordon got $60,000 from David Herro. Joe Moore was for the living wage and against the second Wal Mart.

Do I think Herro is the lone contributor to the For a Better Chicago 501 c 4? No. Looking back to when the city council was in conflict with bringing a second Wal Mart to Chicago I am reminded also of Alderman Freddrenna Lyle of the 6th ward. Alderman Lyle was also for the living wage and against the second Wal-Mart. Most importantly is what Alderman Lyle reported back then. She said at one point she was pressured to back off her stand for the living-wage "I was basically warned that Walmart was going to put up $700,000 against the anti-Walmart aldermen. I said, 'OK, thank you very much,'" said Lyle in a Chicago Reader interview.

Now that is a little closer to the $850,000 mystery figure. Code Cracked? We shall see...

For a Better Chicago makes the claim that the candidates it endorsed are nearly a mirror to the candidates endorsed by the Chicago Federation of Labor. This is true. What their endorsement translates to for the union-backed candidates is yet to be seen. But consider that the Freeman Institute analysis expects approximately 17 runoff elections. The Institute has already “profiled” the candidates/incumbents and knows who they need to work on. The real money will be spent for the run-offs.Mark Brown of the Sun-Times recommends that Alderman be wary of taking money from unknown sources. I would also be wary of mystery money with mystery agendas. It seems unbelievable that in this day we have such a loop hole. Its been 20 years since we have been able to elect a mayor. And this is the first time the mayoral election is non-partisan. The run-off rules will also apply to the mayoral race for the first time. It’s our chance to break the Chicago Code. Being beholden to an anonymous source is not a good way to start off. And by the way, Push Polls are unethical.

Luckily the 32nd Ward residents will have an opportunity to meet the candidates. Like the old fashioned way, free of pre-analysis and profiling. Make up your own minds and vote on who you trust and believe in. The Lakeview Action Coalition is having an Aldermanic Forum on Feb 15th at 6:30 pm at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont).