URBAN PHILOSOPHER
Conscience Laureate

Friday, July 29, 2011

Your Knot That Smart, Governer




 We already know that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn does not know how to do math or read.  He has proved that by authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to companies who are “threatening” to leave the state unless they receive subsidies.  The contracts the state has signed with those companies do not even require them to provide new jobs if they stay---even though the Governor thinks the words say that.  Read my June 24th blog, “Economic Justice For Illinois" for all the explanatory details on these tax deals.  I now have details that the Governor does not possess grammatical skills either.

The Governor’s office sends out an e-newsletter.  We all know that while the Governor has his signature on the newsletter he does not read it.  But since his signature is on the newsletter he has to take final responsibility for the words in it.

Below is a copy of one of the sections of the newsletter that was sent out Friday morning.

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Aide Cancer Patients
On July 11, Governor Quinn signed two bills into law that aide cancer patients. House Bill 1191 allows cancer patients to participate in clinical trials by prohibiting insurance companies from excluding such coverage. By signing this bill, Governor Quinn broke a barrier for the once-limited access to clinical trials. In addition, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 1279 which extends the “Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure” lottery scratch-off for five more years. Carolyn Adams, former Illinois Lottery Superintendent, died of breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 44. Senate Bill 1279 was made effective immediately while House Bill 1191 will become effective as of January 1, 2012.

Know what a homonym is?  Obviously,the staff in the Governor’s office doesn’t.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SUMMER SALES TAX MORATORIUM?





I have written ad nauseum about how I cannot figure out mathematically how the coffers of the State of Illinois benefit from all of the tax incentives that Governor Pat Quinn bestows on companies who threaten to leave.  One of the reasons is because Quinn has given tax breaks to companies who do not even pay corporate taxes to the state.  Instead, their incentive is calculated by the fact that the companies do not have to give the state their employee paycheck state income tax withholding.  These companies just get to pocket that money because of an option that Quinn added to the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program.

The first company that Quinn gave that new option to was Motorola Mobility. .  Motorola threatened to move out of state unless they got a tax break.  Since they already, through clever loopholes, avoided paying any corporate state sales tax, they got a $100 million future break from paying the employee state income tax withholding.

All the tax breaks that corporations have been getting reminded me about how I did not agree last year with the summer state sales tax moratorium for back to school shopping.  I wrote two factual mathematical blogs on why I did not like the plan.  The legislature passed the plan, despite my clear (not to mention loud) objections.  One blog  in May and one in July

State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) was the sponsor of last year’s bill, so I called him and asked if the state sales tax moratorium would be happening again this year.  I figured if the Governor were giving tax breaks to large corporations, he would certainly be aiding us “little guys”, to stimulate back to school shopping.  While I did not agree with the program, it certainly seemed fair to let it continue.  I was wrong. (Not really… since we all know that I am never wrong, you, my faithful readers, know that I was merely being satirical.)

Franks told me, “Quinn does not understand basic economic theory. Cutting taxes spur consumer spending. The empirical evidence shows that back to school sales tax holidays are a net revenue generator for the state. Whereas corporate welfare to multi-national corporations who by and large pay little or no state taxes is a net loss to the state.”

People should remember this when they vote in the next gubernatorial election.  Quinn has been giving hundreds of millions of dollars to corporations who do not pay any state corporate tax, but, at the same time, he would not bring back the summer sales tax moratorium for the citizens of the state. Large donations from these corporations to Quinn’s campaign fund might fuel his personal economy, but we “little guys” have the votes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

HE LET THE PEOPLE GO





Whenever a business, political body or politician issues a news release on a Friday afternoon, it usually means they don’t want the media to pay much attention to it. That type of news is my favorite because then, I want to try to figure out why the entity wanted to “bury” that news. 

Last Friday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s office released a  statement about the Governor’s latest decisions on executive clemency and pardons. If the facts about the 50 people the Governor granted such petitions actually deserved expungement, why release the statement on a Friday afternoon?  Who are these people? Their names were not released. Why? He released the names of the people he pardoned in April.

According to the Chicago TribuneOverall, Quinn has acted on 1,356 clemency petitions since taking office and denied 839 requests, including 111 on Friday, his office said. He has granted clemency 517 times, including 506 pardons. He has also authorized 10 people already pardoned to seek expungement of their convictions and granted one commutation among cases before the Prisoner Review Board.”  So Quinn has approved the petitions of about 38% of the people who have requested them. That percentage seems very high to me, are that many people worthy? On the April list of people who were were pardoned, I did not see any little old ladies who were arrested by mistake.  All of them seemed to be hardened criminals to me.

One of the mandates of The Prison Review Board is to make “confidential recommendations to the Governor relative to clemency petitions.” Why are the recommendations confidential? For those of you who might want to take a look at the application for clemency,  is the web site for the Review Board.

In response to the pardons, The blog of the Illinois Legal Aid Advocate said, “To date the Governor has granted fully 50% of the petitions he has considered. Importantly, he’s not cherry-picking the best matters, but instead starting with the oldest and working his way forward. As we mention in the article (Law Bulletin, December 1, 2009 ,) he is sticking his neck out for our clients and hundreds of other ex-offenders. We are very encouraged.” Of course they are thrilled that all these criminals are being given a fresh start in life.  When they re-offend, the lawyers will make money defending them!
Bleeding heart liberals who think it is important to give people a “second chance” should be giving those who need a “first chance” a priority placement on the employment line.
Former President William Clinton was vilified for the last minute pardons he executed on his way out of the White House door at the end of his presidency. I wrote about those pardons, as well as pardons bestowed by President Obama in my blog of December 7, 2010 called, “Well, Pardon Me!”  But at least in the case of those pardons, we were getting information about… oh… who the people were.  Again, why didn’t Quinn release these people’s names and their crimes? I thought we were supposed to have transparency in Illinois government.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TeacherFit or A Fit Teacher?



Last week it was revealed that The Chicago Public Education Fund gave the company, General ASP   $130,000 to develop a personality test to screen whether a candidate for a teaching position at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher would be good teacher or not.   The main function of General ASP is in “providing affordable and intuitive human resources software solutions to school districts and other public and private sector agencies throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan.”  General ASP has a division called Polaris Selection, that provides research-based assessments of job applicants.
To create the best evaluation system to determine whether a teacher has good skills, the company interviewed individuals and held focus groups with about 200 high-performing and award winning Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers and principals, with the purpose of defining the characteristics of a great educator.  The results of these meetings produced a screening questionnaire developed specifically for CPS, called TeacherFit. (Yes, that is a grammatically incorrect one word name.)
The teachers’ union went crazy about the questionnaire/test that is supposed to gauge prospective teachers’ planning abilities, how they relate to their students, persistence, initiative, etc.  Prospective teachers who fall outside the parameters of what a good teacher’s score should be, will be excluded from being hired. The Chicago Teachers’ Union asked CPS to dump the test completely. “It’s unacceptable,’’ said CTU President, Karen Lewis. “Any test can [be helpful and informative,] but it shouldn’t drive [the process].’’

The Catalyst Chicago an independent reporting source on urban education, had some of the test questions on their blog  I have provided a few below.
Sample questions from the Chicago TeacherFit screening
(Respondents were told to choose one answer.)

(1) “How long do you persist on problems [sic] when you feel lost or confused?
Very long period of time? Long period of time? About average period of time? Short period of time? Very short period of time?

(2) How do you feel about a job that would require you to regularly work after hours? Very inconvenient. Would refuse such a job. Inconvenient. Somewhat inconvenient Not inconvenient. Would prefer such a job.

(3) In the last period of time [sic], how much has anxiety interfered with your interaction with your team mates? None. Mild; some interactions have been strained, but no serious problems. Moderate, we have complained or accused each other of minor insults or work slipups. Severe, I am concerned that anxiety has made it difficult to work effectively as a team. Extreme, I am concerned that my anxiety makes it impossible to work with others on this team.

(4) You have a reputation as an effective teacher. As a result, the principal has recently assigned several students to your class who have had difficulties with behavior in other classrooms. You now feel that the addition of these students has created a much larger workload and that the children are also disruptive. Indicate how likely it is that you would take one of the following actions. Incorporate the students as best you can into your classroom this year, but refuse to take any transfers in the future. Request additional help from the principal in managing these students’ behavior. Request that some of the children be moved to a different classroom Do your best to manage the students’ behavior on your own and say nothing to anyone else.(Answers for each statement: Extremely likely, Very likely, Likely, Neither, Unlikely, Very unlikely, Extremely unlikely)”
 
Once the story came out about the test, CPS officials backed down and said the test could be considered by a principal when making a decision to hire a potential teacher, but it would not be a requirement.

In a story in the Sun Times, applicants said “They had no idea from CPS’s online instructions for the multiple-choice survey that TeacherFit represented a do-or-die test.”  They said they followed the form’s instructions to be excruciatingly honest  because their responses “might be verified at a later stage” and “applicants whose responses are found to be inaccurate or dishonest will be disqualified from further consideration.’’

The Sun Times also reported that Mia Lawrence, a candidate who flunked the test said, “Now, I feel like I should have lied.” Lawrence pointed to one TeacherFit questions that asked “How do you feel about a job that would require you to regularly work after hours?” She said she probably selected ”inconvenient” but may have chosen “not inconvenient” if she thought a job depended on it.

So a potential teacher for CPS admits that she would have cheated on the test if she “knew it counted.”  A teacher, or, even a potential teacher, should know that all tests count, but this one admits that she would have cheated just to get a job.  That to me is the real story here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I HAVE MET FIREMEN AND I AM NO FIREMAN

 



During the 1988 United States Vice Presidential debate, Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen said to Republican opponent Senator Dan Quayle, “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  And, Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."  Well, I know firemen, and I am no fireman.  Why can’t some women realize that they are just not physically capable of being firemen?

Last week, a lawsuit in behalf of women who were disqualified from becoming firefighters because they could not pass a physical abilities test was filed in the U.S. District Court last week, claiming that women are being discriminated against because the Chicago Fire Department’s (CFD) physical agility test is too difficult for them, and they are demanding modifications tailored to women’s abilities be added to the test.  The suit claims that the physical tasks required in the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) are not related to the tasks needed to be a firefighter and have an adverse impact on women.  Marni Willenson, the lead attorney in the suit, said, "The general feeling is that women ... are too weak to be firefighters. These tests are a tool for keeping women out."

Below, I listed the requirements for passing the CPAT. I defy anyone to tell me which of the tasks listed below are not tasks related to being a firefighter!  Not only that, I challenge anyone to point out which of the requirements could possibly have been specifically designed to “keep women out.”  These tests might be too rigorous for some women (myself included), but it is completely reasonable to expect every firefighter to be able to perform these tasks.  Here is a link to a video of the tests; there is a woman in the video.


(a) The Eight events are: Stair Climb, Hose Drag, Equipment Carry, Ladder Raise and extension. Forcible Entry Simulation, Search Simulation, Rescue Simulation, Ceiling breach and Pull. 

(b) The CPAT is a pass/fail test based on a maximum total time of 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

(c) During the testing process, the candidate wears a 50-pound vest to simulate the weight of a self-contained breathing apparatus and fire fighter protective clothing. An additional 25 pounds, using two 12.5-pound weights that simulate a high-rise pack is added to your shoulders for the stair climb event.

(d) Throughout all events the candidate must wear long pants, a hard hat with chin strap, work gloves and footwear with no open heel or toe.

 Besides the ability to pass the physical agility test, the other requirements (with my editorial remarks added) for candidates who wish to be a Chicago firefighter are:
 
(a) Age Requirement: Firefighter applicants in Chicago must be at least 21 and present proof of age and identification with a picture ID such as a driver’s license, and a Social Security card. (Is this discrimination against illegal immigrants?)

(b) Educational Requirement: The minimum education requirement for Chicago firefighter applicants is a high school diploma or evidence of passing a high school equivalency exam such as the GED. (Is this discriminatory against people with learning disabilities?)

(c) Civil Service Test: Chicago firefighter hopefuls must pass a civil service test designed to establish proficiency in basic math, reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary and reasoning skills. (Is this discriminatory against stupid people?  What about people with learning disabilities?  Can the test be modified for them?)

(d) Valid Driver’s License: Because it may be necessary to drive the fire truck, applicants must have a valid Illinois driver's license and a clean driving history that is free of any convictions of driver related offenses such as DUI or reckless driving. (Is this discriminatory against former alcoholics and bad drivers?)

(e) Residency: Although applicants are not required to live within the city limits of Chicago, fire fighters are required to live in the city upon appointment. (Is this discriminatory against people who cannot afford to live in the city?)  

According to the U.S. Fire Administration  women career firefighters comprise 3.6% (approximately 11,000) of the force nationally.  In Chicago there are 116 women firefighters, which is about 2% of the department.



The two sexes were created differently.  Women are better at some things than men are and vice versa.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Men seem to accept the facts of life, but women are always tilting at windmills and fighting imaginary enemies.  Extreme feminists should stop being recusants.  Just accept the facts of life.   Stay at home and bake cookies.  Just don’t set the kitchen on fire.

Friday, July 22, 2011

SURVEY CALL ON TECHNOLOGY IN CHICAGO

 







The other day I received a call from Carlie.  She told me that I had been randomly selected from a group  of 3,000 Chicago residents to participate in a survey about internet use and computers in Chicago.  The residents were selected from a variety of zip codes to ensure a wide area of responses.  I asked her who was funding the survey and she told me that the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology, in partnership with Connect Illinois  were paying the bill.  This call prompted me to learn a number of intriguing facts.

(1)  Carlie is a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. When I asked her why someone from New Jersey was doing research on people in Chicago, she replied that Rutgers had partnered with the University of Chicago. Interesting that UIC partnered with an out- of -state school for a survey that focuses on Chicago, not to mention that it is funded by the City of Chicago.

(2)  Carlie said that her group needed to reach 3,000 people who would answer the survey questions. Since the actual survey took about 15 minutes, I wonder how many people they will have to call before they find 3,000 people from different zip codes throughout the city to do the survey.

Carlie said they have about two weeks to finish all the calls and complete their project.

 (a)  Talking to 3,000 people at 20 minutes a call (5 minutes to explain the survey and the disclaimers) equals 2500 hours of talk time.  If one person in ten finishes the survey, that means there are 27,000 people who decide not to compete the survey.  If those calls take 30 seconds each, it adds up to another 225 hours of phone time.  At the low end, there are 2,725 hours worth of surveys that have to be completed. If there are 8 hours of calls made per day, that equals 340 days of calls.  If all the calls have to be completed in the next 12 days, that means 28 students have to work at this project full-time.  How does their participation as callers on this survey help them with their studies?  How much is Chicago paying for New Jersey students to make the calls?

(b)  I discovered that The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers is the group doing the work.  Some enterprising reporter or investigator from the Better Government Association might want to call Dr. David Redlawsk, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute.  He can conveniently be reached at (732) 932-9384 ext. 285.  Alternatively, he can be reached via e-mail at redlawsk@rutgers.edu to get the scoop.  A heavy hitter can get the answers.  After all, who the heck am I to demand answers from this guy?

(3)  The Department of Innovation and Technology (DoITwas introduced in 2008 to add innovation to the charter of the former Department of Business and Information Services.  Its mission states, “As the central information technology organization for the City, DoIT provides a number of technology and telecommunications services to departments, the Mayor, Aldermen, other city agencies, residents, businesses and tourists.”

(a)  There is a spot on the website for recent news.  The office has only issued two releases n the first seven months of the year.  In January, a  one line press release  was published which stated that “The City of Chicago today was awarded the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Award of Excellence in public-private partnerships for the SmartCommunities Broadband Adoption partnership with Sprint Nextel.”

(b)  The news released on June 3rd, though, is a killer!  It is an Executive Order from the Mayor!   The first paragraph says:

“It has been brought to my attention that several sister agencies have issued credit cards to individual employees who are authorized to use them to pay for government business expenses as defined in the agencies' policies. I have also learned that government employees have used those cards to pay for expenses such as dinners at expensive restaurants, gift cards, flowers, and, disturbingly, city-issued red light tickets. This is completely unacceptable to me and I am troubled by the disrespect this shows for the hard-earned dollars taxpayers give the City of Chicago.”

(c)  I then found the log of credit card charges for City Colleges of Chicago, The Chicago Housing Authority, the Public Building Commission and the Chicago Transit Authority.  What fun!

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicagoans to get more educated about technology so we can “find stuff.”  I’ll alert someone who has never heard of Google.  Oh, wait..  pointless endeavor.  I can only conclude that he wants to find out how many of us are really looking for information about his “transparent” government policies, because one of the questions on the phone survey was, “Do you go on the City of Chicago website to look for government policies, documents or data?”

My instincts told me to respond with an answer even he should be able to understand.  “I am not and have never been a member of the Communist party.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A FEW THINGS I WAS RIGHT ABOUT



My role as “Urban Philosopher,” dictates that I write my views on events in the world around me and sound off on what I think is wrong.  Last October,  I wrote,” My friend Linda Shafran perfectly described my blog writing style as, ‘Kathy is pissed off and they are dummies.’”   There have been a number of postings recently where I was right and those dummies were wrong.  The stories are below.


The Story

This story was about how the new ethics manual that Metra gave to its employees contradicted itself. In one spot, the manual said, “Under the Ethics Act, Metra employees or appointees may not intentionally solicit or accept prohibited gifts from certain individuals or entities that are defined by law as a ‘prohibited source’ or in violation of any federal or state statute, rule or regulation.“

I pointed out that it is crystal clear that Metra employees CANNOT solicit or accept a gift from a “prohibited source.”  Then how could this footnote make sense? “Please note that Metra’s internal policies prohibit the receipt of more than $25 worth of food, drinks, and gifts (combined) in a calendar year from all prohibited sources combined.”

The Result
The result of this blog is that State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) told me he is doing an investigation into the ethics manual.


In June I wrote about the proposed Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) for 2011.  ACOP is the equivalent of a lease and the CHA was holding hearings on the changes in drug policy on the lease.  The problem was when I went to the CHA web site to see the draft of the proposed changes, it was stamped, “Approved by Board of Commissioners July 19, 2011”  It was June.  The Commissioners could not have approved the lease changes yet. 

The Result

I received a call from the General Council of the CHA that they had made a mistake and the ACOP pages should have been stamped, “Scheduled to be presented to the Board of Commissioners July 19, 2011.” The CHA changed the web site to reflect the correct information.  

 
This is when I wrote about my “rules” for the summer.  I included a paragraph that read:

“I find it disgusting when women wear dress shoes without stockings. Sandals I can barely tolerate, but pumps without hosiery? What is so difficult about putting on panty hose in the summer? Most women’s legs are pale and pathetic and I don’t want to look at stubbly legs. Plus, having bare feet encased in leather shoes without stockings creates a sweating situation that leads to smelly feet. Put on stockings!”

The Result

Blog reader Liz Johnson initially disagreed with me about wearing stockings and attended a lunch dressed in crop pants, bare legs and sandals just to “piss me off” as she claimed. 

She realized that she was wrong and I was correct about stockings when she saw a story about how Kate Middleton wears panty hose and bare legs are “so 2010.” 

CONCLUSION:
I am right and everyone else is wrong-- except for my friend Linda who acknowledges that I am always right!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

SHUT UP AND READ!



Last week, Chicago Public school students rallied, asking for changes in the disciplinary policy at schools, and the amount spent on policing at schools.  In response, I decided to look at the history of security at public schools.

In 1988, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Chicago School Reform Act, which authorized Mayor Richard M. Daley to take control of Chicago’s crisis-riddled education system. The history of police protection and metal detectors in Chicago Public schools first started as a result of this act.

In February 1988, the Chicago Board of Education adopted a policy  that gave principals, local school councils, and the Board’s Bureau of Safety and Security the authority to install metal detectors and to use sniff dogs to find drugs, weapons, and drug paraphernalia in public schools.  The policy said only off-duty police officers could monitor the detectors or handle the sniff dogs.  On October 25, 1989, Reverend Jesse Jackson, in a speech at Harper High School, called for detectors to be installed in the wake of the stabbing death of a student on Oct. 11th.

The Chicago Tribune reported  at the time that  15th Ward Alderman Marlene Carter said intended to introduce an ordinance at the upcoming City Council meeting.  She wants to place detectors at EVERY entrance of all 540 of the city’s elementary and high schools. “We must do all we can to put an end to narco-terrorism,” Carter decried. Carter admitted that she had no idea what the detectors would cost, but added, “What would a child’s life cost over a lifetime? Tell me if it’s cheaper to kill off all our children.”  This is a cheap shot that has been overused by politicians as long as I can remember…  “It’s for the children’s sake!  A vote against my idea means you must hate children!”  Sound at all familiar?

Interim school board member Joseph Reed responded with, “The parents in a school have to make the decision. They’re the best people to judge. The assignment of a cost to protecting life has to be a secondary problem.”

In June 1992, the Chicago Tribune reported, “Mayor Richard Daley began offering metal detectors to the city’s embattled high schools in hopes that modern technology can help keep guns, knives, ice picks and murder out of the classroom.”  The policy was finally implemented on November 26, 1992 when 45 alderman of the Chicago City Council­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ voted to pass a resolution urging schools to install metal detectors. 

Since then, violence between gang members and innocent children have continued to be a problem in all areas of the city. According to the Chicago Tribune, CPS spent 15 times more on school-based security guards last year than on college and career counselors.  While I agree that safety is of utmost importance to our children, this figure speaks volumes.

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), a Chicago student advocacy group, rallied last week at CPS headquarters, protesting that school disciplinary policies have become too strict.  They demand that the schools’ disciplinary policies be rewritten.

WBEZ reported, “The gist of the zero tolerance policy is that CPS students can get suspended or expelled if they ‘seriously disrupt the orderly educational process.’ What ‘seriously disrupting’ means is up to teachers' and schools' discretion, but in theory the policy is designed to keep schools safe from violence and drugs.”

The VOYCE report, which was a year-long collaboration between that organization and The Advancement Project, a civil rights group, made such recommendations to the CPS Board as:

--Eliminate regulations that call for suspensions for minor offenses that do not threaten student safety, like tardiness, bringing a cell phone to school or violating dress code.

--Replace some out-of-school suspensions of up to 10 days with in-school suspensions of no more than three days (plus academic and other assistance).

--Require principals to get district approval for suspensions of over five days, to ensure district-wide uniformity.


My take on this is very simple.  If the students spent as much time studying in school as they did working on a year-long project of what they think is wrong with the disciplinary policies at CPS, the graduation rate would be higher.  They should just shut up and read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

THE IMBROGLIO IN CHICAGO

(NRA Conventioneer)
  
There are two contenders for the use of Chicago’s hotel space in May 2012.  I will line up the two contestants:

In one corner:

NATIONAL RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION CONVENTION

On November 15, 2010, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley proudly proclaimed that the National Restaurant Association (NRA) had signed a five-year agreement to keep its annual convention in Chicago. “One of the most important parts our city’s economy -- historically, in the present and in the future -- is our convention and tourism industry. If it isn't healthy, it costs us jobs, revenue and other economic activity. This is a real victory for Chicago.” The press release issued by the City also said, “The Restaurant Association has held its annual show in Chicago for 61 consecutive years. It brings 66,000 attendees to the City, books 45,000 hotel room nights and generates direct expenditures each year of more than $100 million.”

The worst infraction that the people who attend the NRA convention commit is getting drunk and wearing a paper party hat at Dick’s Last Resort. (But hey…  it’s Chicago, right?  We’re just fun people who encourage that sort of thing...)  The point is, this convention does not need extra security.  It does not need to cost the taxpayers of Chicago anything for its presence.  The event, in the end, means nothing but profit for our city, our hotels and restaurants, cab drivers etc.

In the other corner:

(G8 Riot police and anarchists clashed in Rostock)


NATO and G-8 Summits

For the first time in 34 years (London 1977) these two international summits will meet in the same city at the same time.  According to Greg Hinz in Crain’s Chicago Business, NATO/G8 is “expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors, each with their own security.”  Chicago Mayor Emanuel hopes to get private donors to supplement the city’s security resources because previous summits have brought large-scale protests and violence to the host cities.

Emanuel lobbied President Obama to bring the meeting to Chicago and said, "While there will no doubt be security needs, this is also an opportunity for the city that is unprecedented from an economic standpoint, a job-creation standpoint," Emanuel said. "For us, from a city perspective, this will be an opportunity to showcase what is great about the greatest city in the greatest country."  Mr. Mayor, your sentiment is right on, but your direction could use some guidance counseling.
Already at least 50 anti-war organizations have been scouting locations to hold their demonstrations and protests.  A year-long process of planning for security has already begun. Police Superintendent Gene McCarthy said, “We have to train for mass arrests. We have to train 13,000 police officers in arrest procedures and containment procedures.  At the same time, we will not stop patrolling the city.”  Really?

In every previous occasion, these summits have brought violent clashes between demonstrators and police.  Businesses burned.  People have been killed
The Victors of the Battle:
Currently the NRA has booked hotel rooms in Las Vegas and is considering moving its convention.  Their 61 years of loyalty to the City of Chicago has been totally destroyed by what Emanuel has done.
The losers here are the NRA conventioneers and the citizens of Chicago.
The winner?  Clearly, there is none.


Monday, July 18, 2011

TWO SIDES OF A STORY


Illinois Senate Bill SB1716 was named, in the bill itself, to be known as the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act.  

Notice the words, “Religious Freedom Protection” come first.  If the legislature thought the civil union part was more important, they would have named the legislation the Illinois Civil Union and Religious Freedom Protection Act.  You will see later why this is an important point.

Section 15 of the act reads: “Religious freedom. Nothing in this Act shall interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body.”Looking at the name of the Act and Section 15, one wonders how the State of Illinois has the legal right to try to bar various chapters of Catholic Charities from handling foster care and adoptions because of the church’s policy that refers gay and unmarried couples to other agencies for foster care and adoption services.

DCFS decided not to renew its more than 50-year relationship with Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois because of the organizations’ unwillingness to comply with the new state law on civil unions. (Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago ended its foster care services in 2007 after losing its insurance coverage.) 

The letter sent to the agencies said that future funding and contracts were being declined because “your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” (which requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples). “That law applies to foster care and adoption services,” each letter stated. “Thus, there is no meeting of the minds as to the (fiscal year 2012) Foster Care and Adoption Contracts.” 

We all know that I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the very name of the Act and Section 15 barring any interference with religious practice would exempt Catholic Charities or any other religious organization from having to comply with the Act.  This might not have been the intent of the wordsmiths who crafted the language in the bill, but it is what it says.  To quote Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch, “Exact words, Greg.”  Exactly.


Friday, July 15, 2011

IT’S THE WOMAN’S CHOICE, NOT HER FELLOW EMPLOYEES


My friend Linda has told me that she best likes the blogs where I deal with an issue that I am passionate about and share my view through a stream of consciousness. Today is time for one of my monologues and the subject is City of Chicago employees becoming pregnant.

First, some facts. On February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law. Below is an overview from the U.S. Department of Labor.


Family and Medical Leave Act

Overview

"The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:

Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:

The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth; the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition; a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;

Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or

Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin to the employee (military caregiver leave)."

But is FMLA good enough for the City of Chicago? The answer is a resounding “No”, according to a city memo unearthed by the Chicago Sun Times,  “Importantly, the rules regarding the issuance of administrative leave must be reviewed, considering as well a maternity leave policy,” Chief of Staff Theresa Mintle wrote in a July 1 memo to Human Resources Commissioner Soo Choi.

The Sun Times also reported, “Ten years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that City Hall has no maternity policy for its 10,767 female employees. Private sector companies typically offer women six weeks of paid maternity leave. The city offers no such maternity leave. That forces pregnant women to cobble together unused sick days, vacation days and unpaid family leave and rush back to work before they’re ready.”

City Hall does not need a new maternity policy because FMLA already exists to protect the jobs of people who take time off for maternity leave or for family health emergencies. It does not matter what private sector companies offer because the City of Chicago is not a private company!

If a woman decides she wants to have a child, she needs to plan for it financially! She can’t expect the taxpayers of Chicago to pay her salary for six weeks when she is not at her desk. Don’t we currently call a person who collects a paycheck without showing up a “ghost payroller?”

If a city employee can take six weeks off with pay, then there is no money in the budget to hire a part time person to replace them. The employees left behind have to carry the pregnant woman’s workload in their bellies.

Why limit the six weeks paid pregnancy staycation to just that category? Why is having a baby worth more than an employee who has to care for an ailing parent, spouse or child? Getting pregnant is a personal choice; it’s not fair to make others pay for that decision.


Bleeding heart liberals would scoff at six weeks if they knew what women in Hungary received for maternity leave. They get three years paid maternity leave with slightly reduced payments each additional year. I have a friend who worked in Budapest and on her first day on the job, one of her employees came to her, said she was pregnant and would be taking three years off. When the female employee returned three years later, she announced she was pregnant again and would be taking another three years off. What a great scam! It must have been invented in Chicago.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TWO STORIES ABOUT NUMBERS

 


(1)  Paying is Different From Free


Former radio personality Steve Dahl has announced that starting August 1st, people will have to pay $9.95/month to download his daily podcast.  Dahl has been off terrestrial radio since being ousted from WJMK-FM in 2008 and has been podcasting from his basement since September 2009.  His contract with CBS, which expired last week, paid him about $1 million/year to refrain from broadcasting on the air.  He now is free to do what he wants, so let’s look at the numbers.

Dahl’s spokesperson said his daily podcast has produced about 7.5 million downloads per year.  That seems like a huge number until one does the math.  He has had the show about 2 years, so I am guessing he has done about 600 podcasts (daily without weekends).  If we divide 7.5 million by 600, we get 12,500 downloads a day.  Since Dahl’s Facebook account has 13,000 followers, the 7.5 million downloads number makes sense.

So if between 12 and 13 thousand people currently listen to him for free, will that number go up if it costs money to hear the podcast?  OF COURSE NOT!  And how many of those people will choose to pay $9.95/month to listen to him?  If even half (6,000) paid the $9.95/month, that would give him an income of $59,700/month.  That is not chump change to me, but it multiplies out to an annual income of $716,400—much less than he was receiving when he was on the air.

From that gross, he has to pay his producers’ salaries which will leave him even less.

If he were so great, that terrestrial or even satellite radio wanted him, he would have a job lined up.  The problem is that no station would hire someone who only has 12,000 daily listeners!  If I were on WGN or WLS, even I would have more people tuning in than that!

(2)  Numbers Too Corny For Words!


If I had not read this story on the web site of Illinois Lt. Governor Shelia Simon and then become even more astounded when I saw it on the web site for CBS news, I would have thought it was a spoof from The Onion.  But the big news is that Simon released “promising” figures that show more low-income residents are accessing fresh food at farmers’ markets. There was a 269 percent increase between 2009 and 2010 in the amount of food stamp benefits (LINK) redeemed at Illinois farmers’ markets, which sounds exciting until one hears that the total amount redeemed went from $11,146 to $41,146.
Want to guess how much money the citizens of Illinois spent on food last year? FORTY EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS!!

And the Lt. Governor of this state calls it “promising” that LINK card users spent $41,146 at farmers markets.  Even my calculator cannot figure out what that percentage is, but it’s probably about ONE MILLIONTH OF ONE PERCENT of the total food spending.

Simon’s quote is even cornier, “I am committed to helping expand LINK usage at farmers’ markets to improve the health and economy of our state.”

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is quoted in stories about how he is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to companies to persuade them not to move out of state, yet the Lt. Governor talks of improving the state’s economy because LINK card users spent $41,146 in an entire year of farmers’ market revenues!

I wonder what Simon’s next stand-up comedy act will tell us?   That she will run for President because she knows how to “improve the economy?”  People may laugh at Sarah Palin, but I’m shaking my head at Ms. Simon.