URBAN PHILOSOPHER
Conscience Laureate

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Private Snow Plowing Revisited


As we approach the first snowfall of the year, I was reminded of my favorite blog ever. It is also the favorite blog of devoted blog follower, Linda Shafran. It had to do with the hiring of snow plows to clean the side streets in Chicago.  The original posting was on September 7, 2009.









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

HOLIDAY SHOPPING DOES NOTHING FOR THE ECONOMY! Updated

As the stories come out about how retails sales were during this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it reminded me of a blog I wrote 2 years ago, mathematically proving that holiday shopping has virtually no effect on the economy.




According to Marilyn Vos Savant’s column in Parade Magazine, total consumer spending accounts for about 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  This spending includes housing, transportation, food clothing, etc.  In 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household expenditure was approximately $50,486.

The National Retail Federation reports that consumers spent an average of $508 on holiday gifts last year.  If we play with the numbers, that means that only .74% (¾ of one percent) of the economy is represented by holiday spending.

I am confused!

If holiday spending is such an infinitesimal part of the GDP, why does the media make such a big deal about Black Friday and holiday shopping expenditures?  Why are every retailer’s cash register sales closely scrutinized, and online spending analyzed ad nauseum?  The numbers prove that holiday spending has virtually no impact on our economy, yet the media wants us to believe otherwise.  We are being “scared” into shopping, afraid if we don’t buy that extra teddy bear for little Jimmy’s stocking, the country’s economy will collapse.

We are bombarded with useless information.  For example, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey reports that with less than two weeks to go before Christmas Day, 60% of Americans have at least started their holiday shopping.  Also, thirty-eight percent (38%) of adults say they have not yet started shopping. Just one-out-of-five Americans (21%) have finished their holiday shopping, while 75% still have shopping to do.

Oh, no!  Seventy-five percent of people still have not done their holiday shopping!?  These people are smart.  The closer to Christmas that people wait, the better the bargains become.  The smartest shopper does his holiday buying on January 2nd and saves the presents for the following Christmas.

The statistic that annoys me the most is the one that reports that, when they are out shopping, 72% of people prefer to see signs wishing them a “Merry Christmas” rather than ones that say "Happy Holidays."  Why should it matter what a sign has printed on it?  All that matters for this or for any season is that we are all healthy.  Wealthy and wise wouldn’t hurt either!




Monday, November 28, 2011

Being a Regular Person Part 2



Last week, I received a mailing saying I had to take my car in for an emission test.  Doing that task reminded me what happened the last time I went for an emission test on the day after Thanksgiving.  Read the story from November 27, 2009 below.



Being a Regular Person

I have often been accused of being an elitist snob. I think I have been burdened with an unfair characterization of my life and that depiction has come about because I do not take public transportation, wait in line, go food shopping, or get my own gas.  The exclusion of those activities from my life should not make me a snob; but rather, it should describe someone who is discriminating in the use of her time.

I am uncomfortable being home when the housekeeper is there.  It makes me feel lazy to watch someone perform menial tasks that I am physically capable of handling myself. I have the competence to clean my own residence; but certain duties like polishing the marble floors and cleaning the bathrooms are best left to a professional.  When Souhey arrives, I always leave. (I am not even sure if Souhey is her name, but that is how I refer to her to myself.  I never call her by name to her face.)

On Black Friday, when Souhey showed up, I had no business appointments to attend to, so I had scheduled doing some “regular people” tasks.  My car needed gas and an emissions test, and I required a new glass shelf for one of my bathrooms.  Now, these are all seemingly very easy assignments that anyone could accomplish.  Raoul, my handyman, had offered to buy the shelf, but I said I would take care of it myself.  How hard could it be to buy a glass shelf?

Being a geographically challenged person who can make no sense from even mapquest.com, I asked my doorman Ernie Banks how to get to Webster Avenue, where the Illinois Emissions Testing facility was located.  Ernie’s first response was to laugh and offer to take my car to get it tested as he had done in the past.  I assured him that while I was grateful for his offer, I wanted to do this on my own.  Ernie easily explained how to get to 1850 W. Webster from my location on Michigan Avenue.  Very simple, I thought.

On the way to the facility, I saw a gas station.  Because I drive my car so infrequently I generally only need gas about once a month.  I usually “trick” my imaginary big brother David into filling the tank for me, but since I thought David was out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I was going to do it myself.  I pulled into the gas station, turned the car off and then could not figure out how to open the gas tank.  I called Jaguar service and they told me where the lever was.  How simple!  I swiped my credit card and the monitor popped up with the words, “Debit? Y/N?”.  I kept pressing the NO button and nothing happened.  I went into the station and paid the cashier directly.  When I got back to my car, there was a “helpful,” but scary looking man standing next to the pump holding the nozzle who said he would fill my tank.  I felt I had no choice but to let him to do the job and I tipped him $5.00.  A snob would not have done that!  A gold star for me!

I drove off and kept driving and driving and could not find Elston, the street that I was supposed to turn right on.  I called Ernie Banks, the doorman, who reminded me that I was supposed to turn on Webster, not Elston, and that was why I was lost.  I turned around, drove a while longer, and meandered through a lovely neighborhood with people walking dogs and I even passed Oz Park; a location that I had heard of and had never been to before.  It was like an out of state adventure!

 I finally located Webster, turned west, and arrived at the testing facility.  The electronic sign in front indicated only a five minute wait.  How wonderful!  I pulled up to the closed garage doors and waited for one of them to open.  Nothing was happening.  I called the phone number on the test papers and got a recorded voice asking me which facility I was inquiring about.  I said, “Webster.”  The voice replied, “Napperville,” and proceeded to tell me that there was only a five minute wait at the Napperville facility.  How lovely for people in Napperville.  I called again, and said, “Webster,” the voice replied, “East St. Louis,” which also only had a five minute wait.  Frustrated, I looked at the papers, hoping to find a different phone number to call and noticed that testing facilities were closed on state holidays.  Who knew the Friday after Thanksgiving was a state holiday?  Why didn’t the recording tell me that instead of “five minute wait?” (On Monday, I will call the Illinois EPA office to complain about the stupid recording!  You can bet on that!)

I still needed to buy the glass shelf for the bathroom, so I called Ernie Banks once again and asked for directions to get to Home Depot.  I had never been to a Home Depot, but I get their flyers all the time and they are supposed to sell everything a person needs for the home. It seemed like a logical place to go.  Well, Home Depot does not sell glass shelves for bathrooms.  By the size of the store, they sell everything else I might need for my home, but not glass shelves.  Incredible!


I called my imaginary big brother David to complain that he was out of town and that I was forced to get gas and shop by myself and it turns out he had not gone out of town after all – so we are having dinner tonight.  David directed me to an Ace Hardware store to locate a glass shelf.  I doubt if it is necessary for me to tell you that they did not have the shelf.  They suggested I go to Home Depot.

So I am now home two hours later and did not get the emissions test or buy a glass shelf.  Ernie will take the car next week for me to get the test and I will order the shelf on the Internet. Okay, I admit it.  I am an elitist snob.  No more “simple” tasks for me.  They are just too hard!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!


The holidays are a rough time of the year for people like me.  I am a food-a-holic.  Food addicts have to watch people consume vast quantities of vittles  -- and act like it does not bother us.

I was overweight for much of my lifetime.  My parents did everything they could to help me eat healthy, but I would “sneak” junk food all the time.  I was on diet pills as a child, went to “fat camp” in the summer, belonged to a gym etc.  My being fat was because I chose to put sweets and fried food in my mouth -- my parents were innocent!

I joined the bowling team in high school so I could be at the alley and eat fries and drink Coke.  I attended football and basketball sporting events at school—not because I wanted to be a spectator—but just because they sold candy at the games.

Most of my life has been one of fat and not so fat—never really thin -- except in 1982 for about six months.

In 2007, my doctor told me that if I did not start losing weight, I would likely get diabetes. That piece of news really scared me straight.  He told me that if I gave up one thing every day, I would lose 10 pounds in 4 months.  He wanted to see me in four months and was going to weigh me.  I hate the weigh in.

I left his office and decided to give up bread and cheese because I was emotionally and physically addicted to both of them.  When I was at a restaurant, I would eat through two baskets of rolls slathered with cheese even before I ate my meal.  Bread was also an excuse just to put half a jar of mayonnaise between two slices of any kind of bread.

By giving up bread and cheese, I lost 60 pounds that year and have kept most of it off almost five years later.  I still have more weight that I want to lose, but I look okay from the outside.  You would not want to see me naked, though!

Some people wrongly use food as a celebration ritual or a treat.  “It is your birthday, have some cake.”  “You did well on that report, have an extra dessert.”  “It is Thanksgiving; stuff yourself until you want to vomit.”

Even when I ate anything and everything, I would never eat to the point of being over-satiated.  I do not enjoy the feeling of an overloaded stomach.  So whether fat, not so fat, or thin, I wish someone could explain to me what is fun about overeating at Thanksgiving?  The only being stuffed at the table should be the turkey, not the guests!  So be careful out there on Thursday!  Use moderation, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CUT OFF THEIR LEGS


Chris Fusco and Art Golub at the Sun-Times wrote a wonderfully documented three- part series on people who abuse handicap parking placards.  The placards, 9” X4” cards that hang one’s rear view mirror, are like gold because they permit people to park for free anywhere in the city where rates can reach $50/day.  The placards also allow otherwise able-bodied people to park in handicap-only designated spots.

The story reported, “With the help of a retired Chicago Police Department lieutenant, the newspaper did regular spot checks in the South Loop and elsewhere in the city.

In September and October, those checks found as many as 60 cars with handicap placards or handicap license plates were parking for free each day in the area bounded by Roosevelt Road and Van Buren Street, and Desplaines Street and Canal Street.”

The newspaper documented their findings with a videographer and photographer “based on research by retired police Lt. Robert Angone, whose 19-year-old daughter lost her left leg to cancer when she was just 6 months old. In September and October, Angone observed 82 instances in which seemingly able-bodied people used handicap placards or handicap license plates to park throughout the South Loop, around the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California and at other various spots.”

There are many people who obtain a handicap placard or plate because they drive a family member to the doctor or on errands.  The placard can only be used when the designated recipient of the placard is with the driver.  The Illinois Secretary of State web site clearly spells the rules out:


“Placards ARE NOT transferable. The authorized holder of disability
plates or a placard must be present and must enter or exit
the vehicle at the time the parking privileges are being used.
Violators face a $500 fine, driver’s license suspension and suspension/
revocation of the plates or placard. (625 ILCS 5/11-
1301.3 (a-1)).”

Handicap-parking complaints can be filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office online at cyberdriveillinois.com. Click on “Parking Program for Persons with Disabilities Abuse Complaint Form.” 

The penalties for misuse of placards or plates are severe, as they should be:

PENALTIES
--People caught using handicap placards or handicap license plates without the placard- or plate-holder present face a fine of at least $500 and a 30-day driver’s license suspension. The police also can confiscate illegally used placards.

--Doctors who make false statements to help someone obtain a handicap plate or placard face fines of up to $1,000.

--People caught altering placards; manufacturing fakes; using fake, lost or stolen placards; or selling real or fake placards could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time, fines of up to $2,500 and a one-year driver’s license suspension.

I have had many medical problems and there have been times when I could barely walk one block because of the pain I experience.  People have asked me why I never gotten a handicap license or placard.  I would not get one because I don’t have a permanent disability, and most of the time I am fine.  I might medically be able to obtain a placard, but I wouldn’t do it because the handicap spaces are for people who require them all the time.

I wish we could add a penalty of cutting off the legs of anyone who illegally obtains a handicap placard or license because then they would really need it. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

I CAN SPEND LIKE I AM ONE PERCENT !


What is wrong with being part of the 1%?  Name one person, besides the deceased Mother Theresa, who does not want to earn at least $343,927 a year?   According to the IRS, about 1.4 million households reached that level in 2009, earning nearly 17% of the nation's income and paying roughly 37% of the country’s total income tax.  I want one legitimate reason why someone would NOT want to earn that much money.  Then, I will admit that I am wrong.

Don’t come back to me, whining that it is unfair that some people earn a lot more money than others.  Life is not fair. Maybe those who earn more, work harder.   Our democracy is based on capitalism, not a Karl Marx communist philosophy of from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.

If you claim that you don’t need $343,927 to live on annually, then give it away voluntarily.  You don’t have to spend the money on yourself.  But our country’s economy allows us to earn as much as we work to achieve; and it does not have to be shared with those at a lower income.  It is a person’s individual choice to be charitable or not.

I know that driving a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle will take me to the same place as a 2011 Bentley convertible, but it won’t give me the style or comfort I have earned or deserve.  Why wouldn’t anyone desire a luxury car?  I owned a Ferrari once, and I felt very cool driving it around.  Great ego booster!

What is wrong with wanting a beautiful home, vacations, jewelry, fur coats, designer clothes, lobster every night and champagne, to toast that you actually woke up and are still alive?  It is only “wrong” for those who have the absurd belief that those that have, owe those that have not.

I guarantee that not one single one of the Occupy Wall Street protesters would rip the ticket up if they discovered they won the lottery for $100 million dollars.  Nor would they give the prize away.

Actually back in 2007 it took $424,000 to make the cut, but income levels have gone down and now it only takes $343,927.  Life is rough for the one percenters, but it is still better than sleeping in a tent.


Friday, November 18, 2011

In Memory of Kevin Black

Because Kevin was such a major part of my life and taught me much of what I know about technology, I wanted to memorialize him forever on my blog.


Good night, Sweet Prince.


Kevin Carl Black
July 27, 1962- November 3, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

STILL LEARNING MORE EVERY DAY



Education should not stop when we leave institutions of learning.  No matter what one’s age, there are fascinating things to be learned every day.  I eve solve math puzzles at night before I go to sleep to exercise my brain. I love Kakuro—these are mathematical logic puzzles at a level of difficulty much harder than the Suduko grids one sees in the newspaper.  So when a friend used the phrase, “fetch bill,” in reference to some upcoming legislation, I was fascinated and had to learn what it was.

The concept of a “fetch bill” is that politicians submit a bill that would have a negative financial impact on a certain group, like new taxation, with the knowledge that members of that particular group would start lobbying them (substitute the words “donate money to their campaign” for lobbying) to withdraw the potential legislation.  “Fetch bill” is the phrase used in Illinois.  In California it is called a “juice bill” and in other states “milker bills.”  How na├»ve have I been never to have known this information?  And how disgusting is it that politicians do this?

Research on the term “fetch” lead me to discover a website of catch phraseshttp://www.doubletongued.org   that is 1050 pages long.  I became fascinated by scrolling through the pages and learning words and phrases that had been conceived for circumstances where no phrase had existed before.  Two of the phrases are actually mine.  See if you can guess which are “official” words and phrases and which are the ones I invented.

Probability entertainment- Spending your entertainment dollars at a casino instead of at the theater or a concert hoping for the probability of winning.

Seagen- A noun describing a vegan that eats seafood.

Broccoli journalism- Being forced to read stories by journalists that are supposed to be good for you.

Profestival- A combination of a protest and a festival.  In Seattle they hold an annual Hempfest where people party while protesting the marijuana laws.

Momarazzi- At school events where all the Moms have their cell phones out and are taking pictures.

Sagantis of the ass- When the lower half of one’s body becomes almost “frozen” from sitting at their desk chair for hours and not moving.

Dittoism- Everyone thinking the same thought.

Do you know which ones are on the double-tongued site and which ones I invented?  E-mail me your thoughts. 



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE FAT SQUABS ARE EVERYWHERE!


My mother loved me and my sister very deeply; but she was hardly fond of other people’s children.  She referred to them as “fat squabs.”  Because she has passed, I cannot ask her how she decided on that description, but it is one I also use when referring to children.  I love visiting with the children of my friends, but I have to admit that I am happy when they go home.  Strange children in public places are abhorrent to me.  I don’t care about your children.

Unfortunately for me, we have become a “Mommy-Centric” nation, where it is permissible for mothers to bare their breasts in public and allow their children to suckle at the source.  I understand that babies need to be fed, but do it in privacy; I sure don’t want to see it!

My feeling is if someone decides to have a child, she should be responsible for taking care of it and not expect “the village” to help.  The latest trend in child care is for restaurants, stores, salons -- all places I frequent—to have child-friendly areas for mommies to be able to drop off the squabs while they go about their errands. 

The Chicago Tribune recently published a story about this subject where they explained the need for “kid friendly” retail. 
“Every errand becomes a logistical calculation for parents: Spend money on a sitter and watch the clock while you're out, or bring the children, hoping they won't draw too much attention.

But a number of stores, restaurants, even salons, are providing toys, books and other distractions, making it easier for parents to take along their tots. An upscale River North restaurant brings Disney-loaded portable DVD players to the table, while a women's clothing store in Lincoln Square has toys near the dressing room so moms can — imagine this — try on clothes uninterrupted.”
Why should I care if every errand becomes a logistical calculation for parents?  They choose to be parents; they should have made plans on how to care for the squab before it was born.

Sara Youngblood-Ochoa, who writes the online newsletter Macaroni Kid Chicago Loop, said in the Tribune story that businesses are finding new ways to welcome children.”  She pointed out a car dealership with a playroom of toys and a television. "The purchasing of a car can be a tedious process," she said. "I thought, 'That is very smart.'"  I agree that purchasing a car is a wearisome project, but it is unwise for a parent to take a child along for that ride.

Keep your children at home until they are old enough to conduct themselves properly in public.  Don’t make the rest of us watch them having a tantrum.  Not my problem!

If a parent decides to bring her children to a kid- friendly store, where there are strangers all around, anything can happen.  Don’t be surprised if you hear a mommy cry out, “A dingo ate my baby!” when it disappears.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LOVING THE NEW CHICAGO FINES!



When Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel sent out his 71 page transition plan last May, I mocked it in a two part series.  I thought, and still think that there were many ideas I did not agree with, such as adding bicycle lanes, and making city employees go to health and wellness classes.  But Rahm’s 2012 revenue ordinance, which raises a lot of fines, is simply fabulous!!  Make the bad guys pay!

The Chicago Sun-Times provided a great list of  the proposed higher fines and fees:

(1) If your car is impounded for carrying drugs, driving drunk, soliciting a prostitute or carrying a firearm registered to someone other than the driver, the penalty will double — to $2,000. But, if the violations occur within 500 feet of a park or school, the fine will triple — to $3,000.

(2) If your car is seized for drag racing on Chicago streets, there’s a new, $1,000 fine in addition to the towing and storage fee.

(3) For playing a radio too loud, the new fine will be anywhere from $500 to $750.

(4) If the vehicle is snatched for driving with a suspended or revoked license or displaying altered temporary registration permits, the fine would double — to $1,000.

(5) Vehicles towed after being used in an unlawful attempt to flee or elude police officers would also double — to $2,000.

(6) Tampering with parking meters or pay-and-display boxes — something motorists have done on occasion to vent their anger at the deal that privatized Chicago parking meters — would carry a fine ranging from $500 to $750.

Nuisance fines are going up also. They include:

(1)Allowing weeds to grow to a height that exceeds 10 inches — $600-to-$1,200-a-day, up from $500-to-$1,000.

(2)Illegal dumping or allowing trash to accumulate in a way that provides a food supply for rats — $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.

(3)Accumulation of materials or junk on any open lot or other premises not placed on open racks “elevated not less than 18 inches above ground”: $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.

(4) Failure to maintain vacant lots and keep them clear of debris: $300-to-$600.

(5) Neglecting to register or renew registration of a vacant building: $500.

Since I know I will never be drag racing with a prostitute in a school zone while drunk, carrying a firearm and attempting to elude the police while doing it after I had tampered with a meter box, I will never be subject to any of the higher fines.  If the new fines mean lower property taxes, I hope a lot of horny men will drink to that!

Monday, November 14, 2011

NOVEMBER STORIES





WHY I WRITE THE BLOG



I happened upon this quote, and I realized that it describes exactly why I write this blog.  It is from Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, a writer during the French Renaissance in the 14th Century.  Five hundred years later, I feel the same way that he did. “I write to keep from going mad from the contradictions I find among mankind --and to work some of those contradictions out for myself.”

Funny, I have a jacket just like his in my closet.


RED LIGHT CAMERAS


I love red light cameras that catch people who go through a red light.  I have written of my support many times. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation in 2010, the fines from people blowing through red lights produced $61 million in revenue for Chicago.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently lobbying for legislation in the Illinois General Assembly which would allow Chicago to utilize its red light cameras to also issue $100 speeding ticket to vehicle owners accused of exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 MPH in designated "safety zones" within an eighth of a mile of schools, parks and colleges. 

A CDOT study predicts that the fines collected could reach more than $100 million a year but Mayor Emanuel says "I hope I get no revenue from this." CDOT chief Gabe Klein claims the goal is just to get drivers to slow down.

I don’t run red lights, so red light cameras won’t nail me.  In fact, CDOT is so fair about sharing information on red light cameras that they list every one of them on their website at chicagotraffictracker.com.  Just click on the red light cameras link and you get a map of Chicago with every red light camera listed.

So if you have a lead foot, just avoid those intersections!


MICHAEL MOORE NOT A REGULAR JOE



Michael Moore has made himself the unofficial spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street, yet he consistently denies that he is part of the 1% who earn more than $593,000/year that OWS is protesting against.

According to www.celebritynetworth.com he has a net worth of more than $50 million.

1) Moore’s biggest three movies have grossed over $300 million at the box office worldwide.
2) Fahrenheit 911 made $230 million in theaters and $3 million in DVD sales. After the theaters take their 50% cut, we’re left with $130 million. Take out another $50 million for marketing, production and distribution and Moore is left with $80 million.
3) Moore negotiated a deal with Miramax which guarantees him 27% of all of his film’s net revenues.
4) Moore was also given 50% of all profits from Sicko
5) Moore is a bestselling author who receives 7 figure advances.
6) Ironically, Moore’s
film Sick was actually financed by none other than Goldman Sachs through a $500 million investment fund set up for Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s film company.


Michael Moore cannot pretend to be a regular Joe, Joe the Plumber or Joe Six Pack.  He does not even look Joeish.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NOBODY KNOWS THIS GUY?



On April 13, 2010, I wrote a blog, “As The Alderman Like It,” about the watered-down ordinance that would create the office of a City Council Inspector General with the power to investigate Aldermen and their employees. 

The current Chicago Inspector General (IG)  is banned by ordinance to investigate Aldermen, so a new office had to be created. Section 2-56-050 of the ordinance  that established the office of the city’s Inspector General outlines the duties and jurisdiction of the IG as:

BROAD JURISDICTION:

Section 2-56-050 — Conduct of City officers, employees and other entities
Provides jurisdiction over all City officials, employees, those doing business with the city and those seeking city certification. Excludes the City Council and staff, and City Council Committees and staff

I wrote then, “To paraphrase the melancholy  Jacques in his monologue (Act II, Scene VII) in William Shakespeare’s play, As You Like It, ‘All of Chicago is a stage, and all the men and women merely players….’  Chicago citizens are merely puppets with our strings being manipulated by the Aldermen who watch us wiggle while we bobble up and down at their beck and call.”

I also pointed out that this new IG, “would be appointed to a four-year term after a search panel chosen by the Rules Committee recommended candidates to the City Council. The new IG would have subpoena power. But, all investigative findings would have to be presented to the city's Board of Ethics, which has never taken action against aldermen.“

Alderman Joe Moore (D-49) did not like the new ordinance, because it contained language that there must be “signed and sworn complaints” for an investigation to proceed. “‘It’s as bad, if not worse than doing nothing,’ Moore said.  ‘There is no investigative agency in the world that needs a sworn complaint. Not the U.S. attorney, not the state's attorney. Not the attorney general. Not the [city's] inspector general. It really prevents any serious investigations from taking place.’”


Then on August 13, 2010, I wrote, “All Of Chicago is a Stage” about how  it was now months since the ordinance had been passed and Alderman Mell (D-33), Chairman of the City Council’s Rules Committee, had not appointed a search committee yet.   Once that panel was in place, the job would have to be advertised, and applicants would have to apply, be interviewed, ratified, etc.  No budget had even been discussed yet. 

Last week, 18 months after the ordinance was passed, Faisal Khan, a New York attorney was named to fill the job at a part-time salary of $60,000.  He will have no staff.

Ald. Edward Burke (D-14), chairman of the Finance Committee said that Kahn’s job will be to “to respond to complaints, if there are any, of members of the body or staff of the City Council that might be accused of wrongdoing." (Highlighted section by me)   Since 1972, when the city had no Inspector General investigating City Council, 29 current and former Chicago aldermen have been sentenced to jail.  So I think it is a safe bet to say that there will be complaints!

Re the choice of Khan from all of the applicants, Alderman Mell said that Khan had no ties to Chicago and paraphrased the old political line about Chicago patronage by saying, "This is nobody nobody sent. This guy, nobody knows this guy."

Mell obviously did not do a simple Google search like I did.


I found a Faisal Khan, an assistant district attorney in Queens, who was married on November 4th in New York. His wedding was covered by the NewYork TimesIn relating the courtship of Khan and his then girlfriend Sanam Hafeez, the story reported, “He proposed in February at dinner in the Signature Room, a restaurant atop the John Hancock Center in Chicago, where they had been visiting friends.”  Can it be the same Khan who is up for the IG job that Alderman Mell says "nobody knows this guy?"

What friends was he visiting in Chicago if nobody here knows him? 


 Also, according to the  Chicago Tribune, “Khan, who will turn 38 on Friday, went to law school in New York and was licensed as an attorney there in 2002, according to Illinois Registration and Disciplinary Commission records. He was licensed in Illinois in March, the records indicate.”   So for no reason at all, a lawyer who supposedly does not know anyone in Chicago, gets licensed here?  Makes no sense.  

Maybe somebody did send him.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

FAKE CITIZENS, ANCHOR BABIES



The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Reconstruction Congress after the Civil War and ratified in 1868 to protect native-born Black Americans whose rights were being denied as recently-freed slaves.  Section One’s primary purpose was to guarantee the same inalienable rights to former slaves as to any other American citizen and to ensure that individual states could not deny citizenship to members of this group. 

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This amendment has being incorrectly interpreted to allow any baby born in the United States automatic citizenship, no matter what its heritage is.  Birthright citizenship has created an industry in producing what is known as anchor babies.

According to the Double-Tongued Dictionary,   edited by American lexicographer Grant Barrett, the term "anchor baby" means "a child born of an immigrant in the United States, said to be a device by which a family can find legal foothold in the US, since those children are automatically allowed to choose United States citizenship."  There is a huge industry built around women coming to the U.S. just to give birth.

Congressman Steve King (R-IA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, said last year, “There are a several estimates as to the number of anchor babies born to illegal alien mothers in the U.S. each year. One estimate holds that the number is 750,000. That means two of twelve, or one out of six of all babies born in the U.S. are born to illegal alien mothers."

To counteract the “fake citizenship” problem, Congressman King introduced a bill at the beginning of the year, HR140, called the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011.  Because Congress moves so slowly, who knows what year it will be when it is passed?  A similar bill, S.723, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana).


 Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 - Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to consider a person born in the United States "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States for citizenship at birth purposes if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is: 
(1) a U.S. citizen or national, 
(2) a lawful permanent resident alien whose residence is in the United States, or 
(3) an alien performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Rasmussen Reports,  an electronic media company founded specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information, conducted a national poll to find out what Americans felt about the proposed bill.   The poll found that 61% of likely voters believe that a child born in the U.S. to a woman who entered illegally should NOT automatically become a citizen. According to Rasmussen, this is the highest level of support seen thus far for changing the law.

So should babies who are born in America automatically become citizens?  I watched the new magazine news show, Rock Center with Brian Williams, where correspondent Kate Snow did a report on the industry of “birth tourism.”  The segment featured a home in California where Chinese women stay in order to give birth to their babies in America.  One of the rooms was lined with cradles full of days-old babies who had automatically become U.S. citizens by virtue of the latitude and longitude of their first breath.

A person should be counted as a citizen of the country where his Mother is a citizen, not where her water breaks.