Conscience Laureate

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


(Mancow and me)

My Mother loved me and my sister very much, but she was not fond of other people’s children.  She called young people “fat squabs.” I never had any children.  I never wanted to have any children because they would have gotten in the way of my life.  I always wished my sister had decided to have children so I could have spoiled them and been the eccentric Aunt Kathy. I find it enjoyable visiting with friend’s offspring, but I am always glad when they go away.  I am good for an hour tops with those less than 21 years of age—with a few exceptions. Given my history of not caring about little people, it is obvious that I probably was never hired to baby sit in my younger years.

I wrote about my feelings for children last November  so none of this should come as a surprise to anyone.

Up until now, the only time I have been totally in control of a baby is when, years ago, my friend Stephanie Dillard had a doctor’s appointment at Northwestern Hospital, close to my home and could not find a sitter.  I forget which of her and Kirk’s babies it was! All she needed me to do was to sit in the waiting room and watch the baby in its carriage.  I was petrified that something would happen on my watch.  The fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of nurses and doctors did not matter.  I figured, with my luck, the baby would cry or spit and I would be as helpless as it was in not knowing what to do.  Obviously, the baby survived. 

On Tuesday, I received a call from my friend Mancow who asked what I was doing Friday night.   He prefaced the conversation by saying that he had already called everybody he knew and he really needed me.  I knew what was coming.  I was scared in anticipation of the request from someone I love and would do anything for.  It was exactly what I feared.  He asked me to baby sit his twin six-year old girls.  I have been with these children many times and they are the best-behaved adorable young ladies. (I only like pretty children.  Ask my friend Linda.)  To be alone with them for hours though would be a daunting task.

I asked Mancow not to give them dinner first, so I could waste some time feeding them.  I have an indoor pool in my condo building, so that could be fun.  But should I wait after eating to let them swim?  I better check on that old wives tale that you are not supposed to supervise children up to an hour after dining.

I have no toys to play with, so I hope they bring something with them.  I don’t want to go out and buy anything because then I would be known as the person who has toys for children and other people might drop off their kids.  Children can smell toys a mile away and might start flocking.

I decided to cheat a bit.  I called a friend with a 5 year old son and invited them over Friday night.  Now there will be a grown up in the house, I feel much safer.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Justice Joy Cunningham
I have not been posting blogs because I have been working on the Illinois Supreme Court race of Justice Joy Cunningham ( Punch 103) and that has been consuming all of my time. 

In judicial races in Illinois, because the Illinois Judicial Code of Ethics prevents candidates from speaking about issues that might come before a court, there are no debates.  

There are forums and they are usually very sedate  and polite with each candidate speaking about their credentials for the position.

That changed this past Monday at the forum held by the Anti-Defamation League and moderated by David Hoffman, Chicago's former Inspector General.

Because I am obviously biased towards Justice Cunningham, I have reprinted the Sun-Times story by political reporter Abdon Pallasch about what happened.  It was the most fun I have had in weeks!

Here is the link to the video of the event.

Sparks fly over mayoral residency in Supreme Court candidate forum
Story Image
Illinois Supreme Court Candidates ( left to right) Mary Jane Theis, Aurelia Pucinski and Joy Cunningham meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board last month. 

State Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke should have recused herself from a decision about whether her husband’s erstwhile rival Rahm Emanuel could remain on the ballot in last year’s mayoral race, two candidates for state Supreme Court said Monday.

Oh yeah? Well, Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis should have recused herself from the case because she lives on Emanuel’s block, two of Theis’s rival candidates said.

Oh yeah? Well, Appellate Justice Aurelia Pucinski took two “illegal” $10,000 contributions for her campaign and made an improper endorsement in the Clerk of the Court race, Theis answered back.

The brass gavels came out Monday in an Anti-Defamation League forum at the Sidley & Austin law firm featuring the four judges and one lawyer running for an open seat on the state Supreme Court.

Former City of Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman boxed the candidates in by asking them if a justice whose wife has a financial interest in a case should recuse himself.

They all said yes.

“In light of your answer to the hypothetical, should Justice Burke have recused herself in the Rahm Emanuel residency case?” Her husband, Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), was backing a rival mayoral candidate.

Democratic lawyer Thomas Flannigan and Republican Judge James Riley said “yes.”

Democratic appellate justices Pucinski and Joy Cunningham said Burke did not need to recuse herself.

“My husband doesn’t tell me what to do — I think Justice Burke is her own person,” Cunningham said.

“Anybody who knows Justice Burke knows that she is independent and makes up her own mind — he can’t tell her what to do,” Pucinski said.

Then Pucinski took it a step further.

“Other individuals should also be asking themselves questions about whether they should have recused themselves,” Pucinski said. “One of the justices on that panel was a neighbor of Rahm Emanuel, And that wasn’t disclosed.”
Emanuel, Theis’ neighbor, is strongly backing Theis for the Supreme Court seat and raising money for her. In a meeting with lawyers at Jenner & Block a few months ago, Emanuel called Theis “my swing vote” on the court, which may be hyperbole as the decision to keep him on the ballot was unanimous.

Cunningham said she agreed Theis should have recused herself.

But Theis said that before Emanuel endorsed her, the only time she ever talked with him was when he brought his kids trick-or-treating to her door.

Theis fired back at Pucinski:“Last week she received two $10,000 contributions, which are both against her [self-imposed $500] caps and are illegal,” Theis said. “And, secondly, she chose to wade into a partisan election and make an endorsement. In my entire career, I have never seen a judge do anything like that.”

Pucinski said her treasurer “mistakenly” deposited two $10,000 checks from a supporter and his daughter — double the $5,000 limit. But she refunded $5,000 to each of them the next day. Those are loans she has pledged to repay — she is sticking to her $500 self-imposed limit, she said.

Pucinski said when a judge is a candidate in the race, the judicial cannons allow the judge to make endorsements. And in the race for Clerk of the Court, Pucinski said she has some expertise.

“Rick Munoz is running against Dorothy Brown, who’s made a mess of that office and I was clerk for 12 years, and I ran a good office,” Pucinski said.
Theis, Cunningham, Pucinski and Flannigan are running in the Democratic primary for the state supreme court seat for Cook County. The winner will face Republican Riley in the fall.

Monday, February 13, 2012


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, egalitarianism is “a belief in human equality, especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs,” and “a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people.”  It represents the idea that all people should be treated equally, despite any societal difference of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, socioeconomic statue, cultural heritage, height, weight or whether they are as cute as I am or not.  I am not for female egalitarianism because, in many cases, “equality” has brought women to a place we might rather not be.

I began thinking about the topic when the Pentagon decided to allow women to serve in more military jobs that are closer to combat lines.  Greater than 14,000 additional jobs will be open to women, but why would women want any of those jobs? I wouldn’t! Nobody really wants to serve in combat; people don’t join the military hoping they will have the opportunity to get shot at.  And if that were the reason for joining, well then that person has psychological problems that need to be dealt with.  Be happy to stay behind the lines.

Another example of female equality taking a step backwards is in the arena of dating. When I grew up the man paid for everything. If a woman started out the evening with $50 in her wallet, she went home with $50 in her wallet.  Now men and women equally share the costs of a night out.   When I have pointed out the stupidity of this to young women, they proudly proclaim that they are happy to pay their share. Are they nuts?  A man is willing to pay for everything and a woman is proud to use her own money?  Think how she will wish she had kept her wallet flap closed when this once future husband throws her out for a new and younger model.

Man basically only care about hot food, hot sex and a cold beer.  Years ago, I started writing a book, “The Ignorant Male,” about how women should realize what a waste of time and energy it is for a woman to cook and clean, when the male species is happy enough sitting in his own stink as long as his lower appendage is satisfied.  Radio personality Mancow once crudely told me that a “nice kitty” is all a man needs and wants. Once women can swallow that concept, they will stop paying their own freight.

The American public is not ready for women to be shipped home in body bags.  So the reality of women in combat might sound egalitarian, but it’s not an equality I want to happen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I watch all the Judge shows on TV and the rulings are always based on the law and not on common sense.  I have joked that I should have my own court TV show, called Common Sense Court where all of the decisions would be based solely on how I personally felt and not by the letter of the law.

Besides not being an attorney, I could never be a “real” judge because I would answer the questionnaires that judge candidates received with the truth as I feel it.  For fun I have filled out a judicial questionnaire below.  Would you vote for me?

1. What experiences have you had that give you the qualifications to be a judge?

I record Judge Judy, Judge Mathis and People’s Court every day and watch the episodes in the morning while I am getting dressed and making my bed.  I have been following these Judges for years and have learned important legal concepts like, “ an engagement ring is given in anticipation of marriage,” so if the marriage is called off the person who paid for the ring gets to keep it.

2. Around the country, we’ve heard people stress the importance of “a fair and impartial judiciary”. How would you define a fair and impartial judge and how would you work to ensure your impartiality?

It might be important to have “a fair and impartial judiciary,” but since I will make all decision based on my gut and whether I like the defendant or not (including the outfit they are wearing), I will be totally biased. If the defendant is a woman wearing sandals with no panty hose she automatically goes to the slammer. If she is more than the age of 20 and has a sleeveless blouse on, I would recommend the death penalty even though it is outlawed in the State of Illinois.

3. What can be done to improve access to justice?

It is very expensive to file a lawsuit.  If we raised the pay off limits in small claims court to $100,000 then people could represent themselves pro se and not have to pay for an attorney. 

4. How do you deal with difficult people, including peers, lawyers, clients or litigants?

I would hold up a picture of an adorable puppy to calm everyone down.  I would then remind them that I am the person wearing the black robe and they better behave or I would send them to the corner for a time-out.

5. Voter turnout appears to be on the decline. This is most apparent in judicial elections, where the races often are not well publicized or covered by the media. How would you improve voter education and interest, particularly as it relates to judicial races?

I would create a system that forces people to vote by punishing them if they don’t.  For example, I would create a law that says people could not renew their driver’s license if they did not show proof of having voted in the last election.  If they did not drive, they would have to show proof of voting to get a transit card.
6. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?
No, but I have friends who have.  You got a problem with that?  I can get it taken care of.
Now after reading this, would you vote for me?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Friend’s Birthday

A young man growing up in the Racine Courts housing projects in Chicago’s Southside in the 1960’s did not have much of a chance for advancement in life except for what the street gangs could offer.  Today is his 60th birthday and I wanted to share his story. Coincidentally it is also the date of my Mother’s birthday.  She passed 36 years ago; the two had totally disparate lives.  Without her, there would no me. Odd that he and I are friends coming from such different backgrounds.   I won’t reveal his identity until the end of the piece, so see if you can guess.

The young man became a member of Chicago’s largest street gang, the Gangster Disciples (GDs), founded by his childhood friend Larry Hoover.  He rose through the ranks, becoming an enforcer, and in 1975 he was convicted of armed robbery.  Sentenced to Stateville Penitentiary in Joliet, he was reunited with Hoover, who was serving a 150- to 200-year sentence for the 1973 murder of William Young, who allegedly stole drugs and money from the GDs.

Hoover and his friend realized that they needed to change their lives and decided to transform the GDs into a community service organization.  After my friend left prison, he devoted himself to community work with Chicago’s inner-city youth.  On January 5, 1980, Illinois Governor James Thompson issued my friend a pardon and this young man committed his life to political activism and community service.  In 1981, Hoover changed the name of the GDs from the Gangster Disciples to Growth and Development, with a mission to bring positive change to inner-city youth through education.

My friend became involved in politics through the campaign of Cook County Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler and became the Commissioner’s assistant until 1992. He ran for the seat of Chicago 3rd Ward Alderman in 1991, and while he lost that race to incumbent Dorothy Tillman, the race earned national attention.

One of the highlights of his life happened in 1994, when he was invited to the White House to visit President Bill Clinton to give the president a briefing on violence in the inner city.

He has worked with many politicians and was an early organizer with Barack Obama when the President was a community organizer at a Southside church.  He has been recognized for his work and, along with many other awards, in 1989 he was presented with the United Negro College Fund Meritorious Service Award.

Today he consults on political campaigns and I am honored to have met him through our mutual work on Justice Joy Cunningham’s campaign in her race for a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court.

When we first met, we had a number of clashes, but we found peace with each other and now share a deep mutual respect.  I am saddened at meetings of Editorial Boards and Forums when Justice Cunningham is asked about her involvement with this man and the questions are presented in a contentious light.

He was pardoned 32 years ago and has proved his devotion to enhancing the lives of black youth.  When will the unfair questions stop?  Happy Birthday, Wallace “Gator” Bradley.

(Gator at his birthday party with Mancow Muller and Justice Joy Cunningham)

Monday, February 6, 2012


II am writing this blog on Friday, February 3rd, two days before the Super Bowl and readers are seeing it post-game.  I don’t even know which teams are playing, and I won’t care Sunday night which of those two win.  It is superfluous to me.

I can understand if you are someone who lives or comes from one of the two whatever cities the teams are from.  Then it would be natural to root for their success.  But even if your hometown team wins, unless you are a member of that team, it shouldn’t make any difference in your life who takes home the Lombardi Trophy. (Did I impress you by my knowing the name of trophy?  I did not even have to look that up!)

A big deal is made over the fact that last year’s championship game was, according to the Nielson Report, the most-watched U.S. program of all time with 106.5 million viewers.   But what most people do not realize is that while the February 28, 1983 final episode of MASH had a paltry half million viewers less at just 106 million, the U.S. population is 31% larger now than in 1983.  So in terms of the percentage of viewers, MASH is still the clear winner.

Just like the celebration of Halloween is a senseless excuse to eat candy (blog of Oct 20, 2009) , the Super Bowl is watched by the majority of viewers solely for the cleverly crafted commercials.  In fact there are 45 minutes of commercials airing and only 60 minutes of game!  What is so stupid to me about this is that during normal TV watching, people fast forward through the ads!  What a scam has been perpetrated on the American public!  If ad agencies can create commercials that are highly anticipated during the Super Bowl, why can’t they be that creative the rest of the year?

The statistics on food consumption are also staggering.  The California Avocado Commission (CAC), which produces 90% of fresh avocados in the country, anticipates that 13.2 million pounds of that vegetable will be consumed, mostly in the form of guacamole.  California is pushing big time for more avocado consumption because the industry is in trouble. So says the Agriculture MarketingResource Center “The value of U.S. avocado production dropped from $429.6 million in 2009 to $322.1 million in 2010. The total volume amounted to more than 149,300 tons, a decline of more than 149,100 tons from the previous year. According to NASS (2011), the California avocado crop fell to 126,500 tons, while the Florida crop fell to 22,500 tons. The number of acres under production continued to decline, falling to 59,930, and the yield per acre also dropped, decreasing to 2.5 tons.”

The kinds of statistics that are fun to me about the Super Bowl have nothing to do with who is expected to catch the most touchdowns or sacks the most opponents. The fact that during last year’s game, the National Chicken Council  reported that more than 450 million chicken wings (90 million lbs.) were eaten is fascinating to me.  Or that bets placed on the game in Las Vegas should top $94 million. How about 28 million pounds of potato chips and 8 million pounds of popcorn?  Now those are stats I can sink my teeth into!

However the game turned out, I hope the 100 million or so of you who watched had a good time.  My Sunday plans are for a manicure and a bubble bath.  I will drink one can of Diet Coke and eat one package of 100 calorie snack.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn gave his State of the State Address on Wednesday afternoon.After reading what he said, I laughed so hard I spit up Diet Coke through my nose!

I actually started laughing before the Governor even opened his mouth. Twenty minutes prior to the start of the Governor’s speech, State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) committed an unusual breach of speech-day protocol by standing in the House Chambers and castigating the Governor for not having immediately fired Department of Children and Family Services director Erwin McEwen last year. I wrote a two part series about that probe earlier this week.

Dave McKinney wrote in the Sun-Times, Franks “...stood and ripped him for not firing former DCFS director Erwin McEwen last May when it was apparent he was not cooperating with an inspector general probe of contract fraud and apparent ghost-pay rolling in his department. McEwen left his job last September.”

Franks said,” I don’t know why the governor didn’t tell the General Assembly the truth. And I want to know why the governor tried to sweep under the rug corruption within his administration.”

In response, Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson declined to comment saying, “We’re focused on the State of the State right now.”

What brought my loudest laughter was Quinn’s child tax credit that would save a family of four an extra $100 a year. Or to make that huge number easier to understand, that calculates into a savings of SIX CENTS A DAY per family member. I probably lose more change than that daily!

How did lawmakers react to that announcement? There was no clapping and one almost expected boos.

Quinn also talked about ending the state’s tax on natural gas. That levy currently contributes about $164 million a year to the state’s coffers.
Let’s compare. Families can save six cents a day with their tax credit and the elimination of natural gas industry’s tax will save them $457,354/day in unpaid taxes. Anything seem out of skew here?

Quinn’s spokeswoman, who said the Governor is focusing on the State of the State, must not understand that to focus one must first be seeing clearly. The Governor is clearly myopic with no long-range perspective in thinking or planning. His budget address in a few weeks will probably bring down the house. I will finish my Diet Coke before he starts speaking.