URBAN PHILOSOPHER
Conscience Laureate

Monday, April 30, 2012

LYING IN 54 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES


(Riot police officers move towards anti-NATO activists who set fire to a hotel near the Europe bridge, east of Strasbourg)


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago NATO Host Committee have been trying to make Chicago citizens “drink the Kool Aid,” and think that the upcoming NATO Summit will be good for the city.  The language on the Chicago NATO web site  sounds like a fairy tale with such sentences as “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will hold meetings in Chicago from May 20-21, allowing the city to highlight its economic vitality, its arts and architecture, and its can-do spirit.”  The city has even planned a children’s kite festival  with face painters, balloon artists and a traveling zoo as part of the “festivities.”  But I know my readers can handle the truth, so here it is.

First some background.

WHAT IS NATO:

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, is a political-military alliance made up of 28 member countries, including the United States. Formed in 1949, NATO has played a unique and essential role in maintaining security and stability throughout the past six decades. It has grown and adapted to changing political environments and security challenges and, with enlargements, partnerships, and peacekeeping missions, has proven itself to be a continuingly effective Alliance.”


WHAT WORLD LEADERS ARE EXPECTED TO ATTEND THE CHICAGO SUMMIT?  

“In all, several thousand dignitaries, along with an international press corps of thousands, will gather in Chicago. Attendees will include Heads of State and Government, cabinet ministers, other high-ranking government officials, and NATO’s Secretary General. In addition to the official meetings, the summit will bring a number of related events and conferences.”   There are 54 countries listed on who is expected to attend the summit.

WHAT NATO SECRETARY GENERAL SAID ABOUT THE SUMMIT:
         
On April 19th, after a meeting of the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs at NATO headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “At our summit in Chicago, one month from now, all these countries and organizations will come together at the highest level. Other countries who have an interest in Afghanistan's stability will join us too. I expect the leaders of around 60 countries and international organizations to join us. This will be the biggest summit NATO has ever held.”

After the debacle is over, remember the words of Rasmussen that this was to be the biggest summit ever.  How have other summits gone?  The pictures on this blog of what happened in 2009 in Strasbourg, France speak 10,000 words, but here are some London Daily Mail quotes on what happened.
(Fierce protests: Protestors throw projectiles at police in downtown Strasbourg, France, on the second day of the NATO summit)
  
“Police using tear gas struggled to contain the protests as thousands of rioters armed with stones, sticks and barbed wire ransacked shops, smashed windows and set fire to several buildings, including a city-centre hotel.”

Crowds of demonstrators attempting to join the mob from across the German border were also forced back by French police. Police have been using tear gas in Strasbourg to quell protesters since Thursday night before the two-day NATO summit began. Yesterday police in heavy body armour and helmets were seen hoisting their shields as they were hit by missiles.”
“Some 15,000 German police and 9,000 French police are on call for the summit. Helicopters have patrolled the skies and police in fast boats have crisscrossed the river, too.”

In Chicago, condo associations have warned their residents to get out of town if possible during the summit.  At my condo we have instituted a number of security measures, but at the Library Condos the warnings  are very strong.  This building said they have even hired two armed off duty police officers to help ensure everyone’s safety.  Since all Chicago police officers are on full duty, these must be from the suburbs.

After reading this and seeing the pictures, do you still think the Summit will be a Mother Goose Fairy tale story or one from the Brother’s Grimm?



Thursday, April 26, 2012

A SECOND SET OF BOOKS




I have never owned a cash-based business but I could understand how proprietors would want to find ways to create a second set of books to underreport taxable sales.  They see 10% or more going to pay for sales taxes and wonder how they could keep some of that green.

Until I read about Illinois House Bill 6156, introduced last week by State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo,) I had no idea what automated sales suppression devices were.  More commonly known as “tax zappers,” they are sophistical computer software programs that falsify cash register balances so it appears that less revenue was taken in so fewer taxes would be owed.

According to the New YorkTimes, the system works like this, ”The more sophisticated zappers are easy to use, according to several experts. A dialogue box, which shows the day’s tally, pops up on the register’s screen.

In a second dialogue box, the thief chooses to take a dollar amount or percentage of the till. The program then calculates which orders to erase to get close to the amount of cash the person wants to remove. Then it suggests how much cash to take, and it erases the entries from the books and a corresponding amount in orders, so the register balances.”

The Associated Press reported, that in Massachusetts,  “Boston University tax law professor Richard Ainsworth, an authority on the issue, estimates that 30 percent of the predominantly cash businesses in the states are using tax zappers.”  The story also said, “In the California restaurant industry alone, tax losses from zappers were estimated at $2.8 billion three years ago, and $1.7 billion in New York. Officials in Quebec estimate a loss of $417 million in tax revenue by restaurants between 2007 and 2008.” 

Rep. Franks does not think the cheating numbers are as high in Illinois and said, “The vast majority of Illinois businesses play by the rules and are put at a competitive disadvantage by this unlawful practice. We have an obligation to stop those perpetrating tax fraud and harming honest businesses struggling to thrive in challenging economic times.” 

 “The notion that billions in state revenue could have been lost due to businesses cooking their books is unconscionable,” continued Franks. “Though it is already illegal to cheat on taxes, these devices have created an easy way for businesses to illegally lower their taxable income that is hard to track. We must act to ban the possession or installation of tax-zappers in Illinois.” Franks’ House Bill 6156 provides that the sale or use of tax-cheating software constitutes a criminal offense.

HB 6156 Synopsis As Introduced:
Amends the Use Tax Act, the Service Use Tax Act, the Service Occupation Tax Act, the Retailers' Occupation Tax Act. Provides that a person who knowingly sells, purchases, installs, transfers, possesses, uses, or accesses any automated sales device, zapper, or phantom-ware for use in an electronic cash register or other point-of-sale system in this State is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Since conviction of a Class 3 felony can result in a sentence of between 2 and 5 years in State Penitentiary, cooking the books could really burn the chef.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WHY DO CITY OF CHICAGO EMPLOYEES KEEP CHEATING?


Every quarter, Joseph Ferguson, the City of Chicago’s Inspector General (IGO) issues a report  with “statistics about the number, type, and duration of IGO investigations, as well as summaries of concluded investigations resulting in disciplinary findings and recommendations.”  The report for the first quarter of 2012 was just released and I am sure I am one of the few people who reads the report.  Even though every quarter there are lists of complaints of fraud, corruption, mismanagement and waste, it still surprises me to read about what municipal employees try to get away with.  Why do they think they can keep cheating?  The answer is at the end of this story.

Below is one of my favorite investigations of the report because it involved a city worker who held a side job that he performed during city work hours.  While he was ultimately fired, his supervisor was only reprimanded!


IGO Case # 10-1532

“An IGO investigation revealed that a Roofer with the Department of General Services (DGS), repeatedly falsified City timekeeping and other work records in order to operate a personal side business painting houses while on City time. During three of four surveillances, the Roofer was seen driving to private residences, visiting a paint store, and painting for more than four and six hours at a time during the workday. In addition, the Roofer lied to IGO investigators and later instructed a witness not to cooperate with the investigation. The investigation also revealed that the Roofer’s supervisor failed to ensure that the Roofer accurately filled out the daily log and failed to track the Roofer’s work locations throughout the day, allowing the time-theft to occur unchecked. 

Based on these findings, the IGO recommended that DGS terminate the Roofer, deem the Roofer permanently ineligible for rehire, and issue the supervisor a written reprimand. The IGO further recommended that the City’s Department of Law consider an enforcement action against the Roofer under the City’s false claims ordinance for a civil penalty and cost recovery for the time falsification and the IGO’s investigative costs. In light of the significant amount of time the Roofer was able to spend away from City duties, the IGO also recommended that DGS conduct a review of the roofer position to determine its continued operational and functional necessity. 

The IGO noted that all larger roofing jobs are performed by City contractors, raising the question of whether the roofer position could be performed more efficiently by outside contractors. Finally, the investigation established that the DGS Bureau of Trades and Engineering Management is not currently using its various data bases and GPS-enabled equipment to the fullest potential to improve accountability and supervision. The bureau has many employees working in the field with little oversight. As of November 2011, no single employee was responsible for checking these databases or verifying that work orders were, in fact, completed. The IGO therefore recommended that DGS immediately establish regular monitoring of Kronos, CMAT, and its work order database, to ensure effective oversight of its employees.

DGS agreed with the IGO’s findings and terminated the Roofer. DGS also requested that DHR deem the Roofer permanently ineligible for rehire and noted that it would be reviewing the roofer position to determine its continued necessity. The supervisor was also issued a written reprimand. Additionally, DGS responded that it had recently taken steps to bolster employees’ understanding of work rules and time and attendance control measures, including assigned swipe locations and random audits to ensure compliance. DGS reported that it is using GPS to investigate potential non-compliance and was in the process of launching a new work order system to improve employee productivity and accountability.”

Back to the question of why city employees continue to cheat knowing that there is an Inspector General’s Office monitoring them?  The answer is in the numbers.  In the first quarter of 2012 there were 385 complaints given to the IG’s office, but 304 were declined to investigate.  The reasons were not because the complaints might not have been valid but because, according to the report, “...for the vast majority of complaints, the IGO declined to investigate the allegation. The primary reason that the IGO declines a complaint is due to a lack of resources.”  So waste and fraud are allowed to run rampant because the IG’s office does not have the resources to investigate.  With little fear of getting caught, hands will always be in the cookie jar.




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CITIZENS CAN TAKE CONTROL OF CONGRESS!



Three years ago I wrote a blog about how pennies (the coins) have their own lobbying group, “American forCommon Sense.” Because the penny is comprised of 97.5% zinc, it was not too hard to figure out who funds Americans for Common Sense—the zinc industry! The penny as a zinc product needs to be protected because if the U.S. Mint switched to a steel penny, the country could save up to $100 million dollars a year in production costs.  The zinc industry does not want to see that happen.  We, as ordinary citizens, cannot afford to hire our own lobbyists because it would be too expensive. So what can we do when something is going on that we don’t like?

One way is to become involved in a newly created initiative fashioned by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and become a Citizen CoSponsor of legislation.    According to Cantor, “This is a dynamic communications platform that creates a more open, visible and participatory legislative process. Built on Facebook's Open Graph, Citizen CoSponsor will enable the American people to follow legislation that they are interested in. In turn, they will receive first-hand information and updates on the status of the bill as it moves through the legislative process.”

I am a CitizenCosponsor on a number of bills and I follow them with floor and legislative updates that are sent to me by Cantor’s office.  But this platform only allows me to become involved in bills that already exist, what if I am upset about something and want to get a bill introduced?

That is why I created the “Listener Lobbyist” for the nationally syndicated radio show The Mancow Experience.  Former Congressman Michael Patrick Flanagan has agreed to lobby Congress on issues of importance to the listeners of Mancow’s show.
Old picture of me with Flanagan and Bono


The concept is that listeners will contact the show with issues they are concerned about.  Mancow’s producer’s will scrutinize the subject matter and pick a topic that seems to be of most interest to the greatest number of people.  Then the Honorable Mr. Flanagan will  either formulate a bill that he will try to get introduced or he will follow a bill already on that subject and lobby for the listeners!

 I have not worked out all the kinks yet, but  Mancow and The Honorable Mr. Flanagan are both in line, so the important components are fixed.  If anyone has any ideas on how to expand this, let me know.  I might be Mensa, but I am not omniscient.

Monday, April 23, 2012

STREETS ARE FOR CARS, NOT BICYCLISTS OR SKATERS




I have written so many times about hating bicyclists riding on the streets of Chicago, I must be on the enemies list of every bicycle association in the state.  Now automobile travel will be getting worse because Chicago will be installing 300 solar-powered bike rental stations, with a total of 3,000 bikes, and will add another 100 stations with 1,000 more bikes next year. Oh, no, thousands and thousands more of those bikers! Then I read about what Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) is planning state-wide.  Call Allied Van Lines because I will be moving to Indiana!

Harmon has called for in-line skaters to be allowed on public streets with speed limits at or below 45 miles per hour during daylight hours.  This all came about because Harmon said that a group of concerned in-line skaters came to him for help.  Police would not allow them on the roads and their riding speeds of more than 20 miles an hour created a public safety problem on the sidewalks.

Harmon explains his reasoning for Illinois Senate Bill 3336 on his website:

“In-line speed skating is a sport that requires some space. It also can be dangerous for high-speed skaters to travel on sidewalks with all of their cracks and gaps or to skate against traffic.   I think we’ve found a formula that will improve safety for skaters without putting pedestrians or motorists at risk.

At first, we wanted to treat speed skaters more like bicyclists. Then we realized how hard it is to attach lights and reflectors to skaters and that most in-line skaters just can’t reach the same top speeds as cyclists.  What we ended up with is a set of common sense rules that are somewhere between pedestrian and cyclist.”

Harmon’s legislation (Senate Bill 3336has passed the Illinois Senate and now moves to the House for further consideration.  Many God have mercy on us and we pray the House does not pass this bill.

A summary of the bill as introduced is:

 Synopsis:
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Defines "in-line speed skates". Provides that traffic laws apply to persons using in-line speed skates and that persons using in-line speed skates shall be granted all of the rights and subjected to all of the duties applicable to drivers of vehicles under the Code, with certain exceptions. Provides that in-line speed skaters may not attach themselves to any vehicle upon a roadway. Contains provisions concerning the position of in-line skaters on highways, left-turn protocol, turn and stop signals, and racing.”


According to the bill the definition of a skate is: “A manufactured or assembled device consisting of an upper portion that is intended to be secured to a human foot, with a frame or chassis attached along the length of the bottom of the upper portion, with the frame or chassis holding 2 or more wheels that are longitudinally aligned and used to skate or glide by means of   human foot and leg power while having the device attached to   each foot or leg. The upper portion may not extend more than 2 inches above the wearer's ankle joint.“  I don’t know why, but for some reason I find this description quite amusing and confusing.

Chicagoans won’t have to worry about speed skaters within city limits though because the bill only applies to municipalities with a population of less than 2,000,000 inhabitants.  So unless a few million residents leave, the bill will not apply.

So I guess if I never leave the city, I will be safe.  Cancel the moving van.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kathy's Faux Pas

On June 7, 2011, I wrote that I did not understand why media writer Robert Feder put Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich on his list of the most powerful media women in Chicago.  Last week the Pulitzer Prize for "distinguished commentary, using any available journalistic tool" was awarded to Schmich so that proves how stupid and arrogant I am!  She received the award for her "wide range of down-to-earth columns that reflect the character and capture the culture of her famed city. "  I guess I owe her an apology!  


Below is the blog I wrote a year ago. It is timely because the weather is warming up and all of my rules still hold true.


HOW TO SURVIVE THE SUMMER
I don’t read Mary Schmich’s column in the Chicago Tribune because she never writes about anything that interests me. I decided to look at her column again when Robert Feder, in his blog on Time Out Chicago, named her to his list of the Ten Most Powerful Women in Chicago Journalism. I did not understand why he chose her because she does not break any stories, but if Robert thought she was great, maybe I was wrong. I started looking at her column again and I still don’t get why he put her on the list!


This past Sunday, her column was titled, “A Chicagoan's Guide to Summer Etiquette.” Since I did not find it clever or funny in any manner, I decided to write my own guide to see if I could do “better” and maybe get the attention of Robert Feder.


1.  I find it disgusting when women wear dress shoes without stockings.  Sandals I can barley 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.  Offices, stores and restaurants are air conditioned!!  Put on stockings!


 2.  I can tolerate sandals without hose but, really, with the exception of going to the beach, do people really need to wear open toed footwear?  I don’t want to see people’s dry, cracked heels and the corns on their toes.  Have some pride!  If one is going to wear sandals, make sure the feet are pedicured (men also!) and free of bunions and bumps.


3.  No woman over the age of 21 should ever wear anything sleeveless in public unless they are hospitalized with IV needles in their arms or at the beach.  (see note 5 on not going to the beach)


4.  Capri pants are also a fashion horror!  Does that missing few inches of cloth at the hem of trousers keep one cooler?  No!  Women look pathetic in short pants.  Only Lord Fauntleroy could get away with wearing them.


5.  There is no reason to ever go to the beach (see note 3 for dressing at the beach).  Why would anyone want to lie out in the blazing hot sun and be forced to use a porta-potty to “freshen up.”  Plus swimming in a lake or ocean is repulsive.  Fish and other creatures live in the body of water one might swim in and it is not only their personal porta-potty, but where they procreate!  You want to put your face in that?  Might as well lick the floor at the CTA station if you want to wallow in germs.


6.  Steaks and hamburgers grilled over charcoals certainly do taste better than when broiled in a kitchen’s oven.  But who wants to eat outside in the heat with bugs?  It is okay to attend a backyard barbecue as long as one is allowed to eat inside where it is air conditioned.  My friend Karen has a yearly summer event and I love attending, but I eat my food at her dining room table with utensils as any civilized person should.  Picnics in the woods are totally insane! (see porta-potty #5)


7. Avoid going outside as much as possible if one lives in an urban environment with sidewalks.  Aliens land in the summer and populate cities.  I know they are visitors from outer space because they are always stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and looking skyward obviously trying to locate their Mother ship.


If you think about it, summer is just winter reversed.  Winter is cold outside and heated inside; summer is just the opposite.  No big deal!  If one acts the same as they did in winter, they will not make a fool of themselves in summer by trying to do crazy things like walking on a beach or getting a tan.


“In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way
I have to go to bed by day.”


-- Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THREE STORIES ABOUT MONEY



I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A STRIPPER!

Actual silhouette of me

We all know that men do not think with the brain that is inside their cranium, but with the one that is between their legs.  That is why men frequent strip clubs instead of chess clubs.  I am not castigating men for enjoying watching naked women dance; I am just stating a fact.  I always wished that I had a beautiful enough body when I was young so I could take money from men who wanted to see my breasts—since enough were seeing them for free anyway!  While I find it ludicrous that men pay money just to see naked flesh, it’s their own decision.

In Illinois, there is a push for passage of Senate Bill 3348, which would require all strip clubs permitting alcohol to pay a $5-per-patron fee.  The proceeds from the tax would be deposited into a Sexual Assault Prevention Fund that would be administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS.)  Grants then would be made by DHS to community-based organizations that provide assistance to victims of sexual assault and for prevention programs.

Illinois Lt. Governor Shelia Simon spoke out in favor of the bill saying,
“When a sexual abuse survivor calls a hotline or seeks counseling, we need to know that an advocate is available to respond immediately. We cannot put their crisis on hold. Senate Bill 3348 is a common sense way to fund these critical jobs and services. I urge Illinois lawmakers to take swift action and pass this bill.”

I have no problem with the State of Illinois wanting to fund rape crisis centers, but I do not think it is fair to correlate strip clubs to the problem. Michael Ocello, president of the Illinois Club Owners Association, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying, that there is no scientific proof "that going to an adult club causes people to go out and commit rape, commit crimes."

Simon said in a press release on her web site that she expected the tax to raise between $6 million-$12 million annually.  While that sounds like a hefty amount, her numbers are way too low.  Since approximately 100 clubs would fall under the new law, $6 million works out to only 33 gawking men a day per club at the $5 tax.  We know there are more men than that looking at boobies every day!

No male legislator will be able to vote against the bill without an outcry from the women in his district, so I am sure it will pass.  As a woman, I am allowed to say that I just don’t think the tax is fair.  But the economic law of utilization (what people will pay for a product or service if they really want it at a particular moment in time) won’t hurt the skin business at all--unless I were one of the dancers.

WHAT WOULD I PAY TO SMOKE IN A PUBLIC PLACE?



In the last paragraph you learned about the law of utilization.  An easy example of that theory is that if someone were lost in the dessert, horribly parched, they would pay $100 for a glass of water but they would not pay that much if they were sitting home next to a faucet.  So what would it be worth to me to be able to smoke in a public place since it is illegal in Illinois?

The other evening I was meeting some friends for dinner and I was early.  There was a small, neighborhood bar next to the restaurant where we were to dine, so to kill the 30 minutes my companion and I walked in to hang out.  My nose was immediately greeted by the smell of smoke and as I rounded the corner I saw a room full of patrons who were all smoking cigarettes.  I could not believe it!  (I am not going to be any more specific in my description of the evening or who my friends were so as to keep the location a secret.)

We walked up to the bar and I struck up a conversation with a woman inhaling on a Marlboro.  I asked her, “What is going on?  Everybody is smoking?  How is that possible?”  She told me not to worry about it, the bar owner had taken care of it.  I felt so naughty as I lit up.  I ordered a Diet Coke and the cost was $5!  Very expensive, but I paid it because of the favorable conditions in the bar.

SUN-TIMES SUBSCRIPTION

Sun-Times Chairman Michael Ferro, Jr.


I used to love reading the Sun- Times, but since it got sold to  Wrapports LLC, it is becoming like the trashy New York Post.  Media columnist Robert Feder said it best in his Time Out blog on April 8th

 “The paper of Roger Ebert and five other Pulitzer Prize winners is morphing into a garish, down-market tabloid that seems to be edited for people with teeny-tiny attention spans who prefer headlines to be written IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

Monday brings a redesign and extensive reorganization of the product that longtime readers may find disorienting and even off-putting, based on conversations with Sun-Times insiders and a memo to editors outlining the changes.”


In a coincidence of timing, I happened to receive the renewal bill for my home delivery of the paper.  Two things caught my eye.  One is that subscribers can now only renew for an entire year at a time and that worries me because who knows if the paper will be in existence 365 days from now.  The second was the price was $169.  I looked back in my checkbook and discovered that I had only paid $107 for my previous subscription.  That is a 57% increase!


I went on-line to check what other deals there might be and I discovered that if I were a new subscriber, at www.discountednewspapers.com, I could order home delivery for only $91.  The catch would be that I could not have been subscribed to the Sun-Times during the last three months.


Armed with this information, I called the Sun-Times subscriber line (888-848 4637) and told the polite lady who answered the phone that I would be happy to risk paying for the newspaper a year in advance if she would give me the price of $91.  She said she could not do that.  I asked her if I could speak with a retention agent knowing that the newspaper does not want to lose subscribers.  She put me on hold and then came back and told me she could not give me a better price.


I told her that I was not going to renew my subscription if I were not given the $91 price.  She said there was nothing she could do.


I wanted to tell her that the paper now—with the exception of a very few good solid reporters and columnists—was basically not worth much more than lining for a bird cage but I did not want to hurt her feelings.


I will just read the paper for free now at my secret bar while smoking a cigarette.  I can afford the $5 Diet Cokes because I will not be paying for the newspaper.







Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CRIME BY ASSOCIATION



WHO IS THE CRIMINAL? Part 1

Me and Mayor Emanuel

Last week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced  that the “ City is  revamping its enforcement processes for establishments with business licenses to more effectively target liquor and convenience stores that serve as conduits for criminal activity.“  He also said, “These locations often harbor drug dealers and street gang members and become a cancer on the community,” Emanuel said.  “By taking aggressive enforcement action, we can send a clear message that the streets of the Chicago belong to the children and the law-abiding residents of Chicago, not to drug dealers and gang bangers.”

I am confused a bit by what the Mayor said.  If I owned a convenience store, why is it MY fault who comes into the store?  Shouldn’t the police be going after the gang members and not the store owner?  Just because a gang member is seen in my store does not make a store a harbor for criminals.  The store owner should not be punished because of who frequents his establishment.  Would the mayor want the business license of Saks Fifth Avenue revoked if there were many incidents of shoplifting?


WHO IS THE CRIMINAL? Part 2

Me and White Sox Gm Kenny Williams

Last Friday, WGN-TV ran astory about how Robert Blagojevich, the brother of  former convicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich  will meet with congressional investigators this month to talk about the scheme to sell Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate Seat.

Robert Blagojevich says, a prominent fundraiser for Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. told him in 2008 that Jackson wanted the Senate post; and to get it, he was willing to help raise money for Governor Blagojevich's re-election.

A congressional ethics panel says there is probable cause to believe that Jackson either directed the offer, or at least knew about it; but Jackson has yet to be charged with any criminal wrongdoing.”

I did not see the story, but I received many phone calls, emails and texts about it. Why?  Because the footage that WGN-TV ran to go along with the story showed Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. in a conversation with me!  I do not know when that footage was shot. I have attended many events where the Congressman has been present and I have spoken with him on many occasions.  I just never knew cameras were on us. 

CONCLUSION

By the Mayor’s reasoning i.e. because gang members are at convenience stores the establishments should lose their licenses, I must be a criminal because I was hanging out with Jesse Jr. who is  accused of scheming to buy Obama’s senate seat.  But Mayor Emanuel and Kenny Williams have hung out with me.  Does that make Emanuel a criminal by association?  Should the White Sox lose their business license?   It’s the same analysis that the mayor is using in targeting liquor and convenience stores.  It makes no sense.

Monday, April 16, 2012

FAISAL KHAN, MY NEW E-MAIL BFF



I write blogs and I am sure people wonder sometimes what is the aftermath on a particular topic.  My blogs about Chicago’s new Legislative Inspector General had an interesting result.

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 “Legislative Inspector General” with the power to investigate Chicago Aldermen and their employees.  It took about 18 months for someone to be appointed to the position and I wrote  about that on November 11, 2011, when Faisal Khan was hired. 


On April 4, 2012, almost two years after the original ordinance was passed, I wrote   a blog asking if anybody had  heard or seen anything about Chicago’s new Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan.  He had been on the job for six months and there had not been a peep in the media since his name was announced.  I asked a lot of rhetorical questions such as, “What had he been doing all this time?  Why is his office not listed in the City of Chicago Directory?  How come the city information line had never heard of him?”  Well, I heard from Mr. Khan himself.  Our correspondence is below.

(1) KHAN TO POSNER

Date: 4/13/2012 12:36:15 A.M. Central Daylight Time
From: Faisal.Khan@cityofchicago.org
Reply To: krp01@aol.com

Hi Ms. Posner –

I recently read your blog; I wanted first to thank you for finding and including my response post in everyblock.com. I'm sorry to hear of the difficulty you encountered in finding my contact information. I can assure you that I am everything possible to make that task easier, and that my office is very much up and running. Please pass on my contact info to your friend who inquired about me, and I will be happy to speak to them, you, and/or anyone else who has something to bring to my attention. Thanks,

Faisal Khan


Faisal Khan
Legislative Inspector General
City of Chicago
Office of the Legislative Inspector General
740 N Sedgwick St Suite 500
Chicago, Il 60654
Tel - (312) 744-2312
Fax - (312) 744-2311=


(2)  POSNER TO KHAN

From: KRP01@aol.com
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2012 8:02 AM
To: Khan, Faisal
Subject: Re: Kathy Posner blog reply
Dear Mr. Khan,
Thank you for writing to me about my blog. I am a huge supporter of your office and was very excited when it was finally created.
In response to saying you are up and running, how come 311 does not know who you are and how come you are not listed on city web site or in employee directory? It makes one think the city is trying to hide you!

Being a former PR person, I would be more than happy to assist you in any way to bring attention to your office.
One of the Boards I sit in is the Chicago Area Public Affairs Group
(www.capag.org) and we have monthly speakers. Would you be interested in speaking? Our next lunch is April 20th where the speaker is City Clerk Susana Mendoza. Would you like to attend as my guest so you can meet the group?

Respectfully,
Kathy Posner

(3)  ANONOYMOUS POSTING ON POSNER BLOG


I know this man personally, and can assure you that a) he has a real, honest-to-goodness office; b) he is one of the most ambitious and hard-working individuals I know; and c) he is, most definitely, "doing his job." As I'm sure you can imagine, creating something new from nothing is a lengthy process.

Let's not forget we're talking about a PERSON here -- someone who I would not hesitate to describe as thoughtful, honest, and kind. But before he'd even started the job, he was unfairly and irrationally criticized by the media and random citizens. People who don't know a THING about him have called him names and questioned his motives for accepting this position. The "conspiracy theories" would almost be funny, if they weren't so upsetting. 

I understand the distrust of the Chicago political juggernaut, but I would encourage you to contact Mr. Khan if you plan to write about him again. Perhaps he can provide you with the facts and insight you need to understand more about his job.

(4) POSNER ANSWER TO POSTING:

I wonder why you did not give your name because I wish I could answer you directly. Anyway, I have the utmost respect for Faisal Khan and any Inspector General. I was not criticizing HIM, I was criticizing the City of Chicago for not making his information accessible. I have also written in the past that it is wrong that his budget is ONLY $60,000 because he will not be able to accomplish anything without a staff.

I wrote him offering my vast PR services to help him get his message out and have invited him to speak at CAPAG one of the civic organizations where I sit on the Board.

I am on his side and want him to succeed.

(5)  POSNER TO KHAN AFTER SEEING ANONYMOUS POST


Subject: Kathy Posner blog Part 2
Date: 4/13/2012 10:15:06 A.M. Central Daylight Time
From: KRP01@aol.com
Reply To: 
To: faisal.khan@cityofchicago.org

       
Dear Mr. Khan,
One of your friends posted a comment and I posted a reply. I have copied them below. I wanted you to see both of the comments, so you will understand that I am totally supportive of you and don't understand why your friend thought I wasn't.

Kathy Posner



(6)  KHAN TO POSNER


Subject: RE: Kathy Posner blog reply
Date: 4/13/2012 1:54:24 P.M. Central Daylight Time
From: Faisal.Khan@cityofchicago.org
Reply To: 
To: krp01@aol.com


Hi Ms. Posner,

Thanks for your response. I will verify my listing with various City resources, and make sure the contact information is there for everyone to find.  

Unfortunately, I am out of town at the end of next week, but I would really like to attend one or more of your public meetings. Please keep me in mind for any meeting(s) after May 1; I will do my best to attend.

I also certainly do not think you were attacking me in any manner; I actually appreciate your interest, and I share your goals of open, honest, and efficient governance. Thank you for your support, I certainly can use it!

If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to reach out. I know I will definitely reach out for some assistance, since it sounds like you know how to get things done.

Best,

Faisal Khan


(7)  FINAL POSNER TO KHAN

Subject: Re: Kathy Posner blog reply Part 2
Date: 4/13/2012 9:43:47 P.M. Central Daylight Time
From: KRP01@aol.com
Reply To: 
To: Faisal.Khan@cityofchicago.org
 

Dear Mr. Khan,

I hope your out of town trip is something fun! By the way, I am from New York also.

I will be in touch with you about future public events. You can read my bio at www.kathyposner.com and see how much I am involved with in the city.

Kathy Posner

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A MOVE LIKE NO OTHER



During the past few years I have written about my support for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital which was being built in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago.  Area residents had been upset because the hospital was erecting a heliport and there had been safety concerns about helicopters in an area with so many high rise buildings.  Every local, state and federal agency that had to sign off on the safety did and the plans finally were approved after years of contentious fighting.  On June 9th, the new 23-story state-of-the-art hospital will open, which means that the 200 medically fragile children patients at the old hospital in Lincoln Park will be moved.  The logistics of the move are amazing.

I live on the 44th floor of a building which looks directly at the new hospital, so my bird’s eye view of the move will be astounding.  The hospital’s transition team was kind enough to provide me with the patient transportation plan that I have copied below.

Even though I have no connection with the hospital except for our geographic propinquity, I am excited about the arrival of this new “baby” in the neighborhood. I will be passing out cigars.


Children’s Memorial Hospital
Hospital Move – Patient Transportation Planning

Overview
Children’s Memorial Hospital wishes to share our patient move day plans for Saturday, June 9, 2012 (back up day is Sunday, June 10, 2012) for consideration in scheduling events and other planning and to assist Children’s Memorial in its efforts to safely and efficiently transport medically fragile patients via ambulances from its current hospital in Lincoln Park to its new facility in Streeterville during that weekend.

Introduction
Children’s Memorial will relocate up to 200 remaining patients in ambulances from the current hospital to the new hospital.

In order to most safely and efficiently transport these patients to the new hospital, the Children’s Memorial Hospital Transition Team has developed a logistics and traffic management plan in coordination with the Chicago Department of Transportation, Office of Emergency Management, Chicago Police Department, Streets & Sanitation and Transportation Management Authority.

Close coordination with the City of Chicago, the surrounding community and neighbors, and nearby institutions, as well as communication of the plan to the general public, are key components of planning a successful transition of patients from the Lincoln Park campus to Lurie Children’s.

Move Planning Specifics
1.         Move date: Saturday, June 9, 2012 starting between 5 – 6:00 am.  Back up date: Sunday, June 10, 2012.

2.         Starting address: Children’s Memorial Hospital, Lincoln and Fullerton Ave.  Ending address: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, 225 E. Chicago Ave

3.         Number of patients to move:  Planning for up to 200 critically ill or injured children to be transported utilizing approximately 20-25 ambulances.

4.         Timeframe: Ideally 10-18 hours, but contingency plan anticipates a 48 hour timeframe in case of emergency.

5.         The move plan includes designated routes; identifies measures to control traffic through a combination of roadway closures, dedicated lanes,  restricted parking, informational signs, and police/Traffic Control Aide (TCA) posts; and provides methods to communicate the plan and coordinate with the City of Chicago, the surrounding community, and other stakeholders throughout the process until the move is complete.


Patient Route
On June 9, 2012 beginning between 5-6:00am, patients will be picked up by an ambulance at Children’s Memorial’s Emergency Department just off Lincoln Avenue near Fullerton and Halsted.  Ambulances will then travel south on Lincoln Avenue, north on Orchard Street, and east on Fullerton Avenue toward Lake Shore Drive to Lurie Children’s.  After delivering a patient, ambulances will leave Lurie Children’s and return to the current hospital to pick up another patient.  Returning ambulances will travel on Lake Shore Drive to Fullerton Avenue, then go south on Orchard Street to an ambulance staging area at the south end of the block to be cleaned, refreshed with supplies, and await to pick up another patient.  The transition of patients is expected to take from 10-18 hours, but Children’s Memorial is planning for 48 hours in case of an emergency.

Fullerton Ave
Fullerton Ave. will be fully closed from the current hospital to Lake Shore Drive. One lane will be dedicated to east and west ambulance traffic.  There will be public traffic access north and south on Clark, Stockton and Cannon, but controlled by traffic aides and/or the police.

Chicago Ave
Chicago Ave. will be stripped of parking from Lurie Children’s to Lake Shore Drive.  However, there will not be any closures on Chicago Ave.  Ambulance and public traffic will flow together from Lurie Children’s to LSD. 

Family Members
Family members that are not joining patients in the ambulance (limited to one family member per ambulance) will drive south from the parking garage on Lincoln Avenue toward Larrabee Street and follow the designate family route as previously defined. Family members will not return to the Lincoln Park Campus.

Communication to Community
Communication of the plan to the immediate Lincoln Park and Streeterville communities, public officials, community organizations, general public, and media are key components of Children’s Memorial’s planning for a successful transition of patients from its Lincoln Park campus to Lurie Children’s.  Outreach began in early 2011 and will continue throughout the process.