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Proviso Probe

Monday, December 22, 2008

Black politicians whining about Obama appointees

The Hill (Jared Allen) wrote that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is dissatisfied with President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet appointments. USA Today has a web page with all Obama's cabinet nominees.

Who was the one member of Congress quoted in The Hill article? Danny K. Davis.
“Did the African-American community probably expect more appointees at that level? Probably so,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), an early Obama supporter who has expressed an interest in filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Davis said he was pleased with Obama's Cabinet, but confirmed that there is some angst within the CBC.

“On balance, I’d say a great deal of thought went into the shaping of this Cabinet,” Davis told The Hill. “And he ended up with a real rainbow. But some people, sure, thought there should be a bit more color in it.”

Another senior member of the CBC who requested anonymity said more pointedly that Obama “isn’t doing enough for the black folks.”

BTW, of the eighteen nominees Obama's cabinet includes four (22%) African-Americans (Blacks are about 13% of the U.S. population), three (17%) Latinos (Latinos are about 13% of the U.S. population), two (11%) Asian Americans (Asian-Pacific Islanders are about 5% of the U.S. population) and one (6%) Arab American (Arab Americans comprise about 1% of the U.S. population).

There is no reasonable argument that Blacks or people of color are underrepresented in Obama's cabinet.

Before the 2000 Census Davis liked to talk about all the great things he was accomplishing on the subcommittee overseeing the Census. I hope Davis is aware of the demographics of the United States.

What the CBC is miffed about is not that Obama didn't appoint Blacks, but that he didn't appoint any of them. And I suspect that in addition to not appointing any members of the CBC, he didn't especially consult them about who he was going to appoint.

Issues the CBC should probably consider.

Being re-elected to Congress may impress your family, neighbors, local politicians back home and each other, but if you want a job with Obama, he expects you to be able to accomplish stuff for him.

Look at the Blacks Obama did appoint. They had jobs that emphasized accomplishing things besides getting elected.

Eric Holder "is a former Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, United States Attorney and Deputy Attorney General of the United States."

Susan Rice graduated from Stanford and was a Rhodes Scholar. She benefited from being born into an exceedingly accomplished and networked family. "Rice served on the staff of the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton's second term." While Rice's accomplishments don't greatly outshine a typical member of Congress, she's also 23 years younger than Danny Davis. When Rice is 67 I doubt she'll be telling stories about growing up in DC.

Lisa Jackson is chief of staff to Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ). Previously she was New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

Ron Kirk
was mayor of Dallas, Texas, ninth largest city in the country. Kirk then ran for U.S. Senator in 2002. For a Black Democrat running in Texas in 2002 he did pretty well with 43% of the vote.

If members of the CBC want to get appointed to the executive branch they should probably demonstrate skills at getting stuff done in executive jobs. Obama has at most eight years to enact his agenda. He's not going to hire people who want to validate their importance by sitting around in high office.

But the CBC also has a tarnished reputation at this point. The outgoing chair of the CBC, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) almost lost re-election to the U.S. House because she stood by her scandal-plagued son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Rep. Charlie Rangel is in ethics trouble.

And more damning than senior members of the CBC being in trouble was when Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) was caught by the FBI with $90,000 cash in his freezer, the CBC opposed the Democratic leadership stripping Jefferson his assignment to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Jefferson subsequently lost re-election in his majority Black, overwhelmingly Democratic district to an ethnic Vietnamese Republican.

Politicians who stagnate at a certain level start thinking of ways to enrich themselves and their relatives and cronies. Much of the CBC has been stagnating too long. Obama doesn't want to waste time with the media asking about some appointee getting a sweetheart deal for someone back home.

The only appointment I can see Davis getting is an ambassadorship. If he mixes in some stories about knowing Obama in Chicago maybe people in some other country won't get too bored by his stories about growing up in Arkansas. He tells the stories really well, but I fail to see how those stories are doing anything besides endearing Davis to Blacks constituents who came North between WWII and 1975.

The country is in a mess. Obama expects public officials who can perform. I'm hoping we can replace some of our nice elected officials with people who can perform to improve our economy and public education and resolve Bush's endless Global War on Terrorism.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bank of America screws 200 Chicago UEW members

What would you do if your employer closed shop without fulfilling his/her obligations under your contract?

Two hundred workers of Republic Windows and Doors faced this question Friday. See Associated Press (Rupa Shenoy), h/t Gapers Block (Rasmin Canon).

Gapers Block:
The United Electrical Workers at Republic Windows and Doors were notified on Wednesday that as of Friday, they were jobless. No severance. No vacation pay-out, as per their union contract. Nothing. Why? Because the business had plunged into dissolution, and Bank of America was instructing them not to honor their obligations.

Bank of America? Let me tell you my last interaction with B of A. My employer used Bank of America. I was in a hurry to cash my paycheck. I went to a local B of A branch. They wanted $5 to cash a check drawn on their bank.

I contacted Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-IL03), my representative in Congress. I wanted Lipinski to request a letter from the B of A CEO to explain how it's legal for Bank of America to charge a fee to cash a check on their bank.

Lipinski never responded to my request.

But back to the Republic Windows and Doors employees. Hopefully, they get some justice.

It seems unreasonable that U.S. law prioritizes debt to banks over obligations to employees, like paying for accrued vacation days.

A bank has mechanisms (and expertise) to track if a debtor is getting in trouble and can make decisions accordingly. Employees don't have any equivalent way to get information about the financial health of their employers.

Unless the United States changes the law that employers of over a dozen people need to make all their financial records available to employees, it seems obligations to employees should be prioritized over debt to banks.

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Fox reports Blagojevich will appoint Emil Jones to U.S. Senate

Fox News reports Gov. Rod Blagojevich will appoint Emil Jones, Jr., former president of the Illinois Senate, to be Illinois junior U.S. Senator. This vacancy was created when former Senator Barack Obama resigned in preparation for becoming the 44th President of the United States.

I get the impression Fox News is less than 100% sure that the decision will stick. Read the last two sentences of the article and make your own judgment.
Other potential replacements mentioned are state veterans official Tammy Duckworth and Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

While Blagojevich has given no indication of whom he will appoint to the seat, he has said that he wants to make an announcement before the end of the year.

Archpundit, aka Larry Handlin, has called Blagojevich a "madman" in the context of trying to figure who he would appoint to the U.S. Senate.

Of the candidates to appoint Jones would be the least surprising in some ways. He's a close Blagojevich ally. Many people consider Blagojevich obligated to appoint an African-American since Blacks comprise 12.3% of the U.S. population (or more if the 2000 Census under-counted African-Americans) and Obama was the only Black U.S. Senator (and along with Edward Brooke, III and Carol Moseley Braun one of three Black Senators since Reconstruction).

The Proviso Township angle for this appointment is that it won't lead to any changes, promotions or upward mobility for Proviso politicians.

If Fox has the story right, congratulations Emil Jones.

Because of Jones advanced age (73 years old) and his reputation as someone who used politics to enrich his family and friends, many observers assume Jones will not run for re-election in 2010. This will leave the position open and it could draw more than one strong Democratic candidate.

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