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Proviso Probe

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Yarbrough excludes media from D209 candidate forum

On Tuesday, February 24, 2009, Proviso Township Democratic Organization (PTDO), the political organization of Karen Yarbrough, who is both a state representative and the Democratic Committeeman for Proviso Township, invited me by email to attend the Saturday meeting at 10:00 AM on February 28, 2009.

The invitation listed four candidates for the board of education, Proviso Township High Schools (District 209): E. Chris Welch, Reatha Sue Henry, Dan Adams and Brian Cross. These four are all incumbents and all part of one slate. (See more of the invite below.)

Welch ran against Yarbrough for state representative in 2006. The defining ideology of Yarbrough's political organization seemed to be opposition to former Proviso Democratic Committeeman Eugene Moore and hatred of Welch, who has a knack for making enemies.

Friday, February 27, at 9:59 PM Yarbrough sent me a text, "no endorsements for schools and no media tomorrow." I responded within 10 minutes, "What's that mean for me?" Yarbrough did not respond.

On Saturday, February 28, I arrived about 10 minutes early for the 10 AM meeting. I entered behind Rory Hoskins, a Forest Park commissioner and president of PTDO, and helped myself to a doughnut.

When Yarbrough arrived she didn't greet me, but referred to her text from the night before.

I asked, "Are you asking me to leave?"

Yarbrough responded, "I told you not to come."

Along the way she mentioned Josh Adams, editor of the Forest Park Review also requested to attend the meeting. Yarbrough allying with Welch shakes up the political factions in local politics.

Text of PTDO invitation sent to me:
from President Rory Hoskins

Proviso Township Democratic Organization's Saturday Meeting
DATE: Saturday, February 28th, 2009

TIME: 10:00 AM

LOCATION: 2301 W. Roosevelt Road

Broadview, IL 60155

Phone: 708-344-7062

Agenda Items:

* Meet District 209 Incumbent Candidates

E. Chris Welch

Reatha Sue Henry

Dan Adams

Brian Cross

PTDO Mission Statement
The Proviso Township Democratic Org., in coordination with the state and national Democratic Party, is committed to the principles of honest, open and progressive government and to increasing voter participation in the electoral process. PTDO is open to all persons, regardless of their race, age, gender, creed, religion, sexual orientation or economic status. [emphasis added]

Message from Karen:

It's been a busy time for all of us however we must do our due diligence in making selections for endorsement. The next few meetings will be spent hearing from candidates who's name will appear on the April 7th election. In the case of local elections, those who are members of the organization will be able to present their candidacy to the group.

Please note that all of these elections are
NON-PARTISAN. (meaning neither Democrat or Republican)

See you there!

PS: Only paid up dues members will be eligible to vote.

Karen A. Yarbrough

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Karen Yarbrough wants you to meet the candidates

Proviso Township Democratic Organization, the political organization of Democratic Committeeman Karen Yarbrough, has invited members to meet four candidates for the Proviso Township High Schools (District 209) board of education.

When? 10:00 AM, Saturday, February 28, 2009
Where? 2301 W. Roosevelt Road, Broadview, IL

The candidates:

Emanuel "Chris" Welch
Reatha "Sue" Henry
Dan Adams
Brian Cross

To participate in the meeting, call Readith Ester, 708-344-7062.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

IL-05 Dems on military issues and executive power

In the special election for IL-05 (which includes Northlake and most of Melrose Park in Proviso Township) there will be a candidate forum Sunday, February 22, 1:30 - 4:00 PM at VFW Post 1284, 6940 W Diversey Ave, Chicago. I don't know which candidates will be there.

When I spoke to Jan Donatelli last week she made the point that the different forums tend to ask the same questions over and over. The field of candidates have been asked about the stimulus bill at every forum.

I do think that people organizing and moderating the questions at these forums should research the stuff that's been asked before. Much (most?) of it is available online.

I'm hoping the VFW forum will focus on matters of the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and the State Department.

In preparation for the forum I pulled the Democratic answers from the IVI-IPO candidate questionnaires.

7.Do you agree with the current proposed level of funding for the military?

Carlos Monteagudo:
No. At a cost of 20 billion dollars a week, the moneys spent on executing the war in Iraq could be better used on activisties that would dramatically increase our heath, economic and global security.... (click here and scroll to #7 for the complete answer)

Mike Quigley (answer):
No. I believe there are savings tat can be found at the Pentagon that would probably be better spent on things like energy research and diplomacy, both issues that also promote our national security.

Charlie Wheelan (answer):
No. I believe we need a well-funded military, however, the Pentagon budget must reflect the priorities and needs of the wars we are currently fighting. I'd like to see some of the funds shifted to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support those who have served already and for funds to be added to the Department of State for additional diplomatic activity. We need to significantly improve the funding for the State Department and other non-military international activities.

Frank Annunzio:
No. Military spending has more than doubled since 2001 and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost 170 billion dollars this year alone. I believe we should cut military spending in half over the next 5 years and utilize the money to buy down our debt, ensure that we never again have homeless veterans, and implementation of a single payer health care system.

Paul Bryar (answer):
No. President Obama has not yet proposed his military funding level. I believe that it should be different from the latest funding by the last administration. It should take into account re-shaping our military to deal with the threats of the 21st century.

Sara Feigenholtz (answer):
No. We need to direct more resources to provide assistance for return veterans and their families and work to expand access to health care services, including treatment for mental illnesses like PTSD.

Victor Forys:
Yes. I woul like to see the military spend more money on veterans services like traumatic brain injury, mental illness and PTSD which are currently not getting fully funded. I'd also like to see pay for enlisted personnel increased.

John Fritchey (answer):
No. As we withdraw from Iraq we must lower appropriations both to the overall Defense budget and the Global War on Terror supplement. President Obama plans to reduce Defense spending by 10%, and I believe we must continue to eliminate waste from the Department's operations, particularly in long-term weapon systems purchasing where costs continuously overrun projections. In general, a refocus on diplomacy should be accompanied by an increase in funding for State Department and particularly USAID programs, and a decrease in disproportionate military spending. One of our first priorities, however, must be to ensure our troops are fully and properly equipped to face whatever missions they are assigned.

Tom Geoghegan (answer):
No. We need to draw down our deployment levels in countries that are stable democracies like those in western Europe. These funds can be better deployed converting our energy systems to renewable sources and away from fossil fuels.

With the possible exception of Bryar, it seems like all the candidates favor reprogramming money now spent on the military (Department of Defense) to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State and energy research. I give Annunzio props for significantly cutting the DOD and using the money for converting to a single-payer health care system.

But if the Democrats agree that military spending should be cut, why hasn't it happened? In Democratic Congresses and under Democratic presidents military spending has increased. Why will it be different now?

Since there is little difference between the candidates on the military budget question, I'm going to include other questions about executive branch power.

10.Would you support congressional investigations into government contractors that have participated in Human Rights violations such as the rendition/torture flights?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley
No: Wheelan
Quigley expanded:
If violations of the law are clear, then we must have accountability.

11. Would you support legislation banning such activities in the question above?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Wheelan
No: none
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley
I'm unsure as to the question. If there were human rights violations, they are already covered by US law.

12. Will you support legislation guaranteeing the protections of the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution to “enemy combatants” or others similarly detained by the US Government anywhere in the world?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Wheelan
No: none
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley

The constitution provides a means by which to legally address enemy combatants through international treaties. I think it is time to revisit the Geneva Conventions now that international, stateless enemies exist.

65.Would you support Congressional investigations of wrong-doing under the Bush administration?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo
No: Wheelan
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley

Forys expanded answer:
We are a country of laws not of me. We will not know where we are, unless we know where we came from. The statute of limitations has not passed on the crimes that were committed by the Bush Administration.

I graduated from UIC with a degree in Criminal Justice. Societies that do not provide justice to all their individuals can never be stable or free.

Monteagudo expanded answer:
Yes but not at the expense of getting things done in Congress moving forward. We must not get mired down in a criminal investigation or hearing that would take years to prosecute and could lead to viscous partisan bickering and government paralysis. I would rather see something like a truth and reconciliation commission created.

I believe we must move forward, but in instances of clear wrong-doing, we have to hold people accountable.

103. Do you support changes to the Military Commissions Act?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley
No: Wheelan

107/108. Would you support legislation authorizing or prohibiting secret military tribunals?

I do not support any type of military tribunal. This is unfair on many levels. We must ensure civil liberties for all.

I believe that secret military tribunals should be prohibited.

I have always been a fierce supporter of the due proces for all individuals detained by American law enforcement. A secret military tribunal does not allow for this.

I would support legislation prohibiting secret military tribunals.

I would support legislation prohibiting secret military tribunals. As President Obama has said, we must reject the false choice between our ideals and our security. The secret military tribunals haphazardly fashioned by the Bush administration do not provide internationally accepted due process to prisoners in the war on terror, and have incited our enemies while alienating our allies. I was encouraged by President Obama's rapid steps to begin closing the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and I support a continued redesign of our anti-terrorism programs.

I do not support Secret Military Tribunals.

Monteagudo's answer began,
“Secret military tribunals are a dangerous affront to international rules of conduct....” Click link and scroll to #108 for the complete answer.

There are instances where trials must be conducted in secret to protect classified information, but they should be reviewed by Congress so that there is somebodyy accountable to the people involved.

Our justice system is predicated on fair and open trials. Defendants in even the most terrible of crimes are entitled certain rights. Secret military tribunals would violate those basic rights.

109. Do you support legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of detainees under US control?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley, Wheelan
No: none

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Illinois issuing Obama license plates

Where there's a Will, there's a way posted a pic Illinois' Obama license plates.


Part of me thinks it's cool.

But part of me sees this as being more the same than different when politicians plaster there names on stuff, like Rod Blagojevich putting his name on the toll plazas.

I would prefer that this commemoration wait until after Obama has served as President of the United States.

Here's an idea: Illinois can sell customized license plates made by our celebrity political criminals, George Ryan, Tony Rezko, Dan Rostenkowski, Mel Reynolds, etc. The plates could be serialized. What would you bid for "George Ryan #1"?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BREAKING: Proviso Dem Committeeman thinks Roland Burris should resign!

In the last few days evidence has emerged that Sen. Roland Burris made misleading, untrue and false statements to the Illinois House impeachment committee that considered charges against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Chicago Tribune has called for Blagojevich to resign. Cook County Clerk David Orr, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley (also a Dem candidate for Congress in IL-05) and State Rep. Susana Mendoza have all called for Burris to resign.

Last night I texted the question, "Should Roland Burris resign as U.S. Senator?" to Rep. Karen Yarbrough who is also the Democratic Committeeman for Proviso Township. Proviso Township has the second most Democratic voters of any ward or township in Cook County.

This morning at 8:03 AM, Yarbrough responded, "Yes".

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IL05 Dems on Social Security

Once again I've taken candidate responses to the IVI-IPO candidate questionnaire. I'm trying to pull out the issues that are the most important from the 140+ questions.

47. What changes, if any, do you support regarding Social Security?

Victor Forys:
I oppose privatizing Social Security. I do not believe we need to make changes at this time. I support a bipartisan commission that will make long term recommendations that will ensure the solvency of Social Security. Social Security is solvent for decades to come and we must continue to ensure its long term viability by getting our financial house in order, regulating financial institutions and keeping the economy strong.

John Fritchey:
To fully fund Social Security I favor a modest raise in the cap on payroll taxes for higher income Americans....

Tom Geoghegan:
I want to expand Social Security, our public pension system, to replace, not overnight but in stages, the private pension system which has collapsed. Social Security now pays 38 to 39 percent of your working income. In other developed countries, it averages 65 percent....

Carlos Monteagudo is skeptical of claims there is a shortfall that threatens Social Security benefits. His advocates studying the issue. His first response will be to see if small adjustments to the “cost of living allowance” (COLA) will address any shortfall.

Mike Quigley:
We have to deal with Medicare first. Social Security is solvent for decades and it is the most successful government program in history. We need to maintain this program, especially now in economically difficult times.

Charlie Wheelan:

The tools for restoring the long-term health of Social Security are straightforward well known.... We must enact some combination of the following four policies to ensure social security's long-term solvency:

1.Reduce benefits of future retirees (most likely by raising the retirement age, or by taxing the benefits of higher income retirees)....

2.Increase the payroll tax, either by raising the tax rate (currently 12.4% split between employers and employees) or raising the cap so that the tax is levied beyond the current cap of $102,000.

3.Allow more young immigrants into the U.S., so they can begin paying taxes into the system.

4.Increase worker productivity so existing tax rates can generate enough new revenue to fund the extra burden of an aging population. This is a lovely solution but we have no direct control over productivity.

I would likely support some combination of these measures. The most logical would be to increase the retirement age (since life expectancy has grown far beyond what it was when the program was designed) and raising the cap so the payroll tax is collected on a higher proportion of the incomes of wealthy Americans.

Wheelan went on to raise concerns about Medicare.

Frank Annunzio
I would change the taxable income to a much higher level of $500,000 and from $125,000 to $500,000 would be taxed at a 1.5% higher rate.

Paul Bryar:
I believe our Social Security system should remain public. I oppose privatization of Social Security....

Sara Feigenholtz:
Jumpstarting the economy to create jobs will mean more workers paying into the system, which is exactly what Social Security needs right now.

Providing strong protections against any moves to privatize social security is also an immediate priority....

Currently the wages subject to the Social Security tax are capped at approximately the first $100,000 of income. As part of keeping Social Security solvent in the long-term, Congress might consider lifting or adjusting that cap.

While protecting Social Security, we must seek to help Americans save more for retirement. I support proposals to promote employer-sponsored savings plans, such as 401(k)s, as well as tax credits to encourage working families to put more of their income into savings plans.

If you want a more robust Social Security retirement program, Geoghegan is your candidate.

The concensus among the other candidates seems to be that to the extent there is a shortfall it should be covered by raising the cap on FICA withholdings. Currently Americans pay FICA taxes on the first $102,000 of salary, wages and other non-investment compensation. By raising this amount to $202,000 the government would collect an extra $12,400 from each person making $202,000 per year or more. This is arguably a stiff tax increase for people making $150-250,000 per year.

Forys' call for a bipartisan commission is a teachable moment. The Republican Party—the hardcore Republican activists—were opposed to Social Security when it was created and favor dismantling the program. At one event Republican activists were chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Social Security has to go!” (You can watch it on You Tube.) Part of the GOP opposition is ideological; part of it is practical. Successful government programs make citizens feel more comfortable seeking government solutions to other problems. As Quigley noted, Social Security is the most successful government program in history. If the GOP can radically reduce Social Security than no government program is safe.

So Forys is being naïve about having a bipartisan commission on Social Security. The current Republicans didn't negotiate in good faith when they were in the majority. The aren't negotiating in good faith now that they are in the minority. So, why should anyone expect the GOP to negotiate in good faith as part of a bipartisan commission on Social Security?

Quigley and Wheelan are correct to identify Medicare as being a more imminent problem than Social Security. To the extent Social Security will be a problem the problem will arrive in 30-40 years. Medicare taxes will be insufficient to pay guaranteed benefits in the near future.

Wheelan's response is textbook. You can learn from reading his answer. His comments about productivity reflect his ideological perspective.

Wheelan beliefs in the supply-demand paradigm so completely that he thinks people are paid based on how productive they are. I disagree. U.S. society produces a certain amount of goods and services. And the remuneration for these goods and services are distributed according to a system that values assholes who write bad loans and doesn't value women who care for children.

If we had a system that didn't compensate high-end professionals quite so lavishly we could afford to pay regular folk better.

For another example, unionized auto workers working for American companies get paid more than non-unionized workers working for Japanese companies in the South. If the federal government made it easier for workers to unionize they would make more money. On paper they would seem more productive to people like Wheelan because they would make more money.

So, passsing laws that make it easier to unionize would pushback (or eliminate) the date of reckoning for Social Security. But Wheelan is so committed to his supply-demand ideology that people are paid according to their productivity that he doesn't even consider raising the pay of regular folk.

I'm a little surprised that Feigenholtz favors encouraging employer-sponsored savings plans with tax credits. Low-income families don't pay federal income taxes, so the idea that low-income families can be encouraged to save through tax credits reflects ignorance of the federal tax code or that Feigenholtz has the most facile understanding of policy. Unfortunately, Feigenholtz seems to avoid policy specifics. Her comments about employer-sponsored savings plans make me suspect that Feigenholtz's vague answers on other policy matters means that she just doesn't know much about policy issues.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oak Park boots homeless veteran from ballot

This morning the Village of Oak Park's electoral board voted to removed Daniel Fore, a U.S. military veteran, from the ballot for village trustee because he is homeless. He is registered to vote at a relative's home in Oak Park. See Wednesday Journal for background.

I heard about this case through someone. My initial reaction was, what's the harm if a homeless person runs for office? If s/he's high enough functioning to get the votes, why should voters be deprived of a quality candidate?

I had a friend who worked in a nursing home caring for the developmentally disabled in western New York. One of the residents regularly ran for elected office. He did the paperwork and got his name on the ballot. My friend thought he got a kick from seeing his name on the ballot when he went to vote.

Is Oak Park's democracy so fragile that Daniel Fore being on the ballot will damage the village?

When I researched the story, I realized I've met Daniel Fore. He was getting signatures to oppose the village closing Eddy Garcia's restaurant. While I wasn't so impressed with the guy that I'd campaign for him, he wouldn't be the biggest idiot elected to local government in the western suburbs either.

While I know and respect all the members of the electoral board, Village President David Pope, Village Clerk Sandra Sokol and Trustee Ray Johnson, I think the right outcome is to let Fore run for office. However, Pope, Sokol and Johnson may have felt Illinois law tied their hands and punted the issue to federal court. Recently, a federal court has overturned the requirement that one must be a registered voter to circulate nominating petitions. Allowing homeless people to run for office from their address where they are registered to vote seems a logical extension of this thinking. Arbitrary rules should not keep people from participating in the political process.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

IL05 Dems on health care and amnesty for undocumented workers

Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organizations (IVI-IPO) has queried the candidates running for U.S. House of Representatives in IL-05. (The Proviso portion of the district is Northlake and most of Melrose Park.) The questionnaire is long, over 140 questions on issues. That's not including questions candidates have to answer about their campaigns and personal lives.

I have pulled out some of the responses that I consider either more important or will be more interesting to the Proviso Probe audience.

I picked the issue of single-payer health care because the U.S. health care system has serious problems. It's too expensive. The HMOs and insurance companies preferred business model is to make it hard for their clients to get coverage or to make it difficult to get the insurers to pay the bills.

The out-of-control health care costs are a burden for state and local government as well as businesses and organized labor.

Single-payer health care is a subset of universal health care. Universal health care sound good, but it doesn't fix all the unpleasant (and unnecessary) hassles of dealing with HMOs and insurance companies in a for-profit system.

One of the problems (among many) in basing health coverage on employment is that when someone is considering taking an ethical stand when an employer is violating the law or basic decency the whistleblower is risking losing her/his health coverage and that of his/her family. If you want people to behave ethically at work you should want health care coverage delinked from employment. Would you risk losing health care for your children to draw attention to your employer cheating the customers?

IVI-IPO asked, "Do you support comprehensive, universal, single-payer health care?" (It's question 67 if you click through the links.)

Frank Annunzio: Yes.

Paul Bryar: No. Bryar favors having “access” to health care at “affordable” prices.

Sara Feigenholtz: Yes

John Fritchey: Yes. Fritchey also provided some details which show he is an incrementalist, but that he's put some genuine thought into how to get there from where were are now.

Tom Geoghegan: Yes

Carlos Monteagudo: Yes. “I believe that health is a human right.

Mike Quigley: “It is our job to convince the public that single-payer is the most efficient and effective method of keeping people healthy.” Quigley seems to favor incremental reforms to the health care system. (Quigley did not provide an answer on the yes/no question about single-payer health care.

Charlie Wheelan: No.

Bryar's answer is unsatisfactory to me because it's what we have on some level. If you get sick enough you do get to visit the hospital before you die. The question is, does the United States value it's citizens who don't have health insurance (or have crappy insurance) enough that they can get routine medical care before their conditions worsen.

Monteagudo's answer is the most passionate by making health care a moral issue.

Fritchey's answer reflected the most thought.

I'm a little surprised that Quigley seems to be waiting for single-payer to become popular. Yeah, the answer reflects the reality that the health reformers have to persuade more people of the merits of single-payer, but do you get the impression he wants to fight to make the case in Congress? Or wait for others to fight and then vote the right way?

My dear friend, Arnie Bryant, differed with me on immigration. I tend to favor letting people who want to be U.S. citizens become U.S. citizens. And I favor protecting the dignity and rights of immigrants documented or not. Arnie was more of the Lou Dobbs camp.

I mention Arnie because there are people I respect immensely who disagree with me on immigration completely.

IVI-IPO asked (question #121), "Do you support amnesty for undocumented immigrants currently working in the country?"

Annunzio: Yes. No comments.

Bryar: Yes, when combined with path to citizenship. Also favors enforcement focused on employers who hire undocumented workers.

Sara Feigenholtz: No answer, but lengthy platitudes.

Victor Forys: “I do not support amnesty, but I support legalization and allowing people to work and live in the U.S. while they apply for permanent residency or citizenship.” Forys has a number of paragraphs that start with bolded sentences.

  • Create a dependendable and workable guest worker program.
  • End the backlog of people who have applied to come to the U.S. from other countries.
  • Pass the DREAM Act.
  • Stop families from being torn apart.
  • Ensure immigration applicants are treated with dignity.
  • Modify or eliminate the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision

John Fritchey: "YES, I support a fair and responsible path to citizenship for undocumented individuals residing in the United States and contributing positively to our communities.” He also wants to eliminate visa backlogs and “create a responsible guest worker program”.

Tom Geoghegan: Yes. “I support providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to join our society and enjoy the benefits of this great country.

Carlos Monteagudo: Yes, if pay back taxes, a penalty and don't have criminal backgrounds.

Mike Quigley
: No. “I support a path to citizenship for undocumented workers. I also support lowering the cost of citizenship for immigrants.

Charlie Wheelan:
Yes. “I will work hard to create a more diverse and inclusive nation. To that end I support a comprehensive immigration bill that includes both border enforcement and a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals who currently reside in the United States.

“I would also support increasing the number of visas granted to family members of U.S. citizens and permanent U.S. residents. Similarly, I support an increase in the number of HB-1 visas (those issued to highly-skilled foreign workers), in order to strengthen our workforce and move our economy forward.”

Feigenholtz has established a pattern of avoiding giving answers in favor of statements that are vague. At the DePaul candidate forum many people thought she did poorly because she didn't take strong positions on much of anything. Feigenholtz says all sorts of stuff about her mom being an immigrant, but if she's for a "path to citizenship" why not say it?

Monteagudo took the time to think about the issue and include the caveat that criminals aren't welcome to apply and reminding people that taxes and fines have to be paid.

I'm not sure what Quigley means by lowering the cost of citizenship. Reducing government paperwork fees? Reducing the need for lawyers to get involved?

Forys gave the most specific answer. If elected, I see him being a leader in Congress on the issue of immigration.

Unions usually have concerns about guest worker programs. As I understand it there are a couple main objections. One, unions are concerned that a hostile administration (like the Bush administration) would allow too many workers as a tool for reducing wages and breaking unions. Two, guest workers would presumably have fewer rights than citizens. And unions are worried that one group of workers will be played-off against another.

However, defenders of guest worker programs would probably counter that allowing a large amount of illegal immigration (this source estimates 5% of the workforce lacks legal work status) to fill low wage jobs has all the problems of a bad guest worker program with no benefits except a false sense of security.

I'm skeptical of guest worker programs, but am open to good guest worker programs supported by politicians who are friends of organized labor immigrants (like Fritchey and Forys); I'm opposed to guest worker programs supported by people who are Neo Liberals and otherwise hostile to organized labor, like Charlie Wheelan.

Wheelan's answer about investing in border security sorta sounds good, until you realize that most illegal aliens came to the United States legally and overstayed their visas. People illegally crossing the border are the minority. And there's no practical system that will make the border impenetrable. The Bush administration loved that border security stuff. If the increase in funds under Bush and the GOP didn't make our borders secure, how much more money does Wheelan want to spend on this? How many millions of dollars would Wheelan spend to keep a 1,000 low-wage workers from illegally crossing the border?

Wheelan supports more H1-B visas. Many tech workers strongly disagree with this. They argue that there isn't a shortage of people who can do computer programming and other technical work in the United States; it's that employers would rather pay immigrants lower salaries than pay experienced U.S. citizens higher salaries.

Wheelan sees the benefits to corporations, employers and shareholders when low wage programmers and tech workers are brought into the United States, but he seems to have a blind-spot about the plight of tech workers who are already here. It seems weird that in a period of record unemployment that one of Wheelan's priorities is to bring cheaper labor into the country.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

partial list of Proviso candidates for local elections

West Suburban Journal has a list of candidates for local elections including District 209 (but not other school districts), Proviso Township and the villages of Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Do you know a Green?

The Green Party is looking for a committeeman for Proviso Township. Contact Rita Maniotis, rsand circled "a" mc spot net.

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how does Vallas run for Cook County Board Prez affect Peraica?

Carol Marin (Sun-Times) reports Paul Vallas will run for President of the Cook County Board as a Republican. The current President is Todd Stroger.

h/t Capitol Fax Blog

What are the implications for the Cook County Democratic Party?

If the Cook County Democrats run Todd Stroger the party has a good chance of losing the seat. Vallas has a long record of public sector accomplishments.

I expect the Cook County Dems will want to run somebody who has a good reputation with the goo-goos, but won't cut patronage as aggressively as Vallas would as a Republican.

The Illinois Democratic Party (functionally the will of the Illinois Democratic Party is equivalent to the desires of Michael J. Madigan) will probably want to prevent the possibility of a strong Republican emerging who would be a threat to run for governor. Madigan's daughter, Lisa, is preparing to run for governor.

So, the Democrats might be fairly united to keep Vallas from winning.

Stroger is a weak candidate.

The Democratic Party unofficial rules seem to be that Democrats have to replace Black Democrats with Black Democrats.

Who is a Black Democrat who is popular with the goo-goos, who wouldn't rock the boat much on patronage? And Alderman Toni Preckwinkle has already started a campaign.

What's this mean for Commissioner Tony Peraica, who represents much of Proviso Township?

Peraica seems to have a special skill at winning elections by thin margins, although he got clobbered in his last election; Anita Alvarez got close to 70% of the vote for Cook County State's Attorney in 2008.

Since Peraica has made himself a thorn in the side of Cook County Commissioner Liz Gorman, the chair of the Cook County GOP, much of the official Republican Party would be happy to throw Peraica under the bus. Gorman and Peraica really dislike each other.

Vallas is a stronger candidate than Peraica, so the Illinois GOP will support Vallas too.

Peraica could run for another position in Cook County government, but if I'm not mistaken, President of the County Board is the only position he could seek simultaneously while running for re-election to the county board.

My personal take is that Peraica has drifted to the Right more and more in how he talks. His political instincts remain a mix of reformist instincts, government as business, progressiveness and social conservatism.

Mike Manzo, Peraica's chief of staff, has moved to DuPage County, which is traditionally the base of the Illinois GOP. Manzo ran his wife for county board against the GOP establishment. Formerly Manzo was president of the board of education of Proviso Township High Schools and he also ran against Ron Serpico for village president in Melrose Park.

I think it's fair to say that Peraica and Manzo see themselves as reformers who see a need to reform and purify the Republican Party and then the Republican Party will be a true vehicle of reform. And they are both committed to social conservatism.

I can see a scenario where Peraica loses his re-election and moves to DuPage County to run for office there. Peraica and Manzo would then seek to takeover the DuPage County GOP and then use that as their base to purify the Illinois Republican Party.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Do you live in IL-05? Want to vote in online poll?

Proviso Probe is going to try something new in covering the IL-05 race. At least, I think it's new.

I'm going to ask people who live in the district to vote in a weekly online election. But it's going to be a ranked voting system called Condorcet voting. Proviso Probe will use Condorcet Internet Voting Service.

This will show a measure of strength for the different candidates. This is not a poll of likely voters or registered voters, so it shouldn't be construed as predicting the election results.

However, I do think it will be useful to voters who pay extra attention. They will be able to see which candidates are stronger and weaker among the voters who pay extra attention. The Democrats have a particularly large field with over a dozen candidates, but the Greens and Republicans also have large fields too.

When a citizen goes to vote, s/he can only cast one vote. By having information about the preferences of the activists and voters who pay extra attention an individual can better decide which candidates are truly viable. This is probably useful for both voting and deciding which candidate to support by volunteering or contributing.

When I get emails from 20 voters from a political party, I will create the poll. In your email please provide your name and zip code. I don't think the software lets me inspect individual votes, but if it does I won't. The email addresses are needed to prevent stuffing the ballot box. Each email address only votes once. The names are a check that people actually live in the district. And the zip code is to see how representative the sample of voters is.

If you want to participate, email your name, zip code and email address from which you will be voting to RadioNyberg circled “a” Yahoo spot c0m.

The advantage of Condorcet voting is that it creates a matrix of comparing all candidates against each other. You'll find out how many voters prefer Victor Forys to each of the other Democratic candidates.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

IL-05: Dem candidate forum

On Superbowl Sunday, an overflow crowd attended a forum for Democratic candidates running to fill the vacancy created by Rahm Emanuel being appointed as President Barack Obama's chief of staff. The primary election for the IL-05 vacancy will be held Tuesday, March 3, 2009, and the contest be the Democratic, Republican and Green nominees will be April 7, 2009. The following Proviso communities are part of this district: Northlake and Melrose Park, minus a bit of southern part of the village.

The forum was at DePaul University and sponsored by twelve organizations, web sites or media outlets. Sun-Times Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet moderated the eleven candidates who were seated in alphabetical order.

I will discuss the candidates in a random order.

Paul Bryar (campaign, Wikipedia) has been a physician at Northwestern Hospital for ten years and has made it a priority to volunteer to provide low-income people health care in Cabrini-Green one day per week for those ten years. He favors a made-in-America tax cut. He admitted that two of his supporters had filed nominating petition challenges against other candidates. Bryar suggested the solution to earmarks would be to handle federal spending like how the National Institute of Health handles research priorities.

Sara Feigenholtz (campaign, Wikipedia) is a state representative. Her mother was an early female physician in Chicago and her father died when she was young. She linked herself with women's issues by citing her role in getting insurance companies to cover mammograms and birth control. She avoided saying anything controversial, but a number of people complained that she was at best vague about why she wanted to go to Congress and what she'd do when she got there. In response to the Oslo accords question Feigenholtz said, “Israel has a right to protect its borders.”

Victor Forys (campaign) is a physician who is proud to provide health care to the less fortunate. His immigrant father organized a union in a Skokie manufacturing business and his mother also worked in manufacturing. He seems to have a solid grasp of issues and gave perhaps the most articulate answer on how to deal with the abuses of the Bush administration. (Hopefully, the You Tube will be available.) Forys said, “We need to look back to move forward,” and emphasized that, “We are a country of laws.” Forys came off as perhaps too pure for politics when he answered the question on earmarks, “If you have to cut deals to get something done you don't belong in Congress you belong in jail.” Forys also made the point that current immigration laws undocumented workers to engage in “saving and sending instead of spending”. He predicted “a path to citizenship” will lead to many immigrants buying homes.

Tom Geoghegan (campaign, Wikipedia) is a Chicago labor lawyer and author who has gotten significant support from the national blogosphere. Geoghegan has been a successful lawyer, but his communication style seems awkward at first. In his opening statement Geoghegan called for expanding Social Security from a retirement supplement to a full retirement. He called for single-payer health care and taking over insolvent banks instead of having the government loan them money. Geoghegan was most impressive when he showed deeper levels of understanding issues and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. He diagnosed the financial crisis as there being too much private debt and warned against solutions that increased the amount of private debt. Geoghegan also made the connection between implementing single-payer health care and reducing the cost of manufacturing in the United States. He said that once people accept earmarks as legitimate they are halfway to pay-to-play politics. And he called invading Iraq “a stupid and murderous war.” Geoghegan also rejected the premise of Sweet's question on immigration which presumed the best way to achieve an immigration bill is to work with Republicans. Geoghegan favors building more Democratic support for “path to citizenship” immigration reforms by linking it a minimum wage increase.

Frank Annunzio (773-426-1064) is the nephew of Frank Annunzio, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives 28 years. The younger Annunzio is a Navy veteran who feels we have a crisis in confidence in government. Election reform should return power to the people. He has experience in construction and federal spending which he anticipates will be the nexus of beating the recession. Annunzio drew distinctions with the other Democrat by saying he would vote against the current stimulus bill (although a number of the other candidates had misgivings about the stimulus). Annunzio also came down against “buy American” requirements being part of government spending. Annunzio also split the difference on how to deal with Bush administration abuses on Iraq. He said, “War crimes have been committed,” but we have to look forward to the future.

Charles Wheelan (campaign, Wikipedia) is a University of Chicago academic who is running on economic issues. In response to the question on the Oslo Accords, Wheelan acknowledged the ill will since then and listed a large number of Arab countries where he has been and had contact with the governments. Wheelan came down hard against “buy America” provisions being part of the stimulus bill because they raise the cost of government. Wheelan fears that holding the Bush administration accountable for misconduct pertaining to the Iraq War would be criminalizing the political process. Wheelan spoke against earmarks by saying local projects are best determined by local government. While Wheelan's statements about Oslo sounded moderate he later said that the United States should give Israel military aid until Israel feels “unequivocally secure”. Wheelan's answer on privatizing services at Midway was something of telling both sides what they wanted to hear. Wheelan would support privatization if Mayor Richard M. Daley said it would save money and if Wheelan believed the claims based on the evidence.

Roger Thompson (rt3chicago circled "a" sbcglobal.net) is a realtor who is fed up with corrupt politicians. He predicts that the North Side will revert to when it wasn't so affluent. None of his answers on issues drew hard contrasts with the other candidates.

Jan Donatelli (campaign) is a Navy veteran and Delta pilot who has been active in her union. She's also a mother of six. She became active in politics as a volunteer in the Obama campaign. Donatelli did a nice job balancing an activist's passion for making a difference with a wonk's understanding of issues. She's a skilled communicator. One area where Donatelli drew a contrast was on the immigration question about how to work with Republicans. Donatelli favored more funding for border security as a way of getting Republicans to support a broad immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrant already in the United States. Donatelli supports a “free and independent Palestine.” Donatelli made the strongest point against privatizing Midway when she explained that for-profit management of airports puts safety and profit in zero-sum competition. And as a pilot, she thinks government does better at ensuring safety compliance than companies driven by profit.

Audience members seemed to either think Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley (campaign, Wikipedia) performed quite well or poorly. One positive reaction was from a woman in the overflow seating who heard the event, but didn't see it. She said Quigley sounded the best. Another positive review pointed to Quigley making a number of specific points about his accomplishments as a reformer on the Cook County board. Quigley was an Obama delegate. Quigley was also the first candidate to give a district specific answer to what IL-05 will get from the stimulus bill. A number of progressives faulted Quigley on three answers. When asked whether to prosecute criminal behavior of the Bush administration regarding Iraq, Quigley not only favored “moving forward” he chose words that didn't acknowledge the misconduct. Annunzio emphasized “looking forward” but also said, “War crimes have been committed.” Quigley and Wheelan gave the most Bush administration sympathetic answers. Quigley also used the question on whether to increase aid to Israel to segue to taking a belligerent line on Iran, something no other candidate did. In his opening statement Quigley said, “Hamas must recognize the existence of Israel.” Hamas not recognizing Israel is not the source of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Complaints about Hamas not recognizing Israel are the current excuse for Israel not to negotiate in good faith with the elected Palestinian leadership. From these answers, I inferred the Israel lobby has gotten to Quigley.

State Representative John Fritchey (campaign, Wikipedia entry) told about being raised by a mother from Morocco. His parents met when his father was serving in the U.S. Air Force and later divorced. Fritchey emphasized that his entire academic career from grade school to law school was funded by hardship scholarships. After Quigley responded to the question about how the stimulus bill will specifically help the district, Fritchey made the connection that specific schools in the district would get specific improvements. When asked about how to get Republican votes for the stimulus bill Fritchey said Democrats shouldn't “shy from who we are and what we stand for.” Fritchey responded to the question about whether any of the candidates had been approached about being a place holder while Rahm Emanuel is President Obama's chief of staff. Fritchey said he talked to Emanuel and Emanuel expressed interest in running for the seat again. Fritchey said he told Emanuel, "I told him that should I be fortunate enough to run, and should I be fortunate enough to win the seat, I would look forward to campaigning against him." The exchange showed that Fritchey was a big enough player to get Emanuel on the phone; none of the other candidates offered that they talk to Emanuel. In responses to being asked about privatizing Midway Fritchey said privatization was like “selling the furniture to pay the mortgage.”

Carlos Monteagudo (campaign) is a physician specializing in psychiatry. He grew-up in what is now Wrigleyville in a Cuban-American family. The format somewhat favored candidates who were willing to break in and “Carlos” as he seemed to prefer was probably the least aggressive this way. Monteagudo favored a “truth and reconciliation commission” based on the South Africa model to sort out what went wrong during the Bush years. On the issue of whether to give more money to Israel, Monteagudo gave the answer least obsequious to the Israel lobby. He noted that the “existing aid hasn't improve security”. In his opening statement Monteagudo explained that any settlement needs to make Israelis and Palestinians feel psychologically and physically secure.

The hosts asked candidates to address three issues in their opening statements. All candidates support gay marriage. The question on Israel-Palestine was framed as whether the candidates supported the Oslo Accords. With the exception of Donatelli and Monteagudo, none of the candidates included the Palestinian perspective in their response at all. The other question was on single-payer health care. All candidates seemed to support the abstract goal of everyone getting health care some time in the future. My notes are imperfect, but I think Annunzio and Geoghegan were the only ones that support changing to single-payer now, as opposed to some time in the future.

Two Democrats who filed to run did not participate in the forum. Pete Dagher was defending a challenge to his nominating petition. Alderman Patrick O'Connor refused to respond to the invitation (if only to decline it) according to event organizers.

For additional information see Progress Illinois, Prairie State Blue, Capitol Fax Blog, Chicago Sun-Times (Abdon M. Pallasch), WGN-TV(John McCormick and Dan Mihalopoulos), Chicago Public Radio (Tony Arnold), Chicago Tribune (John McCormick and Dan Mihalopoulos) and CLTV. It's also going to be rebroadcast on CAN-TV.

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