Friday, August 28, 2009

The Next 5 Blogs are out of Order

Sorry, scroll down and find Part 1. This blog is a continuation of 5 blogs that I accidentally printed out of order.

"Small Claims Court" is Inappropriately Named - Part 5

When I filled my $500 complaint, the verdict appeared to be rather simple. I hit a 12" deep hole in the paved exit from a shopping mall, this hole being less than a foot from the street, an area 16 and one half feet wide from street to the out edge of the sidewalk. These areas are known as public owned right-of-way. I submitted 6 photos from different angles proving that people drove over this hole, the scarring showed it was hit with frequency. For $500, I could not afford to hire an attorney. I appeared in court 3 times. If attorney costs were only $150 an hour, I would have easily paid out a $1000. Few individuals are ever going to win a small claim of $500 or so, against a municipal body or any organization that has attorneys on their payrolls.

In review, I should have called Mr. Swenson as a witness, hostile or friendly. I intended to but called for his boss in error. I allowed the cities motion to dismiss his appearance. I shouldn't have as he was Mr. Swenson's Manager, he would have had to say what it was I hit and that it was on city right-of-way. I would have immediately filed an FOIA to the city (however, knowing what I know now, I believe they would have just "set" on it) but I was naive enough to believe they were obligated to give me a legal description of the property where the "hole" was located. I should have requested a change of Judge's after the first day when this Judge asked me "why my BIG INSURANCE company didn't handle this claim for me"? I should have demanded another court date when City Attorney Williams said she had not received a copy of my amended complaint the the judge indicated he saw no change in the complaint he was looking at which may or may not have been, the original rather than the amended complaint.

And if I wanted to spend another $2-4 thousand, I could have appealed although I was told that cases like mine are seldom overturned.

If you are considering going to small claims court or know someone who is, be sure your pass these blogs to them or have them talk to me. There is no one to help you in the Circuit Clerks Office and the judge is not going to be your attorney. I wasn't even told I didn't have to hire the sheriff to deliver my complaint but could have done it myself. But you can beat city hall. You just can't be as naive as I was.

But the hole got fixed, such as it is.

"Bad Drain, Hole New World" - Part 4

Conclusion by Terry Bibo of the JS on 8/20/08. "Merle Widmer has prevailed at a cost". "We fixed the hole", said Peoria Director of Public Works, David Barber. "Over the decades that storm drain has been there, said Barber, somebody did things that made the grade around it less than ideal. (Mr. Barber knew of the problem in 2008 yet waited until a few days after I lost my damage clam to partially correct the problem.) The city has no record of what happened, but it did put the hole on it's list to be repaired. "Yes", said Barber, "it's on the city right-of-way. Mr. Widmer probably wasn't driving where he should have been".

Was our Public Works Director Serious when he said that? Or what?

And could Judge Vespa have been serious when he wrote in his final verdict, "This court finds the defendant City had NO duty regarding the drain in question".

Good grief, again.

Of interest, the cities insurance company told Mr. Voorhees, when denying his claim, "we feel more care while driving your vehicle may have remedied the matter".

Mr. Barber was successful in getting me stonewalled from getting the information that the storm water inlet was on city owned property. Yet, no matter who installed it, the city had to approve the installation as, Judge Vespa, it WAS on city property, just like the evidence I submitted to you proved yet in your decision you state "nor on city property, but on private property". I proved to you it was NOT on private property but I was denied by the city a legal description. Judge Vespa did not question the GIS map I showed him proving city ownership. Did he not understand the ability of the GIS system to display boundary lines between ownership of properties?

I understand the judge has announced his retirement. I should have know I lost the case the first day when the judge said to me, "You are represented by a big insurance company. Why didn't they pursue collecting your money"? Why not, I signed a contract that was $500 deductible like most people do. My insurance company did make an effort and were told by the cities BIG insurance company that I hit a sewer drain so the GPSD was responsible, not the city.

Good grief!

The somebody that "did things" was the city, adding layers of surface onto E. Lake Ave., making the "hole" deeper and deeper. Yet, while the city agrees they MAINTAINED the hole, they made no effort to raise the bottom metal screen to the top as they have done to hundreds of storm water inlets throughout the city.

But it has been done now. People still drive over the same spot I hit, feel a small bump and destroy the grass on the south side of the inlet hood. Possibly after all these years I accomplished what I set out to do. Did the Director of Public Works treat a taxpayer honestly?

You be the judge while I move on the the final part of this saga.

"Drain's Curb Appeals are Wearing Thin" - Part 3

Said Terry Bibo of the JS after my third appearance before Judge Vespa. The recorded conversation I heard was as follows. Attorney Williams asked for dismissal because my compliant was the same as my original complaint. Judge Vespa said it appeared to him to be the same. I said "but I submitted an amended complaint through the Circuit Clerk's Office, took it down to the Sheriff's Dept. and paid $21 to have the amended complaint delivered to the city". Judge Vespa, said "you just wasted your money as you could have delivered it yourself". Ms. Williams said she did not receive a copy of my amended complaint. Judge Vespa appeared to not see the changes I had made including the letter from the County denying ownership of this "right of way" on city property. Ms. Williams said "hearsay". I said "Judge, it is in my exhibits". The judge flipped through the evidence not saying whether He found the document or not. Judge, I said, I was denied a legal description of the property by city officials. At that point Judge Vespa dismissed us and said he would send us a letter of his decision. I left the room, went to the Sheriff's Office and asked for a copy of the service I paid for. On a document marked "Service Entry to the City of Peoria" showed the my amended complaint was delivered to the city on 7/20/09, 11 days BEFORE the hearing, signed by Angela D. Herrich, Administration Specialist. I was told she works for Mary Ryan. I left a copy in Judge Vespa's box.

Someone is very inefficient or someone lied.

The judges decision? Complaint denied. Paragraph 3 read "The City of Peoria did not construct or improve the drain in question; the drain is not on traveled roadway, BUT ON PRIVATE PROPERTY". He then cited a Supreme Court case where the a drain constructed by a municipality "was across a five to seven foot shoulder and down a STEEP EMBANKMENT". Some comparison to a storm water inlet on a flat surface on a well traveled exit from White Oak Mall. No city signage saying "not for vehicular use" even though people had driven over that area for more than 30 years.

Move on to Part 3.

My Complaint Heard - Judge Joe Vespa Presiding - Part 2

I filled my complaint in Small Claims Court against the City of Peoria in June, 2009 asking for $500 plus expenses. I had to pay $108 plus serving costs. Expenses, I learned, do no include attorney fees. City Attorney Sonni Williams appeared before Judge Vespa but Williams asked that the hearing be deferred. I objected but to no avail. Vespa set a new hearing date and at that hearing Vespa determined that my description of where the accident took place was wrong since I wrote "on" E. Lake Ave. instead of on E. Lake Ave. right of way. Over the objection of the city attorney, Judge Vespa continued the hearing to July 31 so I could "collect my thoughts" and file an amended complaint.

On advice of attorney I was told to go to the City of Peoria's Public Works Department and get a legal description of the location of the hole. I was told Ken Andrejasich, Right of Way Permit Engineer, was the person to see. After waiting more than an hour, I was told by Mr. Andrejasich that I needed permission from Ms. Williams before he could talk with me. Ms. Williams said she needed a letter from me detailing my need to see this Engineer. She allowed me to hand write a request and said she would get back to me the following week. When I did not hear from her, I delivered another letter (Exhibit 5 in my amended complaint) and retained a copy stamped RECEIVED by the Legal Dept. July 15, 2009.

Time was running out for me to file an amended complaint so I again contacted the engineer who now said I could talk with him but what I hit "was not on city property, but on county property", denying me a legal description of the property but giving me a map showing property lines but not the location of what now was determined to be a "a storm water inlet". I took this to the County Highway Superintendent who looked it up and said it was not on County Property but was on City property giving me a letter so stating. I now had evidence that it was not on County property, not owned by the Sanitary District and not on private property.

But I still did not have a legal description. As a last resort, I contacted the Planning and Zoning Dept. of Peoria County. They provided me with a GIS photo showing where city lines separated this city right of way where the storm water inlet was located, from private property.

In the interim, I received an affidavit from David Haste of the City of Peoria saying that while the city MAINTAINED the right of way where the storm water inlet was located, that area was not "intended and permitted" for private use. Despite the fact that this inlet was and still is on the paved section of the exit from the mall to Lake; the scarring showing it had been hit many times over the years.

I received an email from Dave Voorhees stating that he had just recently hit this "storm water inlet" doing considerable damage to his vehicles. I received two phone calls from people who also had damage to their vehicles by hitting this same 12inch deep hole. Too late for me to get this information in my complaint.

I'll move to my third day in court.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Widmer Fights City Over Big Hole" - Part 1 of a Series

This series will dwell on the failure of the Small Claims Court to fulfill it's mission, Judge Joe Vespa and Public Works Director, David Barber. Terry Bibo of the JS, covered my second appearance in court before Judge Vespa who was to determine the validity of my complaint. I'll highlight what Terry wrote in case you missed Part 1 of Ms. Bibo's 3 columns. City Councilman Gary Sandberg, who was concerned enough to come down to look at the "hole" I hit, was also in attendance. Also, coming to the site after hours was Pat Landes, City planner, (at Sandberg's request) who agreed to determine exactly what it was I hit and who was responsible for correcting what she agree was a problem. Sandberg agreed "Widmer has a point and it's got to be fixed". Later on, probably at the request of counsel, neither returned my phone calls.

The city had nine months to correct the problem, when they didn't and after I belatedly learned that my insurance company had not passed on to me the letter from city denying ownership of the "hole", I decided to file a claim in June, 2009. The letter said what I hit was the responsibility of the Greater Peoria Sanitary District and was a sewer drain discouraging my insurance company from trying to collect the $500 deductible on my policy contract from the city. At my request a manager of the GPSD visited the site with his computer refuting the City of Peoria claim (presented by the cities insurance company) who wrote, "review of such hazard discovered it to be a sewer drain rather than a 'pothole' hole".

How did this claim, denials, part truths, misconceptions and subtle lies come about? Read on and you will see how my experience may or already has affected you.

On August 7, 2008, when I was turning right in my car leaving the White Oak Mall located at the corner of Knoxville and E. Lake Ave., dropping in a 12" deep "hole" blowing a tire and cracking my bumper. This paved exit and entry was marked by exit and entry arrows. My dilemma was observed by Randy Swenson, Public Works Planner, City of Peoria, who was involved in a city overlay of E. Lake Avenue westbound. Randy gave me his card after observing the "hole" I landed in was a poorly designed water collector on city property. When I was to appear in court, I asked Mr. Swenson if he would testify on my behalf. Why he didn't, will be covered under Mr. Barber involvement in this mess.

I filed my insurance claim with my insurance company who paid all repairs except the $500 deductible I had agreed to on signing my contract with State Farm agent, Bobby Humbles. They said they would attempt collect the $500 from the city for negligence. They were stymied when the City said the "hole" was a sanitary sewer drain and not their responsibility.

Later, I saw City Public Works Director, David Barber, (more on him later) told him about the accident and was assured that he personally would examine the site. As the months went by, nothing was done to correct what was later to be determined, a storm water inlet on Peoria City right-of-way. I saw Mr. Barber in May of 2009 and asked him about the problem area and he said it was not the cities problem. I told him I had no recourse except to sue the city.

Part 2 - what I learned in filing my claim next.

Abandoned and Structurally Unsafe Homes and Buildings

The States Attorney filed suit against Jerry J. Underwood on April 29, 2009 for suit against the owner for failure to re-construct or demolish a structure located at 1630 Oakwood in the County of Peoria that has been in a mostly deteriorating state since the time I was elected to the County Board. The SAO filed a motion to default on 6/9/09. The case went to trial on June 29, 2009. The judge ruled in favor of Peoria County. The county received permission to remove this structure and charge the homeowner for expenses incurred. The County received an estimate of $3600 and is planning to demolish on September 1. Limestone Township has offered to pay up to $1600 in costs for what I believe, is if the County is not able to collect from the owner.

I have been battling this problem as well as other problems with unsafe structures for many years and this is a major accomplishment. I invite the press to attend this rather historic event. Over the past years, I have attempted to get #150 and Habitat for Humanity involved in removal and salvage of unsafe structures in the County of Peoria but neither party showed any interest.

I hope at least one TV station shows up for this event as a positive in "cleaning up our neighborhoods".

40 Positions eliminated by county

"$113,054 in management raises shifted to sheriff's budget. While about 40 positions are being cut, only about 20 actual county employees will be laid off as of Jan. 1. The other reductions are from retirements or through attrition. The budget also included an early retirement incentive for 91 eligible employees. Only 30 to 45 employees, however; are expected to take it, said County Administrator, Patrick Urich.

Sharon Kennedy and Jeff Lickiss resisted the move to put the $113,054 in the sheriff's budget, with Kennedy stating "that she has yet to receive a call from one citizen in the unincorporated Peoria County who feels threatened or that they are afraid to leave their home because of a sparsely staffed Sheriff's Department". Kennedy also showed 2001 figures that actual calls worked out to be 3.24 per deputy per day. Kennedy also pointed out that her company AMT transports psychiatric patients for the sheriff at no no cost to the county.

Kennedy also said, "We should have more money going into reserves. It hasn't stopped raining, you know".

Written by Jennifer Davis, Reporter for the JS on 11/22/02 when the county was faced with a 2003 budget crisis. So far, despite the fact that the state is in the process or has done so, laid off 2600 employees. I know of no layoffs as yet in the public sector of Peoria County unless, as rumored some teachers at #150. An estimated 9,000 were fired or laid off so far in the private sector of Peoria County.

We will see how it works in this crisis, far worse than the one discussed above.

Andrew Rand from AMT has replaced Kennedy and brings a businessman's perspective to the board. Lickiss was replaced by a politician.

Why Government Can't Run a Business

From an article in the WSJ by John Steele Gordon in the May 20, 2009 issue, Opionion Section. Mr. Steele is author of "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Econmic Power (Harper-Collins 2004.

Mr. Gordon lists five basic reasons:

# 1 - Governemtns are run by politicians, not businessmen (ususally not enough successful businessment to make much of a difference. Politicians can only make political decisions, not economic ones. They are, after all, first and foremost in the re-election business. Because they have a strong desire to be re-elected. What looks good now is more important than long term consequnces even though those consequences are clearly visible. And politicians tend to favor [parochial interests over sound economic sense. Think stimulus money (a border checkpoint between Canada and the U.S. that averages 3 travelors a day received $15 million for repairs couretsy of Montana politicians Max Baucus and Jon Tester, while a checkpoint at Laredo, Tx. that handles 55,000 travelors ad 4500 trucks, and was rated "high priority", got zilch.)

# 2 - Politicians ned favorable headlines meaning a deep seated need to do something even when doing nothing would be the better option. Peorian Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said today that the "Clunker" program was "wildly successful". We'll see.

# 3 - Governments use other people's money. When a school board sits down to negiotate with a teachers union or decide how many administrators are needed, the goose is the taxpayer. That's why public-service employees often have more genours benefits than thier private-sector counterparts. N.Y City has 10 times as many administrators as the Catholic system until Mayor Bloomberg, a competent businessman took over the public schools system.

# 4 - Government seldom tolerates competetion (think Peoria Public School District #150) Has a government entity ever competed successfully on a level playing field with the private sector? Name one.

#5 - Government enterprises are almost always monopolies and do not face competetion. But competition is what makes capitalism so successful an economic system. The ;lack of it always doomed socialist economies. (we are heading that way faster than many people realize). Cost cutting is alien to the culture of all bureacracies. See my upcoming blog.

Too many have forgotten what it is govenments job to do. It is to make and enforce the rules that allow a civilized society to flourish. But it has a dismal record of regulating. The JS and the WSJ report that "Federal Government Number Have Gone Stratospheric", with projedctions from Obam's White House a 10-year federal government deficit of $9 trilolion dollars that will equal 3/4 of the entire U.S. economy.

Will governemnbt never stop growing? No, it's too late. We are on the "night train to socialist city". See my upcoming blog.

I recived this email from Robert Huschen and feel it is appropriate for the above blog, Thanks, Bob.

>>> The U.S. Post Service
>>> was established in 1775 - they've had 234 years
>>> to get it right; it is
>>> broke, and even though heavily subsidized, it
>>> can't compete with
>>> private sector FedEx and UPS services.
>>> Social Security was
>>> established in 1935 - they've had 74 years to get
>>> it right; it is
>>> broke.
>>> Fannie Mae was
>>> established in 1938 - they've had 71 years to get it
>>> right; it is broke.
>>> Freddie Mac was established in 1970 - they've had
>>> 39 years to get it
>>> right; it is broke. Together Fannie and Freddie
>>> have now led the
>>> entire world into the worst economic collapse in 80
>>> years.
>>> The War on Poverty was
>>> started in 1964 - they've had 45 years to get
>>> it right; $1 trillion
>>> of our hard earned money is confiscated each
>>> year and transferred
>>> to "the poor"; it hasn't worked.
>>> Medicare and Medicaid
>>> were established in 1965 - they've had 44 years
>>> to get it right; they
>>> are both broke; and now our government dares to
>>> mention them as models
>>> for all US health care.
>>> AMTRAK was established
>>> in 1970 - they've had 39 years to get it right;
>>> last year they bailed
>>> it out as it continues to run at a loss!
>>> This year, a trillion
>>> dollars was committed in the massive political
>>> payoff called the
>>> Stimulus Bill of 2009; it shows NO sign of working;
>>> it's been used to
>>> increase the size of governments across America, and
>>> raise government
>>> salaries while the rest of us suffer from economic
>>> hardships. It has yet
>>> to create a single new private sector job. Our
>>> national debt
>>> projections (approaching $10 trillion) have increased
>>> 400% in the last six
>>> months.
>>> "Cash for
>>> Clunkers" was established in 2009 and went broke in
>>> 2009 - -
>>> after 80% of the cars
>>> purchased turned out to be produced by foreign
>>> companies, and dealers
>>> nationwide are buried under bureaucratic
>>> paperwork demanded by
>>> a government that is not yet paying them what
>>> was promised.
>>> So with a perfect 100%
>>> failure rate and a record that proves that each
>>> and every
>>> "service" shoved down our throats by an
>>> over-reaching
>>> government turns into
>>> disaster, how could any informed American trust
>>> our government to run
>>> or even set policies for America's health care
>>> system - - 17%
>>> of our economy?
>>> Maybe each of us has a
>>> personal responsibility to let others in on
>>> this brilliant record
>>> before 2010, and then help remove from office
>>> those who are voting
>>> to destroy capitalism and destroy our
>>> grandchildren's
>>> future.

Ted Kennedy's Passing

From NewsMax - Most people living today who vote for liberals have never really read this story. Nor do they know of father Joe Kennedy's enamouring of Nazi Germany and the "nefarious" ways he is alleged and sometimes proven how he gained his great wealth, most of it passed on to his family.

An interesting read especially after reading some of the comments from people on the street in the JS today.

Chappaquiddick Tragedy Mars Kennedy Legacy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 1:56 PM

By: David A. Patten Article Font Size

There's a tear in your eye,

And I'm wondering why,

For it never should be there at all.

With such pow'r in your smile,

Sure a stone you'd beguile,

So there's never a teardrop should fall.

-- Lyrics, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," a Kennedy family favorite

"On July 18, 1969, at approximately 11:15 p.m., on Chappaquiddick Island, Martha's Vineyard, I was driving my car on Main Street on my way to get the ferry back to Edgartown."

Thus began Sen. Ted Kennedy's written statement for police in Edgartown, Mass., on the morning after the disastrous wreck that claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne.

Kopechne was a "boiler room girl" in RFK's campaign who had accepted an invitation to a regatta party attended by five other women and six men, including Kennedy.

Shortly after she stepped into Kennedy's sedan, ostensibly for a ride home, she was trapped in the car, struggling for her life as dark saltwater relentlessly rushed into the vehicle after it careened off a bridge.

[Editor's Note: Read “The Last Lion of Camelot: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009” Go here now.]

Kennedy's subsequent, detached explanation of the accident stated: "I was unfamiliar with the road and turned on to Dike Road instead of bearing left on Main Street. After proceeding for approximately a half mile on Dike Road I descended a hill and came upon a narrow bridge. The car went off the side of the bridge. There was one passenger in the car with me, Miss _______, a former secretary of my brother Robert Kennedy. The car turned over and sank into the water and landed with the roof resting on the bottom."

Kennedy left a blank after "Miss" because he wasn't sure how to spell the last name of the young lady whose life had been extinguished the night before.

"I attempted to open the door and window of the car but have no recollection of how I got out of the car. I came to the surface and then repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car. I was unsuccessful in the attempt.

"I was exhausted and in a state of shock. I recall walking back to where my friends were eating. There was a car parked in front of the cottage and I climbed into the back seat. I then asked for someone to bring me back to Edgartown. I remember walking around for a period of time and then going back to my hotel room. When I fully realized what happened this morning, I immediately contacted the police."

In the days that followed, Kennedy would claim to be as mystified by his own experiences as everyone else was.

In a subsequent TV statement, Kennedy said his efforts to save Kopechne "succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm," adding: "My conduct and conversations during the next several hours to the extent that I can remember them make no sense to me at all. Although my doctors informed me that I suffered a cerebral concussion as well as shock, I do not seek to escape responsibility for my actions by placing the blame either on the physical, emotional trauma brought on by the accident or on anyone else."

Legally speaking, Kennedy did essentially escape responsibility. The judge gave him a two month sentence for failing to report an accident, and the sentence was suspended. But politically, the cost would be high indeed. Although Massachusetts voters quickly forgave their favorite son, public reaction to the largely unexplained incident caused permanent damage to Kennedy's reputation.

Author Matthew Smith's 2005 book, "Conspiracy: The Plot to Stop the Kennedys," delved into the many still-unanswered questions about the accident. Kennedy's statement to police only raised more questions, as Time magazine put it at the time "in the absence of an adequate explanation from Kennedy." For example:

Why didn't Kennedy's driver, who had transported him to the party and was there, do the driving that night?

If Kennedy was driving Kopechne to her hotel room in Edgartown, as stated, why did she leave her purse and her hotel key behind at the party?

How was it Kennedy took the wrong turn when he had traveled to and from his destination several times that week?

Had Kopechne survived for a time by breathing from a pocket of air trapped in the vehicle after it was submerged, as put forward by John Farrar, the diver who retrieved her from the vehicle?

Those unanswered questions indicate that, although Kopechne's body eventually was extricated from the unforgiving depths, the full truth of what happened that night, still lies submerged beneath them. Kennedy author Mel Ayton has written that conspiracy theorists should keep in mind that amnesia is consistent with the head injuries Kennedy sustained that night. In a 1980 television broadcast, Kennedy said, "I know there are many who do not believe it but my testimony is the only truth I can tell because that is the way it happened."

Time magazine would report that, immediately after the accident, a phalanx of 16 Kennedy wise men gathered at the Hyannis Port home. They included former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, and noted JFK speechwriter Theodore Sorenson. It is reasonable to assume the topic du jour was damage control. In April 1970, Judge James A. Boyle, who presided over the inquest that probed Kopechne's death, ordered that the 764-page transcript of that inquest be released. It revealed that Boyle did not believe Kennedy was disclosing the entire truth about the incident.

"I infer," Boyle stated carefully, "that Kennedy did not intend to drive to the ferry slip and his turn onto Dyke [sic] Road was intentional."

Based on the fact that Kennedy had passed over the bridge earlier that day, the judge said: "I believe it probable that Kennedy knew of the hazard that lay ahead of him on Dyke [sic] Road but that, for some reason not apparent from the testimony, he failed to exercise due care as he approached the bridge. I, therefore, find there is probably cause to believe that Edward M. Kennedy operated his motor vehicle negligently . . . and that such operation appears to have contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne."

The Globe reported that Kennedy rejected those findings as "not justified." Just a few days after the inquest transcript was released, Boyle retired from the bench.

Kennedy reached a $141,000 settlement with Kopechne's parents, $50,000 of which his insurance company paid. That fall, Massachusetts voters re-elected him over Republican Josiah Spaulding, with 63 percent of the vote. Kennedy appeared to pay a price in January 1971, when Democrats opted to replace him as majority whip with Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

In the months that followed, Kennedy would find the U.S. Senate to be his only true escape from an existence that, by then, had taken on at times a nightmarish quality. It was there that Kennedy gradually would build his formidable political legacy.

'Nothing but the Truth'

However, heartbreak wasn't even close to giving up its embrace on the senator from Massachusetts. In November 1973, close to the 10th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the senator received the devastating news that his oldest son, 12-year-old Edward Jr., had cancer in his right leg. After consulting with numerous specialists, Kennedy had to look his son in the eye and tell him his leg would have to be amputated above the knee.

The surgery was performed on Nov. 16, 1973. As told in "Last Lion," the senator escorted his son into the operating room at Georgetown University Hospital. From there, he rushed to Holy Trinity Church to walk niece Kathleen, RFK's daughter, down the aisle. Her wedding ceremony ended with a moving rendition of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and more than a few eyes that day broke father Joseph's commandment never to shed tears. Then it was back to the hospital for the senator, to wait at his son's bedside.

He would shepherd the boy through two years of chemotherapy, an experimental treatment at the time who side effects were even more devastating than they remain today.

That experience would spur Kennedy's lifelong interest in healthcare. Years later, he attributed his passionate support for the patients bill of rights to watching less wealthy families struggle with the economic burden of caring for loved ones.

Kennedy's appetite for philandering and robust parties apparently did not diminish. In 1992, Richard E. Burke, Kennedy's longtime personal aide, penned a book titled "The Senator: My 10 Years With Ted Kennedy." It presented a firsthand, sordid portrait of drugs, booze, and sexual licentiousness.

Burke worked for Kennedy from 1971 to 1981, and the credibility of Burke's insider account has been called into question. In the early 1980s, Burke pleaded guilty to carrying a pistol without a license. In return, charges of filing false police reports were dropped.

Burke blames his problems on his years of hard partying, much of it with Kennedy, which he says left him with a serious cocaine problem. Also, in 1991, Burke filed for bankruptcy, which led some to suggest his tell-all had a financial motivation.

Burke's ends his story about Kennedy with the words: "Everything described in this book did happen. This book can't pretend to be the whole truth, but it is part of the truth, and it certainly is nothing but the truth." The Kennedy clan, of course, dismissed it as anything but.

The question of exactly when, how, and why Kennedy experienced the personal reformation that propelled him to forge perhaps the most impressive legislative record of the past half century has been the subject of much speculation, if not myth-making. By all accounts, his bacchanalian predilections continued well into the '70s, and many biographers credit his 1992 marriage to lawyer Victoria Anne Reggie with stabilizing his life.

One of the key experiences that contributed to Kennedy's personal evolution was his failed attempt to wrest his party's nomination from incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Kennedy's bid was burdened by the legacy of Chappaquiddick in a post-Watergate era that was increasingly intolerant of politico malfeasance and disco-era profligacy. But the greatest wound his campaign sustained came from Kennedy himself, when CBS newsman Roger Mudd asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president.

"Well," the senator began, "I'm — were I to — to make the — announcement . . . is because I have a great belief in this country, that it is — has more natural resources than any nation in the world . . . the greatest technology of any country in the world . . . the great political system in the world . . . And the energies and the resourcefulness of this nation, I think, should be focused on these problems in a way that brings a sense of restoration in this country by its people . . . And I would basically feel that — that it's imperative for this country to either move forward, that it can't stand still, or otherwise it moves back."

It was as if Kennedy's presumption of his divine birthright to America's political throne had led him to overlook the simple question of why he wanted to occupy it. His inability to articulate what he planned to do with the office magnified the underlying doubts about his candidacy.

In another sense, however, Kennedy's defeat at the hands of a former peanut farmer from Georgia liberated him from the burden of higher office, perhaps also freeing him from the need to live up to the impossible Camelot myth his father and older brothers had fashioned. The Kennedy that emerged from the ashes of defeat in 1980 was suggested by his 1980 convention speech, which biographer Ed Klein says "ranked with the great convention speeches of the past."

Among Kennedy's memorable lines: "And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith. May it be said of our party in 1980 that we found our faith again . . . For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."

Kennedy Blazes Legislative Trail

Although Kennedy's devoted foes might not wish to admit it, his character flaws did not prevent him from amassing one of the most impressive legislative records ever. Among his accomplishments:

He won passage of the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, which abolished the national-origin immigration quotas that had been in effect since the 1920s.

He played a key role in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

He helped shepherd Title IX through Congress in 1972, a major step in the battle against gender discrimination which precluded disparate educational funding based on gender.

Other legislative accomplishments include the COBRA Act of 1985, the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which passed in 1997.

More recently, Kennedy negotiated compromises with President George W. Bush that led to passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

A longtime advocate of amnesty for illegal immigrants, Kennedy co-sponsored the Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which failed following a grassroots backlash against lax U.S. border control policies.

Kennedy's legislative accomplishments had a dark side as well. As he worked diligently in the back rooms that Senate deal-makers frequented, his years in the Senate saw a metastatic growth in the size of the federal government. Suggestions that Kennedy's progressive intentions could pave the road to disastrous outcomes were ridiculed as ignorant fear-mongering, even as they are today.

In 1965, for example, Kennedy dismissed opponents of the Hart-Celler Act, who feared it would contribute to a vast flood of immigration into the United States.

Kennedy insisted during a hearing: "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."

Four decades later, with more than 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, Kennedy's lifelong drive to open up the United States to an influx of immigration has had serious — if not devastating — consequences.

Historically, Kennedy's most tainted legislative legacy may be his vitriolic, personal attack campaign against brilliant originalist legal scholar Robert Bork.

Former President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork the nation's highest court in 1987. Kennedy's tactics in defeating the Bork nomination have been blamed for indelibly staining the once-dignified process of Senate confirmation. Kennedy's scorched-earth opposition to Bork injected a spirit of bitter partisanship into the process of confirming the future nominations of both parties' presidents.

"Robert Bork's America," Kennedy charged before those hearing even got under way, "is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individuals rights that are the heart of our democracy."

Kennedy's broadside was so over the top, and so radical in the context of traditional Senate decorum, that it paralyzed the GOP and mobilized the left. Bork's nomination was defeated.

"If there had been any question before the Bork nomination of who ran the Senate," the Boston Globe reported, "there was none after."

Despite Kennedy's influence in the Senate, his reputation as a liberal lion there sustained heavy damage in the early 1990s. His oddly passive performance during the controversial confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas received strident criticism from the left, with whisperers suggesting Kennedy's reticence to launch ad hominem attacks against Thomas stemmed from his own personal failings.

Polls suggested that Kennedy's reputation also sustained a blow from the pending sexual-assault trial in a Palm Beach, Fla., incident involving his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, who eventually was acquitted of the charges. Although the senator was not accused of breaking any law in connection with the case, the testimony revealed a seamy side to the Kennedy mystique that voters found distasteful.

These concerns, as well as Kennedy's looming 1994 re-election campaign, led to the famous "mea culpa" speech he delivered at Harvard, in which he confessed, with wife-to-be Victoria Reggie in the audience: "I am painfully aware that the criticism directed at me in recent months involves far more than disagreements with my positions," said the senator, "or the usual criticism from the far right. It also involves the disappointment of friends and many others who rely on me to fight the good fight.

"To them I say, I recognize my own shortcomings — the faults in the conduct of my private life. I realize that I alone am responsible for them, and I am the one who must confront them."

Kennedy remarked that, unlike his brothers, "I have been given length of years and time. And as I approach my 60th birthday, I am determined to give all that I have to advance the causes for which I have stood for almost a quarter of a century."

Kennedy went on in 1994 to defeat a tough Republican challenger election by the name of Mitt Romney — the future governor of Massachusetts and 2008 contender for the GOP presidential nomination — with 58 percent of the vote.

Kennedy delivered one of the biggest blows to the presidential aspirations of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign on Jan. 28, 2008, when he rocked the political world with his unreserved endorsement of Barack Obama for president. His speech neatly cloaked Obama in the Camelot legacy of his iconic brothers:

"There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier," Kennedy said. "He faced criticism from the preceding Democratic president, who was widely respected in the party."

It was a reference to JFK antagonist Harry S. Truman.

The senator continued: "And John Kennedy replied, 'The world is changing. The old ways will not do . . . It is time for a new generation of leadership.

"So it is with Barack Obama," Kennedy concluded.

However, Kennedy's deteriorating health would limit his campaigning on Obama's behalf.

On May 17, 2008, Kennedy was airlifted to a Cape Cod hospital and received the diagnosis of malignant glioma: brain cancer. But those who thought even this setback would force Kennedy to retire from the public square were mistaken once again. His rousing appearance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention mobilized party faithful to unite behind Obama's candidacy.

"My fellow Americans . . . it is so wonderful to be here. And nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight!" he declared to loud applause.

After Obama won the presidency, Kennedy fought his declining health to do whatever he could to assist Obama's effort to yank the wheel of America's ship of state hard to the left. And when Obama visited Pope Benedict XVI in July, he delivered a personal letter from Kennedy, and asked that the Pope pray for him. And Kennedy continued to push for his lifelong dream of nationalized healthcare for all Americans.

Whenever he could muster the strength, Kennedy ventured onto his sailing yacht Mya with family and friends, ever eager to resume his lifelong love affair with the wind and water off the coast of Cape Cod. To the very end, it was a fitting image: Kennedy at the helm, sailing into an uncharted history that would judge both his accomplishments and his failings.

Kennedy was the second-longest-serving member of the Senate, behind only West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, and the third-longest-serving senator of all time.

The passing of Joseph P. Kennedy's last living son arguably concludes one of the most noteworthy chapters in the nation's political history. The younger family members who grew up in Ted Kennedy's shadow — the children, the grandchildren, the nieces and nephews — all ensure that the Kennedy legacy will endure for generations to come.

In one of his speeches, Joseph's youngest son spoke of carrying forward the legacy that comes with being a Kennedy.

"Like my three brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard," he said, "sustained by their memory of our priceless years together. I shall strive to carry forward that special commitment to justice, to excellence, and courage that distinguished their lives."

[Editor's Note: Read “The Last Lion of Camelot: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 1932-2009” Go here now.]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Proft for Governor

If you are unhappy with the direction party leaders are taking this state, I believe Dan is the man.


August 25, 2009

I Thought I Was Running in the Republican Primary, Part 2

There are two kinds of candidates in the GOP race for Governor: candidates who want to bicker as to the best way to finance the status quo; and me—the candidate who has thrown down the gauntlet to take on the status quo.

So what distinguishes my opponents from their Democratic counterparts? What policy proposals do they bring to the table that suggests they are ready to present a clear, contrast vision to the Chicago 9’s reign? You be the judge:

State Sen. Matt Murphy claims he is against tax increases to balance the state budget. But just yesterday, he was quoted in Crain’s as favoring more borrowing; the exact thing that Springfield legislators did this summer. The interest payments on state debt will eventually be paid not by the bond fairies but by Illinois taxpayers through increased state levies. In other words, more borrowing is nothing more than a backdoor tax increase. Wrong answer.

Borrowing from tomorrow to pay for yesterday should not be the Republican strategy.

In that same article, Murphy also proposed a massive expansion of gambling to include a Chicago casino and slot machines at O’Hare. Wrong answer.

Sen. Murphy voted against the $3.5 billion borrowing scheme earlier this summer but supports borrowing. Sen. Murphy voted against the video gambling expansion to fund the capital construction bill but he supports massive gambling expansion.

Perhaps Murphy’s objections to the Chicago Democrats taxing and spending and borrowing schemes are that they were too modest in scope?

DuPage County President Bob Schillerstrom is leading the charge against video poker in DuPage County to finance infrastructure programs. I agree with him on this point. Gambling is both effectively a regressive tax as well as an unreliable revenue stream. Further, gambling expansion is a crutch for politicians who do not want to make tough decisions about spending and who are not serious about fundamentally restructuring the big ticket systems in state government.

But Schillerstrom suggests replacing one regressive tax with three others. In place of gambling revenue, he told the Daily Herald that he would consider hiking the gasoline tax, the alcohol tax, and vehicle fees on top of the increases on these items already slated to take effect next year.

Any credible candidate must recognize that Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

Schillerstrom would replace one regressive tax with an even worse regressive tax. Hiking the tax on gasoline not only disproportionately punishes low and middle income families; it also increases the cost of doing business at a time when businesses are fleeing Illinois like it is on fire. Wrong answer.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, the self-proclaimed “camera-ready” Hinsdale Republican, who by the way appeared in a campaign commercial for Barack Obama, voted for the video gambling expansion to fund state infrastructure. Three months later, he said his vote was a mistake but that he had a “gun to his head” and had to vote yea on the bill. In his own words, Sen. Dillard confirms that he isn’t willing to stand up to pressure from entrenched interests.

Other milestones along Dillard’s long path of least resistance to the Chicago 9 include being one of only four GOP State Senators to cross party lines in order to vote for Rod Blagojevich’s $10 billion bond scheme in 2003 -- a deal which doubled the state’s bonded indebtedness in one fell swoop.

Last year, Dillard was one of only three GOP State Senators to vote to increase the sales tax in Cook and the collar counties to bail out the mismanaged Regional Transit Authority (which was really a bailout of CTA), an entity that is already subsidized by the state for half of its operating budget each year. Dillard has said his vote to hike the sales tax was in exchange for more suburban control of RTA. The reality is his vote financed the status quo without substantially shifting the balance of power away from Chicago.

Conceding the important points to Democrats, my opponents instead choose to quibble over the details. They support more borrowing or higher taxes or expanded gambling or all of the above.

At least the Democrats are transparent about their tax hikes. They come right out and tell you they want to jack the state income tax and state corporate income tax by 50%. These GOP officeholders are proposing hidden tax increases at the same time as they are congratulating themselves for opposing the Democrats’ tax increases.

My opponents are wrapped up in the minutiae of how best to finance the status quo whereas I want to fight the status quo with bold, system change ideas.

I am the only candidate who has proposed cutting taxes on productive activities like work and investment. Specifically, where Gov. Quinn and Mike Madigan want to increase state income taxes 50%, I have proposed cutting them by 50%. I have also proposed eliminating the state’s graduated estate tax so that grandma and grandpa might consider retiring in Illinois.

I am the only candidate who has proposed statutory spending caps on state government while unequivocally stating my opposition to more borrowing and expanding gambling.

For Republicans who think our state’s problems can be solved by tinkering on the margins and through closer cooperation with the current power structure, there are plenty of those options in this primary.

For Republicans who think it is time we un-fix Illinois and re-establish our party as one with big policy ideas that flow from clearly defined first principles that substantively address the pressing issues of the day, there is only one option, Proft for Governor.

The Republican Party is in danger of wasting the historic opportunity it has to take back Illinois for the people who play by the rules in this state.

If we want to seize the opportunity, we need to put forward a candidate for Governor ready, willing, and able to impose a reckoning on those currently in power; to present a clear conservative reform agenda; and to articulate a cogent, contrast vision for Illinois.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Proft for Governor

This guy talks like I think. And sometimes can put in words. He is the most outstanding candidate who doesn't sound like a career politician.


August 24, 2009

Dan Wins Murphy/Dillard/Brady Pillowfight

Who Do You Want Taking the Fight to the Chicago 9?

The Illinois Republican Party has a historic opportunity to take back control of Illinois on behalf of the people who play by the rules and have borne the cost of a state government wired to benefit the politicians and the politically-connected at their expense.

However, House Speaker Mike Madigan and the other members of the Chicago 9 who have run Illinois into the ground will not relinquish power without a fight. This is serious business to them. They derive their incomes and their power from their control of public resources.

We need a conservative reform candidate for Governor who takes this as seriously as they do.

We need a conservative reform candidate for Governor who is willing to go toe-to-toe with the Chicago 9.

Who will lead this fight against Madigan’s minions for the GOP? I was asked this question after a campaign appearance yesterday afternoon.


We have three state senators who have had ample opportunity to distinguish themselves in Springfield.

They all claim to have “put in the good fight in Springfield.” So let’s look at the results:

In the last 10 years state spending has increased at 8 times population growth (in real terms). Unemployment is at a 25-year high and businesses are fleeing this state like it’s on fire because they cannot shoulder the tax and regulatory burdens imposed on them by state government.

If my opponents—Sens. Kirk Dillard, Bill Brady, and Matt Murphy—have been fighting the good fight, then they clearly aren’t punching their weight. They are not innocent bystanders.

Sens. Dillard and Brady have been in Springfield for the last 15 years. During that time, every major system in state government has deteriorated even as our taxes have gone up. Our K-12 school system is saddled with stagnant test scores and sagging graduation rates. Our economic climate has become increasingly hostile to business. We have disinvested in our transportation infrastructure, our comparative advantage. And we have the largest unfunded pension liability in the nation.

Against this backdrop, what bona fides do my opponents present as to why they should be Governor?

Sen. Dillard brags that he is “camera-ready and has enough charisma to make people want to listen to him”.

Sen. Brady offers that from his previous run for Governor in 2006 the only thing he learned was that Illinois is “a big state”.

Sen. Murphy believes he should be elected Governor because he “never met George Ryan”.

Is there anything in these routines that represent the kind of conservative reform leadership the GOP needs to be successful in 2010?

Do you think these empty bromides are how we take the fight to the Chicago 9, hold them accountable, and build non-traditional coalitions around issues of common interest to advance conservative reform and system-change ideas from rhetoric into reality?

By contrast, our campaign is putting forward system change ideas:

• The Chicago 9 want to raise taxes by 50%. I aim to cut the state income tax and the state corporate tax by 50% to spur entrepreneurship and economy growth.

• The Springfield political class—both parties—believe one-time spending cuts, video gambling, and regressive taxes are the way to balance the state budget. I believe we need to impose statutory spending caps on state government to permanently restrain the growth of government and get us off the hamster wheel of annual budget “crises”.

• The Springfield political class—both parties—are content to tinker on the margins of K-12 education, open up a few more charter schools and call that reform. I have offered a plan that will extend opportunity to low- to moderate-income families in Illinois whose children are relegated to schools we know will fail them. We invest in families not bureaucracies. We change how the money flow and who gets to make spending decisions and unleash the creativity that competition engenders.

Every GOP primary voter has a choice to make. Do they want more of the same or are they ready for something qualitatively different?


Divorce Style - 2009

Forwared to me by email from a friend. I pretty much agree with this email's contents but when I trade my vehicle, it won't be for a GM product.

Betcha. And this article was probably not written by a "John Wall". Betcha, also. Here is the email:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU, and abortion clinics. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell...

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood ..

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks, and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain You can also have the U.N., but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be happy to substitute I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag..

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in 15 years.


John J.. Wall
Law Student and an American

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand and Jane Fonda with you.


__________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 4319 (20090809) __________

The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus.

Road to Ruination - A Politically Correct World

One comment on this site compared Muslims to Catholics. Hardly. Political correctness says a cartoonist doesn't put in print an unflattering cartoon of Muhammad or within hours of its publication there will be a demand for its withdrawal by many Muslim organizations. Draw an unflattering cartoon about the Pope or Jesus Christ and it will be displayed by the National Association of Arts in many politically correct museums. Write something like the "Jewel of Medina" by Sherry Jones and have publishing companies like Random House refuse to distribute it for fear of causing "death and riots" by these "politically correct from their deranged viewpoints" Muslim radicals.

Most of us know the story of Salman Rushdie, still in hiding to this day to escape an open season death warrant of this writer, riots, and the murder of the book's Japanese translator due to a universal fatwa issued by a leading Muslim head "Aztec" priest.

Articles published in the WSJ that point out the dangers of radical Islam in this country. Refer to "You Still Can't Write About Muhammad" by Asra Q. Nomani printed in the WSJ on 8/6/08. (She is also the Muslim author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam").

The Muslim American Society of Minnesota appears not to be what it's title claims: American. This organization sanctions the beating of wives by Muslims, and regularly promote "going on on jihads with the ambition to die as martyrs". See "Charter Schools Shouldn't Promote Islam" by Katherine Kersten, WSJ, 6/14/08. This article and two columns written for the Star Tribune prompted "politically correct" State Representative, Mindy Greiling, to call for her to be fired from the newspaper.

The always political correct University of Michigan, spent $26,000 to provide footbaths for Muslim students and set up "women only" gym hours for Muslim students.

There are many Muslims I honor, some in our own community and especially Somalian Muslim, and former Dutch parliamentarian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, now basically in hiding from radical (terrorists and potential terrorists) Islamic Muslims and fearful for her life and others who befriend her.

Arnold Toynbee gets credit for saying that "Civilizations die from suicide; not murder". Some suicidal pacifists across the world like in Sweden are saying we "should be nice to Muslims so they are nice to us when they are in power".

Just like many Germans and Japanese; there were many of German and Japanese descent who gave their bodies and their live to fight against Hitler and Hirohito, we need more people of Muslim descent who condemn the political correctness of the world as a more radical Muslim element carefully works their way to take away our American freedoms; some freedoms in the form of "multiculturalism".

The meek may inherit the earth, such as it may be, after the political correct wolves in sheep's clothing stun the meek and these wolves will become the inheritors after the meek.

I have a diverse file on Muslims and have read a minimum of 10 books on the subject. Also, refer to my blog of 2/1/08 referring the threat the Europeans and soon, us, are and will be, facing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dilemma of a Public School Teacher?

An email passed to me by a friend:

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

'Let me see if I've got this right.

'You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

'You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

'You want me to teach them good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

'You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

'You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

'You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

'You want me to do all this and then you tell me...... I CAN'T PRAY?


Patrick McManamon from the Akron Beacon Journal writes in the JS, " Governments wonder why people think they're out of touch. In South Florida, officials have admitted a new stadium for the Florida Marlins will cost $2.4 billion (that's with a 'B') because bonds will be repaid over such a long time. They call it "backloaded". Seems like the only ones down there being backloaded are the taxpayers".

Patrick, South Florida is not alone. Backloading costs for the Peoria Public Library expansion boosts the costs from $27 million to approximately $50 million and the new Bel-Wood Nursing home from $41 million to $74 million. Just like the government, the money is almost all borrowed. Now add the bonds for the $72 million committed for Peoria Public School System expansion and the the downtown museum and you have another close to $200 million. Plus the upcoming sewer reconstruction and additions. Peorians are taking on a "world of backloading debt", just like our state and federal governments.

it used to be that the private sector took on the risk of borrowing. Today, governments are risking your money on projections they believe are in your best interests. The only "necessity" mentioned above is the sewer system. New public schools have never been proven to boast student performance.

And possibly another bunch of "millions" for the new hotel. Or hotels?
And speaking of ball clubs, why do you think the "privately" owned Peoria Chiefs ball club has never turned a profit in any year? Too much "backloading".

We may may or may not become a world class city but we are guaranteed to have a world class load of debt for future generations.

Friday, August 21, 2009

We Better be Paying Attention to Immigration Especially of Fundamentalist Muslims

This email (see below)has been sent to me by several friends. It contains a lot of truths and is most disturbing.

I just finished reading two books, one by an Italian respected scholar and famous author, Umberto Eco, titled "Turning Back the Clock", a man concerned about a populist press, politics, education, ethics, and where our troubled world is heading.

The second book "Surrender", 'appeasing Islam, sacrificing freedom', by Bruce Bawer, one of our times leading cultural critics, is a more disturbing book. Quoting the Koran, "Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do not prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of SUPERIORITY and they are in a state of subjection." ---The Koran, Sura 9.29.

Bawer also wrote, "While Europe Slept", trying to sound the alarm about the dire impact of Muslim immigration on Europe.

Our greatest fear is that we believe that Muslims are just like us. Believing that most Muslims migrating to Europe, the United States, Africa and other countries are not just like the "melting pot" we once were, is and will become disaster for the American way of life. Most Muslims are fundamentalists, they have a higher birthrate than most ethnic groups, they believe their religion is superior to ours and they themselves have been openly warring against non-believers or those with different beliefs even in their own Muslim societies - Shites vs. Sunni as in Iraq.

Many in this country do not believe what are the proven facts. One major fact is that we have not been attacked more violently than we have, is because of a combination of political correctness, intellectuals, religious leaders and media, many pacifists with these groups trying to appease radical Islam at the cost of our most cherished values: freedom of speech and freedom of press. And eventually, the imposition of sharia law in places where liberty once reigned.

With all these goals being attained peacefully, why attack violently? That is planned for later in this century when enough legal and illegal immigrants, mainly from third world countries, with their new brand of Jihad have peacefully lured us into submission.

Look no further than old Europe. While we are enjoying our pleasures and circuses and computer games, text-messaging stupidity, there are those with a different take on the meaning of freedom and are plotting to impose their "superior" beliefs on us.

It may to late to say "wake up, America" but it will be if we don't pay closer attention as to what is going on in the world.

Here is the email.

Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law, St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning the Presidential election of November 2008:
Number of States won by: Democrats:19 Republicans: 29
Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Democrats:127 million Republicans: 143 million
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Democrats: 13.2 Republicans: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Republican won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country. Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler 's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegals and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years. If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message.

If you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peoria's New City Manager - Scott Moore

Welcome to the City of Peoria, Scott Moore. Like all city manager's before you, your work is cut out. The Journal Star headline calls you a "team player". In all my years of seeing City managers come and go, I suggest that if Peoria Mayors continue to be the team leader and you join us as a "team player", the game of who will next fill the "musical chairs (city managers) will continue.

Peoria County has had the same "manager" for almost nine years and most likely he will stay longer and we want him to stay. The board chairman and board sets policy and our administrator (manager) advises the strength and weaknesses of the policies we outline. Then our administrator leads the way knowing he will not always be 100% right and will seldom be able to please ALL.

Of course we need team players but at all times governmental bodies similar to the private sector, badly need team "leaders" who earn the respect of the "team". To come to Peoria with an open mind, an open heart and an open door policy, inviting community partners to city discussions, reaching out to neighborhood association leaders, etc. That makes good sound bites but sounds too similar to what all your predecessors said. They came and left.

This community is looking for a leader that can lead while placating, and yes, listening to) the many strong ego's who believe that only they and those that agree with them, know what is best for the citizens of Peoria.

What we need most are businesses that come and stay. We are on overload with taxpayer funded enhancements that attract people to come visit and but live elsewhere, most often; nearby.

Observe well, be a good listener and take the lead to right this debt-laden "tilting ship".

Our best wishes to you and as a county board member and former businessman, I look forward to your leadership towards more unified. efficient and fiscally responsible local government.

In closing, I quote our last City Manager, Randy Oliver, when he was hired in 2003. "We're (he and his family) looking for someplace that we're going to stay for a long period of time. we're looking for a right fit and this place looks like a right fit. I think the cultural amenities are great. The next part that has to go hand in hand with that is the residential and commercial development".

We have the cultural amenities. Or as much as the private sector seems to want to commit as the museum seems to have gotten water-logged down by the river. The residential appears to mainly move OUT. North, NorthWest and across the river. The commercial development; I'll leave to the judgement of the reader. And Randy Oliver left in four years.

Strong leaders in both the public and private sector are in demand. This community, I hope, is looking for a strong leader. If you are it, I hope the council, mayor and the voter, recognizes our need for your leadership.

Breaking News

The Peoria City/Peoria County Landfill Committee voted unanimously this morning to recommend to the full City Council and the full County Board that Peoria Disposal Company to be the next operator of the City/County Landfill expansion at Edwards. PDC will take over the operation from Waste Management at the end of the current contract.

The committee is made up of myself, Brad Harding and Bob Akers from the County and Ryan Spain, Steve Van Winkle and Dave Barber from the city and Lester Bergsten as our Chairman.

More information will appear at appropriate times on this site as details are worked out. As the committee wound its way down to a final vote, it is noted that the multi-hundred million dollar contract major step had no members (to my knowledge) of anyone from the media present.

Stay tuned to this site for "breaking news".

University of Chicago Medical Center

This bit of patronage payback didn't miss my eye. I blogged on this sad indictment of our patronage system, always present in both parties but especially in Obama's Democrat led mess we have in Washington, D.C.

I received this reminder from my daughter Nancy Ann Cripe from Waterloo, Illinois.

Thanks, Nancy


Replacing Michelle
This is Too Interesting Not to Forward

At the top right hand corner of Page 17 of the New York Post of January 24th, 2009 , was a short column entitled "Replacing Michelle" in the National Review "The Week" column.

I found this interesting, so here it is, word for word, as it appeared in the POST:

Some employees are simply irreplaceable. Take Michelle Obama:

The University of Chicago Medical center hired her in 2002 to run "programs for community relations, neighborhood outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff diversity and minority contracting" .

In 2005 the hospital raised her salary from $120,000 to $317,000 - nearly twice what her husband made as a Senator.

Oh did we mention that her husband had just become a US Senator? He sure had. Requested a $1 million earmark for the UC Medical Center, in fact. Way
to network Michelle!

But now that Mrs. Obama has resigned, the hospital says her position will remain unfilled.. How can that be, if the work she did was vital enough to be worth $317,000?

Let me add that Michelle's position was a part time, 20 hour a week job. And to think they were critical of Blagoyovich' s wife for taking $100,000 in "fuzzy real estate commission."

My thoughts: How did this bit of quid pro quo corruption escape the sharp reporters that dug through Sarah Palin's garbage and kindergarten files?


Monday, August 17, 2009

City Slickers

So said Karen McDonald, JS reporter quoting me as saying "It is no secret that this county board is made up of 'city slickers', a term we farmers used when we were described by city folks as 'hayseeds', 'he just fell off the turnip truck' and other less friendly monikers. Karen was describing my comments when 70 people from Hallock Township (previously 100 names from Hallock Twp. had been submitted in opposition to some of the actual or perceived restrictions in the revised land use plan) showed up to ask that some changes be made before the board voted on a new Comprehensive County Land Use Plan. I said, "It is very difficult for me to say that this is the right plan to do right now" (tonight) after Board member Brian Elsasser moved to delay the vote for further study until the October full board meeting. His motion, seconded by myself, failed.

Bob Baietto added that this plan was approved by committee and it should be approved now. Bob's reasoning was that it was approved by committee deserves a little more scrutiny. The committee was made up of a diverse group of 15 people. When the committee voted to approve the plan only 10 of the 15 showed up to vote. The vote was taken and approved by an 8-2 vote to recommend passage by the full County Board. I surmised that if five didn't feel strongly enough about passage and 2 actually opposed passage by their vote, that made it appear that the vote was actually 8 yeas and 7 nays. Combined with the fact that seventy people showed up asking for further consideration for the plan, I do not feel that this plan, the first of it's kind in the state, I'm told, could not have been put off for two months.

All in attendance agreed we want to have "smart growth". The term, while sounding good, is always debatable as to its meaning. One Hallock dissenter, Ron Noe, was mis-quoted as saying that "residents want to build anywhere without being forced to go through county channels". What was said was that residents want smart growth in Environmental Corridors, corridors protected from destruction by over-development, without going through restrictions and controls which e felt, were not really plans.

My feelings were that when the vote for any plan is that close, five committee members didn't even show up to vote, it sure appears to me that these five shouldn't have been on the committee, when 70 protesters, this number not even mentioned by the JS reporter, took the time and effort to appear before the full board, that the full board should hear more of the dialogue that went on in Comprehensive Land Planning Committee meetings.

Now that the plan has passed, we will see. If Hallock Township builders run into what they deem to be unreasonable County Planning and Zoning road-blocks, if these people make their reasoning available to board members like myself, their voices will be heard. On the final vote, I supported the position of Planning and Zoning and the Land Use Chairperson and the majority of the board. We will see what transpires over the next few years.

We all hope that the plan, somewhat similair to one last worked out in 1992 and amended in 1996, is beneficial to the whole county. After all, the overwhelming majority of voters want to see Peoria County grow in a reasonably planned manner.

On the other hand, not all counties are created equal and not all majorities (and committees) have gotten everything right. Just look locally and to Springfield or D.C.

County Budget Problems

Rest assured, dear property tax payer, that this County Board will not be passing any property or sales taxes disguised as fees but this county will be looking at businesses and others whose properties are alledgedly under-assessed. Let the sheriff raise some fees on law-breakers. There, I have no problem.

It was called to our attention in recent days that a small % of businesses tax records reviewed showed that 13 businesses have been allegedly under-assessed by an annual average amount of $2,341,639.00. Nine of these businesses are owned by out of state corporations. All this while a large number of residential properties have actually been over-assessed, not "alledged".

See Dewayne Bartels, Peoria-Times Observer on the net or his upcoming exposure in Wednesday's newspaper.

Come to our full board meeting on September 10 when citizen Del Bertschy will make a 2nd presentation before the full board as to why and how this could be happening.

Rachel Parker for County Board?

A small rumor I picked tonight that Peoria District #150 Board Member Rachel Parker may be running for the Democrat slot currently occupied on the County Board by Democrat Bud Sous.


Peoria's Armadillo

"Will it Play in Peoria" hit the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today as part of a front page story about Police Chief Settingsgaard's efforts to harass drug dealers and other nuisances that plague 'this industrial city, hard hit by the recession'." So says the headline, 'Armadillo Plays Well in Peoria but is Panned by Drug Dealers'. While lauding Peoria's efforts, the WSJ couldn't help but describe "Peoria as an 'industrial' city, affected by 10% unemployment, with drug trafficking that plagues pockets of the city marked by boarded windows, littered lawns and noise complaints".

Where is Brent Lonteen and Henry Hollings when we need someone to tell media giants that Peoria is indeed, a "world class city"? And, yes, where is Mr. Lonteen??

Overall, a good article and it brings up Peoria as being innovative. Unfortunately, the City has a lot of baggage to carry with #150, lots of under-assessed properties, (also, lots of OVER-assesed residential properties) empty big and small box stores, budget dollar shortages and more drug users than drug dealers.

Charter Schools - Competition to the Public Sector

See my comments at the end of this release.



August 13, 2009

Expanding Choice, Improving Education

Dan's Plan to Increase the Number of Illinois Charter Schools

Every parent, regardless of income or address, should be able to choose the best school for their child. A Proft Administration will:

(1) Allow for the expansions of charter schools to meet the demand by removing the artificial caps on the number of charter schools. Right now demand vastly exceeds supply as highlighted by the fact that there are 13,000 children on the waiting list for charter schools in Chicago alone; and

(2) Set up an independent review process to remove the curious current protocol whereby charter schools require approval from local school boards that have an incentive to deny them and prevent competition.

This coming school year, two new charter schools are opening in the City of Rockford – Galapagos Rockford Charter School and Legacy Academy of Excellence. A third, CICS Rockford Charter School, is scheduled to open in 2010. Rockford has a high school graduation rate of 40% -- less than even the abysmal Chicago Public School system – so the city’s embrace of choice and competition to improve the quality of students’ education is a good sign.

Rockford’s three new charter schools bring the grand total of non-Chicago charter schools in Illinois to an even dozen. That’s it; twelve across the entire state.

That’s 12 charter schools for approximately 1.7 million non-Chicago students in Illinois.

Outside of private schools, Illinois’ charter schools offer some of the best education in the state. Charter school students routinely outperform district averages in key academic fields, such as reading, math, science and writing.

So why are there so few charter schools to accommodate the thousands of Illinois students who want to attend them? Despite virtually universal praise for charter schools in Chicago, even by Mayor Daley, why are so few families afforded the opportunity to choose a charter school for their children?

Because Illinois places an arbitrary, teachers’ union-pleasing cap on the number of charter schools it permits to operate.

A 2007 Friedman Foundation survey found that 23% of Illinois parents would send their kids to a charter school, yet, outside of Chicago, only 2% of Illinois families have that choice.

If the goal of state education is to educate children, and if charter schools are proven better at doing that than their public-school counterparts, it stands to reason that Illinois would want to have as many charter schools as demand supports – not as the politicians in Springfield permit.

But that’s not the way the education system works in Springfield. The failing school systems in Illinois—and there are many—are set up for the convenience and benefit of the adults in the system.

This is why you have the paradox in Illinois of K-12 systems that no one in power wants to defend and yet no one in power wants to change. That means someone’s interests are being served by the status quo and it certainly isn’t the students', who are not being taught to read, write, or think critically.

A Proft Administration would expand choice in Illinois by lifting the arbitrary cap on charter schools and end the local district school boards’ monopoly on the charter-school application process. Even with the ability to appeal the local school board decision on a prospective charter school to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), this process neither meets the standard of independence or due process. According to the Illinois Policy Institute, out of 41 appeals since 1998, ISBE has overturned the local board’s decision just twice.

It’s yet another system in Illinois that isn’t broken. It’s fixed.

We “un-fix” it by:

• Eliminating the charter school cap.

• Create an independent charter school board charged with authorizing new charter schools.

Creating a new authorization agency would allow charter-school applicants another, more equitable avenue to submit an application, free from local bureaucratic politics. The agency would be modeled off the Washington, D.C., Charter School Board, which the Center for Education Reform has called “the gold standard in charter school accountability.”

Under this proposal, a Proft Administration would unleash the potential in charter-school education across Illinois. Together with my proposed “Universal Clout Program for Education,” we will expand choice for parents and introduce competition into school systems that are withering away without it.

Only then will we see improvements in our children’s education.


Charter schools are a proven success. Among the dozens or articles I have accumulated, all agree that the failing public sector needs competition. On August 13,2009, the WSJ published an article by Ann Marie Chaker, "Expanding the Charter Option" quoting Andrea Byrd who moved to Memphis and enrolled her 14 year old son in a public school: "Andre, a straight A student, started dumbing himself down, (see my blogs of May 13, 2008 and 5/28/05 on "dumbing down") to fit himself in with other students. A charter school had recently opened but Tennessee law required that her son be considered low-performing which he wasn't.

But all that changed when Tennessee enacted a law for charter schools to also include kids from low income families. He was enrolled the same day he filled out his application."

The U.S. Department of Education is engaged in a high pressure campaign to get states to lift limits on charter schools. "Race to the Top" is funded by $4 billion federal dollars. While 40 states permit charter schools, Illinois, among other states have detrimental restrictions hindering the growth of charter schools. Tennessee, is one of 7 states that have recently passed laws raising limits of charter schools; in the case of Tennessee, to 90 from 50 charter schools. Above is how Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Proft feels about charter schools.

Merle Widmer

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Government Accounting - Fulton and Peoria Counties

"Fulton County won't sell nursing home" reads an article by Kevin Sampler in today's JS. "The home has a net annual cost of about $750,000, according to the counties private auditor". Board Chairman, Ed Ketcham, thought it was losing over a million dollars. Ed, you are right but there is accounting for tax supported public bodies that differs from non-tax supported private bodies. The article said it took 30 minutes to explain it to you because, you like most board members confuse the two accounting systems.

Actually, the JS reporter tried to embarrass you in his article today because he doesn't understand the difference either. He said it took the auditor 30 minutes to explain why the loss was not over a million dollars, but $750,000 minus $334,000 and minus $400,00, why Ed, the nursing home almost made a profit! (Allen Mayer, Peoria County Board Democrat, said the same thing while Bel-wood collected almost $3,000,000.00 in property taxes in 2008, showing a substantial actual loss by ANY private business standard. Carol Trumpe, Republican Board member said the same basic thing).

Here is a simple answer as to why the loss was not just $750,000 but a loss of $334,000 in property taxes coming from county taxpayers which could be returned to their pockets plus $400,000 transferred from the counties General Fund (property taxpayers dollars that could be returned to taxpayer's pockets) to support all indirect costs such as retirement, social security, etc., just like Bel-Wood in Peoria County, all out of the property taxpayers pockets.

So the actual loss by the Clayberg Nursing Home was $750,000 plus $334,000 plus $400,000 or well over a million dollars.

So how does public accounting differ from the private sector accounting? The private nursing home sector does not collect the indirect costs from the taxpayers, $400,000 and growing every year, nor does the private sector get to collect the $334,000 in direct property taxes. Even with $734,000 subsidized by the property tax payers in Fulton County, the Clayberg Nursing Home still lost $750,000.00

Pretty simple but government elected officials and public workers, as well as the auditors who audit government bodies, know where their bread is buttered.

Anything else? Yes the private sector pays property taxes; they do not collect them. So Fulton County loses these taxes adding to the $750,000 actual loss, the $334,000 and the $400,000 SUBSIDIZED TAXES all because the majority of board members believe they need to provide a "safety net" for the poor. Tazewell County does not have a county run nursing home (they got out the business long ago) yet only 10 or so, Tazewell residents make up the 260 Bel-Wood Nursing home population.

I'll make it simpler yet. Sell the home than you won't have a $750,000 operating cost, give the #334,000 back to the taxpayers or at least don't take this money from them and ditto all the indirect taxes now $400,000 and counting.

And you still have a nursing home paying taxes.

I know some auditors and financial officers read my blogs. I dare them to refute what I just blogged.

Good grief! And neither do I have an accounting degree. Just a modicum of common sense. Nor do I have a Journalism degree.

Storm Water Inlet Complaint - Judges Decision

Terry Bibo did a good job covering the story in today's JS.

I will make no additions or further comments because of options I'm considering.

In the meantime drive by and take a look at this public hazard on city property. Yes, it is on city property and not on private property which I thought I had proven.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dan Proft for Governor of the State of Illinois


August 11, 2009

A Universal Clout Program For Education

A Radical Idea: An Education System Built For Children

This is a simple, but revolutionary idea: every child in our state should have the opportunity for a quality education that is chosen for him by his family. My campaign is reaching out to any willing ally in this fight.

On Sunday, I had the privilege of visiting the congregation of Bishop Simon Gordon’s Triedstone Full Gospel Baptist Church on Chicago’s Southside to speak about the urgency of reforming Illinois’ K-12 education system. This community already knows full well the failures of the Chicago Public School system. Many also know that, because of their address and their income, they have no option other than the CPS schools that routinely fail to educate their children. They don’t have the clout necessary to send their children to University of Chicago Lab schools like Barack Obama did, for instance.

See video:

What surprised them was just how bad CPS really is—how much money is funneled into a system that largely fails to give its students the opportunity to earn a quality education.

Like most people, they were shocked to learn that CPS spends MORE than the state average per child per year. In fact, on a per graduate basis, CPS’s $22,000 is nearly twice the state average and even more than New Trier High School.

For this sizeable investment, CPS only graduates half of its students and only 6 in 100 CPS freshmen will earn a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25.

For minority children, the numbers are even more depressing: only 3 in 100 will get a BA by age 25. Frankly, these numbers are more than unacceptable. In my view, they constitute child abuse.

I found that the Bishop Gordon’s Triedstone family agreed with my assessment.

Many people on the campaign trail ask me why I spend so much time talking about CPS. First and foremost, it is because of my fervent belief that every child should have access to the opportunity to earn a quality education.

Second, something else you may not know: you’re paying for this failure. CPS’s primary source of funding is state tax money, not local Chicago property taxes.

The children of this failed system deserve better stewardship of their futures, and taxpayers throughout the state deserve better stewardship of their dollars. And I intend to give it to them. And here’s how:

While the magnitude of the failure of this tax-run system may be news to you, here’s something we all know: clout is how you get things done in Illinois. That’s how you get your child into a good school in Chicago. That’s how you get your child into the University of Illinois. That’s how you get a plum job in state government.

See video:

So, if clout is what you need, then I propose we give it to everyone.

In a Proft Administration, every family would be able to send their child to the school of their choice. Instead of sending education dollars to centralized bureaucracies like CPS, a Proft Administration will attach those dollars to the students, allowing their parents to choose which school is best for their child.

Every qualifying family would receive state education money directly, not through some bureaucracy, but in the form of a check you can use to pay for your child’s education.

In a Proft Administration, the child in Kenwood would have the same opportunity as the child in Wheaton. The child in Austin would have the same opportunity as the child in Wilmette. Kenwood has clout. Austin has clout. And every child will have more clout than the president of the teachers union.

That is the fundamental idea behind my proposed “Universal Clout Program for Education.” Here’s how it works:

• Any family in Illinois whose child qualifies for the free or reduced federal school lunch program– approximately 900,000 children in this state–would receive a check from the state to apply to the school of their choice. This scholarship money could only be used for a child’s education.

• That amount of the check would correspond to the amount of money the district gets from non-local sources. This alone would routinely be enough to avail children of quality options at the K-12 level.

• In addition, all Illinois families would be able to use Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), like the federal Coverdell Savings Account, toward their elementary or secondary education expenses for any school of their choice. This way, even if the scholarship provided under my plan didn’t cover the cost of tuition at a particular school, the scholarship could provide the necessary leverage when added to tax-exempt savings through an ESA for a family to afford virtually any school of their choosing.

To be clear, I am NOT proposing reducing the state’s investment in education. I am proposing changing how the money flows and changing who gets to make decisions about how Illinois taxpayers’ dollars are spent on K-12 education. Rather than investing in a bureaucracy, a Proft Administration would invest in our students.

That is a simple, yet radical, idea. And to make it come to life, we need to reach out to anyone and everyone who shares our desire to give kids more clout than bureaucrats and political operatives. This includes parents across the state, taxpayers from Zion to Cairo, public school teachers who are just as frustrated and angry with CPS as I am, my friends at Triedstone and every other community of faith in Illinois. We can build the “non-traditional” coalition required to achieve “non-traditional” reform of the K-12 systems in Illinois that are not getting the job done.

Join us.


Peoria County Wage Freeze

Steve Sonnemaker, County Clerk released the following information: "The County Clerk will comply with the proposed hiring freeze policy. However, as stated with the county board's policy, certain exceptions may apply. Employee replacement, due to reductions of employee's through retirement of other forms of employment termination will be addressed based on need as any employee reductions will reduce our ability to perform our mission and serve the public in an efficient manner.

The county clerk will enact a wage freeze until further notice for all county clerk employees not covered under contract (union). Due to legal limitations on the county board's ability to reduce an elected officials salary, in the course of one's term, I, as the elected County Clerk will make a check, from personal funds, payable to the county each month beginning in December, 2009 (date when the county board approved 4% salary increase goes into effect) in an amount that will equal the benefit I would have received from the increase through November, 2010."

Thanks, Steve. In his July 30 release, Steve listed other cost reductions actions he is taking. A copy of his full statement may be received from our Administrative Secretary, Patricia Sims. I will post any other elected officials statements similar to Steve's as I hear of them.