Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hastert case, should Judge Durkin recuse himself?

CHICAGO - The case the federal government has built against former U.S. House Speaker Denny Hastert was assigned Thursday to U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin, an appointee of President Barack Obama and the brother of Illinois House GOP Leader Jim Durkin.
Judge Thomas Durkin was confirmed to the federal bench three years ago and was a partner in the law firm Mayer Brown, where Hastert's son, Ethan, is an attorney.

I'm creeped out!

El Creepo
How did an asshole like this get elected to any public office much less be the Speaker of the House? What does it say about our system of government?
The Los Angeles Times, which was the first to report the specifics, cited two federal law enforcement officials, one of whom said Hastert paid a male to keep quiet about allegations that the former speaker molested him back in his coaching days.
The official said the case had nothing to do with public corruption or Hastert's time in elected office.
The indictment accused Hastert of agreeing to pay the money to a person identified in the document only as "Individual A," to "compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against" that person.
It noted that Hastert was a high school history teacher and coach from 1965 to 1981 in suburban Yorkville, west of Chicago. It went on to say that Individual A has been a resident of Yorkville and has known Hastert for most of Individual A's life, but it did not describe their relationship.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Another reason why we need term limits

Former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who was indicted Thursday on charges of concealing bank withdrawals related to a secret $1.7 million payoff, made a fortune through real estate investments before leaving Congress.
In one controversial trans­action conducted through a trust, Hastert reaped millions of dollars by selling farmland near the site of a proposed highway that was to be financed in part with funds that the then-speaker had earmarked.
The rise in Hastert’s personal wealth during his time in Congress was a marked change in lifestyle for the former high school teacher and wrestling coach.

When he arrived in Washington in 1987, Hastert’s biggest asset was a 104-acre farm in southern Illinois that his wife inherited, worth between $50,000 and $100,000, according to his personal financial disclosure. By the time the Illinois Republican left 20 years later, his reported assets had swelled to between $3.1 million and $11.3 million, largely because of his investments in farmland in booming parts of Illinois.
Hastert then embarked on a lucrative career as a lobbyist, getting tapped last year to lead the government relations practice at the firm Dickstein Shapiro. His clients there included Peabody Energy, the Secure ID Coalition, Lorillard Tobacco and Fuels America, according to lobbying records. He resigned from the firm Thursday.
It was not until after he was elected speaker in 1999 that Has­tert began stepping up his land investments, parlaying some early real estate deals and a small inheritance he had from his father.
By the mid-2000s, Hastert and two partners had amassed 138 acres of farmland outside Plano, Ill., several miles from the proposed site of the Prairie Parkway, a highway connector that would have cut through the northern Illinois countryside.
The then-House speaker’s ownership of the property was not a public record, as it was held under a blind land trust called the Little Rock Trust No. 225, which identified only one partner in public filings: Dallas Ingemunson, a local GOP leader and longtime political mentor to Hastert.
At the time, Hastert was championing the highway, which opponents said would tear up the farming region and hasten its suburbanization.
“Our sense was this was being crammed down the throats of a rural community backed by commercial interests, and we called him the chief cheerleader of the project,” said Jan Strasma of the Citizens Against the Sprawlway, a local group against the construction of the Prairie Parkway. “He had the power and could put so much money behind the project, it was hard to oppose.”
Hastert eventually earmarked $207 million for the $1 billion parkway project in a federal transportation bill, which then-President George W. Bush signed during a trip to Hastert’s district in August 2005.
“The Prairie Parkway is crucial for economic development in Kendall and Kane counties,” Bush said during the signing, held at a Caterpillar plant before thousands.
Four months after the bill was signed, Hastert’s trust sold the land to a real estate developer who planned to build 1,700 homes on the parcel. Hastert’s share of the proceeds was worth more than $3 million, Ingemunson later toldthe Chicago Tribune.
But his role in the deal was not made public until Hastert reported real estate transactions in the area on his annual personal financial disclosure in May 2006, which the Sunlight Foundation used to match against local land records and connect him to the trust.
Hastert dismissed the idea that the land was more valuable because of his earmark. “Nothing to it,” Hastert said at the time.
In the end, the Prairie Parkway never came about. Strasma’s group filed a lawsuit challenging the environmental impact statement, and the federal government rescinded the approval for the project after it failed to get local funding priority. In 2012, the money was diverted to widen an existing two-lane highway in the same area.

Hastert continued to invest in land after the Plano sale, taking as payment from that deal — along with some cash — another parcel in booming Kendall County. He estimated that property’s worth at between $1 million and $5 million when he left office in 2007.

Friday, May 29, 2015


The Hastert indictment is just the latest example of our leaders feeling that they are above the rules. Hastert is the Illinois second congressman in as many months to have his career destroyed by ignoring the rules. 

Locally, the Chicago pols have created a facade of reform only to be sure that the ethics rules are riddled with holes. We are hopelessly lost. Rahm was reelected just last month by an electorate that was easily bullshitted. When will people wake up?  

Our so-called leaders are funding a decadent and corrupt machine that exists to serve themselves rather than the city.  The players are extracting extreme and undue profits as the city careens into financial insolvency. Residents face bleak futures while the players enjoy bright futures.  The fact that Chicago is famous for this “machine” is disgraceful.

The hard truth is our elites – business and civic leaders – have sold the city out. While they strip the city of needed funds with their no-bid, non-competitive contracts for millions of dollars, they recycle a portion back into politics by funding the political machine that is designed to protect their own positions.

Let’s look at another example – the lawyers.  Since Emanuel’s executive order on May 15, 2011 banning pay-to-play, Schiff Hardin LLP attorneys have given $31,850 in campaign cash to

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Food additive of the week, sodium nitrite.

Did you ever wake up the morning after eating a "healthy chicken dinner" with a pounding headache? The cause could be one of the chemical additives sprayed onto the poultry before you bought it. 

Food safety concerns aside, the problem is caused by the application of the chemicals by untrained grocery store workers, which often results in chemical levels far in excess of FDA guidelines. 

This weeks featured food additive is Sodium nitrite. Too much of this chemical in your chicken may give you a pounding headache in the short term. Long term effects are unknown and may be cancer causing.  

The Chicago Board of Health does not have adequate staff to look into this problem. They are too busy chasing outdated bread and sour milk. You are on your own on this one. Ask your friendly neighborhood grocer if they are carefully regulating the use of this dangerous chemical.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This guy has an ego as big as the city's debt. Proposes back door real estate tax increase.

Chicago homeowners have managed to avoid suburban-style garbage collection fees, but those “spoiled” days may be coming to an end, the newly elected chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus said. “I hate to say it. I know there’ll be a lot of pushback. But a nominal fee may be something we have to look at” to solve the $30 billion pension crisis, said Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th).

“All over the country and in smaller municipalities, they do pay for garbage collection. In Chicago, free garbage collection is something we’ve become accustomed to. But just like not having a sales tax on services, those days may be over. We have to look at it to balance the books.”

Four years ago, Inspector General Joe Ferguson estimated that a volume-based, “pay-as-you-throw” garbage collection fee could generate as much as $125 million a year for the cash-strapped city. Chicago could raise an additional $18 million a year by imposing a blue cart recycling fee, Ferguson said then. Emanuel ignored both ideas, apparently concerned it would be viewed as a back-door property tax increase.
But now that the Illinois Supreme Court has overturned state pension reforms and placed Emanuel’s plan to reform two of

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Military conflict with China is inevitable. The question is when?

China Says U.S. Actions in South China Sea 'Irresponsible, Dangerous'

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. 
BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a U.S. military plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident.
The Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the U.S. P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, when it conducted the overflights on Wednesday, according to CNN, which had a team on board the U.S. aircraft.
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, its claims overlapping with those of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Chinese military drove away the U.S. aircraft, in accordance with relevant regulations, labeling the U.S. action a security threat to China's islands and reefs.
"Such action is likely to cause an accident, it is very irresponsible and dangerous and detrimental to regional peace and stability. We express our strong dissatisfaction, we urge the U.S. to strictly abide

Friday, May 22, 2015

Suburban "Safety Checks" this weekend

Thanks to a special program set up by the feds you can expect road blocks up the ass this Memorial Day weekend. They will be looking for seat belts and DUI's. Watch out. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

David Letterman leaves late night with thanks and a smile

David Letterman leaves late night with thanks and a smile while Foo Fighters played. 

I never appreciated his political satire but his leaving is the end of an era. 

City workers are about to get what they voted for.

Did you think Rahm would not walk away from the pension obligations? You were dumb. He's walking. You have nobody to blame but yourselves. 

Nobody involved in the city pension crisis would want it to come to this, I’m sure, and there are plenty of assurances all around that it never will.
But if city pension funds are allowed to continue on their current trajectory and become insolvent, whose responsibility is it to make sure the retirees get paid?
I’ve always assumed the answer is that it’s ultimately the responsibility of the city, and therefore of city taxpayers.
Maybe not.
In defending against a lawsuit brought by city workers and retirees over benefit cuts to those covered by the municipal employees and laborers pension funds, lawyers for the Emanuel administration have started casting doubt on that assumption.
Moody’s Investors Service also made reference to this legal uncertainty in a report this week clarifying the reasoning behind its decision to downgrade the city’s bond rating to junk status.
Illinois law defines pension benefit payments as obligations of the pension funds, which are separate legal entities from the city, Moody’s noted.
“But if the pension funds are unable to fulfill these obligations, it is unclear which party will

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

American reality, society has been overly passive and nearly asleep for too long, look what has happened.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. --

20 signs, we got trouble

1) The CBO estimates that the interest payments on our debt alone will take up 36% of the budget in 2030, 58 percent in 2040 and 85 percent in 2050.
2) Fears that America would go bankrupt in the next few years used to be a fringe belief. Now, Doomsday Preppers is a TV show, gold, guns and survival seeds are being widely advertised and vast numbers of Americans are making decisions about purchases, investments, and saving money that take into account the possibility that the country could bankrupt within the next decade or two.
3) "Half of all children born to women under 30 in America now are illegitimate. Three in 10 white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic babies and 73 percent of black babies." -- Pat Buchanan
4) "The IMF calculates that to maintain the present spending trend the United States will have to nearly double (88

Monday, May 18, 2015

John Daley, the nicest guy in politics.

The hardest working politician too!  Would make a good mayor.  Honest, competent  and humble.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Substance or window dressing?

Will this person lead Chicago out of it's financial morass or will  she be the point person during the march to bankruptcy?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday named former CTA chairman Carole Brown as the city’s new chief financial officer, putting her in the driver’s seat as Chicago nears its fiscal cliff.
Brown headed the CTA board under former Mayor Richard M. Daley. She replaces outgoing chief financial officer Lois Scott, who leaves the job next week.

“Carole Brown brings decades of financial experience to the City of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Carole’s experience and reputation as a tough, but honest financial manager will be a valuable asset as we continue to create a conducive environment for job creation and economic growth for the City of Chicago.”

Brown inherits the fiscal turmoil facing the city. The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision last week overturning pension reform placed Emanuel’s plan to reform two of four city pension funds in similar jeopardy. That triggered the dominos that fell this week as several credit-rating agencies downgraded the city’s credit rating.
It started on Tuesday when Moody’s Investors Service dropped Chicago’s bond rating to junk status.

On Thursday, Standard & Poor’s lowered the city’s credit rating to three notches above junk status.
And on Friday, Fitch Ratings joined the other two major credit-ratings firms and downgraded the city’s creditworthiness to three notches above junk status.
In a news release, Fitch said, “The downgrade reflects increased fiscal pressures on the city following last week’s Illinois Supreme Court decision severely limiting the ability to modify pension benefits in the state and a subsequent downgrade of the city’s credit to below investment grade.”
Outgoing CFO Scott, reacting to Fitch’s downgrade, said in a statement, “Today’s downgrade by Fitch is the result of heightened pressures on the City’s portfolio, prompted by the recent reversal of the Illinois pension reform bill and subsequent downgrades. However, Fitch does not believe that the court decision has a direct effect on the prospects for the city’s pension reform for the municipal and laborers’ funds, and recognizes that the city has many strengths – from its role as an economic hub for the Midwest to improving employment address and adequate reserves – to address the challenges it faces.”

Brown, a longtime investment banker, will have to negotiate with the banks to call off the wolves. Banks will have the ability to call back $2.2 billion in debt, Moody’s said earlier this week.

The Moody’s downgrade is expected to cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in increased borrowing costs and penalties forcing the city to either cut spending or raise taxes.
And unless the Illinois General Assembly lifts the hammer, Brown must also find a way to meet a state-mandated $550 million payment due in December to shore up police and fire pension funds.
Laurence Msallthe president of the Civic Federation, pointed to Brown’s experience as an investment banker and as the former CTA chairwoman.

“She brings a wealth of financial and real government experience, but she faces the greatest fiscal challenge in the city’s history,” Msall said. “She will need to work both with existing creditors and credit-rating agencies to present both a short term and a long term plan that’s both credible and stabilizing to the city’s ongoing financial challenges.”
Brown is currently a manager director at Barclays, leading the firm’s Midwest municipal practice and serving as senior investment banker for municipal clients. 

She is a Harvard University graduate with a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her inner circle includes Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama; Desiree Rogers, the CEO of Johnson Publishing, and former CTA board member Sue Leonis. And Brown is no stranger to Emanuel’s administration, serving on the mayor’s panel to reform special taxing districts and on the selection committee that deadlocked over the appointment of an independent City Council budget analyst.
During her tenure as chairman of the CTA board from 2002 through 2009, she helped “the CTA address structural deficits through efficiencies and reforms, finance billions of dollars in deferred maintenance, rail improvements, and capital construction. She also helped oversee development of the Pink Line and the first Blue Line reconstruction project,” the city said in a press release.

But it wasn’t all a smooth ride. Brown, who worked as senior vice president of Lehman Brothers while heading the CTA board, was berated by former Ald. Dorothy Tillman for defending her employer after the company became the first city contractor to admit past ties to slavery. Tillman demanded Brown step aside as CTA chairwoman or apologize for allowing herself to be used to sanitize the reputation of a company built on the backs of her own people.

Brown could not be reached Friday, but in a press release she said, “I am grateful to Mayor Emanuel for offering me this opportunity to serve Chicago residents, and I am eager to begin working with the mayor’s financial team to address the city’s financial challenge.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Layoffs Coming Soon

20% reduction in workforce across the board in all affected agencies (except police and fire) predicted! Layoffs may eventually hit 40%.  

Moody’s Investor Service dropped the bond ratings of Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District to junk a day after it did the same for the city of Chicago.
For CPS, the downgrade doesn’t trigger any new payments to financial institutions, but the worsening of CPS’ ratings could potentially affect negotiations the district has entered into with several banks over those “swap” termination fees.
Moody’s dropped CPS’ rating three notches to Ba3 from Baa3, with a continuing negative outlook. The Chicago Park District saw the same three-notch slide to Ba1 with a negative outlook.

CPS’ rating, which determines its borrowing costs, applies to $6.2 billion in general-obligation debt; the park district’s rating to $616 million in general-obligation debt.
Moody’s blamed CPS’ “steadily escalating pension contributions and use of reserves to fund those contributions.”
“We believe pension costs will place increasing strain on the district’s precarious financial position” absent new revenue or cuts, “both of which appear increasingly difficult for the district to achieve,” it wrote of CPS.
As for the Park District, it said, “We perceive increased risk that the city’s intensified pressures will adversely affect CPD’s [Chicago Park District] financial operations and position.”

The Chicago Park District says it strongly disagrees with the downgrade and Moody’s assessment that the park district has governance ties to the city. The park district has operated as its own entity for 81 years. It also has its own pension reform that went into effect in January and allows for any source of

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Moody's downgrades Chicago credit rating to junk bond status - FOX 32 News Chicago

Moody's downgrades Chicago credit rating to junk bond status 

Wait until you see what happens next.

This day has been coming for a long time. Don't say you are surprised. 

If you are a City of Chicago retiree you should be concerned. 

If you are a City of Chicago employee, you should be scared, real scared. You are about to sit in the barbers chair. 

The pension guarantee clause in the Illinois constitution means absolutely nothing to a bankruptcy judge. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

The foundation for a bankruptcy filing looks like this.

Source to FOX 32: CPS may run out of money during next school year

1. First there was the 7% pay cut.

2. Then Rauner addressing the city council said, "the state can't help you".

3. Then the state Supreme Court upholds the priority of pensions. 

4. Now stories like this are starting to appear. 

5. Soon legislation permitting governmental bankruptcy will be passed.

6. So after that, any local government with a pension "problem" will be able to clean it up. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Power hungry Tony Preckwinkle hunts down anyone that won't kiss her ass.

A political fight is brewing between the two most powerful female politicians in Cook County. The simmering controversy heated up another few degrees as the top players in Cook County's criminal justice system appeared together at Thursday's City Club luncheon.

The county board president, chief judge, state's attorney and sheriff celebrated the fact that the Cook County Jail's population is down 20 percent in the last 18 months, thanks in large part to the increased use of electronic monitoring devices.

"That process has saved the taxpayers more than 70 million," said Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

But Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County President Tony Preckwinkle worried about the 8,000 or so remaining inmates - nearly 90 percent of which are poor blacks and Latinos - each costing taxpayers $142 a day.

"The fact of the matter is that on any given day over a third of my population is seriously mentally ill," Dart said.

"So when we're talking about criminal justice in this country, we have to understand that we're talking about race and class," Preckwinkle said.

Preckwinkle thanked the courts, probation department, and public defender for helping reduce the jail population. But she did not thank state's attorney Anita Alvarez, who is up for re-election next year and was sitting only a few feet away.

When asked if she would support Alvarez's re-election, Preckwinkle said: "I'm not prepared to talk about the state's attorney's race today."

Like many state's attorneys around the country, Alvarez is under fire for prosecuting too many people of color for non-violent offenses and going easy on police officers charged with abuse.

"I've charged more police officers with crimes across the board than any of my predecessors," Alvarez said.

Attorney Kimberly Foxx - a former assistant state's attorney, and now Preckwinkle's chief of staff - confirmed that she is considering a run against Alvarez.

"There's a concern for many that our criminal justice system is not fair, that it's about crime and punishment and not about fairness and justice," Foxx said.

Alvarez did not appear concerned that Preckwinkle might support a primary challenger.

"Unless she's running Hillary Clinton against me, I think I'm gonna be okay," Alvarez said.

The 2016 Illinois Primary Election - which will include the state's attorney's race - is on March 15, 2016.