Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Nice Family

Three generations. One duck related Dynasty. The Robertson family story told through the lens of Phil, Kay, Jep and Reed. From their humble beginnings and struggle in keeping their family together to a behind the scenes look into the Robertsons' continued commitment to faith, family and ducks amidst their immense success.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Time to Rethink Obamacare

TOP 10 FACTS EVERY ILLINOISAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT OBAMACARE AND MEDICAID. It's time for our leaders to re-engineer this impending disaster.

Illinois-Facts-Header-newestFrom the Illinois Policy Institute -
The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, commonly known as ObamaCare, is a train wreck. For many, since ObamaCare was enacted the cost of coverage has dramatically increased and will continue to do so. People aren’t enrolling in ObamaCare at the rate the Obama administration predicted – by a long shot. And many are finding out that they can’t keep their insurance or their doctor.
And for all the damage the ACA has caused, there is little reason to believe that it will actually expand health care access and affordability. Today, the majority of Americans prefer the flawed health care system that we had prior the ACA.
Here are some important facts every Illinoisan should know about ObamaCare and Medicaid:

1.  “If you like your health insurance, you can’t necessarily keep it.” Bureaucrats in the Obama administration wrote regulations that deemed millions of policies as substandard. These regulations were intended to throw large numbers into the ObamaCare exchanges.
2. Many of the reported ObamaCare “enrollees” were actually already insured before ObamaCare cancelled their policies. When you account for all of the individuals who had their policies canceled as a direct result of ObamaCare, as well as those who would have been eligible for Medicaid before the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, it is possibly that ObamaCare has done little to actually expand coverage to the previously uninsured.
3. The ACA has provisions to bailout insurers that lose money in the ObamaCare health care exchanges. Americans could be on the hook for $47 billion.
4.  Work hours in Illinois have dropped since ObamaCare was signed into law. ObamaCare is likely to cost more jobs and work hours in an already-frail economy. The evidence from Illinois shows that employers, particularly those with the lowest wage and lowest average hours, have been dramatically cutting labor hours since 2011. This trend is highly suggestive and points to employers cutting employees’ hours to avoid ObamaCare’s harshest penalties.
5.  ObamaCare enrollments are falling far short of the Obama administration’s stated goals. The low enrollment level spells trouble for ObamaCare. Premiums are likely to skyrocket even higher in 2015 without a much larger share young people in the ObamaCare exchanges.
6. According to the state’s own auditor, state workers consistently failed toverify eligibility under the Medicaid program. Continued waste, fraud and abuse in the program were the impetus for hiring a contractor to verify program eligibility.
But instead of saving taxpayers $350 million by using a private contractor to verify Medicaid eligibility, the state is now hiring 500 new government workersto do the job.
7.  Even though the ACA requires members of Congress to enroll in ObamaCare, they have managed to avoid the ObamaCare experience almost entirely. Apparently, many members are perfectly comfortable living by a different set of rules than the people they supposedly represent.
  • Despite the law’s failure on so many levels, some lawmakers in Springfield would still like to furtherexpand ObamaCare’s reach into the state.
  • That is why we are asking Illinoisans to sign our “You First” petition. The petition calls on state lawmakers who continue to support ObamaCare to forgo their generous, taxpayer-funded health insurance benefits and voluntarily enter the ObamaCare exchange.
8. Contrary to popular belief, ObamaCare was never designed to dramaticallyexpand private health care coverage; it has always been a massive Medicaid expansion scheme.
9. ObamaCare threatens to run roughshod over Americans’ most personal financial and health care information. There will always be vulnerabilities in any system, but the federal government failed to take the same security stepsthat any Fortune 500 company would take to protect your most sensitive information.
10. It is time for the Obama administration to #ComeClean on ObamaCare enrollment numbers. Instead of counting people who have actually paid for a plan, the administration is counting anyone who put a plan in his shopping cart, but has not necessarily paid, as being enrolled.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tough guy afraid to go to the County

WIMP
What's this? The County is good enough for the Blacks but not good enough for a Daley? Cook County jobs are good enough for the Daleys'. Hundreds of them. What's wrong with the jail? If you commit a crime, you should do the time where you did your misdeed. Putting this guy in McHenry Jail is an incredible display of raw power and arrogance. I'm sorry Daleys' but you are looking more and more like the Kennedy's every day. I am so damn disappointed by the Daley's refusal to do the right thing. 
By BECKY SCHLIKERMAN
Staff Reporter
Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko wants to serve his 60-day jail sentence at the McHenry County Jail rather than the Cook County Jail, citing “security reasons.”
He even agreed to pay, if need be.
The Cook County Jail’s capacity is nearly 17 times that of the McHenry County facility.
As many as 650 inmates can be held in McHenry County — including the federal detainees that jail holds.
The Cook County Jail — one of the largest jail facilities in the country — can hold about 11,000 inmates, according to Cara Smith, the jail’s executive director. On Friday, Cook County had just over 9,000 inmates in custody. McHenry County had nearly 400.
In McHenry County, most inmates share a cell with one other person. Cells have bunk beds, a desk, a toilet and a sink. There’s one basic level of security, unless an inmate doesn’t behave, McHenry County Jail Sgt. Patrick Grisolia said.
Inmates “get out, they eat, they’re in a regular day room” where they watch TV and read, Grisolia said. “We’re known for being very clean. Our facility is definitely very clean.”
In Cook County, inmates are housed in a variety of ways. Those include dorm settings in which up to 48 inmates share one large room with rows of bunk beds and their own recreational area. That’s where they sleep, eat and spend much of their time. There also are cells shared by just two inmates who eat their meals there and get out of their cell for just an hour each day, Smith said.
She said inmates can request protective custody if they fear for their safety. Those people are held one to a cell. The jail also has certain tiers intended to be gang-free.
“We have, on a daily basis, high-profile and/or vulnerable inmates in our custody, and our first priority is to keep every single one of them safe and secure,” Smith said.
Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

We have a true idiot in the governor's mansion.

QUINN’S STATE OF THE STATE OFFERS NO BLUEPRINTS FOR TURNING AROUND ILLINOIS

State_of_the_State_Howi
By Donovan Griffith -
On Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn gave his State of the State speech to the Illinois General Assembly and touted what he called a “five-year blueprint” to create more jobs, deliver stronger education and build an economy that works for everyone. With such a lofty promise, one would believe the five-year blueprint was full of landmark changes and dramatic cuts, as well as improvements to Illinois’ economic landscape.
Here are some of the components of Quinn’s blueprint to change Illinois:

  • Reduce LLC fee from $500 to $39 to allow for more opportunity for Illinois residents to open new businesses
  • Establish a “Small Business Advocate” to focus on how Illinois policies and proposals impact small businesses
  • Expand his Clean Water initiative
  • Double the number of MAP grants for Illinois students
  • Create “Birth to Five Initiative” that will focus on “three keys” to a healthy child: prenatal care, access to early learning opportunities and strong parent support
  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Double Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Give earned sick days to all Illinois workers
Quinn’s blueprints also included “investing in industries that are the future of a 21st century economy” and expanding Illinois’ youth and young adult conservation corps, but he gave no details on what this means and how he plans to accomplish these goals.
While not all the pieces of Quinn’s blueprint are bad, is this enough to turn around Illinois? Do these plans make Illinois better? Is this what real reform looks like?
We need more.
What was missing in the governor’s address, other than answers on how his plans will work, is real reform and real solutions to the problems Illinois is facing. Quinn made no mention of:
And, most importantly:
  • How he plans to pay for any of his initiatives
Quinn may have some changes coming for Illinois, but we need a lot more out of him to get Illinois back on track. We need real reform.
Donovan Griffith is Manager of Government Affairs for the Illinois Policy Institute

Monday, February 3, 2014

What are we doing to ourselves?


Illinois Now Has the Second-Highest Property Taxes in the Nation

In the last decade, the state has been climbing the charts—and could pass New Jersey this year.



Average Property Tax as a Share of Home Price, Five Year Average: 2007–2011
Average Property Tax as a Share of Home Price, Five Year Average: 2007–2011. A county-by-county tax rate chart for the years 2007–11 shows a band of highest-tax counties in Illinois and Wisconsin. (A 2012 map was not available.) SOURCE: “RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAXES IN THE UNITED STATES,” BY BENJAMIN H. HARRIS AND BRIAN DAVID MOORE, URBAN BROOKINGS TAX POLICY CENTER, NOV. 18, 2013.

With all the snow this week it’s no wonder so many of us are dreaming of Hawaii right about now. But if you own your home, those daydreams may not only be weather-related: in Hawaii, homeowners are taxed at about one-eighth the rate that Illinois homeowners pay.
On that basis, you could dream about 48 of the states. Illinois now has the second-highest property taxes in the nation, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute. Only New Jersey had higher property tax rates as of the end of 2012, the period covered by the report.
Property taxes in Illinois average 2.28 percent of a home’s value, according to the Urban Institute. In New Jersey, they’re 2.32 percent, and in lowest-taxing Hawaii, they’re 0.27 percent. (The lowest among mainland states is Alabama, at 0.46 percent.)
All the states that ranked ahead of Illinois in the 2007–11 chart saw their tax rates go up in 2012. But the rate in Illinois went up more.
When the data is in for 2013, it’s unlikely to show Illinois stepping down from second place, says Brian Costin, director of government reform for the Illinois Policy Institute. In fact, he predicts that Illinois is on its way to eclipsing New Jersey on property tax rates.
“New Jersey is going up at a slightly slower rate than Illinois,” Costin says, “so in a couple more years like this, we could be number one. But it’s not a number one that you want to be.”
We’ve been moving up. Back in 2005, Illinois property taxes ranked seventh in a report published by the National Association of Home Builders. Then we were sixth during the years 2007–11, for which the Urban Institute’s report gives a multi-year average (see pages 11 and 12 of the pdf).
What’s moving us up the list? Home values are down but taxing bodies’ appetites are up, as Costin sees it. Illinois home values fell farther and are improving more slowly than those in many other states. The latest Case-Shiller index data, which came out on New Year’s Eve, showed that while home values in the nation’s ten major cities have recovered, on average, to June 2004 levels, they’re only back to February 2003 levels in Chicago. At the same time, Costin says, “most local taxing bodies do the maximum increase they can do under the law each year.” Lombard and Lake County are notable exceptions, he says; both have reduced their rates.
When they’re asking for more total dollars in taxation on a smaller pot of aggregate home values, the tax rate is what goes up. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the amount of tax you have to pay goes up, as Cook County pointed out earlier this year.
Nevertheless, to some eyes, it’s the rate spike that that stings most: taxing bodies are asking for more of a share on your asset, even though that asset’s value has dropped. Fast-rising home values during the late, lamented boom economy of the early 2000s “lulled people into a false sense of security,” Costin says. “They accepted increases in property taxes because they thought, ‘I’m making out really well with the value of my home.’ ”
Now, he believes that “our property taxes have gotten so high that it’s having a negative effect on our housing market.” He points to reduced demand, as evidenced by a rising number of people leaving the state. Moving to Indiana—where property tax rates are less than half those in Illinois, and the cost to buy a house is much lower, as well—becomes more appealing, he says. That’s especially true for senior citizens and others who don’t have kids in public schools and so don’t feel compelled to pay high taxes to cover the schools, Costin says; as much as two-thirds of your property tax bill goes to school districts.
There’s another way that Costin sees property taxes hurting the real estate market: corporations that are looking to relocate may consider not only their own potential tax burden but the taxes their employees will pay. Companies that opt to leave Illinois (or if those that were considering coming here choose some lower-tax state), they reduce the demand for homes here, too.
In related news, Allied Van Lines reported Monday that Illinois is the state with the second-highest rate of households moving out. Last January, we were also number two in a similar report from United Van Lines, an annual report that will be updated this week. Number one in that report? New Jersey, the only state that tops us on property taxes.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What is a life worth?

A $20,000 fine and 60 days in the McHenry County jail.

Will say or do anything for a vote

Slippery

When Gov. Pat Quinn pardoned a politically connected city of Chicago health department official in late 2011, he didn’t just erase Juan Elias’ rap sheet, which included convictions for marijuana possession, burglary and vote fraud.
The pardon also kept Elias, who heads 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno’s political organization, safely in the $78,828-a-year city job that he got after failing to disclose on his job application that he had a criminal past.

Asked if he’d ever been convicted of “any crime,” Elias, 46, checked “no” on the 1990 job application, city records show.
That wasn’t true. Elias actually had two felony convictions at that time — one for a burglary, the other for an arrest with more than three pounds of marijuana, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last year.
Convicted felons are barred from some, though not all, city jobs. But applicants are required to disclose any criminal past.
Lying on a city job application about a criminal record — or failing to disclose one — is grounds for firing, according to city officials.
But Elias doesn’t need to worry.
“Mr. Elias has been a dedicated employee for 23 years . . . and his conviction record has been expunged through pardon by Gov. Quinn,” says Carolyn Mulaney, spokeswoman for the city’s human resources department. “Even if the city were inclined to take some sort of disciplinary action, it is improbable that it would be sustained upon challenge.” Mulaney says the Emanuel administration didn’t know about Elias’ criminal background until reading about it in the Sun-Times last September.
Elias says his record came up years ago during the City Hall tenure of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He says city officials confronted him about it at one point in the 1990s but let the matter drop because he’d been a good employee.
Elias works for the Chicago Department of Public Health as a regional communicable disease investigator, handling outreach to people with tuberculosis.
He also runs Moreno’s 1st Ward First political organization.
Elias’ first felony conviction came after his arrest for stealing tires and a radio from a car in 1984. He later was convicted in the marijuana case. And he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after being charged with felony vote fraud for mailing in a neighbor’s absentee ballot during a failed run for 26th Ward Democratic committeeman.
Elias says he knew that disclosing his record when he applied probably would hurt his chances of landing a city job.
But he says he’s a different person now, set to graduate later this year from Northeastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
When he applied for clemency, with the backing of U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), then-1st Ward Ald. Manny Flores, who is now a Quinn administration official, and then-state Rep. and current City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Elias said he’d made himself “an extremely active and positive force in my community, my city and my country.”
Patrick Rehkamp and Robert Herguth work for the Better Government Association.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Al Filan R.I.P.

Filan Back To School Teaching
Al Filan was an outstanding teacher who served Brother Rice High School with pride and dedication for almost forty years.
During that time, he was always devoted to the young men he taught and coached, bringing great passion to all that he did. He was also an exceptional colleague who as a Department Chairman was a leader on our staff, and a mentor to many of our teachers.
Everyone that had him as a teacher reports that he was extremely dedicated to the highest standards and what was best for the kids. This is a man that devoted his life to the students at Brother Rice. This world needs more people like him. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why isn't Quinn proposing this?

Madigan proposes cutting Ill. corporate income tax

Posted: Jan 30, 2014 11:45 AM CSTUpdated: Jan 30, 2014 11:55 AM CST

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - House Speaker Michael Madigan is proposing cutting Illinois' corporate income tax rate in half in an effort to improve the state's business climate.
The powerful Chicago Democrat introduced legislation Thursday that would cut the rate from 7 percent to 3.5 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
In a news release, Madigan says he hopes the cut "will encourage CEOs to grow their work forces with good paying jobs."
Democratic lawmakers in 2011 approved a temporary tax hike as a way to address Illinois' fiscal crisis. It raised the corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7 percent. The increase is scheduled to be rolled back to 5.25 percent on Jan. 1.
Republicans have criticized Democrats for creating an unfriendly business environment, saying increased taxes have contributed to Illinois' high unemployment rate.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Read more: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/24590775/madigan-proposes-cutting-ill-corporate-income-tax#ixzz2ruXcUzXn

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

More Bad Weather

A computer model is predicting a "significant snow storm" for Chicago during the period February 3rd to 6th. Be prepared for this one. 

UPDATE: The computer model has moved up the date to Friday and Saturday. This is the same CM that on December 10th, predicted the heavy January snows. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Potholes


"The asphalt covering has failed". Those were the words of my engineer neighbor when we were discussing the conditions of the streets. He also said they should have lasted 12 to 15 years but that they are failing because of shortcuts in the asphalt mixture. This is a problem that goes way beyond Western Ave. It is citywide? What should be done about this? Should the city be holding the suppliers and contractors responsible? Should the city be filing claims with the bonding companies? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

McDonald's

NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald’s is losing customers, as the world’s biggest hamburger chain struggles to attract diners with its higher-priced sandwiches and new offerings like Mighty Wings.
“We’ve lost some of our customer relevance,” CEO Don Thompson conceded Thursday on a call withanalysts.
The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company reported disappointing sales for its fourth quarter, as fewer customers visited its established restaurants. Guest counts at those locations fell nearly 2 percent globally and 1.6 percent in the U.S. in 2013, according to a regulatory filing. And McDonald’s expects somechallenges to persist this year.
To win back traffic, Thompson said the chain will focus on speedier service, better value offerings and raising “awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant” that prepares high-quality food. It’s expanding prep tables and plans to beef up staff during peak hours for better execution. It is also bringing in a new U.S. marketing chief, Deborah Wahl, formerly with homebuilder PulteGroup and automakers Chrysler and Ford.
After outperforming rivals for years, McDonald’s Corp. is facing a shift in eating habits toward foods people feel are fresher or healthier. The company has added options such as chicken wraps and breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites to keep up with the trend.
But it’s received a “muted response.” Chief Operating Officer Tim Fenton said on the call that some of the new offerings “over-complicated” the restaurants, forcing longer wait times.
Thompson also noted that in the U.S., fast-casual restaurants now appear to be performing a bit better as customers with a little more to spend skew toward those chains. However, McDonald’s main customer base “isn’t faring quite as well in the current economy.” And that’s made competition with rivals such as Burger King and Wendy’s all the more fierce. All three chains have been aggressively promoting their value menus in the fight for customers.
To address concerns that the strategy could eat into profit margins, McDonald’s recently updated its decade-old Dollar Menu. The “Dollar Menu & More” now includes items that cost around $2 and $5. McDonald’s said the new menu is meeting expectations.
For the quarter, McDonald’s said global sales slipped 0.1 percent at established locations as weak sales in the U.S. and Japan were countered by strong sales in Britain, Russia and France. The figure is a key metric because it strips out the volatility of newly opened and closed locations. For January, McDonald’s expects those sales to be flat overall.
McDonald’s earnings were about flat at $1.4 billion for the three months that ended Dec. 31.Earnings per share totaled $1.40, a penny more than Wall Street expected.
The opening of new locations lifted revenue 2 percent to $7.09 billion, shy of the $7.10 billion analysts expected.
McDonald’s edged up 44 cents to close at $95.32. Since peaking at an all-time high of $103.70 last April, the stock has zigzagged lower and is trending closer to its 52-week low of $92.25 hit last January.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snowflake Ball

Tonite

Pro Life

SCHILLING: I AM PRO-LIFE AND PROUD TO SAY IT

101207_schilling_family_courtesy_328
By Bobby Schilling - 
I am pro-life and proud to say it!
Today is the 41st Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. As I like to do each year, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about my principles and values on the issue of life.
I am a firm believer that life begins at conception and that our society has an obligation to protect the rights of the unborn. It's that simple. In fact, the right to life can even be traced to the Declaration of Independence—Thomas Jefferson wrote that the right to life is inalienable and endowed by our Creator. Unfortunately, the rights of the unborn are completely ignored in this country.
55 million lives have been tragically lost in this country since the Roe v. Wade decision. That amounts to more than 1.2 million lives lost each year.
Each one of those lives would have offered the world wonderful gifts—art, music, scientific discovery, invention. Instead, all of that was destroyed, and for what?

Imagine a world without these people: John Lennon. Nelson Mandela. Babe Ruth. Jamie Foxx. Nancy Reagan. Bill Clinton. Jack Nicholson. Dave Thomas. J.R.R. Tolkien. Faith Hill. Tim McGraw. Sarah McLaughlin. "DMC" McDaniels. Steve Jobs. Jesse Jackson. Willie Nelson. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Thankfully, all of these people were able to contribute to the world because their mothers chose adoption instead of abortion. They chose life.
There is a critical battle being waged for the heart and soul of this country. Will we value life? Or will we just let millions of lives slip away?
Radical pro-abortion groups, including EMILY's List—one of my opponent's top financial contributors—are fighting to not only protect abortion, but to grow the abortion industry by leaps and bounds. Apparently claiming 1.2 million lives each year isn't enough. EMILY's List is fighting to increase access to third-term abortions, strike down parental notification laws, and increase taxpayer funding for abortion.
Folks, when you stop and think about it, EMILY's List is downright disgusting. Their agenda is designed to promote young teenage girls getting third-term abortions paid for by the taxpayers without the parents ever finding out. That's as radical as radical gets, and my opponent has pledged to stand with them on each and every issue.
EMILY's List previously put me "on notice" because of my strong record on life, and that's a badge of honor I wear proudly! Sorry, EMILY's List, but genocide is not a right.
I stand with the unborn. I oppose all taxpayer-funded abortions, and I will continue to do everything in my power to protect life.
Bobby Schilling represented the 17th CD in the U.S. Congress from 2011 to 2013, and is running to take back the 17th CD seat in November 2014.