Friday, March 31, 2006

One from Column B

After close to examination and some soul searching, I've finally decided to join the ala carte government movement. It just makes sense for those of us with enough resources to do things ourselves.

For instance, I don't use the street lights in the downtown 'historic' district, therefore, I will begin a petition drive to eliminate my neighborhood from having to pay for them and their upkeep. You want lights in your neighborhood, YOU pay for 'em. My porch lights work just fine.

I also don't think I should have to pay for maintenance for the downtown brick streets since I don't use those, either. Petitions are being prepared.

I rarely see police patrolling in my neighborhood, and since crime around here is rare anyway, I think I'll start a petition drive to halt payment for law enforcement. We have a few hunters in the neighborhood, and, using our Second Amendment rights, I think it'd be more cost effective to form our own neighborhood militia.

Snow plows seem to visit our neighborhood usually two or three days after the snowfall, which accomplishes nothing. I shortly will be organizing a petition drive to allow our neighborhood to stop paying for that city service. It's only a service if I want it and it serves me, right?

Streets in my neighborhood haven't had a thing done for them in years. I don't think I should have to pay for street maintenance. Prepare your petitions, gentlemen.

Likewise, street sweeping really isn't necessary since we really don't litter much around here and all of us rake and bag our own leaves. I am wlling, however, to allow the city to pick up my bagged leaves, so I won't be petitioning eliminate that service.

Likewise, I do use the library fairly regularly, so I won't be petitioning out of that service.

I've never applied for welfare or used the local DSC or health district. I don't think I should have to pay for that, either. Petitions are pending.

We've never, to my knowledge, had a flood in our neighborhood. Why should I have to pay for storm sewers? I'm working on that petition as we speak.

My house has never caught fire, nor have any of my neighbors houses, but I suppose just to be safe, I'll agree to keep paying for fire protection. But if something doesn't happen soon ....

I own a couple cars, so I soon will be passing around a petition to halt paying for bus service, since I never use it. Doubt my next door neighbor will like that, though, since their daughter uses the bus to get to college every day, but heck, I never use it, so why should I have to pay for it?

I have no children, therefore I will be petitioning to exempt myself from paying school taxes. It's only fair. It's a service I never asked for, so why should I have to pay for it?

What do I need with city planning and zoning departments? I'm not planning on moving, buying any property or starting any subdivisions. Petitions will be forthcoming there, too.

Since the precedent has been established (thanks, Scott), I really think I have a good chance of reducing my tax bill by about 90 percent, doncha think?

Get ready, Mr. Tapley, I'm expecting you and your little band of tax protesters to help pass all these petitions and campaign for all my issues.

After all, isn't ala carte governnment the only fair way to go?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Stuff I thought of when I probably should have been thinking about other stuff.

-- If Scott Cochrane wants to hold his yearly UI student drinking binge and vomit-a-thon, make him pay for it. Pay for extra police, pay for street cleaning, pay to restore the damaged and destroyed city and university property and pay for all the extra emergency room visits by OD'd students. Oh, and pay the families of the dead students as well. For once, I have to agree with Mayor Jerry. Cochrane has no business serving on the city's Liquor Advisory Commission when he has no intention of following city liquor ordinances. He invented a 'holiday' in order to make more money. He never stopped to consider the cost. Binge responsibly indeed.

-- I believe I said a week or so ago that no No. 1 seed would win the NCAA tournament. I was right. But I also said I thought UI's No. 4 seed was too low. Looks like I was wrong. Anyone in America got an intact Final Four bracket?

-- Blago's campaign ads are already hitting the airwaves. His campaign's already taking shots at Topinka. The Topinka campaign's already reeling. Hang on, it's gonna be a bumpy ride to November.

-- If that's not the start of a civil war in Iraq, just what is it? There are like 40 deaths per day with one sect attacking another on a daily (hourly?) basis. OK, so it's a religious war, not a civil war. Hard to tell the difference. And our president says things are going well. Sure.

-- Champaign-Urbana's gonna miss John Lee Johnson. You may not have always agreed with his positions, but you never could argue with his passion. Or his sincerity. He may have cared more for our community than anyone else who's ever lived here.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Some people were surprised at the outcome of yesterday's primary voting.

That surprises me. Because nearly every issue was pretty clear a couple weeks before the election.

Did anyone but a dreamer expect Eisendrath to knock off Blago? The fact that Eisendrath carried Champaign County, I think, was as close to a surprise as I could find. I imagine it was just like me, when Dems pulled the curtain closed and looked at the ballot, they just couldn't, just wouldn't, they were just a little too uncomfortable voting for someone who still needs directions to 'Downstate' after 3 years in office (I almost typed 3 years in Springfield. Ha!)

Did anyone but a blind loyalist expect JudyBT to lose? Really? Why? The big question mark in this primary was the vocal push by state ultraconservatives for Brady or Giddy or even Obie. The problem with that constant vocalization is that the conservative wingnuts may be vocal, but they aren't as numerous as they would imagine. Think about it folks: If the only people you hang around with are right-wing redstate wannabee nutcases, sooner or later you begin to assume that the whole state is composed of right-wing redstate wannabee nutcases. You forget the slapdown the nutcases took a couple years ago with Alan Keyes. Ultra-conservative politics really isn't all that popular with the average Illinois Republican right now. With you and your little band, sure. But it's not a movement in ascension right now. Sorry. Maybe JBT is a little too 'liberal' for some GOPs. But it looks like the other candidates may have been a bit too conservative for the party as a whole. You can argue that the 'conservatives' got more combined votes than Judy. (Was Obie a conservative, or just a real rich nutjob?) But Judy still won. She got the MOST votes. There's a similar argument that other Republicans were afraid of Judy because of her association with George Ryan. So votes not for Judy weren't 'conservative' votes but anti-Ryan corruption votes. Still, more Repubs voted for JBT than anyone else. And you can't argue with that.

If Republicans hope to regain the governorship, they need one candidate that can appeal to more than the fringe right. Is Topinka that candidate? Can't say yet. But there wasn't another candidate to fill those shoes in the race.

Why didn't Brady do better? He's too bland, too conservative, too whitebread and too downstate at this moment. He had little money and not much else to separate himself from the field. He was just another little-known conservative. What WAS his message again? Missed it.

Anyone really surprised at the failure of the Champaign school bond issue? That plan had more holes than a wiffle ball. Come back with a plan that makes sense, a plan with some real thought and a plan that doesn't promise a whole lot more spending in the near future and you MAY have a chance. But don't bet your retirement on it. School district voters showed right now they're pissed. And they don't necessarily trust their 'leaders.'

The closest thing to a surprise was in the county board's District 9 race, where 4 candidates finished in a near dead-heat. Right now, the incumbent Demo-publicans are looking like winners. But it won't be over until Shelden finishes cooking the books in a couple days. Or weeks.

Finally, an aside to those whiners who wanted to vote for some Republicans and some Democrats. This was NOT an election. It was a political primary. It is the way political parties select the candidates for the election. Democrats, for some strange reason, want Democrats to select their Democratic candidates. And Republicans want Republicans to select their Republican candidates, for some strange reason. Go figure. In some places, they do it with caucuses. Others vote. But don't be fooled. This is a political function of the parties, not a general election. Sorry, that comes in November.

Which, given the political climate in this state, can't come too soon for me. Politics in Illinois ain't beanbag. (Unless they've changed the beanbag stuffing lately.)

And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How low ...

I'm probably the last person in the blogosphere to see this, but geez, this is really a new low in politics, even for Illinois.

Makes you want to wash your hands (and 'puter screen) after reading it.

And so it goes.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Uh ... no

I've said before I've never voted against a school referendum. Despite the fact that I have no kids in school (and never have had).

So I've been fighting a war within myself as to how to vote on this week's $66 million proposal. I hate to deny kids any advantage. After all, someone paid for my public education.

But the other half of my brain says this plan simply isn't a very good idea. It's been flawed from the very beginning.

For instance, after months of hearings, meetings, debates and discussions on what people, the administration and the board wanted and needed, the board said 'we want $66 million.' And then they went about deciding what they would spend the $66 million on.

Isn't that a bit backwards?

Then, the plans they finally proposed were so screwed up as to be simply unsupportable. It has everything to do with politics and little to do with education.

I'm all for air conditioning. I've got it in my house. But in these hard economic times, if I didn't have it, I wouldn't be thinking about adding it. Not right now.

Probably they do need a new elementary school north of University Avenue. Probably the consent decree demands it. But to say, OK, we'll build one, give us the money. THEN they decide on a location so damned far out of the affected area that it is in agreement with the consent decree but will do absolutely nothing to actually achieve the decree really is pathetic.

And my final straw is the Savoy school. Maybe Savoy does need an elementary school. Maybe it deserves one. But this decision is NOT about need. Promising Savoy a school will assure that the referendum gets lots of 'yes' votes from the Savoy area. It had nothing to do with need. It has everything to do with votes.

That's just wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Two elementary schools north of University Avenue have been closed in the past couple decades. One new one has been built and still has empty desks.

Just what is the reason for building another?

I don't see that it's justified.

I can't support it.

And I doubt enough other people will, either.

The school board's blatant politicking is a little too transparent this time around. If you want me to support education, give me a smart plan.

This is stupid.

I'm voting NO.

With no regret.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It's Maddening

March Madness is here. Probably the best time of year (if you happen to live in a college town, at least.)

The following are my random thoughts, observations and unfounded opinions on how the tournament and in particular the Illini will do this year.

-- Yeah, Illinois got screwed with a No. 4 seed. I honestly believe this is payback for the nearly free ride to the Final Four they got last year. It was almost embarrassing. And fun.

-- A lot of other teams got screwed, too. Cincinnati and Missouri State (formerly SW Missouri State). Gonzaga got screwed.

-- No way Tennessee's a 2 seed. Iowa should be a 4 seed, especially with their injuries. Not only is Air Force in, which is just plain wrong, they're in as a 13 seed. Montana of the Big Sky Conference a 12 seed? Please. They make up for their lack of height by being slow. North Carolina a No. 3. With 7 losses? Including one to 4-seed Illinois? They're seeded on reputation, not results. I think reputation helped others as well. And hurt some, too. I think UCLA's good. I think Gonzaga's better. UCLA's a 2, the 'Zags a 3. Go figure. George Washington, with only 2 losses, is better than an 8.

-- Can Illinois make a deep run? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Why? The only thing consistent about this team is its inconsistency. Everyone on the team must come ready to play if they're to have a chance. That can happen. Hope it does.

-- Breaking down the Illini: Dee and James will have a good tournament. McBride and Smith are coming in with confidence. I'm worried about Randle and Pruitt. Both could contribute markedly. Both should. Both need to if the Illini hope to make a run. But will they? Sure Randle is a good defender. But other than Sportscenter dunks, he's soft on offense. He gets the ball slapped out of his hands an awful lot and is tentative about taking it strong to the hoop. Pruitt has shown the skills at times but he disappears at times, too. I was really expecting a lot more from Arnold and Carter this year. If they come on in the tournament they could have a major impact. I kept waiting for Frazier to have an impact. It never happened, and I'm at a loss as to why.

-- I look for Illinois to win its first two games, but after that, facing Connecticut may be asking more than they can deliver. Sure it's possible, but the smart money's not on it.

-- I still think Illinois has one of the best coaches in the country. Weber's still a steal. He both teaches and coaches. His players respect him. And they like him. Plus, his voice is an entertainment experience unto itself.

-- I sure hope the Illini don't look at Air Force like one NG writer labeled it: a first-round bye. It's still a team that won 24 games this year. You don't do that with smoke and mirrors.

-- Finally, I don't have a real prediction on who will win the whole thing, except to say that I DON'T think it will be a No. 1 seed.

-- I'm not entering any bracket pools this year. My failure rate is too high and I'm just not in a position to do so anyway. With my track record, it isn't gambling. It's donating to someone's welfare cause.

-- And the worst news of all? I'll be on the road and likely will miss all the Thursday and Friday games.

And so it goes.

Friday, March 10, 2006

They finally get it

Turns out that even the GOP is waking up to the disaster that is George W. Imbecile.

Wimbecile's latest poll numbers are so far in the toilet they almost can't be measured. And that includes his standing among Republicans. Finally.
WASHINGTON -- More and more people, particularly Republicans, disapprove of President Bush's performance, question his character and no longer consider him a strong leader against terrorism, according to an AP-Ipsos poll documenting one of the bleakest points of his presidency.

Nearly four out of five Americans, including 70 percent of Republicans, believe civil war will break out in Iraq -- the bloody hot spot upon which Bush has staked his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of people say the U.S. is on the wrong track, a 6-point jump since February.
It is nice to know that people are finally getting it; that the W-imbecile is a liar, a cheat and simply not very bright.
The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency.
They get it, they finally get it.

And don't suggest that this is just a normal second-term phenomenon, either.
By comparison, Presidents Clinton and Reagan had public approval in the mid 60s at this stage of their second terms in office, while Eisenhower was close to 60 percent, according to Gallup polls.
There even has been talk on Capitol Hill about the prospect of impeachment.

'Bout time.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006


So far, I've pretty much stayed above the fray in the ongoing debate about the various governors' primaries.

But with exactly two weeks to go before the first round of silliness is over, it's time for a few observations. These are just my thoughts, based on a couple decades of paying pretty close attention to Illinois elections. But face it, they're opinions. My opinions. This is MY blog. If you want facts, check the MSM.

Like it or hate it, it's gonna be Topinka vs. Blagojevich. Live with it.

In the GOP, here's my prediction on the primary finish: Topinka with about 50 percent. Oberweis second followed by Brady, Gidwitz and Andy Martin with less than 1 percent

Why? Topinka has the name recognition. She's also the least wingnutty of the bunch, and there sure are a few real wingnuts in this field. After the total disaster of Alan Keyes in the last Senate election, hard-core rightwingers aren't gonna be the most popular with the general voting public. Sure the ultras are popular with the wild-eyed conservative right-wing wingnuts. But despite their vocalizations, they're right now in a retrenching mode. Judy's also's a ringer for Ronald McDonald, which probably will help, too. As a moderate, her politics don't scare as many people as do those of some of the other nutter-butters in the race.

Why will Obie finish second? He's spending a bundle in advertising, especially up north in the Chicago area. While money can't buy an election, it probably can buy enough recognition for a second-place finish. Second place in a primary is kind the Miss Congenality of the political world.

Why will Brady finish third? He's too downstate and two conservative for most Chicago voters and collar-county voters. He really hasn't done enough advertising to become well-enough known. It's doubtful he can have much impact in the final two weeks. Maybe with a really reallly big push he could challenge Obie for Miss Congenality. But that'd be a stretch, given Obie's money and Brady's lack of same. Plus about the only statewide press he's had is the little thing about him starting every speach with a prayer. That fundamentalism, while not all that bad, I suppose, isn't gonna play all that well with the general populace who simply put has heard too much of that stuff in recent years. It's off-putting. Will the NG endorsement help? No. In the decades I've lived here, I've only felt a NG endorsement has only helped in one race. A NG endorsement and $2.75 will get you a double skinny grande capuccino at just about any Starbucks.

Gidwitz? Has he even advertised? Is he still running?

Andy Martin? Damn, it'd be fun to have him as the nominee. It'd be a blast to have him as the gov. Fat chance.

And the Democratic primary.

Some of the things Ed Eisendrath says make a lot of sense. Some don't. He has less chance than Winthrop in the NCAA tournament. He doesn't have the money. He doesn't have the backing of any of the party bigwigs. He doesn't have a $16 million war chest. And he doesn't have the incumbency.

He doesn't have a chance.

But then again, anyone ever thought that just maybe he's really running for 2010?

That's it. Judy vs. Rod. Two long-time Illinois political hacks, cut from generally the same cloth.

We could do worse. But we sure could do better, too.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

'Oh, really' headline of the week

Study: Reading Key to College Success

Next thing they'll be telling us is that breathing is key to staying alive.

And so it goes.