Archive for the ‘Chicago Politics’ Category

Mayor Lightfoot: Here’s Your Chance!

June 3, 2019

I am sure most people in the rest of the country, let alone Chicagoans, wonder “What the f**k happened?” A true long shot whom hardly anyone knew, got elected mayor.

Let me give this a bit of context. Our mayor, Rahm, who sold himself as a ‘progressive’ (after all, he was Obama’s Chief of Staff…). made things worse, if that was at all possible. Our biggest problem was and is paying for running the city. Shootings? Please. Yes, there are a few pockets of neighborhoods that are totally out of control, but there is no mystery about why this is: absentee landlords who don’t do credit checks on landlords, lots of poorly educated adults who can’t make a living wage bearing children they can barely parent, no jobs for the unskilled… a true lack of both literacy and numeracy…and police designating that, since they will never eliminate crime, ‘containing’ it to certain neighborhoods.  Yes…that’s right:  the police know who the problems are…they  just don’t  make arrests because they do a poor job of collecting evidence & they  know  too many judges give probabtion (meanwhile, we have  non-violent people taking up space for drug violations…,.go figure…)

We had about 14—yes—14 candidates running for mayor, and virtually all had either (Democratic) machine ties, or were outliers: Not funded well, unlikable supporters (Amara Enyia— Kanye West and Dorothy Brown. Dorothy has been under indictment…Amara, you blew it…). Where had Gery Chico been all these years? Bill Daley? Totally clueless. He felt there would be enough white people votes, and that everyone would forget his father and brother. I had voted for Susana Mendoza for comptroller, but she really offered nothing new. I was leaning towards former school teacher Toni Preckwinkle. I was almost ready to forgive her support for corrupt assessor Joe Berrios, and then it came out she put Alderman Ed Burke’s totally useless son on her payroll at $100,000 for doing virtually notnhing but harass and annoy people (while cutting other county jobs).

So, essentially, due to so many candidates running (Unless you went online and looked at their platforms, you wouldn’t know what their actual platforms were), and a very low voter turnout, Lori won by default.

We all know what the problems are, and many of us know the solutions, In fact, Ken Dunn, of Resource Center, who started out as a Peace Corps Volunteer, then developed a reputation as a community-based recycler, has helped to create more income generating projects for marginally employable people than just about anybody in Chicago. Yet, because he’s not an elite and doesn’t contribute to political causes, he’s virtually ignored.

But I digress. Rahm declined to run. He would have won based on inertia, But he bowed out, leaving us with a bigger mess in terms of debt & the proverbially underfunded pension funds than he came in with. He had the intelligernce and the means to fix this. He just chose to enrich elites. Several great examples of this are:

  1. His predessor, Richard M. Daley, bought a shuttered hospital for….? Oh, right… the city was acquiring land for the Olympics before we got the bid to host (we didn’t—-dodged a bullet there! Ask any city that has hosted since the 1970s if they made or lost money on hosting!). So with taxpayer money, Daley bought Michel Reese Hospital for way more than it would have sold for. It sits there, akin to a shuttered nuclear power plant. Then, Rahm decides that the city needs a $9 million training center for the police—-way across town. Why? Why couldn’t this site be reconfigured? Nobody gives a clear answer. I partly blame the press in Chicago for pandering. In fact, Georg Lucas wanted a site for a Star Wars museum. This site would have been perfect! Very easily accessible by public transportation. No, Lucas and his wife, who don’t live in Chicago, wanted a site on the lakefront. It was the lakefront or nothing. So, it turned out to be nothing. They took their toys and went home because the lakefront belongs to all of us. Rahm tried to get his way for them, but a fluke, democracy prevailed.
  2. By having an appointed rather than elected school board, Rahm got us Barbara Byrd Bennet, a military veteran who had been a school administrator with no apparent record for improving educational outcomes anywhere. Worse, she committed massive fraud. She cost the citizens a huge amount of money (she was convicted) and closed down many schools instead of improving them. We had implemented Local School Councils over 20years ago, which never got enough support from CPS, but no matter. Rahm should be held as accountable as BBB, and we need an elected school board.
  3. The pension fund shortfall. What sense does it make to have about half a billion dollars (according to journalist Ben Joravsky and a few others who have analyzed the budget) sitting there in a Tax Increment Financing Account, and then issue bond funds to pay for what this TIF $$$ should be paying for?
  4. In fact—- did nobody in city government at all DO THE MATH of giving $900,000,000 to Lincoln Yards developers? Forget about the traffic, and that any jobs to be created for our proverbially ‘low income/unskilled’ citizens would be temporary in nature. How much does this actually add to the cost of each housing & business unit…and how do we get paid back? The reason for TAX INCREMENT FINANCING is to support a project that—but for the lack of money—-would not be built. This complex only benefits elites. If the developers could not get financing from the private sector, it should not have been approved. That’s how capitalism works. For our aldermen to approve this project shows that they are grossly overpaid…. and arrogant, and innumerate. I don’t know if we will be able to overcome this because we also have…
  5. The pension funds being underfunded…hello! Wasn’t Tony Rezko, the politically connected fundraiser for both political parties, for some reason on the committees that approved pension plans for public employees? No matter. Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union members and teacher had a great idea: tax trades at the Chicago Board of Trades. I know from working for elites that they’d never miss the money. they may ultimately move out of the city but until then… what’s the alternative? To continue adding to the hotel tax?


Mayor Lightfoot— embarass the incumbents who got re-elected—for being arrogant, innumerate, and failing their constituents. They waste money and reward their friends. They pander.You really have nothing to lose!

Understanding the Greek Economic Crisis…or is it Chicago?

July 24, 2015

Don’t gloat.   Coming to a town hear YOU! You think malfeasance  isn’t happening where YOU live? This is about Vernon California. apparently, their neighbors saw these guys getting away with  this, so:  This is about Bell, California, where the town rulers, elected officials, bankrupted the town before the feds could save it.  You have to remember that lots of  actions are legal if they are not illegal. While we  are supportive of laws chasing drug dealers and addicts around,prosecuting welfare and food stamp fraud…. keeping lawyers employed—we are ignoring the important stuff …because it is boring until WE  get pummeled.

I was listening to an economics professor on the radio talk about what the problem is in Greece.  He said the Greek people aren’t lazy, but their  socio/political system is so inefficient, most Greeks work  2 jobs. He also  claimed that it wasn’t because  Greeks didn’t pay taxes—as the wealthy in all countries get away with not paying taxes.  However, in the USA & much of Europe, there has been a huge middle class that pays property taxes.  This is not the case in Greece, or many countries (it was not the case in Malawi when I was an urban planner in Blantyre in  the early 1990s, nor was it in Egypt—where  people were allowed to occupy unfinished buildings and not apply for  occupancy permits…so not be on the tax rolls).

The economics professor claimed Greece was in trouble because the European (etc) investors continued to  prop up banks making bad loans.  Bingo!

Sound familiar?  Did any bankers go to jail when they did that to  the USA in  2008 at the end of Dubyas years?  Charles Ferguson’s  2010 documentary reminds us that—no—we Americans footed the bill.  Puerto Rico is going through the same thing (albeit partly because of being overly generous to her citizens)., but I live in Chicago, where our aldermen and state senators ‘borrowed’ from public employees  pension funds ( for fripparies:  rodeos,  chandeliers, offices, statues, junkets….and never paid it back— or never put the $$$ in in the first place—taxes we paid!!! & we  stupid citizens not only have to pay AGAIN—but the assholes who did this are now receiving pensions themselves!  Here is the  right  wing take on our situation:  It’s not just the patronage army, it’s our politicians.

In the past…before the internet…when things got so dire…there were revolutions.  This is how the socialists came to power in many places.  This may seem far afield, but Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren  keep calling for reforms.  The only way to  fight the  malfeasance is un-elect the  rascals and get ourselves a new set of rascals…and as citizens…support the government watchdog agencies and cut politicians pensions.

Are we Making a Dent in Puppy Mills?

June 5, 2015
My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC.  His breeder  hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

My last Saluki, Ch. Scenario Razzle Dazzle, JC. His breeder hung on to him, thinking he was not show quality, waiting for the right home to come along.

On Facebook, we recently learned that a couple of pet stores—puppy mill outlets—were planning a fundraiser at an area restaurant— so they could pay their legal bills!  for real.  They  claim that (we activists) are putting them out of a legitimate business…and puppy buyers will be forced to  go to the suburbs to buy pups. Really?

Or, maybe…just maybe…they will be forced to do some research and seek out hobby breeders.  Or check out the hundreds of dogs in area shelters and breed specific rescues.  It could happen.

I wrote  to the reporter who broke the story…that the fundraiser was cancelled when Cari Meyers from The Puppy Mill Project, ans several other activists  talked to the restaurant management about what the problem REALLY is.

I have no idea where to start on this…but let me try.
I am a dog groomer.  I have been working with dogs for  over 40 years.  I learned to groom from other  dog lovers:  people who bred and showed dogs.
What I learned is that no ethical  hobby breeder, who loves dogs, sells any dog to someone else to resell. Ethical hobby breeders  want to meet  possible buyers and determine if they understand  how to take care of the pup they want.
As a teenager, I worked for this eccentric named Fred Alderman.  He was a pretty well known Afghan Hound breeder.  Lots of people didn’t like him…but if you had never owned an Afghan Hound, you had to spend a day grooming with him if you wanted 1 of his dogs.  He didn’t want to hear that you  didn’t  know how much equipment you would need, how often it needed to be done, how long it would take.  If—at the end of the day—you  didn’t want an Afghan, no harm/no foul.

I worked for a Miniature Schnauzer breeder.  In the late 1970s,  the hobby breeders were noticing that a lot of the dog they bred were  going blind at age 2 or 3.  Clearly, it was a genetic issue, and they set up a test breeding program  with  veterinary ophthalmologists, and  virtually eliminated  congenital juvenile cataracts from the breed.  Unfortunately, this was just dogs bred by hobby breeders.  People breeding dogs as livestock, for resale, and people breeding their pets didn’t even think about this, because once their pups were sold,  they  weren’t involved with them.

We were making good progress  in making purebred dogs genetically more sound, then the recession hit, and another bad dynamic:  veterinarians who  really aren’t pet lovers not discouraging  people from breeding dogs with discoverable genetic defects…and even leading  pet owners to believe that mixing breeds  resulted in ‘hybrid vigor’ (they are the same species—not hybrids—these designer dogs).

So now we have a whole segment of  pet lovers who believe a designer dog is healthier than  a purebred (not  necessarily so).

I am not the ‘adopt—don’t shop’ type, but my last 4 purebred dogs  came to me as adults from  purebred dog breeders who   are breeding for the betterment of their breeds—and who took dogs back because buyers changed their minds.  That’s what hobby breeders do. They take back their dogs because they love them.  No excuses.

Do you understand the difference? That Amish  commercial dog breeders, and/or USDA licensed breeders are breeding pets as livestock?  And ripping people off?  Every week I get  dogs in for grooming who  bought from these types—- from pet store owners, who were not  screened, were not given proper grooming or training instructions, and believe me ultimately, that all breeders are the same.

The irony is that if these jerks  really loved animals, they could change their business models and not be adding to the many adult dogs abandoned or dumped by  dissatisfied  pet buyers.  & to justify this by saying that these buyers will go to puppy mill outlets in the suburbs? Really?  I bet within a decade we have a state-wide ban on commercial breeding of pets.

I will add that many of the  rescues  are just as bad:  adopting out dogs with questionable temperaments and not being honest about grooming and training needs…but at least they aren’t breeding dogs.

I wish we could hold the shelters and rescues accountable for adopting out dogs that look cute, but are actually a danger to public health, but that  is another issue.  The American Kennel Club is defending the very bad breeders.  We must hold them accountable, and out veterinarians accountable as well.

Didn’t I Already pay This Bill?

May 22, 2015

We’ve got a problem here in Illinois.  It’s unfunded pension funds.  In a nutshell, what happened was that tax money collected that was supposed to be earmarked for the pension funds was diverted to  the minutiae  that politicians often finagle for:  plug budget holes left by corporate tax breaks, funding of special pork projects, ‘expenses’ for legislators for whatever…and this has been going on about 20 years.  In addition to diverting funds collected,  the powers that be–apparently innumerate,  made  deals with hedge funds &  bond sales men, being promised a level of  return that not only didn’t stay flat, got to be negative due to fees…and now, we—again—have to pay.

Why do we have to pay again?  Because  public employees were promised pensions.  I don’t have a pension.  I’ve been self-employed most of my life, and I knew I’d have to take care of ME (again—why I  never had children), so I saved and invested.
But  these public employees were promised a pension…and…because they never paid into Social Security— they have no back-up.

Don’t get me wrong;  I do not feel ‘sorry’ for them that they made life choices to indulge themselves and not save  for the future. We don’t really know that.  They were told that if they worked at least a certain #  of years (is it 20?) they’d get a pension from the state.

I pity the employees who  just couldn’t take it anymore, or were otherwise dicked around, and  left those jobs.  Hopefully, they found other jobs  where the employers took out  Social Security.  But whatever. Our beef shouldn’t be with these employees (even if we do feel they are  over paid, underworked, and don’t deliver real service).  Our beef is with the politicians…but also the newspapers which endorsed them for election and re-election.

That’s right. The Chicago Tribune ran an editorial in the Sunday paper telling us citizens to look in the mirror if  we wanted someone to blame. Moi?  Why?  Did YOU—Chicago  Tribune—- and just about every other media outlet  not only  tell us we were irresponsible if we didn’t vote—and then ENDORSE these very politicians who voted to give themselves pay raises and divert the  tax money  from the pension funds?  We expected a free press  to be honest and give us information—not take the wrong side!

So  now our taxes—both income and property—will have to go up to make up for the shortfall…yet you all (politicians, the media…) still support  sports teams and artists (movie producers, festivals) with tax breaks, citing an amorphous economic multiplier!  chutzpah!

My only choice is to sell my home and move to a state that is better managed. but then, there is the issue of potable water.  We’ve known this was coming for over 50 years—yet our legislators have voted to allow fracking rather than give more tax incentives to renewable energy sources!

We citizens are a bunch of chumps.

Cutting the Budget to Make up for the Failure to Fund the Pension Plans

March 27, 2015


Bangkok topiary.  Not sure if their city workers have pension plans.  We do have street art in Chicago...and our pension plans are in crisis due to  inept politicians.

Bangkok topiary. Not sure if their city workers have pension plans. We do have street art in Chicago…and our pension plans are in crisis due to inept politicians.

Illinois—my state—is a perfect example of  voters not paying attention to what our legislators are doing.  It’s not that we don’t have ‘watchdog groups’, it’s that we have  major  newspapers  which are  edited  and published by  people who seem to be in collusion with  corrupt and inept politicians, and an uneducated populace that  ranks legislation right up ther with insurance: boring.

These same  newspapers—which endorse our politicians, have real chutzpah when, several months later, they  browbeat us citizens for voting for them.  Why they endorse these hooligans is anyone’s guess…or are they being paid off?

What got me going on this is that we are having a mayoral election  in about  two weeks (early voting has started).  It is a run-off between Rahm Emanuel—the incumbent, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a county commissioner. Chuy  has a degree in urban planning, and has a lot of experience as an elected official.  He’s known as a neighborhood guy. He’s had some missteps (all of us have applied for  tax breaks we end up not being entitled too), but for the most part, he  doesn’t have wealthy friends in high places:   the 1% who want to do  business in the city and  make  deals behind closed doors.

Rahm speaks with authority.  Even though he has screwed us over:  he  promised to be transparent about the Tax Increment Financing money…and he immediately cut a deal with DePaul University —a private, CATHOLIC, endowed  entity…so they could build a stadium—& Rahm took  residential property OFF THE TAX ROLLS TO DO IT…even though he  promised is 1000 more police on the street, there are not, and even  though he closed  50 neighborhood elementary schools & diverted tax dollars to private charter schools…and in 4 years time has done NOTHING to address  the under funded pension funds for city workers (and we have a crisis at the state level as well).  He still seems to have more credibility than Chuy—because he  speaks with confidence—and because the local media present him as being a better choice. They ar not neutral, and the newspapers bury the  stories of shady dealings in the business section.

He’s turned the argument into the fact that Chuy has not come out with a plan, and he knows people fear that property taxes will go up. Yet,he’s put forth no plan of his own  and that’s ok with  major media.  It’s frightening.  It’s all marketing.  Rahm has the money to twist and obfuscate.

Knowing people who  work on the Garcia campaign, I’ve suggested that he  ask every alderman (there are 50) to give up 1 staff person. That  the  neighborhood  ‘development corporations’ (what  in some areas are  chambers of commerce) actually be put into aldermen’s offices—without a separate overlay of staff and expenses.  Raise fees, fines, and rates.  Hell,  there  are so many  businesses—particularly pet  industry businesses—that are not in compliance with current laws, and  they are being ignored.

Chicago Animal Care & Control  could easily double their adoption fees and nobody would complain.  We have way too many street fairs which really don’t  market  actual businesses that  pay property taxes (via rent) all that well, and  we provide free police  for those fairs and to all the sports teams when they have games in town.  Discretionary infrastructure money  could easily be cut by at least 30%.  In our ward, we have  voted on projects that have been nice—but would I rather have my taxes go up 30% to cover them?  Well, it looks like that will be the reality no matter who the mayor is.

A candidate  for mayor who withdrew due to health reasons, Karen Lewis, suggested taxing trades 1% at the board of trade.   Bunch of whiners—speculator/gamblers   talked of moving out of the city, Really? To where? Skokie?  I don’t think so.  I know from working  in a service business that most of the 1% hardly pay attention to what  frivolities cost.

Finally:  legalize  and tax marijuana…and release all those serving time for non-violent drug crimes.  It’s one thing to involve a weapon, and  another  to be in jail for being an entrepreneur.  We just can’t afford this  morality craziness.  It hasn’t worked and costs too much…and we can look at the examples of Washington  and Colorado.

Matt Taibbi has an excellent article in Rolling Stone  several years ago:

I urge  everyone to read it.  it’s not a mystery how this all happened.  We let them.


Jane Byrne

November 21, 2014

Not sure if anyone outside of Chicago saw the news, but our only female mayor ever  died at age 81.  She was mayor during the  mid 1970s.  She  followed Richard J. Daley, the noted mayor who got John Kennedy elected president by a little flim-flamming (when asked, by a reporter, why one candidate won an election, his response was, “He got more votes.”  whadya think?) and  was famous for saying,  (regarding the 1968 Dem convention riots), “The police are not there to create disorder, they are there to maintain disorder.”

What actually happened was that Richard J. Daley died in office. He had appointed Jane Byrne commissioner of consumer affairs. Our aldermen  voted  Michael Bilandic (another alderman, I guess the guy who stunk the least) in.  He—and the other alderman  got their panties in a bunch over Jane Byrne allowing the cab drivers to raise their rates. Bilandic fired her, then  we had a really bad winter with a lot 0f snow, and he wasn’t  able to manage to get  the streets plowed.  Jane Byrne having been   commissioner of consumer affairs for the city (sort of in charge of business licenses…not really all that controversial), and she managed to get  press and financial backing to beat Bilandic.

She  sort of promoted herself as a reformer, and, considering the sexism  at the time, along with the political machine, she  was able to do some things.  She started Chicagofest, and the  renovation of Navy Pier (a HUGE tourist attraction in Chicago), as well as other community festivals. She  moved into  a dangerous public housing high rise (albeit only for 3 weeks, but it sent a message) and  promoted  the filming of movies in Chicago—generating hundreds if not thousands of jobs (the Blues Brothers movie was filmed in Chicago).  Ultimately, she did not reach out enough.  Bunch of stuff happened. Harold Washington, a former state senator, decided to run for mayor, and he did have a coalition of Blacks, Hispanics, and Lakefront Liberals, was a true progressive, and was a much warmer personality than Jane Byrne.  Plus, a few racists got involved, which split the white vote.  Washington was able to  institute some progressive reforms regarding hiring in the city.

Nobody, however, was able to  stem the huge school drop-out rate, or kids testing below grade level. Some blame the  unions, I blame the schools of education that have  people major in education and minor in the subject they  want to teach (not vice versa)—or a school board that ignores your area of expertise and tells you  that if you want a job, you teach something you have no interest in teaching….as well as hiring teachers who disrespect minority students.  All that is another issue.

The importance of Jane Byrne  was that she was a tough broad who  bucked the system and  managed to get things done.  She was a great role model, even just as a public image.

Affordable Housing…What the 99% Folks Don’t Want to Understand

June 20, 2014
Upscale Housing in,DaNang, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Upscale Housing in,DaNang, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

Do you know the difference between  socialism and democracy/capitalism?  Are you sure?

I was in my  twenties before I realized that someone planned infrastructure. Roads and plumbing were not just there.  Due to a comedy of errors, I ended up getting a master’s in urban planning, and  a concentration in land use & zoning.  It’s amazing to me that there was a time in America that we could afford to lay  water and sewer pipes.  It’s also amazing to me that  the politicians thought it would be a  great idea to allow private companies to handle energy  and other infrastructure services.  Not  everything will make a profit.  Some things—like infrastructure, you have to provide to support economic development. This is why we need governments. For no other reason, really.

The companies that have a monopoly on  infrastructure  now  realize that nobody will rein them in. They can do whatever they want and charge whatever they want.  That is capitalism.

In many places in the world, they (meaning politicians) don’t allow the private ownership of land in urban areas with infrastructure.  You get a 99 year lease, and then  the lease is renegotiated.  This is  to prevent land speculation and inflation blamed on land rents.  However,  often the lease holders  sublet the space, and this causes inflation.  I saw this when I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Blantyre, Malawi.  Improved land had been sliced and diced so many times, that, per square foot, improved land was as expensive as it is in Chicago.  It was shocking, and this was why many people were starving.  They could not go back to their  ‘home’land/tribal area, as all the arable land was  spoken for. They could not be farmers.  They didn’t have enough education  to get a job, nor enough connections for access to capital. This is also why crime is rising in the urban areas  of developing countries. People are desperate.  This is also why we need public schools. There is  currently  an uproar about ‘core competency’.  Do we really not agree that  our populace has to know basic business math, science concepts, and how to write a proposal?  More serious, still:  do we not understand that we  graduate  people as  teachers who don’t know how to teach this kind of stuff?

Forget the bs that there is enough food that nobody should go hungry, and that nobody should be homeless. Those are not the real issues. The  issue, bottom line, is still that  men are still choosing (for women) to have  more children than the economy can support.  It’s a global problem, now, and it’s a problem that most  politicians will NOT address.  Too controversial.  But the bottom line is that  jobs will never be created fast enough for  all the people who need employment.  That’s capitalism.

On my most recent trip to Viet Nam, it appeared that most urban people were very sophisticated about family planning.  It was surprising  how small an area  in Hanoi that  the entrepreneurs had  carved out for themselves.  The  government  could never create enough jobs, so entrepreneurship is encouraged.   It’s that, or crime. These people might be poor, but they all have cell phones and TVs, and they don’t have to punch a clock. Their time is their own.  That’s how it is in  many places in the world.  Just not so Europe or the USA.  If more Americans could do this,  they might possibly demand that their schools teach getter mathematics and science.  How teachers are taught in the US would be funny were it not tragic!

I got to thinking about this again, because a young woman, Amara Enyia , child of Nigerian immigrants, is running for mayor of Chicago.  She came to a very small community meeting, and someone asked her what she would do about creating more affordable housing.

She  thought very carefully before answering, because she’s smart.  That train has left the station.  There is no longer any  affordable housing that is decent because our land rents—-property taxes are too high. They are not the same all over the city, but  in my neighborhood, Rogers Park,  which is right along the lakefront, and has several rapid transit stops, and a private university (Loyola), we now average over $100  per week per unit in property takes.  Even if you live in a studio apartment, under 500 square feet, your landlord is paying at least $200 a month in property taxes.  And then there are  the heating bill, water,  maintenance. Also, our politicians pay themselves an outrageously high salary—over $100,000 a year, and they have their patronage workers, too. If you are poor, and didn’t luck into a Section 8 voucher (which, apparently, is good for the life of the holder), or subsidized housing (also good for life), you are s…o…l.

I’ve always thought that  a rent subsidy should only be good for a limited time:  five to 10 years at most.  When you have a subsidy, you have no incentive to improve your skills or try for a better job, or to make any money.  Neither do your kids.  It becomes a chosen lifestyle—that of being poor and scamming the system.  Nobody has dared to do a study of this, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence:  people are proud to say they live in this or that housing project, as did their grandparents.  No joke.

Now, you could say I’m lucky, and  I have white privilege.  However, I made a choice to not have children I could not support, to buy my first home in what was considered a slum area, and move up.  I know a lot of women like me.

What Ms. Enyia said in response, in so many words, was that you have to work with others in your community and get control of the land. They are called housing trusts. That means working together with other poor people, forming an organization, and raising money.  Still private, but you  vote on how the money is spent—like a cooperative.

It’s been done, but the people whining the most want others to do it for them.  I want I want…I want to live in Manhattan, or San Francisco, or LA. I want a Cadillac.  I want someone to clean up my house.  I want to go on vacation to Hawaii  three or four times a year.

Our schools don’t teach kids to  think, but to comply.  Couple that with people being in denial that they can’t still live in the community they grew up in, and I see much more strife coming down the pike.

Yes, there IS still racism, and this is how I know:

May 30, 2014

As I have   written before, I am a court advocate for a nonprofit group that monitors how animal welfare is adjudicated in the courtroom.  Quite often, actual disgusting violence has occurred.  Recently, a man murdered his girlfriend’s puppy.  This is common all over the USA:  some asshole is angry that the dog pooped on the floor, and  throws the dog  against the wall, breaking his little body.  The ways our laws are written, it is a misdemeanor.  What happened next with this guy is he murdered the actual girlfriend. That’s how it goes. So, if you  think  crimes against animals are petty, guess again.

But  sometimes, when a crime has been committed, it is an accident.  Or rather, it is ignorance.  People mean well, they just don’t realize what they are doing is cruel.
This is the case of CS, who was charged this way: (neglect of owners duties & cruel treatment):

APRIL 28, 2014 (Monday)
**COURT: Branch 46, 555 W Harrison, 9:00am
-S&&&S, C&&&&n DOB 091992 (13124124201/HW503982)
charges: 1x owner duties (510ILCS70.0/3) 4 charges pending
2x cruel treatment (510ILCS70.0/3.01)
3x drug paraphernalia
arrest: Beat 0312, 63xx S St Lawrence Ave, basement, 23Oct13
arresting officer: CPD ACT, Unit 6559D
animal: 1 dog not signed over (A097200) – see note
history: branch court 23Oct13, 27Nov, 10Dec, 15Jan14, 14Feb, 27Mar
note: CCSAO looking into filing forfeiture petition; dog had allegedly also bitten
a neighbor; dangerous dog investigation; details requested

This is how I reported it to my group:
Judge V, Rm.303.  Court called 9:05 a.m  Finding:  Not Guilty
CS was there—a young single mother, very nice.  Bailiff asked me why I was there, & I told her for  Ms. S.  I know we don’t generally talk to defendants, but  let’s use some sense.  This  SHOULD HAVE GONE TO MEDIATION.    Waste of my tax dollars—& yours.
S had to hire a lawyer, pay for child care, move, and since she loves the dog and wants him back, will have to pay boarding fees. She told me she visited him several times at CACC and hoped he was walked and played with.

In fact, she also had a bitch pup, and had hoped to breed the dogs,  & I believe (in my own middle class white mind) I persuaded her to have (male dog) neutered, and told her it would  probably be done for free.  She told me her mother would pay for it.  I should have made a case for the bitch pup as well, but she knows the ‘breeder’ dumped a litter of 14 at CARE/Evanston.  I also, after the trial, told her it is illegal to tether dogs.

This  was a very sad case of two new tenants and an absentee landlord. One, CJ, trying to deflect attention from  herself (this is another court case, clearly), constantly calling the police about  S  harboring fighting  dogs. The best they—the police— could come up with were the neglect/cruel treatment. For what?  Having dogs tethered on leashes too short, and unattended….but there’s more.
Yes, the dogs  were tethered & unattended. Unfortunately, the prosecuting attorney does not know tethering is illegal.  However, you notice they wanted  her on drug paraphernalia. Charge was dropped as there was no evidence.  However,  prosecutor wanted to add  2 more charges, and because nothing had been produced at discovery,  Judge V denied prosecutor’s request.  What the police wanted was for her to finger  gang bangers/dealers in the ‘hood, and since  she was new to the  neighborhood, she knew none.

Several  officers showed up to testify as well as Dr. X from  animal control.  Although (male dog)had a scar from a past injury, it was healed & not an issue. What was an issue  for Judge V was that none of the officers had approached the dogs, they had all seen the dogs several times, but at no time did they ring the doorbell and inquire about the dogs or warn  S.    In fact, they  had visited the  property  at least three times, but did not take custody of the dogs the first time.  /dogsm plural…. :  the prosecutor kept referring to a black dog, as did the officers, which  was also tethered on the porch (probably the complaining neighbor’s dog), but  that was NOT S’ DOG.  Judge V  had the same  expression on his face that I am sure I had on mine.   They did not have photos of the tether leashes, and although they  had a search warrant for the home, did not  ‘see’ the  bitch pup (S told me the police told her to put her away).    Nor, apparently did they  have any evidence of ‘drug paraphernalia’.
Now, seriously…if you are citing someone for neglect/cruelty, why would you take  one dog and not the other?

In addition,  C J wanted an assault charge reinstated, which had been dismissed due to her not showing up for trial (she said she was confused by the date—easy enough, as none of the dates are  on our sheet, and this case has also been at another court location —but she had been right there when the  date was given!!!),   stating she was in court Feb.30! After telling her that was impossible, Judge V let the prosecutor  reinstate the assault charge against S.   S next court date is June 4 , 2014 on  a bs assault charge. The facts are that  CJ was not  touched.  Assault actually means threatened, which S admitted…but no matter.

So, after hearing from the police, and  veterinarian X  that  there was no evidence of  either neglect or cruelty, Judge V found S  not guilty, and denied the motion  for  forfeiture.  S was greatly relieved.

This case could have been over sooner had her attorney appeared at  2 previous of the hearings listed.  He  is now attempting to charge S  for those appearances he did not make. He wants $1500.  I tole her to make him take her to small claims court.

There are  serious thugs  and dog fighters out there.  I wish the police had not wasted so much time on this case…and I believe has S been white, and in a better neighborhood…there would have been no charges.
I see dogs with  prong collars on all the time, They are NOT being trained, Their owners  allowed them to get out of control, and now believe the only way they can control them is to hurt them with  a prong or pinch collar.Yet the police ignore this.   Go figure.


What the Ban on pet shop Sales of pets means for pet lovers & consumers

April 4, 2014
Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with  genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

Purebred Bedlington. another breed with such a small gene pool, with genetic health issues, that the puppy mills have generally ignored.

In Chicago, we (  in this case,meaning 49 of 50 aldermen— unheard of cooperation NOT led by a mayor) recently voted to ban the sales of dogs, cats, and rabbits that do not come from bona fide shelters and rescues, in pet shops. That means  pet shop sales of commercially bred animals–-pets bred as livestock—  will no longer be legal. ( See: ).

Will this make a difference in the number of  pets that wind up abandoned in shelters, or abused? Probably not, As  Kathy Mordini pointed out in  one of her Raining Cats & Dogs/Chicago Now blog… you even have to look at shelters & rescues with some skepticism.    We have several in the Chicagoland area adopting out unhealthy  pets & feigning ignorance.  As I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.

What we do know is that it starts the discussion on why it is unethical to raise pets as livestock, for profit, when so many are abandoned.  However—is a problem being solved?

Because I have worked in the pet industry (as a dog groomer) for over 40 years, I have a lot of experience in what goes on.  People  who own or manage pet shops are retailers first and foremost. Pet lovers?  maybe—maybe not.  You have to wonder  how people who love pets can ship  baby animals, which are under so much stress, knowing that  a certain per centage will die of the stress, to sell to impulse buyers who either have not thought out what  taking care of a live animal means, or who probably have  WRONG CARE INFORMATION.

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling  brush style in America---thanks to the idiots who  manage pet shops!

The wrong brush for most dogs is the top selling brush style in America—thanks to the idiots who manage pet shops!

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

An eexample fo a curved slicker brush---generally, the right brush!

An example fo a curved slicker brush—generally, the right brush!

For over 50 years. pet shops have been selling the wrong brush.  I have posted  a photo —again—showing pins on 1 side, bristles on the other.  The right brush is a  slicker brush—particularly a  curved slicker—like the red one–( the Miller Forge offered by   is the best, I feel, for most  dogs whose coats are over 1 inch long or are double coated or non-shed. They don’t even know it, and don’t care. Why don’t groomers tell them?  I have worked for some of these managers—who have told me to shut up and just do my job (See:  I got fired for wearing a scarf That’s why. Well, now with the  Affordable Care Act, I bet  a lot of groomers will tell these  horrible bosses to take this job and shove it… but it won’t help any of these  bad pet shop  owners or managers gain any integrity.  Possibly—just possibly—their desperation to make up the lost profits might cause them to get information  on  how to find hobby breeders & refer  buyers to them for a commission  pets, but  it’s going to be tough. Why?

This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them  in a shelter, but they do get loose.  Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list  (WRAP---Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders.  Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

This is a Whippet. Chances are very slim you will find them in a shelter, but they do get loose. Most likely, you will either have to be on a waiting list (WRAP—Whippet Rescue and Placement) or network to find breeders. Whippet breeders are NOT the cause of pet over population.

     The bottom line is that people who breed pets for the betterment of their breed or to improve their line want to meet the buyers. They do not sell to third parties & trust that they will do a good job of screening—making sure you know what is involved in taking care of the dog or cat you want.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how Fred Alderman of Dynasty Afghan Hounds had people wanting Afghan Hounds come out to the kennel and spend a day grooming…to make sure they  understood what was involved and wouldn’t make excuses.  As it is, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America (and I am sure many other breed clubs) have like minded  breeders who  really ask you and your household a lot of questions.  You never see Briards or Scottish Deerhounds in pet shops—and they only end up in  shelters when they are lost or an owner dies.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs---the 'universal' style curved slicker, with  bent wire  'pins'.

This is the right brush for most pet dogs—the ‘universal’ style curved slicker, with bent wire ‘pins’.

So…when (in Illinois) shelter fees include shots and NEUTERING, how are the pet shops going to justify charging the same amount as a shelter when  all shots and neutering are NOT INCLUDED IN THE SALES PRICE?  How?   By counting on buyers  coming in for ‘a puppy’  not being too particular,  knowing they haven’t done any research.  When Dad (or a brother or  cousin) comes home with a dog for the kids that Mom doesn’t want…that’s the pup that will end up in a shelter along with all the Pit Bull pups that morons bred that  dishonest buyers who  tried to sneak past a landlord and the breeder won’t take back.  That’s how it is.

I attended a meet-up event for pet owners recently and we were talking about no-kill shelters—and the  pet owners had no idea that  the No-Kill shelters were not OPEN ACCESS-–meaning they did NOT take owner surrenders.

So, I think this starts the discussion.  When people looking for a dog of a particular breed, and in Chicago, the pet shop can no longer sell them unless they came from a shelter (keep in mind that the puppy mills have set up ‘shelters’ for their unsold pups—& I bet a lot of pet shops will learn who they are—soon!)…will the  retailers have done any research and referred  puppy seekers to dog clubs?  Or will they refer them to  retailers in the next town over and gain a commission?

Many of the breeders who sold to pet shops still sell on Craigslist. The city—and the state—could have  designated funding to  hire people to  pay a visit to all these  unethical breeders—& fine them.   This would pay for itself in a year! Really—-as so many people who post on Craigslist  are just in it for the money & barely making anything.  They  either don’t understand or don’t care  that  over half the dogs they breed will end up  dumped.  THAT would solve the surplus dog problem in less than a year…but that is not what they did.  It’s as though our elected officials  don’t know the internet exists —it’s a mystery—when it comes  to law enforcement of commerce.

I am including this link because this happened to a dog—bought as a puppy (who knows from where…enough blame to go around) that probably  was so cute as to not look like a real dog—needing grooming and training:

So,  if the problem is  breeders breeding  pets as livestock not having outlets for the animals they breed (as more and more municipalities  outlaw sales of  commercially bred pets in pet shops), will  we have solved this problem?  No, and neither will we solve the problem of pets being  abused, neglected, or dumped.  This just starts the discussion, and it is an important discussion.

Do you want to end this horror?  Call or email your  elected officials.   Send them a link to  a post for puppies posted on Craigslist—and ask why they don’t  designate funds in the  state budget  for inspectors  to call  posters, pay them a visit, and fine them for  breeding  animals they don’t have deposits for.  Word will spread.   That’s the only way.


Primary Elections: & We’re Going to Tell Others What’s Transparent?

March 28, 2014

Yep.  It is  March 2014, and we’ve had a primary election in Illinois.    That means folks voted on who their parties are floating as candidates for the general election  in November.  We had a  less than 15% voter turnout in my  precinct. That’s right:  of 690 registered voters (that has to be just about every adult in the precinct, which is about a  6 block area), 107 turned out.  I think about  20 voted absentee.  Not really sure. We did get the ‘early voter’ list (hello!  we all had 2 weeks to early vote, every day, 9—7…you could vote anywhere in the city at a time & day convenient  for you), but obviously, lots of people did not vote.

Here’s why:  those  with  the cash and political backing, who got enough signatures to file petitions to be on the ballot didn’t really connect with a lot of voters.  A Republican  running for governor,  Bruce Rauner, is known to be rich.  He talks a good game,and,  has spend thousands of $$$ on TV ads.  Pat Quinn, the  current governor & Democrat, has been a disappointment:  he is not very pro-active, and refuses to address a bloated budget. Our state is in the hole for  around a trillion $$$.  As I’ve stated before,  we  do not have enough Department of Agriculture inspectors, we have a huge make-work project in the  Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity/International  Trade Division (with at least 10 overseas offices duplicating what our federal government does), and  highly paid people  in charge of  overseeing amateur sports.  It’s ridiculous—especially  when we still have the pension fund crisis voted FOR three legislatures ago (meaning money was diverted from the pension funds for public employees—to  poorly thought out programs—& lets ask why  teachers were  never paying  into Social Security—really stupid—especially if your whole career is not spent in 1 school district).

Yep—that’s the mess we have in Illinois—or at least part of it.  Uh, so why do people not vote in primaries?  Aside from having to declare yourself (you have to declare a political party—tho you can declare unaffiliated & vote just in the referendums), lots of people don’t understand that taking a ballot is votingYou don’t have to vote for anyone you don’t know or don’t want.   That sends a message (however—shocking that the  media editors don’t publicize how many people took ballots and  don’t vote the candidates).  I was reprimanded by Democratic poll watchers in the last general election for reminding ballot takers of this fact. They don’t want people  to know that you don’t have to  vote all the races—or any of the races.  In fact, the way the ballot machines are set up, they will tell you you UNDERVOTED and spit out the  ballot—& you have to request an override & acceptance of an ‘undervoted’ ballot.

So much for democracy.

Let me start with  early voting  in nursing homes, however.  Sure, people  confined to nursing homes (& hospitals, actually) should be able to participate and cast their ballots.    But this is not exactly transparent.  What used to happen (as recently as 20 years ago) is that  someone from 1 of the parties would come in as a voter registrar and sign up EVERYBODY to vote  and nursing home administrators would vote all the ballotsWhy?  Often nursing homes have code and care violations (we’re talking Chicago—but I am sure this happens  most places) Our ‘dominant’ party in Chicago is the Democratic party.  Here’s how it works: you vote your residents the  party ticket, and we ignore your violations.

Things have changed a bit.  I am a Project LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precints) trained  judge.  LEAP no longer exists, but at one time they got money to train election judges the stuff  to watch out for that  the Chicago Board of Elections  (CBOE)  did not.  & there are still  problems that come up that  the CBOE  hasn’t trained judges to address.

What went wrong?  You are supposed to get to the nursing home by 8:45 a.m. to start the election at 9—but the board doesn’t send out their employees with supplies until after 8…so they are stuck in rush hour traffic and might not get to the home until 10.  You —nursing home judge—are paid a flat feet for the day…but considering this  has been the problem year after year, you’d think they’d send out the supplies the afternoon before—or starting at 5:00 a.m.?  That’s what they do for the general election. What are we missing?

We have over 100 people in the nursing home I was assigned to who requested absentee ballots. That means some  registrar went in their & got signatures.  Statistically, there is no way he could have gotten  legal signatures for all who applied—as  a huge  per centage are  demented/addled/confused—and were unable to sign their application for ballot.  They  are not blind.  They all ask for assistance. The only reason you can LEGALLY give assistance (and then, it has to either be someone the voter has requested— or a judge from each party) is that they can’t read/write/or speak English, or have a PHYSICAL DISABILITY.  Since when is confusion a physical disability? But those are the choices you are given on the affidavit.  That adds so much paperwork.  I am shocked that the news media  constantly ignores this issue.  So much vote fraud  is in nursing homes. But does the CBOE want to hear from ME, an experienced judge? No.

We experienced judges ask the NURSING HOME ACTIVITIES DIRECTOR (she is in charge of getting voters down to the  voting)  how many people are NON-AMBULATORY (meaning bed ridden). She told me there were 3—and the investigator from the state’s attorney’s office heard her tell me that.  Meanwhile, at this nursing home, we were assigned 10 judges!.  Only 4 had been to training, the rest had no idea what they were doing & just got in the way.

Now,  the Activities Director knows her residence. she knew how many would need assistance, and she  just didn’t arrange to have aids available.  When we have to assist (& remember–most  residents are ‘confused’), we have to read the entire ballot, slowly, to every resident—including all the judges running for office.  This takes  about 10 minutes or so per voter.  You might be able to remind them that taking a ballot is voting, and ask if they want to vote for judges, but  most do want to vote for judges.  Now, most regular, lucid  voters have no idea who the judges are.  As I do court watch, I at least have an inking of who  the judges are. This is how we get bad judges &  other bad  politicians.    Anyways….at about 11:45 a.m., when we should have been ready  to do all paperwork and turn in a report, the  Activities Director tells us that  about 2o envelopes remaining were from NON AMBULATORY RESIDENTS. Remember, I had asked first thing—& she had said 3. When I  confronted her & told her, “You told me there were just 3!”   She just smiled and turned around. These people were on  4 floors.  We had to send 2 teams of judges—and  personnel from the CBOE  and the State’s Attorney up with us.  We  judges each took 2 floors. Thankfully, nobody asked for assistance (keep in mind,  even though we judges explained to each resident how to do this—in front of the CBOE employees and the State’s Attorney investigator), the fact is, most  people  spoiled their ballots by not being able to follow instructions—which the  board will ultimately find out and toss). The CBOE  employee and state’s attorney lawyer agreed with me—that the Activities director screwed things up and added 90 minutes to our day.

Wait—there’s more!  It seems, remarkably, that our  local politicians forget an election is coming up.  I knew in January  that this primary was coming up, and started posting on Facebook and my listservs that judges were needed.  If you were interested in being a judge, contact the Chicago Board of Elections, as you would have to go for training. We had early voting for 2 weeks, but the weekend before the election, March 15 & 15, our alderman & committeeman for the Democratic party started posting on  our neighborhood listserv that there was a need for REPUBLICAN JUDGES. WTF? Why would Democrats be recruiting REPUBLICAN judges—and 2 days before the election?
The response? 
They were needed!  They were needed to be recruited in January and all through February!  If the Republican committee woman needed help, she should have asked.  Insane!  & I asked  about training, and the alderman said  the CBOE was doing training, Interesting—as I took the last training day I was offered.

Now, as I said, I work a precinct with  generally experienced judges. We have to be at the polling place to set up at 5:15 a.m.  They tell you this when you go for training, and it’s in the judges manual–the polls open at 6:a.m.  Yet we had an inexperienced judge who didn’t show up until 7.  She didn’t pay attention in class, nor did she read he manual.

We also had new equipment:  an electronic pollbook. .  Supposedly, every voter in the city had their data entered in—except, I guess, for 3 who came out, who were in our precinct, had voter registration cards, who were on the printed poll sheets, and  were in the printed application for ballot book (which the CBOE told us not to use).  The printer for the  electronic  book malfunctioned several times when we had voters waiting, as  did the  cards to activate voting on computer.   We of course, had to  plug stuff in to extension cords, but  the  main one doesn’t have an indicator light  to show whether it is off or on—and that caused problems.  Now, we were experienced, and the board assigns a student familiar with the equipment, and we got things  working ok without too much  confusion…but I know (from the poll watchers traveling around) that most precincts did not.

Then—at the end of the day, we are  supposed to CONSOLIDATE the  ballots—the printed ones from the  ballot counter with the  data from those who voted on the computer (the computer is  not just supposed to  diminish paperwork—which it does—but  the data is much easier to see and change—-so if you make a mistake when you are voting, you just go back, you don’t have to ask for a new ballot).  I have never been able to consolidate the ballots on the first try,  and sometimes  we can’t transmit, sometimes it is because of being in a basement, sometimes, it’s because we are too close to Lake Michigan (about 500 feet away—there are no transmitting towers), but this time,  while another judge was in the process of transmitting, another judge accidentally  turned off the power strip,and then we got a computer error when we attempted to restart it.

No matter…been there done that…I said we just take what we have to election central and they can  figure it out. We can’t. that meant the ‘form 80’—the  election results for our precinct which could not go to every political party—was  not totally filled out, Oh, well.

Because we had to schlep so much back to  ‘election central’ (we volunteers have to deliver  supplies and results) it turned out we were not the only ones who ‘forgot’ to bring the electronic book/peripherals, etc., and had to go back for it. I asked, “How about putting a day glo stick on this that says THIS GOES BACK?”  Of course, the judges laughed and agreed with me, but the poll watchers & the CBOE  employees laughed and  responded, “BUT IT’S IN THE MANUAL!”

So we don’t really know who  our precinct voted for.  With all the early voters and  people voting by absentee ballot—  including the nursing home voters,  and such a low voter turn out do you think  the snafus were statistically significant? I  hope you remember when George Bush beat Al Gore.