Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Move on? Resist? What’s the Plan? 2017

February 24, 2017
Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

Me (Robyn) at Vic Falls

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, in 1992,  the country was  undergoing a big shift. There had been a president, who had named himself  life president, and had served, at that time, 26 years:  Hastings ‘Kamuzu’ Banda.  He was s dictator:   he terrorized the country.  He was supported by the Europeans & the USA because he was NOT a communist, and  he  supported apartheid in South Africa. About the only good thing he did for the Malawians was build a  decent road infrastructure.  The school and health care systems were virtually nonexistent.  It was a country run by elites. who went for medical care out of the country.  Malawi was socially stratified:  if you had a decent job and were literate, most likely you employed an illiterate servant to clean your house & probably cook for you. There was no way to improve your lot unless you were (or are) particularly ingenious.

Of course, I worked with elites.  They  two I worked with were honest, and had integrity.  Things were the way they were.  Pick your battles. but I explained to them that  democracy did not bring good government, but representational government.

And here we are, over 30 years later, and our  representational electorate has elected  a guy who lied, who had no plan, who  disrespects women, minorities, the handicapped…. people who are not white Europeans.  It will be interesting to see how  his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law works with the white supremacist  Bannon, who is a close advisor.  Really interesting….but I think they are sell-outs. I have some friends who I really lost respect for.  It’s one thing to think your friends are  uninformed—but to see they voted for the white guy because they believed ‘fake news’ (what we used to call lies….as ‘toxic assets’ were liabilities) and just didn’t like  or trust Hillary.   Was it because she was a woman?  Doesn’t matter—she actually got the popular vote. She won!  But due to the political mumbo jumbo of the electoral college, these former friends who voted for Trump think—really, that HE won!  It’s like saying 5-3=10!  So this is the new reality.

I fear for the environment.  Even the Clean Air & Clean Water acts were signed by Nixon—a Republican.  It is proven that when you offer free birth control and family planning information—the unplanned birth rate goers down, and the community prospers….but our rulers  really have a mindset that women should be punished for having sex—the punishment being raising  children, and this will lead to a surplus in labor.  Our economy can no longer absorb uneducated people—as it can’t absorb the educated ones! What other explanation can you  come up with for  defunding  Planned Parenthood or making abortion illegal?  It’s not like the people who make these laws are fostering or adopting orphans or kids in the child care system.

I also think  the Democratic Congress made the banking industry more accountable. Trump thinks it is too much regulation.  Education would  fix this, as kids would understand more, but with DeVos, they have demonstrated that  making sure kids learn math & science is not a priority.  it’s up to us…in the states…to work this out.

So, as a result of all this, I am much more in touch with my elected officials.  I let them know how I feel about everything.

But  are there  citizen movements emerging to develop strategies to  change it all back….or…?

While   I have big issues with the Affordable Care Act, the problem is with insurance companies, and it is time for Single Payer.  If Trump wasn’t flitting off to Florida every week, there’d be plenty  of money  for  people of all ages to buy into Medicare. You wouldn’t have to—you could still pay for private insurance if you really believe you’d get a better deal….but, having had to  deal with  health insurance a lot recently (Bursitis, and I was bitten by a dog), I can tell you, the government couldn’t make a bigger mess out of what things should cost & how hospitals get paid than the insurance companies have!

If we are going to ‘resist’ and make things better, we must educate ourselves, so we have talking points.  I want everyone who wants to make a difference get  4 books and read them.

  1.  The First is, “Lies My Teacher Told me, ” by James Loewen  You really have to understand American History, first, or you will be ‘condemned to repeat it.  It’s outrageous, what we learned in school and  what we think is real;

2. “Charlie Wilson’s War,”  by  George Crile.  Aaron Sorkin made a pretty funny movie by manipulating facts.  All of what Charlie did, and why,  is sort of ‘funny’ in an ironic way.  It’s important to understands what he did and who influenced him, as he changed history.  You will learn  that he actually armed what became the Taliban, ISIS, and all the others who hate  freedom;

3.  You ought to read a book on economic history.  “The Big Short,” by Michael Lewis, again, was a funny movie.  Not so funny  is that is our history, and he documents it and writes about it in a way you can understand.  Bottom line:  because we are  an innumerate nation, and so few of our schools teach  people real math and budgeting, our neighbors trusted the banks—even thought the numbers were right in front of them. We all lost, big time.

If this seems too convoluted, get a copy of Robert Reich’s book, “Aftershock.”  We could have saved ourselves, but Hillary didn’t make it engaging enough (that, and the Russians and FBI director Comey put the final nails in her coffin);

4.  Finally, how do we actually  get the hearts & minds?  You have to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point.”  We’re not going anywhere in a hurry unless we know the dynamics of social change.  In simple language,  this book tells us how it’s done.

Bernie Sanders has to get into Specifics Fast

May 6, 2016

I have always admired and respected Bernie Sanders—an American who is not afraid to say he is a socialist.  Face it, Capitalism doesn’t work  unless the Keynesians tinker with it constantly, and we are now at the tipping point, where  not enough Americans are educated enough to not have more children than they can realistically support, nor get the jobs to support them.  Our educational system is concerned with statistics, not  actually teaching kids to think, and we keep teaching an American history that is a big lie….but whatever.  Land rents (property taxes) and energy costs are way too high, and we keep sending our tax  dollars to  poorly thought out, designed, and monitored development projects, as well as military foreign aid. Since WWII, we’ve stuck our noses  where  they don’t belong, ‘fighting communism’, and have made every situation worse…and we are no safer, no better off economically, However, a very few rich people have benefited. The media  is a strong booster for this system, and we are not skeptical enough.

I live in a relatively well-educated, open-minded community, and most of my friends and neighbors really believe that  nobody likes Clinton or Trump.  Well, I know a bunch of people  think of an old Jewish guy as a joke. And—because  he is rich (and got that way ripping people off), they believe  Trump would be a good president because he is not a professional politician, and he says what  scared, poor white people want to hear.

Well, there are a lot of them. The only way around this is for Bernie Sanders to  start talking specifics. What budgets would he ask the House Appropriations Committee to cut, and which  would he give to?   Who does he think will support him? We have to know this, or the rest of the election year will just be a bunch of empty words.

We have over spent on the military—with not much to show for it.  Military foreign aid—which is now being used against us, foreign embassies (which do  little to  help actual American citizens), law enforcement and the department of justice, the war on drugs, perks for congressmen, Homeland Security…we all see waste all around us.  We see  congressmen earmark money for special interests.

Politics is the art of compromise. I am somewhat disappointed that Obama didn’t get it all done.  However, considering  we’ve had a Republican Congress, we got more than we would have  had either McCain or Romney won.  I am really not a fan of Hillary Clinton.  I would have had more respect for her had she left Bill.  Thing is, if Bernie doesn’t  get the nomination, we will lose ground if we don’t vote for her.  We have a chance to keep making  progress here. Neither Trump nor any  of the Republicans car about any of us.  They just care about money.  Capitalism can’t survive any regression and like it or not, we have to play in this system.

Those With a Vested Interest in the Status Quo are Asking us to Reject Sanders as Viable

April 15, 2016

Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board,  wrote an Op/Ed piece in the Sunday Chicago Tribune telling us to reject Bernie Sanders because he hasn’t articulated his  plan for how he was  going to fund free college tuition or single payer health care, or break up the big banks.

Funny….nobody ever asked Reagan  how he was going  fix our economic mess (we got  trickle down economics).  Nobody  is actually asking any of the  other  political candidates that much, because  they all want to maintain the status quo.  All the  current candidates except Sanders want to  either maintain the status quo or take us back to the good ol’ 1950’s, when women and minorities had to ask permission from white men to do everything…and pollution was really pretty bad.

It appears that  the United States of America is still in debt to the Chinese, and  since we have a deficit, we can’t really add any new  programs—or—as they’d say, ‘entitlements’, and these  smug elitists even call Social Security—which we’ve  all paid into, entitlements.  However, the many double dippers  who work for the government—who collect a pension from  one job, but take another…that’s ok with them.

Now Bernie isn’t saying everyone who wants a college education will go to Harvard…but how is it that , say, Germany, provides free college education?  Or, that horrible socialist country, England, manages to provide free health care?

Could it be that those countries don’t give as much foreign military aid  to countries  as we do?  That they don’t incarcerate as many non-violent  criminals as we do?  What is going on?  Thankfully, due to the internet,it is easier for Americans to find out what our government budgets for …stuff.  It’s complicated, but anyone with a half way decent high school education should be able to  find out what we budget for foreign aid.    We don’t even get  goodwill for it.  I have alluded to George Crile’s book, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, in the past.  That book shows exactly how billions get spent by a few congressmen when nobody is paying attention.

Chapman uses Politifact to show that  we spend ‘only’  38% more than the Swiss do on health care.  Only 38% ?  That’s a huge  per centage.  Chapman also defends fracking for  making fossil fuels available cheaply…never mind what fracking is doing to  potable water supplies (or creating earthquakes).   I can’t believe  ANYONE would defend fracking unless they hold stock in a company which does it!  He also scoffs at raising the income tax rats for the uber-wealthy—when they were  actually very high during the Eisenhower years. True,what kept our  economy  ‘working’ was that women, blacks, and other minorities  would legally not need to be paid as much as white men, but let’s not quibble.   And lets not quibble that land rents—in proportion to income, were much lower.   As for regulating banks—we’re heading, again, towards credit default swaps as they are still not illegal—and who knows how many mutual funds contain them?

Here’s the thing—and this is important:  Sanders is speaking to concerns that many of us have.  And—even if he doesn’t win the nomination, he’s brought our concerns to the  table.  They  may be part of the Democratic Party platform. We all  know that  no matter what a president says, there’s still  Congress to contend with.  Thankfully—due to the internet and social media, we  are able to reach more like minded people. We won’t have Cruz doing away with the EPA, or making abortion illegal.  There are too many of us who  don’t want to go back.

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?

https://www.google.com/#q=California+Town+bankrupted+by+corrupt+officials. This is about Vernon California. apparently, their neighbors saw these guys getting away with  this, so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Bell_scandal.  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? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inside_Job_(2010_film)  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 ( http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/07/roots-of-the-chicago-teacher-pension-crisis/) 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:http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/07/how_democrats_pillaged_chicago_toward_bankruptcy.html  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.

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: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-the-pension-funds-20130926

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

 

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.

We are Suckers for Charming Politicians: Beware of Tax Increment Financing!!!

August 2, 2013

Especially in Chicago.  Both Mike Royko  (“Boss) and Len O’Conner  (“Clout” )wrote books on how  our machine worked.   It is no longer a machine, it is an institutionalized political process.  If you can talk a good game and can get rich folks to give you money,  and  your opposition is weak or has a shred of integrity,  you will get elected and stay elected.

I remember a report asked Mayor Richard J. Daley  to what he attributed a particular election win, and his  answer was plain:  “we got more votes.”

Things are different now, but not by much.  We don’t have  vast armies of patronage workers to go out on the street. The marketing is  more sophisticated, and costlier.  If you  can mow us down by inundating us with media, it doesn’t matter if the other guy is more honest or can run a  government better. All that matters is that  the richer candidate  appears stronger  and  more influential:  better able to get things done.

2 things make it bad for us in Chicago:  1 is that a seemingly very  ‘progressive’  candidate can get  monetary support form people who don’t live or work in the city.   Other  political players &  rich folks just throw money because the candidate seems like a nice guy.  The other  is that we have so many people who start out as regular folks who become aldermen.  The city council.  Few know anything about political science, urban planning, economics, or fiscal responsibility.    Knowing anything is not a requirement of the job in America.    They vote to approve a capital budget because the mayor wants it. They all assume that SOMEONE  has made sure it is based in reality.

Another problem  in Chicago is mass media.  They are all cheerleaders for whatever cockamamie plan any  mayor comes up with.  We dodged a bullet when we didn’t get the Olympics (no thanks to  Obama).  Go to any city  that has hosted the Olympics in the past 50 years & see what kind of monstrosities the citizenry paid for that  can’t be used. In Chicago, over the past  25 years or so,  the mayors and their minions have approved Tax Increment Financing—where  certain properties—privately owned, have their  taxes skimmed off in the name of economic vitality. The taxes that are skimmed off…where does that money go?

We have a huge problem  with Tax increment Financing .  The  ability to use Tax Increment financing…or ‘TIF’s— was originally developed to help manufacturers use taxes they paid to  improve their operations and create  more jobs for employees who would then be able to  pay property taxes.  Living wage jobs.  This has never happened.  I  believe the closest we got in Chicago was improving infrastructure around Finkel Steel, so they would stay in a gentrifying area, and more recently, for Republic Windows & Doors so the employees could buy their plant & keep working, when the owners illegally shut  the [plant after abbsconidng with  grants gotten to  maintain the plant & keep the jobs  here.  We’ve seen evidence of TIF dollars skimmed to help car dealerships and private real estate developers, & now, coming up, $55 million  for a private partnership between DePaul University and a group of investors  for…an entertainment center & hotel on the south side.  Funny thing is….a hotel was built about 30 years ago, torn down as being not profitable enough, then rebuilt. No joke!  So, we are all wondering , when the mayor (Emanuel, who gets lots of out of state  donations for his  political fund)has closed 50 public schooled, ‘laid off’ (say fired)  over 2000 teachers, & cut the  budgets for the remaining schools—why we have money skimmed off our property taxes for this?  Another  issue—sort of an aside… the teachers who’ve been laid off paid into their pension fund…as they are not eligible for SSI—Social Security. do they have to start over, or what?

No matter.   We will soon be as bankrupt as Detroit.  if Emanuel won’t use the TIF slush fund to close the budget gaps (there is an estimated $1.3 BILLION unaccounted for0, how will we continue to pay Richie M. Daley, the recently retired mayor, his $200,000 annual pension?

Fixing the Deficit …& Sequesture

May 2, 2013

In the  Sunday Chicago Tribune    on page 28 of the first section, there  was a ‘story’ with the headline, “Feds Shell out $890,.000 in Fees for Empty Accounts at Banks.”  Seems that when the  government issues grants to researchers, they don’t just issue a  a check:  they set up an account, so the government agency giving the grant can monitor how the money is withdrawn and spent…and then they apparently forget about the accounts after the grant period is over…and the banks charge exorbitant fees  to keep the account active.  You would think this would be illegal—but it isn’t.  Our tax dollars at work.

I know, it has to do with computers.  I had a Charles Shwab account that I closed at about the time they issues a  $.07 interest payment.  They have spent more money  sending me statements, but they  have too many people involved  in doing this, so they can’t just delete the account.  At least I recycle the paper.

Now, if you are like me, you probably wonder  what the government is doing issuing grants to citizens. That’s right. Sure,  virtually all are working for nonprofit institutions that have endowments.  The short answer is they are very good lobbyists, and nobody is paying attention to line items in the budgets.  This is why we can’t close the deficit.

The Head Start program was acknowledged to be very effective in getting low income kids ready for school. That got cut, but a bunch of  congressmen  had to wait a few hours for flights, and they managed to put money back into the budget for air traffic controllers—which should have never gotten cut in the first place.  Meanwhile, how effective are all those screeners  at the airports?  The military said it could do without some hardware, but specific congressmen  whined about  jobs being cut in their districts, so they got money back.   for stuff nobody needs! Obama cut  White House  tours for  tourists …and here’s the money— close to $1,000,000…keeping empty accounts open!

In fairness…this has been going on for decades, and you’d think, with all the  people they have on their payrolls,  Just 1 congress man would have a staffer fine combing the budget & saying, “Get rid of this. ”  (my favorite 2 would be the CIA and USAID). The CIA did a great job stopping the Boston bombers after Russia told them to keep an eye on them.

Our congressmen are  not celebrities, they ar elected officials. We pay their salaries. They get excellent benefits (as do their  staffers), including health insurance you can only dream about.

You might want to  copy this blog and email  it to your congressman & senators.  You can easily find out who they are.  Just google “state senators (your state) and  for your  local representative, you can call your local library  or village hall.  Then bookmark their websites.  Granted… at this point, yu can only vote against them…but i am looking forward to the day when we can post  yelp! reviews of their voting records!

The Politicians Keep Doing it to us in Illinois

October 11, 2012

I always liked Gov. Pat Quinn.  He’s a progressive, like me. Unfortunately, he’s reached his highest level of incompetence.  He keeps making dumb decisions.  The most recent you have to wonder about, is his wanting to hire a woman who declared bankruptcy in 2009 to  be head of the Illinois Sports Facility Authority.

Let’s break this down. First of all—the Illinois Sports Facility Authority.  So, we issue bonds to upgrade Soldiers Field (home of the Chicago Bears),  U.S, Cellular (formerly known as Comisky Park, home of the White Sox), United Center (home of the Chicago Bulls & Blackhawks), and, I don’t know…do we have stadiums or sports facilities in Kankakee, Aurora, Joliet, or Champaign?  Does it matter? The teams that play in the facilities are for profit ventures!

The  ISFA has been criticized for lack of transparency for sweetheart deals with all the team owners.    We  citizens pay,  and the  politically connected owners profit.  So, that’s an issue.

Then, the issue is…he wants  a woman who clearly has a problem managing money to be in charge of it.  She did not declare bankruptcy over medical issues, but for spending money on stuff to  maintain a lifestyle to which she wanted to become accustomed  and couldn’t afford.  Is there really nobody in the entire state who has  a verifiable track record in managing public funds, or a government agency, who would do this for what she  would be paid:  over $100,000?   (she has been making $111,000 as Gov. Quinn’s spokeswoman. No joke…& the last ISFA head made $175,950.  Nice round number).

I am flabbergasted.  Quinn is currently blaming Rahm Emmanuel, the mayor of Chicago, claiming  Emmanuel is criticizing  Quinn because Emmanual wants his own choice to be head of the ISFA.  Maybe so, but  I can’t believe  Rahm would choose someone who had declared bankruptcy within the past  seven years.

Quinn is handing the governorship to the Republicans, and they are laughing. Soon, it will be their turn, again, to screw us all. Look at our history.  Neither party has any respect for the voters of Illinois.

Demoralizing, really.  Just demoralizing. But I am not letting this  rest with mere bitching. I will bitch to my state senator & state representative. Both Democrats. They really have to say something.

Is there a solution to this cronyism (I hesitate to  say  anything else)?  Yes. We have to  beg the Norwegians to run our government for a few years.

I am an anarchist. Let’s start with that.

August 31, 2012

Those  who know me would say, “Of course!”  Let’s get serious.  What does being an anarchist mean?  Are we the same as libertarians?  We share so many of the same values, it’s really hard to tell, but  the difference  is how we get to the end result of the government falling away. Karl Marx developed the theory that labor would organize itself, and labor unions would run the government.  That’s it in a nutshell.  As we Jews say, the rest is commentary.  This was at a time when labor was not really organized, and the thought was that labor would organize as industrial unions, not business unions, like what we actually have.

Anarchists  don’t believe in no government. They believe in small government—like the libertarians do.  We aren’t generally violent people, although the  writers of American history would have us believe Sacco & Vanzetti were  bomb throwers (it couldn’t possibly have been the police starting a riot…)

I came to anarchism through industrial unionism… syndicalism…and the Industrial Workers of the World. For those who don’t know anything about the Wobblies, you might get Patrick Renshaw’s book, or rent Warren Beatty’s movie, Reds (which is part documentary & interviews with old Wobs, as we were called).

We believe workers should run the economy…the government, and that the boss is useless.  I would general digress now about how difficult it is for dog groomers to work for non-dog groomers who are business owners, and who want to exploit our labor, but this is not why I am blogging about anarchism.

The problem is…that our needs in modern, urban, society are complicated and require full time oversight.  This would leave little time for economic activity to support our community’s needs:  planning, developing, and caring for infrastructure, energy resources, schools and education, health care, security, and information  communication  and distribution.

So—we have an overlay of bureaucracy to take care of  stuff’. They have to get paid, so we tax ourselves.

But then..the dynamic changes, and the politicians we elect seem to think that they really provide an added value, as do the employees they oversee that are working for us. They get much better benefits than the rest of us, including their pension plans…and the result is, of course, that so many government entities are now declaring bankruptcy.

I am an old lady now. The billions we could have spent on  teaching teachers to teach science, to provide health car  cradle to grave, to develop and renewable energy resources… we spend on the wars in Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Bosnia, Somalia (but not Rwanda)…so people could be free?  We allowed the people we elected to underfund out schools,  pander to teachers’ unions (how ironic is this?)deny us health care as a human right (unless we live to be very old), bail out banks & AIG—the insurance company too big to fail—in place of environmental and economic security…what is this about?

We parrot that the USA is the greatest country in the world, and  we are, essentially, as bad as the Russians: buffoons to the rest of the world.

I am not sure what the solution is, but  now that we have the internet, I would think it would be easier for people to get more information and be a little skeptical about what we all think is the conventional wisdom.