By John Ruberry

As this post goes live, the 48th Chicago Pride Parade is taking place on the city’s North Side. The event is still commonly called the Gay Parade, “Pride” is of course a much more generic term. On the Yahoo home page today, next to the rainbow colors, is this message, “Be proud of who you are.”

In Chicago there are many people who should be ashamed of who they are and what they’ve done. Which got me thinking. America’s third largest city–for now–really needs a Shame Parade, something along the lines what Queen Cersei suffered, in the buff, in Game of Thrones two years ago at the hands of the Sparrows sect.

But please, shameful ones, keep your clothes on.

Participation is limited only to brigands who live in Chicago.

Attendees are encouraged to chant “Shame…shame….shame.”

Chicagoans, now let me present to you the 2017 Shame Parade participants!

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley: The son of Mayor Richard J. Daley, the younger Daley inherited his father’s talent in creating a powerful political organization. But while the first “Hizzoner” was a whiz at public finance, Number 2 was clueless about about it–clearly Richie is bad at math. Chicago has the worst-funded municipal worker pension plans in the nation. The city prospered in the 1990s, it’s easy to see why. The pension obligations were shorted to create an illusion of prosperity, a Potemkin Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: The Tiny Dancer inherited a mess from Daley, and he’s responding as any liberal Democrat would to any problem–raise taxes. But Chicagoans are responding with their feet–Chicago is the only major city losing population. Most of the West Side and much of the South Side is a killing zone. More people are murdered in Chicago than New York City and Los Angeles–combined.

The leaders of every street gang: “Chicago is the gang capital of the United States,” CBS News reported a few years ago. There are roughly 600 gangs in Chicago and about 70,000 members in these criminal enterprises.

Shame…shame…shame.

Cook County Assessor and Cook County Democratic Party Boss Joseph Berrios: The assessor’s office has long been a campaign fund cash cow for the Chicago Machine. But in a fantastic series from the Chicago Tribune, Berrios’ reign has been shown to favor the wealthy residents of Cook County while cheating poor ones. Boss Berrios has also been accused of rampant nepotism. Do you mean the Democrats aren’t for “the little guy?”

Edward Vrdolyak: A onetime boss of the Cook County Democratic Party, “Fast Eddie” is one of the many former members of the Chicago City Council who is a convicted felon. Roughly once every 18 months a member or former member of that shameful legislative body takes up residence in a federal prison. Vrdolyak became a Republican in the late 1980s. Seven years ago he served a ten-month prison sentence for participating in a kickback scheme with cronies of disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich. Last fall Vrdolyak was indicted again on tax evasion charges.

Karen Lewis: The longtime president of the Chicago Teachers Union, a hardened leftist, was a pretty good high school chemistry teacher, a former co-worker who was one of her pupils told me once. But she’s not that good at math. Or perhaps she is? For years members of her union have had taxpayers, in the name of Chicago Public Schools, pay what is supposed to be the teachers’ contribution into their still woefully undercapitalized pension funds.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett: While the aforementioned Chicago Public Schools was headed into the financial sewer, its CEO, “BBB,” participated in a kickback scam. Byrd-Bennett will report to prison later this year.

Ayers and Dohrn’s Chicago home

Shame…shame…shame.

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn: Barack Obama began his political career in the living room of these unrepentant Weather Underground terrorists. After their terror career ended they moved on to academia, where they learned that it’s easier to destroy America by indoctrinating youngsters with leftism than by bombing buildings.

Rod Blagojevich: Can President Donald Trump arrange a furlough for the onetime “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant? While Colorado is the jailbird’s home for now, the rest of his family still lives in Chicago. The hair-brained former governor inherited a fiscal mess, as did Rahm Emanuel, but he made it worse, particularly with his 2005 pension payment “holiday.”

Former Gov. Jim Thompson: Look! Another Republican! In 1989 Thompson signed into law the compounded interest pension raises which of course were never properly funded. An astute pol, yes, but like the younger Mayor Daley and perhaps Karen Lewis, math is not the strong suit of “Big Jim.”

Chicago’s Power Corruption Couple, former Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson and former US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr: They’re undergoing a nasty divorce right now, but in happier times they looted Junior’s campaign fund. Both are ex-cons. The couple that steals together doesn’t necessarily stay together.

Lifetime Lack-of-Achievement Award, Jesse Jackson Sr: Decades of race-based shakedowns enriched himself and his family. Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH organization placed his son and daughter-in-law into positions of power. But what tangible achievements can he show other Chicagoans?

Who will the grand marshal of Chicago’s Shame Parade?

State House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party Boss: Michael Madigan: Since becoming speaker in 1983, Madigan has nominally served with–or over?–six governors. But you can find the 13th Ward Democratic committeeman’s fingerprints on every piece of pension and fiscal legislation enacted into law since then. Illinois’ public pension plans are among the worst-funded among the 50 states. Illinois’ bond ratings are just one step above junk–the lowest ever for a state. And if a budget isn’t passed by the end of this week S&P and Moody’s warns that junk status will be declared.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

Shame.

Oh, why isn’t Barack Obama in the Shame Parade? Chicago is so bad even Obama has bailed on it. The former president lives in Washington now. Obama served in the Illinois Senate, from 1997-2004, while the state’s pension disaster festered. Obama is so smart, right? But why were there no warnings from him about Illinois pensions?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Abandoned plant in Harvey

By John Ruberry

Contained in my inbox this morning was an email from Crain’s Chicago Business touting an article by Dennis Rodkin, “Can Chicago’s Southland Be Rebuilt?” In short, “probably” is his answer. Mine is “no.”

Chicago’s Southland covers the city’s South Side and its southern suburbs, some definitions include the Southwest Side and the southwest suburbs. I grew up in Palos Heights, a southwest suburb, after spending my early childhood on Chicago’s Far South Side.

After several readings–I want to make sure I’m right before pointing fingers–I was surprised, but not shocked, to learn that three words were missing from Rodkin’s piece: Corruption, cronyism, and graft. While Illinois is a very dishonest state, and Chicago and Cook County are the epicenter of  its dishonesty, Chicago’s Southland is the rottenest apple in this foul orchard. Five of the last six sitting or former Chicago aldermen convicted of crimes were South Siders. The two most recent Chicago City Council indictments are for Ald. Willie Cochran, whose predecessor went to prison for bribery, and former alderman Edward Vrdolyak, who has already served time in the House with Many Doors. Do you want to guess what part of the city they are from?

Vacant Far South Side home

South of Chicago is Harvey. While surprisingly light on convictions, Harvey is considered the most corrupt town in Illinois, which is saying a lot. For years the Daily Southtown, among its front web page tabs such as “Weather” and “Sports,” there was another, “Harvey.” Next to Harvey is Markham. Earlier this month voters foolishly elected a convicted felon as its mayor. The Cook County state’s attorney office is suing to prevent the mayor-elect from taking office. Nearby is Dolton. Four years ago its village president told CBS Chicago, “Over the past few weeks we’ve heard reports of ghost payrolling, vehicles being purchased without authorization, unauthorized overtime and the unauthorized use of village gas.”

Cochran was indicted last year

Illinois’ second congressional district covers much of the Southland. In 1995 its representative, Mel Reynolds, was found guilty of crimes centered around a sexual relationship with an underage campaign volunteer. He was later convicted of a slew of financial crimes. His successor was Jesse Jackson Jr, who, along with his wife, a South Side Chicago alderman, went to prison for spending campaign cash on personal items.

The most notorious Chicago Southlander is Michael Madigan of the Southwest Side. Illinois’ financial situation has descended to the point that it is functionally bankrupt. Because of generous public-sector pension commitments, which were never properly funded, Illinois is over $200 billion in debt, despite a balanced budget requirement in the state constitution.

Yes, Chicago’s Southland is majority black. Which means African Americans are being robbed the most by these so-called public servants who see government not as a higher calling, but as an opportunity to dishonestly enrich themselves and their cronies.

Much of the Southland is blighted. But there is still plenty of money to be made there, but for the most part, only if you are a crook and if you know the right people. Or if you pay off the right people. Or if you hire that politician’s brother-in-law to remodel your office so you can get that zoning variance passed.

Rodkin does touch on the soaring property tax rates in the south suburbs. But he misses the point. As people leave the Southland–and yes, they are leaving–there are fewer people left to pay the bar bill for these corrupt-and-drunk-with-power politicians in Illinois’ Corruption Corridor.

Public graft is expensive.

Oh, 600 words or so into this piece, and I didn’t even, until now, mention the region’s problems with rampant violence.

Every politician I mentioned so far is a Democrat, except for Vrdolyak, is once was chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party.

Blogger in Harvey

In related news, last week the 14 year corruption sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who is not from Chicago’s Southland, was upheld by a US Appeals Court. That’s bad news for course for Blago, but good news for law-abiding Illinoisans–yes, we do exist. If Chicago’s Southland–and the rest of the state–has any hope of receiving honest government, long sentences such as the one Blagojevich was given just might be the cure. Fear of a long stay in a federal prison might scare some scoundrels straight–or better yet, frighten dishonest people away from a career in government.

But at least in the short term, I predict things will get even worse in Chicago’s Southland–and in the rest of Illinois.

John Ruberry, a lifelong Illinoisan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Illinois BlagoBy John Ruberry

Another politician has shamed the Land of Lincoln.

Prosecutors in the bank fraud case against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert filed documents late Friday outlining his sexual abuse of four male students while he was a wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in rural northern Illinois.

One of the victims collected over $1 million in hush money from the longest-serving Republican speaker in history, and it was Hastert’s shifting explanations for his cash bank withdrawals that led to his indictment last year. Hastert pleaded guilty last fall and he’s awaiting sentencing.

Among the revelations from the filing is that the coach sat in a La-Z-Boy chair while watching his wrestlers shower.

LaSalle Lock 16
Illinois & Michigan Canal

So many Illinois pols have disgraced Illinois. I’ll name just a few.

In 1856 Governor Joel Matteson discovered unredeemed scrip that was used to pay Illinois & Michigan Canal contractors when the state ran out of cash after the Panic of 1837. He cashed that scrip.

Len Small was governor for most of the 1920s. He was indicted in 1924 for embezzlement and money-laundering charges that dated back to his time as state treasurer. Small was found not guilty but eight of the jurors on his trial later received state jobs. He was accused of selling pardons too.

While Small was governor Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson was essentially the political arm of Al Capone.

Other Prairie State governors who went to prison include Otto Kerner, who was convicted on mail fraud charges related to the illegal gift of racetrack stock, George Ryan, who ran a scandal-plagued office during his two terms as secretary of state, and Rod Blagojevich, who attempted to shake down a children’s hospital and tried to sell a US Senate seat, among other things.

Another secretary of state, Paul Powell, directed Illinoisans writing checks for license plate or driver’s license renewals to make the checks out to him, not the secretary of state’s office. What could go wrong with that? Powell died in office in 1970 and a few days after his passing over $800,000 in cash was found in his Springfield hotel room, including some in a shoe box.

US Rep. Mel Reynolds of Chicago didn’t even serve a full term in Washington but he still found himself in legal trouble in the 1990s for sexual assault, child pornography, and bank fraud. His prison sentence was commuted in one of Bill Clinton’s midnight pardons of 2001.

Reynolds is in legal trouble again for alleging not filing income taxes.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Some of these “public servants” were Republicans. Some were Democrats.

And roughly once every 18 months a Chicago alderman is convicted of a crime. Sandi Jackson of the 7th Ward, wife of fellow jailbird US Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is only the latest one.

John Ruberry, a lifelong Illinois resident, writes the Marathon Pundit blog.

Illinois signBy John Ruberry

In its first political endorsement in three years–and the only one it will make in 2014–the Chicago Sun-Times says of this year’s Illinois governor’s race, “It may well be the most important election in our state’s modern history.”

I’ll one-up the Sun-Times here and declare it’s the most important Illinois election ever.

But some stubborn conservative-minded Illinoisans can’t see beyond the edge of their noses and insist on voting for the Libertarian candidate for governor, Chad Grimm, a thirty-three year-old who manages his family-owned gym in Peoria.

The other candidates are Chicago Democrat Pat Quinn, who inherited a mess when he succeeded his two-time running mate Rod Blagojevich. But until Blago was arrested in late 2008, Quinn was silent about the sins of the current inmate at the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution.  The Republican nominee is Chicago North Shore businessman Bruce Rauner, who vows to phase out Quinn’s “temporary” income tax hike–which the incumbent now wants to make permanent.

Quinn, largely because of that tax increase, has made a bad situation worse. Illinois’ recovery from the Great Recession has been at best anemic. The Prairie State has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states and it has the nation’s worst-funded public-worker pension system.

In its endorsement of Rauner, the downstate paper News-Gazette opined, “One of the definitions of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again with the expectation of different results.” That is why Quinn’s support is stuck among his base of left-wing ideologues and the uninformed, which in Illinois amounts to a shockingly high 40 percent of the electorate.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Even in President Obama’s home state, this should be Rauner’s race to lose. But in recent polls, Grimm has been collecting about five percent support. Grimm and his supporters know that it would be a fairy tale if he bested Rauner and Quinn. But the Libertarians see the 2014 governor’s race as a chess game. “If we break 5 percent,” Grimm said earlier this month, “we make ballot access easier in future elections.” It would. Minor party candidates need five times more signatures to gain ballot access than the Republicans and Democrats need. Is that fair? Probably not. However, there is too much at stake in Illinois this year for right-leaning voters, even it’s only a few of them, to throw away their vote  just to make a statement.

One deep-pocketed Rauner opponent, Operating Engineers Local 150, is playing chess too. It contributed $30,000 to the Grimm campaign earlier this month, even though the union has already endorsed Quinn.

Yes, a vote for Grimm is a vote for Quinn.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Illinois flag on right
Illinois flag on right

By John Ruberry

Illinois, or at least its major newspapers, is finally waking up.

Nearly 12 years of Democratic rule in Illinois has brought debt, continued corruption, the nation’s worst-funded state pension system, and high unemployment.

Most polls show the race between incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican newcomer Bruce Rauner to be a dead heat, although the latest poll on the race shows Quinn with only 40 percent support–which is a terrible position for ant incumbent to be in.

Quinn of course does not have a decent record to run on, so he is taking a page from Obama 2012 playbook by attacking Rauner for being a successful rich businessman.  The Chicago Democrat, who twice was Rod Blagojevich’s running mate, narrowly defeated his Republican challenger in 2010, Bill Brady, who ran a awful campaign. Back then Quinn stumped for a slight increase in the state income tax, but in a lame duck session, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly passed a “temporary” 67 percent hike in the personal income tax rate and a 45 percent hump in the corporate rate.Rauner sign

Quinn now claims that he never said that his tax hikes, which are stifling Illinois’ economy, were temporary–but videotape, unlike Quinn, does not lie. The tax increases expire at the end of the year–but Quinn plans another lame duck assault on Prairie State wallets.

Rauner instead envisions tax reform, a loosening of Illinois’ onerous workers compensation system, and extensive pension reform  as part of his rescue plan for the state’s 12.8 million residents. He looks to Indiana’s successful former governor Mitch Daniels as a role model for a Rauner administration.

As for Quinn, he’s not fooling the editorial boards of Illinois’ major newspapers. So far Rauner has earned endorsements from the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Daily Herald, the Belleville News-Democrat, the Champaign News-Gazette, and the Peoria Journal Star.

Chicago sunrise
Chicago sunrise

Three years ago the Chicago Sun-Times said they would stop endorsing candidates, but yesterday the paper all but said they were getting back into the game only so it could declare its support for Rauner. The paper is making no other endorsements this fall.

I held my nose and visited Quinn’s campaign site and clicked on the endorsements link. It’s dominated by unions and other predictably liberal groups. But according to my research and Quinn’s site, as of this writing, not a single Illinois newspaper has endorsed the Chicago Democrat for another term.

It’s time for the rest of the Land of Lincoln to wake up for Morning in Illinois and throw Quinn out of office.

John Ruberry, a fifth generation Illinoisan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Rauner

By John Ruberry

Pity the Land of Lincoln–four of its last eight elected governors have been convicted of federal crimes–one of them, Rod Blagojevich, is still in prison. He’s inmate 40892-424. Blago’s successor and two-time running mate, fellow Chicago Democrat Pat Quinn, is running for a second full term.

The Republican nominee is Bruce Rauner, a multi-millionaire venture capitalist who survived a surprisingly tough primary battle last week over state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who is best known outside of Illinois for his appearance in a 2007 Barack Obama campaign commercial.

Running against “corrupt union bosses” has been a theme of Rauner’s campaign. Public-sector unions have destroyed Illinois, which once enjoyed a rare American economic trifecta–it was an industrial, financial, and agricultural powerhouse. The Prairie State now suffers from America’s second highest unemployment rate, nearly $6 billion in unpaid bills, and over $100 billion in public employee pension debt.

Quinn’s “temporary” 67 percent income tax hike was supposed to fix all three problems–but it failed, failed, failed.

Since he has no record to run on, Quinn unleashed an Obama-style class warfare attack on Rauner immediately after the primary, focusing on the GOPer’s muddled stance on raising the state’s minimum wage and businessman’s immense wealth. Last week in a rare press conference, state House Speaker and party boss Michael Madigan, yet another Chicago Democrat, proposed a millionaire income tax.

Four years ago, off-topic attacks on the anti-abortion stance of his Republican opponent Bill Brady served Quinn well, he eked out a win over the downstate state senator who ran a sloppy campaign and who was largely AWOL in the key battlefield in all Illinois elections–Chicago’s suburbs.  Rauner is pro-choice and a moderate on gay issues.

And this year’s Republican nominee lives in the suburbs and as he proved in the primary election, Rauner won’t let attacks on him go answered–and he’s willing to spend his own money to do so.

Cutting taxes and attacking what former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg identified as the toxic “labor-electoral complex” will be the heart of the Rauner general election campaign.

AFSCME anti-Quinn poster
AFSCME anti-Quinn poster

What will Big Labor do? Line up behind Quinn? The surprising answer is ‘maybe.’ Quinn can count on the support of trade unions such as the United Auto Workers, but the public-sector unions, who contributed over $5 million to his campaign for the 2010 race, might ignore Quinn this time. Government unions donated over $1 million to the Dillard campaign, and the public-sector unions are angry with Quinn for signing a pension fix bill late last year, one that Rauner says does not go far enough. Those unions are suing Quinn to have the new pension funding law overturned– they claim it is unconstitutional.

But the public-sector unions will probably continue to run anti-Rauner ads. The Illinois Freedom PAC, largely funded by government labor groups, spent over $3 million on ads attacking Rauner during the run-up to the primary. Democratic crossover votes for Dillard almost succeeded in Big Labor’s goal of stopping Rauner.

In November Quinn faces the threat of Democratic crossover votes ending his political career. Newton N. Minow, John F. Kennedy’s FCC chairman who famously dubbed television “a vast wasteland,” quoted his old boss when declaring his support for Rauner on Thursday, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”

Illinois’ 2014 gubernatorial race: it will be one for the ages.

John Ruberry blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Illinois Blago

People who follow politics often argue which state is America’s corrupt, but my state, Illinois, almost always comes up as one of the contenders for that dis-honor.

In this space two months ago I offered my thoughts as to why Illinois is so dominated by mendacious politicians.

Now I’m looking at a potential but cure for this disease.

On Friday former Chicago alderman Ambrosio Medrano was given a 10 1/2 year federal prison sentence for his role in a kickback scandal. Tomorrow he’ll be sentenced again in a separate case–both schemes involve Cook County’s public health care system.

In 1996 Medrano pleaded guilty for accepting a bribe from a city contractor. He was the first of six crooked City Council members reeled in by the feds in the Silver Shovel corruption probe. The Southwest Sider is the only Chicago alderman convicted more than once. That’s a big achievement–since 1972 thirty-one members of the Chicago City Council have been found guilty of crimes.

Medrano wept at his 1996 sentencing and he wept again Friday. But in ’96 Medrano received only a 2 1/2 year sentence. He probably would have wailed for hours if he was handed a 10 1/2 year stay in the house-of-many-doors that first time. But then perhaps he would have learned his lesson–even if out of fear–and pursued an honest living upon his release from prison. And perhaps a stiff sentence would have served as warning to nascent corrupt Illinois pols, such as then-state representative Rod Blagojevich. The hair-brained former Illinois governor is now marking time in a Colorado federal prison–Blago was sentenced to 14 years. It was the second-longest political sentence ever given to a Prairie State elected official–and that record-holder was a judge who fixed murder trials. 

What about that Illinois public corruption cure? I just wrote about it. Ten or fifteen year sentences for crooked elected officials should be the norm. In fact, dishonest public-sector employees should receive similar terms in the pokey.

The fear of God–or of a long stay in a prison–by public workers and elected officials can finally reform Illinois.

So far nothing else has worked.

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Olimometer 2.52

It’s Sunday, a new week which is a good thing because the last two weeks have not been very successful.

Well that’s not entirely true, we’ve had fair traffic but not only have we failed to make goal to secure the mortgage and pay DaMagnificent Seven plus our new villager the first two weeks combined didn’t manage to come up to a single week’s goal

But we’re back again, with a $345 goal for the week to try and start to move the ball forward toward getting the mortgage and the writers paid this month.

Olimometer 2.52

Once we manage that then we’ll worry about catching up on the ground we’re behind.

Of course if we can get 58 1/4 more subscribers @ at $20 a month the bills will be paid every week and the problem will be solved on a more permanent basis.

What do you say?




Q: Why does this story have incredible potential to turn into major trouble for the White House.

Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers want the FBI to give up details of interviews conducted last year of President Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and others as part of the investigation into the former governor.

In a Friday filing, Blagojevich attorneys also asked for information regarding first lady Michelle Obama. However, a source said late Friday that the FBI never interviewed the first lady.

This could turn out to be absolutely nothing but I’m not so sure, Blagojevich has proven that he is a fighter and a survivor. His primary loyalty is to himself and he is not going to be shy at all about using all means necessary to keep himself out of Jail.

In addition his high profile and willingness to talk to almost anyone on Camera makes him impossible to ignore or shut up.

When the Whitehouse was riding high in the polls maybe they could count on the media to ignore him. Now I’m not so sure.

All of this is going to take months, perhaps years to play out, there might be absolutely nothing to any of it, it might be earth shaking. If I’m the White House I try to string and drag this along for as long as possible.

One side note. On morning Joe, Willie is constantly putting Blago on the “news you can’t use” section whenever there is a whiff of him in the news. I wonder if they will ignoring this bit of ACTUAL news or not? We will see.

Update: I missed the first hour but there wasn’t a peep. I don’t know if this was the lack of Willie.