IDOT facility, Northfield, IL

By John Ruberry

You’ve heard of “Deep State,” right? If you haven’t, it’s the powerful yet anonymous cadre of senior bureaucrats within the federal government who are toiling to undermine President Donald J. Trump. They are “the swamp” Trump wants to drain.

In Illinois, where I live, we have Deep Corruption.

Last week in my own blog I reported on Deep Corruption when former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett received a 4 ½ year prison sentence for wire fraud for her role in a bribery scheme with a former employer, a contractor. Her old boss there likely engineered her hiring as the boss of CPS.

In 2014 as Illinois’ financial situation was clearly dire–it has gotten worse since then–a political hiring scandal broke at the Illinois Department of Transportation. Over 200 unqualified people were hired as “staff assistants.” The title sounds innocent enough, but staff assistants in Illinois government are supposed to be policy-making posts, which makes those positions exempt from anti-patronage rules. Most of these so-called policy makers were hired during the six-year term of so-called reformer Pat Quinn, then the Democratic governor of Illinois. But candidates with backgrounds such as managing an ice cream store, laying bricks, and working for the Democratic Party were hired as staff assistants at IDOT. Well, these hires were diverse that’s for sure. Once on the state payroll, naturally these unqualified employees were given duties that matched their modest skill set. Many of them now hold new titles and are exempt from being discharged–except for extreme indiscretions–because of union rules.

Meanwhile, Illinois has the worst credit rating and the worst-funded public pension system of the fifty states. It currently has $11 billion in unpaid bills.

But under Quinn money was available to place political cronies on the state payroll.

Last week a court-ordered monitor issued her report on the political hiring scandal, or what should be called the Hack Pol Job Fair. The unqualified candidates of course had one thing in common: connections, often family ties, to a Democratic politician.

Rauner: Shake Up Springfield, Bring Back Illinois

Fed up Illinois voters threw Quinn, out of office in 2014, replacing him with Republican Bruce Rauner, who eliminated the staff assistant job classification but has been largely stymied in his attempt to “Bring Back Illinois” and “Shake Up Springfield” by state House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

Seven staff assistants with Madigan ties were hired by IDOT.

Chicago talk radio host and onetime gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft likes to say “Illinois isn’t broken–it’s fixed.” True, very true.

Quinn’s office was the clearing house for the IDOT job scandal and this episode should finally destroy his undeserved reputation as a reformer. In 1996 a prominent Illinois Democratic politician accused Quinn of being a ghost payroller for the Dan Walker administration. You probably never heard of Walker, but he’s one of those Illinois governors who later served time in federal prison. Public pensioner Quinn now says he’s working on ending gerrymandering in Illinois, yet he approved the current disgraceful gerrymandered map that created supermajorities for the Democrats in the General Assembly.

Who was that politician who called Quinn a ghost-payroller? It was US Sen. Dick Durbin. And the senior senator from Illinois’ office tried to get “Candidate 5” a job “with various state agencies.” And after pressure from Durbin’s office, “Staff Assistant 47” was hired at IDOT.

There is some good news in regards to this scandal, besides its exposure. Honest Illinois state employees alerted authorities of these abuses.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

And those were illegal abuses, I’d like to add. Who will be indicted for these crimes?

On personal note, my mother passed away three weeks ago. As is natural for someone going through a parental loss, my thoughts have veered to the past of late. Years ago my mother told me about a conversation she had with my father–he’s gone now too. My dad declared to my mom that his goal was to enter politics, which of course meant Illinois politics as they lived in Chicago. “That will never work out,” she explained to him. “You’re honest.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocksBaldilocks mini

Originally posted on February 1, 2007. Former Washington Post military affairs writer William Arkin was a repeat target of mine back then. Don’t hear much from him anymore. I used to think that he was antiwar and anti-troops, but now I’m not so sure of things as I was back then. Okay, I am sure he hates the troops, And one wonders were all the antiwars protests are in 2014, but…anyway, here’s the old post. Happy Veterans Day to my fellow veterans!

*****

Washington Post military affairs writer William Arkin says that the “mercenary – oops sorry, volunteer – force that thinks it is doing the dirty work” ought to be grateful for civilian support and need to shut up when the civilian doesn’t give the troops any support, because

every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order.

Better Arkin: “So shut up you chickenh-…er, you rapists and murderers (and we know you really all are rapists and murderers, even the she-GIs). Shut up because we’ve been looking for a reason to tell you to STFU and looking for a reason to heap scorn upon you just like we did to your daddies and uncles.

We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society

Better Arkin: “You have no right to tell us to shut up so shut up telling us to shut up because we pay your salary. What? You pay your own salary too? So what; you still should shut up because you’re wrong!!!! Everything about you is wrong; everything you believe in is wrong!! And I know that your uniform gives you credibility when you say that you believe in what you’re doing in Iraq, but I don’t want to hear it and don’t want to understand. I just know you’re wrong and because you are wrong I’ll do everything I can to make you shut up or shame you into shutting up. Now SHUT UP!!!”

Seriously, here’s the bottom line for those like Arkin: it matters not whether you’re an Iraq War Veteran or whether you’re a civilian who doesn’t know a helmet from a hole in the ground. All of the insulting and mendacious digs in Arkin’s op-ed are merely the opposing side of the Chickenhawk sword (wielded ad nauseum by Tim Robbins to one of Bill O’Reilly’s reporters during last weekend’s antiwar rally).

Such people don’t care whether you’ve been in the military or not. All they want is for you to agree with their position and if you don’t, it’s “what the heck do you know, Chickenhawk?” and soon it will be “what the heck do you know, Baby-killer?” They’re working up to it, trust me.

So don’t be to hard on Arkin. He finally screwed his courage to the sticking place and said this out loud. Why? Because he believes that the time is right–just as last weekend’s antiwar types thought it was the right time to trot out that old anti-war horse, Jane Fonda.

Oh, everyone is in an uproar just like they were when Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) compared the military to the various fascists of the twentieth century or when 2004 presidential candidate [then] Senator John Kerry (D-MA) botched his joke, but I’m beginning to think that we ought to be grateful to such people.

After all, how would you know who they were if they didn’t occasionally drop the mask?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her second novel, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2015.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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Gov. Pat Quinn,  (D) Illinois
Gov. Pat Quinn,
(D) Illinois

By John Ruberry

Governor Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has been mostly on the fringes of Illinois politics since the early 1970s. For most of that time he was a minor-league version of Ralph Nader, part consumer advocate, part self-appointed government reformer. Although Nader never held public office, Quinn was state treasurer for a term in the 1990s, and of course twice he was Rod Blagojevich’s running mate. Quinn succeeded Blago after the hair-brained pol was removed from office five years ago by the state Senate.

Last week was arguably Quinn’s worst as governor. An autumn 2010 anti-violence program, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, was unveiled by Quinn as he faced a tough battle to win a full term as governor, is now being investigated by federal authorities and the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. The $54.5 million program has been exposed by the local media as a massive political slush fund to drive up the African American vote in Chicago and its inner suburbs so Quinn could win his election, which he did, barely. The Chicago Sun-Times revealed that the felon husband of Dorothy Brown, another Chicago Democrat, was paid nearly $150,000 in salary and benefits to oversee $2.1 million in NRI grants.

Quinn faces another scandal. A long time patronage-hiring foe, Michael Shakman, asked the federal government in a court motion to investigate hiring decisions at the Illinois Department of Transportation. He claims that Quinn is loading up IDOT with political hires.

Durbin said Quinn was a  ghost payroller
Durbin said Quinn was a ghost payroller

Speaking of political hires, Quinn was the patronage chief of early-1970s governor Dan Walker, who later went to prison for looting a savings and loan. And an authority no less than Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) accused Quinn of being a ghost-payroller under Walker.

Quinn’s former chief-of-staff, Jack Lavin, was once chief financial officer for Tony Rezko, one of Rod Blagojevich’s enablers who is best known in Illinois for being Barack Obama’s first political sponsor. Rezko is serving a prison sentence now.

Lavin also served under Blago.

Pat Quinn is as much of a reformer as I am an astronaut.

Disclosures: I knew Lavin quite well years ago while we were classmates at the University of Illinois. And the husband of Anita Alvarez, the Cook County State’s Attorney, is a friend of mine.

John Ruberry blogs regularly at Marathon Pundit.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

By John Ruberry

It’s Sunday morning and if he’s in Springfield, Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin, the upper chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, won’t be receiving Holy Communion at Blessed Sacrament Parish in his hometown.

As Renew America reported last week, not only is Durbin not allowed to receive Communion in Springfield, he hasn’t been able to for some time. A pro-life activist recently emailed Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, who heads the diocese in Illinois’ capital city, inquiring about Durbin, who has attained 100 percent ratings from both the National Abortion Rights Action League and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Durbin owns a condominium in Chicago and shares a home with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) in Washington–there is no word on Durbin’s status with parishes there.

From Paprocki’s email:

Dear Mr. [name redacted], Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

And what is Canon 915? From the Vatican website:

Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

Should Durbin choose to approach the altar of Blessed Sacrament Parish for Communion, the lifetime politician would only receive a blessing. Durbin doesn’t attend mass there anymore because of a “rather uncomfortable atmosphere,” the Quincy Journal says, although the senator makes exceptions for weddings and funerals.

The senator also supports same-sex marriage, which is also contrary to Catholic doctrine. However, Durbin quotes Pope Francis in speeches.

Five years ago then-US Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) was asked by his bishop not to receive Holy Communion.

The mainstream media response to this revelation about Durbin has been nearly non-existent. Only NBC 5 Chicago reported on it. Yes, that means the State Journal-Register, Springfield’s daily newspaper, has passed on this news, at least as of this writing.

Shameful.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit

Florida Palm TreesBy John Ruberry

Tuesday is primary election day in Illinois and most of the drama is on the Republican side. The winner of the GOP gubernatorial race stands a very good chance of defeating unpopular Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn.

The US Senate race until recently hasn’t been attracting much attention in the Land of Lincoln. Competing for the opportunity to face longtime incumbent Dick Durbin  are Doug Truax and Jim Oberweis.

Truax, 43, is a political newcomer who is a West Point and an Army Ranger School graduate. He runs his own healthcare consulting business. Oberweis, 67, has been serving as a state senator for a year. He enjoys terrific name recognition, his Oberweis Dairy stores can be found throughout the Chicago area.

This is the seventh time Oberweis has run for office in twelve years–and his third time running for the US Senate. “Obi” has competed for governor and twice for the US House–and after spending $10 million of his own money on these contests, he can only look at his state Senate run as a victory. Oberweis is known for his gaffes and his overall sloppy campaign style. He’s Joe Biden with a full head of hair.

Oberweis is concluding his worst campaign effort yet. Last week NBC 5 Chicago’s MaryAnn Ahern discovered that a little more than a week before the primary, Oberweis, who has been ducking debate challenges from Truax, was at his second home in southwestern Florida. When Ahern contacted Oberweis by telephone, he refused to reveal his location to her.

I can’t imagine even Dick Durbin stooping that low.

Morton Grove, IL on Wednesday
Morton Grove, IL on Wednesday

Oberweis and his wife claim their Florida home as a homestead exemption, gaining a $50,000 tax credit. If they used their Sugar Grove, Illinois home for the same purpose, they’d get only a $6,000 break. Oberweis’ wife has a Florida driver’s license and is registered to vote in the Sunshine State. She won’t be voting for her husband on Tuesday.

As for the Florida trip, Obi claimed that he promised his wife that he’d spend her birthday with her. Of course the Oberweises could have done that in Illinois, which got hit with another snowstorm while they were walking among the palm trees.

Prior to the Florida trip and its fallout, the better-known Oberweis enjoyed a huge lead in the polls. But should the political gadfly win, Durbin will certainly hand him his next defeat. If Truax pulls ahead and beats Oberweis, he still faces an uphill challenge. Maybe even an up-mountain challenge. But if 2014 turns into a wave election, as the American Thinker’s Richard Baehr muses, Truax can score an upset.

Durbin, 69, is just sort of there. He has never been well-liked even in this Democratic state. For nearly his entire adult life Durbin has been a politician, or worked for a politician. Durbin, the second-ranking senator in the Democratic caucus, never votes against the party line.

Professional pols have destroyed Illinois–which has the lowest credit rating of the states and suffers from an unemployment rate much higher than the national rate. The Prairie State has the most-underfunded public pension system of the 50 states.

Illinois just might vote for real change.

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