Friday, December 7, 2007

The Sharks are Circling, and They Smell Blood in Springfield

The Feds are investigating some of Patti Blagojevich's real estate deals in a three-year probe of Blago's corruption.

Patricia Blagojevich's real estate deals with power brokers close to her husband first came under scrutiny in 2005 when the Tribune disclosed her eight-year business relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Chicago developer who became one of the governor's top fundraisers and a member of his kitchen cabinet.

Tony Rezko was indicted last year on federal charges of soliciting kickbacks from firms involved in state contracts. He is involved in a shady real estate deal with presidential candidate Barak Obama.

Blago Gets Sued

Rod Blagojevich is at it again, trying to appropriate money for his own pet projects without the approval of the General Assembly. However, Ron Gidwitz of the Illinois Job Coalition is taking him to task for it. According to Andy Shaw of ABC7, Gidwitz is suing Blago to stop him from moving money appropriated for other projects to health care.

The governor is expanding access to free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women to three additional health clinics, including one in Oak Park, even though a lawsuit supported by a lot of Illinois lawmakers is challenging Blagojevich's decision to spend money on new health programs without the approval of the state legislature.

Oak Park!?! Posh Oak Park needs a free clinic!?!

What's Blago thinking!?

"It's mind boggling that the heir of a shampoo fortune would go out of his way to take health care away through the courts. And, yeah, it is Scrooge-like in many ways," said Blagojevich.

No, Governor Nero, it is not "Scrooge-like" of Mr. Gidwitz. It is more "Hugo-like" or "Fidel-like" or, dare I say "Mugabe-like" of you to move money without the permission of the General Assembly to your own pet projects.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Where's Roddo?

Someone should make a children's book when all is said and done. You know, the point being to find the guy in the striped shirt or something like that. At least I have a name for it: "Where's Roddo?". I'm willing to bet it could become a best seller, maybe even a cult following.

Here's Tom Cross's staff (R-Oswego) on the debacle with Blago at the Hawks game:

"What we really need is a political Zamboni," said David Dring, spokesman for House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego, "to clean up this mess that's been the 2007 legislative session."

How apt an image.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Do You Want To Be Governor For A Day?

Well, the Illinois Republican Party passed out raffle tickets in front of the Thompson Center today, according to CBS2's Mike Flannery. The winner will dine at a fine restaurant and attend a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game, as Blago did while the Illinois House was discussing the RTA bailout.

It must be easy to be governor. Attend hockey games, eat fine food. Sounds more like Nero than a governor.
Governor Nero.

RIP Henry Hyde

Long time Illinois Representative Henry Hyde passed away early Thursday. He served 32 years in the House of Representatives, succeeded by Peter Roskum. He spearheaed the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton and cut off federal funds of abortions.

"He was as much a libertarian as he was a conservative," liberal former Rep. Abner Mikva said of Mr. Hyde. "I always thought he was typecast on the abortion issue. He cared about civil rights and values that went beyond the 'Right to Life,' like extending the Voting Rights Act. We lost a good man."

Blago's Budget Busting

Blago is running into trouble with his attempts to get a bailout budget together for the RTA (CTA, Pace, and Metra). He called the General Assembly into session earlier in the week, and decided that instead of staying in Springfield to help with the effort, he'd treat himself to a Blackhawks game.

He was ridiculed in the House, where Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) brought a hockey stick to the House floor to make a point.

"If he's truly up there working on commerce, that's one thing. But this is him going to a hockey game to enjoy himself at the expense of the people of the state of Illinois. You can't get any more plain than that," said Sullivan, who called on the governor to cut a check to the taxpayers for his airfare.

Shame on you, Mr. Governor. It's your budget you want pushed through, and you feel as though you don't even need to attend the budget battle? Shame, shame, shame.

Now, there's no resolution in sight, at least not til after the first of the year.

Big Nut Hog Plays Race Card

William Beavers is watching his attempts to grab $880 million from Cook County taxpayers' pockets is taking a turn for the worse, and as a result, the self-titled "Big Nut Hog" claims that anyone who votes against the Toddler's proposed "Robin Hood" plan (as in robbin' from all and giving to the crooks) must therefore be a racist.

Well, Mr. Beavers, I say YOU are the racist here, Mr. Big Nut Hog. The "Hog" part aptly describes you. Knock it off with the race card as there are both Blacks and White, as well as Latinos and others who don;t want to pay for your "Family and Friends" program.

Sorry for the lack of posting. It was quiet over the Thanksgiving holiday, and then I got busy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When Democrats Fight

Amazing how we seem to have only one party in this state right now. One would think they'd agree on almost everything. They don't. In fact, they can't even agree how best to ding us with taxes. Being Democrats, you'd think they could at least to that together. Maybe we should be thankful they disagree so much. Here's a case in point over the RTA with King Richard II vs. Blago from the Chicago Tribune.

Even ex-governor Jim Edgar sees it, and notices that it's gotten personal (from the Trib's Clout Street).

Edgar said he was “flabbergasted” by Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s decision to move ahead with a health-care expansion after it was rejected by a bipartisan legislative panel—a panel Edgar helped create while serving as a legislator in 1978.

Back Door Socialized Medicine, Illinois Style

Blago still intends to move ahead with his rejected health care plan, even though the General Assembly told him they (and we by default) could not afford it. What about NO do you not understand, Mr. Governor?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So What About Raiding The Public Pensions, is CTA Pension Next, Mr. Governor?

King Richard II is calling on Blago to find money for the CTA health care and pension plans.

He said workers have done everything they can. Now it's up to the state to fund their pension and health care deal.
-NBC 5, Chicago

Do we really want Blago's hand in any pension plans? He raided the state's pension plan to fund his pet projects and make it appear liek he was balancing the budget. Not that I'm in favor of using more taxes for the CTA, but we don't need the governor's hands in yet another pension plan.

Stroger Family and Friends Program Affects Public Defender's Office

Stroger's wonderful family and friends program seems to be affecting the budget for the public defender's office in Cook County. Somehow the Toddler can find money to place his family and friends in high places, but can't cough up the money to keep the courts running smoothly. Maybe he wants to make sure there is a backlog so he never winds up as the defendant. From the Chicago Tribune and CBS2, Chicago: Public Defender Sues County Over Budget Cuts.

Sorry this isn't as updated everyday, but then, that's the nature of Illinois politics. I'm sticking to this, and not touching the Peterson or Stebic cases with a 39 and a half foot pole.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mass Transit Meeting "Unproductive Shouting"

From the Springfield Journal-Register, House Speaker Michael Madigan left a meeting about funding Chicagoland's mass transit, declaring it to be little more than "unproductive shouting". King Richard II, by contrast, felt "optimistic". The meeting was between Daley, Madigan, and Blagojevich, and other legislative leaders in Chicago.

I, for the record, support cleaning house in each of the RTA's agencies first, then raising fares so they can support themselves without any band-aid fixes or more taxes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Taxalicious Chicago

The Chicago City Council passed a large tax and fee increase today, in hopes of funding their $5.9 million budget starting January 1, 2008, according to the Chicago Tribune. Here's the SunTimes story.

What does this mean for Chicago residents?

1. The tax on beer, wine, and liquor will increase. About half of that drink you have at the bar is purely taxes. I think I'll have a tax and coke, please.

2. The city property tax increases by $86 million, total.

3. Bring your own bottled water into the city. That now has a tax of 5 cents a bottle.

4. Don't run red lights (or yellows) unless you can afford it. Those fines increase, and Dalye wants more cameras.

5. If you own an SUV, be prepared to pay more for a city sticker. $30 more a year, and more than a smaller car.

6. Watch where you park. Fines for illegal parking are increasing under King Richard II's new taxing budget.

This is on top of what the Cook County Board will add in taxes. This town needs a tax revolt like Michael Moore needs liposuction.

• $83.4 million property tax increase costing owner of a home sold for $250,000 roughly $60 more a year.
• $43.9 million increase in water rates.

• $20.8 million increase in sewer fees. Combined water and sewer increase costs the owner of the average single-family home $45 more each year.

• $10.5 million by imposing a new five-cent tax on each container of bottled water.

• $12 million liquor tax increase that’ll add seven cents to the cost of a six-pack of beer, two or six cents to a bottle of wine, depending on the liquor content, and 22 cents to a liter of hard liquor.

• $48 million by doubling — to $2.50 — the monthly surcharge on telephone bills.

• $24 million by raising the tax on lease transactions from 6 to 8 percent. It’ll add $4 to a $200 car rental fee and a dime to a $5 DVD rental.

• $8.7 million by raising 32 different parking fines. Individual increases range from 11 to 140 percent.

• $3.8 million by increasing the fine for being caught on camera running a red light from $90 to $100 and $5.7 million by installing red light cameras at 20 more intersections.

• $1 million by raising billboard fees and cracking down on illegal signs. Signs located on the premises of a business go from $75 to $200. Larger, off-premise billboards go from $75 to $500.

• $3.5 million by imposing a 25-cent development fee on every square foot of buildable floor area.

• $1.6 million by raising — from 1.50 to $2 — the cost of a strip of tickets to Taste of Chicago, Blues, Jazz and Celtic festivals.

• $6.2 million by raising the cost of a city sticker for SUV owners from $90 to $120.

• $3.9 million by raising the natural gas use tax from 5.2 cents to 6.3 cents per therm.

- Chicago SunTimes

Saturday, November 10, 2007

State Police Probe Blago Donation

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois State Police are investigation some campaign contributions made in order to stave off an on-going fraud investigation.

Harish Bhatt, owner of Basinger's Pharmacy in Joliet, is at the center of this investigation for donating $25,000 to Blagojevich during this time. Bhatt has made other contributions to Illinois Democrats as evidenced on Campaign

The Free Will Blog asks How Corrupt is the City of Chicago? Well, it isn't just the city, it's the whole dang state right now.

How much deeper could this get, and could Blago end up as Ryan's bunkmate?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why I-355 Is Needed

So, the new tollway opens on Sunday, you may be asking, if you are not from Will County, "What will it do? It just looks like more sprawl to me."

Not so is it more sprawl at all. It is in response to development that has already been built. Will County has over 600,000 people now, and the majority of them live in the northern townships: Wheatland, DuPage, Plainfield, Lockport, Homer, Troy, Joliet, New Lenox, and Frankfort, and growing toward the south.

So what will I-355 do for us?

I-355 will do several things:

1. There are limited number of bridges across the Des Plaines River between Joliet and the Tri-State Tollway in Willow Springs. There are exactly 4 of them: 9th Street - Lockport, 135th Street, Lemont Road, and Illiois 83. One of these is only 2 lanes, the other three are 4 lane bridges. All have traffic lights at their ends. I-355 will add a 6 lane bridge across the river at the midway point between all 4 bridges with no signals to stop anyone. This will vastly improve crossing the river, especially toward the north.

2. Lemont Road, Cedar Road, Bell Road, Joliet Road are all overburdened with traffic right now. A lot of the traffic on Joliet Road crosses the river at 135th Street and 9th Street, causing major traffic delays during rush hour. I-355 will pull this traffic away from these roads and let it off at the 4 interchanges along the route. There will be an increase in traffic along 127th Street, 143rd Street, 159th Street, and maybe Southwest Highway as well, but this will be more than offset by the removal of traffic from the overburdened north-south arteries.

3. Regional connector. This will provide a bypass of the Tri-State Tollway for through traffic between I-90 and I-80. I-355 can allieviate some of the traffic congestion on the Tri-State between these two interstates, and maybe improve a few travel times there as well.

4. Alternate route. I-355 cannot come too soon as IDOT is widening I-55 between I-80 and Weber Road. Traffic will now be able to avoid most of the construction zone by taking I-80 east to I-355 north.

So, as you can see, I-355 does have a purpose, and not a minor one at that. Now if only Lake County and McHenry County can start the north extentions.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Biking a Tollway

On Sunday November 11th, the new North-South Tollway extension is open for a bike ride. The bike ride proved to be so popular that it actually sold out.

"This Sunday the new extension of Interstate Highway 355 will turn into a $1 billion bike path, as more than 9,000 people are expected to run, walk and roll down the road to celebrate its grand opening." - Chicago Tribune

The new tollway is 12.5 miles in length, and has the longest bridge in the entire Tollway system, a 1.3 mile long bridge over the Des Plaines River. That makes it the second longest bridge in the state, behind the Abraham Lincoln Bridge over the Illinois River for I-39/US-51 near LaSalle/Peru.

I hope it is good weather on Sunday for the bicyclists.

Al Qaeda to Target Shopping Malls in Chicago

According to this report from ABC News, apparently Al Qaeda may be preparing attacks on shopping malls in Chicagoland (and Los Angeles, California). The text of the FBI warning is here. Last year, if you will recall, a jihadi tried exactly just this in Rockford, at the Cherryvale Mall. Fortunately, he was caught before he could obtain the explosives for the planned attack. This link is about the planned attack from Michelle Malkin's blog, last year, to refresh everyone's memory.

Daley and a Permanent CTA Fix

This is from the Chicago SunTimes.

"This has nothing to do with 2016. ... This has nothing to do with the issues of the CTA and the federal government. Besides, the federal government doesn't even balance their budget. They print money."

Daley claims the fixes for the CTA are not about the 2016 Olypmics. I call it a bunch of baloney. The 2016 Olympics are his very legacy as he is very unlikely to be mayor when they are pu on. As for the "publically owned" casino in Chicago...stop feeding us as if we were mushrooms, Mr. Mayor. We know exactly where the money will end up. And fixing the CTA ain't it.

For Meth or Something More Serious?

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is warning farmers to be on the lookout for anhydrous ammonia theives in this from the Herald-News. Anhydrous ammonia can be used in the manufacture of meth, but is also a major component of the ever-popular truck bomb as used in the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing.

Casino Gambling? Will This Save The RTA?

The General Assembly is meeting with Blago to solve the crisis facing Pace, Metra, and most especially, the CTA. They propose using new casinos and more slot machines to fund mass transit in the Chicago area. Never mind tha business as usual will go on, as will the graft and corrpution within the CTA. Maybe the CTA needs to clean house first, then look at raising fares and asking for more money. Sigh, but that's not the Chicago way, now, is it?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Rockford Register-Star Takes a Look at Blago's Tenure

The Rockford Register-Star takes a look at Blagojevich's tenure as governor. He has a 23% rating, which, by the way, is less than President Bush.

George Ryan's New Home

The Daily Herald has a nice picture of George Ryan's new home in Oxford, Wisconsin. It looks like a nursing home from the air.

A Road that Almost Wasn't Built

I-355, the North-South Tollway extension, will open on Sunday November 11, 2007, after 15 years of waiting and court cases to protect a dragonfly. It will officially open to traffic on Monday November 12th. The story behind the building of the tollway is long, and dragged out, but over the course of the weekend, I hope to relate it as the road opens.

Here's a Chicago SunTimes story about the new tollway

Welcome, and Ryan is in jail finally

Welcome to Ill-Annoying. I, as your host, will attempt to document and expose the corruption that is typical of government in the State of Illinois. As of today, 5:00pm CST, former Governor George Ryan is in a Federal pennitentary in Oxford, Wisconsin. Oxford is quickly becoming a resort of sorts of many Illinois politicians including the infamous Dan Rostenkowski and several Chicago Aldermen.