Saturday, April 25, 2015

Just discovered that my blog has over 100,000 page views from outside of the U.S.

Most of the page views outside of the U.S. are coming from China, Ukraine, France, Russia, Germany, United Kingdom, Turkey, Poland and Canada... (At this posting, there were 682,859 page views from the U.S.).


Must be because of my poetry!  LOL.

Friday, April 24, 2015

An Examination of Governor Rauner's Budget-Cutting Rhetoric (by Ralph Martire)

“Governing is a lot more difficult than campaigning.
“On the campaign trail, a candidate frequently benefits from using vague rhetoric that sounds good but provides little in the way of detail. Just ask Gov. Bruce Rauner. As a candidate, he pledged to get Illinois' fiscal house in order, primarily by rejiggering its budget to focus state spending on ‘essential’ services, while cutting ‘nonessential’ programs.

“Candidate Rauner insisted this was needed because Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, which sounded pretty logical. Unfortunately, after getting elected, a candidate's broadly appealing yet superficial campaign rhetoric usually gets exposed for the sophistry it is. 
“Reality is tough that way. In the case of Rauner's campaign rhetoric, the inevitable exposé is coming from an unexpected source: the governor himself and key members of his administration. 
“Start with the contention that Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. If that were truly the case, it indeed would be possible to redress a significant portion of Illinois' fiscal woes by cutting ‘nonessential’ spending. So when confronted with a $1.6 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year, you'd expect the governor's team would identify all those ‘nonessential’ services and propose giving them the ax. And you'd be wrong.
“As the Rauner administration quickly discovered, it's difficult to categorize things like child care for working parents, staffing levels at prisons and court reporters as ‘nonessential.’ This in turn led to a deal with the Democratic-controlled General Assembly to avert some $1.3 billion in potential cuts by raising that amount in revenue through a sweep of various special funds. Mind you, this left $300 million to cut, an amount Rauner apparently believed was too severe. Shortly after announcing the deal, he emphasized that ‘our administration had actually advocated more sweeping and fewer cuts.’
“This is interesting because it shows, in both words and action, that Rauner recognizes that two core aspects of his campaign rhetoric don't pass the reality test. First and foremost, it demonstrates that spending on nonessential fluff isn't the problem. Indeed, the services being cut are crucial for many Illinois families. And if he didn't get that before Good Friday, he certainly did after. 
“In what's been dubbed the ‘Good Friday Massacre,’ Rauner's administration proposed trimming an additional $26 million from the current budget, in part by cutting services for individuals with autism and burial funds for the indigent. One can describe in many ways the programs that allow poor families to bury deceased loved ones with dignity or that help autistic individuals attain a basic quality of life, but ‘nonessential’ isn't among them.  Predictably, the public outcry forced reconsideration of the cuts.
“Second, there's the implicit recognition by Rauner that more revenue is needed to support core services. Apparently, this need is so glaring that it justifies using one-time revenue obtained through fund sweeps to plug the current spending gap — which works, of course, only for the current year. Next year, there will be no revenue available to support the $1.3 billion in spending that was so ‘essential’ this year that special funds had to be raided to cover them. 
“Why settle for this implicit acknowledgement of Illinois' unambiguous need for more revenue, when explicit recognition is readily available? Objecting to some proposed cuts that would hit poor children particularly hard, Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, asked Rauner appointee Gregory Bassi, acting director of human services, whether money was ‘more important than the children of Illinois.’ In his response, Bassi acknowledged that children ‘are obviously more important, but you can't support the children of the state if you don’t have the resources to do it.’

“He's exactly right. The problem isn't wasteful or nonessential spending. It's a lack of revenue. And it's the governor's job to deal with real problems, no matter how inconsistent with campaign rhetoric.”

Ralph Martire is executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a bipartisan fiscal policy think tank.

This article was published in the State-Journal Register, April 22nd.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Resolution regarding Governor Rauner's Right to Work Zone Proposal that Should Have Been Written by the City Council of Naperville

A Response to Governor Rauner’s Flawed “Turnaround Agenda” by David Madsen (Presented to The Naperville City Council on April 21st, 2015)

As a Naperville resident, I want a local economy that is both vibrant and fair to all citizens.  There is no doubt it’s important for city leaders to budget responsibly.  But the Local Government Empowerment and Reform Resolution is not a viable plan to achieve those goals. 

First of all, the Council has edited Governor Rauner’s original resolution by removing the most egregious language - a local “right to work” referendum and diminishment of collective bargaining rights.  This leaves Naperville’s version even vaguer. 

The concept of a “local empowerment zone,” which remains in the document, is not clearly defined.  Let me tell you how Governor Rauner defines it; at the time of Bruce Rauner’s 2015 State of the State address, he claimed:          

“Empowerment means giving local voters the ability to control the collective bargaining issues in their local governments and take more responsibility for their employee’s benefits.  Empowerment means giving local government employees the ability to decide for themselves whether they want to join a union.  Empowerment means giving  governments the ability to lower costs by reforming project labor agreements and prevailing wage requirements that block true competitive bidding.” 

So, in effect the language that was taken out is still in the document, just without a definition. The lack of specificity should be reason enough for council members to vote NO.

It’s already clear that local right-to-work zones will violate federal and state law, as verified recently by Lisa Madigan.  In Kentucky, where this strategy is currently being tested, the laws are being fought through multiple law suits.  In Illinois, you can expect the same thing – wasteful litigation.

Naperville’s Resolution 15 will accomplish one thing for sure.  It will weaken unions, lower wages and benefits for all workers, and create poor working conditions.  Demand for goods and services will fall as expendable income is diminished.   According to a study by Illinois Economic Policy Institute and University of Illinois, if the six counties surrounding Chicago passed right to work laws, "The economy would shrink by 1.3 billion, state and local tax revenues would be reduced by $80 million… racial and gender inequality would both increase, and the number of workplace injuries and fatalities would rise."  It will be a mistake to hastily pass this resolution without carefully considering the wide range of ill effects being predicted.

Resolution 15 claims that “local empowerment zones will help attract jobs and make our community more attractive for businesses...”  But there is no solid evidence that this is true, especially in the case of right to work laws. On the state level, the Economic Policy Institute has found “no consistent pattern of Right To Work states growing faster or slower—or having better or worse unemployment rates—than other states.”  When making decisions on moving into an area, employers are more interested in features like an educated workforce and access to expressways than they are in Right To Work.

In my opinion, the Naperville City Council would be better off adopting the Labor Coalition’s “Resolution to Protect the Middle Class,” which offers a positive alternative to Governor Rauner’s flawed “Turnaround Agenda.”

--David Madsen

[“The incoming Mayor Chirico asked the resolution be tabled indefinitely, but he added that he was looking forward to ‘helping the Governor in some way to make Illinois great again.’  Promises to review the Turnaround Agenda at a later date were proposed by many of the Council members.  Chirico added, ‘We might all have to sacrifice’” (John Dillon)].

For John Dillon’s excellent coverage of this event, Click Here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Concealed Carrying Chicago Uber Driver Defends Group of Pedestrians against Wild Gunman by Chuck Ross

“An Uber driver in Chicago with a concealed carry license defended himself and a group of pedestrians against a man who opened fire on a crowded street Friday night, a state attorney said in court on Sunday.

“Assistant State Attorney Barry Quinn said that 22-year-old Everardo Custodio began shooting at a group of pedestrians shortly before midnight Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported. The group was passing in front of a vehicle occupied by an unnamed 47-year-old Uber driver.

“The driver, who has a state-issued firearm owner’s identification card, pulled out his handgun and fired six times, hitting Custodio in the shin, knee and lower back, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Police responded quickly and found Custodio lying in the middle of the street. The Uber driver stayed on the scene and provided a statement to police. The driver does not face charges as, according to Quinn, he ‘was acting in self-defense and in the defense of others.’ Custodio’s gun was recovered at the scene. He is still in the hospital and faces charges of aggravated assault and unlawful weapons charges.

“A spokeswoman for Uber told the Sun-Times that the driver had just dropped off a passenger when Custodio began shooting. The company plans to interview the driver and his passenger. His Uber profile is still active.

“Had Friday’s incident occurred just a little more than a year ago, the Uber driver would likely face weapons charges of his own. Illinois was the last state in the U.S. to legalize the concealed carry of firearms. A law allowing concealed carry was passed in July 2013, but the state did not begin issuing licenses until February 2014.

“Many gun control activists feared that legalizing the concealed carry of guns would lead to increased crime. Those fears have failed to come to fruition, both across the U.S. and Illinois. Gun rights advocates argue that expanded concealed carry is associated with lower crime rates and that very few crimes are committed by concealed carriers”

This article is from the Daily Caller.