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[20 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

A whole bunch of words and phrases aptly describe the Illinois state treasurer’s contest, none of which have yet registered a blip on the votes’ radar:
Not. Most. Why? Nobody. Uh-oh. Stay Put. Plan No. Mess. And, lastly, Blame George Bush. Here’s a synopsis.
NOT. As a job, being state treasurer is not rocket science. It’s just arithmetic. State revenue is generated from taxes and fees; it is collected by the treasurer; it is invested by the treasurer for maximum return; and, periodically, it is transferred to a state account administered by …

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[15 Aug 2014 | No Comment | ]

Bruce Rauner (R) isn’t spending $50 million to be Governor Eunuch.
For Rauner and Springfield Republican legislators, the northwest suburban 55th House District, encompassing Park Ridge, Des Plaines, and parts of Elk Grove Village and Mount Prospect, is the “Ground Zero” in their no-eunuch strategy.

Currently mired in a 47-71 House minority, Republicans are absolutely impotent and inconsequential. Being one vote beyond a super-majority 60 percent, Speaker Mike Madigan (D) and his Democratic majority can pass any bill they desire, even in overtime session, and over-ride any gubernatorial veto. Rauner has promised …

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[30 Jul 2014 | One Comment | ]
Illinois Not Really Into Checks and Balances

Illinois is an anomaly. It is the Land of Lassitude. Voters are passive, partisan, and forgiving. In state government, there are no checks-and-balances to Democratic abuses, ineptitude and favoritism.
In any other state, when a governor is impeached, indicted, convicted and imprisoned, *the party of that incumbent would be shamed, tarnished and ousted. Not in Illinois.

In any other state, when one party controls all the levers of government – governor, both houses of the state legislature, and the Supreme Court – and that party fails to govern effectively, voters would hold …

Chicago, Featured, Headline »

[24 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

Begat is an archaic verb, the predecessor of beget, which means to acquire, to bring into being, or to procreate. In Chicago’s northwest side 38th Ward, the begatting and begetting has ceased.
Alderman Tim Cullerton’s (38th) July 16 retirement announcement means that Chicago’s 144-year Cullerton Dynasty, dating back to 1871, is no more. He is, at least in the 38th Ward, the Last Cullerton. The seminal well is dry. There is no offspring or sibling to inherit the job.
A Cullerton has been an alderman for128 of those 144 years. The streak …

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[16 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

Over the 41 years that I’ve been writing this column, I’ve been periodically asked, either in-person or on the Internet, who were the “most powerful” politicians on Chicago’s Northwest Side and adjacent suburbs.

I would reply that “power” is relative. It can be used to satisfy one’s ego or one’s agenda. Being Chicago’s mayor, CookCounty’s board president, or Illinois’ governor is perceived as the apex of “power,” a lifetime quest of every ambitious politician. But being durable trumps being powerful.
There are two kinds of politicians, and two kinds of “power.”
First, there …

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[19 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

Here is some sagacious advice for Chicago’s 50 aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the 2015 city election unfolds: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
*          At the next council meeting, whip out your iPods or iPads and take selfies ofr fellow aldermen. At least 15 won’t be back in 2015. As set forth in the adjoining chart, in the 650 aldermanic races since 1963, an incumbent has been re-elected in 471 contests and defeated in  61 – for a “re-elect” of  88.5 percent; the remaining 118 contests were for open seats, …

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[11 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

As the Obama Nation fades into historical oblivion, perhaps to be replaced by the Clinton Nation, Part II, one political trend is unmistakable: Distinctiveness has replaced distinction.
In the realm of electability, personal superficialities, meaning distinctiveness,  are now deemed more advantageous than talent and qualifications, meaning distinction. In a country where roughly 40 percent of the electorate is liberal/Democrat and 40 percent is conservative/Republican, appealing to the remaining unaligned, uninterested, usually ill-informed 20 percent is the key to victory. Perceptions, not issues, capture that voting segment.

In a tight election, one’s gender, …

Chicago, Featured, Headline »

[5 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

Don’t call it Chicago’s “new” 36th Ward. Call it the Swap-O-Rama ward, where political office is being bartered like merchandise on Maxwell Street, and DNA is the coin of the realm.
Try to follow this: The Familia Arroyo and the Familia Aquino, in a deal brokered by Old Gringo, former Alderman Dick Mell (33rd), engineered a “Son Swap” in mid-2013. As then detailed in this column. Mell’s protégé, State Representative Luis Arroyo (D-3), demurred to the 31st Ward, foregoing a run for alderman in the newly-created Northwest Side 36thWard, which will …

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[23 May 2014 | One Comment | ]

Trends in the Chicago-area housing market, throughout the city’s North and Northwest Sides, and in the north and west suburbs, can be variously categorized as good, bad and ugly.
The good news is that selling environment is not as bad as it was in 2005-09. The bad news is that residential home values have declined by 30-50 percent. The ugly news is that it’s still challenging, if not impossible for existing homeowners to “buy up” – that is, sell their existing property, make a profit, and buy a bigger, flashier home …

Chicago, Featured, Headline »

[15 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

It is often said: Be careful what you wish for. You might get it. And, soon thereafter, you might regret it.
That mind-set applies to the Republicans nationally in 2014, which is portending to be an anti-Obama “wave” year, similar to 2010. Democrats benefited from anti-Bush “waves” in 2006 and 2008. Republicans could optimally gain ten U.S. Senate seats, giving them a 55-45 majority in that chamber; they will surely retain their 234-191 U.S. House majority, perhaps adding 6-10 more seats. But then the bickering, squabbling, slashing, repealing, spinning, and maybe …