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[17 Apr 2014 | No Comment | ]

Democrats get positively apoplectic when Republicans propose mandatory photo IDs for voting purposes. That’s “vote suppression,” they holler. It’s racially discriminatory, they scream – especially since a third of all minorities don’t have driver’s licenses, and over 90 percent of blacks and 75 percent of Hispanics vote Democratic. It’s intimidation, they insist.
Never mind that government-issued photo IDs are necessary to buy liquor, get a passport, board a plane and cash a check. *Isn’t insuring that only legally-entitled citizens be allowed to vote equally as important?
And the Obama Administration’s Department of …

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[10 Apr 2014 | No Comment | ]

In military terms, “collateral damage” means that a combatant’s ally or strikeforce takes an unforeseen hit – death, disfigurement, defeat – on behalf of the primary combatant, usually due to flawed strategy.
On March 18, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) commissioner Debra Shore suffered serious collateral damage, due to her allies’ flawed strategy. As a result, she won’t be the MWRD’s next president.

 
Unquestionably, the presidency of the obscure MWRD is a prize of dubious worth. The MWRD has an annual budget of $1.2 billion and a professional staff consisting of roughly …

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[26 Mar 2014 | One Comment | ]

In politics, there are varying gradations of losers: Actual, collateral, contingent, peripheral and psychological.
Actual means the candidate on the ballot.
Collateral means the politicians and entities (like unions) that coalesced behind, and used their political organization, contacts, money, manpower and political capital to support the candidate.
Contingent means those who had a vested personal interest in the candidate’s success, as a mentor, sponsor or successor.
Peripheral means those similarly situated, in a  political environment not unlike the candidate’s, and take comfort or terror from the candidate’s fate.
And psychological means the unexpected. The candidate …

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[13 Mar 2014 | No Comment | ]

“I’m not related to anybody who’s somebody.” That’s the watchword in Illinois politics, where voter contempt for anybody who’s somebody is palpable. A fair number of “somebody’s” will lose in the primary.
On March 18, voter turnout will be puny. Only the extremely motivated, or extremely controlled, will cast a ballot. But anger can be a great motivator.

 
And, in certain Democratic contests for state representative, as well as countywide races for judge and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District commissioner, the punier the turnout, the dimmer the prospects of outsiders’ attempts to beat …

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[8 Mar 2014 | No Comment | ]

Illinois may be a two-party state, albeit very blue and Democratic, but it has a 14-faction system, consisting of squabbling, mutually-hostile, self-interested groupings within each major party. Each faction can deliver votes and funding, and the candidate who best masters the “art of overlap” – having a solid base in one or more faction, and appealing to rival factions – wins.

 
The nine Democratic factions include blacks, Hispanics, gays, ideological liberals (who call themselves “progressives”), unions, Downstate county chairmen, the Chicago party machine (run by Mayor Rahm Emanuel), the Springfield legislative …

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[27 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]

In the 40-plus years that I’ve written this weekly analysis-and-opinion on politics, I’ve never encountered an instance where the lead-up, the information-gathering, is more column-worthy than the actual column. Now I have.
Call this a “pre-column.” It’s a column on the story of getting the story to write the column. And it clearly demonstrates how and why Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s “gag-and-spend” strategy maintains his iron grip on his Democratic majority, and his stranglehold on Illinois government.
In the northwest side 40th House District, the incumbent is Jaime Andrade, age 40, …

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[19 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]

The burden of the fictional writer or novelist is to concoct and embellish the 5-D’s – drama, distortion, deceit, duplicity and dumbness.. The joy of writing a political column on Chicago and Illinois politics is that one need not concoct; one need only observe. The 5-D’s are everywhere apparent.
Bizarre, weird and/ or wacky – that’s the norm in local politics. Nobody could make up this stuff.
Here are two examples:
* In the political food-chain, alderman supersedes county commissioner in clout and prestige. So when the governor appoints an alderman a “senior …

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[12 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]

In the past 68 years, since 1946, Cook County has had nine sheriffs, all of them ostensibly devoid of moral turpitude, reasonably competent, generally resistant to temptation to indulge in graft and favoritism, able to sublimate the duress and stress of sitting on a timebomb – and almost all eminently forgettable.

 
That’s Sheriff Tom Dart’s problem. He’s forgotten. The 51-year old lawyer from Chicago’s clout-heavy 19th Ward craves a promotion – to Chicago mayor, U.S. Attorney, county board president, state’s attorney, or even a high-level job in the Obama Administration’s Department …

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[4 Feb 2014 | No Comment | ]

When Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) commissioner Frank Avila says his job is all about effluent and excrement, he means it literally, not figuratively.
Every day, the 5.3 million residents of Cook County’s 946 square miles “use the facilities,” create 500 tons of solid waste, and inundate the sewers with 1.5 billion gallons of liquid effluent. Add to that another 300 million gallons of industrial waste.
It has to go somewhere. And it’s the distinctly unglamorous task of the MWRD to collect, separate, purify and get rid of it, annually dumping almost …

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[24 Jan 2014 | No Comment | ]

Here’s a multiple-choice quiz. Which of the following utterances do not qualify as one of the world’s most egregious lies?
(1) “The check’s in the mail.”
(2) “Mission accomplished.”
(3) “I’ll still respect you in the morning.”
(4) “My dog ate my homework.”
(5) “Wait until next year.”
(6) “I never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind.”
(7) “I lost the election because of changing demographics.”
If you chose Number Seven, you’re on a fast track to write this weekly, 1,500 word column when I retire. Mail your resume and a writing sample ASAP.
On Nov. 5, the day after the 2014 election, expect a whole …