A View From the Cheap Seats

May 19, 2010

Failing To Address Failure

Filed under: Illinois,Politics,Uncategorized — trzupek @ 3:24 pm


By Rich Trzupek

There’s a run on winter-wear in hell today, because I find myself in complete agreement with the Chicago Tribune. A May 6 editorial in the Trib chided House lawmakers for failing to pass a vouchers bill that would have allowed parents to get their kids out of some of the worst schools in the state and into a school of their choice. In a typical Mike Madigan tactic, the vote wasn’t recorded, but the enterprising fellows at Capitol Fax took a photo of the tally board before it could be officially disappeared.

Among your representatives in Examinerland, only Tim Schmitz (R-St. Charles) voted for the measure. Democrats Fred Crespo and Paul Froelich, along with Republican Randy Ramey all voted against and everybody should remember those votes.

There are a couple of reasons, neither of them good, to vote against voucher programs. One is, as Democrat representative Kevin Joyce observed with surprising candor, is that this is a “union issue.” By that, Joyce of course means it’s a teacher’s union issue. If parents can get kids out of failing schools, the teachers at those schools are going to have to find other employment.

Obviously, we can’t have that. Protecting teachers’ jobs at schools that don’t work is far more important than, you know, the kids they actually teach, or creating jobs at schools that do work courtesy of freedom of choice. The Democrat-preferred solution to Illinois’ educational woes, as it is to every problem, is more money. Just a few more bucks and everything will be both hunky and dory.



May 9, 2010

The Bills Are Coming Due

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 7:05 pm


By Rich Trzupek

Last year, the Civic Federation, a non-partisan organization that watches government spending, supported the idea of a state tax hike in order to close the state of Illinois’ massive budget gap. Actually, “gap” isn’t a good enough word. “Chasm” describes the difference between revenue and spending more accurately. But, I digress.

Anyway, having argued for a tax hike last year, the Civic Federation pulled back from that position this year for one very good, and very simple, reason: they don’t trust the Democrat-controlled General Assembly to rein in spending. The more that you feed the beast that is big government, the hungrier the beast gets for more tax dollars. Kudos to the Civic Federation for pointing that out.

The organization came to this conclusion in their report analyzing Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed 2011 budget. The first three paragraphs of the Executive Summary are worth repeating:

“The Civic Federation opposes Governor Pat Quinn’s $52 billion FY2011 recommended operating budget for the State of Illinois because it is unbalanced and does too little to address the State’s fiscal crisis. The Governor’s recommended budget borrows billions to pay for operations while continuing to ignore the massive backlog of unpaid bills, which will make the State’s financial condition worse.

Although the Civic Federation is encouraged that Governor Quinn has signed significant pension reform legislation and recommends some reductions in spending, we cannot support his FY2011 State of Illinois operating budget because it does not effectively stabilize state finances or substantially reduce the State’s $12.9 billion deficit going into FY2011.


Hate Speech Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 7:00 pm


By Rich Trzupek

Sometimes those anti-government protesters go too far. Take this quote, for example, that was uttered in front of a frenzied crowd that roared their approval:

“They can run, but they can’t hide. We’re gonna be over there this afternoon, and we’re gonna find you. And if you try to leave town without doing your job, we’re gonna chase you. And when you come back home, we’ll be there.”

Surprising, isn’t it, that a quote like that didn’t get a lot of play in the mainstream media? That’s just the sort of inflammatory rhetoric that they are constantly accusing the right of spouting and the kind of sound bite that they desperately scour tea-party rallies in search of, almost entirely in vain. So why wasn’t this bit of anger called out by CNN, MSNBC and the like?

Perhaps it has something to do with who said it: Henry Bayer, director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. Bayer and thousands of AFSCME members rallied in Springfield last week in order to urge lawmakers to – can you guess? – raise taxes.


April 21, 2010

Grab Bag

Filed under: Illinois,Politics,Religion,World — trzupek @ 1:57 pm


By Rich Trzupek

– Not sure which is more remarkable: the flurry of radical proposals that USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is churning out on an almost monthly basis, or the way the mainstream media is completely ignoring what she’s been up to. In little more than a year, Jackson has developed new air quality standards that will make it just about impossible to build a new fossil-fuel fired power plant in this country, set up an Ocean Policy Taskforce that will prove more effective than anything at stopping off-shore drilling and is steadily working on a rewrite of storm water regulations that will impact the cost and availability of a whole new host of consumer products previously untouched by EPA’s grasping hands.

If they are seen through to fruition, all of these initiatives will be costly to consumers and drive even more jobs overseas to nations that don’t have a similarly dazzling array of well-intentioned, but ultimately pointless, rules. Veteran readers of the Cheap Seats know that your humble correspondent does battle with the EPA in the day job on a daily basis, so I have certain, well-earned bias against that particular agency. But, Jackson’s EPA is a bureaucracy on steroids. Privately – very privately – many EPA staffers have been shaking their heads in disbelief as well, for they understand that if Jackson has her way, there’s going to be very little industry left for them to regulate.

– Last week Trey Parker and Matt Stone, aka: the last two guys in Hollywood with any guts, took a shot at radical Islam. No, that’s not right. In the April 18 episode of South Park, Parker and Stone were merciless in exposing the cowardly hypocrisy of those who enable the intolerance of the jihadists out fear of violent retribution. The response from the jihadis was predictable. How dare Parker and Stone attack Islamic intolerance and violence. They must be killed! The situation might be termed ironic, if it wasn’t so pathetic.


March 16, 2010

Corruption Squared


By Rich Trzupek

It’s hard to believe that anyone could pick worse candidates than the party that gave Illinois gubernatorial candidates like ex-governor/current convict George Ryan and the unbearably bland Judy Barr-Topinka, but Illinois Democrats are giving the GOP a run for their money this year. First they gave us disgraced former lieutenant governor candidate Scott Lee Cohen and now comes troubling revelations about their Senatorial candidate, state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. One has to wonder: does anybody check a candidate’s background these days?

Giannoulias is a protégé of the current president, which should have set off an alarm bell or two. When you’re tied into the Obama/Axelrod crowd, the chances of having a few skeletons hanging out in your closet rise exponentially. In 2006, Obama had this to say about Giannoulias:

“He’s one of the most outstanding young men that I could ever hope to meet. He’s somebody who cares deeply about people.”

When somebody tells you that an Illinois Democrat “cares deeply about people,” you are well-advised to check to make sure that you still have your wallet. Giannoulis is no exception. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Giannoulis stands to make $10 million off his role as owner of Broadway Bank, even though that bank is almost certainly about to go under.


Fixing Illinois


By Rich Trzupek

The “Party of NoTM” unveiled a few badly-needed common sense solutions to fix what ails one of the worst state economies in the nation, which, given the state of the nation’s economy in 2010, is saying a lot.

House Republicans, in conjunction with the Illinois Policy Institute, announced a proposed program that, while it can’t fix everything that ails the state, is at least a good start. Among the features of the plan:

– Holding the line on spending, which has increased by more than thirty nine per cent over the last decade (adjusted for inflation) while Illinois population has increased by less than seven per cent. Clearly, the days of the big-spenders in Springfield are drawing to a close. We can’t afford their largesse any longer.

– Reforming the state’s regulatory structure. Once one of the most business-friendly states in the union, Illinois has become one of the most difficult places to start up and maintain a business, owing to all of the regulatory impediments introduced during the Blagojevich years.

– Requiring a supermajority before any tax and fee increases can be passed in the General Assembly. Past history has shown that Illinois citizens can not trust either party if that party has been comfortably in power for too long. This measure would ensure that the loyal opposition has the ability to rein in the entrenched power structure.


January 27, 2010

Pollution Is The Cure

Filed under: Environment,Illinois,Politics,Science — trzupek @ 10:33 pm


By Rich Trzupek

One great thing about global warming is that it causes everything, including cooling according to many environmental groups, and earthquakes, according to Danny Glover. Another great thing about global warming is that you can use it as an excuse to do, or not do, just about anything. Case in point: global warming serves as the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s (MWRD) latest excuse for not disinfecting waste water entering the Chicago River.

There is an old adage in the world of environmental science: dilution is not the solution to pollution. We now have the MWRD corollary: pollution is the solution to pollution.

Now I can not say whether all the extra bacteria that MWRD introduces into the river threatens the waterway. District representatives say no and perhaps we should take them at the word. It is interesting to note, however, that practically every other sewage treatment operation in the country feels it’s important to disinfect their wastewater. But to claim that disinfecting wastewater would cause global warming? Please.

The theory, such as it is, is that disinfecting would require the district to use additional electricity, which in turn would increase MWRD’s carbon footprint by almost 100,000 tons. There is a flip side to that equation however, one I doubt factors into the district’s calculations. When biological matter dies and decays, it often creates methane, a global warming gas twenty one times more potent that carbon dioxide. Do that math and I doubt if MWRD’s spurious argument even holds up.


September 7, 2009

Clout City

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 8:04 pm


By Rich Trzupek

Clout; it’s a wonderful thing. This is a tale of clout, the kind of clout that you, I and the guy next door will never have. But if you have clout, especially in the state of Illinois, there is little that you can not get a compliant state legislature to do for you.

This story also involves the law, or – more to the point – those annoying, “fine print” details of the law that bureaucrats are constantly throwing in our face. You know the drill. If you don’t fill out line 18(a)(ii) of your tax return correctly, the IRS won’t give a damn if line 18(a)(ii) has no practical effect on the amount of tax you owe. You didn’t follow the law and, gosh but we’re sorry, you’ll have to pay a fine.

Here at the Examiner, we have always paid scrupulous attention to the law, as it applies to this fine publication. In one sense, that’s a matter of self-protection. Believe it or not, there are some people who would like to see the Examiner just shut up already, although I am happy to report that the Examiner has remarkably reappeared at the offices of Hanover Township, no doubt after some “misunderstanding” was resolved. Still, it’s best to stay within the strict confines of the law, since one never knows who is out to get one.

Moreover, compliance is philosophical matter. The minutia of the law is aggravating, and a constant source of complaint on these pages, but the fact is that America is a nation built on the rule of law. Nobody has come up with a better system, so – while we may grumble – we at the Examiner do our best to play by the rules.


September 3, 2009

Giving Away the Farm

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 12:49 pm

DanishSwedishFarm DogSigurdAndTjalfeEXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – JULY 15, 2009

By Rich Trzupek

Village and city managers, along with staff finance officers, throughout the state have a problem. They have a big problem. And, while they are all sure that something needs to be done, there isn’t a damn thing they can do about it. Since they can’t do a damn thing about it, you, me and just about every other taxpayer is going to feel the pinch where it hurts the most these days: in our pocketbooks. Count on it.

Blame Springfield, not that this is any surprise. When it comes to financial mismanagement and lack of foresight, the Illinois General Assembly (official motto: “At least we’re not as screwed up as California!”) has been a model of consistency – unfortunately for us. If there is a decision to be made, state legislators will inevitably make the stupidest, most expensive decision possible.

What has municipal managers in a frenzy, and will soon see municipalities reaching deeper into our pocketbooks, is the skyrocketing costs of keeping Illinois firefighters happy.


Killing the Goose

Filed under: Illinois,Politics — trzupek @ 11:57 am

tonge_myriah01EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – JUNE 3, 2009

The world changed after September 11, 2001, in many ways that are painfully clear, but in other ways that are much less obvious. The way that we think about, and treat, firefighters, falls into the latter category.

As a society, we have a soft spot for firefighters. That’s appropriate. How can we not appreciate the effort and dedication of men and women who are ready and willing to rush into a burning building to save our lives? You humble correspondent had the occasion to call 911 a few years ago and I will always remember the aid and comfort that those firefighters provided fondly. They were wonderful.

On 9-11-2001 New York City firefighters rushed into the twin towers without regard for their own safety, and when the World Trade Center succumbed to the flames, they perished, heroes all. Wearing a hat or T-shirt that trumpeted the letters “FDNY” became a sign of tribute, paying respect to the bravest of the brave, and so it should be.


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