Category: Personal
Posted on December 1, 2015 by Gary
Photos from our Hawaii trip. All the commentary is by Ted (age 9). You should be able to "View Image" on any picture to see it full-sized.

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Category: Stuff
Posted on December 19, 2014 by Gary
Facebook is full of this kind of quiz, so I thought I'd try making my own. (It may not work properly in some older Microsoft browsers.)

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Category: Local politics
Posted on March 14, 2014 by Gary
Because nobody asked for it.... My candidate choices for the Democratic primary are here, with explanation of reasons below the fold. I should emphasize that I am speaking for myself only, not for York Township Democratic Organization nor anyone else. Also, since I'm friends with some of the people running here, let's be clear that these recommendations are based only on which persons I see as the better fit for the particular job for which they're contesting, and not on who I like or don't like on a personal level.

Governor: Pat Quinn
DuPage County Board District 4: M. Moon Khan
State Central Committee District 8: Rose Fitzpatrick and Bob Wagner
Precinct Committee York Township Precinct 55: Arthur Biladeau

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to rant or rave in comments. But click the "Read More" link first.

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Category: Local politics
Posted on July 30, 2013 by Gary
I don't know if this on craigslist is for real, but it's too good not to share.
Republican Illinois Attorney General (Springfield)
Candidate will be provided with a realistic plan to defeat incumbent.
Candidate must be willing and able to stand up to a multi-million dollar schmear campaign.

So don't bother replying if you happen to be allergic to very expensive cream cheese.
Candidate must meet the requirements for the office of Attorney General of Illinois.
Candidate must place the well being of the people of Illinois above that of their family's.

Above their family's what? And since candidate is singular, I must assume that "their" refers to the people of Illinois. So, okay, I guess they mean the candidate must support the right of deadbeat dads to desert their families for personal gain.
Please respond with and educational resume and three paragraph summary of platform and campaign plan.

Ah, so the plan won't be provided. Thanks for clarifying that.
This is a longshot, but my plan can win.

I'm guessing it was just some random chucklehead who posted this, since Jack Dorgan would at least be able to afford a decent copy editor. Still, it's an indication of the condition that the IL GOP is in, and deservedly so.
Category: Issues
Posted on April 24, 2013 by Gary

A user shared the image show on Facebook, which in return suspended his account.

Had he been using a portable service to share his content (like the one that's hosting the site you're reading) he could've picked up and moved to another service. But Facebook is a monopoly, and hence free to dick over its customers at will.

We gave corporations control of most of our food, health care, mass media, and many other needs in exchange for a little convenience. That didn't work out too well. Maybe we should think twice before giving them control over our Internet services.
Category: Local politics
Posted on April 6, 2013 by Gary
Because absolutely nobody asked for it, and if past precedent is any guide the only people who will care are candidates who don't get chosen, my thoughts on the April 9 election:

First and foremost, support the Democratic slate for York Township offices.

Ahmed Sayyed for Supervisor
Joe Vosicky for Clerk
Mark Pitchford for Highway Commissioner
Cathy Sewell, Diane Blair Sherlock, and Carol Davis for Trustee

It should be obvious that the current York Township government is mostly useless. Most residents are barely aware that they exist. About three-quarters of their budget is spent on staff salaries, which keep going up despite the economy, and other administrative costs. They have little or no money for youth services, but do have money to send out full-color brochures touting themselves, which for some odd reason always seem to arrive around election time. They do provide services for seniors, some of them necessary and valuable ones, but when they do they'll be sure to use the opportunity to persuade those seniors to vote for them. The purpose of the township, according to the current incumbents, it seems, is to keep the current incumbents in office. We the taxpayers have different priorities. The only way we'll get a township government that is actually worth the money we put into it is to vote out Mr. Valle and as many of his cronies as possible.

If you live in Villa Park, please vote for Deborah Bullwinkel for village president. Bullwinkel has been an independent voice on the village board of trustees. She will bring energy and fresh ideas to the office of president. Her opponent is the former village police chief who has been the subject of investigative articles by the Chicago Tribune:
Long before an Internet sex picture overshadowed his candidacy, John Heidelmeier was the popular police chief of Villa Park — and was facing secret accusations of mismanagement.

The newspaper's review of hundreds of pages of records previously denied to the public found that, before the ink was dry on last year's gag order, village officials had quietly begun accusing the chief of assorted mismanagement, including:
•Keeping an evidence room that was in disarray, with $10,000 in cash and a bucket of guns left unlogged.
•Hiring an officer against the advice of a psychological assessment who then was later accused of roughing up a teenage girl who had done nothing wrong.
•Giving a convicted felon wide access to the department, including riding along with officers on patrol.

There's more. Read the whole article. See also comments posted by a local resident on the Daily Herald's endorsement of Bullwinkel:
I have personally dealt with this bumbling police department. About 2 and a half years ago I was less than a block from my house minding my own business when all of a sudden I was surrounded by 5 police cars. Guns drawn they yelled at me to put my hands in the air. They then proceeded to force me to the ground even though I had clearly given up. My neighbors had all tried to tell them who I was and that I had just come out of my house. I had asked my neighbor to please go tell my mom what was going on so that someone could find me at the police station. I was put into the squad car and driven away, everytime I asked the officer what was going on he told me to "shut the hell up" I was taken to an area aproximately a quarter mile from my house taken out of the squad to be identified. I will never forget the woman identifying me when they had asked her "is that him?" she replied "not even close" I was then put back into the squad car still handcuffed even though I had done nothing wrong. I was then driven home and dropped off in front of my house while the officer turned his lights on uncuffed me outside of the car for all my neighbors to see and then didn't even apologize. Too this day it makes my blood boil to think about this incident. To make matters worse when my mom who had just had heart surgery a few months prior to this incident, went to the police department to find out what had happened to me the woman at the front desk threatened to have her arrested. Real Classy VPPD. Don't believe me? you can ask multiple neighbors who saw what happened. If Heidelmeier can't run his police department competently how can we trust him to run Villa Park?

(I don't know this person and can't vouch for the truth of these accusations. One should always be careful about what one reads, especially on the Internet.)

I've had personal experience with Heidelmeier's core supporters. Recently the York Township Democratic Organization voted to endorse Bullwinkel. I am chair of YTDO but did not vote for or against this endorsement. State Senator Cullerton, a strong Heidelmeier supporter recently elected as a Democrat with support from the party, responded by pulling his support from a YTDO fundraiser. Another Heidelmeier supporter posted under an assumed name on YTDO's Facebook page harping on Bullwinkel's past support for selected Republican candidates, ignoring Heidelmeier's own record of voting Republican. Many more Heidelmeier supporters frequent this forum. For a candidate whose selling points are leadership ability and that he'll listen to your ideas and opinions, it's interesting how many of his supporters apparently have zero tolerance for ideas that they don't agree with. They are more like Groucho Marx: "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you."

Robert J. "Bob" Wagner for Villa Park Trustee is an obvious choice, especially for Democrats. Bob ran as one back when nobody thought Democrats could win in this area. As party township chair, party state central committeeman, library trustee, and everything else he's done, he's always displayed strict honesty and thoughtfulness. John Davis is an incumbent village trustee who has served with integrity and deserves to be re-elected. A third candidate, Robert Taglia, is also an incumbent and is aligned with Bullwinkel, Wagner, and Davis; he's been a responsible trustee but his conservative Republican views make me reluctant to recommend him. For local office his ideological views aren't that big of an issue but village elected officials can grow up to seek higher office. Other candidates include Greg Hassler who is not aligned with either camp; he seems to have a pretty good grasp of the issues but I don't know a lot about him. Rodney Pate seems to have some smarts and good sense except for his decision to align with the Heidelmeier camp.

For College of DuPage Trustees, please vote for Ed Agustin and Frank Flores Jr.. College of DuPage has been plagued by mismanagement. Tuition keeps rising and the current administration seems more interested in putting up new buildings than it does in actually working to help the students. Agustin and Flores will hold them accountable. Accusations of harrassment against the latter seem to be unverified.
Category: Issues
Posted on February 6, 2013 by Gary
A large chunk (though certainly not all) of Illinois' financial problems are due to its tax structure. The state constitution mandates that the state income tax be flat, i.e. that those individuals in higher brackets may not be charged higher rates than those at the bottom. This makes it impossible to raise rates on those who could afford to pay more without also raising them on those who can't.

An amendment to change this has been filed as HJRCA0002 by Reps. Naomi Jakobsson and Linda Chapa LaVia. This would amend the state constitution to allow different tax rates for different income ranges, as the federal income tax and those of most other states' do. The Illinois League of Women Voters refers to this as a GRIT Fair Tax, GRIT meaning Graduated Rate Income Tax.

Passing this would be a multi-step process:
  1. Three-fifths majorities in each house of the legislature (36 Senators and 71 House members, assuming no abstentions) must vote to put it on the ballot.
  2. Once on the ballot, it must be approved by a three-fifths majority of everyone voting on the amendment, or by a simple majority of everyone who voted in the election even counting those who skipped this particular question.
  3. With the amendment passed into law, the legislature would need to create a graduated tax rate plan and pass it through the normal legislative process.

The push for GRIT/Fair Tax in Illinois is supported by organizations including the IL League of Women Voters, Jobs With Justice, and the Center For Tax and Budget Accountability. We need to persuade our representatives to let us vote on it. But even while that's going on, we need to talk to people in our communities about it and counter what the propaganda mills are saying. A lot of misinformation is already being spread and it will increase greatly by the time it actually comes up for a vote.

Below the fold, a number of arguments you're likely to hear against the graduated tax, and why they're disingenuous or just wrong.

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Category: Issues
Posted on December 14, 2012 by Gary
When a bunch of people get killed in a gun massacre, it's the wrong time to discuss gun laws. Have you no respect for the victims of such senseless tragedy?

When people have not been killed, it's the wrong time to discuss gun laws, because after all if no one's being killed then the laws we have must be at least all right.

When is the right time to talk about gun violence as a serious problem? That would be 12:12:12 on 2012/12/12. Sorry, you missed it.
Category: Issues
Posted on August 3, 2012 by Gary
By Percy Flage
Washington Pest staff

Washington, DC — The Affordable Care Act, passed into law in 2010, today came out in support of repealing the current Republican Congress. The Act, informally known as Obamacare, cited excessive partisanship, rampant hypocrisy, and general subservience to the wealthy few as reasons why the Republican Congress shouldn't stand. "They spent the last decade giving the executive branch the power to spy on people or imprison them without any accountability, and then they call me big government," the Act said. "They posture about deficits and then pass tax cuts and start wars without paying for any of it. Clearly we need to repeal and replace them," it said, adding that it would figure out the last part later.

Other legislation offered mixed views on whether repeal was a good idea. "I'm all in favor of diversity, but these guys are a major threat to the political and economic ecosystem," said the Endangered Species Act. "If protecting their species costs jobs then maybe it's better to let them go extinct." But the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 was less than enthusiastic. "It's true that these guys' main selling point, that they're fiscally responsible, is completely ridiculous," said the EGTRRA. "My very existence is proof of that. And yeah, some of them are just nuts. A lot of them, actually. But I remain convinced that we need them around. There's a very good reason. Give me a little while and I'm sure I'll think of it."

"Percy, Percy, Percy, who's been putting these ideas into your head?" commented the USA PATRIOT Act. "It's that little blonde who you've been talking to on the train on the way to work, isn't it. You might not be so eager to talk to her if you knew about some of the things she reads in her spare time."

In order to take effect, repeal would need to be passed by the voting public. In the event it does, the 2002 Help America Vote Act has pledged to veto it.
Category: Local politics
Posted on May 16, 2012 by Gary
Daily Herald:
DuPage Forest Preserve commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to reduce their own salaries from nearly $57,000 to $53,500, but they disagreed on whether the cuts were deep enough.

Commissioner Joe Cantore suggested reducing salaries in October and on Tuesday fought to keep the issue from being tabled to next week’s commission meeting.

He urged fellow commissioners to cut their salaries to $50,000, roughly equal to the annual compensation DuPage County Board members receive.

“It was just time for some action,” Cantore said. “We needed to get it done. But I don’t think we reduced it enough and I guess you could call it a compromise.”

Oh Joe, you great crusading action hero you.

Reality check, please. The median income per household in the USA as of the last census was a little over fifty thousand. In DuPage it's just over $75,000. Assuming an average of 1.5 wage-earners per household, that means that even if this proposal had passed, Joe and his buddies would still each have been getting the same money the rest of us get, plus very generous benefits like health care and pensions. But the rest of us have to work full time for our money; not so Joe. DuPage Forest Preserve Commissioners claim (in the Herald article linked above) to work 1000 hours a year; that's only half a full-time job, if true; the real amount of time they spend is probably quite a bit less. Most if not all of them have day jobs—Cantore is an industrial building remodeling contractor.

Then there's this:
[Outgoing commissioner Carl] Schultz said one forest commissioner represents the same number of people as three county board members per district. He added that county board members also have offices, while forest commissioners keep offices in their homes.

This is a bloody silly argument for a number of reasons. Besides the obvious, that running the forest preserves might not be quite as much work as running the entire rest of the county, the fact of the matter is that DuPage County Board members are also grossly overpaid, getting full-time salary and benefits for work they do as a sideline to their regular jobs.

Joe and others, if you're really out to save the taxpayers some money, cut your salary and benefits to what a typical ten-hour-per-week position would offer. Give up your guaranteed government-provided health care and retirement income until such time as the rest of us are entitled to such things, which might happen if we get the Republicans out of state and federal government.

Alternately, keep the salary and benefits, but make the Commission work for them. Make it illegal for Forest Preserve Commissioners (and County Board members) to accept any outside paid position or own a significant interest in any business during their terms. Transfer to them some of the work currently being done by salaried managers and make them spend enough time on it to earn that money we're giving them.
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