Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watching RNC painful; reminder of lessons learned

Mitt and Ann Romney on December 22, 2007, at a...
Mitt and Ann Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I felt great anticipation; I knew this was going to be painful.

That statement might refer to sitting in a dentist's chair awaiting a root canal. Or it might be the moments just before the start of the Republican National Convention. I knew it would hurt, but I didn't realize how much.

For me, the agony was in reliving the past. I have a little understanding of the political process, due to my long history battling Illinois politicians over their foolish notion to build a third Chicagoland Airport 40 miles south of the city near rural Peotone, Illinois.

I know how feudal it can be to try to have a decent conversation with politicians who have their minds set and their marching orders in hand. I know it can be infuriating when they refuse to listen, even though that is, or at best should be, part of their job description. I know truth is often buried beneath surface rhetoric; sometimes it is buried so deeply that it cannot be recovered. I know there are mean-spirited people with humongous egos who talk down to everyone around them. I know there are always questions that will go unanswered. I know that perspectives can be skewed, the thought process rarely strays from the pre-approved talking points, and the opposition is the enemy.

I learned these things at the hand of the GOP in Illinois. This may sound confusing to some who may recognize that the loudest voice on behalf of the Peotone Airport is U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. The Peotone project may appear to be a Democrat-inspired battle.

Although it may no longer be widely known, the Peotone Airport began with the Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly. It was definitely a GOP airport. In fact, for years I kept an article in the top drawer of my desk from the Chicago Sun Times, Oct. 1988. The headline read, "Du Page plum for GOP pals // Political ties bring profits in airport expansion," The article detailed an aggressive plan, by the DuPage Republicans who at the time were the leaders of the state. They planned to expand the DuPage Airport, located at the edge of the county. This is the same county as O'Hare neighbors and foes, the municipalities of Bensenville and Elk Grove Village.

The DuPage Airport was a completely self-serving project, paid for by taxpayers to the tune of $90 million. That was not chump change in 1988. I have long maintained that this project was a model--a how-to method--to build a third airport. Remember, the Peotone plan was hatched by the DuPage GOP as a means of  resisting expansion at O'Hare--or so they thought.

Though Jesse Jackson, Jr. happened to be a Democrat, he brought his own skill set to the table. He was a community activist of sorts who knew how to turn everything he touched into a racially-charged issue. He was a shoe-in as a congressional representative. And he had a rebel-rousing, well-known black activist father. DuPage Republicans didn't have much experience with race relations, since DuPage was predominantly white in 1988. This would need to be a numbers game. The more people to sign on the better.  If it worked, Jackson could make a really big name for himself. That was very appealing to him. His strong dislike for then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley gave him a kind of kinship with his GOP pals. He teamed up with the late Congressman Henry Hyde, a DuPage GOP kingpin. Hyde died and Jackson became the front man of the project, while still cooperating with those DuPage GOP. He made the project his obsession, still wanting to make that name for himself.

Given that kind of base, watching the shenanigans at the RNC was all pretty predictable.

I heard governors talk mostly about themselves and their accomplishments despite their facts being largely exaggerated at best. Much of what they said failed this morning's fact checking. It was easy to recognize the pattern when I heard it. The main point they wanted to get across was based on their need for self aggrandizement.

If all these wonderful statistics were true and the governors who spoke turned their states into such job havens, why wouldn't those great benefits fall under the umbrella of Obama's economic policies? If their states were doing so well, wouldn't the numbers for the whole country look better? Trying to look at only a partial picture is a pretty typical political move. I know it to be one the GOP uses all the time. Politicians are largely one-trick ponies. They learn one trick and use it over and over and over again, even when it ceases to work.

Nikki Haley's harangue about Obama suing South Carolina over Boeing was only half the story. She forgot to mention that all those new jobs from Boeing in South Carolina, a right to work state would have saved Boeing lots of money that it was paying its workers in Seattle, who incidentally got laid off. That is another typical political move--cherry-picking information, using only what makes you look good and hoping no one notices.

It is really nice that after all these years, that Ann Romney really loves her husband. Perhaps if he bought me fancy cars, beautiful homes, and all the riches I could ever ask for, I'd love him too. Well, maybe not because to me, those things don't translate into love. I'm not sure she convinced everyone to love her husband just because she does. Or do I trust him just because she does. Perhaps she is really naive because I don't trust people that tell as many lies as he does.

Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address was a barn-burner alright. It was the best speech of the night. He really is a great speaker. Trouble is he forgot that he was supposed to talk about Mitt Romney. Instead he merely set the stage for his own run for the White House in 2016. Politicians are such self-serving egomaniacs.

And then there was Mitt Romney. The one thing he has going for himself is that he lacks that whole ego thing.   Romney doesn't have enough personality even for his own ego. He seems unfeeling, unemotional. I suppose that is a defense mechanism that is necessary when you do as much harm to people as he has during his economic life at Bain.

I don't care what his wife thinks of him. I don't trust anything he says because it has become quite clear that what he said yesterday may not be what he says tomorrow.

Just the other day, I saw a videotaped piece where Mitt Romney said he didn't invest in the Cayman Islands to save money on taxes; that he didn't get any tax break for his offshore investment. Liar! That is the only reason to invest in the Cayman Islands.

Even if he didn't lie about everything he touched, or released his tax returns, I would still disagree with Romney's philosophy of running the government like a business. Businesses are profit driven. I don't think that should be the objective of government. Making money is not what it is all about. Government is about people. Mitt Romney doesn't seem to have a sense of how to deal with people. I hate that he doesn't want to answer questions. That is also a part of government that I feel is very important.

I'm anxious to see if there is anything redeeming about Paul Ryan's speech tonight, although I feel like I'm about to sit in that dental chair again. I suspect the pain is going to escalate as the convention wears on. All I can say is, thank goodness, the RNC has been shortened by one day.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. should appologize to eastern Will County

Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s original congressional photo
Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s original congressional photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sympathy has begun to build for Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who is being treated at Mayo Clinic for a bipolar disorder--we are told.

Jackson had been virtually missing from view for weeks until it was finally learned that he had a serious medical condition that required him to stay in the hospital.

According to news accounts., he has had visits, not only from members of his family, but also former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Each indicated that Jackson has a ways to go before returning to work, if he does return to work.

For what is now adding up to months, Jackson has been absent from the U.S. Congress. For the first several weeks, it was unknown just where and why he was gone. Wild speculation about rehab from drugs and alcohol, running off to a mistress, and other sordid explanations were rampant; they were all denied by family members.

Apparently Jackson is suffering from severe depression associated with his condition.
Illinois State Capitol
Illinois State Capitol
(Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

I can only wonder. Does Jackson's depression have anything to do with guilt about his behavior toward the innocent landowners in eastern Will County--the same folks which he has targeted for years. Following in a path laid out by his predecessors, Jackson tread on the people of eastern Will County as he pursued a pathetic idea--a third Chicagoland airport--that had been rattling around the Illinois General Assembly, in real estate circles, and in the leadership of the south suburbs since the 1960's. Jackson made it his own. It is unclear whether he believed the things he said about the vast economic potential of the project or if he simply was playing a role similar to that of a used car salesman or sleazy televangelist.

Either way, Jackson placed his own potential political spotlight far above the innocent people forced to deal with his political games. He wasn't even accountable to them until he convinced the Illinois General Assembly to right the wrong he did. When the legislative maps were redrawn, Jackson finally became the congressman of the district that included the airport footprint. Even before he got that done, Jackson played with the innocent people of eastern Will County as though they were merely the pawns in his life-altering chess game.

Most people would be conflicted by trying to better themselves at the expense of hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent people. Perhaps Jackson really knows that his efforts to build a South Suburban Airport are futile and that the project itself is unnecessary.

I'd like to think that what he has done to people that were completely undeserving of his assault, has caused him angst. His accountability would humanize him.

Jackson has staked his entire political career on this one big issue. Who knows what might have occurred, had he pursued other, perhaps smaller, but more achievable projects?

An airport is the ultimate. The model of O'Hare International Airport, if duplicated, could be the one big development that would satisfy any politician's dreams. Starry-eyed at best, any objective view will show that O'Hare in the 1960's will not / can not be duplicated. That was a one-time bonanza, never to be repeated.

I'm sorry. I don't want to see anyone suffer. I feel empathy for my fellow human beings. Perhaps that explains why I got involved in the State of Illinois' battle to take private land for an unproven publics works project in the first place. The more I became educated about the lunacy of pursuing the building of another airport in the 1980's, the more suffering I have seen at the hand of state and local government. There has been untold suffering.

Perhaps this hospital stay is a good time for Jackson to take account--to consider all of the things he could have done--rather than pursuing the development of an unneeded airport. He should think about the harm he has caused to innocent people, their families, and their neighborhoods. Most of the damage was done before Jackson even represented the people of eastern Will County. Now he is their congressman. He should make amends, apologize to them. He should leave them alone, and stop beating the dead horse that is the Peotone Airport.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

George Ryan's appeal denied by federal court

English: Former Illinois Governor George Ryan        Ex-Illinois Governor George RyanDespite his lawyer's best efforts, George Ryan, Illinois' disgraced governor, serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in federal prison, will not be leaving jail before next July when his sentence is concluded.

Ryan's lawyers, led by another former governor--James Thompson--filed an appeal based on the Supreme Court's ruling last year on the "honest services" laws. The laws, as applied to public officials holds that a public official stands in a fiduciary relationship with the public. Honest services fraud is committed by breaching those fiduciary duties in the course of that relationship. The laws relate to theft, accepting a bribe, or concealing a financial conflict of interest. In 2010 the court narrowed the fraud to bribery and kickback schemes.

Appealing Ryan's conviction was a long shot at best, and it is the last in a series of extraordinary efforts to keep Ryan out of jail. The legal wrangling commenced as soon as he was convicted in 2006.
To see more stories related to George Ryan, just type his name into the search engine at right!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Setting the record straight--the South Suburban Airport has NOT been approved by the FAA

Contrary to what has been printed in The BlackList Pub, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has NOT approved the building of a South Suburban Airport. The project will likely never be built, despite recent misinformation from IDOT Aeronautics Director Susan Shea and reported in Chicago newspapers.

For All Points-Of-The-View.

The following is the first sentence of a post in The BlackList Pub entitled, "Congressman Jackson Work Ignored As IDOT and FAA confirm south suburban airport WILL be built!"

"During Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr's medical leave and stories about his legislative record and November elections, The Sun Times and other local and national media have went to great lengths examining the impact of his legacy, so I found it interesting how The Sun Times and other media recently ran an extensive story featuring a top IDOT official confirming that the FAA is indeed approved the building of a South Suburban Airport with absolutely no mention of Congressman Jackson," writes Mark S. Allen, the author of a post in The BlackList Pub, which I assume is a blog serving Chicago's black community.

The tone of the article is the writers' frustration that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is being ignored for all his hard work on the proposed airport.

While Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s hard work is debatable in itself, a bigger problem is that the writer assumed what he read in the Chicago Sun Times, (see below) recently to be accurate information. It was not!

Fact is, the proposed airport--the Peotone Airport--has NOT been approved by the FAA as The BlackList Pub reported.

The misunderstanding came when IDOT Aeronautics Director Susan Shea reported erroneous information to attendees of an economic forum whose members happen to be rabidly in favor of the project. A Southtown Star reporter simply quoted Shea in a story without verifying the truth to her statements. The story was picked up by the Chicago Sun Times, which owns the Southtown Star. The result was a second story refuting the first. The second story quoted IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell when he explained that FAA approval is a long way off. Ironically Tridgell is a former transportation reporter for the Southtown Star.

Read the complete explanation here.

Watching the process of a third airport during the past 27 years, I've seen much of this misinformation passed along from person to person like an old-fashioned game of Telephone--you know--where one person tells another person something and they tell another, and so on, always embellishing the story along the way.

That is what has happened here. It might explain why the project didn't end years ago. Rumors, lies, and innuendos have kept propping it up. Thank goodness the Internet allows a better accounting of who says what and to whom.

All the while, the people who live in the vicinity of this proposed airport continue to be victims of all those lies and innuendos, usually at the hand of government officials and their employees.

Mr. Allen should write a retraction in his publication stating that the proposed airport has not been approved by the FAA.
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