Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Convicted Jesse Jackson, Jr. finally going to jail

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson and his wife Sandi
are both going to jail
Today, a judge sentenced ex-Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. to 30 months in prison for his misuse of campaign funds. His wife, a former Chicago alderman was also sentenced to 12 months, also for misuse of funds. The couple has been convicted of squandering $750,000.

While many saw Jackson as a rising political star, others of us have seen him doing far more than ripping off campaign funds. Yet, his other deeds have not even been broached in a courtroom, nor will they likely ever be.

Jackson's behavior is systemic. His biggest failing is that he would stop at nothing to make himself look good. It is a shame too, because he is bright, well-read, articulate, and could have become an influential congressman. He chose otherwise.

I once had respect for the Jackson family until I learned how they would use anyone or anything to advance themselves. I believe Jackson's father began his Civil Rights work for the right reason, but quickly learned to scam the system. Apparently, so did his children.

The deed that is particularly close to me began when Jesse Jackson, Jr. teamed up with an unlikely partner, the late Congressman Henry Hyde, (R-Wood Dale) to reignite the state's dead effort to build a new airport south of Chicago in the cornfields of eastern Will County. The South Suburban Airport (Peotone Airport) had been advanced by the State of Illinois for 45 years in its latest quest. In actuality a new airport was first proposed in the 1960's. It is amazing that the wrong-headed effort continues today, perpetuated by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Prior to Jackson's involvement, the airport was dead; it was killed in the early 1990's after Illinois Republicans' vigorous last-ditch effort failed to garner enough political support. In 1992 a bi-state panel voted against building an airport in a rural area. In particular, they opposed building a new airport near Peotone. The effort was revived by former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, (R-IL) two years later, despite a growing lack of interest.

Then along came Jackson, a new up-and-coming black leader who was enthusiastic, well-spoken, and charismatic. His well-known last name didn't hurt at all. Jackson's enthusiasm brought new vitality to the effort. He didn't flinch as he used his own constituents' reputation as some of the poorest communities in Illinois, as he offered them false hope for economic vitality and the jobs they so desperately needed, even after the project was downsized from three times the size of O'Hare International to a mere one runway facility.

When Illinois elected former Secretary of State George Ryan as governor, now a convicted felon recently released from prison, Ryan urged IDOT to buy land in the vicinity of the airport, though not in the airport footprint. It began a groundswell of fear resulting in long time farmers and landowners selling their land to the state. They feared they had no other choice. The state bought up as much as it could.

Jackson was able to light a spark that finally caught fire when the unlikely team began to have an effect. He and Hyde drew upon their mutual dislike and distrust for Chicago's aviation prowess. Soon the effort to push an unnecessary airport was revived by Jackson and his unlikely friends.

Using some of the same histrionics that caused Jackson to spend campaign cash and become a convicted felon, Jackson convinced some of those poor communities to contribute to what had become his obsession--the Peotone Airport. Those poor communities ponied up dollars for billboards, marketing efforts, and whatever else that might convince Ryan's successor, then Gov. Rod Blagojevich, another Illinois governor whose above-the-law behavior landed him behind bars, to support the project. Much to Blagojevich's credit however, he didn't give in to Jackson who continued to promise jobs and economic development to the beleaguered communities in Chicago's southern suburbs.

Once Ryan was in jail, the Peotone Airport became a Democrat-led undertaking, with Jackson taking the lead. Even after Hyde died in 2007, Jackson persisted, by working with Hyde cronies in the western suburbs. They were united in their disdain for Chicago and its hold on O'Hare. The many efforts by O'Hare-area mayors over the years to wrest control of O'Hare failed. Chicago's opposition to another new airport 40 miles south of downtown was the Peotone Airport's biggest roadblock. Thus it was likely the biggest incentive for Jackson to make it happen.

Then, Jackson let his ego and lust for power guide his actions. There was nothing he couldn't accomplish, so he thought. Apparently that included his personal life. He set up his wife Sandi, the ex-Chicago alderman who was also sentenced today, in a well-funded campaign office. He continued fundraising.

Jackson apparently thought he could do better as a U.S. Senator. So when Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was elected President, Jackson tried to get Blagojevich to appoint him to Obama's vacant senate seat. Jackson allegedly tried to buy the position by offering Blagojevich favors and campaign cash. Apparently it was Jackson that went to the feds about Blagojevich's activities. But his own dealings, particularly in buying Obama's senate seat became fodder for investigation as well. He was named one of the most corrupt members in congress. He faced ethics violations. His house of cards began to tumble.

Yet none of that was covered in Jackson's recent conviction. When sentenced, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson indicated that Jackson, as a U.S. Congressman, should have been held to a higher standard. She said he violated the public trust.

Everything I have seen about Jackson, violated the public trust. From his teaming up with Hyde to participate in Illinois' pay-to-play system, to lying to his colleagues about the location of the proposed airport that was not even in his congressional district at the time, to completely misleading his own constituents for which he provided false hope that an airport miles and miles from their communities would be a benefit to them.

It is just too bad the charges against Jesse Jackson, Jr. couldn't be all inclusive of all of his misdeeds. Only then would justice really be served.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food Network owes Paula Deen an apology

English: The logo of Food Network.
English: The logo of Food Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a Food Network viewer for almost as many years as it has been on the air, I am appalled that it would fire Paula Deen over her so-called racist remarks. This is not the same Food Network that taught me how to slice onions and dice tomatoes with my butcher knife or demonstrate the ease of preparing fresh, whole food. I'm grateful to the early days of the Food Network that introduced me to cooks like Sara Moulton, Emeril Lagassee, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay, and of course Paula Deen.

I was moved by Deen's story. She is beyond a doubt, a likable character who has always had an infectious charm about her. But beyond that, she epitomized the strong, successful women whose first priority was to raise her children and to make a living. Paula Deen had to have a little luck on her side too along with a savvy business sense, because she not only achieved her goals, but turned her ideas into a virtual empire. Now, it is coming crashing down for no good reason.                                                                                                       The Paula Deen story, that has unfolded on the pages of network news, in social media, and across the tabloids is not about the woman I have watched for years on television. The woman I've come to know is not at all hateful, yet she is accused of being a racist. The motive behind such an accusation would require hatred. Paula Deen just doesn't seem to fit the bill.
Now, I will admit; I don't personally know the woman. I simply know her image. I know the personality she projects. She could be one way on camera and another way in real life. But, I don't think that is the case. 

This isn't even a credible news story

What I have heard and read about this case which has focused on Paula Deen, is not a complete story and should have never gone beyond tabloid status. While on that subject, something should be done to regulate tabloids that print whatever they feel like, whether it is credible or not. It does a terrible disservice to the subjects of its rants and to the gullible reading public. What was even far worst was how mainstream media grabbed onto this story to further sensationalize a non-story story much the way it grabs all things these days. Mainstream media isn't much better than the tabloids. Sadly, our society is paying the price. 

As a reader, I'd like to know more about Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff in this case. What is her motive? Is it just money? Was she really wronged? I read some of her deposition. She might have a case, but I doubt it. This reads more like a story of two kids getting into some battle on the playground; one goes to tattle to the teacher; the other enlists mommy for help. There are real problems that must be solved in the courts. This kind of foolishness isn't one of them. It wastes time and tax dollars and is frivolous at best.

It appears to me that Jackson has little legal leg to stand on. And, she has hired a bully of a lawyer. Paula Deen Enterprises is a lucrative business and has plenty of money. The thing is, Paula Deen isn't even the principle in the complaint. This is about her brother, for whom she is very loyal. He owns a restaurant  which she financed. He owes her thousands of dollars. Lisa Jackson worked for him. 

If I had to categorize this case, I would say that Deen's brother drinks a little too much; when he does he has a big mouth. I don't believe him to be a criminal. If he has a problem, perhaps a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings would be in order. Or, perhaps seeing how much this has harmed his big sister may be enough to shake him into sobriety.

Is racism defined by name-calling now?

Deen may be living the life of a sophisticate, but I doubt that is who she really is. She was likely intimidated by the legal process for which she found herself entangled. Knowing she must tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, that is probably why she admitted freely that she had used the term 'nigger' in the past. She is right in asking, who hasn't? Since when did speaking a mere word signify a criminal behavior? 

That is one more thing that this case should highlight. Using the word 'nigger' isn't nice. But in itself, it is not a crime. IT IS A WORD! That is all it is. What is most important in determining whether or not a crime was committed is the motive behind it. If it is used in a hate crime, that has a very different connotation. That is probably why RAP artists are not arrested every time they use the word 'nigger' in a song. 

Perhaps we can all take a lesson here. Name-calling is not high on the priority list of things wrong with the world. If you know who you are, why do you care what others think of you? Why worry about what someone calls you? Chances are they are the one with the problem; not you. In my day, we called that developing a thick skin. If you just worry about yourself; don't let yourself be affected by someone that wants to demean or discredit you. You must know better. Be confident in who you are. Chances are if someone wants to call you names, they are just trying to bring you down to their level. Just don't let them get away with it. Be better than that. We need to solve our petty problems among ourselves. Things like this do not belong in the courts.

Food Network, you have done yourself a disservice. At the very least, you owe Paula Deen an apology.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Jesse and Sandi Jackson blew it

English: Sandi Jackson and Jesse Jackson
Jesse and Sandi Jackson in happier times. The two now await sentencing when they pleaded guilty for misusing campaign funds. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Finally, it appears as though Jesse Jackson, Jr. will be headed to prison. Such a shame! This kid had it all; everything was in his favor. He was smart, capable, had a familial lineage to fall back on. He could really have done some good as a U.S. Congressman. But instead of working for his constituents, he used the office to feather his own nest. Like so many, he just got too big for his britches. It is that simple. He got lazy and started believing all the hype. He thought he was a celebrity. It all went to his head.

Amazingly, even though he is now a convicted felon, he is still trying to call the shots. First he wanted to keep his records sealed. The man suffers from the delusion that he is still a congressman, where anything goes and the public is merely in the way of doing business. A judge ruled against him.

Then he decided he wanted to serve his sentence before that of his wife Sandi, who was also convicted of improper campaign cash spending. Doesn't Jesse get it? He is a convicted felon. He doesn't get to call the shots. This is jail; not the country club, even though in his case, his incarceration will more closely resemble a country club than solitary confinement.

The thing that bothers me about this and all other cases like it, ahem, ex-Illinois Gov. George Ryan. The conviction is a mere sampling of the wrongdoing that has actually taken place. It never includes all the dastardly deeds committed. If it did, the investigation would take much longer, but the perpetrators would likely be locked up for good. Instead, we have finite sentences, probably resulting in early release for good behavior, yada, yada, yada.

In Jesse's case, his self-over-all-others lifestyle harmed people along the way, deprived them of their livelihoods, and in some cases, destroyed lives. Why is he not paying for that? Why is a little $750,000 in campaign cash more important than that?

Perhaps we should be grateful that he is no longer in congress; no longer making decisions to benefit himself; making decisions for which we all must pay. My only hope is that he spends lots of time thinking about what good he could have done. Perhaps a different man will emerge on the other side. At least that is my hope.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, June 7, 2013

Letter to the editor and response--Peotone Airport legislation

Letter to the Editor: by Herbert Brooks, Jr. Will County Board Speaker

Herbert Brooks, Jr., Will County
June 7, 2013

To the Editor:

At the end of the legislative session, Springfield lawmakers quickly and quietly passed Senate Bill 20, giving governance to the South Suburban Airport to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

This legislation runs contrary to the established positions of the Will County Board. Furthermore, the legislation was moved forward without the opportunity for a comprehensive review and discussion of its merits.

Nevertheless, I believe it is vitally important for Will County to remain fully engaged in the development process to ensure that it is transparent, responsible, and respectful of our county’s residents. If managed effectively, the airport can be an economic engine for Will County and the whole state of Illinois. However, if the process is mismanaged, those of us that call this county home will suffer the most. Therefore, the Board is moving forward with a full and thorough analysis of the bill and will schedule public meetings to reveal our findings and make recommendations. We are hopeful the Governor, IDOT, and our elected officials will listen and strongly consider our concerns.


Herbert Brooks, Jr.
Speaker of the Will County Board


I appreciate Herbert Brooks, Jr. taking the time to comment on SB20 with regard to the Peotone Airport.
I have never agreed with the Will County Board's position on the proposed Peotone Airport. Will County officials have, since the inception of the project in 1985, to play both sides against the middle, seeking whatever potential economic impact possible at the expense of so many voices of opposition. It isn't just the people of eastern Will County that oppose the airport. Surveys have indicated that a majority of residents of Will County oppose it. The airline industry opposes it. Only those that stand to benefit monetarily by it favor its development.
That said, I agree with the speaker's desire to ensure transparency, responsibility, and respect for the residents of Will County. However, I must caution him that such behavior has never been associated with this project. 
I applaud his call for a full analysis of the bill as well as public hearings, which voting members of the State of Illinois have foregone. I too hope state officials will listen to what Will County has to say.
It must be made clear that Brooks, Jr. has been a member of the county board only since 2008, so my comments are not directed at him. But prior to his time on the board, the Will County Board has done none of those things he suggested. In fact, the Will County Board has done just the opposite, with just a few board member exceptions. 
After devoting so many years to my own study of the proposed Peotone Airport, I wish the speaker good luck in trying to do the right thing. However, I urge caution, since IDOT has a very long history of not listening to anyone that disagrees with its views.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Illinois government rejoices over its 'duh' moment

News reports now indicate that a major hurdle has been cleared to make way for the Peotone Airport. The House and Senate have approved legislation, as part of a whole package of pork, to pave the way for a public/private partnership to build the once-named third airport at Peotone. IDOT (Illinois Dept. of Transportation) will be the governing body. IDOT will hire a developer to build the new airport some 40 miles south of Chicago. All that is needed is the signature from Gov. Pat Quinn. That is pretty much a given since he seems positively elated about it all. This is so much for fun for Quinn than paying the state's bills and honoring promises made to state workers. 

This is just another chess move by the state that can't even capture the queen, let alone checkmate the king. It really isn't much of a revelation. In fact it is little more than a "duh" moment. IDOT has been pushing, sometimes all by itself, the Peotone Airport idea since the latest round of talks first began, twenty-eight years ago. The notion of a third Chicago-area airport has been on the table far longer, since the late 1960's. IDOT has tried to get the airport to become a reality through every means possible, but always to no avail. The thing is, it is not a very smart idea, and does not have widespread support. Even the airlines are against it. 

So now, we are to believe giving IDOT control is clearing a major hurdle? 

No Airport at Peotone
Farmland speaks to the sentiment of eastern Will County
residents who for years have said NO AIRPORT!
While it is true, this is the first time legislation has actually been approved to build the project, it hasn't even been cleared for takeoff by the FAA, (Federal Aviation Administration). That approval is up to two years away, if it comes at all. 

IDOT has used all of its dirty tricks, including taking private property through eminent domain. A Will County Court claims there is nothing wrong with taking some of the best farmland in the state, decimating a once thriving farming community, and making big plans for an airport that has never been deemed doable or desirable. It would have been interesting to see an unbiased verdict in a courtroom not in Will County where deals have been made for years on behalf of this project and the political figures involved. 

This new round of legislation awaiting Quinn's ready hand, is making the taking even more of a nightmare for property and farm advocates. The legislation authorizes quick take--the state's buy now, pay later plan. 

There is no revelation here. Giving IDOT authority over airport governance is akin to hitting someone in the head with a two-by-four. They can only fight for so long. Do it long enough and they will eventually crumple into a pile of dead flesh and simply taken away. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 31, 2013

Anonymous comments no more; Anonymous protester encouraged!

anonymous (Photo credit: the|G|™)
Anonymous comments have never held much weight with me. I have long believed that if you care enough to formulate an opinion, you should be proud enough of it to put your name to it.

Therefore, I am no longer allowing anonymous comments on my blogs. You don't want to identify who you are, you no longer exist in my world, no matter how much you compliment my superb writing skills and excellent points. Besides, I'd like to thank you if you really mean it.

Most times though, posts that sound too good to be true usually are. Flattery will not get your link out there, especially when it has to do with selling pharmaceuticals, enhancing your penis, or inviting views of your ample breasts. I'm pretty tired of all you people.

That said, I would be honored to receive a visit from Anonymous, the guy wearing the above mask, the internet version of Robin Hood. I like that guy! He can comment on my blog anytime. When it comes to protesting evil for the sake of good, I'm all in!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Peace must be built on truth nurtured by reality

Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial
Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial (Photo credit: AnubisAbyss)
Once again, life in our seemingly peaceful nation has been shattered. This has to stop. Perhaps it would if we could just start being honest with ourselves. Perhaps we aren't living in a peaceful nation after all. Perhaps life in 2013 America simply isn't what we perceive it to be. Just like the alcoholic, we must first recognize that we have a problem before we can ever begin to solve it.

One thing is for sure--our problems will not be solved by censorship--not by the media and certainly not by our elected officials. The notion that a few have the authority to 'protect' the rest of us is just, plain wrong. We are all in this together. Give us the information and we will make our own sense of things. 

People should have choices. If some want to live in a bubble where life is beautiful all the time, so be it. They have that option to simply turn off their television sets, not read newspapers, and not contribute anything to the life we all share on this planet. Personally, I think that is irresponsible, but that's just me.

It has been nearly two full weeks since the Boston Marathon bombing and I am still trying to sort out how I feel about it. I know I want my psyche to forget the images I've seen. I don't want to revisit them  uninvited in my sleep or during quiet moments. I don't want to close my eyes and see a person grimacing in pain, dazed by the horror of seeing his own legs ripped apart from a bomb blast. I don't want to see a bloody sidewalk where lives were lost on what began as a pleasant spring day. I don't want to witness the face of an attractive young man only to learn that his is the face of a terrorist bent on killing innocent people. I don't want to hear the deafening explosion that changed lives forever or the cries of the wounded. I don't want to hear the hail of gunfire on a suburban street in a seemingly civilized country. But that was the reality of April 15, 2013 in Boston. 

What I want is for these kinds of things to never happen again; I want no one to ever have to suffer. Reality has been much too ugly of late, but it doesn't have to stay that way if we all work together to change it.

As much as I deplore the raw scenes I hate seeing, I know they were necessary to convey the story--a story that must be told. If we are ever going to change today's reality, we have to be inspired to change. There is no denying that we were inspired to catch and punish the perpetrators. Like darkness brings light; our pain must bring about our peace. 

News isn't always pretty, but it is reflective of life, which isn't always pretty either. So just what kind of responsibility does the news media have to present information to the public? That question has been made much more difficult with the advent of cell phone cameras and social media where everyone thinks they are a journalist. The phenomenon has even been given a name--citizen journalism. I'm here to tell you that everybody isn't a journalist. Everybody isn't a photographer. Most of the people driven to play Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are more akin to the National Inquirer than the New York Times. Don't quit your day job folks--even good journalists are out of work these days.

How to handle graphic images are just one more topic for the staff in newsrooms across the media spectrum. Their decisions are compounded by knowing the images will be caught on somebody's cell phone and posted on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. Raw footage is hard to compete with, so some professionals don't bother trying. 

Some get around it by completely doctoring images to make them appear less violent. Isn't that dishonest? In my view, that is a cowardly and untrustworthy manipulation. It shows a complete lack responsibility and shows no respect for its audience.   

Other more professional journalists might consider cropping such images, artfully, while not taking away from the story that needs to be told. I believe that is honest. Even knowing that images are available, if I ran a newsroom, I would never try to compete with on-the-scene photographs. If professional journalism is ever going to stand above the online picture-takers, there is going to have to be an adherence to trust, accuracy, and all the other tenets of journalism that have earned credibility. 

I think we need to have it both ways. I believe the truth can be conveyed without quite so much shock value, yet this incident took place in full view of thousands of people who were horrified by them. Telling a news story is to convey that horror to viewers and readers. Often times the words can be just as telling as the pictures, as was evident during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012 when 20 first graders and six adults who worked at the school were assassinated by a crazed gunman. Pictures of the tiny bodies were not seen, but the horror was just as palpable. 

For me, the bottom line is that news must never be censored, even if photographs depicting the reality of a scene are considered offensive by some. 

The same is true for suggestive images or specific words. Network television is the worst. I am here to tell you there is no need to protect us from the things that we see and hear everyday. 

One thing that comes to my mind about censorship and the lengths the media will go, is the time delay on live television ever since Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction' during the half-time show at the Super Bowl a few years ago. The network went half crazy because Janet Jackson's boob was seen on television. Everybody has boobs. We've all seen them. What is the big deal? 

Then there are those seven dirty words the late, great George Carlin talked about. Have you heard what kids say on the playground lately? We now use the term 'f-bomb.' Oh please, can we grow up now? 

I'm not sure just what it says about a society that will accept seeing a man's extremities blown to bits, but Janet Jackson's boob better not be out there for public consumption. Except that it is! Just google it. We cannot say 'fuck' on television, but we can sing it in songs? 

Our society needs to grow up. If we cannot solve these little things, how are we supposed to be able to keep ourselves safe from people who want to do us harm? 

I think our first task is to recognize there is indeed a problem. Before we start worrying about other people, we need to look to ourselves. The very least we can do is attempt to be honest with ourselves. And by all means, let's keep it real.
Enhanced by Zemanta