Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“Obama: World is Safer After Nuclear Summit.”
“Future of space exploration and Obama's visit to KSC (Kennedy Space Center) topics of April Forum Club luncheon.”
“Obama talks up Earth Day 2010.”
“Obama Salutes Retiring Supreme Court Justice Stevens.”

This is just a mini sampling of the headlines I’ve seen this week in regards to President Obama. The list of issues and deeds he faced in the past few days alone is daunting. And now, Obama heads to Poland to help that country mourn the loss of its president, Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash.

It’s a mad world for President Obama, filled with problem solving, tasks, and decision making, and I understand that. But I have an issue that I didn’t read the one headline I really wanted to see and didn’t: “Obama throws out first pitch at White Sox opener.”

It has been a while since the president has been home to support his once beloved city and team, the Chicago White Sox. But besides that, what he did last week was not a hit with me. Right there, for all the world to see, Obama sported a red Washington Nationals jacket (gasp) as he threw out the team’s ceremonial opening pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies April 5.

A Washington Nationals jacket? Say what? OK, even though Obama also donned a nice black White Sox cap, his outfit tells me he’s halfway into making the Nationals his new favorite team. Watch and see, next year, he’ll be in full Nationals gear, and the Sox will be a distant memory, and then we’ll all be calling him a Benedict Arnold. I can see him now, walking around the White House humming his new words to that old White Sox theme song…”Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, kiss me good-bye.”

But was Obama really a true fan to begin with anyway? He had a tough time that day naming his favorite White Sox player when asked who it was by former Sox Pitcher Rob Dibble, now a broadcaster. Obama totally danced around Dibble’s question and Dibble didn’t press the issue, I’m sure not wanting to toembarrass the president of the United States. Obama also skated around the question by admitting he even likes the Cubs! Talk about being smooth at changing a subject.

So as you can see by the week’s headlines, Obama has spent beaucoup time talking about a lot of important world issues. But one thing he didn’t talk too much about was his once-beloved White Sox, nor his seemingly all-but-forgotten hometown.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man in the mirror ...

I wonder what Gov. Pat Quinn thinks when he looks at himself in the mirror. Because his budget “scare tactics,” as one person described them, were shameful.
When Quinn unveiled Illinois’ 2011 budget last week, he hit us where us where he knew it would hurt the hardest, with our children. He held education hostage, and basically said we either support a one percent increase in income tax (which is like a 33 percent increase if the tax goes from a flat tax of 3 percent to 4 percent), or, he lays off as many as 17,000 teachers.
Ouch. That hurts. Especially in a school system already taxed, as Illinois’ is. What Quinn proposed will affect every public school child in Illinois. Yet in his speech, Quinn called the 1 percent increase for education “urgent,” and he challenged the General Assembly “to take immediate action to enact the 1 percent for education initiative.”
“We cannot walk away from teaching our kids,” the governor said. “In America, in Illinois, we adults sacrifice some of our present in order to help our children's future. We are custodians of their future.”
That is one of the biggest crocks of bull I’ve ever heard. And I’m old enough to have heard plenty of it from politicians. Is this the guy I want as governor for the next four years? I really have to wonder.
The interesting thing is, both parties, Democrats and Republicans, are pooh-poohing the budget. Rep. Jack Franks D-Woodstock) said he’s “sick” about it. “It’s an absolute mess,” said Franks, who for the last nine years has voted against the budget. “It’s not valid. It’s not real. The system is broken. It needs to change.”
And Sen Dale Risinger (R-Peoria) said the budget Quinn gave last week was “woefully short on a lot of things.”
“I think the budget he gives us will not be anything like the budget we pass,” said Risinger. “It makes detrimental cuts in education but increases Medicaid. I think the General Assembly will probably pass the tax increase, but we’ll probably go back to the drawing board on what we’ll pass.”
Great idea, Senator. And do me a favor, please, and take the governor with you.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Despite the fact that states nationwide are slashing funds for environmental programs, Illinois is “not flush by any stretch,” yet it’s not feeling the same crunch as others when it comes to the environment.
Although Illinois has a budget deficit of about $13 billion, it is not in as bad shape as some other states, but it has definitely felt the sting of hard economic times. Thankfully, the Illinois EPA’s budget will be the same in 2010 and 2011 as it was for 2009, $300 million. At least that’s what the agency’s director, Doug Scott, told me.
Yet the agency will definitely still feel the pinch this year, as it won’t be receiving any general funds, which are monies from sales and income tax. It now has to rely solely on federal funds and money from fees, air and water permits and fines. The number of EPA employees is also down, Scott said.
Which is unfortunate to me, because the Illinois EPA performs so many functions in the state. It is up to the agency not only to make new rules/regulations important to the environment and public health, but it is also a much-needed watchdog. Heck, if it wasn’t for the EPA’s discovery, the folks in Crestwood, Illinois, might still be drinking chemically-tainted water, as it was during a routine inspection that the EPA that discovered the town was diluting its water with well-water, leading to lawsuits, and some very pissed-off residents.
North Dakota and Montana are the only two states starting off the year with a surplus supposedly, and I’d like to know what they’re doing right when other states are shutting down roadside rest areas, cutting education funding, and requiring employee furloughs.
Because I’m told that environmental issues are considered luxury political issues, that they're not really seen as bread and butter, life and death political issues. Funny, but environmental issues, such as tainted drinking water, can be life or death as far as I’m concerned.
Just ask the people in Crestwood , who have lost loved ones due to unusually high levels of carcinogens, or cancer causing chemicals, in the water they drank for years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bitch is Back

The front page of Tuesday’s Sun-Times may have sported the huge headline, “Betty’s Back,” but I knew what they really meant: “The Bitch is Back.”
Yes, former Cicero town president Betty Loren-Maltese is back in town, but she was barely recognizable with her once almost clown-like appearance tamed way down. And her famed fake eye-lashes were hidden behind sunglasses, and her bird’s nest-like, big hairdo, gone.
What happened to the Betty Loren-Maltese we all used to know and love to watch, the outspoken, ballsy woman whose escapades had us cringing? Where was the woman who had donned false eyelashes and flaunted herself in front of TV cameras as if she was the Queen Bee? Where was the self-assured, catch-me-if-you can attitude that Loren-Maltese once sported?
I guess serving six-and-a-half years in prison tamed the savage beast. And now, Loren-Maltese will spend the next four months at a Salvation Army facility, fulfilling the remainder of her sentence for bilking millions of dollars out of the people of Cicero for personal gain and even a few expensive Caddies or two for some of her reputed mobster cronies.
But even though Loren-Maltese is now a convicted felon and defrauded the town for more than $12 mil, she still gets to keep her health insurance. So not only has the town footed the bill for the “Cicero Godmother’s” rip-offs, but they now have to continue to pay for the 60-year-old woman’s health? Seems to me they’re getting ripped-off twice. Good thing Cicero is now considering changing their policy and banning public officials convicted of a felony from drawing health insurance on the taxpayers’ dime.
Loren-Maltese had vowed to clean up the town, but as the Illinois Police & Sheriff’s News put it, she cleaned out the town.
If you ask me, your whole scene has gotten pretty ugly, Betty.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Parks champion arrested at Chicago Plan Commission hearing...

In the midst of testifying his opposition to the south Lincoln Park soccer field before the city’s Plan Commission on Aug. 21, park advocate Peter Zelchenko was removed from the hearing and arrested shortly thereafter. He was charged with disorderly conduct, according to News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli.
Zelchenko---a Lincoln Parker and founding member of Protect Our Park--- was physically forced out of the hearing before being handcuffed. He was calm and not resisting being arrested. He called the arrest, "terribly insensitive, demoralizing and dehumanizing."
"My problem is when a cop says I have to leave and I don't do anything," Zelchenko said. "I do the just thing, not the smart thing."
Zelchenko was testifying before the commission when he addressed 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith and was asked to stick to the issue when trying to use up his allowed three minutes of time. His microphone was shut off and he continued to speak and asked that he be allowed to finish before being removed by Chicago police.
"I'm so tired of the way this city is being run," Zelchenko said. "We have a dictatorship...ot's not fair."
Zelchenko is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 15, at Branch 43, 3150 W. Flournoy. He was released after about six hours.
Solid Impact was on the scene as Zelchnko was arrested, and booked shortly thereafter at 17th and State. As we saw it, there was no reason for his arrest and Chicago cops were pissed off as hell at him. He should have had his three minutes as everyone else, particularily the proponents of the soccer field, did.
More to come and pix shortly.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marina City landmarking....Solid Impact gets the scoop before anyone!

Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd, has requested to the city’s Commission on Landmarks that preliminary landmark designation be started on Marina City, 300 N. State St. The designation would include the corncob-shaped towers as well as the House of Blues, Hotel Sax, and Smith & Wollensky structures.

Reilly said earlier this week he had strong support among the property owners, and that it’s a “little known fact,” the Bertrand Goldberg-designed city within a city---built 1959-64 --- is not already landmarked.

“You’ll find this structure on every snow-globe at O’Hare,” Reilly said. “It’s one of the most high-profile, historical buildings in the city of Chicago.”

Reilly said Marina City was the very first planned development for a mixed-use community with commercial, retail and residential uses all in one self-contained neighborhood. He said his interest in landmarking was sparked when Dick’s Last Resort recently moved in and proposed a small change to allow a garage-style door on its patio.

“I want to preserve the towers and keep that part of downtown’s architectural fabric,” he said.

According to its Web site, Marina City ---which occupies an entire city block--- consists of two 61-story corncob residential towers, a mid-rise hotel building and a saddle-shaped auditorium building, all contained on a raised platform cantilevered over defunct railroad tracks adjacent to the river. Beneath the raised platform at river level is a small marina for boaters, the site says.