Category Archives: finance

>Blagojevich and Jones share “Toad” award

>A civic group with which I am associated, the Public Policy Caucuses, recently presented one of you dubious honor awards to Governor Rod Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones. I thought I would share the press release with you incase you missed the extensive coverage in the press.

Tammany Toad Award to Governor Blagojevich and Senator Jones

The Public Policy Caucuses has presented its dubious honor recognition, the Tammany Toad Award, to Governor Rod Blagojevich and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. According to PPC President Larry Horist, the award is presented to public officials “for extraordinary disservice to the American political system and the tax-paying public.”

Horist said Blagojevich earned the derision of the public for abusing the line-item veto to slash almost $500 million dollars from the state budget, passed by the legislature, in order to fund his unlegislated and unauthorized healthcare plans.

“His action will result in a needless, prolonged and expensive legal battle that will in all likelihood support the overwhelming opinion that the money grabbing veto is not only brazen and contemptible, but unconstitutional. The Governor demonstrates a total lack of appreciation for the legislative process and an arrogance of action that is usually reserved for despots,” Horist charged. In what Horist described as “particularly egregious political crassness,” the governor appeared to target pet projects of his political enemies. “He is using his public office to engage in political warfare,” Horist added.

Jones shares the award for his support of the Governor’s scheme, promising to prevent an override of the veto in the Illinois Senate even though he concedes that the re-appropriation of the funds is probably unconstitutional. Horist said that the award for Jones is based solely on this issue. However, he added, “it appears the Governor is on his way to a life time achievement award in this category.”

-30-

I feel very badly about this. So, I hereby apologize to all the pond-dwelling toads for any slander I may have committed by associating them with the recipients of this award.

Advertisements

>REACT: You can’t “fix” the CTA with money

>Governor Blagojevich has another “Dumbo” scheme to get money to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). I hate to tell Rod, but you cannot really affix wings to an elephant and make it fly.

The governor’s so-called $24 million “bailout” is supposed to prevent the CTA from making highly publicized (read that as politically harmful) cuts in service and increases in fares.

The problem is, it is not a bailout at all. The plan merely advances or loans money from next year’s budget subsidy from the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) to cover the current shortage. This means the fix is a borrowed-band-aid to cover a cancer.

It does not take a rocket scientist or a corporate accountant to figure out that the scheme will only create a $24 million problem for next year’s budget.

There is only one possible fix, but it is something for which government agencies have no talent. It requires cutting fat out of the budget and streamlining operations. It means using technology to reduce payroll. Increasing ridership. The system has to be made to run more efficiently. Yes, more service for less money. Not only is that possible, it is the ONLY way to solve the problem.

Financial “fixes” and “bailouts” are like narcotics. They alleviate the current pain with the foolish belief that some how the dependency and destructiveness will be miraculously resolved in the future In fact, the future problem will be worse.

The governor would believe that the laws of economics can be ignored like Disney’s elephant ignored the laws of physics. The only difference is that Dumbo is a cartoon, and Blago is a joke – a bad one.

>OBSERVATION: Obama a danger to black churches

>

When I served as campaign media guy for Mayor Gene Sawyer’s 1989 attempt to retain his office on the fifth floor of City Hall, it was my pleasure to travel with Hizzoner as he made the Sunday rounds of black churches. It was an all day event.

I say “pleasure” because I am a total fan of black gospel music. I cannot get enough of Mahalia Jackson. Having grown up in the sonorous monotones of Gregorian chant, I find the foot stomping, hand waving, and sweaty swaying of the black Baptist tradition entirely uplifting. In terms of religious preference, I am as black as Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Father Michael Pfleger. Okay … maybe not as black as Pfleger.

Traveling with Sawyer was also politically enlightening. At each stop, Sawyer was presented to the throng in characteristic black minister style, with the over-the-top introduction punctuated with endless audience responses of “amen” and “you tell ’em, bother.”

Typically the minister would praise the good work of the Mayor, remind the audience that he is a “brother.” He would call on the assembled to spread the word to all the neighbors. It was not the word of God he was promoting, but the message of the campaign. Get out and vote “for our man Gene.”

The Mayor would then say a few words about the campaign, the issues, and the need to get out and vote for him. In some cases, a “special collection” was taken to be handed over to one of the Mayor’s aides.

Often during these Sunday services, three little words would pop into my mind – Internal Revenue Service. Clearly, the black churches were grossly violating federal laws governing 501(c)(3) tax exempt institutions. To be tax exempt, you must avoid partisan politics.

Despite this common knowledge, the black ministry has always enjoyed an informal political exemption from the law. Black churches were routinely used by candidates, Republican and Democrat, as political platforms. We were just too politically correct to call in the feds. After a couple hundred years of slavery, and another hundred years of segregation and prejudice, we were entirely too guilt ridden to point an accusatory finger at the black God merchants.

Now cometh, Barack Obama. Obviously, he is the darling of the black ministry. However, he brings more public and media attention to the black churches than any previous candidate – even the Almost Reverend Jesse Jackson. This in turn is raising the questions of propriety and legality to new heights.

Ironically, it is the liberal attack on Jerry Falwell, and the religious right, that will make the case against the liberal and black churches today. Barry Lynn, the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, lead the successful effort to get Falwell’s tax exemption canceled for a couple years. Today this unabashed left-winger is parsing his own eloquent arguments in an incredulously inept defense of churches serving as liberal political platforms. He is trying to sell a difference with out a distinction.