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Your Doubting Thomas on WGN Radio!

I had another opportunity to be on WGN Radio last Saturday discussing Chicago politics.  This time, rather than being in a nervous haze for 30 minutes, I had a whole lot of fun.  Many thanks to Amy Guth and Alex Quigley for having me on again. 

If you didn’t get to hear it, please feel free to take a listen here: http://www.wgnradio.com/shows/chicagonow/wgnam-chicagonow-thomas10210,0,7005773.mp3file

And please check out Your Doubting Thomas on ChicagoNow: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/your-doubting-thomas/

AND don’t forget to vote!  Election Day is 24 days away!

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Your Doubting Thomas on WGN Radio

Last Saturday morning was much more fun than I normally have at 9:00am, which I suppose can be a commentary on my life, but rather is because I was on WGN’s ChicagoNow radio with Amy Guth and Alex Quigley.  We spent my time discussing Proposition 8 and Illinois pension reform. 

Although I was nervous the entire 30 minutes, it was a great time.  The two things I was trying to accomplish were a) don’t swear and b) don’t sound like an idiot.  I know I didn’t swear. 

Special thanks to Amy Guth and Alex Quigley from making me feel comfortable and gently prodding bits of information from me.  Congratulations and good luck goes out to caller Betty from Michigan and her son on his recent marriage. 

Feel free to listen to the interview here:

http://www.wgnradio.com/shows/chicagonow/

Remember, you can visit Your Doubting Thomas on ChicagoNow at:

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/your-doubting-thomas/

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YourDoubtingThomas picked up by ChicagoNow.com!

I’ve had a great time publishing yourdoubtingthomas.com for the last nine months.  Just when YourDoubtingThomas was starting to gain some traction, it was picked up by ChicagoNow.com, a group of Chicago blogs managed by the Chicago Tribune.   I am very happy to have the opportunity to write under the umbrella of ChicagoNow.com and look forward to having our voices heard by more people.   Please find YourDoubtingThomas at the following web address:

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/your-doubting-thomas/

Other than ChicagoNow.com, ChicagoNow bloggers can be found in The Red Eye (a Chicago Tribune publication) and on ChicagoNow Radio on WGN720AM.   I’m very much looking forward to the opporunity provided by ChicagoNow. 

For the time being, I plan to continue using YourDoubtingThomas.com to announce how the blog is doing on ChicagoNow from time to time.   Although there is content up on my ChicagoNow page, it will take time to figure out the bugs of the system.  I expect my ChicagoNow page to be as great as this one in roughly two weeks.  Again thank you very much for following and  please come see me on at http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/your-doubting-thomas/

Your,

Brian “Doubting” Thomas

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Illinois: the worst credit risk in the United States

Our empty Illinois Capital

I suppose it shouldn’t matter to me anymore. That our state is completely in the red and no elected official is doing anything about it. This page is becoming a broken record: “Hey legislators– we’re in a fiscal mess here, do you want to pitch in and do something about it?”

Attached is a frightening article by Josh Barro published on RealClearPolitics.com:

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2010/06/22/is_illinois_the_new_california_98528.html

It is a long article but a must read (skim it as I highlight the more troubling parts). According to one indicator, Illinois is now a worse credit risk than California. Worse than the country of Turkey. That’s right, Turkey’s bond issuance has a better rating than the state of Illinois.

Here’s the part of the article I found most troubling:

What is Illinois doing that has the markets so nervous? A few months back, I explored the issue, noting that Illinois doesn’t face many of the challenges that typify “states in peril.” Unlike California, Illinois cannot blame its budget woes on a particularly volatile revenue system or on outsize exposure to the housing bubble. Illinois’s crisis is unique in that it is purely a creature of mismanagement by elected officials.

Typical Illinois legislator

So now I am going to do something different. Here is the link to the Illinois General Assembly:  http://www.ilga.gov/ Here is the governor’s contact information (email) ttp://www.illinois.gov/gov/contactthegovernor.cfm Please find your state representative and state senator and send this post (or Mr. Barro’s article) to your elected officials, including Governor Quinn, along with a little note: “what the heck are you guys doing?” Enough is enough, right? Unless you’re planning on moving out of state, take two minutes to cut and paste job.

 

IS ILLINOIS THE NEW CALIFORNIA?

By Josh Barro

If you go to Sacramento this week, don’t be surprised to hear champagne corks popping and chants of “We’re #2! We’re #2!” The cause for celebration? Illinois has overtaken California as the worst credit risk among American states. Read more »

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Give Forrest Claypool a chance!

Forrest Claypool

The Chicago Tribune is on the Forrest Claypool bandwagon.  Usually, I am wary of a newspaper openly endorsing a candidate that is not even on the ballot– let alone pushing the candidate on us.  However, in Chicago, unfortunately, a newspaper pushing a better choice than the status quo is down right necessary.  Joe Berrios, the democratic choice we’re left with for Cook County Assessor, is no choice at all.  He is part of the Madigan/Daley machine, who feeds the machine and the people who work for it, rather than the average citizen.   In short: Joe Berrios is bad for Cook County.  Another choice for assessor– Forrest Claypool–  is what the county needs.  Although Mr. Claypool is not an  “independent” voice, he certainty doesn’t closely align with the most powerful man in the state, Mike Madigan. 

Here is what the Chicago Tribune’s editorial page had to say on June 17, 2010, about Forrest Claypool and Joe Berrios:

GIVE CLAYPOOL A CHANCE

Come Election Day, voters need to make sure Democratic candidate Joseph Berrios and his cronies don’t win the key to the office of Cook County assessor. One way to thwart Berrios & Friends is to make sure independent candidate Forrest Claypool gets on the ballot. Claypool needs to amass signatures before Monday so he can meet the deadline for filing his petitions with election officials. Read more »

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The Pope loves The Blues Brothers!

“The Ten Commandments”  Remember that movie?  The one where Charlton Heston plays Moses and parts the Red Sea?   A pretty dramatic movie.  It comes on ABC every Easter and I’m usually glued to the television watching it

I didn’t know that The Ten Commandments was endorsed by the Vatican.   But I can see why it was– its an important, well made movie of religious and historical significance. 

The Blues Brothers with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd might be of historical significance to a Chicagoan, but to The Pope?

The movie which begins with a scene where Jake and Elwood Blues could not stop cursing in front of a nun affectionately referred to as “The Penguin” as she beats them with a ruler?  Apparently for the Pope, The Blues Brothers is a must see movie for Catholics. 

On the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, “L’Osservatore Romano,” the Vatican’s official newspaper, called the film a “Catholic classic” and said it should be recommended viewing for Catholics everywhere.

Seriously.   http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=10937328

Now, don’t get me wrong.  The Blues Brothers is one of my favorite movies.   The scene at Ray’s Music Emporium?  Classic.  See Ray Charles perform “Shake It”   Or Aretha Franklin singing ”Think” to Matt “Guitar” Murphy?  See Aretha Franklin perform “Think”  Even if the movie was not based in Chicago, I’d love it.  Its hilarious and the music’s great.  I just never imagined that I could sit around with the Pope, microwave some popcorn, crack a couple Old Styles and watch The Blues Brothers. 

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The Circus is in Town!

Tragically, we do not have the Blackhawks to distract us from the Cubs and Sox– or the circus, which is in town at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. 

Scott Stantis cartoon from June 3, 2010, Chicago Tribune

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Illinois: The Deadbeat State

June 15th. Many people who work for a living were paid on June 15th.  My wife was not one of them. She’s not unemployed, nor does she volunteer her time. No, much worse: She works for a entity that has a contract with the State of Illinois. The State of Illinois has not paid that company for its services, services which have been provided and will continue to be provided. That company has run out of money as its client– the State of Illinois– has not paid its bill according to the contract. Therefore, that company– who has lived up to the terms under the contract– is not able to pay its employees.

But these employees still go to work. The theory behind going to work and not getting paid is that once the state pays its bill, the employees will get paid. This happened last year around this time. My wife worked for roughly eight weeks without getting paid. We started to question whether it was smart to continue going to work and not getting paid. Eight weeks of work without getting paid.

The state did eventually pay its bill and my wife did get her back pay. But the problem remains: The State of Illinois is not paying its bills. In the abstract, its too bad even or embarrassing that we live in a deadbeat state. Is Dan Hynes not answering his office telephone because he’s getting collection calls?

Last week, I wrote the following:

Back in December 2009, Dan Hynes also noted that Illinois had $5.1 billion– read that again, $5.1 billion– in unpaid bills. And that number did not include the $2.25 billion in short-term loans the state had to repay, plus the additional $1.4 billions (again that word: billion) in unpaid health care bills, and Illinois effective backlog was over $8.75 billion.

 $5.1 billion in unpaid bills.

In the abstract, $5.1 billion in unpaid bills is embarrassing to citizens of the deadbeat state, however, when a family loses income, it can be devastating. My family is fortunate, having two incomes and a safety net, however, many other families are not so lucky. Think about a sole provider not bringing home a paycheck for eight weeks. The rent or mortgage that doesn’t get paid. The car note that doesn’t get paid. Using credit cards to but groceries. Still paying for childcare. Not getting paid is devastating.

And where are our legislators? Not in Springfield doing the job that we pay then to do– I wonder if they are collecting their checks?– but rather back home raising funds for the November election.

I didn’t have the opportunity to contact my state representative and state senator today to see what they are doing to get these $5.1 billion in unpaid bills paid, but I intend to do so. I also intend on asking whether they are being paid for their “work”, when other Illinoisans are working without getting a check, waiting for them, ironically, to do their job.

It just doesn’t seem right. And unfortunately, far too things just don’t seem right with respect to our state. And our legislators, from the governor on down, just aren’t doing enough to change that feeling I have.

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One Great Chicago Weekend!

The Blackhawks take the Stanley Cup to Tavern on Rush for dinner

Since the circus takes a day off today at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, I figured we’d enjoy this great weekend forgetting, if only for the weekend,  the shady, and probably illegal, political deals we heard testimony about Thursday. 

This weekend is arguably this year’s best weekend with all the activities going on around town.   

First, and most importantly, there is a victory parade Friday morning starting at 10:30am, beginning at the corners of Washington and Wacker downtown.  The parade will work its way east on Washington to Michigan Avenue and then work its way north to Wacker and Michigan where there will be a rally.  Good times; the word is hundreds of thousands of people will be out for the parade and rally.  The good news for me: my office is two blocks away from the rally.  The bad news for me: my office is two blocks from the rally. 

And again note what an awesome city we live in.  The Blackhawks went on a little tour of the city with the Cup like we were in small town America.  Little kids asked to hug it: no problem, said the Hawks.  Jonathan Toews didn’t go to sleep Wednesday night/Thursday morning and ate at Ann Sathers right as the morning rush hour began.  He signed autographs and sat unfazed by the rush of people near him.   These hockey players were out amongst us– the fans– all day allowing us to share in the celebration and meet Lord Stanley’s Cup.  It certainly is refreshing.  We have to thank the Hawks for not only winning the Cup, but sharing it with the city, as much as they could less than 24 hours after they won the thing. 

The parade only starts the weekend.  Cubs/Sox starts at 1:20pm at Wrigley and continues on the northside for a three game set.  I wonder how many people will be in the stands at 1:20 Friday?  The good thing for fans of both teams: somebody has to win. 

The one thing the baseball teams have in common this year is that their fans are singing the Blues– so after the game, you might want to get to Grant Park to see the Chicago Blues Festival, which starts Friday. 

Andersonville’s Midsommerfest also kicks off Saturday.  This street fest is always a treat, as its held on what I think is the best mile of restaurants in the city.  To taste some of the food get on up to Clark Street north of Foster. 

For all of the bibliophiles out there, the Printer’s Row Book Fair also starts Saturday morning down in Printers’ Row– this event runs all day Saturday and Sunday and is one of my favorite events the city has to offer.   Probaby millions of books for sale.  I’m looking forward to spending some time on South Dearborn this weekend. 

Chicago Ribfest is also this weekend in NorthCenter.  That should draw over 50,000 people at the corners of Irving Park, Damen & Lincoln. 

 

And don’t forget the Old Town Art Fair!  Yet another great event. 

http://www.oldtowntriangle.com/fair/general_information/index.html

 Have a great weekend and get out there and enjoy yourself.   Too much to do this weekend to stay at home. 

And don’t worry, we’ll get back to politics next week.  But until then, let’s actually enjoy ourselves.

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“It’s The Chicago Blackhawks Man!”

 

Congratulations to the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks!  Lord Stanley comes to Chicago!

I’ll admit, I’m a bandwagon guy.  So, first I want to give a big congratulations to all the fans who were watching long before the bandwagon started rolling.  Congratulations.   It didn’t hit me until watching the postgame and saw Chicago Blackhawk legend Jeremy Roenick doing the postgame on NBC’s national telecast.  Watching JR reminded me of the importance of the Chicago Blackhawks and of our city.  Tonight, JR congratulated a kid who was crying when he came off the ice after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992.  After 18 years, JR remembered him and congratulated him and the city.  Then he did what no commentator does on national television.  He cried. 

Another annoucer, Dan Patrick, asked him: “You’re emotional.”

JR: Absolutely. 

DP: Why’s it affecting you?

JR: (visably emotional) It’s the Chicago Blackhawks man. 

An emotional Jeremy Roenick after Hawks win the Stanley Cup

Thanks JR., for showing some heart.  Thanks for the reminder, on national television, of how important this team and this city is.  Congratulations Blackhawks; Congratulations Rocky; Congratulations Chicago!

Its a nice not not have to hear and think about Blago, Quinn and the rest of them for a couple days.

Go see Lord Stanley, get to the Parade Friday!

Thank you, Rocky!

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