Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Morrissey, Hervey deal gender card to justify unjustifiable raise

This should please fellow-blogger Unmanager: I often speak kindly of this alderman, but I'm going to pick on Venita Hervey a little bit tonight. I still say she has potential, but indeed, these past few weeks, she's particularly been a lapdog for Larry at a time when aldermen should be ganging up on His Honor to take back the city's checkbook.

During last night's council meeting, Hervey actually accused aldermen who balked at giving Assistant City Administrator Julia Valdez a $34,000 raise (while facing at least a $5,400,000 deficit) as being sexist. Really, "Lady V?" Sounds like a litigation-happy lawyer's wishful thinking.

No one said Valdez shouldn't be appointed. Most aldermen, after getting an earful from constituents, just think such a huge raise should be out of the question given the current financial hardships. Their position is simple: Let's get the budget in order before we decide how to proceed long-term with the HR director position. God forbid a little fiscal responsibility, especially if it goes against the mayor's childish wishes and uncompromising sense of pride and stubbornness.

Granted, the council is made up of bumbling buffoons who view public service as an elitist hobby for which they're not really directly accountable, but I seriously doubt they're against replacing one woman (a minority, no less) with another female as HR director (which Valdez would do on top of her existing responsibilities, "assisting" City Administrator Jim Ryan, apparently).

"The mission of the Human Resources Department is to support the goals and challenges of the City of Rockford by providing services which promote a work environment that is characterized by fair treatment of employees, open communications, personal accountability, trust and mutual respect. We will seek and provide solutions to workplace issues that support and optimize the operating principles of the City of Rockford."
-City of Rockford Human Resources mission statement

Considering that there should be a hiring freeze anyway (we are talking about cutting fire fighters and cops, right?), I just don't see $34,000 of extra work for Valdez to be doing in human resources. If a position absolutely must be filled, let the head of that particular department deal with screening and hiring applicants.

There, I just offered a cost-saving opportunity, and without billing taxpayers for my advice, as city and county officials elected to make these decisions are now poised to do by hiring yet another consultant. Jesus, I'm in the wrong business. Fleecing taxpayers is where the real easy money is. Recession, you say? Not when it comes to public officials spending other people's money. The gettin' has never been so good.

Supporters of Mayor Morrissey's appointment of Valdez say it's not a raise, but rather a way to save $90,000 by combining the two positions into one. This notion reminds me of TV commercials advertising sales (a/k/a "savings events") where "the more you spend, the more you save." Bullshit. As another old infomercial once asserted, "Stop the insanity!"

Taxpayers, a majority of aldermen have recognized, just don't see the raise as savings, either. It's simply in poor taste for anyone in the administration to be getting a salary increase for any reason. Those of us who have jobs are counting our blessings right now, and we know this is not a time for anyone to expect a raise, even if we're taking on more responsibilities to ensure the solvency of our employers.

Adding insult to taxpayer injury, Mayor Larry was quoted in the daily as saying Valdez's appointment and raise would "eliminate the exposure we'd have to a civil rights lawsuit based on discrimination."


Tell us, Larry, did Julia threaten to sue, or was that your idea?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thompson-Kelly goes from worst to best week ever

Indeed, it's a sad day when the likes of Ann Thompson can outshoot the old clout-master Lenny Jacobson in a showdown. Truly, Lenny is losing his Kung Fu grip if he lost this one.

The Southgate/Church School votes appeared to be tipped in Jacobson's favor after an unflattering story about Thompson's cash advance from a park district credit card at a casino surfaced last week. Lucky for her, few read the weekly that chronicled the would-be scandal, but I'm sure she had to tolerate a little friendly ribbing from her counterparts that read the rag solely out of vanity. Thompson apparently declined to comment for the article unless the Times would snitch on their source. They wouldn't, but the timing almost suggests who may have been behind the tip.

No one is more surprised than me that Jacobson has deviated from his usual pro-union position to oppose the Village of Southgate development, even though it means "hundreds" of short-term union jobs. As I mentioned months ago, his support may have been assured if Landwhite had offered to include a bar in its plans for the apartments to secure Lenny's beverage-association consent. Ah well, they didn't need him anyway; not when they had the rest of the city's wards breathing a sigh of relief that the low-income, soon-to-be slum wouldn't be in their backyards.

For once, though, Lenny actually had some legitimate arguments. The site, nestled on the edge of town right next to the bypass and 11th Street, is best suited for truck stops and tractor pulls. It's not a quiet place you or I would want to live the good life. And despite the claim rents will range from about $600-$900, let's face it, it's just gonna wind up being a place to raise welfare babies, and we've already got no shortage of 'hoods like that. It's just gonna make those existing places even worse.

The major selling point: The city won't have to directly subsidize either development. That's right, Landwhite will put up $800,000 of its own money, while the remaining $24,000,000 will be spread out among the entire nation's taxpayers, not just Rockford's; federal money well spent to buy more blight so that Larry can justify more TIF districts. Maybe he'll decide the existing TIF will become so blighted that he'll have to declare another one on top of it. Two pots on the same burner to steal from! Fucking brilliant. I've gotta take tea with this guy.

As for the Church School shithole, there's not a single old person who deserves to spend the rest of their days in that neighborhood, even if it has the occasional police presence of an overworked cop taking a breather to fill out a report there. The building should just be razed.

Thompson just got the only bone the administration is gonna throw her for a long time, and she should have picked a better battle. Well played, Mr. Mayor. While she was at it, she is also likely to have pissed off Scott Christiansen's right-hand-token-black-man, Earl Dotson, Jr., whose dad lost Church School to the city after she turned her back on him so that a few white men could make a buck instead. Tsk, tsk, Annie.

Now her favors are used up, so she will have no leverage if the city decides to take MFT bucks from her ward. If that happens, you can thank Aunt Thom-pson for fucking up (downscaling) the long-awaited West State Street upgrades. Or, since the city has a habit of moving the public's money wherever it wants, perhaps the Morgan Street Bridge will suffer instead. That is, until a full school bus, or fire truck with only three fire fighters, fails to traverse it without falling through.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Budget crisis?

There's quite a bit I could comment about regarding this week's council meeting, but the one thing that really received no mention in the press is this: We're told the city can't afford to maintain its fire and police forces at current levels, yet more than $1,000,000 was easily found to give to William Charles for Sandy Hollow Road emergency repairs. Hmmm...

My shortest post ever, but maybe the most significant. Anyone else have questions about this?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Element: Boo-hoo, my pussy hurts

What kind of a thankless leech can find a reason to complain about being handed $50,000 in public funds to beat a horse most Rockfordians have no interest in riding? Read on.

Is this Ed McCollough hack, a Morrissey contributor, rubbing anybody else the wrong way with his whining, while being paid $48,000 a year?

Seems to me that tax dollars given to downtown groups like the Element and River District would go a lot farther if these groups were led by people who didn't require salaries to pretend to give a shit.

Wouldn't it be great if creative, artistic folks who value downtown would take on that role for free, just because they care? I'm willing to bet there are plenty of passionate, talented young people who'd be willing to lead the charge. Jesus Correa wasn't mayoral material (nor is Morrissey, for that matter), but I wish Larry had taken my advice to acknowledge what Jesus does have to offer. Mr. Correa should have McCollough's job, and I'd be willing to wager he'd do it for free, or for a small stipend, and do it better.

The problem with the Element is that it's being led by the corporate likes of McCollough and Ron Clewer. While part of me admires Clewer for his past involvement with NAT, I can't ignore that he's stooped to being a part of William Charles now. Seriously, for all the money Billy Chuck makes off of this city for its piss-poor roads, where are the philanthropic contributions to such groups by Rockford (Loves Park, more accurately) Blacktop?

Okay, here's what the local media had to say about the Element getting 50k.

WREX proclaimed, "The Element loses thousands of dollars in funding." How do they figure a $50,000 handout is a loss? Granted, the Element once hoped for $75,000, then $60,000 after someone reminded them the city is broke. I'm sure all the unemployed people who are unwelcome in downtown establishments feel your pain, Ed, but go fuck yourself.

WREX's story quoted McCollough: "I simply don't understand it. You have an organization that's been successful in fulfilling its mission, in being accountable, collaborating and helping to run a great event like Friday Night Flicks. And then you just arbitrarily cut them."

Obviously, McCollough didn't get the memo that taxpayers are tapped out, but he hasn't offered to cut his own frivolous salary. Also, Ed, most people have either a DVD player or VCR, which don't drain public funds to watch 30-year-old movies.

WIFR ignorantly reported that "Aldermen approved taking 10-thousand dollars from another downtown organization to help pay for (On the Waterfront) security costs."

No such allocation was made of the 10k cut from the Element, and they'll probably get that money later anyway when it's discovered OTW is not an eligible TIF expense. But it's cute when TV people try to act smart by reporting falsehoods.

As the old SNL character Fernando would say, "It's better to look good than to feel good." Or, as Don Henley noted, "I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear."

TV news is about looking good, not about delivering factual information, but print isn't much better, as proven by RRStar, which stated the Element's budget had been "slashed," while ignoring who really lost in the deal.

I'm not sure why it wasn't in the print edition, but RRT did report on its site that the money came from the 7th St. TIF. Why the fuck is midtown having to pay for a pet project downtown?

I've evaded the Monday night regulars (mostly because I owe them money for deeply betting the judge would rule against the fire union recently), but as I watched Monday night's meeting, I was actually surprised by how much attention aldermen gave to this subject. Silent, however, was the alderman whose TIF was being raped to fund the Element. It's pretty sad when aldermen from other wards have to try to defend the 11th ward's TIF district because midtown's own alderman won't do so. In the end, Karen Elyea didn't care, so why should they? It went through, and the element has NOTHING to complain about, so zip it, Ed. Count your blessings.

A week before, Elyea stood up and had a mini-tantrum over a layover of the Element's funding request, oblivious to the council rules that even a layman knows. To me, that suggests she promised someone the request would be granted that night, because she wouldn't stand in the way of pouring dollars out of her ward into another-as though she has ANY clout. It makes one wonder where her heart really is, because it certainly isn't in the 11th ward that unwisely elected her. I'm not sure which is more hilarious: when she opens her mouth, or when she squirms like a child waiting for each meeting to end.

As I watch the meetings, while she sits there with a blank stare, I swear I can actually see a cupcake in a comic think-bubble next to her head. It would be funny if it wasn't such a sad outrage.

OK, so as not to be just some jaded critic, let me offer a suggestion, even if it's not directly pertinent to the Element.

The new RAVE Authority seems to be a major improvement over the Metrocentre do-nothings, and I applaud the private management that's being given an opportunity now. While Davis Park is too small for such events, it wasn't so long ago that major concert tours like Metallica and Lollapalooza landed at the fairgrounds in Pecatonica. That was pretty fucking huge. I hope the new Metrocentre management will consider taking advantage of that resource for more concerts that may otherwise ignore our area. Sure, it's in Pec, but they could still be Metrocentre events, from which Rockford would benefit. Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ban the mayor!

OK, so this Jim Buckingham yahoo has been banned from City Hall because Mayor Milquetoast feels (politically) threatened by what he had to say in front of aldermen and anyone else who may have been watching, including yours truly. But Larry played it cool in front of the cameras, then tried to handle things like a real legal-beagle behind the scenes. Little did Larry know that such a common man could have the potential to kick out the clay feet propping up his tin administration.

True, Buckingham seems a little off, a bit eccentric, or perhaps he sustained a head injury at some point, maybe during selfless military service to his country, none of which are against the law last time I checked, but he's not a danger. He's just pissed off, and who can blame him? He's earned the right to candidly speak his mind, and he fought for the rest of us to do the same while a cloth-diapered and privileged Lil' Larry was only daydreaming about chasing privatized ambulances in his daddy's backyard and hiding behind the laws he would one day make to serve his own interests and those of his rich friends who never had to worry about being sent to fight a war in a strange land, but instead profit from it (Children, can you say "Supplycore?").

Now all grown up, Larry lacked the spine to take control of the council chamber that fateful day by stopping Buckingham in his tracks to warn him he was crossing the blurred line of "decorum." No, instead, the mayor tried to handle it subtly, thinking former employee Joe Bruscato would charge Buckingham with threatening a public official. Joe wouldn't do it, thank God, so Larry and Patrick Hayes schemed to try and convince Buckingham he cannot come onto public property (City Hall), betting a slighted war hero wouldn't call their bluff. But I think he will if he can keep the media interested. Today at least, local talk radio was all about it, prompting me to make this entry. It's a great little story, but one that Larry never meant for anyone to hear about.

Considering the media attention he's getting, it's only a matter of time before the likes of Dan Lewandowski or John Nelson take his case. They should, because it would be a big step up from the cheap political victory they scored in the Carolyn Gardner coup of Ted Biondo. And they wonder why they can't win an election. Besides, it would help their party to give Larry a nice welt-inducing slap from the Democrats to remind him of who really runs the blue collar town living beneath Larry's tower.

Says here, Buckingham now has a legal fund. Congrats, Rockfordians, Larry and Patrick have just ushered in another unnecessary lawsuit at your expense. Must be nice to have the luxury of spending other people's money on personal vendettas.

By the way, Mr. Biondo, no hard feelings with my last blog, but you're really setting yourself up for headaches through your association with the Liberal Register Star. Are you sure your keepers at that rag really have your best interest in mind? I seriously hope you'll consider breaking that tie and start your own blog independent of those hacks. I'd be happy to grant you a permanent banner on this site, for whatever it's worth, even though I may disagree with you from time to time. You're OK in my book, because I believe you speak in the interest of tax payers.

By the way, don't you just wanna snatch that dirty rug off of Sweeny's pretentious little head? Somebody really oughta inform him he has gray hair and that he should probably update his blond toupee for those vain, over-sized photos he places next to every column. Jesus, what a fucking horror show. That's not to say Chuck isn't a good writer from time to time, but shit, throw on a hat or something, man. Better yet, embrace baldness as I have. It's really not so bad, Chuckles. You're not fooling anyone with that dreadful thing on your head.

Back to business. Being a council junkie, I've seen this Buckingham guy speak many, many times. The mayor has, too, which is why he knows there was no threat. Gimme a fucking break, Larry.

Now, since we're on the subject of threats, let's talk about how Larry is physically threatening the entire city by wanting to cut public safety. If there's a man or woman on the council with mayoral aspirations, or even a sense of thanks to the brave men and women who've served, they oughta bring forth their own resolution to ban Morrissey under the very example the mayor has set. The media would eat that shit up for much longer than this Buckingham thing will last, if only someone had the balls...

Please don't let the crickets start chirping, PUBLIC SERVANTS.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Frank Beach's pipe dream, Ted Biondo's next legal nightmare, midtown meltdown

Okie dokie, let's get right to it. Lots of ground to cover in little time. The fellas are all here, lingering drunkenly after tonight's city council meeting and I've got some bets to make with these slobs before morning. Tomorrow a judge will decide whether to step in and keep a doomed fire station open, and I've got tall money riding on my prediction that the court will not intervene here. Then, Larry will put the hernia squeeze on the union's balls to accept one less man on every truck. The crowd here at the compound bets with their hearts, not their heads, and I'm going to rape their wallets. Enough about that for now, though.

Frank Beach, who can be identified by the layman as some sort of Al Pacino/Penguin (think Batman) hybrid, is a man who wishes the world was a perfect place. If Rockford had a shore, "Beach Beach" would be free of sex, drugs, swearing, alcohol, Rap/Hip-Hop, gambling, cigarettes, nudity and all other things the Bible specifically rejects. Hell, sand would probably be outlawed, too. He's completely unrealistic, but I still can't bring myself to dislike him.

Tonight, he suggested that everyone on the city's payroll voluntarily take a 5% pay cut so that no fire station would have to close and no jobs would be lost. What a fucking fantasy. Sorry, Frank. I don't think Jesus believes in Santa Clause and I highly doubt many would voluntarily take a cut when their own jobs aren't even in jeopardy.

All things considered, it would be more than just 5% for those non-union folks who've already accepted decreases/furloughs the last couple years. I doubt these people feel particularly inclined to take another hit for fire fighters who did nothing when unrepresented employees were losing their jobs.

No, my prediction is the union will have a hard day tomorrow, and the mayor will at least act like he's proceeding with closing two stations, but he's really just after one less man per truck. That's not to say I think it's right, because there are plenty of other places to find savings. This one is just a personal vendetta that Larry's not gonna give up on.

As a child, I think, he must have been picked on by guys who grew up to be cops and firemen, but I'm no psychologist.

If you want your fire department to be spared, then don't believe the hype that Larry can close the stations without the consent of aldermen. That's only half true. There's PLENTY aldermen can do, but they're all too happy to do nothing and let others take the heat. Put pressure on them to do their homework to find other cuts that can be made. This has EVERYTHING to do with serving the citizens, which is what they were elected to do. Don't leave it up to Larry and EJ playing Rock-em-Sock-em-Robots. Make the rest of the bastards earn their keep by involving the voters!

Beyond the station closure loophole Larry's clasping tightly in his limp hand, the fire fighters' contract ensures there's no danger of smaller crew sizes. That is, unless the union agrees to it, which I don't foresee.

On a related note, Ted Biondo has once again shown his true Morrissey rainbow colors, threatening that the city will levy a new utility tax if a judge forces the stations to remain open in what Ted perceives to be a sort of unfunded mandate. Biondo, by way of Larry and rrstar, has pitted the fire fighters against the tax payers who love them.

BTW, isn't Ted running for county board? What the hell is he doing writing for a newspaper? Am I the only one who finds that just a little shady? Many moons ago, when I lived in another state, there was a TV newscaster who had to take a leave of absence from his station because he was running for office. It just seemed like the right thing to do, and I'm willing to bet the Democratic lawyers are gonna call Ted on it as November approaches. Ted is a magnet for poor legal advice and, through his column at the paper, he's setting himself up for more trouble, I suspect. Ted, join us real Patriot bloggers, not the pathetic Morrissey rag, if you want to get your ideas out there. Rrstar is not going to help your credibility. Ah well, maybe I'm just pissed no one is offering me a column.

Although the union is certainly looking out for its own interests, it's foolish to say the existing contract should be ignored. If I recall correctly, a new contract will be negotiated next year, so why doesn't Larry put his energy into working with the union for savings then? The way I see it, it's not right to close the fire stations, and it's not right to tell the union to throw out a contract that an arbitrator ordered.

But Larry insists on having his way, and he'll spare no taxpayer expense to get it.

Case in point: Tonight, the council threw midtown a bone by providing $30k from the 7th St. TIF, where the group has typically been funded from and has done a lot with very little. But I suspect the $30k is just because the mayor wanted to butter up the midtown folks to be OK with letting Larry's "Element" group rape the TIF next week to the tune of $75k, which basically boils down to more money going to the Metrocentre.

Essentially, Larry refuses to accept the failures of his beloved TIF program, particularly downtown, so he's gonna punish those with proven track records by looting the coffers they've worked so hard for during a long, tough stretch. Downtown, uber alles. After reading about the so-called "bar wars," I'm beginning to think that downtown is encumbered by too many uppity douchebags who deserve to go out of business for their Aryan vision of the city's core. As SRV once said, "I may be white, but I'm not stupid." This town needs a black mayor again. My guess is that Vic Bell has his eyes on that prize.

It will be interesting to see whether Ald. Elyea will make a stand for her ward's 7th St. TIF next week, or if she'll just continue to be a seat-warmer. Boy, the "bubble law" debacle really must have knocked her down a couple notches. But Larry's weak right now and it's time to strike, baby! Believe me, if you stand up to Larry now, it's gonna be much better received by both parties than the abortion misstep you took a few months ago. It may have earned you a minute of poorly timed press coverage, but this is a real opportunity to act in the interest of regular folks.

OK, I better get back to the War Room to get some wagers in writing before these fools suffer from tequila-induced memory loss. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I never grow tired of being right, as much as it may disappoint me

I said it, so it must be true: "Two fire stations are on the chopping block, but my guess is that they will remain staffed in the end, but only after the union bends to Larry's will."

Nearly a month later, I stand erect by that prediction, and Daddy's ready to empty his balls. Grab some paper towels or the nearest dirty t-shirt.

In response to speculation and rumors advanced on Facebook by the shadow known as "Spade," I flatly deny the suggestion that my pharmaceutical-oriented vacations landed me in some sort of third-world cage. Your intel is faulty and you don't give me enough credit. I always carry plenty of cash to resolve such misunderstandings. More importantly, I carry enough armaments to ensure good-faith negotiations with strange governments in these situations. I left happy and they were relieved to see me go. I won't reveal where I was, but suffice it to say I won't need to make another trip until at least next spring, provided that I don't have too many unexpected visitors.

Before I get back into this fire station situation, let me take a moment to plug a fellow blogger known as "Unmanager." If you're not already a fan of Larryboy's Empire, I encourage you to check it out. He's been at this longer than I have and I tip my hat to this Patriot.

Unmanager confronted me about my kind words for Venita Hervey, but I actually think we're on the same page about her, more or less. We just see things slightly differently. Maybe that's attributable to my perpetual scotch-goggles, but I think he and I would make tremendous running mates some day. Perhaps we could even share a federal prison cell after our Great Experiment in Democracy, Illinois-style.

You are correct, Unmanager, that Hervey is putting the Morgan Bridge project ahead of the fire station issue. However, the bigger picture is that this will impact neighboring wards at least as much as her own. What do you suppose happens when fire fighters have to respond to the 5th ward? That's right. Neighboring areas are left with nothing but their dicks in their hands. At that point, it's not just Venita's problem. Therein lies her wisdom.

At least Hervey made no bones about her position tonight. Either way, under the current proposals, the west side (a/k/a the black side) loses. She's right to be pissed. And yes, Unmanager, she backed Larry up, but I don't consider her a "puppet" by any means. She just wants to see the long-shit-on west side get its due, and staying in the mayor's good graces is essential to that end. She understands the unfortunate reality other minority aldermen don't. The others just pander to constituents for the illusion of doing the job they were elected to do. The downside is, their approach tends to work when it comes to re-election, while good men and women "die like dogs," as an old friend would say.

It's quite possible that, until a humiliating public crucifixion became clear during tonight's council meeting, Morrissey had no intention of backing down. If he had, his office probably would have prepared a statement in advance, right? Ho, ho, Bubba, (as the same old friend would say), Larry seems to have flown this shit-plane by the seat of his soiled tweed slacks, but is that really the case? Remember, he's a lawyer, so don't put anything past him. I've depended on one or two shysters in my day, but I'd never put my trust in Larry when it really counts.

Earlier tonight, Chuck Sweeny accurately observed that Larry avoided political suicide by changing his mind about closing a fire station July 1. It is true that he would not be able to share the blame with aldermen on this one. But I don't think Larry's biggest cheerleader (a/k/a Sweeny and the Register Star) gave the mayor enough credit this time. This has always been about booting one fire fighter from each fire truck. One need only rewind one week to when Ted Ross, a big-time Morrissey contributor, foreshadowed that this warranted reconsideration.

If the fire union can be made to swallow the deal, the city would knock a good chunk out of what could be an $8,000,000 deficit for 2011, and the mayor might be persuaded to make other cuts elsewhere if fire fighters agree to be his fluffers. Larry just needs to allow them to save face, perhaps by boasting what they're giving up for the sake of Rockford citizens, like raises and agreeing to furlough days.

Regardless of Sweeny's opinion, Larry has the leverage here. Let's not forget that this proposal was part of his re-election campaign. That means public opposition to the idea is not as great as the union would have you believe. They played right into the mayor's hands tonight.

It pains me to think that I could quit my shithole municipal job if only I could become a coveted "consultant" for those who can afford me. On the other hand, I'm a better public servant by telling you like it is at no cost and without a spin.

Grudgingly yours,