Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking chances with contempt to avoid perjury?

Our power went out this past week, and the absence of white noise emanating from my CPAP machine caused me to jettison an otherwise long, comfortable slumber in time for the Christmas holiday. Draping myself in a bathrobe and my wife's fuzzy pink slippers (I'm not particular about attire until after I've had my breakfast and morning scotch), I lumbered down the stairs to face my estranged family.

I peered out the kitchen window, temporarily blinded by the brilliance of fresh snowfall in the morning sun, and grabbed a pair of my wife's Sam "Ace" Rothstein sunglasses to hide my eyes from the nightmare I could have eluded by staying asleep.

Again, little has changed since we last spoke, Patriots, and I take little comfort in having been correct with my predictions more than a month ago.

Of course, I'm referring to the Mark Anthony Barmore fiasco.

As you read here first in November, powder burns on Barmore's hand was crucial evidence to exonerate officers North and Poole in the grand jury's eyes.

So, what about the statement to police from a 17-year-old girl (Marissa, Pastor "Apostle" Melvin Brown's daughter) that Barmore surrendered peacefully with his hands up and head down? As it turns out, according to the testimony of at least one other witness, Marissa probably couldn't see what actually transpired in the seconds before shots rang out.

I suppose it's possible he may have head his hands up at one point, but the officers say Barmore went for Poole's gun. During that struggle, State's Attorney Joe Bruscato said, Poole's gun discharged, accounting for the powder burns and the bullet superficially striking Barmore's neck.

When Jesse Jackson led marches here in Rockford recently (how far he's fallen since marching with King in Memphis), Barmore's family felt it was appropriate (probably at Jesse's urging) to picture their fallen kin's dead body on picket signs. Their point was that he'd been shot in the back, which he was. But that's not to say the officers were not justified.

Now, believe me, I have no love of the police apparatus in general, because I've been the target of many fascist tactics by law enforcement in my life. But I'll say again that I think the black community has chosen the wrong battle in this instance, and so has Rev. Jackson in trusting the word of the Browns.

That brings me now to Pastor Brown, who has consistently called officers North and Poole murderers. Really, Melvin? Why don't you tell us what you did prison time for before conveniently finding the Lord in time to be paroled?

Has the African-American community at large been historically fucked over in American society? Absolutely. But that doesn't make it right to vilify two men who, by most accounts, acted appropriately under the circumstances. That will not make things right, and nothing otherwise is "owed" to anyone. That's an unjust victory you're not gonna be proud of when you stand before Jesus, Allah, Odin, or whomever one prays to.

Yes, North and Poole have pulled their triggers before in the line of duty (which I guarantee will be the cornerstone of the civil suit against them), but even if they have itchy trigger fingers, you're gonna have a hard time convincing me that the officers marched into a day care center full of witnesses with the intention of shooting Barmore to death. If they were going to kill a man in cold blood, they wouldn't have done it in front of witnesses, I guaran-damn-tee.

Would things have gone down the same way if the incident had unfolded somewhere on the "white" east side? I think so.

Yes, it's true that cops often cover for other cops, but my gut tells me that's not the case here. Could it have been handled in a way that no one would have died? Perhaps. The civil case will be the major news story throughout 2010, so if you're sick of hearing about it, move. Or, if you're like me, nod off and wake occasionally to see if the landscape has changed. However, it seldom does around here.

As I wrote in November, Pastor Brown is sure to see dollar signs and keep the controversy alive. Religion is a very lucrative business. If you don't believe that, just look at the clothes, cars, jewelry, etc. he and his family are "blessed" with in doing the Lord's work. They seem to be doing awfully well as humble servants of low-income parishioners.

However, there remains one question the Browns are hoping no one will ask: Who allowed Barmore into the day care, thus endangering the children entrusted to the House of Grace? Again I ask, where is the class action suit against the day care from the parents of these children put in harm's way?

Perhaps it is one thing if Barmore sought sanctuary in the church itself, but it's quite another to barricade oneself in the midst of children. Then, factor in that North and Poole were advised he may have been armed, and you've got a real situation on your hands-one that needed to be diffused decisively under the circumstances.

As the lone voices alleging wrongdoing on the part of North and Poole, it is very telling that the apostle's wife and daughter, Sheila and Marissa, decided not to show up to provide testimony under oath to the grand jury last week. They have legal representation, so they knew what they were getting into by keeping their holiday vacation plans instead.

It is obvious they were advised it's better to face contempt-of-court than to lie under oath and face perjury charges. They'll use whatever penalties they face to their own advantage. Then, they'll be on the offensive in the civil case, without having to be called liars by the grand jury. They might even win some money, but I'm sure it'll be used for the Lord's work to bring healing to the divided Rockford community.

I'm going back to bed, but stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where to begin?


A few of you precocious little Patriots just won't leave me alone. It seems I have no choice but to emerge from my hibernation early as another election season looms on the horizon of the new year. I'm cranky, ruthlessly drunk and likely to maul any poor bastard who dares speak a word to me before before I've had my breakfast.

Brunch is served.

I see not much has changed since I nodded off after my last post in September. Main Street is still closed downtown, the city is still spending money it doesn't have, Ted Biondo is still on the county board and Apostle Brown is still trying to stretch his 15 minutes into a miniseries.

The vaults under the downtown pedestrian mall must have been a problem, indeed. This project was supposed to be finished by around Labor Day. I suspect we'll be seeing some more quietly-presented, vaguely-described change orders in days to come, for overruns the mayor isn't gonna be proud of. Don't expect aldermen to call him on it, though. Like the Metrocentre, it's a commitment they'll all have to bear like a colostomy bag.

Aldermen have other ways of getting even, but the net effect will be a tax increase. This week, they commandeered a $600,000 debt payment, because they're banking on the federal or state government swooping in to pay the city's bills.

Instead of being responsible stewards of tax dollars, William Charles will probably get the $600,000 to resurface streets the city's most influential constituents live on, and the bond payment will still have to be made somehow. If I had to guess, either a bunch more non-union employees are going to lose their jobs, or your taxes will pick up the slack.

Being a holiday week, I'm using some vacation days before the end of the year. I plan on being up all night. After all, someone has to make the Bloody Mary's at 6AM when the zombies start filing in for political tailgating. Later this morning, Ted Biondo will probably be ordered off the county board by a judge. We want to be there when it happens, but metal detectors and armed deputies in the lobby could be difficult to get by with straight faces stuffed with Lion's Club mints to hide the unmistakable stench of drunkenness.
We're not celebrating because we dislike Ted, but because we finally might catch a glimpse of the elusive Carolynus Gardnerus soon . This bottom-feeding Democratic specimen is finally gonna have to come out from behind Dan Lewandowski's apron. No newspaper or TV station has been able to find her in the many months this scumbaggery has dragged on. What's she gonna do when she actually has to show up for a board meeting? Shit, she might even have to move back into her district. Being a county board member is hard.

Ted, we'll see you back on the board next year after you've spanked Gardner back into the subservient obscurity she's earned.

For at least a month now, reports have been leaking out alleging that Mark Anthony Barmore had powder burns on his hand, which would tend to support the officers' account that the member of Pastor Melvin Brown's flock had his hand on a gun in the scuffle that left him shot to death by police. Brown still calls the shooting a murder, but an investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, I'm sure the Apostle is scheming to keep the gravy train flowing. For a related story on RRStar.com recently, a reader suggested in a comment that Brown keeps yelling "murder" to deflect attention away from the fact this his wife allegedly let Barmore into the building/day care. The reader went on to wonder why none of the parents of the children in the day care were questioning why Barmore was welcomed into the building. Why, indeed.

It's even been suggested that Brown allegedly paid Jesse Jackson to bring his fish and goose soiree to Rockford. By the way, I wasn't the only one who thought Jesse was drunk when he spoke during city council. A source tells me Jackson allegedly smelled of booze in the hours before his comments.

That aside, the black community has some good points, even if they might have picked the wrong battle in this instance. When you have cops investigating cops, it's pretty safe to assume any use of force will be deemed justified. But even Ann Thompson-Kelly (the alderman with perma-surprise, apparently courtesy of cosmetic surgery) backed down from the NAACP's idea of a police review board made up of citizens. Instead, she decided it's enough to just talk with police, and the best chance the the community has ever had for a civilian review in use-of-force cases has been frittered away.

I don't look forward to the announcement of justifiable homicide in the Barmore case, even if it's true. It's not likely to ease perceived racial tension, and I suspect Brown is salivating. This is just getting started, unfortunately.

Cripes. If you don't pay attention to national news, you might have missed that Congressman Don Manzullo called Islam a "savage religion." Wow.

WREX managed to catch Don saying this. Naturally, because Ch. 13 had the scoop, it went almost ignored by the other local media, but it made big news nationally. The congressman who once ran on term limits has since backpedaled, saying the comment only applied to the Guantanamo detainees.

Unless I'm mistaken, Manzullo has a law degree laying around somewhere. In his strictly anti-Obama stance on the prospect of detainees being moved to Thomson, IL, Don appears to be forgetting the inconvenient matter of due process in his assumptions, while apparently doubting the local labor force is capable of keeping potentially dangerous terrorists from escaping from locked metal boxes.

Manzullo's archaic arguments imply housing the detainees in his district will somehow turn the rural town into a target for terrorists--LOL

What the Thomson deal really tells me is that Manzullo has gained absolutely no respect from colleagues during his years in Congress. Obama is basically shitting in Manzullo's back yard, Don thinks, and I suspect that's indicative of a need for stronger leadership in the 16th District.

We'll get into some of the election stuff later, once I've coughed all the bong resin from my lungs and wiped the cobwebs from my eyes.

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Friday, September 18, 2009

Zappa says...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The other shoe drops

Mayor Morrissey has been warning us for months (mostly after his re-election ) that a second round of layoffs was on the way. Now it's here.

The mayor's office issued a statement late in the day, well after the 6 PM newscasts, from what I'm told by union brethren, and after the Rockford talk radio stations had yielded to syndicated programming and reduced power for the night.

But the mayor made sure that the Wanxiang (pronounced wang-chung, as best I can tell) groundbreaking was a top news story all day. The press was all too eager to oblige the space/time-killer that made their jobs easier.

How many times is this guy gonna pat himself on the back over something that was only marginally newsworthy months ago? I mean, really, what part of this story is new aside from the gold shovel photo-op? Nothing's new. It's just another attempt to polish a turd.

That's admirable, Larry. Announce that you're eliminating 60 city jobs (30 already through attrition, plus 30 more layoffs) the same day you re-announced you've created 60 for a private company being subsidized by debt to taxpayers. That's music to our ears. Should we thank you now?

Morrissey was recently quoted in the weekly as saying the cuts are nothing to apologize for. Really, Larry? Aren't you about to take another trip to China on the taxpayer dime? I and plenty of others can't even afford to take the family to the Dells, so you probably better not come home without 1,000 PetroChina jobs in your pocket, or we might begin to question your sincerity.

Mark my words, the city is going to be facing at least one civil/human rights lawsuit (re: Barmore), and it won't be cheap. My gut tells me the officers probably fucked up, and we need only look at the county to see how how much something like that affects us.

We're going to pay the Bachman family more than $15,000,000 for the questionable judgment of just one deputy. That figure is sure to rise, because there's still another civil suit waiting in the wings.

As for the latest city cuts, these are union jobs we're talking about, so I can only guess public safety is at stake since they're negotiating new contracts. This is where Doug Block is sure to re-emerge from hibernation for the first time since losing to Morrissey in April.

If he cares about winning an election, Block's sure to run again in 2013. After all, even Larry lost his first bid, but he'll be an even easier, doe-eyed target by the time the next election rolls around.

Larry wants the union employees to suck it up just like the unrepresented employees had to. After winning re-election without the support of the unions, Morrissey has nothing to lose by offering them a Cleveland Steamer now. I talked a lot about this during the mayoral race, and I still say the police and fire unions made a political misstep by not making concessions then, which they're going to pay even more for now.

On the other hand, it's just not right for the mayor and aldermen to take public dollars from public jobs and give them to private companies, but it's their show, and none were voted out of office this year. I suppose we get the government we deserve.

We the Taxpayers of Rockford pay more than our fair share for the services we expect the city to deliver, but they're telling us we're expecting too much because of the drunken sailor spending spree that leaves them broke. Yet the city continues accumulating new debt at full steam so they can offer incentives to private developers that really have nothing to offer us when all's said and done. Sure they can boast new jobs, but at the cost of how many others? It's only the "new jobs" that are mentioned come re-election time, and the challengers are often too inexperienced to have any knowledge of how easily they could overturn the status quo.

Now, after proposing another round of cuts to basic city service jobs, the mayor is gonna skip town for China, but I'm sure he'll send us a postcard if there's another flood.

Speaking of weather, pray we have a mild winter. Snow plowing was specifically mentioned as an operation that will suffer from the cuts. But that could change, because William Charles/Rockford Blacktop is overseeing Rockford's advisory budget committee.

If you ask me, when the cuts are made, my money is on snow plowing being spared. After all, if there's less plowing, the roads won't need to be replaced so soon, and Billy Chuck wouldn't want that.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Comcast Tax and Congrats, you own Church School!

In committee this week, aldermen started the ball rolling on a back-door tax increase that Comcast will collect on their behalf.

It seems our former cable provider, Insight Communications, fell somewhere in the neighborhood of $440,000 below the mark in its franchise agreement with the city over the years, before being muscled out of town by Comcast.

Good thing we caught that mistake, right? Wrong.

It's clear now that our civic mothers and fathers have number-crunchers working around the clock to find ways to fuck the taxpayers into solving their budget problem.

Comcast isn't gonna pay it. They're technically not the ones who owe it, but they're on the hook, so it'll be passed on directly to cable subscribers. That is, unless you hold your council accountable and demand they go after the ones who owe the money to all of us.

Your elected leaders think you're too stupid to realize it's you, not Comcast, who's being squeezed here. Pisses you off, doesn't it?

Let 'em know what you think. We'll be watching for you Monday night.

Now, if council members want to be heroes, they oughta sue Insight for the money owed. The city has quite a few lawyers on staff. In the best interest of Rockford and its taxpayers, why not put one or two of them on the case?

Oh, that's right. Their dockets are already full of other ham-handed failures, like the Church School debacle.

Church School, believe it or not, is an amazing structure, but one that has been neglected to near ruin. I, for one, think it can be salvaged, but let's keep its ownership and liabilities private.

Rev. Earl Dotson, Sr. and crew managed to pick the place up at a bargain rate many years ago, but nothing has been done with it, and it's become an eyesore, many say.

By the way, Rev. Dotson's kid, Earl Dotson, Jr., is one of Scott Christiansen's right-hand men, probably just so the chairman can say he has a black friend.

Anyway, Rev. Dotson's group claim they want to turn the place into some sort of community center, but it seems they can't even mow the lawn, and fines levied by the city have turned into liens.

It probably wouldn't have been a big deal on either end, except that an Indiana developer said he wanted to turn Church School into senior housing. That would have made the property produce taxes, and would have made the mayor and aldermen look like they're not ignoring the west side.

But Dotson didn't want to sell, at least not for what they were offering.

So, to loosen the gears, the Patrick Hayes legal team began foreclosing on the property. Since then, though, the city was passed over for a stimulus grant it was counting on to close the deal for the old-folks apartments.

This is just another example of the administration's best-case planning approach that led to optimistic projections for revenues, ignoring economic indicators that things were headed for the shitter.

Now you and I are gonna be stuck with Church School, and the cost of leveling it, which the Morrissey bunch seem hell-bent on. Jeez, couldn't Larry be a little more imaginative and perhaps consider -ahem- lofts?

Wow, that was hard to type with a straight face.

Anyone else pissed off about the inept legal beagles who can't seem to get a single thing right in this administration? They constantly choose the wrong battles, and they simply don't know how to treat people with respect and dignity. In short, they're a bunch of bullies who will try to win at any cost to you and I.

And they hardly ever win.

Just to be a complete dick, I think Rev. Dotson should look into securing historic protection for the building, which was erected in the 1800s.

And while Rockford's got Jesse Jackson's attention, Dotson might as well lump that onto Jackson's local agenda. Whether intentional or not, my black brothers and sisters have a legitimate case building against Morrissey.

Most of us remember how Jackson said he wanted to tear Obama's balls off for, in his opinion, talking down to blacks. I can only wonder what Jackson would do to Larry. As part of the franchise agreement, Comcast should carry that as a pay-per-view event. Remind me to call my bookie about this.

Holy cow. Speaking of Jackson, did anyone else think he sounded either drunk and/or heavily medicated as he gave his remarks to the council Tuesday night?

Jesse is a gifted speaker, but he must be saving the good stuff for bigger cities, 'cause what he said at council was shallow prattle at best. Nevertheless, everyone adored him.

It's fun that Jesse's here, albeit a little surreal. He's gonna lose interest soon enough, though, and Rockford will left alone in an awkward silence again. Jesse's not gonna deliver us. We're gonna have to do that ourselves.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hands up and head down, Raoul returns to the table

The kids are back in school, and the chill in the air tells me it's time to cover the tomato plants and return to the blogosphere. (By the way, I'm looking into taking Rockford Rhetoric to the Internet airwaves in a talk radio format for interaction with live callers, but I want to be careful about disguising my real voice. Suggestions from techies are most welcome).

We had our first (indoor) fire of the season tonight, and the usual suspects began arriving for City Council debauchery around 4 this afternoon, after I sent notice that some of them were welcome in my home once again. The others are barred until they make good on bets from the general election. You know who you are, you Irish bastards.

Some folks are only able to endure summer months with the promise of football season in September. The derelicts that come around here, however, are junkies of a different sort. We call the cabin fever months "political season."

Right on time, things are heating up.

Mayor Morrissey and Chief Epperson have got their hands full after a couple of white officers may have stepped in a tall, steaming pile a week ago.

Some cops work their entire careers without ever drawing their service firearm on an individual. The two officers in question, however, have (justifiably, according to grand juries) employed deadly force before; in the case of officer Oda Poole, several times.

I might be mistaken, but as I recall, the mayor isn't typically part of press conferences related to use of force issues. The exception to that rule in this case suggests either an acknowledgment of potential wrongdoing on the part of officers, or that the mayor immediately understood the gravity of the situation, regardless of whether officers were justified in their actions.

Mark Anthony Barmore, who had a notable criminal history, led police to the House of Grace church as he reportedly tried to elude them. The officers didn't find God there, but Barmore did meet his maker, unfortunately.

From what I understand, "Prophetess" Sheila Brown was acquainted with Barmore and let him into the building, where a day care and pre-school were in session.

Can you imagine the shit that would have hit the fan if this had been a public school that offered refuge to an alleged criminal while children were present? Keep this aspect in mind. It will become an issue at some point as this unfolds.

Prophetess Brown, wife of "Apostle" Melvin Brown, the church's pastor, is reported to have witnessed the shooting, along with the couple's teenage daughter.

As I understand it, from their story, Barmore cooperated when police tried to take him into custody, allegedly emerging from a closet with his hands up and head down.

Unconfirmed rumors, however, suggest the Browns have reason to dislike the police. One source acquainted with the Browns said it is common knowledge at the House of Grace that Pastor Brown is/was what a number of my brethren would call an "O.G."

It is alleged Brown found God while serving a prison sentence, possibly for murder or attempted murder, according to the source's tentative recollection. The source further speculated the House of Grace hasn't been staying afloat on the passing of the meager collection plate alone.

While the day care/school portion of the ministry implies some form of state funding, the source suspects Brown has other means of income, about which he would not speculate. This is where the nature of the Browns' relationship with Barmore will become a facet of the investigation.

This is also where deeper legal questions could arise. In the eyes of the law, a relationship between the clergy and a parishioner is subject to the same privacy afforded to an attorney-client or doctor-patient relationship.

Also, it wasn't so long ago that a Mexican illegal alien took the world stage as she successfully sought refuge from deportation for months within the confines of a church not so far from Rockford.

As Linda McNeely deftly noted tonight, the church is an especially sacred place among the African-American culture. The fact that officers pursued their unarmed suspect to the point of shooting him to death in proximity to children does not bode well with the black community, nor should it. This is where my black brothers and sisters may have a legal leg to stand on.

There is really no reason for the situation to have escalated to this point, and I think Morrissey and Epperson are doing their best to acknowledge this. Chances are, the actions of the officers will be ruled justified, regardless of what transpired, but the powers that be must also be aware that the black community has them by the balls in any case.

When Jesse Jackson came to town over the weekend, he was apparently able to walk right into the mortuary and view Barmore's body. He claimed the only wounds on the corpse were three bullet holes in the back and a grazed neck. The wounds will be major evidence in the investigation, and they'll be consistent with both versions of what transpired, I suspect. Those whose minds are already made up won't be burdened by factual details, and that's why Jackson's visits may be unfortunate for our city.

Assuming Jackson did view the front and back of the body, eliminating the possibility of the bullets holes in the back as actually being exit wounds, this could be significant detail, however.

Nevertheless, according to witness reports, as many as 9 shots were fired at Barmore. Initial reports from police indicate Barmore tried to wrestle a gun away from one of the cops, leading to the use of lethal force.

"The suspect resisted:" I've seen enough movies and TV shows to know that's the excuse that's always given when a suspect winds up dead. But what if it's true? Would anyone in the African- American community believe it? This is where the situation becomes hopeless.

In the early 1990s, the world was witness to the savage beating of Rodney King at the hands of the notorious LA police. The resulting furor (the largest urban disturbance in American history) serves as a reminder of the power of hopelessness over fear. One need only look at Russia as an example of this principle.

For this reason, I suspect, Epperson and Morrissey are taking a decidedly sensitive approach, promising that justice will prevail.

But if the verdict in the OJ Simpson murder case in the 1990s is any indication, the black community will side with the black man over "the man," regardless of what an outside independent investigation learns about the circumstances.

I'll be the first to say I have more in common with a poor black woman than with a rich white man, but I suspect Rev. Jackson's appearances aren't going to help matters, but rather unnecessarily deepen the racial divide that's inappropriately been attached to this case.

It's a case of whether officers had no other choice but to open fire. Frankly, it's hard to imagine how it came to that, but it's probably best to keep an open mind. Let's see what "the system" decides, and then determine whether it is just.

Stay tuned, fellow Patriots, and love your neighbor 'til it hurts.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mall removal contract payback for Rick's Place?

Tonight, Stenstrom was picked by the city council for a $1.9 million project to finally get rid of the crumbling pedestrian mall downtown.

There's been a lot of speculation about the fact that Ringland-Johnson bid $17,000 lower than Stenstrom, and there could be something to it. There have been hints R-J could pursue legal action as a result of being passed over, but there's a reason Larry, a lawyer by trade, keeps such a well-staffed legal department.

Someone on RRStar.com keeps commenting that Stenstrom gave $2,500 to the Morrissey campaign. While that's a relatively modest donation by Rockford mayoral standards, it's not nothing.

Although Ringland-(Brent)Johnson supported Mayor Scott, not Morrissey, I don't think this has much to do with political contributions.
If there is a conspiracy here, my guess is that it has more to do with Brent Johnson's decision to build the Rick Nielsen-Mecca at Riverside and I-90, instead of downtown. After making the rounds collecting tax breaks for the venture, ground has yet to be broken 20 months later as the economy has gone flacid.

Nielsen and Johnson's choice of locale hardly demonstrates a commitment to downtown, much to Larry's chagrin, and it wouldn't surprise me if the project is being strongarmed to shoot for downtown instead, after letting them sweat it out a bit of course.

It's possible that, until Rick and Brent learn to play nice with Larry, he may keep all the toys to himself.

When the proposed expanded gaming package inevitably dies in Springfield, Johnson and Nielsen may scuttle back to the table to see what additional incentives might be offered downtown to make the project happen.

My gut tells me we haven't heard the last of this.

Fresh start means a new Elyea?

Since this blog started in the frigid cabin fever months, my frequency of posts has declined as the mercury has climbed, but that's to be expected. Here at the compound, we've been spending as much time outside as possible. Between the job, family, generally enjoying the outdoors and tending to my garden, I'm just too pooped to find someone to pick on everyday here.

But it's been awhile, and I'll give it a shot. Blame it on the rain.

For someone who had no balls as a county board member, Karen Elyea has sure been trying to swing a pair around in city hall.

Having been little more than a warm body in her board seat, she seems to be trying to redefine herself as someone who actually understands what's happening around her, even if she's still not a part of it.

A week ago, appearing to have grown weary of listening to the rest of the council participate in meaningful discussion about arts funding, Elyea raised her hand to be recognized, admittedly with the intention of calling the question to end the debate.

Shit like that may fly in the county board room, Sweetie, but the council doesn't play that way. You can't strut into city hall like a big shot with the reputation (or lack of one) you've earned on the board.

Sorry if you're already bored with the new gig, but please don't try to stand in the way of healthy discourse just because there's somewhere you'd rather be. Remember, you're free to leave at any time, and there are no hall monitors to issue detention slips as you make your escape.

I can imagine her now, looking at her watch and daydreaming about cupcakes through every meeting she's signed up for during her new term of office. The poor thing is bound to completely crack under the duress of boredom.

Also a week ago, when the council voted on the advisory resolution supporting a casino license, Elyea decided to pull an amendment out of her hippie bag to indicate that the city specifically supports a casino downtown, rather than the more likely I-90 region.

While I agree we need to draw people back into the heart of the city instead of away from it, this was just a futile motion that failed as miserably as it deserved.

Although Mayor Morrissey is all about downtown, you didn't score any points with him, because he doesn't want it. And if it means jobs and dollars, aldermen tend not to be picky about where the gambling den goes.

It certainly would have shown some nobility on behalf of your constituents if you'd suggested the casino be sited in your ward, but it made little sense to demand it be built downtown, whose aldermen weren't even supportive of your amendment. Ouch.

I truly hope Elyea is trying to do things right with a clean slate in her new job as alderman, but she needs to concentrate more on building relationships with the rest of the council before they'll take her seriously.

You're in Larry Land now, Ald. Elyea, and that's a long way from Christiansen County, Hughes or no Hughes. There's a whole new set of rules you need to learn and play by if you want to be effective. The Irishman will fill ya' in on a need-to-know basis, but I'd suggest making some other friends, too.

Your relationship with Jimbo can only get you so far, but remember he holds the kill switch, so you don't wanna turn your back on him.

To her credit, Karen has already spoken more in her few weeks on the council than in her years on the board. One of these days, she might even offer something meaningful if she applies herself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interested party steps forward for Dist. 11 County Board seat

Reader Don Mason dropped me a line today to acknowledge he's asking to be considered as Karen Elyea's (D-11) successor on the county board after Elyea was sworn in as a Rockford alderman last week.

Here's what he had to say:

Raoul:

I've submitted my name to both County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen and Democratic Central Committee Chairman Dan Lewandowski for consideration to fill the County Board District 11 vacancy created by the resignation of Karen Elyea.

Resumes have been sent to all of the Democratic Precinct Committeemen in District 11, to Chuck Sweeny at The Rockford Register Star, and to Frank Schier at The Rock River Times.

Some of my qualifications include:

1)Education (two Associate's degrees, a Bachelor's, a Doctorate, and post-Doctorate surgical training)

2)Entrepreneurial experience (including being awarded a United States patent)

3)Union experience (former member of Local 196 of the Musicians Union)

4)Community service (Steering Committee of Kishwaukee Corridor Weed and Seed; President of Northwest Midtown Neighborhood Association, also known as Now!Town)

5) Government experience: (Seven years on the Alden Township Planning Commission in McHenry County. Township planning commissions are extremely rare, but in my opinion lead to better land use planning - and Winnebago County could certainly use better land use planning. So I've written an article about how they work, and I've submitted it to The Rock River Times.)

My supporters for the District 11 appointment include Rockford Township Clerk Jeff Holt; 11th Ward Alderman Karen Elyea; and Deputy Director of Regional Planning and Economic Development, County of Winnebago, Jim Hughes.

Perhaps this new information will help to clear up some of the misunderstandings regarding the recent 11th Ward race.

Dr. Donald C. (Don) Mason

Cult of Puri cries foul

Behind a "gutless cloak of anonimity" [that's how they spell anonymity], the Cult of Puri has notified me of an alleged error in my speculation about Sunil Puri's involvement in an apparent feud between John Taphorn and Larry Morrissey.

According to online tax records, there is only one record for a 120 W. State St. (the address of Taphorn's downtown building) in Winnebago County, but the Cult of Puri begs to differ.

Because I noted the parcel is owned by "Winnebago Corners, LLC," Puri-ists are apparently assuming it literally refers to the "Winnebago Corners" at U.S. 20 [State Road, not State Street] and Winnebago Road west of town.

But according to county records, Winnebago Corners, LLC also owns 5 other properties.

Regardless, in fairness, I've passed along their claim to consider for yourselves.

By the way, if rumors of a Puri divorce are true, Sunil will be shopping the market for a new young trophy wife. Good luck, ladies!

UPDATE:
Through a hail of insults, the Cult did manage to make a valid point of clarification. As it turns out, the building is listed as 124 S. Wyman instead of its actual address of 120 W. State, in the name of Amcore, not Puri.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pearson gone, Bonne charged with DUI, Syverson vs. Sweeny, another casino proposal

The bitch about vacation is that it isn't really a vacation. It's really more a matter of putting off the work, which compounds each day, until you return to pay the piper. This has been my life, for the most part, since my reluctant return from San Juan. I think I'm finally caught up now, though.

I apologize to readers who may have grown weary of infrequent posts for the last couple weeks, but I assure you we have much to talk about.

Where shall we begin?

How about the Metrocentre? When I last addressed this, it looked like the party was over for Corey Pearson, and that turned out to be the case. The way it appears, I'm willing to bet Corey was told to start looking for a job months ago so that he could resign instead of being fired. His house of cards has begun crumbling as questionable expenses have been discovered, but he's managed to sidestep the falling anvil.

He's someone else's problem now, so good riddance. Let us hope one or both of the mayor's new panels will take a good look at the Authority Board as well.
Mark Bonne, Republican turned independent, was arrested and charged Thursday night with DUI - his second. Based on his resemblance to W.C. Fields, I'm not surprised. Einar Forsman and Paul Logli, I've got my eye on you, too.

I wonder if Dave Syverson got a late-night phone call from a noisy holding cell early Friday morning, pleading to make Bonne's latest flub disappear.

Right now, a bill by Syverson aims to do away with the Cullerton ruling which resulted in so many recent candidacy objections, including one that backfired on Bonne when he applied the ruling to Democrat Bill Robertson's having voted in the previous GOP primary. In a comical twist, the same ruling knocked Bonne off the ballot after it was discovered he'd voted in the Democratic primary. Both ended up running as independents.

In an instance where justice prevailed, Robertson won the 14th Ward seat, and it looks as though Bonne may have been drowning his sorrows ever since.

By the way, Syverson's bill passed the Senate and is before the House.

Speaking of Syverson, I'll bet he wants to strangle Chuck Sweeny right about now. The Register Star stopped reporting on the controversy Sweeny started by painting Dave as a saboteur of W. State St.

As it turns out, Syverson agreed to a special meeting with residents on the west side who were pissed off by what Sweeny wrote. Of course, Dave said Sweeny used his comments out of context. All things considered, I think Syverson is right on this one. The weekly reported that Sweeny hightailed it out of the meeting early, and Sweeny hasn't uttered a word about it since.

My guess is that we'll see one or two apologetic pieces in the near future in the daily. Sweeny will latch on to some Syverson cause to make amends. Maybe it'll be the Bonne Bill.

Yesterday, RRStar editor Linda Grist-Cunningham broke the daily's silence by throwing stones at Democratic chairman Dan Lewandowski, who apparently - get this - sent text messages stating "brass" at the daily had killed the story about Syverson's appearance on the west side.

Because it didn't occur to editorial staff that a reporter should be sent to the meeting, Grist-Cunningham basically said Sweeny didn't report on it because he was a part of the story. Looks to me like they're too chicken to admit Sweeny was just plain wrong.

I've gone easy on Chuck in the past, especially considering he's made it particularly obvious he's getting many of his ideas from this blog, but I have little sympathy for him here. Aaron Chambers should have gotten Sweeny's job, but there can't always be justice.

Sweeny also wrote strongly in support of an additional subsidy for the Metrocentre this week. He pretended the city isn't already paying an annual subsidy of more than $900,000. That payment now goes toward paying down renovation bonds, but it is a subsidy nonetheless, based on lofty, undelivered promises made by the MC - that no other money would be required from the city. To date, no one has been held accountable for the broken promises.

The problem child wants another $1 million a year, and we'll be stuck paying it. The way Sweeny sees it, we have to take one for the team. But in professional sports, the owners aren't the ones who are asked to make the sacrifices.

If the shareholders aren't seeing a return on investment, management and coaching staff are the first to go, but that hasn't been the case in the Rockford fiefdom.

The taxpayers are the owners, city council is management and the Authority Board is the coaching staff. The shareholders think it's time for new leadership all around.

The situation begs another question: Would the Blackhawks organization pitch in on a bailout to keep the Metrocentre's doors open? Doubtful, but it makes one wonder what would happen if the Icehogs no longer had a facility to call home.

Back to likely 2013 mayoral candidate Dave Syverson.

Syverson's behind yet another bill that would bring a casino to Rockford. We've come to laugh at these over the years, but this is about the best chance a casino in Rockford has had yet.

All things considered in Springfield, I see more gaming licenses on the horizon. Republicans like this idea, because they can say they didn't raise your taxes to get at the extra loot.

A casino may cure what ails downtown, but if one happens, they're gonna wanna put it out by I-90. Under the circumstances, I guess I'd have to support the riverboat standard in Illinois to keep it downtown.

There will be a casino in Rockford, but it will undoubtedly be out by the tollway, because that's where all the private dollars are invested right now.

Mayor Morrissey oughta speak up on this issue now before his beloved downtown loses another golden opportunity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Puri a player in riverwalk grudge match?

Uppance has come for John Taphorn, who backed out of a deal last summer to lease the city 265 feet of riverfront sidewalk at 120 W. State St. for Mayor Morrissey's riverwalk. The city would have paid $10 a year for the 20-year lease.

For 10 bucks a year, it's no wonder Taphorn wanted to graze in greener pastures.

A 2003 brief on Statelinebusiness.com identified Taphorn as president of Rock Valley Brick and Supply Co. I don't know if that info is still accurate, but my imagination suggests that maybe John was hoping for assurance of a contract for the riverwalk project. This, of course, is only speculation, but my gut is usually pretty close to the mark.

The $950,000 originally planned to develop that portion of the riverwalk went to other city projects, like elimination of the Main Street mall.

Larry hasn't forgotten and Taphorn was recently cited for not having permits for a significant "landscaping" project on the riverfront strip Morrissey hoped to lease. Work was brought to a halt until Taphorn plays by the rules.

I guess Larry only wants the area improved on his own terms. With Taphorn, not the city, taking on the beautification project, the area will remain private property.

Interestingly, Taphorn contributed $1,000 to Morrissey in 2004. Larry must be wondering what John's done for him lately.

By the way, Taphorn apparently only owns the building, not the land. According to county property records, a parcel at 120 W. State is owned by Winnebago Corners, LLC - You guessed it: Sunil Puri.

Threatened with a tantrum, council succombs to demand for raise in allowance

Trying to save face in front of an enraged citizenry, aldermen perpetrated the oldest confidence game in the book Monday night, with taxpayers as the mark (no pun intended).

Despite quick hands, the council gave the Metrocentre exactly what it requested.

Completely unreliable sources tell me Andres Sammul and Corey Pearson exchanged briefcases in an elevator after the meeting. The briefcase Pearson walked away with allegedly had $250,000 cash, while Sammul's case only had a crudely scribbled note on a strip club napkin that read, 'Thanks, Pops."

The council decided: "Aw, shucks. OK, we'll 'loan' you some more money for old times sake, but we can't keep doing this. I mean, what if my wife finds out?"

Well, the bitches (that is, we the taxpayers) did find out, but I'll bet a good number of folks around the horseshoe are glad to have kept it under wraps until after the elections.

There were whispers, just prior to the April 7 election, that the Metrocentre wouldn't last through June. Doug Block's camp was talking about it, but they never pushed it beyond the rumor stage.

Then again, it wasn't only Morrissey who'd stand to lose if Block brought it to the forefront. Plenty of Block's fellow Democrats share the blame with Larry, and that's my best guess as to why Block backed off.

So, what will we get to show for the latest $600,000 we'll never see again? Two new appointed committees adding more layers to the bureaucratic kangaroo court of city government. If all goes well, they may even get budgets of their own.

One committee will focus specifically on the Metrocentre, making sure the big orange problem child behaves while the city dangles the remaining $350,000 like a carrot on a stick.

The other committee will make sure the whip is cracked on the asses of the Coronado, On the Waterfront and others. Essentially, the city is pretending to be strict disciplinarians when it comes to taxpayer dollars, but their unwillingness once again to teach the Metrocentre Authority a hard lesson only proves they are pushovers.

Let 'em shut down for the rest of the year if they can't learn to run the place like a business. The only way to burn money that fast is on strippers and blow. The Metrocentre made lofty promises they did not deliver, and I've yet to hear any council member question the leadership over there.

I suspect that's because the MC board is led by the police chief's wife. Still, Pearson has always come across as a real punk and I suspect his salary far outweighs his actual contributions to the cause. I'll be curious to see what the new committee will have to say about the MC officers and command staff, if anything at all.

I finally got around to watching my tape from Thursday's county board meeting. When Karen Elyea announced it would be her last meeting, colleagues responded with a standing ovation.

After having conducted an unscientific, anonynous poll, Rockford Rhetoric learned most board members just seemed glad to see her go.

I'd wager Tuffy Quinonez is demanding the appointment as reparation after being scorned by Elyea in the Democratic primary for the 11th Ward city council seat, but my money's against him.

Jim Hughes has an especially heavy pimp-hand in the 11th Ward, and I suspect Tuffy is not on the Irishman's short list of flunkies to finish Elyea's term. I can't wait to see who he digs up.

Speaking of Hughes, a little bird told me an interesting story that this blog's Site Meter data appears to corroborate after I physically verified locations of several interesting publicly-funded IP addresses frequenting this site.

I'll save that for another day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The big orange problem child

Met-ro-cen-tre
n.
1. A hole in downtown Rockford into which money is poured


What's another $600,000 we'll never see again? That's how it's gonna go down and there's nothing you can do about it.

I returned home to Rockford this weekend from my jaunt in Puerto Rico and returned to work today, recharged and more Patriotic than ever.

Spade, I did get some longboarding (and plenty of sun) in by day. By night, well, that was time for serious debauchery with old friends aboard a yacht called Vajoliroja, which is bigger than my house.

It was hard to leave, especially since I hadn't even pissed off the San Juan authorities yet. But here I am, giving serious consideration to negotiating an early retirement package with my financially strapped public employer. I would think they'd be happy to get rid of me at nearly any cost, but we'll see how far I can push it.

In games of chance, either I'm lucky or my systems simply work. In any case, I think I could easily replace my income by instead spending 40 hours a week at the tracks and at card games.

Going back to work today was nearly enough to make me forget my toes had been wrestling with sand in a carefree paradise for the past week, which can sure make a guy resent working for a living.

The regular crowd was absent from the compound's usual city council drinking event. I suspect they haven't realized I've returned, and that's just as well. I could use the quiet.

Oh, I still drank as I watched the meeting, but at least I was able to do it in peace.

Okay, the Metrocentre wants a $600,000 loan so its employees and other obligations can get paid a little while longer.

They say one of the main disappointments is that naming rights haven't been sold yet. Don't worry, lads and lasses, I fully expect to visit the Puri Center in the near future

The council keeps on getting put in the position of injecting more tax dollars into a Titanic disaster, because the Authority Board knows the city has too much invested to cut them off now. Truly, think of it as using a bucket to rid water from the hull of the doomed luxury liner.

You know, Doug Block mumbled about this issue during the mayoral campaign, but he should have spoken louder, as it was obviously put off by Morrissey until after the election. Alas, hindsight is always 20/20, they say.

What I don't understand is why the city keeps bailing the Metrocentre out, but that the leadership there is never questioned. These people promised us grand results for the $20,000,000+ they talked us into not very long ago and it's time to pull rank and appoint some competence.

-"You think I'm skimming off the top, Mike?"
-"No, I think you're unlucky. Maybe we can do better."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

19 county board members shit on District 2 in Puri County

Before I headed out the door for a night of hedonism at the OTB, I just had to watch last night's county board meeting on cable to see exactly how the Cult of Puri goose-stepped all over the will of the people.
Children of Winnebago County, you've got a bunch of pushovers on the county board. The biggest ones are Bob Kinnison and Randy Olson, who didn't even bother to show up for the vote. (We'll count them as yes votes). At least everyone else had the balls to take a position.

Well, almost everyone else. Chairman Christiansen let developer Frank Gambino and banker Kyle Logan off the hook. Gambino said he has no financial interests in the project, but abstained anyway. Logan works for Amcore, which apparently asked him not to vote on the controversial subdivision. (Both would likely have voted yes, by the way). What in Winnebago County isn't somehow connected to Amcore Bank? Mr. Logan, you're the Wuss of the Week. Normally, I like what you have to say, but you still need to grow some balls, young one.

Steve Schultz, former president of the group that sued the county for granting the first permit in 2006, obviously had to abstain. That's unfortunate, because he's a good man and a good rep. I would have liked to hear what he had to say on behalf of constituents.

Schultz's Second District counterpart, Dave Yeske, waged a filibuster of sorts as the sole voice of reason, but it was futile in a room filled with the Cult of Puri.

Whether it's the city council or the county board, the rest of the body usually goes along with the wishes of those representing the ward or district that is affected by a vote. When the roll call goes another way, I usually smell bullshit, but I think Yeske was sincere, so he's my Patriot of the Week for trying like hell to convince his questionable colleagues to say no.

Paul Gorski was the only Democrat with the cajones to speak against the egomaniacal development, so I'll let him share Patriot of the Week with Yeske.

Shame on loudmouth, "double-dipping" Doug Aurand, tin-eared Ted Biondo, pushover George Anne Duckett, short-timer Karen Elyea, realtor Angie Goral, pro-labor Bob Hastings, Mother-of-Pearl Hawks, "property rights" Pete MacKay, puppet Tom Owens, big Mel Paris, glossy-eyed realtor Diane Parvin, Dorothy Redd, who said "pass" until she saw how others voted first, "manscaper" Dave Tassoni, tax-dollar-partier Fred Wescott and Uncle Tom LC Wilson.

As predicted only here before the vote, it was mostly Democrats who sided with the Puri/Cannell development. Big fucking surprise considering that Blago-pal Puri is a huge Dem-contributor lately. Republicans had the numbers to metaphorically sodomize him without the courtesy of a reacharound, but they didn't, which doesn't speak highly of their intellect or party loyalty. Way to go, guys and gals.

My suspicion is that this is the way Christiansen wanted it. His campaign has also accepted thousands from Puri. Nevermind the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars invested in professional opinions on land use policies. Apparently, he was just throwing a bone to contributor Nicolosi & Associates for busy-work. It's clear the county has no will to follow the advice it's paid handsomely for. EVERY indication is that this subdivision is a bad idea. More importantly, people just don't want it. Last I checked, new housing like this was not in demand. I guess Sunil and that smug Chris Cannell didn't get the memo.

Potential challengers, I wait for your mission statements. I fully intend to start a PAC to support righteous candidates to replace these career deadbeats at the city and county levels.

"Death to the screwheads."

Patriot's note:
I guess the Cult of Puri didn't like what I had to say.


My Puerto Rican vacation skidded briefly to a halt today after I received a comment from an employee at a Rockford news outlet. He indicated his employer received an email from a county representative who alleged someone at the news outlet is behind this blog.

-Not true. As I've mentioned previously, I am a public employee. But for the sake of my own job, I'd prefer not to say which entity I work for.

This blog is not about me; it's about the incompetence that politics in Winnebago County is rife with, and this is a classic example.

Point 2: The media employee asked me to clarify my "death to screwheads" comment.
As it turns out, the county official suggested this to be some sort of threat, so I would like to dispel that right now, and then get back to my rum-soaked spot on the beach.

Jesus, I'd better not wear my "Eat the Rich" t-shirt for fear wealthy folks will feel threatened.

If one were to peruse other posts here, you'll find I've used the phrase at other times as a motto or mantra, of sorts - never as a threat.

For instance, I closed another post with something like, "Stay tuned, stay off your knees and death to the screwheads."

As you can see, it's really a stylistic device, but I'm glad to know county officials are reading! Data from my site meter and the comment from the media employee only confirm this.

Alas, the employee didn't want to give me any names yet, but I suspect I can trace IP addresses easily enough to find out which county folks are reading blogs on the taxpayers' dime. Stay tuned for that.

Now, if it were meant to be a threat, I would have implored, "Death to [insert specific name here]," and even then it would be difficult to construe it as a threat, considering my admittedly ridiculous writing style.

Stand down, Winnebago County government - you're not reading a terrorist manifesto here. I'm just some asshole with a blog. You can take us back to DefCon 5. All is well.

The only action I call upon readers for is through the democratic process to clean up local government.

I also gave the gentleman the number for a great little lawyer with a big hardon for government bullies, should the county official cause further problems.


By the way, look who I ran into today:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Report from a degenerate gambler

By now, you already know I cleaned up on the mayor's race. I just woke up a couple hours ago and am enjoying a three-martini breakfast. Tomorrow I collect what I wasn't able to Tuesday night. I expect resistance in a couple cases, so I've procured a private security agency to keep things civil.

By the way, the Yater is already paid for and waiting in San Juan, where we'll be united Saturday.

For all the barking the Blockheads did over the last month or so, they failed to even break the skin at the polls. Now get your fucking shine boxes.

Don't get me wrong, you won't find more critical coverage over the next four years than right here, so Larry-bashers are encouraged to stay tuned.

This will be the place new candidates are born, Patriots, so let's keep the dialogue going and take back city hall next time around. Hell, let's start our own Patriot Party.

The upset of the night: Useless Dan Conness managed to beat Pete MacKay for Rockford Township highway commissioner. I noticed Pete was running an awful lot of ads in the days before the race, but I never suspected he was in any trouble. Luckily, no one else thought Conness had a chance either, so I didn't lose anything on this race, except maybe faith in humanity. I vastly overestimated voter turnout, which I understand was only about 25%. Ouch. Pete's friends obviously stayed home Tuesday, and now look what's happened. The township has lost a friend and gained a fiend.

Those of you affected by the asphalt plant oughta be ashamed for allowing that to happen. Although many of you aren't in the city proper, my understanding is that you are in the township. If any of you really think Conness tried to stop the foul-smelling carcinogenic horror from coming to your neighborhood, think again. The same goes for your county board rep's. You've gotten what you deserve for your ignorance, you poor fools. See you in hell after a brief battle in the cancer ward. Morrissey was not your enemy, and Conness does not appear to have been your friend.

It occurred to me, however, that maybe John Harmon outsmarted everyone. If you'll recall, Harmon and a handful of others tried to oust MacKay by holding a caucus instead of a primary. The media actually took notice as it turned out, and no Republican had the balls to challenge Pete for the nomination. Then Harmon's closet buddy - Conness, a DINO - announced he was gonna run. Many laughed, including me, but Harmon and Conness are having a good chuckle now. Further proof of Harmon's political prowess, yes, but also evidence of what seems to be an exceedingly bitter nature.

Still, I'd like to spill a few with John. I'll bet he's one hell of a fun drunk. If only he could use his powers for good...

Betting against my heart - a guilty pleasure: The council is rid of Dapper Dan at least, but he'll be replaced by another dud in another ward, Karen Elyea. She who has the most yard signs wins, and that's how I was counting on the relatively uneducated 11th Ward to vote. My disdain for Elyea's plasticity and her apparent lack of any moral center nearly kept me from winning $1100 Tuesday night, but I wagered with my gut, not my heart. For what it's worth, I take little pleasure in having been right.

It was a bittersweet victory, but one that taught the part-time gambling rubes here at the compound an expensive lesson: Betting on who should win is folly.

Like the council with Conness, the county board will be rid of Elyea, but I shudder to think what kind of monster the likes of Doug Aurand will replace her with. For the liberals out there, you can take some comfort in knowing that at least it will be a real Democrat this time. Hopefully, they'll think about Mr. Latham for the seat. In any case, board Democrats will level the political landscape a bit with whomever replaces Elyea. They'll probably just move Jeff Polsean to the ward, since he can't seem to buy a seat anywhere else.

By the way, Democrat sources tell me they plan to vote in favor of Democratic-contributor Sunil Puri's special use permit at county board Thursday night. Whether Republicans plan to make it a partisan issue will be determined at the meeting. Republicans technically have enough votes to kill it should they choose, but I suspect there will be a lot of absences, so I'm not optimistic. Puri is smart enough to hedge his bets usually, but he was really counting on Democrats taking over the board in November, so Republicans could exact their revenge Thursday if they wanted to. I doubt they have the cajones, however.

One race I lost money on was township clerk. Overestimating voter turnout, as in MacKay's case, I had money on Diane Dal Pra Mitchell to keep her seat. Jeff Holt won that one, and I think the township will still be well-served, but it's obvious the Democrats really got the vote out in Rockford Township.

I really got beat up in the township races, but I ended up way ahead overall, so I can't complain. I lost a little by betting on Don Hall, who was challenging Mickey Goral for supervisor. I really hope Mr. Hall stays involved, because his political future is absolutely blinding. If he hasn't already, Hall needs to get together with another Patriot, Gen. John Borling, for some pointers. I think they'd get along famously.

Eli Nicolosi, you're a reader and I hold you personally accountable for the $350 I lost on your behalf in the trustee races! But I know you're good for it, and you also have a bright political future. We can work something out when I need a favor. Keep your chin up, kid, and remember who the real Patriots are.

You may or may not hear from me before my toes are in the sands of Puerto Rico this weekend, but you're all in my heart.

See you soon, Patriots.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who I’m endorsing, and who I’ll actually vote for...

I'm gonna try to keep this as short as possible, because I'm not in the mood right now. As predicted, they started arriving shortly before 10AM today, already smelling like breweries, brandishing firearms and compelled to gamble on each of the local races. I'm sick of them already, but by the time the polls open in the morning, I'll get my second wind to carry me until all precincts have reported.

By the way, Mr. Nicolosi, I've got big money riding on you for a township spot. Don't let me down, kiddo. I'm told my oldest needs braces.

When the city council drinking game was finished this evening, an inexplicable lull came over the compound - the calm before the storm on election day, I suppose. Anyway, I'm taking this moment to deliver what I've promised.

April 7 will be a long night for those of us watching the local races. Some will celebrate victories, other will mourn defeats, and I expect to do a little of both.

We have a choice, fellow Patriots. The choice is whether we keep city hall in the hands of the lawyers, or give it to the cops - Not a comfortable decision to make, as both industries continue to cause significant amounts of grief in my own life.

There are, of course, two other candidates for mayor, but even before the Democratic primary was decided, it was clear the race would be between Block and incumbent Morrissey.

Jesus Correa is still plugging along, usually showing up for forums and debates when he’s invited. By the time this election’s done, Jesus might actually have learned quite a bit, but I don’t suspect we’ll see him run again in four years. However, I would wholeheartedly endorse Correa for a leadership position that will give him the resources to craft downtown into his inspired yet attainable vision.

I also liked his comments about the police. As he deftly noted, people fear cops whether they’ve done anything wrong or not. No one is happy to see a cop in their rear-view mirror, yet they’re never around when you need them, right?

Correa advocated for officers to actually get to know the residents of the communities they protect – an excellent idea. Too much time is spent driving around in squad cars instead of doing the legwork that makes a difference. Police need to build relationships with citizens if we’re gonna put a real dent in crime. Better yet, Jello Biafra once proposed that police officers should be elected by the neighborhoods they serve.

Lord knows the neighbors need someone to turn to when they find me pissing in their rose bushes and blasting a shotgun into the air at 5AM on a Sunday.

John Harmon, you’ve got a lot of wisdom and sensible ideas. During this campaign, you have been consistently stellar in identifying problems and presenting solutions. As far as my score sheet is concerned, you won every debate.

Comparing the cases presented by all four candidates, I hereby endorse John H. Harmon for mayor of Rockford, but that's not who I'll be voting for.

Unfortunately, John’s strengths are in politics, not in making friends. When you’re running as a Republican in a city of Democrats, you’ve already got an uphill battle. Add to that the fact that few in your own party support you and you’ve got, as Larry would say, a tough row to hoe.

John, I recommend you retire from running for office. Instead, you could keep your hand in things as a campaign consultant. Believe it or not, that actually might give folks like Jim Thacker something to worry about. Give it some serious thought. [Patriot’s note: I wrote this suggestion last night, prior to hearing Mr. Harmon mention such a possibility during today’s WNTA debate].

While Harmon, point for point, presented the strongest arguments to earn my endorsement, he simply cannot win, so my actual vote must be cast either for Larry or for Doug.

Doug is a well-liked guy. Considering that he worked internal affairs (not a popular position in the department), it's impressive that he has the full trust of Rockford's finest. And no matter what Larry dishes out, Block will be okay in my book, too.

However, I can’t ignore that he obviously has the interests of the police union at heart. His knowledge about other issues, quite frankly, is not up to snuff this time around. The problem, I think, is that Block’s candidacy is more about dethroning Larry than anything else. Beyond that, Doug doesn’t appear to have real plans yet to address the multitude of issues facing the city if he’s actually elected.

On the other hand, just about everyone who voted for Larry feels let down.

If we learned anything from the GW Bush debacle, however, choosing the guy you’d most like to do blow with while driving drunk isn’t always the best course of action. When it comes to that, there’s no question I’d rather party with Doug, but this is no Tijuana titty-bar.

At Block’s present level of fluency with the issues, I’m much more inclined to leave things in Larry’s hands right now, and I’ll grudgingly cast my vote for Morrissey.



There you have it, for whatever it's worth.

This is a tighter race than Larry would like, but I predict he'll win it. I've got money on it in fact, and I'm determined to fleece the derelicts in my living room who think Block has the edge.

If Morrissey is re-elected, I'll be scrambling to collect an estimated $14,000 in winnings before I board a plane for San Juan Saturday. In which case, a new Reynolds Yater high performance longboard will be my first purchase once I hit the beach. The remainder will, of course, be spent on foolish endeavors I hope to remember later.

Hang loose, Patriots.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Charlie Box don't surf!

I promised an endorsement, while also acknowledging it shouldn't count for anything - because who the fuck am I, right? Regardless, as much as I spout off about these poor bastards running for mayor, I can't go limp now.

I will be voting, I'll have to make a choice and I will share it with you the night before I do so. I don't care to sway your vote. You have your own reasons and beliefs. I'll just tell you what decided it for me as best I can.

It might come late, but by the time you wake to go about your civic duty on Tuesday, The Patriot will have spoken.

I'm really trying to keep an open mind until the WNTA debate is over Monday. That'll be the last stand for all 4 gentlemen and I expect friends, political figures and strangers will start dropping by the compound sometime Monday morning, demanding to start the tailgate party.

Once I wake up Monday, there'll be no sleep until Wednesday. When I regain consciousness sometime Thursday or Friday, I'll lick my wounds and pack my bags for Puerto Rico. I'm leaving Saturday, but will stay connected through the miracle of the porn machine. Some friends are making a movie (not a porno) in San Juan and I wanna get some color before summer.It'll be a nice break. I need to get to the beach for a recharge every now and then. Normally, I head home to San Marcos, CA. Most of the family is out that way, and I like to do a little surfing when I can.

By the way, I highly recommend winter surfing on Lake Michigan when you can't get to an ocean.



But it's been too long since I've been to Puerto Rico and it'll be good to see old friends. Mid-April typically marks the end of peak surfing down there, but I'm hoping for some nice swell anyway. Then again, I might just stick around there to do some surfing when hurricane season starts in June.

We'll just have to see how long the local authorities will be tolerant of me before I have to make a hasty exit from the archipelago.

Fear not. We're in it together as we inherit whatever disaster we find ourselves stuck with April 8.

Take comfort in knowing we've got 4 years to make sure Dave Syverson gets his dick knocked in the dirt when he runs for mayor.

Friday, April 3, 2009

OK, now that I've got the attention of Block and the PBPA

I noticed that my friendly suggestions to Doug were reposted on the the PBPA's blog, and I'm humbled that Rockford's Finest see merit in them. I'm glad you've taken notice, because Doug can win this thing, despite the awful week he's having at a crucial time. Heed the 10 tips I posted previously and you'll be well on your way - but waste no time.

Okay, as it turns out, Larry beat you to the Rick Nielsen endorsement, but that one was more of a joke than anything, so don't despair. Endorsements are like assholes anyway.

Now is the time to go back on the offensive - immediately. You're a self-described bulldog, Doug, so start biting and don't let go.

Having any luck with the Coppergate or Brauns suggestions? Those are biggies. I'd also urge you to concentrate on pledging to put a stop to the riverwalk. MFT funds might be better spent on roads, don't you think? Everyone knows the only one who wants the riverwalk is Larry - so that when he's no longer mayor, he can gaze from his office window in the Morrissey building and see his brick legacy along the river.

Since roads are a part of your platform, stress the need for accountability when it comes to the quality and longevity of the product. Like it or not, the cheapest bid isn't always the best course, and Rockford Blacktop (which isn't even located in Rockford, despite its name) needs to do a lot better after being hand-fed an asphalt plant by Larry. They should be put on notice that their bids will no longer be accepted if we have to replace their roads every few years.

Is there some reason it's the city burden to maintain the shitty roads we pay handsomely for? That should be the responsibility of the contractors, to ensure quality workmanship in the first place. Maintenance should be part of the contracts.

Also, as Spade agreed in his comment, like it or not, a casino is inevitable, so you might as well embrace it, Doug. You'd be surprised how much the State of Illinois will want to help Rockford when there are gambling revenues to be had.

By the way, Spade, there's always room for Jello here at the compound, so kudos to you for recognizing another Prophet and Patriot in Mr. Biafra.

Speaking of gambling, there's the matter of that card-game-gone-bad on Kishwaukee Street in October 2007. Everyone knows there were important folks there, and at least some members of the PBPA must know who they are. We're all ears, and your anonymity is assured by The Patriot. Drop me a line via comment (which I'll keep private), and The Patriot will do the rest. As stupid as the three young men were to allegedly rob the game, they don't deserve to be charged with murder. Be heroes and let the real story be told. Rockford wants to know. I'd love to print the tale as a work of fiction so that the more intelligent among us can read between the lines for some semblance of the truth.

That aside, I'll be waiting for Mr. Block to put some of my suggestions to work for him before the weekend, and I've got plenty more to dish out before Tuesday if he actually starts to listen. I won't even send you a consulting bill, Mr. Block. We can negotiate that for the next campaign in 4 years. I'd just hate to see Larry win simply because of his crybaby antics on Tuesday. Give him something to really cry about, Doug.

The Patriot has spoken, and it is so.

Humping Block's leg pays off for Elyea?

Republican Karen Elyea, who seems to call herself a Democrat only as a matter of convenience and opportunity, has been laughing all the way to her campaign coffer, thanks to union contributions she's gotten by following Doug Block around like a puppy dog.

The local fire fighters' union contributed, because they apparently assumed she's pro-union, since they've undoubtedly seen her riding Block's coattails.

Likewise, IBEW, the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council, the iron workers, plasterers & cement masons and laborers have thrown financing Elyea's way.

"Civilian" contributors to her campaign include Republican county board member Randy Olson. Additionally, Elyea's campaign documents show that she hired former Republican county board member Chris K. Johnson's River District Catering for a fundraiser.

It appears to me Karen might do or say anything to get what she wants, but for the unions who hope she gets elected, she'll be your worst nightmare, because she's probably already forgotten you. You'll learn that she cares primarily about her own agenda, and unions don't likely factor into it. Sorry, Charlie.

Where are all the contributions from people in her ward who believe in her? That's easy: There aren't any. Not one.

Advice to Doug Block: Choose your friends more carefully, because everyone else in Rockford seems to know more about Elyea than you do, and she could be hurting your chances of being taken seriously. And don't be afraid to ask your PBPA members about drug charges against her in 2003, and whether they believe there's more to that.