Hastert Where Are You?

Once again residents of the 14th district try to speake to J. Dennis Hastert their absentee representative. This week he is in Arizona and southern California raising money for other Republicans. Some fools are paying a $1,000 just to have their pictures taken with him.
Yet right here in his own districts constituents without checkbooks in their hands are ignored.

He thinks he has this election sewed- up. However there are many grassroot groups working to bring him down. From peace groups to immigrant rights groups, etc coupled with being investigated by the FBI, and other federal investigators for the Turkish FBI tape scandal, his ties with Abramoff, his other ties to lobbyists, and his unethical land deals, this November there is going to be a shock wave come out of the 14th district that is going to catch the national media flat footed again, as John Lasesch pulls the upset of the decade, maybe of the century. Continue reading Hastert Where Are You?

Bob Pritchard & Fundraising

State Rep. Bob Pritchard is the incumbent this fall and fair game for scrutiny. However, this is not really about him so much as it is about the general need for campaign finance reform in Illinois.

From a Daily Chronicle report on the defeated May 2004 IL House legislation to ban horse slaughter in the state:

Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, opposed the ban on horse slaughter and said it failed because fellow lawmakers realized it would be unconstitutional and a threat to the agricultural industry. He also said the ban would have had a negative effect on the DeKalb County economy. Cavel is slated to employ about 40 people.

“This is about jobs,” Pritchard said in a statement. “The defeat of this bill today is a victory for employment in our community, for broadening our local tax base and helping our school districts. It’s an economic shot in the arm.”

According to the the Illinois State Board of Elections, DeKalb’s horse slaughterhouse has also been an economic shot in the arm for Rep. Pritchard:

Cavel International Inc. 108 Harvestore
DeKalb, IL 60115 $500.00
12/22/2003 Individual Contribution
Citizens for Pritchard

Cavel International Inc. 108 Harvestore
DeKalb, IL 60115 $300.00
10/12/2004 Individual Contribution
Citizens for Pritchard

Cavel International Inc. 106 Havestore Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115 $1,000.00
6/25/2005 Individual Contribution
Citizens for Pritchard

In an earlier disclosure, I find that attorney Brett Brown contributed $350.00 to Pritchard’s PAC. Brown has represented Cavel.

I won’t be snide. I’m gonna say right out that I would better have trusted the motivation for Pritchard’s vote if his PAC hadn’t accepted money from Cavel and company.

Another thing that bothers me is when candidates get a lot of money from outside their constituencies. Continue reading Bob Pritchard & Fundraising

The Airlines & the Jail

Everybody knows that the county jail is full. Another referendum this fall, same as two years ago, will ask voters to approve a 1/2-cent hike in the local sales tax–a “public safety” tax–to fund expansions to jail-related programs and services.

What’s plain is that the decision had to be made about whether we are going to house our own prisoners or transport them to facilities in other counties, and the county board has made it. What maybe hasn’t been so plain is how they came up with the number they’re asking for, and how two airlines fit into the tax picture–in a big way. Continue reading The Airlines & the Jail

New Harvest: Rain

Yesterday I provided a link to an article that describes concerns about the huge amounts of water required in the production of ethanol in the Champaign-Urbana region.

High oil prices and support from Washington have inspired such interest in the corn-based gasoline additive that the Illinois Corn Growers Association now says at least 30 plants are in various stages of planning across the state.

All will use a lot of water.

It would take about 300 million gallons of water for processing the product and cooling equipment to make 100 million gallons of ethanol each year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

There are three plants planned for the area, the one in Champaign expected to use 1.7 million gallons of water and to generate at least 500,000 gallons of wastewater each day. Water recycling and improved technology are reducing the amount of water used in the process. Even if they didn’t, this is actually small potatoes compared to current Champaign-Urbana daily residential use of 23 million gallons. I visited there a few months ago. They are building houses like crazy–just like here–and it’s not difficult to believe that this type of growth eventually will affect the water level even of a mighty aquifer like Mahomet, which supplies Illinois communities with 250 million gallons daily. Says Allen H. Wehrmann, director of the Center for Groundwater Science at the Illinois State Water Survey:

It would take more than a century to pump the aquifer dry even if no water returned through rainfall and other natural recycling, which amounts to about 40 million gallons per day, he said.

Even so, there can be a cumulative effect as demand is added.

“When you get down to the local level, there will be impact,” Wehrmann said. “You can’t take the water out of the ground without lowering water to some degree. Other well owners may see water levels fall. In some cases their pumps may go out of the water, and that may mean lowering a well or pump.”

Extended droughts and too much pavement, which prevents surface water from returning to the aquifer, would exacerbate the impacts. Continue reading New Harvest: Rain

Ethanol in Illinois

Ethanol is hot in Illinois. Fully one-sixth of the corn grown in Illinois currently goes to ethanol production, we lag only Iowa in that endeavor, and it’s boom time here, compliments of incentives and a phase-out of another gasoline additive.

What is ethanol?

Ethanol is an alcohol made from renewable resources such as corn and other cereal grains, food and other beverage wastes and forestry by-products. Ethanol-blended fuel substantially reduces carbon monoxide and volatile organic compound emissions, which are precursors to ozone. The corn-based substance is added to gasoline blends to meet oxygenate level requirements mandated by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and to raise the octane level.

Other crops can be turned into ethanol, but corn is processed most efficiently. Although plenty of controversy exists over whether the production of ethanol takes more energy to make than what you can get out of it (which may also be true of gasoline) it is clearly a more than ample substitute for the banned gasoline additive MTBE, which aids air quality but has been found to contaminate the water supply. Ethanol biodegrades quickly in water and is also air-friendly. Continue reading Ethanol in Illinois

Welcome, Allentown, New Jersey!

[Updated 6/11.] Rockefeller Group, inconvenienced enough in DeKalb to shake the Midwest topsoil off its shoes and head back toward the coasts, wants to develop some 320 acres for logistics enterprises along the New Jersey Turnpike in the vicinity of Allentown, NJ, a plan comparable to their failed warehouse mega-project on 343 acres on the southern edge of DeKalb.

In this earlier article at citybarbs, I described what has already happened to Cranbury and East Brunswick–which are only about 15 miles from Allentown–when mega-logistics came to their area. They must mean to develop logistics along the entire Turnpike, exit by exit (Cranbury is Exit 8A, Allentown is Exit 7A).

You will also notice, if you follow the link, that residents of Allentown have commented there. Another Allentonian phoned me, having come across an old letter to the editor. They have apparently put together quite a team of Internet Research Commandos (IRCs) already. Good for them. Continue reading Welcome, Allentown, New Jersey!

Hey, District 428: First things first!

The Daily Chronicle reports today that DeKalb School District is considering hiring a Communications Director (translation: PR person).

DeKALB – It’s hard to imagine a multimillion-dollar corporation without a communications director.

But that’s just what the DeKalb School District is, said Northern Illinois University professor of communications Steve Ralston.

On Tuesday, Ralston talked to the school board about creating a communications plan for the district. District officials have said the district wants to provide more information to the public about the school district, and the best way to do it is to hire a person to oversee that on a daily basis. The board has debated hiring an individual or a public relations firm.

So, they want to hire an expert to say nice things about the schools and pay him/her $100,000 per year.

Here’s what the Northern Star had to say about our high school recently:

While racial tension at DeKalb High School has been a hot conversation topic, DHS students find the school’s cleanliness is the real issue.

Last fall, a survey conducted by the Stearnes Group showed students felt the need for more respect for certain groups, including racial and sexual orientation groups. ..Respect problems aside, [DHS principal Lindsey] Hall said the survey showed the high school has a bigger issue.

“The item that came out as the biggest problem is that the school is not clean,” Hall said.

Think about how bad it’s got to be if the teenagers are noticing it–and “not clean” may be an understatement. A DHS student who lives in my neighborhood has told me about mold in the band room and rickety stairs. Seems to me that if they can cough up $100k for more personnel, it should go toward maintenance staff and repairs.

Mr. Speaker Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?

Our 14th District Representative and Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert, must think his constituents are asleep or fools.

On March 14th he accepts a $5,000 campaign contribution from Exxon. Then on April 26th, the Washington Post reported Mr. Hastert was leading the GOP congress in blocking legislation that would have raised the taxes on the oil companies’ huge profits. On April 27th Congress Daily reported that Speaker Hastert was one of the Top Ten recipients of campaign contributions from oil companies. So far in the 2005-2006 election cycle the FEC reports that Hastert has received a total of $92,000 from oil and gas corporations.

Next on April 28th he tried to cover his backroom actions with a public news conference in front of a Washington gas station with plenty of photographers he tried to convince America that the House of Representatives were going to get tough on those gasoline companies and set aside money for alternatives to gasoline. To dispell any doubters he then drove off in a hydrogen powered car, only to stop a few blocks away from the cameras to get out of the hydrogen car and climb into his GMC SUV, according to an AP photograph.

And if we weren’t already feeling insulted enough by his blatant disregard for our intelligence a few days later on May 3rd he held a closed door meeting with the biggest profiteer of them all-Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson. Maybe with the next FEC quarterly report we’ll see how big his payoff was from Exxon.

This has to be the year we stop Hastert. Enough is enough.

About that night-light on Route 88

Today’s Chicago Tribune front-paged a story about a Hillside Landfill that is leaking landfill gas (LFG), which is about 50% methane. Methane, you may recall, is one of the so-called greenhouse gases so the EPA generally frowns on its escape from any source other than livestock (and even that’s only true up to a point.) It is flammable and can give you headaches and nausea.

“It’s the worst odor I’ve ever smelled. I’ve smelled dead bodies–I spent a year in Vietnam–and this is worse,” says [Joe] Tamburino, Hillside’s village president. “Once this gets in your home, it gets in your clothes. You can’t open your window to get rid of the odor because it’s worse outside.”

Continue reading About that night-light on Route 88

National Citizen Survey: DeKalb may be a college town.

Yep, DeKalb did another survey last fall, this time the National Citizen Survey administered by the National Research Center at the University of Colorado. About 400 towns, cities and other jurisdictions take the same survey each year, so we not only have ratings given by our own residents but can see how DeKalb stacks up to the other participating communities when it comes to delivering city services and responding to the major issues we face.

What you’ll find here first is a quick overview of the survey methodology as well as a summary of some of the results. (Quotes come from the NCS 2006 Summary Report and/or the Staff Summary prepared for the 2/20/2006 city council workshop unless otherwise noted.) Then I’ll re-visit the DeKalb “identity crisis” issue and the downtown revitalization plan in terms of the Survey results.
Continue reading National Citizen Survey: DeKalb may be a college town.