David John Diersen, GOPUSA Illinois Editor
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April 1, 2006 News Clips
Posted by Diersen on 15-Mar-2007
-- Important questions to ask Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee candidates - Dave Diersen
-- State Central Committee Elections
Each candidate's status is pending review by the Election Oversight Committee of the candidate's voting record from the local election authority where the candidate resides to ensure that the candidate voted in the March 21, 2006 Republican Primary, which is a mandatory qualification to be a candidate for State Central Committee Member.

-- Illinois Governor: Toss-Up - Topinka 43%, Blagojevich 41%

-- Suburban battles brew for control of state GOP -

(MEDIA BIAS: Using "failed governor candidate" to describe Oberweis, using "failed congressional candidate" to describe Nalepa, using "up-and-coming DuPage County Board member" to describe Sheahan, etc.)

-- Crane ‘the past’ McSweeney says  GOP hopeful not waiting for endorsement - 

-- Glen Ellyn teenager kidnapped  Immigration case pair held -

-- Milton Township: Will deficit lead to tax hike request? - Jim Fuller


-- Topinka’s People

-- Unhappy Republicans - Greg Pierce 
-- Recklessly Spending Other People's Money - Senator Chris Lauzen
-- Tim Martin receives narrow approval  IDOT secretary survives Senate tally by one vote - Doug Finke
-- A Few Minutes with a Presidential Hopeful: An Interview with John Cox - Bernard Chapin
-- At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) won a standing ovation for skewering companies that profit from imported labor. "The conservative movement can either be the voice of principle or it can be the voice of the Chamber of Commerce," Tancredo roared. "But it cannot be both."
-- Hundreds turn out for help from Mexican consulate - Gonzalo Baeza
-- Mobile office issues IDs for Mexicans - Gonzalo Baeza
-- Crete Mayor Einhorn: Airport not about racism - Kristen McQueary

-- Buckeye GOP Circles the Drain - John Kasich


-- DuPage GOP chair Dillard ecstatic over Topinka, Birkett wins - Kathy Cichon

-- Grand jury indicts ex-DuPage worker Deborah S. O'Brien in $500,000+ embezzlement case


-- DIERSEN HEADLINE: Cichon laughs at drug laws, DuPage County Board grins and chuckles at Schroeder prayer


-- Lake County: Biennial Republican, Democratic conventions to be held April 19


-- Duckworth discord - Robert Novak


-- Robert Novak: Headlines first Chicago Sun-Times/University of Illinois at Chicago lecture forum. April 19 at UIC. Public invited. - Lynn Sweet


Important questions to ask Illinois Republican Party State Central Committee candidates - Dave Diersen
State Central Committee Elections
Each candidate's status is pending review by the Election Oversight Committee of the candidate's voting record from the local election authority where the candidate resides to ensure that the candidate voted in the March 21, 2006 Republican Primary, which is a mandatory qualification to be a candidate for State Central Committee Member.
Congressional District 1
Babette Peyton
Maureen Murphy
Lori Yokuyama

Congressional District 2
Judy Diekelman

Congressional District 3
George Preski
Georgiann Callaway
James Parrilli

Congressional District 4
Ann Melichar
Ruperto "Bob" Alejandro
John Curry

Congressional District 5
Skip Saviano

Congressional District 6
Ron Smith
Brien Sheahan

Congressional District 7
Clark Pellett
Carol Smith Donovan
Paul Sengpiehl
Frank Cappuzzi

Congressional District 8
Gene Dawson
Norm Hill
Ed Sullivan, Jr

Congressional District 9
Joseph Hedrick
Jack Dorgan

Congressional District 10
Tolbert Chisum
Raymond True
Ruth O'Connell

Congressional District 11
Bobbie Peterson

Congressional District 12
Brad Cole
Bill Zychlewicz

Congressional District 13
Jim Nalepa
Roger Claar

Congressional District 14
Denny Wiggins
Jim Oberweis
Tim Schmitz
John Cunningham

Congressional District 15
Jerry Clarke

Congressional District 16
Dave Syverson

Congressional District 17
Regan Ramsey

Congressional District 18
MaryAlice Erickson

Congressional District 19
Bob Winchester
Sam Stratemeyer

Illinois Governor: Toss-Up - Topinka 43%, Blagojevich 41%

Fresh from primary victories, neither the Democratic nominee nor the Republican nominee enjoys a clear advantage in the race for Governor of Illinois.

The latest Rasmussen Reports election poll shows Republican State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka leading Democratic Governor Rod R. Blagojevich 43% to 41%. That toss-up represents an apparent tightening of the race. In our late February poll, Blagojevich bested Topinka 42% to 36%. For him, that was an improvement over the January survey, when Topinka led 48% to 37%.

The rolling average of our last three polls confirms the close nature of the race and shows Topinka with a knife-edge 42% to 40% lead. Though the poll numbers seem to gyrate when looked at individually, it's the challenger's support that has varied most. The governor's has ranged much more narrowly, between 37% to 42%—low and not too auspicious for an incumbent.

Both nominees have weathered charges of corruption from within their own parties en route to their nominations. Neither has solidified support within their own party at this time.

Blagojevich is viewed favorably by 44% of likely voters and unfavorably by 53%, with only 2% Not Sure how to view him. Topinka is viewed favorably by 50%, unfavorably by 44%.

Blagojevich wins approval for his job performance as governor from only 39% of Illinois voters. Fifty-nine percent (59%) disapprove.



Suburban battles brew for control of state GOP -

(MEDIA BIAS: Using "failed governor candidate" to describe Oberweis, using "failed congressional candidate" to describe Nalepa, using "up-and-coming DuPage County Board member" to describe Sheahan, etc.) 

The Illinois Republican Party’s leadership panel could look radically different in three weeks, with 12 of the 19 seats seeing either challenges or vacancies.

Nowhere is the competition for the GOP state central committee more fierce than in the Northwest and West suburbs, where six of seven seats are up for grabs.

Each of the unpaid positions will be decided as part of the county GOP chairmen elections that take place April 18-19. The committee’s highest-profile role is filling vacancies on the statewide ticket, which it did in 2004 by selecting Maryland conservative Alan Keyes to take on then-state Sen. Barack Obama. Keyes lost by a record margin.

In the 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of northwest Cook, western Lake and eastern McHenry counties, committeeman Dr. William Dam is stepping down. Barrington Township GOP chairman Gene Dawson, state Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. of Mundelein and failed 2004 U.S. Senate candidate Norm Hill of Grayslake are running to replace him.

State Sen. Bill Peterson isn’t running again in the neighboring 10th District. Vying to replace him are New Trier Township GOP Chairman Tolbert Chisum, Wheeling Township GOP Chairman Ruth O’Connell, and conservative activist Raymond True of Libertyville.

And in the 13th District, centered in DuPage County, state Sen. Kirk Dillard won’t run again.

Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, who survived a probe of his political fundraising at the tollway, and failed congressional candidate Jim Nalepa are squaring off.

Sitting committee members face challenges in three other suburban districts. In the 6th District, which includes parts of DuPage and northwest Cook, longtime incumbent Ron Smith of Lombard is facing a challenge from up-and-coming DuPage County Board member Brien Sheahan of Elmhurst.

The 14th District sports a wide-open field. Failed governor candidate Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove will challenge incumbent Denny Wiggins, who’s also the Kane County GOP chairman from Aurora. But also joining the fray are state Rep. Tim Schmitz of Batavia and county Clerk Jack Cunningham. Ninth District committeeman Jack Dorgan, a lobbyist and ally of Rosemont Mayor Donald E. Stephens, is being challenged by Joseph Hedrick.

Crane ‘the past’ McSweeney says  GOP hopeful not waiting for endorsement -

Republican 8th Congressional District candidate David McSweeney said Friday he doesn’t care whether former U.S. Rep. Phil Crane, who held the seat for more than three decades, endorses him this fall.

“He’s the past. I’m focusing on the future,” said McSweeney during a taping of “At Issue” on WBBM 780-AM. “If Phil wants to endorse me, that’s fine. If he doesn’t, I’m focused on this race.”

The Barrington Hills investment banker, who unsuccessfully challenged Crane in the 1998 primary, had sought Crane’s backing during last month’s contentious primary. But Crane endorsed Wauconda trial lawyer Kathy Salvi, who ended up second to McSweeney.

A spokesman for Crane, who is retired in Virginia after losing the 2004 election to Democrat Melissa Bean of Barrington, could not be reached Friday.

McSweeney also said he’s willing to move on without the endorsement of the third-place primary finisher, state Rep. Bob Churchill of Lake Villa. Churchill, angered by a negative flier McSweeney mailed out near the end of the campaign, so far is withholding his backing. McSweeney said the two have yet to talk.

“I have outreached to his supporters. I believe I have a united Republican Party and look forward to taking that into the general election,” McSweeney said.

Both McSweeney and Bean will need the backing of all their party regulars in what’s expected to be a close and nationally watched race.

Bean is fighting a potential third-party challenge by Bill Scheurer, a Lindenhurst anti-war activist who needs to gather about 13,000 signatures during the next three months to get on the ballot.

McSweeney said he won’t help Scheurer get on the ballot, but thinks he should be invited to any debate.

“At Issue” can be heard at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sunday on 780-AM. It’ll also be available starting Monday at

Glen Ellyn teenager kidnapped  Immigration case pair held -

An Arizona man and the teenager police say he smuggled across the Mexican border were picked up on immigration charges in DuPage County after the teen’s Glen Ellyn family reported he’d been kidnapped.

The unnamed man and the teen were in custody on administrative charges for being in the country illegally, said Tim Counts, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.

The case started when Glen Ellyn police received a call at about 5 p.m. Tuesday from a local woman reporting her nephew had been kidnapped, Deputy Police Chief Bill Holmer said.

The local resident had arranged for his son to be smuggled into the country, police said. A driver from Arizona brought the youth to the family’s Glen Ellyn home, but then apparently refused to hand over the teen because of a disagreement over payment, Holmer said.

“It appears as though there was some kind of a civil dispute,” he said. “Someone didn’t come through on their end of the agreement. Maybe … a payment didn’t get made. That’s how it came across to us.”

Glen Ellyn police put out a bulletin in search of the minivan the man and the teen had arrived in. Within 20 minutes, the van was spotted by Winfield police at a McDonald’s parking lot at Roosevelt and County Farm roads in Wheaton, Winfield Police Chief James Kruger said.

Two Winfield officers held the vehicle and called Glen Ellyn police to the scene, who then called immigration authorities.

Holmer said the driver was being held at DuPage County jail while the teen was in custody of immigration officials.

Counts would not confirm that nor provide any other details about the case because, he said, an investigation was still under way.

A hearing has not been scheduled, he said.

Holmer said the situation was an unusual one for the area. Counts said human smuggling is a daily focus of his agency.

Although these arrests happened to come as the federal government considers wide-ranging and controversial immigration reforms — sparking widespread protests around the country — Counts said this case was handled routinely.

He said his agency deports about 160,000 people each year who’ve come to the U.S. illegally.

Milton Township: Will deficit lead to tax hike request? - Jim Fuller

Milton Township’s budget song ends on a sour note this fiscal year, but the tune isn’t quite as somber as trustees had earlier feared.

If the trend continues, the township could be faced with program cuts or prompted to seek voter approval for a tax increase.

The books are closing on the 2006 fiscal year with the township spending about $213,000 more than it took into the town fund. The fund accounts for most of the township’s $2 million budget and is responsible for most day-to-day operations and salaries. A conservative budget coming into the fiscal year had forecasted the fund’s deficit to be as much as $648,000.

Trustees approved $107,000 of line-item transfers this week to account for costs that ran unexpectedly high, such as salaries, maintenance equipment and retirement benefits.

This isn’t the first year the township closed the books with a deficit, but the trend shows it crawling out of the hole.

For instance, the last fiscal year ended with a deficit of about $424,000, according to an external audit report. The township is planning for a smaller deficit of $145,000 for next year.

Still, some trustees recently hinted at a possible tax increase, saying there isn’t much left to cut.

“We’re going to need to go to taxpayers and give them a choice,” Trustee Sal Falbo said at a meeting in early March. “We need to increase the rate or eliminate programs altogether. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

The township, which includes most of Wheaton and Glen Ellyn and some surrounding areas, has had some notable cost increases and other expensive blips on the budget radar.

For example, audits show building and site improvement costs skyrocketed from $9,000 in 2004 all the way up to about $146,000 last year. The cost ticked down to $1,600 this year.

At the same time, administrative salaries rose from about $316,000 in 2004 to a budgeted $372,000 for the coming fiscal year. There are only six full-time employees in the administrative category, according to a Freedom of Information Act request. However, the township did not provide salaries of paid elected officials, such as Supervisor Chris Heidorn.

Likewise, new costs have popped up since 2004. Photography costs in the assessor’s office added $55,000 to the budget in 2005. Scholarships for a new youth program combined with the costs of the new Citizens Corps Program to add almost $100,000 into the budget last year.

The township is required to host a public hearing on next year’s budget before taking a final vote on it. The next township meeting is Tuesday.


Topinka’s People

The word is out that Topinka’s people are making overtures to social conservatives, asking separate groups what it would take to get them involved in the campaign. When one downstate group suggested a position (not contradictory to Topinka’s message but called for some personnel change) the rejoinder was, “what-are you saying you want to run the government?” No, said the conservatives, but you asked what we would like. The response was that Joe Birkett should be enough. The social conservatives said, “Listen, get this straight. Joe Birkett is not Mr. Social Conservative. He never was. He’s been pretty conservative but no one, neither us nor so far as we know Birkett, has claimed he’s the leader.” The phone conversation terminated quickly. The downstate people on the other line are saying it’s not impossible they could back Meeks. But what about Meeks’ tax hike? They say, listen-odds are that Blagojevich will raise taxes after election or that Topinka will, blaming it on the Democrats. We’re thinking about Meeks. With one vote we’d screw Blagojevich and Topinka both. Not bad for one day’s work. (Election Day)
Unhappy Republicans - Greg Pierce 
    "A new Gallup poll shows a disturbing trend among the American public. The number of Americans who identify themselves as Republican has declined over the past year, while the number of Independents who lean Democrat has gone up. Message to Republican elected officials and Party leaders: the 2006 elections are at hand, and we must get our act together now," Bobby Eberle writes at
    "In summary, the poll released by Gallup on Wednesday shows that Americans are 'about as likely to identify as Republicans as they are Democrats.' However, once tendencies of Independents are factored into the results, 'the Democrats gain an advantage.' "
    "The change has been with Republican identification. Fewer people are considering themselves Republican than they did last year," said Mr. Eberle, who is president and chief executive officer of GOPUSA, a company dedicated to promoting the conservative philosophy through the distribution of political news, information and commentary via the Internet and special events.
    "This trend is undoubtedly due to the frustration being felt by grass-roots Republicans at the efforts (or lack thereof) of Republican leaders on key conservative issues. As reported last in an article titled Spending, Immigration Key Concerns for Conservatives, there is a belief among conservatives that Republican leaders are not doing enough to advance the conservative agenda. In areas such as government spending and immigration, conservatives give Republican-led Washington a failing grade."
    No 'big deal'
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, yesterday downplayed reports that a member of her caucus had slugged a U.S. Capitol Police officer Wednesday after he stopped her to ask for identification, saying people should "not make a big deal" of the altercation.
    Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney, Georgia Democrat, wasn't wearing the pin that identifies her as a member of Congress when she bypassed one of the metal detectors set up at the entrances to all the buildings around the Capitol. When the officer chased her down, she reportedly hit him with her cell phone.
    Mrs. Pelosi described the incident as "an unfortunate lack of recognition of a member of Congress."
    When asked whether she thought it was the officer's fault, Mrs. Pelosi said she did not.
    "I can understand that," she said. "I can also understand that members who have been here a long time sense they are recognizable. But I would not make a big deal of this."
    Wondered Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert: "How many officers would have to be punched before it becomes a big deal? While we are working hard to give law enforcement the tools they need to do their jobs, Democratic members are fighting them on the job."
    On the ballot
    A last-ditch effort to prevent Michigan voters from considering a proposal that would ban some affirmative-action programs has failed.
    The Michigan Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of the case, meaning the issue will be allowed on the November ballot.
    "We are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court," the justices said in the order, issued Wednesday.
    The decision is a victory for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), which has been leading the drive to let voters decide whether government and university admissions programs should be banned from giving preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.
    An opposition group called By Any Means Necessary had urged the Supreme Court to take up the issue. The pro-affirmative action group disagrees with allowing the phrase "preferential treatment" to appear on the ballot.
    Arkansas contest
    Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson filed papers to officially enter the Arkansas governor's race, setting up a head-to-head contest with Democratic state Attorney General Mike Beebe.
    Mr. Hutchinson, 55, said Wednesday that the top priority of his campaign would be to bring more and better-paying jobs to Arkansas, and that he also wants to focus on tax reform.
    Mr. Beebe, 59, the only Democrat running for governor, said when he filed papers Tuesday that he would focus on health care, education and jobs. He has raised nearly $2.75 million, compared with $1.26 million raised by Mr. Hutchinson, the Associated Press reports.
    Mr. Hutchinson, the only Republican running for the office, avoided a primary opponent last year when Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller dropped out of the race for health reasons.
    Not a spoiler
    Tom Rooney, nephew of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, said Wednesday that he won't challenge Rep. Katherine Harris for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Florida.
    Mr. Rooney, a lawyer in Jupiter, Fla., said the decision was not based on Mrs. Harris' recent decision to use $10 million of her own money to stay in the race.
    But he said that it had become clear to him that he didn't have time to establish viable challenge, and that he wasn't interested in "playing spoiler for somebody or just running to lose."
    The departure of Mr. Rooney, 35, leaves the Republican Party with Mrs. Harris as its lone candidate, the Associated Press reports.
    Ryun's denial
    Rep. Jim Ryun on Wednesday denied accusations by Democrats that he received a "sweet real estate deal" when he purchased a town house from a nonprofit group with connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
    The Kansas Republican bought the historic Capitol Hill town house for $410,000 on Dec. 15, 2000. That was $19,000 less than the U.S. Family Network paid for the home in January 1999, despite a sharp rise in local real estate values during that time.
    Mr. Ryun declined to be interviewed but said in a written statement that he paid "fair market value" for the home, the Associated Press reports.
    Green candidate
    Almost two years after the videotaped beheading of U.S. contractor Nick Berg in Iraq, his father is running a third-party race for Congress on a platform seeking a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.
    Michael Berg, a veteran anti-war activist and retired schoolteacher who campaigns in jeans and a T-shirt, is the Green Party candidate for the Delaware seat of seven-term Republican Rep. Michael N. Castle.
    Mr. Berg, 61, says his late entry into politics is a result of his son's grisly death at the hands of hooded captors in May 2004. The event brought the elder Berg worldwide media attention, especially after he publicly blamed President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
    "Other than stopping this war, I have no political ambitions," Mr. Berg told Reuters news agency. "Let's face it — I would not be running if my son had not died in Iraq. People would not have known my name, and the Green Party would not have asked me to run."
Recklessly Spending Other People's Money - Senator Chris Lauzen

You tell me...should our local governments be spending our hard-earned tax dollars on lobbyists?

The Kane County Board is now annually spending $42,000 on politically-connected lobbyists rather than on vaccinations, nurses, and other medical care for county citizens.  The same group of decision-makers spends $138,000 per year of our money on a lobbyist in Washington D.C. when we're already represented by Speaker Denny Hastert, the third most powerful person in the nation!  And now, the City of Aurora is spending $84,000 per year on a lobbyist, when we are already represented by nearly 8% of the entire General Assembly with Senators Petka, Roskam, Lauzen and Representative Lindner, Chapa-LaVia, Cross, Hultgren, and Dunn. 

Think about it--$84,000 per year!  We educate ten students at East and West Aurora High Schools for that much money.  $84,000 is more than the average annual income for two families in our town.  $84,000 for a wholly-owned and paid for unelected lobbyists to do the work that we are already paying a host of local elected officials and eight state elected officials represents the entire property tax bill for 20 homeowners or the annual state income tax paid by 100 typical Aurora families.  Any wonder now why government says it "needs" more of what you earn.

Proponents will contort themselves and the facts trying to justify their fiscal irresponsibility and the diversion of our tax dollars to lobbyists.  They will say that others are doing it, but we were taught even as children when we tried to rationalize our behavior by pointing to the misbehavior of our friends, "If your friends jump off a bridge, will you do it too?"  Where will this end...other than in the ruin of our Republic?

Even if lobbyist Jack Abramoff were not going to jail for six years for trying to corrupt the process in Washington and lobbyist Larry Warner were not on trial for passing thousands of dollars in cash bribes in lavatories in Springfield, what would Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, and others think of what we are doing to the form of government that they bequeathed to us?  Ben Franklin cautioned, "We've given you Republic, if you can keep it."

But, even more importantly, what would all those men and women who have lived and died honorably for this country in our armed services think about how some are now monetizing, and yes "prostituting", the gift they paid the ultimate sacrifice for?  How can some politicians look returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq in the eye and say, "We have enough money to pay lobbyists to sneak around the Constitution and interfere in the direct link between us and those whom we elect, but we don't have enough money for disability benefits and local services, or funds to assimilate you brave men and women back into peacetime employment." 

There is never enough money for what really matters, if a reckless few waste what's entrusted to them.  Short-sighted and unconstitutional spending like this is why people refuse to have their taxes raised.  It's bad enough when private special interests unleash their brigades of lobbyists to prey upon the system of representative democracy, but when local governments that we pay for with crippling property taxes jump in with both feet, it is preposterous and just simply wrong.

The effect of money in the political process is like a bad drug...a momentary rush, then inevitable destruction.  Like the proper response to a drug, citizens must "Just say No".  If we go along to get along, we will sooner than later get the tax increase that we deserve for our complacency. 

However, there is hope for doing this correctly.  The most productive and pleasant meeting that I had this week in Springfield was with a group of 23 neighbors from Aurora who took their own valuable time to communicate the importance of development dollars coming back to Aurora.  These men and women represented employers providing jobs, organized labor offering skills, development professionals bringing vision, and social service agencies embracing hearts and hope for all. 

These good people didn't need a lobbyist to babysit their effort.  They used the good muscle of human passion and enthusiasm, clear vision and conviction, neighborly friendships and humor.  It's easy and lazy to recklessly spend other people's money.  It's better to focus our energy and resources on productive action.  Tell me and your aldermen, the mayor and your county board member, that you don't want mercenaries imposed between you and your constitutional government. 

Lobbyists work for those who buy their services; public servants are supposed to work for those who elect them.


Tim Martin receives narrow approval  IDOT secretary survives Senate tally by one vote - Doug Finke
Days after a scathing audit uncovered nearly $700,000 in questionable payments made by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Senate narrowly approved Transportation Secretary Tim Martin for another two-year term.

The Senate voted 31-18 to approve Martin. He needed 30 votes for approval. Eight other senators voted "present."

Only one Republican voted for Martin's appointment, even after the IDOT official met privately for more than 30 minutes with GOP senators to answer their questions about the audit and his administration of the agency.

"It's not about Tim; it's more about the way that the Illinois Department of Transportation is being run," said Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, one of the "present" voters.

"The audit is just a consequence of what's been going on at IDOT for years," said Sen. Dan Cronin, R-Elmhurst. "I can't vote for Tim Martin."

However, Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, said it was inappropriate for Republicans to raise the audit during Martin's confirmation vote.

"He hasn't been accused of anything," Jones said. "That's wrong."

Illinois' auditor general, William Holland, issued an audit Tuesday that questioned IDOT's spending of about $700,000, much of it to politically connected advertising firms hired to publicize major road construction projects in the Chicago area. Holland said he will forward his findings to state and federal investigators for further review.

Although the advertising firms were hired to alert commuters to construction delays, Holland said some payments appeared to have little to do with that, including for a float in a parade, promotional tattoos and for health insurance for a former state lawmaker.

While acknowledging some questionable bills, IDOT has said they are closer to $100,000 than the $700,000 cited by Holland.

After meeting with Republican lawmakers before his confirmation vote, Martin said the agency has already addressed most of the issues raised in Holland's audit.

"IDOT has made some significant structural changes since the audit was done," Martin said. "We reorganized the business services area. We have a new director of finance and administration. We have put in some different checks and balances."

That did not mollify the Republicans.

"We should wait and see how the investigations play out before we vote on this individual," said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont.

Just hours before the Senate approved Martin's appointment, the Senate Executive Appointments Committee approved his nomination without Martin being present. Committee chairman Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, said Martin appeared at a hearing several weeks ago, and even though the committee did not approve him then, it was not necessary for him to return for further questioning.

Also Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved Paul Campbell as director of the Department of Central Management Services. Campbell, who was appointed acting director of the agency in June, was OK'd even though he was roundly criticized for his response to a similarly harsh audit of CMS last year.


A Few Minutes with a Presidential Hopeful: An Interview with John Cox - Bernard Chapin

It is occasionally of interest for those of us who analyze politics from without to actually speak to someone wishing to change it from within. One such person is conservative presidential hopeful John Cox. He’s a businessman and native Chicagoan who first got involved in politics in 1988 after he volunteered for Jack Kemp's presidential campaign. On top of being an accountant, lawyer, investment advisor, and real estate broker, he has also been president of the Cook County Republicans. In 2002, he ran for the United States Senate and garnered 23 percent of the primary vote. Being pro-life, anti-big government, and supportive of penalties for illegal immigration, Mr. Cox offers conservatives a non-RINO choice for 2008. Already, he has filed the requisite FEC forms for his run, and has conducted a tour of Iowa. Additional information regarding Mr. Cox can be found at his website.

BC: Sir, let’s start out with an obvious one. Why would you like to be President?

JC: Well, the major reason is that I am not happy with the failures we’ve experienced in Washington over the last decade. Government spending has been climbing and it’s now reached critical levels. It seems to me that politicians spend too much of the people’s money and they often do this as a means to get votes. Let me give you an example, there were only 1,400 earmarks back when the Republicans took over Congress in 1994, now, a decade later, almost 16,000 of these pet projects get inserted into spending bills. We should not be using taxpayer money to by votes. Many politicians see politics as their livelihood and will do whatever it takes to get reelected. This can range from getting on the cover of local newspapers by proposing the erection of a new federal building to constructing rainforests in Iowa, or even commissioning a study for waterless urinals. Career politicians will do whatever it takes to bring money to their states. Should I be elected, I will not enable these activities. I’ll come in with a desire to solve problems such as social security. We need to modify the system so it works. We have a tax system in which people spend over 300 billion dollars to be compliant. Think of all the money that is wasted in this pursuit not to mention all the lost productivity and investment dollars. One of my main goals is to establish a tax system that works. Furthermore, government must discourage businesses from relocating to foreign shores.

BC: What is it that you have to offer in comparison to other presidential hopefuls?

JC: A change in the political climate of Washington, and the will to prevent politicians from advancing their own political power at the expense of the people. As I speak to you right now, Tom Delay is on the television pleading guilty to fraud charges. The essence of reform is that we should do something about taxes and spending. The first thing is to get rid of the income tax. I am in favor of a National Sales Tax.

BC: Is that basically something like the Fair Tax?

JC: Yes, exactly. Should we enact a sales tax for all Americans then we wouldn’t need the IRS with all the expense and non-production its name embodies. A consumption tax is the way to go. An income tax is disastrous as it deters investment. As a nation, we want investment and when you tax profits you get less of it. That’s something which must be corrected.

BC: What would say to those who would argue, as they often do, that a sales tax is regressive and unfair to the poor?

JC: Yeah, I’m asked that a lot. Look, I’m a reasonably wealthy guy, despite the fact that I grew up in public housing, and I spend a lot more money than the average person. People like me still end up paying the lion’s share of taxes under the sales tax system. With the sales tax, a lot of refunds, rebates, and pre-bates are built into it which means that the poor will not get hurt which is absolutely essential. With a pre-bate, the poor could actually get money sent to them before they spend it. Another thing that is often overlooked is the way in which the underground economy flourishes under the status quo. Unlike an income tax, the National Sales Tax hits every transaction and decreases the size of the black market. Hopefully, as revenue increases, all of us will get taxed less. We need a person who will go to Washington and be a bulldog over corruption, waste, duplication, and excessive budgets. We need someone who will veto spending bills, and that someone is me. We can’t afford to make America unproductive. We are in a global economy and must compete with powerhouses like China.

BC: Speaking of overspending, what’s your opinion of George W. Bush?

JC: I think he’s tried hard, but instead of battling Congress he’s tried to make friends. That’s not going to really work because not everybody in Congress is going to be your friend. They’re interested in their own political hides and a desire to be re-elected. Many politicians are afraid of the political left demagogues who scream murder over decreases in spending. Political courage along with the ability to communicate is essential. The president has tried a unique approach with Congress, and, remember, some of our criticisms are in hindsight. As for me, I’ll follow Reagan’s example. I’ll spend taxpayer money as if it’s my own. I don’t waste my own money so why should I waste the taxpayer’s? I refuse to do so.

BC: What do you say to people like me who have been so alienated by Republican overspending and “moderation” that they no longer identify with the GOP but view themselves as Libertarian?

JC: Okay, what I would say to Libertarians is to look at the recent Israeli election. They have like 11 political parties, and no one ever wins a majority so governments must form coalitions. The trouble with Republicans splitting their votes up is that the Democrats will not unilaterally disarm.

BC: They did with Nader in 2000.

JC: Okay, but that was a small percentage. Look at how much more money a person like Ross Perot has over Nader. His candidacy handed Bill Clinton the election back in 1992. Today’s Democrats will not be dividing their vote. They will coalesce and back one candidate. My point is that you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. As far as George W. Bush is concerned, this administration has one leader but there are other Republican leaders coming up that conservatives should not give up on. We embrace limited taxation and limited government, so let’s keep the conservative coalition together.

BC: What about Iraq? Would you change anything should you become president?

JC: First of all, I agree with the president about the invasion of Iraq. It is much better to engage the enemy on his turf and not our own. There have been some errors though, and some of these have been economic. Look at the Iraqi level of unemployment, it’s in the 20 to 30 percent range. Now if 20 to 30 percent of Chicago were unemployed would the jobless be throwing bombs in the street? No, but there’d be a whole lot more angry people running around. In Iraq we have to give emergency treatment to the economy. I would start with oil production, which is running about 20 to 30 percent of full capacity which means that they’re leaving 60 to 70 percent on the table. Let’s fill the positions and put more people to work. We could use the profits to build schools, hospitals, and industrial infrastructure. The Iraqis would feel better about the government and be more motivated to combat revolutionaries bent on destroying their new lives. We need a Marshall Plan for that nation, something which really pays attention to the economy, and gets the citizens to feel good about their daily lives and the future.

BC: What would you say to those who assume that being a Congressman, a senator, or a
Governor is a necessary precondition to running the nation?

JC: Sure, I hear this often. I have no elected office experience, but I have had better experience. I’ve created jobs for workers and funded numerous charities. I built a 100 million dollar business on my own. That’s better than what can be said of the junior Senator from New York who married a governor of Arkansas as her main road to advancement. She’s never lived among the little people who produce and pay taxes. Besides, when it comes down to it, we’ve had people in office who were never elected like Dwight D. Eisenhower. He wasn’t unqualified for office just because he wasn’t a career politician. He defeated fascism and that was experience enough. Sure it’s different because I don’t have a military background, but, with all of these scandals in Washington D.C., having an outsider in charge is necessary. Oh, I’m not a complete outsider though. I have worked for Republican politicians like Jack Kemp, and also headed the Cook County Republicans. I’ve been in the vineyards you might say.

BC: Sometimes politicians run for president to garner national attention and find jobs with the new administration, does that apply to you?

JC: No. I’m here to win, period. This is not for me, as it is for others, the next rung up the political ladder. I am not going to sit back and watch the same thing happen to the people that happened in 2000. We worked our tails off and, while the current administration has given us some excellent Supreme Court Justices and tax cuts, there have been too many trade offs like McCain-Feingold, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the drug bill. The public is once bitten twice shy. We need to get back to the practices of Ronald Reagan. He put us on the right track and was not a career politician. He held deeply held beliefs and principles and then pursued politics. Reagan changed the beliefs of Americans. He brought us around to thinking that a strong military was the road to peace, that tax cuts fostered economic growth and that government doesn’t have to be the answer to the people’s every ill. The private sector is what we need to solve many issues.

BC: What would you say to those who think you’re too far to the right and that Republicans need a moderate to ensure victory?

JC: People said that the same thing about Reagan. The Republican establishment hated him back in 1980. They wanted Bush to be the candidate. They said Reagan would get us into a war, etc. Reagan stuck to principles and got amazing things accomplished. If you want to lead you must be a leader, and not sacrifice your ideals to get elected. Moderates often bend towards the middle. Don’t tell the people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. In 1980, we needed less government and lower tax rates, and, via the excellence of Ronald Reagan’s leadership, we got them. Politics is more common sense than rocket science. If you let citizens keep more of what they earn then they’ll take bigger risks to make more money. Reagan convinced the American people of this fact, and George W. Bush has tried to do this, albeit rather timidly. I’ll take the debate further and eliminate both the IRS and the income tax. They’ll be no “woe is me” regarding jobs leaving our shores. What we need to do is not complain but make the country more business friendly so we’ll become a jobs magnet. Why send investors to Ireland? Let them come here. One more thing here, will you make sure that what I’m about to say is quoted verbatim?

BC: Sure.

JC: I will not, under any circumstances, sign a National Sales Tax Bill which does not include a repeal of the income tax. We cannot have both and we cannot have new taxes. Once we get that through, I’ll lead the charge to repeal the 16th Amendment. Right now, I intend to build up popular support one precinct at a time. Remember, nobody knew who Howard Dean was back in early 2002. Of course, I’m no Howard Dean.

BC: Thank God!

JC: Yeah, but unknowns can come from anywhere. Look at Lincoln, he wasn’t an insider or even a good old boy, but he was one of the greatest presidents ever.

BC: What would you say to those radicals who pretend that America is a racist, sexist state?

JC: Well, I’d tell them they’re full of hooey. This is the most welcoming, honest, forthright country in the world. Sure, we had some dark years like with slavery, but remember, my party was the one that fought and voted for all of the civil rights bills. The Republicans have always fought racism, look at Lincoln.

BC: Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Cox.


At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) won a standing ovation for skewering companies that profit from imported labor. "The conservative movement can either be the voice of principle or it can be the voice of the Chamber of Commerce," Tancredo roared. "But it cannot be both."

Immigration Reform: Why Business Could Get Burned  One new proposal could cost employers $12 billion in compliance - Richard S. dunham

How important is immigration to the business community? Very. On Mar. 16, Bill Gates trekked to Capitol Hill to tell key leaders of both parties that immigration is Microsoft's No. 1 issue in Washington. "If we hope to maintain our economic and intellectual leadership in the U.S., we must renew this commitment," Gates said in an earlier letter to lawmakers. "Unless there is reform, American competitiveness will suffer as other countries benefit from the international talent that U.S. employers cannot hire or retain."

Both Sides Now
Gates and his fellow CEOs have good reason to be nervous. Politicians in both parties are seizing on public concern about 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. to craft legislation limiting cross-border mobility for skilled and unskilled workers alike. And while corporations are accustomed to anti-business potshots from the Left, they are now fighting a defensive battle against angry populist Republicans who want to seal the border and punish companies that employ illegals. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) won a standing ovation for skewering companies that profit from imported labor. "The conservative movement can either be the voice of principle or it can be the voice of the Chamber of Commerce," Tancredo roared. "But it cannot be both."

Facing rhetoric like that, many corporations feel pressured. By opposing the GOP's anti-immigrant faction business runs the risk of ushering in more Democrats in the 2006 elections. But Tancredo and his allies pose a more immediate threat to business' long-term need for a steady stream of foreign workers.

The immigration hardliners want serious penalties to make businesses think twice before hiring immigrants. Legislation approved by the House in late 2005 would make it a felony for businesses to hire illegal workers: Companies that incorrectly fill out certain paperwork on employees could be fined up to $25,000. "It doesn't take too many of those [fines] to drive a small business out of business," says John Gay of the National Restaurant Assn.

Business is doing better in the Senate. Corporate lobbyists believe they have the votes to water down the tough financial penalties and win their top priority, a guest-worker program that lets foreigners take jobs Americans don't fill.

But the prospect of a House-Senate negotiation has the business community on edge. A compromise is likely to include language requiring companies to confirm the legal status of all employees and prospective hires. Angelo I. Amador, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's immigration policy director, says that plan would be a bureaucratic nightmare costing employers at least $12 billion for compliance. The current federal pilot program to confirm whether employees are legally in the U.S. has been unreliable, he adds.

Yet business must tread carefully to avoid angering GOP immigration foes. "I'm worried that the clearly harsh voices in the Republican Party are the loudest voices," says former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.), leader of a pro-business coalition. Business frets that populism could foster a GOP faction hostile to such corporate priorities as trade liberalization and tax breaks. Already, the political schism has sparked showdowns in Republican primaries between anti-immigrant candidates and business community favorites. Among the contests: the San Diego district long represented by convicted ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the districts of retiring Republican Representatives Butch Otter of Idaho and Jim Kolbe of Arizona. Business is digging in for a long battle. "

This is a long-term issue, because this is a workforce issue," says Bernadette Budde, senior vice-president of the Business Industry Political Action Committee. "We're going to have to find labor someplace." But corporate critics don't cut companies any slack. "The illegal immigration lobby in the U.S. is big business," says Tancredo spokesman Will Adams. "They have an addiction to cheap labor."

With struggling President Bush mired in an unpopular war, GOP discord over immigration is just one more threat to the party's grip on Congress this fall. Demo-crats, says independent political analyst Charlie Cook, "have settled into their seats with popcorn to enjoy the spectacle of Republicans ripping themselves apart." That's a lot easier than coming up with a solution to this divisive issue.


Hundreds turn out for help from Mexican consulate - Gonzalo Baeza
Hundreds of Mexican citizens waited in line this morning in front of the Rockford Montague Branch Library, 1238 S. Winnebago St., to get their passports and Mexican ID cards.

The card, called a matricula consular, not only provides Mexicans with verifiable identification irrespective of immigration status, but is also accepted among several local banks to open accounts.

The documents are being provided by the mobile office of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. The mobile office makes periodical visits to communities in Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana, and has been coming to Rockford since 2002.

“During this visit, we expect to hand ID cards to about 1,000 people,” Mexican Consul Julio Huerta said.

The cost of getting a matricula consular is $29, while the passport is $32 for one year or $84 for five years.

The mobile office of the Mexican Consulate will be at the Montague Branch Library from 10 a.m to 4 p.m today through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Mobile office issues IDs for Mexicans - Gonzalo Baeza

Valid identification. For many, that phrase means a driver’s license or Social Security card.

For Mexican citizens living in the U.S., it’s not that simple. That’s why hundreds of Mexican citizens waited in line Thursday in front of the Rockford Montague Branch Library, 1238 S. Winnebago St., to get their passports and a Mexican ID card, called a matricula consular.

“We need the matricula to be able to look for jobs, to cash checks in the bank and to get our state ID,” Janet Arellano, 16, said while waiting in line with her twin sister, Janin. The Arellano sisters were born in Mexico and attend Guilford High School.

The documents were being provided by the mobile office of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. The mobile office makes periodical visits to communities in Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana, and has been coming to Rockford since 2002.

But not without controversy.

The issuance of matriculas has been a particular point of contention for groups advocating immigration restrictions, in part because matriculas provide Mexicans with verifiable identification irrespective of immigration status. They also are accepted among several local banks for opening accounts.

According to the Illinois Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, if applicants “had entered the country legally, they would already have valid identification.”

Although applicants undergo a background check, they are not asked about their immigration status, Mexican Consul Julio Huerta said.

“What the Mexican government is doing is registering Mexican nationals that we can verify are living here. We are not supposed to investigate their (immigration) status, and that is beyond our competence,” Huerta said.

According to Huerta, “the immigration debate includes economic arguments, legal arguments, nationalist arguments. There’s freedom of speech in this country, and everyone’s entitled to say what he feels.”

The Mexican consul added that “the Mexican government has made its stance clear: Mexican workers should not be criminalized, and their situation should be normalized because they are working and helping sustain the economy.”

Several states already recognize consular ID cards, including Illinois. Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law last year a measure requiring state and local governments within Illinois to recognize the ID documents issued by foreign consulates.

The so-called “mobile consulate” started as a pilot program in 2002, Huerta said. The increasing demand for matriculas led it to become a permanent initiative. The Mexican consulate has issued more than 500,000 matriculas in Chicago since 2002.

“Given how there’s so much Mexican population scattered throughout Chicago and its surrounding areas and how difficult it is for them to get to the city, we have decided to bring the consulate’s services to them,” Huerta said.

Not everyone was applying for ID documents, however, as several volunteers ran back and forth from the library providing the people in line with brochures and personal assistance.

“I brought my mother here to renew her passport,” Gerson Barajas, 28, said. “Bringing the consulate office here is a great idea. Otherwise, you would have to go to Chicago and basically wake up at 5 a.m. to go there and waste the whole day.”

The cost of getting a matricula consular is $29 while the passport is $32 for one year or $84 for five years.

“During this visit, we expect to hand ID cards to about 1,000 people,” Huerta said.

“I think that if we are in a country that’s not ours but that nonetheless welcomes us and provides us services, we must help each other. When I’ve needed help, I’ve received it, so how much work does it take me to help my countrymen?” Gonzalo Marin, one of the volunteers, said.

Ever since the Treasury Department gave financial institutions the green light to accept consulate cards, a growing number of banks has likewise recognized them as valid documents. According to the governor’s office, nearly 70 financial institutions accept matriculas in Illinois.

The mobile office of the Mexican Consulate will be at the Montague Branch Library from 10 a.m to 4 p.m today and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Crete Mayor Einhorn: Airport not about racism - Kristen McQueary
Crete Mayor Michael Einhorn on Thursday told the mayor of Country Club Hills to "keep his nose out of our business and our neighborhood."

"What kind of a region do we live in where working to protect your community and doing what is right is now a racial issue?" Einhorn wrote in a prepared statement. "I'm sorry, Dwight. The airport is not in your back yard or even close to it."

The back-and-forth began Monday when Welch implied Gov. Rod Blagojevich was pandering to Will County's airport demands because the county is white with more swing voters. Blagojevich is less motivated to push U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s plan because Jackson's supporters are a reliable Democratic vote regardless, Welch said.

But the racial tone of Welch's comments infuriated Einhorn, who called them ignorant.

"The mayors of the towns surrounding the airport site are shocked and appalled that someone would stoop to the level of injecting race into this issue. I would expect nothing less of Mayor Welch," Einhorn wrote.

Einhorn and the "Iron Ring" communities of Beecher, Peotone and Monee favor Will County's role to oversee airport development, not Jackson's plan, which involves private developers.

Einhorn said race should not factor into the airport's development.

"Race does not entitle anyone or any organization to an airport," Einhorn said. "This airport is not a social program, regardless of what you have been promised by the congressman, and he is wrong to sell it as such."

While his community is not adjacent to the proposed site, Welch said Country Club Hills and other towns would benefit from the airport — which makes it his business.

"Duh. Look at O'Hare. What has O'Hare done for the 25 miles surrounding it? It's the economic engine for the entire region," Welch said.

As for Welch's earlier comments about race, Welch said race is part of the debate.

"The folks south of us are basically white and west of us are basically white. You guys in the media and they ... don't want to talk about what is occurring and why," Welch said. "I'm going to have that dialogue. To ignore it is to ignore the bigger picture."

Einhorn said outside influences and voices like Welch's have caused "all the problems."

"(You are) expecting something for nothing, at our expense," Einhorn said.


Mexico's Weapon - William Hawkins

Prominent on display at demonstrations around the country supporting illegal immigration has been the flag of Mexico. The last time demonstrators waved the flag of a foreign government in American streets on such a scale was during the Vietnam War when New Leftists were championing the cause of North Vietnam against the United States. Those street people were mainly mush-brained college students whose ignorance of world affairs allowed them to be manipulated by their Marxist professors. This time is different. The protesters are not just advocating a foreign cause, they are part of it. Most of the Latino students boycotting classes in California and elsewhere should not be in those classes to begin with, since they have no legal right to even be in the United States. Indeed, their enrollment has generated a financial drain on state and local budgets across the country.

When the demonstrations started, I was in England. Media coverage there combined the marches in the U.S. with the student protests in France over labor reform. Again, the symbolism harkened back to the chaos of May 1968 when student and labor union violence almost collapsed the government of Charles DeGaulle. Aging radicals on both sides of the Atlantic wish to recapture the dark chaos of the 1960s.

The United Kingdom has its own illegal immigration problems. On March 25, a Chinese gang leader was found guilty of the manslaughter of 21 Chinese illegal immigrants who drowned in Morecambe Bay two years ago while harvesting shellfish at night. I watched with a mixture of amusement and outrage as a self-styled spokesman for the Chinese community claimed that the British Home Secretary should have been the one indicted because immigration laws "forced" illegals to work under hazardous condition because they cannot work in the open. A dapper British businessman then argued for dropping the term "illegal" in favor of "economic immigrant" so that firms could have a ready supply of cheap labor.

These arguments are heard here too. But what may be "cheap" for a company can be very expensive for the larger society. Some 40 percent of the inmates in California prisons are illegal aliens, who saw America as the land of opportunity for criminal pursuits. Our de facto "open borders" policy cannot discriminate between those whose ambitions are honest or dishonest. And no new system can solve this problem if it is still possible to get into America and survive outside the parameters of the law. Truly effective border security is the pre-requisite for any system of legal immigration.

It is the prevention of border security that motivates both the street protests and the Mexican government which is helping to orchestrate them. The timing of the protests is not just connected with legislation in the U.S. Congress, whose deliberations are long and convoluted. The more direct link is to the summit between President George W. Bush, Mexican President Vincente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Cancun March 30-31. Mr. Fox has activated his fifth column in America as a diplomatic weapon. He has been aided by a network of Spanish-language radio stations and newspapers, elements in the Catholic Church and the usual variety of left-wing "civil rights" groups like the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU. This movement poses a threat to U.S. security and sovereignty that makes even the risk of terrorist infiltration across the southern border pale in significance.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said March 27 that border security could not be the only topic at Cancun. He said all "must share responsibility so that those forced to migrate be regulated by plans that include respecting their dignity." But what has "forced" Mexicans to become illegal immigrants? The answer is the sad fact that Mexico has become a failed state, which hopes to push costs onto its northern neighbor so its corrupt elites can continue in power without having to risk domestic reform.

In a series of newspaper ads in U.S. papers, the Mexican government claimed it could do more to control its side of the border, but would only do so if the U.S. adopts "a far-reaching guest workers scheme" and that "Mexico should participate in its design, management, supervision and evaluation." In other words, Mexico wants a role in writing American laws for its benefit, and will use the pressure of mass migration and fifth column political warfare to pressure Washington into accepting its demands.

The proper response is to tell Mexico that if it is purposely refusing to act as a responsible neighbor along the border, then it will be held accountable for its actions and sanctions will be imposed. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration declared in its 2002 National Security Strategy a policy of "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities." This is particularly applicable to Mexico, as it is a restatement of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine as applied to Latin America. "'Chronic wrong doing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation" is how Teddy Roosevelt put it. The Fox regime cannot be allowed to intervene in the U.S. political process or send its agents into American streets with impunity. 

At a March 27 naturalization ceremony for new American citizens who attained their coveted status through the lawful process, President Bush said "The first element is securing our border. Our immigration system cannot function if we cannot control the border. Illegal immigration puts a strain on law enforcement and public resources, especially in our border communities. Our nation is also fighting a war on terror, and terrorists crossing the border could create destruction on a massive scale. The responsibility of government is clear: We must enforce the border." It remains to be seen if he adheres to this position at the
Cancun summit.


Buckeye GOP Circles the Drain - John Kasich

COLUMBUS, OHIO – "There are no words to express the deep remorse that I feel over the embarrassment I have caused for my administration and the people of the state of Ohio." Thus, Gov. Bob Taft complied with a court order to apologize to the people of Ohio.

Were that the only instance of poor judgment by an Ohio Republican in recent memory, the state GOP would probably remain in relatively good shape leading up to the elections this November, despite growing indicators against the party nationally. Unfortunately, the governor's ethical lapses -- he pled guilty last August to four misdemeanors related to undisclosed gifts from lobbyists -- represent only a small fraction of an ever widening scandal that is drowning the Ohio Republican Party.

Over the past year and a half, the list of political operatives and government officials (both elected and appointed) implicated in corruption scandals has grown exponentially, and yet the message hasn't registered. In Buckeye politics, it's business as usual.

The biggest scam in town -- but by no means the only -- is the "pay for play" practices of office-holders at every level. Of course, not all public servants are guilty -- most are not. However, Ohio Republicans have held every statewide office since 1994, and the governorship and secretary of state since 1990. They currently have longstanding, lopsided majorities in both houses of the general assembly. The endemic culture of money-for-influence is a testament to the corrupting consequences that inevitably follow when one party holds power for too long.

Exhibit A in this mire is Toledo coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Tom Noe. His "coingate" scandal, as it has been inelegantly termed, demonstrated a total breakdown in ethics and was a direct result of one-party domination of the political process. Mr. Noe obtained several contracts totaling some $50 million to pursue investment opportunities for the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, in this case rare coin speculation. With limited oversight of his operation, Mr. Noe allegedly began laundering campaign contributions to state and federal candidates (including President Bush). In February Mr. Noe was indicted on 53 felony counts and faces a mandatory 10-year prison term if convicted of corruption. At this point $10 million to $12 million remains unaccounted for.

Unfortunately, coingate isn't the only prominent Republican scandal. According to reports in Ohio newspapers, former Speaker of the House Larry Householder and his political fundraisers and consultants are currently under criminal investigation for various charges involving possible campaign and fundraising irregularities. An anonymous memo charging Mr. Householder and his top political aids with bribery, kickbacks and tax and mail fraud was sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. While Mr. Householder emphatically denies any wrongdoing, no one seems to know for sure when and if any actual charges will be filed.

Add to these scandals regnant political infighting and widespread distrust between the different ideological wings of the GOP. This year's election, in addition to a contentious re-election campaign for Sen. Mike DeWine, features a gubernatorial primary race in the wake of Mr. Taft. Mr. Blackwell is strongly supported by social conservatives and their allies within the fundamentalist Christian movement. He is pitted against Attorney General Jim Petro, supported by more moderate elements.

This widening division has spilled over into a nasty dispute between conservative, moderate and liberal clergy. In an attempt to counter the political activities of the religious right, 31 moderate and liberal religious leaders recently sent a strongly worded letter to the IRS accusing the Rev. Rod Parsley and the Rev. Russell Johnson of using their churches and other nonprofit ministries to advance partisan causes, including the candidacy of Ken Blackwell. Rev. Parsley, Rev. Johnson and their conservative supporters deny the charges. Mr. Blackwell for his part called the 31 ministers "bullies," saying "political and social and cultural forces are trying to run God out of the public square."

Yet the debate between the moderate and conservative wings of Ohio's Republican Party goes beyond Messrs. Petro and Blackwell. Some conservatives are angry at Sen. DeWine, and are threatening to withhold support, largely because he joined forces with the "gang of 14" to end the judicial filibuster spat last spring. Ironically, two of Mr. Bush's most conservative nominees to the federal bench, Priscilla Owens and Janice Rogers Brown, would not have been confirmed without this agreement, and arguably Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito would have faced filibusters from Senate liberals opposed to their nominations. Nonetheless, his relationship with some conservatives has worsened.

With Gov. Taft's ratings running as low as 16% approval in one poll, and with charges of corruption and cronyism rampant throughout the party, Ohio Republicans face some pretty tough obstacles in this year's elections. Add to this broken campaign promises that resulted in the highest tax increase in Ohio history, an exodus of the state's young people to pursue opportunity elsewhere, the general trend against Republicans nationally, and the complete ineptness of Republican leaders to enunciate any kind of bold political initiatives -- and you have the makings of a Democrat sweep this November.

The biggest advantage going for Republicans, in purely electoral terms, is the ineptness of the Democrats. They have a long tradition of turning sure things into might-have-beens. This, however, is simply not enough. Democratic incompetence has led to Republican domination, which, with no effective opposition, has untethered the GOP from its first principles. In the absence of these, corruption has reigned. The political lens might be clouded and growing darker; but Ohio Republicans need to decide whether or not they want to stand for something.


DuPage GOP chair Dillard ecstatic over Topinka, Birkett wins - Kathy Cichon

Although some candidates won big March 21, voter turnout throughout DuPage County was a bit below average.

"In a nonpresidential election year, turnout would average around, sadly, just 30 percent," said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale.

Less than 28 percent of voters went to the polls March 21 in DuPage County. Of those who did, 18.8 percent were Republican and 8.5 percent were Democrats.

Although the turnout was a bit below average, Dillard said it was still higher than most of the state. Overall, he said he is satisfied with the results.

"As chairman of the DuPage County Republican Party, I'm very pleased — in fact elated — with the election," he said. "Our native son Joe Birkett overwhelmingly won the lieutenant governor's race, and Judy Baar Topinka, who used to represent the eastern part of DuPage County, in the state is the gubernatorial nominee."

Dillard also said Sheriff John Zaruba won in a landslide with more than 70 percent of the vote.

"I'm also pleased that Republican ballots were taken at a more than 2 to 1 margin over Democrats, once again proving the DuPage County Republican Party remains strong."

Republicans came out in strong numbers in Will County, too, with more than half the ballots cast coming from members of the GOP.

Grand jury indicts ex-DuPage worker Deborah S. O'Brien in $500,000+ embezzlement case

According to a news release, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, elected the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor on March 21, and special prosecutor Charles Colburn made the announcement March 23. Colburn was brought in on Birkett's request, since the investigation focused on an employee.

The investigation began earlier this month when an audit by County auditor Jim Rasins revealed evidence of theft. O'Brien, who was the coordinator of restitution payment, is alleged to have forged signatures on checks and deposited them into her own account, according to the release.

One charge, the theft of more than $100,000 from a government entity, is a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison. She is also charged with one count of stealing more than half a million dollars, three counts of forgery, four counts of official misconduct and one count of operating a continuing crime enterprise. All are felony charges, according to the release.

"While my staff and I have been betrayed by this alleged abuse of the public trust, I am extremely proud of my staff for their outstanding efforts to discover the theft and hold Deborah O'Brien accountable," Birkett said in a statement.

O'Brien's next scheduled court date is April 3.


DIERSEN HEADLINE: Cichon laughs at drug laws, DuPage County Board grins and chuckles at Schroeder prayer

County short on cash? We reefer you to tax law - Kathy Cichon
DuPage County officials weren't dazed — but maybe a little confused — when looking over the list of possible charges or fees the county could implement to generate revenue. Among the taxes listed was one for an illegal drug license.

The listing prompted inquiries from members of the county's Financial Forecast Committee. Anna Harkins of the county state's attorney's office explained that yes, there is a funding mechanism available that allows for a sales tax on illegal drug transactions.

"If someone is convicted ... theoretically that sales transaction can be taxed," she said.

As laughable as it sounds, Illinois' compiled statutes include the Cannabis and Controlled Substances Tax Act, approved in the late 1980s.

Who knew taxes could get that high?

Like a little prayer - Kathy Cichon
Perhaps it set a record as the speediest prayer before the start of a DuPage County Board meeting. The invocation offered Tuesday evening by board member Robert Schroeder, R-Naperville, was promised to be short. It was, and it got right to the point:

"Oh, God, save us from hotheads that would keep us from acting foolishly, and from cold feet that would keep us from not acting at all."

Although the moment is typically one of solemn reflection, those in the room could not help but chuckle or grin.


Lake County: Biennial Republican, Democratic conventions to be held April 19

The biennial Lake County Republican Convention will be held at 7 p.m. April 19, in the Chandler Room of Midlane Golf Resort in Waukegan, party Chairman JoAnn Osmond announced Tuesday.

The county chairman will be elected and delegates to the Illinois State GOP convention will be selected at the convention, Osmond said.

It isn't known if Osmond, a state representative from Antioch elected to the party post two years ago in a revolt against Chairman Tom Adams, is seeking re-election.

In 2004 critics of the party leadership said Democratic voters in the 2004 Lake County primary election exceeded Republicans (47,205 to 46,222) for the first time in history.

George Bush won Lake County later that year with slightly over 50 percent of the vote.

The Republican turnout in the March 21 primary this year (50,684) was nearly double the Democratic vote (27,989) but, unlike 2004, there were relatively few hotly-contested Democratic primary contests.

Democrats have scheduled their bienniel convention for the same night at 7 p.m. in the Ramada Inn, 200 N. Green Bay Road, Waukegan. Democrats had a low-key event two years ago when state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, was re-elected without opposition.


Duckworth discord - Robert Novak

Tammy Duckworth, the legless Iraq war veteran slated by Democratic leaders to replace retiring Republican Rep. Henry Hyde in his suburban Chicago district, at this writing has not been endorsed by her Democratic primary foe.

In her March 22 concession speech after losing to Duckworth by less than 1,000 votes, Christine Cegelis said: “I spoke with Tammy this morning and wished her luck. She’s going to need it.” Cegelis, who came within 9 percentage points of Hyde in 2003, complained about the party’s support for Duckworth. The Hill newspaper has reported that Cegelis did not attend the Democratic unity dinner intended to support Duckworth.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, assured this column that after the primary, Cegelis would endorse Duckworth. “It doesn’t always happen right away,” said Emanuel aide Bill Burton. Duckworth was supported in the primary by Emanuel, Illinois’ two U.S. senators (Dick Durbin and Barack Obama) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Robert Novak: Headlines first Chicago Sun-Times/University of Illinois at Chicago lecture forum. April 19 at UIC. Public invited. - Lynn Sweet

And blogger Sweet is part of the panel...

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak launches the Chicago Sun-Times/University of Illinois at Chicago Lecture Forum at an April 19 panel analyzing Washington policies and politics.

"We are pleased to embark on our inaugural panel series with UIC. Our long-term commitment will be to address topics that reflect the diverse communities and cultures that both the university and the Sun-Times serve," said John Cruickshank, Chicago Sun-Times Publisher.

"We welcome the opportunity to join with one of the nation's major newspapers in hosting a forum that will give the public the opportunity to hear from, and question, leading experts from academia and journalism on vital issues of the day," said UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak launches the Chicago Sun-Times/University of Illinois at Chicago Lecture Forum at an April 19 panel analyzing Washington policies and politics.
"We are pleased to embark on our inaugural panel series with UIC. Our long-term commitment will be to address topics that reflect the diverse
communities and cultures that both the university and the Sun-Times serve," said John Cruickshank, Chicago Sun-Times Publisher.
"We welcome the opportunity to join with one of the nation's major newspapers in hosting a forum that will give the public the opportunity
to hear from, and question, leading experts from academia and journalism on vital issues of the day," said UIC Chancellor Sylvia Manning.
Novak, a native of Joliet who writes one of the nation’s premier Washington columns, will be part of a panel on ``Inside Washington: Where Red States and Blue States Collide’’ moderated by Chicago Sun-Times political columnist Carol Marin.
Other panelists include Lori B. Andrews, a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Chicago-Kent College of Law; Lyn Ragsdale, professor and head of political science at UIC; Lynn Sweet Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief and Maria de los Angeles Torres, professor and director of Latin American and Latino Studies at UIC.
The forum will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. at UIC's Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St., Room 302.
The program is free and open to the public,
but space is limited and registration is required. To register, call (312) 413-0151 or e-mail

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