Those were the official talking points of Friday's debate between the two before the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. But minutes after the coffee session wrapped up, Radogno, a Republican from Lemont, brought up what she sees as the real experience question.
Giannoulias is vice president of Broadway Bank, a Chicago bank his Greek immigrant father founded in the 1970s. Broadway has been identified in news reports as loaning money in the 1990s to Michael Giorango, who was convicted of bookmaking and running a national brothel ring, and a handful of other unsavory characters. Nobody is alleging that the bank did anything illegal, but Radogno maintains that the loans raise questions about Giannoulias' judgment.
"We need more integrity in state government, not less," she said after the debate.
Giannoulias responded that with as many customers as the large bank has, some are bound to have legal problems.
Criminal charges against customers have nothing to do with the bank, he said, and Radogno merely was "taking shots" for political reasons.
The two are competing for the seat now occupied by gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka, who currently is the only Republican to hold a statewide office.
Giannoulias was the surprise winner of the Democratic primary, defeating Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri. Mangieri had the support of party chairman Michael Madigan, but 30-year-old Giannoulias received a high-profile endorsement from U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.
Giannoulias entered the family bank as an officer four years ago, after playing basketball in Europe and attending law school. He talks up his role at the bank as his main credential for office, saying he's worked there since elementary school.
Radogno has served as state senator since 1997, and was a village trustee in LaGrange. Her record and knowledge of the political process make her the better person for the job, she said.
During the debate, she called out Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich for spending too much while the state is in a fiscal crisis. Giannoulias agreed, and called it a "travesty" that the budget was balanced by underfunding the state pension system.
He's pitching a proposal to make loans available to gas station owners who switch to using fuel made up of 85 percent ethanol. He also said he wants a wide-scale audit performed on the Bright Start program, a college savings program the treasurer's office oversees.
Radogno is proposing an agriculture plan that would increase the amount farmers could borrow from the state, as well as allowing wineries and orchards and other "ag-tourism" businesses access to low-interest loans.
And then next year, customers at Department of Motor Vehicles offices may see an unusual face behind the counter - the secretary of state.
Rutherford said he will spend some time at each of the state's 130 Department of Motor Vehicles offices - including the one in DeKalb - waiting on customers.
Rutherford, a Republican hoping to unseat two-term incumbent Jesse White in the Nov. 7 election, made the comments Friday during a campaign swing to Sycamore.
He said by working in the offices, he will be able to hear first-hand the complaints people have. He said he will work with employees who want to do a good job and “encourage” those who don't perform well.
In most of the retail world, technology has been used to provide faster, higher quality service to customers, Rutherford said.
He said that same kind of concept should be used in the DMV offices.
“Customers at DMV should be treated as though they are valued customers, as compared to customers of a government monopoly that has ‘got you,'” he said Friday at a press conference attended by some of DeKalb County's most prominent Republicans.
He unveiled his plan to revitalize the DMV offices where people get their licenses and license plates.
For instance, he said, thousands of people did not get their reminders that their license renewals were due. Most failed to get the licenses with a month of the deadline and had to pay a $20 fine.
Rutherford said that people should be able to make an appointment on the DMV Web site or by telephone. That way, they wouldn't have to wait in line for a long time, he said.
Rutherford said e-mail reminders would be sent to people who made appointments. And upon suggestion from Republican loyalist Mike Stuckert of Waterman, he said he might add automated telephone reminders to his list of ideas.
“In today's world, a consumer can make dinner reservations from a home computer or book a flight to Hong Kong, but when it comes to service from the (secretary of state's office), one must take a number and sit in a cold plastic chair,” he said.
Rutherford has asked people to file their complaints on his Web site. Many have complained that they have waited for DMV offices to open at 10 a.m. Saturday, waited for two hours and were then told to go home because the office was closing.
He said credit cards should be accepted at DMV offices. Most don't allow that now, he said.
Hours should be extended so people who work days can use the office at night.
Rutherford dismissed a reporter's suggestion that he was a heavy underdog in the race.
White, who has been in Illinois politics for three decades, heads up the Jesse White Tumblers, a popular Chicago team that provides valuable training and entertainment for inner city youth.
“I don't have tumblers, but I have a plan,” he said, pointing to his suggestions for the DMV offices.
“Jesse White may be Goliath, but he is about to meet David,” he said. “And David is Dan Rutherford.”
"Today we march. Tomorrow we vote," they declared.
Now, organizers are working to make good on that message.
Building on the momentum of the rallies, immigration advocates this month kicked off a campaign to register new citizens to vote and help immigrants become citizens. The movement is related to a national effort, known as "We Are America," that aims to empower immigrants, particularly Hispanics, to affect the outcome of upcoming elections.
Kristin Kumpf, suburban policy organizer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said volunteers in the movement already had hit the pavement in Elgin and other area cities, including Hanover Park and Aurora.
"We do a lot of door knocking," Kumpf said, describing the day-to-day details of the effort. "We know there are some particular immigrant communities."
Tracy Ibarra, 18, is one of the volunteers who goes door-to-door in Elgin. A recent graduate of Elgin High School, she asks Hispanics what they would like to see changed in the community as she encourages them to become voters or citizens.
"They would like to see their families unified," said Ibarra, who plans to begin classes at Elgin Community College in December.
Kumpf said coalition representatives also would visit churches and festivals and stand outside supermarkets to find people who are eligible to become citizens or to register to vote. Statewide, Kumpf said the coalition had registered 2,000 new voters since the second week of July.
"It's a lot of work in a lot of different places, but it's exciting," Kumpf said. "People are really energized."
The Pew Hispanic Center's 2006 National Survey of Latinos supports the idea that Hispanics have been motivated to make a difference in elections this November.
Of 2,000 Hispanics surveyed, 75 percent agreed that the recent immigration debate would prompt many more Latinos to vote. The survey further found that 63 percent thought the pro-immigrant marches this year signaled the beginning of a new and lasting social movement.
Of those surveyed, 58 percent also said they now believe Hispanics are working together to achieve common goals. That is an increase from 2002 when just 43 percent expressed confidence in Latino unity.
"Millions of immigrants have come out of the shadows to make our voices heard in the national immigration reform debate. A movement has been born," the We Are America Web site states. "In addition to keeping the pressure on policy-makers to enact real, comprehensive immigration reform, the next step is to ensure that eligible immigrants and their allies hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box."
Sandro Rodriguez of Organizacion Civica Cultural Mexicana de Elgin, or the Mexican Civic Cultural Organization of Elgin, said the local group was working independently to help register Hispanics to vote and planned to hold a citizenship workshop in the near future. He said group members likely would encourage voters to get involved with political races from the Elgin City Council on up.
"We encourage people to register to vote," Rodriguez said.
"I just wish my dad had been able to see it," said Lauzen, R-Aurora, whose father, Leo, passed away last month at the age of 82. "The relationship meant so much."
Romanian President Traian Basescu awarded Lauzen the National "Star of Romania" Medal, Commander Rank, in recognition of his work "to build bridges of friendship and commerce between the people of Romania and the United States."
Since welcoming former Romanian President Ion Iliesc to Aurora in September 2004 and delivering a keynote speech to an economic conference in Bucharest last summer, Lauzen has helped connect businesses in Illinois with cities and companies in the developing Eastern European nation.
Romania, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, recently has joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and anticipates acceptance into the European Union in 2007. Romanian soldiers currently serve alongside American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Lauzen said illustrates the need to expand relations between the two countries.
"There really are the mutual interests of world security, a real commitment to democracy, self-determination and their desire to have a better life," Lauzen said. "That better life comes through friendship and trade."
During last summer's trip to Romania, Lauzen met the newly elected President Basescu, various ministers of the national government, then visited local officials in several cities before finishing his tour in his ancestral villages of Istrau and Ville Satu Mare. All four of Lauzen's grandparents came from Romania in the early 1900s.
In the last year, Lauzen has worked to foster closer foreign relations between Romania and the United States, especially Illinois, by addressing issues of job creation and investments, travel visa waivers and adoption.
As an example, Lauzen said he has helped connect a local company that specializes in constructing parking lot and traffic systems with city officials in Cluj. He's also worked to restore a direct flight from Chicago to Bucharest.
Efforts such as Lauzen's have contributed to a 300 percent increase in commercial trade between Romania and the United States in the last year.
"The more we know each other, the better we will become friends," Lauzen said. "The better friends we are, the more peace we're going to enjoy."
The technology park envisioned for that property had “unlimited potential,” they all agreed.
Nearly a year later, progress — at least vertically — has been slow.
A new, 174,000-square-foot Pella Windows sales and service center has been built as the company plans to move its employees from an industrial park nearby in Carol Stream.
This month, West Chicago city leaders also endorsed plans for Cyber Continuity, a data storage firm, to erect a 62,000-square-foot facility at the park — the first development on the north side of Fabyan Parkway.
And if all goes well, said Jack Pressman, project manager for Cyber Continuity, the Chicago-based partnership hopes to build another 120,000- to 140,000-square-foot facility next year.
“The type of response we’re getting has far exceeded expectations,” he said. “It’s a win-win-win. West Chicago is a great template type of town that has proximity to a major metropolitan area.”
But at least one West Chicago alderman is unhappy with the park’s progress.
Mike Kwasman, chairman of the city council’s development committee, believes the park could be progressing faster and that airport officials should speed their review process.
By now, Kwasman expected at least a footprint of key technology anchors to be in place, or at least in the works.
“What we saw were beautiful pictures of what this can be. So far, all the city has is those beautiful pictures,” he said. “Building a project today, no matter where it is — West Chicago, Geneva or anywhere else — it is a competitive market and, when you have a competitive market, you must move fast or your competition will overtake you.”
About 450 of the 800 acres owned by the airport south of Roosevelt Road and north of Fabyan Parkway are considered developable.
The airport signed an agreement with Oak Brook-based CenterPoint Properties to help develop the area and guarantees lease revenues will go back to the airport.
To a certain extent, airport officials and the DuPage National Tech Park board are learning as they go while developing such a large swath of land.
Signing off on a new corporate hangar is one thing; approving buildings in excess of 100,000 square feet is different.
Tech Park Executive Director Jack Tenison said several steps have been suggested to help streamline proposals. He also noted 90 percent of the park’s infrastructure is complete.
Tenison said the park has four buildings in progress or planned: the Pella location, Cyber Continuity, a 50,000-square-foot building that CenterPoint would build for multiple tenants and an Argonne National Laboratory research facility that’s awaiting final approval in Washington, D.C.
“Once you have those four, you have probably created enough mass that people will see it as a reality,” Tenison said. “The tech park will take a decade to grow. It’s not a typical business park.”
Kwasman said the airport should let CenterPoint take a larger role in marking the site.
“Let politicians stay in the background, and let professionals do the work,” he said.
Fred Reynolds, CenterPoint senior vice president of development, said the park is a huge partnership of companies, governments, universities and research institutions — and it is in no way behind schedule.
In addition to roads, the infrastructure also included the StarLight Network, a converged communications grid of voice, video and data.
“We’re right at the turning point right now,” he said, “where we can open the door to all the companies that have expressed interest in the park.”
Taking aim at Internet predators - Robert Sanchez
Out of curiosity, Robin Ambrosia recently logged onto a popular social networking Web site to see who her 16-year-old daughter chats with online.
What the Plainfield resident found on the personal Web pages of her daughter's teen-age friends shocked her.
"These teenagers had taken provocative pictures of themselves and put them on the Internet," Ambrosia said. "And their parents had no idea."
Photographs and access to personal information, authorities say, have turned sites like Xanga.com and MySpace.com into "a myriad catalog" for sexual predators.
Now, two suburban lawmakers are hoping to combat the problem with a list of proposed state law changes.
State Rep. Tom Cross and state Sen. Arthur "AJ" Wilhelmi say their bipartisan effort would make it easier to nab Internet predators who troll social networking sites looking for young prey.
"We have seen in recent time the utilization of this message board concept for gang members trying to recruit kids, for people trying to sell drugs and for sexual predators lurking on these types of Web sites," said Cross, the House Republican leader from Oswego.
"We're in a different age than we were 10 to 15 years ago," he said. "We have to adapt."
As part of the legislation that Cross plans to push during the fall veto session, it would be illegal for adults to have sexually explicit online chats with anyone they believe to be under age.
Another law change would give school boards the authority to discipline students for their conduct outside of school on the Internet.
A third component would give state's attorneys the ability to get a warrant from a judge to intercept transmissions from a computer disseminating child pornography over the Internet. Right now, that's not allowed without the consent of the computer's owner.
Despite constitutional questions, the proposed legislation has the support of Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.
"If you want to have fantasy talk with adults, do it to your heart's content," Glasgow said. "That's what the Constitution is all about.
"But when you start talking about having intercourse with a 14-year- old, we've got to be able to act - and act strongly."
Glasgow praised the legislative package as an attempt to closes legal loopholes.
For example, Cross wants anyone convicted of disseminating harmful materials to minors to register as a sex offender. He also is seeking a stiffer penalty for making death threats over the Internet.
David Behlow, superintendent of Oswego Community Unit District 308, says the legislation is essential to protecting children.
"Just like the Internet is a tool, this legislation will also be a tool to control something that, in many ways now, has gotten out of control."
In the meantime, Glasgow is calling on parents to be the first line of defense. He said they must pay attention to what their kids are doing online.
"If you put a computer in a kid's bedroom with the door shut, you might as well give them a loaded gun," he said.
Law restricts forcing property sales - John Patterson
(Not posted as of 6:30 AM)
Republican county Commissioner Tony Peraica on Friday criticized his opponent, Chicago Alderman Todd Stroger, for supporting the city ordinance, calling it "absolutely wrong."
Stroger, who replaced his ailing father on the ballot for county board president, said big-box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won't abandon Chicago.
"That's why you could vote for the big-box ordinance because they want to be here. They see the money here. They are going to come here," Stroger said during a taping of WBBM Radio's "At Issue" program.
Peraica said that's false comfort.
"They're not going to come, it's absolutely false," he said. Peraica calls the city measure antibusiness and says it will drive jobs and economic development from some of the areas that need it most.
The ordinance, which the City Council approved Wednesday on a 35-14 vote, requires giant retailers to pay workers at least $10 an hour in wages and another $3 in fringe benefits by July 2010.
During Friday's radio show taping, the younger Stroger, who was picked last week by Democratic party leaders to succeed his father on the ballot, said he would prove himself to voters.
"Todd Stroger is more than just John Stroger's son," said Stroger, a former state representative.
The elder Stroger has not been seen in public since he suffered a stroke shortly before winning the Democratic primary in March. He announced in a letter last month that he would retire July 31 and drop his re-election bid. Veteran Commissioner Bobbie Steele has been picked to serve as interim county board president until December.
The younger Stroger said the county faces a number of fiscal challenges, saying it's in "bad shape" and that "the revenues just won't support the county right now."
He talked about relying on attrition and cutting vacant jobs to save money, but he said "there may come a point where you have to do something that's a little more drastic."
He said if vacant jobs are wiped out and not enough people retire then some people would "definitely" have to leave their jobs if there was consolidation.
But Stroger said cuts can't come in the areas of public safety, including law enforcement, courts and hospitals.
Stroger could not say if a tax increase or other type of revenue boost would be needed.
While Radogno said the loans raised questions about his judgment, Giannoulias countered that the bank did nothing wrong and that she was taking shots at him to pump up her campaign.
"There's a lot of questions that need to be answered," Radogno, a state senator from Lemont, said after the National Association of Women Business Owners debate.
It was the first debate meeting for the two, who are vying to replace Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the Republican candidate for governor. Radogno said debate organizers told them to avoid confrontational issues during the formal program, which they did.
Giannoulias has said that while he didn't negotiate the loans for a convicted bookmaker, he is responsible for servicing nearly all the loans at his family's Broadway Bank. He said Friday that customers' legal problems have nothing to do with the conduct of the bank.
Giannoulias, 30, said his banking experience makes him qualified to hold the state's top fiscal post. He said it's an office for someone with investment experience, "not a career politician."
During the debate, the two were asked a variety of questions, some of them about issues not under the purview of the state treasurer's office.
Radogno said she was concerned about the state's business climate and said some taxes and fees imposed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration have made it "less than a hospitable environment."
Giannoulias agreed that some fees being imposed on businesses were "becoming excessive" and it's an issue the state should consider.
The two differed on offering domestic partner benefits to nonunion gay employees in the treasurer's office, something Topinka has declined to do, saying the state can't afford it. Thousands of unionized state employees already are entitled to the benefits.
Radogno said given the financial shape of the state, she's "not interested in expanding benefits anywhere."
Giannoulias said he would extend the benefit.
ILLINOIS SENATE REPUBLICANS
Chaired by Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) the task force hearing will be in room 16-503 of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 West Randolph, Chicago.
Concerned by the increasingly political and litigious climate surrounding the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, Senate Republicans recently announced the creation of a Task Force to examine the current Planning Board and reestablish a process based on merit—not on political influence—by which hospitals and health care facilities can obtain approval for new buildings, expansions, and other significant capital expenditures.
In addition to Brady, Task Force members, include State Senators Pam Althoff (R-McHenry), Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), and Brad Burzynski (R-Clare).
Republicans noted that the state’s Health Facilities Planning Board has been marred by perceived corruption over the last several years, with political appointees falling under federal investigation for their roles on the Planning Board.
Chairman Brady (R-Bloomington) has said that while it initially appeared that the Blagojevich Administration took steps to reform the system, it now seems that little has changed. “The ties between Gov. Blagojevich and political appointees on the Board are far more extensive than we were initially led to believe, which I think reinforces the need for increased supervision of this process.”
Brady pointed to recent media reports revealing ties between Planning Board members and Tony Rezko—a long-time political crony of Blagojevich. According to published reports, a number of Board members contributed large sums to Blagojevich’s campaign, and also served as shareholders in some of Rezko’s companies.
In 2004, the Board was “revamped” after it came under federal scrutiny for its approval of a $49 million hospital in Crystal Lake; three Rezko associates were ultimately dismissed for their role in approving the project.
“We are obviously concerned because the Health Facilities Planning Board makes decisions that affect hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investments; however, I think the most important issue is that the Board’s decisions affect the lives of patients and their access to health care,” said Brady. “Providing quality medical care should be this Board’s main priority, which is why the system must be beyond reproach.”
Rather than respond to specific questions on a survey from Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, Blagojevich and Topinka chose to send letters outlining their positions.
"They (the letters) are very vague and leave a lot of wiggle room," said the group's executive director, Anita Bedell.
In his letter, Blagojevich said he has "not signed nor am I currently considering any legislation that would expand gambling in Illinois." The Democratic governor also said he has "opposed many pieces of legislation proposed by the General Assembly that would have significantly expanded gambling in Illinois."
The letter does not mention that last spring, Blagojevich floated the idea of bringing video gaming in the form of keno to Illinois, something ILCAAAP considers an expansion of gambling. Blagojevich argued it was just a variation of the state lottery.
"In the last election (in 2002), he was very clear. He marked every box that he would oppose the expansion of gambling," Bedell said Thursday. "This time, there were no boxes checked. That makes us question."
Topinka, meanwhile, offered more details in her letter, including opposition to keno, video poker, the sale of the lottery and "other ideas for new forms of gambling." However, Bedell noted the letter does not mention the Republican state treasurer's position on bringing slot machines to Illinois horse racing tracks to give them more revenue, nor her views on giving existing riverboat casinos more gaming positions.
Both of the letters are on the organization's Web site, www.ilcaaap.com, as are responses to the survey from legislative candidates.
Blagojevich campaign spokeswoman Sheila Nix said gambling is more complex than "yes" or "no" questions on a survey.
"What we find with a lot of questionnaires is the answers are not that simple," Nix said. "People have different definitions of expansion. The big thing was the casino expansion. He's not a big fan of that, nor has he supported that."
Topinka spokesman John McGovern said the letter "allowed us to answer some very detailed questions with some very detailed answers." The reason Topinka did not discuss slot machines at racetracks or expanded casino gaming positions is that they deal with existing forms of gambling, McGovern said.
"Judy Baar Topinka's position is very clear that she opposes any new forms of gaming," McGovern said. "These are issues concerning existing forms of gaming. We are reviewing them as we take a look at the overall gaming system."
The survey asks candidates if they support or oppose a number of gambling options, such as additional casinos, slot machines at racetracks, video poker, lottery-ticket sales on the Internet and sports betting. It also asks if candidates support or oppose gambling-relief issues, such as a ban on casino credit and a law to protect family assets from being gambled away by a spouse.
The surveys were sent to Topinka and Blagojevich, as well as all candidates for the General Assembly. Bedell said response from lawmakers has been sparse. Only about one-third of the Senate candidates and one-quarter of the House candidates have responded so far. The organization asked for a response by July 24.
"We have a way to go," Bedell said.
Most of those who responded so far said they opposed all of the expanded gambling issues raised by ILCAAAP. Bedell wasn't surprised, because her organization opposes gambling.
"The people opposed are usually the ones who send them in first," she said.
REAL CLEAR POLITICS
Blagojevich's tenure has been characterized by a rocky relationship with the Democrat-controlled state legislature (strained from the very beginning by his decision to remain in Chicago instead of moving to the Executive Mansion in Springfield). The tension has increased over the years, and his reputation for back-room wheeling and dealing has now gotten so bad it's been reported that members of his own party demand assurances from the Governor in writing, so little do they trust his word.
Blago's record on fiscal matters is also a problem. While most other states have been able to take advantage of a strong economy to erase budget deficits and even post surpluses in recent years, Illinois continues to languish. Earlier this week it was reported that Illinois ran a $3 billion deficit in 2005, and a recent balance sheet analysis showed the state with an overall negative net worth of $17.5 billion - both worst in the nation by far.
Finally, there is the issue of corruption. Blagojevich cast himself as a "reformer" the first time around, yet his administration has been dogged by multiple scandals and wide-ranging investigations. Earlier this month U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald notified the Illinois Attorney General he had identified "a number of credible witnesses" and was investigating "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" in the Blagojevich administration.
Despite all of these issues, Blagojevich remains favored to win this November. He's been blessed by a weaker than expected challenge - thus far, anyway - from Republican Judy Baar Topinka, who appears to be having little success energizing a state Republican Party that remains divided and demoralized after a string of recent failures and embarrassments.
A wave of early attack ads has helped Blagojevich extend his lead over Topinka to double digits in the most recent poll by SurveyUSA. Though the race will likely tighten toward the end, unless Patrick Fitzgerald hands down a crippling set of indictments before Election Day, Blagojevich seems headed rather inauspiciously toward a second term.
WATERLOO CEDAR-FALLS COURIER
Presidential candidate John Cox starting early in Iowa - Josh Nelson
WATERLOO --- As more and more presidential potentials stream through Iowa, one Republican candidate has come clean about his intentions.
Chicago businessman John Cox returned to Iowa this week for the fifth time since he announced his candidacy earlier this year. Cox made stops across northeastern and central Iowa, including Independence, Oelwein and Iowa Falls.
"Clearly the (U.S. Sen.) John McCains of the world, the (Massachusetts Gov.) Mitt Romneys and the (U.S. Sen.) Bill Frists --- they've all been out there for a long time," he said Wednesday during a telephone interview with the Courier. "... I'm out working to get the name recognition we need."
He has visited all 99 counties. He's spoken at seven county conventions, three district conventions and the state party convention. He's also set up campaign committees in 25 counties.
While he's never held public office, Cox is no stranger to politics. He served as chairman of the Cook County Republican Party. He launched bids for the U.S. Senate in 2000, U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 and Cook County Recorder in 2004.
That lack of experience in public office may also be a blessing for Cox when it comes to swaying an electorate tired of Washington insiders, he said. The crop of potential candidates includes two governors and three multi-term senators.
"I looked at all the people being talked about running for president and the trouble is they're all good people," he said. "I just didn't see a Ronald Reagan in there."
He said his background as a self-made millionaire businessman presents an alternative to career politicians.
Among main issues have been replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, reforming social security and introducing litigation reforms.
During a joint meeting with four county GOP organizations on Saturday in West Union, Cox introduced himself to more than 200 party activists. He said events focusing on retail politics allow him to expand his name recognition.
"The issue here is that people need to see me," he said.
Jon Hapgood, Buchanan County GOP chairman, said he had not heard of Cox before, but was impressed when he listened to him speak,
Getting enough support in the state to get noticed alongside heavyweights like Romney and McCain will be an uphill battle, he said.
"It can be done, but right now he'd be a dark horse at best," Hapgood said.
For more information about Cox, go to www.cox2008.com.
Gay marriage and the decline of liberalism - Robert Klein Engler
CHICAGO (27 July '06)--The news may be either good or bad, depending on your politics. Earlier in July the Nebraska News reported that, "A federal appeals court says Nebraska's voter-approved ban on gay marriage is constitutional and doesn't violate anyone's civil rights." The ban was approved by seventy percent of voters in 2000, and along with "other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States." This ruling comes as another defeat in a series of defeats for proponents of gay marriage.In spite of this defeat in Nebraska and similar defeats in thirty-nine other states that have passed laws against same-sex marriages, some politicians still support the gay marriage cause. NewsMax reports that "Chicago's Democratic Mayor Richard M. Daley says he would have 'no problem' if Cook County allowed gay marriages. Daley, who appointed the first openly gay member to the City Council, adds he is not troubled by same-sex marriage, according to a report in the Washington Post. "The mayor added, "You have to point out the strength of this community, your doctors, your lawyers, your journalists. They have adopted children. To me, we have to understand this is part and parcel of our families and extended families."The mayor's rhetoric aside, if court rulings continue along the lines they have in Nebraska, then the politics of gay marriage will be a losing politics. Andrea Hopkins, of Reuters writes that, "The fastest-growing faith group in America, evangelical Christians have had a growing impact on the nation's political landscape, in part because adherents believe conservative Christian values should have a place in politics--and they support politicians who agree with them."Because Democrats want to win the next national election in the U. S., they must confront the religious issue inherent in the discussion of gay marriage. Democrats have to paint a religious face on their traditional secularism. This new face of secularism may be the point of a recent speech by Illinois Senator Barack Obama to the Call to Renewal Conference this past June. In that speech, Senator Obama says, "...the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms."Senator Obama did not bring up the issue of gay marriage, but he did go on to add, "Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting "preachy" may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems."Later, on "Good Morning America," Senator Obama, now sounding like Senator John Kerry, seemed to back away from specifics and submerge himself in murky generalizations. He said, "So my point was that we need to have a more complex, more nuanced conversation about religion. And if we do that, then I think the whole country benefits."In spite of this reaching out to people of faith, the Reverend Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, offers "A summary of the Democratic approach to reaching out to Catholics and other voters of faith: championing the legality of Partial-Birth Abortion calling the belief in traditional one-man, one-woman marriage 'outdated and bigoted,' opposing Catholic Supreme Court nominees who practice their faith, and now, using content from a website that depicts our Lord wearing a shirt entitled: 'The Moron.'"Reverend Euteneuer concludes, "I can only assume that the Democrats are using Howard Stern as their general consultant for faith-based outreach." In spite of Rev. Euteneuer's comments, whatever outreach there is to support the movement for gay marriage may be an example of too little coming too late. Recent data show that the institution of marriage in the U. S. is changing even among heterosexuals.In their study, The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, 2006, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe write, "We are in the midst of a profound change in American life. Demographically, socially and culturally, the nation is shifting from a society of child-rearing families to a society of child-free adults." When it comes to gay marriage, why worry about matches when the house is already on fire?Practical and theoretical revolutionsTo better understand the debate over gay marriage, we could go back and look at the American and French Revolutions. In my view, the French Revolution was a theoretical revolution, a revolution from the top down. The American Revolution, however, was a practical one, a revolution from the bottom up. We are all heirs to the politics coming from these different approaches to social change.We could say, too, that when it comes to revolutions, the Americans are Aristotelian and the French are Platonists. It is no coincidence that In 1791, France became the first nation to decriminalize homosexuality in the Napoleonic code. It made theoretical sense to do so. Only later were laws against sodomy repealed in Britain, where it was practical to do so.The gay rights movement in the U. S., which began with conservative groups like the Mattachine Society, took a wrong turn in the sixties. This wrong turn led to the separatist issue of gay marriage and the fact that there is no gay leader like Martin Luther King, Jr., today.The sad truth for gays is that there is no one to give spiritual cover to the issue of gay marriage. This puts gays as the unfortunate position of wanting to be part of an institution their policies will eventually destroy. They are like those illegal immigrants who want the protection of the U. S. Constitution that by their actions they despise.After the sixties, the gay movement went from being a movement of practical social change to one of theoretical social change. Those brave drag queens who led the Stonewall protest have been replaced by well-paid lawyers who don't care what they protest. One reason this happened is because leaders of the fledging gay rights movement mistakenly thought they had common cause with other minority groups. So, letters of the alphabet accumulated: first it was G for gay, then G and L, then GLBT, now GLBTQ. Thankfully, there are only twenty-one letters left.The turn that the gay liberation movement made in the sixties towards the theoretical instead of the practical is evident in much gay poetry and fiction. The poetry of James Merrill reflects a more English and practical world then the theoretical and French influenced poetry of Audre Lorde. Merrill understands that in his gay household "the only feet that patter here are metrical," whereas Lorde claims "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."In the last resort, the only criticism that can be made of Merrill's art is that is was an art born from luxury. Few artists these days have that luxury. Perhaps that is why Merrill's inherited wealth gives credence to the view that gay is good if you can afford it.Most gay fiction took the French path instead of the English, too. On the one hand, Edmund White's The Beautiful Room is Empty, is an example of the French, theoretical influence on gay writing and is the prevailing mode in gay publishing, today. On the other hand, E. M. Forster's Maurice is an example of British, practical gay writing. The main character in Forster's novel ends up happy, but he does not marry.Some activists claim that Forster betrayed the gay community by later admitting that the ending to his novel was not plausible. Forster waited, too, so that Maurice was published posthumously. The novel has also been subjected to endless criticism by French inspired literary critics. All that may be true, but the point is that one cannot live a life of French theory. If you attempt that, then life ends either with insanity or The Reign of Terror.The British never experienced a reign of terror. Perhaps they were too practical. Perhaps it was the songs of the Methodists that held off the violence. Either way, practical liberalism and religion (generally Christian and particularly Protestant), often go together in our Anglo-Protestant tradition. Perhaps that is a union Senator Obama wishes to resurrect, but he does not realize his political party has left it in the dust.It was Christians who were at the forefront of the movement to abolish slavery in the U. S. You cannot read William T. Stead's book, If Christ Came to Chicago and not recognize the contribution of religion to the movement for social and political reform. The Civil Rights movement of the sixties was led by Christians and Jews. Now, it is mostly Christians who oppose gay marriage.In contrast to times past, many of today's liberals do not see religion as a motive for reform. Instead, they see religion as an obstacle to reform. This is ironic, because in the past some theologians remarked on the refined religious sensibility of many gay men. Examples of this refined religious sensibility are still evident among some priests and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.People of faith in America may support both liberal and conservative causes. The problem for those who want to be progressive and support gay marriage today is that gay marriage is generally opposed by most people of faith referred to by Senator Obama. Unfortunately, those same people of faith are blind sometimes to seeing liberal divorce policies doing more harm to the institution of marriage than gay marriage may ever do.A slippery slopeAny gay man who opposes gay marriage, even on religious grounds, opens himself up to criticism from all sides. Most telling is the gay critic who accuses him of unconscious hate for himself and others who are gay. "You don't want gay marriage to work because you really hate yourself," say these Freudian critics.A gay man opposed of gay marriage can argue in turn that it is really gays who hate marriage, and their campaign to allow gay marriage is an unconscious attempt to destroy the weakened institution of marriage once and for all. Although supporters of gay marriage will deny it, the equal protection clause of the U. S. Constitution will create a slippery slope to all sorts of unions if the courts hold that marriage is no longer an institution grounded in the relationship between one man and one woman.Scott Bidstrup believes that the slippery-slope argument used to oppose gay marriage is not valid. He writes, "The reality is that a form of gay marriage has been legal in Scandinavian countries for over many years, and no such legalization (of unusual forms of marriage) has happened, nor has there been a clamor for it."Well, just because there is no clamor does not mean there will not be one. I'm sure those who wrote the Rights of Men before the terror of the French Revolution did not clamor for heads to roll, yet they did. The same theory that makes gay marriage possible will make all forms of marriage impossible. When you want to impose a radical theory upon the world, sometimes its best to do it with a whisper. Let's ask Robespierre how to whisper "slippery slope" in French.Because the idea of gay marriage is derived from a theory of sexuality, from the top down, that theory will have to admit other forms of marriage, too. The conclusion of all this means that gay marriage will end simply with the end of marriage. This is the same kind of social reasoning that made, "Off with their heads!" seem so logical. This is a gay politics like the politics of Louis Farrakhan, not the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.The tug of natureAccording to Michael Bronski, "The best argument against same-sex marriage is the argument against marriage." Bronski doesn't see the gay marriage debate as an argument between religion and secularists, but one "about sentiment and the power of advertising. People--gay and straight, but especially women--have a profound emotional attachment to the idea of marriage. Bronski claims "It is no surprise that close to 75 percent of couples who have applied for same-sex marriage licenses in San Francisco and now in Massachusetts are lesbians."Emotional attachment to the idea of marriage may go deeper than Bronski imagines. For all its drawbacks as an argument, something must be conceded by gays to the tug of nature. Most men and women are attracted to one another. Likewise, most men want to protect women and children, while many women say they are fulfilled by mothering children. In spite of radical lesbians, who argue that marriage is an unjust institution that oppresses women, many men and women believe there is no practical reason to change traditional marriage.We do not find gay marriage as a guaranteed civil right mentioned in the U. S. Constitution because the Constitution is a practical document. If gay marriage is to happen at all, it will be up to the states to allow it. Yet the states, with the exception of Massachusetts, see no practical reason to institute gay marriage. From a secular point of view, marriage is a licensed activity, not a civil right and the state can set a limit on who it licenses. To this we can add that a licensed activity is to the benefit of society as a whole and not just the persons licensed.There is no civil right to be a lawyer written into the U. S. Constitution. For the most part, the states grant licenses to practice law to those who meet certain qualifications. Why should marriage and the qualification that one partner be a man and the other partner be a woman be any different? If I want to be a lawyer, then I will pass the bar exam and be licensed by the state to practice. If I want to get married and am a man, then I will find a woman and practice being a husband.The Rabbis of the Talmud taught that we have a duty to bring life into the world because life is the real good, or in Ruskin's words, "There is no wealth but life." These Rabbis understood, however, that some men and women were not able to fulfill this commandment. That being the case, such men and women had to further life in other ways.One of those ways was teaching and another was healing, or being a priest. Yes, even hairdressing counts here. These are ways for gay men to ponder. If they cannot get married and bring new life, then they can at least help life already here to flourish. There is an art to doing that. Dante's great love for Beatrice did not end with intimacy, but it did end in a great poem.People of faith must expand also their understanding of who gays are and the gifts they bring. Certainly, gay men today are not the "masculorum concubitores," or male concubines that St. Paul described in his first letter to the Corinthians. This expression St. Paul used is as unclear in Latin as it is in the original Greek.If any one should know that sexual orientation is not per se in the service of idolatrous cults, then it should be today's evangelical Christians. For all their reliance on the Bible, some evangelical ministers seem never to get the translation of this passage in Corinthians right, let alone other ambiguous passages about homosexuality in scripture. This not to say, however, there is not room for a crowd of interpreters. In the Talmud we read where there is love it is never crowded.Separateness that preaches inclusivenessLiberalism has reached the end of its usefulness as an ideology. It now produces the opposite of what it intends. In the struggle for civil rights, liberalism preaches integration, but Democrats must rely on urban segregation to get votes. In education, liberals fought to integrate schools and raise standards, but they have created segregated schools and lower standards wherever they gained power.The campaign for gay marriage, like the recently publicized Gay Games in Chicago, is a form of separateness that preaches inclusiveness. The inclusiveness proponents of gay marriage imagine actually ends only in lip service. Queer theorists come only to the aid of those who share their politics. Feminists and radical lesbians seem not to be bothered by the "penis free zones" they set up in tents at music festivals that exclude men. It will be a new day politically when a Republican is inducted to Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.A campaign for gay marriage discloses the final irony of liberalism. In its last stages, liberalism brings about the opposite of what it intends. Gay marriage will do little to integrate gays into American society. It may end up doing just the opposite, segregate them even more into gay ghettos. Gay marriage will be to relationships what Brown v. the Board of Education has been to public education--a legal victory but a practical failure.If gay marriage does become law, then it will not change much. We will see still through a glass darkly. Politicians will still ask for a more nuanced conversation about gay marriage. Yet it will be just another illusion perpetuated by the Democrats like the so-called integrated public schools that were supposed to happen in Chicago after Brown v. the Board of Education.Imagine, after more than fifty years of upheaval in Chicago's educational bureaucracy, higher and higher property taxes, and still Chicago's public schools are segregated. The only change that happened in the city is that the public schools have gone from separate and equal to become separate and unequal.Gay people, like everyone else, must sort through political ideologies and choose to live a secular or religious life. Should they accept the yoke of the Torah or the glamour of the world? Should they pick a lover now or wait for something eternal? The superstructure of the liberal media, where events happen according to a secular script, is no help here. Oprah says she's not gay. Batwoman says she is. What's a girl gonna do?Ignorant or maliciousThe defeat of gay marriage around the nation opens the possibility of a new purpose for gay men. Instead of talking about the "essential sameness" of gays with straights, a new definition of being gay may highlight the differences and the contributions both gays and straights make to life. Love may then become an opportunity to pass on culture. This happened in Classical Greece and in the monasteries of the middle ages. It could happen again. Some may even be encouraged to read Plato's Symposium or St. John's epistle.In spite of Alice Thomas Ellis's claim that "Religion is for women and queers," Pope Benedict's first encyclical was called Deus Caritas Est, or "God Is Love." The Pope claims God's love is available to everyone, gay or straight, a prince of the Church or one like my mother who had faith but lived in obscurity. Marriage is just one way this love emerges in the world. There are other ways, too. Such a truth may be proclaimed also by a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips.How is it, then, that for many gay people love remains a knot in their soul? The secularists answer that this knot may be untied if we only see the body and its desire as flesh and blood here for our amusement. These secularists claim what the Pope writes is irrelevant. The knot of love need not be suffered. Madonna's music is a knife that cuts right through it. Or, so they believe until they grow old.After your fiftieth birthday you are no longer gay. You are something else: a dirty old man, a bitter queen or a wrinkled coat upon a stick. Some may even be saints. After fifty, some men see gay marriage as a noble but mistaken cause for the young, the young who are these days much accustomed to getting what they want. These young men dream of gay marriage, a honeymoon on Fire Island, then adopting two children from China, yet, if they really wanted to change the world, they would do less meth and more math.What will those of the younger generation do when they don't get what they want and are forced to look deeply into the well of love? Will they hear the Pet Shop Boys or Darren Hayes calling up a truth? Will they answer an ad posted on Craigslist.com? Are they terrified to be single? In the Dhammapada we read: "If you cannot find someone equal or better to go with, then travel alone. Do not travel with a fool."What of the young with their aversion to things religious? The world and its troubles soon belongs to them. They forget that few have done more to minister to people with AIDS than the Roman Catholic Church. They may view gay marriage as a civil right and overlook the intimate involvement marriage has with religion. Many are shallow and will not do the hard work necessary to correct their mistaken ideas. Yet, just because something is mistaken is no guarantee it will not come to be by the efforts of the ignorant or malicious.What of the young in love, or what they think is love? Who is to tell them their light is really darkness? If you do not want gay marriage, then you have to offer something instead. Call it an adult sacrament, civil registration, or a blessed union. They say when you call the demons by name they go away.Gay men do not need marriage to have a fulfilled life. What they do need are intimate relationships and a sense that their life has a meaning beyond their own existence. Those who love one another will find a way to live together or to live alone, even when hemmed in or oppressed. After that, who knows? Edgar Lee Masters, echoing the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 22:29-30, wrote that "there is no marriage in heaven, but there is love."Campaigns for gay marriage do not occur in a political vacuum. Other events, both national and international, may soon make gay marriage irrelevant. Illegal immigration, the widening so-called war on terror and even the possible rise of third party candidates, along with more defeats in state courts for gay marriage proponents, may push the issue of gay marriage farther into the background.We do not know what tomorrow brings--what love and what new lands. Imagine an urchin standing on the dock at Palos. He watches the ships of Columbus sail west, growing smaller and smaller until they drop off the horizon. He cannot see past the sorrow of his own life to the future. So, he turns and walks to a tavern, his palm open for a small coin. Beggars, lovers and politicians often live on a flat world. Dare they go so far as to come back to the clear air of their beginning?Merle Miller ended his book On Being Different with the words, "The air is extraordinarily clear, and the sky...is dark, almost navy-blue. On such a day I would not choose to be anyone else or any place else." Today, I see Miller standing by his window looking out as a witness to the beginning of the gay movement. I look out my window and I see the end. When I first read Miller's book I was looking for the courage to love and the courage to write. I imagine few read his ending today.To say that liberal, Democratic politics reaches a dead end with the issue of gay marriage does not mean that some Democrats will no longer win elections. It is to say, however, that secular liberalism is no longer a viable political ideology, but is, instead, at best a juvenile taste and at worst a bad habit. Gay marriage brings us to the edge of a cliff where liberals can go no farther and only look down. The next step is a leap into the void of contradiction.This may be why many liberals are unhappy. The ground is shifting beneath their feet. Add to this unhappiness a deep hunger for they know not what, and the future looks grim to many Democrats. If the gnashing of teeth hasn't started among Democratic politicians near you yet, it will, as we come closer to the end of liberalism and they turn back to eat their children.ON THE NET:http://www.answers.com/topic/lgbt-social-movements
Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago. He is an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University. His book, A Winter Of Words, about the ethnic cleansing at Daley College, is available from amazon.com.
The Riverside council approved the ordinance unanimously at an often raucous meeting attended by 700 people, the Courier-Post reported.
"If you're not in this country legally, you are not in this town legally," Riverside resident Craig Robinson said.
Supporters of the ordinance say an influx of 1,500 to 3,500 undocumented workers from Brazil has strained Riverside's resources. Mayor Charles Hilton Jr. said that without the newcomers Riverside would have a population of about 8,000.
Not everyone at the meeting supported the ordinance. Ronaldo Empke, a Brazilian who has been in Riverside for two years, said immigrants face a lot of discrimination.
"If you read the history of Riverside, it was built on immigration," Empke said. "Why is it a problem now?"
Employers and landlords caught violating the law face fines of $1,000 or more. Employers could also lose licenses.
Representative Tracy: Job creation is state's top concern - Doug Wilson
Rep. Jil Tracy sees job creation as the top need in the state and unveiled a four-part jobs plan on Thursday.
"During the last five years, Illinois has lost over 150,000 manufacturing jobs," Tracy said during a press conference at Knapheide Manufacturing Co. in Quincy.
Tracy's jobs plan includes support for the New Jobs Now tax credit proposed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka. The five-year program would give tax credits against 50 percent of the cost of payroll taxes for most new jobs. The tax credits could reach 75 percent for jobs that provide health care, retirement and other benefits.
"This is revenue neutral" for the state, Tracy said. The state hasn't been collecting payroll taxes on jobs that are yet to be created, she said. In addition, the state will collect income taxes from those with the jobs.
For a $30,000 job, the credit would mean $450 per year if half the taxes are credited. That would climb to $675 per year for jobs with benefits.
In addition, Tracy wants to see tax credits and cash subsidies in some state programs changed so that small business can participate. Tracy said too often businesses that only create a few jobs don't qualify for the incentives. By lowering the participation threshold, the program could help more employers.
The state's AgriFirst program needs better funding, Tracy said. The program provides grants for farmers and boosts farm businesses. Eventually, AgriFirst is supposed to have a $25 million budget, but so far it has only received $826,000 in annual state funds.
Tracy, a practicing attorney, also wants to see common-sense civil justice reforms. She said Illinois ranks 45th out of 50 states for judicial fairness. That poor rating results largely from the excessive number of cases where plaintiffs move their class action lawsuits to places where juries have traditionally given bigger settlements.
Reform also is needed in cases where large companies or wealthy individuals bear all the costs of a court settlement, even though juries may find they were culpable for only a small fraction of the blame.
Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, appeared with Tracy and said border communities such as Quincy understand the need for pro-jobs legislation because jobs are moving out of the state to places with lower costs of operation.
"During this Democrat administration we've seen businesses leave Illinois because of the high cost of doing business," Cross said.
Cross, the Republican leader in the Illinois House, said the state is 45th in the nation for job creation during the past five years. This year's elections should be focused on "jobs, jobs, jobs," Cross said.
Jeff Mays, president and CEO of the Illinois Business Roundtable, said the state has lost its edge in jobs growth and needs new leadership — especially targeted at the creation of manufacturing jobs.
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