Judith's Java
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AND THE QUESTIONS KEEP COMING

Dec 17, 2014 -- 11:00pm

On January 12th Bruce Rauner will become the next Governor of Illinois. That’s less than a month away…yet the Governor-Elect is still an unknown entity. There are many more questions than answers. Best to ask the questions now than to be caught unawares on January 13th.

Question One: Rauner has spoken of improving education. He’s also said he’ll cut state taxes.  But if taxes are cut, how will we generate the revenue needed to pay for better quality education? Will teachers take homemade jam in lieu of cash? Who will pay for additional textbooks and computers? What happens to art and music courses?  Maybe the Governor-Elect Rauner plans to pay for each of these out of his pocket.

Question Two: the State is hemorrhaging red ink, thanks to previous Governors and Legislators who raided state pension funds to balance budgets. Now the pension fund reserves are sorely depleted. The plan to pay new state workers reduced pensions was declared unconstitutional because the state’s constitution forbids pension discrimination. How is Governor Rauner going to suggest replenishing pension funds?

 Question Three: According to the Illinois Constitution, the Governor as chief executive makes sure Illinois runs smoothly. He doesn’t make laws; the legislature legislates. Other than the Amendatory Veto, how does Governor Rauner plan to pass his programs into law? He’s Republican; the Legislature’s Democratic. Given the venom between parties, how will Rauner negotiate with the Democratic legislature?

Question Four: Speaking of politics…Speaker of the House and Democratic Party Chair Michael Madigan is arguably the most powerful pol in Illinois; one rep. likened him to the “Great Oz.” Will Oz relinquish his power to the new Governor Rauner? Will Governor Rauner happily walk behind Oz’ train? Neither option seems probable. Will ‘Round One’ commence on January 13th?

My Java and I worry that these questions are only the beginning. Battles on any or all of these will produce strife, and hamstring state efforts to make Illinois work…And by February our signs may read, “Welcome to Illinois: state of Chaos.”

from the desk of judithrae ross december View Comments (0)

A HOLIDAY STORY MODERN STYLE

Dec 11, 2014 -- 10:09pm

 ‘Tis 2 weeks before Christmas and all through Chi-City,

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Thanksgiving has gone the way of most family’s turkey sandwiches. But the anger continues. Demonstrations in Chicago and around the country disrupted Black Friday—even closed shopping centers. Shopping receipts from the Black Friday weekend were down 7% from last year.

Let’s look beyond the headlines and the invective and ask “why?” Some of the outrage began with the way Michael Brown’s murder and ensuing investigation were handled. If this outrage was solely about Michael Brown it should have started cooling down. It hasn’t.

This outrage may be the first salvo of revolutionary fervor...and I’m not the only one who thinks so. MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow that these are more than protests; they’re the start of a movement. Folks on the right certainly grasp the situation; for example, former Congressman, now Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough went berserk in defense of how this case was handled. Who put the Limbaugh pills in his Morning Joe? If these protests were only reactions, why is Joe so angry?

The Grand Jury deliberated, the verdict was given, and then the real trouble started. The Grand Jury found no evidence to support an indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. Prosecutor Robert P. McCullough blamed the media for fueling the rioting by slanting their coverage against the officer, and unreliable witnesses for undermining a weak case. That’s when the questions started coming. I’m outraged that the jury couldn’t understand that murdering an unarmed teen is a crime.

The unconvincing verdict touched off nationwide demonstrations, including large demonstrations in Chicago’s loop.  The degree of rage shown in these demonstrations suggests something else is at work.

Part of the anger is rage that an inexperienced cop got away with murder. And part of the anger is over the apparent racism. Darren Wilson is white; Michael Brown, black. Would our real-life answer to Officer Krupke have fired on Brown if Brown were Cornelius VanderSnout, III? Part of the anger was also due to the way States Attorney McCullough delivered the verdict, blaming the press and asserting that the witnesses were unreliable. His comments were not only condescending; they were total B.S. And the anger keeps coming.

Why have there been continuing demonstrations in the Loop? Perhaps many feel Brown’s murder could have happened here. Further, there have been assertions that our elected officials don’t really care about the everyday people. That may be why the demonstrations in Chicago started in front of Mayor Emanuel’s office. The issue here isn’t whether Mayor Emanuel is guilty of indifference. It’s more of a general sense that officials just don’t care. Coupled with that is the wide-spread belief that nothing works well anymore.

So far it’s been a joyless holiday season… we’re just trudging through. Elected officials take heed lest you get burned. Michael Brown’s murder looks like the kindling that may well set off a nuclear blast.

from the desk of judithrae ross november View Comments (0)

‘TIS THE SEASON (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE A SENIOR CITIZEN)

Nov 19, 2014 -- 8:28pm

‘Tis the holiday season, and the scammers are revving up to fleece us one and all. Senior citizens beware. Many scams are personalized, appealing for funds for a friend or requesting information that can be used to steal your identity and ruin your credit score. Here’s a few scams that I’ve encountered recently.

Upon opening my email, I found a message that appeared to come from our family’s lawyer. Its subject was “sad news.” Was I being sued? No. The message asserted that while vacationing in Sevastopol my lawyer was robbed, and desperately needs 2700 pounds. Could I send all or some of it immediately? I forwarded said mail to my friend with a “is this you?” and deleted the email.

The sender didn’t know that I had received the same email from a scammer purporting to be my friend from a consulate. I checked and found my real friend was at work in Chicago. Besides, why would anybody vacation in eastern Ukraine now?

Another attempt concerned a dear friend. He called me one morning to tell me he received an email which stated that he had a long lost brother and nephew who had died without will or direct heirs, so my friend was on the verge of inheriting $16 million. Of course, there would be fees, but millions could be wired to his bank account in days. The bank and all other details seemed legit, so my friend was very happy.

But when he replied and didn’t get an answer, my friend became suspicious. He Googled “scams” on the net and found the exact letter with a warning. My friend sent back a scathing email. Warning: if you reply—even scathingly—you’re confirming to the scammer that you and your email account are alive.

Life's tough enough without losing your savings or having your credit score ruined. Delete email when you don’t know the sender, or it’s a plea for funds. Keep your cool and keep your holidays happy.

from the desk of judithrae ross november View Comments (0)

NOW WHAT?

Nov 12, 2014 -- 11:51pm

Now that Election 2014 is history and Election 2016 is still in “yellow pad” phase my Java and I looking for bright spots. For a while, there will be relief from negative campaign ads; no ads showing opponents as unfit to sleep with the pigs; and no more ads painting opponents as toadies for the Tea Party--or Devils.

Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that negative ads soured Election-2014. Let’s hope the ads that bordered on libel or used fear as a political weapon will go the way of the dinosaur.

But the results of Election 2014 also raised questions. Nationally, will the new Congress legislate or postulate? Locally, how will Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner “shake up” Springfield…and how will said “shake-up” affect Cook County?

I’ve been watching Governor-Elect Rauner’s moves since he won the Governorship in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Many winners greet commuters on Wednesday and Thursday before going to a villa somewhere warm or taking the family to Disneyland for fun and photo-ops. The Rauner’s spent much of last week meeting and greeting people from all over Illinois. On Veteran’s Day both went to Chicago’s commemoration ceremonies, although Governor-Elect Rauner didn’t speak.

The Governor-Elect is building bi-partisan fences. Bill Daley, President Obama’s former Chief-of-Staff is on the transition team. Mayor Emanuel and Governor-Elect Rauner have good relations, and the Governor-Elect spent time in Pilsen and Maywood among Hispanic and African-American voters. If Rauner can build bridges by supporting programs that benefit the economy while easing the lives of the working poor, he’ll succeed in uniting business interests with minority voters’ issues.

Education and state pension remain question marks. How he’ll foster higher educational standards and remediate deficits in pension funding while cutting back on taxation are very interesting questions. These are the only most obvious questions—the tip of the iceberg.

Okay. Governor-Elect Rauner has made a good start. My take is “so far-so good“…And my Java and I heartily wish the Governor-Elect good luck.

from the desk of judithrae ross november View Comments (0)
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