Like people here in Illinois and all across this nation, Lake Forester readers are concerned about the H1N1 virus and whether there will be enough vaccine available to protect themselves and their children.

President Obama declared the H1N1 epidemic a “national emergency” on Saturday, Oct. 25.  Fear mongering reports by the administration have predicted that between 30,000 and 90,000 will die from H1N1.

The Obama administration had months to prepare for the anticipated “swine” flu outbreak, yet a shortage of the H1N1 vaccine exists.  People in Chicagoland are waiting in long lines to receive the vaccine and some are being cut off after waiting in lines for hours.  How did this happen?

The shortage seems to stem from the time it takes to produce the H1N1 vaccine.  The egg method takes 6 months.  A shorter two-month method, using caterpillars to produce the H1N1 vaccine, was rejected by the Obama administration.  Australia followed through with the caterpillar research, but the Obama administration refused to pay for this research into a quicker method for producing the H1N1 vaccine.

Where is the public outrage?  We all remember Katrina, an act of Mother Nature, and the outrage that it caused.  Katrina subsequently undermined President Bush and his administration.  Now we learn that GITMO prisoners who wanted to kill Americans will be given the H1N1 vaccine while American citizens have not yet been taken care of.

Faith in government should definitely be front and center as an issue as the U.S. House rolls out its health care bill which would amount to a government-run health care plan.

If government is unable to effectively produce and distribute the H1N1 vaccine, how can it be trusted to administer a massive new health care program?

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I was pleased to hear on Oct. 9 that the sale of the Sun-Times media group to Chicago businessman Jim Tyree for $26 million had been approved the day before by a bankruptcy judge.

Why is this good news? The Sun-Times Media Group includes the Chicago Sun-Times as well as seven other daily papers in Illinois, including the Lake County News-Sun, Post-Tribune, SouthtownStar, Herald-News (Joliet), Beacon-News (Aurora), Naperville Sun, and the Courier-News (Elgin). In addition the Sun-Times media group owns and publishes Pioneer Press publications in 57 Chicagoland communities.

Imagine the impact on readers in the 57 communities where Pioneer Press publications are faithfully read, if their weekly community publication had suffered a death knell. Certainly the Lake Forester would be missed. Coverage of local news and events is an integral part of the Lake Forester. Without this weekly coverage, there would be no venue to keep citizens of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff abreast of what is happening through photos and write ups about local issues and events. Such a loss would adversely affect the outreach efforts of businesses and local community groups.

Hopefully Jim Tyree will succeed as a media magician in resurrecting the Sun-Times Media Group. Tyree did insist that Sun-Times Media Chairman Jeremy N. Halbreich would run the paper and not him. Tyree will concentrate on strategic and capital planning. This makes sense to avoid any hint of favoritism, as Jim Tyree is chairman of the Mesirow Financial Group which regularly does business with Chicago.

May Pioneer Press publications and other newspapers in the Sun-Times Media Group not be so hung up with past ways of doing things that they are unable to make the necessary changes to survive. It is worth remembering that news publications do enhance the democratic process.

It would be a loss for countless numbers of Illinoisans if the Sun-Times Media Group failed to embrace the life line that has been extended to it by Jim Tyree. His was the only bid. If rejected it would have meant an end for all publications in the Sun-Times Media Group. Yet I learned in a Oct. 13 update that the smallest union of all, Steve Berman and the six members of the Chicago Typographical Union No. 176, seem determined to deny approval of the deal until its demands are met!

Does this make any sense? May The Chicago Typographical Union get in step with unions who have already approved the sale before the arrival of the scheduled October date to close the deal

A laurel is in order for cartoonist Scott Stantus.  The intent of his featured Tribune cartoon on Tuesday, October 20 could not have been clearer.

While troops are dying in Afghanistan, President Obama seems intent on hanging General Stanley McChrystal and our troops out to dry.

And what is Obama’s reason for vacillating?  President Obama wants a clarification of the August election in Afghanistan before he decides to act on a request by General McChrystal for 30,000 to 40,000 additional troops to wage a counterinsurgency strategy that proved successful in Iraq.  McChrystal’s request to Obama was made pubic back on September 15.

Meanwhile Reuters reported on Monday, Oct. 19 that President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, told reporters on a flight to Tokyo that the U.S. decision can’t wait for Afghan legitimacy.

General George Washington during the Revolutionary War showed leadership and integrity in a time of crisis unlike Obama.  Washington gambled everything on surprising an encampment of mercenary German soldiers when he crossed the ice-filled Delaware River on Christmas Eve with a ragtag group of soldiers.

President Obama has shown an absence in ability to lead in foreign policy.  He’s the Commander in Chief and not this nation’s Consultant in Chief or Negotiator in Chief.  Unlike the firm and steady leadership shown by General George Washington, Obama leans heavily on the political advise given him by White House insiders to tell him what to do.

Time is running out in Afghanistan. Either the Afghanistan War is worth wining or it is not.  It wasn’t all that long ago that President Obama called Afghanistan the right war in contrast to Bush’s ill-conceived war in Iraq.

Obama’s  “Daisy” game must end.  It is only fair  that the troops now fighting in Afghanistan know whether Obama really wants to win in Afghanistan while they continue to risk their lives for their country.

 
 
Sneed Forest Preserve Discovery, Aug of ’09
An announcement appearing as a photo with caption located under a “Crimes & Courts” heading in a major Chicagoland news publication on Thursday, August 20, caught my attention:  Pot fields on public land raided.

The photo’s caption told of an elaborate marijuana-growing operation tucked away in a patch of woods in the Sneed Forest Preserve in Palos township and how authorities burned about 7,170 marijuana plants found cultivated in six fields along a stream.  With a street value of about $500 a pound, the find was estimated at $3.5 million.  One arrest was made, most likely a Mexican worker caught waling in one of the cannabis fields.

An anonymous tip alerted authorities to suspicious activity in the Sneed Forest Preserve where the elaborate marijuana operation showed all the sophistication of a Mexican drug cartel.  In the encampment, accessible only by means of deer trails, were makeshift living quarters under tarps tied to trees, cooking utensils, food and bags of fertilizer for cultivation.

Crabtree Forest Preserve operation, Summer of ’07
Two years ago this Summer an elaborate marijuana-growing operation was discovered in another Cook County forest preserve — Crabtree Forest Preserve near northwest suburban Barrington — which officials described as “one of the nation’s largest illegal cannabis cultivations schemes.”  There was extensive coverage of this operation at the time in Chicago area newspapers and on TV, which went nationwide.  The Daily Herald featured four stories at the time relative to the the massive Crabtree operation.

Similar to how the Sneed Forest Preserve marijuana sites were discovered, an unidentified intern alerted forest preserve police to suspicious activity at Crabtree.  Growers at Crabtree tended their crops from three campsites which had been cleared of trees and bushes to make way for the Marijuana fields.

One campsite evidenced a prolonged stay with its dishes and pots and pans, cans of Modelo Especial beer, tins of corned beef, Deep Wood Off mosquito repellent, etc.  Also found was a sump pump and generator used to siphon water from a pond using plastic pipes to irrigate the 12 marijuana fields, a reinforced underground bunker, tents, cots and a shower area.  The 30,000 marijuana plants, one month shy of being ready for harvest, could have netted a street value of as high as $10 million.  Two 23-year-old Mexican immigrants were arrested and sentenced to two years in jail in Feb.of 2008.

Visiting Crabtree site

Even before I heard about the August 20th Sneed Forest Preserve marijuana discovery in Cook County, I had begun to inquire about the massive 2007 find in Cook County’s Crabtree Forest Preserve.

Living in Lake County I contacted Sue Lesnak, Executive Assistant at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.  Ms. Lesnak told me that the Lake County Sheriff’s Department assisted the Cook County Forest Preserve Police, but that its involvement was only minimal and only in the “assist” capacity.

I was also informed by Ms. Lesnak that neither the Cook County Forest Preserve or the Barrington Hills police have asked for assistance since the summer of 2007.  Regarding a question I posed about possible marijuana-growing activity within Lake County forest preserves, I was told that the Sheriff’s Office has not been contacted by the Lake County Forest Preserve for assistance in the eradication of marijuana fields.

Two months ago I decided it was time to have a first-hand look at the Crabtree Nature Preserve.  Upon reaching the site, I was impressed with its rolling, glacier-formed landscape.  Before walking two of its three nature trails, I spoke with Sue Dombro, Assistant Director at the Crabtree Nature Center.  According to Ms. Dombro, the two Mexicans caught were ignorant of mechanics behind the entire operation.  They were enlisted in Mexico, lured by the promise of money to tend marijuana fields, then dumped into the Crabtree Forest Preserve.

Sue Dombro then informed me that many more than 12 marijuana fields were found and how the cannabis plants were planted beneath trees so they couldn’t be seen from the air.  In addition, Buckthorn barriers were planted around the marijuana fields as an unwelcome barrier for any visitor who happened to approach the vicinity of the cultivated fields.

It is telling that the marijuana fields were found not only in the 1,000 acre Crabtree Nature Center, but also in the 200 acre area that extends across Barrington Road.  This 300 acres is not part of the 1,000 Nature Center, but together they make up the 1,300 acre Crabtree Forest Preserve.

Unanswered questions
While walking the two well-kept nature trails located in the Crabtree Visitor’s Center, it became evident that the foliage beside the trails was dense and, in most instances, didn’t tempt me to wander off the trails.  Even so, questions began to form in my mind.  Later when reviewing my thoughts, I found that many of the same questions applied equally to both the Sneed and the Crabtree marijuana operations in Cook County, even though separated by two years.

Foremost in my mind were these question:

  • How could it be that police never saw any trucks delivering supplies like generators, chain saws, plastic pipes, electric motors, and worker supplies, as transportation is needed to enter and exit a property?  The Barrington Hills police station is located close by the Crabtree Preserve.  Policemen must travel Rt. 59 hundreds of times each week during daylight hours and at night.
  • How did the supplies and equipment reach the marijuana fields undetected?  Weren’t lights needed to work at night?  What about the noise made in clearing the fields?  What about cooking smells coming from campsites?
  • No guns were apparently discovered, a real mystery when large marijuana operations seems to have protection needs.
  • Why were so few Mexican workers caught at both sites?  Might a person with some authority acted as a snitch to alert growers of the police raids?

Marijuana operations nation-wide
Outdoor marijuana operations are on the increase all over this nation.  Many have been linked to Mexican drug cartels who bring in illegal immigrants to tend the fiends.  In the past several months federal agents have found nearly $55 million worth of pot plants in national parks and on federal lands in California, Colorado, and Idaho.

A simple goggle search directed me to several marijuana growing sites discovered in late August and early September or this year.  August sites were in California’s Sequoia National Park where the plants had an estimated worth of more than $36 million, and in a remote, rugged area of Pike National Forest in Colorado where plant value was an estimated $5 million.

Regarding the Colorado find, because the illegal cultivation of marijuana is becoming a problem in Colorado, shortly after the Pike National Forest discovery on August 26, the U.S. Forest Service issued a federal warning to visitors to beware of campers in national forests who eat tortillas, drink Tecate beer and play Spanish music because they could be armed marijuana growers.  This warning was immediately branded as discriminatory by the Colorado Latino Forum.

Marijuana finds in early September were in Tennessee near the Kentucky border, and in the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County where the plants removed had a potential street value of $300 million.

Legalization of marijuana as medicine
Recently Lake County Sheriff, Mark Curran, alerted me to a potentially dangerous move here in Illinois.  In May of this year the Illinois Senate passed SB 1381 to legalize marijuana as medicine.  Should the House follow with its own version of the bill, it would make Illinois the 14th state to allow the medical use of cannabis, resulting in unintended consequences.  For starters, marijuana dispensaries are magnets for crime and violence, there are no safeguards to protect patients from abuse absent recommended prescribed dosage levels for illnesses or symptom, and shouldn’t medical doctors and scientists, not legislators, decide if marijuana is medicine?

Long and short-term effects of marijuana usage
Since there is agreement that marijuana is the entry level drug of choice which leads to other drugs with a bigger bang for the buck, legalizing medical marijuana would allow anyone with a medical marijuana card from another state to grow marijuana in Illinois as medicine, without registering with the Department of Public Health (Marijuana is not an FDA-approved medication.).

Marijuana-users range from upper middle school to high school age students, through senior citizens. Young people are often tempted to smoke marijuana when they see older members of their family using it.  Others think its cool to use because they hear songs that make using it sound hip, they wish to fit into a particular social group, or curiosity causes them to experiment.

Since research shows that the earlier people start using drugs the more likely they are to go on to experiment with other drugs, marijuana or pot smoking must be discouraged through graphic education which emphasizes the short and long-term effects of smoking marijuana.

The short-term effects on teens include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, loss of motor coordination, and an increased heart rate. Teens who smoke marijuana risk possible cancer as adults, as marijuana has the same cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke.  There is also the potential to develop breathing problems and lung infections and the possible impairment of the immune system to fight off some infections.

Chicago, a high intensity drug
Although the Sneed marijuana bust was more modest than what was found growing in the Crabtree Nature Center — 20,000 to 30,000 marijuana plants spread out over 11 fields with a street value as high as $10 million — big money and lives were involved in both operations.  In regard to Crabtree, it remains to this day the site of the largest ever marijuana-growing location in the U.S.

Thousands in the military risk their lives to stop drug lords and eradicate drugs in South America, the Middle East and in other locations around the world, yet the drug lords behind the marijuana-growing operations here in the U.S. remain free to move their operations from location to location.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington D.C., its Drug Market Analysis for 2009 named Chicago as a high intensity drug trafficking area.  As such Chicago is the major transportation hub and distribution center for illegal drugs throughout the Midwest due to its geographic location and its transportation infrastructure for the retail sale of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.  It is, however, marijuana that remains the most widely available and abused drug in Illinois.

While commercial-grade marijuana produced in Mexico is the most widely available type in Illinois, the report goes on to relate that despite the limited growing season in Illinois, its fertile soil and the large, sparsely populated rural areas attract cannabis growers.

A troubling situation
This brings me back to the Crabtree and the Sneed Forest Preserve marijuana fields.  Neither sites were located in rural areas of Illinois but in the most populous Illinois county — Cook County.   In both incidences the drug czars/leaders were never pursued, caught or sentenced.  Why not?

What makes the situation even more troubling is that Cook County had to call in the Lake County Task Force to investigate the massive Crabtree cannabis operation when the Crabtree Preserve is two to three miles from the Lake County border.

Cook County does contribute to several Federal agencies in its drug war, but its inter agency MEG (Metropolitan Enforcement Group) was disbanded.  Shouldn’t Cook County with its reputation as a high intensity drug area have it own Narcotics and Drug Enforcement Task Force?

It is more than likely that additional cannabis operations, yet undiscovered, are flourishing here in Illinois, perhaps even in other densely wooded Cook County Forest Preserves.   After all there is a market for marijuana as marijuana remains the entry level drug of choice.

Public outrage missing
Why is it that the final story written about the Crabtree marijuana discovery — one of the nation’s largest ever marijuana growing operations — appeared on 2/28/2008 in the Daily Herald?  It was written by Kimberly Pohl of the Daily Herald staff and related how two Hispanic men who cultivated the massive pot-growing operation at Crabtree Nature Preserve were sentenced to two years in prison.  Questions still remain about how such a massive operation could have flourished undetected.

Illinioisans should be outraged that Cook County officials and the media have seemingly divorced themselves from Chicago’s out-of-control drug problem, especially as drug-related violent crime committed by street gangs remains a primary public safety concern for law enforcement officials.

As long  as the king pins are allowed to roam at will, people will die here in Illinois and across the nation every hour of every day from drug lords to the growers, to the shippers, to the pushers on corners, to the users.


As a Liberty Leader at the Illinois Policy Institute, I made the trip to Springfield, IL on Wednesday, October 14 with other Liberty Leaders and Institute personnel to hear former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt address government transparency.  In attendance were concerned citizens, Liberty Leaders, and Springfield politicians and government officials.

Preceding the introduction of former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt at the IPI luncheon event, John Tillman, CEO of IPI, spoke about the importance of transparency in government.  He called it a fundamental issue and explained how citizens have a right to know what their government is doing. Tillman compared transparency to an X-ray machine.  Both are able to reveal the good and the bad.

Tillman then went on to introduce Matt Blunt who was an early leader of transparency (of how tax money is being spent in real time).  As a 1993 Naval Academy graduate, Matt Blunt became Missouri’s 54th governor in 2004 when only 34 years of age.

Governor Blunt began his address with a bit of humor.  He quoted Ben Franklin as saying that only death and taxes are certain, whereas Will Rodger later went on to say that at least death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.  According to Blunt, current legislators are proving Will Rogers right.  The greatest danger faced by this nation is coming from people with zeal who are well intentioned but who lack understanding.  This has resulted in massive spending and entitlement programs enacted by legislators who have limited faith in the American people.

Transparency is a critical way to control spending and to make government accountable to taxpayers at both the state and federal level.  Tax payers have a right to expect government to be honest and to know how their money is being spent.

In Missouri Governor Blunt set up the MAP program – Missouri Accountability Portal.  With this tool Blunt was able to root our bad spending.  There was criticism that the MAP program would take too long to set up and that it would be too costly to fund.  Blunt proved the critics wrong.  No additional budget allocation was needed to launch the site.  Blunt used present technology to develop the MAP program out of his belief that accountability shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  All citizens are deserving of such openness.

Set up in 2007, by the time Blunt left office in January of 2009 there had been 16 million page visits to the site by Missourians who were interested in knowing how their tax dollars were being spent.

Why is transparency such a powerful tool?  According to Governor Blunt, it is to get a handle on government spending.  Transparency, however, is not a panacea.  It will not end bad practices or unnecessary spending, but it is a powerful tool to make the case about wasteful government spending.  Transparency also limits the roll of the government in the life of its citizens. Through transparency legislators are forced to think about how dollars are being spent.

Blunt set priorities in Missouri and stuck to them.  By emphasizing efficiency and constraining the growth of government, Missouri’s budget deficit went from 1.1 billion to a cash balance of $835 million in his last year of office.  Blunt was able to reduce the Medicaid program — which was using 31% of the Missouri budget when when he took office — by simply verifying a person’s eligibility on an annual basis.  At the same time he was able to increase reimbursement rates to doctors and improve pharmacy programs in Missouri.

In closing Governor Blunt congratulated the Illinois Policy Institute for its work in progress of setting up its own transparency site here in Illinois.

Following Governor Blunt’s remarks, Richard Lorenc, Director of Outreach at the IPI explained how its new transparency initiative would work.  Although the official announcement of the site was made at the Matt Blunt event, the site won’t be launched until later in the fall.

Mr. Lorenc detailed three areas of information that will be available for perusal by Illinoisans on its soon to be launched IPI website:  www.illinoisopengov.org.

  • State employee payroll plus pension benefits
  • Retiree pensions
  • State department expenditures

Lorenc related how all the information was collected through the Freedom of Information Act.  The purpose of the IPI website is not to find a smoking gun, but to put a spotlight on spending in Illinois.  Citizens now lack comprehensive access to determine whether their tax dollars are being spent wisely so elected officials can be held responsible.

A one-page Policy Point summary of the proposed IPI transparency website — Putting the Spotlight on State Spending — can be found at:    http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?ArticleSource=1588&utm_source=Illinois+Policy+Institute&utm_campaign=1fad0239f6-Sept+24%2C+2009+E-letter&utm_medium=email

Nancy J. Thorner    331 E. Blodgett Ave., Lake Bluff, IL    60044     (847) 295-1035

Rich Miller, despite his status as a Sun-Times columnist and his so-called influential Capitol Blog, didn’t win any points with me with his attack on William K. Kelly.  Mr. Miller mode of operation is not unlike most of his Chicagoland newspaper colleagues whose goal it is to protect and defend accusations made against Democrat politicians who take their walking orders from the corrupt and all-powerful Daley Political Machine.  Mr. Miller seems to have taken on the task of defending one such politician, Alexis Giannoulias.

I did view the video piece referenced by Rich Miller in his Capitol Blog in which William Kelly tried to question Alexi Giannoulias about his endorsement by SEIU (Service Employees Union).  It is not surprising that Giannoulias kept walking.   Giannoulias action is a story in itself.  Earlier Giannoulias had told reporters that he would have voted to cut off ACORN funding.  Why is Giannoulias now accepting the endorsement from SEIU, one of ACORN biggest sponsors to the tune of at least $4 million?  Shouldn’t Giannoulias be insisting that SEIU sever its financial ties with ACORN?

Like most of his media colleagues in Chicagoland, Rich Miller is willing to sweep Democrat corruption under the rug.  His hypocrisy is showing by attacking the messenger (Kelly) instead of Alex Giannoulias.

It would be wise for Rich Miller to consider these facts about Alexis Giannoulias.  Since becoming Illinois Treasurer in 2006, Giannoulias has claimed to be a taxpayers’ watchdog for working families — spending millions of dollars for feel-good social programs — for which he merits only mediocre ratings from fiscal watchdog groups.

In his Senate bid Giannoulias is running as a reformer with promises on his website to end “pay-to-play” politics, sweetheart deals and wasteful programs.  These claims are bogus in that Giannolias has taken money from corrupt unions and from notorious, seedy now-imprisoned political power players like Tony Rezko.

Is it any wonder why media types like Rich Miller seek to ridicule and destroy William Kelly?  They fear Kelly because he is seeking to reveal the truth.

Giannoulias has created a big mess by presiding over the creation of a massive debt in Illinois as treasurer during his first term in office.  By confronting Alexis Giannoulias, William Kelly has taken on the role of a proven fighter and crusader.  As an outsider Kelly doesn’t play by the rules, and as an anti-tax advocate he is not willing to sit back and watch the city and the state he loves be destroyed by tax and spend policies so-favored by Democrats.

If elected to the position of Illinois Comptroller, William Kelly will investigate why Illinois is so corrupt, where all the money has gone, and Chicago’s shady associations with Acorn and SEIU.

There is a desperate need for more candidates like William Kelly who are willing to fight for what is right, so Illinois has a chance of becoming a state where businesses and its people can prosper and where Illinoisans can once again experience pride in their state instead of shame.

The public is beginning to catch on, Rich Miller, even here in Illinois. They no longer trust the media to tell them the truth.  Sadly you and your colleagues don’t realize that your propensity to protect and shield the truth from the public is only hastening the demise of the newspapers you work for.

The Illinois Policy Institute sponsored a luncheon event with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels on Friday, October 2nd.  In attendance were 140 people.

The Illinois Policy Institute, headed by CEO John Tillman, is a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives for a better Illinois.  Learn more about the IPI by visiting its website at www.illinoispolicy.org.

It was most appropriate that the IPI should invite Governor Daniels to speak to Institute members, guests, and candidates running for office.  As the Illinois Policy Institute explained in its program handout to attendees:

“Governor Mitch Daniels has made a name for himself as a champion of common sense, free-market, business-friendly policies.
In 2005, he led Indiana to its first-balanced budget in eight years, and, without a tax increase, transformed the $600 million deficit
he inherited into an annual surplus of $370 million within a year.

Since then, his budgets have generated millions more in savings and his innovative policy solutions have won him recognition
across the country. Indiana is near the top of every national ranking for its friendliness to business–standing in striking contrast
to Illinois, which scores embarrassingly low when it comes to economic competitiveness.”

In his opening remarks, John Tillman stressed that Illinois needs policies that make it easier to start businesses, to invest in business and to hire new workers.  Noted by Tillman was that when unemployed, the issue is neither a Democrat or a Republican one.  He further suggested that what we have instead in this nation and in Illinois is a grand enterprise with a hand in the pockets of the people.

Following Tillman, Bruce Rauner, Chairman of GTCR, in brief remarks before introducing Governor Daniels, related that now is the beginning of the way back for Illinois.  In speaking about the lost Olympic bid, Rauner believes that even had Chicago won it would only have resulted in a temporary bandage covering up the real problems facing Illinois, thereby restricting the development of what Illinois once enjoyed and must recreate again.

About Mitch Daniels, he was relatively unknown in Indiana before his 2004 run.  While campaigning he toured all counties in Indiana at least twice in an RV.  Even now Daniels rides one of his two Harleys to stay overnight with locals to keep connected with his people.

In keeping with the day that Chicago lost its bid as host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, Governor Mitch Daniels began his remarks in a humorous way.  Daniels, as one who favored Chicago’s Olympic bid, remarked how Illinois couldn’t even manage to fix the election!

Most of Daniels’ remarks related to what had worked for him in Indiana,meant to be used as lessons to be relearned by people here in Illinois.  According to Daniels:  “States that make dumb decisions will pay later.”

Governor Daniels believes that every successful enterprise must have a very clear strategic purpose.  Once elected Mitch Daniel’s strategic purpose for his administration was to raise the net disposable income of Hossiers.  He did this by lowering the tax payer burden, clearly demonstrating that the freedom to keep more of our money is a good thing for young people starting out and for older people.

Daniels was confronted with cleaning up the state balance sheet that was a mess after 16 years of Democrat rule and was able to turn what was a $700 million deficit into a $1 billion surplus at a time when most states are in the red.  He did this with the help of a power granted him in Indiana called “allotment.”  This “allotment” power gave Daniels the right not to spend money appropriated by the legislature, resulting in his ability to trim and present austere budgets.

Although Governor Daniels dropped 5,000 government positions, his austere budgets still enabled him to direct more money to so called priorities such as new child-protection case workers, more state troopers and education spending.

As Mitch Daniels stated in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary by Kimberley A. Strassel, We Are the Initiators, “You can invest in things, even with modest revenue growth, so long as you are willing to do a lot less of things that are a lot less important.”

In governing Mitch Daniels rarely mentions party name or ideology, feeling that most people aren’t tied in that closely in their thinking with either one, even though most of what Daniels has done in Indiana was prompted by conservative principles.

Regarding the dismal business climate found in Illinois, Daniels mentioned a study issued in September by the National Taxpayers of Illinois in which Illinois had dropped seven spots from last year’s ranking to number 30.  Indiana picked up two spots and now ranks 12th in the nation.  Is it any wonder that Illinois is losing job not to India but to Indiana!  People and businesses are also leaving Ohio and Michigan for Indiana.

Other points stressed by Governor Daniels were:

  • The Republican Party must become the party of action, motion and change.   It must have ideas.  It is not enough to be the party of NO.
  • Republicans must face up to their unfair reputation of a party for and about the-well-to-do and as one not caring about the poor or working families.
  • Republican candidates must be willing to put self out in the public and learn along the way.
  • Those states who have taxed people the hardest have hit the wall the hardest (CA and NY).

In closing Governor Daniels expressed confidence that a recovery is coming.  When it does government at all levels must redefine what they can afford to pay for.  But even after the economic recovery kicks in, Daniels warned that there will be less money for government to spend.

A question and answer period followed, after which Kristina Rasmusen, EVP of the Illinois Policy Institute, thanked all for attending the informative and educational event.

Only time will tell whether Mitch Daniels’ remarks on how to be an activist while governing as a popular Republican conservative could succeed here in Illinois.  Governor Daniels seems to have performed a miracle in Indiana.  Even if such a miracle could be accomplished here in Illinois, it is unlikely that it would happen in the near term.

Illinois government is riddled with debt and corruption.  Republican candidates (and leaders) are needed who can present to the public WHY they need to be elected and WHAT they propose to do to turn the state around. The public needs to receive such positive messages if Illinois has a chance of ever becoming a state where businesses and its people can prosper and where Illinoisans can once again feel pride in their state instead of shame.