ThornerBy Nancy Thorner –

The debate over same-sex “marriage” has unfolded across America for the past several years. It’s now heating up here in Illinois. In the minds of many who ascribe to Judeo-Christian values, marriage is an institution created by God. Government cannot redefine it. Marriage exists not only for the benefit of couples but also for the care of the next generation. As such the issue of same-sex marriage must be given urgent attention here in Illinois, in spite of Illinois’s recent credit downgrade and its horrendous pension problem which seems insurmountable given that Democrats control policy here in Illinois.

It was just a little over a year ago when the Illinois created civil unions for those in same-sex relationships by passing the “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act”, forcing Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois.

 Strong forces including the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House and Mayor of Chicago are at work to move a same-sex “marriage” bill through the Illinois General Assembly.  President Obama has also gotten involved by asking legislators to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

The counterfeit “marriage” bill currently being proposed in the Illinois General Assembly (HB 110 and SB 110) would change the legal definition of marriage to accommodate those of the same sex who wish to “marry” one another and would likewise affect our children and our religious freedom.

The bill is disingenuously titled the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.”  Its chief sponsors, State Representative Gregg Harris (D-Chicago) and Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) vowed and did reintroduce the bill almost immediately upon the start of the new General Assembly and are on a fast track to introduce the bill in tandem. Time ran out for Harris and Steans to bring the bill up for a full vote during the 97th General Assembly’s lame duck legislative session.

Senator Steans hopes Illinois will become the tenth state to approve the recognition of gay and lesbian marriages.  Nine state and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriages.  Washington, Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage ballot measures in the November elections.

Herein lies three very obvious reasons why same-sex marriage must be defeated:

1.  Same-sex couples already enjoy all the same rights and benefits as married couples in Illinois under the civil unions law of 2011.

2.  Children need both a mom and a dad.  Marriage exists for the benefit of children.  Social science research and thousands of years of history show that children do best when raised by their married mom and dad.

3.  There will be significant consequences if marriage is redefined in Illinois.  In other states that have redefined marriage, there have been profound consequences for those who express or act on their belief that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

The following comes from a January 6th story written by Cardinal George in the Chicago archdiocese paper, “Catholic New World”:

“The nature of marriage is not a religious question.  Marriage comes to us from nature.” . . . “The State protects marriage because it is essential to family and to the common good of society.  But neither church nor State invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.  Nature and Nature’s God, to use the expression in the Declaration of Independence of our country, gives the human species two mutually complementary sexes, able to transmit life through what the law has hitherto recognized as a marital union.”

As with many bills, often what is hidden within the language of the bill does not become evident to the public (and legislators) until after the law is passed, i.e., Obamacare.  Language in the proposed marriage bill would require that all churches make their property available for same-sex “marriages” even if it is in violation of a church’s religious beliefs.  Language states that if a church allows facility rentals or receives “a public benefit” it must make its facility available for a same-sex “marriage” or the celebration thereof or be open to a lawsuit.  Understood is that every church has a tax exempt status and/or is allowed a “property tax exemption” under Illinois law, which is a “public benefit.”

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), executive director David E. Smith, is sponsoring a Defend Marriage Lobby Day on Wednesday, February 20th from 10:30 AM – 1:30 AM. when Illinois families from around the state will take a stand “for protecting marriage, religious freedom, parental rights, and the innocence of our children!”  Suggested by David Smith is that churches organize to support this lobbying day to defend marriage.  Check this website for more information about the IFI-sponsored Defend Marriage Lobby Day.  A downloadable flyer is also available for distribution.

If you are unable to join the IFI in its Defend Marriage Lobby Day where legislators can be addressed in person, it is important to call your Illinois senate and house representatives to vote ‘NO’ to HB 110 and SB 110.

From Mark 10:6-9:

“But from the beginning of creation,
God made them male and female.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and to be joined to his wife,
and the two shall  become one flesh;
so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
let not man separate.”

Published initially at Illinois Review on Wednesday, January 30.

More on the Weak Underbelly of Obama’s gun policies

Obama-romneyBy Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

Registration in any degree is particularly offensive to those who value their 2nd amendment rights. It is the basis for abuse and harassment of law abiding gun owners by those who would deny those rights, both official and unofficial. We have seen the damage caused when the Journal News in New York published the names and addresses of thousands of citizens with a license to own handguns. At least one Connecticut legislator wants the state to publish the names of gun owners. A similar attempt was made in Illinois in the Spring of 2011, abetted by Illinois AG Lisa Madigan but stopped short by a court order, then both houses of the Assembly. Historically, firearm registration was used in Australia to confiscate a broad range of weapons, after only 20% of their citizens complied voluntarily. It was used in 2008 by Great Britain, and by the Nazis in 1935.  Notably, none of these nations had a constitution which limits the actions of government, as in the United States.

Meanwhile the Administration continues to falsely claims that 40% of firearms are purchased without a background check (the true figure is closer to 6%). Where are the statistics about where CRIMINALS get their guns?  One chart based on surveys of convicted criminals, indicates that about 40% are obtained from relatives, about 40% are obtained “on the street”, about 11% by legal purchase from gun stores, and 1.6% from gun shows and flea markets. The balance are obtained from private sales. Note that the President’s proposal on background checks would exempt transactions between relatives.   (Source for truth about 40% background check claims: Illinois Review and Fox News)

The hypocrisy of celebrities and politicians regarding guns is notable. Dianne Feinstein carries a gun, as do most of the Hollywood folks. Others have Secret Service or armed private security agents. Mayor Rahm Emanual of Chicago has a cadre of armed police officers for protection around the clock.

In an affront to those who believe in the 2nd Amendment, a  bill introduced by Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 24 — “assault weapons” banning bill —  has a preamble which describes her proposed law as “[regulating]  assault  weapons, [and ensuring] that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited.”   Approximately 150 weapons are banned, including “semiautomatic rifles” that “accept a detachable magazine and any of the following:  a pistol grip, a forward grip, a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock or a threaded barrel, among other things.

Yet even under Feinstein’s draconian bill, not everyone would have to abide by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun control bill should the proposed legislation become law.  Government officials are exempt. It is safe to say than any politician who claims to respect the 2nd amendment, interjecting the word “but” doesn’t respect it at all.

Where was the call by President Obama to demand that Hollywood stop producing violent moves? Movies seem to become more violent by the year as audiences increasingly accept greater and more sensational displays of blood and mayhem.  A 17-year-old boy who shot and killed his mother and sister in their Aledo,Texas home in October, 2012, admitted that watching the horror movie “Halloween” provided him the inspiration for the slayings. The four-page confession released by the teen during the trial reported how at ease the boy was during the murders and how little remorse he had.  The boy said he had watched the Rob Zombie remake of “Halloween,” about a 10-year-old boy who murders several people and kills more 15 years later, three times earlier that week, and believed it would be the same for him when he would kill someone. The confession was introduced as evidence.

In lieu of what is currently being pushed as a long-time “progressive” goal of disarming Americans, what would constitute a sensible approach?

A report issued by The Heritage Foundation on January 18, 2013, “The Newtown Tragedy: Complex Causes Require Thoughtful Analysis and Responses” by John G. Malcolm and Jennifer A. Marshall offers these three key points:

1.  Any federal action should be consistent with our federal system of government and the separation of powers.

2.  The Second Amendment remains an important safeguard of Americans’ security.  Gun control laws do not correlate with decreased violence.

3.  Decisions about school security, and assessing and addressing risks of school violence arising from mental illness, are the responsibility of state and local governments.

A quote from an article by David Harsanyi appeared in Human Events (a powerful conservative voice) in its weekly publication dated January 21, “Harsanyi: On Guns, An Abuse Of Power,” brings to the fore why using fear and a tragedy to further ideological goals is not a logical or constitutional path to embark on.

“Now, when the Supreme Court solidified the right to an abortion via Roe v. Wade (now a constitutional right, unlike owning a gun in Chicago) and solidified the individual mandate found in Obamacare (now a constitutional right, unlike, say, the right of Catholics to be free of economic  coercion), they became immovable legal precedents that may never be toyed with — ever.  Well, even if you believe in banning “assault” weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, doesn’t the Bill of Rights deserve at least that much deference?”

In summary, the real problems are being systematically ignored by politicians and suppressed from public view. Instead, legal gun ownership is under attack because it is politically easier to go after things (firearms) rather than the people who misuse them, particularly when the abusers come largely from your core constituency. It is easier to burden citizens who normally obey laws than those who habitually break them.

There are no easy solutions to the real problems, and politicians always take the easy way out.  When laws don’t work as intended, it is easier to make them stronger and more restrictive than to start afresh. We must always ask if it is ever worth sacrificing freedom for the vain hope of temporary safety (q.v., “stop and frisk”). Our freedoms were won at great price, and once gone, they are difficult to regain.

Part 1 posted at Illinois Review on Monday, January 28

The Weak Underbelly of Obama’s Gun Policies


By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

President Obama is deliberately ignoring solutions in favor of a long-time “progressive” goal of disarming Americans. Of course, he’s doing the same thing with regard to the economy.  Rather than promote business, he’s doling money out to the states and labor unions. Rather than cut spending, he wants to raise taxes, even though all the wealth of America wouldn’t match his out-of-control spending habits.

Blaming violence on a particular segment of society or region doesn’t lend itself to solutions. Not withstanding, there is a blizzard of propaganda against the NRA and its supporters in Congress which seem perfectly legitimate to anti-gun advocates. It is easier to blame an organization with an easily recognized set of initials than the millions of its members and tens of millions of supporters who write their representatives in Congress in support of their Constitutional rights.

The President made no mention of Chicago’s homicides in his campaign for “gun safety.”  Instead, he’s concentrating on penalizing millions of legitimate gun owners with the objective of “drying up the source of firearms used in crime.”  When serving in the Illinois Assembly Obama’s record was against prosecution of juvenile gun offenders as adults, even for offenses committed in or near schools.

A plausible explanation may be found in the demographics of violent crime in the United States. One has to be very careful sourcing this data, since it is racially charged, hence politically toxic. There are many fringe organizations which attempt to capitalize on this data, and others which are just as eager to play the race card in denouncing the facts. This data comes from the FBI, which maintains strict standards on the collection and reportage of crime data.

We can see at a glance that nearly 50% of violent crimes in 2011 (homicide, assault and robbery) in the nation were committed by black offenders. 54% of violent crimes were committed by offenders 18 years old or less. In terms of population. Blacks compose 12.6% of the US population, and 13.3% of the population is in the age group 10-19 (6.8% are 15-18, most likely to commit serious juvenile crimes). The situation is exacerbated in Chicago and other large cities because there is an unofficial ban on reporting crime by race. The data is nonetheless found in FBI statistics, if you care to look. According to one report, an average of 95% of violent crime in Chicago is committed by blacks and Hispanics, which compose about 66% of the urban population.

Despite similar demographics, New York City has been able to reduce violent crime to a fraction found in other metropolitan areas, largely through aggressive police work and a “stop and frisk” policy, and not though more gun control laws. There is likewise no obvious correlation between gun control and violent crime rates in other large metropolitan cities. New York City has had strict gun control since 1913 in the Sullivan Acts, as do Chicago, Boston, Newark and Los Angeles. Other metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, Houston and St. Louis allow private citizens to carry weapons, with training and if they pass strict background checks, mainly because local law is preempted by the state. Now the “stop and frisk” policy is under attack by the ACLU and DOJ for its intrinsically racial implications. Approximately 84% of the stops are conducted in non-white neighborhoods and on non-white subjects. Mayor Bloomberg’s response is that the police concentrate on areas with the most crime.

Despite grim statistics where within selected demographics violent gun crime abounds, when the CDC conducted several studies in the early 90’s in an attempt to connect gun ownership with crime, they were discontinued and defunded because the results were uniformly negative. FBI statistics continue to show little correlation between gun ownership and crime.

These studies fail, in part, because they are looking for minute differences between large numbers. The facts become buried in noise.  If the CDC is authorized to conduct further studies, they should concentrate on where the problems exist. Even mental health data is “noisy,” because only a minute fraction of these patients ever commit violent crimes.

One pitfall to avoid is confusing correlation with causation. Most of the mass shooters have a history of psychotic behavior, largely untreated. The mental health treatment system of the US has been systematically dismantled over the last 30 years. Confinement for professional review has mostly occurred after the crime has been committed. Even recorded episodes do not find their way into the NICS databases.  The political right has it’s difficulties too, trying to correlate violent movies and games with violence on the streets. For the vast majority, these activities are an outlet, primarily for entertainment. At the same time, most of the mass killers are know to like to violent games, but that’s not enough to establish a causal relationship. Everybody with cancer has swallowed saliva at some time.

Despite statistics that prove otherwise, this Administration has displayed a great reluctance to enforcing existing law, preferring to pass new (ineffective) ones.  Already Attorney General Holder is beginning to implement Obama’s twenty-three Executive Orders on gun control proposed earlier in January, having taken the first steps on Friday, January 25.

As it now stands law enforcement is not able to perform a NICS check when transferring, returning, or selling firearms that have been seized or recovered. Presently NICS background checks serve as a followup to the affidavit signed under threat of perjury when purchasing a firearm (Form 4473). The proposal (Order 1) being brought forth by the Obama Justice Department gives local law-enforcement agencies access to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) gun-sale database.  Furthermore, instead of removing stored records after ten years, records of denied weapons sales would now need to be preserved indefinitely. It is a short step to retain all records, establishing a de facto national gun registration system contrary to existing law.

The President has already issued an order to collect this data for sales of multiple “assault” rifles in the Southwest. He is not shy about bypassing Congress, established law and The Constitution in this regard.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Monday, January 28.   Permalink




Heritage Foundation’s ongoing Presidents’ Tour stopped at the Chicago Hilton Tuesday night, when the 40-year old organization’s outgoing president Edwin J. Feulner introduced their President-elect Senator Jim DeMint to over 500 Chicago area supporters.

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation has focused on generating ideas that can advance conservative policies and build national support for those ideas so our leaders will translate them into public policy. Since 1977 The Heritage Foundation has been capably and effectively led by Mr. Feulner, its third president. Three years ago Edwin Feulner told his board that he would be stepping down from his post in April of 2013, whereupon a search for his replacement was conducted. That replacement was conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMInt who resigned his Senate seat in South Carolina to take over the helm of The Heritage Foundation from Feulner. It was under Edwin Feulner’s direction that policy-making was transformed in Washington, D.C., leading the way for The Heritage Foundation to become the most influential conservative think tank in the nation.

Heritage’s Board of Trustees is confident Jim Demint is the right person to succeed Feulner, as Demint has served as the conservative movement’s standard bearer in the Senate. As an experienced lawmakers DeMint fully understands how Washington works while he strongly opposes much of what Washington does. He is also an innovator who has helped elect many of today’s younger conservative lawmakers, as well as gifted communicator and an accomplished business entrepreneur. Most importantly, Jim DeMint is a man of integrity whose commitment to America’s founding principles is unshakable.

Ten Heritage Presidents’ tours are scheduled throughout this nation to ensure that Jim DeMint’s transition to president will be a smooth one when Edwin Feulner officially retires in a few months. At each of the ten tour location — Chicago was number two on the Heritage schedule — conservative attendees will receive the assurance that Jim DeMint will continue the mission of The Heritage Foundation.

Five hundred members and friends of The Heritage Foundation filled the Continental Ballroom at Chicago’s Presidents’ tour event on a bitterly cold night, in spite of the political makeup of those who govern and direct policy in what is a left leaning state. And they weren’t disappointed. There was an element of anticipation as members and friends of The Heritage Foundation checked in and then proceeded to take their seats inside the Continental Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago waiting for the seven o’clock hour.

It was Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Charles “Cully” Simson, who welcomed all to the Chicago event, having arrived in Chicago from New York City earlier in the day where a similar morning presentation was conducted (Event #1) at the Grand Hyatt New York at Grand Central Terminal. The on-going series of ten event tours will conclude in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 15.

Simson had choice words to say about the reelection of President Obama to his 2nd term of office. Predicted was that Obama’s 2nd term will usher in living under a progressive model of government. But alas, according to Simson, panic is already beginning to set in as the realization dawns in the present administration that it isn’t possible for government to tax enough or borrow enough to save the progressive model. In the meantime the American people are being asked to give up the Constitution and its “evil provisions”, as it is the Constitution that remains an obstacle to our government’s progressive agenda.

Expressed by “Cully” Simson, a similar belief was alluded to in later remarks by Edwin Feulner and Jim DeMint: Ideas to change the direction of this nation will not be forthcoming from either the Congress or universities. It is conservative think tanks like The Heritage Foundation that will save America from sinking into the intractable depth of the progressive model.

It was John Von Kannon, a key player in The Heritage Foundation’s phenomenal growth in size, expertise and influence for more than 30 years, who ushered Edwin Feulner onto the stage. Led by Feulner for thirty-six years, Heritage has shaped politics with conservative solutions for such critical issues as entitlements, national security, missile defense, health care, welfare reform, immigration, free trade, energy, and the role of the family and religion in society. Three hundred Congressional briefing were presented by Heritage last year to lead the way to an open society where liberty and freedom can remain paramount.

Edwin Feulner presented a snapshot of the progress and accomplishments made during his tenure at The Heritage Foundation from 1977 up until his pending retirement in April. It was Heritage’s first “Mandate for Leadership” published in 1980, which served as a how-to manual for the Reagan Administration and set the path for the economic growth that has come to define the Reagan years.

In March a book, “Leading The Way,” by Lee Edwards will be available for purchase. Copies can be pre-ordered at “Leading the Way” tells the story of Ed Feulner’s thirty six years at president of The Heritage Foundation and the role he played in transforming the organization into the most influential conservative think tank in the nation.

It was nineteen years ago when The Heritage Foundation produced its first “Index of Economic Freedom” which was released by the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Distressing to Feulner is that this nation has gone from #4 to #10 in the world over the past five years, as indicated by the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. Hong Kong and Singapore are numbers 1 and 2, respectively.

More recently in 2010 “Action for America,” a sister organization to The Heritage Foundation, opened its doors in Washington, D.C. Since then Action for America, CEO Mike Needham, has fought tirelessly to retake our county and build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish. Information to join the Heritage Action army to effectively pressure Washington’s lawmakers to do the right thing can be found at As Edwin Feulner stated: “To make legislators first see the light, they must first feel the heat.”

Ed Feulner also spoke proudly about the Heritage internship program where 200 young people are brought each year to Washington, D.C. to work on real issues.

Much awaited were the remarks which followed from president-elect, the Honorable Jim DeMint. With conviction DeMint dispelled the doom and gloom that has so enveloped many conservatives since the November, 2012, elections. He spook of the elections of Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, Senator Pat Toomey in Pa., Representative Ron Paul in Texas, Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and Deb Fisher from Nebraska, all conservatives, as being a positive sign. Additionally Republicans are also winning at the state level with governorships

DeMint spoke of the big decision it was for him to leave the Senate to head The Heritage Foundation, but he did so after rationalizing that nothing good was to come out of Washington and that he could better serve the people by heading The Heritage Foundation. Reading information about The Heritage Foundation first prompted DeMint to first run for public office, having served six years in the House before being elected to the Senate. In both his House and Senate races he ran on the same conservative issues as espoused by The Heritage Foundation. It frustrates DeMint that some of his colleagues have dropped the ball on issues that were important to them when initially elected to office.

DeMint believes that conservatives should take their message directly to the American people and that they would do well, because conservative ideas work. States also blossom when they adopt conservative policies.

Continuing, DeMint informed how in the past conservatives trusted the Republican Party to take their ideas and embrace them, but that process has not worked. DeMint recommended that we (conservatives) must stop standing on the outside hoping for good results, but that we must instead take our message directly to the American people. Ideas that work in one states are often transferred to another state. Right to work started in Indiana, spread to Wisconsin, and recently took hold in Michigan. Now there are twenty right to work states.

In going around the country as a senator fielding candidates to run for office, the most common complaint heard by DeMint from those he met along the way was that Republicans weren’t willing to fight.

Emphasized by DeMint was that it is important to work within our own states to effect change at all levels of government and not wait for politicians to come up with ideas and enlightenment, as government seldom comes up with workable or sensible solutions to problems.

A question and answer period followed.

I am writing in response to Mr. Burgener’s 1-22-13 comments to my Patch post of that same date and also to extend an olive branch to Mr. Burgener and the entire Board. Regarding the LFHS Booster’s Diamond Anniversary Campaign (DC), pardon me for omitting the “public record” source for my information. It was a video posted on the Board’s website of the 7-17-12 Board meeting in which the background of the failed effort was discussed. (segment entitled “rejection of construction bids”).

I cited to the DC’s website only to address Mr. Burgener’s assertion that the DC’s offer “was to cover the cost of installing two artificial turf fields and NOT the track replacement.” In fact, the DC’s goal in 2011 was to raise, via cash and pledges, $2.5M to fund “two state-of-the-art synthetic turf fields and a new track field facility for use by LFHS teams, wellness classes, intramurals and the entire community, as well as new bleachers systems and a new press box.”

As I understand from the Board-meeting video, the only reason why the DC retreated from its initial offer to fund the entire project was because the Board wanted more cash in hand before committing. Keep in mind that by 3-12, the DC had raised over $1.5M in cash and pledges from residents as well as corporations such as the Walt Disney Company and the Lake Forest Bank & Trust, which generously agreed to be a “major contributor” and a “Varsity Gold Partner.”

In response to the Board’s requirement of more up-front cash and in an effort to salvage the project, the DC suggested a scale back in the scope of the project so that the cash it had in hand would have amounted to a larger percentage of the cost of the project. While this compromise plan was acceptable to the Board, the re-bidding process for the scaled-down project would have delayed construction until 2013. This delay was unacceptable to the DC not only because the integrity of the donors had been called into question but also because ¼ of the donors (those associated with this year’s senior class) would not have enjoyed the benefit of their donations thereby compromising the representations made in the DC’s solicitations.

The bottom line from this saga is that if the Board had not been so skeptical of the bona fides of the pledges, LFHS would now have two new fields and a new track without having to rely on the taxpayers to fund any of it. The Boosters is not a fly-by-night group; it is an organization that has long been fund-raising to support our sports programs, and its gift should have been graciously accepted not treated with such skepticism. I go into this detail to defend the integrity of my prior posts, not to beat a dead horse.

Regarding the LFHS renovations and proposed $5M of new spending, Mr. Burgener implies that inaccuracies remain in my blogs as well as that of Mr. Boese, who pointed out the extra $8M spent on the renovation that Mr. Burgener had omitted. I am open-minded and will stand corrected if the facts so warrant, but no specifics on alleged inaccuracies have been provided. Mr. Burgener’s point about accepting that others err is well taken. I concede that it is easier to criticize than to perform.

I also am grateful for the long volunteer hours that Mr. Burgener and other school board members devote to their oversight role. However, it appears to many of us that the boards are generally not open-minded to opinions and proposed solutions from citizens who think differently from the “party line.” We are met with grimaces or blank stares and seldom with any discourse when we take the time to provide input at Board meetings. As your 1-18-12 letter states, you listen to my “rants” only because you have an “obligation” to do so. I know many individuals from the “Advocates for Accountability” feel the same way (for readers unaware of that group, see

Perhaps going forward we can all make an effort to be more collaborative than combative, better enabling us to achieve the goal all of us presumably have in mind: the achievement of excellence (not mediocrity) in our schools in the most cost-effective manner.

In closing, I promote once again my idea of the retention of an inspector general. A volunteer, part-time school board can only do so much. A full-time paid inspector general could serve as a friend, not a foe, to the Board in carrying out its vital oversight role.

I am responding to District 115 Board Member Burgener’s 1-18-13 letter to the Patch in which he excoriates the Patch, a Patch commenter and me for publishing/republishing the inaccurate amount of $75M for the 2008-2009 east/west campus expansion/renovations and for rabble rousing over what he considers to be “fringe” opinions, as reputations once lost are difficult to recover.

I learned of the erroneous $75M number from a citizen comment to a Patch article. I failed to verify the accuracy of this number and regret this error. I take great pride in researching the facts on which I base my opinions and will work ever more diligently to check facts in the future. However, to err is human. According to the 1-20-13 Patch follow-up letter by Mr. Al Boese, the $54M number Mr. Burgener himself published is also inaccurate; the amount spent “was closer to $62MM.”

In any event, whether the actual number is $54M or $62M, we are still talking about a staggering amount of money and I still think it is a fair question to ask why the track field, the AC units, the boilers and the theatre rigging issues for which the District is now seeking another $5M were not taken care of for that price tag?

The list of renovations accomplished for our $54M/$62M, even put in the best light by Mr. Burgener, do not seem to justify the enormous investment. For example, he mentions “re-purposing more than 68,000 feet of educational space,” but what exactly does that mean? I understand that the old classrooms all stayed in tact, with no structural changes. Could changing a math classroom into a history classroom cost anything, much less lofty sums? Was it prudent to spend money renovating and now maintaining the west campus building for the primary purpose of relocating the burgeoning “Central Administrative Staff” when the economic times warranted truncation of that staff and keeping them housed at the Deer Path Middle School facility?

Mr. Burgener defends the renovations on the ground that the public voted for them. True enough, but the $54M bond referendum was sold to the public as the solution to two deteriorating campuses, not merely as the phase I of necessary renovations that it apparently was. Specifically, the plan was marketed as being “a long-range comprehensive plan” that would include infrastructure improvements including “Air Conditioning and heating,” the very improvements for which District 115 is now seeking funding!

I also remain firm in my belief that the Board mishandled the generous fund-raising effort by the Diamond Campaign (DC). What I understand from the public record is that the DC proposed to fund, with up front donations and pledges, $2.9 million for “a new state-of-the-art track & field facility and two new synthetic turf fields.”

The DC proposed that the District fund the project with a loan that the DC would pay off over time. By March of 2012, the DC had collected $300,000 to $500,000 in donations and had over a million more in pledges, with a representation that it would continue its fund-raising efforts as new freshman classes cycle into the school. However, the amount of cash in hand was not good enough for the Board, nor was the word of the pledgers that they would be “good for” their pledges, a response that understandably created resentment.

Herein lies my problem with the Board’s handling of the matter. As the Board now concedes in seeking funds for a new track, the track needed to be replaced in 2012 as it does now. By alienating the DC, which I understand has already refunded all donations, the taxpayers are now left with paying 100% of the cost of the new track and the students are left with no new turf field for field hockey and lacrosse. Let’s assume that 50% of the pledgers reneged on their promises – an extraordinarily high assumption given the track record of similar booster pledges in other towns – funding from the DC would still have paid for well over half of what now must be paid for in full by the taxpayers. How can this be characterized as prudent?

Mr. Bergener’s letter is a seeming attempt to intimidate the Patch and me into not publishing articles and opinions that reflect poorly on the Board. He makes the petty, juvenile accusation that my opinions are “foolish” and reflect “fringe thinking.”

I thank Mr. Boese for coming to my defense in his 1-20-13 Patch letter. While some people may well disagree with my opinions, I can assure you that many share them. In fact, many members of the public have reached out to me, either via anonymous letters or in person, asking me to research and inform the public about various issues pertaining the schools. I don’t know how many times parents have told me that they would raise the issues themselves but fear reprisals against their children.

I intend to continue keeping a keen eye on issues of importance to taxpayers. I urge the Patch to continue doing the same. With the Patch, the public finally has a forum for exchanging opinions on matters of importance in the community (the Lake Forester now limits opinion letters to one 250-word letter per person per month and has no mechanism for comments to those letters).

It was largely due to the Patch’s coverage of the LFHS teachers’ strike and its willingness to publish blogs and comments on teachers’ salaries that the public rallied in support of the Board’s taking a tough stance in negotiations. Had the Patch been around a decade ago, it is doubtful that the public would have tolerated former superintendent Harry Griffith’s reign of excesses.

Regardless of what improvident decisions might have been made in the past, going forward we cannot skimp on future necessary spending on our schools. For the sake of the students and our property values, we must ensure quality facilities. We also need a better system of checks and balances than we have had in the past. For example, as I have previously suggested, it would be prudent to retain a full-time, paid inspector general to assist our part-time volunteer Board members in their oversight role.

Unfortunately this does not seem to be in the cards for District 115. As told to me in no uncertain terms at the January District 115 board meeting on Tuesday, January 8th, such a hiring was not warranted as the board had done its job in curtailing excess expenditures during the past several years.

Realizing that most of the mainstream media in Chicagoland leans to the left on social issues such as gay marriage, amnesty for illegal aliens, sanctity of life, and in pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana, I received a positive jolt of common sense when on January 16 a kindred spirit was found in a Daily Herald editorial, “Towns wise to prepare on medical marijuana.”

Although the bill to legalize medical marijuana never made it out of legislative committee in the Lame Duck sessions of the Illinois General Assembly, the issue still has life and will surely be revisited in the 98th General Assembly where Democrats now hold vote-proof majorities in both houses.

The Daily Herald related how several communities in Lake County, possibly reading the tea leaves, rather than watching and waiting to see what might happen, they are looking at their zoning regulations as an assist in providing valuable tools in providing controls should the General Assembly decide to place a nonprofit cannabis dispensary in their community. Municipal leaders would not be able to prevent a dispensary from opening, but they could control where it opened through zoning rules. Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Grayslake, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Wauconda are among Lake County towns where officials have discussed proposed legislation in recent weeks.

Although a medical marijuana proposal in the 98th General Assembly could vary in detail from House Bill 30 which lacked three votes to pass during the 97th General Assembly in 2012, following is the gist of House Bill 30:

House Bill 30 focused only on medical marijuana and included a three-year test program in which qualified patients would have been limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana over a a14-day period. The local focus of that bill was the creation of nonprofit cannabis dispensaries, which would have been allowed to grow, harvest and distribute marijuana. They would have been limited to one per state Senate district.

Expressed in the Daily Herald editorial was skepticism about the value of medical marijuana “until the board can evaluate the potential effects of a particular bill, but it’s not hard to see the momentum for in in legislatures around the country nor to imagine some of the consequences if such a measure becomes law.” Also expressed was how local officials are well advised to do some advance planning to be ready should a medical marijuana bill pass in the 98th General Assembly.

Being curious to learn what my own home community of Lake Bluff and neighboring Lake Forest were doing to plan for the eventuality of being informed by Springfield that a marijuana dispensary was deemed a good fit for either community, scooped by the Daily Herald), I checked out my local Lake Forest LEAD website, “Leading Efforts Against Drugs” (, located on the second floor of the Gorton Community Center at 400 E. Illinois Road. Noted at LEAD’s website was a second website, “Speakup! Prevention Coalition” (, a division of LEAD. Andy Duran is the Executive Director of LEAD/SPEAKUP.

It was on the “Speakup! Prevention Coalition” site that I found the resolution of the Village of Lake Bluff Board of Trustees approved at its Dec. 10, 2012 meeting which directs its Planning Commission and Zoning board of Appeals to consider amending the Village Zoning Code to include Distribution Facilities as a special use should the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act” be signed into law by the Governor.

Below the Lake Bluff resolution on the “Speakup! Prevention Coalition” site is one passed by Lake Forest unanimously by the Lake Forest city Council on December 3rd, 2012, which instructed the Plan Commission to modify the zoning code to make medical marijuana dispensaries subject to approval of a Special Use Permit before opening, with recommendations due to the City Council by the Plan commission early in 2013. A moratorium against the opening of any dispensaries is in place pending the conclusion of the deliberations.

Below both resolutions is a letter originally written by Andy Duran, Executive Director of LEAD/SPEAKUP in Lake Forest, for a local and popular website covering LakeForest/Lake Bluff (Gazebo News Reader Forum) on October 31, 2012. It is well worth reading in its entirety. In Duran’s letter is documented research from other states and municipalities where medical marijuana has already been legalized.

Conclusions include (The points receive further clarification in Duran’s letter.):

1. A great increase in public safety issues.

2. Decrease in property values.

3. A great increase in youth access and use of marijuana.

Noted also are three specific steps that can be taken by city councils to prohibit a “registered organization” from opening its doors in your town or community.

1. Exercise a “citizen ballot initiative.”

2. Establish a “zoning ordinance” stating that use is illegal as it conflicts with local ordinances, state statutes, and other drug laws.

3. Draft a specific moratorium on allowing use in any zoned area until further research can be done.

Medical marijuana and marijuana legalization efforts send the wrong messages to youth that marijuana is not only safe but that it is a medicine. Legislation and legislative efforts of this kind threaten public health and significantly undermine prevention efforts of community anti-drug coalitions throughout the state of Illinois.

As Lake Forest resides within two senate districts (Districts 29 and 30), if legislation were passed unchanged from House Bill 30, there could be two dispensaries and two cultivation areas in Lake Forest alone!

Now is the time to act before the 98th General Assembly brings forth a followup medical marijuana proposal which, if passed into law, would become the 18th state with an effective medical marijuana law. House Bill 30 failed to pass by only three votes.

States that have fully implemented medical marijuana programs are now experiencing “buyer’s remorse.” They have seen firsthand that dispensaries lead to increased crime and adversely affect the quality of life int heir communities. Such was reported as happening in Oct. of 2011 in the Daily Tribune in Oakland County, Michigan, at dispensaries in Lansing, Ann Arbor and Battle Creek.

Be a voice in our own community. According to CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) there is a direct correlation between “medical” marijuana initiatives and decreases in perception of harm and social disapproval. States that have “medical” marijuana programs have among the lowest perceptions of harm among youth in this nation.

Contact your State Senators and State Representative to urge them to vote “no” on future legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use. Also urge your city councils to pass an ordinance prohibiting dispensaries prior to legislation passing at the state level. Lastly, raise awareness in your community and among your friends about the pitfalls connected with the legalization of medical marijuana and organize a letter writing campaign.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.

Without waiting for Congress, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday, January 16, a sweeping $500 million program to curb gun violence in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, which is sure to set up a fight over universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In Obama’s announcement were a list of twenty-three executive “actions” in which Obama promised to use his presidential powers to act ahead of congressional approval. Most of Obama’s executive orders amounted to fluff, nothing really new, other than to prop up or enforcing existing law, but some are not without merit or beyond scrutiny.

Tucked away in item 18 is a mandate to beef up school security with armed guards. This was a dangerous, radical idea when Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, proposed it a week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, but now has official, if quiet and underfunded, sanction from the President.

Beefing up school security with armed guards has become one of the few substantive items on the President’s list, and a cornerstone of his action plan to protect our children.

There is also an end run around the privacy requirements built into HIPAA (item 2, “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act”), which was enacted on August 27, 1996, to protect health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Now Obama wants addressed unnecessary legal barriers that may prevent states from making personal health information available for HIPAA backgound checks.

With 2,700 pages, the new healthcare law gives the president near-dictatorial control over your healthcare, but who would have guessed that privileged conversations with our physicians would be so tempting to this President? If Obama gets his way doctors across the county could play a key role in his new gun control initiative by asking what type and how many guns do you have in your house?

Order 16, as summarized, simply states federal agencies will “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.” Already causing significant controversy, the Administration is planning to offer guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), doesn’t prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

In a strange twist of fate, Obamacare contains an amendment (Sec. 2716, part c) which specifically forbids the Federal government from collecting data on firearm and ammunition purchases for lawful use, added as an accommodation to the NRA , which the President would dearly like to do.

Despite bold predictions by Vice President Biden, the wording in item 6 shows that Obama is doing “the crayfish” on this issue. In Louisiana terms, that’s pretending to “face” the problem while slowly backing away. Item 6, instructing FFL’s how to conduct background checks for private sellers, simply reiterates what FLLs do on a daily basis. Current law does not require background checks in private sales of firearms, only those conducted through FFL’s. Although the President did ask Congress to change the law, he made no attempt to do it by executive order.

Authorizing the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to investigate the cause and effect of gun crimes is another blind alley (item 14). In a 1995 study, the CDC concluded that gun laws, including the AWB and gun-free school zones, were ineffective.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an anecdotal article which posed that owning a gun was more dangerous to the owner than to an assailant. This study was faulty in several ways: (a) The ONLY way you can be injured with your own gun is if you own one. (b) 65% of all homicides with guns are suicides, yet the vast majority of suicides use drugs or suffocation. (c) According to criminologist Gary Kleck, more than 93% of all instances where a gun is used for self defense go unreported – no shots were fired or the defender would be in more trouble than the offender if reported (e.g., Chicago, NYC or Maryland). Of those incidents reported, shots were fired in only one time in one hundred.

The President also wants to aggressively prosecute illegal guns sales and gun running (item 13). Perhaps Obama should take care of his own house by first seeing to it that gun-walking Eric Holder and the top 6 appointees in BATF are suspended and brought to trial. Order 13 is nothing more than a pledge to enforce existing law. Prosecutions for falsification of background checks (form 4473) are almost non-existent. Connecticut has a record of only one prosecution since 1968. Even New York, the “shining example of gun control” only recently prosecuted the purchaser of the weapons used by ex-con, William Spengler, to kill two volunteer firemen and wound two others.

Calling for “universal background checks” is a matter for Congress to address, which even the President acknowledges. It is widely claimed that 40% of all gun sales are made without this safeguard. However, this figure is false, promoted mainly by the organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Michael Bloomberg of NYC.

The correct figure is closer to 6%. The erroneous statistic comes from interpretation of data collected in 1991, before background checks were instituted in the 1994 Gun Safety Act (aka AWB). A survey was taken of 251 gun purchasers, asking whether they bought firearms from a store or private dealer. It was later assumed that only stores conducted background checks. In fact, transactions through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) use the same forms and NICS checks as brick-and-mortar stores. All Internet sales and nearly all gun show sales involve an FFL. Many sales are between close relatives and through inheritance, which are exempted in both existing and Obama’s proposed regulations. The face to face sale between strangers is only about 6% of the total, not counting illegal transfers which won’t change regardless of the law.

Several items address gun safety issues, including item 15, which implies a renewed interest in “personalized” or biometric systems, which are expensive, unreliable and cannot be easily retrofitted. The most expensive tool is one that won’t do the job, and a “safety” system that disables the weapon in the time of need is downright dangerous to the owner. As for safety, nearly as many children (thirty drown by falling into mop buckets each year than by gun accidents (about forty). Being struck by errant gang shootings does not qualify as an accident.

Modern firearms are inherently “dangerous” when used properly, in once sense of the word. Otherwise, why would they exist. Truly accidental discharges are almost unheard of. A better term is “negligent” discharge. They can be dropped, kicked or otherwise abused without firing. You must deliberately (or injudiciously) pull the trigger. They won’t go off in a hot car – it takes a temperature of nearly 400 deg F to sizzle powder – pizza oven temperature – even then with more of a whimper than a bang.

In order to protect 2nd Amendment rights, the first priority of concerned citizens must be to persuade your Congressmen to eschew new restrictions on so-called “assault weapons,” and “high capacity” magazines, which under Feinstein’s proposal would include over 80% of handguns and rifles in common use.

Since fewer than 1000 homicides (1%) are committed each year with assault rifles, out of 30 million in circulation, by people who routinely ignore laws, nothing is gained by removing these guns from the vast majority of owners who have them for sport and self

What will work? Make the background checks more effective, and prosecute false statements. Make sure adjudications of mental illness, where the patient is likely to hurt himself or others, is reported to the NICS database (opinions don’t count unless supported by evidence and subject to challenge). Eliminate or limit most gun-free zones, including malls, theaters and most government buildings, which serve as “soft targets” for criminals. Lawful possession and carry should be licensed on a “shall issue” basis. Prosecute those who commit assaults, robberies or carry guns in schools unlawfully as ADULTS. The President seems averse to the latter, considering his voting record in his rare appearances on the legislative floor.

If universal background checks are required, a reasonable process should be established for private, non-FFL sales. Exchanges between family members and inheritances
should continue to be exempted.

It was noted on Friday, January 18, that Obama is mobilizing his campaign organization to pressure Congress and the public into supporting his gun law proposals. We foresee a series of speeches against a backdrop of worshiping supporters, highly publicized protest marches and a blizzard of TV ads. Obama will get a lot of favorable coverage from the main-stream media, but Congress will not likely be impressed. Obama’s appearances will be in areas which voted for him, large cities and such, which compose the Obama “choir”. It is doubtful that Phoenix will be on his tour, nor Salt Lake City or Indianapolis.

Since the press won’t check facts, it’s important for those of us who are concerned about the direction of our nation to continue to build our case with lawmakers, pro and con, on the key issues. We need to rally our supporters in Congress, and shake the confidence of our opponents. We are not in a position to make compromises. Our opponents won’t give an inch, and we shouldn’t make their job any easier.

There is no solution more likely to achieve positive results against violence than vigorous enforcement of existing laws, which is sadly lacking, nor any solution less effective than one directed at millions of law-abiding gun owners.

Published at Illinos Review on Monday, January 21, 2013.

Precognitive Poem for 1949: ‘Ode to the Welfare State’

This poem was penned in 1949. Its author is unknown, but how eerie are the similarities. The date may have changed, but the message unfortunately still rings true for many Americans who voted Democrat in November with the same thoughts in mind!

The poem conveys a clear message regarding the actual, undeclared intentions of the Democratic Party. It does not bode well for this nation that the undeclared Democratic Party intentions are still falling on deaf ears after more than 60 years!

Published by the Daily News, Friday, November 4, 1949 – Borough of Manhattan, N.Y. 17, N.Y.


Democratic Dialog

Father, must I go to work?
No, my lucky son.
We’re living now on Easy Street
On dough from Washington.

We’re left it up to Uncle Sam,
So don’t get exercised.
Nobody has to give a damn–
We’ve all been subsidized.

But if Sam treats us all so well
And feeds us milk and honey,
Please, daddy, tell me what the hell
He’s going to use for money.

Don’t worry, bub, there’s not a hitch
In this here noble plan–
He simply soaks the filthy rich
And helps the common man.

But, father, won’t there come a time
when they run out of cash
And we have left them not a dime
When things will go to smash?

My faith in you is shrinking, son,
You nosy little brat;
You do too damn much thinking, son,
To be a Democrat.

The Bloody Shirt

January 16, 2013

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

When reports of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut reached the public on Dec. 14, many Americans broke down and wept at the thought of a monster shooting helpless children like they were rats in a garbage dump. Even after a month it is still seems unthinkable. We are want to reflect that hideous act whenever children are seen with their parents, or we interact with our own children and grandchildren, many of whom are old enough to understand that tragedy, wondering how it might affect them?

As time progressed, we observed how others wasted no time weeping, but rushed to take advantage of the grief that swept the nation for their own political ends. “Let’s take away the guns that caused this tragedy,” became the battle cry of the Left. Like spiders ready to pounce at the first vibration in their web, these zealots had their bloody shirts in hand, waiting for the next crisis as an excuse to wave them in front of the public.

The phrase comes from the elections of 1872 and 1876, when reconstruction politicians literally waved bloody relics from the Civil War in their assault on Southern leaders. “Waving the bloody shirt’ has been used to define someone who brings up a past injustice or mistreatment in history to justify or cover up an injustice being committed in the present.

The similar refrain was heard after each gun-related tragedy as in 1968 (Kennedy and King); 1986 (Reagan and Brady) and in1994 (Westfield High School Massacre). Sometimes we’ve listened, but over time the mantra lost its effectiveness because the “solutions” had no effect on the problem. Weapons were in the hands of madmen who were unopposed when they chose to act.

The Westfield High School massacre of 1994 did prompt the passage, spear-headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), of a federal assault-weapons ban in 1994 that lasted 10 years. But the decade-long gun ban didn’t stop the Columbine High School massacre from occurring on April 20,1999 in Colorado, where two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teachers, after which the pair committed suicide.

Experts who have studied the law tend to agree that it was rife with loopholes and generally ineffective at curbing gun violence. The primary “loophole” being that not all of the guns were banned and collected, which is impossible on practical and Constitutional grounds.

Just as well, too. Consider Great Britain, which was successful collecting nearly all guns from citizens by 2008, with a history of repression long before the American Revolution, before even the Tudors and Plantagenet. Their first response was always to disarm the populace. Gun crimes, never common, decreased for a while, but are now beginning to rise. Violent crimes of other sorts have skyrocketed, mainly because citizens cannot defend themselves. The answer is not stronger laws and fewer guns in the hands of good citizens, but fewer guns in the hands of criminals and the realization that defense against crime begins at home.

Nonplussed by history, anti-gun zealots realize that to be effective, a campaign against guns has to take place quickly before passions cool. They best take place in the dark of night, out of public view, as in the the legislatures of New York and Illinois.

Yesterday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York lawmakers, in an attempt to set the tone for the nation, agreed to a broad package of changes to gun laws that would expand the state’s ban on “assault” weapons and include new measures to keep gun away from people with mental illnesses. A legislative trick was employed to forego normal readings, debate and public comment, enabling the legislation to pass a bill in the middle of the night for a final vote the next day in the Assembly. What is so strange is that the NY Senate is controlled by Republicans!!-new-york-second-amendment-and-legislative-process-assaulted-in-albany-late-last-night.aspx

According to Gov. Cuomo, the legislative package will be “the most comprehensive package in the nation,” would ban any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds of ammunition — comprising most of the firearms used by citizens for self defense — and would require background checks of ammunition buyers and automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases. Although part of the 1968 Federal gun law, the controls on ammunition purchases were abandoned after a few years due to cost and ineffectiveness.

Rather than intercept the few, they trample on millions, in the vain attempt to disarm a relatively few bad guys. That may have worked for Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, who smashed their opposition in pursuit of a few traitors, but it will not work in this nation where many Americans value their freedom and hold sacred the Second Amendment.

Illinois inherited Chicago police commissioner Garry McCarthy from New York, who shares most of the views of the state he left. In a radio interview, he stated that Chicago police are prepared to shoot any citizen observed holding a firearm, as a warning in the event that Illinois allows private citizens to carry concealed weapons. New York loses an off-duty policeman from time to time in just this way – shot by police while holding their weapon in an act of self defense.

Today at 11:45 a.m., President Obama will stand before television cameras, attended by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and members of Congress active in efforts to impose new restrictions on guns, to offer his “comprehensive” proposal for unilateral action to combat gun violence? Obama will be surrounded by children used as pawns who supposedly wrote letters decrying gun violence (at the urging of their teachers?), perhaps symbolic of the bloody shirts of the last century, in order to make the point.

What was done at Sandy Hook School is history. Now it’s time to weep for the Republic, and for the Constitution on which it was built. For if our leaders continue to dismantle the foundation of our Republic, who needs to worry about enemies from abroad?

Initially published at Illinois Review on Wednesday, January 16.