Lake Forest and Lake Bluff typically pride themselves on being at the top of lists, but one might not be pleased to know that the former district 115/67 superintendent, Harry Griffith, ranks 48th out of the top 200 of all Illinois pension recipients.
Stats for Griffith (according to research done by Champion News) include: annual pension of $231,109; retired at age 61; total pension collected to date of $168,418; estimated lifetime pension payout of $7,668,570; employee contribution of 4.4 percent of that estimated payout. (Lifetime payout assumes a life expectancy of 85 and a 3 percent cost of living raise compounded annually.)
Griffith’s pension is among mostly people who worked at the university level, which demonstrates that most towns understand superintendents need not be paid such a high-figure salary.
Consider also pay scales of Lake Forest High School teachers and administrators (collected from Freedom of Information requests): 10 now earn salaries in excess of $150,000; 30 earn between $125,000 and $150,000; all will join the ranks of $100,000 plus pensioners upon their retirements.
Taxpayers have a right to know how much Illinois’s government retirees are being paid and the astronomical accumulations of those payments over an average lifetime, with payouts dwarfing actual contributions.
In the meantime, Illinois has the worst credit rating and the highest unfunded pension liabilities of any state, with a pension system that could collapse by 2015.
Yet in Springfield Democratic leaders of both houses are crafting so-called pension reform which offers little other than favoring union bosses who keep them in power.
Contact state Sen. Julie Morrison at 847-202-6584 and state Rep. Scott Drury at 847-681-8580 or your own representatives. Tell them real pension reform must include: raising the retirement age to 67; increasing employee contributions by 10 percent; increasing health care contributions to 50 percent; cost-of-living increases in line with those given to Social Security recipients; replacing the defined benefit system with a defined contribution system for all new hires.
Michael Bakalis, author of The Archilles Heel, was featured at The Heartland Institute Author Series on Wednesday, June 26. The title of Bakalis’ book derives from Greek mythology as a metaphor for a fatal weakness as something having overall strength. According to Michael Bakalis, The Archilles Heel is “the seemingly inflexible academic achievement gap between white and black students in our nation’s educational system.”
In introducing Michael Bakalis, Joe Bast, CEO and President of The Heartland Institute, displayed a copy of “We Can Rescue Our Children: The Cure for Chicago’s Public School Crisis – with Lessons for the Rest of American”, published in 1988 by the URF Educational Foundation. The authors, Michael J. Bakalis, Joseph L. Bast, Herbert J. Walberg, and Steve Baer, were in agreement that the combination of parental choice and decentralization would produce systemic accountability while fostering both equity and excellence. Noted was that despite all the talk ensuing about the failing nature of the Chicago Pubic School System since the book was written 25 years ago, little change had taken place.
Now author of a new book, The Achilles Heel, Michael Bakalis — formerly Illinois State Superintendent of Education and Deputy Undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Education — has an extensive resume inclulding teaching experience at every educational level. Shared by Joe Bast was how Bakalis has served on the faculties of Northern Illinois, Loyola (Chicago), and Northwestern University, which, in turn, elicited this response from Bakalis: “It sound like I couldn’t hold on to a job.”
Of additional interest is that Michael Bakalis is president and CEO of American Quality School, a not-for-profit educational management organization that operates charter schools at the elementary and high school level in primarily low-income, minority communities in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin. email@example.com
At the onset of his remarks, Bakalis confessed to being a Democrat as he stood in front of mostly conservatives and Libertarians, but then quickly labeled himself as a Jeffersonian Democrat. A bust of Jefferson graces Bakalis’ office. Bakalis is likewise a devotee of Abraham Lincoln, believing that “the government should only do for people that which they can’t do for themselves.”
Bakalis admitted that race was a difficult subject to address, but that it was necessary to speak honestly about a situation that cannot be denied as set forth in his book: The differences between black-white academic achievement levels in education.
Bakalis told of spending much of his life trying to promote equal education for all, which is why he started American Quality Schools with locations in inter-city urban areas. Regarding the black/white achievement gap, Bakalis considers the situation a social time bomb ready to explode.
The format of Chicago news programs was noted as a way to clarify Bakalis’ explosive time bomb statement. Consider the format of news programs. Every night they consist of three distinct parts: 1) murder, 2) weather, and 3) sports. Bakalis tied the murder report as part and parcel of the existing educational gap between blacks and whites (Most of the murders happen to blacks in black neighborhoods.).
Test scores, a mixed review.
Test scores were discussed as a way to define the effectiveness of the of American education system. International test scores indicate that American students in American schools don’t fare well against other nation in math and reading. The story, however, is a different one if African American kids (and Hispanics) are taken out of the equation, then test scores improve greatly. While other nations rate higher in educational testing results than this nation, American education is by no means a failure and is not doing badly at all, except for African American kids.
The question is asked over and over again: “If immigrants could make it in the schools when they came to America, why can’t black people?” After all, blacks were here for over 400 years.” Not to be forgotten is that one half of the blacks have made it to the middle class.
As a historian by training (Bakalis received his Ph.D in American history from Northwestern University.) Bakalis explored this topic and found that when the great influx of immigrants arrived in America between 1890 and 1920, they really didn’t do well in school. The difference then and now is that drop outs could find jobs. No one cared if an immigrant dropped out of school. In truth, schools didn’t succeed for lots of children in ways that we would consider a success today.
What about money in closing the gap?
Since history deputes the notion that immigrants did well in the American school system, money was discussed as a possible reason for the black-white educational gap. Often said, “If only more money were spent the educational gap would start to close.” Would more money really provide a better education? Would it decrease the black-white achievement gap?
At one time in the South money might have been an issue, where $50 might have been spent to educate a white child and only $1 per black. But this is no longer true. In the past 40 years spending has been equalized in all urban areas. Consider Washington, D.C. It spends $16,000 per child, and it has a miserable education system. Giving schools more money will not equalize the gap, as seen in Iowa, North Dakota an Minnesota. These states have some of the lowest expenditures per pupil, yet they have some of the highest student test scores. The Chicago School System tried giving money to students based on high grades. It didn’t work. Also to be considered, 80% of the school budget goes to paying personnel.
Since money doesn’t equal a better education, where do we go from here?
What about poverty as contributing to the gap in test scores?
A rather shocking statement made by Bakalis is that this nation has more children living in poverty than any other of the 26 most developed nations. Michael Bakalis abhors the use of the word, underclass, often used to describe those living in poverty; nevertheless, 65% to 85% of children living in inner city, urban areas live in poverty.
But what about other people who came to America? Southern European immigrants were not rich when they arrived. The Vietnamese were poor people when they came in 1976. And consider Asian immigrants. They have done pretty well. This question was posed by Michael Bakalis: “If poverty were eliminated would test scores go up?” Not so! There must be something else that affect test scores.
What about racism?
Racism has been with the black population for many decades and continues to this day. But has the black race alone been subjected to racism. At one time the Japanese were not allowed to own property. There was even lynching among Chinese immigrants, and for a time they were not allowed to vote. Even a white ethnic group didn’t escape prejudice. As new kids on the block the Greeks, Italians, Poles, and Norwegians all experienced their share of prejudice, being perceived as different from those who had already established themselves in America. So now we know that racism was not just experienced by blacks. Racism was initially felt by many ethnic groups, but they were able to overcome.
What about family influence and social background?
Michael Bakalis cited former New York senator, Daniel Patrick Moneham, as being correct in what he predicted would happen and was criticized for saying over 50 years ago. Moneham foretold the failing of the black family unit, warning that out-of-birth web locks would produce poverty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Patrick_Moynihan
Another person credited by Bakalis as influential in establishing the the importance of social networking was James Coleman, who wrote about the importance of social capital in a child’s ability to succeed. For through social capital a network of relationships, reciprocity, trust, and social norms are developed and shared. eninikipedia.org/wiki/social_capital
In the past children with social networking and norms of family behind them succeeded in school, as did southern European immigrant children. This happened when financial means increased and when parents themselves realized their children must speak English and take on the norms and values of their new country. In other words, it was important to endorse what it meant to be an American and to function as an American.
What about genetics?
Do some children just not have it? Michael Bakalis believes that all children can learn. Mostly blacks play football in the NBA. In baseball Hispanics excel. Many baseball players are recruited from countries with Hispanic populations. Racism is not evident, because players are rewarded for talent and ability, not race.
Bakalis has not found one iota of evidence that blacks are dumber than other children.
Jews at one time were called retards, yet one-fourth of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, while composing just 2% of the population. Genetics is therefore not the reason why blacks don’t succeed at a higher level in education. This argument is therefore dismissed.
Culture as the key reason?
Underclass communities have developed over generations in intercity, urban areas. This happens when successful blacks move out of their communities to a better neighborhood leaving behind a society that doesn’t have role models for children to emulate. These communities are akin to isolated islands where education isn’t looked up to as something of value,
Michael Bakalis described a situation in a Chicago charter school under his American Quality School operation where children come wandering into class after the morning bell has rung. In another situations a coat collected and given to a child to keep warm during a cold Chicago winter was no where to be seen the next day. The coat had been sold by the child’s mother to buy drugs.
What must happen in black communities?
Kids must understand that education is important and that involves getting to school on time.
Dr. Bakalis admitted that culture was difficult to change. He even admitted that he didn’t know the answer. There is not one state in the U.S. where blacks out perform whites. As in America, black children aren’t succeeding in countries worldwide. Something must happen to change the situation.
1. States need to change the way they train teachers. A high percentage of teachers fail the basic test to teach writing, reading and mathematics. Better people must be encouraged to go into teaching.
2. Blacks must embrace entrepreneurship. Where are the black bus boys, waiters, etc. Most are Hispanic. Other ethics groups have taken over the operation on gas stations, dry cleaning facilities, and restaurants. Blacks must learn there is honor in work.
3. Blacks must follow the lessons that enabled immigrants of past generations to succeed: Some economic stability is required. Also necessary is that norms that lead to success are adopted in African American communities, instead of an adherence to activities rampant in black communities which can only lead to mayhem.
A controversial remark made by Bakalis was that the only way to get 25 to 40 year old men off the street and working who don’t have a high school eduction is through government programs.
Regarding “No Child Left Behind”, it was described as the worst federal program in American history. It stipulated that by 2014 every child must succeed at the level considered appropriate by the standards set. The focus was on reading and math, with little time spent on history and literature, leaving students with little perception or knowledge about American history.
In conclusion, Dr. Bakalis referenced three things, that if practiced, would limit the chance of living a life of poverty to only 1%:
1. Graduate from high school and don’t have a child before that time.
2. Get married.
3. Find a job.
Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 02:49 PM | Permalink
June 26, 2013
President Barack Obama’s administration currently has 15 Cabinet Departments (State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security) and 7 additional positions which have Cabinet-level rank (White House Chief of Staff, EPA, Office of Management & Budget, US Trade Representative, US Ambassador to United Nations, Council of Economic Advisers, Small Business Administration) plus the National Security Administration, NSA, which is really a part of the Department of Defense.
Out of the 15 Cabinet Departments, there are currently 7 which have on-going scandals of which the American people may, or may not, be aware. In addition, there are 2 actions going on within the Cabinet-level ranks, which are of questionable nature. While some of these activities were begun under the Bush administration, they have exploded exponentially under Obama’s direction. Bush has unfortunately been blamed for everything bad that has happened during Obama’s administration. Isn’t it ironic that suddenly because Bush did it (NSA scandal), it’s acceptable for the current administration to do likewise? (The same excuse is claimed with the drone program which has also grown enormously with extended range under Obama.)
With multiple scandals filling the news, and accusations, denials and investigations flying from all directions on a daily basis, it seemed necessary to take a step backwards to enable a broader view and better understanding of this scandal-ridden administration to prevent issue fatigue from setting in. With the existence of so many scandals, there could be a tendency to disengage from the gross infractions of the Obama administration, throwing up our hands in despair, which would indicate passivity and disinterest, both dangerous in a democracy.
Realizing that scandals have legs of their own makes it difficult to ascertain their duration and lasting impact, delay was considered in releasing our expose but speedily rejected on the premise that sharing what was known at this point made more sense than delaying the report. Nevertheless, our comments still provide a fairly wide scope of the still percolating scandals, enough to realize how corrupt the Obama administration truly is, with future updates a definite possibility.
Now the question remains, will the scandal information outlined in this easy-to-understand format be heeded, or will individuals willingly blind themselves to the disturbing facts and simply dismiss them as not relative to their lives? The act of burying heads in the sand creates a government which, having no opposition from its citizens, can run rough-shod over the populous. Even elected Republican legislators seem to lack the fortitude to deal with the multiple scandals where justice is demanded and begs to be served.
It would be a blow to the rule of law, which forms the basis of our Democracy, if the many scandals in the Obama administration become relics of a forgotten past, allowing the administration to skirt the justice that it so deserves. It is often said that success begets success. It can also be said that corruption allowed to flourish will only breed more corruption when those guilty of misdeeds and worse determine that the arm of justice has no hold over them.
The Department of State
All US embassies and consulates are under the control and responsibility of the Department of State. Under then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the true story behind the attacks and deaths at the Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is still unanswered. We have still not had answers to many questions by Secretary Clinton, and we have still never heard a word from any of the 20-30 Consular staff who were rescued from Benghazi, the night of September 11, 2012.
In recent weeks, another scandal has been exposed by the news media which relates to security personnel traveling with Secretary Clinton overseas who have been caught hiring and/or soliciting prostitutes. In addition, the Belgian Ambassador has been accused of soliciting prostitutes and minors for sexual activity. The Department of State has been accused of white-washing or quashing investigations into these activities.
The Department of the Treasury
The current and ever-expanding scandal of the IRS singling out and deliberately delaying applications of Conservative, religious and Tea Party groups on a political basis seems to grow worse by the day. It’s also been suggested that, not only did the IRS deliberately limit the free speech and political rights of these groups, but the IRS may have passed group and personal information from these applications to liberal political groups to be used against the Republicans during the 2012 elections. It has now been discovered that enormous amounts of money have been wasted on parties, hotels, travel and utter nonsense up to $50 million – so far.
On 6/13/13, the Treasury Inspector General has indicated there is evidence that up to 1,000 IRS employees were misusing their government-issued travel and credit cards in 2010-2011.
This last week, it has also come out that the IRS sent more than $46 million in tax refunds to 23,994 “unauthorized” alien workers who all listed the same address in Atlanta, Ga., in 2011, according to an audit report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
They also sent:
- 11,284 refunds worth a combined $2,l64,976 at a second Atlanta address;
- 3,608 refunds worth $2,691,448 to a third;
- 2,386 refunds worth $1,232,943 to a fourth.
Other locations on the IG’s Top Ten list included:
- an address in Oxnard, Calif., where the IRS sent 2,507 refunds worth $10,395,847;
- an address in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the IRS sent 2,408 refunds worth $7,284,212;
- an address in Phoenix, Ariz., where the IRS sent 2,047 refunds worth $5,558,608;
- an address in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where the IRS sent 1,972 refunds worth $2,256,302;
- an address in San Jose, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,942 refunds worth $5,091,027;
- and address in Arvin, Calif., where the IRS sent 1,846 refunds worth $3,298,87
In May, 2013, it was announced that the IRS allegedly stole medical records from more than 10,000,000 Americans during a raid on a Southern California health care facility. More than 60 million medical records were ‘lifted’ from this facility. This was as a result of one warrant for one person’s records, but the IRS took the other records, too.
Remember, the IRS is going to be in charge of administering the insurance side of Obamacare. Your medical records will now be accessible to them.
The Department of Defense
Under Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, there have still been no clear answers as to why no aid was sent to Benghazi on September 11, 2012, when four Americans died in Islamic Jihadist attacks. No one has been made to say who gave the order to ‘stand down’ or to send no support to these Americans. Nor, do we have any good explanation why the consulate wasn’t better protected before the attacks, especially during the September 11 anniversary time.
The additional scandal of sexual assaults throughout the military has recently been brought to the forefront of the news because military authorities have not been responsive to this issue.
The Department of Justice
Attorney General, Eric Holder, has failed in major responsibilities going all the way back to refusing to prosecute the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation in Philadelphia in the national elections of 2008. He has also slipped through the loopholes of responsibility for the Fast and Furious gunrunning program to Mexico, even though an American border guard and many dozens of Mexican citizens were killed using those very guns. And, currently, Holder has admitted to monitoring 20 phones lines of over 100 reporters of the Associated Press and had signed a subpoena that accused reporter James Rosen of Fox News as a possible co-conspirator for leaking classified information about North Korea. The DOJ had to go to three federal judges before they found one who would sign this subpoena.
The Department of Health and Human Services
Throughout this current series of scandals, and little mentioned by the media, is the question of whether or not Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of HHS, has been arm-twisting insurance companies and other health related industries for money to support and pay for the implementation of Obamacare. Congress has withheld much of the funding for the health care program and it appears Sebelius is finding other ways to raise money. The problem is that these agencies which she is reportedly strong-arming will be under her direction and administration as Obamacare is installed by 2014, a blatant conflict of interest, or more commonly known as extortion.
The Department of Veterans Affairs
Under former General Erik Shenseki, now Director of the VA, there is a current backlog of 600,000 disability claims filed by our veterans. The average wait for attention to these claims has been running up to 300 days. Depending on the city and office locations, some veterans may wait 800-900 days to receive determinations on their claims.
And, just recently, Secretary Shinseki has gutted the independent board which researched Gulf War illnesses and has cut its budget. The Research Advisory Committee, which used to oversee the VA staff in this area has now been replaced by VA people it used to review. In 2012, a no-confidence vote against the VA and a whistle-blower testified that the VA misled the public about research that would lead to expensive benefits for veterans. Good timing, Secretary Shinseki.
The Department of Homeland Security
The massive problems produced by illegal immigrants in the country and what to do about them has been aggravated by Secretary Janet Napolitano, who chooses whom to deport and whom to put on hold, regardless of what the federal law on immigration says. She also declares the southern border with Mexico under control and the safest in years, even though it has been shown again and again, it is not secure. A vast swath of the procedural vote on the so-called “border surge” deal brokered by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) paving the ways for passage of the entire comprehensive immigration reform bill, comes down to nothing more than giving the unelected current DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, the kind of discretionary power that one would expect to be granted to the officials of a banana republic. She has the discretion to ignore the border fencing and any other of the so-called border triggers.
Now, let us look at the Cabinet-level agencies which are having questionable activities and scandals of their own.
The National Security Administration (NSA) (technically a part of the Department of Defense)
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (Italics are added.)
Recently exposed by The Guardian newspaper in England, the NSA, under the Patriot Act, has for approximately 7 years been trolling billions and billions of phone calls made by American citizens in an effort to relate any suspicious calls to terrorist links. It appears that FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts just can’t say “No” to requests to pursue potential terrorist connections and have approved thousands of warrants submitted to them. What billions and billions of phone calls made by everyday Americans have to do with foreign agents is highly questionable. In addition, reports have been out recently that the NSA has also been requesting information from the internet, e-mails, pictures and other computer-related sources in a program called Prism. The major internet companies (Google, AOL, Yahoo, etc.) claim the government has no ‘direct’ access to their internet customers’ information. If the Feds don’t have ‘direct’ access, do they have some other kind of access? All of this has been done under great secrecy with the support of certain Congressional members and committees who claim they are doing this to keep us ‘safe’ and that we should ‘trust them’.
In addition, it has also been exposed that the NSA is building a Data Center in Utah where they will store these billions of accumulated records for an indefinite period of time. They can then go back years later and search them if they think there is a questionable person or action they want to check.
The Environmental Protection Agency
Under former EPA Director, Lisa Jackson, it was discovered that she kept and maintained a secret e-mail account under the name of a Richard Windsor, so that she could communicate with others in the government without having her messages known. Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, also admitted that she had a separate e-mail address beyond the agency account so she could deal with her daily work. Supposedly, these accounts are all available under a Freedom of Information Account (FOIA) request– if – you happen to know about the account and the e-mail address and request it in the FOIA. From additional information in the news reports, it appears there are many, many secret e-mail accounts throughout departments in the Obama administration.
It has also recently been reported that in April 2013, the EPA illegally released the names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails of approximately 80,000 farmers across the US to environmental groups. The apparent intent was to allow these groups to protest, picket or otherwise attack the farmers. Further details are being developed about this issue.
As Benjamin Franklin said in 1775, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
There are those of you who will exclaim that we must do everything to fight the terrorists. We see no good reason to pull billions and billions of records of millions and millions of American citizens for whom there have been no suspicions or warrants or probable cause and keeping them for years to be checked later. Security programs were supposedly set up to monitor for foreign or suspicious terror connections. Let them run the program that way.
As for the political Washington class who say, “Trust us to do the right thing,” may we suggest you read the above commentary over again.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 01:45 PM | Permalink
Monday (6/24) the U.S. Senate voted 67-27 to limit debate and amendments on the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the S. 744 amnesty bill.
That means the 1,100+ page bill, as amended by 119 pages of amendments, can come to a vote as early as Wednesday morning. The final cloture vote (requiring 60 votes) on the whole bill could be as early as Thursday morning.
Shortly after the vote was finalized on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday night, I joined a National Tele-TownHall call with Sens. Cruz, Sessions, and Vetter. These three senators, along with Senator Mike Lee, Charles Grassley, and John Coynyn, have invested much time in trying to defeat the legislation, taking many slings and arrows in the process.
Then there was the length of the bill being considered that remained unread by the senators. Senator Sessions described the bill as basically unreadable. How many outrageous exceptions, etc., are tucked away within H 477 that will be revealed piece by piece to be discovered if and when the H 477 is given Senate approval?
Revealed by Senator Cruz was a troubling aspect of the bill that would operate in tandem with Obamacare. It represents defacto affirmative action for those who are here illegally by exempting them from Obamacare. This means that those receiving RPI permits are given preference for hiring over American citizens and those immigrants who have followed the rules. In that an illegal immigrant can be hired for $5,000 less than a U.S. citizen, every illegal alien is given a $5,000 Obamacare advantage.
When a question was posed to Senator Vetter as to how many Republican senators would put their personal fortunes on the line to say that S. 744 would solve the immigration problem, Vetter responded, “You wouldn’t find one senator to put a plum nickle on the line.” Furthermore, “The proponents of the bill, i.e., Senator Schumer, know that the security aspect won’t be enforced, but passing the bill has become an overriding political objective.” Schumerwon’t accept any bill that doesn’t include a pathway to citizenship. Noted was how in the past week if an amendment was offered that did little to alter the bill, it was accepted. All amendments were defeated if fashioned to deal with border security first and foremost.
H-1B visas were discussed and the impact they have on college graduates. Several professors were quoted as doing studies which told of American college graduates having difficulty finding jobs in fields where individuals from abroad can be hired for less. Although it is thought that people with education become assets to this nation, entertained was how many people can this nation accept who do have some education without harming qualified American graduates? Too many will result in the depression of wages, resulting in less young people here in America electing to study engineering, etc.
This nation’s exit-entrance system was described as deplorable. This could be fixed with very little money if there was the will to do so. S. 477 does not fix this egregious situation. There is still no way to identify those who overstay their visas.
S. 477 can rightly be called a betrayal of the law in America. Make your voice be heard. The senators works for you and me, not to appease lobbyists and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce who care only about a continuous cheap source of labor. We can make a difference!
Call the Capitol Switchboard (1-866-220-0044) to thank those that voted “No” on S. 477:
ID Crapo (R-ID)
ID Risch (R-ID)
KS Moran (R-KS)
KS Roberts (R-KS)
KY Paul (R-KY)
LA Vitter (R-LA)
MO Blunt (R-MO)
NC Burr (R-NC)
NE Fischer (R-NE)
OH Portman (R-OH)
OK Coburn (R-OK)
PA Toomey (R-PA)
SC Scott (R-SC)
SD Thune (R-SD)
TX Cornyn (R-TX)
TX Cruz (R-TX)
WY Barrasso (R-WY)
Call these Republicans who voted to keep Amnesty alive and request them to vote against S. 477:
AZ Flake (R-AZ)
AZ McCain (R-AZ)
IL Kirk (R-IL)
ME Collins (R-ME)
MS Wicker (R-MS)
ND Hoeven (R-ND)
NH Ayotte (R-NH)
NJ Chiesa (R-NJ)
NV Heller (R-NV)
TN Alexander (R-TN)
TN Corker (R-TN)
UT Hatch (R-UT)
All Senate Democrats supported the bill, including Illinois’ US Senator Dick Durbin, one of the Gang of Eight.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 08:15 AM | Permalink
June 24, 2013
It was in March of this year when a prediction was made that Illinois would probably exceed $100 billion in pension debt sometime in the month, which amounts to a huge and reckless shortfall in money owed to current and future retired teachers, judges, state workers, and even lawmakers themselves. To put in perspective: $100 billion in stacks of $100 dollar bill would weigh 10 tons, enough to buy Boeing Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc., with a few billion left over.
Although a warning was issued in 2011 of a potential collapse of the state pension system, already the most underfunded in the nation, Democratic lawmakers and Governor Quinn continued to kick the can down the road failing to muster the political willpower to make meaningful changes. At $100 billion Illinois pension debts stand at about twice annual state expenditures, including capital spending, with pension liabilities growing by $17.1 million per day.
House Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton and Gov. Quinn are presently in a battle of wits to pass pension reform that would, at best, cut the state’s $100 billion unfunded liability by $21 billion. Such a cut would take Illinois back to its 2011 level of unfunded pension liabilities, which then amounted to $42,000 in “combined” debt for every family in Illinois. At the *current level of unfunded debt liability, the debt for each family residing in IL has risen from $42,000 to $45,000:
*The amount of pension debt varies from report to report. Most often quoted is the $100 billion figure, while another source reported $97 billion, three billion short of $100 billion, because bonds performed better than anticipated. On Sunday’s Champion News radio program on WIND-AM (6/23), mentioned was that Moody’s puts Illinois’s pension debt at $230 billion.”
Whether during the past four months or the past ten years, Democrats have talked about pension reform — describing the pension crisis as a priority — while at the same time being unwilling to admit that they had a hand in creating it. It is therefore not surprising that a June 12th press conference amounted to a sounding board for House Speaker Madigan and Senate Speaker Cullerton, during which time each were able to opine on their efforts and the “merits” of their own plans, yet neither of their proposals offer true reform or would solve the pension crisis.
House Speaker Madigan has pushed through the IL House a proposal that would require workers to kick in more from their paychecks, scale back cost-of-living increases on retirement checks and raise the retirement ago.
Senate Speaker Cullerton, calling Madigan’s plan unconstitutional while contending that his bill would be upheld, pushed through the Senate a proposal that gives workers a choice, such as giving up health care to keep full pension benefits, to meet a constitutional challenge that pension benefits cannot be diminished or impaired once established.
Referring to the proposals offered by Madigan and Cullerton, House Republican Minority Leader Tom Cross claimed that Democrat Leaders were intentionally delaying pension reform for political gain.
Taken at face value, such a ploy seems cruel and indifferent to the needs of the people of Illinois, yet there exists a paradox because voters keep electing the same type of self-serving disreputable individuals to leadership time and again.
Unable to overcome a stalemate, Governor Pat Quinn called lawmakers back to Springfield on Wednesday, June 19, for an initial special session to deal with the pension crisis, which turned out to be a nonproductive, wasteful exercise which certainly wasn’t worth the $43,000 charged to taxpayers per session day.
According to Representative Jeannie Ives (R-Wheaton) who produced a summary of the special call back session on 6/19, the special session was a waste of time, although it did net a committee through a voice vote to study pension reform further. Following is the composition of the committee and the task with which they are charged:
Not since 2005 has a conference committee been used, when lawmakers used it to vote on a non-discrimination bill. Even so there is no guarantee that what a committee drafts would become law. Needing approval by both chambers it could face the same problems as the existing pension legislation. An additional legislative session has been scheduled for July.
Rep. Ives is an advocate for real reform for Illinois, along with her colleague in the House, Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine. Both believe lawmakers should be working to take Illinois into the future by modernizing its retirement systems
Happening instead is that Democratic lawmakers under pressure from government unions are seeking to double down on Illinois’s failed defined benefit system even though defined pension plans are unmanageable, unaffordable and unpredictable because they force government to make promises to retirees based on assumptions politicians can’t deliver.
The math just doesn’t add up! A 1995 pension reform law designed under Gov. Jim Edgar was to have the pension system 90% funded by 2040. This assumption was based on investment returns netting 8%, making the payment of big pensions doable, but consider today’s environment where Treasury Bond yield is at 2%.
According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, nearly 60% of the state’s unfunded liability is due to flaws of the defined benefit system. A report by the Illinois Policy Institute echos this claim. In actuality, the state paid $8 billion more into the pension funds than was required under Gov. Jim Edgar’s 1945 reform plan.
Reps. Ives and Morris have long rejected the notion that only two options exist to fix the state’s public pension system — the Madigan way or the Cullerton way, They are firm supporters of House Bill 3303 which is based on the plan of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Recently the Chicago Tribune published a Letter to the Editor from Rep. Morrison in which he defended HB 3303. In his letter Rep. Morrison states:
Illinois House Bill 3303 has recently been called a distraction, and that’s unfortunate. It is a bill that would freeze public sector benefits to date and going forward would include employees into a 401 (k)-style retirement plan. The true distraction is the notion that there are only two options to fix the state’s most broken public pension system. Taxpayers and public sector employees must understand that if either House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Plan, Senate President John Cullerton’s plan or some compromise bill were to pass, we’ll still need a thorough overhaul of the pension system in the future.
HB3303 would reduce Illinois’ unfunded liability by 46% ($46 billion), bring the total liability down to $55 billion from $101 billion.
This plan also protects constitutionally guaranteed benefits already earned by retirees and current workers.
Finally this plan empowers current workers — not politicians — to control retirement savings going forward.
Monday, June 24, 2013 at 08:11 AM |Permalink
June 22, 2013
When ascertaining the costs of wrongheaded policy, not unlike the thrust of the Congressional Budget Office report issued in May when Republicans voted on the full repeal of Obamacare, the CBO asks the American people to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief.
A report from Congress’ CBO on June 18, described as a non-partisan score keeping agency, claimed that S. 477 would push the federal deficits lower in each of the next two decades, $700 billion alone in the next 10 years if the bill becomes law. Although the CBO report did admit that S. 477 would increase federal spending through benefits received by the estimated 8 million gaining legal status, the same report insists that expenses would be more than offset by the increase of the labor force bringing with it an increase in revenues.
How can this be so given a CBO report that has further determined that wages will fall for the middle class under the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. Most disconcerting is that illegal immigration would continue to occur at a 75% level under S. 477, slowing future immigration by only 25%. That means the addition of 7.5 million new illegal immigrants in the next couple of decades. In reality the CBO report, instead of adding momentum behind S. 477, actually undermines the message of those who support the legislation.
The Heritage Foundation’s “Morning Bell” heading on June 19 read: Congress Is trying to Fool You on Immigration. The Morning Bell article went on to explain how this is so in keeping with the way Congress does business.
A piece of legislation is going to cost trillions of dollars, but Members of Congress don’t want the public to see that. Instead they have the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) look at the bill for just the first 10 years — and they move any costly items off into the future on purpose.
The bill’s drafters relied on the same scoring gimmicks used by the Obamacare drafters to conceal its true cost from taxpayers and to manipulate the CBO score. There is a reason why eligibility for the most expensive federal benefits was largely delayed outside the 10-year scoring window: to mislead the public.
1. Within 5 years of passage, anyone who came here under the age of 16 (with no maximum age cap) will be eligible for citizenship along with their spouses and children. Those who have already been deported but otherwise eligible for the Dream Act will enjoy that status as well. Additionally, all illegals who are Ag workers will get green cards in 5 years.
2. That represents a huge population of young, poor people who will be eligible for every program within the 10-year budget frame, plus in-state tuition and student loans.If you score the letter of the law, those immigrants who represent a public charge would be denied eligibility. The reality is that the numerous waivers will void out that requirement.
3. Much of the cost – both in terms of public services and welfare – will be borne by the states. That is obviously not reflected in the cost estimate of the federal budget.
4. No cost estimate has attempted to ascertain the cost of birthright citizenship. Every RPI, new legal immigrants, or guest worker can secure benefits on behalf of American-born children. The industries want these people so they can pay them slave wages. As such, they will all be eligible for the programs after they have American-born children. And Jeb Bush might even suggest that they are “very fertile.”
5. The most revenue and economic growth will come from high-skilled immigration, a small component of the bill, and the area of immigration where there is a broad agreement on the economic benefits. Yet CBO admits that “the new workers would be less skilled and have lower wages, on average, than the labor force under current law.”
6. There is no way that the Treasury will ever recover all that revenue from the fines and fees. The bill grants the secretary of DHS wide discretion to wave those fines if they would cause hardship. Anyone who thinks that an application will be turned down because the alien is unable to afford the fine is living in a dream world.
7. Obviously, this score doesn’t take into account the long-term effects of retirement costs. Again, forgetting about immigrants for a moment, low-income workers receive a lot more in Social Security benefits than they put in. Ditto for Medicare.
On Thursday, June 20 it was announced that the Gang of Eight had reached a border security compromise so named the Corker-Hoeven compromise that would include a huge increase in border personnel and an increase in fencing. The agreement was made behind doors to secure the 70 votes needed to pass the controversial S. 477, as a ploy to convince Republican senators that they in good conscience could now vote for S. 477..
Even if the border patrol were doubled, what good would more border agents be if the administration ties their hands. Most importantly, the triggers for security in the Corker-Hoeven plan — Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) – John Hoeven (R-N.D.) — all occur after legalization. Republican senators who want an excuse to vote for S. 477 will be willing to go along with the charade that security triggers will actually be implemented after amnesty has taken place.
The Corker-Hoeven wimpy compromise promise was enough for Senator Mark Kirk, who having voted “no” twice on Senate procedural motions on the immigration reform bill based on the security issue, now favors S. 477.
May there be a pox on both parties: for Republican operatives who see S. 477 as a steady supply of cheap labor and for Democrats who can hardly contain themselves knowing that millions of Hispanic voters will come their way.
If truth be told, neither party wants the border sealed. Both Republicans and Democrats are pulling out all the stops trying to convince the American people that the flawed Gang of Eight bill, just like Obamacare, must become the law of the land for the good this nation. But unlike 1986, the trust factor looms large in 2013. 1986 is still fresh in the minds of many Americans. Amnesty did happen, but the promise of security was brushed aside leading to the situation that exists today.
Extremely satisfactory components are found in the legislation for powerful lobbying groups and other special interests, but on the subjects of public safety, border security, and interior enforcement, the Gang of Eight bill fails and is a dramatic step in the wrong direction.
Part 2 on S.477
In Part 1, a Tribune editorial of Sunday, June 16, was cited that took Senator Mark Kirk to task for putting border security before amnesty. Not surprising is that following the Trib’s shameful admonishment of Senator Kirk, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) launched a week-long radio advertising campaign that similarly criticizes Kirk for voting against allowing the Senate to move ahead on what the SEIU calls “commonsense” immigration reform.
Obvious is that very little research preceded the writing of the Trib’s editorial or facts would have led to other conclusions. As reported in the Washington Times on April 10, 2013:
Apprehensions of illegal immigrants are up 13 percent this year,” testified the chief of the U.,S. Border Patrol, Michael J. Fisher, to a Senate committee. Fisher also testified, “We have seen an increase in attempted entries due in large part because talk about legalizing illegal immigrants is luring more foreigners to try to be in the U.S. when amnesty takes effect. The number of illegals have doubled, maybe even tripled at the border.
Reported on March 19, 2013:
Violence along the southern border had gotten so out of control that both Mexican and American journalists had stopped reporting it out of fear that drug cartels will retaliate against them and their families. This means Americans will be kept in the dark about the crisis along the porous and increasingly dangerous Mexican border.
- A claim was made that Rubio won’t vote for the bill he helped to craft without strong enforcement provisions, yet In a recent Spanish-language Univision broadcast, Rubio remarked: “First comes the legalization. Then comes the measures to secure the border. Rubio is talking out of both sides of his mouth.
- Rubio was described as the “conservative point man.” This claim rings hollow, since Rubio’s TV ad is a deceptive one, funded by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, a known Obama supporter.
- Cited as one of the benchmarks for granting provisional status leading to citizenship was a requirement to pay all back taxes; however, the bill simply notes that illegal aliens aged 18 and older who want legal status will have to pay a fee “in an amount determined by the DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano.
- The so-called 13-year benchmarks were noted as a positive and workable progression of steps to earn citizenship, but one or all of the requirements could be dropped at any time if perceived not to be compassionate. This has already been suggested by Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
Why are so many Republican legislators running scared? It is, in part, because of the optics being advanced by the mainstream media, Democrats, establishment Republicans, and even some conservatives that Republicans must get back in the good graces of the Hispanic or winning back the White House will remain forever beyond their reach.
This sort of rhetoric can be understood when promoted in newspaper editorials and articles by a media which shrills for the Democratic Party, but can similar warnings be taken seriously by Republicans when made by Democrats? During a CNN’s “State of the Union appearance on Sunday, June 16, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J) said: “If Republicans want any real shot at taking back the White House, or to succeed as a party, they must support a pathway to citizenship as part of immigration reform.”
How generous of Senator Menendez to be so willing to hand over Hispanic voters and the White House to the Republican Party with his bit of advice.
Consider these statistics. Among Hispanics who voted in the last election, they composed only 10% of the electorate. Starting with the 1980 election of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Regan to when President Obama was re-elected in 2012, the Democratic Party has always outstripped the Republican Party in Hispanic vote totals. G.W. Bush in his match up with John Kerry in 2004 was the top Republican candidate vote getter of Hispanics among all Republican candidates. Even so Kerry won 58% to Bush’s 40%. In 2012 Barack Obama captured 71% of the Hispanic vote; Mitt Romney won only 27%.
Armed with the above information, it become obvious which party is likely to win a higher percentage of the millions of new potential voters through enacting amnesty reform.
Republicans have been hoodwinked into believing that Hispanics will come their way if only they are nice to them, not realizing, or denying to themselves, that Democrats will manage to take full credit for granting amnesty to Hispanics, while Republicans will be left licking their wounds that may take years to heal, if ever.
Not as obvious is the fear Republicans have over losing the financial support of large Republican donors and organizations who hold the money bags. Warning Republicans that their campaign money might dry up, the lobbyists and powerful business interests pushing amnesty on the Republican side of the aisle are seeking a cheap, constant supply of cheap labor, caring nothing about the future political implications for the Republican Party or the welfare of this nation.
“Remember the Alamo” brings with it the same warming as “Remember 1986” when amnesty took place but border security fell by the wayside.
Will Republicans legislators be duped once again? S. 477 is not only a bad bill but the stakes are much higher this time around. Instead of the 3 millions illegal aliens in 1986, failure to secure the border since than has increased the number of illegal aliens up to twelve fold!
Part 3 will explore how Congress is trying to fool you on immigration through the faulty CBO report.
Friday, June 21, 2013 at 10:30 AM | Permalink
June 19, 2013
With all the other scandals currently in the cross fire capturing Washington’s attention — out of 15 Cabinet Departments there are 7 with on-going scandals — the one that is being shortchanged by the media and even forgotten by the American people is HHS Kathleen Sebelius’ solicitation of donations from entities over which she holds enormous power.
The question is whether Kathleen Sebelius has been arm-twisting insurance companies and other health-related industries for donations to support and pay for a campaign to push Obamacare? The campaign is headed by Enroll America, a non-for-profit coalition of groups that is focused on implementing, raising awareness and promoting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka, Obamacare.
Congress, having repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, has left HHS with what officials have described as a shoestring budget to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. It now appears that Sebelius went about finding other ways to raise money through private-sector means. Because the agencies Sebelius has reportedly strong-armed will be under her direction and administration as Obamacare is installed by 2014, there is a perceived conflict of interest.
According to Office of Government Ethics rules:
Federal employees cannot solicit money from a source that does business or seeks to do business with the employee’s agency, conducts activities regulated by the employee’s agency, has interests that may be substantially affected by performance or nonperformance of the employee’s official duties, or is an organization a majority of whose members are described by the preceding criteria.
Many current and former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation board members were previously Johnson & Johnson executives or work in the healthcare industry.
After admitting to contacting a total of four other entities besides Johnson and Johnson to promote Enroll America, Sibelius is now denying that she solicited funds directly from Johnson & Johnson or other companies regulated by HHS. Sound familiar? Nevertheless, Sibelius is claiming that such fundraising would have been allowed and is even legal under the Public Health Service Act.
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) characterized Kathleen Sebelius’ solicitation as “the Sebelius shakedown” and demanded to know “what is she promising those businesses that she talks to and what is she threatening them with.”
Barrasso also accused Sebelius of devising a plan to “cover over and cover up the train wreck that is happening with the President’s healthcare law” by “shaking down companies, executives throughout the country.” http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-fourth-scandal-gops-accuse-sebelius-of-obamacare-shakedown/
This is not the first time Kathleen Sibelius has come under scrutiny for alleged ethics conduct. In 2012 the Office of Special Counsel concluded that Sebelius had violated the Hatch Act when she gave a speech supporting President Obama’s reelection at an official event. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity in their official capacity. http://blog.heritage.org/2012/09/12/investigators-sebelius-illegally-campaigned-on-taxpayers-dime/
Recently Sibelius was at the center of attention in the news when a federal judge told her to add a 10-year girl dying from cystic fibrosis to the adult lung transplant list. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/6/judge-orders-kathleen-sebelius-add-10-year-old-adu/print/
With the implementation of Obamacare the American people can expect more life and death situations where treatment will be denied because of age, especially among the elderly and the very young. As such the solicitation of funds by Sebelius becomes even more egregious as the money being requested was targeted to promote Obamacare to the America people, not particularly out of compassion, but to convince as many people as possible to sign up for Obamacare to prevent a train wreck of Obama’s singular first-term achievement.
Given the indifferent of a mainstream media that protects Democrats and wants Obamacare to succeed, there is a good chance Kathleen Sibelius will be given a free pass.
I lack confidence in my own Republican Party to do diligence in holding Kathleen Sebelius accountable for her conduct, if not illegal, it was unethical, and it should be treated as such.
The Heartland Author Series featured Sen. Roger Keats and his much anticipated book, Chicago Confidential, at a noontime event on Wednesday, June 12, at its Headquarter, One South Wacker, #2740. Keats’ Senate career spanned from 1979 to 1993. heartland.org
2. A just published booklet was rolled out, The Common Core (A Bad Choice for America) by Joy Pullmann, Research Fellow, the Heartland Institute. Thousands will be printed for distribution. heartland.org
3. A chance to register to meet Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was extended for Wed., June, 19 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. heartland.org
Senator Keats was not hesitant to reveal what he knew and thought about Chicago and Illinois. “Chicago has an electorate that is docile and dumb, despite living in the most corrupt big city in the country and the most corrupt state in America,” Keats said. “I haven’t been able to figure out why voters don’t care.”
Corruption is rampant and ignored in Chicago, gangs rule the streets, lawmakers fight among themselves while the state drowns in debt, and to complicate matters, current Illinois’ Governor Pat Quinn is missing in action, he said.
Having served as a state senator during three different decades, Keats saw two governors, 15 fellow lawmakers and 100 plus judges and court personnel, as well as countless government employees, land in jail.
Keats also served as part of the 1980s Operation Greylord investigation, where the last of many convictions was that of Judge Thomas J. Maloney, who was indicted in 1991 on bribery charges and convicted in April 1993 of fixing three murder cases for more than $100,000 in bribes. A total of 92 people were indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, ten deputy sheriffs, eight policemen, eight court officials, and state legislator James DeLeo.
All that was enough for the senator, who left Illinois in 2011 and is now retired with his wife, Tina, in Texas’ Hill country. Just before leaving, Keats wrote a letter to friends explaining why he was leaving, which became an Internet sensation after being published on Illinois Review.
Although the senator had had some success with screenplays and real fiction, it was Keats’ wife that finally convinced him that his imagination wasn’t as good as the real life corruption he had experienced, and which continued in Chicago and Illinois. It was out of Keats’ extensive knowledge of corruption that Keats explained why President Obama, from Chicago, was not a central figure in his book.
“Since Illinois was the training ground for Barack Obama, I thought it better not to attack Obama, but instead to leave him in peace,” he said. Instead, he said he found it beneficial to use humor in writing Chicago Confidential. “Chicago Confidential is a story that is fun, with a little romance, tons of action, and all true,” he said.
Sen. Keats considers Chicago Confidential more like “faction” than fiction, although for legal reasons the book must be considered a work of fiction. True events are wound together to form a unified story; however, the names of the individuals involved — most were known personally by Keats — were changed to protect the guilty.
As Keats explained, rather than write a dry recitation of the foibles of the crooks that control Chicago and Cook County, the idea of having facts read like fiction made more sense to him.
“In other words, it would be impossible to make up stuff about Chicago that would be any better than what is happening in the here and now,” he said. “There are no unsolved crimes in Chicago, only police who don’t wish to go after the gangs and a Chicago Democrat political establishment that has established a working relationship with gangs.”
When asked why he thought corruption is so pervasive in Chicago, Keat said, “Don’t have a solution to that other than to change the Chicago electorate.”
And when asked if he is concerned about his safety after writing Chicago Confidential, Keats said, “All who speak out are likely to be targeted in some way.”
He believes he was targeted subtly. When living in Wilmette, Keats said his property taxes doubled during the last 10 years he lived there and were much higher than others around him. Property taxes in Texas are one-third to one-fourth of what they are in Illinois, he said, despite his property in Texas being larger than it was in Illinois.
And, Keats said, the corruption continues. “Chicago Confidential is current as of last fall, although there is new material every week,” he said.
It was most fitting that Senator Roger Keats chose the following quote by Edmund Burke (January 12, 1729 to July 9, 1797), an Irish political philosopher often regarded as the father of modern conservatism, to place as a preface to his book: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Edmund_Burke
- All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.