Juniper Towers is a public housing complex in Park Forest, Illinois. As such, there is a regular staff, and those wishing to enter without a specific destination must adhere to certain standards, letting staff members know they are present.
Because this is public housing, candidates for public office are not permitted to enter and wander aimlessly, moving from floor to floor, door to door.
Turning Left has learned from several reliable sources that one mayoral candidate in Park Forest, Illinois — and a current public official in that town — has been doing precisely that. Mr. JeRome Brown, a second-run mayoral candidate in Park Forest, IL, has been described by sources as entering Juniper Towers, walking floor to floor, going door to door, but only after staff for Juniper Towers have left for the day. Only after hours.
Obviously, Mr. Brown has someone on the inside who is opening the front door for him, or he waits surreptitiously for someone to exit so he can enter.
We have to ask: why not enter when staff is present? Why wait until staff have gone home for the day to begin his surreptitious campaigning?
We have learned, to our amusement, that Mr. Brown raffled off a turkey before Christmas. The winner was the first person who could prove he or she had a voter registration card.
Why give a turkey only to someone already registered to vote? Why raffle a turkey at all, unless he is engaging in an all-out campaign to buy votes.
A few years ago, a mayoral candidate in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, also attempted to buy votes, this time from seniors. This candidate promised, and delivered, a box of chocolates and seven dollars cash — yes, cash — to any senior who promised to vote for him, and he promised to provide them a ride to the polls.
The seniors took the chocolate, pocketed the $7.00 cash, and voted in droves for his opponent.
His opponent won. Handily.
Mr. Brown appears to believe that seniors and other members of public housing in Park Forest, Illinois, are simple, gullible folks, ready to cave and give their votes to someone obviously pandering for their attention, for their votes.
Turning Left must ask, is turkey the only thing of substance Mr. Brown has to offer?
The economy is improving, and has been for years under President Obama.
It’s just been sluggish, and there are plenty of people out of work still. There are even more who are underemployed (above graphic is from June 2013). According to Forbes, the "official" underemployment rate does not count discouraged workers who have settled for part-time jobs, or have just given up. These people, properly tracked under what’s called the "U-6" rate, showed underemployment at 14.3% in June 2013.
So, what exactly are we to infer from the revised estimate, reported today by the New York Times, that third quarter estimates for the economy showed 4.3% growth? The NYTimes reports:
The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.
The rate was the fastest in almost two years.
The Commerce Department said business spending was stronger than it originally thought, leading to the revision up from 3.6 percent. Economists had expected the final estimate of growth to be unchanged from that 3.6 percent.
According to the Times, the growth rate for quarter two was 2.5%.
So, this is good news, right?
Not so certain, given the underemployment rate and other factors. Those of us in the middle and lower are making less, therefore spending less.
Consider the rise in companies buying back their own shares of stock, to the tune of $211 billion.
Enter Robert Reich from December 17, via Facebook (emphasis added):
A big reason why CEOs are about to rake in big year-end bonuses even though their sales are lousy (after all, America’s vast middle class and poor aren’t earning enough to buy much) is CEOs been using their companies’ cash, plus whatever they can borrow at rock-bottom interest rates engineered by the Fed, to buy back their own shares of stock. This maneuver raises the price of the remaining shares, thereby giving the CEOs – whose pay is tied to share prices – huge rewards. This year, the 30 companies listed on the Dow Jones industrial average authorized $211 billion in buybacks, lifting the Dow (and CEO pay) to record heights.
This $211 billion could have gone instead to American workers in the form of higher wages – which would have come back to companies in the form of higher sales. McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.
It’s a vicious cycle as long as CEO incentives are directed toward raising share prices rather than sales, and as long as the economy is organized around the stock market rather than good jobs.
Since many of our pensions were shifted to the stock market via crapshoot 401Ks, we have learned that the stock market is not a safe environment for our retirement funds to exist. Know anyone who was unable to retire because his or her 401K lost half its value or more — just when that person was planning to exit the work force?
I do. Too many, in fact.
So, yes, a 4.1% growth in the economy is good news. However, as long as the corporations are defining growth based on the stock market as opposed to job growth, most of us in America will have to wait — and work — for a paradigm shift in the outlooks of corporations.
Or, we will have to fight for it, just like we did in the early 20th century.
Would you like to serve in the United States Senate in Indiana? Turns out you don’t even have to live there. And there is more than three decades of legal precedence.
U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar allegedly represents the people of the state of Indiana, a state where he has not resided for over 30 years.
In 1982, then-Indiana Attorney General Linley Pearson said that the senator is not required to actually live in the state he represents because he is acting “on business of this state or of the United States,” according to Will Rahn at The Daily Caller. The Attorney General issues legal opinions that are not binding. The AG does not make the law.
Here’s the truth: Sen. Richard Lugar is running for re-election in a state he has not lived in for over 30 years.
Should that matter to anyone in Indiana or the rest of the United States?
Lugar sold his home at 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis shortly after first assuming office in 1977. But due to a loophole in Indiana law, both he and his wife Charlene Lugar are still registered to vote at that address.
Greg Wright, an Indiana tea party member and certified fraud examiner, told The Daily Caller that he has been investigating Lugar’s residency situation “for a few weeks” and has not been paid for his efforts. He just heard one day from some tea party friends that Lugar didn’t actually live in the state, and took it upon himself to find out if it was true.
According to The Daily Caller, Richard Lugar and his wife Charlene both have driver’s licenses indicating that they currently live at 3200 Highwoods Court.
The current resident of 3200 Highwoods Court was surprised to hear that Lugar still claims that address as his own:
“I knew [Lugar] built it,” Hughes told TheDC. “Every now and then we get his mail, and we couldn’t figure out why after all these years we were still getting his mail every now and then. And now we know why.”
“I was surprised, but I was more surprised that no one seemed that interested,” she added.
Is it enough that Lugar slips through a loophole in the law? Would you be concerned if you found out a pol was claiming your address as his or her own? Would you be concerned if that same pol had a legal document – a driver’s license – indicating that he or she resided at your address?
I wonder which address he uses for his tax returns?
The growth of income inequality has tracked very closely with measures of political polarization, which has been gauged using the average difference between the liberal/conservative scores for Republican and Democratic members of the House.
“The proximity of these trends is uncanny,” according to a 2003 paper by researchers Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal. “Remarkably, the trends of economic inequality and elite political polarization have moved almost in tandem for the past half-century.”
An attorney for former Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese persuaded a federal judge today to postpone the auction of her Cicero home until she can challenge her 2002 corruption conviction.
The government was scheduled to auction her one-story brick home Thursday to recoup a portion of the $8.3 million in restitution that she owes.
But Judge John Grady granted a stay of the auction until Loren-Maltese can challenge her conviction based on the so-called "Skilling" defense, said her lawyer, Leonard C. Goodman.
"It’s been hard for her," Goodman said of his high-profile client, who was sentenced to a 97-month prison term in 2003 and was released to a halfway house in February. "She’s been trying to get steady work." Since her release to a halfway house, Loren-Maltese has worked as a restaurant hostess and written a blog.
Her attorneys are seeking to have her conviction thrown out based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s conviction for theft of honest services.
The high court found the honest-services fraud law was unconstitutionally vague and that violations must include acts of bribery or kickbacks.
I certainly don’t want to see anyone lose a home, but Betty was convicted. There’s no reason to say "alleged" here.
There was no minimum price set for the home, according to the notice.
Who are the unemployed in America? Do they really not want to work, as the Republicans have been arguing?
Had a bit of a chat tonight with someone on Facebook who I haven’t seen since 1981, when we graduated high school in Pittsburgh. He still lives in Pittsburgh, went to college in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is someplace special, but it’s good to gain perspective.
I love Pittsburgh, but, for a number of reasons, I’m glad I moved years ago. Pittsburgh is still very, very segregated, racially and socio-economically. My former high school classmate is stuck in Supply-Side Voodoo Economics land, “Imagine how good our economy will be when everyone is out of work! Reduce government spending, cut taxes, encourage entrepreneurship. That’s how to create jobs. Unemployment checks…please!”
Reduce government spending — okay, but what government spending? Cut taxes? How will we pay for everything President George W. Bush spent, especially when we’re still paying for everything President Ronald Reagan spent?
Want to get to know the unemployed a bit? Read what they’re writing here, at Unemployed-Friends. Unemployed Friends is a busy, busy forum. These are real people out of work because Republicans trashed the economy. Pure and simple.
And they want to work.
The G.O.P. is wrong wrong wrong for the economy. Always have been. Always will be.
No state in the union has been more firmly wedded to the oil and gas industry than Louisiana. No more zealous preachers of the clean oil gospel can be found than the state’s politicians, who were elected by oil money (at the high end of industry campaign funding) and have defended the industry from regulation (including wetland protections), reduced its royalties with tax breaks and "royalty holidays" (thereby depriving the US Treasury of some $53 billion in revenues from existing offshore leases) and beaten the drums for opening the Atlantic Coast and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development… because Louisiana’s experience showed oil and the environment to be so compatible. State brochures feature pelicans and oil platforms against the setting sun. The largest exhibit in New Orleans’s Audubon Aquarium of the Americas contains the base of an oil rig, around which swim contented fish, framed by the logos of Shell, Chevron and BP. We have improved on Eden.
The real story was always otherwise; it was just rarely told. Oil was first found in Louisiana a hundred years ago, and the finds swiftly moved south to the coastal zone. Oil companies appropriated the coastal parishes, most notoriously Plaquemines, ground zero for the BP slick; Texaco’s leases in Plaquemines were arranged by the parish district attorney, who conveniently reported only part of the proceeds to the parish police jury and kept the rest (a fact that is emerging only after his death, in a family feud). Local politicians in their pockets, Texaco et al. had one remaining problem: getting men and equipment to the drill sites and laying pipelines to carry off the gold. In the companies’ way were some 5 million acres of coastal marsh, one of the most biologically productive zones in North America.
The solution was soon to come: floating dredges, which would dig canals to the wellheads and more canals for the pipelines. These dredges have worked nonstop ever since. They have ripped through the wetlands of southern Louisiana like bulldozers, severing bayous, drowning adjacent marshes, draining others and introducing salt water from the Gulf of Mexico that sears the plant roots, at which point they disintegrate and the coastal marsh system, made up of billions of stems and roots of living things, falls apart like wet cardboard. There were alternative means of access, but industry rejected them. It could also have backfilled the canals when the job was done, but this too was rejected. The reasons were remarkably like BP’s: those approaches would take time, cost money.
The dredging was not occasional, or here or there. It was pandemic. The industry has laced 8,000 miles of canals and pipelines through the Louisiana wetlands, each one eroding laterally over time, less an assault at this point than a cancer. They are supported by larger navigation canals, requested by the industry and built by the ever-willing Army Corps of Engineers. One such canal, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, after killing off 39,000 acres of forest and wetlands between New Orleans and the gulf, ushered Hurricane Katrina right into the city. If you drive down any bayou road in southern Louisiana, you will see marsh grasses out the window. If you fly over them in a plane and look down, you see something that looks like northern New Jersey: water roads and open water through isolated patches of green. The next time you fly over, there will be even less green. We have been losing twenty-five square miles of coastal Louisiana every year, in major part to these canals, to serve the oil and gas industry, which has made tidy sums in the bargain. When I last looked, six oil and energy corporations were listed in the world’s top ten.
Louisiana, the state most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise, leads the charge against EPA regulation of carbon dioxide (letters of opposition from no fewer than four state agencies and the governor, which must be a record) and the president’s climate change bill.
Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and remake the nation’s health care system along the lines proposed by President Obama.
By a vote of 219 to 212, the House passed the bill after a day of tumultuous debate that echoed the epic struggle of the last year. The action sent the bill to President Obama, whose crusade for such legislation has been a hallmark of his presidency.
Democrats hailed the vote as historic, comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security and a long overdue step forward in social justice. “This is the civil rights act of the 21st century,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House.
Summoned to success by President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Congress approved historic legislation Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage.
Widely viewed as dead two months ago, the Senate-passed bill cleared the House on a 219-212 vote, with Republicans unanimous in opposition.
Congressional officials said they expected Obama to sign the bill as early as Tuesday.
A second measure — making changes in the first — was lined up for passage later in the evening. That measure would go to the Senate, where Democratic leaders said they had the votes to pass it.
Crowds of protesters outside the Capitol shouted "just vote no" in a futile attempt to stop the historic vote taking place inside a House packed with lawmakers and ringed with spectators in the galleries above.
Across hours of debate, House Democrats predicted the central bill, costing $940 billion over a decade, would rank with other great social legislation of recent decades.
Delivering a hard-fought victory in President Barack Obama’s year-long pursuit of a national healthcare overhaul, a divided House tonight narrowly voted to approve a Senate-passed healthcare bill which both supporters and opponents call historic in its sweep.
The 219-212 vote will deliver to the president’s desk an initiative for which he has fought on Capitol Hill and campaigned across the country: A healthcare bill that he finally can sign.
This was the first step of a two-part drama unfolding in the House this evening, with another late vote expected soon on a package that reconciles differences between this Senate-passed and now House-approved bill and another measure which the House approved in November.
Together, the two bills would present the president with a long-sought triumph for the signature domestic agenda of his presidency, a bid to offer health insurance to an estimated 32 million Americans who are uninsured and improve the coverage of those with insurance.
The second measure, also expected to pass the House tonight, will have to go to the Senate, where leaders hope to approve it by a simple majority vote under a process of "budget reconciliation.” Any changes made in the Senate, however, will return that legislation to the House before the president can sign the second bill.
"I know this bill is complicated, but it’s also very simple,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) during the final debate. "Illness and infirmity are universal, but we are stronger against them together than we are alone…. In that shared strength is our nation’s strength.”
"Tonight, we will make history for our country and progress for the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in the leadership’s closing argument. Crediting Obama for his "unwavering commitment to healthcare for all Americans,” the speaker said "this legislation… if I had one word to describe it tonight, it would be opportunity.”