Park Forest Mayoral Candidate Only Enters Public Housing Unit After Hours; Turkey, Anyone?

turkey
Turkey for your vote?

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?

NYTimes: Third-Quarter U.S. Growth at 4.1% Rate in New Estimate. Good News?

Underemployment BLS June 2013
Source: BLS

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.

Let’s begin by organizing the Service Industry.

More on that to come.

Washington Post: Growing Wealth Widens Distance Between Lawmakers and Constituents

From the Washington Post:

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.”

Excellent commentary on this from Eric Byler at Coffee Party USA.

Todd Stroger Pays His Taxes

I really don’t want to comment on Todd Stroger any more. He will not be re-elected as President of the Cook County Board, and I’m happy with that. Some local pols are still fuming over that, angry at people like me who took Todd to task. However, from his first few weeks on the job when he fell more for the trappings of the office – remember the roped-off elevator? – it was apparent that Stroger was not ready for the big chair once occupied by his father.

That being said, I haven’t really paid much attention to President Stroger recently, but, sometimes, I feel like the Prophet Jeremiah:

I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it. Jeremiah 20:9

So I have to write.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Outgoing Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has paid his $11,668 federal tax debt.

The Internal Revenue Service recently filed a “certificate of release of federal tax lien” with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds that shows Stroger and his wife, Jeanine, paid the debt as of July 7. The payment settles what the Strogers owed the government since May 19, 2008, records show.

The IRS filed a lien on the Strogers’ South Side house in March 2009 — a move that usually follows multiple attempts to collect tax debts. The Chicago Sun-Times found the lien about two months later, and Stroger initially refused to discuss it, other than to say through a spokesman he’d worked out a payment plan to settle the debt.

I’m happy for Todd and his family. I don’t want to see anyone lose a home in this economy, and I certainly understand economic struggles.

Will the Catholic Church in D.C. Stop Feeding Homeless Over Gay Marriage?

I hope Allison Kilkenny’s conclusions are off-base regarding the decision of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to stop "social service programs" in the District of Columbia because of gay marriage.

From the Huffington Post:

A few days ago, I wrote about Goldman Sachs’s transition from a bank holding company into a public relations disaster machine. I argued that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has been behaving like he wants to be attacked by a ferocious mob.

Now, it appears the Catholic church is determined to unseat Blankfein in the "Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People" category.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Yup, that’s right. If gay folk can marry, the Catholic church refuses to feed the homeless.

Well, that all seems very reasonable. After all, the state would force the Catholic church to perform gay marriages, and celebrate the beastly unions, right?

Kilkenny offers a postscript to her article, "In the original article, I wrote that Jesus condemned homosexuality. However, that’s not true. The condemning homosexuality bit is written in Leviticus. Sorry, Jesus." Acutally, Jesus said nothing at all about sex or sexuality beyond his comments regarding marriage fidelity and divorce.

The Washington Post appears to support Kilkenny’s conclusions:

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

"If the city requires this, we can’t do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem."

This debate over same-sex marriage is so incredibly heated right now. I understand that the Catholic Church does not support same-sex marriage. How can they possibly use this one issue to justify turning their backs on those very people Christ calls us to serve?

According to the Post article, council members in D.C. don’t seem phased:

The church’s influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as "somewhat childish." Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

"They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure," said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.

This from council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large):

"The problem with the individual exemption is anybody could discriminate based on their assertion of religious principle," Mendelson said. "There were many people back in the 1950s and ’60s, during the civil rights era, that said separation of the races was ordained by God."

Allow me to quote Amos the prophet, "Thus says the LORD: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; Because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way." (Amos 2:6-7)

More here from the Washington Post.

Weekly Address: President Obama Says Recovery Act Creating Jobs and Strengthening Economy

While there is nothing to celebrate until job numbers turn around, the President cites the recent dramatic turnaround in gross domestic product as a sign of better things to come. He also applauds the fact that the Recovery Act has now created or saved more than a million jobs.

The President’s weekly address:

Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past ten months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that – while not cause for celebration – is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.

On Thursday, we received a report on our Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. This is an important measure of our economy as a whole, one that tells us how much we are producing and how much businesses and families are earning. We learned that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it’s also true that we’ve come a long way. It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.

Now, economic growth is no substitute for job growth. And we will likely see further job losses in the coming days, a fact that is both troubling for our economy and heartbreaking for the men and women who suddenly find themselves out of work. But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing; that’s why this GDP report is a good sign. And we can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion.

We’ve acted aggressively to jumpstart credit for families and businesses, including small businesses, which have seen an increase in lending of 73 percent. We’ve taken steps to stem the tide of foreclosures, modifying mortgages to help hundreds of thousands of responsible homeowners keep their homes and help millions more sustain the value in their homes. And the Recovery Act is spurring demand through a tax cut for 95 percent of working families, and through assistance for seniors and those who have lost jobs – which not only helps folks hardest hit by the downturn, but also encourages the consumer spending that will help turn the economy around.

Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America – as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life – it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than one million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today – folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families.

We’ve saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters, and teachers who are today on the beat, on call, and in the classroom because of the Recovery Act. And we’ve also created hundreds of thousands of jobs through the largest investment in our roads since the building of the interstate highways, and through the largest investments in education, medical research, and clean energy in history.

These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term – and they’re giving hardworking, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family. Because of the investments we’ve made and the steps we’ve taken, it’s easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college and get the training and skills they need to compete in a global economy. We’re making it easier for these families to save for retirement. And in areas like clean energy, we’re creating the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.

In fact, just this week, I traveled to Arcadia, Florida to announce the largest set of clean energy projects through the Recovery Act so far: one hundred grants for businesses, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners across the country to put thousands of people to work modernizing our electric grid – the system that provides power to our homes and businesses – so that it wastes less energy, helps integrate renewables like wind and solar, and saves consumers money. And that’s just one example.

So, we have made progress. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford health care or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics. And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: that’s exactly what we will do.

For the economy we seek is one where folks who need a job can find one and incomes are rising again. The economy we seek is one where small businesses can flourish and entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to plant new seeds of growth. The economy we seek is one that’s no longer based on maxed out credits cards, wild speculation, and the old cycles of boom or bust – but rather one that’s built on a solid foundation, supporting growth that is strong, sustained, and broadly shared by middle class families across America. That is what we are working toward every single day. And we will not stop until we get there.

Thank you. And Happy Halloween.

Source: whitehouse.gov

Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The Economic Bill of Rights”

This was once America, rescued at last from the gilded age.

We can do this again. We can revive and seal the New Deal.

The rich were on board because they had lived through the Great Depression, and they knew a thriving middle class was the path to the future of a strong America. Less for a few meant more for all.

Let’s make this happen again.

From FDR:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.


source: The Public Papers & Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Samuel Rosenman, ed.), Vol XIII (NY: Harper, 1950), 40-42