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So I spent most of my time Friday on the southeast corner of First and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. Frank, a war veteran, asked me if I’ve been seen on the other side of the street. Busted. I was over there last Friday covering the jobs rally organized by Dan Kenney and Jenny Tomkins. Frank moved further away from me to lessen his chances of catching any communist cooties.
John, another veteran, defended me.
“He’s a tax fighter and a veteran, too, Frank. I’m glad to see him over here.”
Soon two younger lads in their 20s approached and joined in the conversation.
“What’s going on here. What are those people protesting over there,” asked one.
“Well, this is kind of a DeKalb tradition,” explained Ted McCarron, another veteran. “Usually they are protesting because they are against the wars In Iraq and Afghanistan but there are other issues tonight.”
“Me and my buddy were over there,” said the young combat veteran. “We were in Baghdad.”
All of us, except Frank, immediately thanked them for their service. Frank was standing too far away to hear the conversation.
“Those people over there don’t like to fight,” said the youngster. “We obviously thought the fight was worth fighting. They’re just different than you. We’re going to go over and hear what they’ve got to say.”
As they walked away I told McCarron that those two young men’s eyes have seen things human beings should never see. I said it almost loud enough for Frank to hear.
“What’s that?” Frank asked. I repeated the statement about what they have seen and told him they did a tour in Baghdad.
“Oh,” said Frank. “They’ve been there and done that then.”
Last Friday, when I was across the street, I noticed several veterans raised their hands when Tomkins asked if any were present.
Just then a chant erupted from across the street. It was led by DeKalb City Clerk, Steve Kapitan.
“We are the 99%. You are the 99%. We are the 99%. You are the 99%.”
I love statistics. Every time I read them I crank up Todd Snider’s “Statitician’s Blues:”
They say 3 percent of the people use 5 to 6 percent of their brain
97 percent use 3 percent and the rest goes down the drain
I’ll never know which one I am but I’ll bet you my last dime 99 percent think with 3 percent 100 percent of the time
65 percent of all the world’s statistics are made up right there on the spot
82.4 percent of people believe ‘em whether they’re accurate statistics or not
I don’t know what you believe but I do know there’s no doubt
I need another double shot of something 90 proof
I got too much to think about
Too much to think about
Too much to figure out
Stuck between hope and doubt
It’s too much to think about
They say 74 percent of everything you learned in college is a bunch of bullshit you’ll never need
83.4 percent of everything you got you bought to satisfy your greed
Because 91 percent of the world’s population links possessions to success Even though 88 percent of the wealthiest 1 percent of the population Drinks to an alarming excess More money, more stress
It’s too much to think about
Too much to figure out
Stuck between hope and doubt
It’s too much to think about
Pick it then
74 percent of all statisticians truly hate their @#!@# job
The average bank robber lives within say about 20 miles of the bank that he robs
There’s this little bank not far from here I’ve been watching now for a while
Lately all I can think about’s how bad I wanna go out in style
Too much to think about
Too much to figure out
Stuck between hope and doubt
It’s too much to think about
It’s too much to think about
It’s too much to think about
I ain’t part of no 99%!
This Friday was Occupy DeKalb night. Several of the regulars from the Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice felt right at home occupying that particular location in downtown DeKalb. But there were more newer, younger faces than those of the regulars.
This economy has illuminated the contrast between those who have and those who have not. It has exposed the government, financial and mainstream media systems in bed together with the blankets pulled over their heads so they can’t see that they’re exploiting (by controlling the 99%) the many to reward and protect the few (their bosses — the 1% who almost all drink to alarming excess). Guilt complex?
Let’s relieve some stress before this thing gets all revolutionary as in real class warfare. How about the Tea Party types who aren’t the brainwashed right wing shills and the Occupy Wall Street types who aren’t the brainwashed left wing shills meet in the middle of Main Street and find the common ground necessary to fix society from the ground up. Start by ending the corruption that has allowed that cozy relationship to flourish. Tar and feather anyone who tells you the government should just budget for a certain percentage of expenditures for corruption.
Equal opportunity. That’s what we want. That’s what those veterans fight and die for. That’s their motivation and let no shill tell you otherwise.
Entitlement breeds corruption. Corruption steals opportunity. It hoards it. It exploits it. End it.
We need innovation to meet the demands of a changing world. Innovation requires productivity. Who does not want to be productive? Isn’t that what equal opportunity is all about?
Advancing technology is not only shrinking the world it is lifting those bedroom covers and shining a big bright light on the ol’ boys network. We can demand equal opportunity. Maybe a Magna Charter of Equal Opportunity is in order.
But to get it we can’t afford to be in the 99%. Oh no, it’s time to raise the bar. We’ve got to use 5-6% of our brain, not 3%, 100% of the time — or at least any time near the elections.
I attended the community town hall meeting on Smart Grid technology, hosted by State Representative Bob Pritchard, held Tuesday, October 11th at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau as did at least 50 other interested people. From 6-7pm, the lobby was a buzz with demonstrations by the various companies invited by Rep. Pritchard, to educate the public about Smart Grid Technology.
At 7pm, the speakers included what I thought was a very well rounded group of presenters including Ross Hemphill, ComEd Vice President of Regulatory Strategies; David Kolata, Executive Director, Citizens Utility Board (CUB); K.C. Poulus, Sustainability Manager at Village of Oak Park, in charge of part of ComEd’s pilot project on smart meters; Anne McKibbin, Center for Neighborhood Technology and Randy Gucwa, S&C Electric Company, developer of the Smart Grid Meters.
The benefits described by all the speakers certainly convinced me of the need to upgrade our system. Our electricity system in Illinois is very old and I have personal experience with how electricity is being more effectively delivered in other parts of the country. In Mesa, Arizona, electric customers pre-pay their electric with a top up card. That card is inserted in a box in the customer’s home, that tells them how much electricity they are consuming in real time. Customers, armed with better data, can and do significantly reduce their electricity bills with this information. As an example, data shows that right now, 10% of residential consumption in Illinois is a result of ‘phantom power’, power being drawn from electric devices that are plugged in but not being used. Customers in the pilot program quickly learned to unplug electric devices when not in use and consequently brought their bills down.
Consumer savings from the Smart Grid Technology system was three times more than the cost of installation (in the pilot program). Customers will not need to call ComEd when their power goes off because they will already know. The Smart Grid can be self healing, finding it’s own solutions to problems. Having a faster fix for electric down times will benefit the consumer, eliminating down time and the need to throw out spoiled food. The Smart Grid technology also has the potential to help Illinois with economic development in this time where it is currently losing many businesses.
The cost for this $1.1 billion dollar investment is said to average 2 1/2 – 3% of residential customer’s current electricity bill. The average cost on the residential customer’s bill will be $3 per month for ten years. But, remember, customers in the pilot program saved three times that much by changing their electricity consumption patterns with the data provided.
Information about the actual legislation proposed was glaringly missing from yesterday’s presentation. AARP was present and passed out flyers describing why they are against the current legislation. Weakened reliability and consumer protections, annual rate hikes and higher utility profits are among their concerns.
Governor Pat Quinn’s office was quoted in their flyers as saying, “With energy prices dropping, the Governor strongly believes there is a way to attract new investment to modernize our electric grid, while protecting consumers and creating jobs.” Even John Rowe, CEO of ComEd’s parent Exelon Corp. voiced doubts in a recent speech saying, “Illinois legislators served up what can only be described as ComEd’s dream come true. What company wouldn’t love to have a law guaranteeing it double-digit returns.”
Calling the Smart Grid technology “the energy equivalent to the internet” in terms of how it will change our lives, CUB Executive Director David Kolata said that CUB is cautiously optimistic about Smart Grid Technology but sees problems in the legislation that is currently proposed. Knowing that the bill was written by Commonwealth Edison should raise flags to anyone watching closely.
I agree with others who say fix the bill and bring it back. Illinois needs to upgrade it’s infrastructure including it’s electric. Illinois needs jobs and viable businesses to get back on the right track. Efficient electricity usage benefits all of us. It was said that the cost of creating one new coal or nuclear plant would be much greater than the cost of installing the entire Smart Grid system. Let’s not let this drop because the bill was written by ComEd. I also disagree with the idea that this bill is better than nothing. Legislators, please fix it and bring it back.
Becky from Sycamore sent me a note that she is in the FINALS in a National contest sponsored by Walgreens and Herseys. Facebook fans nationwide will be voting daily beginning October 6 and ending October 16. Her family decorated their house using the semi-finalist award ($300 Walgreens gift card). If their decorating masterpiece is voted the best, Walgreens and Hershey’s will award and deliver, 1 Ton Of Hershey’s Halloween Candy. She has decided to distribute to 1/2 a TON of candy to local non-profits in Sycamore/Shabbona communities. The other 1/2 TON of candy will be donated to the YMCA Spooky Sports Halloween Party scheduled for October 28 at NIU Convocation Center. Many groups and organizations will benefit from your votes, so please vote daily!
About 80 people or so were milling about at the August jobs rally at the DeKalb Square on the corner of 4th and Lincoln Hwy. Across the street, standing all by himself, was the conservative Ted McCarron. He was holding a sign that said cut taxes. Various signs, custom made by the event supporters suggested dumping the Tea Party into the Kishwaukee River, among other non-flattering ideas.
A similar number of people were in attendance for the September DeKalb County Tea Party breakfast meeting at the Spring Grove Family Restaurant in Genoa. According to a Facebook post by McCarron, “the woman who showed up with the British accent who commented about the historical differences between the Dems and the GOP is a local left-wing activist, as were the friends she brought along.”
It’s not funny that both groups claim to be non-partisan because the challenges in front of us require partisan ideology to be set aside. We can’t tax our way to prosperity. We can’t cut our way to prosperity. We, as an all inclusive term, win only through working together. In partisan politics there is win-lose. Win-win solutions are needed.
Honesty is the virtue most needed at this time. Complacent corruption, a truly bipartisan product of Illinois government, has grown to such a level that a person with a PhD in political science told me we should just budget for it and — reluctantly of course — increase taxes to pay for it.
Corruption is all about win-lose. Its scope is just a little more narrow in focus than left-right politics.
Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice and the DeKalb Interfaith Network is holding a press conference and jobs for all rally on Friday October 7th at 5pm in Memorial Park on the corner of North First Street and Lincoln Highway in DeKalb. Dan Kenney is the coordinator of the event and coordinator of DeKalb Interfaith Network. He is also co-founder of the Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice.
“This is a jobs for all rally, but it is also a rally to rebuild the American Dream, the American Dream that was built upon mutual trust among the citizens of our country.” Kenney said in a press release. “We were once a country that pulled together during hard times, now we are pulled apart.”
No civilization can survive large classes of unemployed for long periods of time. Even our best citizens will become distorted and demoralized by accepting support from the public purse and/or private charity. Our youth, who forever tend to see things with short term view, see no future tomorrow or jobs for them today. That’s not to mention aging infrastructure and an ongoing war that will be fought until someone wins.
I googled “Win-win war” and I couldn’t find one.
The American Dream. What does that mean?
I bet Kevin Hendrickson and Dan McIntyre, co-founders of the DeKalb County Tea Party, and Dan Kenney and his friends at the DeKalb Interfaith Network would interpret that dream quite differently. Or, maybe not. They’ve never talked. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if the corner of First and Lincoln Hwy isn’t busier than normal for the Friday night in DeKalb tradition of What Side of the Street Are You On? Honk your horn if you agree.
We don’t have to raise taxes to turn this economy around. We just have to eliminate loopholes that protect hoarders. We don’t have to cut government jobs and services to turn this economy around. We just have to eliminate corruption of public servants to manipulate their use of public funds.
Loopholes and corruption. Talk about it. Identify it. Work together to eliminate it. Those who benefit from it, knowingly or not, feel they are entitled to it. Ask Richard Nixon. Ask Rod Blagojevich.
Working together requires inclusion and honest discussion. Those virtues are non-existent at partisan political rallies regardless of affiliation.
Whatever this structure is it's a waste of tax dollars. Typical of the current administration and its core of apologetics.
Given to the biggest, most ridiculous or most ironic example of government spending or waste: Ralph’s Fountain at the corner of E. Lincoln Hwy. and 7th Street in DeKalb. Sometimes affectionately known as “Ralph’s Dirty Bookstore” Ralph’s Newsstand was a fixture for most of the 20th Century in DeKalb. Newspapers, magazines, odd Halloween costumes and an assortment of tobacco flavors were available early and or late.
A few years back the City of DeKalb acquired the property (TIF) and demolished the building (TIF). Now they’re putting up a fancy fountain (or maybe its a flower pot) — regardless of the economy (TIF). It was a small, taxpaying parcel. Located on a highly visible, high traffic corner. Now, it’s a park. A City-owned park. Forever tax-less in a City starved for tax revenue. Jeesh.
Senator William H. Proxmire is perhaps best remembered for his opposition to wasteful government spending. In 1971 he led a successful fight against financing the supersonic transport plane. Governmental mismanagement was also the prime target of his books, “Report from Wasteland” (1970), “Uncle Sam: the Last of the Bigtime Spenders” (1972), and “The Fleecing of America” (1980).
In March 1975 he sent out the first of 159 monthly Golden Fleece Awards that called attention to financial mismanagement by government officials. In his last two Senate campaigns, Proxmire refused to take any campaign contributions and spent less than $200 out of his own pocket on each campaign.
So the County Board is looking at increasing its investment in domestic tourism. Ahhh, tourism.
I’ve been down that road before. Let me take you down memory lane. It’s a winding road but relevant to the issue.
Illinois tourism was a Gov. Big Jim Thompson administration initiative. Actually, it was an idea promoted by Randall Wolter, who Thompson appointed as Director of the Commission for Economic Development.
I was paying attention at the time because I was unemployed and the economy was darn near as bad as it is now. I looked at the new program as a shot-in-the-dark opportunity to retrain and restart my working career. Northern Illinois Tourism Council (NITC) was just getting started. The organization (now known as the Northern Illinois Tourism Development Office) needed delegates from each of the counties in its district to serve on its board. Because no one else in the county was paying attention I became this county’s delegate.
It was a volunteer position. There was little-to-no funding at the time. No one else wanted it except Sandra Black with the Sandwich Opera House. She’s always paying attention. I don’t know what Sandwich would do if not for her.
NITC was to represent and promote domestic tourism in areas not covered by a convention and visitors bureau (CVB). CVBs received funding from the state’s hotel/motel taxes — if the organization could get its local units to devote a portion of their local hotel/motel tax to the program. DeKalb and Sycamore had the only motels in the county and only DeKalb was a home rule community. Getting DeKalb’s Mayor Greg Sparrow to take one penny of hotel/motel tax revenue out of the General Fund was a no go. Not on his watch.
Sycamore had the Stratford Inn, Ron-Jo’s and Twin Gables and no home rule authority. They also had Mayor Red Johnson. I bugged him so much about that “silly tourism program” that he made me buy an old chair at a charity auction.
“Sold for $10 to the tourism fella in the ball cap,” said The Mayor. I don’t think anyone had bid anything on the chair. I sure didn’t. At least he knew why I was really at the auction.
NITC was DeKalb County’s conduit to the state’s new tourism program. But NITC funding, for the most part, was limited to association membership dues. George Miller, out of the Quad Cities, was hired as the first executive director. His mission was pretty straight forward. Get members.
The way I saw it, if I was going to be effective at getting members from DeKalb County, I needed to learn from Miller how to get them. So I traveled about with him in the uncharted-for-tourism waters of northern Illinois. We were selling blue sky in the gloomy days of a recession.
What a wonderful experience. Domestic tourism worked. It got people to take risks and invest into their entrepreneurial dreams creating needed jobs. Festivals were re-energized because of their sales tax revenue potential and because that revenue was paid by alot of people who didn’t live (and already pay taxes) in town. Communities, take Galena for a shining example, were reborn with a purpose.
Communities could get in the tourism game with what they had and then build upon that. Before tourism the Fox River was more often referred to as “Chicago’s sewer.” An activist known only as, “The Fox,” took vigilante action on illegal effluents into the river. Ralph Friese had to fight in the courts to get canoeing rights on certain rivers. As success stories in tourism grew the value of natural resources was enhanced.
When Jim Thompson left office in 1991 he was asked what he thought then governor-elect Jim Edgar should do with the tourism program. From the Chicago Tribune:
“It’s one of the areas where we can’t afford to cut back our expenditures either for infrastructure or for marketing and promotion,” Thompson said, as if he were continuing in office. He said tourism can create jobs, “in a very elastic fashion. Sitting here in the middle of the country, we’re a different kind of marketplace and destination from spots like New York, California or Florida. We can take advantage even of economically tough times because people will confine their vacations, in many instances, to day trips or weekend trips. And that’s a market we can pick on.”
Edgar and then George Ryan pretty much left tourism in place. When Jim Edwards was elected as mayor of Sycamore he asked me to serve as chair of the Sycamore Tourism Committee. Edwards was a big promoter of tourism because he was a fanatical promoter of Sycamore. During a convention in Springfield, Edwards learned that the Bureau of Tourism left Sycamore off of a printed map. He threw such a fit that by the next year’s convention, Sycamore had a prominent place on the map. We even got a special mention for our tourism guide. I was proud of that because I produced it.
I was (and still am) also proud of shaking then Gov. Ryan’s hand at an event at the Governor’s mansion because he remembered me.
“How’s tourism doing in DeKalb County,” he asked. “You’re doing a good job up there.”
I spent a lot of time in tourism. Often on the road as a volunteer. It felt good to be recognized.
Rod Blagojevich added a new twist – the addition of Hollywood incentives to get more movies filmed in Illinois. DeKalb County has done well with Hollywood. Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron are still running around the county filming a movie. A new Superman movie was filmed in the Sandwich-Plano area just recently. A new movie is being filmed in Sycamore.
Three things I learned from my experiences in tourism:
Put Heads in Beds – if tourism is to be funded through local hotel/motel taxes (matched by the state) and held accountable then its funding source, association membership dues aside, must remain hotel/motel tax. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee a funding level but it sure makes the CVB focus in bringing overnight visitors and they are the most lucrative for the host community.
Don’t Put Dead Things On Walls – if visitors can’t interact with the exhibits at a museum or art gallery, they won’t come back. They won’t stay long either.
Open Tuesdays from 1-4pm won’t cut it – throughout my travels up and down and across the state I often came across museums, attractions and such ran entirely by volunteers so they were only open once or twice a week. They’re usually non-profit and operated by elders raised in or near the Great Depression era. They have a CD worth around $60,000. They’ll never consider hiring someone with that money to promote the attraction as a resource and to generate subsequent revenue. Often there’s no one to pass the torch to and all the years of efforts for preservation are then lost.
Domestic tourism is a great investment especially in rough times. DeKalb and Sycamore should devote a portion of their local hotel/motel tax and strengthen the outstanding efforts of Debbie Armstrong and the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. That organization should live and die on hotel/motel taxes albeit membership dues are always helpful. If the focus shifts from Heads in Beds then another Chamber of Commerce has been formed and we don’t need it.
DeKalb County’s heads in beds are often business travelers. The largest tourist attraction is NIU, of course, with its world class arts and music programs; its athletic programs, alumni and its students’ parents. The DeKalb County Farm Bureau is cutting edge on agri-tourism. Shabbona Lake brings tens of thousands of visitors to the county. Sandwich is growing its tourism base and is greatly enhanced with the Timber Creek Conference Center. Genoa, Kingston and Kirkland are quietly building another sportsman’s paradise/outdoor recreation corridor on Rte 72.
We can build from what we already have and that’s a good position to be in.
Local 26 year old Genoa and DeKalb resident Kristina Barry passed away on Sunday due to complications from childbirth. Her son Tyler is now only 11 days old. Kristina also has a seven year old daughter named Ashlee. Tyler’s father, Jeremy Wilhelm who also has a 8 year old daughter Lexi, needs the help of our community to care for these children after such an unexpected tragedy.
Sycamore Coldwell Banker Honig Bell on Rt. 23 is accepting donations for the family between 8am-6pm Monday-Friday. Citizen’s Bank in Genoa is also accepting donated items for Jeremy and the family. Items identified as needed include: gift cards to Walmart and Aldi and gas cards. Ashlee wears a size 10/12 and Lexi wears 12/14. Tyler is only 11 days old and needs typical infant supplies.
Visitation for Kristina is this Thursday, September 8th from 4 to 8pm at Slater Butala Funeral Home in Genoa and the funeral is at 11am on Friday at the Foursquare Gospel Church in Genoa at 13100 Cherry Rd.
Grace Mott is an NIU alumni with a BS in Family Social Services graduating with high honors. She began her working career as a Juvenile Probation Officer, then was in charge of the teenage runaways through the DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau. She owned and operated a campground in southern DeKalb County from 1990 to 2000. Since then, she does both sales and fulfillment for DeKalb County Online's parent company, eWorldLinx. eWorldLinx also has made and maintains over 100, mostly local, business websites.
Gracie has served as Board President of the DeKalb County YSB; on the Board of Directors of the Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Museum and for the DeKalb County Building and Development Association.