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Slave or Rebel? Ten Principles for Escaping the Matrix and Standing Up to Tyranny PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by John W. Whitehead   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 14:14

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s a shell game intended to keep us focused on and distracted by all of the politically expedient things that are being said – about militarized police, surveillance, and government corruption – while the government continues to frogmarch us down the road toward outright tyranny.

Unarmed citizens are still getting shot by militarized police trained to view them as the enemy and treated as if we have no rights. Despite President Obama’s warning that the nation needs to do some “soul searching” about issues such as race, poverty, and the strained relationship between law enforcement and the minority communities they serve, police killings and racial tensions are at an all-time high. Just recently, in Texas, a white police officer was suspended after video footage showed him “manhandling, arresting, and drawing his gun on a group of black children outside a pool party.”

Americans’ private communications and data are still being sucked up by government spy agencies. The USA Freedom Act was just a placebo intended to make us feel better without bringing about any real change. As Bill Blunden, a cybersecurity researcher and surveillance critic, points out, “The theater we’ve just witnessed allows decision-makers to boast to their constituents about reforming mass surveillance while spies understand that what’s actually transpired is hardly major change.”

Democrats and Republicans Still Have Much to Learn About Each Other PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 07 June 2015 05:34

After five months, you’d think that the warring parties at the Illinois Statehouse would have learned something about each other. Instead, last week’s bitter and divisive House overtime session showed that they still fundamentally misunderstand one another.

What follows are some questions I’m hearing and my own responses.

• From Republicans: Why would the House Democrats propose such a weak workers’ compensation reform plan last week when they knew Governor Bruce Rauner wants so much more?

The Democrats’ plan didn’t contain much real-world progress, and actually regressed in part. Unless you read between the lines. Workers’ comp insurance is essentially a no-fault system designed to keep disputes out of the courts. Republicans have for years attempted to insert “causation” into the system to weed out employees whose injuries are mostly not the fault of employers.

But House Speaker Michael Madigan’s bill used the term “causal” in relation to a certain kind of injury. This was a pretty good indication that after more than 30 years as speaker, Madigan is moving away from his complete opposition to causation standards.

The speaker appears willing to deal on this topic because he attached his language to a House bill that can now be amended by the Senate. If he’d used a Senate bill, it would’ve been “take it or leave it.”

So build on the causation issue and ignore his other items that set the negotiations back. It’s not rocket science.

Governor’s Lobbyist Order Cements His Control Over Bureaucracy PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 31 May 2015 05:56

Forget about the budget, forget about Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” forget about the almost unprecedented animosity during the spring legislative session between Democrats and Republicans.

The most talked-about issue under the Illinois Statehouse dome last week was a directive from one of the governor’s top staffers to all state-agency directors.

The agency directors received an order from the Rauner administration Wednesday demanding that they and their staffs not meet or talk with any lobbyists unless the governor’s Policy Office had first okayed the communications. The directors were also told to inform agency “stakeholders” that they didn’t really need to hire lobbyists anyway.

Iowa Should Abandon Its Level Playing Field for Education Funding PDF Print E-mail
Guest Commentaries
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 28 May 2015 12:25

When Davenport Community Schools Superintendent Art Tate announced in March that he planned to violate state law by spending more money per pupil than the state allowed, it highlighted the strangeness of Iowa’s rarely questioned status quo: There’s no mechanism for school districts to consistently exceed the base-funding level.

It’s not quite as simple as saying that Davenport’s school district can’t spend more than $6,366 per student this year. But in the name of funding equality across Iowa, the state is unusually restrictive – meaning that even if citizens in a community would support higher taxes for educational operations, there’s no way to make that happen.

At heart, Iowa’s system takes the admirable goal of adequate education funding and turns it into a straitjacket.

Rauner, Democrats Still Worlds Apart PDF Print E-mail
Illinois Politics
Written by Rich Miller   
Sunday, 24 May 2015 13:01

I spent the better part of last Wednesday asking folks around the Statehouse if they had anything positive to tell me. I went looking for anything that might indicate a silver lining to this increasingly nasty spring legislative session.

Mostly, people just laughed at me.

Other than some individual personal developments, there just wasn’t much positivity around. The governor’s chief of staff, Mike Zolnierowicz, and his incomparable wife Barret were about to have a new baby. They’re great people and that’s wonderful news, but it also means that “Z” was not going to be able to work on solving the problems for a few days.

A gaming-expansion bill appeared to be progressing. But I’m told the governor is in no mood to sign it as long as his “Turnaround Agenda” is being ignored by the majority Democrats.

The Senate Democrats, meanwhile, were expected to move legislation to help Chicago out of its horrific fiscal mess, but there’s still the problem with the governor’s refusal to do anything for the Democrats until he gets what he wants.

So I came up with nothing.

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