The closest I got to a community meeting today was cheering for "my girls" a/k/a the DePaul Lady Blue Demons (23/22) as they beat 86-61 the University of Louisville Cardinals (14/12). I love watching the games! And this year the first two rounds of the NCAA women's basketball tournament will be played at the Rosemont March 17 and 19. I already have my tickets. Ya'll should get yours soon.
I completed my first two hours of continuing legal education for this cycle. Only 28 hours more to go.
The seminar was a guide to the legislative process in Illinois.
On a practical note everyone interested in following legislation in this state should have the Illinois General Assembly website marked as a favorite or part of their homepage. Here is the link.
Under the "Reports & Inquiry" section on the home page there is a subsection "My Legislation". If you click on that and register "this feature allows you to create, store, and maintain customized lists of bills to track. It also allows you to create, store, and maintain customized queries to produce your own reports on legislation."
But while you are tracking legislation you have to beware of the "shell bills" which seem to be the legislative equivalent of the shell game.
Here is the definition of shell game: 1.gambling game: a form of the game thimblerig in which spectators bet on the final location of an object hidden under one of three walnut shells or cups that have been shuffled. 2.fraudulent scheme: a scheme for defrauding or deceiving people.
Here is a description of the use of the shell bill from a September 26, 2011 post from halfwayinteresting, a champaign county community blog. HalfwayInteresting.com is owned and operated by Eric Bussell & Associates LLC Here is the link to them.
"In the Illinois Legislature, there are deadlines for filing bills to be considered by the General Assembly...There are a whole group of bills called 'shell bills' that may be amended at any time.. Some estimate that as much as 10% of the bills introduced in the General Assembly are 'Shell Bills', and these are used by both parties in the legislature.
...Shell Bills frustrate lobbyists and advocacy organizations. Here's what the National Association of Social Workers lobbyist said: Unfortunately, for those of us who try to track legislation, there are hundreds of "shell" bills in both houses controlled by legislative leaders. A "shell" bill is a bill with only technical changes that could be used at a later time for substantive amendments. We simply have no idea what might be amended onto these shell bills. So, while we think there is a "process" and deadlines for moving bills along, the reality is that we are in the dark about potentially significant legislation that might appear on short notice in a shell bill amendment."
Back in June 2003, I believe it was the use/misuse of shell bills that resulted in the bill regarding the O'Hare Modernization being run through a late evening public hearing process so that there could be a rush vote at night. Not the way to run a democracy.
The Illinois General Assembly website.
My first Chicago Public School (CPS)Board Meeting.
Clearly I was a first timer and would use today to learn how these meetings flow. To me, public meetings are a bit like participatory dinner theater without the meal. Some of the characters are scripted actors (the board members and agency employees) and the audience is comprised of amateurs (the public) who participate in the play as the actors decide to include them in the play.
The address listed for the meeting at the central office of the school board is 125 South Clark. But don’t let that fool you into thinking there is a door to a building with the address 125 South Clark. Does not exist. The flag-flanked entry to 125 South Clark is around the corner on Adams Street.
So I entered the building just about 10:30a.m. at the time the meeting was supposed to start. But you have to walk through the building to the Clark Street side to sign-in. Fortunately one of the two women who had just packed up the computer used for sign-in was willing to tell the security-receptionist people to give me a badge and let me in.
But I was too late to get into the actual board chamber on the fifth floor. I had to go to the overflow room on the fifteenth floor where about forty other people were watching the meeting on TV. A security person in that room explained to me that as people left the fifth floor room an equal number of people in this overflow room would be allowed to replace them. The people would be allowed in according to the number on the red entry pass they were given. Because of my post-computer processing arrival time I only had an orange pass but eventually even I was allowed into the board chamber.
The meeting begins at 10:30a.m.
The board meeting starts with two hours of two-minute-long comments from members of the public. To speak at the meeting one must register between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00a.m. Here is the link to the page that explains the public participation guidelines.
For today's meeting people were in line at 5:00a.m. One of those folks was a man who had flown in from San Francisco on the red-eye to attend the meeting and planned to leave as soon as the board dealt with the item that interested him.
I was impressed that there was a list available indicating the name of each speaker and the issue he or she would address. There were 49 speakers listed.
There were Aldermen concerned about people being paid to support school closings in their wards.
There were parents from the 19th ward that did not want the longer school day because it would interrupt the after-school programs they had.
There were parents from schools that were threatened with closure and turnaround that did not want to lose their schools.
Some parents were concerned about the safety of their children if they were moved to schools in areas "controlled by" different gangs.
All of the speakers were passionate about their issues but the board rarely reacted to any of the comments.
One women, part of a group protesting the closure/turnaround of Staff elementary, collapsed moments after delivering her forceful message about the importance of the school to her and her children. Fortuitously there was a retired registered nurse and a doctor in the room when the woman dropped to the floor.
It seemed like it took the paramedics longer to arrive than one would think in the center of the Loop. But then maybe the inaccurate address for the building was an issue.
While the proceedings were suspended awaiting the paramedics I paced around the chamber and viewed the impressive restored collection of early 20th century American impressionits paintings decking the walls.
After the public comment period ended. Most of the public left. And the board took up its agenda which included presentations entitled “Full School Day” and “Student Health Policies”. That took about an hour or so. And then the board went into executive session before taking action on any of the items on the published agenda. It was about 1:00 p.m.
I asked a couple of different people when the board would come back in session.
Anywhere between thirty minutes or four hours. Huh?
So, I went to the Subway in the lobby for lunch hoping it wouldn’t be a four-hour session.
When I finished lunch and tried to go back up to the fifth floor. Security informed me that I would have to wait until the board was back in session.
“And how would I know when that would be?” I asked.
“When the chimes ring. You can hear them anywhere in the building.”
About fifteen minutes later security let another man and I go up. Without any chimes ringing.
Outside the locked and empty board chamber about ten people waited for the meeting to resume. There were only three chairs and a bench. Four of the people were there from Office Depot awaiting the vote on a fifteen million dollar office supply contract. There was a radio reporter. Two graduate student fellows in journalism. A couple of women who never said why they were there. The guy from San Fran. And me.
Mr. San Fran wondered how long the meeting would take once it got started and they addressed the agenda. I said that if it was like the Chicago Park District meeting they would use the procedure of “applying the last favorable vote” and speed right along.
We waited and chatted for an hour or so before the meeting resume. And when the president of the board invoked “the last favorably vote” routine San Fran looked at me and laughed. His agenda item (which he never disclosed to me) was in one of the first groups of items that received a favorable vote. And then he was out the door to O’Hare and back to California.
I think the meeting adjourned a bit before five o’clock.
While in the CPS building I picked up information on this year’s Local School Council elections. Nomination forms are due at the Office of Local School Council Relations located at 125 South Clark Street by 3:00p.m. on March 1, 2012 or at 3:00 p.m. on March 8, 2012 at the school where one seeks to serve as a Local School Council member. Here is the link to get the details.
An oft-rescheduled dental appointment final occurred today. So I did not participate in any public meetings. Instead I was a citizen-spectator. I watched President Obama's State of the Union address.
Today I posted the initial entries in a comprehensive calendar of the public meetings of entities controlling government in Chicago.
I will be adding other meetings as well as details about the meetings on an ongoing basis.
My mind has periodically boggled as I am dong this because I am astounded by how much “government” there is in Chicago.
Obviously there is the elected mayor, city clerk, city treasurer and city council with its committees.
But there are also appointed advisory councils to city departments that conduct public meetings.
There are the agencies governed by appointed boards: transit, education, housing, city colleges, the library, and the police board.
Then there are commission also governed by appointed boards that oversee public buildings, development, landmarks, and culture.
And there are the NGOs that focus on government. I put organizations like the League of Women Voters, the Better Government Association and other non-profits concerned with responsible government in this category.
I think it will take me until at least Valentine’s Day to create the comprehensive calendar I imagine as a helpful tool to citizens.
Tomorrow’s number for the pick four lotto
Eight. The number of aldermen who voted against the ward remap. And the winners are:
Bob Fioretti, 2nd; Roderick Sawyer, 6th; Michael Zalewski, 23rd; Michael Chandler, 24th; Rey Colon, 35th; Nicholas Sposato, 36th; Scott Waguespack, 32nd; John Arena, 45th.
Five. The number of alderman who voted against the G8-NATO inspired changes to police powers, surveillance and city council oversight of the expenditure of taxpayers money. The winners are Fioretti; Sposato; William Burns, 4th; Leslie Hairston, 5th; and Sandi Jackson, 7th.
Four. The number of aldermen who voted against the G8-NATO inspired changes to the ordinances regulating parades (or protests). Fioretti; Sposato, Burns and Hairston.
Two. The number of alderman who score 100% on standing up to Rahm. And the winners are
Bob Fioretti and Nick Sposato. Well done gentlemen! Keep it up for the next four years and then run for Mayor!
Note: My alderman, Michele Smith, was at the meeting BUT DID NOT VOTE on the police power, surveillance, expenditure ordinance. For those of you who remember the 2007 43rd ward aldermanic election, in which I was a candidate, NOT VOTING was a habit of Michele's.
Chicago Mayors' and the City Council have a reputation for allowing taxpayers' money to be wasted. But another thing they are willing to waste is citizen/taxpayer TIME. And time is the one resource we cannot create and we cannot know for certain how much we have.
But the City Council messes with citizen/taxpayer time frequently whenever it has an agenda item that will bring out protesters. Today's City Council meeting was set for 10:00 A.M. The agenda included the very controversial ordinance restricting assembly/speech because Emanuel invited the G8-NATO gang to our house.
But the Council and Rahm Emanuel had changed up the program to delay so that the news cameras would have to leave to meet newsroom deadlines and would not be around to record any opposition.
So, poor Maggie Daley was going to be used as a political prop even after her death. Emanuel and the Council set up a tribute to her so quickly only one, ONE, member of the Daley family was in attendance to hear the tributes of the 50 aldermen. (Richie wasn't there, Bill wasn't there, John wasn't there, the rest of her children weren't there, the grandchildren weren't there, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
And after an hour of praising Maggie, the Council then spent more than a half-hour (I had to leave to get to another meeting.) praising another recently deceased Chicagoan, Mr. Tyree, financial executive and owner of the Chicago Sun-Times. I left wonderin' if they were going to eulogize Liz Taylor, too, since she was once married to a Chicagoan.
My last meeting today at city hall was another public hearing on the ward remap.
These maps show how the current alderman, elected in 2011, want to cut up the pie known as Chicago in order to be reelected in 2015.
The maps vary a little bit. They all still get to take race into account even though we are supposedly in a post-racial era.
Alderman Mell, Chairman of the Ethics and Rules Committee of the City Council and father-in-law of the twice-convicted, recently sentenced, impeached governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, wants to get this done in a hurry. Why the rush? Maybe to make sure there is time for the lawsuits to be fully adjudicated before the next aldermanic elections in 2015.
Before attending Anna Goral's dog and pony show at the Board of Elections, I stopped by City Hall to pick up 2012 tourist brochures and came upon the free speech rally.
If you are relying on the main stream media (MSM forever after) for images of the people against Rahm Emanuel's preemptive assault on the rights of assembly and speech, I just thought I put up a photo or two of the speakers who represented organizations concerned about civil liberties. Short guys in suits and ties aren't as scary as bearded youths. 'Course based on my age and political experience I was wonderin' whether some of the boisterous youths were hired by the Emanuel administration to make a big fuss.
Today, in order to keep Anna Goral off the ballot as a challenger to Michael Madigan’s candidate fro the 21st District of the Illinois House of Representative, Michael J. Zalewski, the Chicago Board of Elections’ issued a decision that as a precedent will change the process of defending petition challenges making it more administratively cumbersome and costly for the Board itself. (Michael J. Zalewski should not be confused with Michael R. Zalewski, third term Chicago alderman from the 23rd ward.)
Going forward a challenged candidate would be wise to subpoena all petition signers whose signatures are questioned (a burdensome task for the entire election system) instead of relying on obtaining sworn affidavits.
I was astounded at Anna's Rule 8 hearing last week.
The hearing officer’s process assumed that the affidavits brought in to rehabilitate invalidated signatures were phony. (Which assumes the affidavit signers were all perjurers.) So the signature on each of the affidavits were studied and judged NOT BY AN EXPERT HANDWRITING ANALYST but by the hearing officer and the attorney for the challenger.
This system needs overhauling so badly. It’s the soft side of corruption in Illinois, a system designed by and for those in control. Before the year is through and another cycle of elections begins I promise to provide some useful insight on getting on and staying on the ballot.