Mike Frerichs ramps up his campaign for Illinois Treasurer

Mike Frerichs, who represents me in the Illinois Senate and is the Democratic nominee in this year’s treasurer’s race, is now beginning to ramp up his campaign for treasurer.

Frerichs recently rolled out his proposed “Eco-Ag Invest” program, which emphasizes use of linked deposits to incentivize energy efficiency on our state’s farms. Under the Frerichs plan, farmers would be able to receive low-interest loans through commercial banks that participate in the program for the following:

  • Solar-pump irrigation systems
  • General solar photovoltaic installation
  • Geothermal warming or cooling systems
  • Small-scale wind farming
  • Anaerobic digesters
  • Sustainable weatherization
  • EnergyStar upgrades

Although I don’t live on a farm, so, therefore, I wouldn’t be eligible for this proposed program, it’s quite rare these days for statewide candidates here in Illinois to actively court rural voters, so it’s nice to see that Mike Frerichs is courting rural voters in his campaign for treasurer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won quite a few counties in the central and southern parts of the state, to be honest with you.

My Letter to The News-Gazette Editor in support of marijuana legalization

After The News-Gazette, a Champaign-based newspaper that covers the east central part of Illinois, issued an editorial criticizing the medical marijuana legalization bill that was passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn, I wrote a Letter to the Editor in support of marijuana legalization in Illinois and other states.


Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a News-Gazette editorial, dated August 19, 2014 and titled “Marijuana in our midst”, in which your editorial board railed against a state law here in Illinois legalizing the sale of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois.

I strongly disagree with the editorial, and I strongly support legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.

I find the editorial’s opposition to medical marijuana cold-hearted. For people who have epilepsy or other medical conditions that can be treated with marijuana, to deny those patients an option to treat their medical condition is as absurd as refusing to give antacid or Pepto-Bismol to someone with heartburn.

The editorial claimed that medical marijuana in Illinois would lead to virtually anyone getting marijuana prescriptions. My solution to that problem is to legalize, tax, and regulate the production and sale of marijuana for recreational use, in a similar manner to how tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are currently taxed and regulated. In Colorado, one of two states to legalize recreational marijuana, the homicide rate in Denver has gone down, and the number of Colorado high school students using marijuana has gone down as well. Legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois would provide the state with much-needed tax revenue to pay off the state’s unpaid bills and fix some of our state’s societal problems.

As Melissa Sargent, a Democratic Wisconsin State Representative, once said, “the most dangerous thing about marijuana is that it’s illegal”. She’s right.

Aaron Camp                                                                                                     Westville


Should The News-Gazette not publish my letter, I’ve published it here on my own blog so that everyone with internet access can see it.

Mike Ditka would have embarrassed Illinois to no end had he run for U.S. Senate and won

In 2004, Mike Ditka considered running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat here in Illinois that was held by retiring Republican Peter Fitzgerald at the time. Ditka declined to run, and Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who later went on to be elected President twice, defeated Republican candidate Alan Keyes.

Had Ditka run and won the 2004 U.S. Senate race and then ran for re-election in 2010 and won, judging by his recent remarks over the Washington NFL team nickname controversy, he would have embarrassed this state to no end. Ditka recently claimed that the Redskins name isn’t offensive to Native Americans and called the debate over the Washington NFL team’s name “so stupid it’s appalling”:

What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? It’s so much (expletive) it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope (Redskins Owner Dan Snyder) keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.

Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.

For full disclosure, my favorite NFL team is the New England Patriots, and my second-favorite team is the Green Bay Packers.

There’s nothing stupid, appalling, or asinine about wanting to get rid of a racist football team nickname and replace it with something far less offensive. Referring to Native Americans as “redskins” is just as racist as using a six-letter word that begins with the letter “n” to refer to a black person is. Several years ago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) got rid of its Chief Illiniwek mascot, and, although my parents don’t agree with me on this, I thought that was the greatest thing that happened in this state’s history. Racism has no place in sports, and racist team nicknames and mascots need to be eliminated. Also, the Washington NFL team was founded in 1932 and played its first five seasons in Boston (in fact, they used a different nickname the first year they were in operation) before moving to Washington in 1937, so the Washington NFL team hasn’t been around since the beginning of football (the game dates back to the mid-to-late 19th century) or, for that matter, the beginning of the NFL (which was founded in 1920).

Also, if you want my thoughts about what the Washington NFL team should change their nickname to, “Proudskins” sounds downright awkward to me. “Burgundy”, “Pride”, “Pigskins”, and “Senators” would be my suggestions for replacement nicknames for the NFL team in our nation’s capital. Burgundy is the Washington NFL team’s primary color, Pride refers to national pride in the United States (Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital), Pigskins refers to the pigskin, a common colloquial name for the ball that is used in NFL and other football games (although footballs are actually made out of steer hides), and “Senators” refers to members of the U.S. Senate, which conducts its business in Washington (Washington has previously had two professional baseball teams nicknamed the “Senators”, both of which moved to other cities and adopted different nicknames).

Had Mike Ditka said what he told Mike Richman, who runs a website about the history of the Washington NFL team, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, he would have embarrassed Illinois to no end.

Bruce Rauner using name of small business to send out campaign robocalls

Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee in this year’s gubernatorial race here in Illinois, is using the phone number of Maize Mexican Grill, a Mexican restaurant in Champaign, to send out pro-Rauner robocall messages:

People around Central Illinois say they’ve been getting messages from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. But that’s not who the display says is calling. Instead it says “Maize Mexican Grill.” That’s a restaurant in Champaign. But owner Armando Sandoval says he has no idea how this happened.

Sandoval says he just heard it was happening this week. People would get a phone call, see his restaurant’s name on the caller ID and then hear a message from Citizens for Bruce Rauner. The number wasn’t his, so he looked it up online. Sandoval found out other people have been getting the same message and thinking it was him on the other line.

Maize Mexican Grill is not affiliated with any gubernatorial candidate in this year’s election.

While Rauner’s campaign is claiming that this is some sort of “mistake”, this appears to me to be a dirty campaign trick by the Rauner campaign. They’re using the name of a business that is not affiliated with any gubernatorial candidate to trick people into thinking that they’re receiving a call from that particular business, when in fact, they’re receiving a political robocall from the Rauner campaign.

Just like Richard Nixon and other Republicans over the years, Bruce Rauner is using dirty tricks. Also, it’s nice to see WCIA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Champaign whose political news reporting usually has a right-wing bias to it, do some actual journalism for once.

Wisconsin columnist Ruth Conniff insinuates that Downstate Illinois residents are politically ignorant

Ruth Conniff, the editor of The Progressive magazine, wrote this piece about Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for Governor of Illinois who wants to implement the same far-right agenda that Scott Walker has implemented in Conniff’s home state of Wisconsin here in Illinois.

While most of the piece was very good and attacked Rauner for stashing at least part of his personal wealth in the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes, at the beginning of the article, Conniff insinuated that Illinoisans outside of the Chicago television market are politically ignorant.

To insinuate that people in Downstate Illinois are politically ignorant is flatly absurd.

Yes, there are plenty of Bruce Rauner supporters downstate, but there are also plenty of downstaters who, like me, know how horrible of a governor Bruce Rauner would be for Illinois and would do whatever it took to vote against him come November 4.

We know that Rauner wants privatize public education in this state, forcing rural school districts to consolidate and costing our state’s rural communities jobs. We know that Rauner wants to enact a ton of new sales taxes to put more of the tax burden on poor, working-class, and middle-class Illinoisans while Rauner, who is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and has nine homes, uses every trick in the book to lower his own tax bill. We know that Rauner wants to shut down our state’s government so that he can drastically cut the pensions of teachers and other public employees in this state. We know that Rauner wanted to lower our state’s minimum wage, which would result in working-poor Illinoisans having less money in their pockets to spend on goods and services, before Rauner flip-flopped on that issue. We know that Rauner is more interested in buying the gubernatorial election here in Illinois so that he can serve big-money special interests and ignore the interests of ordinary Illinoisans. While there are many downstaters who believe the lies that Rauner says in his television ads, there are many downstaters who, like me, know how horrible of a governor Bruce Rauner would be. After all, he combines the worst elements of Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz.

I may feel politically lonely because I am a progressive Democrat who lives in a Republican-leaning area of a Democratic-leaning state where both major parties are rife with corruption, but Democrats and progressives in Downstate Illinois are certainly not ignorant when it comes to politics. In fact, I’d love it if Ruth Conniff were to show up at my house and ask me to take her on a tour of downstate Illinois.

CONFIRMED: Bruce Rauner is stashing money in the Cayman Islands

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has stashed at least part of his personal fortune in the Cayman Islands:

Multimillionaire Republican Bruce Rauner has channeled at least part of his fortune into the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean paradise long criticized as a tax haven for American investors, the Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed.

A Rauner spokesman insisted that the former private equity investor has met his legal tax obligations and properly disclosed to the federal government information regarding at least five investments by him or his firm in a country that has no income tax and a financial system cloaked in secrecy.

Rauner’s campaign has refused so far to release a full set of his most recent tax returns to corroborate that and perhaps show the extent and value of those investments in offshore companies. No one has suggested Rauner has done anything illegal. In fact, offshore investments among the wealthy have been a common practice in recent years.

[...]

Three of Rauner’s Cayman Islands investments are tied to his old firm: GTCR Golder Rauner II AIV Ironshore LP, GTCR Partners IX AIV Ironshore LP, and GTCR Partners X/A&C AIV LP.

Bruce Rauner is one unpatriotic guy. He’s stashing at least part of his massive personal wealth in the Cayman Islands as part of a scheme to dodge U.S. taxes. What is even worse about this is that Rauner wants to enact new regressive taxes on middle-class Illinoisans while he’s stashing his personal wealth in a notorious tax haven that has been used by other wealthy people, such as Mitt Romney.

Bruce Rauner has shown time and time again that he doesn’t care about working-class Illinoisans.

I’m Ready for Jan!

I’ll be flatly honest with you…I’d love nothing more than to see Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky run for the U.S. Senate seat in Illinois that is currently held by right-wing Republican Mark Kirk.

Jan is one of the most liberal Members of Congress to have been elected from our state, including being one of the few Illinois Democrats to publicly oppose Pat Quinn and Mike Madigan’s theft of public employee pensions in Illinois. Jan has been a forceful advocate for pro-middle class policies such as raising the minimum wage and protecting workers’ rights. Additionally, Jan has also supported women’s rights and LGBT rights. She’s our state’s version of Elizabeth Warren.

Forget about Michelle Obama, Lisa Madigan, Mike Frerichs, and everyone else who has been named as a possible opponent to Mark Kirk…I’m ready for Jan!

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