Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Best Wishes Congressman

Yesterday, 17th District Congressman Lane Evans (D-Rock Island) announced that he was retiring at the end of this term. Evans has been fighting Parkinson’s disease for some time. Sadly, the disease is winning. Having lived in Lane’s district for many years, I never once voted for him. His stances were not always compatible with mine.

I may disagree with his stances, but I have never once doubted his dedication to his district. When I think of Lane Evans, I think of the word dedication. Any person who has continued to work in a highly stressful job with a debilitating disease for as many years as Lane has is dedicated. People with lesser problems would have run for the hills the first chance they got. Lane Evans did not.

Despite what the media claims, Lane is not a “former Marine”. No one is ever a former Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine is the saying. As the ranking member of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, Lane busted his ass on behalf of veterans (I happen to be one) across the nation. The two times that I called his office for assistance; I was helped immediately. I even received phone calls back to make sure I got what I needed. He could have easily pulled a file, found out I was a Republican and ignore my phone call. He didn’t. That is one of many examples of his dedication to his constituents, regardless of political affiliation.

Congressman Evans is one of those few Members of Congress who give the institution a positive image. We will have time in the future to fight over who should go to Congress in his place. That time isn’t now. It is time to thank Lane for his dedication. Thank you Lane for all of your service!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Primary Election Coverage

I normally post on here at work, but thought better of it for this posting. I'm going to talk about the primary election and be completely partisan.

First off, Blago is in a world of shit. 30% of Democratic voters voted against him Tuesday. That's not counting all the Democrats (and there are a lot of them) that pulled a GOP ballot to vote for JBT (and against Crazy Milkman). Don't know how he's doing amongst the independents in Illinois, but I dare say that there aren't many of them who like the dumb bastard. Couple that to the inevitable indictment(s) coming his way and Rod will be looking for new place to live. Well, scratch that. He never really moved in the first place.

We all knew that JBT would win. The question was who would come in second. Crazy Milkman somehow pulled 2nd place out of his ass. I had hoped Brady would come in 2nd. Is CM bored running his milk empire? I'm pretty egotistical, but never in my wildest dreams would I decide to run for Governor (or US Senate) without any political experience. What is this guy on? Maybe after losing (yet again) this time, he'll realize that Illinois hates him and he'll go away. Aren't all the milk cows in Wisconsin anyway?

I voted for JBT and Birkett and am proud to admit that. The neo-cons are already saying that the race is between two liberals. IDIOTS! The race is between someone willing to make tough decisions and rub people the wrong way (JBT) and someone who is a brain-dead half-witted moron who will irk his father-in-law off but kowtow to his campaign contributors. Four more years of Blago will wipe this state out of money and drive your good jobs across state lines. Then you'll qualify for his free healthcare and $7 minimum wage flipping burgers at Steak and Shake.

Please do what's right for Illinois. In November, vote Judy and Joe.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

That Wasn't Fun

The Bombers lost on Friday night. They played well during the first quarter and kicked it in during the fourth quarter, but just quite put it away. The 14-point loss was not indicative of the game. I told people that I didn’t know any of the kids on the team, but I was wrong. I thought that Dustin Bainter sounded familiar. Sure enough, he and his family went to the same church that I attended during my early Macomb days. Mind you, he was a toddler at that time but it’s a connection nonetheless. No matter how many years you might be away from high school, you always root for your alma mater. Macomb was one of the elite eight and has no reason to be ashamed of a 29-2 season.

The West Wing returned on Sunday night. I was happy that it came back, but the episode sucked. I guess they’re holding off on the good stuff until the end of the season/series. During the show, Channel 17 broke in about a storm near New Berlin. As Law and Order: CI was starting, Channel 17 went to weather coverage because a tornado was coming through Springfield. The tornado completely destroyed parts of Springfield.

It was scary to watch Channel 20 (the Springfield station) show Springfield go completely dark. I thought about calling JP, but realized that he wouldn’t want to talk to me while trees and buildings were falling around him. I went to work yesterday and called him to check on him. We met up last night after work to survey the damage. After driving around town, JP and I went to the 30th floor of the Hilton to get a drink and talk. I call Kennealy and Walcher my little brothers, but I had never really had a chance to sit down alone with Walcher and talk to him. In the midst of complete devastation, one needs to hold his or her friends close.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

MIG 2006 Part 4

I woke up at 7:27 Sunday morning wondering why I was up so damned early. You can bet that I sleep about 12 hours or more each day this weekend. The bills we wanted to veto were sitting on the docket, so I went to Capitol to make sure they got through the General Assembly.

Sitting on the GOP side of the House, I started working on the veto messages while they were debating a bill. I stopped when I realized that they were debating McFarland’s OL. I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, so I grabbed a microphone and gave some off the cuff remark about property rights. The House was in overtime session and the bill failed to reach the 3/5-majority threshold for passage. I also spoke after one of the infamous Grandpa and Little Jimmy stories right before the veto session.

The veto session came and went. Did I mention that Speaker K kicks ass? Anyway, he does. After taking pictures in the House chamber, we headed over to the awards banquet. The awards didn’t interest me as much as the banquet because I was starving. I sat with Kovats, Shana, Ira, JP, Mau and Blake. They had pork loin but Ira couldn’t eat it. Go figure that at the end of the day, something would go wrong.

As we were eating, they handed out awards. Normally, they wait until the end but the weather was turning bad north of Peoria. I have no arguments with the awards this year. In my opinion (and my nomination form), Daley College rightfully won Best Small Delegation. This might come as a shock to some of my more close-minded readers, but the past is the past. Whatever happened back then will force some people from Daley to never like me, but I won’t lose sleep over it. Life is too short to do otherwise.

I received the George Perry Award for Outstanding Contribution to MIG. The award and the standing ovation honored me, but nothing could compare to what was next. When the Board approved the Lifetime Achievement Award, everyone knew that Joan Eastlund would be the first recipient. What few people know is that MIG would name the award after her. Past and present Board members were called to the front to present Joan with the now-named Joan Eastlund Lifetime Achievement Award.

Joan has been the faculty advisor from BlackHawk College for years and has put so many hours into the organization. More than anyone else in the organization, she is the heart and soul of MIG. No one is more deserving of this honor than she. As she accepted the award, she was crying. I was crying along with a lot of people in the room. That was the capstone to an extraordinary simulation.

After taking the requisite WIU delegation picture, we stumbled upstairs to hang out. O’Donnell, his girlfriend Jen, Shana, Blake, Galvin, Hughes, Deputy Dawg, Ira and I went to dinner at 7. No one was awake enough to eat and everything was funny. I went to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow at 10:15 and woke up 7:15 for work.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

MIG 2006 Part 3

BOMBERS ON THEIR WAY TO STATE! Macomb High beat Riverton High last night 44-29 in the WIU Supersectional to advance to the state tourney. I can’t gloat too much at work today because Riverton is the home to many state employees. We have 3 more games to go. Good Luck Bombers!

I went with the Speaker’s staff to the Capitol on Saturday morning. I left the Governor in the capable hands of Deputy Dawg. He didn’t have to do anything until the afternoon and I wanted to get over to the Capitol. It doesn’t matter how many times I step on the House or Senate floors, there is still a feeling of excitement. I doubt it would go away if I were elected to the General Assembly.

The morning went by quickly. I was in both chambers to listen to the debate. House debate was far better again this year. As a former Senate Majority Leader, that was disappointing to me. It’s not because McFarland didn’t bust his rump to make the Senate run well because that’s not the case. It was the Senate’s fault. With a few exceptions, it was lackluster. I tagged along with Speaker K, Kovats and Shana for lunch with the House leadership. Whatever the leadership talked about at lunch (I was at another table not paying attention) must have worked because things got more interesting in the afternoon.

By the afternoon, I was feeling the urge to play senator again. McFarland had an OL banning smoking in public buildings in the Senate and he was going to take the floor. I figured why not make this debate fun. I asked the Senate GOP Leader if I could take over the caucus for the bill. He agreed and I had ten minutes to prepare for the debate. I booted Senator Martin from EIU out of his seat (my seat the year I was Majority Leader) and sat down for a minute to get ready. Any delegate who played a legislator knows that it never goes away. Sitting in a chair gets the blood flowing. I was ready.

Everything was running smoothly. Hughes got thrown out of the Senate for acting stupid as planned. Kovats said some stupid stuff, upsetting the acting President as planned. The GOP senators attacked the bill. I had the infamous B-Unit and Vetter (Democrat senators) crossing over to speak against the bill. I had the bill defeated until closing arguments. McFarland explained that he wrote the bill because his father has lung cancer. If that wasn’t bad enough, he started to cry. Whatever momentum I had was gone.

I had to follow that. Regardless of what I said, I’d looked like a jackass if I went negative. I thank Mr. McFarland for his service in the military and let Martin talk about addiction. When I got the time back, I turned it back over to the Minority Leader (the bill was about to be voted on). It passed, but I had my fun. I didn’t know that the fun would continue.

Shana’s mother came down, so I took over as Clerk for a few minutes. The parties were caucusing, so there wasn’t anything to do. The Democrats came back when time expired, but the GOP was still in caucus. Speaker K rang the bell, no one showed up. Another bell. Still nothing. Speaker K had me read the bill and Patton called the question. Republicans came in confused as to why Speaker K was asking for the nays, but pushed their buttons out of habit. Dumb move! The 12 GOP nay votes showed that a quorum was present. The bill passed and the GOP staged a walkout to protest. Fun stuff!

After floor sessions, we went back to the Hilton too tired to move. We ordered Chinese and set out to the Candidates Forum and Governor’s Ball. I went to bed a little after 1 AM.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MIG 06 Part 2

I went to sleep at 9:30 last night and woke up at 7:30 this morning. This isn’t earth shattering except when you consider that I have to be up and out the door by 7:30 to make it to work on time. You guessed it. I was late this morning. This weekend was exhausting, but it was well worth it.

I left work an hour early Wednesday to ride out to Kinko’s with Kovats. Since I was the Governor’s COS, Kovats felt I should know about the MIG account and who talk to out there. I went, we sat around waiting for legal sized paper then went to the Hilton to pick up O’D. The three of us met Officer Oxley for dinner. After dinner, we went back to the “mansion” and waited for everyone to show up. Around 11ish, O’Donnell, Galvin, McFarland, Shana and I went to Shop and Save on North Grand Avenue. The spookiness of shopping in the ghetto is indescribable. A quick stop at the McDonalds next to the office later and we were back at the Hilton. I stayed up until 3AM.

I woke up at 8:30 on Thursday morning. Why? I don’t know. We didn’t have to do anything until noonish. Shana, Galvin and I went to Kinko’s to pick up the stuff Kovats had copied. I was talking, not paying attention backing out of the parking lot so I backed into a concrete parking lot pylon. The noise was awful, but there was no damage. After registration, Deputy Dawg Ken and I drove O’Donnell to Opening Ceremonies. Lt. Governor Quinn was the keynote speaker. I fell asleep during his speech only to awaken by Kovats kicking my feet. Speaker K was sworn in and we were off.

I had to play House COS on Friday because Kovats had to work (Friday was my day off, I took a vacation day Thursday). Speaker K really didn’t need me because he was kicking ass, so I took the afternoon off. I sat in some Moot Court sessions. I’m a legislature guy and the judiciary baffles me sometimes. I was very impressed with Moot Court. I went to the Senate committees then took over as chair of the House Judiciary Committee for a bill.

Friday evening floor sessions went off remarkably well. If Speaker K had any jitters going to the well, he didn’t show them. Charles Patton was the House Majority Leader and Tristyn Grounds was the Minority Leader. Patton won Outstanding House Member at the end of the weekend. He was districted to the Senate, but moved over when some of the Daley House members couldn’t come down. Good move. He did a bang up job all weekend. I got to bed around 1 PM Saturday morning with the longest day of MIG about to dawn.

Monday, March 06, 2006

MIG '06 Part 1

MIG 2006 is over! I care nothing for about the Monday morning quarterbacking, petty BS that people write about to make themselves feel important. The only thing I do care about is that the simulation went off very smoothly. There were a couple of problems, but nothing so serious to require the Board and faculty advisors to get involved.

My two little “brothers” kicked major ass this weekend. Sure, I’m biased. A lot of people agree with me though.

JP was elected Assistant House Minority Leader and did an incredible job. He had his “A” game on all the time. He was running around the floor, getting people to speak and making sure they were on book. I wish he had run for Minority Leader. Quite a few people said that JP did a great job.

Speaker K completely dominated the place. He didn’t put up with any crap. He ran that House like he had been born to be Speaker. Faculty advisors said that JVK took to the well like a fish to water. I knew he’d do a great job. He blew past my expectations. Running unopposed, he was going to be re-elected. The fact that he got more votes than anyone running in that election was the icing on a great weekend.

I said this a few times last year, but I am proud of both of them. Next year could see JP as Minority Leader going up against Speaker K. That will be a sight to behold.

More in the days to come.