Monthly Archives: December 2013

Fairness in America, via America 3.0, co-authored by Oak Parker Michael J. Lotus

James C. Bennett and Oak Parker Michael J. Lotus on fairness in America, from their America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century?Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come:

State of the question:

Americans . . . expect others to work and earn what they get, and to be paid what they have earned. They think that the rewards of life should be granted to those who have earned them in an open, competitive process, while recognizing that there is a certain amount of luck involved.

Major problem:

Crony capitalism, where the winners routinely get picked based on political clout, is a system that contradicts and degrades all of these values, and seeing it in operation angers many Americans.


The “Chicago way,” where clout and connections determine all the important outcomes, has not been America’s way in most places, and we don’t want it to be.


When Americans perceive that the game is rigged, or that they have played by the rules but have not been treated fairly, they are angered by it and they want it corrected. The perception of a rigged game, and a lack of fairness, is a large part of what caused the rise of the American welfare state, as we will discuss later on, when we talk about America 2.0.

Cumulative effect:

The growing awareness that American life is indeed more and more a rigged game offends our [earlier argued] “inegalitarian” spirit. Success is seen, all too often correctly, as unfair and not based on adding anything of value.

How did this happen?

As we will discuss, much of the corruption of our current system is the perverse result of the regulatory state we have built. Started with good intentions, this machinery has grown ever more powerful, and has at the same time been captured by private interests to create monopolistic and anticompetitive sources of wealth.

What to do?

Any discussion of “more” or “less” regulation is meaningless. Instead, we need to get into the weeds and ask “which” regulation and “who” benefits from it and “what” its cost will be. Unfortunately, this is hard work and few people have the incentive to do it unless they have a large financial interest in shaping the rules of the game. The devil is in the details, and the details are hard to discover.

What to expect:

As a result, powerful and wealthy and well-connected people who did not earn what they have in a fair and open way will get little respect, no deference, and increasingly angry opposition from the American people – once the American people take notice of them.

I saw some of this angry opposition in the sustained outburst that greeted Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Camille Lilly  in September, in a Galewood church, for which see “Hot time in Galewood for Harmon and Lilly: A town hall meeting gets interesting.”


When ducks cry

Here’s an analysis — from Taki’s Magazine — to make one sit up and take notice:

When asked what he considered sinful, Robertson paraphrased a passage from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which is reprinted here from the New International Version:

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Clearly the Christian Bible preaches that “men who have sex with men” will not go to heaven.

That’s the gist of what made GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) mad. There’s more — in the January GQ article “What the Duck?” about Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty,” the most successful show in cable-television history — but not family-newspaper-friendly stuff.

Let it be noted that the article got 230,000 likes, 628 tweets, 591 google-plus recommendations, and 5,074 comments and that the Robertson family says the show (on A&E) won’t go on if Phil’s indefinite suspension from it does.

Powerful lobby at work here, however, and A&E may be willing to tell its biggest audience ever to take a hike — as we know.

Pays to advertise, they say, so . . .

. . . I splurged in this week’s Wed. Journal and sister newspapers.

It’s nicely done. Page 67 of the OP&RF Wed. Journal is where you find it.

Here is its deathless prose:

Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968
is about growing up Catholic in Oak Park,
entering the Jesuits at 18, leaving at 36,
and pre-Vatican II church life.
Available at the Book Table in Oak Park
and online at Amazon and

The back-cover copy in part:

Jim Bowman’s vivid account of his eighteen years in the
Society of Jesus during the 1950s and 1960s is also a picture of
the American Jesuits in transition.Readers who lament what
happened to the Jesuits will find Bowman’s memoir moving
and ultimately sad. In the end, he found his way as writer,
journalist, and family man; the Jesuits, God love them, remain
in transit to a destination yet unknown.

Russell Shaw, contributing editor, Our Sunday Visitor; author of 21 books, including The Gibbons Legacy: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of the Catholic Church in the United States, due out in the spring from Ignatius Press; former spokesman for U.S. bishops.
I couldn’t stop reading. Spent a whole afternoon and then some
racing thru it, putting aside another writing deadline. Loved
reading about some Chicagoans I have known and admired,
including Jack Egan and Frank Bonnike.

Robert Blair Kaiser, veteran newsman and ex-Jesuit who covered
Vatican Council II for Time Magazine; author of 15 books, including
A Church in Search of Itself: Benedict XVI and the Battle for the
Future (Knopf, 2006).

Is there hope for the Lake St. Dominick’s?


Independent grocery chains affiliated with the Centrella cooperative are in
negotiations to buy as many as 10 Dominick’s stores from Safeway, in
both the city and suburbs,sources tell Crain’s.

This came up big at the President Anan-Trustee Peter townhall the other night.

Fulmination at the library: Anan and Peter meet the people

About the Dec. 11 meeting at the library, where President Anan Abu-Taleb and Trustee Peter Barber took on comers.

Yes, it got heated regarding the District 97 building situation, and Anan got pointed in his rebuttal, but he was not flustered by the detailed objections. Neither was Barber, who recalled his days on the D97 board and how parents and others get quite energetic at times, in the faces of board members, etc. That’s a longstanding pattern. Heated commentary, finger-shaking, even once I recall, a board member being asked to step outside by a citizen, and not to grab a smoke and chat.

Anan apologized at one point. This was after the heated citizen pictured in the Wed. Journal story interrupted him from the back – he had been recognized and had the mike, Anan was adding to what he had said. Really, it was like old times, when men were men and women were women and you couldn’t tell one from the other when it came to putting up (verbal) dukes.

When the dust settled at the library, it was nonetheless another historic gathering. The village board did not use to leave its chamber to go toe to toe with voters, except at election time. It’s what Anan had in mind when he ran for office last spring – a first for him – and said he wanted more citizen involvement. As he said at the library a few days ago, to one of two energetic objectors, “I am more interested in making you engaged than you want to be engaged.”

He means that. Why else would he put himself up there in a free-for-all situation, for voters to let loose on him this way? Same for his sidekick at this meeting, Barber.

They had been told: “You guys are acting as if it’s a new thing,” that is, District 97 spending and (probably) village spending in general. “That’s why people are frustrated with you. You guys are good politicians, you avoided” the big issue.

Anan had been “disrespectful” with his “rant” to an ally of the speaker, he was told. The speaker hoped he’d be “more respectful” in Saturday morning’s joint village-District 97 meeting at Village Hall.

“There’s no proposal yet,” Anan said. “As I said in your house” – he had gone to the man’s house to talk about it – “District 97 is the largest employer in our community.” And then he added the part about “making you engaged.”

To which the man told him, “Stop saying there’s no plan. There is a plan, and you know it.”

So it went on that issue, which Anan explained as negotiation by the village with the school district over left-over TIF money, per a 1995 agreement that called for giving it back to the district in 2010. It’s better to negotiate than sue, “with your money,” he told the man to whom he was accused of being disrespectful.

This 1995 agreement does explain why these two taxing bodies are in conversation. TIF (tax increment financing) siphoned off revenue from the schools in order to finance business development, in this case on Madison Street. So the village owes the school district. If that 1995 agreement has been publicized, it hasn’t been publicized lately or at least not much.

Another explanation came as to how the new development plan will work. The developer goes to the yet to be named director of economic development and his commission, where the development proposal is hashed out. Then the development director calls the newly named village hall manager with details to be permitted. This person deals with the permitters and gets back to the development director with the go-ahead or stop-action.

Finally, something else to show the meeting was not one battle: Anan gave a quite upbeat report on village council activities, in which he announced (early in the meeting) an “end of turmoil” at the village board, to whose presidency he was elected as a political outsider less than a year ago. “Please be optimistic,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of changes already. We have probably the smartest board in a long time. We have developed relationships, can do a lot over the next three years.”

Friday night suspicion

From Rick Boultinghouse on eve of the District 97/Village of OP meeting:

Tossing this all around this evening on the eve of our next step I realized something that I had not realized before. EVERY potential option D97 is and has been exploring that they have publically discussed are on Madison Street. I do not think this is mere coincidence.

I think they are not exploring space anywhere else in the Village specifically because some back door agreement exists between D97 and VOP relative to the Madison Street TIF. D97 gets money from the other two TIFs as well, but this TIF is failing in its purpose and will likely sunset, per a discussion I had with Anan today.

I think it is worth asking why no options off Madison Street exist?

Mistrust abounds.

Learning about concealed-carry | Articles | News |

In Wed. Journal, a meeting on Oak Park Avenue.

Questioned at a Nov. 20 meeting in Oak Park about hunting with his son to get a deer, NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde responded in matter-of-fact manner, “Oh yeah, Bambi makes good sausage!”

This was a different kind of Oak Park meeting. An Oak Park woman, perhaps reporting for the League of Woman Voters, worried aloud about being booed but wasn’t. She asked a question “from the other side,” explaining that the law is not what she wanted, “but it’s the law.”

“It’s also a right,” said a man sitting near her — quietly, without booing.

more more more here . . .

Do white Americans need an education in slavery? As columnist John Hubbuch asserts?

This NOVEMBER 12 (!) column by Wed Jnl regular John Hubbuch had its most recent comment (of 190!) at 1:52 this morning — not counting mine, hours later, at 191.For which this sometime columnist and blogger wants to congratulate what may be the all-time winner in # of comments. CONGRATULATIONS, JOHN!

As for my comment, at 191, have a look. It’s a zinger.

Rep. Ford: Change Cicero Avenue to Mandela Road

South Oak Park’s Rep. La Shawn Ford wants to rename Cicero Avenue to Mandela Road. It would be “a small gesture from our partnering communities” — Western Springs, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Brookfield, Forest Park, Proviso Township, Riverside, North Riverside, Berwyn, Oak Park, and Austin, all of the 8th Illinois House District — to honor the late S. African leader, who has been “an inspiration to many,” Ford says in a petition.

Doing this “will send a message that Illinois stands for a strong road for justice,” he adds.

It would to many. But probably not to merchants who have to change their signs and letterheads. Not even, maybe, to the cash-strapped city of Chicago, which would have to change street signs etc. Not to mapmakers — wait: yes to mapmakers, who would gain much business from need for new maps. But not to the town of Cicero, for heaven’s sake. Egads, what’s next? Oak Park Avenue becomes Danny Davis Drive?

This is no honorarily renaming Jackson Boulevard east of Austin in honor of the late Rev. Shelvin Hall (who pastored a Lawndale church later moved to Austin) or Superior, State to Wabash, to the late Bishop Timothy Lyne.

At 120 blocks, Cicero lags only Western and five other streets among the city’s longest (and only by not counting Rooselt to 39th, where Cicero is not a Chicago street) — behind Western at 188 blocks, Halsted at 171.

So with due respect to Rep. Ford and others who want to honor the admirable Nelson Mandela, renaming Cicero would be no “small gesture” and probably not a good idea.

Let’s have a law!

God knows, we love a law. So let’s have one. Take bike helmets, please. Situation: kids ride bikes, kids fall off bikes. kids hit head on pavement, get concussion, die or worse. This is Oak Park. It can happen here, but it must not happen here, let’s forbid it. Pass a law. Is that simple enough for you?

Some say it won’t be enforced, this new law condemning parents to community service (watching bike racks in shifts, like outside the old Ridgeland Pool door, lest they be ripped off, for instance):

. . . the revised ordinance eliminates the fine and replaces it with possible community service for the parent if they cannot provide proof they [he or she, including single moms or dads already
working two or more jobs?]
have acquired a helmet for their kid.

So what? It won’t be enforced:

The chances of a youngster [as before revision mentioned above] getting a $25 ticket from a cop for not wearing a helmet are remote. The likelihood of a parent spending four hours doing community service because they didn’t see to it that their kid’s noggin was protected is also slight.

To this the Wed. Journal of Oak Park and River Forest poses the shocking question, why then the law?

Because it sets a fair expectation for parents and kids that the norm in Oak Park is for young people to wear a helmet. That allows public education campaigns to drive home the point. It allows police officers and other figures of authority to strongly remind kids that helmets are required. These steps have value. And raising the consciousness level of parents and kids to this communal expectation of public safety is worthwhile.

Heightened expectations, public education, police freedom to be lovable protectors of people they see in danger, raising parents’ consciousness levels from their abysmal depths, more heightened expectation — all that and probably much, much more.

If that doesn’t justify passing an unenforceable law, anyhow not to be enforced, certainly not equitably, what, I ask you, in the name of all that’s good and holy and civic-minded in the glorious Oak Park tradition, I pray you, WHAT DOES?