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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 87,922

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Latest attempt to cut state pensions is no guaranteed fix

Backers of the latest drive to slash Illinois public pension benefits may want to take note of the fate of a similar effort in San Diego, which won strong voter approval years ago but was nonetheless blocked in the courts and now will not go into effect.

The recent collapse of the 2012 San Diego pension fix is a cautionary tale for Illinois because the fatal flaw cited by California courts — with the U.S. Supreme Court declining to get involved — was the failure of city officials to negotiate with employee unions before putting the proposal to voters.

The growing call in Illinois, from the Civic Federation fiscal watchdog, conservative think tanks and newspaper editorial pages, is to ask voters next year to do away with strong protections for promised pension benefits contained in the state constitution adopted in 1970.

The idea seems simple enough. The 1970 charter has a pension clause that makes it all but impossible to reduce the mounting cost of retiree benefits. So, if those protections are undone, the reasoning goes, lawmakers will be freed to reduce pension costs now consuming close to 25 percent of the state’s general funds spending.

Read more: https://www.sj-r.com/news/20190626/latest-attempt-to-cut-state-pensions-is-no-guaranteed-fix
(Springfield State Journal Register)

Sunday is your last chance to buy gas before stations add 19-cent tax

Good vibes prevailed in Springfield as Gov. J.B. Prizker signed a $45 billion infrastructure bill last week, but not so much at the Shell station at York and Irving Park roads in Bensenville.

"I don't like it, we already pay enough in gas," said Rehma Bokhari of Des Plaines when asked about a 19-cent gas tax increase going into effect Monday. "I just filled up for $27 and it's going to last three days, probably. They're not fixing the roads; it's just getting worse and worse."

"I'm not happy about it, but I don't know if there's anything I can do," Naperville driver Kae Yoon said.

Lawmakers in June passed a capital bill that raises the state gas tax from 19 to 38 cents a gallon Monday, hikes license registration fees from $101 to $151 along with other new fees Jan. 1, and authorizes the collar counties to raise fuel taxes up to another 8 cents a gallon.

Read more: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20190629/sunday-is-your-last-chance-to-buy-gas-before-stations-add-19-cent-tax
(Arlington Heights Daily Herald)

Chicago cop's Obama N-word slur ends up going unpunished

“Oh, yeah, some n----- is coming to town.”

That’s what Sgt. Jack Axium, a white Chicago police officer, said. There’s no dispute about that.

Axium was amid a group of cops preparing for an Oct. 27, 2015, visit by President Barack Obama to see LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Bulls at the United Center.

The comment outraged another cop, who is biracial and who filed a complaint against Axium.

Axium quickly admitted making the incendiary statement, later saying it was “in the heat of the moment.”

Read more: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/6/28/18759928/jack-axium-n-word-barack-obama-chicago-police-department-racial-slur

Obama Foundation fundraising down in 2018, pay for top staffers went up

WASHINGTON — New financial documents released Friday reveal a sharp decrease in fundraising for the Obama Foundation in 2018 — and significant boosts in the salary packages of top staffers.

In 2018, contributions and in-kind gifts to the Chicago foundation totaled $164.8 million, according to the new annual report — a drop of $67.8 million from the record $232.6 million in 2017.

The 2017 rise was attributable to several factors: With former President Barack Obama freshly out of office, he was free to solicit jumbo contributions and harvest pent-up demand. And he lifted the $1 million cap that was in place while he was in the White House.

Last year, Obama, working on his presidential memoir, cut back the time he devoted to wooing contributors.

Read more: https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2019/6/28/19154213/barack-obama-foundation-fundraising-down-2018-higher-pay-top-staffers

Weed cafes in Illinois? People could be allowed to smoke marijuana (not tobacco) at bars, restaurant

Weed cafes in Illinois? People could be allowed to smoke marijuana (not tobacco) at bars, restaurants under new law.

Since 2008, it’s been illegal to smoke indoors at most public places in Illinois. But smoking could once again be allowed at bars, restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses, even new cannabis smoke lounges and weed-friendly movie theaters and concert venues — if local officials approve that.

That’s under a largely overlooked provision of the new Illinois law legalizing recreational marijuana use and sales.

The law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana beginning Jan. 1 provides an exemption to the Smoke-Free Illinois Act that banned smoking at workplaces and most public places because of the health threat of secondhand smoke. A similar exemption already was in place for cigar lounges.

That means smoking once again could become commonplace at public places in Illinois, according to the law’s chief sponsor — but only of marijuana, not tobacco, which remains largely banned at workplaces and businesses.

Read more: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/6/28/18761645/marijuana-legalization-illinois-cannabis-smoking-ban-smoke-free-exemption

Pritzker, Lightfoot silent on whether city's pension fund discussed at 'productive' meeting

Details were few and far between following a meeting Saturday between Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the heels of a report that she would ask the state to take over the city’s pension funds.

The meeting was “productive” and the two leaders discussed “shared challenges and opportunities” that covered “a wide range of issues,” according to similar statements provided by each office.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported Friday that Lightfoot would ask the governor to combine Chicago’s pension funds, which are currently underfunded by $28 billion, with those of municipalities across the state.

The report states Chicago would be open to foregoing revenue it currently receives from the state if the state took over pension responsibilities.

Read more: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/6/29/20123986/pritzker-lightfoot-silent-on-whether-citys-pension-fund-discussed-at-productive-meeting

Indiana's top court taking up excessive seizure case again

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Supreme Court is taking up again the appeal of a man whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized when police arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin.

Friday's state court hearing comes after the U.S. Supreme Court sided earlier this year with Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana, by ruling the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applies to the states.

Timbs pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year of house arrest. His biggest loss was the vehicle he bought with life insurance money he received after his father died.

A Grant County judge ruled taking the vehicle was disproportionate to the crime's severity. But Indiana's top court said the U.S. Supreme Court had never before ruled that states were covered by Eighth Amendment's ban on excessive fines.

Read more: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/state-and-regional/crime-and-courts/indiana-s-top-court-taking-up-excessive-seizure-case-again/article_1aea7740-8691-5ba0-9c1d-973636da9dc7.html
(Northwest Indiana Times)

Illinois governor signs $45 billion state construction bill

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law a plan that will pour $45 billion into state construction projects to build and upgrade roads, bridges, parks and schools — and will require drivers, smokers and gamblers to pick up the tab.

Pritzker called it the "most comprehensive reconstruction effort" in the state's history.

"Together we passed the largest, most robust capital plan in this state's history," said Pritzker, whose office says the plan will create 540,000 jobs. "We're investing $45 billion over 6 years to fix what's broken and repair what's needed."

Illinois' first statewide capital plan in 10 years will include spending on everything from an expansion of high-speed broadband internet to sewage system development. The bulk of the money — $33.2 billion — will be spent on transportation projects. An additional $4.3 billion will be spent on state facilities, $3.5 billion on education projects and $1.2 billion on environmental projects.

Read more: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois/illinois-governor-signs-billion-state-construction-bill/article_2c63c74c-0c48-5edd-aed4-c40aae901e8c.html
(Northwest Indiana Times)

Small Indiana town's student-run newspaper shutting down

GREENTOWN, Ind. (AP) — A small central Indiana town's monthly newspaper is shutting down six years after the local high school took it over and turned production over to students.

The Greentown Grapevine announced in its June edition that it was ending publication, citing rising costs and declining advertising revenue and readership for the newspaper in the 2,500-person Howard County town.

The Eastern Howard School Corp. decided to continue the newspaper in 2013 when the Greentown resident who started it in 1994 retired. Student journalists produced the newspaper with a community calendar, obituaries, sports coverage and stories ranging from local features to town council meetings.

Eastern High School Principal Brad Fugett tells the Kokomo Tribune that the newspaper had been running a deficit and its funding was about to hit zero.

Read more: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/state-and-regional/indiana/small-indiana-town-s-student-run-newspaper-shutting-down/article_a07f7082-f942-54a5-9093-40b9aa53dcde.html
(Northwest Indiana Times)

How national pundits rated Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Democratic debate performance

Turmoil and anguish in his hometown didn't keep South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg from delivering what some national pundits called a winning performance during Thursday night's Democratic debate.

The New York Times said while no one could top Sen. Kamala Harris of California — whose debate performance also received praise — Buttigieg also had a good night. A panelist for The Guardian said Buttigieg was one of three candidates who had the energy in the room, along with Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Here's what other pundits are saying:

USA Today

USA Today said while Buttigieg's campaign has struggled to manage the fatal police shooting of a black man that has shaken up South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg managed to turn that potential liability for his campaign into a moment.

Read more: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/06/28/winners-and-losers-of-debate-pete-buttigieg-kamala-harris-joe-biden/1592971001/
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