Category: Urban

Women’s March participant wins Urbana, Illinois mayoral primary

On January 21 of this year, millions of women in the United States and around the world participated in a series of Women’s Marches in protest of the horrendous policies of President Donald Trump.

Last night, the Women’s March scored its first major electoral victory in a Democratic primary for Mayor of Urbana, Illinois:

An eight-year Urbana city councilwoman who campaigned on the promise of improving economic development in Urbana is one step closer to becoming mayor.

Diane Marlin took the Democratic mayoral nomination by a landslide in Tuesday’s primary — piling up 2,427 votes to 12-year incumbent Laurel Prussing’s 1,510 and Evelyn Underwood’s 316.

Next up: An April 4 date with Republican Rex Bradfield in the consolidated general election.

Diane Marlin was a participant in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois Women’s March, and now she has defeated a longtime incumbent mayor of one of Illinois’s most progressive cities. I live in another municipality in Illinois, but I wish Diane well in the general election in her city!

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Trump hints at declaring martial law in Illinois’s largest city, even though seven cities have higher murder rates

A few hours ago, President Donald Trump took to Twitter and hinted at possibly declaring martial law in Chicago over the city’s high murder rate:

I really don’t know of any presidential powers at Trump’s disposal that could be used in regards to a city having a high murder rate outside of two presidential powers: one would be to declare a state of emergency in Chicago, and the other would be declaring martial law in Chicago. Unlike a state National Guard or a state militia, the President cannot take over a city police force.

States United, part of the Mike Bloomberg-aligned pro-gun control political network that has been known to support far-right Republicans, has a couple of infographics about the actual state of the Chicago murder crisis:

As you can see, guns originally purchased in states like Indiana, and, to a lesser extent, Wisconsin and Mississippi, all three of which have weaker gun safety laws than Illinois does, have played a large role in Chicago’s murder crisis, and seven U.S. cities (St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, Newark, and Memphis) all have higher murder rates than Chicago does. Despite the facts, Trump and his Republican allies haven’t hinted at martial law in cities with a higher murder rate than that of Chicago, and Trump and his Republican allies want to make it easier, not harder, for people to take guns across state lines.

While murder is a serious problem in this country, declaring martial law is going to do absolutely nothing to solve the murder crisis of Chicago or any other city.

The proposed Danville, Illinois beltline would be a road to nowhere

danville-beltline
Approximate map of proposed Danville, Illinois Beltline (proposed route is in red and hand-written on a Google Maps printout)

One potential road-building proposal that could receive federal funding from any kind of federal infrastructure bill that could be passed with either Republican or bipartisan support in the Donald Trump era of American politics is an eastern one-quarter beltline highway around the city of Danville, Illinois, which has been proposed for many years:

The originally studied beltline was for a highway to bypass the city on the east side to connect Interstate 74 with Illinois Route 1 north of Danville.

The proposed beltline route, to run parallel to Bowman Avenue but farther east, ran from West Newell Road, hooking south on Bowman Avenue, going east on Poland Road and then turning south through farm fields, east of the railroad tracks east of the airport, stretching south between Daisy Lane and Brewer Road and hooking up with Interstate 74 and Perrysville Road.

The Federal Highway Administration approved construction of a new Interstate 74 interchange between the Bowman and Lynch Road exits years ago.

Some residents have voiced concerns in the past about the beltline’s need and the potential to hurt existing businesses, the impacts on their properties and increased noise and traffic.

It’s possible that U.S. Route 136 (US-136) and/or Illinois Route 1 (IL-1) could be realigned from their current routing in Danville to the new beltline, or, more likely, to a more feasible reconstruction of Bowman Avenue that would involve the construction of overpasses over railroads along the route. If IL-1 is rerouted to Bowman Avenue, it’s not clear how such an alignment of IL-1 would connect to the current IL-1 alignments leading to places like Rossville and Hoopeston to the north and Westville and Georgetown to the south. Another, even less likely, possibility is that part of the proposed beltline connecting to, and north of, Interstate 74 would be built to Interstate Highway standards and become part of an eastern extension of Interstate 72 running from its intersection with Interstate 57 in Champaign, Illinois to Toledo, Ohio via Lafayette, Indiana and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Danville doesn’t really have a high enough population nowadays to support another suburban-type development like what already exists along North Vermilion Street in the northern part of the city or along Lynch Road near the Indiana border. As a result, I don’t think there would be a ton of traffic along the proposed Danville beltline, meaning there probably will not be a lot of economic development opportunity. The proposed Danville beltline could end up being a road to nowhere.

I hope that any new federal infrastructure legislation goes primarily towards rebuilding existing bridges that are crumbling and/or obsolete, not gaudy new highway developments or, even worse, private infrastructure like oil pipelines.

Email shows that Green Bay (WI) city clerk denied easier access to early voting to college students because they vote for Democrats

A recently-released email shows that Kris Teske (who is female), the city clerk of Green Bay, Wisconsin who was appointed to the office by Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, had blatantly partisan motives in denying easier access to early voting to students at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay:

Green Bay’s city clerk asked state officials if she could rebuff a request to put an early voting site on the UW-Green Bay campus because, in her words, “students lean more toward the democrats,” a newly released email shows.

The email, first reported Tuesday by The Nation Magazine, was from Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske, an appointee of the city’s mayor, Jim Schmitt.

Schmitt describes himself as nonpartisan. He was considered for a post in Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Cabinet, and records show he contributed to the campaigns of Republican lawmakers.

Note that “Democrats” was misspelled by Teske; the first letter is capitalized, since the name of a specific political party is capitalized due to being a proper noun.

For voters in Green Bay, only one early voting (in Wisconsin, the term “in-person absentee voting” is used to officially describe early voting) site is available for the entire city at Green Bay City Hall. Google Maps estimates that the drive time from the UWGB campus to City Hall is 12 minutes, and the quickest route involves the use of an Interstate highway, meaning that the early voting site is not easily accessible by those without a motor vehicle. Google Maps estimates that, via a route that one can legally walk or ride a bicycle on, it would take 28 minutes to ride a bicycle from UWGB to City Hall or 1 hour and 46 minutes to walk from UWGB to City Hall.

It’s clear to me that Green Bay, Wisconsin city officials want to make it harder for college students to vote because the Republican economic policies of Donald Trump, Ron Johnson, Mike Gallagher, and their right-wing cohorts are absolutely awful for them.

In 2011 email, Bruce Rauner made false, racist claim about Chicago public school teachers

In a 2011 email to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other people seeking to dismantle the Chicago public school system, Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner claimed that half of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers are “virtually illiterate”.

Not only is that an absurdly false claim about public K-12 teachers in our state’s largest city, it’s also a flagrantly racist one.

According to the CPS website, 50.3% of CPS teachers are white, and the race/ethnicity of 1.7% of CPS teachers is unknown. That means that 48% of CPS teachers are of a known ethnic minority. I’m very convinced that Rauner was referring to non-white CPS teachers as “virtually illiterate”.

The latest email release from Rahm’s administration in Chicago has proven that Rauner is a total racist who thinks that minority teachers are illiterate, and that the Rahm-Rauner agenda to destroy public education in Illinois is motivated by racism. The truth of the matter is that public school teachers in Illinois, whether it be in Chicago or another part of our great state, are intelligent, functionally literate, and do a great job of educating our state’s children.

BREAKING NEWS: Police officers shot at Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a breaking news event. Information may change rapidly.


Multiple members of the Dallas Police Department (Dallas PD) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police forces, as well as a 37-year old woman by the name of Shetamia Taylor, were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas. Five of the officers who were shot have been killed, and two snipers, whose identities are not known at this time, are believed to be the perpetrators of the attack:

Violence against law enforcement, or, for that matter, any person, is NEVER acceptable. While there is a ton of institutional racism in this country, and it’s true that law enforcement officers have killed black people in situations in which they would not kill a white person (think of the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, LaQuan McDonald, Tony Robinson, Eric Gardner, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castle at the hands of law enforcement), committing acts of violence does not do a damn bit of good to advance the Black Lives Matter cause. The Black Lives Matter cause is a cause that I strongly support, but I absolutely oppose all forms of violence. If you’re going around shooting police officers, you’re just as evil of a person as the police officers who killed people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castle.

While a motive for the shooting of the Dallas police officers is not known at this time, I strongly suspect that someone had every intention of disrupting what, up until the shooting, had been a peaceful protest, in an attempt to make the protesters that did not engage in violence of any form look bad.

Madison, Wisconsin replaces every single lead pipe in the city

Madison, Wisconsin, the second-largest city in Wisconsin, did something incredible with their water supply. They replaced every single lead pipe in the city’s water system in response to the lead concentration in the water supply being one part per billion over the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit for lead concentration in the water:

Long before Flint, Mich., faced a water-contamination crisis, this city dealt with one of its own. The local utility had sampled residents’ tap water in accordance with the federal government’s new Lead and Copper Rule and discovered unacceptable levels of lead.

But Madison’s response was like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. It was so aggressive that only one other major municipality in the United States has followed its approach so far. It’s also why some people now call Madison the anti-Flint, a place where water problems linked to the toxic substance simply couldn’t happen today.

Madison residents and businesses dug out and replaced their lead pipes — 8,000 of them. All because lead in their water had been measured at 16 parts per billion — one part per billion over the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard.

Although the federal government defines lead contamination of water as the lead concentration level in water being over 15 parts per billion, no level of lead in water is safe. Madison has proved yet again why it’s America’s most forward-thinking city.

Chicago teachers go on one-day strike against Rahm-Rauner austerity

K-12 school teachers represented by the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) have gone on a one-day strike to protest budget cuts by Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the Rahm Emanuel-appointed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) board (tweet from March 23, strike took place today):

Republicans like Bruce Rauner and his allies, as well as neoliberal corporate Democrats like Rahm Emanuel and his allies, have teamed up in an effort to destroy public education in Chicago, as well as the rest of Illinois. This is despite the fact that investing in public education, not charter schools, school vouchers, or other forms of education privatization, is one of the best investments that politicians can use the people’s taxpayer money for. The more money that government invests in public education at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels, the more likely students are able to go on to work in good-paying jobs, thus stimulating the economy when those who have good-paying jobs spend their hard-earned money on goods and services.

I stand with striking Chicago teachers!

Meet the Democrats who took Donald Trump’s money

I absolutely hate Ted Cruz’s guts. As a candidate for president, he has openly supported religious discrimination and does not believe in separation of church and state, for starters. He’s also what I consider to be the least electable Republican presidential candidate, except for maybe Jeb Bush or Ben Carson.

However, I will say one thing favorably about Ted Cruz, and that is the fact that his campaign is going after Donald Trump for propping up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party with his checkbook for many years. Granted, Cruz’s people aren’t all that great at spelling and grammar, but here’s the individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party in some way, shape, and form:

  • Jimmy Carter – $1,000 – Carter was the 39th President of the United States, elected in 1976, lost re-election in 1980. Carter has not sought public office of any kind since losing the presidency. Carter has actually built a progressive reputation since leaving the White House, although he did deregulate the airline industry and gave out a huge capital gains tax cut to the wealthy as President.
  • Max Baucus – $2,000 – Baucus was appointed to the U.S. Senate after originally being elected to it in 1978 and represented Montana in the Senate until 2014, when he resigned to take a political appointment from President Barack Obama in order to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was notorious for being a virulent opponent of single-payer health care during his time in the Senate.
  • Shelley Berkley – $1,000 – Berkley served seven terms in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2013. Berkley represented the Las Vegas area of Nevada, where Trump has substantial business interests, in the House.
  • Joe Biden – $1,000 – Biden, who is from Delaware and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for decades, is currently Vice President of the United States. Vice President Biden ran for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, losing both times; in fact, his first presidential campaign was derailed after he was caught plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
  • Erskine Bowles – $1,000 – Bowles, who is from North Carolina, served in multiple positions in the Bill Clinton Administration, and he also ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina twice, losing both times. Bowles was one of the architects of the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan that included, among other things, cutting Social Security benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton – $9,500 – Hillary was a First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York, and a U.S. Secretary of State. New York is Trump’s home state and a state where Trump has significant business interests. Hillary is currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running against single-payer health care and reinstating Glass-Steagall financial regulations that kept commercial and investment banks separate. As Secretary of State, Hillary helped develop the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade giveaway that would allow Vietnam, a country where the average worker is paid far less than the average worker here in the U.S., to effectively dictate U.S. domestic policy by allowing investors to sue in special courts. Hillary also ran a presidential campaign in 2008, losing the Democratic nomination to now-President Obama after, among other things, she pandered to white racists throughout her campaign.
  • Tom Daschle – $4,000 – Daschle, who is from South Dakota, is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and he was Senate Minority Leader when he was defeated in the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota. Daschle was a lobbyist for the health care industry after leaving elected office, and he wrote a book opposing single-payer health care.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – $116,000 – The DSCC is an entity established by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for Senate seats.
  • Chris Dodd – $3,000 – Dodd is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd ran for president in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and he’s now a lobbyist for the movie industry.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC) – $15,000 – The DNC is the main national organization of the Democratic Party, currently chaired by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC has openly tried to sabotage the Sanders presidential campaign, most notably by briefly cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter file in violation of the contract between the Sanders campaign and the DNC vendor responsible for maintaining the DNC’s voter file.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $46,050 – The DCCC is an entity established by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for House seats. The DCCC ran web ads promoting President Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security benefits in 2013.
  • Dick Durbin – $1,500 – Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, representing Illinois. Illinois is a state where Trump has significant business interests.
  • Fritz Hollings – $3,000 – Hollings was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina for nearly four decades. Hollings had a history of making racist and anti-Semitic comments as a Senator. Hollings voted against the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Ted Kennedy – $7,000 – Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for over four and a half decades before dying in office in 2009. Kennedy ran against then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primaries and caucuses, losing the nomination to Carter. Kennedy supported the 2007 George W. Bush-backed immigration reform plan that would have established slavery-like guest worker programs, and he also supported the 2001 No Child Left Behind law that destroyed public education in America.
  • Patrick Kennedy – $2,500 – Kennedy, who is a son of Ted Kennedy, represented parts of Rhode Island in the U.S. House for nearly two decades. Kennedy is also a former DCCC chairman.
  • Harry Reid – $8,400 – Reid is currently U.S. Senate Minority Leader, representing Nevada in the Senate. Reid has publicly praised Trump in recent months, and he has called for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which protects abortion and reproductive rights, to be overturned.
  • Rahm Emanuel – $50,000 – Emanuel is currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and, before that, he was a U.S. Representative and a DCCC chairman. Prior to his first mayoral bid, he was President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. Rahm played a role in the cover-up of the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald, and he’s strongly supported privatizing city government services in Chicago.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand – $4,800 – Gillibrand currently represents New York in the U.S. Senate.
  • Terry McAuliffe – $25,000 – McAuliffe is currently the Governor of Virginia. Prior to that, he was the DNC chairman the last time that the Democratic presidential nominee lost a general election for president.
  • Elliot Spitzer – $21,000 – Spitzer was Governor of New York for a little more than a year from 2007 to 2008 before resigning from office after his involvement in prostitution became public knowledge. Spitzer ran for New York City Comptroller in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary.
  • Andrew Cuomo – $84,000 – Cuomo is the current Governor of New York. Cuomo is very right-wing on economic issues, including openly railing against public employee unions and supporting tax breaks for businesses. Cuomo disbanded a special commission that he established to root out corruption in New York State politics after the commission was actually doing its job.
  • David Dinkins – $7,750 – Dinkins was Mayor of New York City, New York for four years in the early 1990’s. Dinkins lost re-election in 1993 to Republican police brutality apologist Rudy Guiliani.
  • Chuck Schumer – $7,900 – Schumer is currently the senior U.S. Senator from New York. Schumer has publicly opposed the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that is designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
  • New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) – $116,000 – The NYSDC is the official state-level Democratic Party organization for New York State. In it’s current form, the NYSDC has acted as an arm’s length organization of corrupt New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Anthony Weiner – $4,450 – Weiner has also gone under the alias Carlos Danger. Weiner was U.S. Representative from New York City for over a decade until he was forced to resign after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to a female follower of Weiner’s Twitter page. Weiner ran in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, losing the Democratic primary after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a different woman.
  • John Kerry – $5,500 – Kerry is the current U.S. Secretary of State. Prior to being appointed by President Obama to the Secretary of State’s post, Kerry served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for nearly three decades, and, before that, Kerry was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts for nearly two years. Kerry also ran for President in 2004, losing to Republican incumbent George W. Bush. To this day, Kerry is the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose a general election for president.
  • Joe Lieberman – $4,000 – Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006, when he ran under Connecticut for Lieberman political party banner after losing the Democratic primary in his re-election bid, and Lieberman went on to win the general election that year. Lieberman also was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee on the unsuccessful Al Gore/Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, and Lieberman himself ran for president in 2004, losing the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has publicly supported Republicans, including speaking at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice-president, a ticket that went on to lose in a landslide to the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket.
  • Carolyn Maloney – $4,000 – Maloney has represented parts of New York City in the U.S. House since 1993.
  • Bill Nelson – $2,000 – Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2001. Nelson was the only Democratic Senator to vote against defunding the torture programs that were run by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in committee in 2007.

Donald Trump has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party for decades. Now, he’s running for the Republican nomination on a platform of bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white racist, enacting Nazi Gemrany-like measures against Muslims, and giving tax breaks to rich people like himself. I encourage people to vote and caucus for Bernie Sanders, if their state has not already held a Democratic presidential nomination contest, in order to send a loud and clear message to corporate Democrats that we’re sick and tired of Donald Trump’s Democrats running the party into the ground.

Rick Synder administration provided clean water to state employees long before they did to Flint residents

Michigan state government officials based in state government offices in Flint, Michigan knew about and complained about the lead contamination in the Flint water supply in January 2015, and the state government sent bottled water to the state government offices over a year before Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) activated the Michigan National Guard to provide bottled water to Flint residents:

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget decided to haul water coolers into the Flint state building in January of 2015 out of concern over the city’s water quality, a year before bottled water was being made available to residents, according to documents obtained by Progress Michigan.

…concerns raised over water quality were enough for officials in the state’s capitol of Lansing to decide to give state employees the option to drink bottled water from coolers, rather than from water fountains. Coolers were placed next to the fountains on each occupied floor, according to the documents, and were to be provided “as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.”

You can view the proof here. The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (MI DTMB) issued the notice that water coolers were going to be distributed to the state government building in Flint on January 7, 2015. Synder activated the Michigan National Guard to distribute bottled water to Flint residents on January 13, 2016.

The Flint Water Crisis is something that one would expect in a third-world country, not right here in America. People in Flint are being sickened by contaminated tap water, and that, as well as the months and months of inaction from Rick Synder, is highly unacceptable.