Tag: vote

My endorsements for the 2016 general election

With a few Democrat vs. Democrat contests on the ballot in the states of California and Washington, as well as numerous referenda on the ballot at the state, federal district, and local levels in many states and the District of Columbia, I hereby announce a slate of endorsements in various elections and referenda that are on the ballot in the November 8, 2016 general election.

U.S. Senate in California – Kamala Harris

California has an unusual U.S. Senate election this year, in that, instead of a Democrat, a Republican, and one or more minor party and/or independent candidates on the ballot, there are two Democrats on the ballot and no other candidates on the ballot. I endorse Kamala Harris in the California U.S. Senate race. Harris will fight to reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons, end mass incarceration, ensure that women get equal pay for equal work, and protect California’s environment. Kamala’s opponent is Loretta Sanchez, who has a pattern of making offensive remarks that one would expect from someone like Donald Trump.

7th Congressional District of Washington – Pramila Jayapal

I endorsed Pramila Jayapal in the Seattle, Washington-based 7th Congressional District of Washington via Twitter a while back, so I’ll reiterate my endorsement of Pramilia here. Pramila is a Bernie Sanders-backed progressive who has fought for immigrant rights and common-sense ideas to strengthen America’s economy. Pramila’s opponent is a fellow Democrat, Brady Walkinshaw. Walkinshaw, who is heavily backed by the Democratic establishment, is a centrist Democrat who has openly attacked Pramilia for being a genuine progressive.

State of New Columbia Advisory Referendum – YES

You may be wondering what the State of New Columbia is, it’s not a current U.S. state, but it is a proposed U.S. state consisting of the current District of Columbia, which is our nation’s capital. While residents of our nation’s capital are patriotic U.S. citizens who pay federal taxes and vote on which presidential and vice-presidential ticket should receive the federal district’s three electoral votes, they don’t have any voting representation in Congress. The only remotely feasible way for the residents of our nation’s capital to get real representation in both houses of Congress would be for our nation’s capital to become a new state, since independence from the United States is completely illogical, retrocession of the federal district to Maryland is something that Maryland politicians won’t support, and the status quo is simply unacceptable. While a YES vote on the statehood referendum would not automatically make our nation’s capital the 51st state to join the Union because of the fact that the referendum is non-binding, it would send a powerful message to Congress, which has the power to make our nation’s capital a state, that the citizens of our nation’s capital want statehood.

California Proposition 61 – YES

A large number of propositions are on the California ballot, one of which is Proposition 61, which, contrary to right-wing attacks from Big Pharma, Republicans, and corporate Democrats, would lower drug prices for many Californians. Specifically, the measure would prohibit drug makers from charging those who have been prescribed medications more than what veterans who get their health care from the VA system pay for their prescriptions. I endorse a YES vote on California Proposition 61.

Maine Question 5 – YES

In Maine, it is not unheard of for statewide candidates to win election with only a plurality of the popular vote, owing to Maine being considerably less politically polarized than the country as a whole. Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, would allow voters to mark first, second, third, etc. preferences on their ballots, and, if one candidate has a majority of first preferences, he or she is the winner, but, if no candidate has a majority of first preferences, the second, third, etc. preferences of voters who voted for candidates that received few first preferences can be used to determine a majority winner. If Question 5 were to receive a majority of YES votes, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, state senate, and state house elections in Maine would use ranked-choice voting instead of the current plurality voting system. I endorse a YES vote on Maine Question 5.

Nebraska Referendum 426 – RETAIN

Unlike most referendums in the United States, in which voters are asked to vote YES or NO on a ballot measure of some kind, Nebraska’s Referendum 426 asks voters to choose between REPEAL and RETAIN, specifically, regarding a Nebraska state law that repealed the death penalty in Nebraska. I encourage Nebraskans to RETAIN the ban on the death penalty in the Nebraska state jurisdiction, and, thus, I endorse a RETAIN vote on Nebraska Referendum 426. If someone is wrongly convicted of a capital crime, sentenced to death, executed, and it is found out after the execution that the person was wrongly convicted, there is no legal recourse in that situation. If someone is wrongly convicted of a major crime, sentenced to life imprisonment, and then found out that the person was wrongly convicted, the person can have his/her conviction overturned and be released from prison. That’s just one reason why I oppose the death penalty.

42nd Legislative District of North Dakota (State House) – Kylie Oversen

Normally, when I endorse a Democratic candidate for public office, it’s in a contested Democratic primary or a Democratic primary that may be contested. I will make one exception to that rule every two years by endorsing a Democratic candidate that I believe is a truly special person for the general election. For 2016, I endorse Kylie Oversen in her re-election bid for her North Dakota House of Representative seat in the 42nd Legislative District of North Dakota. When it comes to reproductive rights, Kylie has gone above and beyond what is typically expected of a pro-choice elected official by helping women who wish to seek an abortion by serving as an abortion clinic escort:

(Oversen is the person on the right-hand side of the picture)

In addition to her support for women’s rights, Kylie has consistently supported progressive ideas and values on many political issues facing North Dakota.

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47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

Time for the Illinois General Assembly to put an end to Bruce Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward collective bargaining

At the end of June of this year, AFSCME Local Council 31’s contract with the State of Illinois expired, leaving workers represented by the largest public employee union in Illinois without a contract. Since then, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has only made nominal efforts at negotiating with AFSCME, refusing to concede much of anything to AFSCME and not acting serious at all about collective bargaining.

However, Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have an opportunity to end Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward the public employees in Illinois and collective bargaining, once and for all…they can override Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229 (SB1229), legislation that would authorize an arbitrator to decide the contract that would go to AFSCME Local Council 31-represented state employees to be voted on.

As it turns out, Democrats may have enough votes to override Rauner’s veto, especially in the state senate:

Senate President JOHN CULLERTON, D-Chicago, has already said the Senate will vote this week on an override. Presumably, the chamber could succeed. The Senate voted 38-17 to approve the bill. It would take 36 votes to override.

The House is a different story. The vote there was 67-25 in May. It takes 71 votes in the House to override.

But 17 House members, all but two of them Republicans, took a walk. They didn’t vote on the bill. That includes most of the Republicans from the Springfield area, who represent large numbers of state workers. They can always take another walk on an override, but in the meantime, they’ll probably get pressure from constituents to support an override — just as they’re likely to get pressure from Republican leadership to support their governor and vote against it.

Looks like the fight on whether or not to put an end to Rauner’s cavalier attitude toward the largest public employee union is in the state house. If you live in Illinois, this is a great opportunity to contact your state legislators and tell them to vote YES to override Rauner’s veto of SB1229. This bill does not violate the Illinois Constitution, nor does it undermine democracy. What it would do is put a mechanism in place to prevent strikes by, and lockouts of, public employees by allowing an arbitrator to decide on a contract if the governor and a public employee union can’t agree on one, in this case, due to the governor refusing to seriously negotiate with the largest public employee union in Illinois.

Wisconsin State Assembly votes to gives taxpayer money to millionaire NBA team owners

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly voted to give millions of dollars taxpayer money from ordinary Wisconsinites the owners of professional basketball’s Milwaukee Bucks in order for them to build a new arena by a 52-34 vote, with 5 members not voting at all, 4 members casting paired votes in favor, and 4 members casting paired votes in opposition.

Here’s the Wisconsin State Assembly members who voted for the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare giveaway:

  • Scott Allen (R)
  • Joan Ballweg (R)
  • Peter Barca (D Minority Leader)
  • Mandela Barnes (D)
  • Janel Brandtjen (R)
  • Robert Brooks (R)
  • Bob Gannon (R)
  • Evan Goyke (D)
  • Gordon Hintz (D)
  • Rob Hutton (R)
  • John Jagler (R)
  • Adam Jarchow (R)
  • La Tonya Johnson (D)
  • Andy Jorgensen (D)
  • Robb Kahl (D)
  • Terry Katsma (R)
  • Samantha Kerkman (R)
  • Frederick Kessler (D)
  • Joel Kleefisch (R)
  • Dan Knodl (R)
  • Dale Kooyenga (R)
  • Jesse Kremer (R)
  • Mike Kuglitsch (R)
  • Tom Larson (R)
  • Amy Loudenbeck (R)
  • Cory Mason (D)
  • Jeffrey Mursau (R)
  • John Murtha (R)
  • John Nygren (R)
  • Alvin Ott (R)
  • Jim Ott (R)
  • Kevin David Petersen (R)
  • Warren Petryk (R)
  • Jessie Rodriguez (R)
  • Dana Rohrkaste (R)
  • Joe Sanfelippo (R)
  • Michael Schraa (R)
  • Christine Sinicki (D)
  • Ed Skowronski (R)
  • John Spiros (R)
  • Mark Spreitzer (D)
  • Jim Steineke (R)
  • Lisa Subeck (D)
  • Rob Swearingen (R)
  • Paul Tittl (R)
  • Tyler Vorpagel (R)
  • Robin Vos (R Speaker)
  • Dana Wachs (D)
  • Leon Young (D)
  • JoCasta Zamarippa (D)
  • Josh Zepnick (D)

In addition to those, Mark Born (R), Dianne Hesselbein (D), Bob Kulp (R), and Tom Weatherston (R) cast paired votes in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare deal. However, under Wisconsin Assembly rules, paired votes, which can only be recorded if members casting the paired votes have an excused absence, do not officially count as votes in favor or in opposition to legislation, but are officially recorded as paired votes in the official vote tally. Personally, I think the paired votes rule should be repealed in any jurisdiction that allows paired votes, since it seems  like a relic of the pre-automobile era, when it was very difficult for a state legislator who lived a long distance from the capital city of a particular state to get to the state capitol building.

This deal is a terrible deal for Wisconsin taxpayers from every corner of Wisconsin, and it would have been cheaper for the State of Wisconsin to let the Milwaukee Bucks leave for another state than to keep the team by way of corporate welfare for a new arena.

While proponents of the deal have claimed that the deal will pay for itself over time, the fact of the matter is that the deal would certainly not pay for itself. Over a 20-year period, the State of Wisconsin will pay $3.5 million annually to the Bucks, which will play 41 games per year (not counting any preseason or postseason games) in the new arena, starting with the 2017-2018 NBA season. It would require the Bucks to have an average home game attendance of 170,732 or greater to make up for the money that the state gave the Bucks owners to build the arena through the 50¢ cut of a $2/ticket surtax that the state receives. Since the maximum spectator capacity of the arena is going to be roughly somewhere between one-tenth and one-eighth of the break-even attendance figure of 170,732, it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect the state portion of deal to pay for itself over time.

By the way, here’s how I calculated the 170,732 figure for determining break-even attendance for the state portion of the deal:

  • State portion of expenditures to the Bucks is $3,500,000/year
  • There are 41 home regular season games for each of the 30 NBA teams, including the Bucks
  • The portion of the Bucks ticket surtax that the state receives is 50¢/ticket
  • 3,500,000/41/0.5=170,732, rounded up to nearest whole number

In fact, if one were to factor in every revenue and expenditure factor of the deal, such as any tax revenue created or saved by the Bucks deal and the costs that taxpayers in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are on the hook for, the break-even attendance figure for the entire Bucks deal would probably still be more than any reasonable estimate of the maximum spectator capacity of the new arena. This is for two reasons. First, the portion of the money going to the Bucks owners that Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee taxpayers are going to be on the hook for is in the low nine-figures. Second, there isn’t a ton of tax revenue that will be created or saved by the deal due to a large number of tax exemptions associated with the deal. To put all of that another way, the deal isn’t going to pay for itself. Even if the state portion of the deal repays itself and them some, it would still short Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee a large amount of taxpayer money that could have been better used for local government services that serve a public purpose and that Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are legally responsible for.

Not a single Democratic U.S. Senator voted against reauthorizing corporate welfare agency that primarily benefits Boeing

An amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), a federal corporate welfare agency that primarily provides taxpayer money to a single large corporation (Boeing, an airplane manufacturer), was successfully added to legislation designed to allow more employers to refuse to provide health insurance to their employees by a 67-26 vote. Not a single Democrat voted against the amendment, although three members of the Senate Democratic Caucus (Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chris Coons of Delaware, and Ed Markey of Massachusetts) did not vote on the amendment.

I find it disgusting that nearly the entire Senate Democratic Caucus would support corporate welfare for Boeing.

The Export-Import Bank, initially created by a Franklin Delano Roosevelt executive order as part of his New Deal agenda, is an export credit agency that primarily provides loan guarantees to Boeing. In fact, in 2012, 82.7% of Ex-Im’s loan guarantees went to Boeing. If Ex-Im doesn’t provide taxpayer money to companies without requiring that all of the money given out be paid back over a certain period of time, then Ex-Im is technically not corporate welfare. However, Ex-Im is effectively corporate welfare, since its operations primarily benefit a single company.

I would only support reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank if it would merely serve as a currency exchange for foreign firms who trade with the United States.

ENDORSEMENT: Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate in Illinois

With U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois declining to run for U.S. Senate, I am now endorsing Tammy Duckworth for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by right-wing Republican Mark Kirk.

Prior to being elected to the U.S. House, Duckworth served our country in the Illinois Army National Guard, losing both of her legs when a Black Hawk helicopter that she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and shot down. Duckworth has served the people of the 8th Congressional District of our state, located in the western Chicago suburbs, with honor, having supported background checks on gun sales, supported reproductive rights, supported raising the minimum wage, and, best of all, sharply criticized a federal contractor for falsely claiming that he was a service-disabled veteran.

Duckworth currently has one primary opponent that I know of, Andrea Zopp. While Duckworth isn’t exactly an Illinois progressive’s dream candidate, Zopp represents most of what is wrong with Illinois politics. First off, Zopp has the backing of Bill Daley, who was a member of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office. As an appointed member of the Chicago school board, Zopp voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago’s public schools. That means that Zopp is aligned with three of the most odious people in Illinois politics: Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Bruce Rauner. Additionally, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Flossmor) is considering running against Duckworth and Zopp. However, Harris refused to vote for the Illinois marriage equality bill, meaning that LGBT Illinoisans can’t trust Harris to fight for and protect their rights.

I encourage my fellow Illinois Democrats to cast a Democratic primary ballot for Tammy Duckworth next year.

Bhuaigh Comhionannas!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title of this diary is in the Irish language; the English translation of the title is “Equality wins!”. I am providing an American English language version and an Irish language translation of my article. The translations are courtesy of Google Translate, because I have no actual working knowledge of the Irish language.

NÓTA AN ÚDAIR: Is é an teideal an dialann i nGaeilge; Is é an leagan Béarla-theanga an teideal “Equality Wins!” Tá mé ag soláthar leagan Meiriceánach Béarla agus aistriúchán Gaeilge de mo earra. Is iad na haistriúcháin caoinchead Google Translate, toisc go bhfuil mé aon eolas ag obair iarbhír ar an nGaeilge.


A strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland have voted to ratify an amendment to the Irish Constitution that will allow gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. With all 43 Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish national legislature) constituencies having counted votes, there were a total of 1,935,907 valid votes cast in the marriage equality referendum. Of those valid votes, 1,201,607 votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 734,300 votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. Rounded to the nearest hundredths of a percent, 62.07% votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 37.93% of votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. As only a simple majority is required to ratify an amendment, marriage equality is officially law of the land in the Republic of Ireland.

This is an historic victory for supporters of equality for two major reasons. First, the Republic of Ireland will now and forever be known as the first sovereign country to approve marriage equality in a public referendum. Second, the Republic of Ireland is an historic stronghold of the Catholic Church, which has aggressively defended discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and has strongly opposed all efforts around the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Irish voters have bravely stood up to the Catholic Church and other supporters of discrimination by voting to ratify the marriage equality amendment. Love has won in Ireland!


Tromlach láidir na vótálaithe i bPoblacht na hÉireann tar éis vótáil leasú ar Bhunreacht na hÉireann a chuirfidh ar chumas lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun taitneamh a bhaint as an ceart céanna chun pósadh go taitneamh a bhaint as lánúineacha heitrighnéasacha láthair a dhaingniú. Le gach 43 Dála (teach íochtarach an Oireachtais, na hÉireann náisiúnta reachtas) dáilcheantair a bhfuil vótaí a chomhaireamh, bhí iomlán de 1,935,907 vótaí bailí a caitheadh sa reifreann chomhionannais pósadh. As na vótaí bailí, bhí a caitheadh 1,201,607 vóta i bhfabhar comhionannas pósadh, agus cuireadh chaith 734,300 vóta ina gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Slánaithe go dtí na chéadú gaire de faoin gcéad, bhí chaith 62.07% vóta i bhfabhar an chomhionannais pósadh, agus bhí 37.93% de na vótaí arna gcaitheamh i gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Toisc go bhfuil ach tromlach simplí de dhíth leasú a dhaingniú, tá comhionannas pósadh hoifigiúil dlí ar an talamh i bPoblacht na hÉireann.

Is é seo an bua stairiúil do lucht tacaíochta an chomhionannais ar dhá chúis mhóra. Gcéad dul síos, beidh an Phoblacht na hÉireann anois agus go deo ar a dtabharfar an chéad tír ceannasach chun comhionannas pósadh cheadú i reifreann poiblí. Dara, is é an Phoblacht na hÉireann ina dhaingean stairiúil an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a bhfuil a chosaint aggressively idirdhealú in aghaidh lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha agus tá láidir i gcoinne gach iarracht ar fud an domhain chun ligean lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun pósadh.

Vótálaithe na hÉireann a sheas cróga suas go dtí an Eaglais Chaitliceach agus lucht tacaíochta eile idirdhealaithe ag vótáil an leasú chomhionannais pósadh a dhaingniú. Grá bhuaigh in Éirinn!

Bruce Rauner gets ZERO support in the Illinois House for his wage theft agenda

Democratic Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan scheduled a vote in the state house on Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s wage theft agenda, and not a single member of the Illinois House of Representatives voted for the legislation, although most of the Republicans voted “present” instead of actually voting against it, presumably because they’re too scared of actually taking a stance on whether or not they support driving down wages and busting unions or not.

Here’s the official roll call on the legislation. The final tally was 0 Yeas, 72 Nays, 37 voting present, 7 not voting, and 2 excused absences. Democrats have 71 members in the 118-member house, the remaining 47 members are Republicans, and all of those who did not vote at all or had excused absences are Republicans, indicating a nearly party-line vote in which all or nearly all Democrats voted against it and the vast majority of the Republicans voted present.

To put it mildly, this is a massive victory for Illinois workers and a massive defeat for Rauner and his agenda to drive down wages, bust unions, and leave Illinois worse off than when he was sworn into office as governor. I hope the General Assembly remains a strong opponent of the Rauner agenda, as the Rauner agenda is something Illinoisans simply can’t afford.

Illinois State Representatives should vote NO on wage theft bill

On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on whether or not Illinois should become a right-to-work state, or what I like to call a wage theft state. In a wage theft state, non-union workers at unionized workplaces would be legally allowed to steal wages and other benefits negotiated by the union without paying union dues or some other form of payment. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has publicly called for legislation allowing for local governments to enact local wage theft ordinances, which Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan believes would violate federal labor laws.

I strongly encourage members of the Illinois General Assembly to vote NO on the Bruce Rauner-Mike Madigan wage theft scheme.

While Madigan, the Democratic state house speaker, hasn’t advocated for the passage of the legislation, the fact that he’s scheduled a vote on wage theft is downright alarming. Wage theft legislation would do absolutely nothing to improve our state’s economy or fix our state’s fiscal problems. Instead, it would drive down wages, make workplaces less safe, create an even bigger burden on taxpayers, cost our state thousands of jobs, and severely hurt our state’s economy. That’s because when wages are driven down, workers have less to spend on groceries, gasoline, and other goods and services, resulting in both the state and the private sector making less revenue.

Bruce Rauner wants to put Illinois in the same league as third-world countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh, from an economic standpoint. Illinoisans simply can not afford Rauner’s corporate agenda of driving down wages, busting unions, and destroying what little of our state’s middle class remains.

Boston 2024 Olympic organizers are in full damage control mode

As a result of a brilliant anti-Olympic campaign by No Boston Olympics and a large number of issues that have been publicly raised with the Boston 2024 Summer Olympic bid, a recent opinion poll found that only 36% of Boston-area voters support the bid.

The growing opposition to the Boston Olympic bid has brought the bid’s future into doubt and has left bid organizers in full damage control mode.

First, the Boston 2024 Olympic organizers have publicly called for a statewide referendum to be held in Massachusetts in November of 2016, at the same time as the 2016 general election for president. However, only the Massachusetts General Court, the state legislature of Massachusetts, can legally refer an up-or-down vote on the Boston Olympic bid to voters. This is because the initiative process at the state level in Massachusetts is limited to instructing the legislature to enact or repeal laws, although the bid organizers may use this option to get a referendum on the ballot. Additionally, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin has publicly stated that he’d like to see a referendum on the Boston Olympic bid to be held in March of 2016.

Second, the Boston city government is currently in the midst of a series of nine “community hearings”, and that city officials expect the bid organizers to make some changes to the plans for the Boston Olympic bid once the final “community hearing” is held later this year. However, no specific changes to the bid plans have been officially made at this time. Additionally, some have publicly criticized the “community hearings” for being more about promoting the Boston Olympic bid than actually listening to the concerns of Boston residents.

Third, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is trying to deny reports by The Wall Street Journal that the USOC may withdraw the Boston 2024 bid altogether if public support for the bid remains low. Although anything published by The Wall Street Journal should be taken with a grain of salt, this appears to be damage control by the USOC.

Bostonians have more important concerns, such as improving the local mass transit system, than hosting an international multi-sport event. That’s why the Boston 2024 Olympic bid is failing, and organizers are in full damage control mode.