Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Un-Making of Candidate Garrett: It’s the money stupid.

State Sen. Susan Garrett: The negatives for me running [in the 10th CD] really came from …people who were moderate Democrats who supported Kirk- you know that’s to be expected….I think there was a concerted campaign to make sure that his core supporters, who also supported me, sent me a letter or a message saying that when it came down to it, if they had to choose, they’d stay with Kirk. There was a contingent of those kind of letters… that really didn’t have any influence or impact on my decision.
Jeff Berkowitz: Did you ever talk to [Cong.] Rahm Emanuel [D-Chicago] about this?

Sen. Garrett: I haven’t, No.

Berkowitz: Isn’t that odd? He [Cong. Emanuel] is trying to build a Majority [in the House of Representatives]. This is a seat which is not viewed as one of his top seats to win. But, with you in there, people were speaking as if it were more likely as a possible win than with anybody else. Isn’t it odd that Cong. Rahm Emanuel, Chairman of the DCCC [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], wouldn’t even pick up the phone to call you.

Sen. Garrett: I’m sure he had his good reasons. I am just guessing that he is friends with Rep. Kirk and maybe--
Sen. Garrett: It would also be divisive…It would be, probably, one of the very high profile campaigns…

Berkowitz: Why would it be divisive?

Sen. Garrett: It would have to be. When you go after somebody who is popular, you can’t just say, “Gee, he is doing a great job.”

Berkowitz: But, if you talk about the issues, you don’t have to attack somebody personally.

Sen. Garrett: …There have already been, I heard—over the weekend, there was a concerted effort to get people to write negative letters about me and people called me up to let me know, so it was going in that direction.

Berkowitz: What would they say?

Sen. Garrett: They were revving up, they had already started their attack...

Berkowitz: But, is there anything personal in your past that would bother you to see come out in the press?

Sen. Garrett: No.

Berkowitz: So, why would it matter? Let them write negative letters.

Sen. Garrett: No, it’s not about that I couldn’t take the negativity or that I couldn’t dish it out because I have done both. But, it’s spending a lot of money to be combative. Sure we can talk about the issues, but at some point in time I have to draw the line and distinguish why I want to take on an incumbent Congressman. You have to say- “It’s this, this and this and by the way, did you know that? And, that turns into a divisive—and he is not going to sit back and say, “Oh—isn’t it great that Susan Garrett is blah, blah blah.” He is not going to do that.

Berkowitz: Yes, but you did not shy away from that before. You had a tough campaign, as you pointed out, with [State Senator] Kathy Parker in 2002.

Sen. Garrett: But that was a million dollars. This could be- we have gotten estimates of a minimum, a minimum-- of two and one-half [million dollars]. Maybe, more like from 4 to 5 million dollars—up to ten million dollars, depending on what different interest groups weigh in through the media markets.
Sen. Garrett: Here is the deal. On the other side of it, I have had a lot of people call me and email me, asking me to re-think it…there is a huge group of people who are just drinking champagne, right now, and probably very happy—especially in Mark Kirk’s office.

Berkowitz: I would think Cong. Kirk would have sent you some roses, did he?

Sen. Garrett: [LOL] Listen, I almost called him to let him know but I couldn’t pick up the phone to do that.

Berkowitz: It would be an early concession call.
Berkowitz: What is accurate is that people are calling you, asking you to reconsider, right?

Sen. Garrett: Yes, but I am not really—

Berkowitz: And you have said it is possible, anything is possible, and all that is accurate, right? I am not saying it is likely.

Sen. Garrett: Okay, but just put that in. Say that I said it is not likely [that I would reconsider].

Berkowitz: If you say that it is not likely, then we will put that in.
Sen. Garrett: It wasn’t an easy decision. If you want to know the truth, I still have second thoughts…
Senator Susan Garrett [D- Lake Forest] and former 10th Cong. Dist. Democratic Primary Exploratory Candidate, interviewed on June 21, 2005, one day after she announced that she would not be a candidate in the 10th Cong. District Primary.
Update to follow shortly.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

6th CD Candidate Pankau on TV: Ready to Debate Roskam; Is Peter Ready?

Jeff Berkowitz: …Have you talked with Senator Roskam to see if he agrees with you on that [no need for civilians to have assault weapons]?

6th CD Primary candidate and Sen. Carole Pankau [R-Itasca]: No, we haven’t talked about that. I don’t know.

Berkowitz: We’ll have to have a debate. You would be willing to do that? Debate senator Roskam?

Senator Carole Pankau: Sure.
This week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Sen. Carole Pankau, who is running in the Republican Primary in the 6th Cong. District-- which became an open seat when Cong. Henry Hyde [R-Addison] announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election.

Hyde, first elected to his seat in the Watergate year of 1974, played college basketball against the late great professional basketball player George Mikan when Mikan was at DePaul and Hyde at Georgetown. No doubt it was on that court, as opposed to the court of law—where Hyde also practiced, that Henry Hyde first learned to be competitive and yet graceful—at all that he does and did [And, if you don’t believe that Hyde knows a thing or two about grace, just ask left of center Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin, who gave thumbs up recently to right of center Cong. Hyde, saying, “Somehow, in the heat of political combat, he has tried to keep the conversation in Congress civil.”

The very personable Pankau, in her thirteenth year in the state legislature [and in her first in the state senate], demonstrated she knows a thing or two about winning a contested primary last spring and she is back to give it a shot again in March, 2006. At the moment, she is up against Wheaton State Senator Peter Roskam, who is to her right and J. P. Rick Carney [former Du Page County Recorder of Deeds], who is to her left.

And, after having Sen. Carole Pankau on my show and spending some time before and after talking to her, she seems to think she is right where she wants to be— a center right candidate in the ideological center of her primary and competing in a district that she thinks is still quite Republican, but that has moved to the center ideologically as it has moved to the west geographically. She also thinks that her role as the lone female in the Republican Primary can only help her and her gender will help her even more so if Elmhurst Mayor Marcucci or another male candidate should enter the race.

Pankau has argued and will argue that her gender will help her in the general election, as she thinks the Democratic nominee is likely to be that party’s candidate in 2004, Christine Cegelis—although Christine, herself, has a contested primary. Pankau’s argument is simple: women outvote men, giving Pankau an advantage, relative to her male primary rivals, as her party’s representative against likely opponent Christine Cegelis in the general election.

Also, Pankau argues that she is more socially moderate than her chief primary rival, Roskam, putting her, she says, in a better position to be competitive through-out the 6th CD, which is Republican but not nearly so much as it used to be. Indeed, it is likely that the 6th CD general election will be no walk in the park for the Republican candidate, as Cegelis kept Hyde under 56% in 2004. Like Democrat Melissa Bean who rebounded from a 57-43 2002 8th CD loss to win last year over 35 year incumbent Cong. Crane, Cegelis has never stopped running.
See the end of this blog entry for a detailed suburban airing schedule and for more about the topics discussed on this week’s show with State Senator Carole Pankau. This show will also air throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] on this coming Monday night [July 4], at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].
A partial transcript of the show is included, below.
Jeff Berkowitz: …you said the 6th Cong. Dist. does not need a clone, does not want a clone of Cong. Henry Hyde. Did I get that right? Or, did the press get that right when they quoted you?

State Senator Carole Pankau: Yes, they did.

Berkowitz: Explain what you mean. Because…many in the Republican Party would think of Cong. Henry Hyde as an icon, and does that comment suggest that he isn’t an icon in the Republican Party?

State Senator Carole Pankau: Oh, not at all. Not at all. The point I was trying to make is that the District is no longer the same as it was thirty some odd years ago, thirty-two years ago—it will be.

Berkowitz: It’s not?

State Senator Carole Pankau: No. The Congressional District that Henry Hyde started in-- first started to represent—and has continued to represent—has grown continually to the west. And, it has changed—Just like all of us change. Just as our lives change, it also has changed. The demographics are different. You have to be very cognizant and very attuned to all the different changes within the District. In Henry Hyde’s current district, there are basically ten townships that Henry has wholes, or parts of. I have run, won and served in seven of those ten townships…[counting Pankau’s time in the state house and state senate, counting the impact of re-districting and counting her eight years on the DuPage County Board].
Berkowitz: In your view, it [the 6th Cong. Dist.] has changed a lot. Would you say it is more moderate than it was when Cong. Hyde first ran?

Senator Carole Pankau: I think it is more moderate on the social issues. Not necessarily on the fiscal issues. They are still very, very conservative on the fiscal issues.

Berkowitz: Do you view yourself as a social moderate?

Senator Carole Pankau: Uh, more so—uh, moderate to right.

Berkowitz: More so? More so than what?

Senator Carole Pankau: More so than Peter Roskam.

Berkowitz: You think he is less socially moderate? .

Senator Carole Pankau: Correct.

Berkowitz: He [Roskam] would be a social conservative. I think he would proudly say he is an economic conservative and he is a social conservative.

Senator Carole Pankau: Probably. I think I have heard him say that.

Berkowitz: And, you would say that you are an economic conservative. Right?

Senator Carole Pankau: I am a fiscal conservative but a moderate on the social issues.

Berkowitz: …What about abortion. Would you say you are not what somebody might say is 100% Pro-Life? Right?

Senator Carole Pankau: No.

Berkowitz: 90% Pro-Life?

Senator Carole Pankau: I am Pro-Life, with the exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the Mother.
Berkowitz: Do you favor closing gun show loopholes?

Senator Carole Pankau: I do.
Berkowitz: Do you think the gun owner database should be destroyed 90 days after somebody bought the gun?

Senator Carole Pankau: I’m not sure. I’m not sure.

Senator Carole Pankau: We heard differing opinions. We heard from law enforcement that they really felt it [the gun owner data base] should be kept in place. We also heard from other people that over time, people’s rights had been infringed upon because that database did exist.

Berkowitz: And, you haven’t decided which side you believe more?

Senator Carole Pankau: Correct.

Berkowitz: Okay.

Senator Carole Pankau: I don’t think I have heard all of the testimony on that yet.
Berkowitz: The Assault Weapon ban had been the law on the federal side; it expired last year. It was not renewed on the federal side. Some people suggest that it should be picked up at the state level. Would you like to see an assault weapon ban, whether it comes from the State of Illinois, or if you should go to Congress, would you support it as federal legislation- to ban assault weapons.

Senator Carole Pankau: Yes, there is no reason to have those guns out there. I have checked with the sportsmen and they say “we don’t need them.”
Berkowitz: …Have you talked with Senator Roskam to see if he agrees with you on that [no need for civilians to have assault weapons]?

Senator Carole Pankau: No, we haven’t talked about that. I don’t know.

Berkowitz: We’ll have to have a debate. You would be willing to do that? Debate senator Roskam?

Senator Carole Pankau: Sure.

State Senator and 6th Cong. Dist. Primary candidate Carol Pankau [R-Itasca; 23rd Dist.], recorded on June 15, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” this week [week of June 27] and as will be airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, July 4 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21[CANTV]. See, conclusion of this blog entry, below, for a detailed suburban airing schedule.
State Senator and 6th Cong. Dist. Primary candidate Carol Pankau [R-Itasca; 23rd Dist.], debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz Social Security Reform, tax cuts, the Bush Foreign Policy regarding Iraq, Iran and North Korea, International Trade, abortion, Sen. Roskam, Rick Carney, guns, Embryonic and Adult Stem Cell research, gay rights legislation, assault weapons and much, much more.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rep. Hamos on TV: Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist]. The show airs throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] tonight at 8:30 pm on CANTV, Cable Ch. 21.
State Rep. Julie Hamos debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz drinking Speaker Mike Madigan’s Kool-Aid, pension legislation and reform; the state budget and taxes, Gov. Blagojevich, Rep. Jack Franks, education and affordable housing; CTA state subsidies-- the RTA, Metra, Pace, and mass transit reform; Medical Mal-Practice damage award caps, gaming, guns, mandatory minimum jail time for multiple sexual assaults and much, much more.
See here, and below, for partial transcripts of tonight’s show. This week’s guest on the suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” and next week’s guest on the City of Chicago Edition of “Public Affairs,” is State Senator and 6th Cong. Dist. candidate Carole Pankau [R-Itasca]. See conclusion of the post, here, for a detailed description of the “Public Affairs,” suburban airing schedule.
Jeff Berkowitz: Let’s go over to something that has come up in the news recently with sexual abuse [oops, meant to say sexual assault]…

Rep. Julie Hamos: We have a lot of laws on sexual—

Berkowitz: We have this case in Libertyville. This guy’s convicted three times [two sexual assaults and one assault]. The third time he gets eight years, and he gets out in four years for good behavior [and is now accused of a recent rape and attempted murder] . How can that make sense? Shouldn’t there be a mandatory sentence?

Rep. Julie Hamos: It doesn’t make sense.

Berkowitz: Three times, sexual assault…you are going to do serious time, like 25 years- and no time off for good behavior—what do you say?

Rep. Julie Hamos: Fine.

Berkowitz: You would support that?

Rep. Julie Hamos: Sure. I would support serious—I mean we already have a lot of laws on the books, so we don’t know what happened in this case. And under Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s leadership, we also have lifetime supervision for all sexual offenders, so—

Berkowitz: If she looks at this and says you folks should pass stronger laws—
Jeff Berkowitz: …one big aspect of that [resolving the budget issues] was getting a deal on pensions and as you said… Speaker Mike Madigan has been walking around for the last two years, lecturing his representatives on pensions and what should be done, and you said--you drank the Kool-Aid.

Rep. Julie Hamos: I did.

Berkowitz: And that’s the name of tonight’s show—the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test…everybody should remember that as a book written by Ken Kesey back in the 50s [Oops, meant to say written about Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters; Of course, it was written by Tom Wolfe] —

Rep. Julie Hamos: For us old-timers, anyway.

Berkowitz: The man [Ken Kesey] who wrote “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and much, much more, and of course got there by testing hallucinogens [taking LSD, aka acid] on the government’s dime… So, you drank the Kool Aid [served up by] Speaker Mike Madigan and then what happened, Speaker Mike came over to you and said, essentially --Forget it. You shouldn’t have been drinking that Kool-Aid, I was wrong.

Rep. Julie Hamos: Well, it was a little ironic, I thought…He [Speaker Mike] walks around the floor and says-- I am going to stand tall and say, we can’t do this-- keep underfunding pensions].
Rep. Julie Hamos: ….as a result of doing some reforms, we [they?] thought it was okay to take, between this year and next year, 2.3 billion dollars that we were supposed to pay into the pension system—and we are not going to pay that [into the pension system], we are going to spend that. And, I had a problem with that. [Rep. Hamos and Rep. Joyce were the only two members of Speaker Mike’s Democratic house caucus voting against the pension bill and they joined all of the members of House Republican Leader Tom Cross’ caucus in doing so. State Rep. John Fritchey, after voting for the pension bill, subsequently apologized on television for doing so].

Berkowitz: Kind of a “pension holiday.”

Rep. Julie Hamos: Kind of a pension holiday and the Speaker actually called it a pension holiday.

Berkowitz: He did.

Rep. Julie Hamos: Now, it’s not really [a pension holiday] because we are just paying less into the system than we are supposed to, but I really had a problem with that and I felt we could do better.

Berkowitz: So, in a sense, you paid about a billion less this year [into the pension system] than you perhaps should have, right.
Berkowitz: What about reform [at CTA]?

Rep. Julie Hamos: As we move ahead, we are going to need new revenue—

Berkowitz: Is Chicago ready for reform, is Illinois ready for reform? You know, Bruce Dold [Chicago Tribune Editorial Page Editor] has been writing [even going back to former RTA Chairman Tom McCracken and maybe to Jim Riley [who has been involved in this previously and is now the new RTA Chairman] ] that there are more efficient ways to run things—the CTA could auction off some bus routes, they could privatize some things, they could make it more efficient.

Rep. Julie Hamos: That’s up to the RTA—

Berkowitz: But none of that is happening.
Berkowitz: Is it time for Frank Kruesi [Head of the CTA] to go?

Rep. Julie Hamos: No, I don’t think so.

Berkowitz: You support Frank?

Rep. Julie Hamos: Oh, sure.

Berkowitz: You don’t think he is a problem there?

Rep. Julie Hamos: No, I think this is not about personalities.

Berkowitz: You think he has done enough reform?

Rep. Julie Hamos: No, but I think he has done a good job of making the CTA into a much better system thant the one he inherited.

Berkowitz: Could he do more to bring about reform?

Rep. Julie Hamos: Sure, and so could Metra and Pace, by the way. So, I hope the new RTA leader [Jim Riley] will do that.
State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist], recorded on June 12, 2005 and as is airing on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs tonight at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21[CANTV].
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Friday, June 24, 2005

Month in Review, Explanations

Welcome to my regular readers and a special welcome to newcomers from Chicago Tribune and readers of Eric Zorn's notebook. Eric Zorn has recruited, or should I say drafted [Zorn being first and foremost of the liberal persuasion] me to participate in his online Month in Review panel.

Zorn’s blog tells you my choices [from Illinois public policy and political news items], including national issues rooted in Illinois, e.g., Senator Durbin's troubles]for Most Important news item, Winner, Loser, Over and Underreported and Next Month predictions, so my reasons, facts, arguments and rants in support of my assertions are included, below. The explanations for the six categories are included, below. The runner-up awards will follow in a separate posting, to appear on Friday afternoon, or before. After all, there is only so much genius that the human mind can absorb in one sitting. Moreover, runner-ups are only so important since as the cliché goes, “close,” only counts in horseshoes, and this surely ain’t that.
Explanations for Month in Review selections:
Most Important Story: Senator Durbin and Nazis, Gulags and Pol Pot:

Anybody who says this was not a big story has to be a doper, on the order of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters. For Starters, Durbin is one of the few pols who can say he was both “above and below the fold,” of the Chicago Tribune, as happened this last week. See here for some critics' comments re the Durbin episode and here for Durbin's quasi apology.Durbin is essentially the Leader of the Democratic Party in the Free World’s supposedly most deliberative body, the U. S. Senate. Of course, it is a deliberative, thoughtful body for debating great ideas. Democrats just spent the last few months telling us that is why we need a filibuster and especially a judicial filibuster, notwithstanding the filibuster’s historic abuses to prevent the emergence of true civil rights for racial minorities in the United States [Yes, Senator Obama, to his credit, did note this slight problem with the historical use of the filibuster, but I did not hear any other Democrats do so].

Along comes Senator Durbin and it is not enough for him to argue there are some allegations of abuse, if not torture, at Guantanamo Bay. To make his point, to get a headline, to be worshiped by the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, he says, effectively, the U. S. is kind of like Nazi Germany, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and the Soviet Gulags, all wrapped up into one.

Yes, if there is torture by the U. S., that probably won’t help us win the war against terrorism. Stipulated. But, does anyone really think Durbin’s Nazi spin won’t be spun by Al Jazzera--. Headline: No 2 Democrat in U. S. concedes the U. S. Government is a Nazi led Gulag, looking to slaughter two million Muslims, just as Pol Pot slaughtered two million Cambodians. I think Al Jazzera could do that. Don’t you? Why give them that?

Durbin’s defenders argue: (1) his words were only one paragraph out of seven pages--Great, that will be an effective antidote to the Al Jazzera headline; (2) Lots of Republicans misuse the Nazi word, too, in other contexts-- Sure, say re Teri Schiavo, or something. And,.the consequences of that for terrorism would be? Yes, zero. Folks, we have to stay focused. There really is a war on terrorism. (3) Poor Dick Durbin was misunderstood. He didn’t know when he said the U. S. was like Nazi Germany anybody would take him literally—this one I love. Nobody really takes Dick seriously, so why should we blame him when they do.
Winner of the month- Rod Blagojevich, closes the deal with Speaker Mike and Emil, on time, and no new income or sales tax for year three of his four-year pledge.

You really have to admire Rod. Really, you gotta love the guy. Just when it appeared that overtime was certain and the Republicans would then beat up on him and exact their pound of flesh, with Emil and Speaker Mike joining in, Hot Rod wins. No overtime. No increase in income or sales taxes. Several hundred million new dollars for education [if you don’t count the pension stuff, which most in the population do not]. Conservative icon Tom Roeser is praising Hot Rod for expanding kidcare, or something. Big Time union SEIU makes robo calls supporting his education bill, even though the union supports a quite different bill. Rod, with a little help from his friends--in the legislature, gets the gun show loophole closed, without the destruction of the gun owner database that he doesn’t want and Senator Peter Roskam does.

The Republicans are left to whine about shorting the pensions. As Jack Conity effectively argued on Fox Chicago Perspectives a few weeks ago, so what! Most people think state government retirees had cushy jobs and now or soon will have cushy pensions, as did and do suburban and downstate teachers and school administrators [CTU is not affected by this]. The Sun-times and Chicago Tribune have been talking forever about the way teachers/administrators/and school boards scammed the system and the state by jacking up salaries artificially in the last four years of the teacher’s or administrator’s career to skew the pensions [state pensions are based on the four years for which the employees had the highest salaries], and finance that cost by state tax revenue, not local property taxes.

A lot of people say, these pensions aren’t ever going to be paid. The courts won’t enforce them, no matter what the State Constitution says. Does anybody really think the courts will force the legislators to raise taxes to pay these ridiculous pensions. Well, State Rep. Julie Hamos [D- Evanston, 18th Dist.] told me she does. Maybe State Rep. Kevin Joyce does. Democrats Joyce and Hamos and the Republicans voted against shorting the pensions. Politics does indeed make for strange bedfellows.

True, Blago didn’t make the above argument. He said his pension reforms would save enough money to warrant the reduction of pension payments this year by the state. Okay, so he was right for the wrong reason. And, his poll numbers are down a bit. Give him and Giangreco some time, and they will be back up.

The people would say Blago won this month. And, you know what, they would be right. Blago might even eventually steal my pension argument, above. That’s okay, I give it to Giangreco and him. I owe it to Pistol Pete, he has come on my show numerous times and taken substantial abuse. Of course, he throws a little my way, too. Indeed, even Blago came on my show once. He’s really not a bad guy. Okay, so he can't stand being in Springfield. Who could? Sure, some of my best friends live there. That doesn't mean I would.

And, then the Republicans whine they didn’t get any pork and the Ds did. Oh, my gosh, that will be effective with the voters. If only they had dispersed the pork more equally, then it would have been Okay?

Indeed, the Rs sounds like the Ds on the national stage. They bitch and bitch about Rod, but offer up little in terms of a plan. I have heard Rauschenberger suggest the state might save 1.8 billion dollars by a managed care plan for Medicaid. Well, if so, let’s see the plan. That is a good start, Steve, but you have to show us the plan.

I have heard Oberweis say he not only won’t raise taxes, but he will cut them. Good, Jim. That’s why God put Republicans on this earth—to cut taxes. But, to be convincing, you must state specifically where you will cut spending to match the revenue decreases. This is not the Federal arena. You are not running for the U. S. Senate again. You can’t run a deficit. Just like Oberweis Dairy and Oberweis Asset Fund, or whatever your multiple enterprises are called.

Jim, are you making the “strong supply side argument,” [as Art Laffer would put it] that if the state cuts the state income tax, the state sales tax and the Blago fee increases, the total state revenue will increase. If so, let’s see the plan. Show me the money! Indeed, show it to me this Sunday when you will be taping my show. But, please-- don’t try to bribe me-- We tape in Skokie, not in Chicago.

Don’t get me wrong, Oberweis, Rauschenberger or even Judy, not to mention the lesser lights, might beat Hot Rod, but this was his month, clear and away, notwithstanding his poll numbers. The guy has 16 months and at least 15 million dollars to raise his numbers- I don’t think he is breaking a sweat. Hell, even Pistol Pete Giangreco is taking a week or two, off. Not away from his Blackberry, of course, but he will be on another continent. How is that for confidence. Yes, Blago still has to deal with his administration's ethical "lapses," and pay to play. But, all in all, Blago is a winner this month. Big Time.
Loser- Mayor Daley, forced to acknowledge and act on his administration's systemic corruption problem-- no more just a few bad apples in the barrel.

Bob Crawford, Political Editor Emeritus at WBBM-780 AM radio and frequent guest on Chicago Tonight [including again last night]—and deservedly so, has been emphasizing, almost since I was a little boy, that Mayor Daley would not face up to the corruption all around and within the Daley Administration and acknowledge that he had and has “a systemic problem.”

You only solve such a problem by bringing in a New Chief of Staff, e.g., Huberman, who must look at each department and fire either the department heads who look corrupt, who are tolerating it and/or who don’t know how to deal with it. So, out went Rice in Water, Sanchez in Streets and Sans, Miguel d’Escoto at Transportation, City Inspector General Alexander Vroustouris and many lesser lights, including John Daley’s brother in law in ghost payrolling, others for selling heroin on the taxpayer’s dime on taxpayer property, and many, many others.

Importantly, when Rice in the Water Department was shown the door, Huberman said Rice, himself, was not doing anything wrong or corrupt, just wasn’t managing his department so as to avoid corruption by others. All right, boys and girls, who else do we know in the Daley administration who fits that description? Egads, the Mayor would argue he does. He is not involved in corruption, he says. He does not know about any corruption that swirls around him. He just put the people, or kept the people in place, who do.

For example, Mayor Daley says he kept the now criminally charged Don Tomczak in place because he did want to appear vindictive and fire someone who had not supported him for Mayor. So, Daley says, he kept Tomczak there for 16 years and Daley knew nothing about the illegal political and patronage operation Tomczak is alleged to have been running for years, and which benefited Daley, his brother-- Cook County Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, their 11th Ward operation, Daley’s favorite congressman and former fund raiser, Rahm Emanuel.

So, Daley knew nada. But, apparently Rice knew nada and yet Daley fired him. So, by the logic I learned at the University of Chicago, as did Daley’s [and Obama’s] political guru David Axerlod, and Daley’s CTA guru Frank Kruesi, Mayor Daley should fire Richard M. Daley.

As my guest, State Rep. candidate Judith-Rae Ross [D- Evanston, 17th Dist.] said in a different context, when I asked her that kind of question on my TV show, “it could be said.” [I love that phrase; it alone could win Judith Rae 1000 votes] Yes, and I am sure Cong. Jesse Jackson, Jr. might agree with that. It could be said: Daley should fire Daley. Or, maybe Jesse, Jr., should fire Mayor Daley.

So, yes, big time loser this month, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Another month or two, like this, and Jesse Jr. will be licking his chops, notwithstanding his new, svelte, slimmed down, getting ready for a fight appearance. When you lose that much weight, you should be able to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. [Just like Muhammed Ali] Will Jesse be able to sting Richie? We shall see.
Most Over-Reported Story- CTA Doomsday scenario.

Do you remember how many news stories there were near the end of May with reporters sobbing about those poor low income people who needed to get to their jobs and wouldn’t be able to if the CTA cut back on service, or raised their fares because the State would not bail out Frank Kruesi and his CTA? I don’t mean to minimize the disruption that such route reductions and fare increases might have. However, I would argue that the 54 million dollar CTA bail-out by the state was never in doubt.

Mayor Daley may not have the power, now, to get a casino which he can own and manage, and from which he can skim tax revenue off the top, a sort of Chicago, modern day Mo Green. The Mayor may not have the power to get his friend and fellow language abuser, “W”, to find another vocation, far, far away from Chicago for U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

But, the one thing you can count on, Daley can beat up on large number of legislators, both within and outside of Chicago to get his share of mass transit subsidies. Also, Blago may fight Daley on a Daley owned or run casino. But, Blago is not going to fight on a CTA bail-out. Nor will Emil Jones. Nor will Speaker Mike. So who is not going to give Mayor Daley his annual tribute for the CTA? No one, that’s who. So, next time, spare us the sobbing bus riders. Sadly, that kind of a bailout always happens, minus reforms.
Most Under-Reported Story- The emerging Hot Republican Gubernatorial Primary between Rauschenberger, Oberweis and Topinka. Other Republican candidates likely to drop out or have little impact.

The Chicago mainstream media, when discussing state politics, will usually reserve about five percent of the time for Republicans. This is especially true for WTTW’s Chicago Week in Review. Joel and most of his guests are not Rs, don’t know many Rs and don’t think those who watch public TV care much about Rs. So why discuss Rs? And they don’t, unless they have to. Fox Chicago Perspectives is kind of the same way, as are Kay and Marin on 5. Flannery on 2 and Shaw on 7 are much fairer and balanced, but they don’t get much time, except for when the political season is intense. And the rest of the folks on 2 and 7, who dabble in politics, are pretty similar in bias and outlook to WTTW, 5 and Fox.

When Chicago Week’s panel discusses the Republican Guv Primary, collectively, they can’t, for the life of them, identify the eight actual or potential R Guv candidates. Here is a hint, folks, there are two moderates: Topinka and Gidwitz. Two downstate pretty much conservatives: Sen. Brady and Cong. LaHood. Four upstate conservatives: Sen. Rauschenberger, Jim Oberweis, Former State Sen. Pat O’Malley and DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett.

Yes, Gidwitz, who just announced his formal candidacy, will likely drop out after giving it a good shot. Even with what Ron will spend of his own and raise on his own, Gidwitz just CANNOT buy enough statewide name recognition. His message is unlikely to resonate with the majority of the Republican primary base, especially on social issues and on his reluctance to take a tax pledge. Similar statewide name recognition problems exist with downstaters LaHood and Brady, although both have their own local geographic bases. Birkett was a good AG candidate, but he is not ready to run in GUV race. O’Malley’s base has splintered away from him since his 2002 29% Guv race, and his failure to endorse Jim Ryan is remembered by many active in the Republican primary. He can’t put it together in the next five months.

So, by process of elimination, that leaves you Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, Senator Steve Rauschenberger and businessman Jim Oberweis. This could be an interesting race. Topinka has both name recognition and a reputation has a good campaigner. However, she is extremely moderate, if you know what I mean. She may also be dogged by the reputation of having been way too close to George Ryan, if you go back some years.

Topinka also upset a lot of people by the way she handled the Jack Ryan/Alan Keyes mess as State GOP Chairman. However, with at least two conservatives splitting the heavily conservative Republican Primary base, Topinka has a shot, but not a great one. Her own polls, released in large part through the sympathetic eyes of Rich Miller and Lynn Sweet, are not reliable, and they apparently have not been fully disclosed to those two and certainly not to the press at large. At this point, the polls reflect Topinka’s relatively high name recognition and Blago’s low numbers. As the campaign rolls on, Topinka’s name recognition advantage relative to her Republican primary competitors will decline.

Judy might not run, making the race a very interesting Oberweis- Rauschenberger match-up. Oberweis has had a propensity to put his foot in his mouth, first by likening in some respect the Taliban and Pro-Lifers. Second, by overstating the illegal immigration issues. On the other hand, Oberweis has gotten much more focused on tax cuts, jobs, and economic growth as the way to lift all boats. Rauschenberger said he would focus more, at this stage of the game, on the big, priority, strategic issues. He does need to bring his issues together into a strategic, focused, campaign style approach. And, the edit boards love Rauschenberger and always will.

Oberweis currently projects more charisma, energy and message discipline; Rauschenberger has the experience, breadth of knowledge on the issues and budget, gravitas and the apparent ability to reach across to Democrats and Independents. Indeed, some in the conservative primary base think Rauschenberger is thinking too much about reaching out in the general election to independents and not enough about the wishes of the Republican base.

An Oberweis, Rauschenberger and Topinka battle is an interesting race and by August, that may be what we have.
Story to Watch next month—State’s Attorney Dick Devine takes a serious look at a run for Governor.

The buzz over the last few months was that Daley told Devine he would not be willing to stick his neck out for Dick, if he took on Blago. However, all Devine will say is that he will be discussing with his family a possible run against Blago and decide that in the Labor Day time period. In short, Devine is far from closing the door on a run for Guv. Devine is not up for State's Attorney in 2006, so he has a free bite at the apple.

Devine brings a lot of gravitas to the race, which Hot Rod clearly lacks, what with his testicular virility, etc. The liberal Democratic base may not warm up to Dick Devine because of his views of favoring lifting the capital punishment moratorium and also, his alleged involvement in wrongful convictions, going back to his days as Cook County States Attorney Daley’s First Assistant.

On the other hand, Devine has a seriousness of purpose that Blago seems to lack and that attribute should be quite attractive to the Democratic Primary base- especially those who want to see good programs developed, not pledges that promise not to raise taxes.

If Devine gets in, he could give Blago a run for his money-- if Devine can assemble some money, too.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at .

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Rep. Hamos on TV: Speaker Mike’s Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

This week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist]. See the end of this blog entry for a detailed suburban airing schedule. This show will also air throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] on this coming Monday night, June 27 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].
Next week’s guest on the suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” is State Senator and 6th CD Republican Primary candidate Carol Pankau [R-Itasca]
State Rep. Julie Hamos debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz pension legislation and reform, the state budget and taxes, education, affordable housing, CTA state subsidies and mass transit reform, Medical Mal-Practice damage award caps, gaming, guns, mandatory minimum jail time for multiple sexual assaults, drinking Speaker Mike Madigan’s Kool-Aid and much, much more.
Jeff Berkowitz: Are you a supporter of [Governor] Rod Blagojevich?

State Rep. Julie Hamos: …He has done a really good job of focusing on a few key priorities…He inherited a 5 billion dollar deficit…so he took on a very tough economic situation in Illinois and focused on just a few priorities. We will be hearing about those: Health care, education, public safety and he did not increase taxes. Now the problem with Rod Blagojevich I would say…I already have said it to him-- is we don’t really want him to box himself in again for his second term.

Berkowitz: In terms of pledging no increase in taxes [income and sales].

Rep. Julie Hamos: Right, because we cannot continue to band-aid the problems facing the state and we cannot continue to take from pension systems, raiding funds, from the kind of little band-aid approaches that we have taken and we can’t continue to do that if the economy does not rebound. If the economy does not rebound, then we all have got to take a more responsible and more courageous approach.

Berkowitz: Would your solution have been, in this case, instead of shorting the pensions, as you might put it, raising taxes, either the sales tax or the individual income tax?

Rep. Julie Hamos: No, I don’t think we were ready for that. And, truthfully, we have a governor—

Berkowitz: What would you have done, then?

Rep. Julie Hamos: Well, I think there were two things
that we all thought should have been done. Really from the first minute we heard the budget. One is there were some gaming opportunities out there that I think we all would have supported. At the end of the day, the five leaders couldn’t agree on how to do that. The additional slots in gaming—I don’t think anyone of us had big problems—

Berkowitz: More slots at casinos than is currently the case?

Rep. Julie Hamos: That’s right.
Or even at horseracing.

Berkowitz: Which would give you approximately how much [in new revenue]?

Rep. Julie Hamos: 500 million dollars, give or take—

Berkowitz: You supported that.

Rep. Julie Hamos: I would have supported that, sure.

Berkowitz: You and Rep. Lou Lang.

Rep. Julie Hamos: Well, and a lot of others.

Berkowitz: He is very close [to our studio]. We tape in Skokie and Rep. Lang is in Skokie.

Rep. Julie Hamos: That’s right. He is the Leader [in gaming]. And, I think if we had more pension reforms, then we also could have justified why we were talking some dollars in current savings—long term savings as current—

Berkowitz: So, you wanted more pension reform.

Rep. Julie Hamos: So, less than a billion, I would have said, maybe more like 500 million [taken as future pension savings] but with more [pension] reforms.

Berkowitz: With more reforms and the 500 million—

Rep. Julie Hamos: So, more [pension] reforms and gaming, and that would have had, I think, a better result. That would have been my approach.

Berkowitz: You don’t want the Governor to say that he is not going to raise income taxes or sales taxes when he runs again in 2006 because you think he might have to.

Rep. Julie Hamos: No [I don’t want the Governor to say that], because the state might need it. We might need it. [an increase in the income or sales tax].

Berkowitz: And you would support that possibly? [Raising the sales and income tax]

Rep. Julie Hamos: Yes, I would.

Berkowitz: And, maybe you would say that unequivocally now. Would you have supported House Bill 750 [A bill to lower the property tax, raise the state income tax, with a net increase of about three billion dollars in new tax revenue and about two billion of those dollars were to go to education].

Rep. Julie Hamos: I didn’t support House Bill 750 in the form it was in. I do think we need school funding reform and I am open to—

Berkowitz: A tax swap. You favor a tax swap?

Rep. Julie Hamos: You know this really wasn’t a tax swap.

Berkowitz: It was not [revenue] neutral. It was an increase in tax revenue.
State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist.] recorded on June 12, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of Public Affairs this week [week of June 20] and on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, June 27 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. See, below, for a detailed suburban airing schedule.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Senator Durbin apologizes- sort of.

Revised and updated at 11:40 am on June 22, 2005:

On June 14, 2005, Senator Dick Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

No matter how you splice it, dice it, spin it or whatever, the No. 2 Democrat in the U. S. Senate Leadership, Dick Durbin, has to have known how that paragraph would be used, even though it is only one paragraph of a seven-page speech. It will be used be and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to energize the base, or the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party as Dean likes to put it. It will be used by the Republicans to chastise Senator Durbin for making what they view as a ludicrous and completely unfounded analogy or historical parallel, however you want to put it.

And it will be used by various media sympathetic to terrorists, as well as by terrorists themselves, as showing that even the top leadership of the Democratic Party in the U. S. Senate likens what is going on in Gitmo as equivalent to Nazis, gulags [as in Amnesty International] or Pol Pot, in short to heinous, totalitarian and genocidal regimes that killed approximately 30 million people.

Senator Durbin knows all this and he uses the paragraph anyway in a speech he gives on Dec. 14, 2005. Four days later, he suggests he has suddenly learned that historical parallels can be misconstrued, and he is sorry about that, sort of.

Yesterday, Senator Durbin sought to end his week-long nightmare by saying he “made reference to Nazis, Soviets and other repressive regimes.” Well, he did more than make references to those groups of people. He implied that Americans responsible for treatment of detainees were “kind of like Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings.” That’s what Senator Durbin did on December 14, 2005.

That’s why Mayor Daley said yesterday in a press conference, “I think it’s a disgrace. And, he [Senator Durbin] is a good friend of mine. But I think it’s a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the [U. S.] military act like that or are reported like that. You go and talk to some victims of the Holocaust and they will tell you horror stories. And there are not horror stories like that in Guantanamo Bay.” And, to top it off, remember that Daley’s son enlisted in the army not too long ago.

And within hours of Mayor Daley’s statement today, Durbin apologized. This time it was something that looked more like an apology than his effort of last Friday. To understand the Daley-Durbin thing, you should know that Senator Durbin, speaking at the City Club of Chicago a few years ago, recounted how, as a young Congressman, Durbin went to thank former Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski for his help in getting a committee assignment for the junior congressman from downstate Illinois. I think the assignment was to the Appropriation Committee. Senator Durbin, in telling the story, said Rosty looked at Durbin and said in his gruff demeanor, “Kid, just remember one word—Chicago.” So, on hearing of Daley’s comments, Durbin was on the Senate Floor pronto, apologizing and crying-- with tears flowing.

So, did Senator Durbin say, “I am sorry, for implying that Americans responsible for treatment of detainees were ‘kind of like Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings.’ That’s not true and I shouldn’t have implied that. I am sorry for doing so."

Nope, Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL; characterized by some, including Fox's Brit Hume, last night, as essentially No. 1 in the Democratic Senate leadership] did not say that. Instead, he said, “I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy."

"I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military. I went to Iraq just a few months ago with Senator Harry Reid and a bipartisan Senate delegation. When you look in the eyes of the soldiers you see your son and daughter. They are the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them."

"Some may believe that my remarks crossed a line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies.”

But, it is not just those with bitter memories of the Holocaust to whom Sen. Durbin needs to apologize. Nor is it just those in the military to whom he needs to apologize. Nor is it just to those who believe his remarks crossed a line. Nor is it just those charged with treating the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

It is all of the above, but it is broader. Senator Durbin’s apology should have gone to all Americans.

Senator Durbin says he is apologizing to those “who may believe that his remarks crossed a line. So, Durbin is apologizing to Mayor Daley—who believes he crossed a line. But Senator Dick Durbin doesn’t seem to believe that Dick Durbin crossed a line. So, did Durbin really apologize? Another non-apology apology for Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn's collection?And for another view on the Durbin apology odyssey and other ventings from the Left in defense of Senator Durbin, see left links from Eric Zorn.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Monday, June 20, 2005

Was Garrett Pushed Out of 10th CD race?

State Senator Susan Garrett [D- Lake Forest] shattered the dreams of the Garrett groupies today when she announced that she would not seek the 10th CD Democratic nomination, stating, “The more I listened, the more clearly I concluded that people preferred to keep me fighting for issues that I can impact here such as health care, clean water, traffic gridlock and an ongoing review and oversight of government ethics and accountability.”

So, you can watch Senator Garrett tonight on Public Affairs [See Blog post immediately below] to see if you can figure out what was the true reason for her decision. Almost always, in these situations, the reasons given publicly bear no relationship to the true reasons, and this situation almost surely follows that pattern.

The was already trying to do damage control today, claiming that they have lots of potential candidates in the wings to take on Cong. Mark Kirk [R- Highland Park, 10th CD]. Perhaps, but nobody on that list appears, as of today, to be a candidate who is likely to have the money, organization, message, name recognition and base support to give Kirk a run for his money. Indeed, if there were such a candidate in the grab bag list, 10th CD Committeewoman Lauren Beth Gash, who almost beat Kirk herself in 2000, might not have been touting Garrett [who seemed to have the potential to assemble all of the ingredients for a winning campaign] so intensively in recent days. One striking similarily between Gash and Garrett is that Garrett, like Gash, would have been running with seven years of state legislative experience and four election wins at her back.

So, did someone make Senator Garrett an offer she couldn’t refuse, an offer for her not to run, that is. If so, who made that offer? The answer is blowing in the wind, or perhaps you can find it on TV, tonight, in the City of Chicago, at 8:30 pm, CANTV, on Cable Ch. 21.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Garrett on TV: An echo and yet a choice in 10th

Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Senator and 10th Cong. Dist. Exploratory candidate Susan Garrett [D-Lake Forest, 29th Dist. The show airs throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] tonight at 8:30 pm on CANTV, Cable Ch. 21.
See here and here for partial transcripts and quotes from tonight's show with Sen. Garrett and a discussion of her potential competition in the 10th CD Democratic Primary if she runs and here and here for more about Garrett's potential run for congress and about the topics for tonight's show. Next week’s guest on the City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” and this week's guest on the suburban edition is State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist].

Zorn gives Durbin a Pass: Will his Party?

Revised at 3:20 pm on June 20, 2005
Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn decides that Senator Dick Durbin did not say anything really troublesome on substantive grounds during this last week. Zorn tells us that when Durbin anologizes U. S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to how we could expect Nazis, Soviets in their gulags and Pol Pot to handle detainees, Durbin’s only problem is that which comes from, "opportunistic critics who seem deliberately obtuse when it comes to simple logic.”

Blogger Eric Zorn thinks Durbin’s mistake was the stylistic, political one of not paying attention to Zorn’s rule: never refer to Nazis or Adolph Hitler in political debate. The problem with that analysis is that Senator Durbin hardly has to rely on Zorn for political advice. Tom Delay may be the “Hammer,” but Senator Durbin is the “Hacker.” Trust me, I know Senator Durbin-- I have heard and watched Senator Durbin speak many times, I have interviewed him on my show. Personally, he is a very nice guy. But, professionally, politically, he is a "Hacker," and he always hacks while flashing that warm, personable smile. Perhaps Senator Durbin is even proud to have earned that label, in the same sense that Tom Delay is proud to be the "Hammer."

Senator Durbin is similar in the way he plays politics to the basketball player who continuously fouls out with zero points, but by draping himself over the opposing team’s big scorer and hacking and hanging all over him from the toes to the chin, has kept the 30 point per game shooter to maybe 22 points in that day’s game. Like that basketball player who fouls out with no points, Durbin may not be flashy, but he is an effective political hacker.

And one thing is very clear: because Sen. Durbin has been hacking away for the better part of 23 years in both the House and the Senate,
he hardly needs political advice from Eric Zorn on how to hack more carefully. More importantly, when Senator Dick Durbin commits a foul, you can bet he knows what he is doing.

Let’s see if we can get a handle on some of Zorn’s and Durbin’s “opportunistic critics: ”

Virginia’s U. S. Senator John Warner, hailed by moderate media members all over the political landscape as a senior, fairly non-partisan U. S. Senator-statesman for the role he played recently in brokering the judicial filibuster compromise, lashed out this week at his fellow Senate club member-- Senator Durbin: “For you to have come to the floor with just that fragment of a report and then unleashed the words "the Nazis," unleashed the word "gulag," unleashed "Pol Pot," I don't know how many remember that chapter, it seems to me that was a grievous error in judgment [by you] and it leaves open to the press of the world to take those three extraordinary chapters in world history and try and intertwine it with what is taking place -- allegedly --at Guantanamo.” [See here, excerpts of Senator John Warner debating Senator Dick Durbin on the Senate Floor, Thurday night]

NPR’s Mara Liasson. “…Durbin’s comments, anytime an analogy is made to the Nazis, almost anytime-- it is always inappropriate- unless it involves the genocide of six million people, and that is not what we are talking about here, but I do think it is a stretch to say that this is representative of Democrat thinking…there are no Democrats who have associated themselves with this remark that I know of." [Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005.]

Mitch McConnell[No. 2 Republican in the Senate]: Is the Senator aware that Pol Pot murdered one to two million of his countrymen; the Nazis murdered from six to nine million women and children, mainly Jews and the Soviets in their gulags murdered some ten to twenty million people. Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005, recorded on June 17, 2009.

And there was this non-apology apology from Senator Durbin for Eric Zorn to add to his collection: “I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings. Our soldiers around the world and their families deserve our respect, admiration and total support." [In other words, “Mistakes were made”].Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005, recorded on June 17, 2009.

Bill Kristol: He still seems to think it is some kind of historical parallel. He doesn’t say he shouldn’t have said it. He just says, “ I’m sorry if people misunderstood me.” So, I think that really digs a deeper hole. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up [that usually gets people into trouble]. Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father’s Day; Senator Barack Obama on Fathers, Sons and Family Values

Senator Barack Obama: “You know, there's a wonderful saying by [former President] Lyndon Johnson that'Every man is either trying to live up to his father's expectations or making up for his mistakes.' And I guess I'm sort of doing both. I think, in some ways, I still chase after his ghost a little bit, but also, I think I try to balance the importance of family with my career in ways that he wasn't able to accomplish.” See, here, NPR interview with then Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Barack Obama, who was giving the keynote speech to the Democratic Party National Convention that evening, July 27, 2004.
Senator Barack Obama: I am the United States Senator from the State of Illinois but not a native of Illinois. I actually was born in Hawaii and I am the product of a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya who met at the University of Hawaii. I did not know my father at all. He essentially was sort of a myth to me. He left my mother when I was two. I met him only once when I was ten years old. We spent about a month together. I think that in some ways my experience is not unusual for a lot of men and particularly African-American men—not knowing their fathers well.
Senator Barack Obama: He did seem to be a remarkable person. I mean everybody who had interactions with him always painted him as larger of life. He was part of that first generation of Africans that came to study in America. He got a scholarship to study at the University of Hawaii, ended up being a straight A student, Phi Beta Kappa, he was President of the international students there. He was the first African student to attend the University. Met my mother in a Russian class. They fell in love, had me, but he decided to go continue his studies at Harvard [and he] couldn’t afford to take my mother and myself with him. And, then [he] went back to Kenya. So, I ended up knowing him primarily through the stories that my mother and my grandparents told.
Senator Barack Obama: My mother when I got older was always shocked by how much my mannerisms were like him. There’s an imprint that I think fathers can have on their sons that’s not always apparent initially. It wasn’t until I had graduated from high school, had lettered in basketball and had played on the state championship team that I remembered that he [Obama’s father] had given me my first basketball. It wasn’t until I had got to college and had an extensive jazz collection that I remembered that he took me to a Dave Brubeck concert when I was ten. There is an enormous amount of information that is transmitted to children by their parents and that I think, I guess would be the advice that I would give to people-- Parents understanding how powerful their impact on their children are, and I guess, in part, it would be a message, in particular to African American men, who are so often absent from their children’s lives. Your children can’t afford for you to be absent. You have an impact on them for good and for ill.
Senator Barack Obama: One of the things that I always think is the greatest gift you can give your children is not passing on your own craziness to them. We all have a little bit of craziness in us, but if we can maybe pass on those things that are best in us and give our kids a clean slate, that’s a pretty good gift, a pretty good inheritance.
U. S. Senator Barack Obama [D-IL], speaking about Fathers and Sons, on a special edition of ABC's Nightline-- apparently focusing on Fathers’ Day, June 17, 2005

Friday, June 17, 2005

Democracy takes another hit from the Winnetka School Board.

In a move that can only be characterized as bizarre, the Winnetka School Board took another step last night in its continuing efforts to remove from its midst anything that resembles a democracy.

A little civics 101, in case you have spent too much time lately around the current Winnetka School Board members. In a democracy, the guiding theme is that elected representatives, each and every one, are supposed to represent their constituents who have voted them into office. One way each representative does that is too hold public forums, listen to the questions that are asked and give answers to those questions. Sometimes, the forums may be ones in which the representative is the only one present. On other occasions, multiple representatives might be present. The principle does not change; representatives are expected to respond to the public’s questions.

The representatives might also interact with each other on a board, say, for example the Cook County Board. An action on behalf of Cook County government might require collective action of the Board to support it, perhaps a majority vote. To pick a name out of the hat, Cook County Board Member Forrest Claypool [D- Chicago] might not be able to sell county property on behalf of the Cook County Board. The County Government by-laws might require Commissioner Claypool to get agreement of a majority of his colleagues before County property can be transferred to another entity or individual.

Do you suppose that Commissioner Claypool would be barred by county board rules from attending a forum and answering questions about whether he would favor sale of such property by the Board, raising taxes by the Board, cutting patronage by the Board, etc? If Commissioner Claypool said to his constituents he would support cutting taxes, would he be violating a Code of Conduct that said: “I shall recognize that a Board member has no legal authority as an individual and that decisions can only be made by a majority vote at Board meetings.” No, I very much doubt it.

I can’t imagine that the County Board needs such a Code of Conduct. But, if it had one, County Board Member Claypool, I am sure, would say he is there to represent his constituents, and part of that is to answer any questions that may be asked of him by his constituents. That is how a representative democracy works. If someone could show that Claypool was subject to such a Code of Conduct, he would say that he was answering a question on his behalf, not on behalf of the Board, and that he clearly was not “making a decision on behalf of the Board.”

Now, let’s visit last night’s Wacky World of the Winnetka School Board. About 100 people showed up to a special school board meeting in Winnetka, having been told that the purpose of the meeting was for the Board to communicate with the community.

Many in attendance were there to ask questions, among other things, about Supt. van der Bogert’s decision to withhold information from the school board and community about the wrongful death lawsuit filed against her recommended selection for the Winnetka Greeley School Principal position. These people thought they could ask questions and get answers at the meeting from their duly elected representatives, the Winnetka School Board, and perhaps from Supt. van der Bogert.

But the Winnetka residents in attendance were to be disappointed yet again. School Board President Anne Kelly made this absolutely astounding statement:

During public participation, the Board will take notes and listen to what you say. I know many of you wanted an open Q and A format. I am also going to read from an Illinois Association of School Board code of conduct-- which is posted on every [school front] door or was posted on every [school front] door, I don’t know if it is still there-- which allows us to answer only items which we as a Board have discussed and taken a position on. It is actually No. 3 in the Code of Conduct: I shall recognize that a Board member has no legal authority as an individual and that decisions can only be made by a majority vote at Board meetings, so we will not be responding individually but when public participation is through, I will then recognize School Board members Penny [Lamphier] and Becky [Hurley] and they will give any clarifications we can on behalf of the board. But, it will all be around things we have previously discussed or taken a position on.

But, having stamped out democracy in Winnetka, Anne, why stop there? Why not call Cook County Board President John Stroger and tell him you have a plan that you think could help him deal with the Gang of Four [Board Members Claypool, Quigley, Suffredin and Peraica], who have been known over the last two years, for speaking out against the recommended actions of President Stroger. And you could also help Stroger deal with the five other board members who joined with the Gang of Four to fight back against the Stroger proposed tax increase.

Anne, tell President Stroger that your No. 3 plank in the Code of Conduct could maybe stop the Gang of Four and their five other collaborating board members from speaking out as individual board members, for the same reasons you and your colleagues have been telling your constituents that you can’t speak as individuals. Yes, Anne, you should be quite a hit with President Stroger.
And, after that, School Board President Anne Kelly, why not knock on Putin’s door and ask about bringing back the Soviet Politburo. Yes, Anne, I think you have the answer to roll back democracy, not just in Winnetka, but in Cook County, in Russia and in the Ukraine. Yes, Anne, from little acorns do big acorns grow.

Congrats to you- Winnetka School Board President Anne Kelly. We in Winnetka are not ready for either reform or democracy. Thank you so much for understanding that. Good luck in your effort to remove democracy-- anywhere, anytime. You take that No. 3 Code of Conduct, and-- well, you go, girl.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Are the Winnetka School Board and its Supt. ready for Reform?

Democracy perhaps is returning to the Village of Winnetka, in the heart of the North Shore. At its semi-annual Town Meeting on Monday night, two residents, Mike Finnerty [a relative newcomer to the community by Winnetka standards-- a seven year resident] and Meg Revord [someone who grew up in the Winnetka Schools--a pillar of the Winnetka Establishment perhaps] stood up and said, essentially, they were speaking out for 125 families from the 350 student Winnetka Greeley School. Those families were willing to do something that is not often done in Winnetka, put their names on a document that publicly and sharply criticizes a person of authority in the Village—in this case, the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. van der Bogert-- for “failing in her duty.”

The petition also said that the School Board’s assertion that the Superintendent was following “accepted practice,” when she treated the existence of a public lawsuit as confidential “was groundless.”

And, the petition charged the School Board with “failing to investigate and confirm all facts regarding the hiring of Mr. Dorken [the new Greeley School principal].”

The 125 families are asking for “formal apologies” from the Winnetka School Board and Schools Superintendent van der Bogert [See Winnetka Talk article here]. Various people involved in this effort have made clear that by formal apologies they do not mean something like “mistakes were made.”

Nor will they accept the silliness that Winnetka School Board President Anne Kelly put out at the Town Meeting on Monday to the effect that the School Board was sorry for the upheaval due to the fact that information about the new Greeley School Principal’s wrongful death lawsuit came from the Chicago Tribune, as opposed to the Winnetka School Board, with the implication being that the Chicago Tribune somehow caused the problem. Talk about shooting the messenger: what was Anne Kelly thinking when she said that?

The dissident families are also demanding that “the [School] Board, Supt. van der Bogert and [new Greeley School Principal] Mr. Dorken should fully answer the Community’s questions in an open public forum.”

The School Board has scheduled a special school board meeting for tonight at Greeley School, 275 Fairview, Winnetka at 7:00 pm. The School Board notice said the purpose of the meeting was to “Communicate with the Community.” Will the [School] Board, Supt. van der Bogert and [new Greeley School Principal] Mr. Dorken fully answer the Community’s questions? Will there be an open question/answer period in which all questions asked are answered? If not by the Board, van der Bogert and Dorken, then by whom? If not tonight, when? Are the Winnetka School Board and Supt. van der Bogert ready for reform?

The Winnetka dissidents [an oxymoron?] also state that “the Winnetka School Board should appoint an independent committee to conduct a full investigation of all facts related to the hiring of Mr. Dorken and answer the many questions raised by the Community.” And, the Committee should make “all findings public,” and “recommend guidelines for future decisions of this nature.”

Well, folks, the dissidents say that the above actions are the “minimum,” of what is required to “restore the net of trust,” and “mend the community divide.”

Formal apologies, fully answer questions and independent panel to
investigate? The dissidents, representing what would seem to be the vocal majority of the Greeley School Community, appear to be seeking to “Take back their schools,” to borrow from a widely used political phrase. They appear to want a school board and Schools Superintendent who think, act and communicate quite differently from the board members and superintendent whom they have now.

I get it. But do the Winnetka School Board and its Superintendent get it? True democracy now in Winnetka? A really independent committee to investigate, with the emphasis on the word, “independent.” Wow, that’s a tall drink. This could be one interesting evening.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Winnetka Public Schools Supt.'s "Interview with God"

In the past, Winnetka Public School District No. 36 has provided, quite cordially, to me School Board meeting agendas, minutes and other related school board meeting materials that I have requested. The Winnetka Public Schools Superintendent and School Board have stated quite often, I believe, that neither they, nor their faculty or staff, would ever take retaliatory action against those who criticize or raise issues about the School District’s and School Board’s actions, or lack thereof. Indeed, I heard Winnetka School Member Jeff Hoch try to assure some concerned parents, a few nights ago, after the Winnetka semi-annual Town Meeting, that they had nothing to worry about, on that score.

As the regular readers of this blog will know, I have raised issues and sought to obtain information and answers to my questions [See links and other summary information here] from Winnetka Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Rebecca [Becky] van der Bogert, regarding her decision to withhold relevant information about the new Winnetka Greeley School principal from the Winnetka School Board and the Winnetka community. Dr. van der Bogert has declined my request to speak to her directly about the issue and, most recently, her assistant has not returned my calls when I have called the District to ask about Winnetka Public School District 36 general information, e.g., scheduled school board meetings. I am a resident of Winnetka and a member of the media.

However, about two weeks ago, on the morning of the same day [June 2], perhaps coincidentally, that the new Winnetka Greeley School Principal was scheduled to testify at trial and that the new Winnetka Greeley School Principal /Glenview School District No. 34 settled the wrongful death action filed against them, I did get the email response, below, from Winnetka Public Schools Superintendent van der Bogert[which she labelled as a "response to your blog"]:

Please take a moment to view this site [the Interview with God]
Thanks, Becky [van der Bogert]

With all due respect to Supt. van der Bogert’s religious or other views, whatever they may be, I would have appreciated a more direct response to my questions.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Garrett on Wealth, Campaign Finance, Pensions, Taxes and Gaming.

See, below, for partial transcripts of this week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” which features State Senator and 10th CD exploratory candidate Susan Garrett [D-Lake Forest, 29th Dist]. See here for the suburban and City of Chicago “Public Affairs," airing schedule.
Sen. Garrett’s Net Worth and how to fund campaigns:

Jeff Berkowitz: …those potential voters that you are looking at are right out there. They want to know. Tell them your net worth.

State Sen. Susan Garrett: And they should know.

Berkowitz: Well, what’s your net worth?

Sen. Garrett: Five million dollars.

Berkowitz: Really. Okay, is that a good guess.

Sen. Garrett: Two million dollars…you know my net worth is the value of my house and any savings that we have.

Berkowitz: So, is that two million? five million? What would you say?

Sen. Garrett: Probably closer—I would say between two and five.

Berkowitz: Now, can you self-fund at all. Can you use some of that two to five million Dollar net worth to fund some of your campaign.

Sen. Garrett: I have never done that…

Berkowitz: Could you…

Sen. Garrett: I could. Perhaps.

Berkowitz: How much could you self-fund?

Sen. Garrett: Don’t know.

Berkowitz: Would you?

Sen. Garrett: I am not sure…I think if people are going to run for office, the grassroots and others should support their candidacy. I have a problem when people totally self-fund their campaign.
Pension re-structuring or shorting pensions:

Berkowitz: Let’s go back to that other issue [pension legislation]. That voting and supporting that decision not to make those pension payments this year--

Sen. Garrett: We did make a pension payment—nine hundred and sixty—

Berkowitz: But not as large as they were supposed to, aren’t you shorting the pension system?

Sen. Garrett: No. Nine hundred and sixty-six million dollars [was paid into the pension system]

Berkowitz: But, how much were you scheduled to pay—something like two billion?

Sen. Garrett: Almost twice that [the amount actually paid].

Berkowitz: So, you shorted it a billion dollars. Is that appropriate?

Sen. Garrett: We restructured.

Berkowitz: Is that appropriate?

Sen. Garrett: Under the circumstances, and let me tell you—the IEA, the Illinois Education Association [a teachers’ union] and [inaudible] were co-authors of that particular plan. We basically--- everything ballooned out because the [George] Ryan administration did early retirement- so we took care of that early retirement which cost a lot more than we anticipated, and then we had to do our regular pension contributions. So, we couldn’t do the entire amount so we restructured it over a longer period of time.

Berkowitz: Is there a chance as a result that state employees and the non-Chicago teachers aren’t going to get what they should get [Chicago teachers have their own retirement plan], down the road?

Sen. Garrett: No.

Berkowitz: You’re insuring that?

Sen. Garrett: No, there’s absolutely—I am insuring that.

Berkowitz: You made that vote?

Sen. Garrett: Yes.

Berkowitz: Did you get some pork? Did [Speaker] Mike persuade you to do this by giving your district some pork?

Sen. Garrett: No, I am actually not on the inside circle.

Berkowitz: So, you didn’t get anything? You just did that vote because that was a vote of conscience and you thought that was the best for the District?

Sen. Garrett: Yeah.

Berkowitz: The best for the State?

Sen. Garrett: Yes. Okay, we could raise taxes. We could expand gambling. I think we did a pretty good job.
State Senator and 10th CD exploratory candidate Susan Garrett [D-Lake Forest, 29th Dist], recorded on June 5, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of Public Affairs this week [week of June 13] and on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, June 20, at 8:30 pm on CANTV’s cable Ch. 21.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Can Sen. Garrett beat Cong. Kirk? Watch the suburban edition of “Public Affairs.”

This week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features State Senator and 10th Cong. Dist. Exploratory candidate Susan Garrett [D-Lake Forest, 29th Dist]. See the end of this blog entry for a detailed suburban airing schedule. This show will also air throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] on this coming Monday night, June 20 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].
See here for partial transcripts of this week’s show with Sen. Garrett and a discussion of her potential competition in the 10th CD Democratic Primary if she runs and here for more about Garrett's potential run for congress. Next week’s guest on the suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” is State Rep. Julie Hamos [D-Evanston, 18th Dist].
State Sen. and 10th Cong. Dist. Exploratory candidate Susan Garrett [D- Lake Forest, 29th Dist.] debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz her potential run against incumbent Cong. Mark Kirk [R-Highland Park, 10th CD], social security personal retirement accounts, the War in Iraq, Israel’s fence, free trade, her net worth, a possible deal between Cong. Kirk and Cong. Emanuel, the State pension/budget legislation, the difference in “style,” between Garrett and Kirk and much, much more.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at

Monday, June 13, 2005

Winnetka Schools Superintendent’s lack of transparency, Part 1

Tip O’Neill, who was once upon a time Speaker of the House, said “all politics is ultimately local.” Tip should have added “there is nothing more local than your local public school ” So, there is a bit of politics among public school educators, administrators, their school boards and the communities all of those folks are supposed to serve: parents, residents and of course the kids in the communities.

Moreover, although discussing this issue, below, and in prior links, cited below, with reference to Winnetka, I am sure that there are other instances that repeat the Winnetka pattern throughout the Chicago Metropolitan area, the state of Illinois and this great land of ours. School Administrators’ and school boards’ arrogance and reluctance to conduct their operations with transparency is a pervasive problem but that general issue is beyond the scope of this post. I mention this only so that my gentle readers will not dismiss the discussion of issues, below, as a “Winnetka, or North Shore” problem.

Regarding the Winnetka School Board and its Superintendent, Dr. van der Bogert, I have written here about the community’s loss of trust in its School Board and Supt., here about the wrong shared mindset among School Board members and school administrators, here about questions the community has for Winnetka’s new Greeley School Principal that they hoped to have answered at his trial that settled on June 2, 2005, the morning before Mr. Dorken scheduled testimony and here about the Winnetka School Board, its Supt. Rebecca van der Bogert and its new Greeley School principal, Kevin Dorken being saved by the bell [a two million dollar payment by the insurance consortium on behalf of defendants Glenview School District 34 and Glenview school teacher/administrative intern Kevin Dorken to the family of Casey Fish to settle the lawsuit ], and not having to deal with the answers that the trial testimony would bring.

In defending their lawsuit, the Glenview School District and Kevin Dorken, contend, of course, that neither was negligent in their operation of the school district or supervision of students, including the sixth grader, Casey Fish, who died on June 4, 1999. Nor does the District concede that its willingness to pay two million dollars to settle the trial in mid-stream is an admission of guilt by either of the defendants to the lawsuit.

Dr. van der Bogert, the Winnetka Public Schools Supt., neglected to mention the then upcoming wrongful death trial of Kevin Dorken and the Glenview School District when she recommended Mr. Dorken to the Winnetka School Board and the Winnetka Community. Many and perhaps the majority of parents in the community found the Superintendent’s failure to disclose and lack of transparency shocking, but not the Winnetka School Board.

When it transpired last month that Dr. van der Bogert had failed to disclose what would seem to very relevant information, van der Bogert sought to justify her action by stating she had “obtained [by December 14, 2004] enough information that assured her that there was no negligence on his [Dorken’s] part.” Supt. van der Bogert argued further, “I believe I had sufficient facts that assured me there was no negligence on Kevin’s part.” [written statement transmitted to me that van der Bogert indicated she had read to those attending the Winnetka School Board meeting of May 24, 2005]. Of course, no such facts or information was presented to the community by Dr. van der Bogert. Yet another rejection of transparency by Winnetka’s School Superintendent.

So, what were the “facts,” and “information,” to support Dr. van der Bogert’s conclusion that “there was no negligence on Kevin’s Dorken’s part.” This was, of course, a conclusion that Supt. van der Bogert was able to reach six months before the matter went to trial. Also, counsel for the plaintiff in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against Kevin Dorken, Francis Patrick Murphy, tells me that Supt. van der Bogert never attempted to get any information or facts from him about the Dorken lawsuit.

Supt. van der Bogert, who trumpets her transparency to anyone who will listen, has declined to answer my questions about this issue. So, I sought to speak with other people from whom Dr. van der Bogert might reasonably be expected to try to obtain facts and information.

I started with Tom Dicianni, a named partner with Ancel, Glink, et al, and the counsel for Defendants Glenview School District 34 and Kevin Dorken in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against both. He has not returned my voicemail messages.

Next up on my list was Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Hill, Glenview School District 34’s Superintendent [See here], who I spoke with last Wednesday. Hill is Mr. Dorken’s current boss. Mr. Dorken, Greeley School’s Principal to be, as of last week, was an administrative intern at District 34.
Jeff Berkowitz: I heard that you folks had investigated the incident thoroughly and found no negligence on Kevin Dorken’s part, is that correct?

Dr. Gerald Hill: Yes, that was our findings on the matter and actually, Tom Dicianni, the attorney that was—[that] represented us was a part of that investigation.

Berkowitz: When was that investigation.

Dr. Hill: It probably started shortly after the incident itself and I wasn’t here at the time so I do not know all the details of the—

Berkowitz: You mean there was another superintendent at the time.

Dr. Hill: Yes, it was my predecessor [Hill went on to explain that Dan Johnson was the Superintendent at the time of the incident and Hill’s immediate predecessor, Dorothy Webber started as Supt. of District 34 on July 1, 1999, or almost a month after the death of sixth grader Casey Fish. Hill indicated that both Johnson and Webber now lived out of state, but he didn’t have any idea where specifically. Hill indicated “I would presume both of those superintendents more than likely had a lot to do with the investigation, but I don’t have any first hand knowledge of it.” My follow-up phone call messages to Hill to try to get additional information about the whereabouts of Johnson and Webber were unreturned]

Berkowitz: When did you take over there?

Dr. Hill: I started on July 1, 2004.

Berkowitz: …Was there a written report [of the results of the investigation] and have you seen it?

Dr. Hill: I have not seen the written report.
I met, on a few occasions, with attorney Tom Dicianni and he reviewed the case with me. That would be the extent of my knowledge.

Berkowitz: What do you recall that Mr. Dicianni said about the report?

Dr. Hill: Oh, it’s what he said in the trial.
The District’s defense was that there was proper supervision. And, that it was—well, that’s what the District’s defense was, I’ll leave it at that.

Berkowitz: Did Mr. Dorken tell the teachers, according to Mr. Dicianni, that when he left—did he tell the other two teachers who were staffing the other two stations that he was leaving his station.

Dr. Hill: Anything that I say would be hearsay so I am not going to get into any of those lines of questions because I didn’t hear any of this first hand, so it would be speculative on my part to get into that.

Berkowitz: No, I am asking what did Mr. Dicianni tell YOU.

Dr. Hill: Right.

Berkowitz: That wouldn’t be hearsay. That was what you heard Mr. Dicianni say to you.

Dr. Hill: I am not going to get into all of that, so, if you want to have a conversation with Mr. Dicianni about that, that would be fine.

Berkowitz: Well, I have called Mr. Dicianni, but he hasn’t returned my calls. Well, let me ask you then—Supt. van der Bogert in Winnetka has said that you folks investigated the matter thoroughly and found no negligence. Do you know what the basis would be for her statement? Did she talk with you?

Dr. Hill: It would be conversing with District officials and that was our conclusion. It was the defense presented in the case.

Berkowitz: Did she speak with you specifically?

Dr. Hill: I did not speak with her [Supt. van der Bogert] specifically [about the facts of the case].

Berkowitz: Do you know who she spoke with to get that—

Dr. Hill: It was probably with our public relations person, Mr. Clark.
Berkowitz: You don’t know what Mr. Clark would have based his information on when he spoke with Dr. van der Bogert?

Dr. Hill: And I don’t know who else the Superintendent may have spoken to regarding it [the case] as well.

Berkowitz: But, it wasn’t you.

Dr. Hill: No.

Berkowitz: Do you know if Mr. Dorken did tell the teachers who were involved in this, the other two teachers, that he was leaving his station before he left? Because it is clear from the trial testimony that at the time this occurred, he was in the hall and kids were—

Dr. Hill: Yeah, I don’t know what transpired [sic] in the classroom immediately before, during or after.

Berkowitz: Did you ever ask Kevin Dorken that?

Dr. Hill: No. My involvement with the case was not that part of the investigation. My involvement with the case was preparing with the District’s attorney, Mr. Dicianni—getting an understanding of what the case is— [I] did not get into that level of details, myself—since it occurred way before my tenure.
Berkowitz: The press reported from the trial last week—I think there was testimony that there was a counseling session for Mr. Dorken and the father, perhaps the mother, as well, but at least the father of Casey Fish two days after the death of his sixth grade daughter and during that session—and I think this is the trial testimony—Kevin Dorken confessed that he was out of the room and he started crying, or sobbing—something to that effect, and he [Kevin Dorken] was then escorted out of that counseling session by somebody in the Glenview School District.

Dr. Hill: I have no knowledge of that incident, other than what was said at the trial.

Berkowitz: Right, but does that affect your opinion about this? Do you know why he [Dorken] would be concerned—apparently he was concerned that he wasn’t in the room [when the event started].

Dr. Hill: I don’t know that I—that doesn’t change—that whole testimony, if you will, was never—Mr. Dorken didn’t testify at the trial so I don’t know what he would have said about that.

Berkowitz: But, this is the testimony. So you never asked Kevin what he would have said about that?

Dr. Hill: No, I did not get into those level of details.
My work, in the defense during the case, was working directly with Mr. Dicianni. I wasn’t a party of-- my role during the trial was to work with the attorney regarding the case-- I didn’t get into the level of detail with each individual witness or potential witness. I wasn’t a party to those discussions.

Berkowitz: So, you really don’t have any knowledge as to—personal knowledge—

Dr. Hill: I don’t have any knowledge as to, no I don’t have any direct knowledge on any of that.

Berkowitz: About the incident, or what happened, or even the findings of lack of negligence or negligence, that was all something that was done before you arrived. Is that right?

Dr. Hill: That’s right.

Berkowitz: You’ve never seen the report about that? The written report?

Dr. Hill: I have not.

So, in looking for transparency, where did Dr. van der Bogert obtain, at least six months ago, her “sufficient facts that assured [her] there was no negligence on Kevin’s part.” These facts would have had to have been so strong, so unambiguous, so decisive, so determinative of the issues in a wrongful death action against Kevin Dorken, and of course, in a way so favorable to the new Greeley School Principal Kevin Dorken that Winnetka Supt. van der Bogert chose to withhold it all? including the fact of a wrongful death lawsuit against her chosen principal? Van der Bogert withheld all of that from the School Board and from the Community.

The Dorken/Glenview School District 34 trial has been settled. It would seem she could have told all last December, but now it should especially be the case that Dr. van der Bogert can tell all. She can be transparent. She can engage in full disclosure, with her school Board and the Winnetka Community, at large. Would the good people of various other communities throughout this state and this great land of ours expect full transparency from their School Superintendent and their school board? Would they get it?

So, again, the question for Dr. van der Bogert is: What did she know last December about the death of a sixth grader named Casey Fish and the “facts,” relating to the negligence of Kevin Dorken, or lack thereof? And, how did she know it?

It does not appear that her source in that area of inquiry was Glenview Superintendent and Kevin’s current boss, Dr. Gerald Hill. Will Dr. van der Bogert answer the above questions and tell all, in a public and open dialogue with the Winnetka Community, a community Dr. van der Bogert is proud to call a Community of Learners. What will they learn?

Is it finally the time for Supt. Rebecca van der Bogert, who has been in School District 36 for eleven years, to become fully transparent? Is that the kind of transparency other school districts already have? So many questions, so few answers from van der Bogert, Winnetka Public School District 36 and its Board.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at