Thursday, May 31, 2007

Girl Talk at WTTW with Marin, Netsch and Topinka

A few weeks ago this reporter noticed a major change for WTTW, our public TV station. It did a program on illegal immigration with two people who argued illegal immigration was harmful, on net, to the U. S. economy and two who argued such immigrants were helpful to the U. S. economy. Wow, exact ideological balance on public TV, I couldn’t believe it.

Then last week, I saw WTTW had returned to substituting Women’s Professional Basketball for Chicago Tonight, from time to time. I wouldn’t think the mission of public TV was to fill the gaps in commercial coverage of sports, but there you have it. Women’s Basketball knocks out public policy discussion on WTTW every 10 days or so during “basketball season.”

WTTW, one step forward, one step backward. Then another step backward, last night.

Chicago Tonight brought us three lefties, who happen to all be women, discussing the issues pertaining to the state legislature’s resolution of State budget/taxes by the May 31 deadline, after which the legislature requires a three-fifths majority to pass the budget. Indeed, if a budget is passed by May 31, but then a supplemental budget that is effective before June 30, 2008 is passed, that supplemental also requires a three fifths majority.

Since the Dems have a majority in the House and more than 3/5 majority in the Senate, many think they could and would get together to pass a budget before May 31. On the other hand, if they are going to raise taxes substantially, they might want some Republicans with them to provide “political shelter.”

--Marin, a far Lefty

From reading and listening to Carol Marin over the years, we know, as an opinion journalist she is far, far left. If journalists had to register like lobbyists, she would be a registered far, far left journalist. To Carol, sane people are against the Iraq War, against Bush, for more government spending, for legalized abortion, for more taxes, for more government regulation and provision of health care, against school vouchers and on and on it goes. A registered lefty.

--Netsch, a far left pol

Dawn Clark Netsch, a far, far left pol. She never met a tax hike she didn’t like, nor a spending increase, etc. Social issues, all Left.

--Topinka, comfortable on the Left

Judy Baar Topinka, a “moderate Republican,” who probably is fairly comfortable slightly left of center, notwithstanding her occasional statements against more gun control. How do we know Judy is a comfortable lefty. Well, for one, virtually no lefty fiscal statements from Netsch or Marin seemed to elicit any effort by Judy to knock them down. Judy did swipe at Rod Blajojevich’s ethical issues, but as to fiscal lefties? Not a word.

Now, some of my best friends are far left or far right. Nothing wrong with either. But, there is something wrong with having no balance on a TV show. Such shows tend to be dull and unhelpful to understand all sides to an issue.

The upshot of tonight’s discussion? Netsch kind of led it, as the grand dame of Public Finance in Illinois, with Marin nodding yes, and Topinka generally going along.

--the Netsch '94 vision rides again

Netsch said with Dems in control of everything, it would be sensible for Illinois to have a major increase in taxes that would go primarily into education, but also take care of mass transit, underfunded pensions and a capital budget. She may not have laid it out, but no doubt she would be thrilled to have income taxes increase by 66%, or from three per cent to five per cent and maybe a slight decrease in real estate taxes. This would be a vindication of her ’94 tax swap and that of her modern day tax swap, HB 750 ally, Ralph Martire, who is backed by the unions—those composed of teachers and otherwise.

Netsch said constitutionally the state should bear the burden on education and she decried the potential expansion of gaming as a revenue source for education. Topinka defended gaming as a revenue source, in part because it was part of her gubernatorial plan, but she concurred with Netsch that while gaming could “pay the bills,” it really wasn’t appropriate as a major funder for education.

--Girl talk, no time for reform

No one said a word about reform in education, let alone true reform such as school vouchers or school choice. No one said a word about savings from managed care. No one said a word about removing member initiatives or pork from the budget. No one said a word about the harmful effects of increases in taxes or fees on the economy or jobs. This was “girl talk with Carol, Judy and Dawn.” There was neither need nor time to talk reform or economics.

--Right of Center pols shunned by WTTW

WTTW, if it were following its recent experimental policy of ideological balance, might have invited any one of a number of Republicans who are right of center on taxes and economics, e.g., former Senator Rauschenberger, House GOP Leader Cross, current Senators Lauzen or Brady, former guv candidate Jim Oberweis, former guv candidate Ron Gidwitz, just to name a few.

But who at WTTW really cares about ideological balance. What they seem to want is “girl talk” about male hormones being to blame for the crisis in Springfield. And, oh yeah, we can have racial, gender and sexual orientation diversity at our public TV station. But, ideological diversity? That would be a truly radical, reform type idea at your public TV station. And, we know, like Chicago, WTTW ain’t ready for reform.

Back to you, Phil
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at