Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reducing sexual assault at Illinois colleges & universities

I would like Illinois to lead on reducing sexual assaults of Illinois college & university students.

I see some parallels to the issue of reducing fraudulent enlistments in military recruiting. These are difficult things to measure. But measurement is essential to determining if policies--like education--are effective at reducing the crimes.

I request an Illinois legislator sponsor a bill directing the Illinois Attorney General to design a system for measuring sexual assault of students at Illinois colleges & universities above a minimum size. It may be appropriate to have one minimum size for schools without dorms & campus housing and another for residential campuses.

Monday, November 23, 2015

US DOJ should investigate the cover-up of the murder of Laquan McDonald

Now that City of Chicago has been forced to release the video of Laquan McDonald's killing, the Cook County States Attorney has decided to charge the police officer who killed McDonald (Jason Van Dyke) with murder.

  • McDonald was killed on October 20, 2014
  • Judge Franklin Valderrama orders video released November 19, 2015
  • Van Dyke charged with murder November 23, 2015 

This timeline plus two other facts show intent to protect Van Dykeand deny McDonald justice.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Illinois Constitution should have soft term limits

Last night newly appointed Sen. Laura Murphy spoke to Northside DFA making the case for NDFA to endorse her and provide volunteers for her general election campaign in 2016.

Along the way Murphy spoke in favor of term limits for legislative leaders. If I'm not mistaken this idea came out of the Illinois Reform Commission 100-Day Report (April 28, 2009).

I don't understand how this approach can't be undermined by passing the title of legislative leader but the more powerful senator or representative remaining as the power behind the throne by controlling the key political committees.

But this blog entry isn't to discuss the shortcomings of that proposal, but to suggest something more promising, what I call "soft term limits".

In addition to standing for re-election against the candidates qualified for the general election ballot, a candidate would stand for election on whether this will be the elected official's last term. If over half the voters say make it her/his last term then s/he doesn't stand for re-election again.

Monday, October 5, 2015

State legislatures could pressure Congress to allow gun violence research

State legislatures can (and should!) take the lead on restoring public money being used to research gun violence.

Pro-firearms industry members of Congress have used both the law and intimidation to limit & restrict federal money from being used for research into gun violence (if the results of the research could be used to justify gun control).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

some ideas to make Chicago more progressive

Email from United Working Families yesterday:
Just a reminder that tomorrow is the North West Regional Meeting for United Working Families at 6:00pm at 1184 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL.

Please join the United Working Families and our partners and allies, including GIA Humboldt Park and One Two Punch, at the upcoming regional North West regional meeting tomorrow!

At the North West meeting we will be sharing exciting updates about our collective work both in the region and across the city. We will also help build UWF's platform to reflect our values and those of our neighbors across the city and state.This will be the working families' platform!

Come and help build an organization to hold our representatives accountable to the issues that matter to you and your neighbors.
I'm out of town, so I won't be able to participate. But I written some ideas for what should be part of the progressive agenda.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

a grassroots driven think tank based on NDFA model...

For a long time, I have been dissatisfied by US democracy.

Why can't regular citizens play a bigger role in writing legislation (and laws) without going through lobbyists & advocacy organizations?

I'm also a huge fan of the NDFA model of having the decision-making process of organization be driven by people who attend at least three meetings per year and do three volunteer activities.

What if there was a citizen think-tank that worked like NDFA?

There would be an agreement between members of the organization and members of the legislative body that would exchange:
  • Members of the organization would work on the re-election campaigns of the incumbents
  • The legislators would sponsor bills/ordinances that members of the group thought were good ideas

A member of the think tank has an idea on Issue X than s/he considers good public policy. S/he writes it and makes a presentation to the members of the think tank. If the idea is among the most popular, the think tank approves it and sends it to the legislators.

One of the legislators in the body (who was part of the agreement) would take lead. The other legislators who were part of the agreement would be expected to support the proposals emerging from the process. If they don't the think tank can withhold support at election time.

One reason this might be appealing to legislators is that they generally don't have enough staff to write bills. They often depend on the committee staff to write legislation. This means that it's hard to initiate legislation that doesn't have support of committee/part leadership.


Northside DFA: organizational responsibilities vs. winning elections

Yesterday at the annual Voting Member Retreat, there seemed to be some people who wanted to increase Northside DFA's winning percentage. The most grandiose version of this was suggesting if NDFA had done more then maybe Pat Quinn would have defeated Bruce Rauner or Chuy Garcia might have beaten Rahm Emanuel.

Northside DFA is responsible for recruiting new members* and getting members to volunteer on campaigns.

Candidates & campaign staff are responsible for winning. Deb Shore got her first endorsement from NDFA, but there were a whole bunch of things that contributed to her being elected that had nothing to do with NDFA. That sentence works just as well if you replace Deb Shore with John Arena or Will Guzzardi.

To use a metaphor from a movie (28 Days), Viggo Mortensen plays an alcoholic baseball pitcher in rehab with Sandra Bullock. He explains that pitching is about the mechanics of throwing a ball. Once the ball has left the pitcher's hand it's going where it's going. The pitcher can adjust things he controls. But there's a discipline to not being overly or inappropriately emotionally invested in results of things that have already happened or that can't be controlled.

NDFA has influence on how many people attend meetings and how many members volunteer. NDFA doesn't have enough control over whether individual campaigns win to make that a sensible metric for NDFA to evaluate the organization's performance.

When I was on a national PAC, Campaign for UN Reform PAC, I observed, it's easy to pick winners. How to pick winners?
  • endorse incumbents that are safe
  • endorse candidates with large warchests
  • wait until late in the cycle to make endorsements, eg Ameya Pawar
  • empower pragmatic people to veto endorsements of more ideological people
But, if your group or PAC seeks to move the discourse on issues, all these things are counterproductive.

I'll finish this blog entry with an idea from Rep. Jaime Andrade. Andrade said he got the following advice from a seasoned politician.
If you can't take their money and drink with them one day and then vote against them the next day, you shouldn't be in this business.
Here's the Carl Nyberg version:
If you can't deal emotionally with your endorsed candidate losing, stay away from electoral politics.

Friday, August 7, 2015

NDFA proposal: Issues Committee

Title: Issues Committee

Summary: To create a committee to deal with issues, especially issues pertaining to elections.

  • Cause NDFA to win more elections (or higher %)
  • To empower NDFA voting members
  • To improve NDFA's working relationship w/ other groups 
  • To keep NDFA members happy. 

NDFA proposal: Plans Committee

Title: Plans Committee

Summary: This committee would be responsible for the annual plan & planning for the future.

  • Improve Voting Member Retreats
  • Cause NDFA to be administered better 

NDFA proposal: Member involvement committee

Title: Member involvement committee

Summary: Create a committee that has a mission of recruiting NDFA members to be active on committees; has a goal of having at least three members on committees; provides support to committee chairs.

  • Cause NDFA to be administered better
  • To empower NDFA voting members
  • Will strengthen committees to accomplish more, plus NDFA members who are active on committees will have more sense of ownership. 

NDFA proposal: Chicago DFA, NDFA & SSDFA spin-off, an umbrella organization intended to support existing chapters...

This was submitted late in response to proposals titled Chicago DFA & splitting NDFA into Chicago DFA plus NDFA.

I propose working with SSDFA (and others) to form an umbrella organization to build our collective resources.  Basically reforging the national DFA model into a regional organization that is responsive to the local chapters.


NDFA & SSDFA spin-off, an umbrella organization intended to support existing chapters, cultivate new ones, and build the progressive grassroots in Chicago.

  • Volunteer board/steering committee has representatives from all regional DFA chapters
  • Will raise money to support programs
  • Does not make independent candidate endorsements
  • Cultivate DFA chapters in Chicago
  • Grow the collective volunteer base
  • Train the next generation of leaders
  • Increase the impact DFA has in Chicago

NDFA proposal: splitting NDFA into Chicago DFA plus NDFA

Title: splitting NDFA into Chicago DFA plus NDFA

Summary: NDFA should spin-off "Chicago DFA" which would be a separate organization with the mission of growing DFA chapters in the region based on NDFA model.

  • Increase volunteer activities
  • Increase voting members
  • Bring more new people to meetings
  • Raise more money
  • Cause NDFA to be administered better
  • Cause NDFA to win more elections (or higher %)
  • To improve NDFA's brand/reputation 
  • Primarily this would happen to build capacity. With five (or more) DFA groups w/ 30+ voting members, we could push for a progressive agenda better in elections. 

NDFA proposal: Chicago DFA

Title: Chicago DFA

Summary: We should change our name and be active all across the city and we should fold other DFA chapters into ours.

  • Increase volunteer activities
  • Increase voting members
  • Increase meeting attendance
  • Bring more new people to meetings
  • Raise more money
  • Improve monthly meetings
  • Improve Voting Member Retreats
  • Cause NDFA to win more elections (or higher %)
  • To empower NDFA voting members
  • To improve NDFA's brand/reputation 

NDFA proposal: Include voter registration in tasks for group.

Title: Include voter registration in tasks for group.

Summary: Perhaps target specific precincts to increase registration and then work to get out the vote in that precinct.

  • Increase volunteer activities
  • Increase voting members
  • Increase meeting attendance
  • Bring more new people to meetings
  • Cause NDFA to win more elections (or higher %)
  • To support candidates in other ways
  • To empower NDFA voting members
  • To improve NDFA's brand/reputation 

NDFA proposal: periodic SWOT analysis from multiple perspectives

Title: periodic SWOT analysis from multiple perspectives

Summary: Every year NDFA would budget for a SWOT analysis to be conducted by independent/outside person. The SWOT analysis would rotate who was being surveyed: NDFA voting members, formerly endorsed candidates/campaign staff & other organizations.

  • Cause NDFA to be administered better
  • Improve Voting Member Retreats
  • To empower NDFA voting members
  • To improve NDFA's brand/reputation
  • To improve NDFA's working relationship w/ other groups 

Proposal to change Northside DFA: Aggressive stance against corporate monopoly

This is the first change proposal submitted. I intend to give each a separate blog entry.

Title: Aggressive stance against corporate monopoly

Summary: Supporting lawsuits and legal action against items such as citizens United, corporate monopolies, defunding or deregulation will help the entire party and will support candidates and the general public indirectly

Goal: To support candidates in other ways 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Three more NDFA vision statements

I request people use the comments to give their feedback. It's especially important to hear about stuff that resonates with you.

On Friday, July 31, 2015, I blogged the first four vision statements. On Sunday, August 2, 2015, I blogged the next three. This blog entry will have three more.

On Saturday, August 8, 2015, Northside DFA will have its annual Voting Member Retreat. This is the annual event that NDFA uses to set the direction for the organization.

Answers to questions about visions for NDFA below the fold.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

NDFA proposed change: Include voter registration in tasks for group.

Short title: Include voter registration in tasks for group.

Short summary: Perhaps target specific precincts to increase registration and then work to get out the vote in that precinct.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

More visions surveys for Northside DFA

The first four responses were posted in the previous blog entry.

During Northside DFA's annual Voting Members Retreat (Saturday, August 8, 2015), NDFA will discuss specific ways to improve the organization.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Visions for Northside DFA, first four responses

I'm putting these on my blog because I think they will be more readable here than in an email.

I asked these questions so NDFA can have a discussion about where the organization is going in the future.

I posted some early responses to stimulate the thought process for NDFA voting members.

Specifics below the fold:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

amending the US Constitution to require trade agreements deliver shared prosperity

It appears TPP is on the way to being a ratified trade agreement.

I propose the US Constitution be amended so that trade agreements are required to benefit the people, not just banks and corporations that make money on international trade.

All trade agreements shall be renegotiated and re-ratified at least once per decade.

All trade agreements are required to improve workers rights, other human rights, and the environment in countries affected by the trade agreement.

Congress shall create a process that allows the electorate of the United States to judge whether a trade agreement meets requirements of this amendment.

Upon ratification of this amendment Congress shall pass a law creating schedule for renegotiating existing trade agreements.

The process created by Congress for electorate to judge a trade agreement shall not preclude courts from enforcing this amendment.

We expect shared prosperity.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ideas for improving the integrity of elections in Chicago

Last night, a group of people met to discuss the how to make Chicago elections more "free & fair". This blog entry contains some ideas I have. I have ranked the ideas (roughly) by how many votes they seem like they would affect (based on my intuition).

  1. Everyone in polling place has to be clearly identified.
  2. FBI hotline for situations where someone has already voted for a voter.
  3. Precincts with large numbers of provisional ballots should be audited.
  4. Require Chicago Board of Elections to report on the adequacy of the resources provided.
  5. Or get federal courts to assign a monitor, like Shakman did for City of Chicago hiring.
  6. Rules for ballot pick-up.
  7. Independent election judges: create a process for people to become judges at specific precincts without going through either the Democratic or Republican committeeman.
  8. Pass law that allows judges to penalize campaigns that violate the law.
  9. There should be a conference held in Chicago on how to best protect seniors & the disabled from being controlled or abused in elections.
  10. To make a nominating petition challenge, the plaintiff has to be a candidate in the race to have standing. 
  11. There should be a penalty for failed nominating petition challenges.
See details below.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

empower next-of-kin to appoint special prosecutors when police kill

Yesterday Cook County Judge Dennis Porter issued a directed verdict that the Cook County States Attorney failed to present enough evidence to justify the charges against Chicago Police Department detective Dante Servin for killing Rekia Boyd. See Chicago Reporter (Adeshina Emmanuel).

As has been noted by numerous people, it's difficult for a county prosecutor to work with the police on many cases and then to prosecute a police officer in other cases. This is especially true in cases where cops kill a person from a marginalized group, eg African-American, mentally ill, etc.

To make things easier for county prosecutors, there should be a system of appointing special prosecutors in cases where police kill (or rape or torture) people. This would include (but not be limited to): shootings, police chases, vehicular homicides, etc.

How would these special prosecutors be chosen?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Let's add the right to unionize to the Illinois Constitution

Proposed text:
Workers shall have the right to form effective labor unions.

The General Assembly shall define "effective" and put that definition to the voters in a referendum. This shall happen in every November election until a definition gets 50% of the vote.

If three versions of the General Assembly version of "effective" fail to achieve 50% of the vote or the General Assembly fails to pass a definition, the definition provided by the labor unions (one member, one vote) shall be put on the ballot.

If the voters reject ten versions of the definition of "effective", the courts shall interpret it.

The General Assembly shall be able to modify the definition of "effective" by putting new text on the ballot, if 50% of the voters prefer the new definition.
Worker rights are human rights.

Let's get the people involved in the debate of what rules should govern the right of workers to organize.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Requiring police to carry insurance

Under current law & policy when a police officer perpetrates violence he (she) rarely experiences negative consequences even when municipal government pays to settle a civil suit.

If there are no negative consequences, why wouldn't police use excessive & illegal violence? The rules practically encourage police misconduct.

Solution: require police to carry personal insurance that pays the first $20-100,000 of settlement cost in each case.

Police that commit misconduct will see their premiums rise. They will be forced out of police work by insurance companies.

This will also reduce the public's responsibility for paying to settle police misconduct cases & presumably reduce the legal bills over time.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tim Meegan's campaign retains strong loyalty, but what next?

On Saturday afternoon, April 11, 2015, Tim Meegan's campaign gathered 40+ people to discuss creation of an independent precinct organization & ways to organize Chicago's Ward 33 communities going forward.

After an hour I had to leave to visit a friend at Marianjoy Hospital in Wheaton.

[Below the jump is my reaction to the meeting.]

Monday, April 6, 2015

creating an elected commission to deal with airport noise

One thing I've learned from knocking doors: for the people who have airport noise as their #1 issue, it's their #1 issue. And not everyone is equally sensitive.

I live in Albany Park. With the new approach pattern, we get airport noise. But it doesn't bother me that much. But I met a woman in Albany Park equally far from the airport, and for her it's a huge issue.

I've also learned: airport noise is not just an issue for Chicago's northwest side. In addition to O'Hare generating noise, Midway generates noise complaints. And that new helicopter business going into Bridgeport is going to generate a bunch of noise complaints.

Proposal: create an elected commission to make suggestions about airport/aircraft noise that is elected from all precincts where airport/aircraft noise is a problem.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Questions for WTTW about Phil Ponce's conduct in the March 31, 2015 candidate debate

Last night Phil Ponce moderated a candidate forum that has been widely panned.

Some of the media outlets that covered it:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

new revenue for Chicago, taxing sales of some homes

Because City of Chicago is in debt to its pension funds, Chicago needs new revenue.

The following proposal will bring some revenue and it should be passable.

Tax sales of homes (properties that have taken the "homeowners exemption" which saves $250-2,000/year).

Here's the catch: if the owner buys another home in Chicago (residential property where owner qualifies for and takes homeowner exemption) the owner gets 100% of the tax rebated. Also, if the homeowner lives there for 20 years or longer, the sale would be exempt from taxation.

How much would the tax be?

1% on value up to $250,000 of sale price
1.5% on value between $250-500,000 of sale price
2% on value between $500K- $1 million
4% on value between $1-2 million
8% on value over $2 million

There would be a step down for people who owned the property over 16 years.

If property owned:
16 years ==> only 80% of the tax paid
17 years ==> only 60% of the tax paid
18 years ==> only 40% of the tax paid
19 years ==> only 20% of the tax paid

The tax would not apply to seniors that have lived in Chicago for 20+ years and downsized to a more modest priced home in the last twenty years.

If an owner sells a home and then rents in Chicago, s/he would get the tax rebated one third at a time at the 12, 24 & 36 month points, if s/he still maintains her/his legal residence in Chicago.

This tax would apply to the heirs of an estate, even if the deceased did live in Chicago for 20+ years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

reforming evictions in Illinois: having government sell eviction insurance

Recently two bills have been introduced in Illinois General Assembly to make evictions suck more for the tenants. Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) introduced SB 0871, to expand who can conduct evictions from county sheriffs to all peace officers and private detectives. Rep. Andre Thapedi (D-Chicago Ward 6) introduced HB 0160, which makes at least three changes to Illinois law that harms the tenants interests (functionally making eviction more likely to happen and to make it happen faster).

While it may be emotionally satisfying to make evictions more punitive to tenants, the interests of the landlord/property manager are usually served by getting the tenant out expeditiously (or coming to an agreement), not making the process more punitive for the tenant.

What could help the landlord and the tenant? Eviction insurance.

Monday, February 9, 2015

To defeat Rahm, get more people (you plus 347,860) to vote against him

Today, Monday, February 9, 2015 is the first day of early voting in Chicago’s municipal elections.

Whether Rahm Emanuel is re-elected as Mayor of Chicago turns on something simple: how many people vote?

There will be 250,000 Chicagoans who vote against Rahm no matter what. If 350,000 Chicagoans vote against Rahm, he will be forced into a run-off with the strongest not-Rahm candidate. If 350,000 Chicagoans vote against Rahm in the first round (February 24 election), the not-Rahm candidate will be the favorite to win the second round (April 7).

If you want to beat Rahm, your mission is simple. Get a list of the registered voters in your precinct and contact them. Make sure they vote.

Below the fold for analysis.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ward 33 election: who does Deb Mell see as "us" & "them"?

Letter found in snow. Shared by email January 28, 2015.
Elections are about framing the elections between "us" and "them". This is the line Alderman Deb Mell uses:
I will take on the difficult decisions facing Chicago and fight for what is rightfully ours.
According to Grassroots Illinois Action Mell voted with Mayor Rahm Emanuel 100% of the time 2011-14. So, a more truthful way of Mell saying it would be,
"I will take on the decisions Mayor Emanuel wants decided and vote the way MRE tells me to vote."
But I would rather focus on the second half of Mell's statement.
  1. Who is included in "ours"?
  2. What is "rightfully ours"?
  3. Who or what is the threat to us getting what's "rightfully ours"?