Friday, March 28, 2008

Making it up with Dan Seals and the 10th Dems

Occasional commenter Badge of Honor contacted me about an attempt to post a comment on a 10th Dem blog story in which the author gushes about making the dean’s list for 10th Dem University. BOH has pretty much given up posting at the 10th Dem blog but the pseudo-university posting tickled his funny bone enough to try and make this short post as anonymous:

“Now I know where Dan Seals got his teaching credentials”

Apparently the blog administrator lacks a sense of humor and removed the post within the hour.

Since the 10th Dems are making up academic institutions and titles, I thought we should have a little fun too. Use your imaginations along with a lot of snark to make up the following:

The name of a school where “Professor” Dan can teach.
Its mascot and/or motto.
Some interesting class titles for Dan to teach.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kirk uses technology to stay in touch with constituents

I love participatory democracy. Almost wish we had caucuses in Illinois. I think candidate debates, coffees with legislators and town hall meetings are fun. But in case you haven’t noticed, it snowed this year – a lot. The last thing I want to do is leave my house for any reason. (I did brave the snow to vote.)

That’s just one of the reasons I love Congressman Mark Kirk’s Tele-Town Hall meetings. Tele-town halls are live telephone conference calls to tenth district citizens hosted by Kirk once or twice each month. In addition to his regular town halls, the tele-town halls can reach hundreds and, on occasion, thousands of people. The congressman can host the call from DC or the district. They allow for civil discourse and feedback from ordinary people so if you get a recorded call one day soon to participate in a tele-town hall - stay on the line. You don’t have to drive. You can wear sweats. You don’t have to brave the elements. And you and your fellow citizens get to ask questions and hear thoughtful responses from an elected official who clearly cares about his constituents and has thought long and hard on the most pressing issues of the day.

I don’t agree with every answer but I am always impressed with Kirk’s depth and breadth of knowledge and how hard he must work to maintain that level of understanding on a broad range of topics. I am equally impressed with the concerns and perspectives of my neighbors and learn about what matters to real people and how public policy impacts real lives.

It is participatory democracy at its finest - from the comfort of my own favorite chair sipping a diet pepsi.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mark Kirk gets it right on earmark reform

From a Daily Herald letter to the editor:

The House of Representatives passed an ethics bill that created an independent office to field complaints and investigate the conduct of members of Congress. I voted for these reforms, but they did not go far enough with regard to Congressional spending earmarks.

Since taking office in 2001, I requested grants to help many programs in my district. My job is to fight for my communities and I do.

Last year, I secured:
• A $846,000 grant for the Waukegan Police Department to fight the more than 3,000 gang members operating north of Lake-Cook Road.
• A $335,000 grant for developmentally disabled employment in Northbrook.
• A $245,000 grant for economic development in the second poorest town in Illinois, North Chicago.

I strongly supported each request. But my job also is to fight for our country.

There are some in Congress who abuse the current system. Increasingly, Congress approves low- or no-quality projects throughout this nation. For every grant to fight gangs in Lake County, the Congress approves a new "Bridge-to-Nowhere" or "monument-to-me" with little public benefit.

Should the taxpayers build a $320 million bridge from a town of 8,000 to an island with a population 50? No.

Should taxpayers foot a $243,000 bill so that school kids in Berkeley, California, can eat gourmet, organic school lunches featuring "Comté cheese soufflé with mâche salad" or "Meyer lemon éclairs with huckleberry coulis?" No.

It is because of these abuses that I became the first House appropriator to enact a moratorium on earmarks until reforms are established that boost transparency, accountability and quality of Congressional spending decisions.

I joined 32 of my colleagues including Senators McCain (R-Arizona), Clinton (D-New York) and Obama (D-Illinois) to back a moratorium with reforms in how Congress spends taxpayer dollars. Chairman Waxman (D-California) and Minority Leader Boehner (R-Ohio) are among major backers in the House.

Many congressional funding requests are worthwhile, but some do not pass the laugh test. We believe key reforms should be put in place before another series of spending bills are written.
I hope my colleagues join me in backing a moratorium on earmarks until we can enact these reforms to improve how taxpayer dollars are spent.

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk
Highland Park