Monday, July 31, 2006

Uh Oh Mexico

Two weeks ago I commented about the future of America if ever the National Popular Vote initiative were to pass. Comparing Mexico's current Presidential Election dispute with one in a future U.S. election if the N.P.V. was the law in enough states to make it happen, I opined 'There are already mass demonstrations and there will be more of the same or worse.' Well, two weeks and the followers of Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party have shut down Mexico City.

It is not good for Mexico that some leaders resort to Mob Rule. It would not be good for the United States of America either.

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Illinois Financial Health

I just received an email from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce that contained the following short article about the Blagojevich administration's fiscal health. I guess I am not the only person noticing.


Nearly every state in the nation has experienced a rebounding economy. It turns out, though, that Illinois is not enjoying the benefits of other states.
Illinois finished Fiscal Year 2005 with a $3 Billion deficit and is in the hole a total of $17 Billion! Only two other states finished with a deficit for the year, Wisconsin and North Carolina and New Jersey is the only other state that had negative net assets. Finally, Illinois finished 49th for total of all funds on hand.
John Filan, Illinois Budget Director, says that the picture is better than the figures indicate. "In terms of running the joint day-to-day, so to speak, we've taken in more money than we've spent," Filan said. The deficit is being blamed on the previous Republican administration even though Gov. Blagojevich has been in office over 3 1/2 years and has announced every year that the state's budget is balanced.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Two Places To Visit

While I was working the Republican Booth at the DuPage County Fair on Wednesday, I noticed across the aisle was the USDA Forest Service. So I walked across the way to see what they were hawking. They were there to promote the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. The Prairie is close to DuPage and has 19,000 acres of open space. That is about 3/4 of the land owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. They are reclaiming and restoring the prairie from its recent use as the U.S. Army's Joliet Arsenal. It will be interesting to see this project develop.

'Midewin' is the Potawatomi word for healing. I guess the concept is that the restoration will allow the land to 'heal'. Still, the expectation is that the healing will take 20 years or more. Little by little, it will get better and better. I look forward to watching this prairie mature.

Back to the Fair...

The DuPage County Fair runs through the weekend. If you get a chance, you should check it out. It is at the DuPage County Fairground, just west of County Farm Rd. on Manchester, in Wheaton. It has carnival rides, tons of food, education booths (check out the Forest Preserve District's booth.), show animals, etc. with blue ribbons aplenty. I heard that one booth will let you milk a cow! I guarantee you, that will give you a new appreciation for earlier generations that did not have the convenience of a convenience store. And it is affordable. $6 for adults, $1 ages 3-8, free for those under 3. A good time should be had by all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Possible Projects

Today the Forest Preserve District staff briefly presented some project ideas for planning purposes. Some of them will reduce operations expenses. Some will provide better access to our preserves and certain recreational improvements. It will be interesting to see how the Commission will deal with these projects. As they are presented with a little more detail over the next few weeks, I suspect there will be some vigorous discussions.

One area that will put us through the paces, will be how we handle historic buildings. We have just decided to not pursue restoring the old District Headquarters. The alternative appears to be to demolish it, since there is no apparent District need here, and noone was offering any money to accomplish any of the potential uses that a few people had suggested might be possible if we could/would restore it. On the other hand, it is no secret that I am interested in developing the Greene Barn at Greene Valley Forest Preserve into a nature education center. I will not belabor here the many reasons that this makes the most sense for the District. What I will say, is that I am busy talking to potential partners that will help with the capital improvements necessary for the barn and some that will help with the operations once it is up and running.

Still, the question will be, once we build this or that, how are we going to operate it. This is why I have been pushing alternate revenues since I have been on the Commission. I believe that a comprehensive approach to funding will give us several funding sources, so we are not stymied if one pool of funds dry up.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Madame Governor One-Two

Judy Baar Topinka has taken a lesson from her running mate and Golden Gloves Champ, Joe Birkett, and delivered a one-two punch to Governor Blagojevich. In a previous post I had opined that once the numbers start coming out, things will start looking up for her. Polling numbers are yet to appear, but Judy has come out with a jobs plan... with numbers. It doesn't look so good for the Governor.

A brief look at some of the numbers she quotes -
  • Illinois ranks 45th out of 50 states in job creation.
  • Since Governor Blagojevich has been in charge starting in January 2003, the jobs growth rate is 1.2% compared to a national average of 4.7%.
  • Illinois is dead last among the 5 most populated states.
    California 526,600 3.6%
    Texas 553,800 5.9%
    New York 148,000 1.8%
    Florida 815,000 11.3%
    Illinois 67,900 1.2%
    (Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Illinois is dead last among its border states.
    Job Creation Rates (January 2003 – May 2006)
    Job Creation Rate
    Iowa 4.3%
    Kentucky 3.3%
    Wisconsin 3.2%
    Indiana 2.4%
    Missouri 2.3%
    Illinois 1.2%
    (Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Judy then provides a plan to help manufacturing, agriculture, small business, etc. The Governor's campaign ads ask "What's she thinking?". My guess is she is thinking about ways to put the people of Illinois back to work!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Day in a Dog Park

Yesterday I took some time to survey visitors to our dog park in Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve. The sample was too small to be statistically accurate, however, it did gave me some things to think about. ("Yes Teacher, that should be 'about which I should think.'")

One thing that I was a little surprised by, was that the only District facility these people used besides the dog park was some use of the trails. Not that I expected a complete use of all our preserves, but many of them were unaware of Willowbrook, Fullersburg, etc. and did not even picnic. I guess I should not be all that much surprised, as I keep hearing that the average time of residency in Naperville is about three years. By the time one hears about Kline Creek Farm, they are being transferred to Wichita. This has me thinking that we need to find new ways to get the word out. Always a problem when trying to be good about taxpayer's money.

What was not surprising was how much these people love the dog parks. They are as friendly as can be and are welcoming to new comers. They really appreciated the opportunity for letting their dogs run. Some of these people come rain or shine, hot or cold. If only I could get the trees to grow faster. Today, every person here would be interested in a 'doggie mat' to clean their dog after they run in the park. They also would appreciate a place to get a cup of coffee. We are looking into it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

More Than Fireworks

On this July 4th Independence Day, I usually take time to read our founding document, The Declaration of Independence. I am always taken back by the ending of the writ, 'And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.'

No separation of church and state. No 'I was for it before I was against it.' Relying on God to protect them, they committed their all to this venture. Our freedoms all flow from their sacrifices. We should all reflect on this as we watch tonight's fireworks displays. Back in 1776, the rocket's red glare and bombs bursting in air usually meant something was going to blow up nearby.