Examiner Editorials and Cheap Seats from the past
Much Ado About Next to Nothing
By Rich Trzupek
The following letter was sent to Senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama, courtesy of your humble correspondent. No response is expected, but it sure feels good to vent.
Dear Senators Durbin and Obama,
The open letter, which will appear in all eight editions of The Examiner on Aug. 8, has been written in regard to the controversy surrounding BP Amoco's Whiting, Indiana refinery. You have both expressed grave reservations about the project and I would hope you would be willing to share your concerns with our readers.
Before posing some questions, I should familiarize you with The Examiner and me. The Examiner serves eight northwest Chicago suburbs: Bartlett, St. Charles, Streamwood, South Elgin, Carol Stream, Campton Hills, Hanover Park and Wayne. Our total circulation is over 46,000 households.
I have been a columnist for The Examiner for over seven years. Journalism is, however, a sideline. I am a chemist by degree and have been employed as an environmental professional for over 20 years. In that capacity, I have lectured on environmental topics at several universities and have authored an environmental handbook, published by McGraw-Hill. I hope you will agree that I am qualified to discuss the BP issue, and I am pleased that I have a forum to do so publicly.
With that out of the way, let us move to the issue at hand. Both of you have joined the chorus of voices decrying the BP project and the waste water discharges to Lake Michigan associated with it. You claim that the increase in ammonia and solids discharged represent a serious threat to the environment and to the people who utilize this precious resource. I am not, of course, using your exact words here, but I hope you will agree that I am conveying the spirit of your concerns.
As an environmental professional I am curious: how did you reach these conclusions? Surely you are aware that the regulatory system in this country allows for these types of increases, in isolated instances, when such increases are tied to increased industrial activity. BP is certainly not the first, nor the last, company to apply for and receive permission to increase its wastewater discharge within the context of stringent state and federal guidelines.
And I would hope that you realize that an isolated discharge increase does not relate to an overall, lake-wide increase. There are other factors at work. Plants shut down. Regulatory standards get tighter. The entire regulatory system, as a whole, is designed to ensure that water quality continues to improve.
That system has been enormously effective. Do you deny this? Do you not recognize that fair, yet strict, application of this regulatory plan has resulted in a tremendous reduction in air and water pollution over the past 30 years, since the original Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were passed? Have you seen the data? EPA makes these records available to the public. Did you review it before you spoke?
Why did this project, designed to increase domestic energy production grab your attention? BP is, after all, one of thousands of permit holders in the Lake Michigan states. In Cook County, Illinois alone, 699 industrial sources hold similar permits, along with 162 water systems. BP is not the largest source of wastewater discharges into the lake, nor is it the only source to ask for an increase.
So why, I wonder, does this particular project trouble you so? The obvious answer seems to be: prurient, political self-interest. But, giving you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it's merely ignorance. In the interests of fairness, I would like to ask you to answer the following specific questions for our readers:
1.) EPA tracks and regulates hundreds of water pollutants and ranks the ones that are of concern for a specific body of water. Where do the two pollutants the BP proposes to increase, ammonia and solids, rank in this hierarchy?
2.) How do BP's discharges of ammonia and solids compare to naturally occurring levels in Lake Michigan?
3.) How do BP's discharges of ammonia and solids compare to other sources, including industrial, water systems and agricultural runoff?
4.) How has water quality in Lake Michigan changed in the last 30 years, and in the last 10 years?
5.) How have discharge limits changed in the last 10 years? Have they grown more stringent, and resulted in an overall decrease in water pollution discharges, or have they gotten more liberal and resulted in an overall increase?
I do not, of course, expect you to actually answer any of these specific questions. The answers would undoubtedly be too embarrassing. I rather expect you will provide our readers with canned rhetoric that sounds good, but says nothing, or-more likely-that you will ignore this letter altogether. There is no political advantage to be gained by actually diving into the details.
Allow me to head-off one criticism: I do not, nor have ever, worked as a paid consultant to BP Amoco. My interests involve equity, not profit.
You will both continue to claim to be statesmen. You will say that you are protecting the public.
I believe that you, and many others, are doing quite the opposite in this case. You are encouraging irrational fear and ignorance, instead of standing up for reason. You are undermining a system that has--whether you can admit it or not--been tremendously effective in improving the quality of our environment. You have, in short, let your constituents down, and I for one think that's a shame.
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The Problem With Big Green
By Rich Trzupek
When I wrote about the BP-Amoco controversy, as has been the case when I have been on the industry-side of an issue before, some people speculated that I had been paid by BP for my opinion. And that's fine. Not true, but there are people who think solely in those terms and nobody's going to change their mind.
Yet, for those who wonder why this kind of issue troubles me so, the answer is simple: because my dad was a steelworker.
Walter Trzupek worked at the mills in Northwest Indiana for over 30 years, sweating and straining to pay for the health and schooling of six rambunctious kids. He sacrificed a lot, and I saw it every time he dragged himself home in the morning after pulling a midnight shift, beat to hell, covered with the grime of the mills.
His is not a unique story. There are millions of men and women doing the same thing, every day, in the nation's steel mills, food plants, automobile factories, refineries and hundreds of other places that produce not just a product, not just profit, but a living for the people who depend on them.
When I look at an issue like BP-Amoco, I don't see a big oil company. Frankly, I couldn't care less about how much money a multi-billion dollar conglomerate makes or doesn't make. It's not about the board room, it's about the factory floor and all of those Walter Trzupeks out there, trying to make a living.
They are the people who wrestle with this monster that we have created called environmental regulation. It's the plant engineer, the EHS specialist and the shift supervisor, who scratch their heads and try to figure out exactly how to comply with each and every part of the rules. It's a maddening task. They want to do the right thing Ñthey're desperately trying to do the right thingÑif only they could figure out what the right thing is.
Those are the people I work with, and I have enormous respect for them. They're not cigar-smoking robber barons, gleefully polluting the world. They're ordinary Joes and Josephines. If they smoke a cigar, it's down at the local pub on dollar draft night.
When they manage to figure out the right thing, when they get through that dizzying maze of regulations and design a project that will comply with all of them, they should be applauded, not vilified. Yet, somehow, politicians like Rahm Emanuel and Mark Kirk can turned a blind eye to their efforts and say that complying with the rules isn't good enough. And why isn't it good enough? Because they work for Big Oil? What happened to equal application of the law?
We shouldn't be nearly as concerned about Big Oil these days as we should be about Big Green. Who is Big Green? It's the multi-million dollar environmental corporations that traffic in fear, hysteria and distortion. It's the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. These organizations have grown into monsters as large as many a corporation, and they are far more dangerous, forÑas cases like BP's clearly demonstrateÑthey are rarely put under the media's microscope.
Does Big Green do some good? Sure. But the damage they do far outweighs that good. One can, and should, admire many a small, grass roots environmental group. We see them in our communities all the time, cleaning up the parks, removing debris from the creek, protecting green space. Those are wonderful things, the kind of activity that we used to call "conservation."
Big Green is something different. Big Green is about much more than grass-roots conservation. Big Green operates huge propaganda factories, and their product is panic. Panic has enormous value. It's a product that sells and ensures that donations keep rolling in.
Think about it. We have made enormous strides at cleaning up our air and waterways for over 35 years. Have you ever heard Big Green talk about those massive reductions? Have they ever taken a moment to say: "good job everybody, look at all the progress we've made together!" They can't say that. They won't say that. It would devalue their product too much. Everyone must be kept in a constant state of fear.
That's all the BP project is about. In reality, nobody's life is in danger. Nobody's drinking water is threatened. Hell, last Thursday the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District discharged over 1.6 million pounds of solids and ammonia into Lake Michigan, based on their own data, and Big Green didn't say a word. They shouldn't haveÑfor it's really no big dealÑbut doesn't that make you wonder why they attack the BP project so viciously? BP discharges the same stuff, but their couple thousand pounds a day is somehow "dangerous."
There would be no profit for Big Green in raising the alarm bell over a massive discharge that was ultimately fueled by mother nature. To do so would make Big Green look silly. But there's enormous profit to made out of attacking BP. So they crank up the assembly line and churn out the panic as fast as they can make it, whenever BP is mentioned.
And, in the end, the people who get hurt the most are all the men and women who work their butts off to try to make a living and comply with the law while they do it.
I see my father in everyone of them, and I think to myself: Big Green, you owe a lot of people one hell of an apology.
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Shutting up those darn statistics
By Rich Trzupek
A classic “Peanuts” cartoon features Charlie Brown and Lucy discussing the end of the baseball season. Charlie Brown is exuberant, extolling the virtues of his team. Lucy? Not so much. She proceeds to quote the damning data, which indicates that their team did not win a single game, barely got a hit and, all in all, was pretty much an insult to the national pastime. Charlie Brown considers all of this for a moment, before uttering the immortal words: “tell your statistics to shut up.”
Several decades later, in the middle of a “summer” during which the thermometer has rarely poked past eighty degrees on the Fahrenheit scale, much less ninety, those six words are still relevant. They sum up the attitude of the global-warming fanatics, who are absolutely certain that mankind is causing the planet to boil over, despite the lack of actual evidence to prove the proposition. “Tell your statistics to shut up” indeed.
A story that hit the press – okay, part of the press, since CNN and the rest of sheeple who make up the mainstream media wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot windmill – a couple of weeks ago made it clear that the United States Environmental Protection Agency is in full shut the hell up with your damned statistics mode.
If you missed it, here’s the story in a nutshell. A USEPA staffer, Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst at USEPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE), put a paper together that questioned (horrors!) global-warming theory, as commonly presented and accepted in politically correct crowds.
Carlin said, in an e-mail that accompanied his study, that “the critical attribute of good science is its correspondence to observable data rather than where it appears in the technical literature.” He goes on to point out that the new studies “explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) models.”
Translation: the IPCC models, which form the entire basis for global warming hysteria, do not correspond, and have not ever corresponded, to actual, real-world, observed data. There is, in other words, absolutely no evidence to suggest that the doomsday models bear any relation to reality.
Yet global warming is a matter of faith, not science, and the e-mail back from Carlin’s superior, one Al McGartland, Office Director of NCEE, reflects the fact that heresy will not be tolerated in our new hopey-changey era.
“The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round,” McGarland wrote back. “The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment (that is, human-caused global warming), and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision… I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.”
Translation: tell your statistics to shut up.
The global-warming fanatics were quick to fire back, naturally, once this exchange came to light. Carlin, they sniffed, is an economist – what could he possibly know? And those studies that he quotes in his paper? Those are nothing more than pure poppy-cock – the ravings of a delusional minority who refuse to accept the truth.
One would expect no other response from the true believers. Challenging one’s faith is always a losing proposition. The fact that global temperatures have remained steady – and are now starting to drop a bit – since 2000? Irrelevant. The fact that upper air temperatures, which the IPCC models guarantee will increase as a result of burning fossil fuel, have not increased? Doesn’t mean anything. What is important, what is absolutely vital to the fanatics, are made up pictures of polar bears floating on ice bergs and slapping together data about steadily melting glaciers that – talk about inconvenient truths – have been steadily melting for thousands of years.
These are the “facts” that are passed off as “science” in this new medieval era. We are directed to ignore the evidence of physical science, indeed to ignore our very senses, and to give deference to the wisdom of the ancients – albeit that Al Gore is quite so ancient yet.
We should not be surprised that the Obama administration, and – by extension – Obama’s EPA, have moved so quickly to quash any dissenting notions with regards to global warming. The President did, after all, promise to reverse the rise of the oceans. That’s serious work, given that an entire planet – much less a solar system – factors into the equation. If you’re going to reverse the rise of the oceans, you better have the USEPA on your side. It would also help to have the biggest greenhouse gas emitters on the planet, which would be China and India, on your side as well, but we’re getting off track.
We’ll see what happens from here. The guess of your humble correspondent is that Mr. Carlin will be looking for employment sooner rather than later. It is never wise to point out that the emperor is buck-naked. When it comes to the religion that is global-warming theory, it’s positively career suicide.
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We've long become accustomed to typical behavior from given groups. For example, when it comes to bureaucracies like the EPA, no one would be shocked to find it infested with anal-retentive types so focused on what they perceive as the crucial details of their job they long-ago lost sight of the big picture.
With the EPA, there's at least a potential upside. The environment is far cleaner now than back when Richard Nixon signed it into existence. In the decades since, it has made major gains over pollution and have been proven at times to be a pyrrhic organization; quick to sacrifice small industry to achieve questionable "goals."
But the EPA has met these goals, regardless of the cost to local economies, and it is just that record that makes the latest BP Whiting Refinery "uproar" so much more frightening and potentially damaging nonsense.
As a government group with the power to severely penalize and even shut down businesses, an ever-growing group that has lived off the taxpayers for decades, the EPA does work many a politician, eager for the green vote and the green that comes along with it, look up to and applaud.
So what did BP do wrong? Nothing. The EPA, faithful to its "environment at all costs" charge, understood BP was playing by its rules. Low-level bureaucrats could figure that out; supposed public servants voted into office couldn't.
Instead, spurred on by media clowns begging for attention, some local politicians assumed the EPA was less stringent than reporters willing to say anything for a chance to push Lindsey Lohan off the front page and get their own name above the fold.
These politicians climbed in the anti-BPÑand therefore anti-EPAÑbandwagon, and didn't care if it rolled right over the truth. Since these men supposedly give the EPA direction, they need to at least act as if they have a clue.
People, with a seemingly infinite number of good reasons, expect little of our politicians. Few are naive enough to assume they are actually "leaders." More often than not, the elected simply follow whatever they see as the popular thought at the moment and jump on it.
True political leaders come around so seldom that, when discovered, they tend to earn themselves some statuary and/or face time on currency. Still, at the very least, we would rather our politicians did not get in the way, slowing up, complicating and burdening our lives.
The response of so many local politicians to the fabricated BP Refinery "issue" is an embarrassment. By taking their "science" leads from the Gores&Moores of the world, Senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama, and U.S. Congressmen Mark Kirk and Rahm Emanuel, along with the DuPage County Board, have failed us all.
By cashing in on what they perceive as an acceptable prejudice, they endanger us all, and subject us to undue hardship. Their limo drivers probably don't mind what gas costs; the poor people struggling to get to work might have a different attitude.
The embarrassment is of course not to themÑfor foolish, uninformed behavior is not something they ever mange to see in their mirrorsÑbut rather to us, for tolerating their harmful stupidity. At some point, their detrimental behavior needs to be checked.
In this case, we implore our readers to contact these sheep disguised as men at http://www.petitiononline.com/ex71124d/petition.html and let them know that although we may not expect these men to think for themselves, they should at least follow the advice of some better-informed, reality-based grown-ups. Or maybe even their own EPA.
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Arends/GOP Tactics Are Appalling
Bill Newell's accomplishments as Wayne Township Supervisor should be enough to impress anyone. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars for good causes without dipping into taxpayer's pockets. He has supported seniors, veterans, kids and those in need. He has started programs that nurture volunteerism in our community and that recognize those who selflessly donate their time for the good of others. His accomplishments have been recognized by the Illinois Association of Townships.
The only people that Newell doesn't seem to impress are the old guard of the Republican Party, whom are determined to show him the door and who are willing to stoop to any degree of deception and underhanded tactics to keep him from winning a second term.
What makes township government unique is its populist, "all citizens are free to participate" tradition. One need go no farther than neighboring Winfield Township to find a candidate selection process that is open, honest and that encourages everyone to participate in a caucus to select candidates. But, in Wayne Township, the GOP big wigs have closed ranks and made the process as secretive and biased as possible, in order to keep voters from placing Newell on the ballot under the Republican banner.
Their chosen heir-apparent, Trustee Tom Arends, has already embarked on a viscous campaign of half-truths and outright lies in order to muddy Newell's good name. A letter penned by Arends implies that Newell "harassed and humiliated" township employees, and that he spends money without the approval of the township board.
The first charge is the kind of fabrication that would flabbergast anyone who knows the easy-going Supervisor. If Arends managed to dig up a disgruntled employee, that should be no surprise. Some people live their lives disgruntled, no matter who is in charge. The truth of the matter, however, is that the overwhelming majority of township employees both like and respect their Supervisor.
The second charge reflects the sort of self-serving twisting of the truth that only someone as singularly arrogant as Arends could contrive. Newell did, for example, hire a contractor to do basic housekeeping at the Wayne Township offices after Newell's physical condition left him unable to do so himself. And yes, he did so without formally signing a contract and seeking board approval. For Arends, this is damning.
What Arends doesn't tell voters, and doesn't want them to know, is that the previous Supervisor, Glenn Auble, had exactly the same sort of handshake agreement with the husband of his receptionist, to perform exactly the same work, and - during Auble's eight year tenure - the board never had a written contract for these services either. But Auble was the board's fair-haired boy, so trustees, including Newell-hater Joan Mruk, never said a word. When Newell reasonably assumes that he was simply following accepted procedure, Mruk, Arends and their pals tried to turn it into a scandal.
Arends and his allies, Mruk and Doris Kapiel, engaged in the same sort of self-righteous grandstanding when the flagpole at the township offices was damaged. Newell dutifully solicited three bids for its repair and then informed the low-bidder that he was going to place his bid before the board for approval. The contractor, not understanding the process, quietly completed the repairs on a Saturday before the board meeting. When Newell then presented the bill - all of $129 - Arends and his pals went ballistic. This from a group of trustees who don't show but the most cursory of interest in the big financial picture. Rather than pat Newell on the back for solving the problem quickly, they wanted to jump down his throat for their aggrandizement. It's "gotcha politics" at its most despicable.
Arends, Mruk, Karpiel and highway commissioner Ken Spitz owe their position, and allegiance, to the old Pate Phillip Republican machine, the people who gave us an Illinois governor - George Ryan - so reprehensible that the state elected an even worse one to take his place. The Pate blueprint includes stacking the deck whenever possible, and this group has done its best to do so.
The GOP selection committee for Wayne Township included: Randy Ramey, Pate's stepson (need we say more?); Pat Musson, the mother of township assessor Mike Musson, whom she was allowed to interview (no conflict of interest there); former Supervisor Glenn Auble (did we mention conflicts of interest?); Jim Zay and Karpiel.
When it came time to plan the caucus to choose the GOP slate, the powers that be did their level best to ensure that the meeting would only be attended by their cronies. They switched locations, changed times and dates, and, contrary to past practice, have done their best to make sure that the final arrangements were not known until the last possible moment.
The candidates they support are the insiders who have their own interests at heart. Trustee Laura Gebis, who has actually taken the time to understand the inter-workings of township government and whom is the one person who regularly asks relevant questions, and Newell, don’t rate a second look. They prefer blowhards like Arends and Mruk, a bully in a brassiere if there ever was one, to people who actually give a damn.
Bill Newell has solicited private funds to help the people of Wayne Township: over $2,000 to help the Sheriff's department patrol the township, $5,000 to help bail out WAYS; over $17,000 for repairs to the food pantry; and over $3,000 to help out needy families at Christmas. What have Arends, Mruk, Karpiel and Spitz done that even comes close to this record?
In his despicable letter, Tom Arends said that he wants to "restore trust in Township government". We couldn't agree more, Mr. Arends.
That's why it's time for you to get out of it.
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Examiner Publications provided the following endorsements for
For Township Supervisor
..This election represents an opportunity for Wayne Township voters to choose service and integrity over power politics and we urge you to join us in supporting Bill Newell for Township Supervisor. He has earned our endorsement and he has earned your vote.
Newell has taken action in support of the residents of Wayne Township time and time again, while the majority of the board - with the notable exception of Laura Gebis -- spend their time plotting for their power play and congratulating themselves for undercutting their Supervisor.
.. Four years ago, Newell beat the Republican old guard's hand-picked candidate as a write-in candidate. That remarkable feat, for which the suburban GOP machine still holds a grudge against Newell, is a measure of the faith that voters had in Bill Newell. Four years later, it is clear that this trust was not misplaced.
..Newell has personally raised tens of thousands of dollars for worthy causes in the Township, almost single-handedly saved the WAYS program, improved township facilities and revitalized the food pantry.
..He has also received Illinois' award as a "Township Friend of Youth", raised money to buy school supplies for needy children and supported our veterans. Township government is supposed to be about service to those who need it most, like the elderly, the handicapped and disadvantaged children. Under Newell's leadership, the township has fulfilled this mission better than it ever did before.
..Newell's selflessness and integrity contrasts mightily with the ego-centric, boorish behavior of his opponent in this race: trustee Tom Arends. Arends, along with his old guard GOP buddies, spread half truths, mis-represented the issues and conducted a poorly-concealed whispering campaign in a four year effort to undercut Newell. It has been observed, with some justification, that the best way to get Tom Arends to vote for something is to let him know that Newell is against it. Arends is just that petty. He would be a disaster as Supervisor.
..Worse, Arends and his friends did all they could to keep Wayne Township Republican voters from choosing Newell as their candidate. They stacked the deck during the interview process with Newell opponents and they played games with the caucus that resulted in many Newell supporters not knowing where, or when, the caucus would be held.
.. If local Republican voters had a fair opportunity to choose their Supervisor candidate, instead of the would-be hot-shots whose day in the party is long past calling the shots, we have no doubt that Newell would have won the nomination. When he beats the machine -- again -- maybe the machine will finally get the message: your day is done.
For Township Trustee
Gebis and Pierscionek
..Laura Gebis and Art Pierscionek have proven themselves. They have proven themselves as dedicated public servants and as residents who are engaged and involved in the community. They have earned your votes and our endorsement.
..Gebis, a registered nurse, is the one trustee on the current board who truly represents the best interests of her constituents, rather than political interests. She has been a tireless, fearless advocate for the taxpayers in Wayne Township and doesn't care if she offends the powers that be by doing so.
Not only does Gebis ask the tough questions, she has demonstrated time and time again that she is ready with solutions as well. She has volunteered to train others in life-saving techniques, represented the township before the DuPage County Board and donated her time and talents to community events. She is, in other words, a keeper.
..Pierscionek has a distinguished record of accomplishment as a trustee with the Bartlett Fire Protection District. He took a leadership role in cleaning up the fire district, pushing to reorganize management, establishing institutional controls and adding a badly needed new fire station on the west side of town.
Like Gebis, he is also deeply involved with the community, as part of the Little League, Cub Scouts and Lions Club. Pierscionek is dynamic, innovative and utterly honest leader who will work hard to improve township services and manage taxpayer dollars responsibly.
..On the other side, the local Republican organization is trying to shove four more party hacks down the voter's throats. Make no mistake, the "Republican" kingmakers in Wayne Township are not interested in political ideologies. They are only interested in obtaining and maintaining power.
Left to their own devices, a board that consists solely of the machine's candidates would be a disaster for the residents of Wayne Township. Good government depends on debate and the exchange of ideas between people who have competing interests and different views. Without Gebis and Pierscionek on the board, Wayne Township would be governed by a group of trustees who could be counted on to march in lockstep and follow the directions of their political masters.
..Gebis and Pierscionek, on the other hand, are beholden to no one except their constituents. They are a valuable pair of public servants and they deserve your vote.
For Township Highway Commissioner
..David Becker is a transportation professional with decades of experience in road maintenance and mechanical work. He has demonstrated that he is a tireless worker, devoted to whatever job he undertakes, and we proudly endorse him for the position of Wayne Township Highway Commissioner.
..Becker has been employed for over ten years with the Winfield Township Road District, where he has shown that he can get the job done in a township that has built an exemplary record of service, beset by none of the problems that have beset Wayne Township.
.. A lifelong West Chicago resident, Becker is a husband and parent with close ties to the community. He's a sincere, engaging professional whose promises to improve services in Wayne Township are backed up by an impressive resume. We are certain that, when elected to the post of highway commissioner, he will be there for the residents who need him.
..We wish we could say the same for his opponent, incumbent Ken Spitz. It has been rumored that the reason Spitz seems to be so inaccessible, so often, is that the erstwhile "full-time" highway commissioner has a second job. Spitz has denied the accusation, but if this is indeed his only job, he surely doesn't spend a lot of time answering the phone. The number of residents who have complained about Spitz's non-responsiveness boggles the mind.
..Spitz is also a key player in the local, old-guard suburban Republican establishment. It is this group that did its level best to close the nomination processes to candidates that weren’t as well connected as the incumbents. On that basis alone he deserves to be tossed from office, but his lack of performance in an important job clinches the deal. Spitz needs to go.
.. It's time for new effective leadership, in Wayne Township. David Becker will provide that kind of hands-on, responsive leadership that our residents need and deserve. David Becker should get your vote.
Examiner Publications provided the following endorsements for
For Village President
.. Mike Kelly. Need we say anything more?
The "Village of Bartlett" and "Mike Kelly" have been synonymous terms for a long, long time. Kelly has been the champion of residents who, but for him, would not have had a voice in local affairs, for more years than we can count. We are very proud to endorse him for Village President.
... It's a measure of his popularity and service that one needs only refer to "Mike" within the boundaries of the village and everyone instantly knows who you are talking about. Most everyone can identify with the gentle, unassuming everyman who is always ready to listen and who is tireless when it comes to solving the problems of anyone who asks for his help.
... As township Supervisor, Kelly has vastly expanded services of the township's food pantry, been a champion for seniors and veterans, and has always demanded accountability for every tax dollar spent. The fact that he has accomplished all of this is remarkable enough. The fact that he has managed to defend the interests of the residents of Hanover Township even when faced with a board whose first priority was to discredit him, no matter what, is truly amazing. He has known trial by fire and emerged all the stronger for it.
... Kelly promises to focus village government on improving infrastructure and the local business climate and, given his record of performance, there is no reason to doubt that he will deliver. If we can't trust Mike Kelly, who can we trust?
... His opponent, Sherry Bormann, has run a lackluster campaign that does little to suggest that her heart is actually in the race. Bormann has served as a responsible trustee, but there is nothing about her resume to suggest that she would make for a better village president than Kelly.
... Like every municipality, Bartlett faces difficult times ahead. Tough times call for tough leaders like Mike Kelly. He is a leader that we can count on to make the difficult decisions and to squeeze the last drop of services out of every precious tax dollar. Kelly understands what so many politicians today do not: that government can not do everything, so it must establish priorities that make sense for the people and do only what it can with the resources available.
... As Supervisor, Kelly was spectacularly successful in engaging the private sector to help with worthwhile programs. This experience will be especially valuable as Village President, not only in finding ways to do more with less, but in broadening Bartlett's tax base by attracting new businesses.
... We look forward to Mike Kelly being sworn in to office. It's been a long time coming and Bartlett could not ask for a more qualified, more honest or more dedicated person to lead the village. We encourage you to do your part for Bartlett's future by voting for Mike Kelly on April 7.
For Bartlett Library Board
Jack Budz and Ralph Wood
... With a well-received, million dollar facelift, balanced budget, and topflight service, the Bartlett Public Library District is everything your typical Illinois government isn't. So, we can only advocate tweaking, rather than transforming, its leadership.
... Four candidates are vying for two 6-year terms: incumbents Jack Budz and Thomas Sieron and challengers Brian Kosobudski and Ralph Wood. We recommend something old, and something new.
... Jack Budz, a pillar of the Bartlett community, brings with him decades of financial experience in the banking industry. While property values have plummeted, staunching the Library's income stream, the costs of running the Library have steadily increased--from insurance to utilities to materials. As the Library Board is increasingly confronted with budgetary squeezes, Budz will continue to be an invaluable asset to the Board and to the residents of the Library District. Just as his fellow trustees often turn to him for his expertise, so should we by reelecting Jack Budz.
... Tom Sieron is an innocuous, long-time presence on the board. If there were no other choice, the Board would likely continue to govern well with his presence.
... But, there is a choice. Both Brian Kosobudski and Ralph Wood have been frequent attendees at Board meetings. Both seem to be genuinely interested and affable men, though Kosobudski was a no-show at the Woman's Club candidate forum last week.
... Our nod, goes to Ralph Wood. As his candidate statement on the Cook County Clerk's website reveals, Wood has ample affection and the proper regard for public libraries. Wood wrote, in part, "My library card has been my passport to every part of the world. Because of the library I was able to explore far away countries and cultures as well as the different regions of the United States. I also met heads of state and our presidents through biographies and autobiographies. The library helped shape me into the man I am today and set me on a career path of service to others."
... We like that he's relatively new to Bartlett, because he brings a fresh perspective to a team of long-time residents. That said, he also brings with him a long history of public service, most notably as library trustee in Minnesota. Which means he can hit the ground running and offer special insight, as evidenced in his sound policy discussion, which is also posted in his candidate statement.
... We endorse both Jack Budz and Ralph Wood for Bartlett Public Library District Trustees.
For Bartlett Fire Protection Board
. It would be easy to cite John Whitmer's status as a living legend in Bartlett as reason to reelect him to the Board of the Fire Protection District. After all, his deep commitment and service to our community over many decades recommends him to the job.
. But Whitmer is something more: he is integrity personified. Public servants of his experience and character are hard to come by, and in the financially challenging years to come, we would like to see him stay right where he is, as our trustee.
. Moreover, Whitmer is a deeply thoughtful man, utterly without ego when it comes to what's best for the District. We are confident Whitmer will unswervingly put our interests first, and he has our endorsement.
For Bartlett Park District Board Trustee
. . Commitment, involvement and a compelling desire to make things better are important qualities to possess for anyone running for public office. In our estimation these qualities are all well represented by Lori Bottoni, candidate for Bartlett Park District Trustee. Bottoni is a fifteen year resident of Bartlett and has been actively involved with youth recreational programs while serving on the Bartlett Raiders board for the past three years.
.. Additionally, Bottoni has been actively involved within the community as a volunteer in youth programs and activities at church and at the elementary school level. Clearly, her current and past community activities and experience demonstrate Bottoni's passion and sense of commimtment to the youth of Bartlett. These same qualities will serve her and the community well as a Park District Trustee.
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Examiner Publications provided the following endorsements for
For Township Supervisor
John Stanko, Jr.
...Hanover Township has reached a fork in the road: for the first time in 12 years, a new man will hold the Supervisor's gavel. We can either keep that gavel in the hand of an ethical, hard-working public servant by electing John Stanko, Jr., or finally surrender any hope of honest Township government to his opponent.
... After three terms, Supervisor Mike Kelly is leaving some big shoes to fill as he moves on from the Township. But Stanko is a man up to the task.
... Raised in Streamwood, Stanko lives in Bartlett with his wife and two children. As an accomplished attorney and partner in his own law firm, Stanko has been honored to speak at bar association seminars and the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. He also chaired the bar association's real estate tax committee.
... Closer to home, Stanko has served seven years on the Board of Bartlett Little League---the last two as President. He has also served as a member of the Finance Council of St. John's Catholic Church in Streamwood; a representative for the Raiders Athletic Association; and, the Booster representative for the South Elgin High School cheerleaders.
... Stanko intends to serve the Township by drawing upon the experience of his distinguished legal career and his many enduring relationships with other residents active in our community. Above all, he insists upon preserving for the people the integrity of the Township Board. As a seasoned litigator, he won't be afraid to defend what's right--alone if he has to. In sum, John Stanko, Jr. will, as he has done for his clients and his community, put his money with his mouth is.
... His opponent, on the other hand, always puts his mouth where the money is. A Washington lobbyist, McGuire has done everything he can to inject corrosive beltway politics into our community.
... Whether it's the Illinois Open Meetings Act, Freedom of Information Act, or basic decency, McGuire has seemingly little regard for following the laws intended to keep government out in the open. Take just two egregious examples...
... Both now as clerk and when he was a trustee, McGuire has made a habit of gathering in dark corners of taverns with other trustees before and after public Township meetings--meetings at which there is a curious absence of discussion followed by unanimous voting by his cronies. In controversial matters, particularly, the public often hears only a roll call vote, leaving residents in the dark and the purposes of Open Meetings Act thwarted.
... Then, last August, the time the Examiner submitted to McGuire's office a written request for the clerk's audio tape of the Township meeting held on July 22, 2008, at which meeting McGuire and his cronies freely discussed how much they deserved raises. They felt free because no media were present to witness the conversation. Yet, when McGuire turned over an alleged, exact copy of the recording (as required by law in the Freedom of Information Act), the tape had perfect continuity from the call to order to adjournment--except for a 14 minute long block of time in the middle that somehow happened to be missing. What was missing exactly? Only the entire conversation about how much more of the taxpayer's money the McGuireites deserved. Remarkable coincidence or brazen corruption? We have no doubt.
... And we could go on, but the bottom line is that only Supervisor Mike Kelly has stood in the way of McGuire's relentless efforts to turn Hanover Township into a Chicago-style, backroom-dealing patronage operation--where the public is fleeced and the politicians prosper.
...John Stanko, Jr. is the dedicated, honest man we must elect on April 7 to succeed a dedicated, honest man.
For Township Clerk
... There is a word that should apply to Hanover Township government, but sadly never has. That word is "accountability". Darryl Schroeder is the candidate for Hanover Township Clerk that promises to bring that word into township government, and we are proud to endorse him.
... A financial professional, Schroeder is a CPA and Chief Financial Officer for Property & Casualty Insurance Company. He will bring the practiced eye of an experienced, talented accountant to the books of the township, something that is long overdue.
...Schroeder's agenda, as a husband, father and resident of the township for 16 years, is to ensure that tax dollars are being spent well and that the township is operating at optimum efficiency. He wants to reduce the tax burden on township residents and use his expertise to help the township do more with less. In this economy, could voters ask for anything more?
... He's not a political insider and we count that on the plus side of Schroeder's resume as well. Hanover Township government has been overrun with the good old boys network for too long, and the shroud of secrecy that hangs over township operations - despite Supervisor Mike Kelly's best efforts to pierce that veil - should be disturbing to every resident. Schroeder will bring a fresh, unbiased look at township government, and township government can only get better as a result.
...His opponent, Katy Dolan-Baumer, blended right in with the existing machine once she was elected as trustee. Or rather, not completely. Dolan-Baumer brings new meaning to the term "righteous". When she decides that she is correct, no compromise or accommodation for other points of view are possible. This dogmatic attitude has made her a number of enemies and even some of her running mates are a bit put out with her.
... Dolan-Baumer's resume doesn't hold a candle when it comes to financial expertise, as compared to Schroeder's. Her penchant for offering legal opinions without the benefit of any legal training is also troubling. The clerk's post carries a good deal of responsibility, and having someone in that slot pontificating on the law is an accident waiting to happen. Finally, she has been spectacularly unsuccessful at working with staff in the township, which also carries a number of unpleasant ramifications should she be elected to a position of more responsibility.
...Schroeder, in contrast, is the kind of guy who can get along with anyone and who is willing to listen to everyone. He's confident, he's accessible and he's accomplished. He will bring badly-needed professionalism to the post of Hanover Township Clerk, and that's why Darryl Schroeder deserves your vote on April 7.
For Township Trustee
Kurt Sikora and Mary Alice Benoit
Highway Commissioner Craig Ochoa
...Hanover Township government needs fresh blood, dedicated to the residents in the mold of Supervisor Mike Kelly. Trustee candidates Kurt Sikora and Mary Alice Benoit, along with incumbent Highway Commissioner Craig Ochoa, are the best picks to move the township forward.
...The trio brings a healthy mix of skills and experiences. A successful, self-made businessman and long-time resident, Sikora brings a keen appreciation of finances and an eye for innovation. As a retired attorney, Benoit understands the intricacies of the legal system that is so much a part of government.
...Benoit's tenure on the Mental Health Board will also serve her well, given that mental health services are such a big part of township government. Ochoa, also a successful businessman, has done an admirable job as Highway Commissioner and is far more qualified than his opponent.
...Both Benoit and Sikora have said that fiscal responsibility and greater public-awareness campaigns about township services are their top priorities. These are priorities that make sense.
...The Township has great facilities and programs, most prominently including its spacious, modern senior center and mental health services. They are not always fully utilized and, especially in today's difficult economic times, they ought to be.
...A close, more business-like look at the township balance sheet is long overdue and taxpayers should be pleased to know that Sikora, Benoit and Ochoa understand this.
...Of the remaining candidates, trustee hopefuls Bill Burke, Marv Kramer and incumbent Sandra Westlund-Deenihan, along with Highway Commissioner hopeful (and current trustee) Bob Goffinski are much too tightly connected with the old guard, discredited McGuire crowd to rate even anything close to a nod. A vote for any of this quartet would be more of the same.
...Trustee candidate Howard Krick has done an admirable job as a Streamwood Park District Commissioner and President and is well-respected in the community. Yet, his unfortunate flirtations with the McGuire gang are troubling. But for that, we would have felt confident in endorsing Krick. Given the circumstances, we can not, although our objections aren't as strong as they are when it comes to the rest of the McGuire slate.
...It's time for Hanover Township to take a giant leap forward, to build upon the yeoman's work begun by Supervisor Mike Kelly. Sikora, Benoit and Ochoa are the best people to make that happen and they deserve your vote.
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Examiner Publications provided the following endorsements for
For Library Board
DeRango, Jeffrey, Jeffrey and Wade
.. New leadership on the Carol Stream Library Board is long overdue and David DeRango, Dominick Jeffrey, Joshua Jeffrey and Michael Wade promise to bring common sense and responsibility back to the board. We are pleased to endorse them for trustee.
...The quartet emphasizes fiscal restraint, which is more important than ever in these troubled economic times. They are opposed to a new library building and the higher taxes that would go along with such a project. The voters, who rejected a referendum that would have done just that, would appear to agree with them.
... All are long time residents and will bring a variety of perspectives to the board. DeRango and Wade are businessmen who understand how to manage money and would be expected to protect our tax dollars. Dominick Jeffrey, employed in the information technology field, is a good fit too, as this electronic age continues to change the faces of libraries everywhere.
...Joshua Jeffrey, Dominick's son, brings a college students point-of-view to the board, which is particularly useful since he is in the best position to know what resources are important to students. Ordinarily, we don't support relatives sitting on the same board, but the current board needs replacing quite badly and the two Jeffreys are on the right side of the issues.
...The current board has tried to ram a new library down taxpayers throats, despite the overwhelming feeling that it is not wanted. The current board also spent almost a million dollars to purchase a parcel of land to house the new building, despite the fact that it doesn't have the funds to actually pay for a new building. That's putting the cart well ahead of a horse that nobody wants in the first place.
...While other units of government are working to hold the line on expenses, the current board has doubled, and wants to triple, the upper layer of management on staff. Dominick Jeffrey sensibly wonders why three directors are now necessary, when retired Library Director Lynn O'Dell managed to handle those duties by herself for thirty years.
... DeRango, Jeffrey, Jeffrey and Wade represent an opportunity to bring some sanity back to the library board. They are focused on respecting our tax dollars and keeping operations lean and mean. They are the right choices when you cast your ballots on April 7.
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National Enquirer: Tribune Edition
By Rich Trzupek
A number of people e-mailed responses to last week's column about the BP-Amoco (non) issue. My favorite came from a fellow member of the Trzupek clan, my older brother Larry, who earns his living as a professor of chemistry.
"Unlike humans, who excrete urea in their urine, fish excrete ammonia. So, if we want to keep ammonia out of Lake Michigan, the obvious solution is to kill all the fish," Lar observed.
Sage advice, but a couple other readers offered criticism, too. Jack Putignano rated my letter to the senators "marvelous," but added "you should have included Mark Kirk, who has stuck his oar in the water and joined them in raving on BP. He sounds just like those other two mopes."
Chris Skelnik complained, correctly, that I "specifically call out our honorable Democratic senators, but conveniently omit any reference to similar positioning/positions, on the part of state Republicans."
I can't argue with either criticism. Jack, Chris: you are spot on. Mark Kirk, Peter Roskam and a host of other Republicans have made statements about BP every bit as hysterically ignorant as Obama and Durbin and a legion of Democrats. I apologize for the omissions.
Moreover, I also failed to identify the worst offenders in this festival of scientific ignorance. I did not even mention the people who started this wildfire and then gleefully fanned the flames until both politicians and the public were boiling mad. Allow me to correct this error now, by placing the blame where it should lie: at the feet of the Chicago Tribune and their Minister of Environmental Propaganda, reporter Michael Hawthorne.
I do not know what sort of degree Hawthorne holds, but, as a scientist, I cannot imagine how he could have gotten through Chemistry 101.
His stories about BP, like his stories on most every environmental issue, have been so incredibly sensationalized and appallingly full of distortions and plain old factual errors I am dumbfounded they could pass muster with any competent editor.
One can only conclude the Tribune's editors either: don't know, or don't care, that their lead environmental reporter hasn't the slightest understanding of the environment, environmental regulation or environmental science. I'm not sure which conclusion is more frightening.
There are so many examples of Hawthorne's horrific reporting I could never fit all of them into a month's worth of columns. Let's just consider one example.
In his July 15 article, Hawthorne pointedly says BP will be dumping "industrial sludge" into Lake Michigan. Sludge. ThatÕs a powerful word, isn't it? When we think of "sludge," we think of black toxic gas, spewing from an ugly discharge pipe, with dead three-eyed fish floating belly-up all around. In fact, the only sludge involved in the BP story is that produced by Hawthorne himself.
The "sludge" BP wants to discharge from its wastewater treatment plant will be 99.996 percent water. That is admittedly an increase from its current wastewater discharge, which is 99.997 percent water.
When Hawthorne talks about "sludge," he is presumably referring to the 30 parts per million of solids that will be contained in the discharge, up from 22 parts per million. That's less solids than you'll find in tap water. That's less solids then you'll find in many bottled waters. Thirty ppm might qualify as "sludge" for Michael Hawthorne and the boobs in Tribune Tower, but I can't imagine many reasonable human beings would share that opinion.
That's one example of just how badly slanted Hawthorne's stories on this issue have been. If nobody paid attention to them, these twisted stories wouldn't matter. They shouldn't matter. But the fact is this is the Trib and, as far as it has fallen, the Chicago Tribune still commands attention.
Legislators read headlines like "BP gets break in dumping in lake," and, because the story is in the Trib, they figure it must be credible. "Incredible" is more like it. This is the kind of stuff one usually finds in The National Enquirer and Weekly World News.
These stories not only hurt responsible companies like BP and their employees, they ultimately do damage to legitimate environmental causes. Though I work on opposite sides from environmental groups in my day job, I have friends in many of those organizations who are both reasonable and technically competent. They are as disgusted as I when environmental stories are wildly sensationalized, as this one has been. They know hysteria ultimately hurts their cause, for the public turns a deaf ear when the fanatics constantly cry wolf.
I can't change the world, but I can at least make the facts available for those who care to find them. So here's the deal: I have added a link labeled "Hawthorne Watch" to the home page of the Cheap Seats' Web site at www.trzupek.com. The next time Michael Hawthorne writes a piece, go to Hawthorne Watch and youÕll get the rest of the story.
Now let me be clear. There is nothing wrong with reasoned, respectful debate about environmental issues. Our natural resources are precious and we ought to protect them. I'm not saying that I always know the best way to do that. I am not nearly smart enough to be right about every issue.
We're not talking about who's right and who's wrong here. We're talking about getting facts right. We're talking about the basics: bias and accuracy and context. Without those, it's impossible to have a debate, for all we're left with is hysteria. And hysteria is all the Chicago Tribune gives us these days.
On the Web: www.trzupek.com