State Borrows Another $3.4 Billion

Clout Street is carrying a short story about Quinn standing at the bond counter selling your future and mine.

As of today the State of Illinois is about $120 Billion in debt.  That’s around $9,400 for every man, woman, and child in the state.  And the Governor’s passing out paper making the whole situation worse.

I’m not sure that people really understand how bad this is for the state and everyone in it.  Imagine you or your household living high on-the-hog spending a few extra thousand each month on the credit cards.  A few extra movies, a nicer car, more eating out, etc.  Well what happens when you have to pay all that spending back — with interest!

Because of the interest, the payback is tougher.  The budget cuts must be deeper and it will take longer.

Quinn and his ilk have burdened us for years and years to come.

Now if only we’ll wake-up and do something about it.

CPD May Scrap Entrance Exam

Local NBC is running with this story that the Chicago Police Dept. may Scrap Entrance Exam.  Hello insanity my old friend.

Dropping the exam would bolster minority hiring and avert legal battles, according to one source, while others confirm that the exam could be scrapped to open the process to as many people as possible.

I’m sorry, but I like my police beyond competent.  If we could get away with it I would require a master’s degree and military experience in order to be a police officer in this town.  People who are given the authority to take a life when necessary should not be whoever we can get; they should be the best and brightest among us.

What’s next, do we allow non-violent felons to apply too?

We’re moving on out…

Today’s Tribune has a story about Hookah bars closing in Worth and Palos Hills.  Seems the local town folk don’t want anyone smoking anywhere in public in their town.

Here’s the money quote:

Havana Cafe owner Ray Salem said he’ll likely reopen as a sandwich shop, although he estimates he’ll lose 50 percent of his business. He is considering moving the hookah business to Indiana, where there is no statewide anti-smoking law.

That’s right.  Another business, a employee creating tax paying business, in route to Indiana.

When are politicians going to wake-up and realize that you cannot treat people like garbage and expect them to stay?  I guess the other question is when are more people going to say “I’ve had enough” and just leave?

Relocate To Make It

Have you heard of this?

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, one in 10 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 said the poor economy has forced them to move back in with mom and dad.

Tribune has a story about it here.  It’s pretty straightforward, kids leave home trying to make it on their own and can’t.  So they return to the nest and live in their parents’ basements with all their stuff taking up a spot for the car in the garage.  I’m not trying to be harsh or curt here, just stating what it is.  Besides, I admire their perseverance.

What struck me about this story is that people will relocate — even to less than desirable conditions — to improve their lives.  Maybe I’m reaching here but in my neighborhood in Chicago there are a lot of young couples who are just kinda holding it together.  And every time there’s a crime in the neighborhood, or the parking meters go up again, or the CTA raises its rates, or any one of the dozens of things that annoy city residents happens they ask themselves, “Why do we live here?”

Our politicians better stand-up and take notes.  People will leave Chicago and make a new life somewhere else.  Somewhere where city stickers don’t cost an arm and a leg.  Where taxes are reasonable.  Where you can park on the street.  Where potholes get fixed.  Where the schools are safe.  Where the leadership doesn’t sell of revenue and damn our children to paying for today expenses.

If the politicians don’t move on this, the people will.

The Body Scan Scam

Let the dance begin.  Security gurus versus privacy rights advocates are starting the new year off with a very loud public argument on the use of millimeter wave body scans at U.S. airports.  The problem is that they’re not even debating the right question.  Like many things, this would be funny it not for the potential deadly implications of the debate’s outcome.

Here’s the rub: the body scans which make your naughty bits visible to some TSA employee (and who knows where the images get stored or for how long) are worthless at detecting low density items like the explosive carried by the attempted Detroit Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.  But because the Obama administration, Homeland Security, the TSA, and a whole bunch of other folks who have initials instead of names know this already that debate cannot be had.  Why?  Because it would scare the American people who might stop flying thus leading to another whole series of bailouts which are politically unpopular.

Choice quote from article:

Tests by scientists in the team at Qinetiq, which Mr Wallace advised before he became an MP in 2005, showed the millimetre-wave scanners picked up shrapnel and heavy wax and metal, but plastic, chemicals and liquids were missed.

Uh oh.

Kevin Murphy, product manager for physical security at Qinetiq, admitted this SPO system would also not have picked up the Christmas Day bomb, but insisted that it could be used as part of a “layered approach” to security in mass transportation, which would also include monitoring people’s behaviour.

But don’t worry, TSA just spent $165 million on these machines to provide you, the traveler, with the added cost, inconvenience, and potential humiliation just so that you can be provided with the illusion of security.

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks we need to take a long hard look at air travel security in the country and come up with some real solutions instead of these stupid toys.

Chicago Homicide Reality

Ok, I have this theory.  It’s a theory about the homicide rate in Chicago and how it’s being touted by everyone from the Mayor to the media but the truth is that we’re being sold a bill of goods.

“Chicago homicides drop for 2009” screams the Tribune headline and when I read it my jaw fell and I was like “Wha?”  My theory is that it’s not da Mayor’s gun laws, or his new G-man police superintendent, or even the generally hard-working blue shirts out there on the street getting the murder count down.  No, it’s the silent work of dozens of EMTs, ER doctors and nurses, and advancements in emergency medicine that is keeping shooting victims alive.

So I did a little poking around.  Over at Everyblock I could search the CPD database and found that in November there were 34 homicide reports filed in the city.  Yet there were 134 cases of aggravated battery with a handgun in the same period.

So then I looked at November 2008.  37 homicides, 120 aggravated battery with handgun.  2008 has less shooting but more dead.

Now this is not scientific and far from perfect because there are more categories of aggravated battery including a handgun, e.g. domestic, so don’t read too much into this.  (also, November 2007: 28 and 115.)

But when you see some talking head touting 2009’s low murder rate ask about the rate of aggravated batteries.

Perhaps someone out there (maybe with knowledge and access of CPD records) would be willing to do a proper study and share the numbers with me so that I may share them with you.  Anyone?