- Created on 29 October 2012
The trial for a man accused in an eight-person killing spree will also mark the first major test of Illinois' experiment with cameras in the courtroom.
Cameras will be rolling in Whiteside County Monday when attorneys begin delivering opening statements in the second trial for Nicholas Sheley.
Sheley, 33, is on trial for the 2008 death of 93-year-old Russell Reed. Sheley has already been convicted in the murder of a Galesburg, IL man, and he faces trials in six other deaths in Illinois and Missouri.
Other counties will be watching the experiment with cameras in the courtroom, with the possibility that it could be expanded to other areas of the state.
Some judges and attorneys have expressed concerns that the expanded media presence may disrupt proceedings. Sheley has also had a history of being disruptive in court, and officials will also analyze whether he plays to the camera.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, and the chief judge of Cook County's court system, Timothy Evans, will be among those monitoring the trial. Evans says a camera system could be ready for Cook County by the end of the year.
Sheley has pleaded not guilty in the case.
Copyright Associated Press
- Created on 26 October 2012
In some Chicago suburbs, electricity rates have dropped as much as 40 percent thanks to a process called "electricity aggregation," which allows communities to negotiate for lower electricity bills.
On. Nov. 6, voters in Chicago and about 60 other Illinois municipalities will have a chance to join in by approving referendums authorizing aggregation. They should do so.
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Under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed in August 2009, municipal residents can vote to negotiate with more than 40 certified alternative power suppliers for better electricity prices. Banding together to buy power in bulk gives municipal ratepayers leverage.
In the primary election last March, more than 200 Illinois communities voted to do so, and they generally have seen significantly lower electricity bills since then. Elsewhere in the nation, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island have community aggregation programs, and according to the Citizens Utility Board, Rhode Island and Ohio estimate their programs have saved consumers more than $18 million a year.
Individuals already have the right to switch to an alternate supplier, and more than 1.5 million ComEd residential customers have done so, but that's a daunting process for one homeowner. If a municipality such as Chicago does it, the hard work of negotiating a contract is done in the background. Most people will notice only the lower bills. The Citizens Utility Board has scheduled a Wednesday news conference to release its guide for consumers trying to better understand electricity aggregation.
On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel repeated his support for the idea, which passed the City Council unanimously.
- Created on 24 October 2012
So far in this presidential campaign, both sides have managed to do an excellent job of bashing each other. Both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have pulled out the negative campaign ads, debate zingers, and attack-dog advocates in efforts to make their opponent look unelectable, unqualified, and undesirable.
It's working, but sadly, both sides are, as a result, underwhelming the American electorate. This is most notably truth with those undecided voters that do not have a team to cheerlead for over the course of the next two weeks.
That begs the question: in this time of dealing with the aftermath of the Great Recession (while on the verge of the financial cliff and sequestration), who is best equipped and most likely to end the greatest recession we currently face in politics today – that of inspirational and galvanizing leadership?
On the heels of the 2008 win for then-Sen. Barack Obama, the hope was that, in addition to the political capital that the new president would need to spend in order to turn around the nation's economy, this inspirational rags-to-riches politician would be able to use his political and personal charisma to reverse the luster that America felt domestically (as jobs were being lost by the thousands each month) and internationally (as President Bush was having shoes thrown at him in his final days in office).
Over the course of the past four years, we have seen – both through no fault of Obama's own (e.g., the incidents of racism coming from opposition party officials in Tennessee and Montana, among others) and through his own miscalculations and missteps (e.g., the hyper-partisanship of the stimulus and healthcare reform packages as well as his flip-flops on issues such as the Bush tax cuts in December 2010) – that President Obama has not been the inspirational unifier that was promised by Sen. Obama during the 2008 election season.
In a time when America is in need of an infusion of long-lasting hope and optimism for their economic, employment, educational, and national security futures, Obama has been incapable of providing much of anything on the campaign trail other than a litany of re-warmed lines attempting to make Romney out to be the newest and richest version of Republican presidential candidates in the mold of President George W. Bush or Sen. John McCain.
Yet, despite the opportunity to fill this leadership void left by the incompleteness of Obama's four years, Romney has yet to project the image of a unifying, comforting, and amendable leader that can masterfully resurrect the needs found throughout a diverse America.
Talking about tax cuts for all Americans does not resonate when it comes from a candidate that has been caught disregarding the 47 percent of Americans that are not paying income taxes or who are struggling in this recession.
Talking about helping the middle class does not resonate with a swath of voters that have found themselves out of the middle class after years of losing home equity, job opportunities, or sustainable wages. Despite being governor of a state that includes Boston, Romney has failed to talk to a diversity of Americans on a regular basis, instead choosing to stick with the red state, red meat, consultant-driven strategy that hopes to pluck off just enough electoral votes to squeak out a presidential victory.
Now, Americans – and notably those of us in struggling urban areas – are stuck asking: who will inspire, be historic, and elevate the American standard once again?
For all of the rhetorical talk of American Exceptionalism, neither candidate has spoken with the presidential poise and American statesmanship on a consistent enough basis to energize this deeply-wounded nation. Presidents are required to be more than just economic managers, masterful politicians, or victors in specific battlefield endeavors.
They must also advance the American Dream through the power of their personality. They must ignite greatness that spread throughout the nation through their presence in the White House. Those that effectively occupy the Oval Office in today's America must have the moxie and focus necessary to galvanize Americans past the social, economic, and geopolitical challenges that the nation faces under his or her direction.
The inspirational nature of a president is the fuel to unite a divided congress, heal a broken political system, and spark new waves of innovation and creativity where apathy and blandness currently reign. Reagan did that with the 1970s economy and the Cold War.
Eisenhower and Kennedy did that by taking on civil rights issues in the Deep South and confronting the Soviet threat as well. Lincoln did that while the blood of his citizens and the hopes of maintaining the United States of America spilled on battlefields. Obama was supposed to be that figure in 2008, yet has failed to meet that bar after four years.
Romney has yet to project an image of connecting with many voters past traditional conservative voters. Despite the debates, campaign ads, and colorful rhetoric, until a presidential figure emerges to meet -and perhaps elevate – the standard of national leadership, our nation will collectively continue to limp along in this economic "recovery", even as we wait to recover from our continue void in long-lasting, galvanizing, and history-changing leadership.
LENNY MCALLISTER is an internationally-recognized political commentator and public speaker featured on several national and international outlets including BET's "Don't Sleep! Hosted by TJ Holmes", Canada's CBC and Sun News Network, CNN, and Sirius-XM Radio. His new book, "Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today's America" is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny's "The McAllister Minute" regularly on The American Urban Radio Network.
- Created on 19 October 2012
A Conservative Commentator’s
Viewpoint of the Presidential Debates
The second presidential debate of 2012 has past and, thus, voters have a clearer portrait of what President Obama himself stated are “fundamentally different visions about how we move our country forward,” between he and Governor Mitt Romney.
Rev. C.L. Bryant, creator of the independent film “Runaway Slave” states, “Even though President Obama was more animated in this debate, it was still clear that Gov. Romney would be a better commander in chief. His world view will restore American swagger.”
Indeed this debate featured a more passionate President Obama. Unfortunately, passion and emotion do not constitute real solutions.
President Obama, when pressed about the loss of U.S. jobs overseas, stated, “Some jobs are not coming back because they are low wage, low skills jobs. I want high wage, high skills jobs.”
I could not help but wonder if economically marginalized Americans were paying attention. President Obama has no intention of helping them access entry level jobs that can help them develop skills and, ultimately, qualify for higher wage jobs.
He threw poor Americans under the bus, just as he did Black Americans and women in the workforce.
The candidates were asked about how to address discrimination in the workforce, particularly against women.
The president, while alleging to support stronger regulations to provide a level playing field for women, was less than honest about what his policies actually do.
The Davis Bacon Act, Prevailing Wages, and Union-Only Project Labor Agreements are all policies which harshly discriminate against Blacks and women in the workforce. President Obama has consistently supported these policies, which has cost Americans over 160,000 jobs, mostly in urban communities.
Gov. Mitt Romney has made it a part of his platform to fight for equality in the workforce, level the playing field for minorities, and eliminate policies that prevent fair competition and access to entry level jobs for all Americans.
President Obama talked of manipulating the U.S. Tax Code to arbitrarily penalize businesses he doesn’t like by removing deductions and exclusions for them, while promoting businesses he does like by increasing deductions, exclusions and subsidies for them.
He believes government should be able to pick winners and losers in business, which usually amounts to the American workers losing jobs.
President Obama was defiant about reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is now the highest rate in the industrial world. This is the primary reason corporations move jobs overseas where it is more affordable to do business.
Gov. Romney offered a vision that gets rid of some of the deductions, exclusions and subsidies for all businesses, and decreases the U.S. corporate rate to a competitive 25 percent.
Gov. Romney wants to level the playing field of the global market by holding trading partners responsible for unjust practices, and removes impediments to job creation by flattening the tax code. This will create job opportunities for countless Americans. The urban community is crying out for these opportunities.
In effect, Gov. Romney wants to strengthen our economy by promoting a business-friendly atmosphere in America which gives incentives to all businesses and opportunities for all Americans to get back to work.
Horace Cooper, adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research states, "Mr. Obama did what he does best — extemporize and feign concern. He claims to believe in the free enterprise system but his entire record as president belies him. Trickle down government isn't the half of his problem. He fundamentally believes that the government is the great tool to aid and assist the American people. It isn't and his feckless efforts to pursue more government, even with overwhelming evidence that these policies don't work, have been particularly harmful, especially to Blacks."
The resident raised the issue of Gov. Romney not caring about 47 percent of the American people. How ironic and hypocritical. There are just over 22.4 million households using food stamps in America today. That amounts to around 15 percent of the American population.
During the administration of President Obama, the total amount of Americans on food stamps has increased by 44 percent since the president took office in January 2009. This is not to place a stigma on Americans who have applied for food stamps. We should not instinctively and ambiguously issue attacks on Americans who receive food stamps. We don't know everyone's story. However, we do know the story of failed liberal policies.
As a result of President Obama’s failed policies, underemployment and chronic unemployment are worse than what we have seen since the Great Depression. And no community has been hurt more than urban communities where unemployment for Black Americans is 14.2 percent. For Black youth, it is a mind boggling 36.7 percent.
President Obama, when discussing violence and gun control (issues of particular interest to crime ridden urban communities) emphasized increasing regulation on various types of assault weapons, many of which are already illegal under the current US law. He believes government interference with the right to bear arms can somehow regulate human behavior.
Governor Romney offered a different idea. He expressed that he wants to enforce the laws we have already. More importantly, he expressed that we can reduce gun violence by focusing on the authority and responsibility of parents.
He believes that gun violence is a symptom of a greater disease: broken homes and a culture where our values are often misplaced. He doesn’t believe government can fix that. Parents and private citizens can and must do so.
Gov. Romney summed it up best with his closing remarks:
“We don't have to settle for what we're going through. We don't have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don't have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don't have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don't have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don't have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.”
I don’t intend to settle, fellow Americans. Do you?