Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aurora Township Democrats Caucus

Aurora Democrats attend their caucus.

On January 13, 2009, I was excited to go and see a real caucus in Aurora, Il. The Aurora Township Democrats were holding a caucus to determine who would be the party's nominees in the April 7th election. I had never been to a caucus. I had friends who had been to Iowa and so visions of people standing in corners and rowdy debates filled my head.

It was to bad that it was to be such a cluster-fuck. Many of the people organizing the caucus clearly had no idea what to do and were incompetent at organizing a very simple meeting, which allowed it to descend into chaos.

It was held at the local Plumbers and Pipe-fitters union hall. It was a decent sized crowd, with about 300 people in attendance. I sat with a group of volunteers I knew from the Laesch for Congress 2008 campaign. I was disappointed to find out that the caucus was not going to be organized the way Iowa presidential caucuses are. Instead it was going to be done on paper with rounds of voting after each set of candidates spoke. The candidates would speak, then people would go into another room where they would be given their voting sheets, they would cast their vote and return to the main room. It was a mess. People were getting confused, and questions were raised about the validity of the process.

The first position was the Aurora Township Supervisor. There were four candidates Annie Craig, Paul Greviskes, Christina Campos and Bonnie Lee Kunkel. They each gave a short speech before the floor was opened for debate. One measure was to have a run off vote for the position. It passed. Thus setting the stage for the ugly fiasco that was to occur.

I asked a question about the candidates support for labor and what they would do in the position to support unions. Only Greviskes had a decent answer. He had been a member of the United Auto Workers before becoming a lawyer and discussed some of the ways the Aurora Township Supervisor could support union workers.

I liked Greviskes' answer, but a number of my friends at the caucus had nothing but bad things to say about him. They said that he sued a Laesch supporter, that he prevented discussion in Township board meetings by shouting down other board members like Bonnie Kunkel.

I cast my vote for Greviskes though, unsure if it would even matter. It turns out it would.

I was talking with a number of the people at the meeting and missed the speeches of the Highway Commissioner candidates. I was able to talk to them while voting was taking place. Tim Beaird seemed like a nice union activist, but John Shoemaker seemed like he knew more about the position, and had investigated environmentally safe ways of patching up potholes. I went to cast my vote for Shoemaker, but was informed that the polls had closed and I wasn't allowed to cast it. Talk about a mess.

The caucus was preparing to conduct the second round of voting for the Township Supervisor position, when all hell broke loose. It was announced that the run-off would contain two candidates, Greviskes and Campos. All my friends told me that Greviskes was bad news, but they also told me that Campos was being controlled by other people.

However it turns out that another candidate, Annie Craig, was being excluded by a razor thin single vote. That alone would usually lead to some drama. There was a vote in question though. There was a person who voted for Campos whose voting record originally showed a split ticket, meaning they had voted both Democratic and Republican. The Township Democrats claimed that they isolated the vote for Campos by this voter in question, made a call to the Board of Elections to verify their status, and that the Board of Election told them that this person in question was actually a straight Democratic voter, before they included the vote in the tally for the first round of voting. Several people were skeptical of this, and felt that Craig was being excluded unfairly.

I found the whole process ridiculous and left without casting a ballot in the second round of voting. I heard that the meeting went until 1 am with threats of lawsuits and lots of bad blood. I wasn't really that impressed the Aurora Township Democrats. But then again, for someone as left as I am, it's hard to impress me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Day of Election Work

I had a busy day yesterday, Sunday, January 11, 2009. I worked on three different electoral campaigns. In the morning I collected signatures for Thomas Geoghegan for Congress, in the afternoon I collected signatures for Ben Mullenbach for Oswego Town Trustee, and in the evening I made phone calls for Jennifer Laesch for Aurora Township Clerk.

The Geoghegan campaign was pretty interesting. I was collecting signatures to get Geoghegan's name on the ballot in the special election for the 5th Illinois congressional district. It was pretty wild because there are a lot of people running in this election. My friend and I had staked out a block between the Belmont el stop and the Clark and Belmont intersection. There must have been canvassers for three other candidates on the same block. We didn't have a whole lot of success. We each got a little over half a page of signatures before we had to take off.

I also found a great blog with great coverage of the Geoghegan campaign at

Ben Mullenbach is a young activist who worked on the John Laesch for Congress campaign. He decided to run for Oswego Town Trustee. It's an weird election system they have in Oswego. There are three seats on the town board of trustees, and the top three vote getters in the election on April 7, 2009 are declared the winners. Mullenbach wants to work on environmental issues, bringing the Metra train to Oswego and creating good union jobs. Mullenbach's website is I walked door to door in a suburban subdivision collecting a page of signatures before we wrapped up.

Some of the literature the Mullenbach for Oswego Town Trustee campaign was handing out.

We met back up at John and Jennifer Laesch's house. After eating some pizza, a group of us began to make phone calls to support Jennifer Laesch's campaign for Aurora Township Clerk. Jennifer is a great progressive, who is really dedicated to liberal change and as Township Clerk she wants to make the Township Trustee meetings more open, transparent and accessible to the public by using the internet to post information about the meetings.

The process for Jennifer Laesch to run is complicated. First she has to win the nomination of the Aurora Democratic Party. However, it is not like a primary where the voters will be able to decide. Rather it will be a caucus in the Aurora Democratic Party. This caucus will be taking place tomorrow night, January 13, 2009 at 7:00 pm at the Plumbers and Pipefitters hall Local 501 at 1295 Butterfield Rd. in Aurora, Il. Then if she wins the Caucus, the primary election will be April 7, 2009.

I will be there caucusing for Jennifer Laesch, on January 13 and I encourage any other citizens of Aurora Township who pulled a Democratic primary ballot in 2008 to do the same.

Correction 1/13/09-- Unfortunately, after checking with the Aurora Township Clerks office, Jennifer Laesch will not be eligible for the Aurora Township Clerk position due to the requirement of one year of residency in Aurora.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Largest Pro-Palestine Rally in Chicago History

On Friday the 9th of January, 2009, Chicago witnessed a 10,000 person strong rally and march against Israel's bombing and occupation of Palestine and the Gaza Strip. Highlights of the rally included Dick Reilly's speech in front of the Israeli consulate, where he spoke of those showing great courage- in Palestine, and those protesting the bombings around the world, and those showing great cowardice- the US house and Senate, including the entire Illinois delegation, which voted to support the bombings of Gaza. A representative of the Venezuelan consulate also spoke, and they condemned Israel's bombings and mentioned how Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, had kicked out the Israeli ambassador as a protest against the bombings.

I tried to take more pictures and video, however my camera has been dropped a few to many times and simply will not work any more. I was lucky to get these four shots of the march leaving Daley plaza and heading towards the Israeli consulate.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thomas Geoghegan for Congress

I was at the library a few weeks ago and I looked at their used book sale cart, and found a book called "Which Side Are You On? Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on it's Back." It looked interesting, so for a dollar, I bought it.

I found it to be a though provoking book. Geoghegan is a Harvard educated labor lawyer, who has represented workers whose plant is closing, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, mineworkers, nurses and other labor activists. His book often took a deep and probing look at how the labor movement was hurting, and how he felt like he wasn't doing enough to help it. It was a book filled with a dark humor. I liked it, and I did some googling, and saw that Geoghegan worked in downtown Chicago, and was contemplating a run for Congress.

Geoghegan lives in Lincoln Park, a prosperous neighborhood of Chicago which has a history of producing some of the more conservative Democratic party congressmen. Consider Dan Rostenkowski, who would be tried for corruption. In 1994 Rostenkowski was replaced by a republican, a rarity in a Democratic stronghold like Chicago. Soon after, Rod Blagojevich took the seat. Yes, the same Blagojevich that as Governor of Illinois, is now under investigation for his attempts to sell a senate seat to the highest bidder. When Blagojevich left Congress to become governor in 2002, Rahm Emmanuel ran and won the congressional seat. Emmanuel has become an icon for the more conservative wing of the Democratic party. He has backed the more conservative members of the party in primary elections, even in cases where the more progressive candidate had a better ground game of grassroots outreach. Emmanuel has consistently backed the war, voting for every funding request of the Bush White House. Emmanuel is also a strong supporter of Israel, after all, he is an Isreali Defense Forces (IDF) veteran.

When Obama won the presidential election, he called on Rahm Emmanuel to become the new White House Chief of Staff. While many progressives are upset over this choice, it also gives progressives a shot at replacing Rahm Emmanuel with someone more liberal in the 5th Illinois Congressional district.

Thomas Geoghegan should be that person.

I encourage everyone to visit Geoghegan's wbesite.

The Democratic primary for this special election is March 3rd and the general for the special election will be April 7. Geogehan needs all the help he can get. I will be out collecting signatures on a petition to get him on the ballot later this week. If you want to help me, just e-mail me at

There are other contendors. Most are much more conservative, a former homeland security official, and a state rep who is endorsed by Richard Mell- Blagojevich's father-in-law. There is also a young progressive Matt Reichel. While Reichel has good progressive positions on the important issues, I just can't take him that serious as a candidate. For one thing, when Bush won in 2004, I stayed in the US and continued to fight for progressive change. Thomas Geoghegan stayed in the US and fought for progressive change. Reichel ran to France. Then when France elected conservative Sarkozy, and the US elected liberal Obama, Reichel comes back to the US. I think Reichel could have a political future, but he needs more experience.

Thomas Geoghegan wants to end the war, expand social security, fight for universal single payer health care, and make labor unions strong again. Thomas Geoghegan should be the pick of all progressives in the IL-5th Congressional District.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I was job hunting today. It's rough finding a job with the economy the way it is. I decided to go to the Chicago Manpower office. They are a temp agency and I'm pretty desperate for a job so I thought I would go and give it a try.

I ended up at the wrong Manpower office, it was the 'professional' department, helping accountants and such find jobs. It was funny though, they had these posters in their 30th floor office, that showed a person smiling, and the poster asked, "What do you do?" I told the woman there that it was an existential poster and that with posters like that they were lucky they didn't have employees jumping out the window.

So I went and applied at the other Manpower office, where I was told, like I've been told a million times now, to go fill out the application on their website. I've submitted my resume to a couple of job agencies. After waiting a week I've called them back, only to have them tell me that they will call me when something becomes available. I haven't heard from any of them.

This is some thing that frustrates me, online applications. What a convenient way for corporate America to put us working Joe's under their thumb. No face to face encounters, management has their pick of any number of applicants, without ever having to see any of them. So who do they end up calling back for interviews? Members of the same fraternity, family, drinking buddies. Online applications- taking patronage to a new level.

Now, it's not that I'm not qualified for jobs, I have a lot of experience in diverse fields, my BA from a prestigious university, and no criminal record. Yet, no calls. Now, I know the economy is bad, but the jobs I'm looking for are not fancy. I would like to be a waiter, for one thing. I have guest service experience, as well as experience keeping money safe. Yet I go to apply at some of these jobs, and they look at me like I need a degree in quantum nuclear rocketry physics with a minor in brain surgery to be qualified to take an order of cheeseburgers, carry the food across the room, and collect the bill. I just want to tell these Human resources people that the jobs they are hiring for could be performed by monkeys, and yet here I am with a college degree, being passed over.

I ended up going to the cities human services office. They assumed that I had been fired, and wanted to get me on unemployment benefits. No, I had to be the good employee who gave his two weeks notice and left on good terms with management. Now I'm inelligible for unemployment benefits. Next time, I'm flipping my boss the bird, telling him to shove it, and trashing the place until I get fired. Then at least I'll have money to pay my rent while I look for a new job.

Part of the problem is my resume. I have been working since before I was in high school, yet the stores, jobs and fields are so diverse, that jobs aren't able to fit me into a nice neat little hole. Some people have their x degree, and they fit nicely in the x hole. Some people have spent years doing square things, and fit nicely into the square hole. I'm less like a nice little peg and more like a crazy art student's project. I have plenty of experience, but because I have one year here, two years there, a few months at the other place, jobs don't know what to make of my resume.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this job hunt is the progressive political groups that have turned me down for jobs. You would think that when they say they will call you, they would actually call you, but then they don't. I was told that I wasn't hired for one progressive job because I was white and didn't speak Spanish. So who did they hire? A white kid, who didn't speak Spanish, was an alcoholic, had less experience than me, and who had references that would speak ill of them.

But all of that is really the frosting on the cake. It's the superfluous crap that distracts us from the real reason why I am not getting a job. We need to look at how the cake is baked. Capitalism needs the unemployed. I can have a great resume, a great go-get-them attitude, and so on, yet the only thing that matters to those in power, is their own wealth. They will throw you out on the street if it will save them or make them more money.

Well, I should apply to more jobs. The rent isn't going to pay itself.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Rally in Chicago Against Israel's Bombing Palestine

Israel is bombing Gaza again. In Chicago, thousands came out to protest Israel's actions, and the US government's complicity in sending arms to Israel. The bombing began Saturday December 27, 2008, and the next day, Sunday December 28, there was a decent sized rally at the Water Tower Place on Michigan Ave. Thanks to the internet and social networking sites, a large number of people were able to make it. However there was another rally on Friday January 2, 2009. This was the largest pro-Palestine demonstration in Chicago I can remember. We rallied in Tribune Plaza before marching down Michigan Ave. to rally outside of the Israeli consulate. One of the speakers, Hatem Abudayyeh, commented that the director of the consulate was on CNN denouncing the rally, to which Abudayyeh replied that it is Israeli war crimes which should be condemmed, not this rally.

Members of the Gay Liberation Network show their support for Palestine.

Intense Debate Comments