Some Thoughts On Same-Sex Marriage in Wisconsin

A United States district court judge overturned Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage last Friday, which initially seemed like a really great thing.

In various counties same-sex couples have already gotten married, while other counties have declined to issue marriage licenses largely because they find the language in the ruling to be too vague. There is also the issue that country clerks could face serious legal repercussions.

But let’s go back to 2006 for a moment to provide some context about same-sex marriage laws in Wisconsin.
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Will Rahm Really Be a One Term Mayor?

For a while there’s been talk on the internet of making Rahm Emanuel a mayor who only serves one term because people are displeased with what he’s done while mayor, most recently serving as mayor while 50 public schools are approved for closure.

A good question is if he’ll really be a one term mayor. Unless someone really good runs against him, I have a hard time seeing he’ll be a one term mayor. The main reason of this is that a lot of things activists are upset at Emanuel over are things a good chunk of voters might not care about because they didn’t affect them, such as the school and mental health clinic closures. Those who live in communities affected by these things and are aware of the affects from these decisions might be more likely to vote for anyone who isn’t Emanuel.

But for Emanuel to really be defeated, a good candidate has to run against him. And by “good candidate,” I mean “Someone better than Gary Chico, Miguel del Valle and Carol Mosley Braun.” The names that were floated by the Chicago Reader for potential challengers that seem like the people who could likely beat Emanuel are current Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle, Ald. Robert Fioretti of Chicago’s Second Ward and Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Let’s examine the situation of “what would happen if any of these people ran.” If she would run, Preckwinkle seems like the most likely person to beat Rahm. She’s a known politician with a track record people are familiar with. (Sorry, Fioretti and Lewis.) Preckwinkle was outspoken against the school closures and has wanted to reduce how many people are in the Cook County Jail. At a time when liberals are worried about Democrats who label themselves as “liberals” focusing on privatization and helping big corporations out, Preckwinkle has a track record I think has shown people she is a true reformer rather than using a nice buzzword to get votes.

Fioretti could also do well because he’s usually among the small handful of people willing to vote against Emanuel. He was also very outspoken during the school closing hearing process and even participated in a march to save the schools. However, Fioretti might stay on the city council and the thing I think could would hurt him is that he’s not as well-known as the other people I’m mentioning in this post.

Finally, there’s Lewis who could make the election very interesting. She’s someone who’s definitely known in Chicago for taking a stand against Emanuel. However, there were people in Chicago who were displeased by the CTU strike and she might be viewed as too fiery. And if a woman is passionate and fiery in politics and the labor sector that’s a negative to some people. Plus, Lewis might want to be a force for change through fighting for the teachers and the schools rather than being the mayor. Although it would be interesting if Chicago had a former chemistry teacher as a mayor.

Those are the only candidates I could see making Emanuel’s service as mayor of Chicago only last for one term. Maybe someone else will emerge and end up being a good candidate. Maybe Miguel del Valle will run for mayor again and this time get public speaking lessons from nine-year-old Asean Johnson. February 2015 is still quite a ways off. Unfortunately it will take a really strong candidate to defeat an incumbent who can raise lots of money.

The CTA’s Ventra-Sized Problem

Over the past two weeks the Chicago Transit Authority has been dealing with a backlash and revelations regarding their new fare system, Ventra. At first glance, Ventra seems like a great idea since it would cover both CTA and Pace, potentially making the use of the suburban buses more appealing to Chicago residents who want to visit the suburbs. Ventra also allows for use of debit and credit cards to pay for fares.

Tracy Swartz of RedEye revealed single rail rides using Ventra would cost $3. On the CTA’s page for misconceptions about Ventra, they address this with the following sentence:

CTA vending machines currently do not provide change, so those without exact change are already paying $3 for a single ride.

The CTA later says that only the card costs $3, but apparently people already pay $3 for a single ride so it’s no big deal.

Swartz also reported fees which would be tacked on for people who would use a reloadable Ventra card. To get the Ventra card, one must first pay $5, which will be refunded as transit funds after the card is registered. If a user of the Ventra card does not use their card for 18 months, $5 is deducted for every month it is not in use.

The more troubling news about Ventra came from Jon Hilkevitch at the Chicago Tribune. Hilkevitch reported on numerous fees added on if users of the Ventra card also use it as a prepaid debit card, a feature the CTA has been touting on their website.

The clear option CTA users have is to try to reject the debit card option, use a 30-day pass or use their own debit card or credit card to pay for fares. Although a 30-day pass recently went up to $100, it’s still a cheaper option for people who regularly use the CTA for more than commuting to work.

The CTA meanwhile has to roll out a campaign for damage control after the recent articles. For the people who still read the Tribune and RedEye, they’re aware of this and it might make them wary of using Ventra. The potentially bigger problem with this situation is the Ventra system is no longer looking like a great situation. The fare system already had numerous options that were confusing to some users. I was recently talking to a friend and we discussed how confusing Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus can be. This was a system rolled out in the mid-2000s and it’s confusing for people from the Chicago area. Imagine how confusing Ventra will be if the CTA doesn’t properly educate the public about the program.

Time will tell if the CTA and RTA regret using this program–both systems are using the fare system, but I imagine this will affect the CTA more. There’s no turning back, but the CTA has to think fast to not have this turn into an even bigger disaster for them.

I’m mostly annoyed because I just replaced my Chicago Card.

Michigan and Proposal 2

This is a quick post to answer a question I keep getting in recent days. That question is if Michigan will pass Proposal 2, which would make collective bargaining constitutionally protected in Michigan.

The honest answer is “I don’t know.”

The only poll I’ve seen is from the Detroit Free Press and it’s showing that it’s likely Proposal 2 won’t be approved by the voters in Michigan. But some people might say that polls can lie and it could pass. After all, one of the most famous union leaders in history is from this state. How could it not pass?

The simple answer I can give is the money being poured into the campaign to defeat it.

A majority of the political ads I’ve seen on TV seem to be anti-Proposal 2, with ads in favor of Proposal 6 as a close second. Those ads seem to run more frequently than ads regarding the presidential election. Now, attack ads might not always be effective, but the ads against Proposal 2 have taken interesting strategies. There’s the one with the unionized police officer who is opposed to Proposal 2, which can give the message of “If union members are opposed to this, why should we support it?” But overall, the message of the ads has been the classic “Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children.”

The ads argue that if Proposal 2 is passed, it will be easier for drug addicts, alcoholics and pedophiles to be teachers and that union leaders don’t care about children. When you use children as the target of ads and their safety as the key issue in the fight, that changes the conversation completely. Additionally, it could create a panic among parents who fear for their children’s safety.

But even though there’s a pro-Proposal 2 billboard that I pass everyday on I-496 on my way to MSU, the amount of mailings opposing the proposal are numerous. On Saturday I checked the mail and found three anti-Proposal 2 mailings. The only pro-Proposal 2 mailings I’ve received have been from Teamsters Joint Council 43.

Yes, if Proposal 2 is rejected, it will probably be the result of thousands, maybe millions of dollars poured into the opposition campaign. Then again, if Proposal 6 is approved, it will also probably be the result of millions of dollars poured into that campaign. (Gov. Rick Snyder explains in a video on YouTube that the proposal is really just the result of a special interest, which it is.) It would probably be premature to assume that Michigan has suddenly become hostile to unions, because it just seems like people were persuaded through what they heard on the radio and on TV, saw in their mail and read in the papers.

OMG POTUS SOTU FTW!

If there is one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that President Obama is still a terrific public speaker.

It was a great speech and it was no wonder that congress seemed to be leaping to their feet every five minutes. They were more standing ovation crazy than Iowans, but with a good reason. The speech did manage to inspire in the midst of the difficult times. I was even optimistic as I watched and listened to it. And if a speech can make me optimistic it has to be good.

The remark about the Democrats not needing to run to the hills after losing Massachusetts did need to be said. I was disappointed by the results of that election, but the Democrats still have the majority. The speech felt like he was trying to say, “I’m trying as hard as I can, give me a break.” Although the mention of him working with Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell did make me stand up and cheer. (Please deliver on this. Thanks.)

He did address student loans at one point in the speech and discussed a plan for student loan debts to be forgiven if a person decides to enter public service. Which makes me wonder this: Is becoming a theater critic public service? (I’m kidding.)

And I was watching the State of the Union address on MSNBC, which means that I got to hear Chris Matthews say, “I forgot he was black tonight for an hourlive. And, yes, it did make me want to bang my head into a wall.

(Also, Whet Moser of the Chicago Reader has other stupid things said after the State of the Union address.)

Any other thoughts?

*sigh*

I was walking through my neighborhood today when I came across a simple, black and white newspaper called the Lincoln Park Statesman. I was intrigued by the paper because of a headline declaring “A Socialist DePaul” due to GPA Redistribution, which gives me an “Okay, what sensationalism journalism is going on here” thought. (It was also free, but the header states that subsequent copies are $3.00.)

The article that prompted me to pick up a copy is difficult to read because of how poorly written it is. Mind you, I’ve read some poorly written articles for newspapers, but this is confusing. I don’t know if the GPA distribution is being implemented by DePaul or by the DePaul College Republicans? Is this hypothetical? Is there a reason why the writer didn’t cite any sources or quote anyone?

But anyway, the Statesman is apparently “a conservative newspaper dedicated to truth in journalism.” (I’ll show you truth in journalism with my friend the AP Stylebook and Guide to Media Law.) Naturally, I’m probably not going to agree with the views expressed in this publication, which is connected to the DePaul Conservative Alliance. But reading this, I can’t even chew on the content for a bit and try to digest the opinions, like I can with a Charles Krauthammer column. I really can’t even take these people seriously, partly because having “the” before “der” is repetitive. But there’s also a guide to how to milk free healthcare for what it’s worth, that includes “get pregnant,” “save money on a gym membership by getting routine liposuction,” and “take up the art of sword swallowing…with no formal or informal training.”

I’m aware that it’s probably satire, but instead of throwing hands up in the air and saying, “Oh, hey, we’re getting Obamacare, let’s abuse the system,” couldn’t they have said, “Write, call, fax your representatives and tell them to not give us health care reform.”? Because having a way to abuse the system, which I would assume would not cover unnecessary procedures, doesn’t help conservatives at all. It just makes them look crazier.

Was Losing the Olympic Host City Bid Really Obama’s Loss?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t want Chicago to host the Olympics. This was simply because of the fact that I don’t think that the Chicago Transit Authority or the roads could have supported the people that would have been in Chicago for the Olympics and the Olympics could have gentrified the South Side to the point that people would have been priced out of their homes. And I don’t think that there would have been affordable housing built so people would have a place to live; developers are probably more interested in building expensive high-rise condos rather than building affordable apartments for people. (And for those of you ready to point out public housing, don’t get me started on the Chicago Housing Authority.) Sure, America hosting the Olympics would have been neat and some jobs, albeit temporary, would have been created. But I saw more harm than good.

However, I was very shocked when I found out that Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting. (The office I was in Friday morning became filled with the sound of people typing on their keyboards when someone said that we were eliminated. However, the conversation quickly changed from Chicago’s loss to “What will happen to Michael Reese Hospital?” which was going to be torn down for a site for the Olympics. I still don’t know what will happen to that building.) As much as I didn’t want the Olympics to be here, the elimination that early was a bit insulting.

And yet there were people that were cheering because of the early elimination. Americans, notable conservative talking heads too. Why? Because it meant that Obama lost.

Wait, Obama lost? I thought Richard M. Daley was the mayor of Chicago. At least, last time I looked at something that said City of Chicago, Richard M. Daley was the mayor of the Chicago.

It should be noted that the heads of state for the other countries with bids went to Copenhagen. Oprah might be famous, but she’s not a head of state. And although Michelle Obama is the first lady, Obama is our president and therefore the head of state. It’s certainly helpful that our president is from Chicago and therefore could have a personal viewpoint. Although, I strongly disagree with a statement that President Obama made about Chicago being ready to host the Olympics. But, still, Obama went to Copenhagen like all of the other heads of state did. This is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation; if he didn’t go, people would be upset. He went and people are still upset.

But the loss of the Olympics is not “Obama’s loss.” It’s not going to ruin him, I don’t think that this will stop health care reform or repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The fact that there were people cheering for the loss of the Olympics because it was “Obama’s loss,” is very infuriating to me. I’m sure that the same people that were cheering because Chicago wasn’t going to host the Olympics are upset because people are blaming George Bush. As Paul Krugman points out in his column today, it’s childish behavior. It’s just outrageous partisan behavior. (And those same people should be glad that they weren’t near the DePaul University campus in Chicago on Friday, because I was called un-American for my reasoning as for why I don’t want the Olympics here.)

And, in my opinion, if this is any politician’s loss, it’s Mayor Daley’s loss. It’s the city of Chicago’s loss, even though half of the city didn’t want the city to host. But on the upside, Chicagoans get free coffee today as a toast to our efforts.

I Might Keep My Landline to Be Able to Keep Doing This

This morning, I was sitting in my living room when the phone rang.

Me: Hello?
Person on the other end: (Identifies himself with a group that has Freedom or Patriot in it’s name) May we please have a moment of time for you to answer some questions?
Me: Sure.
Person on the other end: Which of the following problems are you most concerned about: President Obama wanting to mandate abortions, President Obama wanting to have panels decide when your loved ones will die, President Obama mandating how your loved ones will die or President Obama mandating sex-change operations?
Me: Actually, all of those problems are either grossly misinterpreted parts of the health care reform bills or they’re made up problems meant to scare people.
Person on the other end: Uh, good day. (hangs up)

No, I did not make that up.

Guest Column

In this month’s issue of ACCESSline, which is the LGBT newspaper for Iowa, I have a guest column about the possibility of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage being reversed like in California with Prop. 8.

For those of you that live in Iowa, I recommend you go out and get a copy. I’m not sure where you can get a copy in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area (or anywhere else in the state, for that matter), but you can read a copy in the Cedar Falls Public Library, which is where I read it and had to refrain from jumping up and down shouting, “I’m a published writer! Woo hoo!”

For those of you that live outside of Iowa, you can go to ACCESSline‘s website and click on the link for the August 2009 issue under “Read ACCESSline Online.”