Thursday, January 27, 2011

State Rep. Franks: Take away new lawmakers’ pensions -

Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, wants to take the chances for state pensions away from all future lawmakers.

Franks has filed legislation that would keep all members of the Illinois General Assembly taking office in 2013 and after out of the state pension system in an effort to save money.

Franks acknowledges doing so wouldn’t make a huge difference to the state’s huge budget problems, but he said it’s important to cut where possible.

State Rep. Franks: Take away new lawmakers’ pensions -

FactChecking the GOP Response |


Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin gave the official Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also gave a response speech that night to Tea Party Express activists. We found factual issues with both of their remarks.

Not So ‘All-Time’ After All

Ryan was off the mark with his claims about "all-time" highs and lows in the size and distrust of government:

Ryan, Jan. 25: When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert said that the congressman was measuring size of government by spending as a percentage of gross domestic product. In that case, Ryan’s "all-time high" claim is off by more than 60 years.

According to historical tables from the Office of Management and Budget, federal spending as a percent of GDP was 24.7 percent in 2009, and estimated to reach 25.4 percent in 2010. Neither of those figures even comes close to the real "all-time high" figure of 43.6 percent in 1943 and 1944.

Ryan was closer with his claim about public skepticism of government, but still not quite right.

Only 22 percent of those surveyed said they trusted the federal government "almost always or most of the time," according to an April 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press — the source for Ryan’s claim. That’s indeed "among the lowest measures in half a century," the report noted. But the Pew report highlighted other polls conducted over the years — by other organizations — with slightly lower percentages. Case in point, polls conducted by CBS News and the New York Times in October 2008, and by Gallup in June 1994, found that just 17 percent of respondents said they trusted the government most or all of the time.

Ryan’s suggestion that the level of government trust and size of government are somehow connected was also undercut somewhat by Pew’s research. "The current survey and previous research have found that there is no single factor that drives general public distrust in government," the report said.

Stimulating Falsehoods

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus program, was a target for both Ryan and Bachmann. Ryan repeated a claim that we already debunked about the increase in domestic spending under Obama.

Ryan: The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

It’s true that domestic spending has increased, but not nearly as much as Ryan claims. As we’ve written before, the 84 percent figure is the result of a flawed analysis by the Republican staff of the House Budget Committee.

The partisan Republican report claimed that “domestic discretionary spending” increased 84 percent from 2008 to 2010 when including the stimulus. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report this month that shows (on table E-7) that domestic discretionary spending rose from $485.1 billion in 2008 to $614.2 billion in 2010, an increase of $129.1 billion or 27 percent. The CBO figures include all discretionary spending, including stimulus funds in 2009 and 2010.

Also, Ryan said the stimulus "failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs." As we wrote during the midterm elections, it’s just wrong to say that the stimulus didn’t create jobs. Ryan can say — as Bachmann did — that the program failed to keep unemployment at 8 percent, as projected in a January 2009 report by the administration when it was lobbying for the bill. But the nonpartisan CBO says the stimulus increased employment by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million people in the third quarter of 2010, compared with what would have happened without it.

Click on the following for more details:  FactChecking the GOP Response |

To fact check the President’s Address to Congress, click on the following:

Bankruptcy for states in question | Daily Chronicle

Interesting legal argument.

But there are constitutional hurdles that would be hard to overcome, said Douglas Baird, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  “A state may contract debt but, typically speaking, you can’t go to an Illinois court and sue the state of Illinois to collect the debt, and you can’t go to federal court to sue a state and collect the debt because states have what’s called sovereign immunity,” Baird said.

If you’re immune from suit, then you don’t need bankruptcy because your creditors can jump up and down but they’re not going to be able to do anything because they can’t seize your assets or do stuff like that anyway,” he said.
This immunity makes bankruptcy for states unnecessary, according to opponents of the plan

Click on the following for more details:  Bankruptcy for states in question | Daily Chronicle

Crystal Lake: YMCA seeks bankruptcy protection

YMCA of McHenry County, located at 701 Manor Road, blamed increased competition, pending lawsuits, higher insurance costs, and a decline in membership for forcing it to seek bankruptcy protection. The group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Wednesday in the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.

YMCA of McHenry County is named as a defendant in two lawsuits from the Camp Algonquin drowning deaths.

Jimmy Avant, 18; Melvin Choice Jr., 17; and Adrian Jones, 16, all of Chicago, died Nov. 14, 2008, after sneaking out of their cabins at Camp Algonquin and taking paddle boats onto the Fox River. The paddle boats' drain plugs had been removed for the winter, and they sank, investigators said.

Choice's mother, Virginia Choice, later filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court accusing retreat organizer VisionQuest Association, the YMCA of McHenry County, and the victims' school, North Lawndale College Prep High School, of negligence. The lawsuit sought more than $800,000 in damages. Avant's family filed a similar lawsuit.
Thomas Pakenas, a Chicago attorney who a represents Virginia Choice, said the bankruptcy filing shouldn't affect his client's lawsuit.

Click on the following for more details:  Northwest Herald | YMCA seeks bankruptcy protection

Vatican told bishops to cover up sex abuse

This article is from 2003 but still very searchable—I found it on a “Bing Search” as the last entry on Page 1 of a search on “Vatican cover up” that received 11.5 million results.

The Observer [ a publication of The Guardian, UK]  has obtained a 40-year-old confidential document from the secret Vatican archive which lawyers are calling a 'blueprint for deception and concealment'. One British lawyer acting for Church child abuse victims has described it as 'explosive'.

The 69-page Latin document bearing the seal of Pope John XXIII was sent to every bishop in the world. The instructions outline a policy of 'strictest' secrecy in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and threatens those who speak out with excommunication.

…document, which has been confirmed as genuine by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, is called 'Crimine solicitationies', which translates as 'instruction on proceeding in cases of solicitation'.

It focuses on sexual abuse initiated as part of the confessional relationship between a priest and a member of his congregation. But the instructions also cover what it calls the 'worst crime', described as an obscene act perpetrated by a cleric with 'youths of either sex or with brute animals (bestiality)'.

Bishops are instructed to pursue these cases 'in the most secretive way... restrained by a perpetual silence... and everyone... is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office... under the penalty of excommunication'.

Click on the following to read this 2003 News Release:  BREAKING NEWS! Vatican Cover Up

The actual translated 1962 document is available from the above site or may be obtained directly by clicking on the following: