Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Judge unseals documents on Trump University




A federal judge has unsealed 381 pages of documents relating to Donald Trump's controversial Trump University for-profit real estate program, which became public Tuesday afternoon as part of a lawsuit seeking damages and accusing the company of fraud.

The documents amount to the "playbooks" used by the company in convincing prospective students to join the program, which promised real-estate training blessed by Trump himself. But it soon found itself embroiled in controversy, with a number of students claiming that they had been misled.

Trump's political adversaries have seized on the controversy surrounding his real estate classes, where some students who paid upwards of $35,000 dismissed the program as a fraud. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz lambasted Trump on the issue during the Republican primary, while Hillary Clinton has already begun to use the issue against the presumptive GOP nominee.

Trump University faced a handful of legal challenges, as well as scrutiny from the New York Department of Education, before it shut down in 2011.

But Trump has trumpeted his innocence, releasing reviews from students lauding the courses and arguing that he won't settle because he'll be vindicated in court.

Lawyers for the real-estate magnate turned likely GOP nominee had argued to keep the documents secret after a request by The Washington Post to turn the documents over to the public. But Judge Curiel swatted their arguments down on Friday, asserting that the defense had not met the bar to keep the documents out of the public eye.

He also added that Trump's station as the GOP frontrunner, as well as the fact that he's "placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue" bolstered the argument to make the documents public.

Trump has launched a tirade against Judge Curiel in the days before the release of the documents. He chided the judge as a "hater" and "very hostile" on the stump on Friday and has implied that he's biased because he's "Mexican."

Curiel is of Hispanic heritage but was born in Indiana.

The release of the documents came hours after Trump held a press conference on his donations to veterans groups, where he chastised the media for criticizing him on the donations. A flurry of media reports noted discrepancies in the money promised by Trump and the money he actually sent to groups.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/judge-unseals-documents-on-trump-university/ar-BBtI3P3

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tuesday Trump details his donations to Vets



Tomorrow, Trump will give more details about his donations to vets. Here’s what we still don’t know.


undefined© Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post undefined

Last week — after intense pressure from the news media — Donald Trump made good on a promise he had made in January. He gave $1 million of his own money to a charity for veterans. (Trump called this reporter "a nasty guy" after I asked him whether my questions had prompted him to finally give the money.)

On Tuesday morning, the day after Memorial Day, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has scheduled a news conference at Trump Tower in New York. He is expected to announce that he had made good on a separate promise to veterans, made at the same time as the $1 million pledge.

Now, he is giving away other people's money.

In January, donors big and small had entrusted funds to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity he controls. Trump had promised to act as a middleman and give their money away to veterans charities. All the gifts relate to a Jan. 28 fundraiser that Trump held in Iowa, on a night when he skipped a GOP debate as part of a feud with Fox News, the debate's host.

At Tuesday's news conference, Trump has a chance to clear up several lingering questions about his handling of this money meant for veterans.

This episode began as a demonstration of Trump's patriotism, wealth and organizing savvy.

Now — after weeks of delays, stonewalling, and repeated false statements from Trump and his campaign — it has become a test of the candidate's ability to deliver on a promise.

Which groups are receiving the new gifts?

Trump's aides have said that he could announce new gifts to up to two dozen charities. But the recipients will not all be new. Some of them have already received donations out of the money Trump raised in January.

Even before Trump's announcement, The Washington Post has identified five groups that appear to be on Tuesday's list.

Achilles International received $100,000 last week. It also received a $100,000 check, also derived from the Iowa fundraiser, a few weeks ago. This group helps wounded veterans train to compete in athletic events. One of its leaders, Mary Bryant McCourt, knows Trump because she is a member of his Mar-a-lago club in Florida. A few years ago, she persuaded Trump to help the group by stopping him once on the exclusive resort's grounds. "When I saw Donald, I said, 'Donald, they’re coming, they’re going to be here this weekend, I wanna give 'em hamburgers at the pool,'" McCourt recalled. Trump's foundation has since given several donations to the group. "He’s been just generous and wonderful and caring," she said.

Racing for Heroes uses auto racing to help veterans with brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. It received a $100,000 donation in the first weeks after the Iowa fundraiser. Last week, the group reported that it received another "large" check from the Trump Foundation, but it declined to specify the amount.

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund received a $75,000 check last week. It had previously received a $100,000 check in the first weeks after the Iowa event, sent directly by a donor who supported Trump's effort. This fund has paid for new centers for rehabilitation and treatment of injured military personnel and provides benefits to the families of fallen U.S. and British personnel.

— The Boston Wounded Vet Run received $75,000 from Trump's foundation. This group holds an annual motorcycle ride and raises money to help disabled veterans. Its founder served in Iraq with the son of one of Trump's bodyguards. It had not previously received a donation from the money raised in Iowa.

— The Bob Woodruff Foundation received a $75,000 check last week. This foundation, founded by the ABC News anchor who suffered a traumatic brain injury while on assignment in Iraq, funds better care for wounded veterans. This group has no obvious connection to Trump and had received no funds from his Iowa fundraiser. "We were a bit surprised," the foundation said in a message to The Post.

So how much money, in total, did Trump actually raise in Iowa?

On Tuesday, we may finally know for sure.

In January, on the night of the fundraiser, Trump was (seemingly) clear about the night's total haul. "We just cracked $6 million, right? Six million."

But that figure appears to be false.

Earlier this month, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the fundraiser had actually netted $4.5 million, because some big donors had not paid up. Then, a few days later, Trump said Lewandowski's figures were wrong. In fact, Trump said, the total fundraising haul was $5.5 million, after he had made good on his own pledge to give $1 million from his pocket.

The figures released by Trump on Tuesday should make clear what the actual number was. The Post has found evidence that at least $4.1 million in donations have been distributed. Whatever gifts are announced Tuesday could be added to that $4.1 million. That would be the true grand total.

Why did Trump say he had raised $6 million if he had not?

Even if the figure is $5.5 million — or less — Trump still raised millions for veterans groups. The groups that have received donations say that the gifts had a huge impact and that they were enormously grateful.

But the fact remains that Trump said he had raised $6 million and now says it was less than that.

Trump has not provided an explanation for this. In fact, in recent days, both Trump and his campaign manager have flatly — and falsely — denied that Trump had ever claimed he raised $6 million.

Lewandowski said Trump had cited the $6 million figure only as a goal he wanted to reach. "What he said was, 'We hope to get $6 million,'" Lewandowski said,

Trump said he didn't remember ever using the number. "I didn’t say six,” he said in an interview, meaning $6 million.

But both claims are incorrect. Trump did say the number. Multiple times. On video.

In a video from the fundraiser, Trump is seen telling the crowd, “We just cracked $6 million! Right? $6 million.” He repeated the figure for several days afterward, both at rallies and on TV morning shows. On Feb. 3, on "Morning Joe," Trump repeated the figure four times in six sentences. For more than three months afterward, his campaign gave no hint that the $6 million figure was wrong.

Why did it take four months to distribute the last of this money?

In an interview last week, Trump said the delay was caused by the need to scrutinize the veterans' charities he intended to help. "It’s actually turned out to be lot of work," he said.

On Tuesday, that explanation could be proven — or disproven — by the full list of groups to which Trump gave the final round of gifts.

Are they small, startup charities whose legitimacy actually needed to be researched and confirmed?

Or are they groups to which Trump already had a connection — charities run by his friends or acquaintances, or groups he had already cleared for donations months ago?

If the list is mostly groups that had preexisting connections to Trump, then his explanation for the delay may not hold water.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/tomorrow-trump-will-give-more-details-about-his-donations-to-vets-here%e2%80%99s-what-we-still-don%e2%80%99t-know/ar-BBtE61g?ocid=spartandhp

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cathy Ward’s View on Boone County Veterans

  • My View: Boone County veterans face land mines on home front

  • By Cathy Ward

    Rockford Register Star

    By Cathy Ward

    Posted May. 28, 2016 at 5:40 PM
    Updated May 28, 2016 at 5:40 PM

  • Cathy WardCathy Ward
  • By Cathy Ward

    Posted May. 28, 2016 at 5:40 PM


  • Boone County’s 3,900 veterans, who lived through life-and-death challenges, never expected to come back home to fight for basic assistance, but that’s what happened.
    And today, they are still on the battle front.
    For decades, while veterans with special medical or financial needs throughout the state, including Winnebago County, received money from county coffers for basic housing, utilities and medical assistance, it never happened here.
    In Boone County, veterans’ volunteer groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion held bake sales, raffles, rummage sales and dipped into their own pockets to help their veterans in need.
    Finally Commander Greg Kelm, who found these groups pressed to their limits, approached the Boone County Board for the same help other county boards gave their veterans, as state law required.
    Kelm, a Vietnam veteran and native of Boone County, remembers well the response from some Boone County Board leaders. He was told, “Get in line.”
    Kelm was not pleased. He and other Boone veterans organized and placed a referendum on the ballot. He and supporters were thrilled when the referendum passed in 2013 assuring them of yearly revenues.
    Kelm next went to county leaders and asked for office space, office equipment and money for utilities. He was told by some county leaders there was absolutely no office space nor equipment available in any county building.
    But, Kelm was told, the county would give the veterans a loan for these needs until the referendum money came in. Then, said some county leaders, the veterans would be required to repay the county with the referendum proceeds.
    Kelm took that opinion to his veterans and they decided to come to the County Board meeting in full dress uniform and dispute the decision. Not surprising, county leaders, faced down by the veterans at that meeting, reconsidered. They said the “loan” would be forgiven.
    But Kelm and veteran leaders knew another battle needed to be fought. They knew, after hours of studying state law, that the law specifically said the county was responsible for all rent and office expenses, but some county leaders still said no. They said the money should come from the referendum. (The Boone County Veteran’s Administration office is currently on the second floor of the PNC Bank in downtown Belvidere.)
    Kelm and veteran leaders decided they were tired of groveling and took their battle to the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. A couple weeks ago, Madigan sent her opinion, supporting the veterans. These expenses total about $1,500 a month. County Board members received a memo two weeks ago from Chairman Bob Walberg that the county would be paying these expenses.
    But now the battle is with the Boone County Health Department. A couple months ago, Kelm attended the Health Board meeting and learned the VFW, a not-for-profit organization, overpaid the Health Department for years of food permit fees by about $2,500.
  • - So earlier this month, Kelm came back to the Health Board and asked for the $2,500 over payment. Instead the Health Board offered just $400.
    To no one’s surprise, Kelm’s board said no. So back in the trenches, Kelm and the VFW will fight on. They are in the process of hiring an attorney, hopefully a veteran, to help them win this battle in court. Now they will ask for the full $2,500 plus all related court costs.
    Kelm is again confident the veteran’s will win this skirmish, too, but said, "It's just sad for our veterans who fought for our country that we keep finding land mines here at home, just one after another. All we asked for is to follow state law with a little fairness and common sense."
    Cathy Ward is a member of the Boone County Board.

Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/opinion/20160528/my-view-boone-county-veterans-face-land-mines-on-home-front/?Start=2


To view the informal opinion of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the advice of Boone County’s States Attorney and Mr. Walberg’s letter go to:  http://www.boarddocs.com/il/boone/Board.nsf/files/AA3RXZ6CD2CB/$file/VAC%20Expenses%20Paid%20by%20the%20County_201605181440.pdf

Saturday, May 28, 2016

North Korean Dictator’s aunt lives near NYC


Kim Jong Un’s aunt speaks up after 18 years of silence in the U.S.

Caitlin Dickson,Caitlin Dickson Fri, May 27 1:22 PM PDT

Kim Jong Un's maternal aunt and her husband, known in North Korea as Ko Yong Suk and Ri Gang, in New York's Central Park in April 2016. (Photo: Yana Paskova/Washington Post via Getty Images) Kim Jong Un’s maternal aunt and her husband, known in North Korea as Ko Yong Suk and Ri Gang, in New York’s Central Park in April 2016. (Photo: Yana Paskova/Washington Post via Getty Images)

For nearly two decades, Ko Yong Suk and her husband, Ri Gang, have lived a modest, middle class existence in the United States, working long hours at their dry cleaning business to provide a comfortable life and opportunities for their three children.

But before embarking on their pursuit of the American Dream, Ko and Ri lived a life of luxury inside one of the world’s most reclusive and repressive regimes. Ko’s sister, the late Ko Yong Hui, was married to former North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. Her nephew is Kim Jong Un, the country’s current leader, who is known for his penchant for threatening nuclear war.

For the first time since defecting to the United States with the help of the CIA 18 years ago, the couple broke their silence in a series of interviews with the Washington Post that offer a fascinating look at life inside the mysterious Kim regime and insight into the childhood of the man who would become one of the United States’ most hostile adversaries. To protect their identities here in the U.S., the Post story uses the names by which they were each known back in North Korea.

Keeping up with the Kims

The Washington Post writes that Ko was “catapulted” from a modest upbringing to the “top echelons of North Korean society” when her sister became Kim Jong Il’s third wife, in 1975.

Soon after, Ko was married to Ri — a husband chosen for her by the future supreme leader himself — and taking care of her own children as well as her sister’s at the Pyongyang compound, where they all lived together.

“We lived the good life,” Ko told the Post, which included dining on caviar and cognac and taking joyrides in Kim Jong Il’s Mercedes-Benz.

The heir to the “Hermit Kingdom”

In 1992, Ko moved to Bern, Switzerland, where she’d spend the next six years looking after her sister’s children — including Kim Jong Un — while they were in school.

According to the Post article, the Kim children enjoyed a charmed upbringing, complete with trips to Euro Disney, “skiing in the Swiss Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, eating at al fresco restaurants in Italy.”

Ko recalled that Kim Jong Un, who moved into her house in Switzerland at age 12, “wasn’t a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered and had a lack of tolerance.”

“When his mother tried to tell him off for playing with these things too much and not studying enough, he wouldn’t talk back but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike,” she told the paper.

As an adolescent, she said her nephew’s interests included boats and planes and, of course, basketball.

“He used to sleep … with his basketball,” Ko told the Post, adding that his mother had told the young Kim Jong Un — who was shorter than the rest of his friends — that playing basketball would make him taller.

Though it was not announced to the rest of the world until 2010, the Post reports that Kim had known he would become his father’s successor ever since his eighth birthday party, when he was given a general’s uniform in front of the country’s top military brass.

“It was impossible for him to grow up as a normal person when the people around him were treating him like that,” Ko said.

The defection

The decision to defect from North Korea came in 1998, after Ko’s sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Ko and Ri maintain that their move was motivated by a search for better cancer treatment for Ko’s sister, though the South Korean media reports suggest the family fled out of fear that they would no longer be protected once Ko’s sister died.

“In history, you often see people close to a powerful leader getting into unintended trouble because of other people,” Ko admitted. “I thought it would be better if we stayed out of that kind of trouble.”

They sought asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Bern and were given $200,000 by the CIA upon their arrival in the states, money they put toward their two-story home, which the Washington Post says is located a “several hours’ drive away” from New York City.

Though they have not seen Kim Jong Un since he was a teenager and insist they have no real knowledge about the actual inner workings of the North Korean government, the Post writes that, “U.S. intelligence on North Korea is so thin that this couple still represents a valuable source of information on the family court.”

Ko and Ri said they still sometimes receive visits from CIA operatives seeking their help identifying North Koreans in photos, though the CIA declined to confirm any of the couple’s claims to the Washington Post.

Why now?

After flying under the radar for nearly 20 years, the couple’s decision to share their story was apparently motivated by Ri’s desire to sever ties to his home country.

Ri, the Post writes, “is positioning himself as the person to bridge the widening gap between Washington and Pyongyang” and “has come out of their deep cover to dispel what he calls ‘lies’ being peddled about them and their wider family in North Korea by regime critics in South Korea.”

“My ultimate goal is to go back to North Korea,” Ri told the Post. “I understand America and I understand North Korea, so I think I can be a negotiator between the two.”

“If Kim Jong Un is how I remembered he used to be, I would be able to meet him and talk to him.”

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/kim-jong-uns-aunt-speaks-up-after-18-years-of-silence-in-the-u-s-202250887.html

Diane Hendricks, Liz Uihlein to raise funds for Trump


May 24, 2016


By Bill Glauber of the Journal Sentinel

May 24, 2016 38

Two of Gov. Scott Walker's top financial contributors were named Tuesday by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to the leadership team of a key fundraising committee to support Donald Trump.

Diane Hendricks, a Beloit billionaire who is co-founder and chairman of ABC Supply, was picked as one of the vice chairs of Trump Victory committee. The committee will raise money for the RNC, the Trump campaign and 11 state party committees.

Elizabeth (Liz) Uihlein, president of Pleasant Prairie-based Uline Corp., was also named to the committee.

Last year, Hendricks gave $5 million to Unintimidated PAC, a super pac that was formed to support Walker's failed presidential bid, records show. She also gave $500,000 to Walker in his 2012 recall campaign, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Uihlein and her husband Richard Uihlein, who live in Lake Forest, Ill., gave Walker's Unintimidated PAC $3 million, records show.

Above is from:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/diane-hendricks-liz-uihlein-to-raise-funds-for-trump-b99731567z1-380686891.html

Does GLB RR’s non-disclosure agreement really exist?





Above is from:  http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/second-large-railroad-turns-back-on-great-lakes-basin-rail/article_502e5414-42ec-5d39-b6cb-6180ac238933.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

Friday, May 27, 2016

McHenry County Rep Franks votes “present”







Above is from:  http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160525/news/160529204/

Over 10,000 Rally in Illinois, Demanding Governor Rauner Stop His Hostage-Taking



Over 10,000 Rally in Illinois, Demanding Governor Rauner Stop His Hostage-Taking

by David Kreisman  |  May 26, 2016

Over 10,000 Rally in Illinois, Demanding Governor Rauner Stop His Hostage-Taking Ten thousand rally in Springfield, demand Governor Rauner stop hurting Illinois. (Photo by David Kreisman)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – More than 10,000 Illinoisans representing 38 unions and some 20 community organizations rallied at the State Capitol to demand Gov. Bruce Rauner drop his harmful demands, and make Illinois work for all.

Illinois is quickly approaching a full year without a state budget because the governor refuses to approve any budget unless legislators enact his anti-worker agenda.  Although an education funding bill has kept K-12 schools open, human services and state universities have been hard hit because of Governor Rauner’s refusal to stray from his extreme agenda.

In addition, construction projects have stalled, child support payments are in jeopardy, and businesses are owed millions for goods and services provided to the state. 

Low-income college students are struggling to stay in school as funding for state student assistance under the Monetary Award Program (MAP) is no longer flowing. More than half of all African-American and Latino college students in Illinois receive MAP funding, with 57 percent of grant recipients being first-generation college students.

With the state not paying its bills, local governments across Illinois are feeling the pinch. In Will County, the health department is laying off dozens of employees (members of AFSCME Local 1028) and cutting programs that are dependent on  state grants.

“Every day I see firsthand the harm the governor is causing,” said JoAnn Washington-Murry, a child welfare specialist from Chicago and AFSCME Local 2081 member. “Because the governor is holding up the budget, treatment programs have had to scale back or shut down. That hurts children and families, because if parents can’t get help to turn their lives around, my only choice is to keep that child in foster care.”

Governor Rauner is taking the same my-way-or-the-highway approach to a new union contract for state employees. Claiming an impasse, he broke off negotiations with AFSCME Council 31 and is asking the state Labor Board to allow him to impose his demands, which include doubling health insurance costs for state workers and a four-year wage freeze.

“We have a message for Governor Rauner: What you’re doing is wrong,” Washington-Murry added. “It’s wrong to destroy social services in order to force lawmakers to do your bidding. It’s wrong to refuse to negotiate and walk away. It’s wrong to hold a state of 13 million people hostage to your political agenda.”

Above is from:  http://www.afscme.org/blog/over-10000-rally-in-illinois-demanding-governor-rauner-stop-his-hostage-taking

Ill. First Lady’s Charity Joins Budget Suit Against Governor



An education nonprofit headed by Diana Rauner, the wife of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, has joined a coalition of charities suing her husband’s administration over failure to pay off state human-service contracts, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Ms. Rauner is the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, which focuses on early-childhood learning and is one of 18 new plaintiffs listed in an amended complaint filed Wednesday by Pay Now Illinois.

More than 60 Illinois human-service nonprofits were already part the coalition when it filed suit in early May. Pay Now Illinois says its members are collectively owed $130 million for programs and services they have provided under contracts that the state has enforced despite Mr. Rauner’s veto of spending bills to fund them. The Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature have been embroiled in a nearly yearlong fight over the state budget. A first hearing on the suit is scheduled for September 1.

Ounce of Prevention received $15.3 million from the state in fiscal year 2015, about 22 percent of its budget.

Above is from:  https://philanthropy.com/article/Ill-First-Lady-s-Charity/236615?cid=cpfd_home

Koch-Backed Group Drops $3 Million Against Democrat In PA Senate Race



by Leigh Ann Caldwell

The Charles and David Koch backed super PAC Freedom Partners Action Fund has purchased a $3 million advertising buy targeting the Pennsylvania Senate race. It's a large investment in a Senate race six months before Election Day, signaling that the group is going to aggressively play in races where they are ideologically aligned with the candidate.

Freedom Partners, the main political organization of the conservative billionaire political activists, have indicated they will not get involved in the presidential election this cycle because of their dislike of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Instead, the group said it would focus its monetary heft on key Senate races.

This Pennsylvania ad, which attacks Democrat candidate Katie McGinty, who is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, comes less than two weeks after a $2 million ad purchase in Ohio. which is another state with a highly contested Senate race as Republican incumbent Sen. Rob Portman is trying to hold on to his seat.

With this Pennsylvania purchase, it brings the Koch network's spending in Senate races to $15.4 million, and they are in the process of reserving nearly $30 million worth of advertising, mostly in August and September. In addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania, the group plans to also back Republican candidates in Nevada, Wisconsin and possibly Florida.

But still, the $42 million being allocated is far less than the more than couple hundreds of million the group had budgeted to spend if it engaged in the presidential cycle.

"If a candidate were able to garner support from the public with a positive message in support of the issues we care about, and did not engage in personal attacks and mudslinging, we would consider potentially getting involved. That hasn't happened yet and there is no indication that this will happen given the current tone and tenor of the campaign," Mark Holden, Chairman of the Board of Freedom Partners said in a recent statement.

The ad, titled "Whose Job," charges that McGinty, as head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection sought subsidies for companies that later paid her after her role in the government ended.

McGinty's Communications Director Sarbina Singh responded to the ad, calling it "desperate."

"Toomey - the best Senator Wall Street and the Koch Brothers ever had - is going to need all the help he can get to hide his abysmal record of putting his special interest allies ahead of Pennsylvania's middle class families," Singh said in a statement.

Above is from:  http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/koch-backed-group-drops-3-million-against-democrat-pennsylvania-senate-n580851

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lisa Rodgers’ take on Boone County Board actions on GLB RR



City of Belvidere sends clear message to Great Lakes Basin Railroad
By Lisa Rodgers
Publisher/Editor The Rhubarb

CITY OF BELVIDERE-This week Belvidere City Council Committee of the Whole met and unanimously approved a resolution to oppose the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. Final approval will take place on June 6 at the regular city council meeting.

"...Even though the tracks do not run though the city, the council knows that many of our families will be negatively impacted by this freight train plan. Hats off to our city officials. Half of the people who live in Boone County live in the city. We truly appreciate their support on this critical issue," said Boone County Board member Cathy Ward in a FaceBook post May 24.

While the City of Belvidere has taken a strong and defining position against the railroad, Boone County Board under the leadership of Chairman Bob Walberg has instead taken a milk toast approach to the very same issue.

On May 19 The Rhubarb spoke with Boone County Board member Cathy Ward and confirmed the Boone County Board had not passed a resolution at the regular county board meeting held May 18. Rather they approved only a letter objecting to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad from the Boone County Board and Community.

It should be noted Chairman Bob Walberg was challenged by Ang Daniels who attended the meeting that the resolution was not on the agendas despite Chairman Walberg saying it would be at the retreat. held on May 12. He denied he had made that statement and she took him to task that in fact he had and that she could prove it. Without the resolution being on the agenda, the board could not take action on a resolution.

Boone County has not followed the example of other governing bodies including other counties that have passed resolutions against Great Lakes Basin Railroad as Chairman Bob Walberg did not want a resolution. According to Ms. Ward, States Attorney Michelle Courier stated that a resolution is more powerful than what was approved by the county board.

According to Ms. Ward a resolution is still on the table and it is to be brought up at upcoming Administrative and Legislative Committee meeting to be held Monday, June 6 at 6:45pm. However, even if approved at committee, unless Boone County Board requests a special Boone County Board meeting, their regular board meeting falls on the STB deadline of June 15. There will not be time to submit the resolution if approved on June 15.

It is worth noting that the efforts of Boone County residents forced the hand of the Boone County Board and discussion occurred in regards to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad despite Chairman Walberg's attempt to railroad discussion on the matter stating there would be no discussion at all at a previous Boone County Board meeting held in April. The public has expressed their concern repeatedly about a conflict of interest with the Chairman as the proposed railroad goes directly through his property and if approved as is, is set to make a substantial amount of money. Many have stated Chairman Walberg should recuse himself from this process due to this conflict.

Below is a link to contact Boone County Board members to voice your concerns. The public is also encouraged to attend the June 6 meeting and speak during public comment. The committee meeting will be held at 1212 Logan Ave., Belvidere, IL 61008.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rauner's approval rating sinks to record low


Greg Hinz on Politics

I'd take this one with a pound or two of salt, but a poll that's been following Gov. Bruce Rauner for a while now has him getting his worst job-performance ratings ever.

According to the survey by an out-of-state polling firm for The Insider, a political newsletter, just 33 percent of likely 2016 voters surveyed now approve of the job the Republican governor is doing. A whopping 57 percent disapprove.

As recently as January, Rauner's disapproval rating was only 51.6 percent. So, if the survey's findings are accurate, Rauner's numbers are headed south. He's particularly weak among independents: Just 30 percent approve of the job he's done so far.

Now, Insider publisher David Ormsby is a former aide to House Speaker Mike Madigan, Rauner's bitter foe. And as Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says, "Polls go up and polls go down. Gov. Rauner is 100 percent focused on working with both parties to get a grand compromise that will produce a balanced budget along with significant structural reforms that will put Illinois back on a path to prosperity."

I'd also add that every poll I've heard of that asks about Madigan finds him at least as far in the red.

But the problem is, Madigan's name never appears on the ballot outside of his own Southwest Side district, while Rauner's does. And more than one Springfield hand believes that the longer the budget standoff continues, the greater the odds that voters will blame the guy at the top.

Some sources say they may be making a little progress in Springfield, especially on a patchwork plan to fund grade and high schools. But others say it's a fake, and after today there are just seven days left before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

The aforementioned poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.75 percent.

The Insider's latest survey was conducted by an out-of-state polling firm. A previous version of this post had reported that the survey was handled by Ogden & Fry, a Chicago-based pollster.

Above is from:  http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160524/BLOGS02/160529936/rauners-approval-rating-sinks-to-record-low

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

House Republicans moving forward with impeachment gambit


05/24/16 10:00 AM—Updated 05/24/16 03:02 PM

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By Steve Benen

If you’ve been waiting for cooler heads to prevail, and for House Republicans to give up on its ridiculous impeachment crusade, you’re going to be disappointed by today’s developments.

When the House Judiciary Committee convenes on Tuesday to consider the alleged misdeeds of the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, John Koskinen, it will contemplate action that has not been taken in more than 140 years, and that in some respects has never been pursued: the impeachment of an agency head of Mr. Koskinen’s rank.

Tuesday’s hearing on accusations by House Republicans that Mr. Koskinen lied under oath to Congress and defied a congressional subpoena is a remarkable moment, even for a Washington long fractured by partisanship.

Koskinen has decided not to appear at the “misconduct” hearing, at which GOP lawmakers will lay out its case for impeachment, insisting he hasn’t had enough time to prepare a defense against allegations that obviously have no merit.

Of course, even if Koskinen had agreed to participate in the charade, the end result would be the same. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the far-right chairman of the House Oversight Committee, hasn’t exactly been subtle about his intentions: “My foremost goal is impeachment and I’m not letting go of it.”

Do the allegations against the IRS commissioner have merit? No. The IRS “scandal” was discredited years ago – Koskinen wasn’t even at the tax agency when the imaginary controversy unfolded – and as Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) documented this morning, charges that Koskinen was part of some kind of after-the-fact cover-up don’t make any sense.

Will the impeachment push succeed anyway? Not in its ultimate goal. House Republicans will likely get a simple majority to impeach Koskinen, but to remove Koskinen from office, they’ll need a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said that’s not going to happen. “[F]or the most part he’s been very cooperative with us,” the Utah Republican conceded last week.*

All of which raises the question of why in the world the far-right House majority is so desperate to pursue such an absurd course, targeting a dedicated public servant who’ll leave his post at the end of the year anyway.

The real scandal here is not Koskinen’s actions, but rather, the way in which House Republicans are conducting themselves.

I continue to believe many House Republicans want to impeach someone, anyone, just for the sake of being able to say they impeached someone. It appears GOP lawmakers have a partisan itch, and going through the motions on impeachment is their way of scratching it.

As we discussed last week, congressional Republicans have spent years talking up the idea of impeaching President Obama. At various times, GOP lawmakers have also considered impeaching then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In October, one Republican congressman said he’s eager to impeach Hillary Clinton, and she hasn’t even been elected.

The partisan frustration is understandable: Republican investigations into Benghazi and other manufactured “scandals,” including the IRS matter itself, have effectively evaporated into nothing. That’s deeply unsatisfying to GOP hardliners, who remain convinced there’s Obama administration wrongdoing lurking right around the corner, even if they can’t see it, find it, prove it, or substantiate it any way.

Unwilling to move on empty handed, impeaching the IRS chief will, if nothing else, make Republican lawmakers feel better about themselves.

But that doesn’t change the fact that this partisan tantrum is indefensible. Koskinen took on the job of improving the IRS out of a sense of duty – the president asked this veteran public official to tackle a thankless task, and Koskinen reluctantly agreed. For his trouble, Republicans want to impeach him, for reasons even they’ve struggled to explain.

As for the history, which Rachel referenced in last night’s show, it’s been 140 years since Congress impeached an appointed executive branch official, but Congress has literally never impeached an executive branch official below the cabinet level.

Then again, Americans have arguably never seen a radicalized political party take control of the House and Senate comparable to today’s Republican majority.

* Correction: I misstated one of the details of the House impeachment process. The above text has been corrected.

Is the Iran deal unraveling? Think again.


Suzanne Maloney | May 20, 2016 3:16pm


This week	 Suzanne Maloney	State of Iran sanctions Brian Reeves	Flog of Tamara's Syria testimony Nadav Greenberg	Flog of Martin's AJE interview Nahum Barnea	IDF vs. Netanyahu/radical right and health of Israeli democracy Will McCants/IWR team	Composite piece on ISIS governance series

Are the wheels coming off the Iran deal? Less than a year after Iran, America, and five other world powers inked a comprehensive nuclear accord, a debate over its terms has erupted anew.

In Washington, the braggadocio of a prominent White House aide is fueling Republican accusations that President Obama deliberately deceived the Congress and the country about Iran and the deal. And in Tehran, frustration over the residual impact of American sanctions has prompted increasingly resentful accusations from Iranian leaders that the United States has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. As a result, some are fretting that the deal is “at risk” and are laying blame on the White House doorstep.

Both claims are spurious, and deserve a more forceful rebuttal from the Obama administration. In the end, however, the ruckus over recent comments by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes is largely an inside-the-Beltway drama—one that provides endless entertainment for Washington insiders but has little real significance for deal or American diplomacy. 

By contrast, Iran’s dissatisfaction presents a serious diplomatic dilemma for Washington. But it should not be interpreted as evidence that the deal is “unraveling.” Rather, the chorus of complaints from Tehran demonstrates the accord signed in July 2015 is working exactly as it was intended—forestalling Iranian nuclear ambitions while amplifying the incentives for further reintegration into the global economy.

Obama’s handling of this first real test of the nuclear agreement will be crucial for sustaining its credibility. For the sake of the deal, and for any prospect of a durable Thermidor for the revolutionary state, Washington should resist the temptation to assuage Iran’s post-deal growing pains. If Iranians wants wholesale economic rehabilitation, their leadership needs to embrace the kind of policies that would yield that—in other words, meaningful political, economic, and foreign policy reform. 

“Iranophobes” and “thieves”

Not surprisingly, Iranian officials are seeking a quicker fix, and they have mounted an intense campaign to wrest supplementary sanctions relief from Washington. Their principal argument is that the theocracy has been stiffed. On an April visit to Washington, Valiollah Seif, the head of Iran’s Central Bank, questioned the benefits of the nuclear agreement, insisting that Tehran has received “almost nothing” of the sanctions relief that was promised as part of the deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Mohammad Javad Zarif, the country’s smooth-spoken foreign minister, has contended that “the United States needs to do way more,” warning that “if one side does not comply with the agreement then the agreement will start to falter.” 

And Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, charged recently that “the Americans are engaged in obstruction and deception, adding: “on paper, the Americans say banks can trade with Iran but in practice they act in such an Iranophobic way that no trade can take place with Iran.” 

Adding fuel to the fire are changes to U.S. visa policies that are perceived at constraining Iran’s economic rebound, deliberately inflammatory rhetoric from the U.S. Congress, and a recent Supreme Court verdict that paves the way for a $2 billion payout to victims of terrorist attacks attributed to Tehran or its proxies. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has described the decision as “flagrant theft” and evidence of enduring American hostility toward Tehran.

Upholding our side of the bargain

Tehran’s narrative plays equally well to its essential constituencies: the revolution’s power brokers, steeped in official narratives of American treachery; an Iranian citizenry impatient for its long overdue peace dividend; and a European business community anxious to reclaim its piece of the pie after an unwelcome five years of having to forgo a lucrative market. 

And it wouldn’t be the first time Tehran got cold feet about its nuclear obligations out of an unfortunate sense of that the payoff was insufficient. In 2005, two years after a deal with Britain, France, and Germany to suspend core aspects of its nuclear program, Iran’s leadership soured on that deal and reneged. Anxiety about a repeat performance is prompting new U.S. efforts to facilitate business in Iran and a mounting debate in the press and on Capitol Hill around additional American sanctions relief.

But Iran’s campaign is grounded in a fundamental falsehood: that Washington has failed to live up to its end of the bargain. In fact, Washington has delivered fully on the sanctions relief pledged under the JCPOA, and officials in the White House, State Department, and even the enforcement office of the Treasury Department have engaged in extraordinary outreach to clarify remaining restrictions and underscore American commitment to the terms of the deal. 

[T]he rewards of Iran’s nuclear concessions are actually widely evident.

Moreover, the rewards of Iran’s nuclear concessions are actually widely evident—in the volume of new trade and investment that is already underway; in the scope and velocity of diplomatic and commercial reengagement with Iran; in the swifter-than-anticipated revival of oil exports. Heads of state from Italy and India, from South Korea to South Africa are beating a path to Tehran, accompanied by contingents of eager investors. Meanwhile, Iranian officials including Seif—chief of the same Central Bank that was formerly barred by sanctions—headline swanky conferences aimed at wooing European business players. The great Iranian gold rush is on.

Tehran was never promised a rose garden

The catch is that the money is moving more slowly than Iranian officials seem to have anticipated—and the trickle-down effect has been almost nonexistent for the average Iranian. The explanation for this lag is complex and multi-dimensional.

First and foremost, Iran is hard hit by the decline in oil prices, which have fallen by roughly 60 percent since the interim nuclear deal was signed in November 2013. Even in the best of times, the Islamic Republic was never a particularly easy place to do business, and many of its structural economic problems have been exacerbated by a decade of sanctions and the particularly egregious mismanagement of the 2005 to 2013 tenure of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Iran’s designation since 2008 as a “high-risk and non-cooperative” jurisdiction by Financial Action Task Force, a multilateral body established to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, poses additional hurdles for banks. In addition, a host of other market distortions induce investor caution: corruption, a bloated and opaque banking system, an inflexible labor market, unattractive contract terms for energy investments, the traditional dominance of the public sector.

Tehran’s challenges in luring capital is further complicated by its reputation for provocative domestic and regional behavior. Torching embassies, arresting tourists and dual-national businessmen, testing ballistic missiles—none of this provides a conducive context for Iran’s reintegration into the global economy. As the old adage goes, capital is a coward, and the Islamic Republic is a haunted house.

[C]apital is a coward, and the Islamic Republic is a haunted house.

Iran has seen this all before. Similar factors undercut Tehran’s previous efforts to open up to the global economy. In the early 1990s, after the long war with Iraq, then-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani sought foreign trade and investment as part of his massive reconstruction program. Initial outcomes were encouraging, but falling oil prices, excessive short-term debt, and the perpetuation of an ideological foreign policy drove away investors and undermined his economic reforms.

This time around, American sanctions have cast a long shadow. The nuclear deal left intact an array of restrictions: the primary U.S. embargo on Iran as well as financial measures that preclude access to the U.S. dollar and penalize third countries for doing business with Iranian individuals and entities that are involved with terrorism or other malfeasance. The vestiges of the sanctions regime create truly epic compliance issues for any international investor. And the hangover effect of a decade of stringent (and costly) enforcement has generated a culture of overcompliance in the international financial sector, since institutional due diligence is an integral dimension of the industry’s viability.

The vestiges of the sanctions regime create truly epic compliance issues for any international investor.

None of this should come as a surprise to Tehran; American officials were crystal clear throughout the negotiations and in advocating on behalf of the deal that the deal only removed the nuclear-related sanctions and that U.S. measures imposed as a result of Iran’s support for terrorism, its human rights abuses, or other issues would remain intact. And every sensible analyst looked past the inflated rhetoric of the deal’s opponents, who brayed against the deal as a massive “cash bonanza,” to recognize that the residual sanctions regime would remain a significant factor in Iran’s post-deal economic picture. As I wrote at the time:

“What remains [of the sanctions regime] is not insubstantial. The U.S. Treasury Department remains the long pole in the international sanctions architecture, and even residual American measures will pose a powerful deterrent against business in Iran. Iran’s worst actors will remain sanctioned by the United States—tainting, by extension, any foreign company that does business with them after the deal. For American firms and individuals, the embargo on U.S. trade and investment in Iran criminalizes even the most tangential involvement in the Iranian economy outside the specific sectors exempted under the deal.”
“Congressional opposition to sanctions termination means that the Obama administration will have to rely on waivers and other inherently temporary mechanisms for reversing existing measures; that alone entails sufficient uncertainty to give major investors around the world significant qualms about committing to the kind of multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects that Iran's energy sector requires.”

The politics of hype

So if this was entirely predictable, why is Tehran crying foul now? Unlike in the United States—where the agreement’s shortcomings were oversold (if anything) rather than downplayed—in Iran there was a triumphalism with which the deal was sold domestically. This was mostly because of the peculiarities of Iran’s political system. To avoid the appearance of contravening the “red lines” articulated by Khamenei, the country’s ultimate authority, Iranian negotiators depicted the JCPOA as delivering wholesale sanctions relief. Rouhani described the outcome as a “legal, technical, and political victory” for the country, emphasizing that Tehran achieved “more than what was imagined.” 

Iran’s politically motivated embellishments were exacerbated by the hype surrounding the deal, cultivated by entrepreneurs and aspiring middlemen who presented Iran in hyperbolic terms as “the best emerging market for years to come” and “one of the hottest opportunities of the decade.” But while it may offend the Iranian ego, the relative scale of the opportunity in Iran is more modest than other much-heralded economic openings, such as China. It is hardly inconceivable that many banks and other firms have simply chosen to sit this first round out.

Tehran’s turn to step up

Neither Iran’s economic challenges nor the grievances of its leadership are “fraying” the nuclear accord; in fact, they only highlight its underlying logic. While the deal’s scope was finite—it was not a wholesale rapprochement or rehabilitation—many of its supporters argued that its logic would prove self-reinforcing. Iran’s gradual reintegration into the global economy would bolster the case among its leadership for a broader moderation of its domestic and foreign policies precisely in order to boost their benefits.

Tehran’s dissatisfaction with the payout to date suggests this formula is working. A little bit of sanctions relief has whetted the entrepreneurial appetites of the clerical state. Despite official invocations proclaiming a “resistance economy,” the trickle of new trade and investment from Europe and Asia into Iran since the deal was signed has only intensified pressure for more—and for more tangible dissemination of its benefits among the Iranian population. In other words, it is the success of the nuclear deal—rather than its shortcomings—that is driving the complaints that have emanated from Iran. 

[I]t is the success of the nuclear deal—rather than its shortcomings—that is driving the complaints that have emanated from Iran.

The United States is not responsible for the hesitancy of international capital and other economic hiccups that Tehran has experienced in the aftermath of the nuclear agreement. The culpability resides, as it always has, with Iran and the risks that its government’s policies pose for international business. If Iranians want to see their nascent opening to the international community expanded—if they want the peace dividend they have been promised, they need to look to their own leadership and its policies. If Iran’s Central Bank governor wants "normal conditions" and “access to the U.S. financial system,” as he demanded during his Washington visit, let him return to Tehran and help instill the kind of reforms that would make those goals possible. 

There are sensible steps that Washington can take to ensure that the provisions of the nuclear deal are fully feasible, including limited mechanisms for enabling transactions, such as the repatriation of previously frozen assets, that are specifically permitted under the deal. Such exceptional measures are reasonable—not because they help Tehran, but because they help sustain consensus between Washington and its European partners and help preserve the West’s negotiating leverage with any future targets of American or multilateral financial sanctions.

However, it would be profoundly detrimental for Washington to provide significant unilateral relief to Tehran without reciprocal additional Iranian concessions. And the PR blitz by senior U.S. officials to reassure Iran’s prospective foreign investors has taken on an unseemly tone, especially since existing sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from facilitating transactions with Iran by foreign entities. 

These measures may be aimed at building confidence, but they ultimately have the opposite effect—eroding Iran’s incentives to abide by the deal, undermining any rationale for broader changes. Iran remains a risky place to do business, and it is in Washington’s interests—as well as those of Iranians and the broader international community—that Tehran focuses on mitigating those risks rather than seeking to subvert their penalties.

The nuclear deal is working; Iran’s nascent reintegration into the global economy is intensifying internal debates and popular expectations. This is all to the good. But to get more, Tehran will have to give more.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mainstream's O'Connor to be GWEC wind-power ambassador

By Christopher Hopson in London

Monday, May 23 2016

Updated: Monday, May 23 2016

The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has appointed Mainstream Renewable Power CEO Eddie O’Connor to become a global ambassador for the wind industry.

In his new role O’Connor will work with GWEC to ensure that the wind sector’s distinctive voice is heard, and that more countries understand the benefits the industry can bring for their economic and social development.

O’Connor is considered a world-renowned entrepreneur and a leader in renewable energy, said GWEC.

“The wind industry has gained unprecedented momentum across the globe, particularly in emerging markets, driven by the fact that wind power is now cheaper than fossil fuels,” said O’Connor.

He founded Mainstream in 2008 following ten years as chief executive of global renewables company Airtricity which he started in 1997. Airtricity North America was subsequently sold in 2008 to E.ON and the remainder of the business to Scottish & Southern Energy.

O’Connor has been named World Energy Policy Leader by Scientific American magazine. He was presented with the Leadership award at the annual Ernst & Young Global Renewable Energy Awards, and in March 2013 received wind energy’s most prestigious award, the Poul La Cour, from the European Wind Energy Association (now WindEurope).

“Eddie’s work building the wind industry throughout his career and his current role at the helm of Mainstream Renewable Power has made him an obvious choice as global ambassador for GWEC,” said general secretary Steve Sawyer.

“As an organisation, we are delighted to be working with a true pioneer in creating the next wave of growth for the industry.”

Above is from:  http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1433284/mainstreams-oconnor-to-be-gwec-wind-power-ambassador

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Janesville area planning organization weighs in on rail plan



Catherine W. Idzerda

Friday, May 20, 2016

A number of counties along the proposed Great Lakes Basin rail route have sent letters or resolutions to the federal Transportation Board in opposition to its current location.


JANESVILLE—For the first time, a government agency has acknowledged that a proposed rail line through eastern Rock County might benefit the community.

The Janesville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization approved a letter Thursday concerning the Great Lakes Basin Transportation company's plans.

The proposed line would start east of Milton and run south around Chicago to La Porte, Indiana. Supporters say the new rail line would avoid the congestion in the Chicago rail yards, which can bog down trains for up to 30 hours.

The letter will be sent to the federal Surface Transportation Board, which is conducting an environmental review of the project.

So far, the towns of Milton, Johnston, Bradford, Clinton, Linn and Harmony have expressed opposition to the rail plan, citing the loss to farm land, the impact on local emergency services and quality of life issues.

Last week, the Rock County Board unanimously approved a resolution outlining its objection to the route proposed for the rail line.

Duane Cherek, who is metropolitan planning agency director and Janesville Planning Services director,  signed the letter on behalf of the planning agency.

The letter was written by the planning department with input from members of the metropolitan planning organization. The organization is made up of city of Janesville staff and elected officials, town and county board representatives and city of Milton staff and elected officials.

“These comments are not to be construed as either supporting or opposing the Great Lakes Basin proposed project,” the opening paragraph of the letter reads.

The letter acknowledges the potential increase in rail traffic to increase throughout Janesville and Milton area, which “may have both negative and positive impacts.”

Issued raised in the letter include:

-- The closure of General Motors plant “and the loss of other rail-related manufacturing” has led to decreased traffic on Janesville-area lines.

“Downgrading and/or abandonment of existing rail line due to loss of rail customers and freight tonnage would be a serious economic blow to the region,” the letter reads. “Of particular concern is the existing privately owned Union Pacific line between Evansville and Harvard, and the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern line between Janesville and South Beloit.”

In addition, Union Pacific has a large terminal and freight yard in Janesville which is underused because of the loss of General Motors traffic.

Existing railroads could benefit from increased traffic and revenue related to the Great Lakes Basin," the letter reads.

-- “Capacity constraints” at Wisconsin & Southern's rail yard near Five Points cause the backup of trains across streets and force the company to conduct switching operations across side streets, the report said.

Increased rail traffic would make the situation worse.

The metropolitan planning organization's long-range transit plan, which also was approved Thursday, calls for “evaluating opportunities to assist in capacity expansion at the rail yard.”

In an interview before the meeting, Ken Lucht, Wisconsin & Southern director of government relations, acknowledged the challenges at the Janesville yards.

The situation causes “unsafe” conditions at Pearl and Arch streets, he said.

“The community is seeing increased rail traffic, and that is causing capacity strain,” Lucht said. “We are looking long-term at how we can increase capacity in Rock County and make it safer and more efficient.”

-- At-grade crossings are major safety hazards, especially when trains block street crossings, increasing the response times for emergency vehicles, according to the letter. The Great Lakes Basin proposal is expected to bring more train traffic to the area, increasing such safety hazards.

In Janesville, such at-grade crossings are on major arteries including Court Street, Delavan Drive, South Jackson Street and Highway 14.

In Milton, the Wisconsin & Southern line cuts the city in two and crosses major arteries including Janesville Street, formerly Highway 26, and John Paul Road.

-- The letter requests the surface transportation board “consider routes that minimize the negative impact to agricultural lands.”

“A stated goal in the long-term transit plan is to preserve agricultural lands while maintaining an adequate transportation network to move product to market.”

The Gazette asked officials at railroads with lines in the area what they think about the Great Lakes Basin plan.

In an interview before the Thursday meeting, Lucht of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad described the proposed rail line as “its own proposal by a private investment group. We're not taking a stance on it.”

At the meeting, Lucht said, “The whole premise (of the proposed line) is to move crude oil and hazardous materials around Chicago,” thus keeping them out of such a large metropolitan area.

Canadian Pacific Railroad owns the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern line that runs between Janesville and South Beloit, Illinois.

“We continue to operate this route, and it is not currently under an abandonment or discontinuance proceeding,” Canadian Pacific spokesman Andy Cummings wrote in an email.

As for the Great Lakes proposal, Cummings said, “We do not wish to conjecture on what impact a hypothetical rail line built by a third party might have on this or any other CP route. Again, we are not affiliated with the Great Lakes Basin proposal.”

Union Pacific spokeswoman Calli Hite wrote in an email:

“After carefully reviewing the proposal, Union Pacific determined in July 2014 that it was not interested in moving forward with a discussion on the Great Lakes Basin Railroad's bypass project--an exceedingly expensive idea with no publicly identified funding sources.

"We have repeatedly communicated this position to Great Lakes Basin's leadership team and associated organizations. Union Pacific is focused on several major public-private partnerships, including CREATE, which will benefit the region and enhance efficiency for Chicago-area and regional railroad operations," Hite wrote.

CREATE is an organization that has tried reduce congestion in the Chicago rail yards.

Above is from:  http://www.gazettextra.com/20160520/janesville_area_planning_organization_weighs_in_on_rail_plan

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Boone County Board approves letter not resolution opposing GLB RR


Boone County Board OKs letter opposing Great Lakes Basin Railroad

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

Posted May. 19, 2016 at 12:01 AM

BELVIDERE — The Boone County Board tonight voted 10-1 to send a letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board opposing the construction of the proposed $8 billion Great Lakes Basin Railroad.
The three-page document, prepared by County Administrator Ken Terrinoni, outlines objections to the project in such areas as land loss, safety, water quality, geology and soils, noise and insurance costs.
“The Boone County community’s livability, because we are the environment, will suffer if the (railroad) route is approved,” the letter reads.
The board considered two letters. It rejected a document distributed Saturday that is not as detailed when listing the county's objections to the project.
District 1 Board Member Sherry Giesecke cast the lone dissenting vote against the letter the board approved, noting her opposition was less about substance than style.
“The category heads that we used in that original letter came more from the heart," she said. "They were more intuitive of residents and the various people who have spoken.”
Last week, the board announced its official opposition to the project during a County Board retreat. Board members and county residents voiced concerns about the proposed 275-mile railroad that would transport cargo through the county as part of a bypass of the Chicago area.
Tonight's meeting, like previous meetings about the proposed rail line, included plenty of lively discussion about an issue that has produced widespread opposition in rural areas of the county.
“I think everyone wanted the content (of the letter) to be forwarded, and that’s really happened," County Board Chairman Bob Walberg said.
County resident Laurie Boseman of Citizens Against the Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project said the letter is “a tiny step forward.”
“I don’t see why they have to nitpick about a letter,” she said.
District 2 Board Member Cathy Ward lobbied the board unsuccessfully to approve an official resolution in opposition to the project. A resolution, she said, would have more impact.
“I would think, with the response of the community, we want as strong (a position) as possible,” Ward said. “They’ve told us many times and in many ways that they want to make sure the message is very clear.”

Other affected areas, such as LaSalle County, Illinois, and Lake County, Indiana, have drafted resolutions in opposition to the project. Last week, the Rock County Board in southern Wisconsin approved an official resolution stating the 200-foot wide rail corridor would remove 570 acres of prime farmland, and would result in a $608,615 annual loss in agricultural production.

Rock County Board Supervisor Alan Sweeney asked the Boone County Board to participate in a joint analysis of the project that would include a recommendation that the rail line use existing railroads. The Boone board didn't act on Sweeney's request.
“It’s up to both Boone County Board and Rock County Board whether to participate together,” he said. “It was the first step.”

Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/news/20160519/boone-county-board-oks-letter-opposing-great-lakes-basin-railroad

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Turbines going up near Plattville, WI


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Seymour, Lafayette County, Wisconsin

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For other towns named Seymour in Wisconsin, see Seymour, Wisconsin (disambiguation).

Seymour, Wisconsin


Location of Seymour, Wisconsin
Location of Seymour, Wisconsin

Coordinates: 42°39′7″N 90°14′58″W / 42.65194°N 90.24944°W / 42.65194; -90.24944Coordinates: 42°39′7″N 90°14′58″W / 42.65194°N 90.24944°W / 42.65194; -90.24944

United States




• Total
36.1 sq mi (93.6 km2)

• Land
36.1 sq mi (93.6 km2)

• Water
0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)

1,043 ft (318 m)

Population (2000)

• Total

• Density
10.0/sq mi (3.9/km2)

Time zone
Central (CST) (UTC-6)

• Summer (DST)

Area code(s)

FIPS code

GNIS feature ID

Seymour is a town in Lafayette County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 363 at the 2000 census. The unincorporated community of Seymour Corners is located in the town.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 36.1 square miles (93.6 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 363 people, 118 households, and 96 families residing in the town. The population density was 10.0 people per square mile (3.9/km²). There were 122 housing units at an average density of 3.4 per square mile (1.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 99.72% White and 0.28% Native American.

There were 118 households out of which 46.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.0% were married couples living together, 2.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.8% were non-families. 16.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.08 and the average family size was 3.45.

In the town the population was spread out with 36.9% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 18.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 111.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 120.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $40,000, and the median income for a family was $40,536. Males had a median income of $25,417 versus $22,917 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,390. About 10.9% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.3% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over


Lafayette County, sometimes spelled La Fayette County, is a county located in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. It was part of the Wisconsin Territory at the time of its founding. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,836.[1] Its county seat is Darlington.[2] The county was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general who rendered assistance to the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.[3]



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 635 square miles (1,640 km2), of which 634 square miles (1,640 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2) (0.2%) is water.[4]

Major highways[edit]
Adjacent counties[edit]


2000 Census Age Pyramid for Lafayette County


U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790–1960[7] 1900–1990[8]
1990–2000[9] 2010–2014[1]

As of the census of 2000,[10] there were 16,137 people, 6,211 households, and 4,378 families residing in the county. The population density was 26 people per square mile (10/km²). There were 6,674 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 99.03% White, 0.11% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 0.22% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.14% from other races, and 0.35% from two or more races. 0.57% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 33.8% were of German, 17.5% Norwegian, 13.6% Irish, 11.9% English, 6.8% Swiss and 6.0% American ancestry.

There were 6,211 households out of which 33.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.00% were married couples living together, 7.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.50% were non-families. 25.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.20% under the age of 18, 7.60% from 18 to 24, 27.20% from 25 to 44, 22.10% from 45 to 64, and 15.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.00 males.