Tuesday, September 13, 2016

NY Attorney General Opens Inquiry Into Trump Foundation


For more information on the Trump Foundation see earlier posting:  http://boonecountywatchdog.blogspot.com/2016/09/how-donald-trump-retooled-his-charity.html


AARON KATERSKY and TOM LIDDY,Good Morning America 1 hour 16 minutes ago

The New York State attorney general's office has opened a broad inquiry into the Trump Foundation, the office confirms.

The inquiry concerns, among other things, Donald Trump buying a portrait of himself and a donation to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Trump supporter, according to a source in the office.

The question is whether Trump Foundation made accurate disclosures, a source said. Further details about the portrait and other donations were not immediately available.

The contribution to Bondi's fundraising committee has drawn scrutiny because her office declined to join a lawsuit against Trump regarding his now-shuttered school, Trump University.

The Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, a Hillary Clinton supporter, is pursuing litigation against Trump over Trump University, accusing him of “mis[leading] consumers into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises.”

Trump has denied the allegations and both he and Bondi have denied any impropriety over the contribution. But Trump did pay a $2,500 penalty to the IRS this year because charities are not allowed to give to political causes.

In a statement Tuesday night, the Trump campaign blasted the inquiry.

"Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President," Jason Miller, a Trump adviser, said in a statement. "This is nothing more than another left-wing hit job designed to distract from Crooked Hillary Clinton’s disastrous week.”

According to a June 9 letter from the AG's office to Trump, the office requested information about a $25,000 contribution to And Justice for All made in 2013, a political organization affiliated with Bondi.

In a response on July 25, the Trump Foundation said that the contribution was "mistakenly made from the Foundation" and instead came from Trump's personal funds. The foundation said that it incorrectly believed the organization receiving the money was a 501(c)(3) charity.

"Once Mr. Trump learned of the mistake from the news media, he publicly acknowledged the mistake and promptly took corrective action," the letter reads, including reimbursing the foundation $25,000. (p. 20)

The foundation said that it would train its staff and officers "to ensure that it will not use any of its funds for political purposes in the future," according to a July 15 letter from the AG's office to the foundation. (Last letter)

Schneiderman announced his lawsuit against Trump University on Aug. 25, 2013. The next month, Bondi's office announced that it was reviewing the litigation. But shortly after that announcement, And Justice for All received the contribution.

Bondi's office decided not to go forward with the complaint.

"I never, nor was my office, investigating him. Never. I would never lie. I would never take money. I've been obviously devastated over this," she said in a voice mail message to a Tampa Bay Times reporter this past June.

Trump recently said he never discussed the suit with Bondi's office.

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/gma/ny-attorney-general-opens-inquiry-trump-foundation-230704958--abc-news-topstories.html


Here is NBC’s Coverage on the same issue

The office of New York state's top prosecutor has made inquiries into Donald Trump's nonprofit foundation after questions about impropriety.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed the inquiry on Tuesday, telling CNN that "we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety," although he did not go into detail.

"We've inquired into it and we've had correspondence with them," Schneiderman said. "I didn't make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference. We have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it's complying with the laws governing charities in New York."

The Attorney General's Office later told NBC News that correspondence with the foundation began on June 9.

In response to the news, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller released a statement calling Schneiderman "a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President."

He also called the inquiry a "left-wing hit job."

The New York Attorney General's Charities Bureau, which oversees regulating nonprofits in the state, has asked about a $25,000 donation the Trump Foundation made in September 2013 to "And Justice for All" — a political group connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

All nonprofits are barred from making politically-related contributions.

The Trump Foundation had 20 days to answer the Charities Bureau's letter. While the Trump campaign has previously declined to comment about the case, Trump during a campaign stop Monday in Ohio dismissed questions about the contribution, according to The Washington Post.

Trump paid a $2,500 penalty for failing to disclose the gift to the Internal Revenue Service, and representatives for the Trump Organization said he also paid back $25,000 to the foundation after the media began asking questions, the newspaper reported.

Trump Foundation treasurer Allen Weisselberg wrote in a June 28 letter to the attorney general that the error was first realized in March and was a "case of mistaken identity involving organizations with the same name."

Other questions by the attorney general had to do with the Trump Foundation supposedly paying $20,000 for a six-foot-tall portrait of Trump and four separate charities claiming they never received donations that the foundation said it gifted them.

The amounts that the foundation said it donated included a $10,000 contribution in 2008, $5,000 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2012, according to The Post, which reported about the discrepancies last week.

The portrait was referenced by President Barack Obama on Tuesday while he stumped for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia.

"One candidate's family foundation has saved countless lives around the world," Obama said, referring to the Democratic presidential nominee's own charitable foundation run with former President Bill Clinton.

"The other candidate's foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a 6-foot-tall painting of himself. I mean, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version," Obama quipped.

Schneiderman, a Democrat who has endorsed Hillary Clinton and raised money for her campaign, has previously gone after one of Trump's ventures.

In 2013, he filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Trump University claiming the online school had fleeced would-be real estate investors.

That trial is going forward, and another fraud trial against Trump University in a San Diego court is scheduled to begin Nov. 28.

Above is fromhttp://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ny-attorney-general-reveals-inquiry-into-trump-foundation/ar-BBw7XHK?ocid=spartandhp

Intersection with recent School Bus/Car accident to get 4 way stop


UPDATED 9-15-2016 with RR Star’s article

This article is from the Facebook account of The Rhubarb.  

Thanks Lisa



Late this afternoon The Rhubarb received a phone call from Caledonia Township Road Commissioner Norm Pierce informing The Rhubarb that an agreement between Caledonia Township Commissioner Norm Pierce, Belvidere Township Highway Commissioner Richard Lee and Boone County Engineer Richard Lundin has been reached in regards to the intersection of Beloit Road and Orth Road. This will now become a 4 way stop. Details as to when signs will go up are pending upon the arrival of supplies.

The Rhubarb delayed the following article as it is still waiting on additional statistical information from the Boone County Sherriff’s office. The Rhubarb will also be posting this information.

Car vs School Bus on Beloit Road and Orth Road intersection
By Lisa Rodgers
Publisher/Editor The Rhubarb

BOONE COUNTY-“On Wednesday, September 07, 2016 at approximately 3:30 pm, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office responded to a two vehicle accident at the intersection of Beloit Road and Orth Road, Belvidere.

Preliminary investigation shows that a First Student School Bus carrying approximately 32 Belvidere District 100 students was traveling north on Beloit Road. A passenger vehicle traveling west on Orth Road failed to yield, striking the bus. The bus continued north, tipping on its side.

Boone County District #2 Fire and twelve ambulances from Boone County, McHenry County, DeKalb County, Winnebago County and Rock County (Wisconsin) responded to the scene. The drivers of both vehicles and ten students were transported to four area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. Most students were treated at the scene and released to their parents.

A quick response and assistance by first responders, school personnel, bus personnel, residents and parents are credited for making the incident manageable. The accident is still under investigation by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office…,” posted September 7 by Boone County Sherriff’s office on their Facebook page.

…“The Sheriff's Office says the driver, 23-year-old Marisol Talavera, was cited for not having a valid driver's license, not having insurance, and for failure to yield at a stop sign. She is still being treated at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

A total of 12 people were taken to area hospitals: 10 children, the bus driver and Talavera. Boone County District #2 Fire and twelve ambulances from Boone, McHenry, DeKalb, Winnebago and Rock (Wisconsin) counties responded to the scene.

Officials say Talavera pulled her into the intersection of Beloit and Orth roads in Belvidere and collided with the bus around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday…”Posted: WREX Sep 08, 2016 3:41 PM CDT School bus crash update on Facebook.

Concerned comments from the public have raised questions as to who is responsible for this intersection and what else can be done to improve the safety of the Beloit Road and Orth Road intersection?

The following information is located at Boone County Highway Department online information.


“Who's responsibility is it to maintain* a given road?

There are basically four different highway authorities who have maintenance responsibilities with in Boone County which are listed, along with the general jurisdictional responsibly:

State: Responsible for all marked and unmarked state routes and interstates. State roads can exist within the corporate limits of a city or village.

County: Responsible for all county roads which, in general, consist of main collector routes. County roads can also exist within the corporate limits of a city of village.

Township (Road District): Responsible for all township roads within a given township. Roads on township lines may be the responsibility of either of the adjacent townships and it may change from one section to another.

Township roads cannot exist within the corporate limits of a city or village. Therefore, if the corporate limits of a road is adjacent to or included within any part of the right-of-way that road is the maintenance responsibility of the city or village.

City or Village: Responsible for all public streets within the corporate limits except any State or county roads within the corporate limits.

*Maintenance responsibilities include all activities necessary to keep the road to an acceptable level of service including, but not limited to, snow plowing, repairing roads, and reconstruction.”

Many years ago a map was created giving jurisdiction to either Boone County or the townships for specific roads. At the time the map was created Beloit Road was considered a more rural road and therefore jurisdiction was given to the townships. Due to the boundary lines between Caledonia Township and Belvidere Township each has a responsibility to the intersection. Caledonia Township is responsible for three corners. Orth Road and the north/west corner of Beloit Road. The same corner where the school bus came to rest. Belvidere Township is responsible for only the south/east corner of Beloit Road.

It should be noted that at the time the map was created and jurisdiction allocated, there were no schools on Beloit Road. There is now Seth Whitman Elementary, Belvidere Central Middle School and Belvidere North High School. Belvidere North opened the fall of 2007.

The following crash statistics were provided to The Rhubarb by the Boone County Highway Department for the Orth Road and Beloit Road intersection. More detailed statics from the Boone County Sheriff’s office is pending.

2002 - 5
2003 - 4
2004 - 4
2005 - 5
2006 - 10
2007 - 6
2008 - 9
2009 - 2
2010 - 11
2012 - 12
2013 - 6
2014 - 5
2015 - 16

Total from 2002-2015: 95 Crashes
Average from 2002-2015: 7.3 crashes per year.
Average from 2002-2006: 5.6 crashes per year.
Average from 2007-2015: 8.3 crashes per year. Belvidere North High School opened in 2007.

“I’m in full support of making this intersection a 4 way stop,” said Caledonia Township Road Commissioner Norm Pierce.

“I have been the Road Commission for 14 years and take my job very seriously. My job as Road Commissioner is to keep the public safe. I have done everything possible under the current law that is permissible to improve the safety of this intersection. Flashing lights have been installed, cross-traffic signs posted ahead of the intersection as well as on the stop signs, reflective strips on both the cross-traffic signs as well as the stops signs. The stop signs are now 30” as required by law and were installed within the first year of the requirement. A speed trailer was also recently placed at this intersection.

I spoke with the homeowner a while back who had the video recording of the accident between the car and school bus. He agreed to remove his lilac bushes to help improve visibility. He did so voluntarily,” said Mr. Pierce.

“Life is not replaceable, cars are. I would be in support of the Orth Road and Beloit Road intersection becoming a 4 way stop,” concluded Mr. Pierce.

“For over the past year, the Boone County Sherriff’s office has been working with both townships to improve the intersection of Beloit Road and Orth Road. Patrol cars have been placed in driveways and a speed trailer was recently placed on Beloit Road.

In 2015 alone there were 19 accidents at this intersection. It is one of the worst intersections in Boone County. It should not be one of the worst intersections based on its location in the county compared to other higher traffic roads. It’s obvious there is a larger problem here. One fact is the intersection does not sit at a 90 degree angle.

Putting up stop signs at every intersection is not feasible as we need to continue the flow of traffic or no one will get anywhere. However the number of accidents occurring at Beloit Road and Orth Road with the statistical information cannot be ignored,” said Boone County Sheriff David Ernest.

Traffic information obtained directly from IDOT or Illinois Department of Transportation.

2013 AADT or Annual Average Daily Traffic for Beloit Road and Orth Road.

Orth Road
Traveling west 3200
Traveling east 1900

Beloit Road
Traveling north 3350
Traveling south. 4850

The next scheduled review will be 2018.

According to information provided by the Boone County Highway Department, in order for any changes to occur at this intersection both townships must be in agreement and submit a request to the highway department. Boone County Board has no authority over this intersection. Change would only occur by Boone County Engineer Richard Lundin signing off on the request. If one township would request a 4 way stop and the other be not in agreement, the request will fail and no change will occur at the intersection. It should be noted Boone County Engineer Mr. Richard Lundin retires at the end of September.

The Rhubarb wishes to thank Boone County Sheriff David Ernest, Caledonia Township Commissioner Norm Pierce, Belvidere Township Highway Commissioner Richard Lee and Boone County Engineer Richard Lundin for all their assistance in this article.

Getting Around Illinois is a web-based interactive mapping site that provides the ability to search and display several sources of transportation data. You can find information on winter road conditions, annual average daily traffic, road construction, trucking routes, and planned road projects.


As background here is the newspaper story on the accident.



  • Ambulances swarmed to Beloit and Orth roads after a car collided with a school bus causing it to roll Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Belvidere. |

    Purchase this Photo

    Ambulances swarmed to Beloit and Orth roads after a car collided with a school bus causing it to roll Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Belvidere. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM


  • By Kevin Haas
    Staff writer

    Posted Sep. 8, 2016 at 5:08 PM
    Updated Sep 8, 2016 at 7:12 PM

    BELVIDERE — The driver of a vehicle that crashed into a Belvidere school bus on Wednesday was cited for several traffic violations.
    Marisol Talavera, 23, was cited for failure to yield at a stop sign, no valid driver's license and operating an uninsured motor vehicle, according to the Boone County Sheriff's Office.
    Talavera was driving west on Orth Road at about 3:30 p.m. when she failed to yield and struck a school bus headed north on Beloit Road, police said. The bus continued north and tipped on its side.
    The bus was carrying 32 Belvidere Central Middle School students. Ten students were taken to the hospital, as well as the driver of the bus and Talavera. Their injuries were not believed to be serious. Talavera remains at a Rockford hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office.
    The Belvidere School District contracts with First Student Inc. for transportation.
  • Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/news/20160908/driver-cited-in-crash-with-belvidere-school-bus
  • **********************************************************************************************************************************************************
    • Four-way stop sign going up at Orth and Beloit roads in Boone County, site of 64 crashes since 2011


    By Kevin Haas
    Staff writer

    Posted Sep. 15, 2016 at 7:00 am Updated at 8:49 PM

    BELVIDERE — When Brandon Pedroza approaches the intersection of Orth and Beloit roads he has a foot on the brakes, and his eyes scan his surroundings for oncoming cars.
    He's never sure if drivers on Orth will obey the stop sign.
    "The speed limit is 45 ... I go through there going 30-35 to make sure that those people are going to stop," said Pedroza, 19, of Roscoe. "You don't know if someone's coming and if they're going to blow through it until you're going through the intersection. There's a lot of blind spots over there."


    The crossroads of Orth and Beloit is considered the county's most dangerous intersection by Boone County Sheriff Dave Ernest. A collision last week between a school bus and car, which sent 10 Belvidere Central Middle School students to the hospital, brought renewed attention to the intersection and calls from some for changes to be made to make the route safer.

    Township road officials decided to install a four-way stop sign.
    "It should go up Monday," said Belvidere Township Highway Commissioner Rich Lee.
    Lee said the four-way stop had been considered for about three to four months but it took time to get everyone together from different jurisdictions. The intersection is under the jurisdiction of Caledonia and Belvidere township road districts, with three legs of the crossroads belonging to Caledonia Township.
    "They should at least put a four-way stop," Pedroza said. "Give the people a chance going north and south on Beloit Road to be able to stop and look and check that people are going to stop."
    A year ago, on March 5, 2015, Pedroza was in a three-car collision at the intersection. A car headed east on Orth failed to yield at the stop sign and hit a vehicle going south on Beloit. That vehicle spun and struck Pedroza, who was headed north on Beloit, according to a Boone County sheriff's traffic report. There were 18 other collisions at the intersection that year.
    "Once in a while when I go through there I look around and I see more pieces of cars, and I go, 'Uh oh, there was another accident here,'" Pedroza said.
    There have been 64 crashes at the intersection of Orth and Beloit roads since 2011, according to statistics provided by the Boone County Sheriff's Office after a Freedom of Information Act request. The number of crashes peaked at 19 in 2015.
    "Last year, we had 19 accidents at that intersection, which was alarming," Ernest said. "As far as I was concerned that was the worst intersection we had in the county."
    Lee and Caledonia Township Highway Commissioner Norm Pierce have actively been trying to make the intersection safer, Ernest said.
    "They've cut back bushes and trees, they've put reflective tape," Ernest said. The Sheriff's Office has tried to improve safety, too.
    "We've had a lot of patrols there. We sat in that driveway on the corner. We put our speed trailer up there because we just felt that 19 accidents was ridiculous," Ernest said.
    There have been seven crashes at the intersection so far this year, which includes last week's bus crash. "It's still too many, but that's a huge improvement," Ernest said. He said a roundabout would be ideal for the intersection.
    More than 6,600 vehicles pass through the intersection on average each day, according to estimates based on Illinois Department of Transportation traffic counts.
    "That roadway wasn't built for the type of traffic we have there these days," Ernest said. "We have a new high school on that side of town. We have Sportscore and the YMCA and all these things that are right there in that area. It's starting to be more of a throughway. And obviously we have heavy Chrysler traffic going north and south."
    The county can only expect more traffic going forward, especially with the Mercyhealth hospital being built less than 5 miles away on the corner of East Riverside Boulevard and Interstate 90, said Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg. "Boone County needs to have a plan for how to provide access to people," Walberg said. "This is the time where we really need to come up with plans and come up with how we want to prepare for future growth and future traffic demands on our county."
    The speed limit is 45 mph to the east, west and south of the intersection and 55 mph to the north. There are flashing signs alerting drivers of an upcoming stop sign to the east and west of Orth Road. Patrick Luetkenhaus of Belvidere said the speed limit should be reduced to 45 mph from Orth Road north to the stop sign in Argyle on Beloit Road.
    "Many people that live in Roscoe, Rockton and Beloit travel that road to Belvidere. And a lot of those people work at Chrysler," Luetkenhaus said. "I travel Beloit Road once a week to do some volunteer work in Rockton. I have been doing that for many years, I can tell you that many people are going down Beloit Road traveling 10 or more miles over the speed limit."
    Lee said he and Pierce both want to see the speed limit on Beloit on the north side of the intersection reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph. He said they're working with the county highway department to make that change. Federal requirements and county policy call for a speed study to be conducted before a speed limit is changed, said County Engineer Rich Lundin. The study uses a formula to determine a safe speed. Then the Boone County Board must approve the change.
    Ernest said driver error — often failing to yield at the stop sign — is the cause of most crashes at the intersection.
    "It's mainly people being inpatient and in a hurry," Ernest said of the cause of crashes. "We put a four-way stop there we're still going to have accidents."
    Kevin Haas: 815-987-1410; khaas@rrstar.com; @KevinMHaas
    Crashes per year
    There have been 64 crashes at the intersection of Orth and Beloit roads since 2011
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    Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/news/20160915/four-way-stop-sign-going-up-at-orth-and-beloit-roads-in-boone-county-site-of-64-crashes-since-2011

    Sen Harry Reid: The Republican Congress is Bought and Paid for by the Koch Brothers


    Reid: The Republican Congress is Bought and Paid for by the Koch Brothers

    September 12, 2016 | Press Releases

    “For the last eight years, Charles and David Koch and their inner circle of billionaires have wielded immense power within our democracy.  Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that the Republican Congress is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.”

    “In order to add a few more billion dollars to their bottom line, the Kochs are dumping piles of money into Senate races across the country, trying to tighten their grip on this chamber by electing more stooges. The Kochs and their dark money empire are flooding the airwaves with misleading and false advertisements.”

    “Take a look at Nevada, where the Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars through their shadow organizations so they can tip the scales for their anointed Senate candidate, Joe Heck. He is their puppet. He is their puppet. He is their puppet. Who is he going to side with on issues important to Nevada? The out of state billionaire barons who spent millions buying his election? Or Nevadans? … Joe Heck’s voting record in the House of Representatives says it all. He has voted with the Koch brothers 90 percent of the time in just the last year.”

    Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about the Koch brothers’ attempts to subvert American democracy by donating massive sums to Republicans who vow to do their bidding in Congress. Below are his remarks:

    Webster’s Dictionary defines an oligarchy as, “a government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes.” Let me state that again – “a government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes.” By that definition, it appears that our government is moving ever closer to an oligarchy. Just like Putin’s Russia.

    For the last eight years, Charles and David Koch and their inner circle of billionaires have wielded immense power within our democracy.  Indeed, it’s no exaggeration to say that the Republican Congress is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

    These two brothers – who are worth $100 billion – are going to spend any amount necessary to ensure that their interests are represented in city halls, state houses and even this very Capitol, where we find ourselves now. Last year at one of their secret planning meetings, the Kochs and their cronies vowed to spend unlimited monies to exert influence in this year’s election.

    I have been disappointed that this Republican Senate has done nothing to stop the Kochs’ crooked oligarchy agenda. Campaign finance reform is a nasty word to Congressional Republicans.

    The United States Senate has a history of standing up to the corrupt interests of tycoons just like the Kochs. The Sherman Antitrust Act was written by the Senate Judiciary Committee, against the wishes of the Carnegie family and Carnegie monopoly, the Vanderbilt family and the Vanderbilt monopoly, and the Rockefeller family and monopoly. When the system is broken, we have a responsibility to try to fix it. Our system of government is being attacked by Koch oligarchy money. But Republicans have done nothing to oppose this march towards oligarchy. This Republican Senate has showed no spine – zero – in confronting the Kochs.

    In fact, the evidence suggests that they are more than content to go along with the billionaire brothers from Kansas. The Republican leader’s voting record is a perfect example. Between 2009 and 2015, the senior senator from Kentucky has voted in lock-step with the Koch brothers at least 178 times. Think about that – at least 178 times in seven years.

    The senior senator from Kentucky is not the only Republican with a documented history of siding with the Kochs. The junior senator from Florida has voted with the Kochs 92 percent of the time. The senior senator from Oklahoma has voted with the Kochs 85 percent of the time. The junior senator from Pennsylvania has voted with the Kochs 84 percent of the time. The Assistant Republican Leader has voted with the Kochs 82 percent of the time. There are many others in the Republican caucus who I could refer to, but I think those I mention give an idea of this unprecedented hold on Senate Republicans by the Koch brothers.

    Let’s take one example. We all remember – we should, if we don’t – what happened earlier this year with the junior senator from Kansas. Senator Moran had the audacity to admit that Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court deserved consideration. He didn’t say he was going to vote for them. He simply said they deserve consideration. So what happened after that?

    Senator Moran may be the Kochs’ biggest and most outspoken supporter in the United States Senate. He has proven that time and time again. He has defended his home state billionaires multiple times here on the Senate floor. But even the loyalty he showed could not spare the junior senator from the Kochs’ wrath. The Koch brothers rallied their massive political machine against their home state senator. One of their groups, the Judicial Crisis Network, threatened to launch an ad campaign against Senator Moran. Well, what happened? Senator Moran performed a breathtaking about-face and has since refused to support a hearing or a vote for Merrick Garland.

    Whether it is a nomination to the Supreme Court, the Keystone XL pipeline, or the Export-Import Bank, Senate Republicans always seem to take the Koch brothers’ side. And the Kochs’ interest is always based on the profit motive – their profit.

    Since Republicans took control of the Senate, they have done nothing for the middle class – nothing to increase the minimum wage or help ease the burden of student loan debt. But the Republican leader has scheduled multiple votes on the Keystone XL pipeline and he has tried to roll back important EPA greenhouse gas emissions regulations. A week ago yesterday in  The New York Times, there was an unprecedented article giving specific examples of what’s happening now. Not in the future. Now –  with climate change. But Senate Republicans, because of the Kochs, continue to close their eyes to the reality that water levels are rising, putting neighborhoods, whole cities and bridges and military installations under water. There are islands off our coasts that have causeways to go to them. They can’t go many, many weeks of the year because they are swamped with water now.

    It is clear who this Republican Senate is trying to help, and it certainly is not working American families.

    The Kochs are not satisfied. They want to expand their budding oligarchy until it consumes our American democracy. The Kochs don’t even mask their intentions. Their own publicist once explained why the Koch brothers are trying to buy a new government, saying: “It’s because we can make more profit, OK?” That is a direct quote.

    In order to add a few more billion dollars to their bottom line, the Kochs are dumping piles of money into Senate races across the country, trying to tighten their grip on this chamber by electing more stooges. The Kochs and their dark money empire are flooding the airwaves with misleading and false advertisements.

    Ads from the Koch brothers are not always easy to identify. The groups that sponsor them have names that sound harmless enough. Turn on a TV or open your mailbox and you will see a quick disclaimer in tiny print that says who paid for it. They say things like:

    • “Sponsored by Concerned Veterans of America,” or
    • “Sponsored by Freedom Partners,” or
    • “Paid for by the Libre Initiative,” or
    • “Paid for by Americans for Prosperity.”

    There are organizations that are afraid to tell us how much money they get from the Koch brothers. Take, for example, the American Chamber of Commerce. No one knows and they won’t tell us. It’s been suggested 80 percent of their money comes from the Koch brothers.  I don’t know if that’s right, but I do know that they are doing a lot of spending against the interests of Democrats. This disclaimer paid for by Americans for Prosperity, Libre Initiative, Freedom Partners and Concerned Veterans for American would be more accurate to say: “Paid for by the billionaires – the Koch brothers.”

    Take a look at Nevada, where the Koch brothers are spending millions of dollars through their shadow organizations so they can tip the scales for their anointed Senate candidate, Joe Heck. He is their puppet. He is their puppet. He is their puppet. Who is he going to side with on issues important to Nevada? The out of state billionaire barons who spent millions buying his election? Or Nevadans?

    We already know the answer to that question. Joe Heck’s voting record in the House of Representatives says it all. He has voted with the Koch brothers 90 percent of the time in just the last year. Ninety percent.

    Let me give just one example from earlier this year – House Republicans’ had a bill called the Preventing IRA Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act. Notwithstanding that bill’s misleading title, the legislation sought to make it even easier for the Koch brothers to funnel even more dark, dark money to their dark money groups. The Koch network got the word out. They told House Republicans to vote for that bill. So how did Joe Heck vote? He and his Republican colleagues overwhelmingly voted with the Kochs, of course.

    That is who the Kochs want in the Senate – lackeys who will gut consumer and environmental protection and streamline Koch Industries’ path to more profit. Bankrolling extreme candidates is seen as an investment by the Kochs, and they want these investments to pay off. Charles Koch admitted as much in an interview last year. When asked what he hoped to get for his hundreds of millions of dollars in political donations, Charles Koch answered – quote: “I expect something in return.” Yes he does.

    This is not the American democracy that our Founding Fathers established. The Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision has constructed a political system that has effectively put our government up for sale to the highest bidder. Because of Citizens United, our country has no real restrictions on the money a billionaire or a millionaire can spend to buy the government they want.

    As a country, we must reject the Koch brothers’ efforts to buy our democracy. We must work to rid the system of this dark money. We must address the issue of campaign finance and the unrestrained spending that is squeezing the American people out of their own government. It is time that we revive our constituents’ faith in the electoral system and let them know that their voices are being heard, not just the Koch brothers’ voices.

    Above is from:  http://www.reid.senate.gov/press_releases/2016-9-12-reid-the-republican-congress-is-bought-and-paid-for-by-the-koch-brothers#.V9gdKI-cHIU

    Wisconsin’s alternate GLB RR route



    Rail company must submit alternative routes by Sept. 20

    Jim Dayton

    Monday, September 12, 2016

    review process will consider alternatives for proposed railroad through Rock County Friday, July 22, 2016

    The proposed Great Lakes Basin rail project will enter another phase next week as the company submits a list of alternative routes to a federal review agency.

    As requested by the Surface Transportation Board in a July 5 letter, Great Lakes Basin must devise a list of alternative routes for its project and explain why some of those alternatives were ultimately rejected. The company has until Sept. 20 to submit the information after receiving an extension on its original deadline.

    Officials from Great Lakes Basin said they were unable to comment until after the alternative proposals were submitted next week. Representatives for the Surface Transportation Board were unavailable for comment Monday.

    Great Lakes Basin wants to construct a new rail line that starts in Milton, runs south around Chicago and ends in northern Indiana. In an earlier interview with The Gazette, Michael Blaszak, outside legal counsel for the rail company, said the project's purpose is to alleviate congestion around Chicago and provide additional capacity for future demand.

    One of the questions outlined in the July 5 letter asks whether Great Lakes Basin could use existing rail corridors such as the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad line instead of building entirely new routes. But most people with knowledge of the project agree this is not a feasible alternative.

    Great Lakes Basin wants to operate as a Class V rail, which would allow trains to travel at 70 mph. The current line is Class II, which means cars mostly travel at 25 mph. It would need massive upgrades to fit the company's needs, said Alan Sweeney, chairman of the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.

    The rail commission co-owns the existing Class II lines with the state's Department of Transportation. Great Lakes Basin has contacted the DOT but not the commission, Sweeney said.

    Wisconsin and Southern Railroad uses those Class II lines, and the company's Director of Government Relations Ken Lucht said Great Lakes Basin has not approached him about sharing their route, aside from a small stretch between Milton and Waukesha. The company remains neutral toward Great Lakes Basin's proposal until more information is available, Lucht said.

    Local opposition group Rock Against the Rail has disputed the need for the Great Lakes Basin project and does not believe it serves the public interest. But the group's co-founder, Mirjam Melin, said using existing lines does not make sense, either.

    “It would be like hooking up an Interstate to a gravel road,” Melin said of the rail class differences. “It would (need a major) update and cost an enormous amount of money.”

    Using existing lines is an unlikely outcome for the project, but it was not clear who would pay for the extensive upgrades if that option were used. Melin said taxpayers would be responsible because the DOT and rail commission own the lines. Lucht said private money would be used. Sweeney was uncertain.

    The Surface Transportation Board will now consider this and other possibilities, and reaching this phase of development allows the agency to begin drafting an environmental impact statement. That document will provide an in-depth review of the proposal, but it could take several years to finalize, Melin said.

    Last updated: 7:44 pm Monday, September 12, 2016

    Above is from:  http://www.gazettextra.com/20160912/rail_company_must_submit_alternative_routes_by_sept_20

    Middle class incomes grew faster last year than they ever have



    Middle class incomes grew faster last year than they ever have


    September 13 at 10:13 AM

    The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2  percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession and the fastest increase ever recorded by the federal government, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday morning.

    In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, a statistically significant amount. There were 43.1 Americans in poverty on the year, 3.5 million fewer than in 2014. The share of Americans who lack health insurance continued a years-long decline, falling 1.3 percentage points, to 9.1 percent.

    The numbers, from the government's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance, suggest the recovery from recession is finally beginning to lift the fortunes of large swaths of American workers and families.

    Real median household income was $$56,500 in 2015, the bureau said, up from $53,700 in 2014. The gain was a combination of rising wages in the economy - spurred by a labor market where unemployment is falling and employers are being forced to compete more for workers - and low inflation.

    The gains brought median incomes nearly back to their levels before the recession, after adjusting for inflation, though they remain below 1999 levels.

    The gains outpaced even the most optimistic expectations from  many economists.

    Several measures of wage growth had suggested that 2015 was strong for wage growth. Other indicators had pointed to an improvement for the Americans who are the worst off. The unemployment rate had declined to 4.9 percent as of last month. Since 2014, increases in wages have accelerated for the one in five workers earning the least, according to new research by Bank of America. In this group, wages are now increasing at roughly 4 percent year over year.

    Last week, the Agriculture Department released its annual data on hunger in the United States, showing that food insecurity declined substantially last year for the first time since the recession. The share of food-insecure households was 12.7 percent last year, down from 14 percent in 2014. Before 2014, food insecurity had remained stubbornly persistent, improving only modestly from an apex of 14.9 percent in 2011. The Agriculture Department defines food security as having access to “enough food for an active, healthy life.”

    Above is from:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/13/the-middle-class-and-the-poor-just-had-the-best-year-since-the-end-of-the-great-recession/?wpisrc=al_alert-COMBO-economy%252Bnation

    Illinois GOP launches ad attack on Speaker Madigan


    Illinois GOP launches ad attack on Speaker Madigan

    Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

    Bankrolled by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois Republicans on Monday attacked Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan in a new TV ad for state Rep. Michael McAuliffe. | File photos

    Tina Sfondeles

    @TinaSfon | email

    Bankrolled by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois Republicans on Monday attacked Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan by raising questions about the property tax appeals business handled by his law firm.

    The bid to muddy up the powerful Democrat came in a television commercial running in the Chicago area and aimed at re-electing state Rep. Michael McAuliffe, the lone city Republican in the House. His district covers portions of the Northwest Side, as well as the suburbs of Niles, Des Plaines, Franklin Park, Park Ridge, Rosemont and Schiller Park

    The ad makes no mention of McAuliffe, instead linking his Democratic challenger, Merry Marwig, to Madigan. It’s a prime example of the financial prowess and real target of the state Republican Party this election cycle.

    The state party wouldn’t disclose the price tag but called it “a major buy on broadcast TV in Chicago.”

    McAuliffe’s race is shaping up to be one of the most expensive November statehouse races, and it is a financial proxy war being waged by Madigan and Rauner.

    McAuliffe is one of four Republicans being targeted by Illinois Democrats this November. In turn, the House Republican Organization has contributed about $1 million to his political campaign fund.

    Marwig, the daughter of a union laborer and an activist, is largely funded by unions and the state Democratic Party.

    The new McAuliffe spot aims to boost him by demonizing Madigan, who wears three hats: speaker of the House, chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois and partner in a law firm specializing in appealing property tax assessments. The spot asserts that Madigan’s tax work is responsible for “saving his friends millions, forcing you to pay more.” It claims Marwig got her property taxes lowered “at your expense.”

    Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe said Madigan is being used in campaign ads because he’s “never been more unpopular” and because “far more people are able to hear our reform message this year than in past cycles.”

    That’s because of a massive influx of cash for Republican candidates, in large part because of Rauner, who has contributed much of the $13 million raised by the GOP’s main campaign committee.

    McAuliffe’s re-election bid is almost totally dependent on financial muscle from Rauner, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, and the Illinois Republican Party.

    Illinois Board of Election records reveal the flow of political money:

    • On May 4, Citizens for Rauner transferred $5 million to the Illinois Republican Party.

    • On May 6, the Illinois Republican Party transferred $2 million to Durkin’s House Republican Organization, the state House Republican political operation.

    • On Sept. 6, the party sent another $1 million to the HRO.

    • Over the summer and through Sept. 7, Citizens for Michael P. McAuliffe received more than $700,000 from the HRO, while the state GOP party in the past months has paid more than $60,000 for McAuliffe campaign staffers and other help. Citizens for Durkin, Durkin’s own political warchest, is kicking in money — at least $40,000 so far — for McAuliffe direct mail efforts.

    Marwig, who created her campaign committee in February, is also tethered to Illinois Democrats for financial life support. In August and September, the Illinois Democratic Party paid more than $50,000 for postage and printing, and the Democratic Majority committee – the Democratic House political organization — paid $27,500 for polling.

    Madigan spokesman Steve Brown on Monday called the Republican Party’s anti-Madigan ad “not surprising.”

    “They’re doing everything they can to hold the twin anchor weight for Rauner and Trump around Michael McAuliffe’s neck. I don’t think this does it for him,” Brown said.

    Brown said Madigan’s firm doesn’t give special treatment for clients, calling the insinuation “another one of those good, relationship-building cheap shots from the Rauner people.”

    “They do it every two years. This year, they’re spending money on broadcast television in Chicago, which it just is, ‘If you give people a bigger piece of candy, they take bigger bites,'” Brown said.

    In addition to McAuliffe’s race, state ; and the Democrats are targeting Rep. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon; Avery Bourne of Raymonde seat vacated when state Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, abruptly resigned earlier this year. State Republicans are targeting the open seat of state Rep. Jack Franks, who left the Illinois House to run for McHenry County Board chairman; Rep. Mike Smiddy of Port Byron; John Bradley of Marion; and Kate Cloonen of Kankakee.

    Contributing: Lynn Sweet

    Above is from:  http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/illinois-gop-launches-ad-attack-on-speaker-madigan/