Monday, June 29, 2009

Silent sentry

A sentinel from the elite 3rd US Infantry marches as the sun rises above the Tomb of the Unknowns this morning at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. US Senator Ted Kennedy will be buried in Arlington near his brothers, former President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, on August 29, 2009.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I would like to share with you a newspaper article about our campaign appearing in today's edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Our message of reform and renewal is spreading throughout the state of Illinois. Please share this article with your friends and family.
Best regards,
Will a name like Raja play in Peoria?

35-year-old Indian American Krishnamoorthi eyes state comptroller post, chance to make history

By: Abdon M. Pallasch, Political Reporter

They used to say Illinoisans south of Interstate 80 would not vote for names like Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama.
But the voters proved themselves open-minded.
How open-minded? Raja Krishnamoorthi, 35, Illinois' former deputy treasurer, is preparing to run for state comptroller, banking on voters' ability to appreciate his Harvard law degree and Downstate Peoria roots, even if they have trouble pronouncing his name.
"I think there's no question we're ready for a new name: Raja -- that's what we'll call him. It's much easier," said Newton Minow, the former Federal Communications Commission chairman who will chair his campaign.

[Please click here to read the remainder of the article.]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Giannoulias kicks off 2010 Senate bid

Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today officially launched his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2010, encouraging supporters to "stand up" and join him in his effort to revive the economy and restore opportunity for Illinois residents.
The only Democrat to declare his candidacy for the seat held previously by his political mentor, U.S. President Barack Obama, Giannoulias told the crowd that - more than ever - Washington needs responsible leaders who will take on powerful special interest groups during these difficult economic times.
"This race will offer voters a stark choice between the failed past or a promising future - a clear choice between the right course and the wrong one," said Giannoulias, kicking off his campaign during a three-day statewide tour. "We are at a seminal moment in this nation's history when the decisions that are made over the next few years will shape our nation for generations."
In his speech, Giannoulias recounted conversations with people who inspired him to run: Illinois farmers, factory workers, college students and small business owners from across the state who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of the economic downturn. "These are the victims of Washington politics as usual," he said.
Hartmarx Corp. workers crowded the kick-off event in Chicago to support Giannoulias, who helped the 137-year-old, Illinois-based suitmaker avoid liquidation and save 1,000 jobs by threatening to pull state business from the factory's main creditor, Wells Fargo. Giannoulias argued that after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Wells Fargo had a responsibility to invest in American jobs and workers, saying, "the American taxpayer is not an ATM for Corporate America."
Giannoulias challenged Illinoisans to join him in standing up to those who created America's economic crisis. He noted that far too many Americans are struggling as the result of Washington insiders and politicians who supported the failed trickle-down economic strategies of former President George W. Bush.
"During the past decade, those who controlled Washington systematically undermined the economic engine of the American middle class," Giannoulias said. "The policies they forced on the American people for nearly a decade killed millions of jobs, helped the few that are rich, hurt the many who live in the middle and drove the nation into the deepest economic recession in 75 years.
"Let's stand up together, move forward and write the next great chapter in American history."
Giannoulias said restoring the public's trust and confidence in government and its elected leaders would also serve as a top priority. He reiterated his pledge, made as the first U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois, to refuse political contributions from federal lobbyists and corporate PACs during his campaign, telling the crowd, "we cannot sit back and let the influence of corporate special interests bankrupt American families."
Elected Illinois State Treasurer as an independent Democrat, Giannoulias has pursued a progressive, reform agenda that focuses on innovative initiatives and policies designed to curb ethical abuses, safely invest the taxpayers' money and promote the financial wellbeing of state residents.
In his first official act as State Treasurer, he ended pay-to-play politics in the Treasurer's office by prohibiting his campaign fund from taking contributions from contractors, banks and office employees. He made the state's financial records more transparent by successfully pushing legislation requiring his and future administrations to post online reports detailing where state money is invested and how it performs compared to standard benchmarks.
To prevent young adults from piling up credit card debt, Giannoulias cracked down on credit card companies by authoring legislation to curb deceptive tactics marketers employ to prey on college students.
Giannoulias introduced securities lending, which earned more than $2 million in revenue for the state in its first year. To address the nation's worst unfunded pension liability, Giannoulias successfully drafted legislation that will potentially save the state $16 billion dollars by accelerating Illinois' pension debt payments. He has also supported the retention and creation of hundreds of jobs through low-interest business loans and venture capital investments.
As administrator of the state's 529 college savings programs, Giannoulias overhauled Illinois' Bright Start plan, lowering fees, adding more investment options and eliminating tax penalties. Earlier this year, Money Magazine named it a Top 3 program and Consumer Reports called it one of the best five programs in the nation.
Giannoulias negotiated $3.5 million in privately financed merit- and need-based scholarships that will help thousands of students attend college. In addition, he established the Fallen Heroes Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarship accounts to the children of fallen military and National Guard personnel.
In keeping with his agenda of ethics reform and fiscal responsibility, Giannoulias ended one of the scandals that tarnished Illinois government for 25 years. He gained title of two hotels owned and operated by political insiders that owed state taxpayers $60 million in loan and interest payments. His three-day swing includes stops at the hotels, the Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield and the former Collinsville Holiday Inn.

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy dies at age 77

U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, died at age 77, his family said.
"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement early on Wednesday.
One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history -- a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker -- Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

Full article...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nearly 50 million Americans -- one-in-six of our fellow citizens -- lack health insurance. And even those families lucky enough to have health insurance have seen their premiums triple in the past decade, now paying an average of $16,000 per year and rising rapidly.In short, America's health care system is in a crisis, and it's time to do something about it.This month, Congress is working on new reform legislation that will make quality health care available and affordable for all Americans. But we know the forces of the status quo will battle us every step of the way. So we're asking for your help, today, to get this critical legislation passed.Please sign our online petition today -- and circulate it to your friends -- and show your support of Congress' work to reform America's health care system now!The whole reason for health insurance in the first place is to spread costs among as large a group of people as possible, so we all pay a reasonable amount for quality health care and don't get stuck with an enormous bill if we get sick.Unfortunately, that's not how our system works anymore. Now, private insurance companies have been able to cherry-pick the healthy customers they want -- denying coverage to people who are most in need while charging exorbitant premiums to other folks with "pre-existing conditions."That's not right. It's time for private insurers to treat Americans fairly. That's why, as part of any health care reform plan, we support a public health insurance option that would foster greater competition in the marketplace. If you're happy with your current insurance plan, you could keep it. But a public option would create more choices for consumers -- and lead to lower costs and better quality for all. Plus, a public option would allow you to always keep your insurance, even if you lose or change your job.Please sign our online petition today -- and circulate it to your friends -- and show your support of Congress' work to reform America's health care system now!At a time when our country is struggling to pull itself out of a severe recession, we can't let our health care system continue to be an anchor dragging down our nation's economy.We'll take this petition to our colleagues, to show them the strong grassroots support for reforming America's health care system now -- including creating a public insurance option. With private insurance lobbyists roaming the Capitol, trying to stop real health care reform, the time to act is now. We need you to make your voice heard. Please stand with us: Sign our online petition now -- and help us pass strong health care reform legislation this summer!

Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Chuck Schumer
Hearings are already underway, and legislation is already being drafted. This is a critical time for you to stand up, join us, and make your voice heard. Please sign our petition now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giannoulias' chief of staff running for treasurer

State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' chief of staff Robin Kelly is campaigning for her boss's job next year. Kelly says she's exploring a run for state treasurer. The announcement could be another sign that Giannoulias is serious about his run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Kelly set up her campaign committee in March and is now taking contributions through her campaign website. She says she wants to guard Illinois families' tax dollars. Kelly was a state representative from Chicago's south suburbs before joining the treasurer's office.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Michelle Coady Announces Candidacy for Circuit Judge

Taylorville attorney Michelle Coady has announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the position of circuit judge-at-large for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Judge John P. Coady presently holds the circuit wide seat, but has recently announced his intentions to retire. Currently, there are only three female judges serving in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which covers a nine county region in Illinois, including, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby.

Coady was born in Nokomis and later moved to Taylorville, where she attended Taylorville High School. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville and went on to obtain her law degree from University of Missouri School of Law.

Coady began practicing at the law office of Beavers, Graham & Fines, in Taylorville, Illinois and then went on to practice with David R. Fines in Taylorville, Illinois, where she is currently engaged in private practice with an emphasis in family law and civil litigation. She is a certified mediator in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, serving as a neutral party to resolve custody and visitation disputes in family court. She has also served as a contract mediator for the Illinois Department of Employment Securities and a mediation and labor consultant for the Army Corp of Engineers.

“Judge John Coady has led by example with his temperament and compassion on the bench. If given the opportunity to serve the people of our circuit, I will use my extensive experience in the area of conflict resolution to attempt to practice with the same integrity that Judge John Coady has shown during his many years of service to the Circuit,” says Coady.

In addition to Coady’s extensive mediation practice, Coady has served as a conflict public defender in criminal proceedings, as a guardian ad litem for children and disabled adults as well as a child representative in family cases.

Coady is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and Christian County Bar Association. She was selected to serve as a section council leader for the Illinois State Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and served on the sub-committee for Illinois rural counties. She has also been involved as a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters and served from 2006-2009 as a board member for the Greater Taylorville Chamber of Commerce.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hall of Shame

The latest inductee to the Illinois Senate Democrats Hall of Shame is

Quinn on college clout

llinois Governor Pat Quinn speaks to the media regarding appointing a panel to investigate University of Illinois' questionable admissions practices, seen here on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago in Chicago on Wednesday. The appointment was made after a recent Chicago Tribune series on questionable admissions practices at state schools.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Prepared Remarks of President Barack ObamaBack to School Event
Arlington, VirginiaSeptember 8, 2009
The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

President Barack Obama waves as he walks with Normandy American Cemetery Superintendent Daniel Neese at the Normandy American Cemetery on June 6 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Political leaders and veterans are attending this international ceremony to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I would like to introduce myself, my name is Thomas Castillo, and I want to be your next Lt. Governor of Illinois. What chance do our children have to live the life we know with the road were on? Our debt is soaring and our liberties are slowly being taken away. I love Illinois too much to just throw my hands up in the air, pay my taxes, and hope it doesn't get worse. I am doing this because I feel we must have a choice. As many of our working families feel like they are constantly being thrown under the bus by the powers that be. They are losing their jobs, their homes, and most of all, feeling forgotten by our so called elected leaders. Many of these officials are now being brought up on charges of misconduct and corruption, and with the constant petty infighting from the party bosses, that seems to only hurt and not help us. I see no signs of this ending or even letting up. We need to remember that we are all American first, then we may be a democrat, republican, brown, black, white, or whatever else we may choose. I believe that in today's world we must be of service to the people, and that the people of Illinois need a change in the fundamentals of the way things are being done. I believe our leaders need to fight for all the people, not just the ones who have given large campaign donations. I believe we need to stop over taxing the people and our communities, and start to bring a better way of serving the people of Illinois. Most of all, I believe we need to look to the future to insure a free and prosperous society for our children to raise theirs. Let's get rid of the old, and usher in a new way, with new ideas, that will create new jobs and bring a revival of prosperity back to our great state. Most politicians promise to lower taxes, bring more jobs, and root out corruption, but few release a plan of how they intend to make it happen. As you will learn in the coming months, I am not like the rest, I have released a detailed plan of how I intend to solve these problems and many more on pledge to you my friends, that I will work hard for you every day, and that I will not be part of the problem, but part of the solution for what we need to do. I will strive to make Illinois the model of how Government should be run and provide a healthy economy for generations to come. I look forward to earning your support!
Thank You,
Thomas Castillo

Democrat Elected Officials

  • Effingham County Board Distric G-Doug McCain
  • Effingham County Treasurer - Steve Dasenbrock
  • Effingham County Board District C - Karen Luchtefeld

Effingham County Democrats Officers

  • Chairman - Audrey Griffith
  • First Vice Chairman - Dan Niebrugge
  • Second Vice Chairman - Allen Wente
  • Secretary - James Hammer
  • Treasurer - Shirley McEvers