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Bill Linneman

May 14 2015

Dear Betsy
I went to Chicago for a weekend in April. I rode up with Connie Morgan DeBord and Beverly Morgan Crusius. We got to Kathy and Scott’s in time for early dinner at a fish place. The kids were having pizza at Ravenswood School. Anna would be acting and Erik helping with scenery.
The play was a musical based on “Oliver Twist.” Anna was in the chorus. I couldn’t hear anything, but Connie said Anna projected well. Anna’s comment about Oliver. She liked “how all the pieces come together and Oliver is going many places.”
When we got back to the house, the kids disappeared to TV, Connie and Beverly went to their hotel, Kathy, Scott and I talked and drank wine.
Saturday morning Scott and Erik got up early to go to a baseball tournament at Waukegan. It was raining. They got about half way and learned the games had been cancelled. Erik was not at all displeased. It seems he doesn’t like to play baseball on cold rainy days.
When they got back, Scott suggested going to their new house in Glen Ellen. Kathy had work to do, the kids weren’t interested, so it was Scott and me. We picked up Beverly and Connie.
It took a while to drive there, but Scott says there is a good rail connection and the station is close enough for him to walk. Of course, Kathy will continue to work at home. Glen Ellen is quite hilly and is in the forest preserve. It reminded me somewhat of Lake Bluff where we first lived. It has a large downtown, though, and seems to be a self-contained community.
The house is single-story which Kathy wanted, and has a large finished basement which she plans to remodel. Scott said she has been studying catalogs of furniture. Most of the yard is in the back with blooming dogwoods, redbuds and flower beds. Scott says that Erik is going to be busy.
We drove around town, saw the high school, the train station, and had lunch at a busy Mexican restaurant. It’s an old suburb so there are sidewalks, not like newer ones where you have to walk on streets. There are also paths through the woods.
Saturday night was Anna’s ice show. She was in a line of young ones, backdrop for older ones who figure skated. Must have been 700 involved, and that was just the first half. We didn’t stay for second. Anna is still cute and becoming pretty.
Came back Sunday morning. Scott says Erik’s team won the championship on Sunday. Then on Wednesday he had a great game. He was playing right field. In the last inning, the other team who was ahead had a boy on third. A line drive was hit to right. Scott said Erik charged in, caught it and then made a line throw home that kept the boy on third from scoring. In bottom of inning, Erik led off with a single and they went on to win. The other coach said that Erik’s throw was the difference.
Betsy, I think of you all the time and still love you very much.

Capitol Facts
by Rich Miller

May 14 2015
Can we stop with all the crazy secrecy?
I recently obtained a document distributed by the governor’s office detailing the membership list and meeting times and locations of the secret state legislative “working groups.” 
The governor’s office has insisted that not only should legislators dummy up about what goes on at the groups’ meetings - which are designed to forge compromises on the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda” - but also that outsiders should not even know the membership of the groups or when and where they’re getting together.
That’s pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.  Many moons ago, I began writing about private legislative caucus meetings.  That didn’t endear me to the powers that be, but I thought the meetings were too important to the Statehouse process to ignore.  I still think that, although caucus meetings are somewhat less important these days. 
So, I exerted a bit of effort and eventually scored the governor’s document.
The working group tasked with hammering out a potential tax hike is so secret that its very existence would not be confirmed by members I contacted.  Legislators were reportedly warned by the governor’s office that if any word leaked about the group then Gov. Bruce Rauner would refuse to increase taxes. 
The group was nicknamed “Vegas” by some of its members because what happens in the group is supposed to stay in the group.  It’s official name is listed as “HOLD” on the governor’s document.  It’s apparently not an acronym.  “They were that afraid to put things in writing,” explained one source.  “So just ‘hold’ this slot open.” 
Republican state Reps. Patricia Bellock and David Leitch are on the HOLD group, as well as Democratic Rep. John Bradley.  Senate Democrats Heather Steans and Toi Hutchinson are also on the super secret group, as are Republican Sens. Pam Althoff and Karen McConnaughay.  The governor’s top staff abruptly shut down a HOLD meeting last week, calling House Speaker Michael Madigan’s unilateral advancement of a budget bill a “hostile action.” 
The “Economic Growth” working group will tackle issues like workers’ compensation insurance, the governor’s local “right to work zones” proposal, tort reform and  the minimum wage.  Democratic Reps. Jay Hoffman and Art Turner; Republican Reps. Mike Tryon, David Leitch and Dwight Kay; Democratic Sens. Kimberly Lightford and Kwame Raoul; and Republican Sens Matt Murphy and Jim Oberweis are on the group.  Some initial progress is being made on workers’ comp reform, I’m told.
The “Taxpayer Protection” working group discusses issues like the governor’s proposed property tax freeze.  Members were told that the governor’s initial bargaining position is a permanent freeze.  Democratic Senators Gary Forby and Andy Manar are on the working group, as well as Republican Sens. Dan Duffy and Chris Nybo.  Democratic Reps. John Bradley and Barbara Flynn Currie and GOP Reps. David Harris and Ed Sullivan are also on the working group.
I wrote recently about the “Transforming Government” group, which featured the Democratic throwdown with the governor’s staff over a legislative term limits constitutional amendment.  It’s also dealing with implementing the governor’s executive order on state worker ethics and banning public employee union contributions to the executive branch.  Democratic Reps. Lou Lang and Elgie Sims; Republican Reps. Norine Hammond and Chad Hays; Democratic Sen. Don Harmon; and Republican Sens. Darin LaHood and Chapin Rose are all on the committee.
The governor wants to move current state employees and teachers out of their “Tier 1” pension plans and into a “Tier 2” plan that provides far fewer benefits.  His “Pension Reform” working group is comprised of Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz, Senate Democrat Daniel Biss, and HGOPs Tom Morrison and Ron Sandack, along with SGOPs Bill Brady and Pam Althoff.
Gov. Rauner has been promising a major road and transit construction plan since the campaign.  The “Capital Plan” working group is comprised of SDems John Sullivan and Marty Sandoval, SGOPs Dave Syverson and Karen McConnaughay, HDems Bob Rita and Christian Mitchell and HGOPs Norine Hammond and Ed Sullivan.  They didn’t get much done at their last meeting because the governor refused to talk about how to pay for it.
The “Budget Implementation” working group is huge.  The last meeting was attended by 38 people, including all legislative appropriations committee chairs.  Getting things accomplished with a group that size could be difficult.
The “Unemployment Insurance” working group will use an “agreed bill” process to find a way to bring down employer costs.  Republican Sens. Sue Rezin and Kyle McCarter are serving on the group, as is Democratic Sen. Terry Link and Democratic Rep. Jay Hoffman, along with House Republicans John Anthony and Dwight Kay. 
OK, can we stop with all the crazy secrecy now, please?
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com

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The Spectator
by Jim Bennet

May 14 2015

Cubs Have Plenty of World Series History
“IT WAS 1906,” said my friend.
“No, it was 1908,” I countered.
I was right, but then I had no doubts. 1908 was indeed the last time the Cubs won the World Series, beating the Detroit Tigers four games to one. Since this is 2015, that makes 107 years and counting.
The Cubs should have won the 1906 Series, having established the finest regular season record in history with 116 wins (in a 154 game format). That’s a winning percentage of .763. To put that season in perspective, consider the following: The New York Giants finished second that season with 96 victories, yet they still finished 20 games out of first place!
Furthermore, had the Cubs been playing the modern 162 game schedule, there’s little doubt they’d have won more than 120 games. In short, the 1906 Cubs were one of baseball’s best teams ever.
Unfortunately, they found a way to lose the Series to the Chicago White Sox “hitless wonders,” four games to two. The Cubs were still playing home games at the West Side Grounds, the Sox at South Side Park. No Wrigley and no Comiskey.
Now about that 1908 Series, won by the Cubs. It followed their 1907 world title, when they swept the Tigers four games to none.
Unfortunately the 1908 championship was largely ignored by the public. It was, as Wikipedia states, “the most poorly attended Series in history, with the final game drawing a record-low 6,210 fans.” Rumors of ticket scalping spawned a widespread boycott by fans.
The Cubs lineup in all three World Series featured future Hall of Famers Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance, Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker (Tinker to Evers to Chance).

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some of this stuff I know off the top of my head. The “hobgoblin of little minds,” we might say, with apologies to Huxley. For the rest, I depended upon Baseball Almanac, Baseball Reference, and Wikipedia.
The 1910 Series, won by the Philadelphia Athletics over the Cubs four games to one, “Closed out the glory years of the Greatest Cubs team in history, only ten years into the new century,” according to Baseball Almanac. Even Brown, Tinker, Evers and Chance couldn’t pull this one out.
In 1918, the Cubs lost the Series to the Red Sox, four games to two. Due to lingering World War I concerns, this was the only fall classic to be played entirely in September. Star pitcher for Boston was a guy named Babe Ruth. Although ticket sales proved the move was unwarranted, the Cubs played their “home” games in Comiskey Park, whose seating capacity was greater than that of Weeghman Park, not yet christened Wrigley Field.
This World Series marked the first time the “Star Spangled Banner” (not yet the National Anthem) was performed at a major league game.
The Cubs played the Athletics again in 1929, losing in five games. Cubs future Hall of Famers included Kiki Kuyler, Gabby Hartnett, Rogers Hornsby, and Hack Wilson. The Series was the first broadcast on nationwide radio; the games were covered live by NBC and CBS.
The Yankees swept the North Siders in four games in 1932. This World Series was Babe Ruth’s last, and the one in which he supposedly “called” his home run shot. According to Baseball Reference, “A record 13 Hall of Famers played in this Series. It was also the first in which both teams wore uniforms with numbers on the backs of the shirts.”

THINGS DIDN’T get much better for the Cubs in 1935 or 1938. The ’35 World Series was won by the Tigers, four games to two. The Cubs had won 21 consecutive games in September to edge the Cardinals in a tight pennant race. The Cards were the defending World Series champs.
It was the first Series championship for Detroit in five appearances.
In ’38, The Yankees once again swept away the Cubs in four straight. It was the first World Series to feature the new outfield bleacher configuration at Wrigley. The Cubs lineup featured former Cardinals star Dizzy Dean and former Yankees star Tony Lazzeri. Both were headed for the Hall of Fame, but were well past their prime and ineffective in the Series.
The Cubs lost the 1945 World Series, once again to Detroit. It’s the last time they won a National League pennant. Many outstanding major league players were still in military service, but the Tigers did have slugger Hank Greenberg, who hit the only two homers in the 7-game showdown and was named Series MVP.
The so-called “Curse of the Billy Goat” occurred before the start of game four.
So, 70 years now and counting since the Cubs won a pennant. To me, that seems as improbable as 100+ seasons without a World Series title. Since 1984, in the modern format, the Cubs have played in seven playoff series (striving for a pennant) but have lost six of them.
Long-suffering Cubs fans are justifiably enthused about the current team, with its lineup of star-studded “super prospects.” Will they win the World Series? Probably not, although the team is much improved and has a bright future. But a relatively rich World Series participation history from 1906 through 1945 doesn’t stand as much consolation for fans born in the wrong century.

Helen Leake's Gardeners Tips
by Helen J. Leake

May14 2015

Garden Tips for Seniors

We are all a year older than we were last garden season but that doesn’t mean we can’t still garden. We just need to garden a “little smarter’.
Connecting with nature through yard work can give a senior, or anyone, a lift and help them stay strong, Research as shown, that people who gardened at least once a week, can show a higher bone density than people who do other types of exercise. Also you have more enjoyment working in the garden, than if you were just exercising.
After the winter of not bending and pulling weeds, we should start gardening a little slow and work into shape. Once you start gardening, try to change your position and activity every 20-30 minutes, then rest and enjoy your progress for 10 minutes. Also there are more ergonomic tools every year. They are tools made especially easier to do the garden work.
Raised beds are being used a lot now. You don’t have to bend over so far to reach the plants. Also they have a handy bench you can sit on, or flip it over and knell on it, I find it a little hard on my knees, knelling on it, so I fold a bath towel on it before I knell down.
Using a trellis or vines can help in reaching the plants and it also saves space.
Also there are a lot of garden plants than can be grown in containers, so they are more handy.
Gardening, not only improves your strength and mobility, it helps your self-esteem and reduces stress. Plus you get a lot of fresh air and have fresh food to enjoy.

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Classic Colcalsure
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington

May 14 2015
Those Were The Days
“Boy, the way Glenn Miller played songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made. Those were the days.
Didn’t need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great those were the days.”

Those were the Days was the original title of a very popular television show of the 70’s. As a matter of record, from 1971 through 1976, All in the Family was the number one hit on television and has since been ranked number four on the all-time list of the greatest shows of all time. This often controversial sit-com ran for nine seasons and totaled 202 episodes.  It still maintains a high audience on television as a re-run. But really, were those the best of times or as we remember, the good old days?
I believe it was William Randolph Hearst who was quoted as having said, “The Good Old Days weren’t really all that good.” Maybe he was right. Time does seem to have a way of honing the rough edges so that all we remember were the good times. And that’s not all bad... is it? But you and I both remember the good and the not-so-good times of those days long since passed bye.
Remembering the good old days bring to mind all of those things that others had and I didn’t... but always wanted.  To this day, I still would like to have a Mattel “Trailblazer” Fanner 50 cap gun with rawhide holster…with “shooten-shells.” Some are still around to be had for around $350.00 (Marshall Set). Just think if I had one of those cap pistols in 1958, it could been “Hoopy, Gene and Roy” and me hunting down bad guys who wore black hats, while we would all be wearing the white ones. Good versus evil.
Remembering the good old days, most certainly brings to mind of how badly I wanted one of those Schwinn bicycles. You know the one with the chrome fenders and white wall tires. The Cadillac of all bicycles. The King of bikes. “Not the mountain bikes or the “free-style” types of rides that are popular with today’s kids, but the stuff we Boomers grew up with. Rugged, stylish bikes of the 1940’s thru the latter half of the 1970’s that used to peddle us miles away from home while we dreamed of someday owning a car. And what could have been a shining icon of rugged-stylish bikes that was equated with superlative design & quality than the products of the Arnold Schwinn Company of Chicago Illinois?” Most of the kids in my neighborhood made do with a Christmas or birthday gift: J.C.Higgins; Huffy or Murray, or in my case a hand-painted one that I purchased for $4.50.
Maybe someday, I might have some of those things that I wanted as a younger man like a John Deere Pedal Tractor (1970 all metal) or a real IH Farmall “H” Tractor (1939-1952, over 390,000 were sold) but I don’t know. After all things are just things without any sort of history to them.
But, before I close, I must mention, in spite of my complaining, that I never felt that I did without just because I didn’t get everything that I would have liked. After all, my dad did get me a pair of cap pistols and holsters, which I wish I still had. They were the best cap guns available next to the Fanner 50. So… having said that… those were the good old days and they were as good… as we want to remember them. And if remembering brings enjoyment, then that’s all that really matters.

Till next time…john
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