Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Chicago Council should have a role model - the Federal Government?

I never thought I'd be saying that. The reported corruption, the constant bipartisanship in Congress, the budget deficit, the pork barrel politics, the lobbyists and the shady deals they get done. In spite of all that, they have done something progressive and innovative, and the Chicago government should take notes.

President Bush today announced that Americans will be able to "Google their tax dollars" (wow, what a publicity nod - the President uses your company name in slang as he signs a bill into law). The allocation of approximately 1 trillion dollars in government spending and grants will be viewable online.

This is the start of transparency. Mr. Bush says "taxpayers will demand greater fiscal responsibility", and he is right. Politics are changing, even at a national level.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free PCs In France

They're calling it an internet access portal - that's marketing-speak for "computer". When your business is the network, as is the case for French telephone company Neuf Cegetel, you do what you can to take the focus off of the hardware (the computer) and put it on the network.

Neuf Cegetel announced they are bundling a discount computer with their internet service, using the code name "Easy Gate". The decent computer is available for 150 Euros and 40 Euro/month service fee. This is smart.

A few years ago a few companies in the US offered what they called 'Email Stations' or something like this. They hardware companies worked closely with the internet service providers, and they offered a dumbed down machine that would function for email only (I believe?) for around $100 (I think?). Wow how technology is becoming cheaper - now it is an entire computer (flat monitor, webcam, mouse, and keyboard available for 100 Euros additional).

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Wal-Mart Effect

Today Wal-Mart announced they will begin selling 300 generic prescription drugs for as little as $4 for a month's supply. Walgreens and CVS stock fell significantly on the news. While it is not good news for them, it's great for the rest of the country.

When Wal-Mart decided to be a toy seller, they became the largest toy-seller in the country. They decided to get into the grocery business, and are making a run at the market leaders in that category.

Love 'em or hate 'em, Wal-Mart sells things for prices that are often less than the competition. And aside from Walgreens, CVS, and possibly drug makers, I think this is one price 'roll back' that people are going to be happy about.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Multiple Challengers

Often, an Aldermanic election with one challenger pits the corrupt seated incumbent vs. the reformer challenger, and the voters are either on one side or the other. For argument's sake, let's say that amounts to 50% of the voters who are pro-incumbent (ie, he's doing a fine job, let him keep going, besides I don't even know who this other guy is), and 50% of the voters who are anti-incumbent (oh this guy is a no-good, lazy Machine man).

Throw a third candidate into the mix, and the theory says that the anti-incumbent vote is now split 25% and 25% between the two challengers. This leaves the incumbent with, viola, 50%, or at the very least another term in office.

Looking back at data from 2003 Municipal Elections in Chicago, we can see a few Wards where this may have been true.

25th Ward
Daniel Solis - 55% (4087)
Ambrosio Medrano - 36% (2651)
Antonio Zotta - 10% (708)

49th Ward
Joe Moore - 55% (3603)
Tom Bradley - 18% (1228)
Michael Harrington - 27% (1835)

3rd Ward
Dorothy Tillman - 52% (4107)
Pat Dowell - 35% (2779)
Kenny Sawyer - 9% (731)
Dorothy Oliver-Harris - 4% (271)

It is possible in these elections, had there been only one challenger, the outcomes may have been different. May. Because even if all of the challengers' votes were combined and tallied together, the incumbent still would earn more than 50% of the vote. The theory is that with one concentrated challenger message (not 2 or 3 different messages which may confuse a voter into sticking with what currently works - the incumbent), a few incumbent supporters could have been swayed.

Another twist on the 'third candidate theory' is in the 1st Ward, where both candidates were basically tied, nobody receiving a majority of the votes, forcing a runoff.

1st Ward
Jessee Granato - 48% (3330)
Manny Flores - 49% (3386)
Howard Crawford, JR - 3% (214)

The 214 votes cast on behalf of Howard Crawford could have easily given one of the candidates the victory.

All that having been said, if a person feels they should run, they should run. That's my opinion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Open Season

Yesterday marked the first day that potential candidates seeking office in Chicago could circulate petitions for candidacy. A candidate seeking the Alderman position in the 32nd Ward is required to gather
150 signatures from registered voters in the ward.

Several potential candidates have identified themselves already. From the
article posted on the Wicker Park Booster site:

Potential alderman candidates have started speaking out against incumbent Ald. Ted Matlak, the 32nd Ward leader who seeks re-election in February.
Candidate Catherine A. Zaryczny, a Ukrainian Village resident, said at the meeting that 32nd Ward residents are more familiar with 3rd Ward alderman "Dorothy Tillman's hat than Ald. Matlak's face."
Matlak isn't "free to listen" to his constituents, Zaryczny said. Campaign contributors -- a list that "reads like a developer's directory of who's who" -- control Matlak's actions, Zaryczny said, as do powerful City Council members.
John Lag, a member of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association, said he's not officially in the running, said Matlak operates his ward in a 1920s-style manner, where "back-room" deals are made while men "chomp on cigars."
Candidate Roger Romanelli of Ukrainian Village said Matlak doesn't work with Local School Councils to find out what local schools need, such as speed bumps and stop signs.
Scott E. Waguespack, an employee of the city of Berwyn, also has announced his candidacy.