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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Progressive Candidates in Illinois

    SOME PROGRESSIVE CANDIDATES IN ILLINOIS: these are some of the most important fights in Illinois and yet they aren't getting the attention they deserve. This means YOUR vote and YOUR efforts can make a real difference in these races.

    Bill Foster for Congress

    Among the best of the newer Congressional Reps is physicist and business entrepreneur Bill Foster of Illinois. He may be more conservative than I like, but then again his district leans conservative and he is without a doubt one of the most brilliant and accomplished members of Conrgess.

    Here's the latest video from Bill's campaign:

    More endorsements are coming in for Bill Foster, one of the smartest and best members of Congress:

    Chicago Tribune Endorses Foster

    "Democratic Rep. Bill Foster, of Batavia, is a fairly new face. When House Speaker Dennis Hastert retired, Foster won the 14th District seat in a 2008 special election with our endorsement. He faces a better Republican opponent this year though. Foster promised to be an independent lawmaker, and he has often delivered, voting against Democratic budget resolutions and against cap-and-trade carbon emissions regulation despite pressure from the White House. He has joined centrist Democrats in pushing their leaders for spending curbs. We give him credit for a risky vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He has pushed for ethics reform.


    Chicago Sun-Times Endorses Foster

    ...Three years ago, after a long career as a Harvard-educated nuclear physicist at Fermilab and as a successful small-business owner, Bill Foster was elected to Congress from the hammer-shaped 14th District, which stretches from Carpentersville almost to the Iowa border.

    We failed to endorse Foster in that first go-round, but enthusiastically endorsed him in 2008, impressed by his wonklike mastery of complex issues, including health care reform and banking regulation.

    In the two years since, Foster has continued to apply himself, like a junior professor looking for tenure, and the payoff for the rest of us has been obvious -- that rare congressman confident enough to call them as he sees them rather than vote the party line. He has compiled one of the most centrist voting records in Congress.

    Case in point is Foster's position on global warming. As a scientist, he understands the phenomenon is real and in part man-made, and he supports an energy policy that cuts our nation's dependence on fossil fuels. But after studying the "specifics" of cap-and-trade limits on carbon emissions, this pro-business New Democrat says, he voted with the GOP against the bill because it would not be "cost-effective.

    About Bill Foster:

    Designing, building, and managing some of the most advanced research machines in science, and creating a successful multimillion dollar business from scratch are some of the highlights of Bill Foster's career. A career with dedication and enthusiasm to make changes for the better and bringing progress by problem solving, innovation, hard work, and commitment.

    Bill has devoted his energy to making important scientific progress and to building a business that has created jobs for hundreds of people in the United States -- and now Bill is committed to working hard for people here in the 14th Congressional District in Illinois.

    Bill Foster has been endorsd by more than 30 Nobel Prize winners. Among those endorsements are the following:

    "The security of the US in the 21st century requires business, scientific, and engineering solutions as well as military and political. It's essential for our national leadership to be able to tell the difference between truth and false promises. Bill has already shown his talents and he would make a big difference to the safety of our nation."

    - John Mather
    Nobel Prize Winner

    "I am pleased to support Bill Foster in his run for the Congress. As a person with scientific and technical background, he can analyze the large fraction of our national decisions that involve technical issues and work out sensible solutions. Often we seem to be responding to the loudest argumentation, rather than the most thoughtful and suitable propositions."

    - John Hall
    Nobel Prize Winner

    "Bill Foster represents a calm and enlightened voice for science and for reasonable government. We need both if our country is to recover from the past period of anti-intellectualism and partisan bickering. I believe that Bill is a candidate that all citizens can get behind."

    - Peter Agre
    Nobel Prize Winner

    Please visit Bill Foster's website and help his re-election campaign. We really need a brilliant scientist and savvy businessman in Congress these days.

    Mariyana Spyropoulos for Water Reclamation District

    Mariyana Spyropoulos is a current Commissioner at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. She is also an attorney with an MBA. As the only attorney on the Board, she brings a unique legal and business perspective combined with her concern for the environment.

    On August 5, 2009, she was appointed by Governor Quinn to the Board of the Water Reclamation District. Since then she ran in the February 2010 primary and placed first out of nine candidates. The campaign was endorsed by the Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times as well as Sierra Club, Governor Quinn, and Secretary of State Jesse White amongst other elected officials and organizations.

    Mariyana Spyropoulos is also an attorney with the Chicago firm of Law Offices of Mariyana Spyropoulos & Associates and works in the area of real estate, criminal and general business practice. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois Bar Association, American Bar Association, Hellenic Bar Association, Women’s Bar Association.

    Mariyana Spyropoulos has been endorsed by:

    Sierra Club
    The Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Sun-Times
    Chicago Free Press
    Daily Herald
    Illinois League of Conservation Voters
    Democracy for America – Northside
    United Hellenic Voters
    Hellenic American Police Association
    Ukrainian American Democratic Organization
    49th Ward Democratic Organization

    Among many others.

    From Democracy for America:

    Mariyana Spyropoulos has served on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for six months and has proven to be a smart, honest Commissioner during that time. She's also been one of the District's best progressive voices, working to improve the quality of rivers and groundwater, promote green roofs and educate the public on the benefits of conservation.

    Mariyana's activism, independence and thoughtfulness as Commissioner have been a breath of fresh air on the MWRD and she'll continue to be a progressive leader in the District for years to come.

    Here is Spyropoulos' statement to DFA:


    An attorney with an MBA, Mariyana has been very active in environmental groups. She has served the people of Cook County as a prosecutor at the Cook County State's Attorney Office and as a Hearing Officer for the State of Illinois.


    To help the Water Reclamation District take a leadership role with regards to the envrionment and water. My goals include outreach tot he community to work together on water conservation issues. Also to have the Water Reclamation District use its properties to set the example for sustainbale practices. Finally, with my business and legal background will make sure the citizens of the County are well served with fiscla responsibility and transparency on their side.


    As stated above, my issues are water conservation, the environment and fiscal responsibility.

    Spyropoulos has also been endorsed by the Hellenic American Police Association, Illinois League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Free Press, Ukrainian American Democratic Organization, United Hellenic Voters, and many others.

    This is an important race that you can really make a difference in. Please volunteer for Mariyanna Spyopoulos' campaign if you are in Cook County. If not, please contribute.

    Also in Cook County:

    Toni Preckwinkle for Cook County Board President

    Again, from Democracy for America:

    Chicago is a machine town, but one candidate for Cook County Board President stands out above the rest as a real reformer: Toni Preckwinkle.

    Toni is in this race to restore the basic principles of good government to the Cook County Board -- Provide the best services possible and do so effectively. These are principles in government all but forgotten by corrupt incumbent Todd Stroger.

    As president, Toni will not only restore these principles, but get to work on solving some of Cook County's biggest problems -- a regressive tax system and broken justice system.

    Here is Toni Preckinkle's statement to DFA:


    After graduating from the University of Chicago over 40 years ago, I made a lifelong commitment to public service. I taught history at local high schools for a decade, ran a non-profit aimed at neighborhood improvement, and took on the political machine which represented the status quo. My first attempts to beat machine-backed politicians failed, but I persevered against the odds until I won the 4th Ward Aldermanic seat 18 years ago.

    As the Committeeman and Alderman representing the 4th Ward, I've prided myself on independence, transparency and accountability - while always striving to improve the quality of life for my constituents. I've rejected the old patronage model of political organization, wherein precinct captains double as city and county employees until and unless they fail to deliver votes for the Machine. As Cook County Board President I will lead by example, with commitment and perseverance to ignite a critically needed change of culture in County government and politics.


    I believe government should uphold two basic principles: provide the best services and do so as effectively as possible. Right now, Cook County government is failing on both accounts. That's why I'm running for Cook County Board President.

    I believe the greatest failure of the current administration is not mismanagement, it's not endemic corruption and it's not the hordes of patronage employees - though these are all serious shortcomings. It is, rather, the current administration's cynical disregard of the wishes, concerns, and fears of the citizens. Over the past eleven months, I have traveled throughout the County, from Palatine to Dolton, from Winnetka to Cicero, and throughout Chicago, speaking with many citizens about our priorities, such as repealing the sales tax increase, making permanent the independent Health Board, and addressing reforms for the overcrowding throughout the County criminal justice system. So far, this race has been too consumed with the "politics" - who's in and who's out. What I have offered is a "compact for change". This isn't just a litany of reforms. This is a new compact between the people of Cook County and its government and it rests squarely on the demands of the citizens. We must address the issues facing the County: the need to fully repeal the sales tax increase and stimulate economic development, the responsibility to make our neighborhoods safe and the drive to improve our health care and criminal justice systems. The full Compact for Change can be found at http://www.tonipreckwinkle.org/page/compact-for-change.

    Eighteen years of service in the City Council has taught me to work well with others and make compromises when necessary to accomplish goals. I was a founding member and leader of the Progressive Caucus in the City Council - a disparate coalition of reform-minded alderman committed to accountability and fairness in Chicago public policy. My political independence has not blinded me to carefully examining public policy. If the Mayor proposed a good idea, I was willing to work with him and the administration. But I have never been deterred from standing up to the administration when I fundamentally disagreed. I opposed Mayor Daley's plan to privatize parking meters and I stood in a small minority when opposing the tax increases in the FY2008 budget. While I have always been honored to serve in a legislative capacity, I believe it's time to put my ideas, principles and political skills to work as an executive. I can't think of an office that is more desperately in need of new leadership than that of President of the Cook County Board.


    Tax Relief

    I'm running for Cook County Board President because I believe government should uphold two basic principles: provide the best services and do so as effectively as possible. Right now, Cook County government is failing on both accounts. First, as Cook County Board President, I will move to repeal the Stroger sales tax increase, and work hard to decrease the overall sales tax - while also bringing down expenses by cutting wasteful spending and eliminating inefficient programs. The County provides too many critical services and opportunities for our community to be stalled by the waste, fraud and abuse of the current Cook County government.

    Rebuilding the Health Care System

    In order to create a solid foundation for a fiscally-sound County health system, I will push for the independent Board of Directors to be made permanent. This is the first step in reducing the political influence that has been detrimental to the efficiency and morale of those health care professionals who work so hard to provide quality care. I will also work to ensure that County health services are as efficient and effective as possible by striving for three basic objectives:
    o Correct extensive waste and duplication in order to end the bureaucratic drain on health care services.
    o Divert mismanaged resources into high-quality preventive care.
    o Pursue cooperative ventures to create a network of specialists.

    Another key challenge we face is that each year, residents of surrounding counties use Stroger Hospital free of charge. It is simply not fair that our residents are paying for their services. I will collaborate with other counties to ensure that those counties using our health resources pay their fair share.

    Reforming Cook County's Chronically Overcrowded Jail

    As Cook County Board President, reforming the criminal justice system must be a priority. Cook County's jail is chronically overcrowded. This reality not only drains our budget, but compromises the safety of Cook County residents, as the Department of Corrections has fewer resources to devote to prosecuting and incarcerating violent criminals. I will expand programs that not only serve as alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, but also provide treatment for addiction, educational classes and life skills training, in order to reduce recidivism and make our county safer. The benefits of this approach are three-fold: 1) easing the overcrowding of our jail; 2) facilitating re-entry and job training; and 3) reducing repeat offenses. Specifically, I will expand the State's Attorney's Drug Abuse Program (SADAP), which provides treatment and drug education to first-time drug offenders. I will also look to expand the State's Attorney's RAP Drug School and Cook County Drug Court, which serve as pre-trial diversions of non-violent drug offenders from jail into drug treatment programs. As current demand for these services exceeds their capacity, their expansion will unclog the County's courts and free up resources that will enable the State's Attorney's office to focus on the prosecution of violent criminals.

    If you live in Cook County, this is your chance to help clean up Chicago politics. Volunteer for Toni Preckwinkle. Or, if you can, donate.

    Alexi Giannoulias for Illinois Senate:

    President Obama Rallies Democrats for Alexi from Alexi for Illinois on Vimeo.

    Click here to read Alexi Giannoulias' answers to the Chicago Tribune interview.

    Giannoulias discussing reforming Washington:

    On Government Reform from Alexi for Illinois on Vimeo.

    Giannoulias has been endorsed by:
    Sierra Club
    League of Conservation Voters
    NARAL Pro-Choice America
    Planned Parenthood Illinois
    Human Rights Campaign

    Pat Quinn for Illinois Governor

    Pat Quinn has been endorsed by Democracy for America. Here is his statement to DFA:

    Governor Pat Quinn has devoted his life to standing up for the working people of Illinois and fighting political corruption, government waste, and unfair taxes. He has earned a national reputation as an honest leader who has never been afraid to speak his mind and battle special interests on behalf of everyday men and women.

    Pat Quinn was born in Illinois in 1948, the eldest of P.J. and Eileen Quinn's three sons. After attending Catholic grade school, he attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park. He graduated in 1967 and entered Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1971 with a bachelor's degree in international economics and then obtained his law degree from Northwestern University's School of Law in 1980.
    The Coalition For Political Honesty

    To force passage of tough new ethics laws, Pat Quinn founded the non-partisan, all-volunteer Coalition for Political Honesty in 1975 and launched the biggest petition drive in Illinois history. Quinn and his supporters eventually collected 635,158 signatures on the Political Honesty Initiative and ended a century-old practice that allowed Illinois legislators to collect their entire two years' advance pay on their first day in office.

    Quinn took up another fight on behalf of Illinois taxpayers in 1978 when the General Assembly passed a whopping 40% increase in legislators' salaries. Quinn urged outraged taxpayers to invoke the spirit of the Boston Tea Party and send teabags to then Governor James R. Thompson to protest the pay hike. Within days, the Governor's office was overwhelmed with more than 40,000 teabags.

    Despite the enormous statewide protest, the legislators underestimated the ire of Illinois taxpayers and refused to rescind the pay raises. In response, Quinn and the Coalition for Political Honesty began a petition drive to reduce the size of the Illinois Legislature, eliminating waste in Springfield by cutting the General Assembly down to size. Quinn coordinated a statewide petition blitz that gathered more than 475,000 signatures in support of the Cutback Amendment. The Amendment was placed on the November 1980 ballot and was solidly approved by voters. As a result, the Illinois House of Representatives was reduced from 177 members to 118.
    Reformer And Consumer Advocate

    In 1982, Quinn was elected to clean up the scandal-ridden Cook County Board of (Property Tax) Appeals. As Commissioner, he instituted a tough new ethics code, professional auditing standards, and a vigorous taxpayer outreach program. In the words of a Chicago Sun-Times editorial, "he fumigated, reformed and converted a once-corrupt office into a model for taxpayer service, access to records, and openness of process."

    Continuing his fight to protect consumers, Pat Quinn launched the 1983 drive to create the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) - a statewide, non-partisan, not-for-profit group to advocate for customers against unfair utility rates. After battling to get the CUB referendum on ballots in 114 Illinois communities, Quinn succeeded in getting the Illinois Legislature to create, and fund, the Citizens Utility Board. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumer refunds.

    An Innovative State Treasurer

    In 1990, Pat Quinn ran a low budget, unconventional campaign for State Treasurer against a well-funded Republican candidate. That November, Quinn delivered a stunning victory with 1.7 million votes - the top total for any state office in that election.

    During his term as Illinois State Treasurer, Quinn spearheaded passage of the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act, a landmark bill empowering taxpayers to file lawsuits to root out fraud and waste in state government. The Whistleblower Act - which was later expanded to local units of government - has helped the state of Illinois recover millions of dollars in fraudulent payments.

    Under Quinn's guidance, the State Treasurer's office used deposits of state funds as a lever to encourage banks to offer loans that would make housing more affordable for Illinois families and give women and minorities access to capital to expand their small businesses. These linked-deposits served to create Illinois jobs and economic opportunity at virtually no cost to taxpayers and brought Treasurer Quinn accolades for his sophistication, aggressiveness and innovation.

    In 1993, Treasurer Quinn proposed the Inspector Misconduct Act, to prohibit state employees from demanding campaign contributions from the businesses and individuals they inspect and regulate. As a result of Quinn's efforts, the Inspector Misconduct Act passed and was signed into law in 2002.
    Standing Up For Illinois As Lt. Governor

    Pat Quinn became Lt. Governor of Illinois in 2003. As Lt. Governor, he fought for significant new programs to protect the environment, expand health care, and provide critical assistance to members of the U.S. Armed Services and their families.

    In his role as the state's top elected advocate for Illinois' military men and women and their families, Quinn led the successful effort to enact the Illinois Military Family Relief Act, which provides financial assistance to families of Illinois National Guard members and Reservists called to active duty. He also spearheaded passage of the Let Them Rest in Peace Act, which became a national model in protecting grieving families from disruptive protests at military funerals.

    As Lt. Governor, Quinn continued his fight to reform state government, repeatedly defying Illinois' entrenched culture of pay-to-play politics and official corruption. Quinn stood up to criticize an inadequate reform of the scandal-plagued Illinois State Toll Highway Authority in 2004, earning a threat of political "divorce" from the Blagojevich Administration.

    Refusing to back down, Quinn continued to demand the clean, accountable government Illinois taxpayers deserve. In 2007, with $25 billion in taxpayer funds at stake in a proposed capital plan, Quinn insisted on passage of legislation to outlaw pay-to-play in Illinois before hefty contracts could be awarded to cronies and campaign funders with deep pockets. He also led opposition to Governor Rod R. Blagojevich's attempts to pass the "grossly unfair" Gross Receipts Tax.

    In 2008, Quinn began a petition drive to oppose a 7.5 percent pay raise for Illinois lawmakers. Within 48 hours, Quinn had collected more than 17,000 signatures - enough to pressure the General Assembly into calling a vote and canceling their own raises.

    Quinn also led the statewide opposition to the Blagojevich Administration's closing of 23 Illinois state parks and historic sites.
    Governor Pat Quinn

    Pat Quinn was sworn in as Governor of Illinois on January 29, 2009, after the impeachment and removal from office of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich.

    Since taking office, Governor Quinn has devoted himself to balancing the state budget, creating new jobs and new opportunities for Illinois families, bringing fairness to our tax code and leading the fight to reform state government.

    In his first act as Governor, Quinn signed an executive order establishing the Illinois Reform Commission. The independent, bipartisan Commission developed a menu of important reforms to bring fairness, honesty, transparency and accountability to Illinois government.

    Governor Quinn took swift action to reopen state parks and historic sites that had been closed by the Blagojevich Administration, ensuring access for the 44 million people who visit the state's recreational areas each year - generating an estimated $790 million in overall economic impact in Illinois.

    On April 3, Governor Quinn signed into law his $3 billion Jump Start Capital Plan - Illinois' first capital construction program in 10 years. Combined with the federal stimulus funds, the Jump Start Capital Plan will create thousands of jobs in Illinois

    Find out more at his website.

    Dan Seals for Congress:

    From the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Seals is right fit for 10th District seat

    When we asked Dan Seals why he wants to represent Illinois' 10th District in Congress, his answer was simple and direct:

    "I'm well-suited to have an impact at this level."

    Simple, direct and true.

    Seals, though he has never held elected office, has the range of experience, intellectual depth and principled convictions to be a remarkably effective freshman member of Congress, one of real service to his North Shore district and his country.

    We endorse Seals, the Democratic candidate, over his Republican opponent, businessman Robert Dold, for the open 10th congressional seat in the Nov. 2 election.

    As we discussed and weighed Seals' qualifications, one word that came up frequently was "thoughtful." Far more than the average candidate, including his opponent, he seems willing to venture beyond safe "talking points" and acknowledge the complexities in major policy issues, even as he takes clear stands.

    Dan Seals on Health Care:

    Dan Seals has been endorsed by:
    * Planned Parenthood
    * NARAL Pro-Choice America
    * The Joint Action Committee (JAC-PAC)
    * Friends of Israel PAC
    * The Sierra Club
    * The League of Conservation Voters
    * Illinois Federation of Teachers
    * The Human Rights Campaign
    * The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
    * National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
    * Citizen Action
    * Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
    * United Auto Workers (UAW Region 4)
    * Citizens for Global Solutions
    * Illinois AFL-CIO
    * Communications Workers of District 4
    * Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago
    * Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP)
    * Teamsters Joint Council 25
    * Alliance for Retired Americans

    For more information please visit Dan Seals' website.


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