The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Some updates

Not all election-related (corrected):

  • California Proposition 8: The Wall Street Journal reports the referendum passed, meaning more than half of Californians believe it's still 1957.
  • Minnesota Senate: State law requires a recount after the offical tally shows Franken less than 600 votes (of 3 million cast) behind Coleman. Franken released a statment a few minutes ago. (I originally said Franken requested the recount; apparently Minnesota law requires one with a margin this small.)
  • North Carolina President: State officials report a margin of 12,000 (in favor of Obama) out of 4.2 million votes cast, but say it will take days to count all the provisional ballots.
  • Chicago weather: Truly, this is a golden age here, as we're once again flirting with record warmth and sunny skies. Yesterday we hit 22°C, just shy of the record (24°C); right now it's already 20°C, again just shy of the record (22°C).

Meanwhile, down the ballot


I cared about some other races last night. First the good news:

Illinois 5th: Rahm Emanuel got re-elected handily, but it appears he may resign today to become President-elect Obama's chief of staff. That means two major vacancies in Illinois: our junior senator (our senior one got 74% of the vote for his own re-election), and my congressman. Rumors are that Gov. Blagojevich will appoint my former congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky (Ill. 9th), or Illinois Attorney General (and Blagojevich's most dangerous foe in the 2010 Democratic Primary) Lisa Madigan, to Obama's Senate seat, and who knows to Emanuel's House seat.

Illinois 14th: Bill Foster handed race-baiting Jim Oberweis his sixth election defeat, 57% to 43%. Jim, please, your family wants you to save your millions and go home. So does the rest of the state.

Cook County States Attorney: Anita Alvarez got 70% of the vote over smarmy and nasty Tony Peraica. Good. Now sit down and shut up, Tony.

Indiana Presidential: Indiana pulled through last night for the first time in my life, 50% Obama to 49% McCain.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and Florida Presidential: Also very nice to see, especially Pennsylvania's 600,000-vote margin of victory.

Colorado Senate: Mark Udall over Bob Schaffer, 52%-48%.

New Hampshire Senate: Jean Shaheen over John Sununu, 52%-45%.

New Mexico Senate: We got another seat in a 61%-39% blowout as Tom Udall defeated Steave Pearce.

North Carolina Senate: Wow, calling her opponent "godless" really backfired on Elizabeth Dole, who lost to Democrat Kay Hagan by 400,000 votes.

Pennsylvania 12th: John Murtha should have gotten more than 58% of the vote, given his stature in the House, but at least his unbelievable gaffe ("some of my constituents are racists") didn't get him turfed out.

But, you can't win them all:

Illinois 10th: Dan Seals lost to milquetoast Mark Kirk, 46% to 54%.

Illinois 16th: A childhood friend just moved to Western Illinois and brought her Democratic vote with her. Sadly, though, that part of the state leans right the way Parker leans against trees, so Republican Don Manzullo goes to Washington with 61% of the vote.

Illinois constitutional convention and recall amendment: A majority of Illinois voters don't like change, even when it's a good thing. They're happy to keep stinky office-holders in office until they're convicted of felonies, and they're happy to keep funding schools with a medieval, property-tax-based system that punishes poor students and gives us palaces like New Trier in towns that could afford it anyway. We need to end this system, and only changing our constitution will permit that change. But we have to wait until 2018 before the next call for a con-con, ten years in which a million kids will endure crappy schools and a million homeowners will endure high property taxes.

Minnesota 6th: Michelle Bachmann, who thinks we need another McCarthy Commission, squeaked past El Tinklenberg 46%-43%, about 12,000 votes. On the other hand, Bachmann was polling in the 70s only last month, and I'd bet this is her last term.

West Virginia Presidential: When was the last time West Virginia went to the right and Virginia went to the left? 1920, when progressive James Cox won Virginia and West Virginia voted for conservative (an mental midget) Warren Harding. Good choice, guys. Keep in mind the reason we have West Virginia in the first place: it has a lot to do with American race relations and a President from Illinois.

And still no decision:

Alaska Senate: You know, it put things in perspective about Sarah Palin (whose 15 minutes are now officially over) that convicted felon Ted Stevens is apparently 4,000 votes ahead of Democrat Mark Begich. He may, in fact, win. Fortunately Alaska law no longer allows the governor to appoint interim Federal office holders; they'll have to have a special election once Stevens goes to jail.

California Proposition 8: Sadly, it looks like California will take a step back into the last century as the anti-gay proposition leads 52%-48% right now. But they're still counting.

Minnesota Senate: At last report, Republican Norm Coleman led Democrat Al Franken by less than 800 votes. I'll be watching this today. Update, 9:06 am: The official count is now less than 600 votes apart; Coleman has claimed victory, but Franken has exercised his right to a recount. We won't know the outcome of this race for a few weeks.

Missouri Presidential: McCain up by 8,000. If Missouri officially goes red, I will laugh out loud. We keep hearing that Missouri reflects the nation, but you know, this would be the second time in three elections they've gotten it wrong.

North Carolina Presidential: It looks like Obama won by about 12,000 votes, but no offical call yet.

Virginia 6th: Democrat Tom Perriello leads Republican Virgil Goode by 1200 votes in this mostly-rural district that includes Jefferson's home Monticello.

(Sorry about the lack of links, there were just too many to do, so I conceded defeat to them.)

Too exciting to blog about

I'm heading up to the Rogers Park neighborhood to watch the returns come in with some friends. Rogers Park has an old-leftie vibe to it (in parts). I expect the place I'm heading, the Morse Theater, will have a friendly crowd. (I hope they have food, too, because I'll be starving.)

Polls already closed in Indiana and Kentucky; several more states hit in half an hour. I'm always excited on election day, but never quite like this.

Diaz murder suspect caught; extradition soon

The Chicago Sun-Times reported late yesterday that New Mexico authorities have arrested William Bahena, chief suspect in Tuesday's murder of Elva Diaz, and will extradite him back to Illinois next week:

Almost a year after he was arrested for violating an order of protection involving his girlfriend, a 31-year-old Near West Side man is accused of killing her, authorities said Friday.

On Sept. 10, 2007, Diaz obtained an emergency order of protection against Bahena.

On Christmas Day, he was arrested for allegedly violating the order of protection, but she declined to bring charges against him, court records show.

Elva's funeral is tomorrow; there is a visitation today at St. Gall's on the Southwest Side.

I need to mention another thing about this. A couple of Elva's friends have told me she died intestate, meaning she did not have a will. They specifically asked me to blog about the difficulty this is causing her kids, and I'm happy to do.

As an unmarried person with children (ages 12, 11, and 6), the distribution of her assets is straightforward, but her children have no access to those assets until the court can appoint an administrator. Five days after her death this hasn't yet happened. It could take weeks. Meanwhile, though her children are safe, they still need food and clothes, and it will take some time before the court can determine their permanent custody arrangements.

This isn't an appeal for grocery-store gift certificates (which, nonetheless, would help). Rather, I urge anyone with children to write a will.

As a law student, I drafted several wills for attorneys, and I can tell you they can be very, very simple documents. At the very least a will should dispose of all your property, nominate an executor to manage the dispostions, and recommend who should have custody of your children. Now, I don't know Illinois child-welfare law at all, so it's possible that had Elva died any other way than at the hand of her children's father, he would be the presumptive nominee for custody. (I think the order of protection against him might have overcome that presumption, and certainly murdering his children's mother would; but this is why you need an attorney, because it can get knotty. I also have to remind people that no one has been convicted of any crime relating to Elva's murder yet. I am merely discussing the possible legal ramifications of a scenario of unknown likelihood.)

But still, if the Public Guardian has a document saying "I nominate Aunt Mildred custodian of my children" then he has an idea of who's best for the kids. Further, if the will nominates a qualified executor, then the executor can make this happen as well--by representing the estate against the Public Guardian, if necessary.

Elva's death has affected a lot of people, including me, but most especially her children. Writing a minimal will takes half an hour, and a neighborhood attorney can do it inexpensively and efficiently. It can really help your kids at their worst hour should something happen to you.

First time in Chicago history

The Chicago Tribune today endorsed the Democratic candidate for President, for the first time in its 160-year history:

The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause--the Republican Party. The Tribune's first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

With that in mind, in 1872 we endorsed Horace Greeley, who ran as an independent against the corrupt administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. (Greeley was later endorsed by the Democrats.) In 1912 we endorsed Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the Progressive Party candidate against Republican President William Howard Taft.

The Tribune's decisions then were driven by outrage at inept and corrupt business and political leaders.

We see parallels today.

Possibly some of this has to do with Sam Zell, but possibly it has to do with the 45-year slide of the Republican Party into, well, whatever it's become today.

Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon passed my house in two directions this morning, going north from mile 5 to 6, and then south right around the 15 km mark. Here, running north through Lincoln Park, is the Kenyan team, with race winner Evans Cheruiyot third from left:

I didn't catch women's winner Lidiya Grigoryeva (she was well protected in the pack), but I did get Olympic gold medalist Constantina Dita (right) heading south on Clark Street.

The course temperature has hit 26°C again, making this year's race almost as hot as last year's.

Below: a runner crosses the 15k timer on Clark just north of Belden.

Below: The scene at Belden and Clark, in Lincoln Park, Chicago:

Found a note on my car

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, this Sunday, will box me in unless I have the foresight to park outside the race course before then. I'm not sure what to do about Parker, either; there are a couple of underpasses from where I live to the park, but it looks like from the time we wake up until about noon Sunday we're not going to go very far.

The weather should be really good, though possibly a little warm. Good luck, runners!

High-speed rail in the Midwest

Chicago is finally getting high-speed rail service:

The ambitious project proposed for the Midwest would cover 3,000 miles in nine states. All lines would radiate from a hub in downtown Chicago. The cost of a fully completed Midwest network is estimated at almost $8 billion.

Travel times of almost 5½ hours on Amtrak's route between Chicago and St. Louis would be cut to 3 hours and 49 minutes on a high-speed train, according to preliminary estimates.

In the past year, more than 501,000 rides were taken on Amtrak's Lincoln Service route between Chicago and St. Louis, a 284-mile trip, a 15 percent increase over the previous year. Some 1.2 million rides a year would be taken when the route is served by high-speed trains, according projections by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Imagine if we'd invested in this infrastructure five years ago, or even ten? Or forty years ago, as France did?