The Rock River Times endorses, among others, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for President; State Sen. Barack Obama (D) for U.S. Senator; and Paul Gorski (D) for Winnebago County Board Chairman.
Vote! This election stands as the most important in memory. From the national, to the state, to the county races, crucial direction results from the outcome of these contests, determining the future of our democracy.
The choices for our future have rarely been so polarizedbetween fear mongering and rational behavior, between elitism and possible equanimity, between those who sell themselves under a false banner of freedom and those who say they will protect what our flag has historically represented.
Real patriotism preserves the Constitution in everyday vigilance and respect, driven by critical thinking rather than blind, brainwashed acceptance. Our civil rights have never been under such assault, and supporting the Bill of Rights takes more than just flying a plastic representation on ones car.
If you feel you cannot support either candidate or are repulsed by an unopposed candidate, The Rock River Times once again recommends that you do not vote for that officeundervote, instead.
United States President and Vice President
The Rock River Times endorses John F. Kerry and John Edwards. George W. Bush stole the 2000 election in Florida. Redefeat him. The oligarchical coup d etat by the Supreme Court must be reversed. The sanctity of popular vote must be preserved and reaffirmed, with an accompanying rejection of the systemic abuse of the Electoral College. Let the majority truly rule.
The Bush administration was teetering, with the supposed president taking more vacation days than any other previous holder of that officeuntil 9/11. Then he really added insult to injury. The failures of the Bush administration concerning 9/11 are massive. Many domestic and foreign warnings went unheeded. Bush himself sat frozen, appropriately in an elementary school classroom, when the deaths of so many Americans were occurring. NORAD mysteriously stood down. Bush did not fire one FBI or CIA official for the debacle. Despite the fact that almost all of the hijackers were Saudi, the bin Laden family was whisked out of the country, with the Bush administrations approval, when the rest of the nation was grounded.
Then came the stunning outrageousness of the farcically named Patriot Act. This hugely complicated and far-reaching bill suddenly appeared in complete formit was readyand was unquestionably passed by the herd of frightened sheep in the House and the Senate. They voted on it without reading it, and the juggernaut of the Bush administrations violation of civil rights and the truth was under way.
Further disparagement of our intelligence and the truth occurred while the Bush administration resisted an investigation, and only the persistence of the families of those who died in the 9/11 attacks brought the matter before Congress for investigationit commenced a full year and two months later! That in itself is truly outrageous!
What we have in the Bush administration are growing instances of incompetence spawning dangerous behavior. These instances are amazing: incompetence in preventing 9/11, and dangerous with the over-the-top Patriot Act; incompetence in fully implementing the 9/11 commissions report, and dangerous in not supplying the commission with full disclosure; incompetence in determining the lack of WMDs in Iraq, and dangerous in using WMDs as the major reason for going to war; incompetence in securing allied support for the Iraq invasion, and dangerous in violating international law on attacking a country that has not attacked us; incompetence in securing Iraq without the adequate number of troops, and dangerous by not providing troops with adequate armor and supplies; incompetence in creating more anti-Americanism around the world than ever before in history, and dangerous with the arrogance of the doctrine of preemption; incompetence in weak unilateralism, and dangerous in possibly extending this doctrine to North Korea and/or Iran and totally overextending our resources and troops, leaving our real self-defense capability extremely vulnerable.
Add in the Halliburton rip-offs of taxpayers and no-bid contracts. Dont try to pretend that our Vice President Dick Cheney has no sway there. He still takes taxpayer money into his trust fund with every contract!
Add in the dead. More than 107 Americans dead and 3,500 civilian deaths in Afghanistan; more than 1,111 Americans dead and 8,016 wounded in Iraq, with civilian deaths at least 14,000. Thats a total of at least 17,500 civilian deaths and more than 1,200 American deaths, not to mention the wounded totals. Each one of those deaths has lives surrounding that loss that will be scarred forever. For what? All propaganda aside, for oil.
Now lets go to what all this is costing us at home. Bush & Co. came into office with a record surplus, and they have created a record deficitmainly behind a misbegotten war. The main terrorist, Osama bin Laden, is still at large, and Bush doesnt seem too concerned.
Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover, who presided over the Great Depression, to have a net job loss in his administration. A recent study shows that one-quarter of our families are in poverty, and more are close to it. The upper 10 percent of our population holds 90 percent of the wealth. The middle class is threatened and declining. Unions, small businesses and pensions are crumbling, and downsizing; corporations while bailouts are thriving.
Service industry jobs increase while our manufacturing base declines, with the outsourcing of jobs to Asia by corporations also on the increase. Our economic well-being is beginning to reflect the feudal lords and peasants model.
Will the promise of Help is on the way by John Kerry be fulfilled? Considering his Skull and Bones and privileged background, its hard to tell. If he fails this country as Clinton and Bush have, we will reject him, too, as we did them. For now, Kerry and Edwards are the only reasonable bet we have.
But for our immediate survival, one thing is certain, we must be rid of Bush and his aggressive neo-con advisers who have no respect for the American people and our traditional rights and diplomacy. Where is the past balance in our Israeli policy?
Although he is seemingly in lock-step with Israel and continuing the war in Iraq, Kerry and Edwards clearly bested Bush and Cheney in the debates. Just their demeanor versus the irritability and arrogance of the incumbents should tell anyone its time for a change.
Kerry actually served in Vietnam, while Cheney and Bush ran from it. Kerry had the courage to criticize the failure of this nations policy and actions in Vietnam (another purposeless spilling of American blood and reputation), and he has killed for his country. His mission was accomplished, unlike Bushs flight suit blustering.
Security moms should feel safe with the fate of their families in Kerrys hands. With Kerrys renewable energy plan, hopefully, all moms, dads and kids will be not be captive to oil interests and excessive profits that have driven our foreign policy into the Mideast. With the price of oil going over $55 per barrel, the Bush administration has obviously failed, and renewable energy programs must be implementednow! If you vote with your gas tank and heating bill, Kerry is the obvious choice. Remember, gas lines of any kind fuel future wars.
Vote for John Kerry, and pray he will truly help us and stop the defraying of our most precious rightthe right of every citizen to vote and have that vote be counted. Hanging chads are nothing compared to the lynching of votes that can take place through electronic voting. Any computer can be phantomly programmed or hacked. We counted the vote on paper ballots for years and should do so again.
If Kerry does not win, look for more intimidation and extremism in the new Bush reign and more oily mistakes and polarization at home and abroad. George W. Bush is the most incompetent and
dangerous president in the history of our nation. Like Clinton, he has lied to us, but over the most serious matter, war. Bush must be redefeated. Vote for Kerry and Edwards.
United States Senator
The Rock River Times endorses Barack Obama. Like Kerry and Edwards, Obama is a uniter; whereas, his opponent, Alan Keyes, is a divider. The fact that Keyes criticized Hillary Clinton running for the Senate in New York without being a resident, points out his hypocrisy in running for the Senate in Illinois without being a resident. We are not fans of Hillary Clinton, nor are we fans of Alan Keyes.
Our State Sen. Dave Syverson, Republican, was the driving force behind recruiting Keyes, so one black man could run against another. Thats more division that hopefully will come back to haunt Syverson because Keyes is certainly making the Republican Party in Illinois look bad. He is just too extreme, and a prime example of why the following bumper sticker exists: Please Jesus, save me from your followers.
With Obama, Illinoisans have someone who emerged at the Democratic National Convention in an impressive and positive way. People are already discussing him as a possible presidential candidate. He has good charisma and instant clout. He will be a fine representative for minorities and all Americans in the U.S. Senate. Some of his statements in support of the Iraq war are disturbing, but less so than Keyes. It is hoped Obamas intelligence will help to lead our fine young men and women out of Iraq. Vote for Obama.
Representative in Congress 16th Congressional District
The Rock River Times makes no endorsement in this race. John H. Kutsch is the Democratic candidate, and a self-employed engineer and real estate investor. However, in his second run against Manzullo, he has failed to make significant headway. The fact that he does not have the full backing of the Democratic Party may speak well or ill of him, depending on your viewpoint; but in either case, he has not mounted a significant challenge, to Manzullo, who is extremely vulnerable. He has not proven he is up to the job.
Incumbent Donald A. Manzullo (R-Egan), the Republican candidate, a retired fan of term limits, voted for both NAFTA and GATT, which led to the wholesale outsourcing of area manufacturing jobs abroad. He now scurries about trying to ameliorate his mistakes through various federal workshops and legislation. May he be successful. He has been successful in assisting the Greater Rockford Airport in landing foreign possibilities and destinations, as well as championing our cause in the House and with various airlines. He is to be commended. However, he still champions internationalism and the China trade. Our nationalism is our wherewithal and identity, and globalism sublimates the local to the whole, to the enrichment of a very few. China will daunt us all.
The reader must make the choice.
State Senator 35th Legislative District
The Rock River Times endorses Bruce T. Washington, Democrat, for this office. As he is well known on the NIU DeKalb campus, many think he would be a good representative for his district and minorities in the Senate. This is his first foray into politics, and a fresh perspective is certainly needed in Springfield. His background as special education teacher, NIU basketball player and his nickname The Peoples Choice make him a breath of fresh air. His challenge will be to represent the rural areas of his district as well as to ride Barack Obamas coattails.
To many, the incumbent, J. Bradley Burzynski (R) is seen as pretty far to the right. The long-time senator with accumulated clout within his minority caucus is seen as out of step with much of his districts moderate mainstream. His closeness to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) will be an interesting aspect to track in this election.
Its time for a change. Vote for Washington.
State Representative in General Assembly 68th Representative District
The Rock River Times endorses Carroll W. Brumfield, Democrat, for this office. He is a newcomer to politics. Good. He is committed to the labor cause in the area; we could certainly use an advocate for the general public instead of just special interests in Springfield. While he wishes to champion education, his challenge is to get to know and represent both the urban and rural areas of his district.
Once viewed as a bright spot among local politicians, the incumbent David Winters, Republican, has been in there long enough. Former Rock Valley College (RVC) President Roland Chapdelaines contribution of RVC money to his campaign was not questioned. The connections for the sale of his property were more than interesting. While he has had several accomplishments, his leadership position in the minority party shows that he is part of the system of go-along-to-get-along. If we want clout, we need a change and a senator in the majority party. Vote for Brumfield.
Winnebago County Clerk of Circuit Court
The Rock River Times endorses Darlene Gulbrantson , Democrat, for this office. Critics say she is well intended, but only knows her section of the office. She has created major problems for herself by running against her boss, and that takes courage. We need that kind of spirit in the Winnebago County Courthouse, where it seems a culture of fear rather than openness exists. Just as Gasparini has learned on the job, she can, too. Her challenge will be to move from an employee to the boss to curb the personnel problems that plague Gasparini and promulgated her candidacy.
The incumbent, Marc A. Gasparini, Republican, has been accused of letting his deputies run the office, resulting in personnel problems. Sources cite frequent absences and an intolerance for disagreement in the office. However, anyone must agree that the office is in better shape than when Ron Kotche ran the show, and recent audits have been penalty-free. Thats an accomplishment. He has brought the office up to modern standards and has plans for more electronic access by officials and the public. Good, but those are standards that are coming about across the state and country. What concerns us is the continuing legacy and undue influence of the good ol boys club. Thats why its time for a change. Vote for Gulbrantson.
Winnebago County Recorder
The Rock River Times endorses Democrat Clint Little for this office. He is a Loves Park alderman and former Republican, and he is a young man, running an underfunded campaign against a person with high name recognition. He wants to improve the efficiency of the office, which still has its backlogs and glitches. He says he wants to be service-minded. Good.
The incumbent Kenneth W. Staaf, Republican, is running on his name. He has done very light campaigning, which some say matches his effort at work. He closes office at 4:30, shortening hours to help his budget. Delays still exist in the Recorders office. However, his removal of back-up records to an out-of-state, secure site is admirable. His new system does seem to work better and in a more timely manner than the old one. Yet, further improvements can be made. Vote for Clint Little.
Winnebago County Board Chairman
The Rock River Times endorses Paul Gorski, Democrat, for this office. He made a good impression on the people in Cherry Valley as a trustee. Because Gorski has a depth of thought and decision that Christiansen does not, he can get almost too technical on certain things. He is almost apolitical, a refreshing change in Winnebago County politics. He doesnt owe anything to anybody.
On the other hand, the appointed incumbent, Scott Christiansen, Republican, owes his office to the powers that be, and has no interest in challenging them. If you are happy with a huge jail and a monstrous road-building and sprawl project, vote for him.
Christiansen credits his business problem and Winnebago County lawsuits to a poor economy (See County Chairman says no conflict of interest, our Oct.20-26 issue). That may be the case, but it still brings his management skill up for examination. Christiansen operates his roofing busine
ss in at least three statesWisconsin, Alabama and Illinois. His Stoughton, Wis.-based company won a $146,021 contract in 2000 to replace a roof at the Kastenmeier Federal Building in Madison.
Now, just as we have an insurance man, Dave Syverson, as a state senator, we will have a roofing contractor as our County Board chairman. The potential for the conflict of interest and the gaining of favoritism through the attainment of accounts or contracts is huge. How can the two be separated?
A case in point is the story about the property at Willowbrook and McCurry roads that we covered last week. Although he owns the land with Ron Swanson, Christiansen pointedly denies he directed any of the improvements to that intersection. Nonetheless, he is a former County Board member and a long-standing political player in the area. Swanson and Christiansen did receive $13,000 for part of their property that was used for the right-of-way. Additionally, he did authorize the bonds to pay for the construction at that intersection. His property value has gone up. Also, Sunil Puris First Rockford Group has 58 acres for commercial, multi-family and single family development right across the street from Swanson and Christiansens property at that same intersection.
Then consider Christiansens unfortunate remark in the same article, when he said his competitor, Carlson Roofing, was out of business. Nothing could be further from the truth; Carlson Roofing has never closed in its 25 years. Carlson Roofing is located at 828 21st St., 397-1880, specializing in commercial and industrial roofing.
However, as pointed out in our front-page clarification (County Board Chairman was wrong about Carlson Roofing), as recently as Oct. 12, Christiansen Inc. was competing with Carlson Roofing on a job, and the list of the competing bids, listing each bidder and amount bid, was sent to each bidder.
On deadline Tuesday, after we received Christiansens Guest Column (in which he did not make one mention of the Carlson mistake) on Monday to give him fair reply to last weeks article , we received the following letter from Christiansen by fax:
October 26, 2004
In a recent interview with The Rock River Times, I mistakenly stated that Carlson Roofing was out of business. I understand that Carlson Roofing has not gone out of business. My apologies for any confusion or misunderstanding this may have caused.
I wish you and your company much success in the future.
Scott H. Christiansen
Chairman, Winnebago County Board Other mistakes aside, Christiansens unquestioning support of the over-built jail shows a lack of leadership and vision for the future. That mistake will be with us for decades.
Christiansens good points include his efforts at securing rail transport, his support of the airport and his openness compared to many other county and local officials.
But just as he overhired in the case of Sue Mroz (and she may be worth it if she can deliver the projects), Christiansen is too free with taxpayer money for developers and road builders. Sprawl is not where Winnebago County needs to go. Sprawl just costs us in infrastructure and schools in the long run, as Loves Park, Roscoe, Winnebago and Pecatonica can attest.
Christiansen will also cost the taxpayers money on the hot-button issue of leaf burning in the county. He proposes to use forest preserve and other county trucks and personnel to pick up in areas within a mile and a half of municipalities within the county. What about all those county pockets in and around Rockford? Labor and new equipment will be needed. Get out your wallet.
Gorski has none of this baggage and is willing to let the voters decide on the leaf burning. Get rid of the good ol boy syndrome and vote for Gorski.
County Board Members
Note: In the County Board member races, most endorsements will be brief, but unlike what the daily may think, they are important. These races are particularly important because the county and the Public Safety Building have always been owned by the Republicans, and the City of Rockford and City Hall have always been owned by the Democrats. Again, its time for a change. Business as usual has only cost taxpayers again and again. As a general rule, vote Democratic or Independent in the county; and in next Aprils elections, vote Republican or Independent in the city. We need to shake things up and get a real balance of power on all levels of government.
On the County Board, nine members are Democrats, and 19 members are Republicans, Syverson is closely aligned with Christiansen and tossing Republicans money and yard signs to increase his influence. The public would be much better served if our state senator focused his energy on state issues and brought home the bacon, rather than trying to build a political empire and interfere in county issues.
A vote for the Democrats or an Independent is a vote against that syndrome.
For County Board Member in District 3
The Rock River Times endorses Douglas R. Aurand, Democrat. He is a very savvy politico, with the peoples interest at heart. Yet, he will not buck the system if he thinks he will lose, but still one of our best. Vote for him.
His opponent, David Krienke, is known to be allied with Syverson and Christiansen and works for the state. He is also on the village board in Roscoe, and against the Perryville extension. He has possibilities, but not now.
For County Board Member in District 4
We endorse Beth Wait, Democrat. She was a Republican turned Democrat. Help her.
Her opponent John Harmon, Republican, is well financed and too close to Syverson.
For County Board Member in District 5
Heres an exception: Terry A. Skogsberg, Democrat. Shes a UAW gal, reportedly being helped by Syverson through word of mouth.
The Rock River Times endorses Peter M. Pete MacKay, Republican. Pete has suffered many recent attacks as Rockford Township Highway Commissioner, and those revelations are orchestrated through his own party. Christiansen and Syverson see him as a bad Republican because he has questioned spending on the jail, roads, and most recently, Sue Mrozs hiring. He should look out after the election; the word is they will take away his chairmanship of the Zoning Committee.
We cannot endorse MacKay strongly enough. He is his own man, and the man for his constituents and taxpayers in general. He is one of the most ethical men we know in politics. The attacks on him are outrageous and politically motivated because he will not get in line. Continue to stand out, Pete!
Another reason we like Pete is because he is a fighter. He will not lie down when attacked, as shown by this letter he sent us endorsing Gorski for County Board Chairman:
October 26, 2004
I strongly endorse the election of my friend and constituent, Paul Gorski, as chairman of our Winnebago County Board.
Paul is capable, thoughtful, and very concerned about the directions our County government is taking. Paul is a conservative Democrat elected as a trustee in heavily Republican Cherry Valley Township.
Paul is, in my opinion, the best man in the race. We Republicans should learn from our past mistakes. Remember, six years ago, the reluctance of good Republicans to vote for a good manconservative. Democrat Glenn Poshard for Governor, gave us the mess we are in now.
Please join Cherry Valley Township Highway Commissioner Pat ODonnell, myself and a great number of Republicans in electing our friend, Paul Gorski, as chairman of our County Board.
Thank you. Pete MacKay
For County Board Member in District 6
The Rock River Times endorses Dorothy Redd, Democrat. If a Republican wins District 6, the whole Democratic Party is in trouble. Redd is an educator and a crime fighter, who believes in crime prevention.
Her opponent Joshua West, Republican, is very likable with his stance against gambling, the burn ban and sprawl, but he is too close to Christiansen. We hope he runs for alderman.
For County Board Member in District 7
The Rock River Times endorses Polly B
erg, Democrat. Although weve had differences in the past, we cant afford to lose her. She can fold at the last minute, and is scared to death of losing her union support. However, she represents her district well.
Her opponent William C. Bill Peterson, Republican, is admirably involved in Scouting. Besides that, he is a very low profile and did not present a candidate statement.
For County Board Member in District 7
The Rock River Times endorses Phillip R. Johnson, Democrat. He has a slightly different take than many Democrats, not being driven by group mentalities. He holds a masters degree that would be good on the board. One of the few board members who attended every budget hearing.
His opponent Nancy Edwardsen, Republican, seems nice, but shes not cut out for political office.
For County Board Member in District 9
The challenger Justin D. Krohn, Democrat. Relatively unknown newcomer who has possibilities, but he cant match his competition.
The Rock River Times endorses Patti Thayer, Republican. She is a Christiansen loyalist, but she deserves great thanks for standing up during the countys insurance controversy. Some have tried to muddy her up, but shes too good.
For County Board Member in District 13
The Rock River Times endorses Melissa Lewis, Democrat. She has no funding, but tremendous energy. She is a good person and is the prime example that anyone can run for office. Therefore, we encourage that.
Her opponent Rick Pollack, Republican, is a Syverson man, and his own worst enemy. His release of the memo on the St. Marys fiasco was classic. He is also a big jail lieutenant. If Christiansen wins, hell probably get the Zoning chairman for retaliation against Pete MacKay.
For County Board Member in District 13
Unexpired 2-Year Term. Dave MacKay passed away in June and is missed by many for the good, honest man he wasunfortunately, a rarity in local politics.
Thomas A. Hoover, Republican, was appointed to MacKays seat to fill out his term. Hoover, a fine commercial printer, has done printing work for Syverson and Christiansen. Those unfortunate associations aside, Hoover has a reputation as a good man and respected downtown businessman. He has been a good friend to all of us at The Rock River Times.
His Democratic opponent, Bob Hastings, also has a good reputation. The daughters of the late Dave MacKay, Julie Maggio and Lyn MacKay, have endorsed Hastings. He has lived in the area for 23 years and has been involved in the local union movement. He also seems to be a good man. For the last six months, he has attended every board meeting as an observer. Considering the Republican majority, this one is a tough call. Well let the readers decide.
Circuit Court Judge
17th Judicial Circuit Judicial Retention
Kathryn E. Zenoff. Retain. Zenoff displays empathy and strength from the bench. As the new chief judge, she has an open mind about reorganizing and bringing new ideas to the courts. Hopefully, alternative programs to incarceration and at least two new judges will be part of her program to speed up the courts and stop warehousing the disadvantaged in our jail.
Janet R. Holmgren. Retain. The Rock River Times found her clarity and firmness refreshing in our court case. Lawyers and litigants who come before her praise her for her ability to give all sides a chance to make their point. She also welcomes students in her courtroom, which gives the impression of openness that the courts should have.
CHERRY VALLEY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION TO LEVY TAX FOR AMBULANCE SERVICE
Vote Yes. If you have an accident or a loved one in trouble out in Cherry Valley, youll be glad you did.
HARLEM TOWNSHIP ADVISORY REFERENDUM TO ADMINISTER WINNEBAGO COUNTY FOREST PRESERVE BY NONPARTISAN COMMISSIONERS
Vote No. We dont need another governmental body.
Vote No. Its the churches versus the unions, and itll be interesting to see who wins. Editorially, we are against a casino boat.
GREEN SPACE REFERENDUM
Vote Yes. We need all the green space we can save. How do you think our city, state and national parks were set aside?
VILLAGE OF MACHESNEY PARK PROPOSITION TO REDUCE SPEED LIMIT TO 25
Vote Yes. Burn less gas and make neighborhoods more safe. Speed bumps help, too.
HARLEM UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 122 PROPOSITION TO INCREASE
THE EDUCATIONAL TAX RATE
A tough one. Education is a must. The elderly and single property owners pay the bill, along with the families. We really need another way to fund education besides property tax, which makes up around 60 percent of the bill. You make the call.