Friday, July 26, 2013

Dancing with the Civic Committee Stars - See Local Members of ALEC at the Party?


ALEC Welcomes Its Biggest Supporter: 
The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is coming to town to celebrate its 40th birthday at the Palmer House on August 8th!  Are you invited?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there. *

If you’re looking for the Red Carpet zenith of corporatist affairs, ALEC’s Thursday afternoon gala is not to be missed.  In just a mere four decades, the Koch Brothers’ political inspiration has brought us such blockbusters as Parent Trigger, Waiting for Superman, Citizens United, Stand Your Ground, and, well, School Privatization: the Prequel.   Rumors of a Koch Brothers’ new conceptual rendering of the Middle Class swirl in Chicago, where ALEC plans to hold its birthday bash.  And what a shindig it promises to be!

You can trust us to save your defined benefits...really! 
While we’re likely to see “earth tredding stars” of a political nature – Representative Darlene Senger, Representative Renee Kosel,  House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Representative Chapin Rose, Senator Kirk Dillard, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radagno, etc. – these wonders are simply extensions and instruments of the powerful. 

The real action will arrive on that Thursday with the appearance of the well-heeled powerbrokers from the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.  And we can expect to behold a goodly number of the plutocrats who hold membership in more than just the city’s esteemed coalition of industrial/financial elite.  In fact, over half of the roster of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club is connected in membership, support, or past affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  

For those of us in the gallery, thrilling for an autograph or even a cursory nod, we’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for those Civic Committee/ALEC patrons who might attend.  Of course, leading the way will be Boeing’s CEO James W. McNerney, the very model and corporate representation of what a chief supporter of ALEC should be.  McNerney, a man who knows how to manage money, receives an annual salary of just over $22 million, but – and you retirees better keep this in mind – he also has amassed nearly $39 billion in retirement assets.  And pensioners worry about their COLA’s! 

And, we could all take a darn good lesson from Boeing.  Despite those nuisance batteries on its mega-plane 787 which threatened to turn a moneymaker into a flaming bad-Dreamliner, the company has been able to jump a 13% profit this second quarter.  That’s a cool $1.1 billion  (

But, it’s not just the work of CEO McNerney: Corporations are people too, my friends.  A 2008 – 2010 scrutiny of U.S. corporations by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy unveiled hundreds of major businesses that pay little or nothing to the federal government for what they earn in the United States ( ). 

Boeing is the King of the Tax Dodgers: In all three years, Boeing paid NO federal taxes.  Hold on, it gets better. 

I look omnipotent in this pose, don't you think?
In fact, Boeing’s actual federal tax rate was -1.8%.  How’s that possible?  You forget that Boeing is paid by the federal government in contracts and perks for the delivery of goods to the United States.  For the years 2008 – 2010, while it earned profits of $9.7 billion, Boeing received an additional $178 million in money back.  How’d you do?

On the state level, we’ll all remember that our elected Representatives and Senators (see above) were willing to provide Boeing another $41 million in the year 2000 just to come to Chicago.  After that, Chicago and its Civic Committee friends threw in another $19 million in property tax relief and a $2 million grant.  In addition, Chicago provided incoming families from Seattle expense accounts too.  By the way, just a reminder, your property taxes are coming due. 

But Boeing’s just one corporation, and McNerney is just one guy.  A cursory look at the membership of the Civic Committee is all it takes to spot well over fifty more who play by – scratch that – make the rules and work hand-in-hand with ALEC.  See the list below:

A quiet moment.
Of course, there’ll be the groupies and fashionmongers who really may not be anything more than ALEC wannabees, but they’re enjoyable in their own lesser levels of sinister power and wheedling influence.  You might see the ever-blustering Ty Fahner, who may even arrive with his old friend James Thompson, perhaps in the black Porsche the former Governor so coveted.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel and now-Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will have a lot of catching up to do on Washington. 

Have a good time and enjoy the parade.  By the way, keep your hands on your wallet.

Civic Committee members with Ties to ALEC, after a cursory investigation:

ALLSTATE – Edward Liddy – works with ALEC to “Fix the Debt” by getting rid of social security (Sourcewatch).

BOOZ & COMPANY – Gary D. Ahlquist – consulting to ALEC and NSA (Sourcewatch).

LEO BURNETT – Thomas Bernardin – L. Burnett COO sits with ALEC Meirling in Lipman Hearne  Consulting (

LASALLE BANK – Norman Bobins – donates to ALEC and its causes (Sourcewatch).

MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS – Greg Brown – large contributor to ALEC and “Fix the Debt” (Sourcewatch).

MADISON DEARBORN PARTNERS – John Canning - supporter of ALEC

AON CORPORATION – Gregory Case – supports ALEC (

SIDLEY AUSTIN LLP – Thomas Cole – Company presented at US Climate Partnership to deny climate change (

HILLSHIRE BRANDS – Sean Connolly – supports ALEC (Sourcewatch).

EXELON Corp – Christopher Crane – contributes to ALEC (

UBS INVESTMENT BANK – Stephen Cruise – repeated federal reviews for irregular Swiss banking methods (

DELOITTE LLP – Deborah Dehaas – contributor to ALEC (

DUCHOSSOIS GROUP – Craig Duchossois – contributor to ALEC (

ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS – W. James Farrell – contributor to ALEC (

ERNST & YOUNG LLP – Rick Fezell – paid $123 million in 2013 to defend 200 wealthy clients (ALEC members) for tax avoidance (the Guardian).

WINSTON & STRAWN LLP  - Thomas Fitzgerald – contributor to ALEC (

ZURICH NORTH AMERICA – Michael Foley – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

GOLDMAN SACHS & CO. – Matthew Gibson – major contributor (Sourcewatch).

CITIGROUP – James Glerum – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP – Richard Godfrey – represents many industries in ALEC (United Airlines).

PNC BANK – Joseph Gregoire – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

CITADEL, LLC – Kenneth Griffin – member of ALEC (see investing/  

PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS, LLP – Jay Henderson – publishing member of ALEC (

AMERICAN AIRLINES – Thomas Horton – contributor yo ALEC and responsible for sacking the pensions of his workers (

TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY – Tony Hunter – promoter of all things KOCH (electronic graffiti).

BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP – Matthew Krentz – finances and promotes ALEC strategies to privatize public education (

AT&T – Paul LaSchiazza – member of ALEC (

ALLSTATE – Edward Liddy – member of ALEC (

BANK of AMERICA – Timothy Maloney – announced breaking ties with ALEC in 2012 (Sourcewatch).

BOEING – James McNerney – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

DISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES – David Nelms – member of ALEC as part of Credit Card Coalition (see

BAXTER INTERNATIONAL – Robert Parkinson – major contributor to ALEC (AFCSME).

JONES LANG LASALLE – Sheila Penrose – member and builder for ALEC (dailykos).

JEWEL COMPANIES (OSCO) – Donald Perkins – member of ALEC (

UNITED STATIONERS – Cody Phipps – member of supporting member business ethics network (ALEC).

MESIROW FINANCIAL – Richard Price – participant and presenter for ALEC (

PSP CAPITAL – Penny Pritzker – corporate level supporter of ALEC (

HYATT HOTELS – Thomas Pritzker – member of ALEC – (

MARMON GROUP – Frank Ptak – member and presenter for “secret societies”/ALEC (

GTCR LLC – Bruce Rauner – member of ALEC and aspiring Illinois governor (

NICOR GAS – Elizabeth Reese – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

REYES HOLDING – Christopher Reyes – member of ASLEC (

EXELON CORP – John Rowe – member of ALEC (

W W GRAINGER – James Ryan – member of ALEC (


CME GROUP – John Sandner – member of ALEC (

ITW – Scott Santi – member of ALEC (

INTEGRYS ENERGY GROUP – Charles Schrock – member ALEC and Amer. Gas Assoc. (Sourcewatch).

ACCENTURE – Michael Scimo – consults/hiring with ALEC in mind and as member (

FINANCIAL INVESTMENTS CORPORATION – Harrison Steans – winner of Civic Federation Award and promotion of privatization of education (civic federation).

MCKINSEY & Co – Richard Sykes – corporate benefactor to ALEC (Sourcewatch).

MAYER BROWN LLP – Paul Theiss – partner Donald Falk is ALEC counsel of record (

FIRST CHICAGO NBD CORP – Don Thompson – member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

JP MORGAN CHASE – Glenn Tilton – corporate member of ALEC (Sourcewatch).

A.T. KEARNEY, INC. – Michael Tower – writing school reform for ALEC (

WALGREEN, CO. – Gregory Wasson – gave up membership in ALEC after 2012 (

ABBOTT – Miles White – member of ALEC (

ALLSTATE (once again) – Thomas Wilson – (

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, ALEC: Your BFF, Senator Kirk Dillard.

Illinois Chairperson for ALEC
“Happy Birthday, ALEC: Your BFF, Senator Kirk Dillard.

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is coming to town to celebrate its 40th birthday!  Are you invited?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there.*

There’ll be some legislative movers and shakers there.  Representative Darlene Senger, Senator Christine Radagno, and Representative Tom Cross:  all of them and many more (mostly Republicans) are members at the state level as Task Force Members for ALEC.  That means that they bring important legislative models drafted by ALEC into the
A metaphor for pretense - Rahmbo.
Springfield General Assembly for passage into law in Illinois.  Even an “ersatz” Democrat might show up – see picture.

These legislators don’t get paid for this involvement, at least not exactly, but they do get to take paid-for sojourns to places far and wide to meet with lawyers and corporate representatives to help craft proposals and bills that might move the conservative agenda mission of ALEC forward at the state level.   And, of course, a corporation awash in money may be able to help someone find support in this new world of Citizens United to get serious backing come next election.  More about that later.

“ALEC is a corporate bill mill.  It is NOT just a lobby (like the NRA) or a front group; it is much more powerful than that.  Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wish lists to benefit the bottom line.  Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations” (

ALEC Task Force Member Senger
The state chairman in Illinois for ALEC is Kirk Dillard, a Senator from Hinsdale (of all places), who has just recently announced his intention to run once again for the office of Governor for the State of Illinois.  Last time around, Senator Dillard lost the primary by only 193 votes to Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington.  But Dillard is unmoved and ready to be “all in” for this next battle for leadership in our state.  He outlined for the Chicago Tribune his inability to run for another seat in the Senate this next year, given the timing of his run in the gubernatorial race, which will prevent his political office holding if he is defeated in the primary or the election. 

According to Dillard, had he been elected last time as the Governor, we would not be facing the nearly $100 billion deficit in pension spending we now face.  Of course, Dillard is careful not to mention that the deficit is actually money reneged from the necessary payments from other Republicans like himself (Jim Thompson and his supporter Jim Edgar).  Dillard says that he voted for SB1, and Madian would have worked better with him than Quinn.

ALEC Chair Renee Kosel
The other Chair for ALEC in Illinois is Representative Renee Kosel of Mokena.  One imagines both Kosel and Dillard are ecstatic about the upcoming birthday of their ideological patrons.  They may even desire to celebrate the origin and backers of the ALEC foundation, although quite honestly the Koch brothers (Charles & David) are often careful to avoid the limelight, preferring to work behind the scenes, greasing the legislative wheels with hundreds of millions of dollars to promote the agendas their father tutored them in their youthful and impressionable years.

Fred C. Koch was a self-made man worthy of being admired by Kirk Dillard, Renee Kosel, or Ayn Rand.  His inventive genius at finding a new cracking method to turn crude into gasoline was the darling of the world, until his patents were challenged in the United States.  This kept him at bay for nearly fifteen years. Enter stage left the Stalinist Soviet Union, which gave him millions to build cracking plants in the USSR and millions more to teach technicians in the United States how to make gasoline from the multitudinous reserves below the Russian permafrost.

ALEC - Health & Human Services?
Despite the mega-generous returns on his assistance, once he returned from Russia, the elder Koch decided Communism was an evil that must be destroyed at all costs, and when one (or his sons) have $billions, that means pretty much spare change. 

And the elder Mr. Koch became a leader in the arena of conservative reform movements – very conservative reform movements.  He assisted in providing the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission money to support their war against federal encroachment or the attempt to force racial desegregation.  (  He became a heavy contributor and founding father of the John Birch Society (

Tom Cross - Civil Justice & Stand Your Ground
In fact, some of his speeches resonate strangely with the kind of speech one hears from the Tea Party leaders of today as well as the Birthers that often denounce Obama’s presidency.  “ Koch alerted that Communists “would infiltrate the highest offices of government in the United States until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us” (;view=text ).  Sound familiar? 

Of course, Senator Dillard is careful – like his other ALEC partners in the State of Illinois – to be discreet when it comes to this kind of political connection, unless it is unobtrusive and controlled, but, alas, events these last few months have left all of us wondering about ALEC and those who might support them, or in turn be supported by ALEC

ALEC Civil Justice/Stand Your Ground
After the NRA was able to lobby successfully to pass the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida in 2005, ALEC adopted the same law as a “model” for other states, sharing the outline with legislators who participated in their “think-tank legislative getaways.”  Twenty-six other states have adopted the same kinds of laws.  But now ALEC (like the NRA) is trying to distance itself from the Stand Your Ground Law, saying that their support sunset a few years ago.  Notice also how quiet the NRA has been about the law that ALEC later supported?

ALEC members like Chapin Rose, Tom Cross, and, yes, KIRK DILLARD are Task Force Members on the same Civil Justice committees that proposed and endorsed the Stand Your Ground bills that passed in Florida and 26 other states. 

With ALEC in mind, a very unsettling Senator Dillard has changes in mind in Illinois and he warns us that he’s all in.  Indeed, he plans to make serious and, if necessary, severe changes to issues of pensions, Metra, conceal and carry, and abortions.  That’s worrisome.

The Koch brothers and ALEC would include all taxes, all regulations on business, the dangers of unions, the Federal Reserve, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, the minimum wage, voting rights, and other national issues; but as Governor, Senator Dillard can do much to help their forward progress in small steps – just like Scott Walker did for them in Wisconsin.

Who'll be on the red carpet???
The Koch brothers are all in too.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Reprise: Pedantic Profits and Tea Party Endorsements in Illinois

Pedantic Profits (Caterpillar CEO’s New Educational Plan) 

Rep. Jeanne Ives
I received a friendly email rebuttal from Illinois Representative Jeanne Ives regarding my recent negative response to her assistant's declaration (during a coffee meeting) that Illinois had the worst economic outlook for businesses in the nation.  I had sent an email follow-up that I thought was, non-partisan, but the Representative questioned its timeliness and as well as its origin.  She offered a better and more accurate source for her assistant's information: CEO Magazine of May 2013.  In the issue, published in the interest and grooming of the many plutocrats of the Civic Committee, one can find a coalescence of the attitudes and approaches to ameliorating the business climate that's found in the Tea Party approach: SB3303.   Of course one of the premier authors/backers of this "non-partisan" description of the impoverished business climate is CEO Doug Oberhelman, who, well, has helped to add to the impoverished in Illinois and other states whenever he has had the chance.

AdjectivePedanticism occurs during the presentation of an argument or lesson, e.g., as in teaching, the over concern with one’s own self-impression or importance.  Remember that instructor that was more interested in promoting his or her own brilliance than awakening yours?  Example: See –
Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman and his pretentious arguments to keep his aristo-income which is wildly beyond rational - and at the expense of his workers – and blame the educational system for his own workers’( and others’) diminished pay.  Caterpillar’s Chief Executive Doug Oberhelman says that the U.S. manufacturing workforce is lagging, and education is at fault.

Oberhelman, who receives $16.9 million in salary alone in 2011 ( ) and another $8.3 million in options, describes the potential workforce for his company as lacking.  And he says it is education’s fault, for he has nowhere else to pick from. According to Oberhelman, the U.S. schools are not providing the kind of after-graduate skilled workers that his company can employ easily.

At the National Conference of State Legislatures, a political non-partisan group lately described as taking a decidedly conservative bent as per ALEC (, Oberhelman offered his own version of what would make the interface between education and manufacturing in the United States a better fit.   Of course, someone with nearly $17 million per year (now $20 m) in benefits feels he has the right and pedagogical expertise to explain what’s lacking in education – at least as he sees it.  Like most successful privateers, many CEO’s facing their new global economic needs think they have the answers for an acceptable worker’s education.  

The keynote speaker at the conference was Edward Rust, Jr., State Farm Mutual’s CEO.  Rust began by lamenting that the U.S. needs workers with verbal and written communication skills, people who can “think critically and possess intellectual curiosity.” 

“The consequences of not addressing this are much greater than they appear; perhaps, today,” said Rust (Cancino, Alejandro.  Education concerns business leaders.  Chicago Tribune/Business.  10 August 2012).    Rust went on to describe the loss of job-skills in half decades; in other words, the set of skills needed to operate technological machinery evolves into completely different needs within five years or less.  Upgrades in skills for basic workers are necessary in order to compete globally. 

In the past, U.S. manufacturers provided training as an integral part of the acquisition and maintenance of long-term employees, but that behavior has been dropped in favor of seeking off-shore expertise at lower wages or off-site training and lesser pay.  Some countries continue to train.  For example, Germany, an economy that has weathered the economic depression of 2007 – 12, has maintained its manufacturing edge through on-the-job-training in manufacturing while the rest of Europe has not (Barlett & Steele.  The Betrayal of the American Dream.  Public Affairs.  New York. 2012).    

What health plan?
Quite the opposite, when Apple moved its manufacturing factories from Colorado and California to cities in China to make I-products, they did not train nor educate the steady streams of prospective, poorly educated employees from neighboring rural areas.  It was all about the money – how much could be produced in how short a time.  The end result was huge groups of underpaid and overworked youngsters, enduring twelve-hour shifts and living in flimsily constructed housing that moved ten per room back and forth to the factories.  These Foxconn designs were so disastrous that rates of suicide began to alarm even the hardest of entrepreneurs in China.  Answer One?  Build netting around the dormitories to prevent the would-be jumpers from being successful.   Enjoying your IPad?  But I digress….

Back to the pedantic profiteer…

According to Doug Oberhelman, what education really needs is a one or two year add-on to high school to prepare those who would be in the manufacturing world a set of skills that they (that is, Caterpillar) could use immediately (for how long?) to enter the manufacturing workforce.  Get the picture?  Learn a skill after high school, go to work for a company like Caterpillar, and submit to what the corporate masters will give you – for as long as they need not train you.  According to Mr. Rust, that will be about five years.  In case that sounds cynical, look at what the latest settlement of strikers in Joliet received: some changes in seniority, but frozen salaries and double costs of benefits.  One 40-year veteran described the Caterpillar company as “not trustworthy” while many others felt cheated by the settlement (Cain, Cindy. Tentative Pact Reached in Joliet.  Southtown Star.  15 August 2012). 

Once more, back to Doug’s bold vision:

Educated but worthless...
Oberhelman also took a shot at higher education. ‘I for one struggle a little bit with a $250,000 education for a philosophy degree.  They are wonderful people but we cannot employ philosophers in manufacturing in the United States’” (Cancino, Alejandro.  Education concerns business leaders.  Chicago Tribune/Business.  10 August 2012).  Of course Oberhelman can’t.  They would be degreed, intelligent thinkers who might be well qualified to critically evaluate his company’s and his own rapacious profiteering.  Oberhelman wants a skilled but not necessarily thoughtful employee. 

On the other hand, if you look solely for the bottom line, Doug is indeed a kind of Steve Jobs of earthmovers, a George Pullman of ditch buckets. 
In 2011, Caterpillar revenue grew 41 percent to $60.14 billion. Profit grew 83 percent to $4.93 billion, up from $2.70 billion the year earlier. The company credited those results along with the several acquisitions, record operating cash flow for the machinery and power systems units, and other measures for his increased pay.  And, of course, Doug gets that nearly $17 million in compensation, not to mention another $70,000 for the use of the corporate plane and nearly $21,000 for home security. 

Maybe Oberhelman will end up doing what the great manufacturing giant George Pullman did, in order to maintain his own select position after death.  Fearing that some of his former employees or other labor supporters might try to dig up his body, Pullman’s family arranged for his remains to be placed in a lead-lined mahogany coffin, which was then sealed inside a block of concrete. “At the cemetery, a large pit had been dug at the family plot. At its base and walls were 18 inches of reinforced concrete. The coffin was lowered, and covered with asphalt and tarpaper. More concrete was poured on top, followed by a layer of steel rails bolted together at right angles, and another layer of concrete”( ).  The entire burial process for George Pullman took two days. 
Yep, that's Doug.
With a Ditch Bucket, it might take less time.  One might think…