‘The Union List’

Matt Brolley IL-14 Candidate Revisited

by , posted on Friday, April 28th, 2017 at 2:55 pm

On Tuesday I attended the monthly Kane County Democrats meeting and unexpectedly encountered two candidates, Matt Brolley and Victor Swanson running for – or in Brolley’s case still considering running for – Congress in IL-14. Since I know there’s a lot of interest in who might run against Hultgren, I’d previously profiled Jim Walz, and had previously heard these two had addressed the McHenry County Dems meeting, I quickly took out my cell phone, captured video, and posted about Brolley on Wednesday and Swanson on Thursday.

Almost immediately after I put up that Brolley post I received an emailed tip to the effect that Matt Brolley does not live in IL-14. He resides in IL-11, and that he pulled Republican ballots in 2010, 2014, and 2016. The tip had included some pretty strong evidence, but I wanted to investigate a bit further, at least to the extent that I gave Brolley a chance to respond.

I emailed Brolley at his Village of Montgomery email address, but because I am aware that elected officials can’t use municipal email or resources for campaign-related reasons, and I was concerned an inquiry about his voting record might fall under that category, I also went looking for another contact, preferably a campaign-oriented one. All I was able to find was this Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Brolley4Montgomery/

I didn’t think it ideal to send such an inquiry via Facebook message, but I did, and as it turns out it really is ideal, because Facebook messages have this handy “seen” feature.

So, while I have not received a response to my detailed inquiry to either Brolley’s Village email address, or the Facebook message, I know that the Facebook message was seen on Thursday at 11:10 a.m., precisely nineteen minutes after I sent it.

As it is now well more than 24 hours later I have to conclude that I can expect to receive no response. I had asked for verification of both facts – residency and the history of voting as a Republican – in both of my inquiries, as well as inviting Brolley to offer any comment he might have to make. As I have seen some pretty solid proof and he isn’t responding I have to think this information most likely is true.

If so, it’s giving me pause for thought. Much pause.

The IL-11 bit does not bother me all that much, frankly, as the last redistricting drew many, many people I knew out of IL-14, including a lot of them who worked like crazy on John Laesch’s candidacy in IL-14 in two successive elections. Hell, it drew John Laesch out of the district, Bill Foster promptly moved out of it to run in IL-11, and for all we know the next redistricting (coming right up!) is going to draw them both right back in.

Considering how that line is wobbling I don’t really think being out of it this year is any more of an ethical disqualifier than it is a legal one, which is to say it is not at all. I haven’t looked at it since it was redrawn, but if my memory serves me correctly I myself could move across the street and be out of IL-14. Nothing to say someone that close can’t just move back in, which doesn’t even strike me as nearly as egregious as Foster moving from Batavia to Naperville to get into the better district that was custom drawn for him.

The Republican ballots are another issue. Sure, living in this sea of red in an open primary state I know Dems who pull Republican ballots in primaries because there are no Dem candidates on the ballot, and because they think they can do more good as Dems by weighting a Republican primary one way or another. Could be the case in Montgomery most years.

But 2016? Really? Anyone else remember how tight and hotly contested the Bernie/Hillary contest ended up being here? What’s that you say? All of you? Right. I know I worked my tail off for Bernie in Kane County. So, yeah, I have a hard time buying Brolley pulled a Republican primary ballot in 2016 and is nevertheless a Democrat, much less a progressive.

But since Brolley isn’t responding, I guess we will all just have to draw our own conclusion. I know what mine is.

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Victor Swanson IL-14 Candidate 4.25.17

by , posted on Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at 2:46 pm

The other candidate I heard speak at Tuesday night’s Kane County Dem meeting was Victor Swanson. Swanson is a teacher in Batavia, and is, as far as I know, the only Dem candidate who has actually declared. The others I’ve encountered are still hedging a bit with statements to the effect that they are very near declaring. You can find Swanson’s website here.

As was the case with Matt Brolley, Swanson briefly addressed the Kane Dems monthly meeting on Tuesday night. As was also the case with Brolley, I approached Swanson after the meeting to ask my two-question progressive litmus test.

I found Swanson to be much more eloquent in a one on one conversation than he had been in his two-minute speech, which encourages me to believe he will become more polished in his public appearances as he goes through the campaign. He strikes me as intelligent and well-spoken, well able to think on his feet. Swanson immediately indicated he is a single-payer advocate, and in fact spoke passionately about relatives with pre-existing conditions.

When asked whether he would accept corporate donations, Swanson instantly responded “I know the answer you want to hear, but I can’t give it to you.” He went on to say he’d read my post about Jim Walz and knew from reading it that I wanted to hear that he would not accept corporate donations, but felt he could not make such a commitment, as Hultgren had spent half a million dollars during his last race.

Well, he’s right, I did want to hear that he would reject corporate donations. I am still waiting to hear that from an IL-14 candidate. And while I’ve noted that it’s my progressive litmus test to seek a candidate who is more interested in representing me than corporate America, I am of the opinion that taking that stand will come with it’s own set of advantages. Not least of these is the simple fact that the Dem who takes IL-14 will have to fight an uphill battle against the district’s demographics, so will need all the help he or she can get taking Independents and even making inroads into Hultgren’s Republican base.

I keep hearing that “the energy is so high” and I acknowledge that, but am also very aware that IL-14 was drawn – by Democrats – as a Republican vote sink. The Dem who takes IL-14 away from Hultgren is going to have to figure out some common ground to appeal to Independents and Republicans, without bursting that balloon of Dem energy.

I can’t think of a better issue to do that with than an opposition to corporate money in politics. It’s about the only issue I can ask all my friends and neighbors – apolitical, Independents, Republicans, Democrats, Progressives, Tea Partiers, you name it – about and hear in answer “yes, I want my representative to represent me.”

Best way I can think to pull Independent, and even some Republican, votes over is to take a strong “I’m only accepting donations from individuals, I want corporate money out of politics and that begins with a strong stand on that in my own campaign” position. Followed quickly by a lot of finger-pointing at Hultgren’s corporate masters, naturally.

I think it’s a strategic error for any Dem running in IL-14 to act otherwise as, barring some major Hultgren scandal, it’s about the only issue all sides routinely agree – fervently – upon, and you can’t win with Dem votes alone here – not even if your high energy turns out 100% of them.

So, yeah, I’m still waiting for that progressive candidate who can take advantage of that issue to turn IL-14 blue.

Meanwhile, here is the video of Swanson’s remarks:

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UPDATED: Matt Brolley IL-14 Candidate 4.25.17

by , posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 at 3:05 pm

UPDATE: Please see the Brolley post subsequent to this one for more – and critical – information. You can find it here.

Two potential Dem Candidates for IL-14 spoke at the Kane County Dems monthly meeting last night. I don’t want to lump them into one post, so taking them in the order they spoke, I’ll post the video of Matt Brolley tonight, and will get to the other candidate tomorrow.

Matt Brolley is the current mayor of Montgomery, just re-elected and starting his second term. Brolley seems quite at ease with public speaking. He was brief, to the point, was a little funny, spoke about his background, and, it should be noted, said he is considering a run, rather than stating he is running.

Because I am trying to determine in my own mind who in the (ever growing) Dem field is progressive, I’ve come up with something I guess you could call my own personal two-question litmus test. I didn’t really plan those two questions out, by the way, they just happened to be the two issues I questioned Walz about, and in the interest of consistency, and comparing apples to apples, I thought it fair to stick with them. As he didn’t answer my questions with certainty during his brief remarks, I spoke with Brolley after the event and asked him my two questions.

In answer to my first question Brolley, who had mentioned healthcare for all as an issue he cares about, confirmed that he is a single-payer advocate.

In answer to the second, he said he had not yet thought about whether he would accept corporate donations, and then noted IL-14 is likely to be a two or three million dollar race, so it is something he feels he need to think through, as it would be tough to get to that kind of dollar amount. Not a definitive answer, one way or the other, but it seems to lean toward yes.

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Jim Walz at Indivisibles Joint Meeting – 4.23.17

by , posted on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Indivisible Fox Valley and Indivisible Kane County held a joint meeting today at The Finery in St Charles. They invited Jim Walz, 2016 Democratic Candidate for IL-14, and Corinne Pierog, 2016 Democratic Candidate for State Senate to speak.

I went to the meeting primarily to hear where Walz is on the issues, as I’ve now heard more than a few people propose him as the candidate most likely to take on Hultgren in 2018.

Although she spoke second, I think I will get to Corinne Pierog first. Pierog did not seem to be making a case for a next election so much as she seemed to be giving a bit of a primer for how it feels to run for office. She went over her several races and offered some advice for those thinking about running. To be honest, she lost me at “you have to get to the center” once you’re in office. I get her point – that a representative has to represent all of her constituents, once elected. I just disagree that you do that best by getting to the center.

Besides, as I said, I went mostly to try to get an idea of where Walz is on the issues as most people I know seem to think he will be running against Hultgren again, and most seem to think he will be the likely nominee. I think that remains to be seen, as I have now heard of three other candidates by name, and today heard a rumor of a possible fourth, with no name attached. I’m confident this would be an additional candidate, as the four I’ve heard named (if we include Walz) are all men, and this new rumor was about a woman candidate.

In any case, with this many names floating about this early, it appears as if it may be a very crowded primary field. I’m not ready to pick a candidate yet, but today I began to try to get a grip on who stands for what. Walz did not disappoint me, although I think it should be noted he stated he is not quite ready to declare. I think Walz is pretty reliably progressive on the issues. He only had two things to say that I questioned.

The first being that he indicted he would take a gradual approach to Medicare for all without expanding on how he’d bring that about. I had a chance to ask him after the event and he said he’d like to see the age lowered each year until everyone is covered. I think that’s a not unreasonable course, particularly if we were to immediately lower it for those 55 and older, as that’s precisely the group who are driving up the cost of Obamacare.

But it troubles me because I think at some point, while we are age-lowering, we are likely to once again see branches of government in control of those who’d like to stop that absorption of the entire population into Medicare. I think the process would always be in danger of being stopped by the next congress or the next administration.

The other item that troubled me was his statement that he would not decline all corporate contributions, but would rather decline selected ones, such as contributions from big pharma, oil companies – he managed to list virtually any corporation a progressive would have trouble with him taking cash from. Walz also committed to return any corporate contribution that slipped through his net of those deemed acceptable.

It may be unreasonable of me to think so, but I really do want to support a candidate who will refuse any corporate donations outright. I don’t want a representative who is only beholden to good corporations, I want a representative who is only beholden to his or her constituents. I think it’s very hard to get to be that rep if you accept corporate cash.

Still, I was, for the most part, pleased by Walz’ positions on the issues.

You can watch his remarks in three parts on YouTube, via the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I will do my best to capture remarks from the other potential candidates as the opportunity arises. I want to thank Kane County and Fox Valley Indivisible for making this one possible!

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Science March – Tri-Cities – Earth Day 4.22.17

by , posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 at 4:12 pm

I was at the Tri City version of today’s Earth Day Science March. It started at 11:00 a.m., stepping off from the Metra station and going to Island Park.

The first thing I noticed when I got to the assembly at the Metra station was the size of the crowd. I had honestly expected it to be thinner as many people I knew were planning on going into Chicago for that march.

If I had to estimate, I’d put the crowd at 500 plus.

The second thing I noticed were the dogs. There were many there, several sporting signs,

or t-shirts.

I took more than a few photos of signs, but here is one of my favorites on this Earth Day:

It was definitely a family affair. Lots of kids, in and out of strollers.

I am pretty sure I know this good reverend, but as I don’t think he recognized me, and I could have been wrong due to the sunglasses and hat, I didn’t press it. But I loved his sign anyway:

I took this shot of the March heading up Third Street in Geneva. From this vantage point it stretched three or four blocks ahead and at least three behind.

I took the video linked here on YouTube as we approached IL Route 38. The Geneva Police Department kindly blocked traffic to allow the march to cross. I still don’t know whether those who were honking were doing so in support of the Science March, or to object to the delay. I put the March at about six blocks long, so the lights cycled more than a few times before we all made it across, and we were crossing busy IL-Route 38, the only river crossing in Geneva. We definitely held up traffic.

We headed across the bridge and down the stairs to the bike trail leading to Island Park. If you’re not familiar with it, it is so named as it is an Island in the middle of the Fox River.

I took this brief video of some of the speakers before we all started to disperse.

As we were dispersing I met Katie, who is a science educator. I was speaking to John Rice, one of the leaders of Fox Valley Indivisible and she stepped up to us to ask him for information about how to get involved with that effort. I offered to text her info later, in exchange for a photo of her sign, which she graciously agreed to. Her sign is one of my favorites.

Most importantly, I see Katie’s desire to get connected to more ways to be involved is a sign that despite many predictions that the protests will peter out it’s still growing a movement out here. People really want to take back control of their democracy. It shows, again and again and again, in march after protest after meeting.

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Hultgren Q&A

by , posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 3:11 pm

I was at the Hultgren Q&A session at the Arcada on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. I actually went to the rally across the street, organized by Progressives of Kane County that was scheduled before the event, held a sign for a while, and really appreciated the passing cars honking in support. There were lot of attendees there from Fox Valley Indivisible, Action 14th District IL, Kane County Indivisible, and more, so i hope I have the actual organizer right. The rally was the only real opportunity the evening afforded to speak up – and appropriately and accordingly named the Hear Our Voices Rally – because the rules of the Q&A specified that only Hultgren was allowed to speak.

There were some really interesting speakers at the rally. Perhaps I should have been taping all of them, instead of holding a sign, but by the time I thought of that we were down to the last speaker and I just managed to catch the tail end of her remarks. You can watch that here on YouTube.

I was wavering about whether or not it was worthwhile to attend the Q&A where the rules allowed Hultgren six minutes for opening remarks, then three minutes to answer each question, but allowed the attendees to do nothing more than write questions down on cards. It was really more of a one-sided debate than anything, which may have been inevitable as it was coordinated by those perennial debate organizers, the League of Women Voters.

As the rally was winding down and while I was still trying to make up my mind, I thought I’d wander across the street and take some photos of the line, which I could see from my position across the street had already stretched around the corner and out of my sight.

I ended up taking video as I walked the length of the line as well. It’s here on YouTube.

After I had walked to the end of the line taking that video, I walked back to the front of the line, saw them say people could start going in, and walked back to the end and got in line. When I eventually passed in through the doors, they were telling us we could go up to the balcony if we chose. That caught my attention, as the theater seats 900, but the advance notices had said they would seat up to 800. As the advance notices also said the balcony would not be opened I figured that accounted for the difference. As you can see from this photo, the place was packed and the balcony was indeed occupied.

By the time the event started I could not see a single open seat, so I’d say there were at least 800 in attendance, and we might even have hit that 900 capacity.

I recorded the whole thing, with the exception of a minute or two dropped out due to inadvertently powering down my cell phone.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Again, I really think this was mostly just a one-sided debate. Audience members did provide the questions, and I want to give the LWV credit for choosing good ones out of the more than 400 they estimated were written. Once or twice they did do follow up questions as well, but for the most part it gave Hultgren all the opportunity he needed to recite his talking points. He did exactly that, often going off on tangents that were semi-related to the question, without answering the actual question.

I think it’s important that this event happened though, as there were several points where Hultgren was induced to give an answer about a position or a potential vote that we now have on record, such as the question about budget cuts wherein the moderator asked him for a straightforward yes or no answer to potential cuts to various programs.

In the meantime, I’d encourage everyone to keep calling, emailing, faxing, writing, doing whatever you can to push Hultgren to conduct an actual Town Hall. His contact info is here.

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Still No Hultgren – But Lots of Protests

by , posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at 11:11 pm


This morning between 10:00 a.m. and noon I attended a healthcare rally. It was a little bit different than your standard protest. Rather than standing in one spot, groups of us were assembled on all four corners of Route 64 and Randall Road in St Charles, and when we had walk signals several of us would cross to another corner.

The ability to keep moving was an advantage in keeping our energy up, and in making sure those in cars stopped for the light got a good look at our signs, but it also helped to keep us warm. I had a lot of layers of clothes on, topped with my longest and warmest coat, two hats, two pairs of gloves, and was still freezing. I really think the fact that a couple of hundred of his constituents would spend their Saturday morning freezing to try to a message across would give Randy Hultgren pause for thought.

It was nice to see news crews from the Chicago stations, and photographers from local papers there, but I think the most encouraging part were the honks of support from passing motorists. They were constant. And I had not previously considered whether the majority of truckers were ACA supporters. Now I’m convinced of it.

Today’s healthcare rally was planned by Indivisible Illinois Congressional District 14…I think. I say that because there are so many of these groups mushrooming up that when I attended a meeting for Indivisible Fox Valley last week there were people there from two other groups and at one point we were discussing coordinating between the groups and it was decided that someone would first have to make a chart to figure them all out. And all of the groups I’m aware of have future rallies and protests planned. All of them.

I’ve named just two of the groups that I’ve interacted with in this post, but I know there are more, and I keep running into people I know, but not from any previous political effort of mine. Today I ran into a former co-worker. Last week I dog-sat for my downstairs neighbor so she could go to a rally at Trump’s place in Chicago.

I really don’t think these Republican constituent dodgers have any idea what they are up against. Their bubbles are thick indeed.

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Missing: Hultgren IL-14

by , posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Not that long ago I wrote about my Congressman’s attempts to kill me.  Since then I’ve joined in an ongoing game of “Where’s Randy?” with many — oh, so many — of my fellow residents of IL-14.  We’ve been calling his office, we’ve been visiting his office, we’ve been relentlessly commenting on his Facebook page with several concerns, but one unified message:  When’s your town hall Randy?

There has been a deafening silence in response to all of our Facebook pleas for a town hall.  Our calls to his office have yielded an array of answers from “no news on a town hall yet,” to “we’re looking for a venue, just let me take your name and number and we’ll get back to you when it’s scheduled,” to (and I am NOT making this up) “he’s leaving the country.”

Just now Randy the Elusive took the cowardly step of posting a recorded video to his Facebook page saying “I’m answering your most pressing healthcare questions from your recent phone calls, emails and meetings with me. Take a look.”

Yes indeed, please do take a look at the soon to be former Congressman Randy Hultgren reading cherry-picked letters and spouting vague talking points.

When you’re done with that, and if you are at all near the Chicagoland area, please do clear your calendar for this event on the afternoon of March 3.    

Guess Randy will be back from Africa by then.  We are working on a way to, er, greet Randy appropriately without disrupting this event for the Veterans attending, so if you think you can make it, please say so in a comment, or message me and I’ll respond with information about that.

Meanwhile, beyond spreading word of Randy’s cowardice I’m at a loss for how to get him to face his constituents, so any suggestions would be welcome.

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When your Congressman Tries to Kill You

by , posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017 at 11:08 am

then sends you a perky email asking hultgren-200how you feel about that, I think it only courteous to respond.

Click below to see the text of my emailed response to Randy Hultgren:
(more…)

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Two thoughts on Bob Dylan’s reaction to the Nobel

by , posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016 at 12:57 pm

1. Let’s not overdo the importance of “credit in the straight world,” i.e. mainstream acceptance. These are the same people, let’s not forget, that gave Henry Kissinger a Peace Prize. Whose awards in the sciences have repeatedly omitted women’s contributions. Dylan did acknowledge the prize. He just didn’t jump when they said jump. He sent the Swedish Academy an acceptance speech that thanks them for the unexpected honor, but also makes it quite clear that he is a bit ambivalent about the prize. Would we have expected modern artists to bow down before the Paris Salon when the academic painters finally got around to acknowledging them? Of course not. Why expect Dylan to be any different?

2. Dylan is routinely found on lists of famous people most likely to have Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s entirely possible that his social awkwardness — readily apparent since Day One with him — has as much, or more, to do with the way his brain is wired than it does with a simple lack of manners. The only thing he didn’t do, really, was heed the call for a command performance in the form of a speech delivered in person. I’m not surprised. Dylan almost never speaks to his audience when he performs. Never has. And one sees in interviews, which he rarely has given, that he isn’t particularly comfortable even making eye contact with people. He doesn’t need the approbation of the Swedish Academy, and he doesn’t need their money. Why voluntarily put yourself in the middle of an extremely uncormfortable social situation if you don’t need to?

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