New Trier Dems’ Blog

Wilmette, ALEC & the Minimum Wage

Next Tuesday night, June 27, at the Wilmette Village Hall at 7:30 pm,
there will be a Village Board meeting to decide whether or not Wilmette should opt out of Cook County’s pending graduated raises of the minimum wage…

Here’s what I know about minimum wages. When I was in high school, way back in the 1950’s, I worked in a grocery store before and after school. My first year I was paid the minimum wage of $0.75 an hour ($6.84 in today’s dollars). This had been the minimum wage for five years. After maybe six months, I got a raise to $0.85 (the equivalent of 8.83 today). But the next year I was pleased to see the minimum wage raised to $1.00 an hour ($8.99 today). When I look back on that now I realize that the government had raised the minimum by 33% in one single step. That would be the equivalent today of raising Illinois’ $8.25 minimum to $10.97 instantly. And that was under the Republican Party’s iconic President Eisenhower! — Surprisingly, our local economy did not collapse.

Continue reading Wilmette, ALEC & the Minimum Wage

Georgia — Almost

Yesterday, Democrats came close to scoring a major victory in Georgia. But since they weren’t competing in a game of horseshoes, “close” isn’t cause for much celebrating. True, a losing margin of less than 4% in a Republican area that is accustomed to double-digit GOP victories is an accomplishment. And it may mean that future races in these days of Trump can be won by Dems. But still, how nice it would have felt to see Newt Gingrich’s former congressional seat held by a Democrat. It also would have felt good to see a definitive statement of dissatisfaction registered against the party in control of our nation’s government. – Didn’t happen.

Now the analysis of the John Ossoff challenge has begun. Some of the comments I’ve read are pretty much in line with what I’ve been thinking since even before the Trump victory. So perhaps one positive product of yesterday’s loss will be a clearer realization by Democratic Party leaders of what they must do in the future if they expect to regain control of our government’s policies. Continue reading Georgia — Almost

Re-Membering You

Last night, the New Trier Dems Executive Committee held its monthly meeting. I must say that after spending a couple of weeks away from our wild and crazy political scene, our meeting brought me back to reality.

It’s not that we got into any heavy political discussions. What we talked about just reminded me that, in a democracy, the big political successes are almost always the result of countless small actions by individuals. On the North Shore we’ve enjoyed local success with such grassroots activity. (So have the Tea Partiers and Trumpsters in other regions, some not that far from here.)

Keeping people engaged makes the difference. One of the appealing things about the New Trier Dems is that we’re a rather laid back operation. We’re not driven in lockstep by the drumbeat of some fanatic and simplistic party line. But our amiable approach to politics may have made us a bit too relaxed when it comes to certain details, like keeping track of our dues paying members. Keeping our membership numbers (and finances) strong is vitally important to the NTDO. We can’t remain a viable progressive presence in New Trier Township without that consistent membership. Continue reading Re-Membering You

Lessons From Greece

For the past few weeks, my wife and I have been out of the country — in Greece and Spain to be specific. In every aspect, it was a wonderful trip. The scenery, the food, the people were all unforgettable.

And as all of you no doubt know, having conversations with people from another land usually reveals that we do have things in common. On this trip it was one thing in particular. — I swear to you that I did not initiate discussions that led to this conclusion. But once our new friends determined that my wife and I were somewhat acquainted with world affairs and open to “foreign” views, they felt compelled to ask a burning question: “What in the world is your President Trump doing?!”

They were more than just curious or puzzled, they were deeply concerned, some even a bit frightened. Sadly, we had no answer to give them since we’re in the same boat. I suspect that our puzzlement over our President gives us a common bond with people all over the world. — What a legacy Donald Trump is creating! Continue reading Lessons From Greece

Our Finite Sky

Is President Trump near indictment? Did half of his cabinet resign? Has Bruce Rauner stopped wearing plaid flannel shirts? I wouldn’t know because this writer is still on vacation. So two weeks ago, realizing that in our present surreal political world anything is possible, I decided to pre-write today’s commentary on a situation that, unfortunately, remains very predictable 

Today, I want to try to communicate to you the frightening risk of President Trump’s policies toward our environment — more specifically, our atmosphere. I could try to do this by quoting a lot of statistics and scientific predictions. But instead, I’m going to follow the adage that one picture is worth a thousand words.

I’m going to present you with one memorable image to hold in your mind as you hear future reports or discussions about the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. It’s an image I received nearly fifty years ago, delivered by the 20th century genius and polymath Buckminster Fuller. (I can’t remember if it was in a speech, an interview or a written article.) Continue reading Our Finite Sky

Call Rauner/Drink Wine

This commentary was written the week of May 14, just before this writer left on a family trip. I knew the odds were high that our unpredictable President would generate headlines outdating almost any subject I might choose to write in advance. So, this week I’m sticking with two brief news items that are local, very timely and actionable. 

Last Thursday, I attended a gathering that focused on very real threats in Illinois that could take away women’s reproductive rights. We heard comments from State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, guest speaker Sheila Nielsen and Personal PAC President Terry Cosgrove. The personal anecdotes from each of them brought home how much progress our society (at least in some states) has made in the fight for a woman’s right to control her own body. It was shocking to hear how restricted and ultimately dangerous things were not so many years ago. Back alley abortions, an entire ward at Cook County Hospital devoted to women hospitalized after those crude procedures, women traveling to Mexico for help.

And there are people today who would welcome a return to that nightmare. Mr. Cosgrove mentioned that recently the state of Oklahoma established a law similar to one that, years ago, actually existed in our state. It gives any man who has impregnated a woman the right to stop that women from ending her pregnancy – even if the man is her rapist!

Now, with President Trump’s appointment of anti-choice judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and the real possibility for at least one more SCOTUS appointment by Trump (or President Pence), the Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 could be overturned. Such an outcome could radically affect women in Illinois. It is feared that if Roe v. Wade disappears, Illinois legislation passed in 1975 would trigger rules that would pretty much automatically ban abortions in our state.

Continue reading Call Rauner/Drink Wine

A Timely Resolution

Last Friday, Eric Zorn wrote a Tribune column about House Resolution 676 (H.Res. 676). It’s a resolution to support the “Medicare For All Act.” And it’s an action that columnist Zorn believes could finally lead to a serious movement toward true universal healthcare.
I believe that too.

H.Res. 676 states that the Medicare For All Act would “provide all individuals residing in the United States and U.S. territories with free health care that includes all medically necessary care, such as primary care and prevention, dietary and nutritional therapies, prescription drugs, emergency care, long-term care, mental health services, dental services, and vision care.” Continue reading A Timely Resolution

Random Notes

Yesterday, the big news story was President Trump’s firing of FBI Chief James Comey. How long will this surprising action from our nation’s leader stay in the headlines? It’s hard to say. From day to day, and even hour to hour, Donald Trump’s unpredictable outbursts of authority keep America (and the world) in a constant state of uncertainty.

I suppose for a few among us — stock traders, fear-mongering demagogues, TV satirists — this chronic uncertainty is good for business. Certainly, Stephen Colbert has profited from having the bizarre Mr. Trump in office. (Although I’m certain Stephen would rather have gained his ratings satirizing someone less dangerous and destructive.) But for 99% of the world’s inhabitants, having a such a flaky President in control of a nuclear arsenal is very unsettling. Continue reading Random Notes

“It’s Always Something”

Today, it took me quite a while to figure out what to write. There’s so much to choose.

The media is filled with articles about the Trump Administration’s struggle to at least appear to be leading our nation. And while that goes on, President Trump continues to surprise us with his apparent ignorance in important areas of knowledge, such as American history. (Maybe Reince Priebus should give his boss one of those timeline charts so he can visualize when people such as Andrew Jackson or Frederick Douglas lived or when the Civil War occurred. – Some data on how many slaves were shipped into America over the Middle Passage might also enlighten Mr. Trump on the scale of that human trafficking.)

Another subject that has been filling a lot of media space is Trump’s failures to further his promised agenda in his first 100 days. Continue reading “It’s Always Something”

Listen and Learn


This morning on WBEZ, I heard a brief report on yesterday’s Illinois Women’s March in Springfield. The reporter said the crowd presented their strong feelings about a variety of issues that he characterized as issues identified with the Democratic Party. Those he mentioned included a woman’s right to control her own body, care for the elderly, and concerns for the needs of poor children. (My words.)

I don’t know if anyone was there representing “science,” or the urgent threat of climate change, but the three concerns I heard described as Democratic Party issues sounded good to me. In fact, I was amused to hear the implication that caring about vulnerable old people or kids was a partisan position not readily connected to Republicans.
Continue reading Listen and Learn