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The emerald ash borer appeared in Wheaton, Illinois about five years ago. Almost every parkway tree in the city happens to be an ash with certain doom pending. Well over 5,000 ash trees.

Two weeks ago the death squad appeared at my house. The head of the city’s forestry department advised that my five trees would be replaced by four trees. City regulations had changed( how surprising, new space regulations). He gave me a list of twelve species, none ash of course. We would be picking which we wanted. I would be paying $85 a tree to replace the city’s trees.

We consulted with the Morton Arboretum and another expert and called to place our order. No return call.

The local paper published an article summarizing a council meeting where the tree issue was discussed. There was concern that the public was buying far fewer trees than the number being cut. Upshot of the meeting: the city needed to pay 100% because the $85 a tree was a hardship for residents with multiple trees. I sent an e-mail to the reporter who wrote that article suggesting the problem might be more administrative than financial. If no one ever answers the phone for the order number and they never respond to phone messages it might be impossible to order trees.

I sent this suggestion to the long-term city manager.

Finally I went to city hall to see if I could place an order in person.

I was told by the typical city employee that the city had run out of money and I could place my order next May.

Since the city manager had not responded to my e-mail, I called the assistant city manager. He advised me that the information I was given in person by the city employee was untrue. The city was not only not out of money, they had so much they decided to drop the $85 resident participation fee. Sorry all of you who paid the city that money. You will not be getting any rebates.

He advised it could be as long as 5 years to get the free trees, but if I wanted to buy the city free trees I could. I just had to fill out a bunch of forms, acquire permits, and plant what the city wanted me to plant. He said the timetable is stretched because nurseries in the area are running out of trees.

If I wait to get my free tree, forget the option of picking from the 12 species. That’s over when free comes into play..

So, we go from where we were when the man from the city was here to help me say goodbye to my trees, that offer was to pick from twelve and we will put what you want in as soon as the stumps are ground. Great plan. But, no the new offer is to buy us some trees after you jump through our hoops or wait up to 5 years to let us plant what we choose.

In between I get to make a trip to city hall to have someone there spin me an outright lie to get me to leave.

You want more government?

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In February of 2008, I wrote this blog.


Should Style Trump Substance?

DateTuesday, February 5, 2008 at 10:59PM

We had eight years of Bill Clinton with style and no substance. We had eight years of George W. Bush with neither style nor substance. He mumbled and stumbled every time he needed to speak. He never got better. He did Dad’s bidding and finished the job Dad left undone in Iraq. That’s it. No more. He hadn’t insulted us enough, so he tried to lease key ports to Dubai then fired Rumsfield the day after he turned the house and senate over to the Democrats. He increased the size of government raised the deficit and destroyed the dollar. Wow George, that’s quite a job. Wait, on the way out let’s wreck the economy.

Now we have a love affair with Obama. Is it no wonder? The man can speak, he can answer questions,and he can look smooth in the process. This is another credit we can give W. We are so desperate as a county to have someone we can be proud of as president, we don’t even care about experience, credibility, platform, or anything else that pertains to substance. We are willing to put a socialist in as president if he makes good speeches.

Thanks to George, today I believe style does trump substance. We will elect Obama, then try to survive four years while government grows, taxes increase, health care is socialized, business is taxed for the good of illegal aliens, and all those wonderful dreams we had while intoxicated by Obama’s charm are shattered as we see how really ill prepared he is for the job.

I was part of an organization where style trumped substance. It’s gone. A $40 Billion dollar company, gone. All senior people were clones of the main man. None had ever gotten results, just looked good trying. Diversity was more important than meeting profit goals. Excuses were well explained. It’s what happens when glib is God. Better strap it down, the USA may be headed for another four years of not getting anything done.

Now the country suffers from buyer’s remorse. We could have had a president who was an honest man with true business experience who might have worked with Democrats as he did as goverrnor. Instead we got a president who doesn’t work, period. Will our next mistake be to elect our first female persident, just to say we did?
Frankly, we suck at hiring good help in this country.

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Let me help you with your future voting challenges. There is only a single number one priority. The future of your kids and grandkids. We are spending their future and soon we will see Detroit replicated. The territory of Puerto Rico is next. Followed soon by Illinois. Then perhaps California.

In 2010 I wrote a blog about the campaign season. Here it is and nothing has changed.

The campaign is in full stride in Illinois. I have yet to see one campaign commercial that is not an attack ad. This shows how dumb we voters have become.

If we had a modicum of intelligence we would reject this type of campaign advertising and demand the candidate advertise his own product. What do you stand for, not what does your opponent have in the form of dirty laundry.

Does anyone else market their product with attack ads? Some do, but usually it is to expand what they offer in the way of an advantage. For example, Southwest Airlines attacks competition that charges for luggage. It’s really meant to magnify the fact that they don’t charge for luggage.

When you are considering the purchase of a product do you want to know what that product is and the benefits of that product? Most attack ads we are seeing tell you the other product lies. Or, the other product is a crook. Or, the other product can’t be trusted. With nothing but offsetting smear ads from the opposition, what do you really know about the first product? Nothing. That’s what they want you to know.

They have no intention of telling you what they represent. It might cause them to have to take a position after they are elected.

The so-called new blood is just like the old blood. They are modeling themselves after them. If they were truly new blood you would be seeing a new style of campaign advertising.

Until you see a campaign commercial where someone stands before the camera without their well-groomed family beside them and says, “I will vote against any spending bill until we have cut spending to be able to afford new spending”, we don’t have new blood.

So here we have the issues in Illinois. It’s 2014, not 2010 when I wrote those words, above, and nothing has changed.  The incumbent for governor, Pat Quinn has accomplished nothing in his time in office. He has pulled out the Obama playbook against Romney since his opponent happens to be wealthy. Wealthy in Illinois means he won’t try to steal from us like most of our governors have in the past 30 years. It means he has no motive to take the job except to try to apply the same formula to the state that he applied to business  in an effort to stave off bankruptcy.

Quinn’s campaigns: Rauner pays less in taxes than you and I on $50 million in income. Translation: Rauner probably paid $10-15 million in tax dollars but the percentage was the same or less than you paid. Rauner paid no social security tax. Translation: his income was all dividend and interest income, not salary. Rauner had investments in companies that closed operations and eliminated jobs. So did you and I. If you had stock in Hostess, shame on you. Of course, the unions that control Quinn and Illinois closed Hostess, but let’s not go there.

So, Illinois voters have a choice either elect a man who might save the state from bankruptcy or re-elect a man who is controlled by the unions and can’t do anything to fix the pensions that are going to sink Illinois. That means the majority believe  the same baloney that got Obama re-elected.  It’s a microcosm of America. Vote based on secondary issues or vote based on who can stop the spending and save the future. It’s that simple.

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