Thank you all for your support!

Kleen_Mayoral_Forum
Jim Hughes (D), Michael Kleen (R), and Larry Morrissey (I) at the Rockford College mayoral forum

After an exhausting and rewarding six months of campaigning, the election has come and gone, so I will be reactivating and updating my personal website.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me, who voted for me, who made phone calls, sent emails, walked door to door, donated, and put out yard signs. You are the folks who help make a difference and none of this would have been possible without you. Thanks to you, I received 18% of the vote in a 3-way race. This was the highest percentage for a Republican candidate for mayor of Rockford in more than eight years.

There is no telling what opportunities will come from the election, but for the foreseeable future I will be focusing my energy on my writing career and on continuing to propose common sense, practical reforms to help revitalize my community. I haven’t decided if that means running for public office again. For now, I’m content to resume my bi-weekly column in the Rock River Times.

As always, I’ll be working on new writing projects, and there may be another book tour in the works. Keep checking the website for updates.

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Ashmore Estates to Appear on Ghost Hunters Tonight

Ashmore Estates is set to appear on SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters tonight. The episode, which will air at 9/8pm central, is titled “Permanent Residents” and will also feature the 1890 House Museum & Center For Victorian Arts in Cortland, New York.

Last week, Ashmore Estates, a former almshouse and hospital for the developmentally disabled, was heavily damaged by a powerful storm. The storm tore the new roof, which the Kelley’s had installed several years ago, clean off and destroyed several structures on the property. Volunteers have been working daily for the past week to help clean up the rubble. Several collections have also been started to help pay for the damages.

This is the second time Ashmore Estates has appeared on national television. In 2011, it was featured on Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures.

A Race About Ideas

Some of my readers may have heard that I am running for Mayor of Rockford. The rumors are true. Last week, I decided to throw my hat into the ring. After my run for county board in the primary election, I was not going to run for public office again for a very long time. When I learned that there were no Republicans running for Rockford mayor, however, I had to step forward. Someone needs to be in the race defending fiscal responsibility, free markets, and public safety.

This election isn’t even about what political party you belong to, it is about the failure of the current mayor to tackle these issues. He wants to invest tax dollars in sports complexes, while street lights are being turned off to save money. People are suffering in Rockford. We are #1 in unemployment and violent crime per capita in the entire state of Illinois. Someone needs to stand up and talk about these issues. Someone needs to speak up for the average citizen who has been all but excluded from the decision making process in this city.

It is time for a change! Here is a link to an interview I did with WIFR earlier this evening: GOP Mayoral Candidate 6PM.

Public-Private Partnerships or Just Crony Capitalism?

Public-Private Partnerships or Just Crony Capitalism?

Published September 19, 2012 at Rock River Times

“Public-private partnership” has become the latest buzzword among the political class and its supporters. Often used in combination with “economic development” (another favorite campaign slogan), it conjures the rosy image of government and the private sector walking hand-in-hand toward a more prosperous future. More careful observers, however, see nothing more than a mask for cronyism and corruption. In truth, these partnerships may enrich a few, but they hardly ever yield the promised benefits for the public.

The “public-private” concept works in several ways: either government partners with private business to build and maintain public projects, or government invests in private business in order to foster the growth of certain industries, supposedly for the public good. Rather than stay out of the marketplace, government officials use their influence and authority to grant special favors to their friends and colleagues in the business world.

When government officials and business leaders maintain a close relationship for their own financial benefit, as is often the case with public-private partnerships, it is sometimes called “crony capitalism.” Crony capitalism is marked by favoritism when it comes to handing out legal permits, government grants, business contracts, and special tax breaks. Self-serving friendships or familial ties between businessmen and government officials mean that anyone not on the “inside” of these relationships is excluded from the process.

Check out the entire column at the Rock River Times

Rock Valley College Faces First Amendment Challenge from Student

Published September 5, 2012 at Rock River Times

Campus speech codes and other rules governing expression at public colleges and universities have long been controversial. Now, Rock Valley College has landed itself in hot water over its policies concerning which students have access to campus bulletin boards and which do not. Dominic Celletti, a Criminal Justice student at RVC, is filing suit in Federal court over what he says was a systematic infringement on his freedom of speech by administrators at the college.

A letter sent last October by the Rutherford Institute to Jack Becherer, President of Rock Valley College, explained the incident that led to the civil suit. On September 2, 2011, Dominic approached staff at the Student Life Center about his ability to post flyers around campus, urging students to get involved in civil rights issues. The flyer was a simple design featuring a call for students to read the U.S. Constitution and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, with Dominic’s phone number.

“As you can see,” a staff attorney at the Rutherford Institute wrote, “the flyers are not offensive or inflammatory and simply urge people to stand up for their civil liberties and become knowledgeable about their constitutional rights.” When Dominic inquired about posting the flyers, however, he was told that he was not allowed to post on campus bulletin boards because he was not a member of a campus club. As a non-affiliated student, he could be given access to one “free” and one “event” board in the Student Center Building.

Read the entire column at the Rock River Times

In Praise of the Wage

Published August 22, 2012 at Rock River Times

It is not easy to start, own, and run a business, but it is easy to overlook this fact. Most people, after all, have never owned a business. While clocking in and out every day, it is easy to imagine that your employers are living the high life while you and the other employees toil around them. Reality is much more complicated, however, and it may just be the simple wage earner who has the last laugh.

For every successful business owner, there are many more whose businesses failed, or who have struggled for years just to stay above water. Whether it is a mom and pop store or multimillion dollar operation, the fate of every business is ultimately determined by the whims of the marketplace. Circuit City, Frontier Airlines, Hollywood Video, and Borders Books are just a few of the hundreds of companies that have gone under in recent years. Each one represented the dreams and desires of an entrepreneur or group of entrepreneurs. Each took years to build and seemed, at one time, to be unstoppable.

Those are just some of the most prominent examples. According to a special tabulation by the Census Bureau, 25 percent of businesses founded in 1992 did not make it past their first year. By 1997, less than 50 percent of those businesses were still in operation, and by 2002, only 29 percent were still operating. Of course, those numbers vary according to industry, but overall, they paint a very grim picture. For every business that survives to its one year anniversary, there are many more that never even make it to opening day.

Read the entire column at the Rock River Times!

A Weak Link in the Chain of Justice

My latest column has been published at the Rock River Times. This could be the most important column I have ever written about local politics.

Previously, I have written about Rockford’s out of control crime rate, what can be done about it, and who deserves the blame. My columns have, so far, focused on one aspect of law enforcement: the police who currently serve as our first line of defense. I have written about how inept politicians have chosen to deprioritize local law enforcement in their budgets, and how bureaucrats have tied the hands of police when it comes to combating street crime. This, however, is only one side of the story.

There is only so much the police can do to keep dangerous criminals off the streets. They can arrest criminals as many times as they want, but without the support of tough, competent prosecutors and an efficient court system, their efforts will have a limited effect. In Winnebago County, the chief prosecutor is State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato. Mr. Bruscato’s office has a less than stellar record when it comes to keeping repeat offenders behind bars.

The case of accused murderer Melvin J. Perkins is a good illustration of how, despite adequate police work, the bungling of the State’s Attorney’s office can put a repeat offender back on the streets and endanger the public. For Sandra Golden, who Perkins has been charged with stabbing to death, too many second chances ended in tragedy.

Read the rest of the column!