Sunday, January 06, 2008

Everything Barack Obama

updated 3/9/08
Want to know about Sen. Barack Obama?
Here is everything I have gathered so far. More will be added as I find it. He's not just about "hope." There has been a lot of action in this man's life. Below are articles I dug up that date back to 1990, when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. The stories include his economic proposals, resolution for subprime lending in 2000 and lots more.
blueprint for change
obama on foreign policy
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The Barack Obama Report
Washington Post's Obama
Endorsements to date
Obama en espanol

link to Barack

Obama's Flickr page -- tons of photos taken by friends, family, others

OBAMA, Barack, (1961 - )
2004 new yorker story
Senate Years of Service: 2005-
Party: Democrat

OBAMA, Barack, a Senator from Illinois; born in Honolulu, Hawaii, August 4, 1961; obtained early education in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Hawaii; continued education at Occidental College, Los Angeles, Calif.; received a B.A. in 1983 from Columbia University, New York City; worked as a community organizer in Chicago, Ill.; studied law at Harvard University, where he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review, and received J.D. in 1991; lecturer on constitutional law, University of Chicago; member, Illinois State senate 1997-2004; elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2004 for term beginning January 3, 2005.


Obama, Barack. Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. New York: Times Books, 1995. Reprint 2004; Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. New York: Crown Publishers, 2006.

How he has voted

Senator Barack Hussein Obama Jr. (IL)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
Current District: Junior Seat
Office Seeking: President (Announced, General)
First Elected: 11/02/2004
Last Elected: 11/02/2004
Next Election: 2010
Party: Democrat

Background Information Additional Information

Gender: Male
Family: Wife: Michelle
2 Children: Malia, Sasha.
Birth date: 08/04/1961
Birthplace: Honolulu, HI
Home City: Chicago, IL
Religion: United Church of Christ

JD, Harvard Law School, 1991
BA, Columbia University, 1983
Attended, Occidental College.

Professional Experience:

Political Experience:
Senator, United States Senate, 2005-present
Keynote Speaker, 2004 Democratic National Convention
Senator, Illinois State Senate, 1996-2004.

Member, Trinity United Church of Christ, present
Center for Neighborhood and Technology
Chicago Annenberg Challenge
Cook County Bar
Cook County Bar Association Community Law Project
President, Harvard Law Review
Board Member, Joyce Foundation
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law
Leadership for Quality Education
Board Member, Woods Fund of Chicago.

Foreign Relations, Member
Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Member
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Member
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Member
Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security , Member
Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, Member
Veterans' Affairs, Member

How he has funded his campaign
List of his speeches at Vote Smart
How he has voted on issues such as abortion and civil liberties.
Obama's Senate site
Obama's official website
Snopes debunks the ridiculous "radical muslim" claim.
CNN's profile
Celebrity supporters

Obama's plans for 2008
Obama fired up at fundraiser
Obama on politics
The bad, bad war
Youth for Obama
Obama's brother in law
Obama gets pizza
Obama gives Southern New Hampshire U commencement address, talkes about the "empathy deficit"
Michelle Obama
Rally at New Hampshire U
Why Las Vegas Union Chose Obama
Kennedy Supports Obama-- All three of them

Obama Barack Blogspot

The speech that started it all
The text of the keynote address by Barack Obama, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois, as prepared for delivery at the Democratic National Convention in Boston:
On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton's army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to he self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted — or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents — I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they've defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he'll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never he the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief — I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper — that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America — there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do — if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.

Stories tracking his history and experience

AP story:
First Black President of Harvard Law Review Elected
February 5 1990
The Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ The Harvard Law Review has elected its first black president in more than 100 years of publication at Harvard Law School.

Barack Obama, a 28-year-old second-year law student, was elected in balloting Sunday by last year's editors. Obama, a native of Hawaii, succeeds Peter Yu, the publication's first Asian-American president.

Obama said his election shouldn't be seen as a sign social barriers have broken down.

"I wouldn't want people to see my election as a symbol that there aren't problems out there with the situation of African-Americans in society," he said. "From experience I know that for every one of me there are a hundred, or thousand, black and minority students who are just as smart and just as talented and never get the opportunity."

But Obama also said his presidency "sends a signal out that blacks can excel in competitive situations like scholarship. It's also a sign of progress.'

The review, founded in 1887, is published eight times a year and contains legal articles by professors, scholars and students throughout the United States, law school spokesman Michael Chmura said.

Each year, about 30 students serve as editors of the review. The students are generally at the top of their classes, Chmura said.

The student elected president works for one year coordinating the work of the other editors, and has final say over the review's contents, he said.

Obama, who received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1983, took time off before law school for social work on the South Side of Chicago. He said he would like to someday return to community work, and has not ruled out a future in politics.

His leadership on Project Vote
`Project Vote' Brings Power to the People
Vernon Jarrett
August 11 1992
Chicago Sun-Times

Good news! Good news!

Project Vote, a collectivity of 10 church-based community organizations dedicated to black voter registration, is off and running.

Project Vote is increasing its rolls at a 7,000-per-week clip. Just last Saturday it registered 2,000 during the Chicago Defender's annual Bud Billiken Parade.

But now, the not-so-good news:

If Project Vote is to reach its goal of registering 150,000 out of an estimated 400,000 unregistered blacks statewide, "it must average 10,000 rather than 7,000 every week," says Barack Obama, the program's executive director.

The current drive will end Oct. 5, the last day for registration for the Nov. 3 general elections.

"Our biggest problem is the young, the 18 to 35 group," said Obama, 31, the first African American to serve as president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. "There's a lot of talk about `black power' among the young but so little action."

During the 1982 preparation for the 1983 victories of the late Mayor Harold Washington, a similar drive waved the slogan "Come Alive by October 5." The current drive's new banner is "It's a Power Thing," which is loaded with logic.

"Today, we see hundreds of young blacks talking `black power' and wearing Malcolm X T-shirts," Obama explained, "but they don't bother to register and vote. We remind them that Malcolm once made a speech titled `The Ballot or the Bullet,' and that today we've got enough bullets in the streets but not enough ballots."

The best news from Obama is that Project Vote, which has the financial backing of Soft Sheen hair-care magnate Edward Gardner, may become a permanent, year-round program based on: Ongoing community "accountability sessions" that include surveillance of black as well as other elected officials. Continuous voter education on crucial issues facing the City Council, the state legislature and the U.S. Congress - broken down in laymen's language understandable at the grass-roots level.

"All our people must know that politics and voting affects their lives directly," Obama said. "If we're registering people in public housing, for an example, we talk about aid cuts and who's responsible." Constructive channels for people to vent their concerns. Rioting, arson and neighborhood destruction may dramatize black despair, but they don't solve problems.

Obama, whose late father was from Kenya, notes that many of his African relatives live in a one-party state and therefore look at American blacks with envy. "They can't understand why we don't relish the opportunity to vote for whomever we please."

The leaders of Project Vote want it understood that "we are non-partisan" and encourage "educated political judgment" rather than following a "straight ticket" party line. And that announcement in itself is good news.

Excerpt from a 1993 25 Chicagoans Making a Difference in the Chicago Tribune:
Barack Obama. Attorney. 31. Born in Hawaii. A community activist who headed Project Vote, a voter registration effort responsible for signing up many of the 150,000 new African-American voters added to the rolls for last November's historic election. In 1990, he was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama at 35
August 3 1996
The Plain Dealer

Barack Obama slides gracefully into the last booth at P.K.'s Cafe, a refreshing island of Formica and vinyl on this city's very trendy Near North Side.

Obama greets the owner and the waitress with casual familiarity. He has been here before. His tea is on its way before he orders it.

A mention of this fall's election brings a sigh.

"Bob Dole seems to me to be a classic example of somebody who had no reason to run," Obama says. "You're 73 years old, you're already the third-most-powerful man in the country. So why? He seems to be drawn by some psychological compulsion. And it's too bad because in a lot of ways, he's an admirable person. There's a great story there.

"And Bill Clinton? Well, his campaign's fascinating to a student of politics. It's disturbing to someone who cares about certain issues. But politically, it seems to be working."

Obama spends a lot of time trying to balance his pragmatic and idealistic sides. He is a former community organizer who sees complex problems in need of solutions: some governmental, some personal. And he's a rookie politician - the Democratic nominee for the Illinois Senate from a South Side Chicago district - faced with learning a new business.

"What is fascinating and disturbing is the realization that politics is a business," he says. "Now I sound naive there. {But} in Chicago, it's viewed as a business, an activity that's designed to advance one's career, accumulate resources and help one's friends.

"As opposed to a mission."

Obama, 35, is slender and exquisitely tailored. His hair is short, his face boyishly handsome. He reminds one of a young Julian Bond, the civil rights leader and former Georgia legislator who burst onto America's political stage in the mid-1960s.

When the Democrats last held their convention in Chicago, that bloody August in 1968, Bond's admirers put his name forward to be Hubert Humphrey's vice president. He withdrew, wryly noting that he was too young for the job.

Like Bond, Obama is of the black middle class, which has grown enormously in the last three decades as barriers to higher education, corporate suites and political leadership have fallen.

Obama grew up in Hawaii, the son of Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother who met in school there.

His father deserted when Barack was 2, and last year Obama published a much-acclaimed memoir, "Dreams From My Father," about coming to grips with his heritage.

He attended Columbia and later Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of its law review. He practices civil rights law and teaches at the University of Chicago.

His entry into state politics - occasioned by an incumbent's decision to run for Congress - has been an eye-opener.

Even trying to organize poor blacks and white ethnics on the city's Southwest Side during the late Mayor Harold Washington's first turbulent term didn't prepare him.

But being in the arena has helped him understand why Americans of all colors and economic conditions seem so thoroughly fed up with politics.

Before entering the race, Obama said, he spoke to about 30 elected officials in the district, which includes the integrated, middle class neighborhood around the University of Chicago as well as some of the city's poorest precincts.

"Not one asked me where I stood on an issue," he says, smiling.

"What they cared about was, `Who sent you? How much money you got?'

His answers were apparently good enough; the party backed his nomination. And given the district, Obama's March primary win makes Nov. 5 simply a formality.

But despite the ease of his ascension, the nature of campaigning worries him. Sound bites sow distrust, he says: "They're dishonest about how complex some of the issues are. They're dishonest about the very real conflicts between groups that are going to have to be resolved through compromise."

And then there's money. Chicagoans, he says, have grown especially jaded watching the Democrats raise cash for this month's national convention in Chicago.

"The convention's for sale, right," Obama says.

"You got these $10,000-a-plate dinners and Golden Circles Clubs. I think when the average voter looks at that, they rightly feel they're locked out of the process. They can't attend a $10,000 breakfast and they know that those who can are going to get the kind of access they can't imagine."

How to overcome voter distrust?

Start with "honest debate" during the campaigns. In office, "do what you said." Encourage people to get involved in institutions, such as churches or civic groups, that will give them a role in solving community problems.

As a member of the black middle-class, Obama thinks he has a unique perspective on that; most blacks, no matter how much they prosper, never lose their ties to those still struggling.

"Almost any African-American who's made it has a cousin, a brother, a nephew, a grandparent who hasn't," Obama says.

His wife's family is a good example. Her parents had stable jobs. Michelle Obama and her brother went to Princeton.

"But they have cousins who live in the projects. They have aunts who have severe medical problems and are unemployed. So when we get together in a family gathering, we are constantly aware that who makes it and who doesn't in this society is pretty much the luck of the draw. There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Editor's note: National correspondent Joe Frolik and photographer Scott Shaw have set out to discover just what Americans want from the next president of the United States. Frolik and Shaw are traveling by train from Boston, where the American Revolution started, to San Diego, where the Republican Party meets on Aug. 12.

Obama supports bill against politicians accepting Porsches and such
Bruce Dold.
May 22 1998
Chicago Tribune

Some people always seem to know exactly why they got into politics.

Take Larry Hicks, who used to be a Democratic state legislator from Mount Vernon. Hicks got the lobbyists and lawyers and unions to give money to his election campaigns. Then he used the money to go on vacations in the Bahamas and Mexico, buy nice clothes, and lease a sleek Porsche 911 Targa.

Hicks thought this was all part of the job, and I suppose he might have had a case. It's possible that as he tooled around the homeless shelters and unemployment offices of his southern Illinois district in his Porsche 911 Targa, downtrodden constituents might have been inspired to think that someday they, too, could be a politician, and somebody else would pay for their clothes and vacations and car.

I thought Hicks was the best, until Greg Zito came along. Zito used to be a Democratic state senator from Melrose Park, and he had the lobbyists and doctors and corporate folks filling up his campaign fund. He borrowed more than $250,000 of that money and used some of it to build a beautiful home for himself in DuPage County.

Who knows, maybe Zito also had a public purpose in mind. He might have turned a floor of his home over for low-income housing, which DuPage County needs. I don't think he did that, though.

Not that Hicks or Zito had to do anything noble to justify spending campaign funds on clothes and cars and houses.

There's nothing in state law that says it's illegal to collect money from the lobbyists for your campaign fund, and then use it on anything your little heart desires.

Nope, nothing in the law said that Roland Burris couldn't borrow $28,200 from his campaign fund when he was Illinois attorney general, and use it to sweeten his state pension. Burris put the money into the pension system, and that let him qualify for 85 percent of his salary when he left office. Otherwise, he would have had to scrape along on 65 percent.

Now, you'd think that the politicians who aren't buying cars and houses with the money lobbyists give to them might get annoyed about letting the other politicians do it.

After all, it's a little unseemly. You write the laws for the state. You collect money from the lawyers and doctors and unions and businesses that have a big interest in how those laws are written. And you spend the money on cars and clothes and houses.

Maybe, just maybe, the politicians are finally ready to change that. The House and Senate are supposed to vote today on a bill to make it illegal.

It has a real chance of becoming law. It was crafted by two fine people, former Democratic Sen. Paul Simon and Mike Lawrence, the former press secretary to Republican Gov. Jim Edgar. They run the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

It has sponsors from both parties and each part of the state: Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago), Rep. Gary Hannig (D-Litchfield) and Rep. Jack Kubik (R-LaGrange Park.)

The bill would make it against the law to use campaign money for personal benefit, like buying houses and cars.

The bill would make it against the law for state officials to accept gifts from lobbyists and people who do business with the state. If the legislators are still embarrassed over the MSI scandal, in which legislators and some of Gov. Jim Edgar's aides were showered with gifts from a company that was scamming the state, here's their answer.

The bill would make it easier to figure out who is funneling money into the political campaigns. People who donate more than $500 would have to disclose where they work and what they do.

The bill would get serious about breaking the law. A violation of a disclosure law would carry a $5,000 to $10,000 fine.

Best thing is, the lawmakers have no excuse not to pass this bill. It skips the whole debate over whether to put limits on how much anyone can give to a campaign, how much any candidate can spend on a campaign. It wouldn't give an edge to the unions, it wouldn't give an edge to business, it wouldn't run afoul of the 1st Amendment.

It would simply declare that from now on when you get a campaign contribution, the only thing you can spend it on is a campaign.

I think it could pass, but I cringe when I say that.

When it comes to campaign reform law, politicians are notorious for pulling one over on the public. For a few years, the favorite gambit in Washington was to have the House pass a high-minded campaign reform bill, and the Senate pass a high-minded (but different) reform bill, and to make sure that neither chamber touched the other's work. That way, the reform votes made it into the campaign brochures, but not into law. In Springfield, they usually just ignored the whole thing.

Maybe this time they won't. Maybe the MSI scandal, the embarrassment of Porsches and houses and retirement bennies, and a solid bill that has backing in both parties, will get something done.

But it's hardly guaranteed. The bill is supposed to be in good shape in the Senate, but a little shaky in the House. So it might be a good idea to call somebody in Springfield today. Give them some encouragement.

Obama on alternative education for expelled youth
Bill calls for state's expelled students to be offered alternate form of education
November 17 1999
The State Journal-Register Springfield, IL

Many expelled students in Illinois would have to be offered alternative education under legislation to be proposed this week in the wake of the Decatur school controversy.

Currently, school districts can, but don't have to, transfer expelled and suspended students to alternative schools.

Under the bill, only those students who attack a teacher, attack a student with a weapon or possess a weapon on school grounds could be refused immediate alternative schooling.

The sponsor, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Chicago, said the change would most help poor parents who cannot afford to send troubled children to private schools.

"I think we all realize that if we can at all keep, particularly nonviolent, offenders in a school setting ... then that's going to be better than having them on the streets," Obama said Tuesday.

"But I also think these school boards need to get some direction, so everyone knows, going forward, what the game plan should be."

Obama declined to offer his position on the Decatur controversy, in which the school board initially expelled seven students for two years for their part in a fistfight at a football game.

The punishment, which has been reduced to a one-year suspension, drew criticism from the Rev. Jesse Jackson because the students weren't dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Also, the board initially didn't offer the expelled students the chance at alternative schooling until after Jackson and Gov. George Ryan got involved in the dispute.

Jackson has said that he was pursuing legislation in Springfield, but Obama said the civil rights leader played no part in crafting the legislation.

The legislation, however, doesn't address what has become a key sticking point in Decatur: how long the expelled students spend in alternative schools before they're allowed back into regular classes.

Jackson wants them back by January, if they behave.

Obama eyes predatory (subprime)lending in 2000

Senator seeks new rules
by Kyriaki Venetis
22 September 2000
Origination News

Chicago -- State Senator Barack Obama, D-Chicago, recently sent a formal letter urging Governor George Ryan to reject predatory lending proposals jointly drawn up by the state's Office of Banks and Real Estate, and the Department of Financial Institutions.

This came shortly before an Aug. 10 meeting in which the senator and several other members of the state's legislature met with the governor to discuss the issues face-to-face.

In the letter, Senator Obama advised the governor "to ask the OBRE and DFI to go back to the drawing board and design rules that would define high cost loans appropriately."

He stated that "high cost loans should be defined as those with points and fees of four percent of the total loan amount or more, or with an interest rate exceeding a comparable-term Treasury rate, plus five percentage points. Also points and fees should include all fees paid to brokers by either the borrower or lender, as well as any payment penalties on the existing loan."

Beyond that, he argues the regulations should include the following prohibitions:

* No financing of points and fees into the loan.

* No lending without verified and documented sources of income, such as tax returns or credit reports.

* No lending in which the total household debt payments, not merely mortgage costs, exceed 45% of the applicant's verified and documented income.

* No prepayment penalties.

* No balloon payments, except on open-ended junior mortgages.

* No lump sum financed credit life or disability insurance.

* No mandatory arbitration clause.

* No refinancing within two years of an existing loan, unless the annual percentage rate of the new loan is at least two percentage points below the APR of that loan.

* For any refinancing within (the first) two years of an existing loan, lenders may charge point and fees only on the increase on the amount of the new advance.

The senator believes that these inclusions will help reduce the number of foreclosures that have occurred in the state. The senator stated that "foreclosures started by subprime lenders in the Chicagoland area increased from 131 in 1993 to 4,958 in 1999, an increase of more than 3,600 percent."

The senator obtained his foreclosure information from the National Training and Information Center, a non-profit organization in Chicago that does research on housing and other community related issues, including lending and neighborhood safety. It also provides training for those interested in how to do community organizing.

The NTIC currently also works with several affiliate groups, including the Indianapolis-based Organization for a New Eastside which compiles information that it receives from borrowers about their particular lending issues, as well as provides them with education, counseling and advocacy. O.N.E provides no funding to borrowers, though it refers them to local lenders and credit unions after counseling.

O.N.E recently took on the plight of a local family that felt it had been victimized during the purchasing of its home. The organization went to the local branch of the lender for a protest rally, demanding that the loan be looked at again.

Obama on layoffs
Courtney Challos, Tribune Staff Writer
January 29 2001

In the wake of recent layoffs at such major Chicago area employers as Motorola Inc., state Sen. Barack Obama announced Sunday plans to introduce legislation aimed at ensuring timely unemployment assistance for workers.

Although there is a federal law requiring employers to give 60 days' advance notice of mass layoffs or plant closings, there is no state mechanism in place to guarantee that state officials would be notified so they could provide assistance, Obama (D-Chicago) said at a news conference.

"My hope and assumption is that the majority of companies are abiding by these regulations," Obama said. "What we're really just trying to make sure of is that the state is in the loop in terms of making sure compliance is occurring."

Under the legislation, the Illinois Department of Employment Security would be required to actively monitor compliance with the 1988 federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The legislation also would provide $100,000 to enable the state department to hire additional staff to perform the monitoring. From April 1999 to March 2000, 153 layoff notifications affecting 20,000 workers were filed in Illinois.

If a company does not comply with federal law, it may be penalized up to $500 a day for each day the company fails to provide notification. Also, workers are entitled to sue if they are not properly notified.

Obama said he plans to check with the state Department of Employment Security to verify whether companies such as Motorola, Montgomery Ward & Co. and MarchFirst Inc. have provided proper notification in light of recent layoffs and closings.

Obama said he began working on the legislation after he discovered last year that employees at several Goldblatt's locations on the South Side had not received notification of impending layoffs before the stores closed. He said he and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) contacted the state to make sure the workers received assistance.

"I think one of the most gut-wrenching things a worker and their family can face is pending unemployment," Preckwinkle said. "We as a government need to do as much as we can to make it possible to ease this transition from work to unemployment and hopefully to re- employment."

obama on gaming
Profile: Growing concerns regarding campaign contributions to political candidates from gambling industries
June 23 1999
All Things Considered

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: This is NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Linda Wertheimer.
And I'm Robert Siegel.
As gambling has expanded across the country, so has the amount of money going to politicians from gambling interests. Between 1996 and 1998, gambling money to federal candidates doubled. Contributions from the gambling industry going to state races has also increased dramatically in the past few years. Last week, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission called for placing tight restrictions on gambling contributions to state and local campaigns. In the third part of our series on gambling, NPR's David Welna has the story of one state legislature and the influence of contributions from the gambling industry.
DAVID WELNA reporting:
When the Illinois Legislature first authorized riverboat gambling nine years ago, it did so in the name of reviving economically depressed river ports. Lawmakers authorized 10 licenses for riverboat gambling anywhere in Illinois, except for Lake Michigan and Cook County, home to the city of Chicago. And just as legislators had done in neighboring states, they stipulated that bets could only be placed on the riverboats during two-hour cruises.
Senator BARACK OBAMA (Illinois State Senate): Originally the idea was that these riverboats were going to be going up and down the Mississippi and it was going to be sort of family entertainment and you could go back in time.
WELNA: State Senator Barack Obama of Chicago says it wasn't long before neighboring states dropped their requirements that gambling riverboats had to cruise. This was done to increase business and tax revenues. Obama says interstate competition for gamblers has grown fierce.
Sen. OBAMA: What ends up happening is, is you get a race to the bottom where each state then starts loosening regulations and restrictions, and there's tremendous pressure on legislators on border states to follow suit.
WELNA: Which is precisely what happened here in Illinois. Late last month, the Illinois Legislature approved sweeping changes in gambling laws. No longer will gambling riverboats have to cruise; race tracks will get tens of millions of dollars worth of tax breaks; and Cook County will get its first casino, not along an impoverished riverfront, but in a wealthy convention district near O'Hare Airport. John Cameron heads the legislative watchdog group Citizen Action of Illinois. He says the new gambling legislation is clearly the consequence of massive campaign contributions from the gambling industry.
Mr. JOHN CAMERON (Citizen Action of Illinois): In 20 years of lobbying in the Illinois Legislature, this was the most astounding example of money buying influence I've ever seen. There was members who got up on the House floor and talked about how they hadn't received a check from this gaming industry or hadn't received a check from the horse racing people, and yet they're expected to vote for this bill? `Wow! Hey, I don't know if I can do that!'
WELNA: Kent Redfield of the Illinois Legislative Study Center tallied up just how much money the gambling interest lavished on lawmakers in the last two years in this state, which has no limit on campaign contributions. Republican Governor George Ryan, who's said he'll sign the gambling legislation into law, got more than $400,000 from gambling interests. More than $1 million went to legislators, most of it to their leaders. Redfield says that kind of money buys what's needed to push legislation through.
Mr. KENT REDFIELD (Illinois Legislative Study Center): It gets you, at a minimum access phone calls, return, meetings set up, bills introduced--keeps it on the agenda.
WELNA: Those who voted for the new gambling laws, though, say they weren't swayed by political contributions but, rather, by the best interests of Illinois. They say the new legislation will breathe new life into the state's moribund horse racing industry. And they expect that letting gambling boats remain at dockside will boost business and raise state tax revenues by about $100 million. Greg Durham is the spokesman for House Republican leader Lee Daniels, who was the leading advocate of changing the gambling legislation.
Mr. GREG DURHAM (Spokesman for Republican Leader Lee Daniels): If this vote had been to establish gambling, he would have voted against it. But since it's there, we had to compete with Iowa, with Indiana, and other states that allowed dockside gambling.
WELNA: Nine years ago, the House Republican leader voted against allowing riverboat gambling in Illinois, but in the last election cycle, Lee Daniels received more money from gambling interests than any other member of the Legislature, more than $300,000 in all. Spokesman Greg Durham maintains that money did not buy Lee Daniels' support for revising the gambling laws.
Mr. DURHAM: I don't think that he goes out and solicits especially to gambling interests saying, `Yeah, I'm going to take care of you.' That's not the way it works. It's never going to be the way it works. Those contributions are perfectly legal, they're perfectly proper. Only the most cynical type of person would think that there was a cause and effect.
WELNA: Still, critics say those who back the gambling legislation ignored polls showing a majority of voters don't want more gambling in Illinois. And a study done by the Legislature's Fiscal and Economic Commission predicts the state will, in fact, be a net loser under the new gambling legislation, forfeiting $14 million a year in revenues. One thing everyone agrees on is that the lobbyists for gambling concerns in Illinois were highly effective. That kind of clout is being felt in other states as well. Lana Oleen is a state legislator from Kansas.
Ms. LANA OLEEN (State Legislator, Kansas): I think that the lobbyists have an incredible amount of money and influence. And it concerns me, at times, the kinds of dollars that are put forward and how convincing they can be to some legislators to, indeed, hold up decisions on other issues until they get their way.
WELNA: It's primarily the states, not the federal government, that regulate the gambling industry. According to a study done by the National Institute on Money and State Politics, since 1990, state lawmakers across the country accepted, at the very least, more than $20 million from gambling interests. Such contributions have grown with each election cycle, as gambling entities across the country have become better organized at pressing their interests and as states have scrambled to revise their gambling laws to stay competitive. There are some lawmakers, such as Illinois State Senator Barack Obama, who consider taking money from gambling promoters a conflict of interests.
Sen. OBAMA: It is very hard to separate yourself from the interests of the gaming industry if you're receiving money.
WELNA: There's one state, New Jersey, which, since 1976, has banned political contributions from gambling interests to state and local officials. Richard Leone was New Jersey's state treasurer when that law was passed. Today, he's a member of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission. The most controversial recommendation in its recent report was a call for tight restrictions on gambling firms' contributions to state and local campaigns. Leone was the chief proponent of that provision.
Mr. RICHARD LEONE (National Gambling Impact Study Commission): I think both people in the gambling business and people in politics would be better off if money were off the table.
WELNA: Leone was unable to persuade his fellow commissioners, though, to extend the ban on gambling contributions to federal officials as well. In the last election cycle, members of Congress and their parties took in more than $6 million from people and companies tied to gambling, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, but the gambling industry opposes any measures to rein in gambling contributions.
Mr. FRANK FAHRENKOPF (American Gaming Association): We have a right to be represented at the table, and we're going to fight very hard to keep our right to participate the political process.
WELNA: Former Republican Party Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf now heads the American Gaming Association. He's the leading lobbyist for the casino industry. Fahrenkopf says he supports 90 percent of the Gambling Commission's recommendations, but he draws the line with its call to restrict gambling contributions.
Mr. FAHRENKOPF: I think it is wrong to start on what I call the slippery slope of discrimination against legal businesses. Now we're talking about legal businesses that employ people and who have shareholders who have a right to be represented in the process.
WELNA: There is nothing binding, though, in the Gambling Commission's report. Gambling opponents say it's unlikely lawmakers will act on the Commission's recommendation to cut off contributions that have become an increasingly lucrative source of campaign financing.
Former Senator Paul Simon, the Illinois Democrat who co-sponsored the creation of the Gambling Commission, says as long as politicians depend on private donations to run for office, money from gambling interests will continue to come their way.
Former Senator PAUL SIMON (Democrat, Illinois): What the gambling people can tell legislators or mayors or other people is, `We're going to give you additional revenue without your increasing taxes at all. And on top of that, we're going to be very generous campaign contributors.' That's a difficult thing for some public officials to turn down.
WELNA: And with competition increasing among states for gambling revenues, it's a safe bet that legislators will keep revising gambling laws and that gambling interests will contribute more and more money to their campaigns. David Welna, NPR News, Chicago.

Obama and Ryan agree on avoiding Rosemont issue
John Kass.
March 18 2004
Chicago Tribune
Conservative Jack Ryan and liberal Barack Obama are smart and attractive candidates for the U.S. Senate.
But they come from different planets when it comes to taxes and spending.
So on your behalf, I got them to agree Wednesday on a controversial public-policy issue worth billions:
The Rosemont casino deal.
Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich controls the Illinois Gaming Board. Board members this week ignored staff recommendations and granted a casino license to Rosemont, officially run by Republican Mayor Don Stephens.
Unofficially, Rosemont has long been associated with the Chicago Outfit, led by men with colorful nicknames, including "Clown," "No-Nose," "The Builder" and "Fifi."
Anyway, Obama and Ryan agreed on Rosemont and the casino.
They agreed they don't want to touch the issue. They see nothing, they hear nothing, they know nothing. Notheeeng.
"I have not had a chance to really study how the bidding process took place," said Obama, a Democratic state senator.
"I have not generally been a big proponent of gaming expansion as an economic development strategy. I voted against the original Rosemont deal, and we have to scrutinize whatever happens with this [Gaming Board] vote pretty carefully."
He's been busy campaigning. And he sounds earnest. But he and Republican Ryan stepped carefully around Rosemont. And that's unfortunate.
I asked Ryan: Did the Gaming Board err in going against the recommendations of its staff in granting Rosemont the casino license?
"I just saw the news yesterday, and I was very involved in a campaign, as you may know," Ryan said.
I know.
"And it's a state issue," Ryan said.
"I don't think that the way to balance the budget is by increasing the ability of people to gamble," Ryan said. "But that's a state issue rather than a federal issue."
True. Both candidates were involved in long campaigns. Naturally, they're tired.
And flush with victory at their unity breakfasts--where politicians hug each other in brotherhood after months of stabbing--the casino deal wasn't on their minds.
But it's on my mind. So I asked them, since they're all about ideas, not personalities and the campaigns of the past.
Happily, Blagojevich isn't campaigning.
Blagojevich's board ignored concerns of Outfit involvement in Rosemont, some of which is contained in an FBI report that the Gaming Board has refused to make public.
Elzie Higginbottom, chairman of the gaming board, brushed off these concerns with a Clintonian answer. He said it wasn't in the purview of the Illinois Gaming Board to question Outfit involvement.
"The Gaming Board only regulates the licensee, not the community in which the license is located," Higginbottom said earlier in the week.
"You can have that kind of [Outfit] influence in any of these facilities across this state. . . . I don't know if there are mob problems with the city of Rosemont," said Higginbottom.
If Higginbottom were a houseplant instead of a politician, would it be best to keep him from direct sunlight?
In response to criticism of the board vote, Blagojevich issued a news release Wednesday saying he wants a "full, open and public review of the facts."
Whether he'll have a true public airing of the facts--and order the Gaming Board to release the FBI report on the Outfit--has not been determined.
After talking like Sir Lancelot, if Blagojevich doesn't release the report, then the next time he poses as a reformer, people might not believe him.
Blagojevich also wants to hire another "special investigator" to review things, which is another way of saying he wants a political hack to cover his flanks.
Instead of hiring a "special investigator," Blagojevich could simply stop meddling with the Gaming Board staff. He has cut the number of investigators and refused to hire replacements.
His "special investigator" bit will naturally draw flies if he leaves it out there long enough. Instead of a phony special investigator appointed by Blagojevich, how about more FBI agents to track public corruption?
It's a federal issue, not a state issue.
The Chicago FBI office has only two public corruption squads. But given the political sleaze, taxpayers could use two more squads of at least 10 agents each, hunting at City Hall and Rosemont.
Obama said he wasn't opposed to the notion, but wants to study the matter. Ryan said he likes the idea.
"There's a sense that there is this machine behind the scenes that's making everything happen and the voters are being left behind," Ryan said. "We've got to rid the state of that perception."
If it were only a perception, it wouldn't cost taxpayers so much.
Democrats seek tax credits for day care, tuition, rents
January 28, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD Targeting working families with combined annual incomes of $75,000 or less, Senate Democrats on Thursday called for a series of tax cuts totaling more than $500 million.

The proposal calls for a day-care tax credit for working families, tax incentives for employers to provide on-site day care and a higher- education tax credit on tuition and fees. Democrats also are seeking a state income tax credit and a 5 percent credit on average monthly rents up to $1,000.

"I think the mood is right for us to provide some targeted tax relief to those who need it the most," said Sen. Barack Obama (D- Chicago), sponsor of one of the measures.

The Democrats' announcement marks the latest election-year tax cut proposal and falls less than a week away from Gov. Ryan's budget and State of the State address.

After last year's session, which saw increased liquor taxes and higher license plate fees, legislators on both sides of the aisle are scurrying to offer tax relief to placate voters. Proposals run from sales tax holidays on clothing to a property tax credit.

But Senate Democrats bill their proposal as the family-friendly plan.

"With a $1.3 billion surplus last year, we figure it's time to take care of the little people," said Sen. Donne Trotter (D- Chicago).

Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate President James "Pate" Philip (R-Wood Dale), said Philip has not endorsed any tax cut plan yet and it is premature to consider such proposals before Ryan's budget is unveiled.

"They're obviously not the first ones with a tax relief proposal and they won't be the last," she said. "But you can't put the cart before the horse. You have to look at the budget first."

In other developments Thursday, legislators, with the backing of law enforcement officials, proposed penalties for drivers who refuse to take a field sobriety test.

The Illinois State Police report that one in five impaired drivers stopped by state troopers in 1998 refused the field sobriety test in an effort to dodge a DUI conviction.