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Bill Linneman

June 15 2017

Europe 1956
I found the Irish poor but kind and London wet but jolly and theater in both places good. Paris was wet too but in a melancholy way, and the waiters in cafes so snooty you could starve if you didn’t correctly pronounce the nasalized vowels.
The Dutch were hearty laughers but without much humor. The Danes had humor and were cheerful and spoke excellent English. The Germans had no humor but were busy building gleaming new cities. Around the gaming tables of Baden Baden they jostled the pound-shy English asking: “Who won the war?”
So when I had been through these places and done my duty to monuments and museums, battlefields and cathedrals, it was August before I got to Venice. It was hot in Venice and the canals and close-built buildings made it stuffy. I took a room at the air-conditioned Bauer Grunwald and ate my dinner on the terrace watching the flaming sun drop over the Grand Canal.
For two days I walked crowded streets and crossed over little bridges or took Diritto boats to the beach at Lido. At night I sat in cafes of San Marco’s and listened to the orchestras and sipped wine. Then I took a train to Rome and changed for one to Naples. Then a bus to Sorrento.
I got to Sorrento on Sunday evening and found a hotel on a shady street that curved off the square. The hotel was cool, the rooms white-washed and clean, and underneath tall trees there was a patio that looked out over the bay.
Six waiters served me dinner there, and afterwards I walked back to the square and down the steep switch-back street with flowers hanging over the wall to the pier where boats came and went to Capri. There was a band playing and a lighted Ferris Wheel and the boat offices were crowded with people and children laughing and shouting.
I walked out on the pier and tried out of darkness to find Capri. I stared into the blackness but could see nothing. I threw my cigarette into the Bay of Naples and walked back up to the square where I sat in a sidewalk café lit by strings of little lights and sipped a bottle of Tuborg.
In the morning I took the boat to Capri. It was a warm breezy day and the boats were filled with tourists. I had met a lady in Venice who told me to skip Capri. She said tourists had ruined it for those who remembered Capri as it was before the war.
I didn’t ask what war. Capri has been under attack ever since Tiberius built his villa there. Attila and the Huns, those dreadful Goths and Vandals. This August morning I found myself in another barbarian army mustered at the funicular ready to begin the assault
A battalion in sport shirts, thirty-five millimeters strapped over shoulders, chest bandoliers with film. Like the Goths, we brought our women clutching bags to carry away the loot. The cable cars made their slow grinding climb to the top. We exploded from the cars, storming the little plaza to sack the cluttered shops. The natives put up feeble resistance.





Capitol Facts
by Rich Miller

Sept 07 2017
Many school finding plans hatched over the years
 It’s been clear for decades that the way Illinois funds its public schools has been wrong-headed. But finding a solution has eluded everyone who has tried. Until now.
Gov. Jim Edgar thoroughly defeated a Democratic rival in 1994 who championed a “tax swap” idea. The plan Dawn Clark Netsch backed would’ve traded an income tax hike for local property tax reductions and an overall funding increase to local schools. For years, property taxes had been rising while the state’s share of overall education funding had plummeted. But Edgar focused on the income tax hike in Netsch’s plan and pummeled her at the polls.
Well into his second term, Edgar unveiled his own school funding plan, which turned out to be eerily similar to Netsch’s proposal. His proposal was backed by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, who had spoken briefly during the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention in favor of school funding reform. The plan was killed by Senate President Pate Philip, a suburban Republican who pointed out that the voters had already thoroughly rejected Netsch’s proposal.
Philip also strongly opposed a last-minute provision to help Chicago Public Schools pay for its teacher pensions. The state picks up all the employer and legacy costs of teacher pensions for the suburbs and Downstate, but not Chicago. And that has been a bone of contention for years.
James Meeks, an African-American minister of a huge congregation on Chicago’s South was the next to take up the mantle. Meeks was elected to the Illinois Senate as an independent in 2002 and he made education funding reform his top priority. Meeks threatened to run as an independent candidate for governor in 2006 if incumbent Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich didn’t come up with his own plan.
Blagojevich convinced Meeks to get out of the race by unveiling a proposal that vastly increased school funding by privatizing the lottery. But after Blagojevich was safely reelected, he double-crossed Meeks and didn’t follow through.
Meeks spent the next few years attempting to pass a huge tax hike package, mainly to help public schools. But it stalled when Speaker Madigan wouldn’t put his House majority at risk.
Along the way, Meeks attempted to organize a boycott of underfunded Chicago Public Schools and brought busloads of kids to suburban Winnetka in a failed bid to enroll them in the top-ranked New Trier High School. He also championed the idea of using tax money to help kids enroll in private schools.
It turns out that a Winnetka resident at the time, Bruce Rauner, wound up being elected governor a few years later. Meeks backed Rauner in the 2014 campaign and Rauner, a school choice champion, appointed Meeks chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.
At the time of the 2014 election, state Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from the tiny southern Illinois town of Bunker Hill, had already been working on the school funding problem. Manar had quit his job as Senate President John Cullerton’s chief of staff to run for the legislature in 2012, so he had far more skills and experience than the typical freshman.
After he was inaugurated, Gov. Rauner hired an education funding reform point person, Beth Purvis, and put her in charge of a study commission that actually wanted to get something done this time.
The next two and a half years was filled with excruciating political infighting that made even the most hardened insiders blanche. It looked like it would all go off the rails more times than I could count. And it really almost did when the governor used his amendatory veto powers in July on a bill passed by both the House and Senate in May.
Rauner constantly derided that bill as a “Chicago bailout.” But his amendatory veto introduced new concepts that hadn’t been discussed by his commission and, therefore, brought opponents out of the woodwork.
Faced with yet another revolt by some of the same legislative Republicans who overrode his vetoes of the state budget and income tax hike, Rauner was finally convinced to pare back his excessive demands.
Rauner did win a school choice component - a five-year income tax credit for donations to private and out-of-district public school tuition scholarship funds that Chairman Meeks backed. But he also ended up signing a bill that provided more money for Chicago Public Schools than the one he vetoed, including, finally, some significant state cash for Chicago teacher pensions, a proposal he vetoed almost two years ago.
Without Manar, Purvis and Meeks and those who preceded them, none of this would’ve happened.  And now we can move on to the next Illinois crisis.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com



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Helen Leake's Gardeners Tips
by Helen J. Leake

Sept 07 2017
Time to think about bringing the house plants back inside
The kids and teachers are back in school, so that means summer is about over. We will have more hot days, but the nights will be cooler. So it is time to think about bringing house plants inside. If you have planted your poinsettia, amaryllis, etc. in the ground and plan on bringing them in later, now is a good time to dig them and put them in a pot to bring in. You can leave the container outside until cooler weather. That will give the plant time to get over the shock of being transplanted. You will need to water it often like all other container plants. You can also pot a geranium or impatient, treat it like a house plant, and next spring take slips and start the plants to put in the garden for next spring.
We have seen a lot of tropical plants mixed in with the annuals this year. When the night lows get in the 50’s, it is time to bring house plants in. You can place the house plant in a container and bring it inside to enjoy during the cold weather.
When you bring the hibiscus in, place it by a sunny window. Be careful not to over water it in the winter, while it and most house plants, are in their dormant phase.Let the top 1/2 inch of soil dry out between watering. It is normal for hibiscus plants to drop leaves while inside.
The shorter days in fall encourage the Kalanchoe to form lower buds. Because it is actively growing this time of year, you can fertilize once a month, but wait to water until the soil is dry. By spring it can get leggy. Cut it back by a third for a bushier plant.
You can cut the tops of the peonies off now. Destroy the stems to prevent leaving disease in the soil.


Jim Bennett photo
The Spectator

by Jim Bennett • jwbnnt@aol.com
Sept 07 2017
A Closer Look at Jewish Women Gymnasts
AT THE 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, a group of impish squirts, captivated millions of fans while crushing all competition. An aspect of the five-member team, as media members frequently pointed out, was its ethnic diversity. Wunderkind Simone Biles and teammate Gabby Douglas were African-American, while Laurie Hernandez was Hispanic.
But I never heard anyone point out that the team also had a Jewish member—Aly Raisman, who was also a dominant performer in the 2012 London games. Perhaps we perceive Jewish folks as Caucasians, but if we think big—as in worldwide—the Jews have left a pretty bold ethnic footprint.   
Jewish gymnasts (on the women’s side) are rare, but Raisman’s success as an Olympian is not unprecedented. Phoebe Mills won bronze in the 1988 Seoul games, while Kerri Strug did likewise in Atlanta in ’96, and Barcelona in ’92.
But Raisman’s stunning performances in two separate Olympics earned three gold medals, two silvers, and a bronze. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you counted all her medals in World Championships, Pacific Rim Championships, and National Championships, you’d run out of fingers and toes.
Alexandra Rose Raisman is now (at age 22) a multimillionaire. She has parlayed her high public profile, combined with her natural beauty, into product endorsements and apparel lines. I’m sure the check she cashed from Sports Illustrated for appearing in the annual swimsuit issue didn’t hurt the bank account either.
BUT MY investigation into women Jewish gymnasts took me where I never expected to go—the 1928 Olympic games, held in Amsterdam. Articles in the Jerusalem Post and the online Gymternet tell a story of ecstasy and agony for the Dutch national team and the whole world too.
The ecstasy came for the 12-member Dutch team when it won the gold medal (only team scores were counted.) Only four other nations entered women’s gymnastics teams. Journalist Jessica Taylor Price, in an article for Gymternet, points out that the ’28 Olympics had many “firsts.” The competition was, she states, “The first time women were allowed to compete in athletics and gymnastics.
“The format of the gymnastics competition, however, was very different from what we see today. It is unclear what was actually involved in these events; one photograph from the competition shows French women rope climbing, and one account notes that the women competed on wall bars. The only videos that are available from the event show women doing synchronized exercises in the Olympic stadium in what now looks like a group stretching session.”
The only group photo of the Dutch team is a grainy black and white showing 12 stout, mature women (the team ranged in age from 19-31.) Price writes, “It seems ironic considering how the sport would evolve toward being dominated by younger women, but Carla Marangoni, a member of the Italian team, would attribute the Dutch win to their age and experience: ‘They were older and had muscles. They were women and we were girls.’”
FIVE MEMBERS of the Dutch squad, as well as the coach, were Jewish. That’s where the agony began, although nobody saw it coming. It wouldn’t manifest until 15 years later.
Wikipedia has data sheets on the devastating outcomes. It started at the top. Head Coach Gerrit Kleerekoper was murdered in July of 1943 at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland. His wife, Kaatje, was gassed on the same day. Daughter Elisabeth met the same fate on the same day in the same camp. Their son Leendert died at Auschwitz a year later.
Team member Helena Nordheim wasn’t far away; she was also murdered, along with her husband Abraham and ten-year-old daughter Rebbecca, at Sobibor the same month, at age 39. About four months earlier, Judikje Simons, another teammate, was executed at the Polish camp as well, along with her entire family. Her husband Bernard, along with their children, five-year-old daughter Sonja and three-year-old son Leon were close behind en route to the ovens. 
Also murdered at Sobibor in July of ’43 was Netherlands teammate Anna Dresden-Polak, at age 36. Her six-year-old daughter Eva was also put to death. Her husband, Barend Dresden, died a few months later at Auschwitz, in 1944. Jewish teammate Estella Agsteribbe was also murdered at Auschwitz in September of 1943, along with her husband Samuel Blits, their six-year-old daughter Nanny and their two-year-old son Alfred.
Only one Jewish member of the Dutch team, Elka de Levie, survived the Holocaust. She hid successfully and lived until 1979.
I can only hope that those who were exterminated had the opportunity to share their medals with relatives and friends. But how much is a gold medal worth?
It’s a good bet that Aly Raisman will live long enough to share the gold with her grandchildren. Six luckless Dutch souls never had that chance.



Classic Colcalsure
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington

Sept 07 2017
Down on the Farm
CGood places to eat are always at the top of my priority list.  Especially so when we are traveling.  One of the most beneficial lessons I learned from my father was where and how to find a good place to eat.  He would always say, “Just look where the truckers eat.”  I was later to learn that not only were truckers’ great indicators, but one should also take notice of where the policemen ate as well.
One such restaurant was Bob Evans.  You know the ones with the well-known “Steamboat Victorian” style structure with the familiar red and white color scheme.  We all recall those commercials from Bob himself, telling television viewers to, “Come on down to the farm and visit us.”  That simple phrase was meant to stick in one’s mind.  “Come on Down!”  Funny isn’t it!  That as I write this, I also think of the Price is Right.
Surely you remember Robert Ray “Rod” Roddy.  Maybe not the name, but as the flashy jacketed announcer for 17 years alongside of Bob Barker was well known for “COME ON DOWN!!”  Rod passed away in October of 2003 at the age of 66 of colon and breast cancer.   Rod’s legacy, as well as, that of Bob Evans will long be remembered.
“Quality is long remembered after price is forgotten”
But I digress from the column at hand.  That of Bob Evans.  Like many of modern-day entrepreneurs such as Donald Trump and Bill Gates, Bob Evans was a man of vision.  Where Walt Disney will be remembered as the man behind the mouse and Ben & Jerry as the men behind the ice cream and Oprah Winfrey as the most admired of all entertainers, Bob Evans may well be remembered as the man behind the sausage.
While it’s true, that he rose from humble beginnings in the village of Sugar Ridge, Ohio, to that of director and president of Bob Evans Farms which is currently listed on the NASDAQ at $67.97 per share, his interests and unselfish contributions are well documented.  In addition to his company that employs over 50,000 people; has 600 Bob Evans Restaurants in 18 states, while shipping fresh and frozen sausage and related products to 48 states and Canada, Bob Evans is the only person in Ohio to have been honored three times by the National Wildlife Federation.  He spent almost 40 years preserving wildlife on his farm, Hidden Valley Ranch and company-owned Bob Evans Farm.  He was indeed a well-respected conservationist and recognized for his efforts in the state of Ohio.  In addition to being a strong supporter of the 4-H and FFA youth programs by supporting numerous county and state fairs, Bob was dedicated to helping young people at the university level.  A former member of the Ohio Board of Regents, he worked with students at the Ohio State University’s College of Agriculture and Home Economic.
His lifetime awards and achievements are lengthy and had it not been for the loyal truckers, who patronized the Terminal Steak House in Gallipolis, Ohio, there may never have been Bob Evens restaurants.  After all the truckers did all of his marketing research.  If they liked an item, it stayed on the menu.  And the rest his history.
“Treat every customer like they are the only customer that day”
Bob Evans, a farmer, a neighbor, a visionary & founder of the sausage company and restaurant chain that hear his name, died June 21, 2007, from complications of pneumonia at age 89.
“Bob Evans, founder of the company, lived on the Bob Evans Farm in southeastern Ohio for nearly 20 years.  He and his wife, Jewell, raised their six children in the large brick farmhouse known as the Homestead.  The Homestead, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was once a stagecoach stop and an inn, so the spirit of hospitality is deeply embedded in our country’s history.  Today, the Homestead serves as a company museum and historical center.”
“Everybody is somebody at Bob Evans Farm”
“Exciting events like the 145th annual Rio Grande Bean Dinner that was held on August 8th  as well as the 47th Bob Evans Farm Festival (upcoming Oct. 13 – 15th) keep people coming back to the farm.  The Bob Evans Restaurant & General Store on the farm are open all year long.  The farm, Craft Barn and the Homestead museum are open daily April 1 through Dec. 23rd, 10:30am till 5:30pm.”    So folks, Come on Down to the farm where it all began for activities, festivals and fun!

Till next time…john
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