I don’t know which is the bigger story:
- Green Party candidate Rich Whitney’s coming to McHenry County or
- the Northwest Herald’s finally covering a 2010 gubernatorial appearance in McHenry County
Let’s start with Whitney.
I made it to the Woodstock train station before the train pulled in. There were messages telling folks to stay behind the yellow line.
Waiting were local Green Party candidates Frank Wedig and Scott Summers, plus a Northwest Herald reporter Sarah Sutscek. (You can read her story here.)
Both Summers and Wedig, McHenry County Sheriff’s candidate Gus Philpott, owe their ability to be on the fall ballot to Rich Whitney’s receiving more than 5% of the vote for governor in 2006.
That accomplishment—one that I spectacularly missed for the Libertarian Party in 2002—established the Green Party as what I call a “power party.” It meant local Green candidates could get on the ballot with the same relatively small number of petition signatures as Democrats and Republicans. To continue to have that privilege for the next four years, someone on the Green Party ticket must get 5% this fall.
I wanted to get a photo of Whitney getting off the Metra train, but the announcement of today’s schedule didn’t reveal in which car he would ride.
Philpott had gone to Barrington to ride with the candidate and campaign manager Lynne Serpe. He got off first and got the photo I wanted. Mine had to be taken from afar.
But I did get one of Philpott and Whitney approaching those of us who were awaiting his arrival.
Greetings and introductions were exchanged among the Green candidates.
The Northwest Herald reporter introduced herself.
Whitney started his press conference and I took pictures, as did Philpott. His Woodstock Advocate story can be found here.
He told of how this was the early part of his tour of Illinois by mass transit and bicycle.
It reminds me of the way that Dan Walker walked the state, starting in Southern Illinois and working north. He go incredible publicity, plus lots of blisters.
Far before the time he got to the Chicago metropolitan area, Chicago television stations were doing stories.
By enticing the Northwest Herald to send a reporter, Whitney could be starting on a similar publicity roll. He is, however, missing the opportunity to build momentum Downstate while working his way toward Chicago.
Whitney told of how he had participated in the Ride of Silence in Chicago. Its route featured bikes painted white where cyclists had been killed while riding.
Commenting on riding a bicycle in Chicago, he said,
“It’s a challenge.”
While I was taking photos the Northwest Herald reporter was asking questions.
She asked about whether Whitney expected to be included in any debates. Whitney explained that he had sent invitations to both Governor Pat Quinn and State Senator Bill Brady requesting nine debates. When contacting potential sponsoring organizations, he said they had been receptive.
Whitney, of course, was promoting the use of bicycles and mass transit.
“All of us benefit from a healthier environment.”
People “should be able to get from place to place without using an automobile,” he said.
In the state capital bill, Whitney bemoaned that only $4 billion was earmarked for mass transit when $10 billion had been requested by mass transit advocates.
Since he brought up the capital bill, I asked if he favored financing it with video poker.
“No. We need to stop looking at gambling. We’re not going to smoke and drink and gamble our way to fiscal health.
“Gambling tends to act as a hidden tax on the poor.”
Whitney then revealed that he supports a “tax on speculation,” mentioning the Board of Trade and the Board of Options in Chicago.
I asked what income tax hike Whitney favored. He said he favored Senate Bill 750.
As supporters of income taxes always do, Whitney would not say that it was a 67% tax increase. He said the increase was from “3 to 5%.”
He pointed out that it was not just a tax increase, but a “tax restructuring” in which “the bottom 60% don’t pay the higher tax.”
I asked about its imposing an income tax on retirement income, something Illinois presently does not do and he conceded the point, but pointed out that until that pension or other retirement income went “over a certain amount, it wouldn’t tax retirement income.”
His second choice for an income tax hike is House Bill 174, which he described as “705 light.”
There was one intriguing idea about which I had not heard previously.
Whitney said he favored a state bank similar to what North Dakota has. The advantage would be that state government could borrow money at the same rate from the Federal Reserve System which private banks can obtain.
That’s zero to .025% in this economic recession.
If Illinois had a state bank, the money could be borrowed to make the multi-billion pension payment now for next to nothing.
I asked if Whitney were willing to support a tax on bicycles to help pay for the bike paths he supports. Specifically, I asked if he would support licensing of bicycles.
“I would be willing to consider that. I think the priority should be simply subsidizing it.”
Green Party candidate Bill Scheurer had arrived at the station and observed mischievously,
“So, you’re not in favor of an Allen wrench tax?”
“Absolutely. That’s one think I would agree with the Governor.”
I asked if he favored a stop in McHenry County, something the original Amtrak plan for this route does not envision.
Naturally, I pointed out the relative large population McHenry County has attained. While the smallest county in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area, McHenry County is larger than any other county in Illinois.
“There’s a certain logic. I think you need one in McHenry County.”
With Summers leading the way, Whitney and Serpe rode off to see Woodstock’s windmill at Other World Computing. Summers took them to the Woodstock Square so they could see where Eugene Debs had been incarcerated.
They then headed down Business Route 14 after making appropriate left turn hand signals at the four-way stop.
The campaigners took the train to Harvard and, then, will bicycle to Rockford where they ought to get good TV coverage. Tomorrow they will bike 50 miles to South Elgin via DeKalb County. I warned the campaign manager Serpe that they might get an Amtrak question in DeKalb County from those whose track route was rejected by Quinn.
= = = = =
Oh, about the Northwest Herald’s coverage of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
GOP nominee State Senator Bill Brady has been in McHenry County several times, most recently at the April 15th TEA Party demonstration, where he spoke. It may just be a case of bad advance work on the part of the Brady campaign, but he did speak and got no newspaper coverage. STAR101-FM’s Stew Cohen did interview Brady there, however. Earlier, Brady spoke at the McHenry County Republican Central Committee Lincoln Day-Valentine’s Day Dinner Dance. He also sp0ke at State Rep. Mike Tryon’s fund raiser.
There was no coverage of any of these events in the Northwest Herald.