28 February 2015

My Daughter, the Scenery Chewer

I just finished watching the Lansdowne High School production of Bye Bye Birdie.

Natalie was cast as the overbearing mother, and played it with appropriately overbearing gusto.

People loved her.

But thank God that it is over.  Both shows weren't off very well, but it appeared that the show was cursed.

There were multiple practises that were cancelled due to snow, including the full dress rehearsal, (!) and a spate of injuries, mostly sprained ankles.

They say that the show must go on, and go on it did.

Posted via mobile.

27 February 2015

The End of the Vulcan Bar Matzvah*

Nimoy has had a varied career, actor, director, poet, photographer, and writer.
As such, it's hard to find his best moment, but his worst moment is clearly singing this song
Leonard Nimoy has died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at 83:
Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.
Seriously. If you smoke, stop today.

*It's an old family story. My mom was talking to a friend in Alaska, Danny Plotkin, and asked how he was doing. He replied to her that he was flying down to the lower 48 to go to a "Vulcan bar Mitzvah". It turns out that Leonard Nimoy was his nephew, and Nimoy's son was having a Bar Mitzvah



Who knew that cats suffered from existential nausea?

H/t Trit at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Bonus vid:

I never had the urge to own an AMX-13 light tank before, but I do now.

26 February 2015

Hackers: 1 — Maryland MTA:0

People have been asking for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to make data available to allow accurate real-time actual schedules for some time, but MTA has said that it is too technically difficult and too expensive to make a mobile app, or to make the data available to 3rd parties.

It took a self described "civic hacker" less than a week to do this on their spare time:
Despite promises of transparency and efforts to create "open data" in the hopes of latching onto the "app economy"—words frequently used in government agency press releases—much of the data that would be of the greatest value to citizens often ends up out of reach. For example, if you want to plan a trip on public transportation in many cities (or even just find out when your bus will show up), you often have to turn to Google Maps or another transit-tracking application on your mobile device. In Baltimore, however, that data has been locked behind the firewalls of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA).

But now a civic hacker has made that data available to app developers by doing what the MTA claimed would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete—simply tapping into websites that the agency has already built. And the hacker did it without spending a dime of taxpayer money. The work took just a few man-days' worth of spare time and a commercial app development team's afternoon.


The reason the MTA gave for not doing a mobile app—or opening the data to third parties—was cost. "The data received from the bus [Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL)] system to operate My Tracker is not sent in a format that can be easily used to create an application—called General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). We know in many cases, the information needed to create an application is made public so private firms can attempt to develop an application at their own expense. However, it would cost approximately $600,000 more to be able to format the data from our 25-yr-old CAD/AVL system into GTFS for use by outside developers," the MTA said.

However, within days of the MTA's Web app going live, geo-data developer and open government data advocate Chris Whong had already done what the MTA refused to do. Whong took a look at the bus tracker Web app and found that its AJAX interface was polling the site every 10 seconds to get new location data. As it turns out, the app was retrieving JSON-formatted data from the MTA's servers, encoded in a format called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). The MTA had already published the GTFS metadata describing bus routes. Whong wrote in a blog post that it took a few hours of trial and error to confirm the data feed format, but in the end he and a small team of "civic hackers" were able to construct a framework that would allow applications to pull, for free, the very data the MTA said would cost $600,000 to publish. The team also produced a live tracking site on the Heroku application hosting platform to demonstrate the framework and then posted the whole thing on Github to allow others to use it.

And use it they did. The Montreal-based developer Transit App was one team that grabbed onto Whong's project. "With Chris’ help, we were able to pull the real-time vehicle positions from the MTA system ourselves," the Transit App team said in a blog post. "Using that data, we generated approximate bus arrival times with our in-house prediction engine. We then compared those predictions with the MTA’s tracker to verify our accuracy. And—with just an afternoon of work—Baltimore finally has the real-time tracking app it deserves. $600,000 under budget."
My guess as to why the MTA thought that they needed more than ½ a million dollars to do what took one guy a few days is tied in with that whole "Reinventing Government" thing that Clinton started in the 1990s.

Basically, it involved taking a lot of core competencies in government agencies, and outsourcing them to private contractors.

The MTA probably does not possess the internal knowledge base to understand just how trivial doing this was.

Supreme Court Rules that Industry Dominated Regulatory Panels Can Be Sued for Antitrust Violations

In North Carolina, the State Board of Dental Examiners is pretty much run by and for dentists.

When non-dentists started offering cheaper tooth whitening services, the board shut them down.

The Supreme Court has allowed state governments to engage in anti-competitive actions for over 70 years, and the question here was whether a something like the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, where the inmates were running the asylum, deserved deserved immunity from antitrust enforcement.

The Supreme Court, and the answer was no:
State licensing boards composed of market participants do not enjoy automatic immunity from antitrust laws, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday. The decision in North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission affirms the Fourth Circuit and deals a setback to an increasingly common form of regulation.

State action antitrust immunity

Since 1943, certain forms of state action have been immune from the antitrust laws. Accordingly, state legislatures may pass laws with anticompetitive effects. Several important Supreme Court cases since then have addressed the doctrine of state action immunity and helped to define its contours, particularly as it applies to actions outside state legislatures.

Antitrust immunity generally covers non-state actors only if the state both (1) clearly articulates the anticompetitive policy, and (2) actively supervises the policy. This case deals with the second requirement. If a professional licensing board is a state agency, must another state actor supervise the agency in order for the agency to be immune from the antitrust laws?

The dental board

In North Carolina, the legislature delegated regulation of dentists to a dental board. By state law, practicing dentists must fill a majority of the seats on the dental board.

This type of “self-regulation” is common among state licensing boards. But it has the natural tendency to become anticompetitive. Members of a guild frequently want to keep insiders in, keep outsiders out, and prop up the profession. A broad range of modern professions fall under professional licensing boards, including not just doctors, lawyers, and dentists, but also interior designers, real estate agents, floral designers, and hair braiders.

In this case, the dental board tried to exclude non-dentists from the market for teeth-whitening services after dentists complained about the low prices non-dentists charged for teeth whitening. It sent threatening letters to non-dentists who offered teeth-whitening services and even encouraged mall operators to kick out kiosks used for teeth whitening.

The dental board’s actions were not supervised by any state officials from North Carolina other than the members of the dental board itself. On these facts, the FTC took action against the dental board. The FTC and the Fourth Circuit both rejected the dental board’s attempt to invoke the defense of state action immunity.

No immunity for the dental board controlled by dentists

In a six-to-three opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, today the Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit, holding that the dental board is not immune from the antitrust laws.

The Court’s opinion explains that even though the dental board is an agency of the state, its actions must still be supervised by the state in order to enjoy antitrust immunity. The “formal designation given by the States” does not itself create immunity. Here, the board is controlled by market participants in the same occupation that the board regulates. “When a State empowers a group of active market participants to decide who can participate in its market, and on what terms, the need for supervision is manifest.”
Where this might be most significant is in boards for doctors and state bars.

I am reminded of the case of Closings, Inc. in Massachusetts, which attempted to offer low cost closings for house sales in the commonwealth.

The state bar banned them, even though they employed lawyers to do the work, nominally because they were a corporation, rather than a partnership, and the state courts agreed.

What is was really about was that they were offering services for less than half what the law firms were charging, and as a result, they had achieved a 40% market share, and the lawyers did not want to lose what was easy money for what was a routine operation that should never have required a law degree.

These days, with a plethora of services that offer assistance for routine legal services online, I hope that we see a number of complaints filed against state bars.

FCC Does the Right Thing, Part Two

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to preempt state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories.

The action is a year in the making. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced in February 2014 his intention to override state laws designed to protect private cable companies and telcos from public sector competition. Wheeler took his cue from the federal appeals court ruling that overturned net neutrality rules; tucked away in that decision was one judge's opinion that the FCC has the authority to preempt "state laws that prohibit municipalities from creating their own broadband infrastructure to compete against private companies."

Nineteen states have such laws, often passed at the behest of private Internet service providers that didn't want to face competition. Communities in two of the states asked the FCC to take action. The City of Wilson, North Carolina and the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga, Tennessee filed the petitions that led to today's FCC action. Each offers broadband service to residents and received requests for service from people in nearby towns, but they alleged that state laws made it difficult or impossible for them to expand.

“You can’t say you’re for broadband and then turn around and endorse limits on who can offer it,” Wheeler said today. “You can’t say, ‘I want to follow the explicit instructions of Congress to remove barriers to infrastructure investment,' but endorse barriers on infrastructure investment. You can’t say you’re for competition but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices."

States have given municipalities the authority to offer broadband but made it difficult with tons of bureaucratic requirements, he said. "The bottom line is some states have created thickets of red tape designed to limit competition," he said. Local residents and businesses are the ones suffering the consequences, he argued, pointing to members of the two communities in the audience.
For most internet users, this may have a more noticeable impact than the FCC's net neutrality (Title II) decision, because in most of the United States, there is no meaningful competition, and so consumers are ripped and abused by the telcos and the cable companies.

Their local monopoly status is why the big cable companies are free to behave in a manner that has made them the most widely loathed companies in America.

To rephrase Lily Tomlin, "So, the next time you complain about your cable service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string? We don't care. We don't have to. We're the cable Company."

FCC Does the Right Thing, Part One

The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

The most controversial part of the FCC's decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.

The decision comes after a year of intense public interest, with the FCC receiving four million public comments from companies, trade associations, advocacy groups, and individuals. President Obama weighed in as well, asking the FCC to adopt the rules using Title II as the legal underpinning. The vote was 3-2, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against.

Chairman Tom Wheeler said that broadband providers have the technical ability and financial incentive to impose restrictions on the Internet. Wheeler said further:
The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It is simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field. Think about it. The Internet has replaced the functions of the telephone and the post office. The Internet has redefined commerce, and as the outpouring from four million Americans has demonstrated, the Internet is the ultimate vehicle for free expression. The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.

This proposal has been described by one opponent as "a secret plan to regulate the Internet." Nonsense. This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concepts: openness, expression, and an absence of gate keepers telling people what they can do, where they can go, and what they can think.
Wheeler also said putting rules in place will give network operators the certainty they need to keep investing.

In May 2014, the Wheeler-led commission proposed rules that relied on weaker authority and did not ban paid fast lanes. Wheeler eventually changed his mind, leading to today's vote.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the longest-tenured commissioner and someone who supported Title II five years ago, said the net neutrality order does not address only theoretical harms.

"This is more than a theoretical exercise," she said. "Providers here in the United States have, in fact, blocked applications on mobile devices, which not only hampers free expression, it also restricts innovation by allowing companies, not the consumer, to pick winners and losers."

Clyburn convinced Chairman Tom Wheeler to remove language that she believed was problematic.

“We worked closely with the chairman's office to strike an appropriate balance and, yes, it is true that significant changes were made at my office's request, including the elimination of the sender side classification, but I firmly believe that these edits have strengthened this item," she said.

Clyburn, Google, and consumer advocacy groups told Wheeler that language classifying a business relationship between ISPs and Web services as a common carrier service could give ISPs grounds to charge online content providers for access to their networks. This language was removed, but service that ISPs offer to home and business Internet users was still reclassified as a common carrier service. FCC officials believe this classification alone gives them power to enforce net neutrality rules and oversee network interconnection disputes that affect consumers.
In response, Verizon issued their dissent to the FCC, in Morse code, dated 1934, which is either a little bit clever, or a little bit lame.  (I am still trying to figure out which.)

I was wrong when I predicted that former cable company lobbyist, and current FCC Chairman would cave to cable company f%$#ery, and I am immensely pleased to be wrong.

25 February 2015

Clearly not America

An altercation in a hotel led to a sword fight in Dubai involving 4 people, with one of the participants being hospitalized with serious injuries:
Four people have reportedly been arrested after becoming involved in a fight with swords and knives at a Dubai hotel.

The fight between two Emiratis and two Saudis began following accidental physical contact outside a washroom at the hotel in the Al Rigga area, according to Khaleej Times.

All four were subsequently taken to hospital, with one of them said to be seriously injured.
Clearly, this would never happen in the United States.

In the US it would have involved firearms, at least two of the participants would be dead, and there would be injured innocent bystanders.

FSM bless America.

Quote of the Day

………Because right now, we have one goal in life: don’t be the Seahawks. We are running down the clock here, and this is not the time to try for a fancy play. We want to run the damn ball over the goal line and score our touchdown. That means we all huddle together and drive for that last few inches in the final seconds.(emphasis original)
Harold Feld on how to deal with the FCC's upcoming vote on net neutrality
It's a good point, and a rather topical way of using that old aphorism, "The perfect is the enemy of good enough."

Ethics for Thee but not for Me

It appears that the indictment of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has provided some impetus to make changes to the ethics laws in New York state.

Andrew Cuomo has a proposal, and to no-one's surprise, the proposal specifically excludes the Governor's office:
State legislators say they are willing to enact a number of new ethics reforms, but they argue Gov. Cuomo should subject himself to more public disclosure as well.

Republican and Democratic legislative sources say that while Cuomo has attacked lawmakers on the issue of outside income, the governor is making as much as $900,000 from HarperCollins for his recent memoir, which only sold a few thousand copies.

They also say that perhaps there should be a ban on governors giving paid outside speeches. While Cuomo during his first four years has not given such speeches, former Govs. Mario Cuomo and George Pataki did.

New Jersey bars governors from receiving “directly or indirectly” any compensation, salary, honorarium, fee or any other form of income on top of their regular taxpayer-funded salary.

An official in the New York Legislature argued there should be more public disclosure on what guests, if any, are staying at the governor’s Albany mansion.

And, in perhaps the most contentious suggestion, a number of legislative sources say Cuomo’s longtime live-in celebrity chef girlfriend, Sandra Lee, should be required to publicly disclose her income, investments and other financial information that the spouses of public officials are already mandated to reveal.

“A final negotiated package shouldn’t be just all about the Legislature,” said one high-ranking legislative official. “If you want to do something comprehensive on ethics, it should include the governor as well.”
Of course it should include the governor as well.

It's only a problem if you are Andrew Cuomo.

Here is hoping that US Attorney Preet Bharara is going to indict him.

While the People of Chicago Tolerate a Certain Level of Corruption, the Looting was a bit too Blatant

Last night, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to secure a majority in the election, and will be forced into a runoff:
Rahm Emanuel, who was easily elected mayor of this city four years ago, was dealt a setback Tuesday. Though he came in first among five candidates, Mr. Emanuel failed to seal a second term by winning support from enough voters to avoid a riskier runoff election this spring.

It was a serious blow after a campaign in which Mr. Emanuel had a huge fund-raising edge over lesser-known opponents, not to mention an in-person endorsement last week from President Obama in his adopted hometown.

The outcome underscored Mr. Emanuel’s newfound vulnerability in a mostly Democratic city that had not had a mayoral runoff since it began holding nonpartisan elections 16 years ago. In 2011, Mr. Emanuel swept into office on a first balloting with more than 55 percent of the vote in his first run for mayor.

“This makes it an entirely different ballgame — a brand new election,” said Dick Simpson, a political scientist and former alderman who has contributed to political candidates, including Mr. Emanuel’s opponents. “It becomes a real battle and it sharpens the issues.”

Mr. Emanuel, who angered some here when his administration closed nearly 50 public schools, clashed with public schoolteachers and oversaw the city through flashes of gang violence, received 45.4 percent of the vote, with almost 99 percent of precincts reporting, not the 50 percent plus one needed to win outright. His closest competitor was Jesus Garcia, a county commissioner known as Chuy, who had important backing from the Chicago Teachers Union. He got 33.9 percent of the vote, giving him a place in a runoff against Mr. Emanuel on April 7. The rest of the votes were split among three other candidates.
I think that this is the first since the election laws in 1995 that a sitting Chicago mayor has been forced into a runoff.

Considering the fact that Rahm got about 55% in the first round in the last election, when he was running in an open seat, this is a fairly epic.

What it comes down to is the fact while the good people of Chicago expect a bit of corruption in the provision of public services, under the expectation that services will actually be delivered to those who need them.

Emanuel's tenure as mayor has been marked by a devotion to the 1%, particularly Wall Street, makes Michael Bloomberg look like Che Guevera.

In Rahm's Chicago though, the ordinary citizen has become little more than a profit machine for the fat cats:
Why did progressives–why do progressives–want to humble Emanuel? The answer's been blaring from magazines like In These Times and Rolling Stone and the Nation for months. In the election-month cover story of In These Times, for example, progressive historian Rick Perlstein explained why the deal Emanuel cut with a company to remake the city's transit cards never stopped hurting him.
The transit cards can double as debit cards, you see, promoted as a boon for Chicago’s un- and under-banked. But dig the customer fees hidden in the 1,000-page contract the city signed with Cubic: $1.50 every time customers withdraw cash from an ATM, $2.95 every time they add money to their online debit account with a personal credit card, $2 for every call with a service representative and an “account research fee” of $10 an hour for further inquiries, $2 for a paper copy of their account information, and, if you decide you’ve had enough, a $6 “balance refund fee.” This all makes mincemeat of the pro-privatization argument that “the marketplace” is more transparent than a government bureaucracy. The city might have been able to anticipate this before inking the deal had they paid attention to the fact that Money Network, the payment processing company partnering with Cubic, had received the lowest possible grade from the Better Business Bureau, and that another partner, MetaBank, was fined $5.2 million by federal regulators for a scheme to issue debit cards funded by tax refund loans at interest rates of up to 650 percent.
Mayor Emanuel is clearly cutting sweetheart deals that will encumber Chicago for years, if not decades, with the implicit promise that he will get highly remunerative do-nothing jobs in finance after he leaves office, much like he did after leaving the Clinton administration in the late 1990s.

Sh%$ like this is why "Rahmbo" has been forced into a runoff despite the fact that Barack Obama flew to Chicago to campaign for him.

I do not expect Mr. Garcia to win.

Emanuel has more money for his campaign than God, I expect that the former White House Chief of Staff to win handily, though I expect "Chuy" to do better than yesterday's 33.9%.

As to the campaign, I expect wall-to-wall ads across the Chicago media, with a focus on driving a wedge between the Hispanic and Black communities through racist and nativist dog whistles.

In a multi-candidate campaign like the primary, negative ads tend to put voters off both the source and target of the ads.  In a 2-candidate runoff, this is not an issue, and Rahm's millions can pump out a lot of slime.

Case in point, a Republican mega-donor, and financier, Muneer Satter, has donated big time to the Emanuel campaign:
Chicago investor Muneer Satter has spent more than $1 million in the past three years helping Republicans win. He's so focused on the party taking back the White House that he paid for a poll assessing the 2016 Republican field, the results of which convinced him to get behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

But one Democrat has managed to capture Satter's wallet: his hometown mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is up for reelection Tuesday.

Satter doesn't just scatter campaign checks to the wind, fellow Illinois Republican donor Ronald Gidwitz said in an interview. Rather, his support is both tactical and complete. "He wants to see the best person win and is putting his money where his desires are," Gidwitz said.

Satter and his wife, Kristen Hertel, have put more than $352,000 into Emanuel's mayoral campaigns and supportive political committees, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records. They're among his top-flight donors, despite having spent heavily in 2012 trying to oust Emanuel's former boss, President Barack Obama. The mayor was White House chief of staff until October 2010.

Although he has a robust history of Republican contributions, Satter began giving to Emanuel in 2007, when he was an Illinois congressman, and Hertel was one of the first contributors to his first campaign for mayor. It's a reflection of donor pragmatism in Chicago, a city that last elected a Republican mayor in 1927.

"In Chicago, as everywhere, leadership is everything," said Lisa Wagner, Satter's spokeswoman. "Muneer looked at all of the candidates in the mayor's race, and Rahm was the only candidate who could effectively tackle the problems of our city."

We have also seen an orgy of no-bid awards to has donors:
In 2006, then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel attacked his Republican colleagues for oversight failures, focusing in particular on the awarding of a $7 billion no-bid contract to Halliburton, which had for a time been headed by Dick Cheney. Yet data examined by International Business Times show that, as Chicago mayor, Emanuel, a Democrat, has used an even less transparent no-bid process, where there is not even a contract, just a payout -- in many cases to some of the mayor’s largest campaign contributors.

In all, firms that have received tens of millions of dollars' worth of shadowy “direct voucher payments” (DVPs) from the Emanuel administration have given more than $775,000 worth of campaign contributions to the mayor’s political organizations. That’s a subset of the $1.2 million in total campaign contributions that Emanuel has received from employees of all vendors doing business with the city, according to municipal documents reviewed by IBTimes. Emanuel accepted those donations after signing an executive order purporting to ban campaign donations from city contractors.

Chicago’s DVP process is permitted thanks to loopholes in Illinois’ procurement law that allow municipal officials to circumvent the traditional contracting process. Unlike standard government contracts, DVP payouts do not require any type of public documentation. Emanuel appointees retain substantial discretionary authority to approve DVPs. The payments are not required to go to the lowest bidder; vendors receiving the payments do not have to list their qualifications and never need to document the services they provide to the city in return for the money. The DVPs appear to have been used for everything from phone service to interest payments to financial firms, but unlike the George W. Bush administration’s no-bid contracts, DVP payments do not even require a formal contract, so it is impossible to verify what the money purchased.

In 2010, Chicago’s inspector general issued a report that criticized the secrecy surrounding DVPs, alleged that some of the payments ran afoul of state law, and called for stronger contracting regulations. The report discourages the use of DVPs, but it does not appear to have prevented politically connected firms from benefiting from the process in a nontransparent way. The public can see which firms received the DVPs but still cannot ascertain what the citizens of Chicago received for the money -- more than $38 million of which flowed to Emanuel’s campaign donors and their lobbying clients.


Last year, IBTimes reported that Emanuel has directed tax subsidies to some of his major donors, and that he received cash from executives of firms managing city pension funds. (That disclosure prompted city lawmakers to request a Securities and Exchange Commission probe.) Emanuel also awarded coveted city-owned lakefront property to the George Lucas museum, after Lucas’ wife and Disney executives donated nearly $50,000 to Emanuel’s campaign. The Chicago Tribune has published a series detailing how millions of dollars' worth of city contracts have gone to the mayor’s top contributors.
Finally, it appears that Emanuel  has had some serious negative coat tails, with liberal reformers out-performing in the elections as well:
Not only was Mayor Rahm Emanuel forced into a primary runoff for the first time in Chicago history, there was a strong showing by progressives across the board:
Emanuel's weakness was felt all across the ballot. He'd created a super-PAC, Chicago Forward, to bail out 17 of his allies on the council and to beat progressive incumbents. Only seven of them won outright: Will Burns, Mike Zalweski, Danny Solis, Robert Maldonado, Margaret Laurino, Pat O'Connor, and Debra Silverstein. The rest were forced into runoffs, including Deb Mell, the sister-in-law of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Meanwhile, Chicago Forward had lobbed mailers at two aldermen–Scott Waguespack and John Arena–who'd asked the SEC to investigate the legality of donations to Emanuel from the executives of companies managing the city's pension funds. Arena narrowly missed a win and will head to a runoff; Waguespack won outright.

It was not all progressives wanted, but it was not what the super-PAC had wanted either. The progressive bloc was expected to expand to 12 of the council's 50 seats.

"The good guys won Round One," said Working Families Party national director Dan Cantor in a statement. "Forcing Mayor 1% into a run-off is a remarkable achievement. Along with the run-off, the progressive caucus on the Council is poised to make gains."
Again, I don't expect Rahm Emanuel to lose the runoff, but it has to be clear to his supporters, his patrons, and his various lackeys that he has been deeply damaged by his electoral performance.

As such, I cannot help but wonder if those who have hitched their star to his political career aren't making some serious contingency plans.