Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Challengers Turn Out For Public Forum

Nate Legue
Northwest Herald

HOFFMAN ESTATES – The entire field of challengers hoping to knock off Democratic Congresswoman Melissa Bean next year turned out Tuesday for a forum put together by a high school political club.

Facing questions from students, five Republicans and an independent expounded on six topics: fiscal policy, the Iraq war, education, energy, medical malpractice, and eminent domain.

The forum drew about 50 people to a conference room at Stonegate Conference Center and was organized by the Barrington High School Political Science Club.

With the primary race kicking into gear well in advance of the March election, Wauconda lawyer Aaron Lincoln spoke for the Republican hopefuls.

"This is the best, clear chance to win this seat back," Lincoln said.

Other Republicans sounding off at the event included Lake Villa state Rep. Robert Churchill; Barrington Hills investment banker David McSweeney; Mundelein lawyer Kathy Salvi; and Gurnee business consultant Ken Arnold. Republican Mundelein businesswoman Teresa Bartels had to leave for another engagement.

While the Republicans riffed on varying conservative positions, independent Bill Scheurer of Lindenhurst criticized the entire two-party electoral system and expressed support for positions traditionally found on opposing ends of the spectrum.

"It would have been boring if we had all Republican candidates with the same platform," said club president Paul Ruiz.

While policy differences were slight on many issues, health-care reform brought out some contrasts. Scheurer called for comprehensive health care for everyone, while ultra-conservative Arnold, a benefits consultant, questioned whether damage caps would help the health insurance system.

"Medical malpractice is a crutch for many a politician who doesn't know the field," said Arnold, and insisted that providing consumers with information about doctors, procedures and mortality rates would bring free-market principles and lower costs to the health care system.

Even trial lawyer Salvi came out for caps on punitive damages in medical malpractice cases and said she would have voted in favor of a recent tort reform bill.

McSweeney repeatedly called out Bean on some of her congressional votes -- on tort reform, on energy policy. His strategy has been to highlight his conservative policy differences with the moderate Bean.

His rhetoric resonated with political-club member Neil Panchal.

"McSweeney was probably the best one," said Panchal of Barrington Hills. "He answered the questions directly and to the point."

But Panchal's endorsement won't do McSweeney much good -- the 17-year-old student won't be able to vote next year. Churchill said there were other reasons for appearing at the student-led forum.

"When I was their age, I was doing what they're doing," Churchill said. "Now I'm in the state legislature running for Congress. One day, one of these kids will do the same thing."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Personal Story

Bill and Randi Scheurer have lived in Lake County for 27 years, raising four children (ages 24-31) in their Lindenhurst home.

Bill has degrees in religious studies and law, and has worked as a lay minister, an attorney, and a small business owner. He now works as a writer, publisher, and peace activist.

One of the things that meant the most to him as a businessman was that he always provided full medical coverage for his co-workers, a rare achievement for a small business today.

Bill and Randi have been married for 35 years. Randi is a lifelong artist, and a creative homemaker. She has a degree in fine arts.

Two of their children have served in the military (army and marines), including tours in Okinawa, Kuwait, and Iraq. Their son is now with the national guard, stationed in Baghdad. They are members of Military Familes Speak Out.

Bill has been active in several nonprofit groups, such as P.A.D.S. (a local homeless shelter), Human Rights First, and many others.

Campaign Issues

Here are the main issues that will drive this campaign. More complete issue lists and position statements will follow on our permanent website, as we move forward with this campaign.

Basic Approach

I am a progressive conservative. Huh? Yeah, you heard me right.

"Progressive" means two things: 1) government has an important role to play in meeting human needs; and 2) those with more, have a responsibility to those with less.

"Conservative" means four things: 1) government has to pay for the good it does, with balanced budgets; 2) government should only do what works, and should do it well; 3) markets often work better than government in meeting needs; and 4) government has constitutional limits on its powers.

All of my campaign policies are driven by progressive values, tempered by conservative means.

Major Issues

When you send me to Congress, I will vote to:

1) End The Iraq War
2) Balance The Budget
3) End Our Dependency On Foreign Oil
4) Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

These are all solidly progressive positions. It is my observation that many conservatives share many of the values we have as progressives. They simply have a different philosophy about how to pursue them, and which institutions can best attain them. We can work toward common ground.

1. End The Iraq War

We have tried killing our enemies. And have learned -- that only makes more enemies. For every one we kill, we create ten more. It is time to try something else.

We now understand that peaceful diplomacy, not aggression, is the key to our security. Bush's disaster in Iraq (where my son now serves) has taught us this.

I will vote to bring our troops home, and take care of them when they get here.

2. Balance The Budget

Our government is piling up an endless stream of crushing debt on the "credit cards" of the next generation.

Deficits are taxes. Passed on to someone else. Politicians always say we need more "tax relief" to "stimulate the economy."

I guess they think the economy will take care of itself in the next generation? What we need is "tax relief" for two-year-olds. Let's end these deficits. We owe it to our children and their children.

I will not vote for an imbalanced budget. I will not vote to extend the debt limit. Period. No matter which party is in power.

Moreover, I support a balanced-budget amendment. History has made it clear that Congress and the Administration, and the Republican and Democratic parties, all lack the discipline and integrity to be trusted with our money any other way.

They are too busy giving it to their corporate sponsors in exchange for campaign contribution kickbacks. It is a dirty wash cycle, that never comes clean.

3. Ending Our Dependency On Foreign Oil

Our dependency on foreign oil and dirty fuels is wreaking havoc with our security, our economy, and the environment.

It is funding terrorism, and leading us into unjust war. We simply cannot continue on this course.

I support an aggressive development program for alternative energy technologies, similar to the Apollo space program that put a man on the moon in less than ten years.

In doing this, we must be vigilant to not let it become another form of corporate welfare for political favoritism, or let it get tied up in a bureaucracy.

We have some experiences to learn from -- the NASA program, the NIH, and others -- both, for what has worked and what has not. We also have a rich history of venture capital and university laboratory development and licensing programs.

The core technologies that come from this project will be owned by the people of the United States, for licensing to businesses on a royalty basis. This will be our oil, our national wealth.

4. Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

We have a serious national crisis in our healthcare system. It is a moral and practical failure for us to have uninsured neighbors. One that is damaging to both, our business and our humanity.

Look around us. One out of every six of our neighbors lacks healthcare coverage. It is no accident that "The Good Samaritan" parable was about taking care of sick and injured neighbors.

We must begin with a firm commitment to equal healthcare coverage for every citizen. How we achieve it, is open to debate.

I lean toward a plan of mandatory health insurance (like we have for auto insurance), based on the ideas of "universal coverage, universal responsibility." This plan shares premium costs between employers, employees, and (where needed) government.

It is an extension of private insurance coverage to everyone, not a government program. However, I am open to other approaches as well. The main thing is to get it done, and do it right.

Our current lack of universal healthcare coverage is one of the many reasons why the recent bankruptcy law changes were so hostile to family values and human life. Medical bills and lost jobs are the two biggest reasons people file for bankruptcy. Any one of us is a "pink slip" and a diagnosis away from financial ruin.

A Note On Trade:

Everyone agrees that trade is good. It is good for our economy, our security, and our humanity.

However, as a society, we need to carefully look at every trade policy, treaty, and deal -- to see who bears the costs, as well as who reaps the benefits from them.

I oppose NAFTA, CAFTA, and any approach to trade which fails to take into account any standards for labor, the environment, human rights, critical industries, or our balance of trade.

It is not enough just to get cheaper goods for those who have a job and can afford to buy them, or for businesses that are politically well-connected or big enough to profit.

We have to look at the costs to our society as a whole, and balance these against the benefits, as well as how we insure that these costs and benefits are fairly shared by all.

This requires an open process, with full representation from all interested groups at the table.

A Note On Reform:

Our democracy is drowning in dirty money. We snicker at developing countries where bribery is part of doing business. Here, we do it in the light of day, "in front of God and everyone."

The corporate two-party duopoly has given our government a "bipolar personality disorder." A dysfunctional government turns out bizarre legislation harmful to our long-term interests. People are so divided, they can't think straight, can't talk to each other.

We have to clean up the system and open it to all. With a little creativity, and a lot of resolve, we can do this in ways that still uphold our 1st Amendment free speech rights.

We need to move to a healthy, multiparty democracy, with guaranteed voting rights, equal ballot access, instant runoff voting, and real campaign finance reform.

This will invigorate our democracy and open it to broader participation and higher quality debate.

The Republican and Democratic parties do not like these reforms, because it will end their monopoly on our political system. But, it is our democracy, not theirs.

Electoral reform and media reform go hand in hand. The same corporate interests that own the parties, also own the media.

An informed public is the only sure base for a healthy democracy.

See the Interview

See the candidate interview with Lee Goodman from the AtCenterNetwork, a place where people can openly discuss the important issues of the day.

Part 1 - Iraq (see my note below)
Part 2 - Pork; Jobs; Taxes & Spending; Campaign Finance
Part 3 - Social Security & Healthcare; Education; Iran

At one point in Part 1 of the interview, I share a local "private joke" with the interviewer, who happens to be a 10th District neighbor to those of us here in the 8th District of Illinois. The premise of the joke is the fact that the person who now represents us in the 8th District, Melissa Bean -- does not live in our district, but in his.

For some reason, her opponents tried to make that a pivotal issue in the 2004 campaign. (And you wonder why they lost!?)

To me, this represents a different issue -- one of electoral reform. If it is okay for the politicians to choose their voters (through gerrymandering ridiculous district lines that bear no connection with our local sense of community, and by running for office in any district they choose), then why can't we voters also choose our politicians? Someone who we feel represents us.

If we were free in the 8th District in 2004 to make such a choice, we would not have been stuck with such a limited menu as Phil Crane and "Phyllis Crane" (the name some people jokingly gave to Melissa Bean). I would love to have been able to cast a vote for Jan Schakowsky in Cook County, Lee Goodman in Lake/Cook County, or Christine Cegelis in DuPage County, all of whom are neighbors.

So, now you can "get" the joke. I hope you get the point too.
Free the Voters!

Scheurer Versus Bean: Not In Primary

Cristel Mohrman
Pioneer Press

After losing to Melissa Bean, D-8th, in the Democratic primary in 2004, Bill Scheurer plans to return to the political scene for a rematch.

But this time, the Lindenhurst resident said he will run as either an independent or third-party candidate to ensure his name appears on the Nov. 2006 election ballot.

Scheurer, who ran last year on an agenda to end the war in Iraq, said his standpoint on that situation has not changed. This time, though, he will expand his platform to include his support of balanced budgets, the end of the United States' dependency on foreign oil and a universal health care program.

"I'm open to the approach we take on that. The main thing we have to agree to upfront is we are no longer going to have a society where one in six of our neighbors does not have health care insurance," he said.

He said his platform sets him apart from Bean, as well as the seven Republican primary candidates. But, he added, he doesn't plan to launch a campaign against Bean and the prevailing Republican candidate. Instead, he said, his efforts will focus on delivering what he believes 8th District residents want.

"We're acting like the other candidates aren't even out there. We intend to focus on the message, the issues that we want to bring to the voters," said Scheurer, who describes himself as a "progressive conservative."

"We talk about 2004 as political speech, and 2006 as political action," he added.

So far he has gained the endorsement of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The union made the maximum $5,000 donation allowed by law to Scheurer's campaign.

Scheurer, a Lake County resident for 27 years, is editor of the PeaceMajority Report as well as a writer and publisher. He holds degrees in religious studies and law. He and his wife, Randi, have four adult children, including a son who is stationed in Baghdad.