Thursday, January 29, 2009

Road Trip!

Thank you to guest blogger Paul Wilkinson for not only this newsy post, but also for his entertaining company on our roadtrip to Springfield to see one of our favorite gals!

On Joan Krupa's final day as our state representative, Diane and I road tripped to Springfield. As avid supporters of Joan, I wanted to give her a gift, namely pictures of her time in the state capital. Having organized a trip for Neighborhood leaders to Springfield to meet with Rep. Aaron Schock and Senators Koehler and Risinger, and with previous instructions from County Board Member Allen Mayer, I felt ready to tackle this task.

When one enters the capital, one sees the ornate beauty of the place and there is definitely a vibrancy in the air. Having been in the U.S. Capital with Aaron the week before, Springfield seemed almost peaceful. It was the last day of the session. Joan took Diane and I to the gallery, where we were allowed to take pictures of the House in session. There were several memorials and tributes to services to those who had passed away and those who were not returning to serve. Sometimes the speech was very solemn, sometimes filled with laughter.

It's odd when one reads on the internet people who make such disparaging and personal comments about our leaders. Witnessing the events we saw brings to reality that these are people doing their job. Sometimes we agree, sometimes not. Like most jobs, some are better at it than others.

In monitoring Joan, she exhibited a sense of style and grace which greatly fit in with the decorum of this day. She was definitely proud to serve the people of her district, even if only for a few days. Joan's participation in the historic vote to impeach the governor and her proposal of legislation to regulate predatory practices of payday loan companies, indicates her willingness to work to benefit the people of this district and of the entire state as well.

As Diane quickly found out, what one plans to happen in Springfield, seldom pans out. We anticipated a short house session on their last day, but it was not. It was wonderful that Joan was recognized for her efforts by the house floor. As a moment of the occasion, Joan gave me a an autographed copy of the the special investigation into the impeachment of the Governor. It however, made for a long day as the session ran into the late afternoon. Plans for lunch with Joan and Rep. Leitch quickly evaporate. It did allow us to explore the capital, a building I had not actually toured since the 5h grade...a few short years ago (hey it's my blog entry okay, haha).

I highly recommend to those that have not been able to witness our legislators at work to go view the process. It changes your perception and creates more realistic expectations of what can be accomplished and more importantly the work it takes to accomplish it.

I would like to congratulate Joan on her efforts and hope she has fond memories of the good experiences involved. I know she developed several lasting friendships through on this road traveled.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A word about Carpet Fresh...

Don't use it. Just don't. I'd rather smell your 6 cats, last nights broccoli, even your stinky feet. Just please don't cream your house with Carpet Fresh and make me or your future buyer inhale it. Thank you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Aaron goes to Washington...

My dear friend and Guest blogger Paul Wilkinson had a birds eye view of Congressman Aaron Schock's swearing in ceremony last week in Washington, DC. Here, Paul shares his insights and his amazing original photos.

I am one of the lucky ones that was able to fly out with Aaron Schock to his Congressional Swearing in. It is an honor that I will remember for all my days. On the trip was an interesting cross section of supporters, wealthy and not, Republican, Democrat, old and young, family, friends, and a few of Aaron's mentors. Most of these people I had met on the campaign trail along the way. I did make a number of new and lasting friends.

The experience can only be described as a whirlwind. Aaron and his staff clearly had worked very hard to make the events as special to his family and guests as to himself. Those efforts enhanced the experience. Since we were only there 50 hours it still seems a surreal experience. We flew out on a chartered DC-9 with about 100 people from Peoria early Monday Morning. The sunrise was spectacular. When we entered DC we were greeted by the sights of Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, and finally the Capital Building, a short walk from the hotel.

This was my fifth trip to DC. It is always an amazing city. We received a special tour of the Capital Building, including the new visitor's center. Aaron and his staff took us on to the Floor of the House. We explored some of the tunnels under the Capitol complex to get around. President-elect Obama was in the Capital, hence security was very tight. Odd to see armed men in and around the Capital. Last time I had been there was before 9-11. It did not diminish the awe of the place. So much history, so much action in one place. It seemed every corner we turned there was a familiar face from the news or a well known leader. We were allowed on the House Floor as well.

Later that evening there was a welcome dinner and a night tour of the monuments. I did not attend these events, instead I headed out to Maryland to see good friends from high school and their twin girls. In speaking to others, the tour was no less than spectacular and led by Aaron's Chief of Staff Steven Shearer who lived in DC for a long time before he worked for Aaron. I have always wanted to see the monuments at night. This definitely invokes the need for another DC trip.

The next morning I headed back to DC where one of the fireman who came with us and I headed out to see what we could see. The subway system in DC is one of the best I have ever experienced. We headed over to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Museums. After a brief tour, we headed back to meet the others at the Billy Goat Tavern, a famous DC landmark. Aaron's supporters filled the place to watch his swearing-in. While there, we shared stories of the trip and memories of Aaron, local events back home and simply good comaraderie. We witnessed Aaron's first vote.

We had some of the afternoon free, then met the group for another trip to the Capital. There we were privileged to attend Aaron's personal swearing-in event with Speaker Nancy Pelosi whom we all got to meet and shake hands with. Group pictures were taken, including the one gracing the papers here in Peoria. If you note, I was not in any of those pictures as I was in my usual spot behind the camera. I was able to surrender my Canon briefly to a staff member who took a couple of pictures with Aaron, Madame Speaker, and myself.

We then went to the library of Congress. Breathtaking is the only word to describe this building...truly a "National Treasure" (if you're a movie buff)...ha-ha, Aaron took us into a room reserved for Congressional members only. If I understood correctly, in this room were books from Thomas Jefferson. Again the sense of awe and the weight of history in this room was simply staggering.

The highlight of the trip was the Inagural Dinner for Aaron and his supporters in the Members Room at the Library of Congress. The view of the Capital Dome at night was a prominent feature right out the window. Congressman Bob Michel spoke. His enthusiasm was most certainly contagious. This is a man, who has loved his life of service and is completely thrilled to see the next generation follow in his foot steps. Former Congressman and Secretary of Transportation designee Ray LaHood also spoke. How wonderful for Peoria and the 18th Congressional to have Ray LaHood as a cabinet member and Aaron in Congress. I am hoping for great things. Every detail of that dinner was clearly meticuiouly planned for the benefit of those attending.

Again, my thanks to the staff for all their hard work on this event. That night we were blessed to be in the presence of great men and women, leaders at all levels of life. I fully believe that Aaron is on his way to being one of those men that history will remember for generations to come. To be priveleged to have helped him along the way and to have some small influence on his path to reaching his full potential is simply beyond words. Aaron is a good man and valued friend.

The trip wrapped up with the flight back. While waiting for take off, President Bill Clinton's plane was next to ours and I snapped off a few photos of him walking off his plane.

I only had two regrets from this trip. The first is that due to a work schedule conflict and finances I could not share this experience with someone that I care deeply about. The second regret is that I was unable to witness Joan Krupa being sworn-in to take Aaron's seat in Springfield for the last 10 days in his State Rep, term. I was thrilled that she was able to serve the people of the 92nd, even if only for a few days. She was able to cast a historic vote for the impeachement of the Governor.

Guest Blogger Paul Wilkinson is President of the Peoria Neighborhood Alliance and the current president of the Altamont Park Neighborhood Association. He is the 2008 recipient of the "Mayors award" for his work in neighborhood clean-up efforts. He was instrumental in securing state and federal tax ememptions for both organizations.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Joan Krupa goes to Springfield

Residents of the 92nd District remained unrepresented today.. for a full 90 minutes. Aaron Schock officially resigned his position as State Representative effective 5:00PM today, but by 6:30PM, Joan Krupa was appointed, approved, and sworn in as his interim replacement. Although she will serve for only 10 days, it appears likely she will arrive in Springfield at a key moment in Illinois government.

All indications are that the State Legislature will move quickly to commence impeachment proceedings against embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich. It seems likely that Joan will participate in that process as well as tender a vote.

The theme of Joan's entire campaign was an emphasis on bringing about respectability and integrity to our state government. When she said that though, I doubt she meant it quite that literally! My best to Joan and her family!