WeatherTech’s made-in-America success story

by Crains

The man behind WeatherTech floor mats, Dave MacNeil, is one serious car guy.

A tour of his company’s west suburban manufacturing plants finds him behind the wheel of a BMW M5, reputedly the fastest four-door sedan out there, and then a Porsche, after a stop to show off his private museum of vintage Ferraris and Mercedes. The road trip ends at MacNeil Automotive Products Ltd.’s retail showroom in Bolingbrook, where a pristinely restored 1965 Aston Martin DB5—the car Sean Connery drove as James Bond in “Goldfinger”—greets guests by the front door.

Mr. MacNeil is serious about something else, too: waving Old Glory.

In an age when much manufacturing has been outsourced to China and other low-wage nations, WeatherTech’s entire line of more than 5,000 car floor mats, rooftop cargo carriers, side-window deflectors, license plate frames and mud flaps is made in America, much of it in the 400,000 square feet of factory and warehouse space in Downers Grove and Bolingbrook he built in the past five years. He reminds everyone of that fact in an almost-impossible-to-miss outpouring of print ads, billboards and television commercials.

McSweeney-Franks Aim to End Alternate Revenue Bond Abuses

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and State Representative Jack Franks (D-Marengo) have filed HB983; a bipartisan effort they say ensures greater fiscal accountability.

According to a McSweeney press release, recent reports have exposed how the current alternate revenue bond law has facilitated risky deals that have resulted in increased local taxes. If passed, his new legislation would address the ease at which alternative revenue bonds are issued because the current process sidesteps taxpayers and property tax caps in many cases.

“This is a common sense bill that allows taxpayers to more easily organize a referendum to oppose local borrowing proposals,” said McSweeney (photo right). “We are talking about large sums of taxpayer money. Property taxes are skyrocketing while local governments keep borrowing for what they want and cannot afford.”

Red Light Citations With False Signatures Not Voided

by Maryland Speed Cameras

In February 2011, WBAL TV reported that a deceased police officer “signed” over 2000 red light camera tickets issued by the city of Baltimore.  The signatures on the citations were clearly false, since it would have been physically impossible for this officer to have signed the citations.  Indeed, had an ordinary citizen signed the name of a police officer on an official document, it would be considered forgery, which would be illegal even if there were no requirement in the law that red light camera tickets be signed.   However an email released by the City shows that as of August 24, 2012 — 18 months after the incident was publicized  — Baltimore City had not chosen to make the situation right by voiding the falsified citations.

The Burden of Transparency

“You cannot improve what you cannot measure.” – Trustee Skillicorn

Chicago Tribune Editorial

This much-abused loophole lets officials withhold too much public data from Illinois citizens

Nine months ago, the nonprofit For the Good of Illinois asked the Illinois comptroller’s office for a line-by-line accounting of state spending for 2011. The group wants to post an online “checkbook” for public review at its website, openthebooks.com.

It’s still waiting.

CEO Adam Andrzejewski, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010, says the group requested similar records, some dating back to 2001, from the city of Chicago and all of the state’s public colleges, universities and school districts. All except the state comptroller complied.

Illinois law says the records are public. But it also says a government body can be excused from releasing them if doing so is “unduly burdensome.” Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says it would take many staffers many hours to review, redact and assemble the records requested by For the Good of Illinois.

The state attorney general’s public access counselor, which mediates such disputes, agrees.

That’s a tough argument to swallow in this digital age. A computer — and a teenager — could make short work of that request, right? Andrzejewski thinks Topinka is hiding something. He’s taking her to court.

Chicagoans Fight Back Against Red Light, Speed Cameras

by The Expired Meter

Stephen Hinton doesn’t like Chicago’s red light cameras.

Over the years, like the hundreds of thousands of other drivers who are issued RLC tickets every year, the 49-year old Chatham resident has received his share of those $100 tickets being photographed entering an intersection when the traffic light had turned red.

But Hinton says it was the third, and most recent RLC ticket he received at 95th and Stony Island about a month ago that was at least part of the inspiration for starting an online petition to rid Chicago of the cameras.

“I see the glaring disservice the red light cameras do to the citizens of Chicago,” said Hinton when asked why he started the petition. “It’s unfairly taking advantage of the citizens of Chicago.”

Because drivers can only fight their tickets in-person Monday through Friday, Hinton says it’s difficult for the typical working Chicagoan to take time away from work to try to contest these violations. According to Hinton, the difficulty in contesting these tickets forces drivers to pay the fines before they double to $200.

Town Caught Breaking Speed Camera Law

By Dan Morse

Maryland

One of the nation’s most well-known sporting venue hecklers – Bethesda attorney Robin Ficker – went to court Monday and turned his sights on a new opponent: a Montgomery County speed camera. And he won.

Ficker contested the $40 citation leveled against him after a camera zapped him on Sept. 5 driving down Jones Bridge Road, between Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area.

Ficker argued that the location of the camera was on a stretch of road that wasn’t residential in nature and didn’t comport with what Ficker called the stated purpose of Montgomery’s speed cameras: slowing down drivers in residential areas or near schools. Ficker said that the nearest house in one direction of the camera was 270 yards; in the other direction, 370 yards. Further, Ficker said, the street where the camera is placed is bordered on one side by a golf course and the other by a medical facility.

For years, Ficker was a staple behind the players’ bench at National Basketball Association games, cheering for the Washington Wizards when they were known as the Bullets. He has also appeared at Washington Nationals baseball games and University of Maryland wrestling matches. He has had ups and downs in his law career.

Ficker said there is a place in the county for speed cameras: in residential areas or near schools, so long as the school cameras are not activated on weekends when there is no school activity. But he said the county should refund $40 to everyone who has gotten a ticket from this particular speed camera. The county should turn off the speed camera or remove it. Then, officials “should put up a sign that says. ‘We’re sorry and we’re going to be sending out refunds.’”