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Al Kurtz gets the last laugh as Young Dems struggle politically

Let's make a long story short.  The Young Dems made a splash by starting off their existence with a high profile fight with Al Kurtz and successfully helping Pius Weibel beat him in the primary.  He was prominently featured on the Young Dem hit blog "Big Debbie's House".   If you listen closely, you can hear Big Al's bellowing laughter in the distance as the Young Dems have fumbled on several key plays.   Here's a quick breakdown on how and why Josh Harke lost his bid for CB Chair:   

1. The Republican caucus on the Champaign County Board  was not a fan of Josh Hartke long before his name was introduced for CB Chair. When Hartke addressed the Republicans on the CB and told them "to the victors go the spoils", let's just say they were eager to see him lose. 

2. After Josh was nominated by the Dem caucus, three things happened that resulted in him losing: (1) An anonymous person wrote into the 11/21/14 Tom's Mailbag and Josh Hartke responded by attacking those who elected Kurtz CB Chair in 2012 in an alleged "secret vote" (2) An anonymous commenter on the N-G publicized his past legal troubles and those claims checked out with a simple internet check (3) Astrid Berkson (one of those who voted for Kurtz) changed her mind after reading that quote and then learning the extent of Hartke's past legal issues.  She has made this explanation perfectly clear both in her speech on the night of the vote and on the CCDems facebook page. 

3. The Democrats were very angry in their reaction and didn't waste any time calling Pattsi names, throwing out conspiracy theories, spreading false smears, and immediately worked with Smile Politely to attack her integrity. It turns out Pattsi completed a questionnaire where she made it clear that she had supported the Dem caucus nominees in the past and asked "why would this time be any different?". The answer, after lengthy conversations on the CCDems facebook page, was that Astrid Berkson and no Republican would be voting for Josh Hartke as Josh was labeled "objectionable". 

The rest would be history, but the war still seems to be raging on theCC Dem facebook page. Many lies and conspiracy theories against Pattsi and Astrid were ultimately debunked. There was no secret vote as Hartke claimed. There were no promises in exchange for votes. Pattsi was not behind any false smear campaign and Astrid (with a little help from yours truly) proved that only false smears came from Josh and his allies. The President of the Young Dems resigned his position on the County Board with a one-line resignation and did not respond to WCIA and News-Gazette media inquiries after they reported that Scott Redenbaugh accepted a job in Chicago. 

At the end of the day, all accounts suggest that Josh is a very good Democrat, friend and ally if he's on your side. The County Board was his to lose and he went out of his way to make that happen. I hope he sticks around and I'm confident he'll bounce back.  After this brutal chain of events, I might even be rooting for him.   I suspect the Young Dems have learned from their mistakes and will work to be a more positive presence in local political discourse and will hopefully get out of "Big Debbie Mode" as Astrid Berkson made reference to in facebook discussions.  

Eric B: Welcome to the new and improved Halfway!
Enjoy the new and improved Halfway Interesting.  Halfway Interesting will be aggregating the most interesting political news content for state and local policy and elections.   Of course, I will be providing the occasional supplement from time and time when the situation requires.   Be sure to check out our BlogTalk page for in-depth interviews with C-U's political movers and shakers.  If you have any suggestions on news stories, please DM me on Twitter or FB.  Enjoy!
Hartke attack backfires big time

Josh Hartke's legal problems are well-known and well-documented.   His behavior in County Board meeting is notably unprofessional.   I was quite surprised to learn the Dems had nominated him for the County Board.   Last night the County Board once again ingored the wishes of the Dem Caucus and voted Pattsi Petri as the County Board Chair and Jeff Kiber as the Vice Chair.  HERE is the N-G article  

The quote that really stands out to me is this: 

"I voted for Josh in the caucus and when the paper reported his DUI, I still supported him," Berkson said. "However, we have since learned that he has four criminal misdemeanors, including one week jail time. This is not a second chance but a fifth chance.

"And there are these financial judgments against him, including one with a body attachment in which he was supposed to show up in person and did not. The chairman of the county board is the highest elected official in the county, and these are not the proper credentials for the job."

Ouch!   Another notable quote from this situation that really stands out to me was from Tom Kacich's November 21 Mailbag (HERE):

Hartke asked that the following comment be included: “I find it very disingenuous to be attacked for transparency and openness by the people who elected Al Kurtz to be board chair with a secret vote. That’s my comment. People can be anonymous if they want, but I’ve owned up to my mistake. I hope everyone else can as well.”

Hartke seems to suggest it was a one-time lapse in judgement while his legal history tells a much different story.  So while Hartke is being less than transparent, he calls out Astrid Berkson (one of the two Dems to vote for Al Kurtz).   How did that work out?   Was she intimidated?  Hell no.   She stood up at the meeting and knocked him the f*** out!   

Hartke might want to change his style and/or be more careful who he messes with. 

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Senate contender?
Al Klein and Frank Wright, the Democratic Party chairmen of Champaign and Vermilion counties, are staying mum about whom they're considering for appointment to the Illinois Senate seat being vacated by Mike Frerichs.But one name has popped up.
Tom's Mailbag Dec. 5, 2014
Questions about Candlestick Lane and the downtown Champaign Christmas parade, about progress on Windsor Road, long waits for a freight train and about political disputes regarding the county board, the county nursing home and candidate petitions in Champaign.
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