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August 2011 Archives

Can president who's 'run out of friends' win?

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By now, those on the left wing know some things about the president:

-- He endlessly compromises and makes concessions to those on the right.

-- He's turned on the workers who believed in him.

-- His contempt for his allies on the left is apparent.

-- He's run out of friends.

Obama-72.jpg President Barack Obama walks out of The Coffee Mill Restaurant Monday Zumbrota, Minn., with a pie during his three-day economic bus tour. (Carolyn Kaster~AP)

-- He even, in the words of a prominent left-wing critic, "seems intent on destroying [the New Deal] before he leaves office."

Debt-ceiling woes? Tell it to the judge

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As the debt-ceiling showdown dragged on in Washington, I wondered how Judge Arthur Perivolidis would have handled it.

Perivolidis, the longest-serving judge in the Cook County court system, mediates disputes in the system's Probate Division. Arguments over such things as inheritances and trusts, some of which have dragged on and on elsewhere in the court system, are referred to him. He has a better than 90 percent record of getting them settled.

Some of the participants are so bitter toward each other that they would make the Tea Party and the Democrats look like drinking buddies. But Perivolidis winds up getting them to sign on the dotted line.

How? I checked with my sister, Teresa Frisbie, a lawyer who is director of Loyola University Chicago School of Law's Dispute Resolution Program and also mediates these types of cases. She has observed his technique, and it doesn't follow the usual mold. Mediators are taught to get the participants talking, but in Perivolidis' mediation conference room, he supplies most of the chitchat. The surprising result? He has such a warm personality, that he makes it work.

So I put the question to him today: How long would it have taken him to settle the debt-ceiling showdown?

He admitted it would have been one of his tougher assignments. As for his estimate? Chuckling, he answered: eight or nine hours.

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'Crazy Eight' doesn't look so crazy now

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Back in the 1970s, a group of independent Democrats in the Legislature was called the "Crazy Eight" because the octet wouldn't fall in meekly line with the Senate leadership. They were anti-Machine Democrats who withheld their votes on key issues until they got their way.

In 1975, for example, the Crazy Eight held up the election of former Senate President Cecil Partee of Chicago for five weeks.

One of the Crazy Eight, former state Sen. Bill Morris, who now is a director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, says it's unlikely such a group could coalesce today in Springfield.

Bill Morris-72.jpg
Bill Morris

"Now, it is very different," said Morris, who also is a former mayor of Waukegan. "It didn't cost so much to get elected then. You could maintain some level of independence. Now, the [legislative] leaders control so much money, I am not sure you could have so many independents."

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