103rd District race may spark civil war among local Democrats

103rd District race may spark civil war among local Democrats

Take a look at the way Champaign-Urbana Democrats are split in the Carol Ammons/Sam Rosenberg race for the 103rd House District seat. The contest to be the Democratic nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Naomi Jakobsson of Urbana has the potential to become a civil war.

In Ammons' corner are such Democratic stalwarts as former county board chairwoman Patricia Avery, congressional candidate George Gollin, former Urbana City Council member Esther Patt, Champaign school board chairwoman Laurie Bonnett, county board members Astrid Berkson, Lloyd Carter, Pattsi Petrie and Rachel Schwartz and former County Auditor Tony Fabri.

Backing Rosenberg are State's Attorney Julie Rietz, Champaign Mayor Don Gerard, former Champaign Mayor Dan McCollum, former Urbana Mayor Tod Satterthwaite, former county board members Matt Gladney, Brendan McGinty, Susan McGrath, Tom Betz and Steve Beckett, and current board members Josh Hartke and James Quisenberry.

A few top Democrats so far have managed to stay out of the race, including Jakobsson (although her husband, Eric, is backing Rosenberg), Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and state Sen. Mike Frerichs of Champaign ("I'm 100 percent focused on the treasurer's race," said Frerichs, who is running for state treasurer).

The Democrats have been through this before, Patt recalled, with state representative races in 1992 (David Thies vs. Prussing) and 2002 (Jakobsson vs. Prussing). The party survived, and for the most part, people buried hatchets and grudges.

But Patt sounds a little less certain that will occur this year.

"Here's the difference. In 2002, neither of the candidates nor their core supporters were nasty toward the other candidate, like the Rosenberg camp is being nasty about Ammons. That's what's different this year," Patt said. "As far as how deep is the split, you always have splits in a primary. That's what happens in primaries."

But Patt contends Rosenberg supporters have taken the race to an extreme this year, citing Eric Jakobsson's criticism of Ammons' college degree from a "diploma mill" and the resurrection of the story of Ammons' (then known as Carol George) ill-fated attempt to get on the Urbana school board even though she hadn't met the residency rules of the district she was running in.

"I don't know how Eric Jakobsson and Carol Ammons sit next to each other at city council meetings," Patt said. "That nasty level of Eric's attack was really unusual for what we see in primaries around here. I think a lot of people were put off by it because it was so over the top. I think that Eric and the Rosenberg supporters who are following in that vein are maybe causing some harm that will not heal after the election."

It got worse Friday when someone tipped Capitol Fax publisher Rich Miller to an interview that Ammons gave to the online magazine Smile Politely last October. In it she said, among other things, that when her family travels to the South "we often see the Confederate flag alongside the U.S. flag. And when it comes to African-American culture and history, neither flag has been very good for African-American people. For me, in my 40s, I don't think the Confederate flag conjures as much negative feeling as it conjured for me in my 20s. It doesn't give me as much angst as seeing the U.S. flag flying coupled with lies and assaults against other nations."

At another point she said that "Angela Davis is an all-time hero to me."

Those views may be acceptable in a Democratic primary but will be a tougher sell in the general election, even in moderate to liberal Champaign-Urbana.

Patt offers a passionate argument for Ammons, but it may not be enough.

"Carol Ammons knows about people who can't afford to go to school. Carol Ammons knows about the challenges to finding housing for people with disabilities. Carol Ammons knows that minimum wage workers are not just kids who want money for video games, that they are people who have children themselves."

Patt said the party's "opinion leaders want to go with a 28-year-old man (Rosenberg) who has no experience, just based on the fact that he has a law degree from the U of I because that's what they think a state representative should be."

Meanwhile, Prussing, who for the most part has been aligned with Patt over the years (although not in the 2002 race), said she thinks the party will come out of the Rosenberg/Ammons race OK.

"I think that if the candidates act reasonably to each other that there will not be hard feelings," Prussing said. "I don't think the supporters have hard feelings. I think the supporters have preferences but they don't have hard feelings."

Twelve years after their showdown, Prussing said she and Naomi Jakobsson are friends and "are on excellent terms."

"Some people like to think that caused a split but that's not what happened," Prussing said. "I appointed Eric to the city council. I've gone to her birthday parties; I've gone to their family events."

In fact, said Prussing, "people mix us up all the time. People talk to her and they call her Laurel. They call me Naomi. I guess we're sort of the same vintage. We don't think we look like each other, but we were both county officials and both state representatives.

"The last straw was when some guy ran after my husband who was leaving a store and he said, 'Mister Jakobsson, Mister Jakobsson.' Now they're mixing up our husbands."

Davis spots

The American Chemistry Council is on central Illinois television stations with an ad praising U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, for his support of "small business, Illinois agriculture and domestic energy production."

Davis is opposed in the 13th Congressional District Republican primary by Erika Harold of Urbana and Michael Firsching of Moro.

The 30-second spot is light on details — never citing any votes by Davis or any Davis-sponsored legislation — and it doesn't mention that Davis is running in a primary election next month.

"Because ACC represents one of the nation's largest manufacturing sectors, we want to acknowledge Congressman Davis' support of policies that encourage domestic energy production and grow small businesses — policies that will foster innovation, stimulate our economy and put people in Illinois' 13th district and across the country in good-paying jobs," said American Chemistry Council CEO Cal Dooley.

The ads will run for 10 days in the Champaign and Springfield area, according to the ACC, which wouldn't say how much the ad buy was worth. They are similar to ads the group is running for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska and U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, who like Davis faces a Republican challenger.

Meanwhile, Democrat Ann Callis, who won't oppose Davis — if she ever does — until the November general election, is using the chemistry council ads to boost her fundraising.

"A massive outside group just dumped almost $250,000 on TV right here in central Illinois to try and boost the profile of beleaguered GOP Congressman Rodney Davis," said an email from the Callis campaign on Thursday. "We can't take this news lightly. With Ann's primary election only 40 days away, there's no telling what other groups could go on the air. We have to be ready to fight back and get out the facts to Illinois voters. If we don't, Ann could fall seriously behind. We're trying to reach $10,000 for our Central Illinois Rapid Response Fund before midnight tomorrow."

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette editor and columnist. His column appears on Sundays and Wednesdays. He can be reached at 351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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trysomethingnew wrote on February 09, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I am disappointed with the way the race has turned nasty

jthartke wrote on February 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

One thing people forget to mention when they talk about Rosenberg's supposed lack of experience is the fact that he served in our local states attorney office for several years. He is not JUST a U of I graduate. Though, to me, that's a good thing too.

Tvrz1 wrote on February 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm

I never thought of the Jakobssons as elitist, but Eric's recent my college is better than your college comments have opened my eyes. Is Jakobsson saying Rosenberg would be a better state rep because his mommy and daddy have more money that Ammons parents? Or is he saying Ammons isn't worthy of being state rep because she put herself through school?  Or is he saying Rosenberg is better qualified to be state rep because mommy and daddy could afford a better college than someone who had to pay their own way? The fact is you don't have to have a college degree to serve public office. This whole college thing is nothing more than a hateful immature attack. Who gives a damn where either of them went to school? The real question is who will be the better representative of the people? Who will be available to the people? Who has relevant experience? Who has fresh ideas? Who is free to do what the people want and not beholden to what wealthy endorsers/supporters want? Jakobsson and Rosenbergs other endorsers have to spew hate because their candidate isn't a free thinker and has no ideas of his own. Rosenberg supports Reagans failed trickle down economics theory. We have tried that for 30 years, it doesn't work, time for something new. Rosenberg doesn't even respond to questions submitted through his website. If he is unavailable before the election imagine how he will be after

There is a split in the local Democratic Party whether there is a primary or not. Most of Rosenbergs endorsers are Republicans who call themselves Democrats because we live in a strong democratic community and that is the only way they could get elected. This group is much like a group of spoiled immature jr high girls. If you aren't in their group you are an outsider. If you cross them one time you are an enemy and the full investigative and harassment capability of the States Attorneys office will be brought upon you. They slander, they back stab, they leak information to the press or your place of employment and do anything within their power to destroy your life. This is what Rosenberg has chosen to surround himself with, so he must be one in the same. Do we really need a Chris Christie for state rep?  

These attacks on Ammons are nothing more than revenge for Ammons stopping them from building more jails and locking people up without cause. These people don't think the rules apply to them and the News Gazette is always willing to assist them with their agenda

Political Observer wrote on February 11, 2014 at 1:02 am

First of all, I think we should all say thank you to Eric Jakobsson for being a whistle-blower on the issue of Carol's false claim about her educational background at "Walsingham University."  It's long past time for Carol to come forward and acknowledge that she bought a fake and phony degree from a degree mill, and that she was simply too embarrassed to admit it.  Right now she's doing tremendous collateral damage to her friends and supporters by pretending that she's had real educational experiences at this totally fake "University" that's supposedly located in London.  Consider those remaining friends and supporters who have tried to concoct elaborate schemes to claim that some way, somehow Carol's Phony Baloney University really exists...How will they react when they finally realize they've been played for complete fools?  How far out on a limb will they go to support Carol's untruthful claims when they begin to realize they'll have to be grabbing at twigs to try to support their arguments?

Everything about "Walsingham University" is a scam.  A very good proof has already been laid out in a series of posts by "Somebody Nobody Sent," "Not An Idiot," "Wayward," and Eric Jakobsson at this link:


(although there are probably a few other posters whose contributions on that discussion thread  should be acknowledged, as well).

Those of you who want to go on defending Carol's fake degree as legitimate should really take a look at that discussion, and get a good idea of the flim-flam that you've apparently fallen for, hook, line and sinker.

Political Observer wrote on February 11, 2014 at 1:02 am

Now, I realize there's a lot of reading at the link I just gave you, and some of you may be pressed for time, so here's a very simple way to see for yourself that Carol's "Walsingham University" is a completely bogus fabrication.

All you need to do is copy and paste the telephone number below (including the quote marks)

"(770) 621-4649"

into the search inquiry box of your favorite search engine, and then look through the search results that you obtain.  Somewhere among those search results, you should find 4 hits, that I've labeled 1 through 4 below:

    1.  Distance Learning
    For more information about Stafford University, please call us at (UK) +44 20 8458 1529, (US 24 hrs) (770) 621-4649 or write to us at 10 COLLEGE TERRACE , ...

    2.  Projects
    For more information about Stafford University, please call us at (UK) +44 20 8458 1529, (US 24 hrs) (770) 621-4649 or write to us at 10 COLLEGE TERRACE , ...

    3.  Programme Options
    For more information about Stafford University, please call us at (UK) +44 20 8458 1529, (US 24 hrs) (770) 621-4649 or write to us at 10 COLLEGE TERRACE , ...

    4.  Walsingham University
    (UK) +44 20 3239 1654 or (US) (770) 621-4649 10 COLLEGE TERRACE, LONDON E3 5AN, UNITED KINGDOM registrar@walsingham.ac. Content copyright ...

Search result #4 above is Walsingham University's website, www.walsingham.ac.  The telephone number that I had you copy and paste into your favorite search engine turns out to be Walsingham's US phone number, as you can see from the material given in search result #4.

What's interesting here is that search results #1 through #3 are links to "Stafford University." which has the same U.S. phone number as "Walsingham University."  Isn't that interesting?  Two different universities that have the same U.S. phone number!

And, not only that, but they're both also supposedly located at the same physical address of 10 College Terrace in London!   Hmmm.....

Political Observer wrote on February 11, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Now, having done this with Walsingham's *US* phone number, you can do a similar thing with "Walsingham's" *British* phone number, as well.  Just copy and paste their British telephone number below (including the quote marks)

"+44 20 3239 1654"

into the search inquiry box of your favorite search engine, and then look through the search results you obtain.  

You should find 3 hits, that I've labeled 1 through 3 below:

1.  Distance Learning -Contact
E-mail: registrar@stafford.ac. Lewiston Mews Old Cross London SE10 8PR +44 20 3239 1654. US Office: Norwood, MA 02062 +1 206 984 0007 ...

2.  Walsingham University
(UK) +44 20 3239 1654 or (US) (770) 621-4649 10 COLLEGE TERRACE, LONDON E3 5AN, UNITED KINGDOM registrar@walsingham.ac. Content copyright ...

3.  CONTACT US - Walsingham University
Telephones: (UK) +44 20 3239 1654. (US) +1 (858) 237 9993. E-mail registrar@walsingham.ac. Content copyright . walsingham.ac. All rights reserved. Content ...

Note that search hit #1 is the fake "Stafford University,"  while search hits #2 and #3 are the fake "Walsingham University."

So "Walsingham University" and the fake "Stafford University" share the same *US* phone number, the same *British* phone number, and the same physical British address of 10 COLLEGE TERRACE, LONDON.

Political Observer wrote on February 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Here's a link to State of Illinois legislation, with regard to the criminal code applicable in the case of an individual using a fake higher education degree:


Political Observer wrote on February 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Interesting, isn't it, that while the Illinois legislation covers fake degrees from Illinois colleges and junior colleges, and then goes on to also cover fake degrees from other colleges and junior colleges in the US, it apparently leaves a loophole for those coming from colleges outside the US?...

Political Observer wrote on February 12, 2014 at 12:02 am

But then again, is a college really "outside the US" if its computer servers are actually located in the US, and if the college doesn't really have a physical presence (just a fake address) in a country like, say, England?  

After all, there is now a document from the British that says that there never has been a "Walsingham University" there...


Tvrz1 wrote on February 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

Kacich is quick to quote Ammons and try to make her out to be a radical and a racist. Kacich quotes some of Rosenbergs endorsers, but curiously left out racist remarks made by Rosenbergs #1 cheerleader Champaign County States Attorney Julia Reitz. Anyone remember Reitz calling Then Champaign County Board member Carol Ammons a "token person of color" on live TV? If you don't, google it. This campaign is as much about race as anything else. If it isn't then Rosenberg should publicly denounce any association with Reitz. If he does that, I might actually vote for him. 

As far as Rosenbers  association with the Champaign County States Attorney's office is a negative to many voters. I am a Democrat, but I vote for anyone who runs against Reitz and vote for anyone who runs against someone endorsed by Reitz. Her involvement in the Hynes campaign cost him Champaign County and I'm hoping her involve not in the Rosenberg campaign will end in the same result.

Political Observer wrote on February 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

The more one looks into this issue of the fake "Walsingham University," the more bizarre it seems that Carol and some of her most strident supporters apparently continue to claim that it really exists.  What kind of fools do they take us for?

For example, there are a lot of online real estate firms in London, just like in US cities, that allow you to type in a physical address and see photos of the real estate at that address...and it turns out that these firms will give you interesting photos for the supposed "Walsingham University" address that came up in our search results above.  (It's a bit like the street-view feature of Google Maps and Google Earth that many of you may have experimented with at one time or another.)

It's not difficult to do:  One easy way to take a quick look at what's at the "Walsingham University" address in London is to just copy and paste into your search inquiry box the address we obtained in the searches above (along with the quotes):


When you do this, and quickly browse the search results, you don't find anything that looks like a University there, since it's a residential area.  (There are some good looking residences in that neighborhood, some expensive townhouses since it's a nice area in London, but nothing that looks anything like a "University" might...and, of course, there's nothing marking the 10 College Terrace address as a "University," like a sign, for example.)

But, then again, by now, unless you're a diehard Carol believer like Esther Patt, you didn't really think there was going to be a real University there, did you?


Political Observer wrote on February 12, 2014 at 12:02 pm

There's also a second "physical address" that "Walsingham University" uses on its website, this one for its Registrar's Office, that's supposedly located at "3 Camborne Road, London."

What's kind funny, though, is that if you look that address up on various London real estate websites, many of the sites not only provide photos of the addresses in the area where the Registrar's Office is supposed to be, but they also provide sales information.

And that sales information poses a bit of a problem for those who might want to believe that the supposed dear ole Registrar's Office of Carol's beloved "Walsingham University" really exists in London where the Walsingham website says it should be. 

You see, it seems that the *real person* who really owned the property that's located where the fake Registrar's Office is supposed to be happened to sell it to another buyer in 2012!  Oops!

I guess that's part of the problem with degree mills trying to use what are apparently real physical addresses to try to convince suckers that they really exist...they can't control what happens at the real physical address over time...

(And, of course, they can't hang a sign out front, either, to make it seem like they actually have a physical presence there.)


alabaster jones 71 wrote on February 12, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Profile Picture

Our resident long-winded partisan hack is back, and he/she is here with twenty posts all making the same point, supporting the partisan hack candidate in the race.

What a surprise!

At least you didn't link to any of your previous comments on different articles this time, prefaced with a suggestion that "you might find this interesting."

cretis16 wrote on February 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

Thanks Pol Observer..some interesting reads, that some folks seem to be up in arms over. Nice to see the truth," bubble" to the top. The Sears Diploma from Ammons should be enough to have here somehow graceful bow out. .but no, now we have the "hate America flag" incident and the out right lie about school residency. Somehow through all this, some posters are pulling out the Halloween gear and painting Ammons as the victim? This woman is less than truthful and should do the right thing and resign, else more embarrasing truths come forth.