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*** UPDATED x1 *** Kirk blasts Indiana law as “un-American”

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* From a press release…

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement on the discriminatory law recently enacted in Indiana:

“I strongly oppose what Governor Pence did. We should not enshrine bigotry under the cover of religion. It’s not just bad practice – it’s un-American.”


    * Senator Kirk was one of 11 Republican senators to vote for the Schatz Amendment to grant married same-sex couples full access to Social Security and veterans benefits.
    * Last month, Senator Kirk signed an amicus brief, filed in the DeBoer v. Snyder case before the Supreme Court, in support of same-sex couples’ right to marry.
    * In 2013, Senator Kirk was the second Republican senator to voice support for same-sex marriage.
    * Senator Kirk was the lead Republican sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the Senate in the 113th Congress.

It’s your turn, Gov. Rauner.

*** UPDATE *** Rauner did say something today

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s troubled by what he’s read about the situation in Indiana.

“I believe Illinois has struck the right balance between religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws and I support Illinois’ position on these issues,” Rauner said.

Rauner says he believes this law will open the door for discriminatory behavior and that would be bad.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Gay marriage, concealed carry and “right to work”?

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* Scott Reeder compares the advancement of gay marriage to “right to work”

About 15 years ago, when he was running for the Democratic nomination for governor, Paul Vallas told me he supported gay marriage. Shortly after telling me that, an aide called me and said Vallas was backing off the statement.

The idea was too radical back then.

Later, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, and the idea became acceptable for the public to discuss.

It is now legal in 37 states, including Illinois.

And, last year, Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Vallas, along with his running mate, then-Gov. Pat Quinn, ran a platform of touting gay marriage legislation as a major accomplishment of the Quinn administration.

It’s an example of how, in the Overton Window model, an idea can move from unthinkable to radical to acceptable to policy.

The concept can be applied to other issues, of course.

For example, Illinois allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed firearms has moved from unthinkable to a policy in a decade, with the most visible action coming in the last few years.

Right-to-work laws could be another good example.

Five years ago, it would have been unthinkable for an Illinois governor to support a law prohibiting workers from being forced to pay money to a union in order to keep a job.

A year ago, Dan Rutherford, then a candidate for the GOP nomination for governor, told Illinois News Network it wasn’t even an issue.

Now Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for creating right-to-work zones in Illinois.

It is being treated by the political establishment in Illinois as a radical idea.

* While Illinois did pass a gay marriage bill and a concealed carry bill, most of the national progress on gay marriage has been via the federal courts, and it was a federal court which ordered Illinois to pass a concealed carry bill.

He does have a point, though. There was zero discussion of right to work before Bruce Rauner became governor. Bill Brady favored right to work in the 2010 campaign, but he didn’t talk about it a lot.

The debate is most certainly on, with Gov. Rauner relentlessly pushing his side of the argument. He may be able to swing some opinions his way, but unless the federal courts side with his “fair share” ideas, and/or unless his party gets control of the legislative district map-drawing process in a second Rauner term, this ain’t going anywhere any time soon.

* Long-term? I dunno. The unions need to do a much better job of defining themselves. To too many in the “movement,” it’s very much like a religion. They are actually a service provider, and they need to start thinking along those lines, marketing themselves as such and, most importantly, providing even more valuable services to individuals.

…Adding… From RNUG in comments…

Unions have a decent story about helping to create the middle class and they need to do a better job defining the destruction of unions being part of a plan by the 0.1% for destruction of the middle class.

I’m not sure they need to go all out against the 0.1 percenters, but they do have a great story to tell and people are becoming increasingly aware of the shrinkage of the middle class. They have a solution to a widely recognized problem.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Poll: Illinoisans not wild about fracking

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* From the Paul Simon Institute

Almost half of Illinois voters – 48.6 percent - tend to oppose hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” because of concerns about the environment, according to a new poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

By contrast, 31.8 percent believe that fracking should be encouraged for its economic benefits, and 20 percent are not sure about the issue.

Fracking is a process that utilizes high-pressure injection of water, sand, and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas from underground shale formations.

The poll, taken Feb. 28 thru Mar. 10, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Opposition is stronger in the Chicago area than it is downstate. There are 53.5 percent of Chicago and 51 percent of Chicago suburban voters who believe the practice should not be encouraged, while only 29 percent believe it should be encouraged for economic purposes. Downstate, 41.3 percent say fracking should be discouraged and 38.3 percent say it should be encouraged.

John Jackson, visiting professor at the Institute said “It is interesting to note that the highest level of support for fracking is Downstate, where it is likely to take place and have whatever economic benefit and environmental damage it may hold. “Those in Chicago and the suburbs, where it is not likely to have a direct impact are the most opposed,” he said.

Jackson added: “for all the national debate and publicity, a large percentage claim to not know much about fracking, and this is particularly surprising Downstate where it has been much debated.”

Voters’ opinions on fracking are split along party lines. Among Democrats, 19.7 percent believe that fracking should be encouraged, while 54.8 percent of Republicans want to encourage the practice. Similarly, a majority of Democrats (61.9 percent) and a minority of Republican (28.8 percent) voters believe that fracking should be discouraged due to environmental impacts.

Opinions on fracking are strongly influenced by whether or not a person believes the practice is safe. The majority (89.7 percent) of those that believe fracking is safe also believe that it should be encouraged. Similarly, the majority (92.8 percent) of those that believe fracking is not safe say it should not be encouraged.

Young people are much less likely than other groups to encourage fracking.

    Almost three-fourths (73.8 percent) of respondents aged 18 to 25 believe fracking should not be encouraged due to environmental impacts. Only 11.9 percent of young adults believe the practice should be encouraged for economic reasons.
    Location and political party affiliation appear to influence how much a person has heard about fracking.

    People in the city of Chicago have heard more about fracking than those downstate. Forty-two percent of those in Chicago have heard a lot about fracking compared to 29 percent of voters downstate.

    Republicans and independents have heard more about fracking than Democrats. Roughly 70 percent of both Republicans (69.5 percent) and independents (70.1 percent) have heard a lot or some about fracking. Only 55.8 percent of Democrats have heard the same.
    Young people and Democrats are less likely than other groups to see fracking as a safe way to extract oil and natural gas.

    Young adults (aged 18-25) are nearly twice as likely as people of other ages to believe that fracking is either not very safe or not at all safe. Fifty-nine point five percent of young adults believe the practice is not very safe or not at all safe compared to 34 percent of voters of any other age.

    The percentage of Republicans who believe fracking is either safe or somewhat safe (61 percent) is over double the percentage of Democrats who believe the same (28.3 percent). A third (35.4 percent) of independents see the practice as safe.

These opinions are set within a larger national debate over hydraulic fracturing. Fracking regulations released by the Obama administration on March 20th have received push back from both parties, with those who support fracking claiming that regulations unnecessarily slow production, and environmentalists claiming the regulations are not strict enough.

More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

Only Exelon will Benefit

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Exelon has repeatedly claimed their $1.5 billion bailout bill, the so-called “Low Carbon Portfolio Standard,” is actually “a technology-neutral policy that rewards all low carbon resources equally within a competitive market framework.” Is it?

The following exclusions are contained in the legislation:

    • No projects “whose costs were being recovered through State-regulated rates as of January 1, 2015” (Exelon’s plants were built with ratepayer funds and paid off long ago)
    • No projects with power purchase agreements longer than five years (how most independent projects are built)
    • No hydro power larger than three megawatts
    • No project unless registered in “Generation Attribute Tracking System”
    • Must meet “Minimum Internal Resource Requirements”

Crain’s put it best:

“the bill places such great limits on bidders other than Exelon’s Illinois nukes that Exelon is highly likely to win most if not all of the credits…the nukes by themselves could meet the state’s new standard.” [Crain’s, February 26, 2015 – emphasis added]

Exelon’s $1.5 Billion bailout bill ensures only Exelon will benefit. Or as the Belleville News Democrat said:

    “State lawmakers need to see this bill for the dirty trick it is and kill it.”

VOTE NO on SB1585/HB2393

Go to for more information and listen to our new radio ad here

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* I don’t think a travel ban is a wise idea. I mean, how can we poach their businesses if our state employees aren’t allowed to cross the border?

More cities and states have weighed in on SB 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by issuing bans on nonessential state- or city-funded travel to Indiana. No such plans are presently in store for Illinois, however.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, calling the law “just wrong, plain and simple,” said March 31 that Denver employees would not be travelling to the Hoosier State on city business. In doing so, Hancock joined Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, among others, in issuing such orders.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will not be issuing such a directive. Spokesperson Catherine Kelly told Windy City Times March 31: “Governor Rauner has no social agenda and is focused completely on his Turnaround Agenda, which will make Illinois more competitive for job creators and empower local voters to control their property taxes.” [Emphasis added.]

* The Question: Translate the Rauner administration statement?

- Posted by Rich Miller   105 Comments      

Finally, some coverage

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* Tribune

Amid a standing-room-only crowd, Oswego village trustees Tuesday night took no vote on first-term Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” resolution.

Rauner’s office has asked cities and villages across the state to support his initiatives aimed to “get the house in order” by changing how Illinois does business. One of the changes Rauner wants involves letting local communities enact “right-to-work” zones, which would allow voters to decide whether or not employees should be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

Organized labor unions packed Oswego Village Hall Tuesday night, with many union members urging the Village Board to reject the resolution. […]

Village President Brian LeClercq said the governor’s resolution was placed on the agenda for information purposes and there was no intention to bring it to a vote.

LeClercq suggested village trustees review Rauner’s agenda for the sheer reason of how much has been packed into the proposal.

* ABC 7

Earlier this month, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the governor’s proposal violated federal and state law. She said right-to-work laws could only be enacted state-wide, not in individual counties or cities. The issue is likely to be settled by the courts.

“This is not a local issue. So, one, why do we have it?” said Pam Parr, an Oswego village trustee.

Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq said he was asked by the governor’s office to put the issue before the board and the community.

“I think we need an adequate amount of time to digest information and then see if there’s anything we do agree on that we can take back to the governor,” LeClercq said.

* According to “Only Oswego,” it doesn’t look like this has a great post-election future

While the board did not discuss right-to-work zones after its public comment, Village President candidates Tony Giles and Gail Johnson did address the matter after the meeting.

“I believe this is a state issue, and I believe in the Attorney General’s ruling. We need to address this as a state,” Johnson said. “I don’t think Oswego should be a test case for this. I think we’ve gone down the road before of trying to go around state statute with a resolution, and we lost. We spent too much money. I don’t want Oswego known as a place for test cases to fight state law.”

Giles also said a right-to-work zone isn’t appropriate for Oswego.

“I’m a proud member of the Illinois Education Association and the Oswego Education Association,” Giles said. “I don’t see anything in what I’ve been presented so far that a right-to-work area for Oswego would be a good idea. The legalities also have to be worked out. … But I think if it’s something the Village Board wants to discuss, it’s something we should discuss just like any other issue.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Is Durbin about to lose his leadership gig?

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* Politico

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, who witnessed his rival Chuck Schumer move aggressively to secure the post of Democratic leader, may now have to fight to keep his own job.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray is refusing to rule out a run to be the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, a position Durbin wants to keep in the next Congress. Yet several Democratic sources say she is getting encouragement from senators to take on a larger role in the leadership. And the Democratic leader-in-waiting, Schumer, is open to seeing Murray elevated to whip from her current role as the caucus secretary, the No. 4 job, several sources said. […]

Reid has thrown his support to Durbin for the whip’s job, an endorsement viewed as “status quo” and not a snub of Murray, one source close to the Nevadan said. A Durbin aide asserted Monday that Schumer and Durbin had reached a deal in a private conversation in the Senate on Friday morning: The Illinois Democrat would endorse Schumer for leader, and the New Yorker would back Durbin for whip. Asked for comment, a person close to Schumer said: “It never happened, and they know it.”

* Lynn Sweet followed up

As I reported on Friday, a Durbin aide said that Durbin immediately went to Schumer on the Senate floor [after talking to Harry Reid] and told him he would support him — and that he wanted to remain as whip. The Durbin aide said that Schumer agreed to back Durbin. That was the deal.

Soon afterward, Durbin publically announced his support for Schumer. […]

Durbin spokesman Ben Marter told me on Tuesday, “The two senators agreed to support each other and shook hands on it. That’s what a deal is.”

On Friday, a Schumer spokesman told me that Schumer was just focusing on his own leadership contest. On Tuesday, a person close to Schumer told me, “The Durbin thing never happened.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Poll shows ten-point lead for Hopkins

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* I’ve avoided writing about this race mainly because Brian Hopkins and I go way, way back to our college days. But, whatever. Numbers is numbers, as they say, so for his sake, I hope this poll is accurate

A new Ogden & Fry poll on Chicago’s 2nd Ward aldermanic runoff race shows Brian Hopkins in the lead over Alyx Pattison.

The survey, conducted Tuesday on behalf of Aldertrack, showed Hopkins polling at 55.3 percent to Pattison’s 44.7 percent.

Hopkins and Pattison are competing for the open 2nd Ward seat being vacated by Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor. Fioretti opted to run for mayor after he was drawn out of his original 2nd Ward and into the 28th Ward during the 2012 remapping process.

The poll is here.

US Sen. Dick Durbin and most labor unions, among others, are backing Pattison. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, among others, are backing Hopkins.

* And speaking of Preckwinkle

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s hand-picked state Republican chairman is looking to put Democratic Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in a political trick bag on property taxes.

Republican Commissioner Timothy Schneider of Streamwood intends to ask colleagues at Wednesday’s board meeting to record their opposition to a property tax increase. The symbolic measure would not have the force of law but could tie Preckwinkle’s hands as she tries to fashion a 2016 budget with significantly higher costs from rising debt payments, increased employee salaries and possibly bigger pension contributions.

Preckwinkle, who has maintained all options are on the table for balancing next year’s budget — including the “last resort” of a property tax hike — called Schneider’s move “ill-conceived and irresponsible.” […]

The county has not increased property taxes since 1994, when an ordinance was passed requiring a two-thirds vote of the 17-member board to increase taxes by more than 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever was lower. But other local governments, including the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools, repeatedly have raised property tax collections in the last 20 years.”

Schneider is also the state GOP chairman. He has signed up two Democrats to his resolution, but needs three more to pass it.

* Other stuff…

* Old-school aldermen try to hold on in runoffs

* On Daley family’s home turf, Kozlar aims to be latest upset winner

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* I’m not sure what to make of this

Sneed has learned that Urban League President and CEO Andrea Zopp, whose resume reads like a corporate bible, is being urged to run for the U.S. Senate and is mulling it over.

Sneed also hears former White House chief of staff William Daley, the brother and son of former Chicago mayors — and others — have talked to the uber-credentialed Zopp about being a potential candidate against GOP U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk.

“Yes, I have talked to her about it and have enormous respect for her, consider her my friend, and think she would be great in government and politics — but I can’t push anybody — anyone to run,” Daley tells Sneed.

Sneed hears that a cadre of top Dem leaders are very concerned about an absence of persons of color on the Illinois Dem ticket, besides perennial Dem candidate Jesse White, whose latest incarnation is secretary of state.

A Daley-backed African-American with no political experience leaked the day after Tammy Duckworth’s campaign kickoff?

Also, Duckworth is an Asian-American, which makes her “of color.”

And what about African-American Congressman Robin Kelly, who is also interested in the seat?

If I was a tinfoil hatter, I’d almost think this was designed to split the vote somehow. But I’m not, so I won’t claim it.

Or maybe it was an April Fool’s prank.

* Also

Sneed hears rumbles a plan may be afoot to shove freshman State Sen. Tom Cullerton, (D-Villa Park) — a member of Chicago’s legendary Cullerton political clan, which includes State Senate President John Cullerton, — into Duckworth’s congressional seat. “They are trying to work out a deal,” a Sneed source said.

A deal with whom? Raja Krishnamoorthi, who has already announced his candidacy, has the ability to raise serious cash. And, yes, there are some concerns that his name could pose a problem in the general election with middle aged white ethnics, but he’s been waiting for this congressional chance for years and passed up a run for a specially created state Senate seat in 2012.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      

Chicago area powering job growth

Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

* AP

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says jobless rates fell in every Illinois metro area in February. It was the 12th straight month of across-the-board improvement.

The department said Tuesday in its monthly report on the state’s metro areas that while nine of the 14 tracked areas added jobs in February, the Peoria, Bloomington, Carbondale-Marion and Quad Cities areas all lost jobs.

However, the Bloomington area still posted the lowest unemployment rate in the state last month at 5 percent. The highest was the 7.3 percent rate in the Decatur area.

Chicago-area unemployment fell to 6.6 percent in February from 8.8 percent a year earlier.

* From IDES…

Illinois businesses added jobs in nine metros. Largest increases: Danville (+3.5 percent, +1,000), Champaign-Urbana (+2.3 percent, +2,400) and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division (+1.7 percent, +58,200). Decreases: Carbondale-Marion (-0.7 percent, -400), Bloomington (-0.5 percent, -500) and Peoria (-0.5 percent, -900). The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metros were Retail Trade (10 of 14), Government (9 of 14), Mining and Construction (8 of 14), Transportation, Warehousing and Public Utilities (8 of 14) and Education and Health Services (8 of 14).

“More Illinoisans are finding work as unemployment rates continue falling across the state. However, over-the-year, nearly 85 percent of the state’s job growth occurred in the northeastern part of the state. This regional job growth has masked losses in Peoria, Bloomington, Carbondale-Marion and the Quad Cities.” IDES Director Jeff Mays said. “Job growth needs to occur in all areas for a successful recovery.”

The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 6.5 percent in February 2015 and stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010. Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.8 percent in February and 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

* Charts…


- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

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Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015

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* *** UPDATED x1 *** Kirk blasts Indiana law as "un-American"
* Gay marriage, concealed carry and "right to work"?
* Poll: Illinoisans not wild about fracking
* Only Exelon will Benefit
* Question of the day
* Finally, some coverage
* Is Durbin about to lose his leadership gig?
* Poll shows ten-point lead for Hopkins
* Shenanigans?
* Chicago area powering job growth
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Governor sets special election dates, but they are expected to change
* Yesterday's blog posts

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          * Don’t Forget Pets When Planning for Disasters - IEMA, local emergency management agencies to focus on pet preparedness throughout April
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