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Howlett Building update 4

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

From the AP:

Netting over a six-story open atrium in a state government building collapsed, tearing down stone that broke through the ceiling of a room below and injured at least three people Wednesday.

The falling stone left a 60-foot-long gash a couple feet wide in the floor of the atrium in the Michael J. Howlett Building, just south of the Capitol.

At the time, at least a dozen people were in the room below answering phones for the Secretary of State’s office. Dave DeFraties, chief of operations with the Springfield Fire Department, said three people hit by debris falling from the ceiling were hospitalized.

“I could just hear people screaming that they were hurt,” said Peggy Bartling, who was inside the room when the ceiling fell shortly before 2 p.m. She believes at least one person had serious head injuries.

Elaine Digiovanna, who was also in the room, said the lights flickered and a few seconds later the ceiling caved in. She said the room filled with a strong odor and people were ordered to evacuate.

Authorities also temporarily evacuated the state Capitol and other nearby buildings, concerned that the odor could be a gas leak. DeFraties said the stone had actually ruptured part of a sewer line.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Howlett Building update 3

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

I need to get out of here for a while, but check this link for updates on the situation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Howlett Building update 2

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

Gas leak was apparently not the cause, but a result of the collapse.

Anti-bird netting was over an open area in the center of the building. Heavy snow buildup on the netting may have caused the collapse of the roof below. The Howlett is a square building that’s empty in the middle. The roof which collapsed is just above ground level.

Entire Capitol Complex evacuated because of the gas leak.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Howlett Building update 1

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

According to the secretary of state’s office, the collapse occurred at about 1:45 pm.

The collapse happened above the Howlett’s atrium area. Cement came through the floor of the atrium and hit a lower-level room. Normally, there are about 55 people in there, but probably fewer than that today because of the holiday. No official reports on injury status.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the families and we hope nobody is seriously hurt here,” said Dave Druker of the secretary of state’s office.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Breaking News

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

Middle part of the Howlett Building’s roof has reportedly collapsed. Several injuries, none of them reportedly life-threatening. The cause was reportedly a gas leak.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

A Proclamation.


The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Comptroller’s office disuptes analysis

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

Comptroller Dan Hynes’ spokesman, Alan Henry, called a few minutes ago to talk about OneMan’s analysis of Hynes’ plastic surgery tax proposal to fund stem cell research which I linked to earlier.

First, Henry said, this is not a simple billion-dollar loan. The 25-year bonds will be issued in $100 million increments per year over a ten-year period.

In the first year, the 6 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery would raise $15 million, based on $250 million in procedures.

Hynes estimates a 20 percent growth in revenues per year. Medical inflation for the past ten years and increased usage for the past five years were used “very conservatively” to come up with that number, Henry said.

The expected interest rate would be 6.5 percent (higher than OneMan’s estimate of 5.11 percent). The “peak debt service” (the highest point of the payout) would be in 2017, and the payout amount that year would be $93 million.

According to Henry, there will be “more revenues than debt service in the early years.” The excess early money would be put in a fund and then used to make higher payments down the road. “It’s self-funded from beginning to end,” Henry insisted.

Henry was calling from his cellphone, but will be e-mailing me a spreadsheet when he gets back to his office. I’ll post it here.

UPDATE: The person responsible for putting together the package is not at work today, but here’s some more info (xls download).

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


House and Senate schedules (updated)

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

Raj over at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law sent me this e-mail:

Hey Rich,

I vaguely remember from the CapitolFax blog that you’re a Mac user. I don’t know if you use iCal, but if you do, I’ve set up a shared iCal calendar loaded with the 2005 Illinois House schedule– hoping that it’ll save other Mac users in Springfield from entering all these dates by hand. I’ll do the same for the Senate in a few days. Details are below:

You can view the calendar at:
webcal://ical.mac.com/rdnayak/Illinois32House32(94th32GA).ics

Take care,
Raj

Since then, Raj has posted the Senate calendar, which is here, and the calendar subscription, which is here.

Raj tells me that non-Mac people who use WebDAV-compliant PC calendars can also use this service.

UPDATE: Raj is a busy little bee today. The other calendars had tabs for perfunctory days in the same color as regular session days. Click here to view the perfunctory only calendar, and click here to subscribe to the perfunctory calendar. It’s now much easier to read.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Would this be legal?

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

I just noticed a couple of e-mails I received last week (”cf” refers to Capitol Fax):

From: [redacted]
Date: November 19, 2004 7:25:50 AM CST
To: “Capitolfax”
Subject: Fw: COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DO NOT FORWARD
Reply-To: [redacted]@aol.com

Just shot a deer while reading cf

And then less than an hour later:

From: [redacted]
Date: November 19, 2004 8:20:46 AM CST
To: “Capitolfax”
Subject: Re: COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DO NOT FORWARD
Reply-To: [redacted]@aol.com

Just shot another one. Looks like we’ll have to have a wild game bbq night

The information age is truly ubiquitous if a hunter is reading Capitol Fax while shooting deer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Body(guard) Slam

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

Yesterday’s State Journal-Register included a stinging editorial about the governor’s alleged misuse of his security detail.

…Never underestimate Rod Blagojevich’s ability to take angry people and further enrage them with his deft lack of timing. Soon after people watched or read about the governor’s security detail extravagances, they also learned some other state news.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is laying off 87 more people. Happy holidays, folks. And while we know it’s going to be tough to head into the holiday season without a job, you can at least take solace in the fact that the governor is safe and a state trooper with a hairbrush is always near at hand should the harsh winter winds muss that beautiful head of hair.

Ouch.

And this cartoon by the SJ-R’s never-disappointing Chris Britt is an absolute must-see.

Today’s SJ-R has some quotes from Lt. Governor Pat Quinn which probably won’t sit well with the governor.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who campaigned a decade ago against excessive use of state security guards, said Tuesday that recent revelations about the size and activities of the protective force assigned to Gov. Rod Blagojevich paint a “terrible” picture of public officials.

“We don’t want to spend taxpayers’ money needlessly,” Quinn said. “Security is not for the vanity of the politicians. It’s for the protection, really, of the public.”

Quinn stressed that elected officials, including the governor, need reasonable protection in this “age of terrorism.” But he said he is troubled by revelations in a report aired on WLS-TV Channel 7 in Chicago last week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Rockford Files

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

As referenced in today’s Capitol Fax,this morning’s Rockford Register-Star has a story about the governor’s comments on gaming expansion. Excerpts:

Rockford is the kind of place lawmakers had in mind in the early 1990s when they created licenses for 10 gambling riverboat casinos, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Tuesday.

“The original intent was to help economically struggling areas, towns and communities that are suffering from the loss of manufacturing jobs and heavy industry because of the changing economy, and specifically, those communities on rivers. … Rockford is tailor-made for a riverboat,” Blagojevich said after an event at the Cherry Valley toll plaza.

Rockford “also has the additional benefit of keeping some of our dollars in Illinois from going to Wisconsin and keeping them in Illinois. On merits, Rockford makes a pretty strong case,” he said. Pro-gambling forces in Rockford warn that an American Indian-owned mega-casino planned for nearby Beloit, Wis., would siphon tax dollars from Illinois.

Blagojevich said he’s open to limited expansion of gambling to ease the state’s budget woes. [Snip]

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, huddled with Blagojevich for about five minutes, then said he’s hopeful a bill could emerge in January, when the lame-duck legislative session meets for two days.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Hynes’ facelift tax examined

Wednesday, Nov 24, 2004

This story is now superceded by this one. The comptroller disputes the figures below.

As promised, here is the story that examines the funding mechanism for Comptroller Dan Hynes’ stem cell research proposal. From One Man’s blog:

Ok, lets run some numbers. $1 billion in new debt financed by taxes on facelifts. So assuming the bonds will be 20 year notes you are looking at an interest rate of at least 5.11% so 5.11% of 1 billion the interest alone is $51,100,000.00 a year, so how much cosmetic surgery do you need to tax at 6% to get $51,100,000 , you need about $850,000,000 in ‘cosmetic surgery’ to tax just to cover the interest.

To give you an idea what sort of volume that financial nut will require the whole ’schebang’ (follow the link for other costs) for a liposuction is about $5,000. So to cover it with just liposuction 170,000 thousand people would have to get the procedure yearly.

In 2003 Americans spent about $9.4 Billion (from a report from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) on these procedures. So lets assume that in 2004 it will be $10 Billion so 8.5% of all cosmetic procedures will need to take place in Illinois to meet his number. Illinois has about 5% of the US population.

Keep in mind you haven’t paid a dollar of principal that would be about another 50 Million a year that would require about 1.7 Billion a year in cosmetic surgery. Or about 20% of all money spent in the US on cosmetic surgery.

As I said in Capitol Fax, I think the real point here is that Hynes has used the issue to make it clear that he’s still a contender in 2006 and won’t fade away, as some had speculated.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Blogroll additions

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

I’ve added a few blogs to the roll.

I thought Gapers Block was already there. Oops. It’s not really a blog, but it’s worth a look.

Spontaneous Solutions is the new blog of the Illinois Policy Institute. Greg Blankenship does some very good work for the conservative cause.

I’ve been a longtime reader of the Os-blog, which is written by a young member of the DeKalb County Board. He’s on fire these days about a scandal in the College Republicans organization. Not sure why this wasn’t on my original list, either.

Truth Girl was the author of the Truth About Keyes blog, and now she writes about evangelicals and the Democratic Party.

I’ve been fascinated with The story of why for months. It’s not a political blog, but I like it anyway.

Got any more suggestions? Leave them in comments.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


The Law of Monkey

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

Take a few minutes and read this. Some of the language is a bit saucy, but it’s your must read of the day.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Governor Hairbrush

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

As promised, here is the link to the ABC- I-Team story about the governor’s security detail, which included such delectable moments like state troopers carrying the governor’s hair brush and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters at the guv’s home.

I gave you most of the details in today’s fax, but here’s an enlightening section:

“They don’t know what they’re doing…there’s no need for that many people,” said Larry Esper, former governor bodyguard.

Larry Esper spent 34-years as an Illinois state trooper, most recently on the governor’s detail. He was what’s known as “the body” for former Governor George Ryan. The body is the closest guard to the governor.

“I’m a trained, experienced officer in executive protection,” said Esper.

Esper says the day after Rod Blagojevich was sworn in, most of what is officially called the Executive Protection Unit, was quickly replaced.

“That’s why I often refer to it as the bloodbath. I was banished to a desk inside the mansion to assist the mansion secretary in answering the telephone,” said Esper.

A spokeswoman for the governor contends Esper and some other former bodyguards are just angry because their overtime pay was cut by Blagojevich’s spending restraints .

In a written statement, the administration cites a “common practice” for new governors to “replace” security “from top to bottom.” But police sources say that wasn’t the case in-between governor’s Walker, Thompson, Edgar and Ryan and that the last four governors kept most.

“The old guard is gone…this has regressed into a political party kind of maneuver,” said Esper.

Esper and several current state troopers claim that newly assigned bodyguards lack the judgment and on-the-job training of those they replaced.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      


Just read the sign

Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

To make your own road sign, click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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