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Friday Topinka blogging

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

I have no idea what that means other than it looks like a menu.

Friday Topinka blogging is beginning to bore me, mainly because I’ve used up most of the good pics of her that can be found online. Any suggestions? Or do you want to keep your weekly dose of Topinka?

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Debating society

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

Three good debates are taking place in the comments section right now.

  • Archpundit and a couple of anonymous posters are going back and forth about higher education spending and tuition.
  • Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide and suicide in general are being discussed here.
  • Governor Blagojevich’s ethics, or lack thereof, are being debated here.

I’m getting a kick out of all of them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Simply amazing

Friday, Feb 25, 2005


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Find out you how you - yes, you - can play this game with The Scramblizer.

Here’s the Capitol Fax blog Scrablized.

(Link via In4mador.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Good news

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

After months of saying it couldn’t possibly be done because of Illinois’ refusal to reform medical malpractice laws, it was done.

Memorial Hospital of Carbondale has recruited a new brain surgeon to open a practice nearly one year to the day the hospital’s two former neurosurgeons announced a hostile medical malpractice climate in the state was driving them out.

Hospital administrator George Maroney said Thursday, after several weeks of discussion, Dr. Allan Gocio, a licensed neurosurgeon currently practicing in St. Louis, has decided to re-open a neurosurgery practice in Carbondale. The practice will open in April under the name Neurological Surgeons of Southern Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      


Friday, Feb 25, 2005

I was willing to give ICC Chairman Ed Hurley the benefit of the doubt, but I was wrong (and I should have known better, since he’s such a pawn of the utility industry).

In a scathing rebuke, Attorney General Lisa Madigan accused the state panel that polices utilities of breaking Illinois’ open meetings law and ordered it to quit letting power company executives pay for commissioners’ restaurant meals.

One of Madigan’s top lawyers this week informed Illinois Commerce Commission chairman Ed Hurley that it was possibly illegal for him to have let Peoples Energy executives buy his and another commissioner’s lunch last month, even though Hurley paid back the executive later.

Moreover, Madigan’s office said the lunch date violated the state’s Open Meetings Act because two of the ICC’s four commissioners were present. The office “strongly recommended” the commissioners undergo a special training session to brush up on public meeting laws.

Worst of all, Hurley still doesn’t get it.

“I’ve got to assimilate some of this information and determine appropriate behavior, I suppose,” Hurley said of Madigan’s letter. “But again, I don’t think we did anything so terrible.”

The governor’s appointments to the ICC are at the very heart of my problem with him. The contractor contributions, the manipulations, the Elvis posing… that’s all small stuff.

Almost nothing that state government does impacts more people directly than utility regulation. The undeniable fact that this governor has appointed blatantly utility-friendly tools to the ICC - who have then marginalized or ousted pro-consumer staff - completely undercuts his claims that he is a progressive reformer.

His last appointment of a total unknown was designed to please both sides. That wouldn’t have been a bad idea if the ICC wasn’t already so heavily weighted against consumers. He should have appointed a real reformer, like former state Sen. Patrick Welch. But Welch has been told that he was too consumer friendly for the governor’s taste.

Right now, there is only one ICC commissioner who is on the side of consumers, and he was appointed by George Ryan.

Governor Blagojevich should be ashamed of his record. He has flagrantly pimped for SBC, ComEd and Peoples Energy for two years straight. He ought to be held accountable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Friday, Feb 25, 2005

It looks like everyone had this story today about the governor’s alleged meddling in the affairs of the supposedly independent Illinois Gaming Board, particularly through his fundraising chief, Chris Kelly.

The Tribune editorializes:

And here we thought Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s refusal to fill three empty seats on the Illinois Gaming Board was mere benign neglect–a mysterious devotion to not regulating the nine operative casino licenses that are among this state’s most valuable assets.

That’s evidently just part of the Blagojevich administration’s plans for the Gaming Board. What’s coming into focus is the picture of a governor meddling dangerously, and not for the first time, with a state agency that is supposed to operate independently of politicians like Blagojevich and his busy band of top aides.

Read the whole thing. Entertainment value = 8 out of 10.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Reform and renewal

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one with the scoop on today’s press conference by Dan Hynes.

Comptroller Dan Hynes plans today to announce a new legislative push to clamp down on state contractors who get sweet taxpayer-funded deals and also happen to be generous political contributors.

‘’Taxpayers have a right to expect that government officials are basing their actions on sound public policy, not campaign cash,'’ said Hynes, whose effort also will involve Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) and Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago). […]

Under the proposal Hynes will be unveiling today, companies with more than $25,000 in state contracts would be barred from donating to the officeholder who awarded the contracts.

Not mentioned, however, is that the plan has bipartisan support. See the Capitol Fax for more on that subject.

Os-blog was skeptical yesterday about criticisms of the governor’s penchant for accepting campaign contributions from contractors.

If you want to complain and say its a problem and unethical (and I’m pretty much with you)- then find me a legislator willing to deal with campaign finance reform and ban these sorts of donations/contracts.

He made a lot of good points in that post, but he spoke just a little too soon. Whether the bill will actually pass, however, is still unknown. The Os-man (another excellent regional politics blogger) could still be vindicated come the end of session.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Uh-oh, updated

Friday, Feb 25, 2005

This is what I was talking about yesterday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s plan to save money by changing pension benefits for state employees is “very risky,” the director of the State University Retirement System told lawmakers Thursday.

James Hacking said the plan assumes there will be long-term savings the state can divert to other expenses immediately. But if some of the revisions change in the future - for example, if the courts strike down certain aspects - the pension systems could be worse off than they are now, he said.

“We are spending the savings before it accrues,” Hacking told members of the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. “There is no room for error whatsoever. It is a very risky program.”

There’s more to this, but you have to subscribe to Capitol Fax to see it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

Bad, bad news for the budget. Pension plan in mucho trouble. More tomorrow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Poe announces

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

Capitol Fax readers saw this story already today, but the blog readers haven’t, so here it is.

A central Illinois lawmaker today announced a run for lieutenant governor in 2006.

State Representative Raymond Poe says he is entering the campaign because of what he considers antibusiness policies of current Governor Rod Blagojevich. But he had little criticism for current Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.

The Springfield Republican says he would support a plan to fund education through state income taxes rather than local property taxes, something Blagojevich opposes.

Who’s gonna cook the chicken after Ray leaves?

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

From Rod Blagojevich’s campaign announcement speech

Strengthening families also means if you’ve earned a pension, it’s a right not a favor.

Tell that to these folks.

Have your own fun with the Internet Wayback Machine here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

PR money hit

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

More New Way thinking.

Gov. Blagojevich’s administration wants to more than double a $1 million state contract with a clout-heavy advertising firm in a deal that critics from both parties describe as wasteful and “suspicious.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation has moved to increase its contract with Chicago-based Danielle Ashley Advertising to $2.4 million for the company to put a positive spin and provide regular community updates on the state’s reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Kingery expressways.

The company and its owner have donated more than a combined $37,000 to the governor, Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) and an array of other Democrats, and has gotten more than $430,000 worth of political work from many of those same politicians, state records show.

Denying politics played any role in its decision, IDOT justified paying Danielle Ashley more money because the state “grossly underestimated” the level of community outreach needed to promote the controversial roadwork to nearby residents and to motorists.

Read the whole thing. Hilarity level: 8 out of 10.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

California company decides to expand into Illinois, uses a publicity seeking governor to promote its child safety seat giveaways during press conferences, sends out advertising mailers which include photos of the governor and his family, then doesn’t deliver all the child safety seats.

The California-based insurance company that featured a picture of Gov. ROD BLAGOJEVICH in a recent mail solicitation in Illinois has said it donated 850 car seats to families in need in Illinois, but fewer than half that number have been delivered.

REBECCA RAUSCH, spokeswoman for the governor, said just more than 300 seats from the company have been delivered at safety events.

The New Way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

New blogs

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

I’ve linked to two new blogs on the right.

Willy Nilly is a Peoria politics blog that looks pretty darned good.

Eleventh Hour is an Illinois politics and general interest blog.

Hat tip to Peoria Pundit for both.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Draft resolution

Thursday, Feb 24, 2005

This was floating around the Statehouse yesterday.



Sponsored by Representative ________________________

WHEREAS, This House of Representatives has learned with great sadness, but absolutely no surprise, that this high priest of Gonzo Journalism, Dr. Hunter Stockton Thompson, clicked “30” with his very special personal digital assistant for the last time this weekend, and

WHEREAS, what the F—-, right now Hunter S. would have blurted out “Dude, I croaked myself to see if I could push the untimely demise of Sandra Dee off the lead story perch of Entertainment Tonight, and

WHEREAS, had cable t.v. and talk radio been in vogue in the ‘70’s, a coked up Rush would still be pitching underhand in Kansas City and O’Reilly would be picking some “no spin zone” out of his a.., while T.H.E. Doctor was dazzling likes of Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer with his feisty .no Bulls…. Style, and

WHEREAS, if there had ever been a Hunter S. Thompson fear and loathing roadshow to the statehouse media’s government subsidized work crew, the PAR intern posse, would have been told to ditch those bureau chief gnomes and head for the sun, and

WHEREAS, had the tour coincided with the full lunar eclipse and a gubernatorial drop-in; the mind conjures visions of the Doctor descending the grand staircase, Wild Turkey in hand, to eyeball Governor Elvis’–laden media stunts and a head snapping, ”Hey A—hole. I knew Elvis. Plowed down some Reds and Jack with Elvis. You, Sir Gumby, are no Elvis,” and

WHEREAS much like the day the music died; the of end Dean Gonzo’s tenure came at a troubling time in the nation’s history — ensnarled in Bush War Machine machination, death from the meds designed to save us and who knows what toxic poisons the biz world whizzes at us — now therefore be it

RESOLVED that these words be quietly passed from desk to desk on the floor of the Illinois House with a blank roll and those with balls marking “yes” and those caught in the ugly mucked filled world that is the far right staying mute. And be if further

RESOLVED that a copy of this document be smuggled to the family of Doctor Hunter S. Thompson with a fond recollection that his work made many laugh, cry, rant and rail about the human condition to a level not likely to be seen in a long, f— ing time.


I take no responsibility for the content of that draft. Just found it funny.

By the way, click that pic to buy a limited edition print.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

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