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Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

All the hooplah about the Third Chicago Airport progress may be premature.

State Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson and Will County Executive Larry Walsh have both told 1340 WJOL News that what was widely reported in media outlets earlier this week about Congressman Jesse Jackson Junior perhaps winning his Peotone airport battle with Will County is extremely misleading. This was after the Illinois Departmnet of Transportation forwarded a tenative plan to the Federal Aviation Administration. […]

Both say that all that was agreed upon was the “technical plan,” concerning the length of a single runway and the number of gates.

Walsh, in fact, says that most of the ideas agreed upon actually came from the IDOT, rather than Congressman Jackson. Halvorson and Walsh both say that the major issue still up for grabs is “Who will have control of the Peotone Airport if it is ever built?”

Halvorson says she has received word from Governor Blagojevich and State Senate President Emil Jones that this “Governance Issue” will not be solved until Halvorson herself is happy with what she sees. And she says, Will County will have control.

There’s more fighting on the way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Mixed signals?

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

Two different media takes on CMS’s intentions.

From the AP:

The Blagojevich administration is still doing business with a politically connected firm that billed the state for parties, candy and other improper expenses.

Executives at the Illinois Department of Central Management Services say they are “outraged” that the state paid for those items. But they have not cut ties with the company that submitted them, Illinois Property Asset Management.

C-M-S official Paul Campbell says the company has helped the state save money, so firing it without further investigation would be a mistake.

Copley’s version:

A politically connected company criticized in a state audit for seeking payment for questionable expenses could lose its $25 million contract, a Department of Central Management Services official said Wednesday. […]

CMS is reviewing the expenses questioned by Holland and also is trying to determine why CMS employees monitoring the IPAM contract didn’t stop the payments, CMS general counsel Ed Wynn said.

Depending on the outcome of that review, - expected to be completed in a few weeks - CMS could decide to cancel the $29 million contract, Wynn said.

I think the two men basically said the same thing. But their tone must have been different for the two reporters to come away with such different perspectives.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


It’s all coming back to me now

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

Many years ago, a Quad Cities newspaper used a photo of me in a story about a local murderer who was captured in Texas. So, I guess I can relate a little to this story:

Two men claim photographs in the Chicago Tribune misidentified them as high-ranking mobsters, prompting one of the men Wednesday to sue the newspaper.

Retired businessman Frank Calabrese is suing the Tribune Co. for more than $1 million in damages, claiming defamation.

His picture ran Tuesday as part of a package about the indictment of several mobsters — including one named Frank Calabrese Sr. — on charges of plotting at least 18 murders. […]

Meanwhile, the Tribune also is investigating the accuracy of a photograph that ran in Wednesday’s editions, Wetli said.

That photograph, which the newspaper said in another story was taken by a college student, identified a man as Joseph “The Clown” Lombardo, a 76-year-old reputed mob boss who is on the lam after being indicted Monday along with Frank Calabrese Sr.

But a man identified as Stanley Swieton told Chicago reporters he was the person in the picture.

I didn’t sue when this happened to me, but I didn’t tell the editors my intentions right away and they were more than a little freaked out when I mentioned that my mother lived in their circulation area. Actually, Mom thought the whole thing was hilarious, and one of the paper’s columnists ended up writing a great little story about her, so it all worked out OK as far as I was concerned.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

As I noted in today’s Capitol Fax, the biennial “Taste of Chicago in Springfield” is next week and Mayor Daley will be in town for the festivities.

What do you think of the job that Daley has done so far? Is he one of the nation’s greatest mayors, as Time Magazine claimed, or is he something else? Be specific.

(PS: I’m closing on my house today, and will be busy as heck with many related tasks, plus dealing with the session, so blogging may be light after mid-morning. Comment Posse, please keep a close eye on things.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Redfield on the audit

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

Kent Redfield’s take on the CMS audit fallout.

An auditor general’s report that is critical of financial mismanagement in Illinois government could lead to stronger campaign finance laws for the state, according to political studies professor Kent Redfield. […]

“The fallout is going to be primarily political. It is going to make it much more difficult for the governor to talk about reform and renewal and a new way to do business,” said Redfield, associate director of the Illinois Legislative Studies Center at the University of Illinois in Springfield. […]

“… (E)mbarrassment and scandal have helped us get lots of our campaign finance reforms in Illinois,” Redfield said.

If they’re buzzing about an auditor general’s report in Quincy, this thing is getting noticed a lot more than the governor’s office may have expected. Then again, the Herald-Whig is an excellent small-town paper that takes its politics seriously.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

The Blagojevich administration is caught in another prevarication.

State prison officials backed away from claims that they need $18 million in emergency funds because of a costly union contract Wednesday as lawmakers grilled them about the budget.

Corrections Department officials and the governor’s budget office instead acknowledged they needed the extra money because they miscalculated the number of employees who would be leaving through attrition. […]

Corrections officials first blamed the need for emergency funds on a renegotiated contract with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The department said it increased costs by $35 million.

AFSCME disputed that characterization of the contract, saying it gave employees a raise but also required them to pay more into the state pension system. Executive Director Henry Bayer called the department’s budget explanation a “fantasy.”

At a time when the administration desperately needs to be seen as credible so it can back up its claims that it was shafted in the CMS audit, the geniuses pull something like this. Not a good thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


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