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This just in…

Thursday, Dec 22, 2005

Carl Hawkinson retires. From a press release:

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Colonel Jill
Morgenthaler, manager of the Emergency Response Center at Argonne National Laboratory, to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety.

Col. Morgenthaler replaces Carl Hawkinson, who is retiring from state government after almost 30 years of public service. The Governor thanked Hawkinson for his three years of service to the administration.

“For more than three years, Carl served as my chief advisor on issues of public safety and homeland security. I appreciate his hard work, dedication and commitment. Carl served the people of this state very well, not only as my Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, but as a state senator, state representative and state’s attorney,” said Governor Blagojevich.

The resume looks impressive.

Col. Morgenthaler brings extensive experience to state government, both as an Army Reserve colonel and as one of Argonne National Laboratory’s Emergency Response Center managers. As an Army officer with close to 30 years of experience, she has worked extensively in command centers in Korea, Berlin, Bosnia, and Iraq; handled disaster recovery during the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 and evacuation operations for Kosovar refugees in New Jersey. As Argonne’s Emergency Response Center manager, she supervised the center during incidents and exercises. She led the center during the national exercise, TOPOFF 2, receiving accolades from the Department of Energy. Col. Morgenthaler has participated in training conducted by the Department of Energy’s Emergency Operations Training Academy, Department of Defense Anti-terrorism programs, Department of Homeland Security, and the State of Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 22, 2005

Continuing our theme this week, what do you think was the most positive development of 2006 2005? The most negative?

Please keep your responses Illinois-centric. Thanks.

(Oops. It was late and I wrote the wrong year. I was wondering why the comments seemed so off-kilter.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Blagojevich most vulnerable?

Thursday, Dec 22, 2005

Governing Magazine’s Josh Goodman is preparing a story for February and gives us a sneak peek in his blog:

For a preview of the 2006 governors elections that I’m writing for the February issue of Governing, I’ve spoken with the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato and Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report. Here’s their analysis, as well as information I’ve gleaned from other sources […]

There’s no clear consensus as to which Democratic governor is most vulnerable next year. Sabato leaned toward Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, although he also mentioned Ted Kulongoski of Oregon and Brad Henry of Oklahoma. Blagojevich has been coping with ethics charges and could face moderate Republican Judy Baar Topinka in the general election.

Gonzales also named Blagojevich, but he said he has heard Michigan’s Jennifer Granholm, who faces a Republican willing to spend his personal fortune to unseat her, mentioned too. Washingtonpost.com’s Chris Cillizza ranks Granholm as being in the most trouble, with Kulongoski second. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin will also have credible opponents, although none of these Democrats is probably in as much trouble as Ehrlich and Schwarzenegger.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


The culture wars

Thursday, Dec 22, 2005

Aren’t we supposed to try to be joyful at Christmas? What’s with all the carping this year?

A survey by Stateline.org, a Web-based news service covering state governments, found that 37 of the nation’s governors sent greeting cards this season carrying an inoffensively festive “holiday’’ greeting. Just nine state leaders specifically mentioned “Christmas’’ in their cards. […]

Stateline’s report arrives just as fruitcake flies between feuding “Merry Christmas’’ and “Happy Holidays’’ camps. Traditionalists argue the religious spirit of Christmas is being buried in a blizzard of secular greetings and customs. Others argue that ‘tis the season to be sensitive in a multi-cultural society. […]

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is sending out cards picturing himself and his family wishing Illinoisans Happy holidays.

“This is mainly to celebrate the number of holidays this time of the year,” said Rebecca Rausch, a Blagojevich spokeswoman.

I try to keep myself disconnected from these ridiculous and often deliberately manufactured “culture war” debates because I truly don’t care what our self-appointed national nags have to say. I am, however, interested in what you think about all of this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Yikes

Thursday, Dec 22, 2005

I don’t even want to look.

As CBS 2’s Alita Guillen reports, we knew these big bills were coming, but to actually see the bill is painful no matter what your income.

The taped windows and extra blankets fight the cold but don’t seem to do much when it comes to 71-year-old Gwen Stewart’s heating bill.

“How in the name of Sam Hill could my bill go up this high?” said the Peoples Energy customer.

Over the past three months Stewart’s bill has gone from $200 to more than $500. […]

Keep in mind, most of the bills that are arriving right now are only for the beginning of December, which means those days when it was about five degrees outside won’t appear on the statement until next month.

Oy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Bailey gets probation

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2005

From CBS 2:

A former state lawmaker convicted of election fraud is not going to prison.

CBS 2’s Joanie Lum reports on the sentence for Patricia Bailey and why the South Side politician is saying she did nothing wrong.

Patricia Bailey walks free on probation after being sentenced for perjury and forgery. She still believes she was a good representative for the state’s sixth district.

“Anybody who knows me knows I fought hard and worked hard. I been shot at in Englewood, vandalized and I still ran the course,” Bailey said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2005

We looked back on 2005 yesterday. Today, let’s look forward.

Your 2006 predictions.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Casino stuff

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2005

The Daily Herald has a good story today about what could happen now that the Gaming Board has pulled Emerald Casino’s license to operate a riverboat in Rosemont.

Q. Is this the end of a chance for a casino in Rosemont?

A. Technically, no. The legal battles continue, although Tuesday’s vote by the Illinois Gaming Board makes things harder for backers of a Rosemont casino. In theory, even if they lose all their appeals, Rosemont could still be a part of a future proposal, but Attorney General Lisa Madigan has said unanswered questions remain about Rosemont, Mayor Donald Stephens and ties to organized crime, which he and the suburb deny. It’s unlikely she’d ever sign off on a casino in Rosemont. […]

Q. What will happen next?

A. Tuesday’s decision doesn’t resolve a number of continuing legal battles, and attorneys for Emerald and Rosemont already are vowing to appeal at both the state and federal level. Rosemont attorney Bob Stevenson said he expects a federal appeals panel to grant a “stay,” or essentially freeze everything. Emerald attorney Robert Clifford predicts it’ll could take two to five years for all the appeals. […]

Q. Is there a chance the last license will never be used?

A. It’s possible. We’re already at nearly eight years of things being tied up in the courts, and it’s possible we could see another five on Emerald’s proposal for Rosemont alone. Who knows what the future will bring? However, there’s a lot of money at stake, and Illinois schools, which receive casino funds, have lost between $500 million and $1 billion, gambling board Chairman Aaron Jaffe estimated. Both the General Assembly and Gov. Rod Blagojevich have said they support casinos because they create such revenue.

Read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


The Eisendrath beat

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2005

Two snippets from the Sun-Times today:

Congrats to veteran Chicago TV producer Monica Teague, who is leaving WBBM-Channel 2 and will sign on in January as press secretary for former North Side Ald. Edwin Eisendrath’s uphill battle to unseat Gov. Blagojevich’s re-election bid in the March Democratic primary.

And…

Let’s hope Dem gubernatorial hopeful Edwin Eisendrath’s good-luck Winston Churchill charm does its job.

*Translation: Sneed sources claim minions for Dem state party chief Michael Madigan were scouring Eisendrath’s nominating petitions filed with the state election board to see if they can find a legal reason to end his bid for the state’s top job.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Still not good

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2005

I didn’t have room for this in today’s Capitol Fax, so here is SurveyUSA’s new monthly tracking poll on Governor Blagojevich.

Approve 41 percent, disapprove 53 percent. That’s better than last month, but his numbers have been trading within this range since May, when the montly tracker began.

Blagojevich is the 41st most popular governor in the country, tied with two others. The national weighted average for all governors was 48 approve, 46 disapprove, with the unweighted average being 54-40. The unweighted average for Democratic governors was 54 approve, 39 disapprove.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


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