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“The votes are there”

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

The spin and the stories are flying fast and furious.

Mr. Munoz added that he believes Todd Stroger already may have lined up 80% of the vote.

Friends of the Stroger family were quick to ridicule those accusing the family of nepotism.

Its not right when black folk do it? asked Committeeman and Ald. William Beavers (7th), noting that a parade of white families including the Hyneses, Daleys, Madigans and Lipinskis have handed elected posts to a second generation. Why cant we do it?

Mr. Beavers said he has not yet decided to take up the Strogers on an offer to run for John Strogers board seat while leaving the presidency to Todd Stroger.

It doesnt bother me at all, said another African-American leader, Comitteeman and Ald. Ed Smith (28th). The younger Mr. Stroger has gone to school. Hes taken care of his kids. Hes been elected. And hell do the same wonderful job that that Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan, the daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, has done, Mr. Smith said.

Political sources said Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose brother John chairs the county boards finance committee, had signed off on the Todd Stroger matter.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Staff survey on legislative influence

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

State Legislatures Magazine recently completed a survey of legislative staffs across the nation. Karl Kurtz at NCSL’s blog The Thicket gives us a preview.

One of the questions we asked was, on a scale of 1-no influence to 7-dictates policy, “What do you think is the relative influence of the following participants in the legislative process in determining legislative outcomes in your state?” Of the 11 choices that we gave our 1,522 respondents to the survey, majority party leadership ranked far and away the highest with a score of 5.9.

Also scoring 5 or more were the senate (5.2), the house (5.1), the governor (5.0) and committee chairs (5.0). These four scores are so close that they can be considered to be equal.

Interest groups/lobbyists scored 4.8 and executive agency staff 4.0. Regarded as relatively less influential in the process were partisan staff and the media (both 3.6), nonpartisan staff (3.3) and, bringing up the rear, minority party leadership (3.0).

I wonder what the Illinois crosstabs were? For you staffers and former staffers out there, is this about right?

UPDATE: Karl gives us a peek at the Illinois crosstabs, which are not statistically significant since there were so few of them (just 19 out of a nationwide total of more than 1500 - which doesn’t surprise me in the least).

But, for what it’s worth, Illinois respondents did score the majority party leadership somewhat higher at 6.3 on a scale of 1-7. There were only two other major differences in the responses from Illinois compared to the rest of the country: the House was regarded as more influential than the Senate, and the influence of partisan staff was ranked considerably higher.

Staff has enormous influence in Illinois, so that’s definitely on the money.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


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Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

First, read Carol Marin’s column.

…I would rather see the jury in the Sorich corruption case acquit the four defendants on trial than convict them. Or that there be probation rather than prison time. […]

But does this rise to the level of a federal crime worthy of prison time? I don’t think so. I think this is nothing short of a federal expedition to catch far bigger fish by the names of Degnan, Reyes and Daley. And I have no problem with the federal government going after any of them if they have the goods, but the way they have gone about this is unworthy of truly excellent prosecutors. […]

But it’s also wrong for the government, in making this case, to put on witnesses whose testimony is so limited that jurors don’t come close to getting the whole story. […]

But, sad to say, this case just isn’t worthy of the government’s mighty sword.

QUESTION: Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

UPDATE: I just called Carol and told her that she had helped break a new record - 15 comments by 3:30 has gotta be an alltime low. We talked about why the comments are so sparse and I jokingly wondered whether some might be afraid that the FBI would subpoena IP records of those who agreed with Marin.

Do people just not care about this topic? By design, I didn’t expect to get a whole lot of comments on this today, but I am kinda surprised by the lack of debate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Statewide stuff

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

UPDATE: This story has been getting a lot of play in comments, so I thought I’d post it.

Honda has scheduled a press conference Wednesday to announce that Indiana has been chosen as the site for its new North American assembly plant, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Illinois, Indiana and Ohio had been the finalists for the $400 million facility, which will employ 1,500 workers and produce 200,000 cars annually starting in 2008. It will be Honda’s sixth plant in North America.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich flew back from Washington Tuesday to meet with Honda officials, hoping to lure the plant to Illinois. He had been briefing members of the Illinois congressional delegation on the status of talks with the carmaker.

Instead, it is believed Blagojevich came home to learn that the automaker did not choose a site in Fithian, a town of 500 near Danville. Sources familiar with the negotiations said Japanese automakers out of courtesy notify the winning state and those that lost at the same time.

Lynn Sweet claims that the guv’s DC visit didn’t go all that well.

Gov. Blagojevich was in Washington on Tuesday. Let me first summarize the developments or rather, the debacle.

*Blagojevich stiffed Mayor Daley and Sen. Dick Durbin by originally skipping a joint press conference with the two other top Illinois Democrats, only to scamper to it in retreat after his chief of staff, John Harris, and an aide could not shake reporters who had questions for the governor.

*The governor said the proposed Prairie Parkway was not a priority for him even though it was listed as a transportation priority in the official joint city-state federal initiative document being handed out Tuesday signed by Daley and Blagojevich. The document was released at the news conference at the exact time Blagojevich, a few dozen yards away, was downplaying his interest in the road. […]

Blagojevich and Daley threw a lunch Tuesday (in Durbin’s offices) for the 21-member Illinois delegation — only 10 lawmakers bothered to show — to review the joint city-state agenda.

And Topinka held a press conference to announce that she would announce her economic development proposals next month. She also took another swipe at the guv.

For example, Topinka said Tuesday that federal labor statistics showed that Illinois lost 3,800 jobs in May. Earlier this month, Blagojevich touted state and federal figures that showed that Illinois in April led the nation in monthly job growth.

Blagojevich spokesman Gerardo Cardenas said the state’s unemployment rate also dropped to 4.6 percent in May – in line with the national rate – from 5.1 percent in April.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


The other white meat

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

The Tribune has a long story today on a different sort of political pork.

In a new kind of political pork, state officials awarded $12 million to more than 100 non-profit groups, businesses, schools and churches for after-school programs that, in some cases, served few students or failed to deliver on their promises, the Tribune has found.

The sister of a state senator got $25,000 to run a drama program that had only four students.

A Chicago woman and her son received $30,000 to teach a hip-hop exercise class for 12 to 20 students at a shopping mall.

A religious group was given $30,000 to run an arts program at an elementary school, but never did. Instead, two group members patrolled the lunchroom and counseled some students about behavior problems.

And $5,180 of the after-school money went to pay off debts–including an old tuition bill–that recipients owed the state.

Read the whole thing. Fascinating.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Is Stroger off the ticket?

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

I heard this late last night. Amazing.

More than three months after suffering a serious stroke — and winning renomination in spite of it — Cook County Board President John Stroger is expected to withdraw this week and ask Democratic ward bosses to replace him on the November ticket with his son.

Ald. William Beavers (7th), self-declared spokesman for the Stroger family, has already started lining up votes for Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) and appears to be well on his way to securing a majority of the weighted votes of 80 ward and township committeemen to place the younger Stroger on the ballot, sources said.

The complex political deal calls for Beavers, powerful chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, to replace John Stroger as county commissioner and for Todd Stroger to replace his father as president of the board, where he would have no vote. Until the election, John Stroger would remain in office. If Beavers wins the seat, he would resign as 7th Ward alderman on the condition that Mayor Daley appoint his daughter to replace him.

So, a son would replace a father and a daughter w9ould replace a father. Chicago is without a doubt the world capital of nepotism.

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Morning shorts

Wednesday, Jun 28, 2006

· “Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn broke ranks Tuesday and urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich to put some heat on a state contractor that allegedly refuses to negotiate with striking employees at Sheridan Correctional Center.”

· Editorial: Remember when Gov. Rod Blagojevich took office and promised to keep politics out of state hiring? The hiring of Brian Keen, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello’s son-in-law, is compelling evidence that Blagojevich never meant it.

· For the presecution’s sake, I hope there are no Sox fans on that jury. “Training Mayor Daley’s patronage chief in how to avoid political considerations in city hiring is about as useful as giving sensitivity training to Ozzie Guillen, a federal prosecutor argued Tuesday during closing arguments.”

· Governor backs bid for Olympics

· Praise plentiful, critics silent on Niles mayor

· New Medicaid law is called a threat

· I love the Bottle Rockets, and so, apparently does the Austin Mayor

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


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Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006

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Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006

Assuming that the statewide advisory referendum against gay marriage makes it onto the ballot (perhaps a big assumption, but stay with me anyway), how will you vote? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Antics

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006

The Tribune finally gets around to reporting a story that it held last week.

Some supporters of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich last week embarked on a last-ditch effort to try to help Stufflebeam by soliciting people to pass petitions for his Constitution Party. The move was viewed as an effort to try to take away votes from Blagojevich’s main challenger, Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka.

“I heard that some people were doing that,” Blagojevich said of efforts to help Stufflebeam. He said that last week he `instructed my campaign that our people should play no role in that and that we should discourage our people from having anything to do with it.”

Those “supporters” were reportedly state employees who were ordered to the Springfield headquarters to pick up petitions.

Meanwhile, Stufflebeam, as expected, came up way short.

Among the third-party candidates to file with the State Board of Elections was Randy Stufflebeam of Belleville and his Constitution Party. Stufflebeam, a conservative candidate for governor, filed only 4,300 signatures, far below the 25,000 needed to appear on the ballot.

“We sucked wind,” Stufflebeam said. “As long as we’re under the radar and somebody doesn’t challenge us, we’ll have ballot access.”

I wouldn’t bet on that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Politics and the state

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006

Governor Blagojevich claims he has walled off politics from the state. He wouldn’t even take a political question at the Statehouse during the final week of spring session. He also says fundraising has nothing to do with government operations.

So, I can’t help but wonder why the governor’s chief of staff accompanied Blagojevich to a Washington, DC fundraiser this week. On the governor’s other arm was John Wyma, who has parlayed his 2002 campaign work into a big bucks lobbying career, despite the fact that he is rarely in Springfield.

Meanwhile, the AP has discovered that a qualified pilot who is also a veteran wasn’t even called for a job interview for an opening to fly state planes. Instead, the job went to a congressman’s son-in-law after the governor’s office contacted CMS.

CMS spokesman Justin DeJong said there are sometimes gaps between the time a job applicant’s test is graded and the time it is officially entered into the pool of candidates. He said information must be manually entered into what he called an “antiquated system.”

“Unfortunately there was a lag time between when this gentleman got a grade and when the information was entered into the system,” DeJong said.

The pilot who did get the job, Brian Keen, screwed up his paperwork and wasn’t initially rated as qualified until, apparently, after the guv’s office intervened.

Keen got the job because he was the most qualified military veteran living in the state who was on the list of applicants, DeJong said.

Um, right.

Famed test pilot Chuck Yeager was also on the list, but he was not rated as qualified, DeJong said.

“He flies too fast,” DeJong explained.

OK, I made up that last part.

The pilot who wasn’t hired is a relative of a Topinka ally, so this isn’t as cut and dried as it looks, but these administration explanations are getting weaker by the day.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Jun 27, 2006

· My most sincere condolences: “Alexis Giannoulias, founder and chairman of Chicago-based Broadway Bank, died suddenly while traveling in his native Greece over the weekend. Mr. Giannoulias, 69, suffered an apparent heart attack, according to a spokesman for his son, Alexi Giannoulias, who is the Democratic nominee for state treasurer.”

· Krol thinks Bill Scheurer would’ve received 1 or 2 percent, citing his anti-war beliefs. I think his union backing could have bumped him up substantially higher and cost Bean the election. But it appears to be a moot point now.

· Editorial: Way above average in clout stats

· “Chief Illiniwek likely has not danced his last dance at University of Illinois home football games and could perform at basketball games this winter because the school’s board of trustees has not settled on a solution to the long-simmering debate.”

· More Illinois children are living in poverty, but fewer newborns and young children are dying, according to a national study that rates how well states are caring for their youngest residents.

· James “Pate” Philip State Park is no longer on the endangered species list — at least for this year.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


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