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Best wishes to Christina Hynes

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

Comptroller Dan Hynes asked that I tell you about this. This is from his office::

Comptroller Dan Hynes’ wife, Christina, was admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital last week after experiencing pre-term labor and remains there on bed rest.

The Hynes’ are expecting twins in November, but given the recent symptoms of pre-term labor, the births could occur at any time during the next 14 weeks.

The Comptroller will be working from his Chicago office, but will need to remain close to home to be with his wife and to limit the risk of being out of town when the twins are born.

Hynes said he appreciates the well wishes his family has received, but asked that the family’s privacy be respected during this critical time.

All the best to Christina.

(I don’t usually open comments on things like this, and I see no reason to change that policy now. )

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Campaign finance open thread

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

Today is campaign finance day in Illinois. Candidates and political committees have to file their campaign disclosure statements for January 1 through June 30 by midnight tonight. Here’s the link. You can go here to search by a candidate’s name. Tell us what you’ve found in comments.

(This thread wisely suggested by a commenter.)

UPDATE:I’ll put the feed back up if and or when ICPR starts posting to its blog. For now, however, the AP story is up:

The governor brought in about $6.5 million in the first six months of 2006 and spent nearly $10 million, much of that on television advertisements promoting his re-election bid after easily winning the March Democratic primary, a campaign spokeswoman said Monday.

That left him with about $12.2 million in the bank as of June 30 — far more than the $1.5 million his Republican opponent, state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, had on that date.

Topinka raised about $3.2 million in the first half of the year and spent more than $3 million of that to win a heated Republican primary against three other largely self-financed candidates, her campaign said Monday.

And for a little history, recall that Jim Ryan had $690,000 in cash at this point four years ago.

UPDATE: Oops. ICPR was posting. Sorry.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

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Monday, Jul 31, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

My syndicated newspaper column this week is about a new poll in the race for state treasurer.

The poll had Giannoulias leading Radogno 46-35. The survey of 600 likely voters was taken July 10-16 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It had a margin of error of 4 percent.

The result is very close to polls taken recently by SurveyUSA and Rasmussen. Both pollsters found that Governor Rod Blagojevich was leading Judy Baar Topinka 45-34.

The SurveyUSA poll’s details showed Illinois’ partisan breakdown to be 43 percent Democratic, 32 percent Republican and 23 percent independent. So, in other words, candidates in both the treasurer’s race and the governor’s race seem to be holding right about at their expected party support levels.

Those poll results also show just how difficult it is these days for an Illinois Republican to win statewide, particularly in down-ballot races where voters are far less focused and far more uninformed. Democrats who can hold onto their base don’t have very far to go to get to 50 percent plus one vote. In order for Republicans to win, they have to sway a whole lot of independent voters and also try to convince as many Democrats as possible to cross over. Since independents here tend to lean towards the Democrats, that job is even tougher.

The question may not be what you expect.

Do you think people are filtering out the corruption stories about poll leaders Giannoulias and Blagojevich, or are they not hearing them in the first place, or do you think they just don’t believe the stories, or is it just too early to expect them to focus even a little on these races?

- Posted by Rich Miller   64 Comments      

Late to the party

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

Four Tribune reporters labored for who knows how long to produce this 1500-word story yesterday.

Mayor Richard Daley’s administration has for years steered city services–new garbage carts, tree trimming, graffiti removal–to key neighborhoods to help allies win tight elections, a Tribune investigation has found.

Really? Say it isn’t so.

I’m glad the Trib is finally noticing this stuff, since it’s been right under their noses forever.

Between 1999 and 2003, allies of Rep. Cynthia Soto collected material for a book called “It Happened Four Years Ago.” The book was about Soto’s 1999 1st Ward aldermanic race against pretty much the entire Chicago Machine. The book was horribly written, filled with some pretty wild and silly conjecture and is mostly a missed opportunity (considering the source material they had to work with), but it had a few great instances of how services were traded for votes.

More interestingly, though, was a passage buried deep in the book about how sidewalk repairs were allegedly timed to hold down turnout.

According to the book, the sidewalks directly in front of several polling places in both the 1st and 5th Wards were torn up by the city the week of the runoff election. It’s one of my favorite stories about how the Machine really operates.

You can read the book for free here (pdf file). It’s a low-resolution copy, so the photos and graphics aren’t visible. For more on how the Machine used absentee ballots to their advantage in the same race, check out this very informative Chicago Reporter article from December, 2000.

Back to the Tribune article.

Using city data, the Tribune detected a particularly dramatic increase in service requests from one ward in the weeks before a heated election for alderman there.

Captains typically walk precincts with a stack of service request forms. It’s one way that the House Democrats took back several southern Cook County districts in 1996. They literally flooded the districts with services.

The city has regular ward cleanup days, and often those just happen to be right before a particularly important election day.

Again, the Trib article.

But records and interviews indicate that dispensing services in the 12th Ward was part of a political strategy that included dispatching hundreds of HDO-affiliated city workers to campaign for Cardenas. “They were using taxpayer money to beat us,” Frias said. “There was nothing that I could do.”

I wrote about this race a little back then and I knew what was going on before the election was over. It’s standard stuff and I’ve written about it time and time again, particularly with Latino legislative districts. The Tribune, all these years later, is only now catching on.

Let’s hope the paper is a bit more proactive in next year’s contests.

UPDATE: A high resolution version of the book can be downloaded here. [pdf file]

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

More on IDOT’s stonewalling

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

A judge has allowed Jenner & Block to extricate itself from representing IDOT officials in a lawsuit filed by 18 former IDOT workers who alleged they were wrongfully terminated. As you already know, IDOT has ordered J&B to not turn over its files to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who appointed the law firm and who is also the state’s chief attorney.

IDOT’s publicly offered reason for asking J&B not to turn over the files was that it wanted the firm to continue representing the officials. But now that Jenner & Block have been removed, they don’t really have a good explanation.

Jenner & Block has been representing defendants in Rutan patronage matters all the way back to the beginning of the Rutan case. According to a motion it filed last month, it claims it has been “unable to reach terms for reappointment that are mutually agreeable to Jenner & Block and the Office of the Attorney General.” The AG’s office declined comment.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Morning shorts

Monday, Jul 31, 2006

· If this really happened, the debate’s sponsors shouldn’t ever be allowed to host another one. [Emphasis added]

Republican state treasurer candidate Christine Radogno on Friday questioned the experience level and judgment of her Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, whose family bank has made loans to convicted felons…. Both candidates appeared at a political forum sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners but saved their most biting comments until after the tame event… Radogno, a 53-year-old Lemont resident, said she pulled her punches onstage because organizers asked her not to be confrontational.

· Birkett says governor hides behind inspector general. More here.

· Editorial: How your tax money is spent deserves public scrutiny, something the governor seems to have forsaken and forgotten.

· Governor signs law expanding college grant program

· Green Party supporters under fire

· “There’s been a clear violation of state law, according to the inspector general, but there’s been no criminal referral. If a criminal referral comes, it’s only going to be because it was brought to light by the Sun-Times, not because the administration is saying this is something we need to do,” said [state Sen. Peter] Roskam, who is running for Congress in the 6th District.

· UPDATE: Responding to the above story, Topinka’s campaign issued this release today:

…Just a day after his campaign spokeswoman said that Governor Rod Blagojevich refers all Inspector General allegations of corruption to law enforcement agencies, the Sun-Times reported that serious allegations against an Illinois Tollway official never were referred to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, Illinois Attorney General, or U.S. Attorney.

“Instead of aggressively targeting corruption where it occurs, Rod Blagojevich is hiding investigations so they receive the least scrutiny and prosecution possible,” said Topinka. “Instead of rooting out wrongdoing, he is encouraging more.”…

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

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