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Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

* IDOT’s winter road conditions map

* Weather radar

* National Weather Service

* Weather Underground

Be careful out there.

*** UPDATE *** These ice storms are awful. I just heard one of my trees crack under the pressure and fall down.

…And there goes another one.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Frankly, considering the amount of freezing rain that’s falling during this ice storm, I’m amazed that I still have electricity.

About two-point-four (M) million Ameren customers are without power this morning across swaths of central and southern Illinois and parts of Missouri.

That represents about 158-thousand total outages.
The region is being battered by a winter storm that is expected to dump six to ten inches of snow in some areas by this afternoon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Snow; CUB; Watson; Hospitals; Roundup; Consultants; Touch-screen; Engagement announcement; Parker (Use all caps in password)

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

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Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

House Speaker Michael Madigan has said several times that he won’t do it, but do you think the Democratically controlled Illinois legislature ought to redraw congressional district maps next year (perhaps producing two or even three more Dem seats) as Texas Republicans did a few years back? Why or why not?

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

“No option will be ignored”

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

John Patterson has a very good article in the Daily Herald today about a bipartisan group of legislators who plan to work on the state’s education funding issue next year.

Saying no option will be ignored, a group of state lawmakers on Wednesday said they expect to offer up this spring a comprehensive and viable plan to overhaul how the state funds education. […]

History isn’t on their side. Like-minded groups have, for decades, launched similar efforts with much fanfare but ultimately few results. […]

Political observers noted that for possibly the first time in recent history, the lawmakers involved acknowledged it’s the state’s regional, not political, differences that have thwarted similar efforts.

And that translates into reaching out to suburban lawmakers rather than bashing property-rich suburban schools. Those involved said the debate is too often framed as rich versus poor, a stereotyping that dooms any plan.

As Patterson notes later, the odds are definitely stacked against this group, but go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

Durbin on Blagojevich

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

Bernie Schoenburg interviewed US Sen. Dick Durbin this week. You should really go read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt.

“I really believe that the governor could have handled his relationship with downstate a lot better in his first term,” Durbin said. “I hope he’s learned. People downstate, all of us, want to believe that we’re not taken for granted, and that our elected officials care about us. I think there were a couple of things that the governor did along the way which bothered people in central Illinois and downstate, and I hope, in his next term, he takes that to heart.”

Asked for specifics, Durbin noted the “big issue” developed out of the way the governor handled the Executive Mansion.

Durbin said he would never second-guess a family decision, such as the governor wanting to allow his children to continue going to school in Chicago.

“But I think he could have handled his presence downstate and his use of the mansion in a different way and had a more positive relationship with Springfield and downstate Illinois,” Durbin said.

I’ve posted this link before, but more of the interview can be found here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      

Morning shorts

Thursday, Nov 30, 2006

* Tribune: Illinois lawmakers might end up getting an even bigger raise than originally planned… The AP story is here.

* Sweet: I think Sen. Barack Obama, who is seriously considering a run for president, is going to jump into the 2008 race. I predict the freshman Illinois Democrat will announce near the end of this year or the beginning of 2007, sometime after he returns from a holiday break in his native Hawaii.

* Sun-Times: John Daley, the mayor’s brother and the No. 2 power on the Cook County Board, lashed out at Gov. Blagojevich on Wednesday, accusing him of breaking a promise to give the county more time to repay money to the state.

* Former governor Ryan loses pension, but gets to delay prison term.. More here, here and here

* Steele out to uphold city’s political tradition - She could be latest to help son into office

* Kass: Judges can wipe smirks off corrupt pols

* Rush praises former rival Daley - Once scathingly critical, he now backs mayor

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

This just in… Ryan granted bail *** Updated x1 ***

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006


A federal appeals court has granted bail to former Gov. George H. Ryan, allowing him to remain out of prison while he appeals his racketeering and fraud sentence.

The decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was issued without explanation on Tuesday. […]

U.S. District Judge Rebecca L. Pallmeyer had refused to grant bail to Ryan while he is appealing his 6 1/2 year federal prison sentence.

But the appeals court overruled her and said that Ryan may remain free while he is appealing his conviction. He had been due to report to prison Jan. 4.

*** UPDATE *** The AP has a longer story posted now.

Appeal bonds are unusual. Most criminal defendants in federal cases who are sentenced to prison must start serving their sentences soon afterward while their lawyers fight their appeals. Ryan’s lawyers argued that the problems involving the Ryan jury made his case “a close call.”

And Cal Skinner noticed that the appellate court allowed Ryan’s lawyers to file part of the appeal under seal.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Obama to New Hampshire *** Updated x3 ***

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

[Updated and bumped to the top for discussion purposes.]

Lynn Sweet looks at the tea leaves.

Considering a 2008 White House bid, Sen. Barack Obama will visit New Hampshire, an early presidential primary state, on Dec. 10. Before going to New Hampshire, Obama, an Illinois Democrat, has strategic trips to the West and East coasts on his calendar:

• Obama will hit New York on Monday to keynote a children’s charity event. In return, he was offered control of the distribution of $1 million worth of new products to charitable agencies across the nation. However Obama attorney Bob Bauer said that he declined the offer and “we are not taking control of the gift.”

• In California on Friday, Obama will take a seat on Jay Leno’s couch on the “Tonight Show.” […]

Obama has been to Iowa three times. But he has never set foot in New Hampshire, a state where voters are used to personal contact before they make up their minds on whom to support.

I’ve asked this question before, but it deserves a repeat today. Do you think Obama is in this thing or not?

*** UPDATE *** The pushback against Obama’s efforts to recruit evangelicals is apparently intensifying.

Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to evanglical Christians in preparation for his possible Presidential campaign is running into very stiff resistance from the Christian right. As the Chicago Tribune reported recently, Obama is set to attend a huge evangelical gathering in California on Dec. 1, at the invitation of megachurch Pastor Rick Warren, the evangelical superstar who wrote The Purpose-Driven Life. Analysts have interpreted Obama’s scheduled appearance as a sign he’s working much harder than Dems ordinarily do to win over Evangelicals.

But the appearance is now provoking an intense backlash from leaders of the Christian right. They are calling on Warren to disinvite Obama from the event because of his liberal positions, especially abortion rights — or as one of those leaders put it, Obama’s support of “the murder of babies in the womb.” […]

For instance, an open letter from a group of Christian-Right figures — including Phylis Schlafly, Tim Wildmon and others — criticizes the invitiation by citing Obama’s pro-choice stance and his support for condom distribution in answer to the AIDS epidemic, “not chaste behavior as directed by the Bible.” The letter ends, “No, Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama, we will never work with those can support the murder of babies in the womb.

The National Clergy Council also issued a press release about Obama recently.

“Senator Obama’s policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values,” said the Reverend Rob Schenck (pronounced SHANK), president of the National Clergy Council and chair of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of Evangelical ministers. […]

“If Pastor Warren cannot find the courage to rescind his invitation to Senator Obama, he must at least make clear through a public statement that the Senator’s support of abortion stands in contradiction to what the Bible teaches and what the Christian Church has historically taught on the sanctity of life,” said Rev. Schenck.

*** UPDATE 2 *** While we’re on the subject, Insight Magazine has a piece about how Hillary Clinton’s people are worried about an Obama run.

The worst-case scenario, the sources said, would be a Clinton-Obama slugfest in the South, where the New York senator would seek support from black voters who had backed her husband more than a decade ago. But Clinton advisers don’t believe she could compete against Mr. Obama in the black community, which comprises nearly 50 percent of the Democratic vote in the South.

“I can envision Hillary working out a deal with Obama in which he becomes a leading ally and even promised a major Cabinet post,” the strategist said. “The last thing Hillary wants is to face a popular black candidate for the Democratic nomination.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** As if on cue, the AP has a new story about the controversy over Obama’s upcoming appearance at the megachurch, “Megapastor defends invitation to Democratic Sen. Obama.”

“Our goal has been to put people together who normally won’t even speak to each other,'’ the Saddleback statement said. “We do not expect all participants in the Summit discussion to agree with all of our evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all government, business, NGOs and the church.'’

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - A+ Illinois announces “bipartisan education caucus”; Pension debt; Rate freeze; Session; Tifs; Frerichs; Hoyer (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

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Question of the day

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

What do you think of this idea?

Illinois House Democrats outlined a compromise minimum-wage proposal Tuesday that will push base pay in Illinois to $8.25 an hour by July 2010.

In exchange, there would be no automatic increases in the minimum wage that are tied to the rate of inflation, a key concern of business groups. The compromise also allows employers to pay 50 cents an hour less to anyone under age 18 and to newly hired workers during their first three months on the job. […]

Under the House bill, the minimum wage in Illinois will increase to $7.50 an hour beginning July 1. It will rise another 25 cents an hour each year for the next three, capping at $8.25 an hour July 1, 2010. After that, the General Assembly will have to approve further increases.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

Kjellander says he’s staying, despite moves to oust him

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

Coup attempt against Kj?

As Illinois Republican Party chiefs prepare to meet Saturday, a fight is intensifying over who ought to lead the them in an increasingly Democratic state.

Shaken by their Nov. 7 electoral trouncing, some party leaders are stepping up their campaign to oust Robert Kjellander as the Illinois GOP national committeeman.

But Mr. Kjellander said he has “absolutely no intention” of leaving.

Meanwhile, some party sources said Michael Stokke, a top aide to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Plano, is maneuvering to grab Mr. Kjellander’s post for himself. Other sources discounted that. […]

(T)wo separate party sources reported that Mr. Stokke has made quiet inquiries in Washington about becoming the Illinois GOP national committeeman. Mr. Stokke has considerable influence as Mr. Hastert’s top political aide but will lose much of that power when Mr. Hastert leaves Congress, something that some insiders believe could occur as soon as this winter.

Kjellander told Crain’s that he has no intention of stepping down and the state central committee can’t force a resignation, and Speaker Madigan says he won’t move legislation to help the Republicans get rid of Kj so they may be stuck with him unless President Bush steps in.

What a mess.

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Reform and renewal - greeting card edition

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

Several columnists and bloggers wrote about the governor’s suspiciously timed greeting cards during the campaign. The AP has more today.

Just weeks before Election Day, Jen and Andrew Fitzgibbon got a card from Gov. Rod Blagojevich congratulating them on the birth of their new baby.

The only problem was that the Fitzgibbons’ youngest daughter, Lydia, wasn’t so new anymore — she celebrated her first birthday the week the card arrived.

Batches of greeting cards bearing niceties from Blagojevich and his wife arrived in mailboxes right before the spring and fall elections, raising new ethical questions about the Illinois governor.

As expected, a spokesman denied the timing was political, but check this out:

The state sent a batch of 13,792 cards in February — ahead of the March primary — and three more batches totaling 89,185 cards in the two months before the November election.


- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Morning shorts

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006

* SJ-R: Sen. Dick Durbin says he got a “totally inappropriate” demand for government help from Stuart Levine about four years ago but that Levine went away mad.

* Tribune: Outgoing Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele on Tuesday resigned the county commissioner seat she was re-elected to earlier this month, a move that will let her double her annual pension. Steele, 69, now hopes to hand off her commissioner seat to her son Robert, a Chicago Park District administrator.

* Democrats won’t help GOP oust party leader

* Daley stands by Sorich - 4 found guilty are ‘fine’ men, mayor says

* Ex-Daley aides cash in as they depart City Hall - As scandals boil, 13 share in $165,000 for accrued vacation time

* Marin: When is a politician a statesman? And when is he a sellout? State Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago) knew that would be the question when people began to notice who sent the invitations for his Monday fund-raiser in Springfield.

* Editorial: State should quit playing games with legal bill

* Best firm in country for female attorneys is in Chicago, survey finds

* Dist. 204 denied quick-take powers

* Editorial: Let Illinois primary voters choose party in secret

* Experts Concerned as Ballot Problems Persist

* Daily Herald: A Kane County judge Tuesday ruled votes cast between 7 and 8:30 p.m. on Election Day are valid. But the fight to have the votes thrown out is not over.

* Ryan should lose pension, internal review says

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

* One more day
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Sign of the times?
* Question of the day
* Exelon Just Received A $1.7 Billion Rate Increase Through The Market-Based Capacity Auction
* Today's number: 60
* No imminent power shut-offs
* Chamber all-in on impasse
* COGFA: State receipts down almost a billion dollars in first quarter
* Two racetracks will likely close
* "How many babies have to die?"
* Report: "A billion-dollar giveaway rife with failure"
* Frerichs warns of impasse consequences
* Quinn touring the state
* Yesterday's blog posts

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