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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - This just in… Dillard demands concession (use this morning’s password)

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      


Docs turning thumbs down on All Kids

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

The governor’s office recently issued a statement on All Kids

More than 120,000 Illinois children have enrolled in the All Kids health insurance program since November 2005. […]

“I am proud to announce that since we took office, 300,000 children across the state now have health insurance who didn’t have it before,” Blagojevich said in a statement. “That means those kids are healthier, their families are healthier, and they are more likely to do well in school.”

Not mentioned was how many of those children were already enrolled in an existing Medicaid program and were simply moved over to All Kids, which was billed as relief for middle class parents without insurance. The last time an announcement like this was made, we later discovered that only a tiny handful of middle class kids were in the program.

Also, the Daily Herald discovered that doctors are extremely reluctant to accept the program’s enrollees.

A Daily Herald survey of 58 Kane County pediatricians on a state-supplied list found that at least 41 percent were not accepting new All Kids patients. In addition, more than one in five of the phone numbers either sent callers to a fax machine, pager or cell phone, or they were disconnected.

Just over 12 percent said they accepted only newborns, while another 12 percent did not respond. Ten doctors offices on the state list of 58 said they accept new pediatric patients under All Kids; all were in Elgin or Aurora.

And, as usual, the stone wall is still encircling this administration.

The governor’s office so far has not fulfilled a Dec. 1 Freedom of Information Act request for similar lists from other suburban counties. A patient presumably could get the lists in a timely fashion by calling a hotline for the All Kids program.

The program boosted physician payments - tripling the reimbursement for visits, for instance - but doctors are so frustrated with the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates that they are just flat-out refusing to accept new patients.

The governor really needs to address this problem. Now that the election is over, he should either make All Kids work or try something else that does actually bring healthcare to children.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - White; Kelly; Jones; Schools; Minimum Wage; Jakobsson (Use all caps in password)

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Monday morning quarterback

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

This is a Chicago Bears open thread.

Have at it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

It’s a holiday week and I’m expecting comments will be pretty light for the next several days (before I shut down the blog for a week or so). Let’s have a little fun today.

This has been done by others, but I don’t think we’ve ever touched on it here. Our current state slogan is, of course, “Land of Lincoln.” Come up with a new one.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Guv backs off

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

This was not unexpected, considering the governor’s strong ties to ComEd and his unwillingness to challenge Emil Jones, who opposes continuing the rate freeze.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich appears to have abandoned his pledge to force lawmakers into discussion over curbing ComEd’s upcoming rate hike, likely tossing the political hot potato to the spring legislative session.

The lack of action by Blagojevich and lawmakers means Commonwealth Edison can press ahead with the 22 percent rate increase it intends to impose after a nine-year freeze on its rates expires Jan. 1. Rate increases may be much higher for businesses.

The governor threatened to call a special session back in October, releasing a letter which stated in part…

I have and continue to support legislation extending a rate freeze and would like to sign it into law as soon as possible. To this end, I intend to work with you right away to secure sufficient support among lawmakers to pass such legislation. Once we have the votes to pass the legislation, I will immediately call a special session to do so. I have every confidence that members of the legislature will agree that it is necessary to extend the rate freeze and protect consumers from significant electricity rate increases, but if we are unable to reach consensus in the near future, I will call a special session to take up the matter. Such a session will continue for as long as necessary to reach the intended result, even if it is extended through the holiday season.

But now?

Blagojevich aides did not respond to a request for comment Friday. In early December, spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff refused to acknowledge the governor had promised to force lawmakers into special session.

She said only that a special session was among the “options on the table.”

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn will hold a press conference today to push for an investigation of ComEd’s connection to CORE, an advertiser here. From a press release:

Quinn will discuss the decision by Illinois Commerce Commission Administrative Law Judge Terrence Hilliard ordering the ICC staff to investigate the financial ties between ComEd and its front group, Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity (CORE).

In a petition to the ICC requesting an emergency investigation, Quinn had asked the Commission to order full disclosure of the millions of dollars the utility company has funneled through CORE to fund deceptive television commercials supporting the utility company’s demand for a 25% rate hike beginning Tuesday, Jan. 2.

In his order, Judge Hilliard stated: “In summary, we conclude that the Commission has the authority to investigate ComEd’s financial support of CORE and its alleged sponsorship of CORE advertisements. Furthermore, the facts alleged in the petition suggest such an investigation is warranted.

“On the basis of the results of this investigation, the Commission may take further action concerning the request that we impose disclosure requirements on ComEd for CORE ads sponsored by ComEd with an underlying commercial purpose.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


This just in… Governor’s inauguration events

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

The governor’s office just released the inauguration schedule.

Inter-Faith Prayer Service: 9:30 a.m.–10:15 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, located at 7th and Capitol Streets. The Governor and First Family will join other Constitutional Officers for an interfaith service, during which the Constitutional Party will light the Unity Candle.

Inaugural Ceremony: 11:00 a.m.–12:55 p.m. (doors will open at 9:00 a.m.) at the Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield. More than 5,000 attendees will watch as the Governor and Constitutional Officers take the Oath of Office.

Executive Mansion Receiving Line: 2:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m. at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The Governor will be joined by Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn in greeting the public at the Executive Mansion.

Celebrate! Illinois 2007 Inaugural Ball: 7:30 p.m.–11:30 p.m. at the Exposition Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The Governor, First Lady and Constitutional Officers will take part in the ball, which is an Inaugural tradition.

You can find out more info and purchase a limited number of tickets at a special website set up for the occasion, Celebrate Illinois.

What inaugural events would you like to see? Snark encouraged.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Illinois hoping softdrink war pays off big

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

Illinois hasn’t made much money off of naming rights, and while the state is stopping short of naming an “official” soft drink, like New York City did (and then raked in $166 million from Snapple), it is planning to give one of the top beverage makers exclusive access to state buildings.

In a move patterned after a plan already in place in New York City, state officials are seeking formal proposals to hire one company to supply nearly every government building with soft drinks and other beverages.

The results of the competition could put the folks at Coke or Pepsi in control of more than 2,300 vending machines in scores of state buildings, as well as give one company the right to sell its products at the Illinois State Fair and at a handful of state university campuses.

As with just about everything with this governor, the state’s deal with Maryland-based Team Services has been more press pop than reality. And there is also a political aspect.

A Team Services founder donated $4,000 to the governor and had a past business relationship with Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, Lon Monk, before he joined the administration in 2003.

The administration credits Team Services with helping generate $3.7 million for the state through private sponsorship deals. The state has paid the firm $300,000 for its services.

Last year, Team Services was cited in a harsh state audit for helping shape the state contract proposal it later wound up winning.

Coke or Pepsi?

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Morning shorts

Monday, Dec 18, 2006

* Martire: Spending cuts won’t solve Illinois’ budget woes

* AP Interview: Tusk says Illinois better off as he returns to NY

* Editorial: Gov. Rod Blagojevich fashions himself as a risk-taker. This tendency gets him a lot of attention, although it comes with a cost.

* Governor’s Pentagon suit revived.

* Fight brewing over fate of Finkl site

* Lincoln museum draws crowds, is boon for Springfield, Ill.

* State Republican leaders gather at Hastert’s home

* LaHood: GOP needs some bonding

* Shakeup predicted in ‘07 city elections - Experts say 15-plus incumbent seats up for grabs

* ‘Downstate Story’ now available

* Obama’s Legislative Chops

* Andrade: Backing 700-mile fence could put Obama up against wall in ‘08

* Washington Post: Obama Says He Regrets Land Deal With Fundraiser

* Tucker: Treat Obama with respect: Be hard on him

* Jake pops the question then blogs about his elation. Go over there and congratulate him. And be nice, please

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


READER COMMENTS CLOSED FOR THE WEEKEND

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

Head to Illinoize for your weekend political enjoyment. If you do nothing else, check out Friday Bollywood Blogging. It rocks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Friday afternoon music blogging - Jorma’s Christmas album

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

OK, I’m seriously bummed.

One of my favorite Christmas albums, Christmas with Jorma Kaukonen, has gone missing. I’ve torn the place apart looking for it, but it’s nowhere in sight.

For those who don’t know, Jorma was the lead guitarist for the Jefferson Airplane (which he named) before he departed with childhood friend and Airplane bassist Jack Casady to found the quintessential hippie blues band Hot Tuna. I had never heard of Hot Tuna until almost 17 years ago, when one of my best friends introduced me to their stuff. I was immediately hooked and I’ve been to several shows over the years.

My favorite show was in Madison, Wisconsin, many moons ago. Things were pretty relaxed up there. During breaks, the drummer came out to the bar and ordered a round for the band and I chatted with him for several minutes. I had a chance to talk to Jorma after the show, and one of the things he told me was that the Christmas album was consistently his best seller.

The album includes some all-instrumental songs where Jorma’s chops as one of the finest finger-pickers alive can be heard. “What Child is This?” and “Downhill Sleigh Ride” are just two.

There are some traditional songs (”Silent Night”) and some serious jams (”Holiday Marmalade”), along with a couple of fun little throw-away tunes, like “Christmas Rule,” described by reviewer Jim Trageser as…

(A) hilarious, romping blues about Santa’s sleigh getting shot down by a too-high Christmas Eve fire, with the not-so-jolly bearded one showing up at the front door in a foul mood demanding the keys to Jorma’s pickup in order to finish his deliveries.

The Christmas album rocks, but it is not Jorma’s finest work, and may not be for everyone. You might want to start out with “Burgers” or “Live at Sweetwater” first (you can find song excerpts by clicking on the links here). That’s where my journey began. And what a fine journey it’s been.

Jorma also runs a universally acclaimed guitar school called the Fur Peace Ranch, and you can listen to free mp3’s of his weekly radio show by clicking here. I highly, highly recommend clicking that link.

I really need to find that CD.

What’s your favorite Christmas album?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Dillard; Third House; Chapa LaVia; Madigan; Exelon; Sacia; White; Incumbents; Turnout (Use all caps in password)

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      


Obamarama - Few say they would have trouble with black candidate

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

I know this is national, but we talked about this yesterday, so I thought I’d post it. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll [pdf file] has some interesting results for presidential preference based on race, religion and gender.

I’m going to list several types of people who might run for president. For each one, please tell me whether that type of candidate is someone you would (a) be enthusiastic about, (b) be comfortable with, (c) have some reservations about, or (d) be very uncomfortable with.

According to the poll, a total of 12 percent would either have some reservations about (8) or would be very uncomfortable with (4) an African-American candidate.

* 16 percent (8 with some reservations and 8 very uncomfortable) said the same about a woman.

* 19 percent (10 and 9) said that about a Jewish candidate.

* 23 percent (14 and 9) said it about an Hispanic.

* 52 percent (19 and 34) said the same about a gay candidate.

* 54 percent (26 and 28) said it about an evangelical Christian.

* 59 percent (25 and 34) expressed reservations about someone who had been a member of George Bush’s cabinet.

* 53 percent (27 and 26) had doubts about voting for a Mormon.

* 66 percent (37 and 29) said the same about someone over age seventy (bad news for McCain?)

Several of the questions were only asked of half the respondents, kicking up the MoE fairly high. But the African-American question was asked of everyone, as was Hispanic and gay.

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

The Tribune ran this lede in today’s editorial today, entitled “Feed the meter.”

Anyone who regularly traverses Michigan Avenue or the Loop is obliged to develop a strategy about panhandlers. Do you give a little to all? Nothing to any? Or do you only give if the mood strikes, or if the person in question is peddling something of value, like StreetWise, the newspaper?

The point was about a new program in Baltimore.

Baltimore leaders are experimenting with a promising idea. They’re inviting people to feed the meter. Instead of dropping a quarter into a panhandler’s cup, Baltimoreans now have the opportunity to slide it into specially painted and refurbished meters, formerly used for parking, on a couple of streets, the Baltimore Sun recently reported. When they do, a pointer on the dial moves from “despair” to “hope.” The money collected goes to programs to help the homeless.

Taking into account that the holiday season is now in full force, how do you deal with panhandlers? Also, is the Baltimore idea worth a shot?

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Ryan files appeal *** Updated x1 ***

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

I’ll see if I can locate a copy of the filing today and post it here as an update.

George Ryan’s lawyers asked an appeals court Thursday to throw out the former governor’s racketeering and fraud conviction, claiming it was the result of “an avalanche of errors” by the trial judge.

Attorneys for Ryan and co-defendant Larry Warner said the jury that found them guilty following a six-month trial last April was prejudiced by serious mistakes on the part of U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.

“The District Court’s singular desire to bring this case to a verdict led it to commit an avalanche of errors that deprived Warner and Ryan of a fair trial before an impartial jury,” they said in a 90-page brief.

“These errors undermined the legitimacy of the verdicts, which were contaminated by outside influence and divorced from meaningful deliberation,” they said in urging a new trial for Ryan and Warner.

The Tribune has more:

When it was discovered that some additional jurors had been in scrapes with the police but failed to mention them on their questionnaires, Pallmeyer declined to replace them as she had the other two, they said.

“And because of the District Court’s unprecedented decisions, the jury that ultimately found Warner and Ryan guilty was very different from the one charged with determining their fate at submission,” the appeal said.

“Significantly the reconstituted jury did not include a known defense holdout juror removed under an arbitrary standard,” it said. “The District Court itself recognized that ‘it might very well be’ that its unprecedented decisions related to this jury would warrant reversal.”

Pallmeyer refused to grant Ryan a new trial, saying she did not see “any great harm.” The appeal recalled a remark by the judge that “if I am wrong, it will not be the first time I was reversed, and I am not afraid to be reversed.”

The appeal brief said: “Indeed these convictions must be reversed.”

Do you think Ryan should get a new trial?

*** UPDATE *** Here’s the brief. [pdf file]

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


Morning shorts

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

* Ward groups got mayor’s petitions signed - Fewer city workers, HDO members collect signatures for mayor - 19th Ward organization helped most

* Wheeler: The GOP proved a bigger loser than the hapless Cubs

* Lawmakers propose stem cell bills - Plan would OK use of human embryos… More here

* State police in hot water with Labor - Because HQ’s pipes have nothing but cold

* IR: Last evening, Illinois Republican Party Executive Director John Tsarpalas, political operative Dan Proft and communications specialist Glenn Hodas appeared at the Chicago Town Hall Meeting to offer an autopsy on last month’s election and some thoughts on the future of the Republican Party in Illinois.

* O’Brien, Rowe get key jobs on Hare’s staff

* Newly appointed deputy gov Peters to focus on public safety, social services

* Editorial: The 10 percent solution

* Hawaii group starts Obama-for-president push

* Secretary of state’s estranged daughter arrested

* Donation helps send mail to troops

* AP: Americans spend more time watching TV, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet and reading newspapers than anything else except breathing.

* Aldertrack is keeping track of the city aldermanic filings

* Friday Beer Blogging: Cat Edition

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Tusk’s exit interview

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

Eric Krol interviews the departing deputy governor, Bradley Tusk.

•Tusk is most proud of All Kids, the state program that aims to get health coverage for children who don’t have it. He’s also proud of Open Road Tolling, the godsend that’s making life a bit easier for suburban commuters like me. Tusk acknowledges the idea was around before Blagojevich. He describes his role as being a negotiator between then-tollway Executive Director Jack Hartman, who Tusk said wanted to increase tolls to rebuild, and Blagojevich, who “pushed back” on the toll-raising part. Assuming the financial plan is viable, the tollway is being rebuilt with no increase for I-PASS users.

•On his style: “The approach is always the same thing: you want to get big things done, and you do everything you can to get them done. I think over time, you learn different routes to getting them done. Sometimes you go through, sometimes you go around … Sometimes you use the carrot. Sometimes you use the stick. Sometimes both.

“For me, in every regard, there was so much that I didn’t know about specific issues, about government, about politics. Anyone stepping into a job like I had will learn an incredible amount in four years.”

•Asked what it’s like to work for Blagojevich, Tusk uses the word “intense.” Which is usually code for a politician who’s difficult. Also not a description you’d readily associate with a governor who once got a devilish grin on his face before trumpeting the amount of “testicular virility” he possessed. “He’s much more intense privately than he is publicly because when he wants to get stuff done, he’s laser-focused on it. But that’s his job,” Tusk explained.

Tusk says he hasn’t been subpoenaed, hasn’t appeared before a grand jury, barely knew Tony Rezko and hasn’t hired counsel. I disagree with Krol’s contention that this means the investigation hasn’t progressed as far as we might believe, however. Tusk was always adamant that he didn’t do patronage or fundraising, and those are the two areas under review by the feds. Although, Rezko is only recently cooperative (if the reports are true), so Eric is absolutely right that the feds have a long way to go on this one.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Obama, wife worry about safety

Friday, Dec 15, 2006

This story will undoubtedly be picked up by every major newspaper and blog in the country. It’s been the elephant in the room for months as people discussed Barack Obama’s possible presidential run.

Sen. Barack Obama is concerned about his personal security –telling the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board Thursday that he and his wife fear there is a potential for violence — even if he does not run for president.

“Being shot, obviously, that is the least-attractive option,'’ Obama said.

The Illinois Democrat told the Sun-Times he has concluded a 2008 White House bid “would be viable” and he would have “a pretty good chance of winning the nomination.'’

For the first time, Obama talked about the downside of his swelling popularity, before his expected presidential announcement in January, after a vacation in his native Hawaii.

Let’s try to keep the comments reasonable, please. I don’t want a visit from the Secret Service because somebody got a little goofy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Bridgeport neighbors allegedly harass Daley informant

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Years ago, I briefly considered buying a teardown house in Bridgeport because of its easy proximity to the Loop. Not a good idea, I was warned by several people. They don’t cotton to outsiders, particularly those with a trouble-making bent. That memory came to mind as I read this piece in today’s Tribune:

A federal judge on Wednesday blasted neighborhood residents who harassed a Bridgeport man and vandalized his home after he cooperated with the government and testified for prosecutors in this year’s City Hall hiring fraud trial. […]

“When his cooperation surfaced, it was not received with the grace and warmth in his neighborhood that one would hope,” attorney Jeff Steinback told Coar Wednesday at the sentencing of Katalinic, a former deputy commissioner in the Streets and Sanitation Department, who spent more than 30 years there.

There were harassing phone calls and slashed car tires, Steinback said. There was also graffiti on Katalinic’s house. And finally, last Easter morning, there was a large bottle tossed through the glass front door of the home he shares with his wife and three young children, Steinback said.

Katalic helped send Robert Sorich to prison. Sorich is a local Bridgeport hero for keeping his yap shut during his ordeal. The locals even held a fundraiser for him.

The Beachwood Reporter has a good question for Mayor Daley:

“Following their sentencing, Daley defended Sorich and the others, saying they were all men of good character,” the Tribune notes.

I wonder what Daley thinks of Sorich’s other friends and defenders - the ones harassing Katalinic.

And this one would be a great question to ask at Daley’s next press conference:

“I know what I did was wrong,” Katalinic told a federal judge yesterday, when he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his own role in the massive hiring fraud the city has engaged in under Daley.

Does the mayor think what Katalinic did was wrong?

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Obamarama

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

* The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz takes a look at the Chicago media’s coverage of the Rezko-Obama matter and concludes:

This seems like a minor-league issue. But as Bill Clinton learned about his money-losing Arkansas land deal, when you run for president, everything in your past gets magnified.

* A Washington Times editorial today takes a look at Obama’s pre US Senate record and concludes:

In short, Mr. Obama’s record as an Illinois state senator was down-the-line liberal. For someone representing a liberal district in Chicago, that’s not very surprising. What is surprising is how Mr. Obama’s liberal label has been effectively wiped clean since he entered the U.S. Senate.

* CNN’s Jeanne Moos asks people on the street about Barack Hussein Obama’s name:

* The Draft Obama organization is reportedly planning to run this TV ad in New Hampshire.

* Joe Novak jabs again at Obama’s wife, Michelle, for her position on a corporate board of directors involved in massive layoffs.

Hispanic union workers like Santiago Vasquez lose jobs because Michelle Obama wants to improve efficiency? She defends layoffs telling Chicago Crains Business that her firm “hopes to expand and hire more workers, many minorities, once it boosts its efficiency.”

* New York Daily News columnist/blogger notes that Obama has picked up the support of a bigtime money guy.

Lou Susman, John Kerry’s national finance chairman in 2004 and, reportedly, a supporter of Tom Vilsack in 2008, told me yesterday that if Barack Obama runs for president, he’ll support Obama.

Susman’s comment is another mark of the entree Obama has to the very top tier of Democratic moneymen, one I wrote about in this week’s column.

* Here’s an excerpt from his column:

There were only about a dozen people in George Soros’ midtown conference room to meet Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is getting used to crowds of thousands at bookstore readings and public speeches.

But the men meeting Obama last Monday still matter more in Democratic presidential politics than your average bookstore crowd. They were some of New York’s elite political donors, including John Kerry’s top New York fund-raiser from 2004, Hassan Nemazee, and the former chief of staff at Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department, Michael Froman.

Also there were financiers Blair Effron, Mark Gallogly and Orin Kramer, each of whom donates tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats and can raise tens of thousands more from friends. (Soros himself had met alone with Obama earlier in the day; that evening, he was reading from his own new book at a Barnes & Noble store.)

When Obama - considered Hillary Clinton’s most serious threat - meets with the biggest of the big-money donors, it sends a clear message.

* Speaking of money, he’s also picking up a lot of small donations.

A political action committee that Obama has formed already has taken in more than $1 million this year in the kind of low-dollar donations that reflect excitement among ordinary voters. More than $165,000 flowed in during a six-week period this fall that coincided with the Democratic senator’s highly publicized book tour, according to federal disclosure documents.

* Alan Greenblatt of Governing Magazine’s blog notices some pushback [eg: this sort of stuff] from the DC punditry about Obama and offers this analysis:

Finally, I think the resistance to Obama is rooted in this — he’s popular with the public way before a newcomer to the national scene should be. By which I mean that only political reporters and the people who work the system for a living are supposed to be paying attention and making their judgments.

“The Gang of 500,” as ABC’s newsletter The Note calls the political insider class, is supposed to weigh and pass judgment on candidates long before voters even in Iowa or New Hampshire have started paying serious attention. At this point, the only stories are supposed to be about which candidate is hiring which adviser, and what that signals about what the smart money thinks about his (or now her) chances.

Obama circumvents all that. He’s a star winning the hearts and minds of the people regardless of whatever skepticism the chattering class in Washington may harbor about him. No wonder that class is starting to hate him.

* George Will, of all people, says: “Run Now, Obama”

* I think Rush Limbaugh played this snippet that “Libertarian Reason” blog wrote about today.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a piece last week in which she teased 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama about his big ears. Well it seems he can’t quite handle that. Microphones picked up a conversation he had with Dowd after a speech of his in New Hampshire last Sunday:

“You talked about my ears, and I just want to put you on notice: I’m very sensitive about - what I told them was - I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.” Dowd replies comradely, “Oh, we’re just trying to toughen you up!” The rest of the conversation is unclear.

He’s “sensitive” about his ears? The cartoonists and blogggers are gonna have a field day with this one. Perhaps he could adjust his hair style or consider ear reduction surgery. And, just to be clear, I’m joking here, as I believe Obama was.

* Old poll conducted in Iowa for special interest group passed off as new development.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Oops. Forgot to post the QOTD. You’d think I would remember to do it out of habit, if nothing else. The good news is my hangover from last night’s outstanding holiday party is finally starting to subside. Thanks once again to everyone who showed up. We even had a few bigshots there, which was nice.

One of those bigshots was Daniel White, the executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. Director White told me the Board is in the process of completely revamping its website. I use the site almost every day, often many times a day, so I had some pointed criticisms (probably made a little too pointed by the Miller Lites I was drinking - oops, another trade name) and some suggestions.

Today’s question: What would you do to improve the State Board of Elections website? They read the blog over there, so it’s certain that your suggestions will be seen.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Peter Francis Geraci strong-arms Illinois political website

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Peter Francis Geraci’s ubiquitous advertising about its bankruptcy tapes has made the firm a success. That success appears to have gone to the firm’s head.

Illinois Review, a conservative website, posted a tongue in cheek headline over a story last week about Illinois’ massive state debt. “Peter Francis Geraci, the Governor is on Line 1.”

Yesterday, the site’s administrator received an e-mail from Scott Stoolmaker, Peter Francis Geraci’s director of operations.

You [sic] site is engaging in the unauthorized use of out [sic] trade name ‘Peter Francis Geraci’. Remove the content immediately.

Despite the illiterate nature of the e-mail, IR immediately pulled the name off the post, but others have stepped into the fray. Greg Blankenship pointed out the ridiculousness of the firm’s claim in a post entitled “Peter Francis Geraci, Call a 1st Amendment Lawyer.”

…We can also say, Nike, Proctor & Gamble, Exxon and any other number trade names all damn day and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Mr. Stoolmaker, with the number hits on blogs and their power to shape news, break stories you do your brand identity no good by threatening political activists engaged in political speech. It’s the kind of thing that can make you infamous in a hurry.

Archpundit, a Democratic blogger and no major fan of the conservative Republican Illinois Review, chimed in with: “Why Would You Hire The Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci When They Don’t Understand Even Basic Law”

The ultimate outcome of this ridiculous claim is that anyone seeking to hire the Law Firm of Peter Francis Geraci now knows that they are incompetent lawyers.

Congratulations.

I sent Stoolmaker an e-mail this morning.

Could you please explain to me exactly how Illinois Review violated your trade name by merely putting it in a headline?

He responded thusly:

The only issue I have with the use of our name is when other sites link to your site which they were doing when the site used the name Peter Francis Geraci.

Um, huh?

Stoolmaker sent a longer note of explanation to IR:

Please let your readers/posters know that the content itself was not the issue. The issue arises when others link to your site using our name as a keyword search picked up by Google, Yahoo and other similar search engines. Many websites “tag” our name to direct/redirect clients and prospective clients to websites that have little to do with our law firm or direct them our competitors and is a constant problem. Your site was being linked by the following company: [link]

Scott Stoolmaker, Director of Operations
Law Offices of Peter Francis Geraci

What a moronic explanation. So, according to this law firm, no blogger can ever mention the name Peter Francis Geraci because some search engine might somehow refer potential customers to their sites instead of the firm’s website?

I beg to differ, Peter Francis Geraci.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Little Lip lays out the game plan

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Daddy) told Lynn Sweet this week how he snagged a seat on the Transportation Committee, which are usually reserved for team players.

As important as it was for him to pitch House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the speaker designate, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will be majority leader in the new Congress, Lipinski had to get with the program. Lipinski told me he knew “it is also important to show I am a team player. That is part of that. I am a Democrat, and I am going to be supportive of the party.” That is “part of building up the relationship.”

At one point Lipinski, who likes to bike, took what he said was a 30-mile ride in Maryland with Oberstar. In September, he hosted a fund-raiser for Oberstar at Chicago’s Union League Club. “My father certainly helped on that,” Lipinski said.

He also had been talking to Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) about the appointment. Lipinski had to pay his dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which Emanuel chairs. Lipinski said he gave more than $50,000 to the committee; records I checked showed a few thousand less. “That’s part of showing I am a team player.”

The Nov. 7 election gave Democrats the House and vaulted Emanuel to leadership. Emanuel gave a green light to Pelosi about Lipinski. That was generous, because Lipinski’s dues invoice was for $100,000, and Lipinski did not donate to Emanuel’s highest priority candidates.

Lipinski’s father, former Congressman Bill Lipinski, lobbies for United Airlines.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

* Hiring trial key gets year in prison - Ex-Streets, Sanitation official aided state

* Editorial: When everything’s relative, good government loses

* Schools weigh pay-to-play - Evanston parents fault past hefty pay raises

* Internet coming to interstates - IDOT plans Wi-Fi at rest stops

* State panels offer suggestions to help immigrants in Illinois

* Amtrak ridership up on state subsidized trains

* Luciano: Mount LaHood erupts

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Lights out at Statehouse

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

The ice storm wrecked the Christmas lights on the Statehouse.

Some of the color went out of Springfield’s Christmas season on Wednesday. I was on the roof of the state Capitol to watch workers remove the colored lights from the dome. I am sorry to report that the lights will not be going back up this year.

Unlike most of what goes on at the Statehouse, there were no politics in this decision. The Nov. 30-Dec. 1 winter storm decided it.

We enjoyed the lights for a short time. They were turned on Nov. 27, so we saw them for about three days. But it wasn’t until Wednesday, almost two weeks after the storm hit, that the Capitol roof was safe enough for workers to get out and see just how bad the damage was.

Nine of the 12 strings of colored lights that annually hang from the dome snapped. There was maybe a bucketful of broken glass lying about. Jim Speis, electrical general foreman, says there is no way the lights could be replaced before the end of the year.

Bakke’s column is really quite good today. Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Fun

Thursday, Dec 14, 2006

Thanks to all who came to the party last night. I had a great time.

Blogging to resume shortly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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