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The renegade master

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

Long before Bears kick-return specialist Devin “Anytime” Hester tied an NFL record with a 108-yard return (of a botched field goal, no less) against the Giants, he was a magic man with the Miami Hurricanes.

Bears fans, you must check out this truly awesome video from Hester’s college days. Colts fans, this is one reason why your team’s gonna lose. Whiny, always-wrong hater columnists, bite me.

This is another Chicago Bears open thread.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Jones vs. Madigan vs. Houlihan; HGOPs; Hastert; Franks; Legislative staff; Leadership; Lottery (Use all caps in password and use YESTERDAY’S password)

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

A couple of months ago, I went out with one of my best friends from grade school. We lived near each other on farms in rural Iroquois County, which is directly south of Kankakee.

Anyway, we spent quite a bit of time jostling back and forth over whether Chicago should be kicked out of Illinois. He said, only half-jokingly, that we ought to string a barbed wire fence around the city.

The evening came to mind after reading some comments this morning under a State Journal-Register story about Barack Obama’s Springfield presidential announcement and how the Prairie Capital Convention Center would be the backup site (the Old State Capitol will be the primary site). The first comment set off quite a fight.

Obama has no connection to spfld..stay in chicago with the majority of liberals, lincoln would turn over in his grave, he better be charged full price for the rent of the pccc!@!!!

Other comments included this one:

I dont know why he is paying attention to springfield when he hasnt before.


He is just using you, he is a liberal senator from chicago who will use the small midwest town backdrop as a hook, he is from chicago and that is where his roots are. He served his chicago district for 8 years, bomke was my senator in sangamon county.

Today’s question: Why do you think so many downstaters seem to hate Chicago and don’t consider it part of Illinois? Does racism explain some of it? Backwardsness? Or is it just the natural outgrowth of intense regional conflict over limited resources? Something else?

- Posted by Rich Miller   122 Comments      

Identity theft tops consumer fraud list for first time

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

[This was originally the Question of the Day, but I changed it.]

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has released her annual list of top 10 consumer complaints. From a press release issued late yesterday afternoon:

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that for the first time in the history of the Illinois Attorney General’s Top 10 Consumer Complaint List, identity theft complaints topped the list, exceeding the other categories by far. Madigan attributes the dramatic increase in consumer complaints concerning ID theft to her office’s new Identity Theft Hotline, announced in February 2006.

Madigan also announced that her office’s Consumer Protection Division received a record number of consumer complaints in the last year. In 2006, the Consumer Protection Division received 32,724 consumer complaints, a more than 18 percent increase over the 26,652 consumer complaints received in 2005. This increase follows a nearly 11 percent increase in consumer complaints in 2005.

And here’s the list:


1. Identity Theft - 5,237

2. Credit - 3,444

3. Construction/Home Improvement - 3,204

4. Telecommunications - 2,782

5. Promotions and Schemes - 2,261

6. Financial Services - 1,695

7. Motor Vehicles/Used Auto Sales - 1,486

8. Mail Order - 1,475

9. Business to Business Fraud - 815

10. Motor Vehicle/Non-Warranty Repair - 790

Question: Have you ever been tempted to call the AG’s consumer complaints tip line? What’s your story? Without names, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      

Madigan introduces February primary bill

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

Speaker Madigan has introduced his legislation to move the spring primary up six weeks, from March to the first Tuesday in February. Madigan said earlier this month that he wanted the state to play a larger role in the presidential election and felt the move would benefit Barack Obama’s candidacy. The Post-Dispatch has reaction. Initially, Senate President Emil Jones was skeptical, but he’s moving off the dime a bit:

Since then, Jones has endorsed the idea in concept but not Madigan’s bill in specific.

“Conceptually, it benefits the people of Illinois to have an early say in who the presidential candidate is. However, we’re still reviewing the bill,” said Jones spokeswoman Cindy Davidsmeyer.

Madigan’s bill would affect more than just the presidential races. It would move the entire primary election forward, including all federal, state and local races. States like Iowa, in contrast, hold an early presidential caucus, separate from the primary election, to vote only on the presidential races.

“While some states do have two primaries in presidential years, the notion of that kind of change is complicated,” said Steve Brown, spokesman for Madigan. “Let’s not make it too complicated for voters: Have them come to the polls once and let their voice be heard.”

Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, while in favor of a larger state role in selecting the next president, said he worried about lengthening a campaign season that he says is too long already.

The Southern Illinoisan editorialized against Madigan’s idea and against the whole frontloaded system in general.

The “problem” isn’t Illinois’ date being too late. The problem is other states being too early.

If anything, the caucuses and primaries should take place later. Many voters are sick of the pre-election hype already. Others aren’t paying attention.

Political-beat reporters don’t help with their constant badgering, asking potential candidates when they will declare their intentions like a bunch of kids on a family vacation asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, wants to move Illinois’ 2008 primary election from March 18 to Feb. 5 - in part, to boost the chances of state Sen. Barack Obama.

The primary date shouldn’t be changed to help - or hurt - a person.

But Dan Johnson-Weinberger predicts the bill will become law and he’s for it.

I predict it will be signed into law and I think for 2008, that’s a good thing. For other years (that is, when Barack isn’t running for president), I’d rather have nice weather for elections, as I don’t like walking in the cold, so if it was up to me, I’d move the primary to June or September. And I’d imagine most campaign workers would agree with that sentiment (ignoring the speculation on how cold weather might impact election results).

You can read Madigan’s bill by clicking here. Please, if you have a question about the specific legislation, try reading it first before commenting or simply asking others to do your homework for you.


- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

White powdery substance, a buffoon’s money and felonious pols *** Updated x1 ***

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

Ald. Arenda Troutman says the white powdery substance the feds found in a ziplock bag in her office was dietary fiber, not drugs.

Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) said today she doesn’t use drugs and is “betting my life” that the white powdery substance found in her home was not narcotics, but a dietary fiber she uses to cleanse her colon.

Troutman charged that federal agents who found the powdery substance during a raid on her South Side home and ward office already know the results were negative and that they’re keeping the information quiet to continue to smear her.

“I can’t understand that you don’t know by now if that was a drug or not,” she said after chairing a City Council Committee hearing. “That’s been over three weeks ago and you mean to tell me with all the technology we have today that they have not let the press know? They’ve let you guys know everything [else] to this point.”

The feds say that the tests haven’t come back yet, but, regardless of whatever else you may think of her, she has a good point here. It shouldn’t take three weeks to see if it was cocaine or heroin.

Meanwhile, a group of 30 Chicago organizations that are critical of Mayor Daley released a “Report Card for Change” yesterday, and found that one particular alderman, who recently described himself as a “buffoon” (a year or so after he denied he was a buffoon), was raking in cash from developers.

Real estate interests contributed $1.7 million — more than any other industry — to the campaign coffers of 20 Chicago aldermen over an 18-month period, and 13 percent of that money went to one politician: Ald. Burton F. Natarus (42nd), a study shows.

Natarus, whose booming, development-rich ward includes the Gold Coast and downtown areas, was the No. 1 earner in three categories of the dozen industries surveyed by a coalition of community organizations:

Real estate interests gave $1.75 million to the 20 top-earning aldermen and Natarus got 13 percent of that money. Business services gave $313,052 and 19 percent to Natarus. Retail and wholesalers gave $661,889 and 13 percent to Natarus. Ald. Danny Solis (25th) also got 13 percent. Entertainment sports and gambling interests gave $114,657 and 27 percent of it to Ald. Shirley Coleman (16th).

And finally, convicted felons are allowed to run for alderman, according to a judge.

Former Ald. Virgil Jones (15th), who was convicted on corruption charges in 1999, can run to regain a seat on the City Council in the Feb. 27 election, a Cook County judge decided Monday.

Circuit Judge Alfred Paul ruled that a state law that would ban Jones from the race is unconstitutional because it applies only to ex-felons running in local races and not statewide elections.

So, there may be hope for Troutman down the line if this federal thing doesn’t work out too well.

*** UPDATE *** It would be a big help if you would use the comment section to post Website addresses to local campaigns and blogs and forums set up to discuss them.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

Bungled case?

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

The AP takes a look at each of the 28 state-job applicants who allegedly received special treatment from Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey and finds a whole bunch of holes in the administration’s case. Here are just a few of them, but go check out the entire list:

1. Ascaridis, Beverly, 56, Chicago, applied for Senior Public Service Administrator on 4/12/04: Resubmitted application doesn’t appear on Casey’s log, so it’s unclear how the government believes Casey or DeFraties knew about it or intervened improperly; never promoted to SPSA; now a public service administrator for the Department of Natural Resources. News reports in September revealed that Ascaridis got the job shortly after her husband, a lifelong Blagojevich friend, gave a $1,500 gift to one of the governor’s daughters.

2. Baksys, Mary, applied for Public Service Administrator on 11/29/04: Never appears on Casey’s log, never hired. […]

8. Dirksen, Julie, 64, Springfield, SPSA, 2/4/04: Initial application marked “incomplete;” awarded a job exempt from all hiring rules, so never needed CMS evaluation; now an SPSA for the Historic Preservation Agency.

It’s amazing that they’re trying to make those two take the fall for Beverly Ascaridis. Beyond chutzpah.

Along those same “beyond chutzpah” lines, the administration is asking that the Civil Service Commission pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:

An attorney for the Blagojevich administration said Monday that the case against Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey should focus on what they did, not on what others in state government might have done, to promote certain people for state jobs.

“This is really about the conduct of Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey,” said attorney Joseph Gagliardo in opening statements at a Civil Service Commission hearing where the two fired workers are trying to get reinstated.

“Any attempt to blame others for their misconduct does nothing to mitigate their responsibility.”

The defendants’ attorney claims they did nothing wrong, which may be a bit of a stretch.

Carl Draper, attorney for DeFraties and Casey, said the administration lacks “proof that anybody got any favorable treatment.”

Draper has suggested DeFraties and Casey are scapegoats of an administration engulfed in a federal hiring scandal. U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said last year that serious allegations about hiring problems exist throughout the Blagojevich administration.

Draper said no rules or laws prohibited DeFraties’ and Casey’s actions. He added that administration officials asked for applicants to be graded ahead of time to fill some positions quickly and that they acted in ways similar to members of prior administrations.

Even so, Marc Longmeyer, a grading supervisor under DeFraties, said some applications coming directly from the offices of DeFraties and Casey were graded and placed on an online database ahead of other applicants.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Morning shorts

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007

[Compiled by Paul Richardson]

* Illinois Teachers Invest in Hedge Funds

* USAToday: Seat belt laws clicking in Illinois:

In January, the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety named Illinois one of four “best performance states” for passing at least two of 15 laws it says are proven to reduce highway deaths injuries.
“Illinois has been very consistent in its passage of key laws,” says Judie Stone, president of the safety group.

* Iraq veteran struggles to find employment

*Rep. Franks discusses disappointment in electric rate increase

* State launches new ad campaign aimed at young drivers

* The Todd couple: “Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, a fan of old-school clout, has no problem saying he considers himself “the hog with the big nuts.”

* Ex Chicago Park District official gets 3 years for $8 million scam

* Editorial: Right-to-breathe

* Cook County jail medical execs get axed; protests against budget cuts continue:

Jerry Roper, president of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, told commissioners: “There’s nothing left to tax, ladies and gentlemen. The taxpayers deserve better solutions.”

* Editorial: Guv gave hook too quickly to Madigan’s mortgage plan

* Editorial: Selling the lottery not a long term solution for schools: “We’d prefer the governor spend his incredible energy devising a fairer way to pay for schools. The overreliance on property taxes is unfair, especially to those who live on fixed incomes.”

* Mark Brown: Burke’s 1st rival in 36 years isn’t taking the hints

* Blagojevich seeks federal dollars for counties hit by Dec. storm

* Editorial: Cross has solid advice for legislative session

* Actuary predicts Bears win

- Posted by Rich Miller   2 Comments      

* Happy Thanksgiving!
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