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Friday, Jun 29, 2007

Needless to say, I’ll be back when the special session begins. Where they go, I go.

If you’re really upset at the governor’s special session idea, then channel your anger by purchasing one of our items at our charity store. Rather than sit and wonder whether the governor is a pathological liar, an incredible goofball or “way ahead of everyone else” and bound to win this great struggle against the dark forces of evil that stand in his way, do something truly positive and buy something. All profits will be donated to Sojourn House.

If you buy something and you still aren’t completely purged of bad feelings, and still want to talk, then head on over to Illinoize. I’m sure the bloggers over there will have plenty to say.

Take care and have a great 4th!!!

Also, we did this last year and I think it’s appropriate to make it an annual event. The video from last year is no longer availabe, so here’s a different band. Ladies and gentlemen, our National Anthem…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

This just in… Governor “blows up,” will call special session “every day, seven days a week until we pass a budget” - AUDIO FILES AVAILABLE

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

* 1:52 pm - The governor told legislative leaders today that he will begin calling special legislative sessions starting July 5th. More info as it becomes available. [This subject item has been moved from another post below.]

* 1:58 pm - House Speaker Michael Madigan was clearly not happy after the leaders meeting and said it didn’t make any sense to call the special session. Apparently, the entire meeting today was about the special session.

Senate GOP Leader Frank Watson said the governor blew up at the leaders. House GOP Leader Tom Cross was noticeably frustrated and said he didn’t understand the rationale or logic behind the move.

* 2:01 pm - The governor had suggested that the two chambers return on the 5th during the last leaders meeting, but was rebuffed. The leaders then reportedly made him swear that he wouldn’t use their weeklong break against them and he complied. They should’ve gotten a memorandum of understanding.

The governor is said to be coming out of his office soon. More in a bit.

* 2:17 pm - While we wait for the governor to come out of his office, here are some quotes from after the meeting. Senate President Emil Jones said little to nothing…

* Madigan: “What I know is that there was an agreement on a schedule and he has rescinded that agreement.”

* Madigan: “My suggestion to the governor was if he wants to call a special session call up bills for people to vote on.”

* Watson: “He’s had five months to figure this out and he wants to blame everyone else.”

* Cross: “Theater of the absurd… I attribute it all to failed leadership…. [My members] will be here ready and willing to work whether they’re happy about it or not.”

* The guv’s spokesperson, Rebecca Rausch, said the first subject under discussion on Thursday the 5th will be pensions.

* 2:30 pm - So far, the Secretary of State’s office has yet to see the governor’s official proclamation. By law, it has to be filed with his office. The governor’s office won’t say yet what the special session will be about except to say it’s “budget related.” The specials are limited to specific bills or subject matters.

* 2:38 pm - Governor Blagojevich said he would call a special session “every day until we pass a budget.”. More Blagojevich quotes…

“The one-month budget is just a Republican budget in disguise.”

“Time for us to get the real work of the people done.”

“I expressed my view that it’s important to have the members here more often than not.”



* Governor Rod Blagojevich [file is fixed.]

* House Speaker Madigan

* Senate President Jones

* Senate GOP Leader Watson

* House GOP Leader Cross (Part 1)

* House GOP Leader Cross (Part 2)


* 3:16 pm - The official proclamation calling the special session can be downloaded here.

* 3:43 pm - The governor repeatedly referred to “Speaker Madigan and his conservative Republican ally Senator Watson” during the press bang. More Blagojevich quotes…

* “[I will be calling special sessions] every single day from July 5th, without fail, every day seven days a week until we pass a budget that helps people.”

* (Question: Will you be here every day governor?) “I’ll be in Springfield every day.

* 3:48 pm - Speaker Madigan quotes…

* “He’s offered no new ideas to be considered by those special sessions.”

* “He has no ideas on revenue generation, same old stuff.”

* “I’ve just come to expect stuff like this.”

* 3:52 pm - Senate GOP Leader Frank Watson…

* “He wants to blame everybody else for problems that everybody initiated here and he blew up… It wasn’t a Mike Jacobs kind of thing, he didn’t go that far I believe.”

* “I just sat there in bewilderment… He yells ‘Frank Watson this, Frank Watson that,’ and we’re in the minority here the last time I checked.”

* “This is not the way to get things done.”

* “I said, ‘Governor, if you want to put a bill on the Senate floor, let’s talk about how you’re going to pay for all this and just see if there’s a political will to do this. Governor, there isn’t. If you haven’t got that message by now, then that’s your fault.’”

* “This is a big issue that we’ve had with this administration… it’s a trust factor and here we go again.”

* A special session is what we call ‘A teacher a day.’ $40,000 is what will be spent on a special session… and that’s about what a salary of a teacher in my area (will make).

* Watson revealed that the governor wants to bring the press into the room for the negotiations. “I don’t know if that’s not such a bad idea. Why don’t you just come on in and see what goes on inside the room?”

* “I think he ought to spend an evening here just like everybody else and stay in Springfield.”

* 4:11 pm - A few Leader Cross quotes…

* “[Special session is] a huge cost to taxpayers of the state of Illinois.”

* “I thought we had an understanding that we would start back the following week, but obviously that’s not the case. So, we’re ready to work and get the budget done.”

* [No budget] “I attribute that to Democrats failing.”

* 4:14 pm - The AP has a brief bit up, entitled “Blindsiding lawmakers, governor wants special session on budget”…

Legislative leaders complained that Blagojevich is breaking an agreement that lawmakers would not be called back to Springfield until July 10th.

More importantly, they say there is nothing for rank & file lawmakers to do. Budget negotiations between Blagojevich and the leaders are at a standstill, so there’s no budget for lawmakers to vote on.

* 4:34 pm - From Illinois Issues’ Bethany Carson

The governor’s last words were the legislators could forfeit their per diem if they were worried about keeping down costs.

* 4:47 pm - This won’t inflame things further I’m sure. The governor has sent a letter to Madigan and Watson, which has ended up in the hands of House Democratic members…

I understand you raised concerns about the per diem costs associated with Special Sessions. I would offer two alternatives to address your concerns. First, members… are in the position to “waive” their per diems… As a second alternative, at your request, I could use a reduction veto to eliminate per diem payments. Please let us know if this is something you would like me to do.

The full letter, along with a letter sent to all legislators, can be downloaded here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   97 Comments      

This just in…

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

[Bumped to the top because nothing else is going on. News on the leaders meeting is in green.]

* 9:44 am - The House’s schedule for July was just approved. They’ll be back on Tuesday, July 10th. Senate President Emil Jones has said he won’t return until the following day. Update: The Senate will also return on the 10th.

* 9:51 am - Even though the House has just 87 out of 118 members present today, it was still able to override a gubernatorial veto. The House is now in recess until the Senate takes action on the one-month budget. The Senate is due in at 10.

* 9:59 am - The House’s July schedule is now online.

* 11:09 am - The Senate has just passed the one-month budget.

* 11:13 am - The Senate has adjourned until Tuesday, July 10.

* 11:14 am - The governor is in town and the leaders meeting is scheduled for 11:30. Topic: Schedules going forward.

* 11:37 am - Note to newspaper editors: Before printing guest columns from ostensibly private citizens that repeat the governor’s talking points on the House-passed budget bill and call out individual legislators by name for their votes on that legislation, you might want to check first to see if aforementioned letter-writers are, in reality, professional activists who work for groups that are tied at the hip to the Blagojevich administration. Just saying.

* 12:08 pm - While we’re on the topic of the media, ABC7 sports anchor Jim Rose is emceeing a fundraiser for Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Sounds kinda odd. This isn’t the first time that Rose has done an event with Giannoulias, either.

* 12:12 pm - The leaders meeting is being delayed because Speaker Madigan and Senate President Jones are in negotiations with the electric utilities on the rate relief package.

* 12:13 pm - Sen. Martin Sandoval’s full statement on the overtime session can be downloaded here.

* 12:36 pm - Illinois Family Institute claims “great lull in donations” has led to staffing cuts and reductions in publications, community outreach and its upcoming voter guide.

* 12:58 pm - Speaker Madigan left the electric rates negotiations a few minutes ago saying they had made “substantial progress,” which is what he said a couple of weeks ago.

* 1:17 pm - House GOP Leader Tom Cross walked into the governor’s office not long ago, so the leaders meeting should be starting soon.

* 1:30 pm -Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks is announcing today that he’s supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Franks has spent the past week or two trying to line up support from his fellow legislators, without much luck. Go figure.

[The update about a special session has been moved here.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

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Friday, Jun 29, 2007

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Question of the day

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

Paul and I won’t be posting next week. The General Assembly is adjourning until the following week, so expect us to return on Tuesday, July 10.

Question: What are your 4th of July plans?

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Friday, Jun 29, 2007

* My Sun-Times column this week takes a look back and a look forward…

Hegewisch is a long way from Schaumburg, geographically and otherwise, but the two areas merged together in my mind this week.

The column goes on to explain Schaumburg state Rep. Paul Froehlich’s party switch, which we don’t need to repeat here.

The last state representative to switch parties was Sam Panayotovich in 1988, when the Cook County Republican Party thought it could become a major player. Republicans wanted to lock in “Reagan Democrat” voters by recruiting candidates who could appeal to them and by attempting to woo Democratic officeholders to their side.

There was a time when it looked as if the Republicans might actually succeed, and might even win a huge prize: the Illinois House. The chamber was closely divided between the two parties and Madigan was facing a revolt by his more conservative city and suburban Democrats, white ethnics who felt shut out by Madigan’s often imperious rule. Panayotovich, a Serbian-American Democrat from Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood, decided to take the plunge. Panayotovich announced that he was switching to the GOP, and the word was that other white ethnics would soon follow.

Madigan understood that if Panayotovich won re-election as a Republican, others would surely jump ship and he would lose the speaker’s gavel. So Madigan immediately made it clear that Panayotovich would pay a steep price, and he followed through with an expensive, brutal campaign.

Before Panayotovich’s press conference was even over, Madigan’s chief of staff ordered everything removed from Panayotovich’s office and unceremoniously dumped in the hallway. It was all downhill from there.

The fall campaign against Democrat Clem Balanoff, personally recruited by Mayor Harold Washington, was “hurtful, bitter and unfair,” Panayotovich recalls. His wife was singled out for attack, he was accused of spending more time at the popular Springfield tavern he owned instead of in the Illinois House, and on and on. To be sure, Panayotovich gave as good as he got, and eventually both sides ended up spending more money than had ever been expended on an Illinois House race. Panayotovich lost, and the way he was stomped into the ground may partly explain the lack of party jumpers since then.

And now the look forward…

Panayotovich said this week that Froehlich should prepare for the same treatment. Even though Froehlich’s party switch has little impact on the makeup of the House and no other Republicans are suspected of plotting similar jumps, Panayotovich is probably right.

“That’s our seat,” a top House Republican said this week. “We’ll do whatever it takes to get it back,” said another. The only question is whether the Republicans, hobbled by years in the minority, will have the resources to put up a fight. If they do, and if history is any guide, expect a nasty contest next year.

* Eric Krol looks at both Froehlich and Sen. Kirk Dillard, who cut a TV ad for Barack Obama. This is his conclusion about Froehlich’s future…

Froehlich is a bit of a man without a place to call home right now. And he’s got less than $20,000 in his campaign fund to fall back on. A well-funded Republican could cause him big problems. […]

This time, however, Froehlich’s desire to control his fate and stay in power could end up costing him exactly that.

If Speaker Madigan steps up, as he is expected to, it won’t matter how much money is in Froehlich’s bank account. But, yes, Froehlich is certainly in for a rough road.

And Dillard…

Dillard also is up for re-election next year in the 24th Senate District. The district remains reliably Republican, so it’s not the general election Dillard need worry about. It’s catching a primary challenge from a Republican irked that Kirk is offering so much public love for Obama. Dillard possibly just bought himself a headache along with that spotlight he sought.

Sometimes politicians can outthink themselves.

Dillard’s campaign account had almost $200,000 on hand earlier this year and he ought to be able to raise more. Also, Obama did well in DuPage County and likely remains popular, even with Republicans.

That being said, I’m all for bipartisan comity in the General Assembly. But it ought to stay there. If Dillard does draw a primary opponent because of this move, he’ll certainly deserve it. But he’ll almost surely survive it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Life under Rod

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

* Let’s take a look at this Chicago Reader article about TIF districts and the budget situation…

Over the last few weeks Daley and Madigan have been getting kind of chummy. Daley pulled his support from the more generous tax relief plan of senate president Emil Jones and endorsed Madigan’s watered-down home owner’s property tax exemption. Why? According to statehouse sources it’s because Madigan agreed to support an extension of the Central Loop TIF, which was created in 1984 and is set to expire this year. What’s at stake? If the General Assembly extends it, it will continue pumping hundreds of millions of dollars a year in property taxes to a slush fund controlled by Daley for another 12 years.

That has been one of the rumors floating around, and Daley certainly does want the extension…

When Blagojevich figured out what Daley and Madigan were up to, he countered by calling in Cook County commissioner Mike Quigley, until then the only elected official who had dared to criticize TIFs.

Blagojevich convened a closed-door [leaders] meeting on June 20… Quigley laid out the flaws in Daley’s TIF programs

The problem was, as I pointed out in the Capitol Fax back then, Quigley had no actual legislative plan to counter the pro-TIF argument. Nothing was even drafted. So it was all an empty exercise, designed solely to pimp the mayor and Madigan. Great idea.

What will come of all this? Probably nothing, at least in terms of TIF reform. As one gubernatorial aide told me, “If Daley and the aldermen want to shoot themselves in the head, it’s not our problem.” Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, who attended the meeting, was openly contemptuous of Blagojevich and Quigley and called the session a waste of time. “It’s another day in Rod Wonderland,” says Brown. “It reminds me of a Bible-study thing where the minister comes in and talks about his favorite scripture.”

So, the governor won’t come out and oppose Daley’s TIF extension or get behind any TIF reforms. Instead, his main purpose was to gin up stories like this.

And everyone wonders why we’re still in overtime session.

* More overtime reports…

* July budget waiting, but wrangling continues

* Editorial: Air Blagojevich

* Bethany Carson: Moving right along, for now

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

Step up, and step back

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

* I’m not sure how “surprising” this CTA contract deal was since word has been going around about it for a couple of weeks or so. I had some of the details in the Capitol Fax a while back. But, anyway, the Sun-Times editorial today was otherwise on the mark

On Wednesday, after the CTA announced a surprising deal with all 17 of its labor unions that calls for key changes in pension and health care contributions, the governor gave the agency credit for “showing it is serious about improving service and efficiency.” But then he showed he was not serious about helping, leaning on his tired refrain about “closing corporate loopholes” to provide money to the agency.

That’s just not going to cut it. The governor needs to see the light and give the region the power to solve its own crisis. The CTA needs a reliable, permanent funding boost — and so do Metra and Pace, which are also suffering. It also needs to raise fares, because riders should also contribute to the solution.

And Mayor Daley, who was quick to call on Springfield to follow through after the CTA announced its union deal, needs to show a little commitment of his own by boosting the city’s ridiculously low contribution to the agency. We’re all in this together. It’s time to step up.

That last point about Daley is spot on. The city’s contribution to the CTA is indeed “ridiculously low.”

* And while this idea would normally be fine by me, the timing couldn’t have been worse…

Active-duty military personnel may get a bigger break on transit fares in the Chicago area, if the RTA has its way.

The Regional Transportation Authority passed a resolution Thursday asking the CTA and Pace to consider offering discounts to those on active duty. […]

It’s up to the CTA and Pace to decide whether they’ll follow suit. The timing isn’t ideal, considering budget problems.

But Pace spokeswoman Judi Kulm said, “It’s definitely something we’d consider.” The CTA had a similar response.

Judy Baar Topinka proposed the discount. Like I said, great idea, bad timing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Huh? *** Updated x2 ***

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

I really don’t even know what to say about today’s top Sneedling item

To pee or not to pee. That is the question.

• To wit: Sneed hears rumbles that the bodyguard detail protecting Gov. Blagojevich’s family compound in Chicago has run into a rather difficult problem.

• Translation: It seems first lady Patti Blagojevich does not want the security detail using the toilet facilities in her home, despite the fact the round-the-clock detail would have to vacate the premises intermittently in order to take care of their bodily functions.

• Which begs the question: Where do they pee?

In the parkway.


No wonder they’re suspected of “leaking” inside information about the guv.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I asked the governor’s office whether Sneed’s item was true. Here’s the response…

It is not true.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Dan Curry links to Sneed’s article, the governor’s office response and then adds

However, about three or four years ago, I talked to a state trooper with direct knowledge of the house policy and he told me it was true.

As I mentioned in comments, just because it may have been true three or four years ago, doesn’t mean it’s still true today. Still, that’s two for no-pee, and one for yes-pee.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

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Friday, Jun 29, 2007

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Morning Shorts

Friday, Jun 29, 2007

* Illinoize: Illinois population growth lags

* Ruling may affect Chicago’s celebrated magnet schools

* Electric relief deal closes in on $1 billion

* Employers worry that new minimum wage may squeeze profits

* RTA lines up cuts, fare hikes

* CTA, Pace asked to cut fares for soldiers

* Chicago Public Radio: Mass transit readies for long drought

* Editorial: Sign bill to track down online child pornographers

Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a major proponent of this measure, said in a press release that “IP addresses are critical evidence left at the scene by suspected high-tech child pornographers” and the bill’s provisions would be an important tool in prosecuting child pornography cases.

* New laws targets truants, uninsured motorists

* Order keeping IL horse slaughter plant, set to expire; more here

* IL plans protects woodlands, offers owners tax relief; more here

* City won’t be on the hook for Olympics?

* Senators OK early collection of Rockford tax hike

* Friday Beer Blogging: Pizza beer edition

- Posted by Paul Richardson   7 Comments      

* You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows
* Unclear on the concept
* *** LIVE COVERAGE *** Gov. Rauner press conference
* Zopp whacked as she prepares to air TV ads
* *** UPDATED x1 - Not exactly limo levels *** Should voter registration be easier or tougher?
* Rate the Alvarez kick-off video
* Face facts and stop playing the victim
* Joe Tybor
* Yesterday's blog posts

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