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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

* 1:35 pm - The Senate just recessed, but there will be no further floor action until tomorrow. So, Senate President Emil Jones’ threat to call the rate freeze bill today was either another hollow gesture, or the negotiations have made significant progress. Both parties are caucusing now.

* 2:25 pm - Looks like the unions and the CTA have reached a deal. Details will be announced later today. Management was looking for give-backs on pensions and health insurance.

* 2:28 pm - It’s pretty brief, but if you want to see the House Democratic analysis of the one-month budget proposal, which was discussed in committee today and will likely be voted on by the full House later this afternoon, click here.

* 2:34 pm - A possible GOP opponent already for Repub-turned-Dem state Rep. Paul Froehlich?

[Hoffman Estates resident Aaron Muller] said he has been planning to run for several months. “I’ve been kind of feeling it out, trying to align myself in the right circles and seeing what would develop as things came along.” […]

Muller, who owns Barrington Resale, a used furniture store in Lake Barrington, has never held political office. He said he has been involved in charitable work, providing furniture to the needy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

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Question of the day *** Updated x1 ***

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

Before we begin, I’ve narrowed yesterday’s caption contest down to two entrants, although there were lots and lots of funny ones. So, would “Not So Fast” (”Yeah, Sis, walking on water was pretty cool, but did he make an airport disappear overnight?”) and Austin Mayor (“A spokesman said that no one in the mayor’s office knew that Sister Mary-Elephant did not actually own and operate the Roman Catholic Church when the City awarded the Vatican a multi-million dollar contract earmarked for women- and minority-owned businesses.”) please get in touch with me? I’ll buy each of you something from our charity project site. Your choice.


Now, on to the question, which has a summertime flavor: Should the state require motorcycle riders to wear helmets? Explain.

*** UPDATE *** The commenter “Not So Fast” has asked, Stevie Wonder-like, that his/her award be given instead to “Bue,” whose entry “Mayor Daley introduces Stage 1 of the White Sox restructuring plan” was also one of my faves. So, Bue, reach out to me and I’ll get you some victory swag.

- Posted by Rich Miller   78 Comments      

Ground him?

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

* Rep. Bill Mitchell has found an almost perfect press release vehicle

Like Dad taking the car keys away from a troublesome teenager, a lawmaker wants to ground Gov. Rod Blagojevich for not finishing the state budget.

Rep. Bill Mitchell is proposing banning the governor and legislative leaders from flying on state aircraft if they if they haven’t agreed on a budget by the May 31 deadline — as happened last month.

* This is a very big state, so I don’t agree with the particular legislation in question. The governor ought to be able to get around quickly. But Mitchell’s timing was solid and it seemed to strike a nerve at Blagojevich HQ…

The governor’s office has refused to respond to questions about the matter. But spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said in an e-mail Tuesday, “Rep. Mitchell should focus his energy on doing something constructive to move the budget forward instead of on state officials’ transportation.”

* Speaking of “Air Rod,” I’ve been thinking about putting this cartoon on a t-shirt as part of our charity project. Perhaps you can come up with a suitable caption in comments today…

* More budget-related stories, compiled by Paul…

* Illinois officials hope to pass temporary budget this week

* Illinios eyes temporary budget

* Stopgap budget set to be approved by Madigan’s House

* Agreement will keep Illinois operating until the end of July

* Carson and Williams-Harris: One month budget by Friday

* Editorial: Tricks usually not cheap when legislature involved

* Cindy Richards: Quit the petty sniping and pass the budget

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

Reform and Renewal - Illegal plot to pack elections board abandoned

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

* I haven’t given this story nearly the attention it deserves. Here it is in a nutshell

Blagojevich filed four temporary Board of Elections appointments with the secretary of state last month, to become permanent upon Senate approval… Permanent appointments to the board must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, meaning Republican support would be needed for them to pass. Temporary appointments don’t need immediate Senate approval.

[Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson] has alleged that Blagojevich is attempting to “skirt” state law by inserting people onto the board without Senate approval and that early primary elections in Illinois make the issue more timely

* Here are the four people the governor tried to appoint to temporary board slots, with potentially problem areas highlighted by myself…

- Bruce Meckler, a Democrat whose Chicago law firm has contributed $127,000 to the governor’s campaign fund. Meckler’s firm has done more than $550,000 in business with the state in the past two years.

- Mary K. Penn of Bloomington, whose husband, John Penn, is chairman of the McLean County Democratic Party and is a prominent official with the Laborers’ International Union, which has contributed more than $1.3 million to Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

- Nicholas Grapsas of Palatine, an attorney who is a partner in the Chicago law firm of Quinlan & Carroll. The firm is chaired by the father of the governor’s chief legal counsel, William Quinlan. Blagojevich nominated Grapsas as a Republican.

- Keith Fruehling, a Republican attorney from Champaign County.

* So, how was Blagojevich able to make temporary appointments?

State statute requires that the Senate confirm all new nominees to the Board of Elections before any of them can take office. However, the state constitution allows governors to make temporary appointments to fill state board vacancies when the Legislature is in recess.

* But there was a problem with the move…

The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an advisory letter last week that called Blagojevich’s temporary appointments “nullities” because the vacancies they attempted to fill had not yet been created and the Senate still is in session.

* Yesterday, the governor backed down

Gov. Rod Blagojevich backed down Tuesday from a controversial bid to remake the state’s election board. […]

“I’m pleased that was worked out,” Watson said after a meeting with the governor.

Watson credited Madigan’s five-page opinion as being a key to getting Blagojevich to reverse course.

“I think he’s got enough on his plate right now without having to deal with that problem,” said Watson.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Is Dillard treasonous? “No,” says Tribune

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

* The Tribune’s editorial board thinks that Sen. Kirk Dillard’s TV ad for Barack Obama is a peachy keen

Treason? Hardly. Dillard has responded like a real person, someone whose admiration for a colleague isn’t predicated on an R or a D.

* Dillard told the edit board that his phone was ringing off the hook…

“The ultra-right committeemen called and expressed their disappointment yesterday and today,” Dillard said. “They’re calling right now, thanks to agitators out there who spanked these guys into a frenzy.”

* Today’s Senate GOP caucus should be interesting. Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson wants Dillard, a member of Watson’s leadership team, to explain himself to his fellow Republicans…

Watson… called on Dillard, a Senate Republican whip from Hinsdale, to “address why he did this and the ramifications of it” in a meeting with the Senate GOP lawmakers Wednesday.

“He is a leader in the Republican Party, and I think maybe that’s a step beyond where he should have gone,” Watson said.

* But Dillard was defiant, and claimed that the ad was no big deal and said “My caucus should thank me” for all the publicity…

“The bigger message being sent is that we know how to cooperate, and the current crop of Democrats needs to have an infusion of Republican input because it’s just gridlock and economic chaos coming out of Springfield,” said Dillard, a supporter of GOP presidential contender John McCain of Arizona.

* As you can imagine, former Senate President Pate Philip is not a happy man. Pate recommended Dillard to replace him as DuPage County GOP chairman, never liked Democrats much and wasn’t exactly the most open-minded person on racial issues…

“To say I was disappointed in him would be an understatement,” Philip said.

I’ll bet.

* And what happens if John McCain doesn’t win the primary? Well, this is what Dillard told ABC7

Dillard also said he isn’t endorsing Obama “at this juncture,” but he has not decided what he will do if McCain loses the Republican nomination and Obama ends up winning the Democratic race.

* Related stories on the GOP’s latest problems…

* GOP stalwart switches sides - Democrats welcome Froehlich’s move

* Illinoize: GOP loses solid conservationist

* Illinois Reason: On Froehlich switch

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

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Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007

* Senate could vote today on electric rates

* House GOP says Congressman Kirk has special needs

* Daley challenges CPS to improve science scores

* CPS boasts higher test scores; more here

* Chicago Public Radio: Public housing study say vouchers working

* Editorial: Illinois needs to use land money as it was intended

* Program helps seniors, disabled cool off during summer

* Broadcasters statewide report glitch with emergency system; more here and here

* Editorial: Protect speech at college papers

Despite a lackluster spring session, the Illinois Legislature managed to eke out several good bills. Among them is the College Campus Press Act, a measure meant to thwart censorship of student newspapers by designating them as “forums for student expression,” an important distinction that guards the First Amendment rights of budding journalists.

* Editorial: No downside to signing West Chicago tax relief bill

* Sun-Times Editorial: All earmark requests should be revealed

If citizens can see who is requesting what, then members of Congress are more likely to police themselves, and undeserving projects are more likely to wilt under the glare of public scrutiny. That’s why every member of Congress from Illinois and indeed all 535 members should be equally candid.

* Region would suffer under planned Metra political move

* Shakeup coming on Metra Board?

* Are teen drivers really worse than elderly drivers?

Illinois already is home to some of the toughest senior driving laws in the nation. It’s one of only two states to require everyone older than 75 prove their behind-the-wheel capabilities with a driving exam every two years. Once drivers turn 87, the exams are required annually.

* Excerpts from recent Illinois editorials

- Posted by Paul Richardson   3 Comments      

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