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Reader Comments Closed for the Weekend

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

I don’t know if you remember me telling you this or not, but the Daily Southtown has been running excerpts from the comments here in the paper. Lately, they’ve been putting those excerpts online. Go check it out. You’re famous.

It was a short, but productive week. Had a couple of good scoops in the subscriber-only Capitol Fax and we had a lot of interesting comments here. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget about Illinoize. It’s a great place to visit…

And for your video enjoyment, Hesitation Blues by Hot Tuna…

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Governor demands speed limit veto be upheld

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

This could be a fun debate here. Let’s consider it our second question of the day. From a press release…

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s top transportation officials were joined today by traffic safety and law enforcement advocates in urging legislators to sustain the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 540, which would have raised the speed limit for trucks in Illinois to 65 miles per hour. The Governor has fought to keep the 55 mph speed limit in place for trucks on Illinois highways for the safety of everyone who travels our roads. During Gov. Blagojevich’s administration fatalities on state roads have dropped by 200 a year, the lowest levels since 1924.

“Raising the speed limit for trucks means more people will die in accidents. It takes a large truck traveling 65 miles per hour 40 percent longer to stop than a truck traveling 55 miles per hour. And that same truck traveling 65 miles per hour has an impact that is 40 percent more destructive than a truck at 55 miles per hour. That’s why I urge the Legislature to sustain my veto of SB 540.” […]

According to AAA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when tractor-trailer trucks travel at speed rates of 55 mph or higher, it significantly increases the likelihood the truck will either jackknife or rollover. The vast majority of persons killed in crashes involving trucks are occupants of passenger vehicles, not trucks. […]

In 1996, the year after Missouri increased the speed limit for trucks, it recorded 70 more fatalities caused by large trucks, increasing from 97 to 167. If Illinois had a corresponding 72 percent increase as Missouri did, that could translate to 114 more fatalities in one year.

How do you feel about this one?

* Also, as an aside, that line about how traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels since 1924 is something that’s always fascinated me. Check this out from 1999

Six times as many people drive today as in 1925, and the number of motor vehicles in the country has increased 11-fold since then to approximately 215 million. The number of miles traveled in motor vehicles is 10 times higher than in the mid-1920s. Despite this steep increase in motor-vehicle travel, the annual death rate has declined from 18 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 1925 to 1.7 per 100 million VMT in 1997 - a 90% decrease.

Amazing, eh?

* Here are some more Illinois stats, taken from the guv’s press release…

There were 1,454 total fatalities in 2003 and by 2006 the number of fatalities in Illinois was down to 1,254, the lowest number of fatalities since 1924, when there were 1,065.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


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Friday, Sep 28, 2007

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Question of the day

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

The setup from Sneed

Tipsville: State Sen. Kirk Dillard tells Sneed he’s seriously considering running for a statewide office for the first time.

• • Quoth Dillard: “I would consider running in 2010 if there’s an open seat, especially if the Illinois attorney general seat opens up.'’

• • The gov’s job? Dillard claims he doesn’t have his sights on the governor’s mansion but . . .”I am keeping my options open.” There ya go.

Question: Rate Dillard’s chances.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


New spin is empty, misleading and false

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

* It appears that Gov. Blagojevich has found a new way to spin his budget vetoes. If you oppose him then you’re against breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment for hundreds of thousands of women. But, in the end, as you’ll see, it’s a bunch of empty rhetoric based on a hugely inflated promise.

* The background

Gov. Blagojevich on Thursday announced plans to provide free mammograms and breast cancer treatments to all uninsured women over age 40. The state also will offer free pelvic exams and Pap tests to uninsured women over age 35, and pay for cervical cancer treatments.

* The setup quote

“We will save lives,” [Blagojevich] told supporters at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

* Almost there

“We’re paying for it by the vetoes of pork-barrel projects and other special-interest spending that I vetoed in the budget,” Blagojevich said.

* Now here comes the spin

“I dare the state Legislature to take this one away,” Blagojevich said.

“…I still have the spending authority as the governor and whether they’re there or not, I simply choose to spend the money on mammograms for women instead of pork barrel projects for legislators.”

* Spinning like a top

“If they’re not going to give us a budget that provides enough money for the important priorities, then you have to make decisions on what’s more important, and I defy any of the men and women of the general assembly to tell me that there’s a more important priority in providing women a chance to get mammograms,” the governor said.

* He’s a veritable whirling dervish, even

The governor told a reporter the women of Illinois should thank state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, and state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, for indirectly providing the funds to expand the cancer screening program.

“I vetoed their pork barrel projects to pay for this,” Blagojevich said.

Oof.

* The new plan also includes an additional bonus for the governor

Health-care advocates lauded the expansion, which will be coupled with a public awareness campaign

“Saving lives… Brought to you by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.” Perfect.

* I’m wondering if that PR campaign is included in the projected cost

Blagojevich said expanding the women’s cancer screening program could cost about $50 million. His spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said that would be the total cost of the program if all eligible women get screened and treated.

* And even that’s misleading, as the Tribune points out

…Blagojevich said up to 260,000 more women will be covered by expanding the existing Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. But spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said the state expects about 5,000 of those 260,000 women to get screenings in the next year, with about 50 needing treatment.

* So, once again we have a huge splash, but little benefit. And there’s more

It was unclear Thursday how the program, which at full capacity would cost about $50 million a year, will be funded. Blagojevich said it would be paid for by his recent cuts of so-called “pork” from the state budget, while Ottenhoff said the program would be supported primarily through an additional $1.75 million set aside in the budget for public health.

Incredibly enough, the spin appears to be completely false. Imagine that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   48 Comments      


Poking the pigeon

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

* Recently, a couple of Tribune reporters have wondered aloud about Mayor Daley’s almost complete silence on the mass transit issue and the property tax assessment caps debate.

My column in today’s Sun-Times attempts to answer those questions and more. The bottom line for Daley, his raison d’être, if you will, is his quest for the Olympic games

Politicians love it when a fellow politician wants something really big. They’re called ‘’pigeons'’ because they’re ripe for the plucking.

Mayor Daley is now a pigeon.

Daley’s overriding lust to land the Olympic Games has put him at an extreme disadvantage in dealing with Gov. Blagojevich, who is playing the mayor for all he’s worth.

Several months ago, Daley used both barrels to blast Blagojevich’s proposed gross receipts tax on business, saying if the tax were enacted we could all wave goodbye to businesses as they moved out of state. The two men went out to dinner not long afterward, and Daley subsequently toned his comments way down.

What happened?

I’m told on high authority that Blagojevich laid it out for Daley. The mayor needs strong support from the state to convince the Olympics committee that Chicago is a viable siting option. The governor knows the same thing and told him so. The implication was clear: ‘’Mess with me and I mess with you.'’

Anyone who has watched this governor for any length of time understands that Blagojevich is just crazy enough to go all populist on the Olympics and announce that the cost is not worth the benefits.

So, despite the occasional mumbles and grumbles about the lack of comity in Springfield, Daley has done his best to stay mum.

Please, go read the whole column before commenting. Thanks.

* Part of my analysis has to do with Daley’s weakened political organization. There are a couple of articles today that provide more info on that…

* Sun-Times: Shakman monitor objects to Daley-run hiring office -Federal Watchdog cites ‘history of noncompliance’

* Tribune: Nobody in Mayor Richard Daley’s administration can be trusted to keep city hiring free from politics except the inspector general, a court-appointed official has concluded.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Weller district: No clear favorite? Plus, two looks at the race to replace LaHood

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

* CQPolitics (Congressional Quarterly’s online service) claims there are “four highly competitive [congressional] races” in Illinois.

Retiring Republican Jerry Weller’s seat is listed as “No Clear Favorite,” which seems to be a growing consensus these days. Perennial targeted Democrat Melissa Bean’s district is listed as “Leans Democratic.”

CQ has Mark Kirk’s seat and retiring GOP Congressman Denny Hastert’s district as “Leans Republican.” Two districts are ranked as “Republican Favored,” including freshman Peter Roskam and retiring Congressman Ray LaHood’s seat.

* Bob Novak, who has claimed that Weller’s district leans toward a Democratic takeover, has a different take on LaHood’s seat. While Novak eventually concludes that the outlook leans towards a Republican retention, he also says it’s nearly a tossup because of a celebrity Democratic candidate…

Illinois-18: The entrance of former basketball coach Dick Versace (D) brings to a near tossup the race for the Peoria-based seat left open by the retirement Rep. Ray LaHood (R).

Versace was the head basketball coach in the 1980s at Bradley University in Peoria, the golden era of the program. He later coached the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, worked as an on-air commentator and served as the head coach of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. The other Democrat in the rate is retired Navy Captain Chuck Giger (D).

The Republican field features 26-year-old State Rep. Aaron Schock (R), Peoria businessman Jim McConoughey (R) and former Peoria City Councilman John Morris (R). Rep. LaHood’s son, Darin LaHood (R), took a pass and is instead challenging the incumbent state’s attorney.

Versace’s wide name recognition combines with a likely strong Democratic year in Illinois to wipe out the generic advantage a Republican has in this district, which Bush won by 5.5 points in 2004 and which has been in Republican hands for 70 years (including former Minority Leader Bob Michel). Versace has media experience, but as a political rookie, possibly facing more seasoned (although much younger) opponents, he faces many likely pitfalls. This one could swing the other way if Versace proves to be a strong candidate, but right now it is still tilting towards the Republicans. Leaning Republican Retention.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Morning shorts

Friday, Sep 28, 2007

* Governor calls VA ordeal an ‘unbelievable thing’

* Lawmakers say politics is behind anti-violence program

* Coalition tells Stroger: Skip this sales tax hike

* Stroger at the heart of tax debate

* Foes organize against sales-tax hike; more here

* CPR: Cook Co. deficit tops $300 million

* McNulty: Reporters stay above fray in museum fight

* Ald. Reilly uses foe’s book to sway colleagues; more here

* Field museum asks for more green

* City plan takes aim at resident’s’ illegal hotels

Burke gets a lot of legislative ideas from New York City, and the crackdown he introduced at Thursday’s City Council meeting was no exception. The Big Apple has launched its own crackdown against “illegal hotel conversions” after residents complained.

Burke’s ordinance would require short-term renters to buy $400-a-year city licenses and secure $300,000 worth of general liability insurance. Violators would face fines as high as $100 a day.

* U of I’s alumni group’s conservative curriculum plans are blasted

Conservative commentator Robert Novak said Thursday that his Washington colleagues were stunned to learn that a University of Illinois alumni group was setting up an organization to encourage and finance conservative studies on campus.

They asked, “Capitalism and limited government at a public university? How can that be?” Novak, an Illinois graduate, told about 250 people gathered for the launch of the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Fund.

Some U of I faculty members fear that the group’s plans to raise money to pay for classes and research on free-market capitalism and limited government would create an undue conservative political influence on campus. They also complain that the new group was formed without faculty input.

* Friday Beer Blogging: Return to Schwelmer edition

- Posted by Paul Richardson   12 Comments      


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Friday, Sep 28, 2007

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