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This just in… Reform and renewal

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* 2:26 pm - These guys just never learn

The Blagojevich administration fired Matt Magalis for leaking a secret report to the media. His lawyer says he’s a whistleblower who should be congratulated.

But the Department of Human Services fired Magalis after an investigation found he gave a report about corruption at the agency to the Chicago Tribune. […]

His lawyer says Magalis feared the Shalabi case would be covered up.

An excerpt from the Trib’s story

The Sept. 29 report by the office of the executive inspector general alleged Shalabi used his state computer to arrange for a “Governor’s Reception” dinner last month to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign committee from the Arab-American community. […]

A spokeswoman for Blagojevich said that as soon as the governor’s office received the report, Shalabi was put on paid leave until his rights to hearings are exhausted and he can be fired.

“We have no tolerance for the kind of activity that was alleged in this case,” spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said. “When there are allegations that someone isn’t playing by the rules, there’s a system in place to investigate it and make sure that problems don’t go ignored.”

Apparently, the administration also has “no tolerance” for whistleblowers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

You’ll recall this line from my recent Sun-Times column and from here at the blog

Just 23 percent of voters said they approve of the way Blagojevich is handling his job, a recent Illinois Wesleyan University poll found.

Last night I started thinking about that number to try to put it in perspective. For instance

23 percent say they have actually seen a ghost or believe they have been in one’s presence

Here’s a couple more…

* 23 percent is a point lower than Richard Nixon’s worst ever approval rating

* 23 percent is four points lower than the percentage of Illinoisans who voted for that whacked-out clown Alan Keyes

Then there’s this

The “23 Enigma” is the Discordian belief that all events are connected to the number 23, given enough ingenuity on the part of the interpreter.

Cosmic.

Question: Come up with your own way of putting “23″ into perspective for the rest of us.

- Posted by Rich Miller   60 Comments      


Grand plan or recipe for disaster?

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* Senate support for the transit bailout bill may be waning. From the Trib

If the [transit bailout] package does not pass the House on Friday, Madigan said he plans to call it again for a vote Monday. Madigan predicted that the bill would be approved in the House and suggested that there is a “high level of support” for the sales-tax plan in the Senate.

“I think more people in the House and Senate have come to realize that this is a good, solid bill that ought to pass,” he said.

* Madigan claimed that everybody except Rod Blagojevich was on board with the negotiated bailout plan…

“Again, with one exception, there’s been no criticism of the bill,” Madigan said.

* Maybe not

Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson sent a letter Monday to Regional Transportation Authority Chairman Jim Reilly saying that a tax increase, by itself, is a poor solution.

“A tax increase is NOT the only answer,” Watson wrote. “It is a disservice to everyone to present the current situation as a tax increase — or transit meltdown. There are alternatives that to date have only received lip service.”

* And what are those alternatives? From the Daily Herald…

Watson proposes fare hikes to raise part of the cash.

* Meanwhile, Peter DeFazio, who chairs the US House Highways and Transit Subcommittee was in Chicago yesterday and had some harsh words….

“There will be no Chicago transit system upon which to build, if the Legislature and the governor don’t get their act together, plain and simple. From what I understand, they’re looking at catastrophic cuts here, and when you make catastophic cuts to a transportation system, things happen that take years, if ever, to turn around.”

* And the threats piled up

[CTA President Ron Huberman] estimates the CTA will lose 100,000 riders a day due to the fare hikes and service cuts. […]

[DePaul University traffic expert] Joseph Schweiterman said “We’re going to see a bit of a crush on … the highways. There’s going to be demand for taxicabs and it could throw traffic enough that we’re all going to feel the pain. This is really going to be a tough time.”

* And Mayor Daley minced no words

“To me, it’s pretty clear,” Daley said Monday at a separate event. “Either [the governor and the General Assembly] support public transit or they don’t. This is do-or-die time.”

That was a joke, of course. Daley has been the Prince of Mince during this debate.

* The Trib gets out its Mike Madigan decoder ring

House Speaker Michael Madigan made one of his trademark chess moves Monday, a smallish gesture with big implications for mass transit, casino expansion and capital spending to refurbish the state’s infrastructure. Our hunch is that Madigan has his eye on big prizes: stylish legislative outcomes that would finally — finally — break the impasse with Senate President Emil Jones and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Or make them wear the jacket for failure. […]

The political intrigue on Monday tended to overshadow Madigan’s proposal. With Chicago Transit Authority service cutbacks scheduled for the weekend, is Madigan positioning himself as the lone grown-up, the leader who fashions the grand compromise that Jones and Blagojevich cannot? In this scenario, Madigan cobbles together a veto-proof bloc of urban House members (who get transit funding from a small regional sales tax) and Downstate members (who get capital spending on roads and schools). Broadly expanded gambling (with more muscular state oversight from a new and improved Gaming Board) ostensibly helps pay the bills.

Madigan could hand this mega-package to the Senate and head home, essentially forcing Jones and Blagojevich to capitulate — or answer to all those citizens who will be infuriated by Springfield’s failure to solve the CTA’s problems.

* As does the Daily Herald

Monday’s proposal by Madigan could be seen either as a promise to Cross that Madigan will deal with casinos after a transit bill is passed, or the exact opposite: a poison pill to kill any new casinos.

* But, as always, there’s a big catch to Madigan’s Gaming Board reform proposal…

From a timing perspective, Madigan’s proposal would further delay attempts to put a statewide construction program on a fast track. In order for the gambling expansion to move forward, the state would have to first identify and approve the new members of the gaming board, as well as hire a new enforcement guru and staff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   58 Comments      


Tribbies surprised by response

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* The Tribune editorial board asked its readers on Sunday whether Gov. Rod Blagojevich should be recalled. Apparently, the ivory tower crowd doesn’t get out much because they seem surprised by the results

In a remarkable outpouring of exasperation and disgust, readers lashed out against the cascade of new tax increase proposals and the failure of elected officials to cut spending or trim patronage workers from their bloated staffs. You railed about broken campaign promises, gridlock in Springfield, legislative indifference to critical needs such as education or pension reform and the uncertainty over whether we’ll have a mass transit system come Monday. Yes, you’d like the opportunity to recall Blagojevich, you said, but why stop there? Good question.

* Now, I know that at least one member of that august body is on this site quite a bit, so there should be some comprehension of how the public feels over there. Still, this is the same edit board which professed this ignorance a while back

We might as well admit it up front: The first time we heard of the liberal blogging network known as Daily Kos was when Bill O’Reilly dissed it on his show.

To which Steve Rhodes replied

Daily Kos is only a blogging pioneer and probably the most successful political site on the entire frickin’ Internet. Did you guys sleep through the Howard Dean campaign? You do get the Internet, don’t you?

And you’re going to tell us who to vote for?

* Blog reaction was mixed to Sunday’s editorial. Archpundit

What is the Trib thinking?

Wanting to get rid of Rod Blagojevich is a natural and perfectly normal impulse for anyone paying attention, but ultimately, we are talking about the structure of state government. If you are going to have set election terms and separate branches between Executive and Legislative, the stability lost in recalls is a significant problem.

* Chicago Carless

When your most respected–not to mention most conservative–citywide daily labels the governor as “inept” and calls for the state’s founding document to be rewritten to allow for his ouster, you know the status quo is straining to its limit.

* Illinois Reason

While their gripes about Blago are familiar and I agree with several of them…

This is coming from the same paper that endorsed George W. Bush twice???

And they had to cite the conservative National Conference of State Legislatures for “research” about recalling a Guv?

Hypocrites.

* The Daily Parker

Regardless of what you think of Blagojevich’s performance, Illinois needs a recall amendment like a fish needs a bicycle.

* The Illinois Republican Party got into the act

In light of yesterday’s Chicago Tribune editorial, the Illinois Republican Party is calling on state leaders Mike Madigan, Emil Jones, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Dick Durbin to take a stand on the Tribune’s question as to whether Illinoisans should have the right to recall their statewide elected officials.

Madigan refused to take a question about that very topic yesterday.

I’m wondering what you think of the Tribune’s reaction to its own question.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

* Lynn Sweet: Clinton files 15,000, Obama files 55,000 signatures to get on Illinois ballot (and delegate list)

* Obama, Clinton try for top spot on the state ballot

* Early primary gives Illinois a bigger say

Former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar said Illinois Republicans are likely to gain more from the early primary than Democrats. With the GOP nomination up for grabs and no favorite son in the Republican field, the entire array of candidates is more likely to come courting Illinois voters.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve really been involved in the primary,” said Edgar. “This gives the Republicans in particular a chance to have some input in the presidential race.”

* Editorial: Delays in Ryan going to prison test trust of Illinoisans

In case you have lost track, it has been nearly four years since former Gov. George Ryan was indicted for misdeeds while he was secretary of state and governor.

He was convicted of all charges - racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, false statements, tax fraud and filing a false tax return - more than 18 months ago.

He was sentenced to 6½ years in a federal prison more than a year ago.

And still he hasn’t served a day of that sentence.

* Editorial: Take a moment to reflect on ill conceived law

* Atheist suit fails to block moment of silence but case will proceed; more here
* Bush to bestow top civilian honor to Congressmen Hyde

* Daley slams city’s low minority contract numbers

* Dawn Turner Trice: On rougue cops, Daley misses bigger point

* Sun-Times Editorial: Let Children’s hospital plan fly

* Politicians protest tax hike proposals

* County Board members get 27% hike for offices, some say they’ve scrimped enough

* Illinois 47 study is gaining steam

* IlliniPundit: Facebook campaigns

* The Thicket: More on bloggers press credentials

Allowing the correspondents’ association to manage press credentials is a classic approach to occupational licensing–let the incumbents control entry to the profession. I’ve never paid much attention to the subject of press credentials in legislatures. When I looked this subject up in Inside the Legislative Process, I found that it’s a fairly common practice: press associations determine accreditation of reporters in 27 of the 99 state legislative chambers.

As the saga of bloggers’ press credentials unfolds, it will be interesting to see if bloggers are less likely to get press credentials in chambers where the press associations are responsible for accreditation than from others (presiding officers, rules committees or appropriate staff offices) who perform this task.

* Chicago Public Radio: New direction for Northwestern’s J-school

* Zorn: Are you smarter than a retired pundit?

* PeoriaPundit: Last call for blogger bash

* The Thicket: Hawaii capitol ghost stories and other Halloween foolery

- Posted by Paul Richardson   7 Comments      


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Tuesday, Oct 30, 2007

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* Question of the day
* Emanuel blames state for phony school budget
* AFSCME: Cullerton plan "looks like extortion"
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* Michelle Obama pledges "everything in our power" to help Quinn
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