Bizarro World - otherwise known as Illinois politics - can wait for a while. I’m planning to forget my cares at the Old Town School of Folk Music’s 50th Anniversary fundraiser Saturday night in Chicago.
If you wanna keep talking, head over to Illinoize. They never stop…
Jeff Tweedy is one of the performers at Saturday’s fundraiser, so let’s kick off the weekend with a tune by the man himself…
I’ve already deleted several comments which speculated on Michael Sneed’s top story today…
Sneed hears rumbles a former top adviser and close friend of Gov. Blagojevich is this/close to being indicted soon. Stay tuned.
As most of you know, I don’t allow commenters to speculate on rumors like this. Today is no exception. You may think you know what’s going on. Maybe you’re right. We’ll all find out soon enough whether it’s true or not. Be patient. And be responsible.
Unless and/or until this rumored action occurs, keep your idle speculation to yourself or go someplace else.
From the company that brought you the critically acclaimed holiday spectacular Requiem for a Department Store, or how Jesus taught me to shop at Macy’s, comes the latest in holiday satire!
Santa and the Mrs are on the outs, the Vick brothers are up to no good, Grandma won’t stop singing and to top it all off it takes forty five minutes to go two blocks on the CTA because a certain Governor lost that holiday spirit.
* The governor’s decision to skip the House floor debate on the mass transit bailout plan in favor of attending a Blackhawks game sure looks like it has “legs”. The SJ-R editorializes today…
As these and many other initiatives blew up in Blagojevich’s face, the governor withdrew more and more. He calls special sessions without showing up. He attends hockey games in Chicago while important votes are taken in Springfield. And, according to Flannery, he spends much of his “work” time at home. He is not connected to the process — and that is untenable. But why?
We are not trying to be flippant when we say this — the governor appears afraid. But you can’t govern scared. And if you can’t govern, you should not be governor.
I don’t think he’s afraid. I just think he prefers the bunker. In the bunker, you can’t hear anybody scream at you.
* Blagojevich tried to explain his attendance, but nobody really bought it…
The governor said he had been invited to the first home game under new Blackhawks president John McDonough and that he chose to attend as a favor to McDonough, “an act to help him as a friend.”
Blagojevich wouldn’t say if he would consider reimbursing the state Treasury for the $5,800 it cost to use a state plane to shuttle him from Springfield to Chicago and back again to watch a sporting event on a day he ordered lawmakers to be in Springfield.
He was ridiculed in the House, where Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) brought a hockey stick to the House floor to make a point.
“If he’s truly up there working on commerce, that’s one thing. But this is him going to a hockey game to enjoy himself at the expense of the people of the state of Illinois. You can’t get any more plain than that,” said Sullivan, who called on the governor to cut a check to the taxpayers for his airfare.
* The Republicans picked up on it, as did just about everyone else at the Statehouse…
Politically embarrassing visual evidence of Blagojevich watching the Blackhawks at the United Center dominated conversation Thursday in the Statehouse, where lawmakers were perplexed by the governor’s lack of support for a solution he publicly endorsed.
“Perhaps a stint in the penalty box would be appropriate,” said Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville).
Senate Republican leader Frank Watson of Greenville, who is working with the governor on a multibillion-dollar public-works program, said Blagojevich’s absence is a failure of leadership that hurts the state.
“The governor has a way of governing that baffles me,” Watson said.
* Speaking of the Republicans, the Illinois Republican Party has announced a new contest: “Governor for a day”. From a press release…
In light of the recent expose on the carefree lifestyle led by Governor Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Republican Party is conducting a special drawing across the state to make one lucky Illinoisan Governor for a Day.
“While we can’t give you a $155,000 taxpayer funded paycheck to do nothing, we will attempt to come close by giving you what we believe one day in the life of Rod Blagojevich might be like,” said ILGOP Spokesperson Lance Trover.
The winner of Governor for a Day will begin the day at the hour of their choice. From then, they will be ushered to a salon for a haircut and massage. Following their time at the salon they will be treated to a first-class lunch which will be followed by a tour of the City of Chicago including visits to the Sears Tower and other Chicago landmarks. Ensuring they are treated just like our current governor, the winners will end their day by attending a Chicago Blackhawk’s game.
“While it is clear this sort of lifestyle is normal for Rod Blagojevich on any given day, it’s far from normal for the average Illinoisan,” added Trover. “Hopefully this day will give one hardworking Illinoisan the opportunity to live like the Governor they help fund with their hard earned tax dollars.”
The special drawing will kick off at noon on Friday, November 30, in front of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago and the Illinois Capitol in Springfield. ILGOP staff will be present handing out free drawing tickets at both locations.
To ensure all Illinoisans have a shot at being Governor for a Day, anyone can email their name and contact information to GovernorforaDay@ilgop.org and they will be assigned a specific number for Wednesday’s drawing. One entry per person.
The winning number will be announced on WeAreIllinois.org at noon on Wednesday, December 5, 2007.
Best of luck to all entrants. And just remember: being Governor of Illinois is not hard work, as long as you don’t show up.
* Yesterday, “Illinois Shadow” had this to say at Illinoize about congressional candidate Jim Oberweis and his history of strange behavior. So far, Oberweis has remained fairly quiet, but IS didn’t think it would last…
But Oberweis will soon insert his size 10 shoe into his size 12 milk hole, as he has done in all his quests for mediocrity. As always, the best person to slay Oberweis is Oberweis, and that will be the most satisfying part of this sequel.
* Little did the mystery blogger know that Oberweis had already displayed some of his old habits. Oberweis appeared this week on “Politics and Issues,” a show produced by Elgin’s WRMN radio and hosted by Tom Sandor…
I believe that voters are tired of the typical politicians… My main competition for this office is somebody who has been part of the Ryan-Blagojevich Springfield culture for the last 15 years.
He was referring, of course, to state Sen. Chris Lauzen. Now, say what you will about Lauzen, but he’s no insider, and he’s no “typical” politician. He’s definitely an outsider and, um, he’s about as far from typical as you can get.
The statement has a nugget of promise, however. Voters are almost as flabbergasted with the Statehouse crew as they are with Washington, DC. Still, it’s way beyond the pale to connect the dots between Chris Lauzen and Rod Blagojevich.
Listen to Oby’s comments…
* Meanwhile, in yet another clear example of the utter disgrace that is our national political media, the Washington Post ran a story yesterday that mentioned just about every single “Barack Obama is a Muslim” rumor without once noting that the rumor is completely false, except to print some denials from Obama’s campaign.
* The Sun-Times, on the other hand, took the journalistic route on one of Obama’s claimed strengths: Ethics…
Seven years ago, Sen. Barack Obama was on the board of a Chicago charity when his former boss, Allison S. Davis, came looking for money.
At the time, Davis was a developer represented by the law firm where Obama worked, as well as a small contributor to Obama’s political campaign funds. He wanted the charity to help fund his plans to build housing for low-income Chicagoans.
Obama agreed. He voted with other directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago to invest $1 million with Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners L.P., a $17 million partnership that Davis still operates.
It’s not clear whether Obama told other board members of his ties to Davis, whose family would go on to donate more than $25,000 to Obama’s political campaigns, including his bid to be president of the United States.
“Let me get back to you on that,” Obama presidential campaign spokesman Bill Burton said when asked about that two weeks ago. He never did.
‘’The case is over with as far as I’m concerned,'’ said Aaron Jaffe, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board. The board will soon begin the process of auctioning the license off to a new casino company, he said.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the decision moves Illinois ‘’a significant step closer to being able to reissue the license to suitable owners and generate much-needed revenues.'’
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is “hotbunking” it these days.
Explanation: Taking a page out of the military’s handbook to solve jail overcrowding, Dart has instituted a new pilot program at Cook County Jail.
Translation: In the new sleeping arrangement at the jail, three inmates, assigned to one bed, will now sleep in eight-hour shifts … hence, the term “hotbunking” — ‘cuz the bed is always hot due to continuous use.
Brookins, a Democrat, learned of the lawsuit from the Chicago Sun-Times, but said he and his landlords at 100 N. La Salle had been “going back and forth” about the rent owed and he was surprised it had advanced to legal action.
“I need to go talk to them and figure this out,” Brookins said. “I’d been working with those guys and I was not aware of this.”
* Editorial: Beavers is wrong on facts and political tactics
* McQueary: Policy, not racism, causes Stroger’s budget failure
Why is Todd Stroger obeying his inner Blagojevich — trying to revive a dead-on-arrival tax plan that infuriates voters? Why is John Daley complicit in Stroger’s game of “chicken” with the Cook County Board? And why do these two officials expect taxpayers to give one more cent to an agenda that Stroger advanced, Daley echoed and both of them failed to deliver?
Officials say releasing a detailed tally before submitting their bid plan in February 2009 for the Games would put it at a competitive disadvantage with other cities also vying. Chicago officials said they would make the bid book public only after it is submitted to the International Olympic Committee.
British Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, speaking at a downtown business luncheon, put the London Games price tag at about $18.5 billion — a figure that is almost three times the cost estimate submitted in 2004.
*** 11:29 am *** I told subscribers this morning that it looked pretty clear to me that Speaker Madigan wanted to wait until January before moving any more legislation, including the mass transit bailout. Come January, he’ll only need a simple majority to pass everything except a bond authorization bill. And so it goes…
House Speaker Michael Madigan adjourned the special session this morning called by Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Madigan said there is nothing more for lawmakers to do so he’s sending them home until January. But he told them they’re on call to come back to work if legislation develops. […]
A Blagojevich spokeswoman says the governor hasn’t decided whether he will call another special session to keep lawmakers working.
Today’s special session was called last night. It was supposed to deal with transit and a capital bill. You can view the official proclamation by clicking here.
I’m told that a leaders meeting is scheduled for noon. No idea yet whether Madigan will show up. Rumors are rampant that Blagojevich will call another special session for tomorrow or next week. Stay tuned.
Unemployment in the Rockford region jumped more than in any other U.S. metro area over the past year. A report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows the unemployment rate in Rockford almost doubled since October 2006. Eight-point-one percent of workers there are listed as unemployed.
Sears Holdings Corp. reported a 99 percent drop in third-quarter profit Thursday on weak sales at its Sears and Kmart department stores and continuing investment losses under hedge-fund manager Chairman Eddie Lampert.
The mortgage crisis will cost the Chicago area almost $4 billion next year in lost economic activity, according to a report. The report, released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors , measures the effect of the crisis on employment, consumer spending and other indicators of economic output. In Chicago, the ripple effects will result in a $3.9-billion drop in gross metropolitan product, a measure of overall economic activity in the area.
*** 4:21 pm *** It was quite the press conference. Here’s a very brief summary…
Blagojevich says he’s meeting with legislative leaders early next week. If negotiations continue to produce nothing, the governor says he’ll call daily special sessions until Christmas to try to force action.
“Now, you ask me about a hockey game last night. You could say, in fact, I’ll say, I prefer to actually go to a game that wasn’t rigged. In other words, let me say it another way, um, I prefer to watch a game that wasn’t rigged,” Blagojevich told reporters. “That vote last night, unfortunately, if you look carefully at that roll call, where some leaders of the Democratic caucus voted against it, suggested to me it wasn’t a serious effort to pass it.”
New stats in Washington, D.C., suggest that drivers are largely ignoring the District’s three-year-old ban on using hand-held phones while driving […]
But is this a surprise? When New York City first instituted a similar ban, cell-phone use by drivers dropped by 50 percent. But the numbers steadily increased after that, even as the number of citations increased as well. Same thing apparently happened in D.C. — an initial falloff, but then a return to pre-ban levels of cell usage.
* The Sun-Times takes up the debate today over Cook County Commissioner Bill Beavers’ statement that County Board President Todd Stroger can’t get his tax hikes approved “because he’s black.”
The editorial was unnecessarily harsh. Entitled “Clash clown,” it excoriates Beavers from the get-go…
Cook County Commissioner William Beavers likes to call himself “the hog with the big nuts.” We think he’s nuts, all right, especially for injecting race into the county tax debate.
The editorial even quotes a random black person who agrees with their perspective…
“That’s ridiculous. There’s a big backlash against Todd Stroger. He came in and cut a lot of people then went back to the old patronage system and put in his own people,” said Alan Holman, 40, who is black and from the South Side
Bill Beavers says Todd Stroger can’t get his county budget approved “because he’s black.”
That would be the budget that contains about $900 million in tax increases.
Does anybody think that might be part of the problem?
* At the risk of being flamed on my own blog, I’d say that the editorial is way out of bounds and that anyone who thinks that race plays no factor in Todd Stroger’s treatment in the press and his difficulties in passing a tax hike while (white) Mayor Daley has his own tax increase agenda is fooling himself.
Still, there is a longstanding perception that what Beavers said is a sad fact — that if a white man were sitting in the president’s chair, commissioners would have passed the 2 percent sales tax increase without a ruckus rather than force Stroger to take a meat cleaver to the departments funded by the county.
She goes on…
Still, the perception that race is relevant when it comes to who heads up local government didn’t start with Beavers or Todd Stroger. It was no secret that the elder Stroger, who supported the regular Democratic Party in the face of a steamroller like the late Mayor Harold Washington, was installed in the top slot at the board because he was a loyal Democrat.
But contrary to off-repeated criticisms, patronage didn’t start with John Stroger, either. Black politicians didn’t invent patronage. They inherited it and learned how to make it work for their own constituents.
Interestingly, when the political pie was carved up, one of the region’s most powerful black politicians got the branch of government that primarily provides services used by people in the lower-income brackets.
Now, the old rules don’t apply — at least when it comes to the County Board.
So while Beavers’ comments were rude, he likely struck a chord with some blacks. After all, isn’t this the type of thing that happens all too often? As soon as a black person is in charge of something, the scope of his or her authority is challenged.
What’s going on at the Cook County Board is that kind of power grab. Stroger may have won his father’s seat, but his foes will be darned if they let him have even the amount of power his father had — or his clout.
The fact that many of Stroger’s harshest critics are angry white men has given Beavers’ outlandish remarks room to fester, and that will make it even harder for Stroger to pass a budget.
That’s unfortunate, especially since it will be Beavers’ constituents who will suffer.
* Look, there’s no doubt whatsoever that Todd Stroger is not the most competent politician in the world. But some of the criticisms have been far over the line, and Mitchell is right to point them out.
Are Stroger’s tax hikes excessive? Absolutely. Is Beavers a supreme goofball looking for an advantage in his nearly hopeless committeeman’s race against Sandi Jackson? Undoubtedly. But everyone needs to take a deep breath here and stop denying the reality that’s right in front of their faces.
Beavers certainly deserves criticism, but to say racism plays no role in this theater is patently absurd and flies in the face of how Chicago politics has operated forever.
* Apparently, there was a huge pushback from Gov. Blagojevich’s office against CBS 2’s attempt to broadcast a story about his work habits. But if you didn’t watch it last night, it’s still worth a look, particularly the last bit about how Blagojevich was at a Blackhawks game while the House was voting on the transit bill he supported.
* The Sun-Times has more on the guv’s absence last night…
After being at the Capitol much of the day in pursuit of a mass transit bailout, Blagojevich quietly slipped out of the building with his press secretary and boarded a taxpayer-funded jet to get to the hockey game. He had been invited as a guest of new Blackhawks team president John McDonough.
Blagojevich “went there in his official capacity as governor at the invitation of the president in an effort to promote the Blackhawks,” said spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch.
The decision drew scorn and sarcasm for the unpopular, second-term governor.
“It certainly would have shown a little more interest in what we were doing if he’d have stayed in the Capitol,” said House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
Rod Blagojevich is truly the gift that keeps on giving. As a Chicago TV station prepares to air a report that he is AWOL from his state office, he heads to a hockey game while his transit funding proposal goes down in flames. And after promising to deliver all his House Democratic votes on the transit bill, he winds up putting just two votes on the thing. Oops.
I really don’t know what I’d do without this man. There’s just no way that I could make nearly this kind of money with a responsible, even-tempered governor in charge. I may just endorse him for another term. Rod Blagojevich, governor for life!!! I haven’t checked, but I’ll bet that my CPA agrees.
* Using a sports analogy while preparing to fly to Chicago to see a hockey game during the roll call was another beaut…
For Blagojevich it’s another political defeat. Earlier Wednesday he appeared outside his Capitol office trying to put a positive spin on the state’s lingering political gridlock, comparing his work on the mass transit bailout to the Bears recent overtime victory. That was when he apparently thought the plan would pass.
But this plan’s fate was sealed even before the House voted. Had it passed, it would have gone to an Illinois Senate where opponents had rounded up enough votes to ensure it went nowhere unless tied to a statewide construction spending program worth billions and likely financed with gambling expansion.
[The mass transit bill’s defeat] came just hours after Gov. Rod Blagojevich predicted the bailout would be approved.
“This is a big step forward,” Blagojevich said during an afternoon press conference.
He’s a true Cub fan. That statement was akin to predicting a World Series sweep before a single playoff game had started.
* The Tribune includes this exchange in its story about the mass transit flameout…
Rep. Julie Hamos (D-Evanston), the bill’s sponsor, told her colleagues the money is “desperately needed” to avert fare increases, service cuts and layoffs. She implored lawmakers to support the proposal because of an array of pension and health-care reforms.
But she also sought to lay the groundwork to cast blame on Republicans, noting she and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) were embracing a gas tax idea that was first brought up by Cross. Hamos complained she had assumed House Republicans who had first promoted the idea could support the proposal now, drawing taunts from Republicans who complained that calling the bill for a vote was a just a political game.
“Oh, Julie, come on. You know this is all a bunch of baloney,” said Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R-Des Plaines).
* In These Times: Hounding the Bush dogs- the candidates who are taking on conservative democrats
Lipinski’s backers contend that his voting record aligns with his district’s socially conservative residents. But evidence suggests the district is no longer the Reagan-Democrat hotbed of his father’s time. John Kerry won 59 percent of the vote in 2004, and an influx of Latinos, who now make up 20 percent of the district’s population, has further solidified the seat as a Democratic stronghold. “It’s a lot more progressive than people realize,” says Larry Handlin, who has been blogging about Illinois politics at ArchPundit since 2002.
A lump of coal wasn’t going to cut it for a clerk in the Cook County recorder of deeds office who hung photocopies of $1 bills above Christmas stockings next to cashier stations in what looked like a solicitation for tips.
The eight burgundy stockings, hung from green garland and emblazoned with the words “Joy” and “Peace,” gave the appearance the cashiers were seeking a little holiday appreciation.
* Outsider top choice for Chicago police superintendent position
The guy is not a cop and he’s not African American.
Word is J.P. “Jody” Weis, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Philadelphia, may be Chicago’s next top cop.
Henry J. Hyde — known for his courtly manners, oratorical skills and historical knowledge during 32 years as the conservative voice of the western suburbs in Congress — died today, according to the office of House Republican Leader John Boehner. He was 83.
While often seen as a throwback to a more genteel era in Washington, Mr. Hyde was a key figure in one of the capital’s most divisive episodes, leading the House Republicans in their successful impeachment of President Bill Clinton.