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Morning shorts

Monday, Nov 19, 2007

* Ross Douthat: Give the people what they want

Alex Massie has provocative thoughts on how being able to track reader interest on a story-by-story basis will change the newspaper business

* Press Release: Lauzen releases federalism policy position

* Race to replace LaHood is wide open

* Proviso Probe: Chicago Reader profile on GOP candidate in IL-03, Art Jones

* Press Release: Kirk turns his back on homeowners in trouble

* Mark Brown: City’s taxing trick siphoning away millions

* Lawyer says ethics exam is unethical

“Certain state job applications, which appeared to be sponsored by individuals on the basis of the applicants’ political affiliation, received special treatment,” begins a passage on the computerized ethics exam, which was taken by a reporter last week with the consent of the state office that administers the program.

The passage is presented as an example of real-life unethical behavior. It doesn’t name names, but it gives extensive details that match previous allegations against Dawn DeFraties and Michael Casey, the Springfield-based state employees whose highly publicized firings later boomeranged on the Blagojevich administration.

* Malpractice caps ruling may send state back to 2005

* Many disabled Illinoisans jobless

* States hopping on the hybrid school bus; IL hasn’t yet decided

* Ameren works on customer incentives

* BP under gun to expand production, limit pollution

* Steve Huntley: When did dignity lose the election

It’s not that the individual elements of the CNN extravaganza were inherently wrong. For example, debates should take place before a live audience, but one that mostly listens rather than cheers or hoots. I sometimes wondered Thursday night whether there was an applause light cuing the crowd like the audience for a Jay Leno “Tonight Show.” A candidate who commits an egregious faux pas perhaps deserves to be jeered, but surely neither Barack Obama nor John Edwards crossed any red lines in their attacks on Hillary Clinton to warrant the boos they got from what seemed to be a Clinton-admiring audience.

* Opinion: Debates in need of rescue

That is revealing of the weakness of these debates as tools for helping voters decide which candidate to support. The TV impresarios are so eager for headlines they rarely pause to ask the candidates for evidence to support their opinions or assertions. It is bang-bang, but rarely because-and-here’s-proof.

* Rush’s son indicted on sex charges

Rush, who started working as an assistant supervisor in May 2003, was placed on paid administrative leave June 22 while authorities conducted an internal investigation, according to IDOC spokesman Derek Schnapp.

“He was put on leave promptly when the department got information about potential problems,” Schnapp said. “The findings were referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.” […]

Bobby Rush, a Democratic congressman representing Chicago’s South Side and southwest suburbs, recommended state officials hire his son in 2003, Abby Ottenhoff, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has said.

* Chicago Public Radio: Rush’s son indicted

* Ex-Macomb mayor named to Amtrak Board of Directors

* Dawn Turner Trice: Silent moment is best left out of classroom

* Genuine prayer needs no law to inspire it

* McQueary: Can’t make house payments? March with Jackson

“There is a lot of misinformation about the bill, and it’s always about the interests of the mortgage brokers. No one raises the issue of people going into bankruptcy,” Collins said. “I got a lot of push-back.”
Through four months of arduous negotiations, she heard nothing from Jackson.
“Not once has he mentioned the legislation,” she said. “He’s had these programs at PUSH, and not once has he given me credit or mentioned Senate Bill 1167. I wasn’t even invited to the big rally on Wall Street.”

And yet Collins has been the chief negotiator on legislation Jackson took a significant interest in revamping. She could have used his muscle when faced with the slick mortgage industry’s lobbying tactics in Springfield. Instead, he is organizing a march in New York. That’s good for the cameras, but what about actual policy?

* Tavern incident reports lacking

* Visitors to Quincy business district wonder if glass is half empty or half full

* The Blog readability test; what level of education is required to read your blog? [Capitol Fax: College, Post Grad]

- Posted by Paul Richardson        


6 Comments
  1. - What planet is he from again? - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 9:25 am:

    RE: Debates - I don’t bother watching them because I’ve found so little substance. It’s all stump speeches and as the editorial suggested, assertions with no proof. And when the candidates evade, redirect or otherwise soft-shoe rather than answer a question, no one says (in effect), “That’s nice, but answer the damned question.”


  2. - Squideshi - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 9:26 am:

    Kevin McDermott wrote, “An ethics training exam for Illinois government employees takes an unethical swipe at two state workers, their attorney alleges.”

    I think it’s unethical that the Illinois Supreme Court limits admission to the bar to only graduates of ABA “approved” law schools. In fact, just filed a petition for rulemaking in an effort to change this. Abe Lincoln never attended an ABA approved law school; and ABA is so far behind the times that they won’t even approve online law schools, like California does, despite evidence that this type of education is just as effective as traditional in-classroom education. I suggest everyone read Justice Heiple’s dissent for Supreme Court Rule 703. I agree with him.

    Ryan Keith wrote, “A Cook County judge tossed out the caps on some malpractice awards, saying they unconstitutionally limited victims’ rights to recovery for their injuries.”

    Kudos to the Judge. People should be able to recover whatever damage a doctor causes them through negligence, and a jury of peers is competent to determine when this is warranted.

    “[School buses] drive defined routes and have more than one opportunity to be charged per day,” Duvall says.

    That also means they’re good candidates for strictly electric, rather than hybrid. People should also know that FES is quickly becoming a better alternative than batteries.

    Adriana Colindres wrote, “The state’s two biggest utilities, Ameren Illinois and Commonwealth Edison, are crafting incentive programs aimed at encouraging customers to consume less electricity.”

    No they’re not. They’re crafting programs to make it appear that they’re encouraging customers to consume less electricity. Ameren and ComEd/Midwest Generation/Exelon/PICO are for-profit companies; and if their Board of Directors does ANYTHING less than manage the company in a way that they believe best maximizes the profit opportunity for their shareholders, they are in breach of their fiduciary duties. That’s the law, and no for-profit company is going to be able to do this and discourage use of their product at the same time. This is about image, plain and simple.

    David Broder wrote, “That is revealing of the weakness of these debates as tools for helping voters decide which candidate to support.”

    I could care less about debates for the Democratic or Republican primaries. That’s an internal matter for members of those parties to decide which nominee to select as their candidate to present to the voters in the general election. What I am MUCH more concerned about are debates for the general election. They are a sham and fraud upon the American people.


  3. - DC - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 9:29 am:

    I concur with the blog readability test results. Capitolfaxblog is head-and-shoulders above any of the other sites I visit. I used to enjoy the SJ-R comments, but it has morphed into a junior high school level of “neener neener neener” mentality.

    This site actually provokes thought rather than provoking a knee-jerk response. Great job, Rich and Paul!!


  4. - Cassandra - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 9:54 am:

    I imagine that comparatively few employees taking the state ethics tests have hiring authority so the disputed hiring question would have little relevance to most.

    I hope the test covers things like what do you do when the employee at the next desk, in a (theoretically) Rutan-protected position similar to yours, boasts that he/she got the job because his Uncle Joe is Patti’s third cousin twice removed and your co-worker couldn’t get a job anywhere else.

    Unemployables elsewhere with political connections make up a substantial percentage of state hires these days I would guess, whether the job is Rutan
    protected or not.


  5. - Leroy - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    How about the schools in Illinois get the teaching thing down before they attempt to bill me so they can ‘go green’?

    Core competencies, you know…..

    But I suppose with all the children they are leave behind, hybrid buses are probably important.


  6. - VanillaMan - Monday, Nov 19, 07 @ 4:05 pm:

    The state ethics test is a fraud. It just isn’t right. Taking it reminds me of one of those self-confessional moments in the book, “Animal Farm”, when what passes as a cleansing event is little more than a twisted propaganda tool full of subliminal stories tailored to promote an administration’s viewpoint.

    As soon as Blagojevich is gone, we need to take this hated Orwellian website off line before the next administration starts abusing it.


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