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Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* I’ll be home for Christmas, but I won’t be working. So, this is the final post until January 2nd, when the General Assembly reconvenes.

Have a great holiday, everbody! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I’ll see y’all on the flip.

* Illinoize is in charge until I get back…

* These are for Rod, who could probably use some Christmas blues music right now


* The King sure could sing those Christmas blues…


* And my personal favorite (that bass line slays me, man)…


Got no sleigh with reindeer
No sack on my back
You’re gonna see me comin’ in a big black Cadillac

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Another Merry Fitzmas! *** Updated x1 ***

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* This will be the last “news” post of 2007, and it’s quite fitting. The governor allegedly admitted to coupling state business with fundraising...

Gov. Blagojevich told a prominent Democratic fundraiser that the governor “could award contracts, legal work and investment banking to help with fund-raising,” according to a federal court document released Friday.

The court filing offers a detailed overview of the evidence federal prosecutors expect to introduce in the upcoming trial of Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a former key fund-raiser and adviser to the governor. […]

Blagojevich allegedly told [prominent fundraiser Joe Cari] he “had a lot of ways of helping his friends and that Rezko and Co-Schemer B were his point people in helping his friends and coordinating fundraising,” according to the court document.

“Co-Schemer B” has previously been reported as being Chris Kelly.

Comments are closed because I’m shutting down in a few minutes.

*** UPDATE *** From Abby Ottenhoff…

No such conversation ever occurred. This Administration does not do business that way.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


This just in…

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* 1:17 pm - AP: Kelly to remain free and was ordered to get treatment…

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief campaign fundraiser pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges Friday and was allowed to stay free on bond provided he gets treatment for his gambling problem.

Christopher Kelly, 49, a roofing contractor who was Blagojevich’s chief fundraiser in both of his campaigns for governor, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier to enter his not guilty plea.


* 1:39 pm -
Kelm & Kirk at WMAY radio have recorded one of the songs that won Eric Zorn’s parody songwriting contest. “Get packin’, Rod Blagojevich” was written by John McHugh and is sung to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”…

Get packin’, Rod Blagojevich
The state’s in disarray
The Tribune wants you unemployed
At least by Christmas Day.
The TV pundits want your head
Could there be pay to play?
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Good riddance Rod Blagojevich
Your Elvis look’s inane,
The Senate’s mad, so’s Lisa’s dad.
You drive us all insane.
Our transit’s broke, the state’s a joke,
The Tollway’s one big pain.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Good luck old Rod Blagojevich
The feds have quite a place.
Fitzgerald’s poked his nose around
And if he has a case,
George Ryan’s moving stuff around
Creating extra space.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

* 1:52 pm - 3rd Congressional District Democrat Mark Pera has a new mailer that whacks incumbent Dan Lipinski for siding with “Big Oil.” Click the pic for the full mailer…

By the way, some of the Daley people are much more worried about Jerry Bennett’s Democratic candidacy in this district than Pera’s. Bennett has lined up a ton of suburban mayors and that’s grabbing plenty of attention.

* 2:17 pm - The IL GOP has announced the schedule for its “Governor For a Day” contest winner, Mike Messuck…

GOVERNOR FOR A DAY SCHEDULE
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

9:40am
Arrive Kiva Day Spa
196 East Pearson Street, Chicago

10am
50 minute Deep Tissue Massage for Mike Messuck
Manicure for Ms. Messuck

11:30am
Lunch at RL – Ralph Lauren Restaurant
115 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Free time to browse Michigan Avenue

2pm-5pm
Metropolitan Limo Tours
Driver will meet Messucks at the Wrigley Building circle
410 N Michigan Ave., Chicago

7:30pm
Chicago Black Hawks vs. Nashville Predators game
United Center, 1901 W Madison St., Chicago,

They’ve included Messuck’s daughter in the festivities, which may end up being characterized as an unnecessary cheap shot at the guv’s family.

UPDATE: From a pal at the IL GOP…

We allowed Mr Messuck to bring a guest - he chose his daughter. Simple as that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Johnson off, Link stays; Dugan, Scully alone *** Updated x1 ***

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

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I wish it could be all joy, but it isn’t

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

Christmas should be a joyous occasion, but sometimes life throws you a nasty curveball.

* My brother Doug lost one of his best friends this week. I feel terrible for my bro. I wish I could hug him right now, but he lives in Texas.

* Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey just had a baby, but the little guy had all sorts of problems

The baby boy born prematurely 10 days ago to Mayor Larry Morrissey and his wife, Stacy, suffers from a rare heart defect and a chromosome disorder that likely will result in moderate to severe mental disabilities and other physical challenges for the child.

Michael Joseph Morrissey has a rare heart defect known as Ebstein’s Anomaly, the mayor said Monday in a letter to the City Council. The tricuspid valve on the right side of the heart is misplaced, making it difficult for blood to be properly pumped through the heart, oxygenated and distributed through the infant’s body. After performing genetic tests, doctors also discovered the baby has a chromosome abnormality called an “18q deletion.”

“Right now, baby Michael is hanging in there, but he is in a very tough fight, and he has already been through a tremendous struggle,” Morrissey said in the letter. “We appreciate and cherish every moment we have with our baby.”

More here.

This is a photo of Michael and his mom…

* And then there’s my friend Brian Cross. Brian’s wife Sandy died shortly after giving birth to their baby girl, Kennedy Catherine. KC is doing fine, and Brian is doing his best to carry on, but his heart is broken. So is mine.

Here is little KC…

Info on KC’s trust fund…

Kennedy Catherine Cross Trust Fund
c/o Chase Bank
11211 Cermak Road
Westchester, IL 60154

* And then there are my friends at the Daily Southtown, including my longtime editor Ed Koziarski, who are facing the grim reality of unemployment in the new year because of staff cutbacks, and my friends at the Sun-Times who might get laid off next year. Chin up, everybody, and don’t hesitate to call if you need help.

I’d also like to say that it’s been an honor to work with Koziarski over the years. He’s a great guy and I’m gonna miss him terribly.

Sorry to be such a downer on Christmas, but keep all these people in your thoughts and prayers, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Link Poll; Link wrapup; Rezko; Kotowski; Moore (Use all caps in password)

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

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Question of the day

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

Today is our last QOTD of the year, so let’s use it to sum up.

What one word best describes 2007?

Just one word, please. No explanations.

- Posted by Rich Miller   141 Comments      


Lauzen blows his top… *** Updated x1 - Schock claims big lead *** Lauzen may not endorse winner ***

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* I’ve long believed that the best way to beat Sen. Chris Lauzen in the upcoming Congressional race is to poke, poke, poke at him until he loses his temper. His temper is infamous among people in the know at the Statehouse. And that temper was on full display this morning when the Tribbies asked him about scoring Rose Bowl tickets (see below for more on this subject)…

Lauzen called it “horrible” that “you would judge that there is anything inappropriate.”

“If you’re asking a question, it becomes a story,” Lauzen said.

Lauzen said he made a mistake running for office 16 years ago, saying politics is a “crappy business” that has cost his family millions of dollars.

“So I’ll, I don’t want any more trouble for me or my family,” Lauzen said. “This is really a horrible, horrible business. This is horrible.”

Lauzen also referred to his Republican opponent, Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, in the race to succeed former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) in the 14th Congressional District.

“Just think what Oberweis will do with this,” Lauzen said.

Saying he was a “little bit sensitive,” Lauzen provided his home phone number to a reporter who asked how to reached him with any follow-up questions.

“Why don’t you call me at home and then maybe you can talk to one of my family members who won’t be going?” Lauzen said.

He called back later and softened his approach, but the damage was already done.

* This isn’t the first time that Lauzen has gotten snippy on the congressional campaign trail. Remember his somewhat weird press release after Denny Hastert endorsed Jim Oberweis?

At first, I was very concerned that your health was failing somehow, and I sympathized with you and your family. But, you have assured us repeatedly that there is no health problem and we are relieved on your behalf.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** In another congressional race, Billy Dennis has a post this morning on Aaron Schock’s latest poll. The following is from a press release which is posted in full at PeoriaPundit

1. Aaron Schock has an excellent image among Republican primary voters.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of likely Republican primary voters have heard of State Representative Aaron Schock, with 64% having a favorable impression of Schock and 4% having an unfavorable impression. Encouragingly, Aaron’s name recognition and image have grown since August, when his image was 59% heard of/49% favorable/1% unfavorable.

Even more encouraging is that Schock’s favorables are more than twice that of his nearest Republican opponent. Jim McConoughey’s image is 65% heard of/25% favorable/2% unfavorable, while John Morris’s image is 42% heard of/15% heard of/3% unfavorable. McConoughey and Morris face an uphill battle trying to match Schock’s name recognition and favorables in the final weeks of the primary campaign.

2. Schock holds a commanding lead on the Republican primary ballot. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Republican primary voters back Aaron Schock on the ballot. McConoughey polls 14%, followed by Morris with 4% of the vote. Twenty-three percent (23%) of primary voters are undecided. By intensity, 35% definitely vote for Schock, while just 3% definitely back McConoughey and 1% are committed to Morris.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the 43 Comments      


Backflips

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* Yesterday, the Tribbies wrote

Blagojevich also appeared to try to put some pressure back on Mayor Richard M. Daley, saying he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts.

* I was out of the office yesterday afternoon when the guv’s office called to ask that I put up a “clarification.” I told them to send it to Paul, and this is what they wrote…

The Governor didn’t say he’d discussed with Daley the idea of tapping into the city’s cash reserves from selling the Skyway as a way to stave off the Jan. 20 CTA cuts. He said downstate lawmakers have been grumbling about how Mayor Daley keeps insisting the state should bail out the CTA and not tie it to funding for downstate infrastructure projects; but meanwhile the city of Chicago - which has millions in the bank from the Skyway deal - hasn’t stepped up to help meet the CTA’s needs.

* But then the Tribbies put this Blagojevich quote up on their website

“Perhaps the mayor and I could do something unilaterally,” the governor said. “The mayor has $500 million in his budget from the Skyway. We’ve looked at some alternatives, if the legislature fails to act.”

* The mayor was not pleased, to say the least

A Daley spokeswoman threw cold water on that idea, saying that spending the Skyway reserves could “jeopardize the city’s financial footing and credit rating.”

Jodi Kawada, Daley’s deputy press secretary, added that the CTA also provides service to 40 suburbs.

“Given the way public transportation is structured in Illinois, only Springfield has the ability to provide the long-term funding solution that is needed. No city or county can do that,” Kawada said.

* Meanwhile, talks continue on the transit/gaming/capital plans

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said there are still talks under way among legislative staffers, but he said there remains no agreement on the massive proposal, which could generate enough cash to bankroll a $20 billion-plus statewide construction program.

Brown described some of the talks as “circular,” meaning some of the same issues that have stymied progress throughout the year remain sticking points.

Among them are details on how money from the gambling expansion would be divvied up by lawmakers for use in local construction projects.

* But January 1 brings a new dynamic

Postponing action until the calendar flips greatly alters the political dynamics of transit funding negotiations. Come the new year, it will take just a simple majority to pass legislation. If action was taken this year during a special session, a super-majority would be needed to approve a bill.

All of which means that Republicans, who had been actively involved in negotiations since June, would effectively lose their seat at the table. Democrats control both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion, and they could provide all the necessary votes for passage of a bill.

That last line is a hoot. Don’t get too wrapped up in this simple majority stuff. The lowered passage bar means that the Republicans will be under pressure to reach a deal or get cut out. But the Democrats, particularly in the House, will want to put as many GOP votes on the gaming bill as possible, and the Repubs know this.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


The VIP treatment *** Updated x1 ***

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* This is not a problem for me

Asked Thursday whether parents who stood in long lines trying to buy their kids tickets to the Dec. 8 “Hannah Montana” concert at the Allstate Arena should be upset that he and his daughters ended up with free tickets and a backstage visit — all courtesy of his buddy, state Sen. James DeLeo — Gov. Blagojevich said:

“I have two daughters and being a good dad is a heck of a lot more important to me than being a good politician. And when my little girls ask their dad how to find a way to get them to see Hannah Montana, I do everything I can to get them to see Hannah Montana. […]

“I got tickets the way a lot of people get tickets: You call a friend and say, ‘Hey, can you find some tickets?’ In that particular case, Sen. DeLeo did. I said, ‘How much do I owe you for the tickets?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. You can get dinner next time.’ That’s what friends do.”

I know that some parents may be furious that he was able to score good seats while they got frozen out. But, I don’t have much sympathy. Regardless of his standing in the polls, he is the governor and he had a legit reason. Plus, he didn’t directly clout his way to the show. He asked a friend to help score some tickets and his friend (who has a longstanding relationship with the Rosemont folks) complied.

I did have a big problem when then Gov. George Ryan and a big entourage snagged a ton of tickets to see the Rolling Stones play a small venue in Chicago. It’s not like George was a huge Stones fan or anything.

* Overall, this isn’t a problem for me, either, but there are exceptions

When tickets to the Rose Bowl went on sale to the public, they sold out in half an hour.

But a bevy of public officials and donors who hold the University of Illinois’ purse strings managed to get to the head of the line, and trustees — including Gov. Rod Blagojevich — didn’t have to pay a penny for seats at the hottest game of the year for the state’s football fans.

Administrators made sure there were tickets for Senate President Emil Jones (4), House Minority Leader Tom Cross (6), state Sen. Chris Lauzen (6), and 17 other public officials who paid face value. When contacted by the Tribune, Lauzen said he would rescind his request. […]

Blagojevich was offered four complimentary tickets for the game against the University of Southern California, but a spokesman said he will be staying in Illinois for a legislative session Jan. 2. But the governor’s general counsel used the connection to buy four $135 tickets through the university president’s office.

The governor’s general counsel should give those tickets back. [See the update below for explanation.]

As for the elected legislators, this is a bit of a gray area. They are VIP’s, so if other bigshot alumni are getting preferential treatment they should as well. And it appears that’s the case…

In all, the university set aside about 500 of its 26,000 tickets for use by the offices of the president, chancellor and development. Some of those were designated for purchase by major donors, lawmakers and other VIPs.

People often like to use these sorts of news events to tee off on politicians they don’t like. Try your very best to avoid that in comments today. Stick to the topic at hand. Overly zealous partisans and complete cynics will be deleted. I mean it. Don’t test me. It’s Christmas and I’m not in the mood for goofy drive-by commenters. Thanks.

*** UPDATE *** I just received the following statement from the guv’s office. Apparently, Quinlan, the governor’s chief legal counsel, didn’t score his tix as part of the governor’s deal, so I’ve changed my mind about his situation.

Bill Quinlan, an alumnus, was invited by the University of Illinois. He paid full value for the tickets, but doesn’t think he’s going to be able to go.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


Morning shorts

Friday, Dec 21, 2007

* Potential Wrigley purchase by state holds up Cubs sale

* Chicago Pubic Radio: Study says state homeless youth need better resources

* Deadline for certain veteran tax breaks quickly approaching

* Editorial: Illinois town chosen at spot for experimental plant

Research indicates energy produced through the FutureGen process would be significantly more expensive than current energy production prices - perhaps 20 percent to 40 percent more expensive. But as oil prices continue to rise and the wars in the Middle East continue to apply upward pressure, investment in alternative, cleaner energy research needs to continue.

That includes sources such as wind and solar energy, as well as efforts like FutureGen’s to find ways to use traditional fossil fuels without exacerbating global warming.

* Editorial: Mattoon site selection is a giant Christmas present for all

* Sun-Times Editorial: Let states take lead on boosting mileage requirements

Though Illinois has not yet decided whether to adopt the California standards, it will be among the states joining in the lawsuit. “We do like the flexibility individual states have been able to have under the Clean Air Act,” Illinois EPA spokeswoman Jill Watson said. “It’s like when you try on your brother’s pants, they may not fit. Not every state is an industrial state. Not every state is an agricultural state.”

The federal government is no longer in a state of denial about global warming. But in holding back efforts to fight the threat, the EPA remains in a sorry state of suspension.

* Illinois tollway board looks down road to new projects; more here

Among these major projects are the Prairie Parkway in Kane, Kendall and Grundy counties; the Elgin-O’Hare Expressway; and the extension of Illinois Highway 53 through Lake County, some of which have been on the drawing board for decades.

* Illinois bill targets online talk with children

Illinois law already bars sexual predators and con artists from plying the Internet, but the latest measure, filed in Springfield last week, would attempt to expand those protections to include virtually any kind of potentially damaging Internet conversation with a minor. It would make it a felony for an adult to have any electronic contact that “demonstrates a knowing disregard for the health, safety and welfare” of the child

* Editorial: Smoke-free will soon be the law, ready or not

* Every Blog Has Its Day: Politically-interested Internet Users’ Perceptions of Blog Credibility

This study employs an online survey to examine U.S. politically-interested Internet users’ perceptions of the credibility of blogs. The article focuses on the influence of blog reliance compared to motivations for visiting blogs in determining blog credibility.

The study found that blogs were judged as moderately credible, but as more credible than any mainstream media or online source. Both reliance and motivations predicted blog credibility after controlling for demographics and political variables. Reliance proved a consistently stronger predictor than blog motivations. Also, information-seeking motives predicted credibility better than entertainment ones.

* Blog advertising dollars increasing

* Daley bristles when asked about son’s deal, asks that it not be played up; more here

* John Kass: Daley believable? A sick thought

You’re probably wondering how a guy with half a fevered brain could be so certain that the mayor is telling the truth when so many don’t believe him.

They don’t know the mayor like I do. As a teenager, Daley used to shoot spitballs from a booth in my uncles’ restaurant on Halsted Street. I know his ways. The last thing the mayor of Chicago wants is his son making an easy score. Scarfing up taxpayer money in City Hall deals, that’s what cousins and brothers and nephews and lots of friends are for — but not your own kid.

* Daley backs former foe, Ald. Smith for county recorder of deeds

Last year, Ald. Ed Smith (28th) launched into an anti-corruption tirade that spoiled unanimous City Council approval of Mayor Daley’s election-year budget…

Either all has been forgiven or Daley wants Smith out of his hair in the City Council.

* Chicago Public Radio: City mail delivery improves in 2007

* Friday Beer Blogging: Oh Christmas Tree edition

- Posted by Paul Richardson   13 Comments      


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Friday, Dec 21, 2007

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* Holiday Pop-Up Market Saturday, 3pm-9pm
* D.C. map.
* Shedd School as seen in December
* Looking for more ‘REALTORS® Give Back’ stories
* Breaking. Judge orders TRO against Rauner and for state workers.
* Keeping retirement weird. My mother never asked permission to protest.
* Just over 80 days away ‘til Election Day (already?!?), at least for some of us


* Criminal justice, health services stakeholders convene for Data-Driven Health & Justice Conference - Event will emphasize innovative strategies to address “superutilizers” of emergency departments and jails
* Know Before You Go with IDOT'SWinter Road Conditions Map
* Governor’s Export Awards Recipients Announced
* Governor Signs Legislation to Protect Jobs, Ratepayers and Taxpayers
* Give The Gift Of A Lifetime With A College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan - College Illinois! can help limit or even eliminate future student loan debt




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