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Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      


Here we go…

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

* The push is on

The leader of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority said Tuesday that the agency has solved a seemingly intractable puzzle: How to purchase and renovate Wrigley Field without using any state or local tax dollars.

“We are working on a proposal to present to Tribune Co. that will allow ISFA to acquire and fully restore Wrigley Field, as well as add parking and neighborhood improvements, without using any public tax money, either state or local,” said former Gov. James Thompson, chairman of the agency.

The bid will be delivered “shortly,” Thompson said.

* So, how will it be financed?

[Thompson] would only say what the new plan would not include: “No PSLs [personal seat licenses] . . . No sales tax. No amusement tax. No McCormick Place [restaurant] tax. No taxes of any kind. I know that will disappoint the Sun-Times editorial board. But it’s the best I can do,” he said.

“Obviously, a deal done without tax money has a better chance of being approved than a deal based on tax money. Now the Sun-Times editorial board will be for it, right?”

Even if no tax money is directly used, the impact on state and local tax coffers should also be examined. Zell is a financial wizard when it comes to taxes and Mother Tribune is no slouch either. Will this involve some sort of tax break for Zell?

* Thompson did offer this hint

Thompson hesitated when asked if his new plan would rely on the controversial sale of naming rights to the 94-year-old shrine of Major League Baseball.

Tribune CEO Sam Zell’s plan to sell naming rights to Wrigley to generate as much as $400 million over 20 years has met with stiff resistance from baseball purists and die-hard Cub fans. “I would say yes. But we would look for a naming rights deal that does not displace Wrigley Field.'’

I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but there will be a real problem convincing legislators to vote for a bill that would change the name or look of Wrigley Field.

* Thompson wouldn’t say how much the state would offer to pay for the decrepit ball park, but he did manage an Olympics tie-in, which is something that everybody is doing in Chicago these days…

Getting a deal done “will show the Olympic committee that we know how to do these things in Chicago,” [Thompson] said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Recall Roundup

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

* I live-blogged this yesterday, so let’s do a quick wrap-up of what we already know and move from there

Senate Democrats on Tuesday advanced their own version of a proposal to let voters remove the governor and other elected officials, a move critics said was aimed at throwing the recall effort off track by running out the clock.

The competing Senate recall legislation would add local officials such as judges, mayors and county board presidents to the public servants who could be booted.

It also would require both the governor and lieutenant governor to be recalled together rather than just one or the other. That’s because they run together as a team in general elections, said Sen. Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), the new plan’s architect.

* Quinn’s reaction

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Blagojevich critic and a strong proponent of the recall measure, criticized that provision in committee testimony. “I don’t believe I should have my record judged'’ based on the governor’s record, Quinn said. But he supported the measure anyway, calling it “a moment in history'’ for Illinois.

* There’s no guarantee yet that this will pass

All 22 Senate Republicans figure to support the plan. But the question will be if or how hard Jones works to keep at least 14 of his members off the ballot initiative to keep it from getting the necessary 36 votes to move to the House.

* And there’s also a disagreement on when Gov. Blagojevich might be recalled if the voters approve it in November…

…the soonest Blagojevich could be recalled would be the 2010 primary, said Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst), the amendment’s chief Senate sponsor.

Quinn, however, said a gubernatorial recall could occur as early as “late summer or early fall” of next year.

* There is some hope among Blagojevich allies that this recall proposal might lance the boil and stop or slow talk of impeachment, and Quinn seems to be helping that along

Despite allegations of potential wrongdoing, it’s too early to launch impeachment proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his running mate said Tuesday.

As talk of impeachment echoes through the Statehouse, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said he’d rather see the state Senate give voters the opportunity to recall elected officials.

“I think its time to trust the people,” Quinn said.

* On a related note, Michigan has a recall law, and some angry voters in that troubled state are raising money and organizing to recall the House Speaker and other state legislators….

A group aiming to recall state lawmakers for approving tax increases reports raising more than $100,000 since late October.

The recall effort recently has focused on House Speaker Andy Dillon, a Democrat from Wayne County’s Redford Township.

* There’s also a recall move against Detroit’s mayor

Wayne County officials approved language for a recall campaign against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, green-lighting the second effort to oust him since the $8.4 million whistle-blower scandal broke this year.

* The Senate’s somewhat about-face on recall was due in no small part to exploding voter anger. And that helps explain why a constitutional amendment to do away with the state’s flat-tax mandate failed so miserably yesterday. Here are a bunch of stories on that front…

* Illinois Senate rejects sliding income tax proposal

* Legislators reject possible tax overhaul

* Senate rejects income tax amendment

* Senate Dems Chicken Out on Income Tax Hike Measure

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Witness: Rezko shared cash with Blagojevich

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

* Take some caution with this one

Tony Rezko asked an official in Gov. Blagojevich’s administration to pay him $25,000 so Rezko could use the money to keep construction contractors from putting a lien on the governor’s home, federal prosecutors said in court today.

Prosecutors got a judge’s OK for Ali Ata — former executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority — to be allowed to tell jurors in Rezko’s corruption trial about the cash payments.

Rezko told Ata “this is going to be embarrassing to him [Blagojevich]” if the contractors put a lien on Blagojevich’s Ravenswood Manor home, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton told U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve.

* The reasons you should be careful about assuming too much are several-fold, including this one

“Ata claims that he gave or lent cash to Rezko on four or five occasions . . . and estimates the total cash disbursements amounted to $125,000,” Rezko’s lawyers wrote. “Ata alternatively stated he did not know what the cash was for, then proceeds to say he supplied $25,000 in cash to pay certain contractors who were threatening to put a lien on another individual’s [Blagojevich’s] home.

“Ata recounted these alleged cash transactions in a suspiciously dramatic way, including meetings on ‘narrow streets’ in Chicago with ‘black plastic bags’ of cash.”

First, this is Tony Rezko allegedly telling Ata why he wanted the money. We don’t know if Rezko told the truth to Ata or if Ata concocted the story to help hi stay out of prison. And even if Rezko did tell the truth, there’s no guarantee that Blagojevich knew about it.

* But the judge will allow the testimony…

[Judge St. Eve] said such testimony was relevant because it showed the relations between Ata, Rezko and Kelly.

She did bar the prosecutors, however, from bringing in such atmospheric embellishments as “black plastic bags” and “narrow streets.”

* And, of course, there’s more

Prosecutors said Ata will say Rezko extracted four bribes from him, including the one to avert the lien. Another involved a $50,000 payment that Rezko allegedly said was destined for Blagojevich fundraiser Chris Kelly.

Ata said the money was passed in cloak-and-dagger fashion as he and Rezko drove to Kelly’s house in the southwest suburbs. “The cash is in the car when they go down there,” Hamilton said. “And when they leave Mr. Kelly’s house, the money isn’t there any more.”

Kelly, who faces criminal charges in an unrelated case, denied the allegations through his lawyer. “If Mr. Ata is saying he gave large amounts of cash to Mr. Kelly for political purposes or to get some state position, that is simply incorrect,” said Michael Monico, Kelly’s attorney.

Notice there was no denial that Kelly might have received cash for other purposes.

* And the governor’s statement

“We can’t comment on alleged conversations that the governor was not a party to,” spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said today. “As we said last year, the Blagojeviches personally paid for the work to renovate their 14-by-20 family room out of their checking account.”

Man, this is crazy stuff.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2008

* State may sue school in sex harassment case

An order by the state Human Rights Commission paves the way for Attorney General Lisa Madigan to sue Loop Lab School for $40,000 that the school and a former official owe an ex-teacher who was sexually harassed on the job.

* Option 5: Garfield Park

* NIU won’t raze Cole Hall

* 450 U of I Extension jobs on the chopping block

“If I lose my job, I’ll lose a job I love, and very few people can really say that and mean it,” Nelson said. “I am angry and upset that what’s happening politically is affecting my personal career choices and my personal passion.”

* Parking cops on booting binge

At least 1,500 more parking ticket scofflaws and red-light runners have had their vehicles booted — and 12,000 more Chicago parking tickets have been written — in the first three months of a $1.5 million technology upgrade.

* Cook County Realtor hired by Stroger demoted after questions of his qualifications

* Stroger to skip Palatine secession meeting

Citing “political grandstanding by village council members,” Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said Tuesday he would not attend a meeting in Palatine on Wednesday night scheduled to discuss county services provided to residents.

* No-show Stroger’s disdain for suburbs

* Cook Co.’s public defender fights to keep his position

* Media take R. Kelly appeal to Illinois Supreme Court

* City receives $153M in federal funds for traffic

* ID law disenfranchises voters

* Medill’s dean says he made a mistake

* Fremd High takes top honors in state journalism competition

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   10 Comments      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Good morning!
* Final thoughts before calling it a night
* *** UPDATED x3 - Script *** Quinn airs radio ad of Rauner joking about being "scared" of four African-Americans
* Karen Lewis endorses Chuy Garcia for mayor
* Friday night TV ad rating
* Yesterday's blog posts

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