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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* As I told you earlier, we’re shutting down until the middle of next week or so. The news feeds will still be up and running, of course, and InsiderzExchange will still be active, as will Illinoize. So keep on coming back.

I’ve told people before that this site has become a living, breathing thing. Every time you come back, something’s different and new. A new post, new items in the news feed, new coments, a new ad at InsiderzExchange, or whatever. But every now and then I have to get away from it.

Have a pleasant break. I hope to as well.

* I dig the bagpipes…

Look out, it’s rough and mean

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

We ban, by law, a whole lot of things and activities in this state. So what one thing would you like to “unban”? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   90 Comments      

Notes to readers

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* Many thanks to Chicago Magazine for including me in their “Best of Chicago” editition, which is on newsstands now. Read the blurb by clicking here. I’m also quoted in their article about Jim Oberweis.

* AOL e-mail problems continue. I was able to send out the Capitol Fax this morning, but I haven’t been able to send e-mail since then. I can’t even log into the online version.

* “Out of office” bounceback e-mail’s have increased exponentially in the past few days, and comments here are dropping like a rock. Since the readership is taking a break, I will too. Today is it for a while. So get your comments in while you can because Kevin and I are shutting down the shop until next Wednesday or Thursday - or until the governor makes another big, goofy splash.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Excuses, ethics and a bit of fun

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* I told you Monday that GOP gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Bill Brady had raised a pathetic $55,730 during the first six months of this year. Brady now has an excuse

Brady said that with fellow Republicans involved in active campaigns in November, he didn’t want to raise money that might compete with them. He said he’ll wait until the 2010 election is closer to begin collecting campaign cash.

‘’We weren’t going to do anything out of the ordinary,'’ Brady said.

That’s an unfortunate remark. One of the biggest knocks on Brady’s 2006 bid was his lack of fundraising abilities.

And Mike Lawrence makes an excellent point in the article…

‘’It’s a lot easier to build on a big fund than be scrambling for money during the campaign season itself,'’ Lawrence said.

In other words: Get cracking.

* But not like this

It is still business as usual for Gov. Blagojevich, the only statewide officeholder taking campaign contributions from companies with state-paid contracts awarded by his office or agencies under his control.

Yesterday, the Blagojevich campaign committee filed campaign disclosure reports for the first half of 2008, and we have found dozens of contributions from people and businesses connected to state contracts. In a preliminary look through his report, we found 70 that appear, on their face, to be from businesses or employees of businesses that have FY09 contracts from agencies under his control worth more than $50,000. Those donations total $238,500. That’s about 22% of his itemized individual donations, or 12.6% of all the contributions to his campaign.

* Quite the lede from the AP

While Illinois legislators took action against the state’s “pay to play” reputation, Gov. Rod Blagojevich took donation after donation from people who stood to gain financially from his administration.

* The Sun-Times editorializes

We’ve just discovered another 220,000 reasons why Gov. Blagojevich should sign an ethics bill sitting on his desk that takes aim at pay-to-play politics in Illinois.

That’s 220,000 dollars, to be precise.

That’s how much Blagojevich raised in the first half of 2008 from companies that were granted major state contracts for this fiscal year, according to a rough analysis of new campaign finance reports by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. This estimate, which doesn’t capture all donors, represents about 20 percent of the $1.1 million Blagojevich raised from individual donors.

* Anyway, let’s end on a lighter note

Some legislators also are interested in the position, including state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock and senators Christine Rodogno, R-Lemont, Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline.

“I’m mulling it over,” said Jacobs, who believes voters are tired of Chicago politicians, but admitted he’d have to raise some serious money to run. “What I’m willing to do is work hard, roll up my sleeves and move Illinois forward. I don’t want to see Illinois roll backward.”

* Related…

* DuPage Dems blast GOP for taking cash from local businesses

* Candidates renounce some campaign cash

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Beyond the pale *** UPDATED x1 ***

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* Cokie and Steve Roberts praise governors

In a welcome relief from the politics of blaming the other party for the inaction that infests Washington, the men and women who occupy the nation’s statehouses are noticeably more interested in finding solutions, many of them wonderfully wonky, to the problems facing their citizens.

* As is typical for DC types, they visited a meeting of the National Governors Association and declared governors to be superior. Well, they really need to visit Illinois

After eight years of helping homeless and drug-addicted mothers, A Safe Haven sits on the brink of oblivion. Eighty women and 40 children may be kicked out of their apartments beginning Thursday if lawmakers don’t restore money taken away by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. […]

“This is the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like this. The cuts have been so drastic,” said Sterling Gildersleeve, executive director of the Alsip facility, which may begin separating families as soon as Thursday. […]

Repeated calls to the governor’s office for comment weren’t returned.

The story concludes with a quote from a former addicted mother who was hired by the center…

“We’re citizens, and we need help. It’s like our lives (aren’t) important.”

Those lives aren’t important. Not to the people who run Illinois, anyway.

* A rally yesterday attempted to draw attention to this particular issue

More than a thousand demonstrators gathered at the James R. Thompson Center on Tuesday, calling for state lawmakers to override Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of $43 million in funding for alcohol and substance abuse recovery services. […]

Protesters hoped to get the attention of Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago), who is ultimately responsible for re-convening the Senate in Springfield and following the House’s suit in casting an overriding vote.

Jones was not immediately available for comment.

* Seeing a pattern?

The Blagojevich administration Tuesday continued to say little publicly about how it plans to deal with cuts to the state budget.

* Nobody wants to talk to the press, but they’re still ginning up the hatred. Check out a couple of photos from yesterday’s protest rally. Gee, I wonder who might’ve sponsored these guys?…

So helpful. Seriously. Way to go, guv.

* More about the cuts were in a letter from TASC Inc. Belleville….

The Senate can sit idle as 42,000 people are kicked out of care, as current waiting list of 7,500 is doubled and as public safety decreases. Or, the Senate can restore the state’s budget for treatment, and avert the costly consequences to families, communities, and taxpayers.

Methinks they’ll sit idle.

* Meanwhile, Gov. Blagojevich has never been to a state park in his entire life, and it shows

A coalition of conservation and environmental groups called Tuesday for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to put off implementing $14 million in budget cuts for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. […]

“We’re calling on the governor not to make any cuts until after (the Nov. 4 election) and to keep the budget where it is right now,” said John Gaudette of the Illinois Environmental Council. […]

“The Department of Natural Resources is already at a skeleton level,” he said.

It’s a hollow shell. We have a DNR in name only

The cuts will bring the department’s budget to $52 million, down from $108 million in 2004, Osmond said.

* Mothers and children are about to be kicked out of treatment centers, DNR is in meltdown mode, and this is all we have to show for the past month and a half

Construction will start back up today on several local projects after state officials fixed a mix-up in the current budget.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 1130, which lawmakers approved two weeks ago. It clarifies state budget language that his administration said had stalled 39 construction projects statewide.

Hooray for progress!!!

* Related…

* Our (state) house divided against itself cannot stand

* The real victims of the Illinois budget crisis

* Nature groups urge governor to hold off on budget cuts

* Park advocates want state money restored

*** UPDATE *** Senate President Emil Jones talked to some reporters today. Of course, nobody apparently asked him about the no-growth budget bills still sitting idly in his chamber…

“We have to have a balanced budget,” Jones said. “I’m not going to get involved in playing silly games and giving false hopes to people when the money isn’t there. I support many of the programs that cut. But we in the Senate also supported the revenue to support the budget. That’s why we passed the revenue to support the budget in May. Now, if the House was genuinely sincere about passing those programs, then they in turn would pass the revenue to support it.”

Jones compared the House’s approval of the budget without enough revenue to support it to “check kiting.”

“The House is good at check kiting. Send them a big check, knowing dog-gone well the check is going to bounce. And that’s where we stand right now.”

Jones also insisted the Senate’s absence from Springfield to deal with the budget had nothing to do with having to confront the pay raise issue head-on if he returned. The Senate has two legislative session days left to reject a raise that would boost the salaries of lawmakers and many other state officials salaries by about 7.5 percent by next summer.

- Posted by Rich Miller   81 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

* Media Advisory: New Survey of the American Jewish Community

* Bob Bartell New IVI-IPO Chief

* House Democratic Campaign Arm Broadens TV Buy

* Oberweis’ energy solution: Produce more, use less

* Myth bustin’ or What I did on my summer vacation

There was easily enough gas to make a round trip, but, hey, I’m in Missouri, I might as well take advantage of this cheap gas I’m always hearing about. Looky here, gas for $3.98 a gallon. I’ll top off the tank and save a couple bucks.

Imagine my surprise when, later that night, we get back to Springfield and gas is selling for — $3.98 a gallon.

* Politics: Dick Durbin wants to know if Colleen Callahan needs his support

* Questions about money, effectiveness of city gun buy-back program

* Challenges to DuPage economy not readily apparent, group says

* State legislators back off from NIU cancer center criticisms

State Sen. John Millner, a Republican from Carol Stream, acknowledged Tuesday that the characterization of the NIU proton treatment center “could’ve been done differently.”

“I want both centers to be built,” Millner said. “I want to make sure both become very successful. And I’ll do what I can to promote both centers.”

* High Time for Political Consultant Thacker

* Authorities recall 1978 Illinois prison riot

* Daley Defends City’s Evacuation Plan

* SJ-R Opinion: Take long view in assessing flood control

* Richardson to address Democrats here

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is coming to Springfield to be the keynote speaker at a brunch Aug. 13 hosted by the Democratic County Chairmen’s Association.

* Free publicity for Peraica ends with tax re-vote

* Stroger pays state nearly $27,000 in campaign fines

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   14 Comments      

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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Sign of the times?
* Question of the day
* Exelon Just Received A $1.7 Billion Rate Increase Through The Market-Based Capacity Auction
* Today's number: 60
* No imminent power shut-offs
* Chamber all-in on impasse
* COGFA: State receipts down almost a billion dollars in first quarter
* Two racetracks will likely close
* "How many babies have to die?"
* Report: "A billion-dollar giveaway rife with failure"
* Frerichs warns of impasse consequences
* Quinn touring the state
* Yesterday's blog posts

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