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End of the week video

Friday, Aug 29, 2008

* Well, that wasn’t much of a vacation. Whatever. Here’s your video…

So the powers that be left me here
To do the thinkin’

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Meeks: School boycott will happen, governor to blame

Friday, Aug 29, 2008

* Sen. James Meeks says the Chicago Public Schools boycott is a go, and blames Gov. Rod Blagojevich….

“No more time. The window has expired,” Meeks said.

Next Tuesday, the state senator and pastor of Salem Baptist, a South Side megachurch, hopes to bus about 2,000 Chicago Public Schools students to north suburban schools. The students will boycott their first day of school to call attention to school-funding inequities. […]

Meeks had offered earlier this week to call off the boycott if Gov. Blagojevich, state Senate President Emil Jones and House Speaker Michael Madigan agreed to back his $120 million, three-year plan to reform Illinois’ most seriously ailing schools by today, but he gave up on that idea Thursday. […]

“The governor never did agree, and there’s just no more time. I can’t start everything in motion and pull it back. It would make me look uncommitted,” Meeks said.

Meeks had proposed identifying 12 failing high schools — in Chicago, the south suburbs and Downstate — and their feeder elementary and middle schools, for three years’ worth of audits and reforms.

Instead, he will be taking CPS students to New Trier High School, which spends $17,000 per student compared with $10,000 per student in Chicago.

* More from yesterday afternoon…

“I can’t figure the governor out,” said Meeks in light of Blagojevich’s decision to return home [on Thursday].

Madigan, the state Democratic chairman, said he’s been on the “periphery” of the Meeks’ school funding issue. Meeks wants the state to spend $120 million over three years to help improve educational opportunities for children in poorer schools in Chicago and other parts of the state.

“Sen. Meeks has spoken to me. He’s asked if I would be willing to attend a meeting with he and the governor and Sen. Jones and I said I would be,” Madigan said. “But I’m waiting for the setting of the date and the time.”

Jones, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term in January, indicated Meeks might be seeking an escape plan after calling on ministers of churches with predominantly African-American congregations to join him in seeking a Chicago school boycott on Sept. 2 and making a symbolic effort to enroll students in the wealthy New Trier Township school district.

“I’ve got to talk to Sen. Meeks,” Jones said, adding that he was “trying to get everyone together.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

* Bad budget news is buried during Obama’s acceptance speech…

Thirteen state historic sites and 11 parks will close, and human services will be affected as the Blagojevich administration said Thursday it will lay off 325 workers.

The tourist attractions include the reconstructed log cabin of Abraham Lincoln’s father and stepmother near Charleston, set to close Oct. 1, just five months before the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.

Four state agencies will cut their work forces this fall because of the $1.4 billion Gov. Rod Blagojevich took out of a state budget he said wasn’t balanced. The cuts include 179 positions at the Department of Children and Family Services and 73 at the Department of Human Services. Another 127 DCFS workers will keep their jobs but be moved to positions or areas where there are vacancies.

* Here is a list of closures:


* Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
* Illini State Park near Marseilles
* Wolf Creek State Park
* Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
* Lowden State Park, Oregon
* Hidden Springs State Forest, Strasburg
* Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
* Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
* Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
* Moraine View State Park, Leroy
* Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton


* Lincoln’s New Salem, Petersburg: Will open seven days per week starting in spring 2009 using funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The site is currently open five days per week, and received 432,176 visitors in 2007.
* Lincoln Tomb, Springfield: Will open seven days per week starting in spring 2009 using funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The site is currently open seven days per week but will reduce operations to five days per week starting September 1 due to the layoff of seasonal workers. The Tomb had 339,073 visitors in 2007.
* Old State Capitol, Springfield: Will open seven days per week starting in spring 2009 using funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The site is currently open five days per week, and had 109,254 visitors in 2007.
* Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Springfield: Will open seven days per week in spring 2009 using funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. The site is currently open on Saturdays only and had 37,774 visitors in 2007.
* Dana-Thomas House, Springfield: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 41,045 visitors in 2007.
* Vachel Lindsay Home, Springfield: Will be open on a limited schedule, with hours to be determined by staff at the Old State Capitol who also manage this site. The site is currently open on Saturdays only, and had 2,472 visitors in 2007.
* Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville: The site will remain open five days per week. It had 329,428 visitors in 2007.
* Lewis and Clark, Hartford: The site will remain open five days per week, and had 96,188 visitors in 2007.
* Ulysses S. Grant Home, Washburne House and Old Market House, Galena: The Grant Home will remain open five days per week using funds from the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Illinois Bureau of Tourism. The Washburne House and the Old Market House will remain open on their current schedules using volunteers: Washburne House, open Fridays only; Old Market House, open five days per week. These Galena sites had 113,328 visitors in 2007.
* Douglas Tomb, Chicago: The site will remain open five days per week. The sole employee lives on-site and is needed to provide security. The site had 13,456 visitors in 2007.
* Pullman, Chicago: The site will not be impacted. It will remain open by appointment only. The sole employee maintains the collections, works with volunteers and provides security.
* Black Hawk, Rock Island: The Hauberg Indian Museum will close October 1, but the natural areas and lodge will remain open five days per week. The site had 138,668 visitors in 2007.
* Lincoln Log Cabin, near Charleston: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 82,735 visitors in 2007.
* David Davis Mansion, Bloomington: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 49,468 visitors in 2007.
* Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 38,100 visitors in 2007.
* Vandalia Statehouse, Vandalia: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 31,690 visitors in 2007.
* Bishop Hill Museum, Colony Church and Bjorklund Hotel: These three buildings will close October 1 but will be open on a limited basis for special events. They are currently open five days per week, and had 19,551 visitors in 2007.
* Carl Sandburg, Galesburg: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 8,598 visitors in 2007.
* Cahokia Courthouse, Cahokia: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. It is currently open five days per week, and had 8,414 visitors in 2007.
* Bryant Cottage, Bement: The site will close October 1 but will open on a limited basis for special events. The site is currently open four days per week, and had 5,176 visitors in 2007.
* Jubilee College, near Brimfield: The site will close October 1. It is currently open five days per week, and had 72,780 visitors in 2007.
* Apple River Fort, Elizabeth: The site will close October 1. It is currently open five days per week, and had 24,693 visitors in 2007.
* Fort Kaskaskia and Pierre Menard Home, Ellis Grove: These two sites, including the campground at Fort Kaskaskia, will close October 1. These sites are currently open five days per week, and had 23,086 visitors in 2007.
* Mt. Pulaski Courthouse, Mt. Pulaski, and Postville Courthouse, Lincoln, will remain open four days per week, and Metamora Courthouse, Metamora will remain open five afternoons per week. These sites are operated with volunteers.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Not to spoil the hugfest, but…

Thursday, Aug 28, 2008

* This is interesting

As his sentencing nears, pressure is mounting on Tony Rezko to cooperate with federal investigations into some of the highest-profile politicians in the state — including Gov. Blagojevich. […]

Now, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times that Rezko has been seen at the federal courthouse as many as a dozen times since his June conviction. He’s been held since then at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

* So is this

A state panel Wednesday urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration to cancel a multimillion-dollar deal to rent office space from a politically connected developer whose family has been a major donor to the governor.

Under the lease, the state is paying downtown Chicago rental rates—more than $19 per square foot—for a building in economically depressed Harvey that was conceived as a model center for child welfare agencies but never reached its potential.

The lease is at the center of what has been a quiet but intense fight between the Blagojevich administration, which sought to sweeten and extend the contract, and a little-known oversight panel.

“It is a bad situation, and every month we delay, the taxpayers of Illinois are paying money for no reason,” said Edward Bedore, a member of the Procurement Policy Board who calls the deal “outrageous.”

* And this is a bit ironic

Here’s the rest of the story on Gov. Blagojevich’s announcement this week that he wants to “rock the system” with new ethics reforms:

The West Side building where the governor held his news conference was once co-owned by Ali D. Ata. That would be the same Ali Ata who has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges involving Rezko, a former Blagojevich adviser and campaign fund-raiser.

Blagojevich hired Ata to head the Illinois Finance Authority in January 2004 even though Ata and three partners didn’t pay the mortgage on the 3500 W. Grand building they’d been leasing to the state and had been foreclosed upon in September 2003. In the 10 years before the foreclosure, Ata and his partners had taken in $3.2 million in rent from taxpayers.

At Rezko’s trial, Ata — a onetime Rezko business partner — testified he made hefty campaign contributions to Blagojevich, at Rezko’s urging, to land his state post. Blagojevich has denied that the contributions were behind Ata’s hiring.

* A missed opportunity

State Sen. Rev. James Meeks said on Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Co., that he would continue to push his boycott of the first day of school in Chicago.

However, in Chicago, dozens of parents said the idea was not for them, and would walk their children to class, NBC5’s Dick Johnson reported.

“On the first day of school, we are going to work to make sure that 100 percent of Chicago Public School children are in school on that first day,” said Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project. […]

“I talked to the governor last night, I talked to the speaker yesterday,” Meeks said. “They said that sometime this (Wednesday) morning, we’ll schedule a time to meet.”

That meeting apparently didn’t happen.

* Sad

Layoffs, furloughs and a hiring freeze are being implemented by Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes to cope with cuts made to his office budget by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The comptroller - just the latest among statewide elected officials to implement such measures - is also offering incentives for workers to retire early in hopes of avoiding even further involuntary cuts.

* Related…

* “If you do things the right way, pay your dues, you get to be Dan Rostenkowski — you don’t get to be president,” said Kent Redfield, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. “Chicago politics is not geared to producing presidents — it produces aldermen and mayors.”

* Creators Syndicate is pleased to announce that Robert D. Novak will be writing occasional columns

* A New York financial services firm that employs Mayor Daley’s nephew stands to make millions if the mayor gets his way and the Chicago Children’s Museum moves from Navy Pier to Grant Park.

* Differences pushed aside

* Suburban school districts, police working out protest logistics - Officials say they will welcome Chicago students

* Gaines’ perspective

* Dan Hynes Speaks before Illinois Delegates

* And no footsie. Please.

* SJ-R Opinion: Good ideas, wrong tactics on ethics bill

* Duckworth blasts McCain over military policy

* Maybe the good people of Denver should leave Chicago pizza to Chicagoans

* The 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield has ruled that a hospital in Urbana has to pay property taxes. The court agreed with the state Department of Revenue and local tax authorities, who contend that Provena Covenant Medical Center doesn’t provide enough charity care to be tax exempt.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

* *** UPDATED x1 - Quinn campaign responds *** Rauner campaign responds to firestorm over Sun-Times reporter's sidelining
* New Quinn ad hits Rauner on nursing homes
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Sun-Times sidelined reporter after Rauner campaign intervention
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Quinn campaign responds to Sun-Times endorsement decision
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* Question of the day
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* That's life, baby
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* Rauner: We settled case "because we're nice folks"
* "The Myth of the Incumbent 50% Rule"
* Ebola breaks through as political issue in Illinois
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