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We’re staying open, um, open thread…

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* The blog is gonna stay open this weekend, including comments. Please, no drunk comments. Those are the worst. Try to make my life as easy as possible by staying good while I’m away from my ‘puter.

I have a ton of stuff for a subscriber-only post, including lots of mail and a recording of a robocall, that I simply didn’t have time to deal with today. Plus, the weekend is likely to be full of other campaign stories for non-subscribers, including things like this rather odd and, if true, disturbing e-mail from Democratic congressional hopeful Dan Seals, entitled “Tampered Mail”…

Last week, thousands of Seals supporters should have received our campaign’s final direct mailing. Unfortunately, those letters were tampered with and never left the post office. Authorities are now investigating the situation, but we have already missed a critical opportunity to raise funds and keep Dan on the air in the final days of our campaign.

The campaign’s final direct mail piece, which included a quote from Senator Barack Obama supporting Dan, was set to hit the mail boxes of thousands of supporters last week. The mail was received by the United States Post Office and then transferred that same day to a United States Post Office Distribution Center.

After realizing that supporters had not received the letter, we discovered that the mail had been set aside and out of sight at the post office. The letters were supposed to have been treated as first class mail. They were not.

…Adding for clarity… While I believe this is almost assuredly simple incompetence, it’s still quite troubling that the USPS would screw up a First Class political mailer like this.

…Also… PI has a new radio ad for Seals featuring Obama.

* And here’s a new TV ad from Republican Marty Ozinga that slams Democrat Debbie Halvorson for her ties to Rod Blagojevich…


* There’s been so much crazy red-baiting on my teevee and in my e-mail lately that I’ve started thinking I must be in some kind of bizarre time warp, so here’s your flashback moment of Zen…


So now I’m home investigatin’ myself
Hope I don’t find out too much

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


This just in… Studs Terkel dies

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* 3:47 pm - The Tribune is reporting that Chicago icon Studs Terkel has died.

Check out Aaron Chambers’ interview of Studs here and Christine Newman’s interview here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Rod, Todd and Barack *** UPDATED x2 ***

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

*** UPDATE 1 *** Important update! Must read! From the governor’s office…

We were invited to the Obama party two days ago…

*** UPDATE 2 *** From regular blog commenter Vote Quimby

Yeah, I got the same email saying if you want to join the Grant Park party to send in $25

[End of update. But I don’t know which is funnier: Inviting him or not inviting him. Discuss.]

* CBS 2 reports [wrongly, it appears] that Gov. Blagojevich has not been invited to Barack Obama’s big Grant Park election night party. Todd Stroger, however, did make it onto the VIP list.

Todd but not Rod??? Now, that’s a snub, baby.

* Since he can’t go to the big event, the governor might want to check out this long list of alternative election night parties, including…

An open bar awaits you at the Bipartisan Blowout Election Night Party at the McCormick Tribune Auditorium, along with the chance to win 2 air tickets to Washington D.C. so you can visit our nation’s capitol either to revel in your candidate’s glorious win or, camp on the Mall and PROTEST, of course.

See? The guv can go to DC gratis and protest the fact that he wasn’t invited to the convention, the party and the inaugural ball. Perhaps he can even carry a sign that reads: “Pardon Me!!!”

* Meanwhile, Governor Bad Karma himself talks about bad karma

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday cited the potential for bad “karma” and avoided discussing potential Senate successors to Barack Obama should the Democratic nominee win the White House, but acknowledged he has a process in mind for making the most important appointment of his career.

“I just don’t want to jinx him and I don’t like the karma of me thinking that far ahead,” Blagojevich said of Obama’s prospects in Tuesday’s election.

His future is, indeed, a scary thing.

* Notice how the AP isn’t a hundred percent sure what the governor will do…

In Illinois, Governor Rod Blagojevich will almost certainly pick a Democrat to succeed Barack Obama, because both are Democrats.

He may also pick the man in the moon.

Oh, look, a kitty.

* The Jacksonville Journal-Courier runs a somewhat flawed analysis (African-American support has been declining along with everyone else’s) which concludes that the governor could win his party’s 2010 nomination…

And who do the Republicans have to oppose him? The usual assortment of megalomaniac millionaires and suburban pols from the land of George Ryan. Most everything disagreeable about Gov. Blagojevich was well known when he ran for re-election in 2006, yet he won handily.

There is one clear path out of this nightmare: If Barack Obama becomes president, Gov. Blagojevich should appoint himself senator.

Heaven, help us.

* The AP is reporting that Barack Obama may be wanting to hire the hardballer’s hardballer if he’s elected president…

Barack Obama’s campaign has approached Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel about possibly serving as White House chief of staff, officials said Thursday

Lynn Sweet has some follow-up

On the tarmac after landing, Washington Times reporter Christina Bellantoni asked Obama about a possible Emanuel appointment.

“I’m trying to win an election…” Obama said.

Is that a no?

“Plouffe is my chief of staff,” Obama said, a reference to his campaign chief of staff, David Plouffe.

I asked Obama chief strategist David Axelrod–who has also been Emanuel’s media consultant–about the report.

“Don’t believe everything you read. I don’t,” Axelrod said.

If Rahm does take the job, maybe Gov. Blagojevich can get his old House seat back. Hey, who knows?

* Speaking of the Chicago Way, Ald. Tom Allen exacts some revenge

A Chicago alderman wants police Supt. Jody Weis to be disciplined for making a statement in a TV interview earlier this month that seemed to support Barack Obama’s candidacy.

Earlier this year, the department reprimanded a detective who campaigned for Ald. Tom Allen (38th) in his failed race for Cook County state’s attorney. The department found the detective had violated a rule barring officers from engaging in partisan activity while wearing the uniform or identifying themselves as officers.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Allen. “If they’re going to play games with me politically and hurt good people I’ve known for 25 years, touche. He should face whatever the penalty is.” […]

On Oct. 15, Weis was interviewed as part of a WLS-Channel 7 story on security at Obama’s South Side home. “He’s our senator and he’s hopefully going to be our next president, so it’s an honor to serve and protect his home,” said Weis, who was wearing his dark blue police uniform.

* Eleanor Holmes-Norton talks about race and the presidential campaign in a way Illinoisans can certainly understand…

America tends to have a number of ethnic groups, so that when a Greek ran - Dukakis - Greeks were visibly for him. When Kennedy ran, the Irish were extraordinarily for him. We are a country of ethnic groups. That doesn’t mean the Irish expected John F Kennedy to cater to the Irish or that Dukakis would do something for the Greeks.

That last part is just the opposite here. Ethnics in power always expect to be catered to.

* A young Republican intern for Congresscritter Judy Biggert tells of a chance encounter this past summer

“I once saw Sens. McCain and Obama sharing a car on the Senate subway underneath the Capitol building, and they had their arms around each other and were laughing about something. I found it peculiar that something so simple would have such a profound affect on me, but it did. It made me realize that it’s OK to disagree politically on an issue and to fight for what you personally believe in, but that the measure of a person’s character isn’t how strongly he or she fights for something, but how he or she is able to work together to find common ground and do what’s right,”

* On an unrelated note, I just got a press release from Republican US Senate candidate Steve Sauerberg that calls the State Journal-Register an “ultra-liberal newspaper.”‘

Can “commie pinko rag” be far behind?

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Quote of the week

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Let’s try to keep the comments clean, please. Also, despite the topic, even minor violent imagery is always deleted, so don’t do it

Gov. Rod Blagojevich shot back against recent polls have that have shown abysmal approval ratings, saying he’s happy to get his “ass kicked” as a champion of the people.

At an event on Thursday, Blagojevich defended his record by saying he has pushed for programs that are meaningful to the people of Illinois, such as ensuring free rides for seniors on CTA buses and trains, and pushing for a ban on foreclosures.

“All of those things happened because we had to push and prod and fight through the system to get it done for people, and if I get bloodied up in the process, and there are some times when people are just not generally approving, I feel honored to get my ass kicked for the people,” Blagojevich said.

Ugh.

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Scary Halloween costume ideas? Illinois-related, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Good looking candidates? Plus: Halvorson complains; Roskam ties himself closer to Obama; Kirk’s new TV ad; Etc.

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* No offense intended, but I’m not sure that this new study applies to a huge number of Illinois races…

Seventy-three people — 35 men and 38 women — were asked to rate pictures of male and female congressional candidates on a seven-point scale for how competent, attractive, approachable and dominant they seemed to be. Then they were asked if they would vote for the candidates for president.

Both the male and female voters were more likely to say they would vote for women whom they considered attractive. The male candidates? Attractiveness was not an issue for either male or female voters.

Studies have shown that women with thin eyebrows, round faces and small chins are generally considered most attractive. Men considered good-looking tend to have thick eyebrows, square faces and large chins

* Despite outspending her Republican opponent on every level, Democratic congressional hopeful Debbie Halvorson is now complaining that Marty Ozinga is spending more money on himself. From a press release

Yesterday, Marty Ozinga contributed another $100,000 to his campaign, bringing his total to $570,000 for the cycle to date (i ii iii). This is in direct opposition to his numerous declarations to the public that he would not self-fund his campaign. Legally, nothing prohibits Marty Ozinga from contributing to his own campaign, however, he has now violated the public’s trust on numerous occasions, telling the public one thing on one hand, and doing something completely different on another. […]

“I won’t be writing big checks for my own campaign, I just don’t believe in it” [Ozinga told the Tribune].

She has a point, but things change when you’re losing a race and it seems like the whole world is financing your opponent.

* In other congressional news, Republican Peter Roskam has a new mailer touting his ties to Barack Obama…

That’s the same family and the same quote featured on Roskam’s “I’m with that Obama guy” website.

You can find more Roskam mail and some harsh partisan diatribes at this link.

* Mark Kirk’s new TV highlights his endorsements from every major area newspaper…


* Related…

* Long lines for last day of early voting

* ‘Can you imagine what Tuesday will be like?’

* Big Early Voting Numbers Foretell Election Day Turnout

* Early Voter Turnout Exceeds 400,000 In Cook County

* Candidate forum held for 11th District hopefuls

* 13th District candidates talking technology

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Blagojevich: “No” on con-con *** UPDATED x1 ***

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Thanks, governor!!! And I truly mean that….

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said [yesterday] that he doesn’t support a convention to rewrite the state’s 1970 constitution because he fears attempts to strip some of his executive powers. […]

“Thank God that the constitution gives the executive branch a lot of power to get around the legislative branch,” Blagojevich said, adding that without his ability to issue executive orders or use his amendatory veto power there would be no free mass transit rides for seniors or free breast and cervical cancer exams for women.

“If the constitutional convention were to occur and there was an effort to erode the executive branch’s ability to do those things, then I think less good things would happen for people,” Blagojevich said.

The governor just gave us the best reason yet to vote “Yes.” And he tied his horribly damaged reputation to the “No” campaign. What a break. Hopefully, this gets picked up by every major news outlet in Illinois.

If he was standing here right now I’d kiss him.

* Yet another goofy and false anti constitutional convention spam e-mail forwarded to me by one of my newspaper editors…

CON-CON is the Constitutional Convention vote that will take place on the Nov. 4th Ballot. One of the changes that the CON-CON will provide is the taxing of pensions in the State of Illinois.

Every public school teacher/administrator should get the word out to vote NO!!!!! Do not let the State tax our pensions.

Tell all your Illinois friends that on Nov. 4th vote NO to CON-CON.

Jeffry B. Nelson, Ed.D.

Peoria County Assistant Regional Superintendent of Schools

The confidence expressed by opponents that some radical thing WILL ABSOLUTELY HAPPEN if the convention is approved is simply absurd.

I attempted to contact Nelson yesterday without success.

* Meanwhile, Roland Burris has done an anti con-con radio ad. Listen here. It’s got a funky beat, so I wonder if they put this on African-American stations.

* Here’s another anti ad called “Waste.” Also, “Respect.”

* And I can’t help but wonder whether the groups that helped pay for this Jim Edgar TV ad may be doing some harm to incumbent legislators they are otherwise supporting…


Thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** Oops. I forgot to post the “Yes” group’s TV ad…


- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Indicting the insider’s insider

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Gee, you don’t think this had anything to do with yesterday’s indictment of Bill Cellini, do you?

Roughly a month after the advent of a law allowing the wrongfully convicted to circumvent the governor in seeking certificates of innocence, Gov. Rod Blagojevich pardoned four exonerated men convicted of crimes ranging from rape to murder.

Two weeks ago, the men filed for certificates of innocence with the circuit courts after waiting for a response from Blagojevich, who has been criticized for taking too much time to respond to clemency petitions. Blagojevich pardoned 26 people Thursday.

* Or this?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants state lawmakers to do something to help prevent home foreclosures.

Blagojevich says he’s pushing for a new law that would establish 3-month moratoriums on foreclosures for homeowners who enter mortgage counseling. The proposal will be introduced during the General Assembly’s veto session in November.

* Perhaps I’m just being too cynical. After all, those stories were completely buried by the big news of the day

The U.S. attorney’s office in Northern Illinois is advancing its way around Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s inner circle, and Thursday’s indictment of GOP political bigwig William Cellini could be just another attempt to recruit one more person to testify against the governor, says Kent Redfield, political scientist with the University of Illinois at Springfield. […]

Redfield says if the assumption is that the U.S. attorney’s ultimate goal is to get all the way to Blagojevich, indicting Cellini makes sense. But there’s no guarantee it’ll work.

* There’s nothing much new in the indictment, but this is ominous for the governor and Cellini…

The grand jury that indicted Cellini is the same one investigating renovations of Blagojevich’s North Side home, according to court documents. […]

Sources said Rezko — who hasn’t finalized a deal for his cooperation — provided information about the alleged extortion scheme.

* According to the Daily Herald, this is the only real new item, which seems to indicate some limited Rezko cooperation

The document alleges that Rezko and Cellini discussed potentially moving TRS executive Jon Bauman to another state job in order to ensure that he would not cooperate with federal investigators.

Bauman is still the head of TRS…

* And this looks like a bit of payback

The indictment also revived another allegation that surfaced at Rezko’s trial — that there was a plan to have U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald removed from his post in an effort to block the investigation. One witness testified that Rezko told them White House political director Karl Rove would be involved in the removal.

Another simply said Rezko simply mentioned a plan to remove Fitzgerald.

Rove said through an attorney at the time that he had never heard of such a plan and Springfield lobbyist Bob Kjellander, who also was mentioned as a possible participant, said he had never known about or taken part in any such effort.

But the new indictment says in the summer and fall of 2004, Cellini, Rezko and others discussed the possibility of having Fitzgerald ousted from his post.

* Cellini background

For 40 years, William F. Cellini has been a fixture in the Illinois governor’s office. And Cellini — one of the most powerful Republicans in Illinois history — maintained his clout when a Democrat, Rod Blagojevich, ended 26 years of GOP rule.

Some Democrats were shocked to find Cellini sitting at Blagojevich’s table during a party at Tony Rezko’s house six years ago. But Cellini had a simple answer to explain how he and his business associates would thrive under a Democratic governor:

“When we’re in, we’re in. And when you’re in, we’re in. We’re always in.'’

* Cellni’s possible motive?

…why would a successful, wealthy political insider at all levels of government work to secure funds on behalf of Blagojevich, a Democratic governor? Redfield says it’s all about power. “I don’t think it was so much about fighting for the governor as it was about power in the board and playing the game. He was as mover and shaker when [Jim] Thompson, [Jim] Edgar and [George] Ryan were governors. That’s what he knows and what he does … Power is addictive.” [said Kent Redfield]

* Some campaign fallout

The indictment of political insider Bill Cellini leaves numerous politicians scrambling to explain campaign donations tied to the bipartisan power broker.

Cellini and his groups have donated nearly $1 million over the last decade to an array of candidates from both sides of the aisle and up and down the state.

Money from an organization the Springfield native directs, the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association, is playing a role in hot races today.

The House Republican Organization, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and House Speaker Michael Madigan have all taken thousands of dollars from the asphalt pavers’ “Good Government Council” political action wing in the last three years alone.

Plus, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has taken at least $17,500 since 2006 from the organization. A campaign spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment Friday.

…Adding… Thanks to a sharp-eyed commenter, here is a story about some financial ties to prominent Chicagoans

Like many savvy businessmen, Cellini has friends in both parties.

Take House Democratic Leader Michael Madigan. Cellini has used the longtime House speaker’s law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner, to handle real estate tax work for his apartment projects in the Chicago area.

Then there is Ald. Edward Burke, another powerful Chicago Democrat.

His law firm gets real estate tax work from another Cellini business, Commonwealth Realty Advisers, which advises the state teachers pension fund. Commonwealth hired Burke to get the real estate taxes reduced on Forest Park Mall, a troubled shopping center that Commonwealth manages for the fund.

* Related…

* Cellini trial could teach a lot

* Cellini accused of campaign fund extortion

* Indicting Illinois. Again

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


Morning shorts

Friday, Oct 31, 2008

* Feds urge quick decision on EJ&E rail purchase

* More problems for ethanol plant investors

* State Releases School-by-School Test Scores

* Only 3% who barely pass math reach 20 on ACT

* Lack of IMAGE test hurts local districts

* CPS plans more ‘turnaround’ schools

Many suburban educators say that there should be an asterisk next to this year’s No Child Left Behind results.

The state eliminated the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English from this year’s tests, which forced students new to the English language to take the same standardized tests as everyone else.

As a result, suburban schools that serve many English-language learners saw their test scores take a hit, especially in reading.

* New students offer schools new challenges

* Group to introduce fund to assist low-income homeowners

* Gambling foes rally opposition to Southland casino

* New Illinois Tollway chief named

* Tollway authority picks new chief as former CEO fights to get new job

* Daley doesn’t remember receiving Gutierrez’s letter that lobbies for developer, aide says

* High rate of no-shows leads to garbage cuts

Mayor Daley is shrinking 80 more garbage crews from two laborers on a truck to one to solve a vexing absenteeism problem that sidelines nearly one-third of all laborers every day, a top mayoral aide disclosed Thursday.

“Thirty percent of my laborer work force doesn’t come to work. It’s either [on] duty-disability, restricted duty [or] absent no pay,” Michael Picardi told aldermen during City Council budget hearings.

* Aldermen gripe louder about Daley budget cuts

The mayor’s budgets often have passed with the support of all 50 aldermen, but this year nobody is happy with plans to lay off almost 1,000 city workers. Daley said the cuts are necessary to erase a $469 million budget shortfall.

“This budget is becoming to me more and more unacceptable,” Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) said as she questioned Picardi.

Added Ald. George Cardenas, among Daley’s most loyal allies in the council: “I cannot support this budget as it stands. There is a lot of fat in that budget, there’s no doubt.”

Council members worried about the effect of budget cuts on garbage pick-up and other services provided by Streets and Sanitation, the largest City Hall department.

* Friday Beer Blogging: Halloween Edition

- Posted by Kevin Fanning   7 Comments      


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        * Reps. Lipinski and Roskam Lead Effort to S...
        * Lipinski on track with new rail policy pos...
        * Lipinski: New Mixture in Washington May Ge...
        * Lipinski Welcomes Archbishop Cupich, Thank...
        * Next Generation Supercomputing Technologie...
        * Sen. Wicker joins bill supporting Hong Kon...
        * Defeats, Retirements Cost GOP Some Democra...

        * Durbin to chair hearing on civil rights, F......

        * Just say no to new Iran sanctions...
        * Obama, Congress dig in on Iran sanctions...

        * Small Business Saturday is tomorrow!
        * Thorner: Rick Santorum answers Northwestern students' questions
        * Retiring Illinois lawmakers bring home the pension bacon
        * The billionaire pension thief John Arnold puts his money on Rahm.
        * Rauners serve meals to needy on Thanksgiving Day
        * Register for GRI in Peoria by midnight tonight! #ILGRIturns50
        * What can be done to solve important housing issues?
        * You won’t believe what PAAR is driving to do
        * Heartland collects ‘Toys for Tots’ in McHenry County
        * Video: Illinois housing market trends #IARmarketStats


        * Governor Quinn Announces Investment to Help Regional Food Banks Better Serve Those in Need - Governor’s Investment Will Ensure Lower Cost and Higher Efficiency for Services Reaching Nearly 2 Million Illinois Residents
        * Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action
        * Governor Quinn Statement on Abner Mikva Receiving Nation’s Highest Civilian Honor
        * Department of Insurance Announces Multi-State Settlement with Symetra Life Insurance and Symetra National Life Insurance Company - Illinois will share part of a $1.2 million penalty against Symetra Life regarding Life Insurance policies
        * Avoid Foodborne Illness This Holiday Season




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