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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Maram on the hot seat

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

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This just in…

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* 1:50 pm - The Public Policy Polling survey we had here yesterday was of likely Democratic primary voters. But today’s PPP poll is of 991 Illinois voters. The poll was taken April 24-26 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent. Crosstabs and other results can be found by clicking here.

Let’s look at the US Senate head-to heads first, since Lynn Sweet is reporting (and sources confirm) that “Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is poised to jump in the 2010 Illinois Senate race”…

Q6 If the candidates for US Senate next year were Democrat Roland Burris and Republican Mark Kirk, who would you vote for?

19% Burris
53% Kirk
28% Undecided

Oof.

Then again, a Republican vegetable might be able to beat Burris at this point.

More realistic opponents…

33% Schakowsky
37% Kirk
30% Undecided

35% Giannoulias
35% Kirk
29% Undecided

The partisan breakdown of this poll is 45 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican and 25 percent independent, so Kirk is doing better than the partisan benchmark and both Giannoulias and Schakowsky are under-polling.

…Adding… From Politico

Many Illinois voters are still unfamiliar with the leading candidates. Kirk’s favorability rating is 33 percent, with 24 percent viewing him unfavorably. A 43 percent plurality weren’t familiar with him.

And while Giannoulias holds a statewide office, he also isn’t well-known in the state – with 40 percent of voters unfamiliar with him. The state treasurer holds a 39 percent approval rating, with 21 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan does the best…

33% Kirk
49% Madigan
18% Undecided

* Now, onto the governor’s race

Q12 If the candidates for Governor next year were Republican Bill Brady and Democrat Pat Quinn, who would you vote for?

32% Brady
39% Quinn
29% Undecided.

Man, that’s weak for Quinn.

27% Brady
46% Madigan
26% Undecided

Brady is getting 15 percent of the African-American vote in this survey, which could show weakness for Madigan, but it’s highly doubtful that Brady will get that many African-American votes come election day.

* Meanwhile, as we’ve noted before, Dan Proft is considering a run for governor, but I’m not quite sure what this press release means yet…

Cicero, Illinois… Dan Proft released the following statement today about his decision to step down as Cicero Town Spokesman effective May 1, 2009:

It is after much deliberation that I have come to the decision to leave the town. My decision is based entirely on an opportunity that has presented itself to pursue other professional endeavors. To highlight this point, I am not only leaving the town but I am also taking a leave from my firm, Urquhart Media, to take up the opportunity I referenced.

I may have more later today.

*** 3:20 pm *** Here’s your “more.” I’m hearing Proft is just about there. Decision will be announced soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      


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Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

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Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* This story got me to thinking…

Late last week, [WGN-AM program director Kevin Metheny] abruptly axed three programs that were part of WGN’s weekend lineup, along with the three freelance hosts who fronted the three shows. Gone are Steve Dale and his Sunday evening “Pet Central” show, as well as Bill Moller and his Saturday afternoon “Your Money” program and Alex Goldfayn and his Saturday evening tech-related program. Metheny did not return a call seeking comment.

* Who’s your favorite radio talk show host? Explain why.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


Partisan sniping heats up as end of session nears *** UPDATED x1 ***

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

*** UPDATE *** Live-blogging ain’t easy so mistakes are common. The SJ-R has corrected its story to read…

Radogno added that Quinn won’t have meetings of all four legislative leaders because Madigan would not attend. Cross would not confirm this. Quinn has said he meets weekly with Cullerton and Madigan. [emphasis added to show the change]

That’s a lot different.

* The SJ-R editorial board met with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno and House GOP Leader Tom Cross this morning. Thanks to an alert commenter, we have this strange little snippet

Radogno added that Speaker Madigan will not even talk to Gov. Pat Quinn. Cross would not confirm this. Quinn has said he meets weekly with Cullerton and Madigan.

Madigan was meeting with Quinn about the budget as Radogno was saying that. He also met with Quinn last week to talk about Quinn’s proposed tax hikes, among other things.

More from Cross…

Cross’s main complaint was that Madigan does not allow votes on as much legislation as Cross would like – particularly legislation that would allow Illinoisans to vote in a primary election without having to declare a party preference.

“To bottle stuff up and let one guy have all this power to not let an idea get voted on and discussed is ridiculous,” Cross said.

Almost every day, the House Repubs have asked that bills be let out of Rules Committee, even though the passage deadline expired weeks ago and some of the bills were only just recently introduced. The Dems routinely refuse, the Repubs demand a roll call, the Dems vote with their party and the Republican political organization then blasts robocalls into targeted districts. It’s quite a fun little game, but it means almost nothing, except politically.

* Here’s an example of that game from yesterday…

Legislative Republicans want to change the Illinois Constitution to give them some say in any decision to increase taxes.

But that and other GOP-sponsored plans are bottled up in the General Assembly so Republicans, who hold scant power in state government, roared in a protest that included a fleeting expletive and walked off the House floor Wednesday to protest their treatment at the hands of Democrats. […]

“If he wants have more opportunities on the floor of the Illinois House,” [Majority Leader Currie] said, “he better do a better job of electing Republicans.”

* The Repub “protest” even featured tea bags

* Meanwhile, I think this problem may be resolved

About $1 billion worth of mass transit improvements recently approved under the state’s mini-capital bill may be in jeopardy, but Chicago-area transit agencies are not yet shelving projects, officials said Wednesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn put a freeze on the transit projects — but not on road and bridge repairs — by holding back on the bonding necessary to finance the transit piece, said state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Sandoval had some unkind words for the governor, however…

“We had a major signing ceremony for the mini-capital bill a few weeks ago with the governor — and now he’s doing a head fake,” Sandoval said, adding that Senate Democrats agreed to support the mini-capital bill based in part on the transit element. “This tells me Gov. Quinn still has his running mate’s playbook that he has dusted off the shelf.”

Ouch.

And…

The Senate president also put Quinn on notice Wednesday. Any backpedaling on the mini-capital bill will “breed some distrust as we move forward” on longer-term capital-funding legislation and passage of a new state budget, said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

That would be a warning shot across the bow, if it wasn’t already clear to you.

* And speaking of the capital plan, organized labor and construction groups are plunking down big bucks to run this TV ad across the state…


Rate it?

* Related…

* Taxpayer Unrest Growing Against Quinn Tax Hike Plans (Press Release)

* Ill. House GOP call for bills to face debate

* Republicans and taxes: somehow don’t recall Rep. Black pushing this more-votes-for-tax-hike plan when he was co-sponsoring Republican Gov. Jim Edgar’s tax increase to fund schools back in the late 1990s.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


Appointments have consequences

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* I thought secret police arrest reports were only for dictatorships.

Who woulda thunk that Gov. Pat Quinn’s handpicked State Police Director would want to continue this goofy policy

Turn the records over. That’s what Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office has told Acting Illinois State Police director Jonathon Monken, who has refused to release reports chronicling the drunken driving arrest of Springfield parks director Michael Stratton.

Monken on Tuesday morning told The State Journal-Register, which asked for the reports, that he believes releasing the documents might even be a crime.

But a senior aide to Madigan late in the day informed Monken via letter that the reports are public records that must be released. And in an interview, another Madigan aide characterized the state police’s position as “absurd.” Click here to see a PDF of the letter.

Releasing police reports is a crime? Strange. The last time I checked, Stratton wasn’t a candidate for rendition. Besides, those days are supposed to be over.

* And check out how the goo-goos in the Quinn administration have reacted

Jay Stewart, senior counsel to the governor, who called for open government while director of the Better Government Association, has not responded to interview requests. Katherine Ridgway, Quinn spokesman, has not responded to several requests asking whether the governor believes the records should be released.

On Tuesday, Ridgway said the governor’s office would have more information “later” regarding the record request and the attorney general’s opinion that the documents must be released.

On Wednesday, Ridgway did not respond to queries about what the governor’s staff has told Monken, including the question of whether the governor’s staff believes the records should be released.

Ridgway said she would get back to a reporter, but did not call back before close of business Wednesday.

Stewart was at the forefront of pushing for open records for years. And now he’s mum? Jay… buddy… what the heck are you doing?

* The SJ-R grazed the heart of the problem in its editorial today…

In the case of a public records request for Springfield Park District director Mike Stratton’s arrest report, we fear Monken is being led astray by the old bulls at the agency who want to defend the status quo at any cost. It’s time for Gov. Pat Quinn, a longtime proponent of open government, to step in and remind the ISP who is in charge.

This is what happens when you appoint a 29-year-old with zero experience to run the Illinois State Police. He has to go out of his way not to offend the old bulls. And this records thing won’t be the end of it, either. They’re obviously leading him around by the nose.

Heckuva job, Patty.

* Semi-related…

* IEA all for due process, but only for teachers: Former history teacher and state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, called the union”s stand hypocritical. “The great thing that the IEA has done for teachers is bring in due process. When I became a teacher in 1963, you could be fired for any reason. The IEA changed that by advocating for members. I guess they are all for due process when it involves one of their members — but not when it is someone like Mr. Bauman,” he said.

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      


A knight in shining armor riding a white horse to slay the dragon

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* More white hat, black hat from Patrick Collins

The head of a panel charged with suggesting ways to stop state government corruption challenged rank-and-file lawmakers Wednesday to stop seeking political cover from powerful legislative leaders and instead answer to those who elected them. […]

“There’s 177 legislators in the House and Senate,” Collins told the City Club of Chicago. “They should not be able to say, ‘Oh, I was for it, but the speaker wouldn’t put it to a vote.’ That’s what they say. We shouldn’t let them say that anymore.

“We should get people in there who will take a position and vote, or we should shrink the legislature even further,” he added.

Sure, Collins has a valid point about the power of the leaders - and not just the Democratic leaders. All leaders. If you didn’t know any better when reading his commission report, you’d almost think that it was a legislative leader who was arrested and indicted by the feds and not the governor. It’s obvious the commission targeted the leaders, and Madigan in particular.

But what’s with this John Wayne swagger stuff?

Collins did back off that last point, however…

Reached for comment later, Collins said he made an “unfortunate sarcastic comment” in jest and does not believe in cutting back the legislature, but stands by his comments about a need for accountability from all lawmakers.

Cutting back the legislature would just make it easier to control.

* Speaking of the Speaker, Gatehouse runs a story today that I’ve been following since January. Speaker Madigan has yet to reappoint former Blagojevich allies Rep. Jay Hoffman and Rep. Ken Dunkin to their committee chairmanships…

[Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville)] said it is no secret that Madigan is punishing Hoffman for siding with Blagojevich.

“That’s one way Speaker Madigan sends a message,” Black said.

But my all-time favorite quote comes from Rep. Dunkin’s mouth…

“Why has he not promoted Ken Dunkin, who is such the tourism authority in this chamber, who has promoted tourism throughout the centuries and the decades in the history of the state of Illinois? Why? Why, Mr. Speaker?” asked Dunkin.

Maybe Collins can intervene on his behalf.

* Related…

* Ethics advocate urges Illinoisans to back reform: “What this state needs a little bit more of is people who aren’t cowering in their shadow because they’re afraid of how somebody is going to react to the truth,” Patrick M. Collins told the City Club of Chicago on Wednesday.

* Schoenburg: Willis brings poignant perspective to reform push

* House Republicans press for full hearing on reform report

* A post-Blago `witchhunt’? No, says rep.: Jerry Stermer, Quinn’s chief of staff, addressed the committee about why any of Blagojevich’s cabinet members are still employed… He responded that Quinn’s program of “reform, responsibility and recovery'’ required experienced people. and that the performance of those directors is under continual evaluation.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Morning shorts

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

* 2009 Reports on Poverty

* State sees rise in poverty

The 2009 report on Illinois Poverty released Thursday reveals signs of increasing poverty throughout the state. Poverty worsened in more than half of the state’s 102 counties even before the recession began in December 2007.

The most current poverty data from 2007, therefore, does not capture economic realities, the report’s authors wrote.

As many as 405,000 more Illinoisans are likely to have been pushed into poverty as a result of the recession.

* Quarter-million Chicagoans on brink of poverty: study

* Victims of economy: 250,000 more forced into poverty in Chicago area, report says

* Four area counties among 46 on poverty list

* Survey says CFOs prefer salary freezes over layoffs

* Chrysler UAW workers approve concessions

The union, which represents nearly 2,500 workers at Chrysler’s assembly plant in Belvidere, held informational meetings and voting at the Coronado Performing Arts Center all day Wednesday.

* Struggling Motorola reportedly a contender to make Microsoft’s challenger to iPhone

* Car dealers confident — Don’t expect to be part of GM cuts

* 6 local projects get $25M in stimulus funds

The largest is a $21.1-million endeavor to repair and stabilize the main structure protecting Chicago Harbor. Another $1.6 million will be used to complete a levee on the Des Plaines River, and $1.1 million will go toward increasing dredging capacity in the Calumet Harbor and Calumet River.

* Chicago Defender Returns to South Side

* Closing Howe Center in Tinley Park could mean jobs here

* Wind Power Makes Moves In The Statehouse

School Wind/ Solar Generation Act (SB1570): Creates a School Wind and Solar Generation Revolving Loan Fund to begin awarding loans or grants to public schools and community colleges to study and build wind or solar power projects. The intent is to “directly or indirectly reduce energy or other operating costs,” to free up more money for classrooms.

Enterprise Zone Wind Farms (SB1923): Streamlines permitting and tax exemptions for large-scale wind farms under the Illinois Enterprise Zone Act, while requiring the projects meet the state’s prevailing wage standards.

Green Jobs Training Fund (HB4186): In establishing a Green Jobs Training Fund, the state would agree to set aside up to $500,000 over the next two years to train mostly low-income adults to staff renewable energy projects.

* Cook County assessor worker sentenced for skimming funds

Joyce Pierce, 52, of Chicago pleaded guilty to one count of theft of more than $100,000 before Circuit Judge Clayton Crane. Prosecutors alleged that over a four-year period, Pierce pilfered funds from the office’s Freedom of Information Department to pay for purchases at upscale stores such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy’s.

* Feds searching Crestwood village hall in water case

A total of 15 EPA agents, state police investigators and members of the U.S. Coast Guard’s investigative service unit arrived at 9 a.m. and combed village offices for records until sometime about 5 p.m.

Speaking in the vestibule of village hall, EPA Special Agent in Charge Randall Ashe said the agents were searching for “any evidence of crimes that may have occurred.”

Village hall remained open, and village officials and employees reportedly attempted to go about their duties. But the day was anything but normal, as agents came and went continuously.

Mayor Robert Stranczek briefly emerged from his office to say that the village was “fully cooperating” with the EPA. He did not take questions.

* EPA seizes Crestwood files

* EPA Reviewing Information from Crestwood Raid

* Raid on South suburb in tainted water case

* The chemo block, Crestwood, USA

* Sensitive state data released to Web

A memo obtained by The Associated Press to staff members alerts them to possible credit fraud concerns because a spreadsheet with worker names and Social Security numbers was found on the Internet.

It says attorney general’s investigators believe the data, prepared for an outside auditing firm, was released to a so-called peer-to-peer network during a music transfer to an agency laptop.

* Des Plaines Aldermen Need More Time To Review Casino Non-Interference

* Whistleblower files federal lawsuit against Peoria Scool District 150

* Judge clears way for Chicago Heights mayoral vote

* Renner concedes race to incumbent Stockton

* Madison County OKs new payment plan for taxpayers

* Cook County judge wants former police Cmdr. Jon Burge to testify in beating case

* Chicago will have last 24-hour post office in U.S.

* Navy Pier Cinco de Mayo fest canceled over swine flu

* Swine flu: 9 suspected cases in Chicago area

* Swine flu: 3 Chicago-area schools close down over swine flu fears

* School cancels ‘kiss the pig’ contest

* Don’t panic; use sensible measures to fight swine flu

* PJStar: Be serious, but rational, about swine flu concerns

* Probable swine flu hits suburbs; two schools close in Kane County

* Immigration march: Swine flu scare may reduce immigration rally turnout

* Some universities calling off Mexico travel plans

* Swine flu constant worry for hog farmers

* Swine flu in Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn made a move similar to the federal declaration with a gubernatorial proclamation that allows him to access state resources to address any needs that may arise. U.S. Health and Homeland Security officials released stockpiled medical supplies and anti-viral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, to the states, and the Illinois Department of Public Health expects the state to receive a shipment this week.

- Posted by Mike Murray   13 Comments      


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Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

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Swine flu stuff

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* I just barely remember the 1976 Swine Flu panic, and these government TV ads didn’t jog my memory, either…


Background here. H/T: Sully and Patterson.

* And here’s an update from the Illinois Department of Public Health which just arrived in my in-box…

State Public Health Director Announces 9 Probable Cases of Swine Flu in Illinois

Proclamation issued to ensure medicine and medical supplies are readily available

SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Illinois Department of Public Health Director, announced there are currently nine probable cases of swine flu in Illinois: five in Cook County (all within the Chicago city limits), one in DuPage County, two in Kane County and one in Lake County. A probable case means the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has tested a specimen and found that it is positive for influenza A, but it could not be subtyped. The Department has shipped three of the nine probable cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to perform final testing to confirm if the cases are positive for swine flu, and the other six will be shipped later day.

The federal government has declared a health emergency and identified a potential threat to the health and safety of the citizens of Illinois. A Gubernatorial Proclamation issued by Governor Pat Quinn Tuesday allows for the mobilization of state assets, as the Governor deems necessary, to aid in the distribution of medical supplies and other actions needed to protect public’s health and safety.

How are you feeling? I’ve been sick all week. Can’t shake it. Maybe the guv can mobilize some services my way.

…Adding… Something to keep in mind while the media and politicians scream in your ear

There had been no confirmed deaths in the United States related to swine flu as of Tuesday afternoon. But another virus had killed thousands of people since January and is expected to keep killing hundreds of people every week for the rest of the year.

That one? The regular flu.

Since I’m pretty sure I have the “regular” flu, I am not comforted at all by the above story.

* Roundup…

* Only 7 swine flu deaths, not 152, says WHO

* 2nd swine flu false alarm at O’Hare: The ailing passenger was examined, taken to a local hospital and ultimately determined to be suffering from strep throat, officials said.

* Pork Futures Fall on Swine Flu Concerns: The Center for Disease Control says swine influenza is not transmitted by food and that eating cooked pork and pork products is safe.

* Ill. spot for migrants vigilant about swine flu: An emergency services chief in a southern Illinois county where migrants gather each spring to work the apple and peach orchards says many there are concerned about the possible spread of swine flu linked to Mexico. But Union County’s Dana Pearson adds that there’s no need for anyone around Cobden to feel alarmed. He says the area so far only has a few families of migrants, and they’re from Tennessee and Texas.

* Israeli official: Swine flu name offensive: The outbreak of swine flu should be renamed “Mexican” influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork, said an Israeli health official Monday

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Cross; Kotowski; Smokes; Harmon/Currie; Statehouse roundup (use all caps in password)

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

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WITH STATE HELP, WE CAN REDUCE SCHOOL OVERCROWDING

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

According to a new study commissioned by UNO, 64 neighborhood elementary schools in the city of Chicago are overcrowded, nearly 70% of which are majority Latino. These schools would require a total of 16,552 new seats to resolve the problem. That’s the equivalent of 552 new classrooms or 28 new schools.

UNO is calling on the state to make significant investments in capital construction in overcrowded areas and address the direct impact this crisis is having on Latino student potential.

But because it can take new public schools as long as 5 years to open, UNO is also proposing an aggressive portfolio of new UNO school construction projects that it promises to complete in under 2 years and at half the cost of typical new public school construction.

UNO’s proposal targets new school construction in neighborhoods which currently suffer from some of the worst school overcrowding in the city. In addition to bringing nearly immediate relief to nearby public schools, UNO’s “shovel-ready” proposals promise to create over 2,000 new jobs in an otherwise tight economy.

It’s time to provide Latino communities with real solutions to overcrowding.

Visit us at www.uno-online.org

- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* The setup, from a Public Policy Polling survey of 415 likely Democratic primary voters between April 24 and 26th. Crosstabs and press release are both at this link

Q1 Do you approve or disapprove of Democratic Senator Roland Burris’ job performance?

27% Approve
49% Disapprove
24% Not Sure

Q2 Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky?

42% Favorable
8% Unfavorable
50% Not Sure

Q3 Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Democratic State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias?

53% Favorable
10% Unfavorable
37% Not Sure

Q4 Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan?

74% Favorable
13% Unfavorable
13% Not Sure

Q5 Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Pat Quinn’s job performance?

56% Approve
14% Disapprove
30% Not Sure

Q6 Next year do you intend to vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary, or are you not sure?

100% Democratic
0% Republican
0% Not Sure

Q7 If the Democratic candidates for US Senate were Roland Burris and Alexi Giannoulias, who would you vote for?

20% Burris
49% Giannoulias
30% Undecided

Q8 If the Democratic candidates for US Senate next year were Roland Burris, Jan Schakowsky, and Alexi Giannoulias, who would you vote for?

16% Burris
26% Schakowsky
38% Giannoulias
21% Undecided

Q9 If the Democratic candidates for US Senate next year were Roland Burris, Jan Schakowsky, Alexi Giannoulias, and Lisa Madigan who would you vote for?

13% Burris.
11% Schakowsky
19% Giannoulias
44% Madigan
14% Undecided

Q10 If the Democratic candidates for Governor next year were Lisa Madigan and Pat Quinn, who would you vote for?

45% Madigan
29% Quinn
26% Undecided

* The Question: You’re pundit for a day. Pick a few responses, delve into the crosstabs if you desire and analyze away.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


This just in…

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* 11:32 am - No surprise. Democratic State Sen. Michael Bond has announced for the 10th Congressional District seat now held by Republican Mark Kirk. From a press release…

“After speaking with people in our communities, listening to their ideas and hearing their concerns, I’ve decided to run for Congress. Our country is facing enormous challenges. Decisions are being made that will affect Americans for generations to come, and it’s important to have people in Washington who will take a fresh approach to today’s problems, who will fight for what’s right and get something done.

“That’s what motivated me to first serve on the school board and then the State Senate. Because too many politicians, particularly those in Washington, forget the reason the people sent them there in the first place – to find solutions and produce results…”

A formal announcement will come in a few weeks. Kirk has yet to decide whether he’s running statewide. Bond has said he’s in regardless of Kirk’s decision, but he’ll have to give up his state Senate seat to run, so some find that hard to believe.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      


Chicago State U decries politics? Really?

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* Having been involved in student politics back in the day, I know firsthand that it’s usually a lot of overheated silliness, which is one reason I’ve kinda ignored a story that came to a head a few minutes ago

After weeks of controversy, Chicago State University’s board picked Wayne Watson this morning to be the school’s next president.

The choice of Watson, who is retiring as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, was met by boos from a packed audience.

“The pick of Watson puts politics, contracts and jobs above academic excellence,” said student Michael O‚Connor.

The other finalist for the post was another political figure - Carol Adams, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

More

“I feel that I’m at a funeral, and we are presiding over the burial of hope and change,” said Van Searcy, president of the Faculty Senate, during the period for public comment after the vote. […]

The announcement came days after the Faculty Senate took the unusual step of asking Gov. Pat Quinn to remove the trustees and stop the board from hiring a president.

Chicago State faculty and students have argued they were excluded from the search process and have criticized the two finalists as local political insiders. Earlier this month, 13 of the 15 members of the campus’ search advisory committee resigned in protest.

Chicago State was the direct benefactor of blatant political pork - the “politics, contracts and jobs” referenced above - for almost two decades. If it wasn’t for Senate President Emil Jones’ back-room machinations on its behalf, the campus would still be run-down and forgotten.

I totally understand why the campus didn’t want either of those two candidates shoved down their throats. But for the university community to ignore why they’ve found themselves in this position is inexcusable. In reality, Chicago State is a child birthed by blatant politics. All they have to do is look around them for proof. But here’s some history

Despite strong opposition, Jones pushed through legislation to provide a percentage of revenues from a new gaming license in Illinois to go to inner-city Chicago State University rather than the more prestigious University of Illinois downstate.

He is also responsible for targeting enviable funding to Chicago State for capital improvements, scholarships and technology programs, including a new library. The school is also building a convocation center, named for Jones and his late wife, Patricia Jones.

“Senator Jones has made it possible for incredible opportunities for students at Chicago State University,” says President Elnora D. Daniel. “He has brought economic resources totaling $200 million to the university that have long been overlooked. Our students are now in position to better compete in technology and other fields the same as students do from other state-supported institutions.”

Politics is a lot like the mafia. You take their money, you follow their rules. CSU took a whole lot of that political money, and it came with a price. It shouldn’t, but it did.

I’m happy to see they want out of this endless cycle, but the university community ought to be honest with itself about how they got where they are and where they really want to go. Because if they now want to be treated like every other university in this state, that means flat funding, limited capital projects and priorities put on the back burner.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      


Governor’s proposed budget will severely impact families, seniors and people with disabilities

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Springfield has had the same answer to budget deficits for years: cut the fat. But today, Illinois faces its biggest budget crisis ever. And the fat? It’s all but gone.

The Governor’s proposed budget includes dangerous cuts to the programs families, seniors and people with disabilities depend on:

• The Home Services Program - which provides home care for 33,000 people with disabilities - is facing a $26.5 million deficit that could mean serious cuts in care.

• The Community Care Program - which allows 51,000 seniors to receive home care - faces a $40 million deficit that will mean substantial cuts to services.

• The Child Care Assistance Program is facing a $50 million cut - threatening the care of 170,000 children. Illinois is slated to receive $74 million for child care through the federal stimulus package, but the funds cannot be used to fill budget holes. If the $50 million cut remains, Illinois will lose $74 million in stimulus funds while threatening the care of Illinois’ children.

In tough times, the right answer isn’t leaving seniors and people with disabilities on their own, or taking child care away from working parents when they need it most.

- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      


OK, maybe not…

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

*** UPDATE *** Apparently, the Pantagraph had it wrong. Stuff happens. The paper has now published a new story which completely contradicts its earlier story…

Illinois public health officials say there will be more, not fewer workers testing for swine flu and other diseases if the governor’s budget is adopted.

Although Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed spending plan calls for cuts at the three labs that conduct tests, a separate line in the budget would add an additional 16 workers, said Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

Arnold said Wednesday the additional workers will be funded through a different revenue stream than the other employees, who are set to be reduced by three.

Okeedokee. I’m gonna strike out the rest of this…

* National Democrats have made a big stink about how the Republicans stripped pandemic preparedness funding out of the federal stimulus bill. Well

Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing to cut the number of workers at state laboratories that process swine flu samples. […]

Quinn’s chief spokesman referred questions to the Illinois Department of Public Health, which did not respond to requests for elaboration.

The reductions, contained in Quinn’s budget plan that was crafted before swine flu found its ways into the headlines, also include the elimination of expenses associated with the state’s pandemic flu preparedness efforts. […]

Along with the proposed personnel cuts, the governor’s budget also would eliminate all funds associated with pandemic flu preparation, saving an estimated $57,800.

Oops.

* Speaking of the budget, sometimes, no governor can win. From a Belleville News-Democrat editorial

We objected last fall when then Gov. Rod Blagojevich swung his budget ax at Fort de Chartres, the Pierre Menard Home, the Cahokia Courthouse and other state historic sites. He likely chose them for cost cutting because he knew it would rile the public and embarrass lawmakers.

But Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to reopen them last week didn’t make good sense, either.

***Sigh***

* The Kankakee Daily Journal is against the concept but for the proposal

We see the [proposed Illinois] tobacco tax as another step in the increasing regulation of your health. We have said it before. A government that pays for your blood pressure pills will eventually regulate just about everything that can give you high blood pressure. Some states now ban smoking in cars if minors are present. Municipalities have pondered banning smoking in rented apartments.

Schools have banned junk food. A sugar tax is being contemplated in some cities as a means of fighting obesity.

But taxing tobacco out of existence is a fairly easy call. Unlike even sugar, there’s nothing to be said for it being beneficial in moderation. Tobacco use in all forms is harmful. Cigarettes, too, are a relatively modern phenomenon. Tobacco use predated Columbus. But the modern mass-marketed machine-paper rolled cigarette is less than a century old.

Its demise will not be lamented here.

* Related…

* Taxpayer group opposes Gov. Quinn’s income tax hike: The NTUI says instead, state employess should contribute more to their own pensions and healthcare funds. NTUI President James Tobin says, “Five percentage points more would reduce the pension benefit liabilities by more than 20 billion dollars.”

* Quinn not sold on Howe recommendation

* Panel says to close Howe; gov. mum

* Howe Developmental Center: Panel recommends closing care center

* Panel Backs Closing Tinley Park Centers

* Take precautions but don’t panic

* Local health officials hope to walk line between panic, pandemic

* Illinois reports first cases of probable swine flu

* Probable swine flu closes Rogers Park school

* “Probable” Swine Flu in Chicago

* No cutbacks for kids’ summer programs

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Inherent hypocrisy

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board demonstrates the real problem with enacting reforms

In the coming weeks, you’ll hear plenty of arguments against these reforms, many of which will sound perfectly reasonable. But we urge you to question those arguments and find the self-serving nonsense at their core.

How can anyone have an honest debate on the governor’s reform commission proposals with a warning shot like that?

* The Tribune, which editorialized just a few days ago against the commission’s campaign contribution caps, runs a thundering edit today entitled “Madigan, Cullerton — Act” and ledes with this…

“Half-measures will not suffice to repair our State’s troubled [governing] infrastructure or our citizens’ broken confidence. . . . This blueprint for reform will be meaningless unless the changes we have envisioned become reality.”

– “100-Day Report,” Illinois Reform Commission

The Trib is apparently suffering from a severe case of amnesia and delusion. In reality, they support “half-measures” on campaign contribution caps. So, are they part of the problem? Apparently so.

* The Post-Dispatch also includes the commission’s “half-measures” line in its editorial today and then opines…

Campaign finance is the index issue, the one from which nearly every other political evil flows. Outright bribery is rare; doing favors for big contributors is the coin of the realm. If Illinois doesn’t fix this one, all the rest of the talk about “reform” is mere conversation.

OK, but the Trib is not in favor of the commission’s caps, so it’s enabling evil, too? More from the Post-Dispatch…

We’re not 100 percent sold on all 39 of the commission’s recommendations; for example, giving the state attorney general the right to convene grand juries to investigate public corruption is an idea that seems ripe for abuse.

The P-D is also, apparently, for half-measures.

* The Bloomington Pantagraph claims: “Reform commission report already facing resistance.” Translation: If legislators say they’re not sold on a particular provision, it’s “resistance.” If a newspaper editorial board makes the exact same criticisms, well, that’s just honest and open debate.

* Related…

* State officials face choice on response to scandal

* If the flame is extiguished

* Inspector General report highlights need for transparency reforms

* If the state had 2 more employees …

* Can citizens end political corruption?

* Pass of the torch

* Illinois ethics reform: Panel releases report of recommendations

* Citizen ethics panel suggests 34 reforms

* Illinois Reform Panel Delivers Recommendations

* Illinois commission recommends sweeping ethics reforms in the wake of Rod Blagojevich

* Gov. Quinn’s reform panel calls for new limits on campaign money

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


Whitley out, Proft in, the circular firing squad and a warning from Marin *** UPDATED x1 ***

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

*** UPDATE *** Possible GOP gubernatorial candidate Joe Birkett has a new online video blasting Pat Quinn over the Rod Blagojevich issue…


[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Republican Doug Whitley is the first candidate to drop out of the 2010 governor’s race

After dedicating four months to a campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of Illinois in 2010, I have concluded it is unrealistic to continue this effort.

I am exceedingly grateful for the encouragement and support from many individuals throughout Illinois. I am appreciative of everyone who demonstrated interest, welcomed me into communities and helped me along the way.

If you read Whitley’s entire statement, the bottom line is he just wasn’t up to the task. Running for statewide office ain’t easy, and he found that out the hard way.

* And, via IR, we have this news…

According to ISBE filings, Cicero spokesman and Republican pundit Dan Proft formed a “Proft for Governor” committee on April 9, 2009 with “Zero” funds, thus adding credibility to the rumor that Proft is seriously contemplating a bid.

You can check out Proft’s statement of organization by clicking here. Since he’s formed a campaign committee, I kinda wonder what WLS Radio is gonna do about his regular commentator gig.

* Team America’s 10th District Blog speculates on the Illinois impact of US Sen. Arlen Specter’s party switch…

But, with Specter’s defection, if anything, the national GOP will renew its attempts to open up the big tent and embrace moderates to refute the notion that Specter’s defection had anything to do with policy schisms within the party. Not to mention the fact that the GOP needs to win back some Senate seats in 2010, and Kirk is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s strongest candidates anywhere.

Supporting a moderate like Mark Kirk for an important U.S. Senate race might just come at exactly the right time for the GOP.

But Mark Biver, a hard-right Illinois activist, puts it bluntly

The problem is, unfortunately, the Republican Party nationally and especially here in Illinois has been allowing candidates to run that tepidly (to say the least) support only a few of the platform planks.

As does Tom Roeser

If Kirk decides and gets the party’s all-but-official nod, the party can kiss goodbye any hope that social conservatives will support Kirk.

But it takes more than one side to make a circular firing squad

Illinois’ Republican national committeeman said that state Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora should “take a deep look” to see if he wants to say in the GOP and shouldn’t make another bid for Congress in the far west suburbs. […]

Lauzen, who is receiving Democratic help in moving the [state party] governing change through the legislature, has attacked leading GOP opponents as “domineering parasites” and “self-serving, officious, lying, arrogant thugs.”

Lauzen is “someone I think that needs to take a deep look and see if he still wants to be in the Republican Party,” said Brady, who is from St. Charles and lives in the 14th Congressional District.

* Carol Marin, however, warns the Illinois Democrats that the Republicans are not to be easily dismissed

There is no Democratic Party of Illinois,” strategist Kitty Kurth said by phone Tuesday. “When I talk to my friends at the Democratic National Committee, they say our state chair won’t return their calls.”

The Illinois Republican Party has been behind the eight ball in recent years. It has suffered from its own largely self-inflicted wounds. Then again, travel over to its Web site and there’s a discernable difference these days.

They’re using a word you might remember from another campaign.

Change.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


Morning shorts

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* County paid Cole while he was in jail

* Stroger’s cousin could pay legal tab of troubled steakhouse busboy turned patronage worker

* U.S marshal trial: Jury convicts deputy U.S. marshal in mob-leak case

* Madigan’s office orders ISP to turn over Stratton arrest records

Turn the records over. That’s what Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office has told Acting Illinois State Police director Jonathon Monken, who has refused to release reports chronicling the drunken driving arrest of Springfield parks director Michael Stratton.

Monken on Tuesday morning told The State Journal-Register, which asked for the reports, that he believes releasing the documents might even be a crime.

But a senior aide to Madigan late in the day informed Monken via letter that the reports are public records that must be released. And in an interview, another Madigan aide characterized the state police’s position as “absurd.” Click here to see a PDF of the letter

“As you are aware, compliance with the Freedom of Information Act is critical as we work to restore the public’s confidence in state government,” wrote Michael Luke, senior assistant attorney general, in a letter to Monken.

* Chicago area transit use jumps 9% over last 5 years, RTA says

Both the number of miles of service available and the number of miles traveled by riders rose about 9 percent in those five years, the report found. The average number of annual rides taken per Chicago area resident also rose, from 69.6 in 2003 to 72.9 in 2007.

But the cost of keeping the buses and trains running rose faster than the rate of inflation, due to higher fuel, labor and health care costs. Capital funding sunk from $1.04 billion in 2007 to $345 million in 2007.

“You can see the system being stretched,” said Joe Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University.

* Traffic safety division to move to new location in Springfield

* IDOT Traffic Division Moving To Springfield Site

* Lake County casino investor sues partners

* Ethanol deal could net Knox County $200,000

* Radio ‘bloodbath’: Clear Channel cuts 3 black female DJs

* Whole Foods opening third largest store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park in May

* ComEd set to get first female president

* Lyons king: Christopher Getty, 26, follows father to lead Lyons

- Posted by Mike Murray   11 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Caption contest!

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2009

* This photo was e-mailed to me by my brother Doug with the subject line: Wash Your Hands to Prevent Bird Flu. I thought we might get some use out of it here, too…

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


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