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Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Maram on the hot seat

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      

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


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.”



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      

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

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

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* 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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