* 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?
Then again, a Republican vegetable might be able to beat Burris at this point.
More realistic opponents…
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.
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…
* 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?
Man, that’s weak for Quinn.
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.
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.
*** 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.
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.”
* 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…
* 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.
* 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.
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.
* 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.
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.
* 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.
* 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.]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* 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.
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.
* 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.
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
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* 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.
* 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.
“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.
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.
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*** 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.
* 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.
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.
* 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*** UPDATE 3 *** An e-mail to me from Ms. Ridgway of the governor’s press office…
It is the Governor’s intention that transit projects will get started this construction season.
Construction season ends in, what, November?
*** UPDATE 2 *** Greg Hinz at Crain’s has shared the original e-mail response he received from Katie Ridgway of the governor’s PR staff…
With a statewide unemployment rate of 9.1%, the Governor, working with the General Assembly, believed it was crucial to pass Jump Start Capital Plan to get shovel ready road projects going in May so we can start putting people back to work. The Jump Start Capital Plan relies on dollars from the Road Fund to support $640 million in road projects.
The funding source for the bonding to support $1 billion in transit projects is GRF; we are working with the General Assembly to pass revenue enhancements to support the GRF spending on the bonds. The purpose for including transit in the Jump Start Capital Plan was to allow transit agencies time to take action necessary to get projects into the “ready to go” phase. [emphasis added]
They are not working with the GA on passing revenue enhancements for transit. Nobody in the GA was ever told about this.
*** UPDATE *** The governor’s office is claiming that the Crain’s story which this post is based on is all just a misunderstanding. Here are some notes from a conversation with a top dog…
Out of context. There’s a significant cash flow problem right now so there’s no money at this moment for the bonding. We’re not trying to impose a new condition.
We’re trying to pay off Medicaid bills by end of May. We don’t have any intention to not issue the bonds. If governor’s budget passes, it puts more money into GRF because of the income tax hike. We have no intention of stalling or withholding any money. It’s a matter of economics. Easier with an income tax hike, but it’s not a condition.
What’s happened is that, after signing a bill on April 3 to issue $3 billion for bonds for roads and public transit work, Mr. Quinn’s office has agreed to release money only for roads.
The $1-billion portion that was supposed to go for new buses, train repairs and related items will have to wait, at least for now, flabbergasted transit leaders were told in a meeting with Jack Lavin, Mr. Quinn’s chief operating officer. […]
But the transit work is different, according to the governor’s office. It requires the Legislature to pass “revenue enhancements” to pay off the bonds, and that has not yet occurred, the spokeswoman says. The transit agencies can use the time to get their projects shovel ready, she says.
That’s just not true.
The transit bonding was supposed to be funded by GRF. There was nothing said about any revenue enhancements for that portion of the transit bill. Period.
“The agreement that passed was based on a $28-billion revenue stream that already exists,” said [House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman], referring to the state’s General Revenue Funds, which were supposed to finance the transit bonds. “There was an agreement between the administration and the Legislature to pass this capital plan.”
I’d venture a guess that the bond houses weren’t all that thrilled with the idea of using a bombed-out General Revenue Fund to pay off these bonds. But, again, there was nothing said whatsoever about funding the transit program with any sort of revenue increase.
I’m sure Mayor Daley will also be pleased as punch.
This is an absolutely horrible way to start off the budget negotiations.
…Adding… Wordslinger notes in comments…
Actually, the bond houses like this single revenue source the best. It’s a General Obligation bond, basically; the GRF produces many times the coverage needed for debt service
True. In retrospect, this looks more like a budget office walk-back, which is what happened all the freaking time under Blagojevich. Not good at all.
A state government reform panel appointed by new Gov. Pat Quinn today proposed term limits for powerful legislative leaders, cutting back on lawmakers’ private meetings and overhauling a patronage-riddled hiring system.
“The nation’s eyes are upon us, they are watching what we do here. Will we get meaningful reform?” said Patrick Collins, the former federal prosecutor who chaired the commission. “The question for our state at this time in our history is what will be our response to this unprecedented crisis of integrity that we face.”
House Speaker Michael Madigan, who I caught in an elevator a few minutes after Quinn’s press conference, was more reserved. “We view it as an honest effort to generate ideas,” said Madigan, who has ruled the House for most of the past 26 years. He went on to imply that the notion of limiting legisaltive leadership tenure is un-democratic.
As with general elective term limits, the Commission
was unable to make a unanimous recommendation regarding the direct recall of elected officials. While Commissioners acknowledge the merit of making elected officials more accountable to the voters, Commissioners were concerned about the potential unintended consequences of a reactionary endorsement of the recall power.
While the Commission applauds the recent Senate efforts to increase full committee hearing of proposed legislation, the Commission recommends modifying the process even further. To ensure due consideration of pending legislation, the Commission recommends that the House and Senate adopt rules requiring that each bill introduced to the Rules or Assignment Committees, as applicable, be subject to a
full committee vote if the bill has a minimum of sixteen sponsors in the House or eight sponsors in the Senate. The Commission believes that this will allow for consideration of all bills that have a reasonable chance of success, while preventing the waste of time that consideration of every single bill might engender.
The commission urged… an overhaul of the way the state budget gets voted on by breaking it into pieces and holding public hearings on each piece, and de-emphasizing the power of the House and Senate Rules committees, which historically have been chokeholds on major pieces of legislation.
The commission wants to make government more transparent by applying the Open Meetings act to the Illinois General Assembly and making state government approve more Freedom of Information Act requests.
* Gov. Quinn didn’t sign off immediately on the commission’s procurement reforms, saying he hadn’t had a chance to read them yet…
* The governor also said he’d be open to public financing for more than just judicial races…
Forcing children to be bussed out of their neighborhood school in order to alleviate overcrowding is no solution to this problem. Neither is creating makeshift classrooms out of storage rooms, science labs or computer rooms; nor structuring the school year on a multi-track schedule. Yet in 2009, Chicago Public School (CPS) students still endure these obstacles to a quality education.
According to a new report commissioned by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), these burdens are being borne largely by Chicago’s Hispanic children and families.
This school year, 64 neighborhood elementary schools meet CPS’s definition of overcrowding and do not serve the needs of their communities. 70% of these schools are predominantly Latino. The worst example is at Lee Elementary which serves a student body that is 94% Latino and is at 179% of capacity. Overall, there are almost 63,000 students attending an overcrowded neighborhood elementary school, of whom, 79% are Latino.
It is clear that there is no issue more pressing for the Latino community of Chicago and in Illinois than providing a quality education in non-overcrowded classrooms.
It’s time for the state legislature to step forward and support the #1 Latino priority: new school construction for Chicago’s overburdened families.
Call your state legislator today and demand an end to school overcrowding.
* More from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s pollster…
To: Interested Parties
From: Lake Research Partners
Subject: The 2010 Democratic Primary for U.S. Senate in Illinois
Date: April 24, 2009
Findings from a recent survey of likely Democratic Primary voters in Illinois show a wide open race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Roland Burris, with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky holding a narrow lead over all candidates, including the incumbent Senator. In addition, when voters learn more information (positive and negative) about the candidates, Schakowsky expands her lead over the field. Schakowsky’s message resonates strongly with a Democratic electorate hungry for progressive leadership that will once again provide Illinois families a chance at the American Dream.
Congresswoman Schakowsky owns a slight lead in a race that is wide open at this early stage. In an initial three-way trial heat, Schakowsky takes nearly a quarter of the vote (24%), narrowly edging out State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (22%). Senator Roland Burris draws just 18% of the vote – a striking indicator of his vulnerability. The intensity of support also narrowly favors Schakowsky (16% strong support), followed by Giannoulias (15%) and Burris (10%). Still, with over one-third (36%) of the Democratic Primary electorate undecided, this seat is up for grabs.
After voters hear positive statements about the candidates, Schakowsky posts a double-digit lead. Schakowsky’s lead grows from 2 points in the initial ballot to 16 points after voters hear more about the candidates (see text of statements on following page). She leads Giannoulias on the three-way ballot, 38% to 22%, with 21% undecided. C.E.O. Cheryle Jackson attracts 17% of the vote.
Notably, the percentage of voters who support Schakowsky strongly on the informed ballot (23% strong support) outnumbers the tot al percentage of voters who support Giannoulias (22% overall support).
Even after voters hear negative information about Schakowsky and the other candidates, Schakowsky retains a solid lead over the field.
That last paragraph is key for Schakowsky. Lots of people believe her husband’s imprisonment kills off her chances. As I told subscribers today, her poll doesn’t show that at all - at least, not in her mind. We’ll see what happens when the real race kicks in.
Even more impressive , Schakowsky’s lead is not a function of superior name recognition, which actually belongs to Giannoulias. Voters have a slightly more informed opinion of Giannoulias, and both candidates are viewed positively. Despite Giannoulias’ advantage in name recognition, however, Schakowsky leads throughout.
Bottom Line: At this early stage in the race, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is the strongest candidate in a wide open race for the Democratic nomination for Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat. Schakowsky’s lead on the initial ballot against incumbent Senator Roland Burris and several other serious candidates is impressive, and once voters learn more about each of the candidates they coalesce around her candidacy in significant numbers.
Even after hearing a strong attack on Schakowsky, the Congresswoman retains her lead.
Again, check that last sentence.
* If I wasn’t sick yesterday, I would’ve scooped Sneed on this one, but whatever. The Kennedy’s are her beat anyway…
Sneed has learned Chris Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, may be this/close to entering the U.S. Senate sweepstakes from Illinois.
• • To wit: “Right now, it’s an 85 percent chance Chris is going to do it,” a top Kennedy source tells Sneed.
• • Poll ‘em: Sneed is told Kennedy, who runs the Merchandise Mart, has commissioned Obama pollster John Anzalone — and has talked to media consultants Larry Grisolano and John Kupper, who now run the firm once headed by David Axelrod, President Obama’s senior adviser.
• • Translation: The poll, which is expected at the end of the week, “will give him a better lay of the land in this ever-changing race,” the source said.
One: Mr. Giannoulias’ office was informed last April that Core Bond had heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities, far beyond what its benchmark specified. But he kept putting new Bright Start money into the fund for another seven months.
Two: Core Bond wasn’t the only Oppenheimer fund from which Mr. Giannoulias abruptly pulled Bright Start funds late last year because of investment losses. But he hasn’t disclosed that. Morningstar did.
Three: State Sen. Chris Lauzen of Aurora, the GOP co-chair of the Legislature’s audit commission, says he may soon call for a full review of how Illinois families lost something more than $85 million in what were supposed to be safe, protected investments.
It would be nice if we could get one clear, concise story about why this is important. As it is, nobody but the Republicans are picking up on it.
* As most of you know, I am a big proponent of throwing out the way Illinois draws its legislative and congressional maps. A recent Tribune editorial had this interesting tidbit…
In November’s election, incumbents got more than 75 percent of the vote in 25 of the 40 state Senate districts that were in contention, and 72 of the 118 House districts.
More than 75 percent of the vote. Because incumbents are beloved? No. Because Illinois gerrymandering — the drawing of districts for raw political gain — is a legalized protection racket. Who gets protected? Not you.
* How important is redistricing to legislators? A New Yorker story from last year, which included an observation about the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, might just turn your stomachs…
For many Illinois state legislators, September 11th was not an event that required much response. The attacks occurred just before an important deadline in the redistricting process. John Corrigan, the Democratic consultant in charge of redistricting, told me that he spent September 12th talking to many legislators, Obama not among them.
“It was like nothing had happened,” he said. “Everybody came in and all they cared about was their districts. It wasn’t any one particular legislator from any one particular community. I learned a lot about state government. Their job was not to respond to September 11th. They were more worried about making sure that they had a district that they could run in for reëlection.”
On September 12th. Sheesh.
They’ll never let that one go without a gigantic fight, but a fight must be fought.
* Yet, this sort of “all or nothing” attitude in a legislative environment is just plain counter-productive…
The head of Gov. Pat Quinn’s anti-corruption commission looked into the eyes of the legislature’s top leaders at the Illinois Capitol and said nothing less than a sweeping victory on a package of good-government proposals is necessary to clean up a state notoriously not ready for reform.
Removing government secrecy, overhauling campaign financing, removing politics when awarding contracts, changing the way elections are held, enforcing strong penalties for misbehavior — every one of these reforms must be approved or “there will be a hole, there will be a trap door, there will be room for the next scandal,” former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins told the leaders.
I can’t help but wonder if Collins won’t try to use this commission as a springboard to something else. I hope I’m wrong, but my potential candidate radar is strongly activated by this man.
* My syndicated newspaper column kinda got buried in Mike’s massive MS yesterday (thanks to Mike for taking over while I was in bed with flu-like symptoms). So, here’s another excerpt…
By far, the most ironic aspect of this entire post-Rod Blagojevich push to reform Illinois has to be the last paragraph of Gov. Pat Quinn’s much-praised reform commission report.
“All constitutional officers should issue executive orders, comparable to George Ryan’s Executive Order No. 2 (1999), prohibiting their campaign funds from accepting contributions from state employees under their control.”
Former Gov. Ryan issued that executive order because his crooked campaign fundraising operation at his old secretary of state’s office had triggered a federal corruption probe and he was looking for some political cover. That investigation, of course, eventually put Ryan in prison.
Gov. Quinn’s reform commission chairman Pat Collins - who presided over the insertion of that rare Ryan praise into the commission report - was the chief prosecutor at Ryan’s trial. Ryan’s executive order didn’t prevent Collins’ feds from also convicting his campaign committee.
A few years before he issued that order, Ryan pushed through widely hailed reforms of the state’s lobbyist registration and disclosure laws in the run-up to his successful 1994 re-election campaign against noted reformer… Pat Quinn. Several of Ryan’s lobbyist pals got caught up in his federal prosecution.
The irony just never stops in this state.
The lesson from this ought to be that passing new laws, no matter how enlightened and reasonable and strict, will not stop the bad guys from being bad guys. They are what they are. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich are living proof of that hard-and-fast law of the universe.
Obviously, though, we’ve got a real problem here in Illinois, and some changes have to be made. But making those changes - and making sure they actually work and don’t break something else in the process - isn’t nearly as easy as the newspaper editorial boards and some of the reformers always make it sound.
* I keep seeing this quote from Republicans, and nobody ever challenges them on it. Here’s House GOP Leader Tom Cross in the Southern Illinoisan…
To increase revenue ignores the root problems, Cross said. With that in mind, he suggested the state’s budget woes can’t be solved overnight.
“It’s a hole that took six years - or more - to get into,” he said. “I think you can take a year or two (to get out of it).”
Since Illinois can’t print money and has a balanced budget clause in its constitution, the only way to put off dealing with the deficit for “a year or two” is to borrow. You can borrow on the bond markets or “borrow” from state vendors by further delaying already horribly late payments. Borrowing beyond the end of the fiscal year will require GOP votes, and they haven’t said they’d be willing to do that as of yet.
It’s a really nice line, and seems quite reasonable. But there’s far more to this than they want reporters (and their readers) to think.
* Meanwhile, the SJ-R doesn’t quite come out and say they’d support a tax hike without exemptions as long as the state increased the Earned Income Tax Credit. Instead, they completely dodged the final issue…
In proposing his tax increase plan, Gov. Pat Quinn also called for increasing exemptions to lessen the pain on many taxpayers. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has advocated a much lower tax increase without increasing exemptions. Obviously, there is ample middle ground here that will be negotiated in the coming weeks.
We hope a discussion of increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit finds its way to the table.
One wonders what the editorial board would do to a legislator who came into the room with that dodgeball language.
* And Kurt Erickson sums up why voting for tax hikes without any big new programs (or much more school funding) won’t go over well out in Voter Land…
Citizen: Why did you raise my taxes?
Lawmaker: So we could keep the status quo.
Citizen: Wow. That kind of stinks.
Lawmaker: Can I expect your support on Election Day?
Citizen: Um. Why?
* Rep. Dave Winters (R-Shirland) says what’s on a lot of minds about House Speaker Michael Madigan and the capital construction program…
I’ll give you a leading indicator,” he said. “Does (Attorney General) Lisa Madigan pull the trigger and run for governor? If she does, you won’t see a capital plan because the speaker won’t allow it. If she doesn’t, then I think we’ll see a capital plan.”
I’m not quite sure what’s behind that logic, since killing the capital bill yet again could harm Ms. Madigan’s standing with labor unions, so maybe somebody can explain this more fully.
* Speaking of Lisa Madigan, Eric Zorn reprints a couple of memos from Bob Arya, who used to work for Rod Blagojevich. In this excerpt, he talks of a Blagojevich plan which I wrote about numerous times in the past…
Rod let me and others know that the goal was to “Damage the Madigan brand.” This meant doing all we could to make the Speaker look bad and make him look like the bad guy.
The goal was removing Speaker Madigan from his state party chairmanship and preventing Lisa Madigan from running for governor.
* Kristen McQueary blasts the RTA for proposing a fleet of “express coaches” from the far southwestern suburbs to downtown Chicago: But here’s my problem: If you move to the far southwest suburbs, particularly west of Interstate 355, and you work in downtown Chicago, a longer and more complicated commute is the price you pay. You want another hour per day with your family? Move closer to your job.
The symptoms above are just some of the side-effects of drugs that have been detected in our drinking water. Many of those drugs probably are expelled from human bodies in the normal way and just don’t get filtered out by sewage plants. A few may be the result of farm animals. Some people toss unwanted prescriptions into the toilet.
But before the fear can begin, we need to know what to fear, and even if we have anything to fear.
“How do you screen for it and filter it out if you don’t know what to get rid of?” says Congresswoman Melissa Bean, a Barrington Democrat. “Until we really know what’s there and what harm there is, we don’t know what the next step would be.”
A proposal sponsored by Bean and passed in the House by a 413-10 vote last week aims to push the government to study our drinking water, identify the trace amounts of drugs and chemicals in it, determine if they cause problems, and figure out what to do about it.
Quinn is the anti-Blago, so that means we’ll get that capital plan, right? Well, don’t fire up the asphalt machines just yet. Legislative leaders and Quinn must agree on whether Illinois can afford a massive spending plan while raising taxes to reduce an $11.6 billion budget shortfall.
“We’re continuing to work with Quinn and Cullerton to try to get something on the books. There’s no argument about the need,” he said. Finding an appropriate way to fund it “will require cooperation. We’ll use whatever mechanism that is legitimate and will get the job done. Two years ago, a lot of time was spent on gaming. Now, the gaming industry has pretty well collapsed, so I don’t think you can expect them to be participants.”
Brown said Madigan could support a plan to raise the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon, “but the governor has said he will oppose something like that. We’ll try to get a plan done. In the House we need bipartisan cooperation.” Brown said gas tax money can’t be used for nontransportation capital spending, “so we’d have to find another way to fund that.”
Madigan’s first priority is passing a budget. “Funding operation of government … is task No. 1. I’d say a capital bill, along with various government reform issues we’ve been talking about, is in the next tier.”
Now she’s among former Abbott employees accusing the health care products company of cheating them out of their retiree benefits in a class action lawsuit trial under way in Chicago that affects more than 8,000 former Abbott employees.
The lawsuit stems from Abbott Laboratories’ 2004 spinoff of its hospital products unit into a separate company, Hospira, which is also named in the suit.
Workers claim they’d been assured by Abbott they’d have a comparable benefits package at Hospira, but that’s not what they got.
Nauman, 53, estimates she’ll be receiving $5,000 to $6,000 a month less in pension benefits and will have to shell out at least $1,000 a month to get retiree health coverage when she retires due to improper action by Abbott and Hospira. She said she worked for Abbott 20 years before being shifted to Hospira.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Chicago Community Loan Fund will receive $650,000 and $500,000, respectively, as winners of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. They are among eight nonprofits getting the awards, which the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will announce today.
The Center for Neighborhood Technology develops programs promoting sustainability and economic health of urban areas. Its project include the I-Go car sharing program.
A high-ranking Chicago Public Schools executive is expected to resign Thursday as part of a management shake-up under new Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman.
Huberman is in the process of restructuring the district’s organization and paring its administrative office in an effort to address an estimated $475 million deficit in next year’s school budget, district spokeswoman Monique Bond said.
Hill Hammock, 63, the district’s chief administrative officer, sent an e-mail to his staff recently notifying them that he had tendered his resignation, Bond said. Hammock served with the district for two years.
Ramping up his campaign against the Art Institute of Chicago’s pending 50-percent general admission increase, Ald. Ed Burke (14th) is trying to compel the museum to increase its free hours by enforcing an ordinance that is more than 100 years old.
Burke said Monday that city lawyers believe the 1891 agreement between the Art Institute and Chicago remains valid even though the museum has long since moved to the Park District’s jurisdiction. The 1891 contract, which established that the Michigan Avenue building would be erected for the city’s use during the 1893 Columbian Exposition before being taken over by the museum, specified that the Art Institute would offer free admission on Wednesdays, Saturdays and a half-day on Sundays.
The Cook County state’s attorney has subpoenaed both the Stroger administration and the former county employee at the center of a hiring scandal.
The subpoena, delivered to the jailed ex-employee, Tony Cole, indicates the investigation is being handled by the county’s financial crimes division, part of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s special prosecutions bureau, the department that investigates public corruption.
Law enforcers are looking into the scandal surrounding Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s hiring of a troubled steakhouse busboy, whose brief county tenure sparked a patronage controversy that led Stroger to force the resignation of his cousin, the county’s chief financial officer.
Laura Lechowicz Felicione, a top Stroger lawyer, confirmed the county had “received subpoenas” when asked whether there had been such inquiries involving Tony Cole, the former busboy. She declined to elaborate, for fear that any further response “would impede [the] investigation.”
Other county sources said the state’s attorney’s office opened a probe, which Sally Daly, spokeswoman for State’s Atty. Anita Alvarez, would not confirm or deny.
County officials last week said the county inspector general was looking into the matter, and federal housing officials said Monday that they, too, are looking into Cole, but their inquiry touched only remotely on his county job.
Swine Flu: Just How Big of a Deal is it for IL?
First, here are some stories that are more focused upon eduactiong as to what Swine Flu is and what individuals should know to protect themselves.
A: Scientists don’t yet know if it takes fairly close or prolonged contact with someone who’s sick, or if it’s more easily spread. But in general, flu viruses spread through uncovered coughs and sneezes or - and this is important - by touching your mouth or nose with unwashed hands. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for several hours.
Q: Is swine flu treatable?
A: Yes, with the flu drugs Tamiflu or Relenza, but not with two older flu medications.
The symptoms for Swine Flu are the same as the common form of flu but the Swine Influenza cannot be treated with the flu vaccine you may have received at the beginning of flu season.
“Swine flu is a respiratory disease. It can be a form of the same flu virus that pigs get and it mutates to infect humans,” said Sara Sparkman with Tazewell County Health Department.
There are treatments for the symptoms but no vaccine.
Health officials say it’s important to be aware. That way you can tray to prevent yourself from getting the Swine Flu. Cover your mouth when you cough, and wash your hands. You can use the alcohol based hand sanitizer.
Keep in mind there is no need to panic. IL state agencies, local authorities, schools, hospitals and even some businesses are taking the necessary precautions. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a plenitude of stories that lay out just how seriously IL is taking this potential danger
“There’s no need to panic at this point,” said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The U.S. has declared a national health emergency amid concern about a flu virus that may be responsible for more than 1,995 illnesses and 149 deaths in Mexico. There are 40 confirmed cases in the U.S., where people complaining of harsher than normal cold symptoms tested positive for swine flu - many who recently visited Mexico.
So far, Illinois is free from swine flu. Seven people displaying symptoms were tested but turned out to be negative for the disease.
“We must remain clam,” said Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “There is no need to panic at this point. This is something we will get through.”
Arnold urged anyone who feels sick with flu-like symptoms to stay home, use over-the-counter remedies and limit contact with other people. Additional medical treatment should be sought if the symptoms become severe. “We don’t want to have a surge on the medical system,” he said.
“I think it’s entirely likely we will find cases” in Chicago and the region because of the amount of international travel through the city’s two airports, Dr. Michael Vernon of the Cook County Department of Public Health said.
Officials here say it’s only a matter of time before Illinois - and the Chicago area because of its international travel hubs - reports its own cases.
“Because we’re in this enhanced surveillance mode, we’re very likely to find it,” said Dr. Michael Vernon, the Cook County Department of Public Health’s director of communicable disease. “It’s a very worrisome situation, I must say.”
Yet, the CDC cautioned the crisis could get worse.
“I would fully expect we’ll see a broader range in severity of infection,” Besser said. “You don’t know going into an outbreak what it will look like in the end.”
Having said all of the above. I feel comfortable saying that I think the media has blown this whole thing way out of proportion and has produced a heightened and unhealthy level of fear. I am all for being prepared, but the media should make sure that in our attempt to educate the public, we do not drum up a panic. Case in point, check out these PSAs from the 1970’s Swine Flu scare that John Patterson found.
We really don’t know how many swine flu cases are out there, or what the death rate is among those infected. That’s an important piece of the puzzle for researchers. A typical flu bug kills only a tiny fraction of those who are infected, around one-tenth of 1 percent. But if the flu is more deadly, it may kill 1 percent or more. It is believed that the infamous 1918 flu killed about 2.5 percent of its victims. But scientists say that even if such a virus were to sweep the country, the death rate would likely be lower because of advances in medical treatment.
We don’t know why people are dying in Mexico but not in the U.S. Moreover, the strain in Mexico appears to be killing young adults, which resembles what happened in the 1918 pandemic. That’s why researchers are so worried about this virus, which has been identified as a pig version of a human flu virus. Why would such a virus be lethal to otherwise healthy people? The theory: A virus essentially new to humans triggers a huge overreaction in healthy immune systems, creating what is called a “cytokine storm.” If that happens, the lungs can fill with fluid and you can essentially drown “from the inside out,” in the gruesomely memorable phrase of a reviewer of a 1999 book about the 1918 pandemic.
We don’t know how long this version of swine flu has been circulating. There have been a smattering of cases in Europe and the U.S., too. The same virus as the Mexico City killer? Don’t know. But because the illness is mild in many patients, it is possible it has been circulating undetected for a while and is only now being noticed because of the mysterious deaths in Mexico.
But what we do know is that Swine Flu has not proved fatal so far in the U.S. and the disease does respond well to treatment. At least on our side of the boarder. True, 40 cases without a fatality is not a large enough sample size to sound the all clear. But it does give me some optimism. We should certainly be prepared, but I think it may have gone beyond that.
Then some killjoy shuts down the party with this line: “I just can’t get into the Bulls without Michael Jordan.”
Every Bulls fan knows someone who talks that way. Or a lot of someones. They’re like the Christmas-and-Easter Catholics, the ones who sleep in on Sundays unless there’s a baby Savior or a Resurrection to celebrate. They don’t know what they’re missing.
* Background on the Bears’ third round draft pick…
Third-round DT Jarron Gilbert has excellent athleticism and all the physical tools. His athleticism has been displayed on YouTube since last summer when he jumped completely out of the shallow end of a pool.
“Our strength coach had told us that he heard a story of Adam Archuleta jumping out of a pool, and everybody went crazy and thought it was unbelievable,” Gilbert said. “I went out there and tried it and got it on the first try. Then I had to put it on film.”