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President Cullerton: Quinn flip-flopped and killed the pension note bill

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 8:45 pm - As we told you below, the pension note bill failed on its second try in the Senate. President Cullerton blamed the lack of support on Governor Quinn.

After speaking in favor of the pension note bill during his address to the joint session of the GA, Quinn apparently contacted a handful of senators and asked them to vote against the bill. The pension bill actually received less yes votes the second time around. Roll call was 32-21-4-2.

President Cullerton discusses the bill’s failure…


The Senate has adjourned to the call of the Chair.

*** UPDATE *** Sen. James Meeks, who helped organize opposition to the pension note bill, talks about what happens next, Speaker Madigan’s role in the process, and what he wants to happen now that the bill has failed. Good stuff, and that vote tonight shows he has some big leverage now…


- Posted by Mike Murray   30 Comments      


The House has adjourned

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 7:45 pm - Speaker Madigan just adjourned the chamber and told members to prepare to come back to deal with Gov. Quinn’s budget veto overrides. He told a couple members of the press that he would be voting for those overrides.

I’ll have Madigan press availability and adjournment speech video in about 20 minutes.

* 8:05 pm - OK, here’s the avail vid. Madigan was asked at one point about the governor’s apparent habit of changing his mind. Worth a look…


* Speaker Madigan adjourns the House and tells members what to expect…


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Another twist - Pension note goes down, for now - FAILS on second try

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

*6:00 - The Senate just defeated the pension bonding bill. It came up two votes short.

However, the SDems believe they will have another vote today on another concurrence motion.

* Voting no or present among Dems were Clayborne, Forby, Frerichs, Jacobs, Lightford, Meeks, Noland, Steans.

* 6:18 pm.- Sen Trotter told reporters that they’ve picked up a vote and will be voting again tonight.

* 6:30 pm - Here’s video of Sen. Trotter explaining what’s ahead with the budget, and also with the failed (at least temporarily) pension note plan. If that plan doesn’t pass, it’ll blow a $2.2 billion hole in the budget…


*** 8:22 pm *** SB415, the pension note plan, failed on the second try,

But Senate President Cullerton told the chamber that after Gov Quinn came out in favor of the bill, he worked against it in the Senate. Oy.

We’ll have Cullerton video soon.

- Posted by Rich Miller   39 Comments      


Quinn dodges and weaves but threatens veto again - Cross explains a strange Quinn demand ***Updated multiple times with video***

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 4:56 pm - Gov Quinn, speaking to reporters, just repeated his vow to veto a partial budget.

“Partial budgets are not what adults do.”

The guv did say he didn’t think a temporary budget was going to happen.

But Quinn ducked and dodged and would not directly say he wouuld veto a budget without a tax hike even when asked several times.

Quinn also dodged a direct question about a special session, if any and about when he absolutely had to have a budget to avoid a shutdown.

“I don’t want to talk about tomorrow until we finish today.”

We’ll have video later.

Tom Cross’ pressed is soon.

* 5:14 pm - Cross wouldn’t say yet whether he would support an override of any budget veto, saying he hadn’t had a chance to speak with his caucus.

*** Cross just said the guv has asked that a budget extension for 30 days be based on Quinn’s introduced level - which would assume revenues for a tax hike. Amazing.


* 5:45 pm -
Here are Leader Cross’s comments on the 30-day budget extension…


* 6:00 pm - Leader Radogno held a press availability and, among other things, discussed the lack of agreement regarding a 30-day budget as well as the true size of the budget deficit. Watch…


* 6:13 pm - For your viewing pleasure, here is the entire presser with Leader Cross…


* 6:33 pm - Here is video of all of Leader Radogno’s comments from the presser…


* 7:11 pm - As promised, here is some video from the press availability Quinn held earlier today. The video is only of the Q & A portion of the presser and is broken into 2 parts. Part 2 is still uploading to YouTube, but here is part 1…


* 7:48 pm - Sorry for the delay, we are having some problems with the internet in the Capitol. Here is part 2 of the Q & A from Quinn’s presser…


- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


This just in… Guv to address joint session at 3:30 - Will speak to reporters at 4:30

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 2:22 pm - Rep. Art Turner just announced on the House floor that the governor will address a joint session of the General Assembly at 3:30 pm.

Listen or watch here. Liveblog in comments if you possibly can to help everybody else out. Thanks.

The governor will not take questions from the chamber when he concludes his address, according to Turner.

More

Turner said the governor would not take questions but his comments would affect the House’s business after that.

“It may have some impact on some of the legislation that we’re dealing with,” Turner said.

Turner said he couldn’t answer whether lawmakers would have to stay in town beyond today yet.

* 2:35 pm - Leader Radogno: “There’s just not a lot of functional discussion going on … at all.” Watch it…


* 3:30 pm- WUIS.org will have live coverage of Quinn’s address…

* 3:42 pm Governor Quinn has entered the House Chamber and is currently addressing the joint session.

3:47 - Quinn offered to make an additional billion in cuts.

Quinn said he would veto a partial budget and laid out his conditions.

Quinn said he was prepared to stay all summer.

* 4:04 pm
- The governor is having a press availability at 4:30 pm. We’ll have video.

Also, Gov. Quinn did a very curious thing today. He walked into the joint session, walked to the podium and didn’t shake the hands of the two Democratic legislative leaders at the podium with him. He then left without even acknowledging them. Here’s the video of his walk to the podium…


Highly irregular. A sign? Maybe. But maybe also a sign that he’s a rookie and this was a spontaneous appearance.

* 4:26 pm - Important context from Tribune…

Prior to Quinn’s address, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) said he and the three other legislative leaders agree that they should send the governor the budget they passed at the end of May, with an additional $2.2 billion in spending authority from a pending pension-borrowing plan. That budget, Cullerton said, gives Quinn the flexibility to keep social service spending at current levels and buys more time to try to get Republicans to back a tax increase.
 
“We want the governor to have authority to spend money for the next month without imposing any draconian cuts. And when we will have passed all of the (budget bills), we will have done that. And he then has the ability to spend at whatever rate he wants. We’ve given him that flexibility,” Cullerton said “And then at the end of the month, if there wasn’t any resolution to the budget deficit, then he can reduce the spending and spend at the draconian levels and then we’d be back here in a special session to vote on an income tax.”
 
Cullerton said that idea was suggested to Quinn during a two-hour meeting this morning. “That’s what we’ve suggested that he do, and I don’t think at this point in time he’s agreeing with that tactic,” Cullerton said.
 
“He’s somehow is saying that because we’ve appropriated all of the money we’ve had and it doesn’t include a tax increase, so that’s somehow a false budget. And that’s not true. It’s a balanced budget. It just doesn’t have enough money to spend at the level that he wants to spend,” Cullerton said.

Oy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   72 Comments      


*** UPDATED w/ Video *** A bit of drama as Statehouse protesters detained

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 2:18 pm - We’ll have video of this in a few minutes, but several protesters were just taken away by Statehouse security. From Rep. Fritchey’s Twitter page

Protesters blocking the door to the chambers, some being led away by law enforcement.

John Bambenek

Protest at state capitol by SEIU… Looks like arrests made. Chanting “raise taxes now”

Kevin Lee

SEIU workers sitting in front of House chamber’s door, urging lawmakers to pass a tax increase. […]

Sec of St police have taken into custody about 8 to 10 SEIU workers who were rallying in front of the House chamber. […]

SEIU Ill. Pres Keith Kelleher urges an inc. tax increase outside security office in Capital basement. No word on SEIU workers yet. […]

Kelleher said SEIU workers deliberately got arrested in order to pressure lawmakers on a tax increase.

*** UPDATE *** And here’s the video…


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Quinn budget way out of whack?

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

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Leaders meeting ends, no progress reported

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 1:42 pm - Despite what I’m about to post, try not to panic. These end of session battles have ups and downs. Mainly downs. Expect more downs before it’s over, and when it’s over is anybody’s guess at the moment.

From the Illinois Radio Network’s Melissa Hahn’s Twitter page

Thud. Leaders left, not speaking. Gov stays in his office, and will not speak. This is BAD.
17 minutes ago from web

Ben Yount of Metro Networks Tweeted this

EPIC FAIL. Leaders meeting looks to have gone wrong. Quinn cancels press avail. Leaders leave without saying a word. Not good at all.
13 minutes ago from web

And here’s the video of Senate President John Cullerton and Quinn spokesman Bob Reed after the meeting…


* The governor will apparently speak to the House Republicans at 2 o’clock. From GOP Rep. Roger Eddy’s Twitter page

Waiting to hear from the Governor at 2pm. Tough decisions to be made — we’ll see which approach he takes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* Here’s a risky caption contest. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald…

We’re gonna need some rules here…

1) Do not post anything that could get me or yourself investigated, indicted or arrested at 6 o’clock in the morning, etc.

2) Stay away from obvious “size” references at all costs or you will be permanently banished from this site and will likely be arrested at 6 o’clock tomorrow morning. (Just kidding, sir.)

- Posted by Rich Miller   59 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - This just in…

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

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*** UPDATED x3 *** Quinn hints at budget veto - Wants GA to stay in town *** Franks wants guv to hold off on capital plan *** Guv flip-flops on temp budget ***

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* 11:30 am - Gov. Pat Quinn just said that he wants the General Assembly to stay in town if they don’t pass a balanced budget today…


Asked about a budget veto, Quinn said he would “send it back” if a budget came to him that wasn’t balanced.

The governor also wouldn’t be pinned down on whether he will sign the capital bill now that the parliamentary holds have been removed, taking a not-so-subtle shot at Rep. Lou Lang in the process.

More

“I think sometimes the governor has to be the quarterback and call the play. Legislators can react to each of those signals but it’s not time for running in place,” Quinn told reporters in Chicago before catching a flight to Springfield. “I’m not going to let the legislature send me a half-baked budget that does not include funding for those important services. If they do, we’ll have to send it back and we’ll have to go into double overtime.” […]

The governor stopped short of saying he’d veto the spending plan lawmakers already approved, but said he will “not accept” it.

“If they throw that my way tonight, they will see it thrown right back at ‘em,” Quinn said. “For those who might be advocating things in the budget that are unfair, are not humane, or indecent, I’m not going down that road.”

*** UPDATE - 11:56 am *** Here’s some video of GOP Leaders Cross and Radogno before today’s leaders meeting taken from another reporter’s video. Cross complained about how the Democrats are continuing to shut the Republicans out of the process…


And SEIU is holding another Statehouse rally today protesting the budget meltdown…


*** UPDATE 2 - 12:16 pm *** Democratic Rep. Jack Franks, a possible attorney general candidate, says the governor shouldn’t sign the capital bill yet because it’s funded by video gaming…


*** UPDATE 3 - 12:20 pm *** As I told subscribers this morning, the governor has flip-flopped yet again. This time, on a temporary budget, which he has totally ruled out for weeks…

Gov. Pat Quinn isn’t ruling out a temporary budget as a way of buying more time to reach a final budget deal.

“I’m willing to listen to anybody with a reasonable plan,” said Quinn, who until now has rejected the idea of a temporary budget. Quinn made the comments this morning when arriving at his Capitol office for a meeting with legislative leaders.

[ *** End of Updates *** ]

* Related…

* Tell The Governor to Rescind His Order to Secretary Adams: Last week, Governor Quinn ordered DHS Secretary Carol Adams to proceed with the implementation of the draconian budget cuts. When agencies asked how to deal with the thousands of people who will be displaced by these cuts, the Secretary had no response.

* Senate President Cullerton says he doesn’t expect vote on income taxes

* Fiscal year deadline looms, does Illinois shut down?

* Lack of state budget deal won’t be felt right away

* State Capitol Q&A: Does July 1 count?

* State shortfall to affect YMCA day camps

* AID will slash its services by half

* Mutual Ground set to close shelter if state fails to act

* Press release: ACLU heads to court over foster care cuts

* House removes hold on capital bills, adjourns

* Local lawmakers support temporary budget delay

* Pieces to the puzzle

* House OKs $2.2 billion in borrowing to free up social service funds

* House OKs borrowing plan to avoid huge cuts

* House votes to borrow money amid budget mess

* House approves borrowing plan

* House OKs borrowing, sends construction package to Quinn

* Illinois borrowing measure to avert cuts

* Still no budget; Illinois House votes to borrow money

* Illinois House Approved Two Billion Dollar Loan

* Illinois budget fix heads to the Senate

* Deferring pension payments will put state in deeper hole

* Deadline is now for Illinois legislators

* State Budget Deadline Looms With No Deal In Sight

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      


More details emerge

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* So, the U of I “formalized” its alleged clout-driven admissions process in 2002, just before Rod Blagojevich became governor and took full advantage. Unlike Jim Thompson’s request, I’ll bet Blagojevich’s touts weren’t summarily rejected

The University of Illinois formalized its system for tracking clouted applicants after an unqualified student with ties to ex- Gov. Jim Thompson was rejected, angering a top administrator who reversed the decision, a former admissions worker testified Monday.

Thompson said he had no recollection at all about the denied admission request and claimed he has written “scores” of letters on behalf of university applicants over the years.

* It also appears that there weren’t all that many “mopes” being pushed for the U of I…

He said the number of such cases grew in the last seven years from about 110 applicants per year to about 160. He said most came from affluent suburban schools, and that those students’ appeals were much more likely to be successful than ones coming from the general applicant pool.

But there were some…

[Former U of I admissions worker Abel Montoya] said there were between a dozen and 20 applicants a year who received the lowest possible admissions ranking, yet had denial decisions reversed after pressure from above.

* This is a clue to what was going on…

…Montoya said he chafed at e-mails and meetings that directed him to give special consideration to the students from high schools like Marist and New Trier who sometimes didn’t have qualifications as good as those of other students.

Those schools are known for parents who are almost fanatical about making sure their kids get into the best schools possible. Those parents are also more sophisticated than the average bear, and were probably more likely to call their legislators in a panic.

Montoya apparently was upset about the Category 1 admissions because he was working to recruit economically disadvantaged students

[Montoya] said it was a priority to enroll students from Chicago public schools, many of whom were at an economic disadvantage to students from the suburbs, in order to create “a talented, diverse freshman class.”

“We tried everything we could to get more students to apply” from public schools, he said. Montoya said he had complained to Marshall about the Category I admissions but was overruled by administrators.

* And a U of I lobbyist at the center of the controversy, Richard Schoell, denied laws had been broken and said there was never a quid pro quo with legislators…

Asked whether there was quid pro quo with legislators, he said “that would be totally inappropriate.”

More from Schoell

During testimony Monday, Richard Schoell, executive director of the university’s Office of Governmental Relations, said his office kept a log of between 150 and 200 requests made each year by lawmakers on behalf of students. Schoell said his office forwarded requests to the appropriate university department and some of those students made the “Category I” list, some labeled “important” or “very important.”

He said receiving input from public officials is important and students have the right to appeal to a legislator if they believe a wrong decision was made. But if a student was admitted “purely because of clout, it shouldn’t have happened,” he testified.

Schoell suggested that instead of lawmakers contacting his office directly, the school hire an ombudsman or create a panel to field those inquiries.

* This, I’d love to see

[Admissions Review Commission Chairman Abner Mikva] also said he’d like to hear from some legislators, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, who sponsored at least 40 applicants in five years, more than any other lawmaker. “I would like to hear his explanation,” Mikva said.

I’d also like to see all commission members reveal in public whether they had ever written a letter of recommendation or made a phone call about a prospective college or law school student.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


Hoffman gearing up? Unknowns mulling

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* I’ve heard that Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman is mulling a run for mayor or attorney general, but we’ll just have to wait and see

Hoffman’s four-year term as the city’s watchdog expires this fall. He took a long pause Monday when asked by reporters if wants another term.

HOFFMAN: I’m still making a decision about what I want to do, and I’m in the midst of making that decision now.

A decision that could include elected office.

HOFFMAN: Not sure. That’s some of the things I’m thinking about, talking about with my wife.

* Meanwhile, Mark Brown takes a look at an almost unknown candidate who has a ton of personal cash to spend…

Adam Andrzejewski, an announced Republican candidate for governor, sent out a press release Monday to inform everyone that he had made public his income tax returns in the interest of transparency.

My first thought was “Adam who?”

But then I decided that if Andrzejewski was taking this campaign seriously enough to release his tax returns, then I could at least take him seriously enough to look them over.

And that’s when I noticed Andrzejewski had filed this year for a federal tax refund of $632,110, plus a state refund of $51,579.

* Speaking of unknowns, a pal forwarded me this e-mail from Justin Ishbia, who is Kip Kilpatrick’s finance manager. I don’t know either of them, but perhaps you do….

Dear Friends,

Kip Kirkpatrick asked me to reach out to you in my capacity as his campaign treasurer. We’re so grateful for all the early support our campaign has received and now we face a critical early milestone.

Today is the deadline to receive contributions for the first-half reporting period. This reporting period is crucial because it really is the only measure that media and insiders have to judge the viability of a new candidate. It determines whether Kip’s campaign to bring real business acumen to the Treasurer’s office will receive media attention and whether Democrats around the state should consider supporting his candidacy.

From the e-mail, he appears to be a Democrat, but you wouldn’t know that by checking out his campaign site, which, at the moment, is just a one-page contribution generator. The contribution link goes to Act Blue, but a search of that site shows nothing.

* IR reports that Peorian Demetra DeMonte may run for LG…

Seems several individuals have encouraged Illinois’ National Committeewoman, Demetra DeMonte, to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2010.

* And in news about more well-known candidates, Bill Brady reiterated his stance yesterday that the governor should sign the budget that Brady voted against…

A Republican candidate for governor says Gov. Pat Quinn should sign a budget approved by lawmakers that Quinn says has a $9.2 billion deficit.

GOP state Sen. Bill Brady said at a Monday press conference that lawmakers shouldn’t pass the income tax increase Quinn’s pushing. Instead, the Bloomington Republican says Quinn should make work a budget the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed.

* Democratic Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias wrote a post recently for Daily Kos

As the State Treasurer of Illinois and a former vice-president of a community bank, I know a thing or two about banking and, make no mistake, the defeat of the bankruptcy provision known as “cram-down,” is yet another example of Washington putting corporate wishes ahead of citizen needs.

* Related…

* Dan Lipinski addresses airlines’ baggage policies

* Lipinski Calls For Size Limits On Carry-On Luggage

* Olympics an opportunity for Chicago and Illinois to repair reputation, inspector general says

* Chicago investigator urges reform before Olympics

* Chicago personnel chief says inspector general ‘reckless’ in calling for his dismissal

* How about some compassion for those stuck with the bill?

* Daley: City to develop back-up system to protect taxpayers on Olympics deal

* Chicago Alderman Tries to Cap Olympic Spending

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Quote of the day - Lisa Madigan, Dick Cheney and Osama bin Laden

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* From yesterday’s Chicago Tonight, Mike Flannery says Attorney General Lisa Madigan is “tougher to find maybe than Cheny and Osama bin Laden combined.” Watch it…


Flannery and the other reporters on the panel were discussing my recent syndicated newspaper column about how LMadigan has refused to say where she stands on the budget issues facing the state.

[Via Progress Illinois.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

* Lower Standards

An investigation by The Chicago Reporter found that Illinois is arguably the worst state in the nation for black senior citizens seeking quality nursing home care. There is just one home in Illinois rated “excellent” by the federal government when more than 50 percent of the home’s residents are black. In Illinois, these facilities get the worst federal ratings and on average have more violations than facilities where a majority of residents are white. And in Chicago, on average, these homes have more medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits. People in white homes got better care than those in black homes, even if both were poor.

* State minimum wage going up a quarter

* Auto sector drives down Midwest manufacturing to lowest point in 15 years: Chicago Fed

* Streets and Sanitation commissioner replaced

Under fire for lavish snow removal spending, lax field supervision and allegations of continued personnel abuses, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi was swept out today in a City Hall housecleaning.

Mayor Daley replaced Picardi with former Chicago Police officer-turned-Transportation Commissioner Tom Byrne, a Daley favorite summoned to City Hall in 2005 to clean up a Transportation Department hard hit by the Hired Truck and missing asphalt scandals.

* Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi replaced

* Chicago Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Ousted

* Sears tests program for jobless shoppers

Sears Holdings Corp. is planning to give customers who lose their jobs a break on appliance purchases, part of an effort to spur sales amid the economic recession.

Sears customers who spend at least $399 on its Citibank-issued credit card for appliances and related merchandise between July 6 and Aug. 1 will receive help on payments if they are out of work 60 days to a year after making the purchase.

One-twelfth of the purchase price will be credited to their accounts for every month they are unemployed. The full debt will be forgiven for customers who find themselves jobless for more than a year, and they will be able to keep the appliance.

* DOJ cautious about United Airlines alliance

* UAL bond pricing shows liquidity stress: analysts

* Daley to introduce ordinance to renew city’s set-aside program

* Daley to ask feds for money to hire cops

Mayor Richard Daley says Chicago will ask the federal government for $106 million so the police department can hire 400 officers.

The request for federal stimulus money comes at a time when hiring at the department has slowed to a crawl because of struggling economy. The number of officer vacancies has climbed to more than 400 and the union says it could climb to 800 by the end of the year.

* CHA mixed-income building has class clash

* Red-light camera loses backer

Bucking a national trend of putting in cameras to catch red-light runners, northwest suburban Schaumburg may get rid of its only red-light camera system because it doesn’t do enough to prevent accidents.

* Union doesn’t ‘look kindly on concessions’

AFSCME rep says workers willing to find other ways to save Peoria County money; health insurance funds one idea

* Metra breaks ground on station near Sox park

More than a year behind schedule, Metra broke ground today on a new station at 35th Street on the Rock Island District Line to serve White Sox fans and college students while giving neighborhood residents another mass-transit option.

The station, at 35th and Federal Streets, is expected to open in the fall of 2010, at least a full year later than what Metra officials said when they announced the project in 2008.

* Finally, a Metra station for the Cell

* Residents Debate Best Use of Land Along Chicago’s Lakefront

* IDOT to relieve some holiday traffic

Travelers hitting the roads for the Independence Day weekend are getting some traffic relief in Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Transportation says it’s suspending some construction-related lane closures. Lanes will be reopened Thursday to Sunday.

* Press release: IDOT details road construction

* $2.6 million going to 3 Ill. health centers

AURORA, Ill. - Three health centers in Illinois will share $2.6 million in federal stimulus money.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster announced Monday that the centers in Aurora, Elgin and Rock Falls would receive the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Of the money, $1,147,645 will go to the Visiting Nurse Association in Aurora, $880,000 will go to the Greater Elgin Family Care Center and $616,240 will go to the Whiteside County Health Department and Whiteside County Community Health Clinic, Inc. in Rock Falls.

- Posted by Mike Murray   7 Comments      


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

Tuesday, Jun 30, 2009

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Rep. Lang releases hold on capital bill

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* 6:08 pm - Rep. Lang removed the parliamentary hold he placed on the capital bills. The bills will now go to the Governor’s desk to await further action. Here is video of Rep. Lang’s floor speech…


…Adding… From Rich: This was shot on my new iPhone 3Gs. I didn’t realize that it didn’t work in “landscape” mode. Oops.

Also, listen very closely at the 4:07 mark. You’ll hear Speaker Madigan ask a question twice in the background, and then you’ll hear my answer.

- Posted by Mike Murray   17 Comments      


Cross Video: Pension Note and Budget Deadline/Special Session

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* 5:40 pm - Leader Cross briefly spoke to the media following a HGOP caucus.

* Cross on pension note…


* Cross discuses what might happen with tomorrow’s budget deadline and discusses ‘08 - ‘09 special session similarities…


- Posted by Mike Murray   7 Comments      


Cheryle Jackson moving a step closer to US Senate contest

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* Cheryle Jackson is forming an exploratory committee

In a phone interview, Ms. Jackson said paperwork for the exploratory panel will be filed later this week and she intends to declare her race for President Barack Obama’s old Senate race “within a couple of months.”

“I’m moving forward,” said Ms. Jackson, 44, who served as press secretary to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich before becoming president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Chicago almost three years ago.

Since word leaked out in February that she was considering running, “I’ve received an enormous amount of feedback, positive feedback,” she said. “This is a bold step for me.” […]

A race by Ms. Jackson could attract substantial national interest and cash because it raises the prospect that the only Senate seat now held by an African-American would remain so. It also raises the possibility that Illinois would get only its second female senator ever; the other was Carol Moseley Braun, who was defeated for re-election.

Jackson was the spokesperson for Rod Blagojevich, which ain’t gonna help much. She does have some important backing out there (including Sen. James Meeks), and she has some pretty good media skills. Here she is on Chicago Tonight last fall…


Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* This is from yesterday’s Pride Parade

Caption?

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Kirk infuriates the Right

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is taking major heat on the Right side of blogosphere and on Twitter for his vote on “cap and trade.” A protest is also being touted…

Protesters in Illinois are gathering in front of Mark Kirk’s office today to protest his vote on cap and trade. The protest will take place at 707 Skokie Boulevard, Northbrook, IL. The protest takes place at noon.

* And he’s being ridiculed for this video…


The comments on that video are brutal and very profane, so don’t click here to read them if you are easily offended or could get yourself in trouble at work.

A representative blog piece

With Mark Kirk being one of the eight Republican U.S. House members to give Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi the votes they needed to pass the huge tax-increasing Cap and Trade energy bill last Friday night, most say Kirk is no different than the incumbent Roland Burris, and that without base support, Kirk’s a no-go for U.S. Senate.

Okay, Kirk’s done.

Heck, even Team America, a stalwart Kirk supporter, is wavering

I’m still left wondering why, if Team Kirk anticipated the adverse reaction of many supporters, why they didn’t get out in front of this story earlier, as some of the speculation I read over the weekend even suggested that Kirk must have made some trade with Emanuel/Pelosi machine for his vote. If you don’t fill the vaccum with something, people are going to speculate. With even folks like Anne Leary at BackyardConservative calling for Kirk’s head, there’s a lot of damage control that needs to be done by Kirk.

That cap and trade vote, combined with his position on abortion and other liberal-leaning issues, would help him in a general election, of course. And he’s still the big gun for the GOP Senate primary, but he’s now called attention to his ideology in a major way. Stay tuned.

*** UPDATE *** Greg Hinz throws in his two cents…

The “yes” vote on Friday likely would be of most help in a race for the U.S. Senate, where top Republicans have promised to clear the GOP-primary field for a Kirk race. It could be more problematic if he runs for the other job he’s considering — governor — because at least three more-conservative contenders already are in that race and Mr. Kirk would have to survive the primary to make it to the general election.

But Gordy isn’t convinced…

I disagree, and think that it’s more likely he now runs for re-election to the House in Illinois’ Democratic-leaning 10th District.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* Democrat Bill Foster voted against the cap and trade measure, but there’s been no major backlash heat from the Left as of yet. Debbie Halvorson voted for it after saying she was against it.

And a new blogger from the region reads the tea leaves and wonders whether Foster is running again, then concludes that he is…

[Foster spokesperson Shannon O’Brien] also confirmed that he was running, and helped me understand where the ambiguity I thought I saw in the Kane County Chronicle’s phrasing of things had come from. Her assurance to me that Foster was indeed running came as a separate part of the message from the text of the official statement itself. To quote what Shannon said to me directly: “while he is going to run for reelection, he is concentrating on governing right now, not campaigning.”

So that settles that. Foster is running again, as expected.

* Meanwhile, Bob Schillerstrom announced his GOP gubernatorial campaign yesterday…

Instead, he proposed rolling back health-care expansions conducted under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, using managed care for state-subsidized health care for the poor, moving more subsidized patients out of nursing homes and into home care, and a less-costly pension system for new state workers.

As I pointed out in my newspaper column this week, Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to get away with those sorts of “solutions.”

* Does Danny Davis already have a replacement in mind?

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis is edging closer to a run for Todd Stroger’s job. He’s set up an exploratory committee and he’s done some polling that shows he would have beaten Forrest Claypool — considered a Democratic favorite by some before he turned his back on the race — by 10% to 12%, according to a source.

More interesting is who in turn might run for Mr. Davis’ seat. I hear it will be Mr. Davis’ former chief of staff, D.C. lobbyist Richard Boykin.

Mr. Davis likely would give his blessing to Mr. Boykin, who has been a lobbyist for Cook County. And here’s a delicious fact: Mr. Boykin last year threw a fundraiser for Mr. Stroger, who got him the lobbyist job in the first place. Mr. Boykin says, “Should Rep. Davis run for Cook County Board president, I would seriously consider running for Congress in the 7th District.”

* Related…

* ADDED: Dan Proft’s Announcement Speech - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

* Schock defends ‘hypocrisy ‘

* Another GOP primary candidate for the 14th?

* Illinois Republican Party Meeting: With the exception of Joe Birkett, all the gubernatorial candidates were present.

* Schillerstrom makes governor run official at Naperville rally

- Posted by Rich Miller   46 Comments      


Repubs won’t face up, and nobody has seen Lisa’s face

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column takes on the politics of the budget

Every Republican governor this state has had for the past 40 years has raised taxes.

Republican legislators and most of their leaders always have been involved with those tax hikes.

So, it’s probably not fair that nobody bats an eye when every Republican candidate for governor - announced and unannounced - is allowed by the media to get away with saying that taxes shouldn’t be raised to balance the state’s horribly deficit-ridden budget.

But, that’s life, I suppose. George Ryan said he wouldn’t raise taxes when he was running for governor, either. The Republican candidate didn’t get a lot of grief for that, even though his public works plan was so big that everybody at the Statehouse figured there was no way to avoid a tax hike.

They were right. Ryan flip-flopped right after he was elected. Taxes went up, and so did fees.

Once again, pretty much everybody at the Statehouse knows that taxes will have to rise in order to balance this massively out-of-whack budget.

Some Republican gubernatorial candidates have talked about various budget “reforms” even though many of those reforms are illusory at best.

Some talk about deep cuts then quickly skip over the intense hardships those cuts would produce.

At least one is talking about borrowing to balance the budget, but the state’s bond rating already has taken multiple hits, and it’s doubtful anybody would want to buy several billion dollars of bonds from a state that cannot show it can responsibly balance its own budget.

Luckily for the Republican candidates, taxes almost assuredly will have been raised by the time next year’s fall election rolls around.

And the Republican candidates who now are state legislators will not be forced to vote for a tax increase this year because they belong to the minority party, so a handful of others in their party likely will be obliged to take the plunge.

What likely will happen is that a tax hike will pass long before the campaign even starts to heat up.

And then watch all those candidates pontificate about how they would’ve done things differently. Most also probably will say they’ll roll back those tax hikes, even though that probably won’t be possible until the economy has had a chance to fully recover, whenever that may be.

Surveying all this political posturing, is it any wonder that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has found it so difficult to convince the Democratic-controlled Illinois House to go along with an income tax hike? That rhetorical question is not, by the way, intended to defend the House Democrats and their leader, Speaker Michael Madigan. They knew what the right thing to do was, and they didn’t do it. I won’t defend that behavior.

And even though I think it’s unfair to let Republican gubernatorial candidates off the hook on the tax issue just because they’re Republicans, I do believe it’s high time Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan comes out of hiding and expresses her views on this crazy mess.

We don’t know for sure as I write this what office Madigan will seek. She could run for governor, she could run for U.S. Senate, she could run for re-election.

We do know, however, that every poll taken in the past year has shown Madigan to be, by far, the most popular politician in this state.

Other statewide Democrats, like Comptroller Dan Hynes and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, have said they were open to a tax hike. Hynes laid out a plan last week, although wholly inadequate, which included major cuts, expanded riverboat gaming and an expansion of the sales tax to some “luxury” services.

But Madigan has been mum. She said months ago that a tax hike would hurt people who already were hurting, yet she’s been silent ever since. A group of protesters opposed to massive budget cuts marched to her Springfield office last week to try and get an answer out of her. No luck.

If the Republican candidates are being irresponsible, well, that goes double for Madigan. As the most likely of all candidates to win whatever office she seeks, she owes us all an explanation of her views on this crisis.

Come out of hiding, attorney general. The sooner the better.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


The Blagojevich=Quinn meme spreads, and a budget roundup

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* Lots of stories comparing Pat Quinn to Rod Blagojevich over the past few days. Here are some…

* Hynes Hines: Echoes of Rod

* Crain’s: Mr. Quinn borrowed a page from predecessor Rod Blagojevich by spinning a doomsday scenario of social services cutbacks if lawmakers don’t approve his tax hike.

* Tribune: Seeds of mistrust between the legislature and the governor’s office flowered during the antagonistic reign of Rod Blagojevich. But they have resurfaced under new Gov. Pat Quinn, whose budget comments are ever-evolving.

* Erickson: Last year, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich publicly threatened to cut funding for 4-H programs and then reversed course just four days later. He did the same thing earlier in his audacious tenure when he threatened to close prisons in Vandalia, Pontiac and Stateville. For now, millions of Illinoisans who rely on state services must watch the annual debacle unfold again and worry.

* GateHouse: When former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached in January, there was hope at the Capitol that things would run more smoothly. But with the start of a new fiscal year quickly approaching, Illinois is still without a budget.

* Rep. Jack Franks: It was a “my way or the highway” approach that Blagojevich used in an attempt to bully the legislature to his will. And it failed miserably. Thankfully, he was removed from office. Unfortunately, Team Blagojevich was not, and so Illinois finds itself on the brink of a man-made disaster – its abysmal fiscal condition coupled with a lack of a plan for balancing our state budget. The same team that created programs that the legislature never approved is now pushing Gov. Quinn to continue funding these programs.

* The SJ-R has a slightly different take: Nobody can accuse you of being Blagojevich. You’ve been in Springfield working on the budget. You’re still the only elected official under the dome who has proposed a full, balanced budget. Blagojevich is gone. The result is still the same: Gridlock. Cowardice. Avoidance of tough decisions. What does that tell us about legislators? Hit the accelerator, governor. Drive right at them. All that’s at stake is our state.

* Meanwhile

Quinn has given conflicting details on what he ultimately will do if lawmakers don’t come up with more money by Wednesday. He’s adopted various income-tax increase plans in trying to find one that will sell with lawmakers, including switching from a permanent hike to a temporary one and reducing the rate on corporations. He’s pledged to make drastic cuts in services, then countered by saying he would never let that happen. He’s predicted massive layoffs in state government, then scaled back.

“As much as we know this guy, we don’t know him. He has changed every week,” said Sen. Donne Trotter of Chicago, who is the lead budget negotiator for Senate Democrats. “This is a dance, and everyone’s trying to get to know each other.”

* Two former governors offer advice

“The key is, I remember in ‘91 one of the things we thought helped us was finally, by about the third week in July, the members, the rank and file, wanted to go home. They’d seen all the movies and played all the golf they wanted to play and eaten enough at all the restaurants. They were really tired,” Edgar said.

“It was an interesting phenomenon. You could just tell the rank and file finally just started beefing so much I think the leaders - knew they needed to get something resolved.” […]

“I don’t know why the governor would sign the budget they gave him and then make all these horrendous cuts,” Thompson said.

But if Quinn does sign it, Thompson said he’d take it for what it is, a six-month plan, and not a real budget.

* Doug Whitley offers a word of caution

The risk for Republicans is that they’ll be tangled up in a budget crisis that, so far, has largely been the responsibility of the Democratic majority.

Even if they get many of the changes they want, Republicans could share in the blame if the stalemate drags on all summer and ultimately produces an unpopular tax increase and painful service cuts.

“By winning on the intellectual component of budgetary discussions, they risk the Democrats outflanking them on the political message,” said Doug Whitley, president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

* More disagreement

The governor signed SB 1609, allowing the state to refinance debt. According to House Democrats, the plan would take advantage of a 4 percent interest rate and save $600 million next fiscal year. It would save $237 million over the life of the bonds.

The bill has been tied to the legislature’s version of a bare bones budget, which has been dubbed the “50 percent budget” because it would fund human services at half the level proposed by the governor.

But Quinn’s spokeswoman Libby White said this afternoon: “There’s no link between the two. This was our bill that was a part of the governor’s original budget proposal.”

* The Daily Herald editorial board is starting to see reality

The reality is, the state’s financial problems run so deep that they cannot be fixed with spending cuts alone. By one estimate, the entire state work force could be laid off and that still wouldn’t come close to erasing the $24 billion budget deficit.

By one estimate? OK, I won’t nitpick.

* Um, Fran, I did live in Cook County.

* Related…

* ADDED: $3.5 million cut could cost $2 billion

* ADDED: Cullerton Urges Colleagues To “Consider” The Senate Tax Plan

* Illinois Student Assistance Commission approves plan for student aid cuts

* Governor signs bill to refinance debt

* Could budget cuts spur crime in Peoria?

* Historic forts await word on state budget

* Politics as usual becomes nightmare

* Senate Dems have budget solution

* Ill. budget crisis should rule out business as usual

* Lawmakers look to pension system to help balance budget

* Quinn’s policies hurt those he says he wants to help

* PJStar: Illinois kicks disabled out of wheelchairs - again

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Morning shorts

Monday, Jun 29, 2009

* Mourners gather to honor Chicago broadcaster John Callaway

* Burke helped pals with city deals

Ald. Edward M. Burke wrote a letter in his official capacity that helped a client of his law firm win City Council approval to develop a blighted stretch of land near Midway Airport.

It’s the second time Burke has written such a letter so someone he’s done business with could get a zoning change from City Hall. After writing those letters, Burke abstained from voting on both cases to avoid any conflicts of interest.

* Fire city Human Resources commissoner, inspector general says

Chicago’s inspector general wants Human Resources Commissioner Homero Tristan fired for allegedly violating court-ordered political hiring rules, according to a report filed in federal court Friday.

Tristan failed to report — and later lied about — receiving a Jan. 29 request by Southwest Side Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) for a more favorable job assignment for one of his constituents, acording Inspector General David Hoffman’s report.

That directly violated a Jan. 2008 court order that requires the city Human Resources Department to report to the federal hiring monitor any contact it has with elected officials regarding hiring, Hoffman said.

“The commissioner’s changing stories and questionable credibility in this situation mean that it will be difficult to have confidence” future decisions will be handled in an “honest and appropriate fashion,” the report states.

* City code problems found at Daley nephew’s warehouse

“If the city knew there were code violations, why was the city operating out of the building,'’ Basselen says. “The city was utilizing a building they themselves said wasn’t up to code.'’

They have yet to correct the landscaping code violations that City Hall wanted Basselen, their tenant, to take care of.

* Taxpayers last to pay if Olympics loses cash: Daley

Mayor Daley said Saturday he wants a deal in which private insurance money would be tapped before public money if an Olympic Games in Chicago suffered any losses.

Daley previously had said he wanted a provision ensuring that $2.5 billion in public and private insurance and guarantees would be exhausted before taxpayers would be on the hook.

But that $2.5 billion already includes a $500 million guarantee against operating losses, approved by the City Council.

Now Daley is saying that the city’s portion of the $2.5 billion should be the last to be tapped.

* Daley: Chicago Olympics won’t cost taxpayers

“I would never take members of this City Council for granted, the taxpayers or anyone. I don’t know why people are trying to get this impression. I hope you stop that,” Daley said.

* Taste of Chicago Plays Role in Selling Olympics

The crowds at Taste of Chicago can meet Olympic athletes and see what the Games would look like here. Valerie Waller is with Chicago 2016.

WALLER: We’re just looking to make sure we have the opportunity to touch as many of the citizens of Chicago as possible, and talk about the bid, answer questions they might have and let them show their support for Chicago bringing the games here.

* Contractors fined for women, minority hiring failures

Castle Construction Co. — a clout-heavy firm charged with cheating minority subcontractors on city projects — has also had problems meeting hiring goals set by Mayor Daley’s Public Building Commission.

Over the years, the commission has withheld more than $680,000 as “liquidated damages” from Castle for failing to hire enough women, minorities and Chicagoans as laborers, apprentices and journeymen to build five police stations, a library and a school.

Castle has been among the commission’s most heavily penalized contractors since the mayor took office 20 years ago. Over that time, the commission says it has withheld more than $3.5 million from 54 contractors who didn’t hire enough Chicagoans, women and minorities, and $169,166 from eight contractors who shortchanged minority and women subcontractors.

* CPS needs solutions to teacher turnover

* Half of city teachers quit each five years, says report

In a study released Monday morning, U of C researchers found that while turnover in schools with “the best working conditions” averages just 10% over five years, it hit a near-total 76% in 13 high schools where teachers have little relationship with parents, may not feel safe and “do not look forward to teaching every day.”

Of the 13 high schools with chronically low stability, 11 serve predominantly African-American students, and the other two a combination of blacks and Hispanics.
Results were similar among 84 elementary schools with similar demographics.

Overall, the study found, CPS loses teachers at a rate of 20% a year, compared with 16% nationally. While the difference sounds small, “Those losses add up over time and create obstacles for sustaining new initiatives and staff training,” the consortium report says. And, the loss is concentrated among just a fraction of Chicago’s 538 elementary and 118 high schools.

* MillerCoors chief, Daley toast firm’s HQ move to town

* Metropolis 2020 may disband

George Ranney Jr., president and CEO of Chicago Metropolis 2020, said that while the group has made no final decision, “we’re looking at all the choices we’ve got,” including going out of business now or in a few years, or merging with another organization.

“We have no plan to disband at this point, but we’ve always intended to operate for about 10 years,” said Mr. Ranney, who founded the group in 1999. “We’re always mindful of that, and we’re looking to the future.”

Mr. Ranney said the group has a budget of $3 million a year, and there is no sign it faces financial difficulty.

* The slaughter rule

The dairy markets at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are forecasting a more than 50 percent hike in wholesale milk prices by late 2010. Many analysts think prices will double over that time.

However, changes in the futures markets do not extend dollar-for-dollar to grocery shelves. Wholesale milk futures at the Merc are down about 50 percent over the last 12 months, but the Consumer Price Index has seen retail milk fall about 18 percent in that time, said Alan Levitt, an analyst who writes the Daily Dairy Report for the Merc. He said raw milk accounts for about a third of the costs to get the product to the store.

Current prices are below costs for many farmers, so expectations are that herds will be culled. The National Milk Producers Federation is paying dairies to slaughter 103,000 cows over the next few weeks.

* The Gummy Bear Index

While sales of almost everything else are tanking, candy sales are reported to be soaring. It’s not hard to guess why: People are taking refuge from the economic storm in the elemental pleasure of a Snickers bar, a 100 Grand bar or a bag of Skittles. If they can’t have a payday, they at least have a PayDay.

A quick glimpse at the Gummy Bear Index would tell you all you need to know about the country’s collective despair or joy.

* Frugal readers drive up library circulation 30%

Here’s a silver lining in the economic recession — Chicago Public Library circulation has spiked 30 percent in the past year.

“People are realizing, ‘Why should I buy my books, my CDs — I can get it free at the library,’ ” Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey said Saturday, speaking at the dedication of a new library in Beverly.

* Economic bust won’t deter July 4 booms

Central Illinoisans won’t be worried about the economic downturn — at least not while the stars and stripes burst overhead.

Even as city governments make crippling cutbacks, community groups are making sure Fourth of July festivals remain fully funded.

* For modest earners, relief repaying student loans

* 4 officers indicted in 2006 alleged inmate beating

- Posted by Mike Murray   4 Comments      


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Monday, Jun 29, 2009

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