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Unsolicited advice

Monday, Jul 20, 2009

* Dear State Board of Elections,

Your website still sucks.

The Illinois State Board of Elections’ site continues to be a horror show. Remember this e-mail from Executive Director Dan White after our last round of complaints almost 17 months ago?

In response to comments about problems with the SBE website, we hear them, we are aware of these issues and are working hard to establish both near term and long term solutions. Suggestions are always welcome and we continue to incorporate constructive recommendations to improve the website. Our goal is to provide access and avaiability to all of the thousands of users who rely on our information systems. As with any new system, there are new problems and issues to be addressed and resolved. Please continue to comment and utilize our website.

We will have significant improvements in place shortly and we look for your comments as we continue to implement these changes.

Thank you,
Dan White
Executive Director

We still can’t open links in new tabs. Visited and unvisited links are the same color. The Javascript-laden site continues to cough up “cookie timeout” readings and other major problems. For instance, using a Firefox browser I am having trouble reloading a page to see if it’s been updated. More often than not, a more recently opened report from a different candidate appears in its place. Hugely frustrating.

The Board has been promising to upgrade its site since at least December of 2006.

This is absolutely unacceptable behavior.

* Dear Rep. Jack Franks,

Raising $1.2 million of your $1.3 million over the last six months from just six people including yourself, doesn’t bode well. And then there’s this

Eileen Franks, Eileen, Occupation: retired, Marengo - $450,000
Herbert H. Franks, Occupation: attorney, Marengo - $250,000
Deborah Franks, Occupation: housewife. Marengo - $200,000

That last name looks awfully familiar.

Are you planning to show soon that you can raise serious money outside your family and a couple of rich friends?

* Dear Sen. Bill Brady,

Do you remember saying this back in mid-May about Gov. Quinn’s campaign making fundraising calls to lobbyists?

“We are in the closing days of a legislative session centering on a budget and the need for serious ethics reforms,” Brady, of Bloomington, said. “This kind of fundraising effort has no place in Illinois today or any day.”

Do you find it at all ironic that you were also raising money from Statehouse interest groups at the same time you were blasting Quinn for doing so?

Also - and I know this is contrary to what I just wrote - but are you ever gonna show you can raise the big bucks? $250K in six months? Huh?

* Dear Senate Republicans,

Have you ever heard of copyright law?

The Senate GOP Caucus is posting and permanently archiving entire newspaper articles and columns on its government website. That would be a serious no-no.

* Dear Gov. Quinn,

Although some might say traveling to Iraq is less dangerous than staring down Speaker Madigan, please, try to keep your lid on and your head down and come home safe. Those bombs and bullets are real, man.

* Your turn.

…Adding… Dear Sen. Matt Murphy,

Many Republican pals of mine claim you have big bucks behind your gubernatorial campaign. Are those big bucks actually large male deer? I ask this after reading your latest campaign finance disclosure…

Total Receipts $21,057.15

Dude, kick it in gear.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - George - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    Dear Eileen, Herbert and Deborah,

    Do you have a quick second to hear about the wonderful world of investing in penny stocks and Arizona real estate?

  2. - George - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    BTW - if Franks’ goaded his family members out of all their retirement money to put into his race, he needs to take a long hard look in the mirror, because he’s a…

  3. - JonShibleyFan - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 1:54 pm:

    Often times, the ‘net lingo, “lol” is used as a response when something is not worthy of a “laugh out loud.”

    This is NOT one of those times. George, lol.

  4. - Out of state. - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 1:56 pm:

    Franks does need to find other sources of financial support. Although Jon Corzine funded a Senate and Gubernatorial campaign essentially from his own pocket. Perhaps Franks could do the same?

  5. - Legaleagle - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 1:57 pm:

    I think that an election campaign has a First Amendment/fair use privilege to republish newspaper articles of interest. That’s what this blog (and other blogs) do.

  6. - Jim Landis - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:00 pm:

    Is Brady raising money to pay off his large debt leftover from 2006?

  7. - Obamarama - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:02 pm:

    Back to the Board of Elections website–it needs to be completely blown up and put back together.

    Take this page for example:

    It doesn’t get much worse than that. The whole layout makes so sense. Fail.

  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:03 pm:

    The ISBoE is still stuck in the mid 1990s. Horrid.

  9. - George - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:05 pm:

    I always use, but it looks like they haven’t updated their info since last summer.

    Let’s hope they can get the new reports up and running.

  10. - George - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:08 pm:

    Mostly because it can do fun things like link to an individual contribution:

  11. - student - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:10 pm:

    I’ve had to use the Board of Elections website on numerous occasions for research over the past two years. It is the most frustrating resource I have ever had to work with! I have even contacted their office for assistance and they can’t even help me. C’mon people, get it together!

  12. - David Starrett - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:15 pm:

    What I find particularly irritating about the SBE site is that when I worked to pass the legislation requiring it, SBE put a $500k Fiscal Note on the bill. That’s right: they wanted half a million dollars to put up the searchable database site.

    The sponsors and I all thought this was outrageous; a half million should be enough to replace their entire IT system. But it was the very end of the session, and we knew that if we wanted the site, we had to play their game.

    We managed to get them the bucks, and this is the result.

  13. - Altgeld's Ghost - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:15 pm:

    It appears to me, that unlike the great hypocrite Pat Quinn, Franks was acyually spending most of the spring legislating and not shaking down the special interests. Instead he went to the people who know him best and filled the tank so that he could be ready to make a run if the opportunity presented itself. In America, even these days, hard work and entrepreneurial risk taking can create familial wealth. That appears to be the case with the Franks’. It is my opinion that in this climate the voters will be open to a candidate who is not bought and paid for by the special interests.

  14. - Will County Woman - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:21 pm:

    RE: senator murphy

    no dude, do not kick it in gear. get out now. proft, schillerstrom and *brady you all get out now too. if you want a republican to win get out and back dillard. ensure that he has the money and support, by getting out now.

    murphy has no executive experience, which in these tough times will not bode well for him. his announced candidacy yielded little enthusiasm, and he hasn’t really been heard from since on anything. he has no chance of winning the primary, so he just kick that 21K to dillard.

  15. - Anonymous Coward - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:24 pm:

    US Postmaster?

  16. - (618) Democrat - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:24 pm:

    Mr. Franks went to the Democrat Convention in Denver as a Hillary Delegate. What every Democrat in Illinois needs to remember is if Mr. Franks had his way Hillary would be President not President Obama. What a great loss for Illinois that would be.

  17. - siriusly - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:25 pm:

    I have no problem with wealth people financing their own campaigns. But I find it very dishonest of Franks to file that contribution from Deborah (his wife) under her name instead of as under his or perhaps jointly.

  18. - Macbeth - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:27 pm:

    The website looks (to me) like it was developed as a cookie-cutter site straight out of Visual Studio. There’s a lot of standard .NET “canned” HTML in there. It works fine, but you’re right about the tabs and the links.

    What they need is someone to breakdown the content for usability — and perhaps aim for the KISS rule instead of using the newest technologies. Plain ol’ HTML and javascript — without all the whizbang “canned” VS form fields and what not — would be right for a site like this.

    Web developers wouldn’t get excited about writing it, but it would certainly work in any browser and would exhibit standard behavior — showing the visited/non-visited links, opening tabs in new windows, etc. etc.

    Just my two cents.

  19. - Broadsword - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:29 pm:

    I hate to say it, but Matt Murphy is a hollow suit.

    He hired a couple of operatives to try and start some buzz behind the campaign, but major GOP donors roll their eyes at the utterance of his name. Many party leaders now follow suit.

    He announced, then four weeks of…nothing.

  20. - David Starrett - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:32 pm:

    I agree with Macbeth. The ilga site is as good as it is because they don’t waste a lot of bandwidth with a bunch of whizz-bang, wow-factor stuff. Observing KISS would also likely improve the site’s compatibility with a wider variety of browsers, such as Firefox.

  21. - dupage progressive - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:33 pm:

    Dear Rich,
    You = cracking me up today.
    Thanks for the laughs AND the good info, all wrapped up into one blog thread.

  22. - View from the Cheap Seats - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:35 pm:

    Where is Dillard’s big Gidwitz money?

  23. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:38 pm:

    Awesome Rich, great for calling these out.
    Can you or someone, please post a link to Quinn’s donors?? I did a search on the State Board of Elections on “Quinn” and the thing spit back “0 results” ?!?!

  24. - Cheswick - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:40 pm:

    Dear Gov. Quinn: What up with not yet signing HB 35, the major transparency and accountability portal for Illinois? It’s been sitting on your desk for over a month. Go for it. Sign it. You know you want to. Right?

  25. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:43 pm:

    By the way, I don’t think the State Board of Elections website, NOT WORKING, is a coincidence, or mistake…someone/s still don’t want transparency I think. I also think this is illegal??? Just like not passing a balanced budget and not funding the pensions year after year.

  26. - Broadsword - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:51 pm:

    Just checked the D-2s. Murphy has four people on staff - yet no expenditures?

    What gives?

  27. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 2:52 pm:

    ISBE site used to be pretty easy to use. Now it sucks. It needs to be blown up. If they had $500k in spending authority, they should still have $499,500 left after the 500 bucks they gave to one their kids to do this piece of crap.

    Oh, and Altgeld’s Ghost, you’re kidding, right? Oh wait, you’re not kidding, you’re actually Jack himself. Give me a break. $1.2 million from yourself and your family? That’s pretty lame. What are you running for that you need $1.2 million?

  28. - Altgeld's Ghost - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:01 pm:

    CC — What am I kidding myself about? That people want something different? read Quinn’s press release. It uses the exact same reform and renewal langauge the he used with Blago 3 years ago. Or am I kidding myself ythat peolple can still create wealth in this country and use it to support their political beliefs. Illinois would be lucky if jack threw his hat in the ring for Governor. Just ask his constituents. Jack went from the first Democrat ever elected in McHenry County in 1998 to not losing one precinct in his last three elections. I understand the honesty, ethics, wealth and brains are a combination not often found in Illinois politics. Jack really is something different…and I say it’s in a good way.

  29. - Illinois Eddie - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:09 pm:

    I’d support an income tax hike if that brought about a rewrite of

  30. - respectful - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:12 pm:

    Murphy better make a move soon or throw in the towel. Franks would have a better chance in the GOP primary given his conservatidm..

  31. - Macbeth - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:15 pm:

    I’d support an income tax hike if that brought about a rewrite of

    They may not have the people to *rewrite* the site. IT folks have been on the chopping block during the Blagojevich years — and many were moved around due to the mysterious IT consolidation projects that happened from 2002-2006 or so. From what I’m hearing, many agencies are lacking IT skills to do simple (and, in this case, not-so-simple) IT projects.

  32. - P. - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:16 pm:

    Yes, the ISBE site sucks. How about when you download a page it downloads them all on your desktop as “Report”?

    The lack of tabbed browsing is THE worst though. Compared to how it is now, it was great before …

  33. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:17 pm:

    Macbeth, the ISBoE is quasi independent. They weren’t part of what you wrote about.

  34. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:18 pm:

    In other words, Rod is not to blame for this one.

    They are fully to blame for their horrifically awful site.

  35. - Macbeth - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:39 pm:

    Macbeth, the ISBoE is quasi independent.

    Ah. Okay. Then in the words of Rosanna Rosannadanna: “Nevermind.”

  36. - Ghost - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:40 pm:

    You have to appreciate IL electoral authorities moving towards advanced electronic balloting before the election authority is able to produce a useable website.

  37. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:54 pm:

    Still don’t know how to find a list of Quinn’s campaign contributors - does anyone know how to get this info???

  38. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:58 pm:

    ng, try this…

    he hasn’t filed yet, but it’ll be there

  39. - God's Country - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:58 pm:


    To be fair, di the SBofE’s credit, they do have a link to a coloring book:

    I mean, what else can you ask for from your tax dollars?

  40. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 3:59 pm:

    gc, that is hilarious. and the coloring book has zero to do with elections. what the heck?

  41. - God's Country - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:01 pm:

    I was assuming those critters voted in Cook. ;-)

  42. - Will County Woman - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:03 pm:

    after the way he has sold taxpayers out hopefully quinn’s operation hopefully isn’t still called “taxpayers for quinn.” I mean, do his people answer the phones with a straight face still saying that?

  43. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:28 pm:

    Thanks Rich! Will check it out periodically.

  44. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:39 pm:

    Did some digging on the site, and it’s meager, but
    here’s a link for Quinn’s contributions from 1/1/2008 - 7/21/2009 (totaling only $32,149 - where is the rest of the reporting???)

    Note: most of the large contributions of $10,000 are listed as LOANS from Taxpayers for Quinn. Hmmmmmmmmm. Anyone want to reserach who is in the organization at 676 N. LaSalle??
    Also listed as a campaign contributor is FRIENDS of M MADIGAN. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Buying influence????

  45. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:46 pm:

    To Whom it May Concern:
    Please note that during the 17 month that have gone by since acknowledging the deficits of the State Board of Elections web site, each and every employee received every single paycheck due. Their self esteem is high and we will maintain our high standards for responsiveness.

    Wait ’til next year when we are down in budget dollars. We will be even more responsive to your concerns…..

    Arghhhh!! That is why more things should be privatized!

  46. - Obamarama - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:48 pm:

    notacelebrity getmeouttahere:

    Take it easy man. His actual filing has not yet taken place today. When it does, you want to click the D2 that was filed today, then click everywhere you see “itemized” and what you see is what you get.

    You’re looking at old information through a silly lens at this point.

  47. - notacelebrity getmeouttahere - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:50 pm:

    Yeah!!!!!!!! Let’s privatize things to JP Morgan Chase and they can outsource state jobs to India, like Florida has done!!!! Then, when people call about their food stamps, they get someone in India to help them with their Florida-state-issued food stamps!!! Awesome! And we can continue bailing trillions out to the banks and they can continue making record profits of over $3Billion per quarter and continue outsourcing more and more jobs to India!!!!! Yeah for privatization!!!!

  48. - one to the dome - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 4:55 pm:

    So much for contribution limits by our “reformers”

  49. - Oh please... - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 5:18 pm:

    Jack is not the first person to fund (or to virtually fund) his own campaign. Expect a lot more of this with campaign finance reform. Siriusly, love your insightful and biting commentary…do you really think Deborah’s contribution was an effort to “hide” the contribution? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Deborah Franks is a relative and I think Rep. Franks probably surmised as much. Duh.

  50. - T.J. - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 5:21 pm:

    “Ah. Okay. Then in the words of Rosanna Rosannadanna: ‘Nevermind.’”

    That was Emily Litella, not Roseanne Roseannadanna.

  51. - siriusly - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 5:35 pm:

    then why not make it Jack and Deborah? you made my point - hiding contributions is illegal he should have put his name on it

  52. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 5:41 pm:

    siriusly, did it never occur to you that perhaps Mrs. Franks may have money of her own?

    Talk about jumping to goofy conclusions. A spouse contributes and you wanna bring in the G? Please.

  53. - Payraises for Unions!! - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 6:26 pm:

    I’m wondering if the SBE’s IT department has most of it’s employee’s under union contract.

    AFSCME motto - (Which is different than the rest of the AFL-CIO) - “We are here to protect the bad employees!!”

  54. - money money money MONEY - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 6:43 pm:

    how do these guys raise funds so well for themselves but have trouble getting a realistic budget passed?

  55. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 6:46 pm:

    gee notaceleb

    If it was outsourced to India the work would have been done 16 months ago. Here we continue to pay salaries and the work languishes…..

    As far as campaign financing goes I vote for self financing of all campaigns…..

  56. Pingback Boiler Room » Blog Archive » Campaign finance report day - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 7:10 pm:

    […] P.S.: Can’t agree more with Rich Miller about the State Board of Elections Web site. The fact you can’t open links in a new window seems like a basic coding issue that should have been solved last century. […]

  57. - siriusly - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:14 pm:

    you’re taking my comment the wrong way, sure she may have her own money but just try telling your wife (you in general) that your money is yours and your 401k is yours

    its easy to say I’m being sexist, but I’m just being realistic. that donation looks funny to me - and to my wife

  58. - Amuzing Myself - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:17 pm:


    I find it interesting that you knock Brady for the amount of money he’s raised (or hasn’t raised) but put a glowing header on the story about Rutherford a few days ago when they raised virtually identical amounts. I can’t remember the entire headline, but I seem to remember “strong” as the descriptive word you used. If you were just quoting someone else, my apologies.

    Amazing that “weak” Bill Brady raised practically as much as the rest of the field combined. Not that it’s anything to brag about, but even Dillard disappoints - A LOT.

  59. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:24 pm:

    Brady is running for guv. Bar is much higher

  60. - the downstater - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:31 pm:

    I’d think any statewide consitutional is a pretty high bar. Ohhhhhwelll

  61. - the downstater - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:37 pm:

    Given the economic climate, short of putting their own cash in, surprised some did as well as they did. The Dem’s still have the “machine”. Times are tough !!

  62. - anon - Monday, Jul 20, 09 @ 9:49 pm:

    Funny…Didn’t we see a story where Franks was trying to clout opportunities for his father, wife and brother? Not only is it funny that no one wants to invest in him, it is disgusting that a clearly wealthy family was trying to clout favors from the state.

  63. - Lambda - Tuesday, Jul 21, 09 @ 12:22 am:

    If you’re referring to the story of Franks suggesting his wife, father and brother for UNPAID state positions at the suggestion of Blago. Blagojevich only released that information after Franks called for his impeachment in June, 2008. Funny, an honest politician that was right about a crooked governor before it was “chic” to do so.

  64. - Squideshi - Tuesday, Jul 21, 09 @ 10:24 am:

    I still question if the BoE’s site complies with IITAA. Why don’t they just use the standard template used by other Illinois agencies?

  65. - anon - Tuesday, Jul 21, 09 @ 7:15 pm:

    It doesn’t matter when the Jack Franks’ request for jobs memo was released. The point is that tried to get posts for his family and ranked them with others people listed after them. Some reformer. It also seems shameful that an obviously wealthy family to try to secure 3 posts, from Blago —– paid or not.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Legislation proposed to reform H-1B and L-......
* Tightening L-1 Rules in Grassley/Durbin Bi......

* Manchin, Kirk introduce bill targeting gov......

* Paying for incarceration? What stops demands for better accommodations?
* Maryville Vote Took Place Tonight, Results Tomorrow
* Chicago Winter Overnight Parking Ban Starts Tonight
* Officer In Laquan McDonald Shooting Released After Posting $1.5 Million Bail
* Judge: State Must Make Payments For Home Health Care Worker Insurance
* Obama's State Of The Union Address Set For January 12
* Politicians Join Call For Anita Alvarez To Resign As Laquan McDonald Case Unfolds
* Democrats make bid to take over Chicago Republican Party
* Michael Malatesta interviewed on NTNM
* 7th Subcircuit race getting crowded, other last-day filings

* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

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