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Friday, Aug 28, 2009

* Let’s end our week with one from The Clash

Robbin’ people with a six-gun

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Afternoon roundup

Friday, Aug 28, 2009

* I’ve heard these rumors as well

Rumors are circulating that Andy McKenna may be looking to jump into the race for Governor. The former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party would join a crowded field.

I asked McKenna about those rumors last week and he said he would be helping other candidates…

* Betty Loren Maltese is out of prison

Former Cicero Town President Betty Loren Maltese is out of prison and living in a halfway house in Las Vegas.

Loren Maltese was released from a federal prison in California yesterday after serving six-and-a-half years. She and other Cicero public officials were convicted of ripping off the town for millions of dollars in an insurance scam.

Loren Maltese will stay at the halfway house for several months. In an early 2008 interview , she said she would “never go back to Cicero.”

So, apparently, she can’t be blamed for this.

* Still think that federal campaign rules are the way to go? Really?

Over the past five years, Rep. Bobby L. Rush has spent more than a tenth of his campaign’s receipts on the church he founded, a tidy tithe totaling $152,777.

It’s an example of how the campaign finance system allows candidates and office-holders to redirect funds to institutions they care about.

* Quinn closes Howe…

Gov. Pat Quinn today announced he’ll order the troubled state-run Howe Developmental Center closed.

The Tinley Park center is home to about 250 developmentally disabled clients. Quinn’s predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, last year ordered the facility be shuttered after getting pressure from advocates for the disabled who blamed more than two dozen deaths at Howe on neglectful treatment there.

The center lost its federal certification in 2007 because it failed to meet basic standards, which meant Howe also lost all its federal funding.

* WTTW’s Chicago Tonight hosted a panel discussion about old and new media last night. I was invited, but couldn’t attend…

Part of the show was based on the Community Media Workshop’s latest study of Chicago and Illinois blogs. Several political blogs were included, big and small, except for this one. Not sure why.

* Speaking of online stuff, the IL Senate Republicans have a new campaign website. The Senate Dems have a new caucus website. Kirk Dillard’s campaign site has been revamped. The Illinois Supreme Court now has a new Twitter page.

And if you have an iPhone, you’ve just gotta watch this

Hat tip and more details: Travel 2.0

[Just tried it. Pretty darned cool.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Aug 28, 2009

* The latest Milton Bradley “controversy” was foreshadowed in a Sun-Times article back in April

Milton Bradley says he’s aware of Wrigley Field’s reputation for fans who not only boo their own players, but also have a history of getting racial.

He also says he’s ready for it.

‘’I can be like that guy that you watch all the time for whatever reason,'’ he said, referring to his track record of angry outbursts and run-ins. ‘’But I really think I’ve outgrown it, a lot of the stuff that I did when I was younger.'’

Apparently, he wasn’t.

Fast-forward to this week

An angry Milton Bradley lashed out at his treatment from Cubs fans Wednesday, suggesting he has been the victim of racial abuse at Wrigley Field.

But Bradley declined to give specifics, saying no one wanted to listen to him.

“America doesn’t believe in racism,” he said sarcastically before repeating the remark. […]

“All I’m saying is I just pray the game is nine innings, so I can be out there the least amount of time as possible and go home,” he said.

* So, are Cub fans racist? Or, to be more specific, are they more racist than other baseball fans? Former manager Dusty Baker had few kind words for them

[Baker] didn’t want to revisit the racist hate mail and threats he said he received while managing the Cubs (2003-06) when asked about the Sun-Times story before his Cincinnati Reds’ game in Milwaukee. But he did say things are better for him in Cincinnati.

”Oh, yeah, Cincinnati has been great,” he told ”My family loves Cincinnati.”

That same article more than hinted that former manager Don Baylor felt the same way. Baker’s wife and son, by the way, claimed they stopped going to the ball park because of the hostile atmosphere.

Kosuke Fukudome wasn’t happy about that stupid “Horry Cow” t-shirt that is such a big seller at Wrigley, but he did his best to keep a lid on his comments

“But if I make a big deal out of it, it’s not going to benefit me, so I’m not going to make a big deal of it.'’

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was more blunt about that goofy “Ozzie mows Wrigley Field” t-shirt…

“That’s kinda funny, but let’s be clear: the shirts are racist. They play on stereotypes - that Hispanics do yard work and other menial jobs - and they are targated only at members of that group. On the Pujols and Zambrano ones the man is wearing a sombrero, just so there’s no confusion. Hispanics wear big, funny hats and cut our grass… ha, ha, ha!”

* The allegation goes back a ways

On December 3rd 2003, the Chicago Cubs signed one of the top free agent relievers in the game — LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins was a failed closer who proved to be an ideal set-up man, posting ERAs of 2.13 and 1.86 in 2002 and 2003 for the Twins. He was also the first of a string of players to accuse Cub fans of racist tactics and behaviors. Hawkins told Bob Nightengale that he used to receive “boos, taunts, and racial mail and phone calls” when he was with the Cubs. The implication being fans hated him (obviously) because he’s black.

After the Hawkins experiment failed, the Cubs went out and spent a lot of money on another former Twin, Jacque Jones who replaced the extremely white Jeremy Burnitz in right field. By 2006, he too claimed Cub fans were racist — and cited that Hawkins had warned him — while, at the same time, we learned that another Twin, Torii Hunter, had specifically said he would never accept a trade to the Cubs because he didn’t want to play in front of racist fans.

* I have refused to set foot in Cub Park for many years, so I cannot speak from experience here. I’ve been to a whole lot of White Sox games, however, and have yet to hear a racist taunt.

* The Question: Do you think Cub fans are more racist than other baseball fans? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

You can’t always get everything you want

Friday, Aug 28, 2009

* The problem with reform is that everybody has a different idea of what reform should be. And if they don’t get the reform they want, they claim that no “real” reform was achieved.

A good case in point is campaign contribution caps. From today’s Tribune editorial

We’ve never favored contribution limits, because donors and candidates easily evade them.

But the Sun-Times editorial takes the complete opposite approach…

Follow the federal model and put meaningful caps on campaign donations, not ones so high they’re meaningless.

As does the Daily Herald

Start by going back to the ideas from the reform commission. Apply the federal model that limits individuals to giving $2,400 per election, or a total of $4,800 for a primary and general election. Limit PACs and all other players too. Include real limits on the amounts that can be transferred from political committees to candidates.

And after the Sun-Times’ long laundry list of reform demands, they issue this familiar demand…

Anything less, and it won’t be much reform.

As did the Daily Herald…

Anything short of all that simply will be unacceptable.

So, according to the Sun-Times and the DH, if the Tribune’s advice on campaign caps is followed during the veto session, then reform efforts have been a total failure.


* Meanwhile, Gov. Quinn now has an excuse for why he gushed over the reform bill he just vetoed in testimony to committees in both legislative chambers…

In a follow-up interview, Quinn said he testified for the bill because he thought it was the only way to pass campaign limits.

“Probably the legislature would have gone home without doing anything,” Quinn said.

Sounds positively Blagojevichian. “Yes, I did it, but it’s their fault!”

* Related…

* Britt: Quinn takes charge of his indecisiveness

* Quinn vetoes campaign finance bill riddled with loopholes

* Gov. Quinn vetoes campaign caps bill - Says lawmakers need better version for veto session

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      

The center ring

Friday, Aug 28, 2009

* My Sun-Times column today takes a look ahead at Campaign 2010

Think of the campaign for governor as a bloody three-ring circus.

In the ‘’Stage Left'’ ring are Democrats Gov. Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes.

Quinn has struggled to find his leadership chops since being elevated to the top job by Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment. Hynes has begun running an aggressive campaign against Quinn, labeling him an indecisive, ineffective flip-flopper.

Over on “Stage Right” are the Republican candidates.

The front-runner is state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a decent, experienced politician from DuPage County who is so decent that he cut a TV ad for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. That expression of bipartisan admiration for one of his former colleagues has prompted howls of derision from fellow candidates.

Sen. Matt Murphy, a freshman from the Northwest suburbs, made headlines last year when he led the charge for secession from Todd Stroger’s Cook County and, lately, he’s become Dillard’s harshest critic. Murphy has already aired a Downstate TV ad slamming Dillard for supporting a Stroger tax increase. The tax hike was for mass transit, but whatever. He made his point.

Sen. Bill Brady, who ran last time and impressed many with his presence and poise, has never been afraid of taking a whack at a primary opponent. He blasted Dillard for saying nice things about Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Ultraconservative campaign consultant Dan Proft reportedly has a huge stash of private money ready to use for attacks on his fellow GOP candidates. Proft loves the hatchet, and blood will certainly flow.

The other Republican candidates will also likely pile on whoever the front-runner appears to be at any given moment.

Any day now, though, the spotlight will begin shining on the center ring, and it won’t turn off until the campaign ends. The star of the center ring will be Rod Blagojevich — our former clown in chief.

Blagojevich’s new book is coming out next month. I can take a wild guess at what he will say:

‘’Springfield is bad. I was set up. House Speaker Mike Madigan is bad. I tried to give everybody health care. Senate President John Cullerton is bad. I was railroaded. Pat Quinn is bad. I did nothing wrong. Illinois news media is bad. I’m the good guy.'’

Innumerable cable TV appearances will follow, and some moronic talking heads will scream that Blagojevich was given a raw deal.

Blagojevich’s book tour will probably last right up until the February primary. Hynes has slammed Quinn for not standing up to Blagojevich. Blagojevich has said he’s convinced that Quinn was part of an evil plot to kick him out of office. Blagojevich’s book tour will be a constant distraction for Quinn.

And you can bet that any Republican gubernatorial candidate who ever supported any of Blagojevich’s ideas will also be in for a beat-down during the tour of shame. Indeed, Murphy’s ad also tried to tie Dillard to Blagojevich.

Come June, when the winning nominees start to crank up their campaigns, the spotlight will shine even more intensely on our goofy center ring as Blagojevich’s criminal trial begins. God only knows what that man will say or do.

The trial will probably last until around Labor Day, setting the stage for the final run. Blagojevich will be on everyone’s minds, and the fall campaign will most likely revolve around his horrific legacy. The center ring will remain the center of attention.

The truth is Blagojevich was such an aberration that we probably don’t have to worry about ever electing anyone else like him again. He also had only a few true friends and allies. But those facts were long ago lost in the ether. We’re in for an excruciating and mostly pointless 14 months.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

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