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Hynes responds to Quinn veto

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* From the Hynes campaign…

Illinois Comptroller and Democratic candidate for Governor Dan Hynes issued the following statement today in response to Governor Pat Quinn’s announcement that he would veto House Bill 7:

“Today’s strange scene, with Governor Quinn presiding over the demise and rhetorical piling on of his own “landmark” ethics legislation, was a clear reminder that our state deserves a governor who will lead with a clear vision, and won’t vacillate on important issues. It has been 211 days since Governor Quinn took office promising to clean up state government and 91 days since he called this bill ‘landmark’ reform. Today, we’re back to square one, and the real reforms necessary for our entire state to move forward and get back on track have not been made seven months after Rod Blagojevich left the scene.

Now that the process is starting over, I encourage the Governor and Legislature to work together to craft legislation that is as meaningful in practice as it is for public relations, and to finally bring about the reform we need in Illinois.”

Rate it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      

Quinn vetoes campaign reform bill - Live blog of Quinn presser

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

[Bumped up so the live blogging is more visible. The governor’s Chicago press conference starts at noon and you can listen or watch by clicking here.]

* I told subscribers about this today, and the Tribune has now posted a story about how Gov. Quinn will veto HB 7, the campaign reform bill which has been whacked by just about everybody…

Gov. Pat Quinn today will veto the high-profile campaign finance bill that he once hailed as landmark, choosing to side with critics who say it is riddled with loopholes, an administration source confirmed.

“The governor made the decision to veto based on feedback from the community and legislative leaders and the belief that lawmakers can do better,” the source said. […]

Press aides for Madigan and Cullerton said they would attend Quinn’s announcement. Cullerton’s spokeswoman said he will attend the governor’s press conference to demonstrate he supports campaign finance reform and will continue to work on the issue despite the veto. […]

But it was unclear how Quinn’s change of heart will go over more broadly with fellow Democrats and whether it will spur lawmakers to pass a new version of fundraising restrictions when they meet in October for the fall veto session.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno also supports the veto.

The governor’s press conference will be broadcast live today at noon. We’ll use this as a live blog. Click here to watch or listen. I’d suggest you just listen, since the video conked out during yesterday’s presser.


*** 12:13 pm *** The hour of noon having arrived, the governor’s presser has begun.

* Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Radogno, Dawn Clark Netsch (who’ll provide reformer cover) and others are at the presser.

* A large good government coalition has just issued a press release supporting the veto…

CHANGE Illinois! is pleased to support the Governor’s decision to veto HB7, the legislation intended to establish campaign contribution limits for Illinois’ public officials.

Our coalition has repeatedly called on the Governor to either veto or amendatorily veto this well intentioned but flawed piece of legislation. His action today indicates that he and the state’s legislative leaders do want to create a workable and effective system of contribution limits.

Melissa Hahn of the Illinois Radio Network is live-Tweeting, as is Todd Feurer. Now, on to the live-blogging…

* Quinn admits he testified on behalf of the bill he’s about to veto, but says he said at the time that it was “not a perfect bill.”

* The governor said he believes the October veto session will be “noteworthy” for all it accomplishes. He wants a new reform bill during that session. We’ll see.

* He’s just announced he’s vetoing the bill.

* Speaker Madigan takes the podium: “I agree with the decision they have made… for the governor to veto the bill so we can go back to ground zero.” Won’t comment on specifics.

* President Cullerton: “We have asked the governor to veto the bill.” … “We engaged in lengthy discussion, it’s a very complicated issue… making some progress but we have not reached a final agreement yet… Timing of the bill having to be vetoed or signed [veto is the best way to go].”

* Leader Tom Cross: “We accept your offer to work with all the people involved… and pledge to work with you to have a real bill.”

* Leader Radogno: “I want to applaud the governor for taking this action… There was tremendous pressure on the governor to go ahead and enact a bill… [that could have] made it worse.” … “Very imperative that all parties be at the table.”

* Cindi Canary: “Very pleased and very proud to be up here today… I commend them for their willingness to return to the table… [Spring session] accomplished quite a lot.”

* AARP: “The governor and legislative leaders have recognized that HB 7 is not real reform.”

* Questions from reporters.

Quinn really needs to start answering questions from reporters, rather than just filibustering absolutely everything. Seriously, would it hurt too much to just answer one or two questions rather than droning on and on and on about nothing every single time?

Quinn on his reform commission, which is now actually defunct: “They’ll be involved in the process.” No commission members appear to be present at the presser.

Madigan won’t take reporters’ questions: “I’ve finished with my comments, thank you.” MJM said he had relied on Sens. Cullerton and Harmon to negotiate the bill and wants them to comment.

Cullerton: “I don’t think we should negotiate here the improvements.” … “The bill that passed did have campaign limits… and he praised that at the time. … We want to make sure there are no loopholes that are unintended. There are constitutional issues that are very tricky. … If the governor signed the bill and then we did a trailer bill, that might have sent the wrong message. That’s why we asked [Quinn to veto in total]. … The federal government has been used as a model by many people, but the federal laws have their own deficiencies… Sometimes you can look at the federal model and sometimes you can’t. … When I came to the Tribune editorial board… we hoped we could get an agreement by today. … I didn’t say there were any flaws, I said there are ways we could improve it.”

Quinn: “If you had said a year ago that this agenda would be enacted into law within a year, most people would not have believed you. By the end of October we’re going to have an even fuller of agenda of ethics reform. … Collaboration, cooperation, working together as a team, that moves Illinois forward.”

Quinn: “I’d rather make it better than to not do it right.”

Quinn: “I know from my travels across Illinois that people are very happy with my leadership. It’s steady leadership that’s getting things done.”

Cullerton: “We asked him, the sponsors, asked him to veto this bill. … He’s not flip-flopping, he’s doing what we’ve asked.”

Canary: “We often slam our elected officials for not having a backbone, for not listening to us, for flip-flopping. [Quinn and others] should be commended. … They’re doing something very brave today. … spent over two years on the pay to play bill… it can be frustrating, but people of good will can make a difference. … I would respectfully request that people withhold some of this judgment until October.”

Cross: “If you’re gonna do this in a bipartisan way, include everybody. … It needs to be done right and it needs to include everybody.” Cross also said today’s bipartisanship does not mean that an income tax hike is closer to reality. “No” was his answer.

End of questions. Nobody asked Quinn about his recent amendatory vetoes on the topic of ethics. Strange. Then again, he didn’t issue a press release, so most Chicago types wouldn’t know those AV’s existed.

* 12:57 pm - Quinn has just vetoed the bill. Thanked everyone for coming. End. The mic is still hot, so maybe we’ll hear something interesting. [Spoke too soon. Mic is now off.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* How about a caption for this photo of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Sen. Kirk Dillard and some guy named Barack Obama?

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

More on the U of I, Hynes and “fumigation”

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s refusal to fire the last two U of I trustees yesterday prompted a furious response from the perpetually furious Chicago Tribune editorial board. Today’s edit is entitled: Quinn caves

Gov. Pat Quinn offered a fine rationale Wednesday for firing James Montgomery and Frances Carroll, University of Illinois trustees who refuse to resign in the wake of a serious scandal at the school. Then Quinn caved. He said he’s leaving Montgomery and Carroll on the U. of I. board. With that, Quinn again proved that the people of Illinois cannot rely on him for decisive leadership. Seven months into his tenure, he is the incredible shrinking governor.

Quinn gave an excruciatingly repetitive explanation Wednesday — he does that when he’s anxious — for not dumping the two trustees. It was as if he tried to convince himself there’s justification for his inaction. There isn’t. […]

The governor allegedly is a bold populist. Time and again, though, he won’t stand firm if doing so would offend someone powerful: […]

Enough caves, Governor. Suck it up.

Bethany Jaeger takes a look at Dan Hynes’ response

Comptroller Dan Hynes, who is a Democratic opponent against Quinn in the February primary election, sent a statement through his campaign that said Quinn mishandled the situation from the beginning. “Yesterday, Gov. Quinn said he would act on the University of Illinois trustees issue with ‘certainty and with dispatch.’ Today he did neither. Unfortunately there is little that is certain about the ultimate resolution of a scandal first revealed last May, and acting with dispatch would have resolved this matter well before the students returned to class.”

Hynes did not say whether he would have forced the resignation of the remaining two trustees. A call to his campaign was not immediately returned.

UPDATED: I just missed the Hynes’ campaign returning my call last night. Spokesman Matt McGrath said that Hynes’ criticism is not about the handling of individual board members, but it is about how Quinn handled the case from the beginning without immediately determining his legal powers to clear the board or not. He said Hynes would have been more immediate in determining those legal powers and would have set a deadline and established a clear plan to meet that deadline.

But still no word on whether Hynes would try to fire the trustees or not.

* Meanwhile, Senate President John Cullerton’s vow to advance the “fumigation bill” to the Senate floor in the wake of Quinn’s refusal to act prompted this response from the governor’s office…

A spokesman for Quinn, who supported the measure in the spring, said the governor hasn’t decided if that [fumigation bill] route should be taken in this case.

“While the governor is aware that this is an option, he has not taken a position on this possibility,” Quinn spokesman Bob Reed said.

Um, OK.

House GOP Leader Tom Cross told Springfield radio host Jim Leach that he believes the fumigation bill will make it to the governor’s desk. From Leach’s Twitter page

Tom Cross says fumigation bill could hurt innocent people, but says it was not a mistake to vote for it; thinks it will pass Senate

* Related…

* Faculty leaders want top U. of I. officials out

* Quinn backs down: Governor won’t fire U. of I. trustees who refused to resign

* Two UI trustees remain

* Quinn Begins Fresh Appointments to U of I Board

* Press release: Quinn picks two new U of I trustees

* Christopher Kennedy appointed to Board of Trustees

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

My new pal Harley talks about video gaming

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* I’m not so clear on this logic

Let me be clear: I don’t oppose gambling. I go to casinos occasionally. I always have a grand time losing money. At least the drinks are cheap.

But video gambling in restaurants, bars and gas stations shoves it into the mainstream.

Just ask Eileen, a woman I interviewed who used to live in Champaign County.

She discovered $30,000 in credit card cash withdrawals after the death of her husband 10 years ago. A rule-following, Bible-reading truck driver, he got addicted to a video gambling at a local tavern. The owner illegally paid out from behind the bar and the cops did nothing to stop it.

If you’re going to oppose legalizing video gaming because somebody lost a whole bunch of money, then you should probably oppose already legalized casino gaming as well, because the same thing, and more, happens at those joints. Casinos, unlike your neighborhood tap, are scientifically designed to separate the customers from their cash.

Plus, video gaming won’t be in every gas station. We’re talking about big truck stops along interstates, many of which already look like mini casinos with dozens of poker machines that aren’t supposed to pay out, but do.

* Mark Brown takes a look at the situation in Chicago…

I oppose legalized video gambling on the grounds it’s just a sucker tax that will drain more money from those who can least afford it, although I’m finding it hard to get too far up on my high horse while we’re unable to police the illegal devices already found in many bars.

That’s probably the more reasonable approach. More from Brown’s column

But my understanding is [Chicago] aldermen have been advised that, while there may be some ambiguity in the legal issues, the most practical way to resolve them is to go ahead and amend the ordinances so nobody comes back later and tries to use the courts to shut anybody down.

The city’s Automatic Amusement Device ordinance says such devices are illegal if they “maintain a count of payoffs,” and defines payoff as “the giving of money or other thing of value in exchange for a player’s accumulated points or free games or replays.” A separate ordinance bars individuals from possessing gambling devices. Video poker per se is not illegal in Chicago, only the use of such machines to gamble.

The mayor has previously stated his intent to enact extra unspecified safeguards before the video gambling law takes effect, which in retrospect strikes me as a way to make the other vote more politically palatable.

It’ll make the vote more palatable, but the change will also probably further limit where the games can go and which people can have them.

* Anyway, I just spent several days in South Dakota, which has legalized video gaming. The bars don’t look much different than taverns here, except for the occasional cowboy hat and Native American patrons. Most have video gaming, just like here. The difference is, the machines are legal there. Also, lots of bars and other establishments have big “Casino” signs out front, which is pretty odd, especially since their parking lots often look empty and they only have a small handful of machines. They’re hardly “casinos.”

I began talking to Harley, an employee of a different bar, when I was sitting in “The Oasis” in Rapid City, which is somewhat of a dive bar on Main Street. Harley agreed to be interviewed and gave a surprisingly balanced, fair overview of what legalized gaming has done to his town. Take a look

* Related…

* Counties against gaming get a window of chance

* Kane studies hand on video gambling

* Aurora playing slow hand on video poker

* Fox Valley holds on video gambling

* Critics urge state to reconsider video gambling expansion

* Karpen Challenges Incumbent On Gambling Ties

* Video gaming on hold in Gurnee

* Village may ban video gaming- Lindenhurst weighs new revenue, social cost

* Video poker is local issue

* Video gambling ban could come to October vote - The Park Ridge City Council will revisit a proposed ban on video gambling at a Committee of the Whole meeting Sept. 28

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      

More on the David Hoffman bid

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* Many of us had heard this about former Chicago Inspector General, and now US Senate candidate, David Hoffman for the last few months

Sources said Hoffman had considered a run for Illinois attorney general, but dropped those plans after powerful incumbent Lisa Madigan announced that she would seek another term in that post.

It’s doubtful that any of his opponents will bring it up, but one can’t help but wonder if Hoffman went out of his office’s normal jurisdiction to blast the mayor’s parking meter deal for political ends.

He has receceived almost universally positive media coverage in Chicago, but this is from a June Tribune story, after Hoffman announced his probe of the parking meter deal…

Hoffman, once a press aide to U.S. Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.), has shown himself to be unafraid of the limelight. He has focused more on public relations than his predecessor. […]

He increased his profile further with appearances in Springfield as a member of Gov. Pat Quinn’s reform commission.

“He must have triple-shot espresso in his veins,” said state Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston).Hoffman always was more willing than other prosecutors to place himself in the public eye, say former colleagues.

“David was not only excellent—he had a good sense that he was excellent,” said Ron Safer, another ex-prosecutor. “He never doubted his ability to effect change, even though he was trying to slay some dragons.”

Back to the politics of today. From the Sun-Times

Chicago’s Democratic Ward committeemen, whose patronage workers Hoffman has investigated, are not likely to flock to his candidacy.

Voters most energized about corruption in local government may be voting in the Republican, as opposed to the Democratic primary.

That first graf is true, of course. But it isn’t easy for precinct captains to influence votes in US Senate races. Voters like to think they’re making up their own minds in campaigns like that.

I’m not so sure about that second graf. What do you think?

* Meanwhile

A lawyer from Northbrook is considering entering a race that one of his Republican counterparts says is “unwinnable.”

Steve Kim, 38, said Tuesday he is making plans to take on two-term Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the 2010 election.

Kim, a Korean-American who has served as a Northfield Township trustee, is expected to make a formal announcement in the coming days.

“I’m seriously considering it,” said Kim. “I’m still talking to people about it.”

Good luck with that.

* Related…

* Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar says his lavish spending from campaign fund isn’t ‘pay to play’ politics: He is the boss of Bolingbrook, Roger Claar, who has brought a big-city style of money, power and influence to serving as mayor of a mid-size suburb. The high life is not funded by Claar’s $129,000 salary. Instead, the money comes from his campaign — flush with cash from donors, many of whom have gotten millions in village contracts… Nearly half of his donations came from companies and individuals who have done business with Bolingbrook. Those contributors received more than $300 million in village work — nearly 60 percent of the money that Bolingbrook spent on vendors over the last decade, the Tribune analysis shows.

* Elgin resident Mark Vargas is running for the Republican nomination for the 14th Congressional seat held by Democrat Bill Foster of Batavia.

* Senger surprised by challenge from Dist. 204 school board member

* Dist. 204 board members cast cautious eye at DeSart House run

* Quinn, Hynes headliners at labor breakfast

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

Morning shorts

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

* Boeing invents high-charged solar cell

Boeing Co. researchers have developed the world’s most efficient solar cell, turning 41.6% of sunlight into electricity.

Typically, commercial photovoltaic cells convert 14% to 22% of sunlight into electricity, according to the Solar Energy Industry Assn.

* Cheaper gas this Labor Day weekend

* Can wind power save the Midwest?

* Illinois releasing metro jobless rates for July

* Tribune bondholders want probe of buyout deal

In a filing Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, the bondholders said the transaction was responsible for rendering the company insolvent or with unreasonably small capital.

* Subsidized-housing voucher program: Park Forest draws crowd seeking help with housing costs

* Chicago lakefront gaining a gem

* Let the bidding begin…

That great hulking post office building over the Eisenhower Expressway goes on the auction block Thursday.

The suggested opening bid for this sturdy fixer-upper is $300,000.

* Cuba nursing home backers trying to head off sale

* Neighborhood Fights to Keep Charter School Out

* Chicago Board of Education Passes Budget for 2009-10 School Year

* Chicago targets mental health clinics for cuts

When the administration reopened the clinics, city officials said they would look for ways to keep the clinics open for the long term, but since then the state budget crisis slashed annual funding to $4.2 million from $8.4 million, Hadac said.

As a result, only four of the 40 employees laid off at the four clinics earlier this year have been rehired, Hadac said. The city did plan to hire back “three dozen” of those workers, he said.

* Daley pushes ’sacrifices’ in city budget

A city Public Health Department spokesman said Wednesday the city is looking at shutting five of the 12 mental-health clinics, while blaming the cuts on state budget woes. But a state Human Services Department spokeswoman said the cut was almost entirely the result of city billing errors, not the state budget crisis.

The clinics provide therapy, medication and activities for people with mental illness who can’t get access to city not-for-profit centers that are at maximum capacity, activists said. Four targeted clinics are South Side facilities that closed this year but reopened temporarily with skeleton staffs after advocates staged a sit-in.

* Your three minutes with the mayor.

* Daley has easier time in second public hearing

* Civic Federation: Chicago 2016 budget gives ‘adequate protection’ to taxpayers

Chicago’s $4.8 billion operating budget for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games provides “adequate protection” for taxpayers, but the $1.1 billion Olympic Village exposes the city to “ongoing real estate risks” that must be insured and closely managed, the Civic Federation has concluded.

* Chicago has reasonably solid plan for 2016 Olympics, auditor says

The watchdog group cautioned that the review was not a thorough financial audit and that time constraints limited the depth of the analysis. But the federation nonetheless said if Chicago 2016 sticks to its plan to buy additional insurance, the extra coverage would create “an effective safety net” to protect taxpayers in the event of problems such as cancellation of the Games, natural disasters or “loss of development financing.”

The report also said it was critical for the City Council to use its oversight powers to monitor the city’s Olympic plans. But that appears to miss the political reality of City Hall, where aldermen routinely have followed Daley’s lead and rarely challenge his major plans.

* Civic Fed OKs 2016 cost forecast — except for Olympic Village

* Report backs Olympic financing plan

* 16 Ilinois guardsmen honored for service abroad

* Wikipedia Files: Steve Stone comes clean on Cubs blow-up, Playgirl

- Posted by Mike Murray   5 Comments      

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Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

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Fawell does first TV interview *** UPDATED w/ Video ***

Thursday, Aug 27, 2009

[Bumped up for visibility.]

* If you’re in the Chicago TV market, make sure to tune into Chicago Tonight this evening. One of the guests is former George Ryan chief of staff Scott Fawell. This will be Fawell’s first TV interview since he left prison. Actually it may be his first interview since his indictment. Not totally sure.

I talked to Carol Marin earlier and she said they hope to have video of the interview up relatively fast, so if you miss it, click here later.

If you watch, tell us what happened in comments.

…Adding… Andrea Coutresis, Fawell’s girlfriend whom Fawell kept out of a long sentence by flipping on Ryan, will also be on tonight’s show.

*** UPDATE - 7:27 pm *** And, here it is…

*** UPDATE 2 *** Sun-Times

But Fawell also is well aware of the public perception that surrounds the deaths of the six children of Scott and Janet Willis, who were killed in a crash that involved a truck driver with an Illinois CDL on Nov. 8, 1994.

It later became known that a bribe was paid to “fix” the driver’s exam of the driver whose truck was involved. A federal investigation later revealed that license selling was common under Ryan, with some of the money being used so Secretary of State employees could contribute to Ryan’s campaigns.

“People on the street, they believe George Ryan and I are somehow responsible for that tragic accident,” Fawell said. “Is it the result of corruption? . . . I don’t want to split hairs, but I think it’s more the result of petty graft because people taking money for licenses in the Secretary of State’s office has unfortunately happened for years.

“It’s a tragedy, and certainly I’m sorry it ever happened,” Fawell added. “Do I feel any responsibility? . . . No I really don’t.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      

Quinn press conference live blog - Guv backs away from firing two holdout trustees - Cullerton will move fumigation bill - Hynes responds: “Failure to lead”

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* 2:34 pm - Gov. Pat Quinn’s press conference on the U of I trustee matter is starting now. Click here for live video, or here for audio.

Please help live-blog in comments since I have several other things to do.

* 2:38 pm - Ben Yount of MetroNetworks is live-Tweeting. [Fixed link]

* Quinn announced Chris Kennedy and Lawrence Oliver (with Boeing, former US Attorney) as his newest trustee appointees.

* QUINN: “I am concerned that the university will be dragged into an interminable legal battle… with two trustees who don’t want to resign.”

“I don’t want a cloud of litigation hanging over the head [of the university]. Ancient curse: May your life be filled with lawyers.”

Here comes the retreat, campers…

LOL. The video feed conked out and I missed what he said. Sheesh. Ben had the same problem. If you’re having the same problem, check the audio feed.

* So, the logic seems to be that since the guv’s commission report suggested that the trustees should voluntarily resign, and the two holdouts don’t want to resign, then the governor is “moving on.”

* From August 12th

“I don’t intend to just act in a hasty way, but I will act,” Quinn said.

* From August 16th

“I’m a patient man but I don’t have infinite patience,” Quinn said Friday. “I’m willing to let them study the report, but you know, I think they better realize that school is beginning soon and it’s time for them to do the right thing.”

* Trib’s headline: Quinn backs down on firing 2 U. of I. trustees

* 3:13 pm - And that’s a wrap. Just like I figured, it ended the way his “Roland Burris should resign” crusade did. He’s getting awfully predictable.

*** 3:20 pm *** Senate President John Cullerton’s press secretary said she just spoke with her boss and Cullerton told her he will be moving the “fumigation” bill now that Gov. Quinn has refused to fire the two holdout trustees. The legislation would force the trustees (and a whole lot of other people) off the board and out of government.

However, Cullerton’s spokesperson also pointed out that there was no guarantee that the fumigation bill (which has already passed the House) would clear the Senate because of opposition from members of his own caucus and some Republicans.

* 4:08 pm - From Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno’s spokesperson…

Leader Radogno told reporters today that she’s disappointed the University of Illinois doesn’t have a clean slate and ability to put this behind it. But the Governor still has opportunities to demonstrate his commitment to reforming Illinois government — specifically by vetoing the sham campaign finance reform bill and working on an alternative.

She’s meeting with [Quinn] shortly.

* 5:11 pm - From the Dan Hynes campaign…

Illinois Comptroller and Democratic candidate for Governor Dan Hynes issued the following statement today in response to Governor Pat Quinn’s press conference on the University of Illinois trustee decision:

“Yesterday, Governor Quinn said he would act on the University of Illinois trustees issue with ‘certainty and with dispatch.’ Today he did neither. Unfortunately there is little that is certain about the ultimate resolution of a scandal first revealed last May, and acting with dispatch would have resolved this matter well before the students returned to class. The simple fact is that the Governor has let the entire summer go by, managing only to make the situation more chaotic as classes begin. This is just another example of Pat Quinn’s failure to lead.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   112 Comments      

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Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

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Hoffman campaign updates

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman already has a campaign website. David Axelrod’s former firm, AKPD, just sent out a press release announcing that Hoffman was resigning to run as a Democrat for US Senate. And he has a campaign video

…Adding… From Lynn Sweet

The [former Axelrod firm] –poised to represent Merchandise Mart mogul Chris Kennedy if he had jumped in the race– had clearly wants to cloister Hoffman at this stage and not repeat the mistakes made by Caroline Kennedy when she tested-the-waters for securing the appointment to replace then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate and found herself stumbling in the rough and tumble of New York politics and press.

*** 1:17 pm *** I just got off the phone with AKPD, and was told Hoffman has already retained Geoffrey Garin, the president of Hart Research, as his pollster. That’s Dick Durbin’s pollster, so they know something about Illinois.

*** 1:19 pm *** Laura Washington’s early take

The Pollyanna crowd will pooh-pooh that the Senate race is too important to become the plaything of race and gender politics.

But demographics have long been major players in the ups and downs of Illinois politics.

Jackson’s campaign knows that. […]

While she doesn’t want to push this button hard, she can also appeal to the “race men” who desire to “keep the seat” for an African American.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* This is completely non-political, but it’s been bugging the absolute heck outta me for quite some time.

The scenario is played out countless times a day. We’ve all experienced it.

You’re talking on your phone and the connection drops, probably because one or both callers has a mobile phone.

You call the person back and get a busy signal or voice mail because that person is calling you at the same time. You hang up and call back again and the same thing happens. This repeats over and over until one side surrenders and the other side makes a connection - or both sides surrender and the conversation is over.

Frustrating beyond belief.

* The Question: What should be the protocol for situations like this? Who, in your opinion, should call back and who should wait? Explain your reasoning, please.

I’ve decided to abide by the majority vote, so there are consequences to today’s QOTD. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

*** UPDATED x2 - Axelrod firm behind him? *** Report: Chicago Inspector General to run for US Senate as a Dem

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* If he can raise enough money to compete, this could be quite an interesting turn of events

Chicago’s corruption-fighting Inspector General David Hoffman has resigned to enter the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, removing a giant thorn from Mayor Daley’s side.

A former federal prosecutor who specialized in breaking up street gangs, Hoffman was hired away from the U.S. attorney’s office in 2005 at a time when Daley was besieged by the Hired Truck, city hiring and minority contracting scandals.

It wasn’t long before an office that had concentrated on low-level corruption and almost never conducted criminal investigations was working hand-in-glove with the federal government.

Not only does Hoffman bring real ethics and prosecutorial credentials to the race (which could conceivable hurt Alexi Giannoulias), but as the second white male to enter the race he could also empower the only African-American and the only female candidate to announce so far, Urban League President Cheryle Jackson.

Game changer?


*** UPDATE 1 *** The Tribune confirms

Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman said today he is resigning his watchdog role to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Hoffman told the Chicago Tribune that he is resigning officially today and told Mayor Richard Daley of his decision on Tuesday. He declined further comment.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From WBEZ’s Twitter page

Chicago’s Inspector General David Hoffman running for Senate, has Axelrod’s media relations company behind him

* Related…

* Brown: Pols now careful to split gov job, campaign roles

* Franks still mulling Dem race for guv

* At least State Sen. Matt Murphy admits it

* GOP treasurer candidate Rutherford hopes to use ‘bully pulpit’

* DeSart considering run at Senger’s 96th House seat

* Long Grove village president explores run in 8th District

* Another candidate in 59th District’s race

* Patlak to run for Cook Board of Review

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      

Hold everything?

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* Is the capital project funding in jeopardy? Time will tell, but if nothing else, this development won’t make it easier to sell bonds

Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz on Tuesday filed a lawsuit claiming Gov. Pat Quinn and other state leaders violated the Illinois Constitution when they passed legislation to increase taxes on alcohol and expand gambling to fund the governor’s $31-billion public works program.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims the 2009 Capital Program rolls too many subjects into one bill and fails to adhere to a uniformity clause, because the new law imposes “arbitrary, widely disproportionate new taxes on beer, wine and spirits.” Mr. Wirtz, president of Wirtz Beverage Illinois LLC, wants a judge to declare the new law unconstitutional and stop the “use of state funds and resources in the operation and administration and regulation of programs created by legislation.” […]

Mr. Wirtz claims the higher rates will raise taxes on beer 22% and up to 90% for wine and spirits, and that state lawmakers have failed to provide “coherent rationale” for the “vastly disproportionate” increases.


The Wirtz suit could pose a greater threat to the public works plan, which would be hard to launch if a court blocked or stalled implementation of the tax hikes or gambling expansion. Legal challenges were expected when Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measures into law this summer. But in Wirtz, the program now has an opponent with broad political influence and the deep pockets necessary to mount an effective court fight. […]

The newly filed Wirtz lawsuit contends lawmakers violated several dictates of the Illinois Constitution in stitching together the building program, most prominently a mandate that legislation on substantive matters not pertain to a mishmash of unrelated subjects.

The suit also claims the video poker program, which would allow bars across the state to install video poker machines linked to the state through a closed-circuit Internet connection, violates federal gambling rules.

A companion plan to hire a private management firm to run the Illinois lottery similarly runs afoul of federal law, the suit alleges.

In essence, pretty much every single dollar raised to fund the capital bill is now being challenged.

* This is without a doubt the greatest problem with the new video gaming law…

The state’s top gambling regulator said [yesterday] it will be “absolutely impossible” to meet a mid-September deadline for drafting rules needed to roll out legalized video poker around Illinois. […]

“The video gaming statute creates not only a new branch of gaming, it creates an entirely new industry of gaming,” Jaffe said, estimating as many as 15,000 businesses across the state would be eligible to install gambling machines. “We are working on rules, but there is no way in the world that we will rush to finish rules like that unless we have the knowledge to do it and the ability to do it.”

The Gaming Board has no experience with stuff like this. The project probably should’ve been given to the Lottery, which already has a statewide network of machines and somewhat similar experience. The South Dakota video gaming law handed over authority to its Lottery, and things seem to be going pretty well there.

But keep in mind that the Gaming Board, like any state entity, is a bureaucracy, and bureaucracies always want as many resources as possible…

Jaffe said he was “disappointed but not surprised” that lawmakers failed to provide funding to get the program off the ground. The gaming board estimates it would need at least 75 additional staff members and $10 million just to implement the program. It would take even more resources to properly monitor and regulate, which he said poses a whole other set of problems.

* Somebody left this comment on the blog today, and I checked the IP address so I’m comfortable front-paging it…

Heard [Quinn] is also issuing an amendatory veto to reduce the number of signatures required for towns put the video gaming issue on the ballot. Using a horse racing related bill. Don’t know why he just didn’t AV the original bill if he wants that.

Expect more of this stuff.

* Related…

* Critics urge state to reconsider video

* Taxes going up on candy, shampoo, liquor

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

Quinn: “You ain’t seen nothing yet”

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* Gov. Pat Quinn issued an amendatory veto this week without any sort of fanfare. The AV creates sweeping new provisions to allow binding referenda on new municipal ethics ordinances

The Democratic governor and longtime fan of citizen initiatives put the issue on the legislature’s fall veto session agenda by using his authority to rewrite a bill lawmakers sent him. He has asked lawmakers to go along with his changes, but it may be a long shot when they meet in Springfield in mid-October.

“I’ve said many a time that we need to have an ethics initiative in Illinois that allows the taxpayers, the voters, to step in whether it be at the statewide level or local level,” Quinn said Tuesday. Asked to detail his strategy, Quinn instead said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah.

From Quinn’s amendatory veto language

The electors of any unit of local government may pass, by initiative petition and referendum in the manner prescribed by this Article, a binding ordinance relating to ethical standards that the corporate authorities of their unit of local government are empowered to pass.

As I told subscribers this morning, you won’t find any definition of what a “binding ordinance relating to ethical standards” actually is. That’s quite a loophole.

The state Constitution gives the governor a whole lot of leeway on amendatory vetoes, a fact that Rod Blagojevich took advantage of time and time again…

The Governor may return a bill together with specific recommendations for change to the house in which it originated.

More on this week’s action…

Still hanging are questions on how Quinn will deal with a bill to restrict political donations; he once called the measure “landmark” but now suggests it falls short of the broad reform needed. The bill would become law if Quinn doesn’t act by Friday. Some of his aides met with top Democratic lawmakers Tuesday to discuss possible changes to the measure.

Brace yourselves for the mother of all panderings.

* Related…

* Press release: Republican leaders in the House and Senate are calling on the governor to veto the seriously flawed campaign finance legislation (House Bill 7) awaiting action on his desk. They also pledge to work with the governor on a better solution.

* State Capitol Q&A: Quinn delaying effective dates

* Quinn says scholarships should be need-based

* The best politicians that money can buy

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 - Kennedy to U of I board *** Quinn to announce U of I trustee decision today - Cullerton says don’t fire them

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

*** UPDATE *** From the Naperville Sun

Gov. Pat Quinn will name Merchandise Mart CEO Chris Kennedy to the University of Illinois board later Wednesday.

Quinn mentioned the appointment Wednesday morning after speaking at a labor breakfast at Local 176 in Joliet.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* After postponing the event several times, Gov. Pat Quinn intends to take action on the U of I trustee issue later today. From a press release…

CHICAGO- Governor Quinn will make an announcement regarding the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

To listen and watch the press conference live, please visit

WHO: Governor Pat Quinn

TIME: 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: James R. Thompson Center
100 West Randolph Street
15th Floor Blue Room
Chicago, 60601


Quinn said [yesterday] he will detail his plans for the board and holdout trustees Montgomery and Frances Carroll, who have refused the governor’s call to resign. The governor wouldn’t say what he plans to do, but he promised to act “with certainty and with dispatch.”[…]

Montgomery told The Associated Press that if Quinn removes him, he’ll seek an injunction to stop the action, then try to force the governor to prove in court that he was incompetent, neglected his duties or was guilty of malfeasance. The state constitution says political appointees may be removed for those reasons.

“I’m not going to take the responsibility for conduct that I had nothing to do with, and I don’t want to voluntarily acknowledge that I did something that I did not do,” Montgomery said.

But Senate President John Cullerton is advising against firing the two remaining trustees

Cullerton said his advice to Gov. Quinn is not to fire the holdout trustees now — “they’ll sue, they should sue, and it’ll cost us a lot of money to fight it if nothing else” — but to wait to see if the state Senate passes the fumigation bill, which would have the same effect but in a much more pro-forma way that would be unlikely to prompt a lawsuit.

Cullerton wants the two holdouts to resign on their own. If they don’t, he threatened to advance the House-approved “fumigation” bill. The Tribune originally reported that Cullerton would move a bill targeting only the U of I trustees if they don’t all resign, but Cullerton said that was incorrect.

* Meawhile, the Associated Press has a story today about the governor’s numerous flip-flops and Quinn’s defense of himself…

Quinn, however, argues that most of those actions amount to maneuvering over details as he focuses on the big picture — getting a tax increase to balance the budget, for instance, or toughening Illinois ethics laws.


Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, said Quinn risks weakening himself by being seen as indecisive. Lawmakers, for instance, are less likely to concede to him in negotiations if they think he’ll fold soon.

But Mooney doubts the average voter pays much attention to the kinds of issues on which Quinn has been accused of flip-flopping. He said they’re not big, fundamental issues, such as presidential candidate John Kerry’s 2004 statement that he voted for war funding before he voted against it.

They’ll likely pay attention if the issue is effectively used in TV ads and if the meme continues in the media.

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

Morning shorts

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* Mayor culpa: Daley catches an earful at public hearing

Keep city mental health centers open. Expand foreclosure outreach programs. Increase funding for youth jobs and mentoring. Fix giant sinkholes. And dump Jody Weis.

Those were among the litany of suggestions — and demands — Mayor Daley received Tuesday night at the first public hearing on his 2010 preliminary budget that’s marked by a $520 million shortfall.

* Budget Cuts Not an Option at First Budget Meeting

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says the city needs to “go on a diet” to fill a more than $500-million budget deficit. But residents attending this year’s first budget meeting had service increases on their minds.

* Daley hears critics on Olympics, budget, parking

* City digs itself into hole with resident weeks after water repair work

* Latest Chicago recycling program offers rewards — with possible payoffs for city, recycler and residents

* Illinois ranks second in bank failures

* Workers strike after health care yanked

Unionized workers launched a strike at SK Hand Tool Corp.’s Chicago and McCook sites Tuesday after the company dropped employees’ health insurance coverage without notice, according to a Teamsters official.

* United Airlines move: Northwest suburbs to feel the financial pain

* Chicago home prices rise in June

* Digital divide: Internet-access speed varies across Illinois

* Chicago Reader’s new owner is a hedge fund

* Rezoning aims to save Loop gems

Alderman hopes to spur re-use of historic sites

* Oak Lawn trustees approve union concessions to save jobs

- Posted by Mike Murray   4 Comments      

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

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Morning video

Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

* A short blooper reel from the Dan Proft for governor campaign

Destined to be a classic.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

* Today's quotable
* "The State’s infrastructure for providing human services is, without exaggeration, in severe jeopardy"
* Caption contest!
* George Ryan attorney claims appellate judge told "whoppers"
* Lawyers claim Cullerton's pension idea is unconstitutional
* Question of the day
* Olsen frontrunner to replace Sandack
* Rauner signs surveillance reform bill
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* Unclear on the "unity" concept... so far
* A weird dude, that one
* Rauner's taking his time on decrim bill, but will likely sign it
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* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Sandack replacement?
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Madigan reveals he's talked to Durbin about running for governor
* *** LIVE COVERAGE *** Democratic National Convention
* *** UPDATED x2 - Durkin statement *** Sandack resigns
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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