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SEIU issue moves to the 10th CD, and other political stories

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* SEIU and ACORN have now become an issue in the 10th Congressional District GOP primary. From a press release…

Robert Dold, Republican candidate for Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, today is calling on his Republican opponent, liberal State Representative Beth Coulson, to cut ties with SEIU after Congressman Mark Kirk’s recent revelations of SEIU’s deep ties to the corrupt group ACORN.

Coulson was endorsed by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in her State Representative campaign in 2008, and until recently proudly displayed the endorsement on her Congressional website. It was taken down after Republican activists expressed their outrage.1 Coulson has received numerous donations from the corrupt group totaling thousands of dollars throughout her career.

“Sadly, this is business as usual for Springfield,” said Dold, former Investigative Counsel for the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. “Beth Coulson should have the courage to cut ties completely with this tarnished group and return their tainted money. I will never accept a single contribution from this organization, and when I’m in Washington I will do everything in my power to make sure that no hard-earned taxpayer dollars go to ACORN.”

IllinoisReview has compiled a list of some Republicans who took money from SEIU.

* Once again, Pat Quinn referred to Dan Hynes as an ankle biter

“There’s always going to be ankle biters on the sidelines who weren’t in the arena when it really counted, chirping away. But I don’t think they’re helping solve the problem. The comptroller wasn’t part of the solution, and it doesn’t appear that he ever will be.”

Quinn gets on a phrase and can’t get off of it. Chirping on the sidelines is another one. He referred to Hynes as an ankle biter last month in southern Illinois when asked about a Hynes critique…

“There’s a lot of ankle-biters out there running for office,” he said. “They’re going to tear me down, but I think the people of Illinois know I’m good and true when it comes to standing up for them.”

* Little surprise here. Congressman Danny Davis may be leaning towards reelection. From The Hill via Progress Illinois

Davis said Monday that he is prepared to file for re-election to his Congressional seat if he decides to drop his bid for Cook County Board president before this fall’s deadline.

“I have enough signatures to turn in for the nominating process for re-election to Congress, should I choose to do so,” Davis said in a phone interview. […]

Davis has encountered competition in the Cook County Board race. Davis, who served on the board before he came to Congress, is one of several black candidates in the open-seat race for Cook County Board president — a circumstance that could lead to the election of a nonblack candidate next year, much to the dismay of local black community leaders.

According to a couple of Democratic operatives familiar with the race, Davis thought he could clear the field if he ran, but that hasn’t happened.

He hasn’t muscled anyone out at all, and it won’t ever happen. A group of black ministers are having a tough time with the county president’s campaign as well

More than 250 African-American ministers met to endorse a black candidate for Cook County board president on Tuesday, but the lack of consensus only served to illustrate the difficult political dynamics.

At least one of those ministers also had a tough time watching his language

“This is not about person,” [Albert D. Tyson III, senior pastor at St. Stephen AME Church] said. “This is not about personality. This is about whose best going to service us and who has the best possible chances of being elected against the forces of evil.”

“The forces of evil.” Sheesh.

Todd Stroger was also at the meeting…

“I think in government there should be an African American who is at the top,” Stroger said before making a reference to the influence of his post. “So, I think there should be some unity behind a candidate. A good candidate. Me.”

He lives in another world, campers. A world that none of us will ever visit.

* Speaking of other worlds, Ab Mikva thinks David Hoffman is less of a long shot than Barack Obama was…

“Barack was probably an even longer shot than for both president and for senator than David is … he was barely known in the rest of the state or the city,” Mikva said.

Yeah, but he raised a lot of money, ran a super-smart campaign and was a natural. He also had something that Hoffman completely lacks: Campaign experience, including a defeat.

* Here’s something else to consider when backing longshots in the primary…

Once the ballot is finalized in a few weeks, the campaigns will heat up. The primary is Tuesday, Feb. 2 – the earliest it’s ever been. That doesn’t leave much time for little-known candidates to separate themselves from the pack, and the holiday season will make that job even tougher.

Tougher and a whole lot more expensive. It won’t be easy to go from relative obscurity to beating a well-known, well-funded candidate by February 2nd.

* Other stuff…

* Gov. Pat Quinn will join Chicago’s Olympic delegation in Copenhagen and said one of his main jobs will be “kissing as many babies as possible.”

* Stroger talks sales tax, pensions with suburban residents

* High-speed rail hits another speed bump: House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, introduced legislation Tuesday that would bar the state from spending money on a segment of the line in Springfield that is designated as the high-speed rail route.

* Madigan: No state money for Third Street rail

* Duffy opts out of college scholarship perk

* More college clout

* Barrington GOP candidates night

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* The big news today, of course, is the US Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal to overturn Chicago’s handgun ban.

* The Question: Should the US Supreme Court strike down Chicago’s handgun ban? Explain, and tell us where you live (Chicago, suburbs, Downstate).

- Posted by Rich Miller   142 Comments      


Dead doctors, dead patients and Illinois pays the tab

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* A new Government Accountability Office audit out of DC has found some serious abuses of the Medicaid prescription program.

The GAO looked at five states, including Illinois. Those states alone made up 40 percent of Medicaid’s prescription-drug payments in fiscal years 2006 and 2007, according to a story in USA Today

[The five states] are not fully taking advantage of federal databases or technology that could spot fraud, the report said.

Not good at all.

Here’s what the GAO found…

• About 65,000 cases in which Medicaid beneficiaries visited six or more doctors and up to 46 pharmacies to acquire prescriptions — a practice known as “doctor shopping” that allows purchasers to exceed the legal limit of drugs.

• Sixty-five doctors or pharmacists writing or filling prescriptions after being banned from Medicaid, some for illegally selling such drugs.

• About 1,800 prescriptions written for dead patients and 1,200 prescriptions “written” by dead physicians.

Dead voters, dead patients and dead doctors. A perfect fit for Illinois [/snark].

In the big picture, we’re not talking about a gigantic dollar amount here. It’s less than $33 million per year for two years - and that’s all five states combined. If Illinois shares equally, that’s less than $7 million, or about $3.5 million in state dollars at a 50-50 match.

With the state’s ongoing budget problems, this could become an issue, however. The full GAO report is here.

* More budget stuff…

* Play Whac-a-Mole to plug budget gap: The governor tried to appease everyone without solving anything.

* AARP Wants Ill. Governor To Halt Budget Cuts

* New Coalition Calls For Moral, Ethical Budget

* Illinois leaders, it’s time to step up

* Quinn vows to restore low-income student funding

* 2 options for funding our best & brightest

* Quinn pushes cig tax for short-term MAP grant fix

* Watchdog group: State layoffs, tax increase likely

* Illinois doctors press for tax on sugary beverages

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** From the “Strange Campaign” files

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

*** UPDATE *** William Kelly has asked his supporters to come over here and comment because he thinks we’re being unfair to him. He apparently doesn’t respond well to criticism.

I’ve already deleted several comments from his supporters because they are commenting under different names with the same IP address. Very stupid move, and usually done to make it look like somebody has more supporters than they actually do. Those people are banned from the blog for good. They probably don’t care because they’re newbies anyway. Still, if you come here, expect to play by the rules or you’ll just be deleted.

Thanks.

[ *** End of Update *** ]

* I guess it takes all kinds to make a political world.

William Kelly, the host of a twice a week Comcast Cable TV show which airs after midnight, has tried and tried to get noticed by a wider audience, without a lot of luck.

Kelly began his quest by challenging Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to a charity boxing match. No coverage resulted and there was no response from Giannoulias, of course.

Then, Kelly stopped Giannoulias in front of a US Senate campaign fundraiser on the morning of September 11th to interview him. Giannoulias smiled, said “It’s good to see you, Bill” and walked away. Kelly sent out a press release claiming he had “flustered” Giannoulias, but that’s not really what the videotape showed. The video did earn Kelly a write-up in a Washington Times blog, but little else.

So, like just about everybody else in the world, Kelly has now jumped on the SEIU/ACORN bandwagon and tried to talk to Giannoulias at a fundraising event this week. Giannoulias kept walking. Hard to blame him. Here’s the video…


From Kelly’s press release today…

“You are seeking and have accepted the endorsement of SEIU. Don’t you think it is better to do an investigation of SEIU first?” asks Kelly. “Under what circumstances would you consider returning the $? Under any circumstances?” When Giannoulias can’t take it anymore, he hides behind his two female assistants. One says to Kelly, “You have to make a contribution.” Kelly retorts, “I am making a contribution.”

* Kelly is actually running for comptroller as a Republican. This has to be one of the oddest campaign strategies I’ve ever seen. Giannoulias is the treasurer. So, what’s the beef? I just don’t get it. Strange.

It’s really all for naught anyway because he’s gonna get creamed by Judy Baar Topinka in the GOP primary. And I gotta wonder how long Comcast is going to tolerate him using his TV show to boost his campaign and vice-a-versa.

But, hey, this is a free country. It’s actually kind of fun to watch Giannoulias squirm a bit. But this is weird, man.

Weird.

- Posted by Rich Miller   103 Comments      


Jesse White kicks off final campaign

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* Secretary of State Jesse White formally kicked off his reelection campaign yesterday. If he wins, and it’s more than just highly doubtful that anybody could beat him, he’ll get a fourth term. And if he serves out that term, he’ll have held the job longer than anyone else in Illinois history. But this will almost undoubtedly be his last campaign

“I’ve enjoyed this ride,” White said. “I want to ride it one more time, and I will always, always work on behalf of the people of the state of Illinois.”

White ran in 1998 and promised not to use the office as a springboard. Jim Edgar and George Ryan had both used their SoS tenure to get them elected governor. But White’s promise has meant that nobody else has been able to move up the ladder. SoS is a much coveted job, to say the least. So, while he’ll be lauded for the next year by members of both parties, inside many will be plotting their 2014 bids.

Most of the heavy-hitters showed up for White’s Chicago announcement yesterday…

On Tuesday, White was endorsed by fellow Democratic state office holders Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Comptroller Dan Hynes, who is challenging Quinn in the Democratic governor primary, did not appear because he was spending time with family, but also supports White, a campaign spokesman said.

Not too sure what to make of Hynes’ no-show.

…Adding… I’ve been told that Hynes’ twin sons had a birthday yesterday. Completely understandable why he missed the event.

White didn’t just announce in Chicago. He also headed Downstate

During a full day campaign run, starting in Chicago, stopping in Springfield, and ending in Marion, White made his intentions clear. He intends to hold office and do the best he can for Illinois for four more years. […]

During his stop in Marion, White spoke of what his office has been able to accomplish in past 11 years, including lowering the automobile accident death rate in persons 15-20 by 40 percent, increasing Internet traffic for the ISS office by 78 percent, and initiating a ban on texting while driving that will start in January of 2010.

White is a talented politician. He won all 102 Illinois counties in 2002 - an amazing feat. His work with the Jesse White Tumblers made him a hero in many minds. Few people even want to drive past Cabrini Green, let alone go in there and turn so many kids around…

Citing White’s biography – U.S. Army paratrooper, Chicago Cubs player, founder of the Jesse White Tumbling Team – [Attorney General Lisa Madigan] said, “It’s no wonder that Jesse White is the most popular elected official in the State of Illinois.”

And he wisely made some early moves to clean up his office which have allowed him to stay in the office

He inherited an office that was embroiled in a scandal that sent dozens of people to prison, but cleaned it up by banning employees from making campaign contributions to him, and by hiring an independent inspector general, former U.S. Attorney James B. Burns, who is still on the job today.

He’s about as close to unbeatable as one can get in politics. It’s no wonder that the Republicans had to search high and low and ended up with an amateur from Aurora to run against him.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* Oops: County computer error further delays Cook tax bills

Cook County officials have averted a disastrous property tax error affecting 80,000 long-term homeowners, but the discovery could further delay the mailing of second installment property tax bills.

* Daley appoints CHA chief Peterson to CTA board

* Mayor Daley taps ex-campaign manager to lead CTA board

Terry Peterson is a hospital lobbyist who served as Daley’s 2007 campaign manager, was an alderman and ran housing authority

* Gift cards for city workers?

Twenty employees of Chicago’s scandal-scarred Buildings Department were summoned to the commissioner’s office Tuesday to explain why their names appeared on a list of city employees who allegedly accepted $100 and $200 gift cards from a permit expediter-turned-government witness.

The gift cards were allegedly distributed in 2005 by Catherine Romasanta, a former expediter caught up in the federal investigation known as Operation Crooked Code who testified in the trial that culminated in last week’s conviction of former supervising building inspector Michael Reese.

* Weis: Help us get others

The “four most egregious offenders” have now been charged in the videotaped fatal beating of Fenger High School honor student Derrion Albert, Chicago’s top cop said Tuesday.

But even as 17-year-old Eugene Bailey was ordered held without bail Tuesday, police Supt. Jody Weis pleaded for the public’s help in identifying three more people seen in an amateur video that has shocked viewers around the globe.

* Fenger beating death: Violence, tension had been building over years

Students, cops say rivalry between local students, Altgeld Gardens students led to deadly brawl

* Guilty verdict in Brown’s Chicken case

* Jurors to Decide on Death Penalty in Brown’s Chicken Case

* Oak Lawn board OKs sexual harassment settlement

Firefighter to be paid $850,000, though officials unsure where money would come from

* Chicago Olympics: How the Copenhagen vote will work Friday

* IOC to 2016 bidders: Play nice

* Poll shows Chicagoans, Americans support 2016 Games in U.S.: Ryan

* Poll shows steady support for Olympics: Chicago 2016

* Community Organizer Says Olympics Will Bring Long-Awaited Improvements

* Protestors Against Chicago Olympics Gather at City Hall

About 200 people gathered downtown last night to protest a possible 2016 Olympics in Chicago.

* Some Chicago residents hoping Olympics bid a bust

* South Side Resident Fears Chicago Olympics Will Uproot Community

* City failed to sell key Olympic idea: Fun

* Landing Games would be 7-year feast of news

* Joliet hoping to boost profile if Chicago wins Olympics

Joliet is ready to sell itself to national teams that will train in the area if Chicago is picked to host the 2016 Olympics

* Blue Island reaches deals with unions to avoid most layoffs

Unions representing the city’s police officers, firefighters and public works employees have negotiated amendments to their contracts, which are designed to reduce by $600,000 the city’s $1.5 million budget shortfall.

* Elk Grove Village restaurants offer 10 percent off meals

* Support drying up for early learning center

DuPage neighbors fear impact on aquifer and traffic from proposed $8 million facility for at-risk children; zoning board votes no

* New Lenox approves round -the-clock construction on Wal-Mart

* Illinois utility begins light bulb recycling

- Posted by Mike Murray   9 Comments      


A little problem

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

* The template I chose for our new website is currently unable to handle the sort of high-volume traffic that we experience here on a regular basis. We’re working on a fix, but we’re also taking the new site offline for a while because it was killing this site as well (they’re both on the same servers).

Be patient. We’ll get it worked out somehow. I’d hate to have to start all over again, though. Sheesh, that was a lot of work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


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Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** The Democrats' budget time bomb is starting to explode
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