*** UPDATE *** Gov. Quinn will appeal the judge’s ruling in favor of AFSCME. From a press release…
The State of Illinois will be appealing today’s ruling.
Illinois is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis and budget reductions must be made, including cuts to the State’s administrative and personnel costs. Our plan includes responsible layoffs that do not jeopardize public safety.
We have carefully followed every step required in the AFSCME contract throughout this process, including executing our ability to make layoffs. In addition, the State provided AFSCME with an alternative solution that included furlough days and wage freezes to minimize employee layoffs. Unfortunately AFSCME was not willing to negotiate, so we were forced to move ahead with the layoffs.
We will be appealing today’s court decision on the basis that our plan is responsible and legally sound. We are asking that the court not intervene as we work to save the State from this financial emergency.
Lambert put in place a preliminary injunction stopping the layoffs until both sides can work out their differences through arbitration or another kind of agreement. Lambert determined AFSCME’s complaints “are not frivolous and reflect a genuine dispute between the parties.”
“The risk to the employees targeted for layoff or laid off fair outweighs any damages or other harm the state may suffer by having to delay the layoffs pending arbitration of the pending grievances,” Lambert wrote in his four-page order.
The union was trying to block layoffs of more than 500 workers scheduled for Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. That was out of more than 2,600 layoffs Quinn planned for the full year, facing deep budget problems.
* But is the layoff plan really a layoff plan? Kurt Erickson takes a look at what the Quinn administration said in court last week…
Five low-security prisons - Vienna, East Moline, Vandalia, Logan and Decatur - will lose both guards and inmates, the latter leaving via a controversial early release program designed to put non-violent offenders back on the streets.
Guards targeted for layoffs will be given the opportunity to move to other prisons where there are vacancies. Special attention will be paid to prisons with high overtime costs, such as the maximum-security Menard Correctional Center in Chester.
In addition, a few hundred new correctional officers - some of whom just finished their cadet training classes in Springfield - will be dispatched to prisons with high vacancy and overtime rates.
The plan, if implemented, will cut overtime costs from $68 million to about $36 million, the official said.
Although the administration contends the governor’s layoff plan won’t necessarily result in any current prison workers losing their jobs, they do admit it will force some of the guards to have to move to be closer to their new jobs.
* Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn resorted to Blagojevich talking points over the weekend…
Governor Pat Quinn joined students and educators Friday to support restoring scholarships called the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program Grants.
There have been cuts in the grants because of the state’s budget crisis.
“It was a tough budget year and the General Assembly decided to only fund the first semester of college scholarships. That’s not acceptable, we have two semesters here,” Quinn said.
As I explained to subscribers this morning, Quinn fully shares the blame for this particular cut. Putting it off on the GA is cowardly and just plain wrong. He also issued a Blagojevichian threat…
Quinn said the [MAP grant] issue will be addressed when the General Assembly returns for the veto session in October. […]
“We’ll keep calling special sessions if we have to,” Quinn said.
* The Cook County GOP met over the weekend. The Daily Herald reporter was duly impressed…
For anyone who expected Cook County Republicans to be sacrificial lambs in seeking countywide office, they sounded more like hungry lions at the opening of their two-day convention in Rosemont Friday.
“We are soldiers,” said Roger Keats, slated as the party’s endorsed candidate for County Board president. “We are taking on what has been an army that has controlled this state for a decade now and controlled this county for almost a half-century.”
Sounding forcible and feisty back on the stump after his 16-year career in the state Senate ended 17 years ago, the Wilmette Republican struck the keynote theme of his campaign in saying Democrats had basically handed him the issue of fighting corrupt, inefficient government, including that of President Todd Stroger.
Stroger will, indeed, be a major issue for the Republicans, but he probably won’t be on the November ballot. The Cook Repubs have the best shot in decades at clawing back into power, but it remains to be seen if this group of candidates can actually do it.
* Sen. Kirk Dillard, a GOP gubernatorial hopeful, won a straw poll of those in attendance at the Cook County Republican event. That’s the first accomplishment Dillard has been able to crow about in weeks. The Daily Herald has the results…
Among delegates attending the two-day convention in Rosemont, Dillard garnered 216 votes. In the field of six candidates, Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington came in second with 198 votes; Hinsdale businessman Adam Andrzejewski got 150 votes.
Dan Proft, a top aide to U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes, DuPage County Chairman Bob Schillerstrom, and Andy McKenna, former Illinois GOP chairman, had 142, 108 and 21 votes respectively.
21 for McKenna? Oof. And, that wasn’t a bad showing at all for Downstater Bill Brady.
* As I’ve said many times before, this whole “the governor should live in Springfield” stuff is goofy.
Jim Thompson moved back to Chicago as soon as his daughter was old enough to attend school. George Ryan spent a lot of time in Springfield, but he also had a Chicago condo where he was often seen. Rod Blagojevich took a lot of heat for his decision, but like Thompson, he, too, had a school aged daughter. No way would I have wanted her in a Springfield school if I was Blagojevich. No way.
CBS 2 requested records of the governor’s executive air travel. According to an analysis of them, Quinn slept at the mansion less than 40 times in the last seven months.
“I was there over the weekend. I’m there as much as I can be,” Quinn told State when she asked why he doesn’t spend more time at the Springfield residence. […]
He also disagreed that he said he would move to Springfield.
“I said I would live in the governor’s mansion. I do live in the governor’s mansion,” Quinn said.
I guess it’s how you define the word “live.”
The government has been run out of Chicago for many years now. Most of the state’s population is in the Chicago area. It’s also a big state, requiring lots of travel. Staying at the guv’s mansion every night is simply out of the question. Quinn made a valid point on 780…
Quinn said being governor for all of the state means waking up some mornings far from either of his offices.
“As a matter of fact, last week I stayed at the Super 8 Motel in Mokena because it was right next to where I had to be the next morning,” he said.
But this is just silly logic by CBS2…
Though Quinn’s budget is less than some of his predecessors, some might argue the mansion is a costly perk. It costs $620,000 a year to maintain. That works out to $1,700 a night, if Quinn were to stay there 365 days a year.
At only 39 days out of a possible 209 days CBS 2 examined, that’s $9,000 a night.
So, if he spent zero nights at the mansion, then his per night spending would be $0.00. Hooray!!! Um… No… Wait.
* My latest syndicated newspaper column was written and submitted before this bit of news broke on Friday…
A festering dispute between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic primary challenger, Comptroller Dan Hynes, over paying bills for lottery and tourism advertising may be moving toward an uneasy political resolution.
Hynes announced Friday his office will pay the bills, but he and Quinn still couldn’t agree on who blinked first.
* But the overall point still stands, mainly because I wrote that the issue was far less important than the politics involved. Here it is…
Gov. Pat Quinn brought out one of the biggest Democratic Party guns possible last week in his latest fight with state Comptroller Dan Hynes.
As you already know, Hynes is running against Quinn for the Democratic nomination. Hynes recently refused to process several million dollars worth of state payments for tourism programs and various consulting contracts. Hynes said he’ll pay them only if Quinn insists they are vital to the state’s interests.
So Quinn held a press conference with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley last week. They were preparing to leave for Denmark for the final push to bring the 2016 Summer Olympic Games to Chicago. The event was billed as a basic “rah rah” for Illinois tourism and the Olympics.
“This press conference is on that alone,” Daley warned reporters during his prepared remarks. “Just more tourists and more conventions into the city.”
But, as with just about everything in this state, no gubernatorial news conference is ever purely about government. And with Hynes’ recent action, the governor’s media event took on a decidedly campaign feel - with Quinn having all the clout on his side.
What about Hynes’ refusal to pay those tourism bills, the governor was asked. “Well, y’know, that’s politics,” Quinn said with no little irritation. “This is serious, this is all about jobs. I work with Mayor Daley every day, and I have since I was sworn in.”
Quinn then turned the gush spigot on full blast about his new bestest buddy.
“I want to thank the mayor publicly. The day I got sworn in, he called and he was there to help me in a tough time for our whole state of Illinois,” Quinn said.
Daley himself chimed in about the controversy without prompting.
“You just can’t sit back and say, ‘They’re (tourists) gonna come to the city of Chicago.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Daley then returned the governor’s favor by praising the event’s host.
“I think that Gov. Quinn has realized that, that you … really have to work to try to get the conventions here,” the mayor said.
Hynes didn’t back down. He demanded again that Quinn resubmit the bills for processing.
Quinn didn’t back away, either. The governor said he won’t resubmit the bills to the comptroller’s office, adding that Hynes ought to just do the job he was elected to do.
Unfortunately for Hynes, the politics of the event is far more important than the actual issue.
Anyone who has watched Daley knows he rarely makes these sorts of public appearances. He almost never overtly endorses anyone in primary elections, particularly statewide primaries.
But Daley’s presence at an event that was ostensibly governmental but overtly political had the effectct of all but endorsing Quinn against Hynes. The fact that Daley spoke up and denounced Hynes’ action as an attempt to hurt tourism should send chills through the Hynes campaign.
One doesn’t mess with two things in Chicago if one hopes to thrive politically: Until recently, the only off-limits topic was the patronage-rich O’Hare International Airport. But the city’s Olympics bid was added several months ago to Daley’s “Do Not Touch” short-list. To mix my metaphors, Hynes has stepped on a third rail. He should’ve known better.
And that brings us to the inherent irony in this primary election battle.
On the one hand we have Hynes, who was brought up in, and brought to the political dance by one of the most influential Democratic machine households in Chicago. That same guy has asked that he not be endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party and quickly has found himself on the wrong side of Daley.
On the other hand, we have Quinn, who railed against the machine for years and was, in turn, despised by that very machine. He just won the Cook County Democratic endorsement and then held hands with Daley at a very public lovefest.
Right now, anyway, Quinn actually looks more believable in this bizarre role reversal than Hynes, mainly because he has all the advantages of incumbency. At the moment, Hynes just looks like somebody who is making excuses for why he can’t win and is picking fights that, for the moment, are making him more enemies than friends.
* As Doug Finke gleefully pointed out yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Illinois Republican Party leaped before they looked when they blasted Democratic US Senate candidates Alexi Giannoulias and David Hoffman for having ties to SEIU, which, in turn, has ties to the much-hated ACORN.
“If Alexi Giannoulias opposes funding for ACORN, then why is he accepting the endorsement of one of ACORN’s biggest sponsors?” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman Brian Walsh said. “Alexi Giannoulias cannot have it both ways. If SEIU does not promise to sever its financial ties with ACORN, Alexi Giannoulias should refuse their endorsement.”
The Illinois Republican Party called on Illinois Senate candidate David Hoffman to renounce his endorsement by Illinois State Senator Jeff Schoenberg – a leading recipient of SEIU campaign contributions and the man who introduced Hoffman at his campaign kick-off event.
Earlier today, Hoffman blasted his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, for accepting the endorsement of SEIU
If that’s the way someone wants to view things, that’s OK. Let’s take a look at the state Board of Elections Web site and see who’s gotten financial support from SEIU. Hmmm, the Republican State Senate Campaign Committee got several thousand dollars in 2006 and 2008. Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, got $5,000 in 2008, and her predecessor, Frank Watson of Greenville, got contributions in 2006 and 2008.
The contributions weren’t limited to people in leadership. Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, and Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, both have gotten donations from SEIU, as recently as this year for Poe. And everyone in the Springfield area knows what kind of radical, left-wing politicians Poe and Bomke are.
That doesn’t begin to touch on all of the people who’ve gotten money from SEIU. SEIU made lots of contributions to lots of candidates, mostly to Democrats, but also Republicans. If SEIU support means you are damaged goods, so be it. But that’s going to be a pretty long list of damaged goods.
In an effort to protect the integrity of the 2010 Census, U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk and Peter Roskam will call on the U.S. Census Bureau to terminate its partnerships with groups closely linked to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), including the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), which contributed $4 million to the group and shares an office with ACORN in Chicago.
Will Kirk and Roskam now refuse endorsements by Leader Radogno and Sen. Bomke and Rep. Poe? Also, SEIU does have an office next door to ACORN Housing, Inc., but that’s not the same as sharing one. ACORN Illinois was dissolved two years ago when its Chicago-based leaders resigned in protest over problems at the national level and formed another group.
Kirk himself voted in 2005 to approve a $140,000 earmark for ACORN’s New York office to fight teen delinquency, SEIU’s political director Jerry Morrison said.
A Kirk spokesman said he would research that vote but that Kirk would lay out his case against SEIU and ACORN at Monday’s news conference. The union even shares office space with an activist group “affiliated” with ACORN, Kirk says in his release.
But Morrison says ACORN closed up shop in Illinois two years ago and most of its employees left to work for other groups that severed ties to ACORN.
* Meanwhile, the Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity Joe Calomino continues to spread the falsehood - begun by GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft - that ACORN got $100,000 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority in 2008. Calomino is now claiming a government coverup…
A 2008 report from the Illinois Housing Development Authority showed that ACORN’s housing subsidiary received a $100,000 grant from the agency to build its Predatory Lending Database Program. Somehow, this grant just happens to not appear in the Illinois Comptroller’s database. We need a real, serious ACORN investigation here in Illinois immediately. If Governor Quinn fails to act quickly and decisively, he’ll show the country that Illinois is simply continuing with corrupt politics as usual.
The report showed no such thing. ACORN was, indeed, on a list of groups to receive grants, but Rod Blagojevich killed the underlying program. So, no grants were distributed at that time. There’s no coverup.
IHDA did give ACORN Housing, Inc. part of a $100,000 grant a few weeks ago, just before the latest scandal broke. But as I already told subscribers the rest of that grant is under review and the money already distributed will be examined this week.
Four years ago, the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation helped persuade Illinois legislators to spend $3 million a year to fight the spread of AIDS in African-American communities.
The Chicago not-for-profit organization — founded by state Rep. Connie Howard (D-Chicago) — went on to get $1.2 million in taxpayer money from that program, called the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund.
Now, state health department officials are questioning $523,545 in spending by Let’s Talk, Let’s Test. The expenses being scrutinized range from the purchase of a skybox at a college football game at Soldier Field to five-figure “bonus” payments to two staffers, state records show.
Federal authorities also are looking into the foundation. “As of today, we can confirm that the U.S. attorney’s office is investigating the LTLT matter,” Kelly Jakubek, communications manager for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Friday.
A Chicago alderman and a company that holds a controversial city contract got into a war of words Friday at city hall.
Alderman Ed Burke says contract for transporting dead bodies is a prime example of waste during tough budget times He’s criticized the more than $600 price tag per body charged by the company, GSSP. Burke held another hearing on the matter today in the council’s finance committee, which he chairs, blasting the company and city officials.