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Tell the truth, governor

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009

* Gov. Pat Quinn is hosting a rally of university types this afternoon at UIC. The rally is designed to boost Quinn’s efforts to pass legislation to fund the rest of the year’s MAP scholarship grant program. The money runs dry at the end of this semester.

But as I told subscribers in detail yesterday, Quinn has blamed everybody else except himself for this mess. Dan Hynes’ campaign issued a press release earlier today suggesting six questions that should be asked of Quinn at the rally.

Question 2…

In July you said you had “no reservations about signing the budget bill” and that it “stabilizes our budget,” even though it slashed funding for the MAP program by 50 percent. This weekend you blamed the General Assembly for the crisis, calling it “unacceptable” that it “decided to only fund the first semester of college scholarships.” How do you justify laying the blame so squarely on others even though as the Governor you have had the authority all along either to push to fund the program fully, or to restore funding?

Quinn made that “no reservations about signing the budget” comment during a July press conference that we videotaped at the time. Quinn, you may recall, surrounded himself with his budget staff during the media event.

I’ve isolated Quinn’s “no reservations” comment for you today. Also in this clip, Quinn talks about how he would have to “manage” the budget “very well” to make sure everything went smoothly. I guess that didn’t happen? Watch it

Question 3…

Even after it became apparent that hundreds of thousands of students who rely on MAP grants were being put in a terrible bind, why haven’t you used any of your remaining allocation authority to restore funding?

As I told subscribers yesterday, the governor used his wide discretionary authority (given to him by the General Assembly) to squirrel away $180 million in a reserve account. But throughout this MAP debate, Quinn hasn’t said Word One about using that cash stash to help keep the scholarship program alive. The program is short about $225 million. Instead, he wants to raise income taxes to shore up the program or hike the cigarette tax by a buck a pack.

* In other political news, the National Journal today defended its decision a few weeks ago to raise the competitive rating of Illinois’ US Senate race to the second-most vulernable seat in the country

If there was one ranking that generated controversy last time, it was Illinois. Surely, the critics suggested, Obama’s home state would never replace him with a Republican. In the end, the true-blue nature of Illinois — along with an expected serious financial investment from a White House laden with Chicagoans — would surely assert itself come November 2010. Right?

We’re simply not convinced that the field of Democratic candidates — with the possible exception of former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman — can present the sort of “outsider” credentials to avoid being lumped (fairly or not) with Rod Blagojevich, et al. Plus, it’s hardly unusual for a state’s voters to develop a “throw the bums out” mentality when one party has overstayed its welcome. Even so, can Rep. Mark Kirk (R) convince voters that his nine years in D.C. qualify him as the heir to the “outsider” mantle?


Hoffman, by the way, was endorsed today by Abner Mikva.

* Other campaign stuff…

* Quinn gets hotel union, Hynes gets ironworkers

* Hynes: State needs to cut back government to ‘05 levels

* Negotiations Continue For Campaign Donation Limits

* 2010: An updated look at that long list of candidates

* Lisa Madigan in B-N: Democrats have a lot to be proud of

* Jesse White Running for Re-Election

* White to announce for re-election today

* Aurora man running for secretary of state

* Hultgren joins Republican bid for 14th Congressional District

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

The trouble with witch hunts

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009

* One of the problems with witch hunts - aside from the fact that they’re too often used for nefarious purposes - is that they eventually start to burn those who merely associated with the alleged witches. Things can get way out of hand because it becomes impossible to stop the endless strings of associations that can be made.

And so it goes with this ACORN thing. Not content to just bash the organization, it’s now been deemed necessary by some that those who’ve associated with the group must also be demonized.

Enter Republican US Senate candidate Mark Kirk.

You’d think with all the boasting about how Kirk is the heavy-duty GOP primary front-runner, that someone known as one of the most liberal Republicans in DC (which is somewhat of a misnomer because DC GOPdom is so rightwardly skewed) wouldn’t have to prove he’s just like those bloggers at Illinois Review.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. IR does a very good job on many, many things. But the site has been obsessed with ACORN lately and has been pairing the group with the Service Employees International Union in a single name for weeks. Kirk eagerly jumped on the IR bandwagon yesterday and produced a complicated flow-chart to demonstrate why the US Census should disown SEIU because the union has supported ACORN in the past.

ABC7 didn’t cover the presser, and neither did NBC5 or CBS2. The Olympics coverage is pretty much drowning out almost everything right now. Fox Chicago had a preview of yesterday’s Kirk presser on its early morning show, but nothing else has been posted on its site.

The Tribune ran a brief story…

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican Senate candidate, said Monday the Census Bureau should drop any involvement with the Service Employees International Union for the 2010 population count. But at the same time Kirk had to acknowledge receiving past campaign donations from the union at the center of a partisan firestorm.

The Sun-Times mixed in a foreign policy angle…

On the heals of a congressional vote to de-fund ACORN, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is calling on the U.S. Census to sever all ties to Illinois’ largest union, the Service Employees International Union, because that union, Kirk says, is too close to ACORN.

Kirk also urged the firing of the National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, who he blames for under-estimating Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

* Obviously, Kirk is following the classic GOP presidential election strategy. Move way right in the primary and then move to the center for the general. Reassure the Downstaters and the more right-leaning suburbanites that he’s with them now. Then worry about assuaging the moderate independents later. He’s also obviously taking advantage of the fact that SEIU has endorsed the Democratic frontrunner, Alexi Giannoulias.

But, as I’ve pointed out before, this SEIU thing is a landmine for Illinois Republicans.

State Rep. Beth Coulson is considered the best bet to hold onto Kirk’s US House seat, but she’s been endorsed by SEIU in the past.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard received an SEIU contribution earlier this year.

The Republican State Senate Campaign Committee accepted $10,000 from SEIU in March.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross took a $10K contribution in February from SEIU Healthcare, which was once a brother/sister of ACORN Illinois, back when the group existed (there are actually two $10K contris listed from SEIU to Cross on the same day, but that could be a duplicate computer entry).

As explained at the top, it’s dangerous to conduct a guilt by association witch hunt of SEIU when so many of Kirk’s fellow Illinois Republicans have been taking the union’s cash over the years. If SEIU is guilty of its associations with ACORN, then what does that say about the Republicans who have associated with SEIU? Where does the witch hunt end? Does he want to burn them all?

Maybe that’s why yesterday’s presser was so lightly covered.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009

* Data shows more Illinois residents live in poverty

New data shows about 240,000 more Illinoisans lived in poverty in 2008 compared with 2000 and researchers say those statistics don’t fully reflect the current recession.

According to U.S. Census data made public Tuesday, the state’s poverty rate was 10.7 percent in 2000 and jumped to 12.2 percent in 2008.

The median household income in Illinois dropped from $60,203 in 2000 to $56,235 in 2008.[…]

The poverty rate, a set of federal measures, means that a four would live on $21,200 or less.

* Applause for Mayor Daley’s Olympic effort

* PJSTAR: An Olympian effort from the Windy City

* Chicago delegation leaves for Copenhagen

* Olympic countdown: Long night’s journey into day

* With Games on the line, we’ve got perfect go-to guy

* Will Obama tip Olympic scales for Chicago?

* Chicagoans Protest the 2016 Bid

Many delegates for Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid have landed in Copenhagen this morning. Meanwhile, a group in Chicago plans to protest the city’s bid later today.

* If we end up losing …

* Blame Rio site on ad exec

* Report: Fire city public safety exec

The inspector general’s office is recommending the firing of the No. 2 man at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications for alleged contract irregularities that cost taxpayers $2.25 million.

* Sources: Ex-CHA chief, Daley ally next CTA head

Former Chicago Housing Authority chief Terry Peterson, who has emerged as one of Mayor Daley’s closest political confidantes, is the mayor’s choice to replace departing CTA Board Chairwoman Carole Brown, City Hall sources said Monday.

* Congress Hotel: Despite strike, judge allows sidewalk cafe

Judge Ronald Guzman enjoined the City of Chicago and Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd, from denying the hotel a cafe due to a long strike by hotel employees. Guzman wrote that “the only reasonable conclusion” was that the alderman refused to sign off on the hotel’s application because he’s a strong backer of the striking union.

In its suit, the hotel claimed that the alderman’s actions violated the National Labor Relations Act, which forbids state and local governments from trying to tip a labor dispute to one side. By the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, a federal law takes precedence over local law — or in this case, an unwritten but real political practice, the judge ruled.

Guzman found that Fioretti was exercising “aldermanic privilege,” a long-standing pillar of Chicago politics that makes an alderman a final arbiter of zoning matters in his own ward.

* Escapee case: 2 investigators overpowered by felon may face administrative charges

Cook County State’s Atty. Anita Alvarez has notified two of her investigators that they may face administrative charges for discrediting her office after a convicted felon escaped from their custody this month and eluded police in a two-day crime spree.

* In-your-face brutality rivets and disgusts

This time, it was on 111th Street, a few blocks from Fenger High School. The cell phone video shows an honor student, caught up in a gang fight, being clubbed to death. Our hope is that the video will lead to the identification and punishment of all those responsible for the death of the boy, 16-year-old Derrion Albert.

* Tensions Flare at Vigil for Teen Beating Victim

The melee on Thursday was captured on a cell phone video. It shows a group striking Albert with boards and kicking him as he lay on a sidewalk.

* 3 teenagers charged in Chicago beating death

Three teenagers have been ordered held without bail on charges of first-degree murder in the beating death of a Chicago student who was walking home from school.

* 4th teen charged in beating death of student

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office announced late Monday that first-degree murder charges have been filed against 18-year-old Eugene Bailey.

* Fenger High School: Fear, frustration come to campus

Days after an honor student was slain, kids list the perils of walking to school, while parents demand a halt to violence

* When school bell rings, hell can break loose

Dismissal time is perhaps most dangerous part of day for youths

* Union leader: Mayor ‘a threat’ to Rockford

Rockford police officers, who say they are already understaffed, feel betrayed by a city that intends to lay off eight officers this week, police union President Aurelio DeLaRosa writes in a letter addressed to union membership and released during Monday night’s Rockford City Council meeting.[…]

“(The union) feels this mayor is a threat to the health and well-being of every person in this city,” DeLaRosa writes. “Someone should start mayoral impeachment proceedings.”

* $2.5M going to reduce Illinois DNA backlog

* Illinois 33rd Brigade wraps up Afghanistan mission

Last members of Guard unit heading home

* Troops’ return ends Ill. Guard Afghan mission

Buses carrying 188 Illinois National Guard troops on the last legs of their trips home from Afghanistan fanned out across the state Monday, bringing to an end a yearlong deployment that cost 18 of the state’s soldiers their lives.

* Nativity scene to be back in Capitol this Christmas

* Late harvest, shorter days could mean danger for farmers

* Every 26 seconds, someone hits a deer

One in every 228 Illinois drivers will hit a deer this year, according to a State Farm analysis.

Illinois deer-car collisions are up 3 percent from five years ago, a slight uptick compared with the 18 percent increase in collisions around the country in that same time period, State Farm is reporting.

The insurance agency’s research suggests that every 26 seconds in America, someone slams a deer with a vehicle.

- Posted by Mike Murray   23 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009

• I’m in transit so blogging will resume later this morning. Let’s reverse the order today and do the question first.

• Whom are you supporting in the US Senate campaign? Why?

- Posted by Rich Miller   96 Comments      

* This just in... $12 million contribution to Leader Durkin, $2 million to Munger
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