Former House GOP spokesman David Dring qualified for the Boston Marathon this year. His time of 3:15:13 in the Chicago Marathon got him in. Amazing. Just amazing. Way to go, Dave!
I would normally give Dringy a further video shout-out, but I saved that for Bethany Jaeger, who is leaving Illinois Issues’ Statehouse bureau today for a management consultant position with Kerber, Eck & Braeckel in Springfield. I posted this about Bethany in comments today, but it’s worth repeating…
Her departure is a huge loss for the Statehouse. She is an amazingly hard worker, a top notch reporter, is firmly committed to online and multi-media and has helped drag Illinois Issues into the 21st Century.
Replacing her won’t be easy at all.
I gave Bethany her choice of songs and she picked Superstition by Stevie Wonder. This is probably the best version ever done. Turn it way, way up…
* Democratic US Senate underdog Jacob Meister begins running his first radio ads next Tuesday. Click here to listen. The Spanish language ad is here. From the campaign…
Person-on-the-street interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. English-speaking constituents can be heard in ads on Illinois Radio Network, WBBM, WXRT, WCPT, WMBD and WSMT. Spanish-speaking constituents can be heard on an ad, which is airing exclusively on WLEY.
Meister has put a million bucks of his own cash into the race.
* Democratic state treasurer candidate Robin Kelly finally filed her nominating petitions yesterday. The Green Party slate filed its petitions today.
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a former independent alderman and state senator, is attempting a political comeback, gathering signatures to run for Cook County Board against Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno.
Garcia was a leader of the independent bloc early in Mayor Daley’s administration, fighting for affordable housing programs, then he was elected to the state senate.
Moreno is in real trouble. He’s proudly voted with Todd Stroger so often that his more conservative Democratic base will despise him, and he’s a “regular” so the independents won’t love him, either. If Garcia can raise the cash, he has an excellent shot.
This is part of a broader Latino battle, by the way. The Sun-Times touches on that today…
Garcia is part of a slate Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) is running to oust Regular Democrats on the Southwest Side. Another is Rudy Lozano, Jr., son of the slain community activist, who is running for state representative. Garcia is godfather to Lozano’s brother.
* Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna is getting a lot of press for his online “Hair” video and TV ad. From the Pantagraph…
If McKenna’s goal was to stand out from the crowd and attract more attention to his campaign, he at least partially succeeded: He got us to write an editorial about it.
This may be unorthodox for a rival candidate to say, but I urge you to watch [the McKenna video]. In doing so, after the entertaining intro, you will discover that not one policy position is offered, not one specific solution is advanced or even alluded to by McKenna. Lots of gauzy images of him in imaginary board rooms, strolling down Chicago streets, and winding down the day at his deluxe apartment in the sky in front of a crackling fire.
McKenna offers only poll-tested buzzwords.
In 2006, Rod Blagojevich’s re-election theme was, “Getting Things Done for People”. The details of what things and for which people were purposely absent. It was all about Rod.
Andy McKenna has borrowed that template. He touts himself as “the quiet cure”. What specifically is the cure and who gets it? Why, of course, Andy is the cure. It is all about Andy. Don’t fret about the details.
* We already talked about Republican US Senate candidate Mark Kirk’s new radio ad. But if you want to listen to it, just hit the play button…
But it seems striking that Kirk is denouncing the public option in such harsh terms in one of the bluest states in the country, and Dems are likely to jump on this as another sign of just how far to the right the GOP base has drifted.
* The staff of Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski didn’t see my e-mail the other day, so they didn’t respond to our questions. Here is the campaign’s response…
Q: If national health care includes an opt-out option for states, and the decision came down to you, would you opt-out Illinois?
A: While it’s hard to say exactly what we would do until we see what “option” we are deciding upon, our administration would probably lean in favor of “opting out” of a national system. Of course, as one of the comments alluded to, if an “opt-out” is gamed so that no state would do so, this becomes a moot question. That said, an opt-out would be more likely if the Federal Government gave the states a set of guidelines, provided states with a per capita block grant, and left it to the states to decide upon the best way to meet the guidelines.
Under this scenario, it would not be difficult to determine which deal was better for Illinois Citizens. If we thought we could do better, we would opt-out. If the Federal Deal was better for Illinois citizens, we wouldn’t.
Specifically, an Andrzejewski Administration would lean in favor providing citizens with as much flexibility as possible in choosing their health insurance and giving them control of as much of the allocation of their health care dollar as possible. We would also make sure that for any hospital ,health insurance company, or health firm doing business with the “state sytem,” it would have to open up its entire cost structure. For more details on the direction we would like to take, go to http://www.adamforillinois.com/Health-Care/.
In a specific answer to Palos Park Bob, that fits inside this answer, Yes, we would strongly consider “requiring Illinois Health Insurance companies doing business in Illinois to create an unsubsidized catastrophic care pool for small companies and uninsured indivivuals.”
Our state (and nation) is rich enough to provide access to health care for its citizens with out moving toward the failed policies of “single payer.” Single payer nations are moving away from that model (out of economic necessity), and there is no reason for America, or Illinois, to move toward it.
Q: What are you willing to do to modify current public pension policy to bring public pensions and pension benefits into line with what the legislature is willing contribute?
A: The main problem with pensions is that the state’s contribution is done through the appropriations process in the General Assembly. While the state constitution requires that pensions be paid, it does not require that pensions be funded.
The General Assembly has underfunded the pensions for decades and has thus shown that it isn’t up to the task of paying the pensions, though it sure has enjoyed expanding benefits. Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse to cut existing vested payouts. The only solution is to restructure the pension system.
This is the direction an Andrzejewski Administration would take.
Pension payments should be the obligation of the employing agency directly out of their own budgets. Saddling future taxpayers with unknown liabilities is immoral.
The employing agency’s contribution to worker pensions shall be paid at the same time employee contribution is taken out of the checks.
All pension benefits will be negotiated directly with the employing agency with no ability of the state to “add” benefits across the board.
A legal “cause of action” will be created so any employee, union, or pension system could sue the employing agency for non-payment of pension contributions and compel payment.
Pension benefits and calculations can be modified for future employees as economic circumstances dictate.
Of course, those rules should apply to every other governmental body in Illinois, to the extent that they don’t already.
Lastly, our transparency policy, which puts every dime of taxpayer spending online, ensures that every obligation is calculable, and is met. This augments the necessary reforms above because it opens up access for press and public scrutiny.
All senior citizens will continue to get free mass transit bus rides after a plan to restrict the rides to poor seniors was scrapped.
Sen. Rickey Hendon, D-Chicago, said today a bill to restrict the free rides would not be called in the Senate. Without a Senate vote, the plan cannot pass, even though bills to restrict the rides are pending in both the House and Senate. […]
Hendon said lawmakers were “pretty sure” Gov. Pat Quinn planned to reinstate free rides for all seniors even if the restrictions passed the General Assembly. Quinn’s office had no immediate comment.
As I told subscribers this morning, Quinn has been signaling for the past few days that he had changed his mind yet again on free rides. First, he was for free rides for all seniors, then a few weeks ago he said the freebie should be limited to poor seniors, then he signaled this week that he wanted that limitation removed. There was a strong suspicion that Quinn would use his amendatory veto power to kill off the free ride limits - a la Rod Blagojevich.
[Cullerton] dismissed Republican complaints that rank-and-file lawmakers would be controlled by the party bosses who dump big money into their campaigns.
Cullerton cited how Radogno received more than $1 million from former Senate GOP leader James “Pate” Philip when he ruled the chamber. Cullerton said that Radogno was not controlled by Philip when she was a rank-and-file member.
In turn, Radogno said she accepted the money as part of an entire political system that needs changed because it is “flawed.” She said the free-flow of money in politics needs to be curtailed and that party bosses would be empowered under the legislation because the Democrats wanted it that way.
More from the hearing…
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said Republicans are opposing the campaign finance legislation in an attempt to gain a political advantage. But it will backfire because Democrats will argue that the Republicans opposed reform, he said.
The mail writes itself - for both sides.
* Also, Illinois Review runs down (literally) the “cleanup” bill for gaming expansion…
HB 607 lets the Governor “select” a private manager for the total management of the Lottery. Was this written for one political insider? With all of the scandals in Illinois and Pay to Play politics, this is outrageous.
* Another Republican gubernatorial candidate has some ideas…
Schillerstrom’s law would require spending, budget and tax legislation to be posted online a full three days in advance of a vote in the General Assembly, thus allowing for public and media scrutiny.
Schillerstrom’s platform also calls [for] zero-based budgeting, in which state agencies “must account for every single dollar”; a cap on spending using a formula based on population growth and inflation; and independent budget certification, separate from the comptroller’s office, in which the governor would return any budget he or she determines is not balanced back to the General Assembly.
In my opinion, spending caps tied to inflation are not a good idea because too many things like health insurance rise far above the CPI. It’s basically just death by slow strangulation. But that idea for independent budget certification is worth a look.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that while these may be good ideas, they don’t solve the problem.
* Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna sent out a press release this morning which once again compares Pat Quinn’s budget-making to Rod Blagojevich’s…
In light of Pat Quinn’s latest assault on future generations by seeking to borrow another $1 billion, family businessman and gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna today stood by his comments that when it comes to taxes and spending, Pat Quinn is just like Rod Blagojevich “with a little less hair.”
“Pat Quinn’s quest to borrow another billion dollars to feed his hungry appetite for more government spending only confirms he’s just like Rod Blagojevich,” said McKenna.
I asked for clarification on this slam because the latest Quinn borrowing idea is short-term. It has to be repaid by the end of the fiscal year, so it’s not really an “assault on future generations.”
“The point of the release is to highlight the fact that his answer for everything is borrowing and spending and taxes,” explained a McKenna spokesman. “It’s more borrowing to feed that spending habit… Whether it’s short term, it still keeps all these programs alive down the road.” He also claimed that the more borrowing the state does, the more expensive borrowing becomes because of our lowered credit rating.
* Sen. Kirk Dillard also piled on…
Republican candidate for Illinois governor Kirk Dillard today tried to console Illinois residents who may be frightened by Democratic control in Springfield. “Don’t be fooled by the masquerade party in the governor’s office or the Legislature,” said Dillard on the eve of Halloween.
“We have a guy dressed up as Governor who can’t decide which the way the wind blows on any given day,” said Dillard. “He and another goblin running for governor are ready to rip out the wallets of taxpayers and take more of their money. If I’m scared of what they’ll do next, you can imagine the average voter,” Dillard continued.
Dillard noted the steady exodus of jobs from Illinois during the past eight years. “It’s no wonder companies are leaving the state. They’re frightened by the poor business climate, fearful of higher taxes and scared off by the lack of innovative thinking,” Dillard said. “They’re also afraid of the ethical cesspool in Springfield and what monster might crawl out next.”
Noting the Democratic Party’s inclination to give out “treats” in the form of new programs and higher spending, Dillard said he would take out his budget chainsaw if elected governor and make sure the state lives within its means. “We don’t need any more tricks in Springfield,” Dillard said.
Dillard and his wife Stephanie will be trick-or-treating with their two daughters this weekend.
That was the emptiest press release I’ve seen in a very long time.
* Dan Proft has posted a video of GOP gubernatorial rival Sen. Bill Brady in which Brady claims that last year’s state budget deficit was just $2.5 billion.
“Pat Quinn, the Democrats and some others want to inflate it so you’re scared to death and believe the only answer is tax increases,” Brady says. Watch it…
I asked Brady about this yesterday and he said there’s a difference between the “deficit” and the “debt” that the state is carrying over from year to year. I didn’t quite get his gist and asked for more info, but haven’t received it yet. I’ll pass it along when I get it.
The Homer-Lockport Tea Party group will host its third event — a forum featuring five Republican candidates for Illinois governor — Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Homer Glen.
The forum, planned to begin at 7 p.m. at DiNolfo’s Banquet Hall, will include a question and answer session with the Republican candidates running for the gubernatorial primary on Feb. 2, 2010. According to Steve Balich, an organizer of the event, Republican candidates Adam Andrzejewski, Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, Dan Proft and Bob Shillerstrom have confirmed their attendance to the event. Balich added that the Democratic candidates, notably Dan Hynes and current Gov. Pat Quinn, have declined to attend. Those not with the two main parties were not invited, he said.
“This event will be about the issues we are facing in the state of Illinois and will give people a chance to hear what these candidates have to offer,” said Balich, also the Homer Township clerk. “This isn’t going to be a formal event — it’s going to be tea party-style… People will be bringing signs in protest and will be able to ask candidates questions on the spot.”
Just when it looks like lawmakers have mustered up the courage to end the gratuitous free-rides-for-seniors program, Gov. Pat Quinn has thrown a monkey wrench into the works.
With a bill meant to ease the transit systems’ financial woes moving in the General Assembly, Quinn called Thursday for a moratorium on fare hikes in return for its passage. Besides rescinding ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s gratuitous senior freebie program, the bill would allow the Regional Transportation Authority to borrow up to $400 million to cover operating costs for the area’s bus and rail systems.
You read that right: The governor is OK with letting the RTA borrow up to $400 million for day-to-day expenses, but he wants no part of any plan to balance the budget by requiring people to pay a fair share of their rides.
The proposed fare hikes are steep - $3 L rides, up from $2.25, for instance. But riders ought to help shoulder the burden. So should Mayor Daley, for that matter, and everyone else, as long as we’re passing along responsibilities.
Quinn’s idea for a two-year fare freeze is bad public policy because it’s an unfunded mandate. We’ll give you some borrowing authority to get you through this mess, but we won’t fix the now-broken “fix” that we did last year and, oh, you can’t raise fares for two years even if revenues crash even more.
The danger here is that Quinn is setting the stage for far deeper service and job cuts. Mass transit is a hugely valuable asset and Quinn is willing to allow it to further deteriorate because he doesn’t want to wear the jacket for a fare hike.
Almost nobody ever demands that expressways and city streets always operate in the black. That’s just a silly notion to most people. Yet, public transportation constantly has to face down a stupid double standard. They’re supposed to make money, or at least come close to breaking even. And when they don’t, they get chopped. Foolish.
Either provide a real funding solution or allow mass transit to at least cover some of their losses themselves. This faux populism is plain goofy. A real populist would make sure that people could take the bus and train to work.
* Other Statehouse news…
* Quote of the Day: “Stick it to granny and poor little uncle Willy. I refuse to screw the senior citizens of the state of Illinois.”
* Require candidates to report contributions and expenditures four times a year, as opposed to the current twice a year. Donations of $1,000 or more would have to be reported within two business days throughout the entire year.
* Allow the Illinois State Board of Elections to conduct random audits, to investigate alleged violations of contribution limits or reporting requirements and to waive fees if the mistakes were found to be inadvertent.
* Form a task force to study the effectiveness of the implementation of the new law, as well as the public funding of political campaigns.
Per election cycle limits
Individuals can give up to:
* $5,000 to any candidate
* $10,000 to any political party or legislative caucus committee
* $10,000 to any political action committee
Businesses, unions and associations can give up to:
* $10,000 to any candidate
* $20,000 to any political party or legislative caucus committee
* $20,000 to any political action committee
Candidates can give up to:
* $50,000 to any candidate
* $50,000 to any political action committee
* Unlimited contributions to any political party or legislative caucus committee, except a $50,000 limit to a committee participating in primary elections
Political party and legislative caucus committees during primary elections:
The aggregate amount between state, county, township and city political committees cannot exceed:
* $200,000 to statewide candidates
* $125,000 to any state Senate candidate
* $75,000 to any state House candidate
* Between $50,000 - $125,000 to candidates for local and judicial offices
* $20,000 to political action committees
* Unlimited contributions to candidates during general elections
Putting its best face forward, the coalition of government watchdogs that signed off on Phony Campaign Finance Fix 2.0 said the deal struck Thursday with Democratic legislators “puts Illinois on the road to reform.” […]
The watchdogs can lay claim to the state’s first-ever caps on campaign contributions, but they swallowed a bitter compromise: The bill would limit how much individuals, corporations, unions and political action committees can contribute to a campaign. But contributions from party leaders would be capped only in primary elections.
That imbalance does more harm than good. It doesn’t curb the influence of money; it gives even greater influence to party leaders, who already tell your elected officials how to drive.
“This will create omnipotent leaders, caucus leaders and party bosses in the state of Illinois,” said Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake. “I think that’s what Illinoisans are trying to get away from.”
The legislation also creates stricter reporting requirements for campaign contributions and expenditures. Disclosure reports would have to be filed four times a year, and contributions of $1,000 or more would have to be quickly reported to the State Board of Elections.
Kent Redfield, a campaign finance expert and retired University of Illinois Springfield professor, said the new disclosure rules might be the toughest in the country.
House Republican leader Tom Cross of Oswego contended the campaign finance proposal fell short of scaling back the power of legislative leaders and political parties because the bill also should impose limits in the general election.
“This is the only way to enact change, this is the only way to reduce the power, this is the only way to reduce the control,” Cross said, saying the “status quo remains the same.”
Madigan defended the decision to exempt legislative and party leaders from donation limits in general elections. Along with Supreme Court rulings that make it difficult to limit funding, Madigan said, the general election is an all-out battle between political parties.
“My view is a political party exists to support its candidates in the general election,” Madigan said.
* And in case you missed these last night, here are some videos. First up, Speaker Madigan…
A new federal study out Thursday — the same day Illinois released its 2009 test results — evaluated fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading tests in all states and ranked them according to rigor. The passing bars for Illinois’ tests ranked near the bottom, especially in math. Just three states had eighth-grade math tests that were easier to pass.
This means Illinois students get to look good without actually doing well.
Experts in Illinois have long suspected this, particularly after the state changed its tests in 2006.
Mayor Richard Daley sputtered the other day as he expressed his confusion about the hike in property taxes Chicagoans are seeing in their mailboxes this week.
“I-I-I-I don’t understand it,” he said at a news conference. “I just don’t understand it. Because everyone’s value has gone down, I don’t care where you go. … I-I want to ask (Cook County Assessor James Houlihan) how he does it. That’s the whole issue … I don’t get it.”[…]
Not that I believe Daley is confused in the least. He has operated the levers on this byzantine system for the 20 years he’s been mayor, and it has funded his empire. He understands darn good and well what an assessor does and what causes property tax bills to rise.
Most important, he understands that, in all probability, you, an average person who smacks his forehead twice a year when the bill arrives, actually don’t understand it — don’t “get” whom to blame.
Here’s a short primer in Q & A format, no sputtering:
* Chicagoans taxes up 9 percent, Obama’s taxes up 1 percent
Obama does pay more in property taxes than most politicians in Chicago and Cook County do, the Chicago Sun-Times found by examining online copies of the tax bills that Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas mailed out this week. But Obama’s seeing one of the smallest increases among Cook County politicians. […]
• Mayor Daley’s tax bill is up 3.52 percent on his South Loop townhouse. That’s $464.37 above what he paid last year.
• Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s tax bill is up 3 percent on his Avalon Park bungalow, costing him another $41.63 this year.
• Gov. Quinn’s taxes are up more than 13 percent for his two-story Georgian home in the Galewood neighborhood on Chicago’s Northwest Side — $377.11 over last year.
A property tax Will County has collected for more than a decade to help pay for its juvenile detention center is “illegal” because the county never got approval from voters, the Illinois Supreme Court found Thursday.
Testifying today at City Council budget hearings, del Valle said there is a “dire need” for a “total review” of residential permit parking that has “mushroomed” out of control.
“It keeps growing. It keeps getting more complicated. And it keeps getting frustrating. . . . I get frustrated when I see people going to a Cubs game. No city sticker on their vehicle, but they’ve got a residential parking pass,” del Valle said.
“Do they have a friend who lives in the ward who gave them a pass? Maybe. But they’re not using the . . . sticker to visit the friend. They’re using it save money to go to a baseball game.”
Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) agreed that Chicago created a monster when it established residential permit parking and it’s time to rein it in — possibly by wiping the slate clean and starting over with a different set of rules.
Hoping to find fewer cops and more customers, Chicago-based drug and gun dealers allegedly began setting up shop at suburban motels along Mannheim Road near O’Hare Airport.[…]
But that business climate changed abruptly with a series of recent police raids that resulted in more than 100 people being arrested on drug, gun and prostitution charges, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Thursday.
Chicago’s police watchdog agency recommended a reprimand last year for the city’s top cop, Supt. Jody Weis, for endorsing then-Sen. Barack Obama last year during the presidential campaign, according to records released today.
Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority found that Supt. Jody Weis “impeded the police department’s operations and was inattentive to his duty in that, while in uniform and on television, he made comments that favored a particular political candidate.”