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Reformers cut deal on campaign finance reform

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* 7:40 pm - As I’ve been telling subscribers this evening, the reformers have agreed to a compromise with the Democratic legislative leaders over campaign contribution caps. Contributions by leaders and parties will only be capped during primaries, not general elections.

Click here for the press release announcing the agreement and more details.

We also have some video. As of this writing, the Madigan video is still processing, so give it a few minutes.

* Speaker Madigan talks to the press

* Campaign for Political Reform director Cindi Canary talks about why she and her cohorts decided to cut a deal…

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

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Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

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Adventures in flip-flopping - Todd Stroger edition

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* As you most certainly know by now, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger strongly opposes a bill moving towards passage that would roll back the board’s crazy veto override majority from four-fifths to a more sane three-fifths.

What Stroger never mentions is that he forcefully supported this override roll-back plan in the 2006 campaign. Stroger issued a statement on October 11th of that year backing legislation by Rep. John Fritchey and then-Commissioner Mike Quigley. He removed the statement from his website after he was elected, but Rep. Fritchey saved a copy and forwarded it to me today….

Those are probably the best arguments I’ve yet seen for this proposal. But now that Stroger wants to save his sales tax hike from the ash bin, he’s completely flip-flopped.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* Yesterday, I asked you to submit questions to Republican gubernatorial candidates. Later in the day, I e-mailed almost all of the campaigns (I absent-mindedly omitted Jim Ryan, but I’ll post any response he has) and asked them to pick one or two questions and provide us a detailed response. I also asked the two top Democratic candidates for their responses.

Here they are, with the questions in bold to make this easier to read…

* Sen. Kirk Dillard…

How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

I give the Republican Party the best chance of winning in November because my unique experience in all three branches of Government will enable me to bring more jobs to Illinois, balance our State budget, and clean up Springfield. As Governor Jim Edgar’s Chief of Staff I helped manage state government during a recession. We inherited a mountain of debt, balanced the budget and left a surplus of $1.6 billion all without an income tax increase. My plan to create a “Destination Economy” will be the most aggressive job creation program in state history.

I have the privilege of having been educated and having lived in all regions of the state – Chicago, the suburbs and downstate. The amount of fundraising and volunteer support I have received from across the state shows that I am not a regional candidate. While I am a suburbanite, I have strong downstate roots and am the best Republican candidate to attract minorities, Reagan Democrats and Independent voters to the party. Last, my ability to work with all types and factions is absolutely essential to passing important reforms and creating new jobs in Illinois.

* Andy McKenna…

[Note from Rich: This was sent by McKenna’s staff, so it’s unfair to make the suggestion as some have in comments that McKenna is referring to himself in the third person.]

1. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:31 am: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

A. After decades of political insiders controlling the levers of power in Springfield, Illinois, families are looking for an outsider like Andy McKenna who has the personal integrity and business background to revitalize our economy and put our house back in order.

Andy’s charitable and civic contributions prove he possesses a selfless commitment to his community and belief that everyone deserves a fair shot.

These qualities provide a credible alternative to either Democratic candidate who both represent the tax and spend ways that have dominated Springfield for far too long.

Andy is committed to reigning in out of control government spending, holding the line on taxes, growing good-paying jobs, and cleaning up the ethical mess in Springfield.

It is clear that whoever the Democratic nominee is will have to contend with the 3 issues: 1.) that they want to raise taxes; 2.) the Blagojevich factor; and 3.) the over-zealous spending that has occurred under the watch of Democrats.

If Republicans nominate a candidate for governor that is indistinguishable on these issues they will not be successful in 2010.

Andy McKenna is a true outsider who does not have ties to special interests and has the proven ability to stand up for what he believes is right and fix the mess in Springfield

* DuPage County Board President Bob Schillerstrom…

Q: What are some successes in your professional life that indicate how you will govern should you be elected?

A: I think that the most compelling reason to vote for me for Governor is the successful record that I have built as the Chairman of a county larger than six states. I’ve demonstrated over eleven years a commitment to efficient, well-run government that provides a high level of service to its residents. That stands in stark contrast to the manner in which the state of Illinois has been run.

Under my leadership, DuPage County has cut property taxes seven out of the last ten years, balanced our budget every year, maintained the highest possible bond rating- AAA, and cut wasteful spending to the point that our current proposed budget is less than it was in 2002. We have developed successful public-private partnerships to encourage job growth, expand access to healthcare and reduce the cost of prescription drugs. My record over the last decade shows that I have the skills and the will necessary to get our state back on track and provides a good indication of how I would govern if elected Governor.

Q: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

A: I agree with a number of my primary opponents that the Republican nominee must provide a stark contrast to the Democrats in order to win in November. But, I think the best way to do that is to provide a contrast in records and results. The Democrats have had absolute control of state government for the last six years and our state is a financial mess and a laughing-stock. Conversely, as Chairman of a county larger than six states I have shown that with good leadership, government can reduce spending, engage in long-range planning, cut property taxes attract good jobs and still deliver good services to its residents. I have led a fiscally conservative and responsible government for the last eleven years that stands in stark contrast to the governance of the State of Illinois or Cook County.

Secondly, I provide Republicans with a better chance of victory in November, because I am the only centrist Republican in the primary field. Over the last decade, Illinois has become more and more Democratic. We need a Republican nominee who can attract swing suburban voters who tend to be fiscally conservative but are moderates on social issues. I think that my record and my centrist views give me a better chance of attracting those key voters and winning in November.

* Sen. Bill Brady…

- ilrino - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:15 am: Senator Brady: Your campaign is all about not raising taxes but reviving the economy by bringing back the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost. How do you bring back 700,000 jobs and how quickly will they be restored to revive the economy?

Ilrino, the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost is over ten years time. Obviously, it is my goal to restore these jobs as quickly as possible. I believe the best way to do that is, by offering incentives for new businesses to come to Illinois and existing businesses to stay in Illinois.

Last week, I launched my statewide jobs tour in which I highlighted my plan to offer tax incentives to businesses — large and small — that create new jobs. Every job in Illinois generates $4,200 for the state. I will give up to half that back to a business for every new job it creates. I believe $2,100 per new job will go a long way in helping business owners, while also getting an unemployed Illinois resident back to work.

I will also expand Illinois’ EDGE tax credit to apply to payroll taxes in addition to income taxes. This will especially help new and small business owners, who typically don’t make money in their first couple years in business.

- Kang - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 4:38 pm: As Governor, will you abolish the death penalty or re-instate the death penalty? Reform or further study answers must be interpreted as dodges given that the commission’s findings and recommendations have been out there for several years now.

Kang, As Governor I will lift the death penalty moratorium put in place by former Governor George Ryan nearly a decade ago. I support the death penalty for the most heinous offenses, but will ensure adequate safeguards are in place to prevent innocent people from being put to death.

- Anon - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:31 am: How do you give the Republican Party a better chance than your opponents of winning in November?

Anon, Illinois needs a clean break from the Chicago-style politics and politicians of the past. As the only downstate candidate in the race for Governor, I offer that change. I am also the only candidate with both business and legislative experience. I will run Illinois like a business, balancing our budget and making sure we live within our means like Illinois families and small businesses do.

* Comptroller Dan Hynes…

1) - Justice - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:27 am: Give us just two examples, with detail, of how you would trim the budget to help make up for the revenue shortfall. Give us two examples of what you would do to increase revenue in the short term, and if they are tax increases will they have a sunset clause?

As Comptroller, I offered Governor Quinn numerous ideas for how we can cut waste out of government. As a candidate for Governor, I have put together a comprehensive plan to address the state’s massive budget deficit. The first step in my plan is to cut more than $1.6 billion in spending. Among the specific cuts (the entire plan is available for viewing at my website, is firing half of the Blagojevich political appointees making more than $70,000, saving roughly $100 million. Before anyone says this is a weak example, let me remind you that many of these folks have been instrumental in driving our state into the ditch we’re in, so not only is this a cost-saving measure, it’s a chance to improve performance. I am also advocating for the elimination of discretionary contracts for such things as tourism and lottery advertising, time-keeping systems, and other professional services. Collectively, these contract reductions would save the state upwards of $300 million a year. Additionally, I believe we need to scale back operations spending to 2005 levels. Now some may say, “How do you do that without reopening union contracts?” I have done it in my office. In fact, operations spending in my office is below 2001 levels and I have never reopened a union contract.

In terms of revenue enhancements, the second part of my plan includes expanding the sales tax to include luxury services; increasing the cigarette tax by $1.00 and then using those proceeds to obtain $1.5 billion bonding, which would trigger a federal match of at least $1.5 billion (I think this is the kind of strategic, long range planning that is missing at the moment); competitively bidding additional casino licenses; returning the tax on casinos to 70 percent for certain income levels; and leasing unused or dormant gaming positions to busier casinos. These things could be done immediately (as the question asked) to help address the revenue shortfall. However, the ultimate solution is to make our tax structure fairer, and the best way to do that is to implement a graduated income tax.

2) - Wumpus - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:49 am: 2 part question
1. Why are you good for the people of IL?

We are currently in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Illinois and we aren’t getting the leadership we need to get out of the mess. Whether it’s careening from crisis to crisis or switching positions on key issues from one day to the next, Governor Quinn has not been a steady and consistent leader, and it’s taking its toll. I offer the people of Illinois a record of fighting for fiscal discipline, even when it means taking on leaders in my own party, and a desire and a plan for returning Illinois to prosperity.

2. What was Judy thinking?

The best I can think is that she thought, perhaps, a loss to Rod in 2006 would open the door in 2010 to the Illinois dream job: Comptroller. I wish her well, but unfortunately for her, I feel pretty good about either David or Raja carrying the torch.

…ADDING… Gov. Pat Quinn…

Illinois has seemingly abandoned economic development - specifically business attraction, entrepreneur/small business development and foreign direct investment. Also, other states are aggressively trying to get Illinois companies to move/relocate because of the Illinois business climate. What are your thoughts and/or solutions?

This recession has been tough on Illinois. Our agriculture and auto industries have been hard-hit. The economy is changing, and we must change with it if Illinois is to succeed in the worldwide competition for good jobs. Under my economic plan, Jobs and Growth for Illinois, we will go beyond infrastructure investments – important as they are – to expand Illinois’ business base and attract new investment.

Today, for example, Illinois is the sixth-leading state in exports. Since 2002, exports have represented the greatest growth segment in the Illinois economy, increasing from $25 billion to nearly $54 billion last year. We need to build on that success and invest in expansion of Illinois’ overseas markets for agricultural products, manufactured goods and services to create new jobs here at home and generate new state revenues.

Part of that strategy includes making broadband available and affordable for everyone in Illinois. It’s hard to imagine running a small business with international clients using a dial-up service. The internet opens huge worldwide opportunities to entrepreneurs in every corner of the globe, and we want to make sure that Illinois businesses aren’t left out.

My focus on creating green jobs and investing in new sources of sustainable energy will help Illinois businesses keep their energy costs low so they can invest in expansion. And because green energy is local energy, green energy jobs, by definition, cannot be exported.

To make sure we have knowledgeable business owners and skilled workers, I believe we need to invest more in community colleges, which are the gateway to the middle class. Illinois Jobs Now! includes $400 million for community colleges, which provide the technical training for young people and adult workers to find good jobs in the new economy. Going forward, we need to identify funding sources to invest even more in Illinois community college system and its students.

ADDING… Dan Proft…

In 250 words or less, what does the IL-GOP stand for?

For 30 years or more both parties have been fiscally irresponsible, what is your plan to get the state back on the road to solvency?

I am not sure what the ILGOP stands for today. But here’s what we should stand for—and who we should stand for:

What we should stand for is policy revolution in Springfield—and I mean revolution. We should offer a complete rethinking and reordering of all of the big-ticket systems in state government (Medicaid, K-12, transportation infrastructure, pensions), not a single one of which is financially sustainable in current form and not a single one of which who serves the people who play by the rules in Illinois—the folks that pay the bills but get gamed by a system that provides very little in return in terms of services or benefits.

Which leads to our second task: defining our constituency and then serving that constituency. The Democrats have clearly defined their constituency: public sector unions, trial lawyers. And they have demonstrated the willingness to do whatever it takes to serve that constituency and finance it.

As I alluded to above, our constituency must be people who play by the rules in Illinois.

I am speaking of those who budgeted for the home they bought and pay their mortgage on time but are still on the hook to finance the irresponsible actions of others.

I am speaking of those who have seen their 401Ks take significant hits and yet are still responsible to finance multiple public pensions for the politically connected.

I am speaking of the small businesses with less than 100 employees who create 95% of the jobs in Illinois and who don’t get bailed out when they make a bad strategic decision or suffer bad luck in the marketplace.

I am speaking of those families who told their children to take their scholastics seriously so they could get into a quality state university that mom and dad could afford and instead have been subject to a system that provides admission to those with superior clout over those with superior academic records.

Democrats speak in the parlance of “shared sacrifice”. Republicans must argue, as I have, that people who play by the rules in Illinois have sacrificed more than their fair share only to be scammed in return. Republicans must speak be conversant in the language of “expanded opportunity” both to re-establish the party’s brand and to re-establish the state’s fiscal sustainability:

We must cut taxes and impose statutory spending caps to expand opportunity for entrepreneurs; to reward work and investment; and to restrain the public sector from crowding our private sector capital formation and job creation.

We must end the discrimination of children based on their household income and their address when it comes to the quality of schools they can access. If we change how the money flows and change who gets to make spending decisions, we can expand opportunity for the children of low-income families to earn the kind of quality education that sets them on the path to be successful, independent adults. What if the ILGOP was willing to tie its electoral fortunes to the aspirations low-income families have for their children based on the quality of schooling they were able to obtain? That would be a party with a value proposition. That would be a party that we could be proud of. That would be a party that could be the majority party in Illinois again.

We must connect Medicaid-eligible Illinoisans (1.7 million in total) to health care providers. If we created premium assistance programs that provide low-income folks with the opportunity to purchase health insurance in the private marketplace and empower them to manage their health care decisions like anyone else, we would improve the quality of care Medicaid recipients receive while instituting cost-containment incentives that respect Illinois taxpayers who finance they system.

The time for tinkering on the margins in state government has long since passed. If we are serious about reforming state government and making Illinois a vibrant, growth state again we must: (1) drastically alter the tax/spend/borrow policies that drive our economic climate and drive the cost structure we present to business; and (2) we must offer a specific policy vision that rethinks the incentives provided and the obligations imposed by the big-ticket systems in state government so that those systems produce outputs that demonstrably improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.

* The Question: How would you rate their responses?

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

Morning campaign roundup

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* Mark Kirk is airing radio ads

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Highland Park has started running radio ads touting his opposition to Obama’s push for government-run public health insurance as part of his health care reform measure. Kirk has been attempting to win back Republicans who have been upset with his occasional votes that go more along Democratic lines.

* Kirk’s not only bashing the health insurance proposal, he’s also whacking the GM bailout

Citing revelations that taxpayers have lost nearly half of the $49 billion government bailout of General Motors (GM), U.S. Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and 19 colleagues will send a letter to President Obama today calling for more accountability of taxpayer funds.

“Despite this Administration’s pledge of transparency, the terms of the ‘Bridge Loan to Nowhere’ remain secret,” the lawmakers wrote. “Taxpayers are in the dark on the basic details of the taxpayers’ money at GM.”

Good primary fodder, questionable general election material.

…Adding… From the DSCC…

“Mark Kirk continues to show that he is willing to put politics ahead of helping the people of Illinois, and that he is solely worried about covering his political bases and pandering to the right-wing” said Kathleen Strand, Senior Advisor to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “All evidence shows that Americans want health care reform, but all Kirk is offering them is the same old political games that people have gotten fed up with. The next Senator from Illinois will be someone willing to stand up for Illinois families, not a flip-flopping Washington insider who is only looking out for number one.”

* Gov. Pat Quinn responds to an Andy McKenna line that the accidental guv is “Rod Blagojevich with a little bit less hair“…

“I think the people of Illinois know I’ve been here nine months,” he said. “It’s serious. This is not a joke. … There’ll be a lot of name-calling in politics. I don’t particularly get into that. … I don’t call people names.”

But how about the time he referred to his main opponent in the 2010 Democratic Primary for governor, Comptroller Dan Hynes, as one of the “ankle-biters over on the sidelines?”

“I didn’t call anybody a name,” Quinn said. “I just said there are ankle-biters out there, and if the shoe fits, wear it.”

To which Hynes spokesman Matt McGrath later replied: “Dan doesn’t think the families that are struggling in this economy and across the state are worried one bit about the name-calling between the people running for office. So we keep that in mind whenever we hear whatever new, bizarre name the governor calls Dan.”

“I know you are, but what am I?”

You ever get the feeling that these two guys really don’t like each other?

* Hinz gently mocks Andy McKenna’s claim of oustider status…

I’m not sure I buy the underlying message, that McKenna’s “the outsider who can hold government accountable.” Someone who has served for years as chairman of the Illinois Republican Party isn’t an outsider, no matter what he says.

* Chuck Sweeny boosts Jim Ryan…

On his Web site, Ryan features an “image” commercial from his 2002 campaign. It says, “He’s faced his share of challenges. Some he could prepare for, some he couldn’t. But he never quit, and he never let us down. A man of integrity and strength, a governor who will make us proud.”

If I were Dan Curry, Ryan’s campaign consultant, I’d run that commercial again. I’d label it “2002” and add these words: “Remember what could have been? It still could be. Jim Ryan for governor.”

* Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman has revamped his website and included a Twitter feed at the bottom. The feed appears to include tweets about Hoffman from anybody, so one can’t help but wonder if this feature might eventually be “invaded” by rivals. [Hat tip: Progress Illinois.]

* I’m not quite sure what this means because her campaign just started

Austin Weekly News asked, “Are you sick and tired of questions that are asked of you as a black woman that are not posed to other candidates?”

“You know it’s because I’m different,” she replied, “and it’s OK. People have lots of questions about things that are different, and I don’t mind being different. If being different means that I understand people’s problems better, then that’s OK, they can ask those questions. If being different means that I know having a special insight and perspective of problems facing people today, like joblessness, fighting to keep the doors open in small businesses, fighting to access to health care, foreclosures, veterans who have been overlooked and forgotten about, then that is OK. I’ll accept those questions and answer them every time.”

* More talk about diversity in the US Senate…

A Chicago lawyer who was in line Monday morning to file his own petitions for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate is not shy about that fact that if elected, he would be the only openly gay member of the upper chamber of Congress.

“I think Illinois is ready for it,” said Jacob Meister, 44, a Milwaukee native who has spent most of his adult life in Chicago.

His spokeswoman, Karen Craven, had mentioned Meister’s sexual orientation in the past, and when I asked him about it, he made it clear that it is just part of who he is.

“I have brown hair, I have four siblings, and I happen to be gay,” he said.

* Related…

* Essence Magazine names Cheryle Jackson an emerging leader for 2010

* Fund-raising precedes filing period

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Statehouse roundup

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* I didn’t realize it when I wrote the subscriber edition, but around midnight last night this provision was removed from the cemetery regulation bill

Strict new regulations would be placed on most Illinois cemeteries following the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal under legislation a House panel approved [yesterday] following heavy debate from Catholic officials. […]

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, testified in opposition. Among other things, the legislation appears to be written so strictly that even the cardinal of the archdiocese of Chicago would need to get a license, he said.

Gilligan and Roman Szabelski, the executive director of Catholic Cemeteries appointed to oversee Burr Oak at the height of the scandal last summer, said they hoped changes could be made before lawmakers vote again on the issue.

Szabelski said he oversees 2.4 million graves and that data on the burials that would meet the legislation’s standards are only about 60 percent completed. They suggested a deadline for compliance for all records would be difficult and costly to meet within only a few months.

Those provisions were seen as a poison pill designed to kill the legislation, but they were taken out of the measure late last night.

* Meanwhile, the sponsor of a controversial bill has doubts that it can pass this time around…

One of the sponsors of a bill that would create sales tax revenue bonds in Illinois is not sure whether it can be passed at this point in the General Assembly.

Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, said he and other supporters of bringing STAR bonds to the state were negotiating with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office Wednesday and will continue through the end of the veto session Friday. […]

Holbrook said Wednesday that if the measure passes during the current session, it will be as an entirely new bill. He said he expects to know for sure by today.

“We think there is an opportunity for this to be a huge economic development tool, but we’re not sure it will be,” Holbrook said.

* Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) says he’s now open to far more drastic school reform ideas

We must also decide whether Mayor Daley should continue to preside over the Chicago schools. Since he assumed control of the district in 1995, the Blackhawks have had nine coaches, the Bulls have had eight coaches, the Cubs have had five managers and the White Sox have had three managers.

For the first time in my personal and political career, I am exploring the idea of vouchers and charter schools to help facilitate choice and enhance academic performance. Why should we continue to make investments in a system that is bankrupt and weighed down with bureaucracy?

We must begin making decisions that are in the best interest of children, such as mandatory teacher evaluations. Since the will to change the system is nonexistent, we should allow students the flexibility to attend schools outside their district. What once worked before, such as the local school councils, may have run its course in today’s competitive environment.

They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We can no longer afford to have the blood of every child on our hands.

* In other Statehouse news

The state house executive committee [yesterday] decided, unanimously and without debate, to roll back the controversial senior free ride program so it only applies to low-income seniors. according to Diane Palmer, spokeswoman for the Regional Transportation Authority.

Other committee action

–Change to three-fifths the number of Cook County commissioners it would take to override the board president’s veto. Currently, a four-fifths vote is required. That margin has helped board President Todd Stroger fight off attempts to repeal his sales tax increase. It’s now before the full Senate.

–Require prison time for gang members caught on the streets with a loaded weapon. The action gave Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis a victory because current law allows for probation. Last summer, a gang member on probation in such a case allegedly shot and killed Chicago police Officer Alejandro Valadez. The bill goes to the full Senate.

* Related…

* Lawmakers reconsider free rides for seniors

* Free bus rides for all seniors could end

* Quinn touts new lottery game that helps veterans

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Explaining “primary only” caps

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* Patterson talks to a legislator who explains why capping contributions in primaries and not general elections isn’t such a horrible move

If the idea is to make lawmakers more independent (and thereby more ethical), this key member said, then the target should be the primary, not the general. Here’s why:

Legislative leaders don’t want to lose seats on their respective sides of the aisles. So they’re not going to stop helping “their” candidates in the fall elections. What they might be inclined to do is go find a new candidate and write that candidate a blank check in the primary to replace a lawmaker who’s fallen out of favor. The leader keeps the seat and gets a loyal rookie.

The “reform” theory behind the primary caps is that if lawmakers know legislative leaders can’t easily punish them by running primary challengers, they might be more willing to stand up to leaders and vote more independently.

The problem this is likely to face in many media and political circles is that it’s unlikely to do anything to control the skyrocketing costs of general election campaigns.

The GA can’t do much to control the cost of general election campaigns. Mail houses, TV and radio outlets, etc. can’t be forced to lower their prices. Also, the media has been screaming for “reform” based on a whole lot of faulty assumptions. I’ve said here more than once that the Democratic leaders ought to just go ahead and cap themselves in all elections, but they are mightily resisting that idea and don’t appear ready to budge.

But the “primary only” cap idea does make a certain sense. A general rule of thumb is that only about ten or fifteen percent of seats are hotly challenged in fall campaigns. Most who win those races are under such intense scrutiny (because the winners are usually challenged in the next election) that it’s difficult to immediately become a party hack - they often deliberately vote against their own leaders’ positions in order to build credibility back home. Meanwhile, everybody else has a pretty safe seat, at least based on partisan breakdowns. The election that most members truly fear is the primary.

* The Tribune is not impressed with that logic and runs an editorial today entitled “Don’t call this ‘reform’“…

To appease the watchdog groups who insist on capping campaign contributions, lawmakers have offered to limit party spending in primaries, where they generally spend very little money anyway.

This might qualify as compromise, but it’s not reform.

The paper does open the door to an alternative which is gaining some favor at the Statehouse…

It only underscores the folly of trying to limit campaign contributions. Every set of rules creates a different set of winners and losers and a different set of loopholes for politicians to navigate around. The public interest is best served not by capping contributions, but by enforcing strict disclosure laws to ensure the money changes hands in broad daylight.

Near-immediate online disclosure of almost all contributions might wind up in the bill and caps stripped out, but the odds appear to be against it at this moment.

* Related…

* Bill Holland warns: Illinois needs better accountability: “Before I can even get to do the audits, there are hundreds of people over a multitude of agencies that have to supply the information,” Holland said. “It’s a cumbersome process, and our technology needs to be upgraded significantly.”

* University of Illinois: No-clout rules get their first test

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

High-paid driver did no work

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* Uh-oh

The Illinois Department of Human Services says it has no evidence that a highly paid ex-employee did any work other than acting as chauffeur to the department’s former secretary, Carol Adams.

That contradicts earlier claims by Adams, who was recently appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to an international trade post.

When lawmakers questioned her about the matter two years ago, she said her driver had many other duties. However, she refused to prove it by releasing examples of his other work, claiming the documents were not public.

Now, after another request from The Associated Press, Adams’ agency says it can find no documents indicating Eugene Davis did anything but drive.

Davis made $84,600 a year at DHS to simply drive Adams around. Adams refused to turn over information about his actual duties to the AP when Rod Blagojevich was in office, even claiming at one point that the attorney general agreed with her reasoning. That was not the case, however. Adams has now been appointed by Gov. Quinn as trade ambassador to Africa. Quinn claimed that she was an “expert” on the continent, but most saw this as a move to give Adams a soft landing rather than an outright dismissal, which would’ve upset some legislators.

Quinn refused to answer questions about the new revelations yesterday. He also wouldn’t say whether he had evaluated her performance at DHS before appointing her to the trade post.

* In other Quinn news, the governor is speaking tonight at the annual Shriver Center Awards Dinner. David Axelrod will also speak.

- Posted by Rich Miller   55 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

* Aldermen accuse Daley of mortgaging Chicago’s future

Mayor Daley was accused Wednesday of mortgaging Chicago’s future by draining reserves that were supposed to carry the city for decades to solve two short-term political needs: freezing taxes and averting a property tax revolt.

* Daley aide, aldermen clash over delay of blue-cart recycling program

Mayor’s office says program can’t expand because of tight budget

* Cook, DuPage County hazardous waste collection days to be cut

Budget constraints leave disposal in residents’ hands

* Study slaps Cook County over lax approach to suits

* City inspector charged with receiving bribe

Allegedly took payoff to overlook asbestos

* Proposed deal to demolish Bensenville homes near O’Hare

Bensenville has proposed a settlement to allow Chicago to demolish more than 500 houses and businesses to expand O’Hare Airport.

* Police shortage a growing problem

Chicago nearly 2,000 shy of authorized 13,500

* Daley, aldermen suggest Chicago police officers, firefighters take unpaid days off

* Police review board urged to give reasons for decisions

* Cicero employee who filed lawsuit against town president is fired

* Schools hit hard by swine flu

* Flu: Fact and fiction

* Parents wanting to ‘build’ kids’ immune systems have experts worried

* UniCare to stop selling health insurance in state

Blue Cross offers replacement coverage

* Court accepts barbecue chicken instead of community service

Judge in hot water after unusual deal

* Now you can have beer in the shower

- Posted by Mike Murray   5 Comments      

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Thursday, Oct 29, 2009

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* One of the best ads of 2016
* Asbestos lawyers launch high-dollar ad campaign in appellate race
* Back to the drawing board
* Proft on GOP, Trump and Madigan
* As usual, the blowhard walks it back
* Kirk taking page from Trump debate playbook
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