* The Sun-Times followed up on a poll story I wrote for subscribers this morning…
“The Mighty Quinn” played as Gov. Pat Quinn finished his speech announcing he was running for governor Thursday morning at the hotel where he launched many citizen initiatives.
But then he left the stage trying to avoid questions from reporters about polls showing his support a bit less than “mighty.” Quinn’s nine months as governor — after 33 years as a political activist, gadfly and sometimes-second-level elected official — have sometimes reinforced his image as a populist but other times left him vulnerable to charges that he’s now protecting the status quo.
A new Rasmusson poll finds 53 percent of Illinois voters disapprove of Quinn’s job performance while 45 percent approve.
The significance of the poll is it’s the first time a Rasmussen survey has ever shown more voters disapproving of Quinn’s job performance than approving.
The poll, by the way, also had the generic gubernatorial ballot…
In a generic ballot match-up for the 2010 Governor election in Illinois, a Democratic candidate holds a 43% to 37% edge over a Republican.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds that another 20% of voters there are not sure which party’s candidate they would choose.
The plurality of voters not affiliated with either party (43%) are not sure which candidate they would choose at this time. Thirty-six percent (36%) would pick the Republican while 21% would vote for the Democrat.
More on the Quinn announcement from the Tribune…
He spoke before a phalanx of cameras about his plans for rebuilding Illinois, although he never mentioned his unpopular push for a state income tax increase as a method to fund his initiatives.
Quinn explained that his lack of mentioning a tax increase was because “there’s only a certain amount of things you can talk about in the course of 10 minutes,” even though his address to supporters was about twice as long.
* The Hill followed up today on the Ditka didn’t endorse Patrick Hughes story…
Ken Valdiserri, who serves as president of Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund charity, said the endorsement could have been forgiven as a mixup, but that the finance committee situation is another matter.
“He never agreed to do it,” Valdiserri said. “Mike doesn’t have time to be on a finance committee of any politician. He doesn’t have time to be speaking and helping candidates when he’s in the middle of his busiest season,” which includes serving as an NFL analyst on ESPN.
And then a few minutes ago the Hughes campaign sent out this press release…
The campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Hughes has issued the following official statement with approval of the Mike Ditka organization:
“As of October 22nd, Mike Ditka is endorsing Patrick Hughes for U.S. Senate. This statement is being issued jointly by Mike Ditka’s organization and the U.S. Senate campaign of Patrick Hughes. We have no further comment on anything that has been discussed or reported in any media.”
Due to Coach Ditka’s numerous business and personal commitments, he will not be serving on Patrick Hughes’ finance committee.
* Meanwhile, Crain’s reports that Gov. Quinn wants the federal government to guarantee a $14-billion Illinois pension obligation bond issue…
According to newly installed state Budget Director David Vaught, Gov. Pat Quinn recently brought up the idea with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others at the White House. The governor got a good enough reception that “he intends to extend” his efforts, Mr. Vaught said.
A federally guaranteed bond issue could be an enormous help to Illinois in dealing with a huge fiscal 2011 budget hole that Dan Long, executive director of the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the Legislature’s fiscal research arm, now pegs at $11 billion to $12 billion.
Mr. Vaught said a federal guarantee would cut the interest rate on such a bond to “in the 3% to 4% range” from “5% to 6%.” That would make it much more profitable — and less risky — for the state, which would invest the funds in higher-yielding stocks and bonds.
Since any profits could be booked up front, at least in part, the state would be able to avoid making hundreds of millions and perhaps billions in annual contributions to worker pensions that it otherwise would have to come up with in the next few years.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Question of the day
Thursday, Oct 22, 2009
* Which Democratic candidate for governor will have the best shot at winning next November? Explain.
- Posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Oct 22, 2009
* This is what passes for wisdom at the Pantagraph…
The argument for ousting statewide office-holders through term limits is not as compelling as the case for legislative term limits. All voters have the opportunity to vote against re-election of a statewide office-holder, which is not the case for individual lawmakers.
Term limits on Illinois lawmakers is an idea whose time has come.
One painful lesson we learned over and over when Rod Blagojevich was around was that the Illinois governor has too much constitutional power. Yet, the Pantagraph would weaken the General Assembly further without touching the governor’s authority.
Are the legislative leaders too powerful? Of course. But they got that power through political muscle, not the Constitution. Because they have so few powers enumerated to them, they’ve had to build their own power base with politics. That’s one reason why they are so reluctant to give up their political powers via campaign finance reform (although they are also undoubtedly loathe to cede their grand fiefdoms to the whims of a bunch of reformers and Republicans). Take away their political leverage and the governor’s constitutional powers will only be enhanced.
The same is essentially true of the Chicago mayor. Legally, the city has a “weak mayor” form of government, so the only way mayors have been able to truly govern effectively is if they had a powerful political organization. Witness Jane Byrne’s flip-flop after she defeated the Machine for a prime example, and Harold Washington’s losses to the Machine until he elected more sympathetic aldermen.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s a fact.
What we have to decide here is what sort of government we really want, rather than just picking and choosing reforms cafeteria-style. That’s why I supported the Constitutional Convention last year. We need a thorough debate on this. Top-down.
Instead, we get endless rants from mindless editorial boards and publicity hungry politicians.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Gov. Pat Quinn officially kicks off his campaign for governor today. Dan Hynes’ campaign issued a press release this morning claiming that “the gulf between what Pat Quinn says and what he does is wider than the Mississippi River.” The Hynes campaign then provided a few examples of why “history shows you simply can’t trust what Pat Quinn says.” Go take a look, but here’s the lead item…
“You don’t want to raise taxes on ordinary people in a recession.” – Pat Quinn in 2001. [State Journal-Register, 10/8/01]
Pat Quinn proposed raising taxes on ordinary, middle class Illinoisans during the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Expect that quote to be used in a TV campaign - if not by Hynes then certainly by the Republicans if Quinn wins the primary.
* The Tribune, by the way, asked Mayor Daley if he was endorsing anyone for governor in the Democratic primary. Daley was at the editorial board meeting to talk about the city budget. Here’s his response…
“I don’t know yet. I don’t know. I’m just here for the budget.”
* Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Brady, a top Republican gubernatorial candidate, was on the South Side yesterday touting his jobs tour…
[Sen. Brady] spoke as he stood at 83rd and Stewart on the site where Wal-Mart wants to build a store but has been blocked by the Chicago City Council.
Brady introduced legislation in May that would allow the store, and other non-union big-box retailers, to get around the pro-union City Council. Brady’s bill would need a “super-majority” in the Illinois Legislature to overrule Chicago’s home-rule powers. And it’s unclear Brady, even as governor, would be able to persuade pro-union legislators to back such a bill.
Brady also said he’s proposing: a 10 percent tax credit, up to $2,100, for businesses that create new jobs in Illinois; cutting $300 million in business taxes and fees the state currently charges; and lowering the gas tax.
Brady claims that his ideas will be a boon for the state budget…
Senator Brady believes the long-term solution to the state’s fiscal imbalance is bringing back the 700,000 jobs Illinois has lost in recent years, which would ultimately result in a $3 billion annual infusion of tax revenues to the state treasury. In the short term, Senator Brady, as Governor, would order a top-to-bottom prioritization of state spending to curtail programs that are outdated or underperforming.
* Health plans coping with state payment delays: Health Alliance Medical Plans will continue to pay medical bills for state workers, retirees and their dependents, even though Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration will stop paying the state’s share of monthly premiums for 3 1/2 months.
* Poll: Tax increases, spending cuts bad
* State finance authority lays off six: The laid-off employees include four who worked in Chicago and one each in Springfield and Mount Vernon. The authority has offices in Chicago, Peoria, Mount Vernon and Springfield.
* GOP governor candidates elbow for position in debate
* Republican candidates for governor meet in forum
* 5 GOP candidates for governor focus on ethics, economy
* Press release: Hynes meeting with diners
* Bernard Schoenburg: City woman aiming high in first bid for public office
* District 204 board member DeSart to challenge Senger in 96th House race
* Skoien, Del Mar to face off for committeeman post
* Could Race for Tax Assessor Get…Exciting?
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Republican US Senate candidate Patrick Hughes has been caught in what could easily be portrayed as a lie. Earlier this month, Hughes sent out a press release touting an endorsement by former Bears coach Mike Ditka. Hughes also claimed that Ditka had agreed to serve on his campaign finance committee.
Well, the Team America blog got in touch with Ditka’s people and the coach provided this flat-out denial…
“I never publicly officially endorsed him and certainly did not agree to serve on his finance committee.”
The Ditka press release appears to have been scrubbed from Hughes’ website.
Hughes has been positioned as the most likely longshot primary opponent of GOP Congressman Mark Kirk. This Ditka thing, however, shows that Hughes just ain’t ready for prime time.
* Speaking of Mark Kirk, RollCall takes a look at staff hires for the two top Democrats hoping to replace him in Congress, Dan Seals and Julie Hamos…
Seals has tapped the Strategy Group to do his mail and Adelstein Liston to do the media for his third try to win the 10th district seat. Meanwhile, campaign manager Patrick Mogge is also running the show for Seals for a third time.
But Seals has also brought a few new faces to the table, including polling firm Anzalone Liszt Research and research firm Link Strategies. Also new to the campaign are Finance Director Mimi Rodman, Field Director Erik Smith, Political Director Barb Cornew and Treasurer Harry Pascal. […]
Campaign manager Julie Sweet most recently managed author Tom Geoghegan’s (D) long-shot special election bid in the 5th district, which was won by now-Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). Field Director Russell Griffin served in the same capacity for Rep. Donna Edwards’ (D-Md.) triumphant primary bid over then-Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.). Political Director Eric Danko is a former campaign aide for Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.), while Finance Director Kari Lundstad-Vogt most recently served as a job bank coordinator at EMILY’s List.
They are joined by Press Secretary Christopher Lackner, who most recently worked with Sweet on Geoghegan’s special election bid. Hamos has also signed up Will Robinson and Tierney Hunt of the New Media Firm to do her media, Diane Feldman and Melissa Diemand of the Feldman Group to do her polling, Lloyd Betourney of the Public Response Group to do her direct mail and Brett Di Resta of the Maccabee Group to do her media.
* 4 more unions to endorse Giannoulias
* Front-runners for Kirk’s Illinois seat are lagging in money chase
* Candidates show their own money in race for Illinois Senate seat
- Posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Oct 22, 2009
* Vaccination plans on hold for many Chicago area school districts
Uncertain delivery of vaccine throws many schools into the waiting game
* Judge tosses Dart’s suit vs. Craigslist
U.S. District Judge John F. Grady ruled that ads offering “adult services” aren’t explicitly offering sex, and Craigslist is an “intermediary,” and is not “culpable for aiding and abetting” customers who “misuse their services to commit unlawful acts.”
“Sheriff Dart may continue to use Craigslist’s Web site to identify and pursue individuals who post allegedly unlawful content,” Grady wrote in his ruling. “But he cannot sue Craigslist for their conduct.”
* Unemployment rises in Illinois
* Cook County health, hospitals issues layoff notices
335 employees notified today, plus 700 openings to go unfilled
* Cook County Board President Todd Stroger blasts health system layoffs
* Todd Stroger calls Cook County health system layoffs a threat to patient care
* Stroger preserves Forest Preserve budget without tax hike
* Will aldermen fall after parking meter rates rise?
Can you imagine explaining the city’s parking monopoly to a newcomer to Chicago in 2020: how the city sold all its parking meters and blew the whole bonanza in three years?
* Mayor Daley defends decision to raid city’s reserves
He’s not only siphoning $370 million in parking meter money and $50 million from the Chicago Skyway lease to fund day-to-day operations and hold the line on taxes, fines and fees in 2010.
He’s using $35 million of that money to provide property tax relief — by doling out $200 grants to homeowners hardest hit by the phase out of the seven percent cap on property tax assessments.
After introducing his $6.14 billion budget and delivering his budget address to the City Council today, Daley defended his decision to risk the city’s bond rating by raiding reserves he once called untouchable.
“It’s called rainy day funds. It’s called economic sadness. That’s what you have and that’s what it was prepared for. . . . Leasing public assets for a rainy, rainy day. And this is a flood day and a flood year,” Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board, using the same language he once used to declare those funds off-limits.
* Daley wants $200 in property-tax relief for low-income homeowners
* Aldermen told details of Daley’s raid on reserves
That would leave roughly $864 million in mid- and long-term reserves from the combined, $3 billion take from those transactions, which gave private operators the right to pocket Skyway tolls for 99 years (ending in 2104) and parking-meter fees for 75 years (through 2084).
* Daley is right to tap reserve fund for 2010
* Daley in denial
* City plans to curb recycling program, pick up blue carts every third week
Chicago’s citywide switch to curbside recycling would hit the brakes in some neighborhoods, while pickups would be less frequent in others, under cuts tied to Mayor Daley’s 2010 budget.
The mayor’s proposed budget includes no money to continue the citywide switch to blue-cart recycling that was supposed to be completed by 2011 for all 600,000 households that get city garbage pickup.
Also, some of the 240,000 households that have blue carts will see pickups every third week instead of every other week.
* Tourism funding: Mayor Richard Daley says proposed cuts will force overhaul in marketing efforts
* Wishing for a casino: Gamblers ‘might as well lose it in Chicago’
After listening to Mayor Daley describe his plan to raid city reserves, the City Council was abuzz with talk about the “next big revenue source” to finance city government.
If there had been a roll call, it would have been close to unanimous: The pot of gold lies in casino gambling.
* CTA OKs new parking, soft-drink vending deals
Cash-strapped agency expects deals to bring in $1.2 million a year
* CTA to allow credit cards at its lots
The CTA board approved a contract today with Central Parking System (CPS) Chicago Parking for five years for 11 of its 17 park-and-ride locations.
The new contract guarantees the CTA revenue of $1 million a year for five years, or up to 49.5 pecent of net revenue, whichever is bigger.
* No Pepsi, only Coke at CTA stations
The Chicago Transit Board on Wednesday approved a three-year vending machine contract to keep Coca-Cola on its properties. The CTA estimates it will earn more than $1.4 million over the next five years under the terms of the contract, which gives the agency a 50 percent revenue split.
* CTA chief operating officer to retire after maxing out pension
The CTA, which is trying to cope with a $300 million deficit for 2010, is losing some help at the top.[…]
Mooney explained in an e-mail that as CTA pensions are structured, he has maximized his earnings “and there is no financial reason in terms of pension for me to stay.”
* Few attend video gambling hearing in Joliet
* Small towns concerned about sheriff’s cutbacks
* Attorney general, CUB oppose planned Verizon sale
* Verizon plan to sell landlines runs into opposition
* Chancellor’s resignation good for U of I
* Taylorville man sues U of I over clout list
* H1N1 vaccine: Panic, media and politics
* Developer of downtown Chicago block faces foreclosure
* Will Pullman Park become Chicago’s next neighborhood?
* Still time for first-time home buyers to close deal for $8,000 tax credit
* White Sox launch new tech venture
* Designing daughter: From governor’s mansion to New York fashion
- Posted by Mike Murray
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009
* Most of the Republican gubernatorial candidates appeared at a candidates’ forum at the Union League Club today and somebody asked a really inane question…
Asked where each would make specific cuts to trim more than $1 billion from the state’s multi-billion dollar deficit, Dillard, Brady and Schillerstrom each said they would first look at Medicaid, the state subsidized health-care plan for the poor. Proft said he would target funds to create high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis and the proposed third metropolitan airport near Peotone. Andrzejewski said he would look at the current share of state income taxes that go to local municipalities—an immensely difficult political move.
A billion dollars in cuts? Let’s see them come up with ten times that amount and then I’d be impressed.
The Senate Democrats popped an amendment into the Executive Committee last week which would’ve required all candidates for governor to propose their own state budget the same day as the governor unveiled his budget (in March, after the primary). I was pretty harsh on the SDems for that one last week, but maybe they have a point.
- Posted by Rich Miller
|Question of the day
Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009
* Which Republican gubernatorial candidate has the best chance of winning the general election? Explain your answer fully, please.
- Posted by Rich Miller
* The Paul Simon Institute has released more poll numbers which show just how difficult it is for policymakers to do anything dramatic these days. A large majority of the populace believes the fairy tale that the state deficit can be solved by “cutting waste and inefficiency.” That’s just absolutely ludicrous…
The state of Illinois has a budget deficit of over 12 billion dollars. I’m going to read three statements that people have made about how to fix the deficit, and ask you which one comes closest to your views.
Only a revenue increase can solve the state’s budget problems 9.5%
The budget problems can be solved by cutting waste and inefficiency 56.5%
A combination of budget cuts and revenue increases will be needed to solve the problem 27.3%
Have not thought about it 3.4%
No response/Don’t know 3.4%
It’s not surprising that people would think this, considering the horrific problems state government has had…
“Part of the problem for policy makers in Illinois is that many people don’t feel they get good value for state services,” [David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Institute] said. “There are 48 percent who don’t think the value of state services is very good. By contrast, 39 percent don’t think federal services are so good and 30 percent don’t think much of local services.”
But it’s an utter, complete fantasy to believe there is $12 billion in waste and inefficiency within state expenditures of about $30 billion.
* The only way to completely cut ourselves out of this mess is not to just cut into the bone, but to actually remove many of the bones. But since the majority believes in the fairy tale, they don’t want to make the painful cuts, either…
Do you favor or oppose cuts in state spending on:
Kindergarten through high school education? 13.0%
State Universities? 31.9%
Public safety, such as state police and prisons? 16.3%
Natural resources, such as state parks and the
Programs for poor people? 20.4%
Pension benefits for state workers’ retirement? 39.5%
And because they believe in fairies, there’s no need to raise revenues, either…
I’m going to read several ways people have suggested for raising more money. For each one that I read, I’d like you to tell me whether you favor or oppose raising revenues in that way, OK?
Raise the state sales tax 21.4%
Expand the sales tax to cover services, such as dry cleaning or haircuts. 44.1%
Expand legalized gambling in Illinois 44.5%
Sell or lease state assets, such as the lottery or the Illinois toll road system 25.9%
* But a few more people are waking up to reality…
(T)here has been some public opinion movement since fall 2008, both on the revenue-enhancing side and the program-cutting side.
Last year, for example, 20.9 percent favored spending cuts for state universities; this year support grew to 31.9 percent. In 2008, 21.2 percent favored spending cuts for natural resources such as state parks and environmental services; in 2009 that increased to 32.0 percent.
In the Simon Institute’s 2008 poll, 28.4 percent favored expanding the state sales tax to cover services, such as dry cleaning or haircuts; in the 2009 poll, 44.1 percent approved. In a less dramatic result, 21.4 percent of those surveyed this year approved of raising the sales tax rate, up from 17.0 percent in 2008.
“These results may show that increasing numbers of voters have come to the conclusion that something’s got to give,” [Charles Leonard, the Simon Institute visiting professor who supervised the poll] said. “While most people still oppose both specific cuts and various tax increases, the continued media attention to the budget situation, and the daily realities of people losing their jobs and state services disappearing may be bringing people closer to the stark realities of funding state operations. I expect next year’s poll will demonstrate even more movement.”
- Posted by Rich Miller
* Keep in mind that when Rod Blagojevich was allegedly scheming to pad his own pockets, he was campaigning as a reformer who would clean up government…
Even before he was elected governor in 2002, Rod Blagojevich and three of his closest friends schemed about ways to enrich themselves by controlling state government, the former governor’s former chief of staff alleged as part of a plea agreement Tuesday with federal prosecutors.
When Blagojevich took office, his three friends became key players in his administration and met repeatedly with the governor to share moneymaking ideas and get updates on their plans to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars that they could split up later, former top aide Alonzo “Lon” Monk alleged.
Monk, who also was a groomsman at Blagojevich’s wedding and twice his campaign manager, pleaded guilty in the sweeping corruption case and agreed to testify against the former governor in exchange for a recommended sentence of two years in prison.
Monk said he met with Blagojevich, Rezko and Kelly periodically in the early days of the administration to discuss ways of using state power to make money. But he said the meetings stopped abruptly in 2004 after they learned that FBI agents were questioning big-money campaign contributor Stuart Levine — who later became the government’s star witness at Rezko’s influence peddling trial.
But the lawlessness never stopped…
…[Monk] admits that he schemed with Blagojevich to shake down a racetrack businessman for a $100,000 campaign contribution in exchange for the governor’s signature on a pending piece of legislation.
Rezko, he said, delivered $10,000 in cash payments to him seven to nine times. Monk “understood that the money that Rezko provided was a gift, not a loan,” the plea states.
Monk also claims that Blagojevich, Rezko and Kelly met about making money off of a 62-acre parcel at Roosevelt and Clark that Rezko owned.
“Rezko talked about different ways that [Monk], Blagojevich, and Kelly could benefit from the Roosevelt and Clark Project, such as by having Blagojevich’s wife work on marketing the project or by allowing [Monk] to work on the project after [Monk] left state government,” the plea states.
If you think campaign finance reform would’ve prevented this insanity, you’re wrong…
Monk, who served as liaison with the state’s Office of Management and Budget on the pension deal, alleges that Kelly and Rezko “pushed” him to choose Bear Stearns, which is identified only as “Investment Firm A” in the plea agreement, for the first tranche of bonds.
At the time, the state intended to break up the $10 billion into several sales. Monk understood that Kelly and Rezko were pushing for Bear Stearns because the firm would either make a contribution to Blagojevich or because the governor, Kelly, Rezko, and Monk would “make money.” The firm could not make a direct contribution under regulatory bans on such payments from bond underwriters.
More on that alleged scheme involving Individual A, who is believed to be Springfield consultant Bob Kjellander…
Monk “learned from those conversations that Individual A, who Defendant (Monk) understood either had received or was going to receive money from Investment Firm A for acting as a consultant on the POB (Pension Obligation Bond) deal, was going to give Rezko $500,000 that would be held in a separate account,” the plea agreement states. “Defendant understood that the $500,000 payment was for the help that Rezko had provided to Investment Firm A and Individual A relating to the POB deal, and that the money would later be split between Defendant, (then-Gov. Rod) Blagojevich, Rezko, and Kelly.”
Kjellander in 2003 received $809,000 as a consulting fee for helping Bear Stearns & Co. get the lead underwriting role for the $10 billion bond issue. […]
“I do know that I did not participate in any scheme and I have not committed any crime. I never made any contributions to Mr. Blagojevich’s campaign, and never considered doing so.
“I never gave money to Chris Kelly,” [Kjellander] added. “I have met Mr. Monk and I know Mr. Rezko, but I did not involve myself in any conspiracy to give them money.
Let’s play “Blame the dead guy”…
Blagojevich defense lawyer Sheldon Sorosky called Monk’s allegations “absurd.”
“It’s completely false that Rod Blagojevich ever participated in any meetings or conversations where Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly talked about how they could make money illegally,” Sorosky said.
Read Monk’s plea agreement by clicking here.
- Posted by Rich Miller
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