llinois Treasurer and U.S. Senate hopeful Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday that a “minimal” amount of the $70 million he and his siblings received in 2007 and 2008 dividends from Broadway Bank, the troubled Chicago lender the family owns, actually went to them individually.
That was obviously not the greatest choice of words, since he alone received $2.5 million before taxes.
So, rival Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman has responded with a “people in the street” video. The beginning is horribly dull and badly done, but it gets better about 15 seconds in. Watch it…
However, just to be clear, Giannoulias got to keep “only” $1.5 mil from that pile. As I already told you, the rest went for taxes.
…Adding… A minor point, but it appears that the video’s voice-over setup asks a different question than the “regular” people were asked. “What could people in Illinois do with $2.5 million?” appears to be the actual question, but the video claims it was: “What would two and a half million dollars mean for you and your family?” Again, no big deal, but the answers seem a tad bit confusing without that context.
U.S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson has garnered the support of more than a dozen black pastors and church officials whose congregations have thousands of members.
Jackson said Monday the ministers from Chicago and the suburbs are organizing pastors downstate to support her campaign.
From Jackson’s press release…
The group based its endorsement on Jackson’s experience fighting for jobs, education and health care. Jackson repeated her call to begin bringing troops and resources home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In attendance at the news conference were Dr. Brazier, Pastor Tyson, Pastor Gray, Bishop Tridestone, Pastor Drummons, Rev. Johnson Jr., Rev. Redwell, Rev. Harrison Sr., Rev. Turner, Rev. Greer, Rev. A Richardson, Pastor Andrews, Rev Michael Eaddy, Apostle Sylvester Brinson III, Jerry Harris and Mickarl D Thomas.
* Former governor/AG candidate John Schmidt has endorsed Dan Hynes. From a fundraising e-mail…
I don’t find it easy to oppose an incumbent Governor of my own party. But I have come to the conclusion - one that I find is shared by many others - that the incumbent is simply not capable of governing competently and effectively.
As Democrats, we have a profound obligation not to give our state another failed Governor. As citizens, setting aside any consideration of party, we have an obligation to do everything we can to elect a Governor who will govern competently and effectively at a time of enormous challenge to our state.
GOP Rep Mark Kirk, who’s running for Senate and facing a primary challenge from the right, is now claiming that if health care reform passes, it “could become law” for the government to deny coverage for mammograms.
Kirk’s Senate campaign is out with a new email that is presented as a questionnaire, asking: “Could the Government Deny Mammogram Coverage?”
* Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard has a new cable TV ad which features former Gov. Jim Edgar. Rate it…
It’s a $50,000 buy on Fox News for the week. The ad will be running throughout the day and evening on the cable channel.
*** UPDATE 2 *** As some commenters have pointed out, there’s more to the buy than just Fox News. But just barely. From my usual industry insider…
* Dillard booked a total of 95k statewide - broadcast and cable
* Markets - Champaign - cable only 4k total
Chicago- booked 50k on cable and 10k on broadcast
Paducah booked 5k broadcast no cable
Peoria- 19k broadcast, 3k cable
Rockford- 3,500 on cable only no broadcast
This is a very light broadcast buy, to say the least.
*** UPDATE 3 *** A pal with the Dillard campaign says Champaign network (WCIA) was bought this week.
[ *** End of Updates *** ]
* Meanwhile, in other political news, Adam Andrzejewski says he’s on a “fact-finding mission to Poland” with his dad…
I’m currently visiting the Republic of Poland as part of an economic and political fact-finding mission. My four day mission trip will include both official and familial appointments. The goal of the mission is to discover how the State of Illinois can improve its economic and cultural relationship with the Republic of Poland in order to promote job growth, economic vitality, and increased international trade between the two.
* Adlai Stevenson has endorsed Justin Oberman for state treasurer and Oberman is featuring Stevenson in a new radio ad. I’ll have the audio during the lunch hour, so watch for an update. For now, here’s the script…
Your state treasurer can be a big help in these troubled times—from improving state finances to creating new jobs. I know, because I served as state treasurer before you elected me senator.
I’m Adlai Stevenson and I’m grateful for your past support. But now I want to tell you about an outstanding candidate with a strong professional background and great plans for the treasurer’s office—including job creation.
Justin Oberman served our country in transportation and homeland security, managing a large staff and budget. He now runs his own financial firm helping green companies grow. His qualifications are unmatched for managing the treasurer’s office and investing state funds wisely. But he can also bring private investment back to Illinois, which will mean more new jobs.
I urge you to support Justin Oberman for State Treasurer in the Democratic primary.
Justin: Thank you for your support. Paid for by Oberman for Illinois.
Stevenson: It’s a new generation, but the name Oberman still means reform.
The first-term treasurer has been criticized by Democratic Senate opponent David Hoffman for large Broadway Bank payouts to him and his family.
In all, there were $70 million in payouts in 2007 and 2008. Giannoulias’ campaign said the payouts were was triggered by the 2006 death of Giannoulias’ father, Alexis, who founded Broadway Bank. His will called for estate and income taxes to be paid for with dividend payments from the sale of Broadway shares, the campaign said.
Alexi Giannoulias’ portion of those payouts totaled $2.5 million — $1 million of which he has said went to pay income taxes. The campaign has noted that Alexi Giannoulias didn’t have a say in whether to sell the shares because he divested himself of his voting shares when he was elected treasurer.
“I feel strongly about full disclosure in government, but I do not believe posting my personal tax returns, or the tax returns of the other candidates for governor, would further the public interest in any tangible way. I have yet to hear anyone make a compelling argument how this would benefit voters,” he replied to an Associated Press questionnaire.
Bill Brady released his returns the last time he ran for governor, but won’t this time. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney also refuses…
“It’s time to stop looking at trendy gimmicks as a pathway to clean government, and time to look at the real public policies needed to establish it,” Whitney said.
* The Question: Do you think it’s important for candidates to release their tax returns? Explain.
* My latest Sun-Times column talked about Congressman Kirk’s rightward lurch and what it may mean…
I try hard not to hate. Hating is bad for your health. Plus, the holiday season has officially begun, so hating should be put off until at least after New Year’s Day.
But I have to admit that I absolutely hate the infantile, ear-splitting, hyperpartisan politics that emanates from our nation’s capital.
So, I probably should’ve known better when Republican Rep. Mark Kirk announced his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Soon afterwards, a national Democratic operative called to see what I thought about Kirk’s chances. I told her that Kirk would probably be a lock.
As a liberal Republican on issues such as gun control, abortion and gay rights, and as a strong voice within his party for paying attention to the needs and wants of suburbia, he fit the ideal Illinois profile.
One of the biggest problems that Republicans have had in this state, I explained, is that their nationally conservative party has scared the living daylights out of suburban women, who tend toward liberalism on guns and abortion and are more open to discussing gay rights. Without those votes, the statewide math doesn’t add up. You just can’t win without them, as the extraordinary Democratic surge in suburbia over the past decade or so clearly has shown.
Not only that, I told the operative, but the Chicago media tends to dote on socially liberal Republicans. No way, I said, would the city’s media turn on Mark Kirk.
The flaw in my argument was that I failed to take into account Kirk’s long exposure to DC-itis, first as a staffer and then as an elected official.
After initially citing strong national security concerns as a reason why he voted for the “cap and trade” energy bill in the U.S. House, Kirk flip-flopped almost immediately after he announced for Senate and blamed his vote on his congressional district’s liberal bent. Why? Because his party’s right wing viscerally opposes the legislation and it has become a touchstone issue, so he abandoned principle for party.
Then, Kirk reached out to former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is way more unpopular with women than she is with men, but is the darling of his party’s far right.
And if that weren’t enough, Kirk’s head all but exploded along party lines when the Obama administration announced that it wanted to buy a state prison and transfer in terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
Kirk’s over the top, hyperbolic, error-riddled, extremely partisan fear tantrum finally tipped the media against him. Just about every significant newspaper in Illinois, including this one, which endorsed Kirk’s re-election last year, mocked Kirk’s meltdown and severely chastised him for needless and baseless fear-mongering.
The general election is 11 months away, and the Republican primary is Feb. 2, so I figure Kirk will lurch back leftward sooner or later. Maybe that’ll be enough to regain his mojo with the media. Reporters and editorial writers could just chalk up his recent rhetoric to standard-issue politics and move on.
But I think there’s more at work here than just the usual rightward drift during a Republican primary. Kirk is clearly showing that he’s far too susceptible to our disgusting and mindless national political wars, which endlessly play out on those idiotic cable TV “news” channels. And all this makes me question how Kirk would behave if he were elected next November.
Somehow, Kirk needs to forget the stupid and divisive D.C. wars and find his own center and stick with it. Maybe some holiday introspection is in order.
* Governor takes first step to close and sell Thomson prison to feds: In documents filed with a legislative review panel, Quinn’s prison chief outlined why the administration thinks selling the facility to the federal government to house prisoners from the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay makes sense.
* Editorial: Get politics out of discussion about Thomson prison: But in the simmering atmosphere of a young election campaign, discussion appears to be the last thing Cross or any other political leader really wants. Partisan battle lines were drawn virtually the moment it was proposed to shift more than 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees to the underused prison in tiny Thomson, and the only talk either side appeared to want to engage in was to show how far it could puff out its chest.
* Illinois House Republicans call for slowdown on fast-paced Thomson prison deal: Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman, said today that holding hearings would be unproductive until there is a firm proposal from the federal government and an action plan from Quinn. But Brown said watching Republicans “flip-flopping” on whether to oppose or support the Thomson site has been “entertaining.”
* Quinn leaves port board hanging: Selling the state prison in Thomson to the federal government could bring jobs to northwestern Illinois, but officials in the region also are gearing up to launch what someday could become a major development along the Mississippi River.
* Irony alive and well in Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to sell the mostly vacant maximum-security prison in Thomson to the federal government has not only generated controversy among Republicans, but it is riddled with irony.
* Congressman Has More Concerns About Thomson Prison Proposal
* Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Ryan can’t shake ties to corrupt player Stu Levine. The Sun-Times take a look at some contributions to Ryan’s last gubernatorial campaign while Levine was the finance director. The contributions seem curiously timed to some investment votes by the Teachers Retirement System, on which Levine served. The story relies heavily on Levine’s testimony at Tony Rezko’s trial…
When his testimony turned to the teachers’ pension fund, Levine told jurors he helped one firm — the John Buck Co. — win a deal to manage $100 million of real estate investment money for the fund.
Levine also testified he helped a second investment firm — Walton Street Capital — get a deal with the teachers’ pension fund to handle another $75 million.
The TRS approved the investments on Oct. 29, 2002 - just before the November election. And here’s the contribution timeline…
• On Oct. 1 — 28 days before the TRS board meeting — six employees of Bluhm’s Walton Street Capital and one from another Bluhm company gave a total of $33,500 to Citizens for Jim Ryan.
• On Oct. 11 — 18 days before the meeting — the John Buck Co. contributed $35,000 to Ryan and spent another $2,000 to host a Ryan fund-raiser at the Union League Club of Chicago.
Everybody denies a quid pro quo and Ryan’s campaign won’t give back the money.
* A challenge to state Rep. Deb Mell’s petitions was dismissed last week by Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer Barbara Goodman. From the transcript…
I find nothing in the Election Code that tells me that a candidate has to be a registered voter at all….I think we all agreed that the petition signers have to be registered voters at the addresses shown on their petitions, and I have a hard time understanding the logic used to require candidates to have a lesser connection to the voting process than petition signers. But there it is….However troubling I find this issue….I believe I’m compelled to grant the motion to dismiss.
The chief of staff for a state social service agency has left her job after allegedly using her state-issued phone to harass another woman because the two had a relationship with the same man.
Champaign County authorities also said Tamara T. Hoffman boasted of her position in state government in the threats to the Rantoul woman, threatened a police officer when he contacted her and posted photos of herself and the man holding guns on a social networking Web site belonging to the alleged victim’s daughter. […]
Rietz said Hoffman began repeatedly calling the Rantoul woman about Aug. 14. One threat, according to Rietz, began with an expletive and continued, “If you see him again, something bad is going to happen to you. I work for the State of Illinois, and you don’t know who you’re messing with.” […]
When a Rantoul police officer called Hoffman, Rietz said, Hoffman threatened him with unspecified retaliation from “investigators in the Illinois State Police.”
* But if you really want to get your weird on today, take a look at a short piece of fiction in New York Magazine’s latest issue, entitled: “The King of Mop - Blago in Vegas, looking to make a deal with Michael Jackson’s father”…
Threading through the Venetian, Rod cast an appreciative gaze at the painstakingly painted murals of Italian skyline, while gondoliers poled between linen-laid tables. Some folks pilloried Las Vegas for being fake, but they didn’t get it—the power and the glory of façade. It never rained in this dive, and its sun never set.
* Anti-corruption law: Supreme Court decision could derail ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial - Justices are asked to scale back or strike down prosecutors’ key tool for public corruption cases
With a roughly $11 billion budget gap of its own, Illinois can only duck a similar meltdown by raising taxes, says Daniel McMillen, an economist with the U. of I. Institute of Government and Public Affairs who co-wrote an analysis of the state’s fiscal crisis for an upcoming report on critical issues facing Illinois.
“In the end, I think we have to face up to the fact that Illinois has to have higher taxes,” he said. “Budget cuts can’t close a gap this wide and worsening. It’s just not possible with major expenses like pension and Medicaid obligations that you simply can’t reduce.”
The economists want a 50 percent increase in the income tax and a new tax on services. Combined, the tax hikes would bring in $11 billion a year…
McMillen says tax increases are long overdue in Illinois, where budget shortfalls have been mounting for nearly a decade.
“It really should have been done 10 years ago, when the economy wasn’t in bad shape,” he said. “But even though the recession is a bad time to raise taxes, I still think they need to do it right away.”
Four years ago during the last Republican gubernatorial primary, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis was sharply and widely criticized for running false newspaper headlines in his TV ads. Now, it’s happening again with a different wealthy gubernatorial hopeful.
Republican Andy McKenna’s latest TV ad stays with his original theme of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s hair.
The spot begins the same as his first ad, with a visual of a Blagojevich-like wig on top of the Statehouse and a Blagojevich look-alike walking into the shot. McKenna’s first TV ad placed the wig on several previous governors, including George Ryan and Dan Walker, as well as on a baby. The hair is supposed to be a metaphor for the state’s history of corruption.
The McKenna ad’s announcer then claims the state faces an $11 billion deficit while “Governor Quinn hides the truth.” The accompanying visual is the phrase: “Quinn hides the truth” and a reference to a Nov. 18 Chicago Tribune article.
Trouble is, the Tribune published no such article with that headline. The article itself is about a contentious public debate between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Democratic primary rival Dan Hynes, but nowhere in the article does Hynes accuse Quinn of “hiding” anything.
The McKenna campaign claims the reference is to the governor’s statement that day that his administration has had many “missions accomplished” during his first year in office. The Tribune reporters questioned the political smarts of parroting one of former President George W. Bush’s more infamous quotes, but the McKenna people say Quinn’s line “hides the truth” about what’s really happening in Illinois.
Obviously, that’s more than a little bit of a stretch.
It’s not like Quinn has hidden the grim realities about the state’s crippling budget deficit or the need for a tax hike. Considering that most Illinois politicians want to sweep this budget and tax problem under the rug until after the election, Quinn’s been downright honest about the whole thing.
If anything, it’s people such as McKenna who are “hiding the truth.” McKenna and the rest of the Republican candidates know full well that there’s no way to balance the state budget with cuts alone. The deficit is almost half of the budget, for crying out loud.
Here’s the “truth:” Most of the budget is education and health care. So, unless you want to cut most of the $8 billion in state kindergarten to grade 12 spending (which would just necessitate insanely high local property taxes) and kick tens and tens of thousands of children and poor people off of Medicaid, dump the mentally ill into the streets and then quit doing the other things that the state does, like patrol the highways, you can forget about balancing the budget.
Yet to hear McKenna and the other GOP candidates talk, all that’s really required is a nip here and a tuck there. Ridiculous.
Anyway, back to McKenna’s TV ad. You’d think he’d be more cautious about making up headlines, but he’s using an out-of-state media consultant who probably doesn’t know about the 2006 Oberweis fake headline blowup.
A Washington Post columnist claimed last week that McKenna’s “hair” ads are the best he’s seen this year, but the ads have yet to move McKenna past his rivals - probably because while they’re visually striking, it’s tough for most viewers to remember that the ads are for candidate McKenna. The spots have attracted plenty of media attention, however, and probably have been the subject of quite a few water cooler discussions.
McKenna is likely to stick with this “hair” visual throughout the primary, so people eventually may associate his name with the hair spot, although that may not work all that well, either.
McKenna, for one, has a nice head of hair himself. And associating such a strong negative image so closely with a candidate could be dangerous. McKenna could become the “hair guy,” and because “the hair” is portrayed as such a strong negative, that’s a risky proposition with low-information voters.
It’s also unclear how this negative ad will fare as we move into the holiday advertising season. Usually candidates try to avoid negativity starting about Thanksgiving because viewers easily can be turned off by a negative tone during the holiday season.
False and counterproductive. But, other than that, it’s a good ad.
City Council poised to vote Wednesday on Mayor Richard Daley’s new $6.1 billion spending blueprint […]
Austin said Daley’s budget proposal headed off more contentious budget hearings because this year he’s sparing aldermen the politically unpalatable task of voting on tax or fee increases.
Instead, Daley is relying on $370 million from the parking meter lease — far more than he initially planned to use when he persuaded aldermen to quickly approve the deal just days after it was unveiled in December 2008 — to fill a $550 million hole.
1. “Most TIF Funds don’t generate any money,” Daley said.
Wrong. Figures from the Cook County Clerk’s office show the funds brought in $495 million in 2008, the last latest year for which figures are available. “They generate a lot of property tax revenue — a substantial number of dollars in total,” said Woods Bowman, professor of public service management at DePaul University.
2. “Most TIF funds are used for schools, parks, libraries, ex-offender programs, job training, economic development to keep jobs here,” Daley said.
The number of elementary and secondary students in the system — which includes 255 schools in Cook and Lake counties — dropped by roughly 4.5 percent this year, or 4,158 kids, figures show.[…]
“The schools conduct interviews with families as to why they’re leaving, and … we’re being told by 90 percent of our parents that it’s really money,'’ Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, the schools superintendent, said in a recent interview with ChicagoCatholicNews. ‘’So it’s a reflection of the economy. …'’
* Illinois tuition savings program cost goes up Tuesday
Bargains drove people into the stores and to their computer screens, with 195 million shoppers visiting stores and Web sites over the holiday weekend, up 13.4 percent from last year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Shoppers weren’t buying more, though. On average, each shopper spent about 7.9 percent less: $343.31 compared with $372.56 a year ago.
It took those extra shoppers to keep sales practically flat from last year’s biggest retail weekend. Total spending was $41.2 billion, less than 1 percent higher than the $41 billion spent a year ago.
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — It took Google Earth, a little deer psychology and a freak shot for a bow hunter in southern Illinois to bring down one of the largest deer in the state so far this year — a 25-point buck.
* I just found out that Kent, a good friend of mine, volunteered to work on Thanksgiving Day so his co-workers with children can have some time off. I love my friends because almost all of them are as cool and kind as Kentola. I don’t spend my off-hours hanging out with just anybody, y’know.
Anyway, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and we’ll see you on the flip-side. I think I posted a version of this song last year or the year before, but we ought to make it an annual thing because it is the greatest Thanksgiving song ever written, or at least the funkiest…
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Southern Illinois University has $16.5 million to go before it can fully cover its Jan. 1 payroll, President Glenn Poshard announced Tuesday, adding he remains confident the money will come through.
The university received $15.5 million Tuesday in payroll reimbursement from Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes’ office, the first allocation of state appropriations the system has received since July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year. The payment and a combination of steps SIU recently took to save money leaves officials $16.5 million short of what it needs to meet the first payroll of 2010.
Poshard said he remains confident the needed money will be found by the comptroller’s office.
“Believe me, we’ve been in constant communication not only with our universities, but our whole provider community,” Hynes said. “The situation is getting untenable. We have $4.5 billion in bills that we can’t pay, including payments to our universities.”
But Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, insisted officials need to look beyond union wages and work rules to bring costs at McCormick Place in line with those in other cities.
Union workers at McCormick Place have agreed to three changes to work rules in the past 15 years, Gannon said, arguing labor costs there are now comparable to those at convention centers around the country.
“What it costs to be on the floor, what it costs for a case of pop, what it costs for a refrigerator – those ain’t organized labor’s costs,” he said.
Juan Ochoa, chief executive of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority – which runs McCormick Place and Navy Pier — said management changes could be part of the overhaul.
The income the agency gets from the oases is nearly $2 million - less than 1 percent of its revenues. Officials estimated that leasable space at six of the oases is 45 percent to 65 percent unoccupied.
“I do not sense this as something we ought to run or own. It’s not our forte. We’re not good at it,” Board Director Thomas Canham said.
However, the tollway signed a 25-year lease agreement with Wilton and that deal may be difficult to escape, regardless of what happens in the court case.
The roster of 449 inmates at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility — dubbed the Supermax — includes a Sept. 11 conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui; the would-be “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid; the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Ramzi Yousef; and a former Chicago gang member accused of aiding terrorists, Jose Padilla.
The cells here also house the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, of south suburban Evergreen Park, and Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Terry Nichols.
But if having terrorists imprisoned a 10-minute walk from your home is a safety risk, there’s no sign of that in Florence, Colo., a rural community about 110 miles south of Denver.
“We still leave our doors unlocked at night,” former Mayor Bart Hall said.
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk has certainly tamed his rhetoric lately on moving Gitmo detainees to a western Illinois prison.
But he told Animal Farm today that he “stands behind” his earlier statements claiming the move would increase terrorism activity in northern Illinois and put residents in direct danger.
“There is a danger,” the Highland Park Republican said.
* Employee union blasts plans to sell Thomson prison…
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 says Illinois prisons are overcrowded already, and moving the estimated 200 prisoners housed at Thomson to other state prisons will only exacerbate the problem. Additionally, AFSCME says the Illinois Department of Corrections has renewed a push to close Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, a move that would require shipping an additional 1,500 inmates to other state prisons as well.
“Bottom line, the IDOC plan to eliminate Thomson and Stateville will worsen the state system’s overcrowding crisis at the same time that it turns some 2,000 beds over to the federal government,” said AFSCME Council 31 executive director Henry Bayer in a statement released in anticipation of Quinn’s announcement.
The IDOC Web site shows that 25 of Illinois’ 28 prisons are operating over capacity, with at least three prisons holding more than double their capacity of prisoners. Compiling the online data shows Illinois prisons hold about 44,000 inmates – almost 14,000 inmates over their combined capacity of about 30,000. Those numbers do not include the state’s adult transitional centers, some of which are overcrowded as well.
Januari Smith, spokeswoman for IDOC, responded via e-mail to AFSCME’s overcrowding worries by pointing out that Thomson is barely being used, and the state’s inmate population has remained stable for the past decade.
“There is no expectation that it will increase under current criminal justice system practices,” Smith said.
* Plan to cut poverty in Illinois needs to include way to pay for it…
“We have to be mindful that there is a shortage of funding and we have to see within the context of that what we can make work moving forward, said state Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn).
Though Pihos said she is a member of the commission because she feels the issue of poverty is timely and pressing, she would not commit to a funding plan for the commission. Pihos cited the relatively early stages of the commission’s work and what she characterized as the “goal” timeframe outlined in the legislation as reasons for her reservations.
* Illinois smoking ban: Some bars give smokers a sanctuary - Smokers pitch in extra cash to help bars pay fines
While there’s no panacea for the ills of the newspaper publishing business, small changes will help turn the tide at the money-losing publisher of Chicago’s No. 2 paper, Sun-Times Media CEO Jeremy Halbreich said.
The Washington Post, in a significant retrenchment, is closing its remaining domestic bureaus around the country. The six correspondents who work in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago will be offered reassignments in Washington, while three news assistants will be let go.
“I’ve known Dan a long time and he’s very, very negative. Eighty-five percent of their commercials are very negative and I don’t think that’s the way in a recession to get Illinois back on its feet,” Quinn said of Hynes’ campaign.
“We need to have jobs, economic growth,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to repair all the damage that was caused in our state government. I’ve done that. We want to make sure then we focus on what the people need, not what politicians are thinking about.”
Quinn said Republicans who want his job are “calling me a bunch of names” and warned, “he who slings mud generally loses ground.”
“I want to be a truth slinger,” said Quinn, who was elevated to the state’s top job when Blagojevich was ousted by lawmakers in January. “I think in the 10 months or so I’ve been governor, I think I’ve done a good job in stabilizing our state. I’m an honest person and I want to keep our government honest.”
* Giannoulias Gets Grilled On State Of Family Bank…
When asked why his family took $70 million out of the bank, Giannoulias said, “Most of the dividends were used for tax purposes. And what was left, most of that was used to help settle my father’s estate.”
When asked to explain further, Giannoulias said, “I’m not gonna go into the details of my father’s estate with you.”
Giannoulias’ campaign spokeswoman Kati Phillips said the $70 million payout occurred in 2007 and 2008 and was triggered by the 2006 death of Alexi’s father the year before. Alexis Giannoulias’ will called for estate and income taxes to be paid for with dividend payments from sale of shares at Broadway. Alexi’s portion was $2.5 million, she said, $1 million of which went to pay income taxes.
Phillips said Alexi Giannoulias had no say in selling the shares because he sold his voting shares when he was elected treasurer.
For his part, as a 3.6% shareholder of Broadway, Mr. Giannoulias said he received $2.5 million in dividends over the period. He kept something less than $1 million, with the rest going for taxes and his share of the estate expenses, he said. The campaign will release his tax returns with detailed information Wednesday.
Mr. Giannoulias couldn’t quantify how much of the $70 million went for taxes and the estate, though, saying that would have to come from his brother, Demetris, who runs the bank and thus far hasn’t provided the information.
Asked whether he would plow dividends he’s received back into the bank in order to save it, he said, “Anyone would walk on glass if they find a way to help their family. They’re going to make a management decision on the best way to keep that bank running.”
However, immediacy and Illinois’ death penalty are two incongruous concepts.
Absent one of the inmates dropping his appeal, there is little chance that the governor elected in 2010 — or even 2014 — will be confronted with the issue, possibly making all of last week’s rhetoric moot unless one of the current crop of gubernatorial hopefuls goes on to win a second term.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office, which represents the state in death penalty cases, predicted that none of the inmates now on Death Row will face execution earlier than 2017 because many of their appeals are only in their infancy.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said after the hearing there was no evidence of willful misconduct by the government but suggested that the agents may be “kicking themselves for what they did or didn’t do.”
The Chicago businessman and former head of the state’s Republican Party says the state must stop spending more than it is taking in. If elected, he pledges not to increase spending above the rate of inflation plus population growth and to consolidate government operations. […]
McKenna, 52, supports enabling revenue growth by stimulating business growth and freezing spending for three to four years. That solution may not be popular and may cap his career at one term, but McKenna claims it will help get the state back in the black.
* Democratic US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias unveiled his financial services reform plan today and, as expected, was peppered with reporters’ questions about his own family’s bank…
But he immediately was hit with questions about Broadway Bank, which faces huge defaults on loans for high-profile real estate deals, many of them out of state, even though Broadway is considered a neighborhood institution.
“You saw greed everywhere,” Mr. Giannoulias said in response to a question about Broadway. A moment later, he conceded that he personally approved loans for projects in Florida, New York and other states. But “hundreds” of community banks are dealing with similar woes that have driven many of them to insolvency, he added.
“I don’t think anyone even as smart as you could have foreseen” the near-total collapse of the economy and real estate market, Mr. Giannoulias said.
Mr. Giannoulias did not directly talk about what will happen to Broadway. But he said his brothers who run it are “concerned about the future. . . .I hope they can make it through.”
That forecast doesn’t sound good. I’m a bit surprised that the banking stuff didn’t find its way into the AP story. Then again, the AP didn’t even bother to cover the banking reform stuff, focusing instead on Blagojevich. Progress Illinois has a summation of Giannoulias’ plan…
…the application of commercial banking regulations to non-bank lending institutions (think mortgage brokers and payday lenders) and the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a public exchange on which derivative transactions would be conducted, and an emergency bailout fund bankrolled by firms deemed “too big too fail.”
David Hoffman’s campaign responds…
Mr. Giannoulias continues to tout his experience as a banker, but based on his record he has no credibility. As Vice President and Chief Loan Officer of Broadway Bank, he was directly involved in several questionable loans. Further, he and other owners of the Broadway Bank received $70 million in dividends, just as the financial collapse was taking place, which has left the bank on the edge of insolvency.
Rather than offering warmed over proposals, he should come clean and let voters know whether he intends to put his portion of the $70 million back in the bank to avoid it being taken over by the FDIC.
That’s not as hard of a hit as I expected.
*** UPDATE *** From a press release…
Statement from Tom Bowen, campaign manager for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias:
“The only candidate who is funding his campaign with bank money is David Hoffman. His holdings in JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup were protected by the very TARP money and system Hoffman rails against. Now Hoffman has put $500,000 of that money into his campaign. Bailout dollars saved Hoffman’s investments and now he’s using that money to fund his campaign.”
He said when it comes to turning northwestern Illinois’ Thomson Correctional Center into a federal prison he is not certain that either Quinn or President Obama have “explained the betterment of this move.”
“I see it as it being appropriate for it to be used as a federal prison but so much is being made of what prisoners be going to it that nobody is focusing on the jobs that would be created and how many,” McKenna said.
A resolution that may come before RNC members in Jan. would have the effect of eliminating several prominent GOP recruits from receiving party money.
The resolution, offered by IN national committeeman Jim Bopp and nine fellow RNC members, would forbid the national party from spending money on candidates who do not meet at least 8 of 10 criteria set down as party principles.
Those principles include opposing abortion rights, opposing same-sex marriage, opposing the stimulus package and cap and trade bills and supporting surges in Iraq and Afghanistan and gun rights, among others.
Kirk would be excluded from being helped, but don’t expect that resolution to pass.
Hynes said his proposed legislation would require public colleges and universities to admit veterans over other students, if all other factors are equal. And veterans would get a bump in their ACT scores of several points, though Hynes said he didn’t know exactly how many yet.
A bump in their ACT scores? That kinda rubs me the wrong way. I don’t think we should be messing with those scores. Give veterans some additional cash, pave the way a bit for their entry, but we should probably leave their entrance exam scores alone.
* State Rep. Julie Hamos has a new TV ad in her 10th Congressional District bid. Rate it…
We understand the governor might be facing a tough political reality.
Many of these Blagojevich hires still on the payroll have political sponsors — politicians Quinn may not be eager to offend just before the primary.
So far, the governor has been removing these folks piecemeal, but it may be more effective to get rid of them all at once, as part of a single effort.
Governor, you’re a man who has built his political career on doing the right thing.
Do it again.
That piecemeal approach has been counterproductive. When he tries to fire one staffer, that person’s sponsor(s) raises holy heck. Quinn should dump several at once to dilute the response and prevent it from focusing on a single person or ethnic group or special interest or whatever. And he should do it soon.
* Dear State Board of Elections,
I will support your appropriation request if you promise to hire an entirely new Internet staff and revamp that awful site of yours…
The Illinois board overseeing elections has put a price tag on campaign finance legislation. That legislation would make campaigns file fundraising reports far more often, and put new limits on most donations. […]
In a report dated last week, the agency says it would need an extra $1.5 million next year, a chunk of this for computer programming changes it says are “absolutely essential” to comply with the bill, and for the hiring of six staff members. In future years, the document estimates a cost close to $800,000 a year.
Seriously, dudes, your website is just so horrible on so many levels that it ought to be put out of its misery - and ours. Get a freaking clue already.
* Dear education establishment,
A friend of mine in Kansas City, MO sends her daughters to a French immersion charter school. It’s an excellent school and you won’t find anything like it in Illinois. So, while I always hesitate to agree with the rabidly and reflexively anti-union Chicago Tribune editorial board, I have to say their idea appeals to me…
[Sen. James Meeks] plans to push to remove the cap on the number of charter schools in Illinois. The legislature raised the cap this year. But there should be no cap at all.
We’ve known for decades that the industrial model for schools just doesn’t work. How about something new?
* Dear Eric Zorn,
I agree with you about Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. His buildings may have inspired decades of Soviet building projects, but they are a blight on the landscape here. So, like you, it doesn’t really bother me that one of them is being torn down…
I have to say, in full knowledge it will marks me to some as a rube, that Mies has never done much for me. He may well be the equivalent of Mozart, as Lifson suggests, but I’ve never found his buildings particularly interesting to behold… I’m not saying we should tear them down, but, well, even after reading Lifson’s impassioned post, I find myself unexercised.
Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch previously said Kelly took a combination of pain reliever and rat poison, but a toxicology report from the Cook County medical examiner’s office only found pain medications in his system. The office said he overdosed on salicylate, used in such medications as aspirin, and acetaminophen, Tylenol’s main ingredient. A toxicology report also showed diphenhydramine, commonly sold as Benadryl.
Bivins said much more information is needed before a decision is made.
“At the briefing and tour Monday … I asked the Governor’s (Pat Quinn) chief of operations Jack Lavin if there is a plan in place for using the proceeds from the sale of the prison (to the federal government. His response was, ‘I think we are getting ahead of ourselves,’ ” Bivins said in a news release. “I responded that I thought we should get ahead of ourselves before making a decision of this magnitude.”
…Bivins recommends taking some of the proceeds from the sale of the prison and putting that money toward helping the state’s overcrowded corrections system. Some 1,600 inmates could be housed at Thomson, requiring 800 to 900 employees.
“Compare that to the prison in Dixon with 2,200 inmates and fewer than 600 employees,” he said.
And then there is the small matter of the big debt. Bivins said the state still owes $80 million on the Thomson prison. The village floated about $12 million in bonds for a new wastewater treatment system, which still needs to be paid.
“We need to look at the entirety of the situation,” the senator said. “We should open up the process. If we are going to sell Thomson, let’s get the best possible price for it. Are there any other bidders out there?”
So, there’s about $90 million in outstanding debt still owed on Thomson. If the state sells the prison for cost, Illinois is gonna clear just a few million dollars. That would be very stupid.
And Sen. Bivins is right about the state’s current prison system. Selling Thomson means dumping our most modern prison facility, and not having anything to replace it.
* I guess this statement by Gov. Quinn depends on how you define the word “swift“…
Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he expects swift action on a proposal to sell a northwestern Illinois prison to the federal government to house Guantanamo Bay detainees […]
Quinn is pushing hard for the federal government to take over the Thomson facility, promising that it will help create jobs in a struggling area. Critics question the economic impact.
“I think this will move along rather quickly,” Quinn said.
One reason why this won’t move as fast as Quinn is implying is because of something Senate President John Cullerton told the AP last week. It doesn’t appear that the AP really knew what it had because it buried the important part…
The president of the Illinois Senate says state lawmakers have no formal control over whether terrorism suspects wind up being housed in the state.
President John Cullerton says lawmakers can’t take an official vote allowing or blocking the plan. The Chicago Democrat said Thursday that the only role for lawmakers is to have a committee review the idea and take an advisory vote.
“State facility” means any facility (i) that is owned and operated by the State or leased and operated by the State and (ii) that is the primary stationary work location for 25 or more State employees. “
Before a State facility may be closed, the State executive branch officer with jurisdiction over the facility shall file notice of the proposed closure with the Commission. The notice must be filed within 2 days after the first public announcement of any planned or proposed closure. Within 10 days after it receives notice of the proposed closure, the Commission, in its discretion, may require the State executive branch officer with jurisdiction over the facility to file a recommendation for the closure of the facility with the Commission. In the case of a proposed closure of: (i) a prison… operated by the Department of Corrections… the Commission must require the executive branch officers to file a recommendation for closure. The recommendation must be filed within 30 days after the Commission delivers the request for recommendation to the State executive branch officer. [Emphasis added.]
After that, the governor must wait at least 50 days to close the facility. So, this could go on for a few months after the feds approve it - and the president has said that the final plan isn’t imminent. So, I guess it’s “swift” for government work.
The commission, by the way, is bipartisan. It contains six members from each party and a co-chair from each party. Two statewide GOP candidates, Sens. Bill Brady and Matt Murphy, sit on the commission. Sen. Dave Syverson, who is close to visceral Thomson opponent Congressman Don Manzullo, also sits on the commission. GOP Rep. Raymond Poe, a commission member, is a co-sponsor of HR 762…
Urges Governor Patrick Quinn and his administration to immediately halt all negotiations or contacts with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and all other relevant federal offices and departments, relating to the proposed transfer of the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government for purposes of a Military Commissions Act of 2006 detention facility, until they initiate consultations with the Illinois General Assembly and receive their consent to undertake this move.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk turned down the rhetoric [yesterday] on Democratic-backed plans to use the largely vacant Thomson Correctional Center to house suspected terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying he wants a “dispassionate and specific” discussion of the issue.
“The key point is, is this a necessary risk?” asked Kirk, a five-term congressman from the North Shore. “And in my judgment, it’s not a necessary risk. But then I’m practical. I’m from the Midwest and I understand when a deal has been cut. So then the question is, if we are to move forward, then how do we move forward?” […]
[Kirk’s] previous comments have warned that the Chicago area could become “ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization.” He’s questioned the safety of O’Hare International Airport, the Willis Tower and a nuclear power plant near the Quad Cities.
Kirk said much of his earlier rhetoric had to do with the fact that the federal interest in Thomson was “a rather surprise announcement” and that he was “going with the information that we had available.”
So, he admitted that he was caught off guard, didn’t have all the facts, but went ahead and jumped the gun anyway with his dire warnings that we were all gonna die.
The two-term Illinois governor said he understands the concerns, but probably wouldn’t worry about safety too much.
“I can appreciate folks may not want these people in their backyard, but they’ve got to go someplace, it appears,” Edgar said during a visit to the Capitol. “And I’m sure that will be an extremely secure prison. I wouldn’t worry about folks breaking out.
“If the right safety guarantees are there, then I would say that it makes sense just to create some economic opportunity in that part of the state.”
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* Gov. Pat Quinn has responded to Andy McKenna’s new TV ad, which accuses the governor of “hiding the truth,” via a press release…
[Yesterday], former Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna launched an ad that claimed Governor Pat Quinn is attempting to hide the state government’s deficit from taxpayers, citing a Chicago Tribune “headline” that was completely fabricated by the McKenna campaign.
It is unfortunate that Chairman McKenna believes the only way to win Republican votes is to misrepresent the facts about Governor Quinn’s honest and responsible handling of the state budget crisis. In these difficult economic times, real families are facing real challenges in every corner of Illinois. We need leaders with real plans to create real jobs, not political ads with made-up facts or quotes from non-existent news stories.
Governor Quinn’s campaign has no need to rephrase or repurpose reporting of the Governor’s continuing, tough-minded efforts to manage the worst deficit in Illinois history. And Governor Quinn’s lifelong commitment to transparency and open government speaks for itself.
Quinn also sent out a fundraising e-mail…
We’ve got a fight on our hands, and we need your help. The Illinois Republicans are pulling out all the stops to smear Governor Quinn and his plan to bring jobs and growth to Illinois. Just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday, Andy McKenna released an ad that used fake headlines to attack Governor Quinn. We can expect even more of this kind of deception and fear-mongering from the right-wing Republican candidates for Governor. Kirk Dillard even went so far as to call President Obama “a socialist.”
We’ve seen these kinds of games before. Politicians like McKenna, Kirk, and Dillard will try to use fear, doubt, and misinformation to divide us. But you and I know that we can’t afford to waste any more time. Illinois needs jobs and economic relief now, not more political games.
Please donate $100 or more to help Governor Quinn beat back the lies and bring jobs to Illinois.
Republicans are resorting to misleading ads and negative attacks in an effort to distract voters from Governor Quinn’s accomplishments, but Pat’s record speaks for itself. Just last week, Governor Quinn signed legislation to bring in an additional $1.1 billion to pay for the state’s medical bills. Earlier this month, Pat worked with the Illinois Finance Authority to make $3 billion available for renewable energy projects and jobs. And within months of taking office, Governor Quinn did something no other governor had accomplished in more than a decade. He spearheaded, negotiated, and signed a comprehensive jobs bill, Illinois Jobs Now!, which will create and support over 400,000 Illinois jobs. Pat knows that investing in job creation and economic development is the best way to get Illinois back on track.
However, the road to recovery isn’t easy, and Republicans will say anything to derail the Governor’s agenda. Take action now to prevent the Republican politicians from smearing Governor Quinn and his plan for recovery. We can’t afford to let fear mongering, lies, and deception get in the way of our plan for a stronger and more prosperous Illinois future. Please contribute $100 today:
And McKenna responds to Quinn’s responses via press release…
Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna called on Governor Pat Quinn to stop hiding the truth from Illinois voters about the fact that Illinois is on the brink of bankruptcy and that our unemployment is at record levels.
“It is time Governor Quinn leveled with the people about the fact Illinois, with an eleven billion dollar deficit, is on the brink of bankruptcy,” said McKenna. “
The Chicago Tribune reported that yesterday, responding to the latest McKenna/Murphy campaign ad saying he’s hiding the truth, Quinn defended his statement that he has “missions accomplished” on the issues of the budget and job creation by saying, “I think the people of Illinois are a lot happier today, in November of 2009, than they were at the beginning of this year.”
Quinn made this claim despite the fact there are 286,000 less jobs than a year ago and our budget deficit has swelled to $11 billion.
“There are 286,000 people who have recently had to confront the challenge of unemployment and likely are not happy about this,” added McKenna. “The fact Governor Quinn says people are happier today than nearly a year ago proves he will do anything to hide the truth from the people of Illinois”
Unemployment in Illinois is at 11% - higher than the national average.
There’s encouraging news out of Chicago’s housing market. A new report from the Illinois Association of Realtors says home sales are going up in the Chicago area.
The report says in Chicago’s metro region, October home sales are up 33 percent over a year ago. The Association of Realtors attributes the increase to buyers finally coming off the sidelines during the housing market collapse.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago says it’s investing in affordable housing for some heavily Latino parts of the city. The announcement follows criticism that the church skimps on charity in those neighborhoods.