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Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

* 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

Many things on my mind,
Words in the way

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

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Wednesday news and video roundup

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2009

* It’s the day before Thanksgiving, so we’re just gonna do a roundup this morning. If news breaks I’ll post it. Comments are open.

* SIU payroll picture improves

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.

* State universities facing big financial problems because of slow payments…

“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.”

* Daley holds meeting on convention show exodus…

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.

* Tollway officials: We’re ‘not good’ at running oases

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.

* Where terrorists are their neighbors - Florence, Colo., prison hasn’t had the security problems some fear with Thomson facility

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.

* Kirk still hot on Gitmo, mum on Palin

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

* Greater interactivity, pay walls, potential avenues to revive Sun-Times

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.

* Washington Post shutters Chicago bureau

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.

* Quinn says he’s a ‘truth slinger’

“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 pitches bailout plan, talks about family bank

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.

* Giannoulias responds to Broadway Bank dividend payout

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.”

* Politics and the death penalty - Fate of Dugan, others bandied by Illinois gubernatorial candidates…

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.

* Sanchez attorneys push for new hearing on hiring case

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.”

* McKenna pledges to control spending

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.

* You Paid For It: Illinois’ Governor and the Friendly Skies


* UFCW Endorses Governor Pat Quinn for Illinois…

* Illinois Man Learns He’s the Son of Charles Manson

- Posted by Rich Miller   93 Comments      

* File this under "Stuff I didn't know"
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