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Backlash, hinky numbers, conservative questions, and questionable promises

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* At least one Tribune reporter is not pleased with Andy McKenna’s new TV ad. A mid-morning Clout St. article, “McKenna’s misleading campaign ad on Quinn,” makes some of the same points that I did with subscribers earlier this morning…

It’s not the first time that a Republican statewide candidate for governor in Illinois has resorted to the use of misleading newspaper attributions. In his failed 2006 race for the GOP nomination for governor, businessman James D. Oberweis used four fake headlines from real newspapers across the state in his TV advertising.

Underscoring that McKenna’s campaign didn’t need to misattribute the Tribune, it also released an accompanying radio ad using the same “hides the truth” accusation with no reference to the newspaper.

McKenna campaign spokesman Lance Trover responds…

“Last week Governor Quinn characterized his record as governor as “Missions Accomplished,” this at a time when the state is facing bankruptcy and near record unemployment while the governor is refusing to launch any effort to tackle — or even acknowledge — these issues until after his primary election.

“By any sane, rational definition, that is hiding the truth.

“His assertion was such a prominent point of his presentation, that the Tribune even used it in the headline and the lede. We understand the seriousness of making this accusation about Governor Quinn. Rather than facing the possibility of being charged with using political hearsay, we cited an article using the governor’s own words to demonstrate our point: he is hiding the truth.”

Here is what Quinn actually said

“You’ve got to have a governor who gets things done. That’s what I’ve done. I took over at the worst time Illinois could ever have in our history, a very dark, dark hour,” Quinn said. “And we’ve, day after day, got missions accomplished whether it’s in ethics or getting things done for ordinary people in the budget or getting jobs.”

I wrote at the time that the Tribune was mischaracterizing the “missions accomplished” quote, so I guess it’s garbage in, garbage out.

* Speaking of false claims, Democratic US Senate candidate David Hoffman sent out a fundraising e-mail today that points to poll numbers which don’t really exist…

In the last few days, much has been made of an internal poll we conducted. Geoff Garin, our pollster and long-time advisor to Senator Durbin, shows in a polling memo that in a general election Alexi Giannoulias loses to Mark Kirk by 17 points, and I beat Kirk by 5 points.

Bottom line: I am the strongest Democratic Senate candidate to take on Mark Kirk for the November election.

Actually, the memo shows Mark Kirk leading Hoffman 40-30, and leading Giannoulias 40-37. It’s only after the “push” questions, both positive and negative, that Hoffman edges out Kirk.

* It’s tough to discern whether David Axelrod actually told James Warren that he has concerns about Alexi Giannoulias or whether Warren just assumed it. Either way, it would be nice if the Chicago Media Cooperative story was more transparent…

Mr. Axelrod concedes that he and Mr. Obama failed to persuade Attorney General Lisa Madigan to run for the Senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama. “She would have walked into the seat,” Mr. Axelrod says. White House qualms about the Democratic frontrunner, Alexi Giannoulias, the Illinois treasurer, are self-evident, with worry that the Republican challenger, Representative Mark Kirk, will be needlessly formidable.

“The Blago saga will hang heavy over our politics, and that’s what Kirk’s banking on,” Mr. Axelrod says.

* Speaking of Kirk, Politico has a piece about how a conservative US Senator may get involved in Kirk’s primary

If you’re an underdog conservative running for Congress, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) should be on your speed dial these days.

A favorite of the tea party crowd and a longtime scourge for Democrats and some Republicans alike inside the Senate chamber, DeMint has emerged as the leading benefactor for any Republican who wants to challenge the establishment candidates backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. […]

And DeMint is considering offering an endorsement to attorney Patrick Hughes, who is challenging Kirk in the Republican primary for Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois. DeMint has met with Hughes twice in the past two months to discuss his campaign, and DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund website is polling respondents on whom they support in the Hughes-Kirk primary.

“This is a national race … so an endorsement from Sen. DeMint or any great conservative leader like him is welcomed and would be helpful,” Hughes said Thursday, after meeting with DeMint for a second time.

DeMint conducted an online poll and Patrick Hughes won

Fans of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) are also, apparently, fans of atty Patrick Hughes (R) — which could turn out to be a bad thing for the NRSC.

Over the weekend, Hughes won an online straw poll of visitors to DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund website, which gauged which candidate DeMint backers wanted to support in the race for Pres. Obama’s old SEN seat in IL. Hughes took 74%, while Rep. Mark Kirk, the favorite candidate of DC GOPers, garnered just 8%, barely over half the number of people who voted for “other.”

“Other” came in second. No surprise, but not good for Kirk. Still, DeMint has made it clear that he only intends to involve himself with winning candidacies and Hughes has shown us nothing to indicate he can beat Kirk.

* Keep in mind when reading this next piece that the national GOP always promises Illinois big bucks and doesn’t deliver, so it’s yet to be seen how far they’ll go. The climate has changed, but Kirk’s general election is the only real high point so far…

Illinois’ top Republican says he’s received a “commitment” from the national party to invest big bucks here in hopes of a GOP breakthrough in the 2010 elections.

State GOP Chairman Pat Brady said no one mentioned any specific numbers at a meeting he held Friday afternoon with Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. But “significant help” was promised, he said.

“Mr. Steele says he’s very committed to Illinois,” Mr Brady said in a brief phone chat. “Illinois is a top tier state for them.”

* Related…

* Lyons Township GOP backs Hughes, Topinka, Plummer: Saturday morning’s Republicans of Lyons Township candidate forum ended with endorsements for Patrick Hughes for U.S. Senate, and fell one vote short of backing Dan Proft for governor. Andy McKenna was the next highest vote gubernatorial vote getter — at 14. 29 votes were needed for endorsement.

* Dems claim Rauschenberger not a Republican: Well, the Senate Democrats are trying to expand a DuPage County court ruling used last cycle to bump an opponent off the ballot against Sen. Carol Pankau. In the case of Rauschenberger, they claim that because he pulled a Democrat township election ballot last cycle in order to vote for his sister for Elgin Township Trustee (there was no Republican primary), that he is now ineligible to run for office as a Republican.

* Press Release: U. S. Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson today announced the launch of an online petition against sending more troops to Afghanistan and the withdrawal of American military forces still in Iraq. The petition can be found at BRING OUR TROOPS HOME. “It is time to take care of America again and time to bring our troops home. And it’s time for people at the grassroots to make their opinions known about a war with no end in sight that claims precious lives and resources that we so desperately need at home,” said Jackson.

* Edgar cuts ad for 41st House race: Former Gov. Jim Edgar was spotted at the Capitol on Friday filming an ad that’ll back Elmhurst Republican Brien Sheahan for the 41st Illinois House district. That’s the seat currently held by Bob Biggins, who’s not seeking re-election. Sheahan, a DuPage County Board member, once worked for Edgar. He’d be the second former Edgar staffer to get the former governor’s nod. He already endorsed former aide Kirk Dillard for governor.

* Gingrich to raise cash for Ethan Hastert: Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is set to host a Dec. 11 congressional fundraiser for the son of former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert… Ethan Hastert, an Elburn attorney, is running against state Sen. Randy Hultgren of Winfield Township, Mark Vargas of Elgin, Jeff Danklefsen of Geneva and Jim Purcell of Batavia.

* Few Statewide Illinois Candidates Sign Fair Campaign Code

* Foes try to knock Green Party off ballot in 14th Congressional District

* Low Tea Party moment symbolic of muddy week: Catherina Wojtowicz, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, an organizer for a Tea Party splinter group, Chicago Tea Party Patriots, falsely claimed that the Houghs fabricated their story. In an e-mail, she called them operatives of President Barack Obama who “go from event to event and (cry) the same story.” When the Houghs spoke at the Lipinski event, some Tea Partiers ridiculed them. They moaned and rolled their eyes and interrupted. Midge Hough began to cry.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* We spent much of last week discussing the governor’s controversial plan to sell the Thomson prison to the feds so that the Gitmo detainees can be moved there, along with hundreds of other inmates.

* The Question: Do you support or oppose this proposal? Explain thoroughly, please. And try to stay as Illinois focused as possible. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   69 Comments      

Viewership of ad-supported cable continues to surge

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

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Budget horror stories

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has said he wants to stem the flow of out-of-county patients to Stroger Hospital. As of last year, they were still streaming in

In 2008, 26,000 patients came from the Collar Counties; 25,000 were from downstate counties; 1,800 came from Indiana; and 5,200 were from other areas.

The cost to the county is about $50 million a year. One story…

Aurora housewife Bushra Ayaz has colon cancer. She’s now being treated at Stroger Hospital, because, when she sought treatment at hospitals in DuPage and Kane counties, they declined because she has no health insurance.

“The doctors over there, they were saying, ‘Oh, you cannot afford the chemo. … It’s very expensive, and we will not give you here,’ Ayaz said.

Her sister, Nuzhat Fahim, explains the runaround they received at other hospitals.

“I just felt like a rolling stone,” she said. “When we were in a hospital, they sent (us) to another one. And they sent (us) to another one. They said, ‘No, you go to Cook County Hospital.’”

* The Sun-Times takes a look at Gov. Pat Quinn’s pledge to “fumigate” Illinois government of top Blagojevich hires. The paper’s first problem was getting Quinn’s office to comment

[Quinn’s] spokesman would not directly answer questions about how many Blagojevich administration workers have been let go as a result of Quinn’s fumigation pledge.

And the numbers appear disheartening…

Today, despite a failed effort by House Speaker Michael Madigan to force Quinn “to accelerate the pace” of the housecleaning, dozens of high-ranking, top-paid hires from the Blagojevich era are managing to hold onto their state jobs.

At least 70 have done so despite coming under scrutiny in a federal investigation of what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald termed in 2006 were “very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud” under Blagojevich, who is awaiting trial on federal charges that he used his job as governor to improperly benefit himself and those close to him.

* Paratransit riders are facing an RTA fare increase, and they want Gov. Quinn to step in

A dozen paratransit protesters pressured Gov. Quinn Friday to give them the same fare freeze he gave other CTA riders this month.

“Since Gov. Quinn was able to freeze fares for people who ride fixed routes, that same courtesy should have been afforded to the riders for paratransit,” said Debbie Pittman of Chicago, spokeswoman for the Concerned Citizens of Paratransit. “We understand there might be a budget that needs to be met,” she added, “but it shouldn’t be on the backs of the riders.” […]

[Pittman] said they got “a big runaround” with the governor’s representatives when they finally met with them at the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago Friday in a meeting barred to the media. “So, we are going to keep fighting,”
[Pittman] added.

* Chuck Goudie takes a look at the top users of the state’s turboprop fleet since Rod Blagojevich left office

Attorney General, 326
Senate Operations, 257
House Operations, 251
Transportation, 222
Public aid, 188
Public health, 177
Revenue, 166
Secretary of State, 147
Human services, 122
DCFS, 109

* And in other budget news, the Pantagraph once again publishes an editorial demanding that the Legislature “do something” about the budget without ever saying what it would like to see done…

We asked state Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and state Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, and Dan Rutherford, R-Chenoa, what they personally are doing to resolve the state’s budget problems.

Rep. Brady, who is running for re-election, said he has been meeting with various groups and individuals, such as current and retired ISU employees, and conveying information to the governor’s staff.

Sen. Brady, who is among seven Republican candidates for governor, said there needs to be a 10 percent cut in spending. He said one of the problems in formulating a solution is the difficulty getting information from state agencies.

Sen. Rutherford, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for treasurer, said he is repeating his call for reforming the state’s pension system and Medicaid system before considering an income tax hike. He also said he speaks about state issues every other day with Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

It’s good to hear our lawmakers are “involved,” but the General Assembly never should have gone home in September (not to mention July) without directly addressing the state’s budget problems.

That’s “involved”? Hookay.

* Related…

* Inside one questionable clout hire

* Election Remains Big Obstacle to Budget Fix

* Quinn creates Human Services Commission

* Quinn signs bill to get more federal money for health care

* New law nets more federal money

* Controversy leads to reforms at Statehouse

* Campaign finance tops reform scorecard

* Campaign Finance Wait Continues

* Quinn Promises Action On Campaign Finance Bill

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

McKenna’s new ad; Hynes in the dark

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* Andy McKenna’s campaign has a new TV ad. Rate it

It has already sparked controversy

This time, McKenna goes after the man who replaced Blagojevich, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. The ad says the state budget deficit is growing quickly while Quinn “hides the truth.”

The ad cites the Chicago Tribune to support the allegation, even though the newspaper never said that.

McKenna spokesman Lance Trover defends the wording as a fair summary of facts reported by the newspaper and not an attempt to mislead people into thinking the Tribune accused Quinn of hiding something. He maintains it’s not misleading because the ad doesn’t use quotation marks around the phrase.

“We’re the ones saying that,” Trover said.

The article in question is actually entitled: “Democratic governor debate: Gov. Pat Quinn says ‘missions accomplished’ as Hynes rips ‘flip flops.’

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, whose analytical skills are suspect at best, uses the “Royal We” to claim that the ad is one of the best ads of the seasons to date

For our money, the best ads we’ve seen so far in the 2010 midterms are in Illinois for Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy McKenna. McKenna, a former state party chair, has featured the famous hair of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in each of his early ads — a symbol of the corruption and business as usual that has dominated politics in the state. McKenna’s new ad starts with an image of Blago’s hair atop the state capitol dome while a narrator details what Blagojevich — and, by extension, his successor Pat Quinn — have done to the state. McKenna faces a serious primary challenge from, among others, former state attorney general Jim Ryan but win or lose he has provided a potent blueprint for the GOP nominee to ensure voters don’t forget about Blagojevich next year.

* Meanwhile, my weekly syndicated newspaper column takes a look at the Democratic primary race

The original hope by Dan Hynes’ Democratic gubernatorial campaign was that they could outspend and beat up Gov. Pat Quinn on TV by Thanksgiving to the point where the governor was vulnerable in the Feb. 2 primary.

Early benchmark polling for . Quinn had him leading Hynes 54-to-26, with other polls showing similar results. Hynes’ name ID was a relatively low 67 percent, compared with Quinn’s 88 percent.

Since then, Hynes has spent close to $2 million on TV ads, but Quinn has matched him pretty much dollar for dollar. And while Hynes stopped running network TV ads on Nov. 11 and went dark on cable last week, Quinn was up with a positive bio ad last week on both network and cable.

The governor has raised more money much faster than many people expected, given his historical aversion to the activity. Quinn has also run a much better, tighter and more visible campaign than many had expected. The governor is getting “earned” media coverage on the all-important Chicago TV almost every day, and the state’s multibillion dollar capital construction bill has allowed him to cut ribbons all over the state, which is something Hynes simply can’t match.

Recent polling conducted by other statewide Democratic candidates show Quinn ahead of Hynes 50-to-38 and 50-to-35, sources say.

While clearly demonstrating that the race is significantly tightening, the polling shows Quinn has not yet been brought below 50 percent - a crucial benchmark for all incumbents, even though there are more than two candidates in the race at this point (both of the second tier candidates face petition challenges, however, and could be booted from the contest). At least one of those polls has Quinn with about a two-to-one favorable rating, which shows that Hynes’ ads haven’t yet succeeded in roughing up the governor.

The Hynes people believe they have significantly closed the gap and are now in a position to make the final four-week run beginning in January. But big questions remain about what the “dark,” period - when nobody is running ads - between now and January will do to the polling numbers. Will Hynes fade back to the status quo ante? Or, will his numbers roughly hold steady while voters’ attentions turn to decidedly unpolitical things? There are reports from inside that Hynes plans to run a Christmas ad in December, but that will be a purely positive message and won’t do much of anything to bring Quinn down.

Since Hynes hasn’t yet fully put the governor on his back, there are those who believe that the comptroller’s campaign message won’t really work in the final four weeks, either. I have said publicly that I believe this race could be over by Thanksgiving if Hynes didn’t have Quinn bleeding from every political orifice by the traditional holiday season kickoff date - after which negative ads would likely be a huge liability. He doesn’t appear to have done that to Quinn, but I’m not quite ready to pronounce Hynes’ campaign officially dead, although everybody would have to admit that he does face some very, very difficult odds.

Both campaigns have indicated privately that polling and focus grouping shows that Governor Quinn’s proposed income tax hike “works” much better against him than attempting to tie Quinn to his ousted predecessor and two-time running mate Rod Blagojevich. Hynes has focused his advertising on the tax issue, but the ads clearly haven’t put Quinn down as of yet.

It’s not known whether Hynes will attempt to somehow use the Blagojevich issue in his January ad campaign. Quinn has a pretty solid reputation for honesty among voters, and he is probably seen as a “safe” choice, considering the last two governors. They also clearly want to see him succeed and have so far given him something of a pass on his many stumbles in office.

That hopeful voter attitude could all fade by next fall, after Quinn has another legislative session under his belt, but Feb. 2 is just around the corner. After this week, there are really only about four campaign weeks left, and every candidate who can afford it will be up on TV come January. There will be a lot of cash flowing, and messages will easily be buried under all the clutter.

* Related…

* Bernard Schoenburg: ‘Regular person’ out to ‘reclaim Illinois’

* Plainfield Township Republicans Endorse Adam Andrzejewski for Governor

* Illinois candidates take to air early

* Forecast for Dem primaries: Ugly: The Democratic Senate primary in Illinois — largely quiet until recently — might be the next flash point, another example of Democrats field-testing attacks on each other that will most likely prove useful for the GOP. There, the campaign of former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman charges that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’s baggage from his career as a banker makes him unelectable, an argument that is likely to be revisited in some form by the GOP if Giannoulias, currently the front-runner in the polls, ends up as the nominee.

* DuPage candidate kicked off ballot: Meanwhile, the five other objections the electoral board heard Friday were unanimously overruled, and those candidates will remain on the ballot. Dan Cronin and Debra Olson, two of the four Republican county board chairman candidates, successfully defended the challenges. Both GOP sheriff candidates, incumbent John Zaruba and challenger Mike Quiroz, will stay on the Feb. 2 ballot. And Democratic District 2 forest preserve commission candidate Hilary Denk also survived the petition objection.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Monday, Nov 23, 2009

* What happened to all of Chicago’s conventiongoers?

McCormick Place has seen nearly a third of its business vanish this decade, a period that saw two recessions. Attendance at major events in Chicago’s main convention center declined from 3 million in 2001 to 2.3 million last year. Las Vegas and Orlando held up somewhat better but likewise have seen attendance fall off since the middle of the decade.

More recently, Tradeshow Week, an influential publication in the industry, reported quarterly figures showing that since last year, convention attendance and space usage are down by 8 percent to 17 percent. An analysis it published last spring carried the hopeful headline, “Better days ahead.”

* McPier meltdown

The chief executive officer won his post after raising campaign cash for disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The just-departed human resources director owed her job to a powerful state senator. Other top executives have long ties to Mayor Richard M. Daley’s political machine.

That’s what clout looks like at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, a little-understood government entity that operates the city’s primary convention venue, the vast McCormick Place complex; the adjacent McCormick Hyatt Regency Hotel, and the lakefront tourist center Navy Pier.

* TIFs gone wild

Some words just don’t seem to go together. Aon Centerand blight, for example.

That’s why Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, didn’t bite on a proposal to create a tax increment financing district in the East Loop. Owners of the Aon and four other downtown stalwarts — One and Two Illinois Center and One and Two Prudential Plaza — would like the city to set up a TIF district to generate property-tax dollars to pay for improvements to their buildings.

But Reilly says the properties in question “don’t even come close” to meeting the legal threshold for such assistance.

* Inspector general ‘will not shrink from conflict’

Joe Ferguson is the eldest son of a working-class single mom and a father he never knew who survived that rejection — and the mean streets of Boston — to become a dogged federal prosecutor in Chicago.[…]

Last week, the City Council handed Ferguson a four-year term as Chicago’s corruption-fighting inspector general, replacing David Hoffman, a thorn in Mayor Daley’s side who resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.

* ‘That’s nothing new’

The quote of the week comes from Ald. Isaac Carothers, 29th, who shrugged off a report about the City Council’s incestuous hiring practices just as Mayor Richard Daley announced that illegal patronage in Chicago is dead.

“All of us have family members on the payroll,” Carothers said. “That’s nothing new.”

Carothers, who is facing federal bribery charges, won’t even say whether the William Carothers on his payroll is his father or his brother. It’s none of your business who he hires with your tax dollars.

* Chicago zoning inspector in kickback case back at work

A politically connected zoning investigator has returned to work at City Hall barely a week after he admitted to accepting bribes of cash and gifts to repeatedly overlook zoning violations.

William Wellhausen — who pleaded guilty Nov. 3 and was brought back to the job the following Monday — said he’s clueless why that happened.

“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask the city,” Wellhausen said before hanging up the telephone at the city’s Landmarks Commission, where he is doing clerical work.

* Cop charged with $600K theft also officer of statewide group

A statewide police association will check its financial books after learning one of its board members — a Chicago Police sergeant — was charged with skimming $600,000 from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association.

Sgt. John Pallohusky, a detective and president of the Chicago sergeants’ association, also serves as financial secretary for the Springfield-based Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois.

On Friday, Cook County prosecutors charged Pallohusky, 53, with stealing from the Chicago Police Sergeants’ Association and spending the money on a home, an online stock brokerage, gambling trips, hotels and steak dinners.

* Law spinning its wheels for IDOT worker hit by sheriff’s officer’s car

* A decade after Decatur fracas, racial gap in school discipline widens

• Suspensions of black students have escalated by 75 percent since 1999, while those of white students have dropped more than 5 percent.

• When it comes to the more serious punishment of expulsion, white students are kicked out 16 percent more often than a decade ago, but black students are expelled 56 percent more often.

• Whites make up nearly three-fifths of public school enrollment, yet in the most recent data, they account for one-third or fewer of both suspensions and expulsions.

The proportion of blacks facing discipline has soared in all parts of the state even though the percentage of Illinois’ black enrollment has steadily fallen in the past decade.

* Expert: ‘Mismatch’ to blame for school race gap

* 12,000 students skip mandatory Illinois test

* Rich Township schools have worst test skip rate in state

Nearly 400 of Rich Township’s current seniors never took the exam, the spokeswoman said. The district has failed for several years to make adequate test score progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, and is currently under “corrective action.'’ Rich Township District 227 Supt. Howard Hunigan could not be reached for comment Friday.[…]

Statewide, current seniors who skipped the exam in what would normally be their junior year were disproportionately poor, black, and students with special needs, a new analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education indicates. Such kids traditionally are among the lowest-scoring in the state and nation.

* 3 Chicago-area students named 2009 Rhodes Scholars

* Schools mapping out map changes

* Winter overnight parking ban and restrictions return Dec. 1

* Half of drivers 18-34 admit texting on the road

* Developer loses control of Block 37; stores opening

* Group urges Chicagoans to seek jobs with Census

* Economic survey: Job losses to bottom out in 1Q

Economists expect the joblessness that has weighed down the nation’s economic recovery will start to slowly abate in 2010, but they predict consumers will continue to keep a tight rein on spending, according to a new survey.

While signs have pointed to the end of the recession, joblessness remains rampant. The national unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest in 26 years. About 9 million people currently receive unemployment benefits.

* Legal aid for people fighting city hall

* Gov. Quinn ushers in deer season, encourages outdoor recreation

* Injured Ill. servicemembers can apply for grants

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that allows Illinois servicemembers who have been injured abroad to apply for $5,000 grants.

The legislation is effective immediately.

The grants come from the donation-based Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. The fund was created in 2003.

* State gets $500,000 to help connect military veterans with jobs

- Posted by Mike Murray   17 Comments      

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Monday, Nov 23, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* My old buddy Hank Sinatra puts on some fantastic shows down in Austin - in his back yard.

I gotta get myself back down there one day soon. This is from one of those shows. It’s the Flyin’ A’s

* Also, don’t forget Bob Waldmire’s last art show

“Bob’s Last Art Show” will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Cozy Drive-In, 2935 S. Sixth St., Springfield. Mounted color prints and T-shirts with Waldmire’s art will be for sale.

If you don’t know who Bob is, you’ve really missed out. Learn something by clicking here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off Where Candidates and Voters Connect

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

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More GOP township endorsements for Proft, Andrzejewski

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* Conservative GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Proft has received yet another endorsement from a Republican township organization…

Last night the Southern Will County Republican Organization (SWCRO) which comprises six rural townships in Will County endorsed conservative Republican candidate Dan Proft for Governor. ]…]

“By endorsing my candidacy, the Southern Will County GOP joined the Republican organizations of Schaumburg Township, New Trier Township and Niles Township in voting for policy revolution.

The Plainfield Township Republican Party has endorsed rival conservative GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski.

It’s becoming obvious that several suburban township organizations have moved far to the Right - at least at the endorsement sessions. New Trier’s GOP organization endorsed Bob Dold over Rep. Elizabeth Coulson and other candidates in the 10th Congressional District. In the past, that would’ve probably been a lock for Coulson. Elk Grove Township also went with Dold, and nobody got enough support in Northfield Township for it to make an endorsement.

Coulson, however, is meeting with the national GOP chairman today

Looking for a sign that the conservative ascendancy in the New York special election may be making other moderate Republican candidates across the country antsy?

State Rep. Beth Coulson, one of the most moderate Republican candidates running for Congress, will be meeting with Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele [today] in Illinois to discuss her campaign – and the need for Republicans to have a big-tent party so it can compete in Democratic-minded districts.

Notably, she telegraphed her scheduled meeting with Steele and Republican party leaders in Illinois in a press release. It’s fairly uncommon for a candidate to announce a meeting with party officials, especially when it’s closed to the press.

It’s only uncommon when it hurts the candidate. More

From Coulson: She “will join Illinois’ House Minority Leader Tom Cross and Senate Minority Leader Chris Radogno, as well as Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady in the meeting with the chairman to talk about the upcoming midterm elections in Illinois and how to keep the 10th Congressional District in Republican hands.”

The GOP leaders believe that Coulson is the best shot at holding onto that seat. But she has to get through the primary first. Coulson, for her part, is trying hard to move right

Coulson campaign spokesman Joe Woodward said that she’s against President’s Obama’s stimulus, cap-and-trade energy legislation and would have voted against the health care bill that narrowly passed through the House.

* Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Brady said he would be open to the idea of leasing the Illinois Tollway and also slammed Mayor Daley’s lease of the Skyway…

Brady said he believes a good model for selling the tollway would be what Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels did in leasing that state’s 157-mile I-90 tollway for $3.8 billion.

The 75-year lease allowed the company to almost immediately double tolls for cash payers while raising rates subsequently at least 2 percent a year. Drivers using an electronic payment system, like Illinois’ I-PASS, have been granted a break on the hikes until 2016.

So, he’s apparently writing off some of the suburban vote.

* Back to Gitmo we go
. Congressman Peter Roskam is upset that Democratic US Senate candidate Alexi Giannouolias received some sort of briefing by National Security Council staff on moving the Gitmo prisoners to Thomson. From a press release

“Given Mr. Giannoulias’ disclosure that he received a NSC briefing on possibly moving Guantanamo to Illinois, I urge the Obama Administration to eschew the increasingly political nature of this situation. Moving terrorists to Illinois will have tremendous security and economic implications, and now this situation has been tainted by the appearance of political favoritism given that a Democrat U.S. Senate candidate received a NSC briefing while elected Members of Congress have not. The people of Illinois will be best served by a process that forgoes the behind-closed-doors political approach and instead provides for open and transparent consideration.”

Giannoulias’ campaign says they believe the NSC staffer who did the briefing was the same person who briefed officials at Thomson earlier that day. Doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

The Giannoulias campaign also has a new list of endorsements…

State Senator Edward Maloney
State Senator John Sullivan
State Representative Deborah Graham
State Representative John D’Amico
Alderman Carrie Austin
Alderman Lona Lane
Alderman Bernard Stone
Alderman Joann Thompson
Alderman Howard Brookins Jr.
City of Chicago Treasurer Stephanie Neely
Peoria County Democratic Chairman Billy Halstead
Marion County Democratic Chairman Zach Roeckeman
Lawrence County Chairman Joe Weger
Des Plaines Mayor Martin Moylan
Maine Township Regular Democratic Organization
Maine Township Democratic Committeeman Laura Murphy
Associated Firefighters of Illinois

* Related…

* Hispanic Leaders Endorse Quinn

* Peraica involved in 3 signature challenges: Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica challenges signatures in two races and is challenged in one.

* Gubernatorial candidates weigh in on education in Illinois

* Exposed to a Tea: But your screamfest Saturday at Oak Lawn Community High School exposed you as nothing more than a small but vocal gang of disgruntled white suburbanites who are ticked off at … well, appear to be ticked off at just about everything.

* It’s Official: Dunkin to Face Schroeder in February Primary Election: The Chicago Board of Elections rejected a challenge to the candidacy of David Schroeder for the State House of Representatives today. This clears the way for Schroeder to appear on the ballot facing incumbent Ken Dunkin, the first time Dunkin will face a Democratic challenger since he was elected in 2002.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Action hero moment for state Senator

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the epitome of a gentle soul. But his public demeanor may just be a Clark Kentian cover. Check it out

A state senator from Peoria says he fought off an armed robber who interrupted him while he was doing some remodeling at his business.

Democratic Sen. Dave Koehler says he was painting Thursday night when a man with a gun appeared and demanded money. Koehler says he gave the robber what was in his pocket and told him to leave.

The man demanded Koehler’s cell phone next, but the senator says he instead knocked the man against a wall and took the gun.

He took the gun away from the criminal? Wow.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

Question of the day

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* It’s Friday, we’ve had a long, emotional week, so let’s lighten it up a bit.

The Question: Will you miss Oprah Winfrey’s Chicago-based TV show when it ends in 2011? Why or why not?

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

The furor and the damage done

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* I’m glad to see that the state’s GOP congressional delegation is finally starting to act like grownups

Illinois’ Republican congressional delegation attempted to tone down their rhetoric Thursday over housing detainees from Guantanamo Bay at a state prison by issuing a series of questions to Gov. Pat Quinn.

“As we move forward with a dignified and precise discussion regarding the cost, security and legal issues…,” the delegation’s letter begins.

The letter is in stark contrast to one the delegation sent to President Barack Obama over the weekend that raised the specter of such a move inviting a local terrorist attack.

“If your Administration brings al-Qaida terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization,” the first letter read.

[ADDING: Read the new letter by clicking here.]

That first letter, of course, was drafted by Congressman Mark Kirk. It prompted a huge backlash in the media which continues to this day. This, for instance, is the Southern Illinoisan’s “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” for today

THUMBS DOWN! To the amount of hysteria stirred up by politicians who don’t want detainees from Guantanamo Bay housed at a prison facility in Thomson. Gov. Pat Quinn is attempting to sell the prison to the federal government. The facility would house a lot of federal prisoners and possibly a few hundred detainees from the Guantanamo prison. Closing Guantanamo is a legitimate political issue for Congress and the federal government. But many politicians are making it sound like Al-Qaida operatives will be roaming the streets. There’s always room for reasonable political discussions, with the emphasis on reasonable.

Kirk jumped the gun and assumed several facts not in existence and twisted other facts to the point of no recognition. Here’s one of his more egregious false assumptions from this week

“Once here, federal law mandates these terrorists have a right to visitors,” Kirk said. “Federal policy allows up to 10 followers or family members per prisoner. With 215 coming to Illinois, that would be over 2,100 Al Qaeda followers and family members connected to Jihad coming to Illinois, likely connecting through O’Hare airport.”

Except, the prisoners won’t be allowed visitors other than pre-approved legal counsel.

Let’s hope things start to calm down. But the damage to Congressman Kirk’s reputation will not heal any time soon. Instead of waiting for the facts and asking sane questions, he went completely off the rails and started screaming about how we were all gonna die if we allowed these prisoners to be sent to Thomson.

…Adding… Related…

* E-poll shows support for housing Guantanamo prisoners in Illinois: A straw poll of 541 voters in state Sen. Susan Garrett’s 29th District indicates 52 percent of respondents are in favor of moving prisoners from the military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to an idle Illinois prison. Another 35 percent were opposed, and 13 percent said they were undecided. She received responses from 541 constituents in the poll e-mailed two days ago.

* U.S. Rep. Halvorson questions selling Thomson prison

* Illinois GOP tweets: Prison talk

* Ill. Senate president: State lawmakers have no control over housing terror suspects

* GOP now the Party of `Noooooooooo!’

- Posted by Rich Miller   43 Comments      

Viewership of ad-supported cable continues to surge

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

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- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Fighting the fantasies

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* Perhaps the dumbest report I’ve seen in years was former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman’s “analysis” of the city’s parking meter lease deal. According to Hoffman’s report, if the city had just increased parking meter rates on its own, it would’ve reaped twice the amount of money of leasing the meters.

The report was silly because of the political facts on the ground. Cook County’s one percentage point sales tax hike has practically created a revolution - or at least a revolution in the Tribune editorial board’s collective mind. The county board has once again voted to roll back half the tax, and Ald. Toni Preckwinkle promised yesterday that she will eliminate the rest of the tax increase if she is elected county board president.

For good reason, there is little to no enthusiasm in the Democratic-dominated Illinois House to increase the income tax, and the House GOP has pledged to unite against any such move. Every Republican running for governor is promising not to increase taxes, with Dan Proft actually pledging to cut taxes.

My point here is that if Mayor Daley and the city council had actually voted to double parking meter rates on their own, the outcry would have been so loud and intense that by now those rate hikes would assuredly have been rolled back. If not, lots of aldermen, and even the mayor, would be in extreme danger of losing their jobs.

I’m going over all this again because the first “scoop” of the New York Times’ Chicago Media Cooperative focuses on some revelations about the deal

After a rocky start hurt their bottom line, Chicago’s new parking meter operators are raking in more than $1.1 million a week and expect even more revenue next year, according to internal company documents obtained by the Chicago News Cooperative.

The parking meter company projects total revenues of more than $75 million and net income of about $58 million in 2010, after a second round of rate increases go into effect across the city on Jan. 1. In the first 10 ½ months of operation ending Dec. 31 of this year, the company expects $32.7 million in net operating profit, for a 70 percent profit margin.

Much of the “new” meat in the story is about how initial costs were higher than expected and revenues were lower

According to the meter deal’s income statement for May 2009, revenues for the month were about 20 percent below projections. At the same time, expenses were far over budget, mostly for “supplemental staffing.”

The rest of the story is mainly about how parking rates will rise next year and the private company will make more money. Nothing really new there.

* In other budget news

Illinois, the fifth largest U.S. state by population, postponed selling $3.46 billion of municipal bonds to fund state pensions because of a delay in appointing a new official to oversee debt sales, said Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for the state budget department.

Great. The budget spokesperson essentially confirmed that Quinn’s dithering on replacing his Blagojevich hand-me-down caused serious problems.

* Also, Gov. Quinn met with some Naperville business leaders and the Daily Herald has their response…

Sean Sebold, president of Sebold Capital Management and a member of the chamber’s board of directors, said businesses produce jobs, not government and he called an income tax increase a “job killer.”

“You think someone is going to bring a business out of a state to our state with a 4.5 percent income tax?” he asked. “What it will also do is drive retirees out of the state.”

The income tax would still be on the lower side, and retirees do not pay taxes on pension income. The Daily Herald didn’t note that, however.

And this quote, also from that DH story, is why Dan Hynes is having such a tough time knocking Quinn off his perch…

John Schmitt, president and CEO of the chamber, said he was not prepared to comment specifically on Quinn’s income tax proposal but that the chamber doesn’t typically support tax increases. But he was glad the business community had a chance to share its concerns and called the visit productive.

“He seems to be open minded and progressive,” Schmitt said of Quinn. “Because of what his predecessors did to the office of governor he has a tough battle but he’s working to restore confidence in the office and I think he’ll do it.”

Voters want Quinn to succeed, understand he was put in an impossible situation and are willing to overlook the glitches to date. If this attitude survives next year, it’ll be tough for Republicans to beat him as well. But there’s no guarantee of that, of course.


…Adding… I forgot to post our relevant quote of the day

But when asked how the state budget situation could be fixed without a tax increase, Quinn said, “You could pray for manna from heaven.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

This just in… Senate Ethics Committee blasts Burris, but finds no “actionable” law violations

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* 10:24 am - Read the Senate Ethics Committee’s report on Roland Burris by clicking here.

From the report, which is technically a “Public Letter of Qualified Admonition”…

The Committee found that you should have known that you were providing incorrect, inconsistent, misleading, or incomplete information to the public, the Senate, and those conducting legitimate inquiries into your appointment to the Senate. The Committee also found that your November 13, 2008 phone call with Robert Blagojevich was inappropriate. Although some of these events happened before you were sworn in as a US Senator, they were inextricably linked to your appointment and therefore fall within the jurisdiction of this Committee.


Your sworn affidavit and sworn testimony before the Illinois House of Representatives were inconsistent, incomplete and misleading.

The letter goes on to claim that Burris’ “shifting explanations” about his sworn statements “appear less than candid.” And that his November, 2008 phone call with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother Rob was “inappropriate,” but that it did not rise “to the level of an explicit quid pro quo.”

Burris’ response…

After months of investigation into the circumstances surrounding the appointment and seating of Senator Roland W. Burris, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics has closed its inquiry and cleared the Senator of any legal wrongdoing.

In a ‘public letter of qualified admonition,’ the Senate Ethics Committee outlined the specific areas of concern that it investigated, and conclusively found no “actionable violations of the law” occurred.

Earlier this year, Senator Burris was also investigated and subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing by the Sangamon County State’s Attorney in Springfield, Illinois.

“I am pleased that after numerous investigations, this matter has finally come to a close. I thank the members of the Senate Ethics Committee for their fair and thorough review of this matter, and now look forward to continuing the important work ahead on behalf of the people of Illinois,” said Senator Burris.

In recent months, Senator Burris has emerged as a key member of the Democratic caucus as they seek to piece together the critical 60 votes needed to pass President Obama’s health care legislation through the United States Senate. He has become a strong voice for the inclusion of a strong public option, and his vote is seen as vital for final passage.

* 10:41 am - ABC7’s headline is “Burris cleared by ethics committee.” Apparently, somebody at ABC7 just skimmed through Burris’ press release.

The Tribune’s headline is: “Ethics panel admonishes Burris over Senate appointment.” Sun-Times hed: “Senate Ethics panel clears Burris of illegalities, gives ‘qualified admonition’.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Friday, Nov 20, 2009

* Missing juniors: Illinois officials to crack down on testing loophole

Taking aim at a loophole used to exclude academically weak 11th-graders from state testing, Illinois education officials said this week they want to create a single standard to determine when students are counted as juniors and therefore must take the exam.[…]

Nearly 10,000 students now in their final year of high school — about 7 percent of all Illinois 12th graders — skipped the two-day Prairie State Achievement Exam last spring for no apparent reason, according to a new state analysis.

These students didn’t qualify as juniors in May, and their districts chose not to test them, state records show. But months later in October they were listed as 12th graders — seemingly skipping 11th grade.

Because these low-achieving students did not take the rigorous exam, their home high schools were never held accountable, allowing them to skirt a central tenet of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

* Cook Co. board crawls toward 2010 budget

* More cuts contained in final Cook County budget

Tucked into the county’s approximate $3 billion 2010 budget that was approved Thursday night is another $13 million in cuts for the health system, a tough blow to withstand, said Bill Foley, the health system’s chief executive. […]

The system also has slashed 1,350 jobs by eliminating about 700 vacant positions on top of layoffs, according to health officials.

But this week, county commissioners sliced in half the controversial sales tax increase that took effect nearly 18 months ago, meaning about $32 million less in sales tax income during the new budget year.

On Thursday, commissioners passed a measure requiring any department that did not cut its budget by 5 percent, as they were asked to do, to take a 3 percent hit. That includes the health system, which would lose about $13 million.

* Cook County Board passes budget with no tax increases

The Cook County Board tonight passed a $3 billion budget for next year that holds the line on taxes.

* Stroger strategy: Veto tax cut at last minute

Waiting until Monday’s veto deadline, Stroger tells the Sun-Times, will give the county’s residents a chance to call their elected leaders and tell them to reconsider the half-penny on the dollar giveback. He has long said the lost revenue stream would decimate the county’s healthcare system.

“I do want to give them time — I want to give the constituents time to talk to their commissioners,” Stroger said.

His only hope of beating back an override, unlikely now even though he’s done it three times before on the issue, is for Cook County residents to speak up.

* Commissioners, keep fighting to cut sales tax

* Chicago City Council uses stealth payroll for family, operatives, those with heat

Shadowy $1.3 million payroll helps them get around ban on patronage hiring

Operating without scrutiny, one alderman hired the mother of a former top mayoral aide later convicted of rigging city hiring. Another hired a city worker ousted for sexual harassment allegations. Several others hired relatives.

“All of us (aldermen) have family members on the payroll,” said Ald. Isaac Carothers, 29th, who has paid a relative more than $30,000 since January 2008. “That’s nothing new.”

The revelation comes as Mayor Richard Daley prepares to ask a federal judge to end decades of court supervision over City Hall’s clout-heavy hiring practices, arguing that illegal patronage is dead. But the city’s hiring compliance officer told the Tribune he didn’t know about the payroll of about $1.3 million a year.

* Daley reappoints nephew to sports agency

Mayor Daley on Wednesday re-appointed his nephew and former campaign finance chief to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority mapping plans for a retail development near U.S. Cellular Field.

Peter Thompson helped his uncle raise more than $7 million in less than three months — after Daley took a four-year break from fund-raising in the wake of the Hired Truck scandal — on the mayor’s way to a sixth-term landslide.

Now, Thompson will keep his unpaid seat on the agency that built and improved U.S. Cellular Field through Jan. 1, 2012.

* Daley Praises Settlement with Bensenville

Chicago’s City Council has approved a settlement to claim some land near O’Hare International Airport. The City of Chicago finalized its negotiations with Bensenville earlier this week to take over more than 500 houses as part of an expansion project at O’Hare. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley says it’s a good deal for the northwest suburb.

DALEY: All the property in and around O’Hare Field is always - all those suburban areas deal with future developments - it’s very important for them, for their tax base and their jobs.

Daley says transportation is a major economic engine for Illinois. The City of Chicago settled with Bensenville for $16 million after years of legal challenges.

* Glitch fixed, but delays still possible at O’Hare, Midway

* Northerly Island, Grant Park have big changes in store

* Huge score for DePaul

City planners OK new music, theater schools in Lincoln Park

* Hired Truck giant ready to roll on Bridgeport homes

* State stockpiles 35,000 tons of salt for region

Lower prices have allowed Southern Illinois to stockpile 98 percent of its road salt storage capacity before the winter season hits the region.

* Immigration Audits Target 24 Illinois Employers

Two dozen Illinois employers connected to public-safety infrastructure face a federal audit of their hiring records. Immigration officials say they have reason to believe the companies are hiring illegal immigrants.

* Nursing home task force ready to discuss changes

* Burr Oak opens for relatives to check graves

* A bittersweet reopening

Four months after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced the destruction of about 200 graves, Burr Oak’s heavy new wrought iron gates opened to the public Thursday.

* Kenosha’s track to close; you might be able to adopt a dog

* Peoria County OKs balanced budget

* Will County Board approves 2010 budget

* Unions urge Will County to allow video gambling

* Oak Lawn considers tax hikes

* Stevenson High School officials halt publication of student newspaper, the Statesman

Administrators didn’t like 3 stories about honor students smoking and drinking, teen pregnancy, and shoplifting

* More residents seek assistance with energy bills

This month, 1,800 people waited in line at the annual Energy Assistance Fair at Thornton Township Hall in South Holland. Some people waited in line for hours, and the turnout was more than five times greater than last year’s attendance of about 350.

“It’s the Great Depression all over again when you see it up close,” said Robert Storman, who heads community relations for Thornton Township.

Nearly 800 people at the fair qualified for direct donations — ranging from about $200 to more than $1,000 — from Thornton Township to help cover heating costs. Others met with representatives from Nicor, ComEd and other utilities to resolve problems and work out payment plans.

* ‘Dead zone’ in Chicago sees 2 fatal shootings in a week

Teen who wanted out of South Side gang was fatally shot at a memorial for a slain gang member

- Posted by Mike Murray   7 Comments      

Quinn [gently] shoots back

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* Earlier today, I showed you a video of Gov. Quinn nodding off during a question asked by a woman whose pregnant daughter-in-law died because she had no health insurance.

Well, the Quinn campaign has countered with a video of their own. Apparently, the governor approached the woman after the event and told her she had given a “beautiful, beautiful speech,” adding “If I can help in any way, I’m the governor and I get around. I want to help tell Jenny’s story.” Class move.

The governor also hinted that he might help her with a call to the Chicago police since she may have been harassed at home by “the teabaggers.” Take a look

From the governor’s campaign…

Yesterday, at the Campaign for Better Health Care forum, Governor Pat Quinn heard Midge Hough tell the heartbreaking story of Jenny, her 24-year-old daughter-in-law, who died nine weeks ago – along with her unborn child – because Jenny and her husband did not have health insurance.

While listening to Midge’s story, Governor Quinn took notes, looking down as he did so, as a deceptively edited video clearly shows. […]

To learn more about Midge Hough, Jenny’s needless death, and the reasons that Governor Pat Quinn believes that access to affordable, quality healthcare is a basic human right, please take a moment and watch this video from the Campaign for Better Health Care.

We all commend Midge Hough for her extraordinary courage and her indomitable belief that this personal tragedy may ultimately serve to help millions of other people, like Jenny and her baby, who still do not have health care coverage.

He nodded off. They should’ve either ignored that or admitted it. Either way, he clearly nodded off.

And here’s Ms. Hough’s video

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

And while we’re all talking about silly campaign stuff…

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* Oof

Unemployment in Illinois jumped to 11 percent in October of this year, the highest it has been in 26 years.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said the unemployment rate for October was 11.0 percent, up from 10.5 percent in September, and up from 6.8 percent in October of last year.

“While the slowing pace of job loss and other leading economic indicators bring with it cautious optimism, they are of little comfort to those seeking meaningful employment during this national recession,” department Director Maureen O’Donnell said in a news release. “Past economic recoveries suggest the nation will begin to benefit from a growing economy before unemployment rates in Illinois begin to retreat.”

Progress Illinois has a chart showing how Illinois’ unemployment has tracked with the national rate. Ours is higher, but fairly consistent with national trends…

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

2010 campaign updates

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* Sen. Bill Brady thinks the GOP gubernatorial race is a two-person battle

Jim Ryan “is really the only competition we see in this race,” Brady said.

But then goes on to make two points about why Ryan can’t win…

“His name ID is good and bad, and we all know why,” Brady said. “Two people for every one think he was George.” […]

“Who’s most electable in the general election? It’s a downstate businessman who’s not tied to the past,” Brady said. “Let’s face it: Republican voters are smart enough to realize that Jim cannot disassociate himself from George.”

* Fellow GOP candidate Adam Andrzejewski wants to kill off the state’s fleet of turboprops

In response to Channel 7 investigative reporter Chuck Goudie’s report last night concerning the cost of operating the state fleet of 16 aircraft, Republican candidate for Governor Adam Andrzejewski says he would ground the aircraft, and then sell the $22 million fleet with the exception of the two helicopters and specific planes used by the Illinois State Police. (Story Online at

Andrzejewski re-emphasized his plan to conduct a forensic audit of the state’s expenses. He pointed out that Channel 7’s report indicated that state employees are using the planes regularly at a cost of $3,000 per hour totaling $4 million per year.

* We have two very interesting legislative stories of note today.

The first is about a couple of apparent put-up candidates out south. Rep. Jim Brosnahan (D-Evergreen Park) is retiring, and he and Speaker Madigan are backing Michael Macellaio to replace him. Macellaio was up against just one candidate, Kelly Burke, president of the Evergreen Park Library Board, until the last day of filing when two other women with Irish names filed within moments of each other. Kristen McQueary takes it from there

So the Democratic Party quickly rounded up two other Irish gals to siphon votes away from Burke - Angela McMahon, of Evergreen Park, and Karen Sullivan Casey, of Oak Lawn.

Neither of them circulated a single petition sheet herself nor gathered signatures from neighbors or even their husbands. Most of the folks who got McMahon and Casey on the ballot live in the 13th and 23rd wards of Chicago, home to Madigan and his allies. […]

The idea is to dilute Burke’s chances, and confuse voters, by having two other women on the ballot with Irish names.

“Yeah, I’m angry,” Burke said Wednesday. “I just worked my tail off to give people a choice and get on the ballot, and I’m against somebody backed by outsiders of the district. It galls me that this is happening.

* Our second is a bit ooky, but it’s out there, so we should take a look.

The coverage of Rep. Deb Mell’s primary race has generally focused on two things. First, Rep. Mell’s nominating petitions are being challenged and she might be kicked off the ballot.

The other item of note that the major media has touched on is that both Ms. Mell and her opponent, Joe Laiacona, are gay. For instance, the Tribune ran a blurb not long entitled “‘Gay primary’ will be no big deal,” which included this graf…

But don’t expect the fact that Mell is a lesbian — the first openly gay woman to serve in the Illinois General Assembly — to be an issue. Laiacona is also openly gay. And neither candidate mentions it in online campaign bios.

CBS2 noted that Laiacona is also an amateur genealogist, and linked to a Windy City Times interview for backup evidence. Also in that story was this tidbit about Laiacona…

You have worked for a gay publication [as columnist “Jack Rinella” for Gay Chicago magazine] .

As I’ve told subscribers, Rinella/Laiacona is a BDSM and “leather” expert. He has written books including “Becoming a Slave” and has his own website, which is probably not safe for work, unless you work out of your home, like me - but there’s still the issue of my wife coming upstairs and seeing what I’m doing, so I probably won’t keep that site open for long.

Anyway, the Chicago Reader has a cover story about Laiacona this week. “A Kink in the Campaign” includes this quote from Laiacona…

“I live an honest and authentic life, and I’m not ashamed or guilty about anything I’ve done in that regard,” he says. “I’ve written about healthy sexuality of a consensual adult nature, and I don’t believe the government has a role in my bedroom. That’s the end of the discussion.”


As part of his fund-raising efforts, Laiacona is reaching out to fellow sadomasochists. He hasn’t said what he would do specifically for the community if elected, though he has referred to “antiquated laws” that, if enforced, could be used against it. But he says he raised $1,800 at one leather party, and he pitched members of the Next Generation Chicago, a pansexual BDSM group for the 18-34 set, at one of their meetings at the Leather Archives & Museum in Rogers Park. He’s also used his column to enlist supporters by drawing parallels between being a reformer and a practitioner of sadomasochism.

Rep. Mell is as blunt as Laiacona…

But Deb Mell wonders how effectively Laiacona can work within the state legislature given his kinky past. “We can’t get a civil unions bill passed and here’s a guy who’s . . . into bondage and sex slaves?” she says. But she also accuses Laiacona of “hiding” his ties to the kinky community. “It’s a conservative bunch out here in the 40th District, so it probably works in his favor not to mention it.”

Even some people in his own community are debating Laiacona’s political viability. In the inaugural edition of’s FetishCast podcast, after a segment on whether sadomasochists should be considered experts on military torture, hosts Meow, Gryphon, Goddess, Tutivillus, and DarlingEvil discussed his campaign and what impact his work might have on his bid for state representative.

“This is a man that’s been open in the community,” said DarlingEvil. “[I]s the mainstream . . . going to look at that and say, ‘Is this someone we want representing us in our government?’”

Let’s try to watch ourselves in comments, OK? I don’t want things getting outta hand or I’ll have to crack the whip. Oh, wait. I shouldn’t have said that. Nevermind.

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

Question of the day

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* The setup, from the Sun-Times

A Cook County judge today set a Dec. 18 date for Buffalo Grove Trustee Lisa Stone to learn the name and address of the person who allegedly made nasty — and anonymous — comments about Stone’s teenage son on the Daily Herald’s Web site.

But an attorney for the online poster, listed as “John Doe” in legal proceedings, vowed to appeal Judge Jeffery Lawrence’s ruling.

Experts and attorneys are keeping a close eye on this modern-day First Amendment case in which Stone filed legal papers asking the Herald’s publishers for the identity of the commenter known as “Hipcheck16.” The online poster made a series of unflattering comments on the Herald’s Web site earlier this year as Stone was running for trustee and just before she took office.

In his six-page ruling issued last week, Lawrence said the poster’s name and address can be turned over to Stone, but she is not permitted to distribute the information publicly. Lawrence had asked Stone’s attorney, Stephen Tyma, to write an order specifying how to carry out his ruling, which was presented today in court.

* The Question: Should people be allowed to compel news websites to turn over the names of anonymous commenters in these sorts of instances? Let’s exempt cases where the commenters may threaten someone’s life or limb. So, this would apply only to allegedly defamatory comments. Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Asleep at the wheel?

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* Gov. Pat Quinn appeared to nod off several times during yesterday afternoon’s debate with Dan Hynes while a woman explained how her pregnant daughter-in-law died because she didn’t have access to health insurance. The Hynes campaign sent me this video which they call “Asleep at the Wheel.” Have a look

Not good at all.

* Progress Illinois has a short video compilation of some of yesterday’s afternoon debate between Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes. Have a look

More from PI’s coverage…

Because he knows the consequences of bad budgeting, the comptroller emphasized “his obsession with financial responsibility.” As governor, he said he would push to make the higher reimbursement rate for Medicaid, which was established under the stimulus, permanent and continue to push for stem cell research at the state level (as he did in Illinois when President Bush eliminated federal funding). Quinn repeatedly reminded the audience of his 2001 walk across the state with Dr. Quentin Young, an ardent public health advocate. Quinn also suggested that voters look at his record fighting for the All Kids and Veterans Care programs as well as his veto this summer of a budget that would have eviscerated social service programs throughout the state.

From Chicago Public Radio

HYNES: There’s something wrong in the state of Illinois when the comptroller’s wife gets a collection notice from her physician because the state hasn’t paid them on time.

Quinn in turn charged Hynes with ducking hard decisions, and played up a record of leveraging federal money.

QUINN: We were able to get the legislature to pass some legislation that will allow us to get over a billion dollars of new health care money from Washington.

* The candidates had two debates yesterday, the first was early yesterday morning

Responding to an audience member’s questions about how it is “really painful” to watch the [TV ads run by both candidates], Hynes said his commercials were meant to “educate” Illinois voters about the main difference between the two Democratic candidates for governor.

“The ads we’ve run have been based on the central issue in this campaign — the budget and how to deal with it,” he said.

Hynes added that Quinn’s ads have targeted his family vacation over the July 4th weekend and his salon-quality haircut.

Quinn responded that Hynes was trying to “demonize” him and his proposed income tax increase in his campaign ads.

“I think it’s important to defend yourself if you’re attacked,” Quinn said.

“Really painful”? Heh. Wait until January. And I dunno about demonizing the governor himself. And his tax hike is what it is.


The two traded shots on budget policies. Hynes accuses Quinn of “using the same gimmicks” that got the state in the financial mess it’s in now. But Quinn says Hynes’ plan doesn’t have much to stand on.

QUINN: The comptroller is $3-4 billion short. It’s not a plan. It’s a blank piece of paper.

When it comes to free rides for seniors and funding the Chicago Transit Authority, Quinn says he’s worked out a careful agreement with the CTA. But Hynes says major cuts are still on the table.

HYNES: You didn’t solve the CTA crisis. You came in, offered borrowing on top of borrowing to avoid a fare increase for two years to get through the election.

* Line of the day

Quinn, who inherited the governor’s job in January when Rod Blagojevich was ousted from office, called Hynes a latecomer to the progressive tax idea.

“All of a sudden when he’s running for governor he’s found the faith. Oh happy day,” Quinn said.

Sometimes, the governor really can be a funny guy. “Oh happy day.” You gotta chuckle at that. Too bad he has trouble staying awake in the afternoons.

* Related…

* Dillard walking narrow middle ground in GOP gov race: Similarly, he not only defends but brings up himself his vote for a series of sales-tax hikes last year that kept public transit running and helped fund public safety and other operations in DuPage County. While conservatives groaned, “We kept millions of people going to work every day,” Mr. Dillard says.

* SIUE may not be able to make payroll

* Lisle latest town to ban video gambling

- Posted by Rich Miller   61 Comments      

Sacia explains reasoning behind prison support

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* Rep. Jim Sacia (R-Pecatonica) represents Thomson, Illinois. Sacia pens a regular column for newspapers in his district, but I thought you might like to read his latest work, which, of course, is about the proposed sale of the Thomson state prison to the feds…

At the request of Governor Quinn, I, along with Senator Bivins, arrived at Thomson Prison on Monday to find a daunting number of reporters, heads of local municipalities, law enforcement officials and others with a need to know more about the proposed plan to sell the prison to the federal government. We were immediately ushered to the front of the briefing to join Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley and my good friend State Representative Pat Verschoore (D-Milan).

The briefing itself lasted about two hours. It was impressive and thorough, and it answered much of the “coffee shop spin” that was already gripping Northwest Illinois. It was conducted by the Governor’s Chief Operating Officer Jack Lavin, Illinois Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle, Jonathon Monken the Director of the Illinois State Police, Harley Lappin the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Phil Carter U. S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs.

Without this briefing, there would still be far more questions than answers. Several very important considerations have influenced my strong stand in favor of the state of Illinois selling the Thomson Prison to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

First, the 1600-bed maximum security facility in Thomson has sat nearly vacant since its completion in 2001, breaking the hearts and dreams of those in the surrounding community who invested their life savings and all they could borrow into businesses to support the anticipated opening of the prison. Many are now bankrupt.

Second, as a state legislator I have no control over President Obama’s decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO). If the detainees now housed there are coming to American soil, I’m all in favor of housing approximately 100 at Thomson and filling the remainder of the facility with maximum security federal prisoners. Both Mr. Carter and Mr. Lappin assured us that the GITMO detainees would never be co-mingled with other federal prisoners. They would have their own segregated wing under the control of the U.S. military.

A fact not known to many of us before the proposed sale of the Thomson Prison is that there are already 340 former GITMO detainees currently being housed in federal prisons in the United States, 40 of them at the federal facility in Marion, Illinois. It wasn’t made clear this week how many may be housed at other federal Illinois facilities in Greenville, Pekin and Chicago. It appears the transfers of those prisoners weren’t newsworthy because they weren’t tied to the closing of GITMO.

No, the transfer of detainees here won’t result in the creation of terror cells in Northwest Illinois. Detainees are not allowed visits from anyone other than clergy, lawyers and the Red Cross. Other prisoners at Thomson would retain normal visiting privileges.

Please remember folks, we are not breaking new ground here. Our federal facilities already are housing 340 of the worst of the worst with no problems. Thomson would simply fall in line, but of course, it is tied to the closing of GITMO, so the politics have gotten out in front of practical reality. This is an opportunity for up to 3200 new, direct and indirect jobs - many of them federal law enforcement positions. There will be local hires and transfers from the state system to the federal system. The facility will have an $85 million per year operating budget. - that’s money pumped back into our local economy.

Thomson prison is new, it’s practically vacant and our state can’t afford to fully open it. Yes, you can make an argument that we need it open. I, along with the citizens of Thomson have been making that argument for eight years. It’s time to plow new ground.


…Adding… Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were both on Fox News one right after another in a pretty fascinating interview. Watch it

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Let the man rest in peace

Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

* The late Chicago School Board President Michael Scott had gunshot residue on his left hand (he was left-handed), his own gun was found under his body, his money clip - with his cash, ID and his credit cards - were found in the water of the Chicago River, yet some folks continue to insist he didn’t kill himself

Many, in fact, questioned whether he killed himself at all and challenged the medical examiner’s conclusion.

“We are not going to rest until we find out what happened to him,” said community activist Harold Davis.

Davis was joined at the Starlight Missionary Baptist Church on the West Side by Chicago ministers and others activists who called for a state or federal investigation into Scott’s death.

According to ABC7, the ministers believe that Scott was murdered…

“We believe it was a murder, and we are saying to all the brothers that are out there on the street, we need your eyes and ears because we are going to get to the bottom of this.”

Asked who would have murdered Scott, they said they don’t know because he didn’t have enemies.


“This looks like a murder, and then trying to make it look like a suicide,” said fellow community activist Harold Davis, who said he shares that view with one of Scott’s wired-in City Hall friends, Phil Krone.

So, the ministers believe Scott couldn’t have possibly killed himself, and he also didn’t have any enemies, so he must’ve been murdered.

Grandstanders. Plain and simple.

If you really want to see something disgusting, and I don’t think you do, try looking at some of the comments that the Tribune has allowed to be posted on the death. Morons.

* Mayor Daley went off on a reporter yesterday who brought up the ministers’ allegations…

From the Sun-Times

The mayor’s news conference after Wednesday’s City Council meeting took a bizarre turn — and came to an abrupt end — when a TV reporter [Tera Williams of Fox Chicago] quoted the ministers as claiming that the mystery surrounding Scott’s death would have political fall-out for Daley.

“What? Death? It’s a personal thing. That has nothing to do with my public career. That’s an insult to me,” Daley said.

“My son died …’Cause someone that you love dies, that changes your public career? …What a silly question to ever ask anybody. If your mother died, does that change your life? What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you have any respect for people anymore? I know you want to make a lot of money. You want to be on TV. You want to ask me a lot of questions. But, do you have any respect for anyone? I guess you don’t. It’s kind of a sad comment. You owe me an apology.”

* And an Austin Weekly News columnist talks about the location of Scott’s suicide

I have walked past the spot where Scott’s body was found a number of times, around 2 or 3 a.m. when my old job called me in due to problems with the computer system. Not once in 15 years did I fear being by myself so late at night. Of course I was cautious, but I never saw the spot as dark and isolated. The railroad bridge where Scott’s body was found faces two huge apartment buildings, as well as a smaller group of condominiums whose backside are composed of floor-to-ceiling window areas.

That likely refers to a John Kass column from earlier this week which claimed the area was dark and unnavigable. Some of his commenters took him sharply to task for that column, but there’s been no retraction as of yet.

Any stupid tinfoil hat comments will be deleted here. Don’t push your luck.

- Posted by Rich Miller   50 Comments      

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Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

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* *** UPDATED x1 - Frerichs response *** Former Democratic state treasurer endorses Cross - Cites bipartisanship, Israel bonds as reasons (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Prison reform group responds to new Rauner ad (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Quinn hit on botched early prisoner release program (COMMENTS OPENED)
* Yesterday's blog posts

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