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Round Up: Election 2010

Monday, Dec 28, 2009

* Feb. primary voting kicks off today

* State eases absentee voting rule

* Early primary a godsend for incumbents

* Schoenburg: Candidates duel over Bright Start accord

* Republicans Risk Aiding Democrats by Battling Their Own in 2010

* Finke: Quinn may be prisoner of publicity

* Female voters not supporting Quinn

* Democrats, Republicans seeking governor post differ on how best to fix finances

* Governor candidates take stands on social issues

Six of the seven Republican candidates call themselves “pro-life,” while the Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes, support abortion rights. Only Hynes and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney support legalizing gay marriage.

* If William Kelly Does Not Understand Simple Facts About Displays In Illinois State Capitol Building, How Can He Be Comptroller For Entire State?

* Rauschenberger scored another win in political comeback

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Edward O’Brien sided with Rauschenberger in a case that centers on whether the candidate - a veteran GOP lawmaker who heads up a conservative fundraising operation - is really a Republican.

* 8th Congressional GOP candidates toe the party line on health reform

* 10th Congressional Democrats offering intership

* Bernard Schoenburg: Vigils aim to inform Schock and public

A recently formed social justice organization in Springfield is concentrating on areas including immigrant rights, and that plank of its platform has led to weekly vigils outside the capital city office of U.S. Rep. AARON SCHOCK, R-Peoria.

* “No Climate Tax” pledge signers increase to 13 IL congressional candidates

* O’Brien: I have the experience, record to transform Cook Co.

* Jim Mitchell wants one last term on Kane County Board

* Kane Co. Board Dist. 25 hopefuls differ on opinions, strategies

* DuPage County GOP candidates debate H1N1 vaccine preparation

* Census: Illinois remains 5th largest state but may lose 1 representative

* Will Illinois lose say in U.S. House?

* A call to arms

With the new year that begins Friday, you and every other Illinois voter can begin to sweep your state and county governments clean, or leave matters much as they are.

- Posted by Mike Murray   Comments Off      

Round Up: State Government

Monday, Dec 28, 2009

* State politics delivered decade full of news

* More should post what state still owes them

* Lobbying efforts continue in Springfield for FutureGen

* A look at the state’s quest to acquire FutureGen

* New year brings new public records law to Illinois

* Another new year, a whole bunch of new laws

* Do you text while you drive? It’ll cost you when new state law takes effect this week

* 6,100 drivers get Breathalyzers in law’s 1st year

* Early release sends some DUI offenders back to prison

Anti-drunken driving advocates reacted angrily earlier this week when the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Gov. Quinn’s administration had released 18 felony drunken drivers from prison early to serve the rest of their prison time on home confinement.[…]

On Thursday, those same anti-DUI advocates were cheering after the governor ordered all 18 back behind bars to serve the remainder of their prison time. Each will be paroled between mid-January and mid-October under the terms of their original sentences.

* Quinn should release data on freed inmates

* State court ruling expected on malpractice caps

* Illinois Department on Aging issues winter tips for seniors

* Convicted of corruption, 12 still await sentencing

It has been more than four years since Jacob Kiferbaum pleaded guilty in a kickback scheme involving a hospital that needed state approval for a construction project, one of the earliest corruption scandals under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.[…]

What’s keeping them out of prison? For most, it’s the help they’re offering authorities in ongoing cases, involving Blagojevich and others — cooperation that could cut their prison time.

* Blagojevich’s lawyer moving sensitive files to new spot

- Posted by Mike Murray   Comments Off      

Morning Shorts

Monday, Dec 28, 2009

* No. 4 Story of the Decade: Economic downturn hits central Illinois

Thanks to early retirement incentives, agency consolidation and layoffs, state employment of 19,600 in Springfield at the beginning of the decade is down to approximately 17,200 by decade’s end.

* Record-low mortgage rates, but many can’t refinance

* Local home sales soar, up for third straight month

* Extension of COBRA subsidy to help Ill. jobless

* Food Depository Demand Up

The Greater Chicago Food Depository says more than 425,000 people picked up groceries from its food pantries in September. That’s up 70 percent since 2007.

* Stores say sales during holiday season trump last year’s

* Dart: Up to 500 Cook County correctional officers will be hired

* Traffic enforcement increasing in end-of-year push

Law enforcement officers in Illinois are increasing their traffic patrols in an end-of-the-year push to save lives on the roads.[…]

The statewide effort focuses on the deadly nighttime hours when data show more people die in motor vehicle crashes than at any other time of day.

* CBOE to offer members early share buyback : source

* The decade that was in Illinois

* President Obama election voted top Illinois story of decade

* Ice knocks out power for hundreds in Chicago

* Supt. Weis asks public to report more criminals

But his holiday spirits were tempered by a bit of bad news: the murder clearance rate has dipped about 4 percentage points this year to 54 percent. That includes killings committed in 2009, as well as older ones.[…]

The dip in the clearance rate is being attributed in part to a failure of citizens to tip the police off to criminals in their midst.

* Expect extra security at Chicago airports

Passengers at O’Hare and Midway airports can expect additional screening today following the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight.

* Flight 253 and airline safety, plus a check-up on local transit plans

* Winter weather cancels 450 flights at O’Hare

* 3 new Pace express bus routes are slow to draw riders

* Mercury emissions rise in Illinois, even as figures drop nationwide

* Toxic chemicals in water wells have Grundy County residents on edge

* Lawsuit claims landfill made them sick

Residents living near a now-shuttered west suburban landfill are suing the owners, saying their families were sickened and their property values diminished by the stench allegedly caused by methane, hydrogen sulfide and other “landfill gases.”

* New Web site launched for Chicago Climate Action Plan

* Ohio Endorses Lawsuit Against Illinois in Battle over Carp

* Illinois receives $1.8M Internet grant

* Ex-SIU chancellor won’t get $680K

* Boycott Wrigley rink to bring down prices

* H1N1 vaccine now for all; here’s where to get shot

* State’s changes to juvenile age cutoff may raise costs for county

A new state law that makes the criminal justice system classify some 17-year-olds as children and others as adults keeps alive the question of when to punish and when to rehabilitate.[…]

It also raises the possibility, Winnebago County officials say, that they may spend millions of taxpayer dollars to comply with the new rules.

* Program to offer discounts for new appliances, rebates for old

The “cash for appliances” program is part of the federal government’s effort to stimulate the economy and encourage people to save energy. Each state is awarded federal money based on its population to run its own program. Illinois receives $12.4 million as its share.

* Chicago-area Catholic schools ranked by enrollment

* Tension Eases in CHA Mixed Income

Westhaven Park Tower — on the footprint of the Henry Horner public housing complex — is home to condo owners and public housing residents. This mix has led to some squabbles.

To quell some of the stress Westhaven agreed to add two CHA residents to the condo board. Johnnie Braswell is one of them. She says public housing residents now have a more equitable voice.

* Our View: Help that can pay dividends for the mentally ill

* Our View: When central Illinois reveals its ugliest side, confront and condemn it

Multiple articles in this newspaper over the last couple of weeks have made it abundantly clear just how many miles central Illinois has to go before anyone can truly claim victory on this being a “united” America, at least in regard to race. Clearly a gap remains between how we like to think of ourselves and how we are.

* Affirmative action must be based on income, not race

* Stealing may pay for some villages

* Economic council chairman has plan for ‘uphill battle’

* Word on the Street: Big names dropped into town

* Secret’s out Ho! Ho! Ho!

* The politics of minarets — here and over there

* Need for blood higher at this time of year

* Retailers with most thefts see drop in crime in 2009

* Lincoln, Heartland colleges team up to make obtaining degree easier

* Burris denies flip-flopping on health care

Sen. Roland Burris insisted he would never vote for an overhaul of the nation’s health insurance system unless the bill included a strong public option. And he promised that position wouldn’t change.[…]

But last week the Senate passed a health insurance bill that included no government-run health insurance to serve as a public option for those seeking low-cost coverage — and Burris voted for it.

Burris insists he did not flip-flop.

- Posted by Mike Murray   Comments Off      

Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

* We’ll probably be back next week sometime for limited blogging, but nothing’s for sure right now. I think all of us need a break, or maybe that’s my own excuse. Either way, I’m done. I hope your holiday is the very best ever.

It just doesn’t get much better than this…

To kids from one to ninety-two

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Hynes campaign claims Quinn “insulting our intelligence” with trial lawyer video

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

* From the Dan Hynes campaign…

Please take a moment to review the attached, extremely misleading video the Pat Quinn campaign has been circulating among trial attorneys. The video is slick, in more ways than one, and the result is shameless pandering that is totally dishonest, to boot — truncating Dan’s answer in a way that completely changes his meaning. This is an embarrassing and hypocritical move from Illinois’ self-styled “Truthslinger,” and Pat Quinn ought to be ashamed of himself.

The Quinn campaign video script:

MODERATOR: Tort lawyers are killing the golden goose, resulting in higher Medicaid costs, and so what will you do to scale them back?

Pat Quinn: I think victims have the right to a lawyer, have a right to recompense if they’re injured, and I don’t really believe the solution to our Medicaid problems is going after victims and their lawyers

MODERATOR: Thank you Governor Quinn, Comptroller Hynes:

DAN HYNES: I have an understand of health care and a passion for it. Even closer to home, my wife is a physcian — she practices women’s health at the rehabilitation institute in Chicago — and I can tell you after conversations with her, that there is no doubt that physicians who have to engage in the defensive practice of medicine is an issue.

CUT TO SPLIT SCREEN (showing the two quotes side-by-side) with the fade-in question: “Who is fighting for you?”

Only one problem. That’s not even half of Dan’s answer. Here is his FULL response:

“I was a health-care attorney before I ran for comptroller, working with hospitals, physicians, other health care providers on business transactions and regulatory issues. I have an understanding of health care, and a passion for it. Even closer to home, my wife is a physician. She practices women’s health at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and I can tell you from my conversations with her, that there is no doubt that physicians who have to engage in the defensive practice of medicine, is an issue. But I don’t believe that taking the rights of victims, and those who are supposed to have access to the courts and the civil justice system, is the answer. I think we need to look at this issue and make sure our physicians are allowed to practice medicine, making sure they are allowed to make the decisions, not insurance companies, but ultimately it means making sure the health care system as a whole is working, which is why the health care reform initiative in Washington is so important.”

Just as he attacked Dan in campaign commercials for doing his job by signing state checks, Pat Quinn is insulting our intelligence.

Medical malpractice could become a legislative issue again, depending on how the Illinois Supreme Court decides a challenge to the state law.

And here’s the Quinn video…

* Meanwhile

Comptroller Dan Hynes has all but ruled out any additional short term borrowing by the state to ease the enormous backlog of unpaid bills.

Meeting Wednesday with the State Journal-Register editorial board, Hynes said borrowing more money in the short term now will only exacerbate payment delays next spring when the state must begin repaying the loans.

He stopped short of issuing a flat “no,” but also did not lay out any formula in which additional borrowing will be acceptable.

“I don’t think we can afford to borrow any more,” Hynes said. “I don’t base my decision on what will make me more popular.”

* And Greg Hinz takes a look ahead. First, he expects Andy McKenna to go negative on Jim Ryan

Right now, Mr. Ryan is well ahead of the pack in the race for the GOP nomination for governor. His high name recognition as former attorney general and ex-gov candidate is out-polling the Nicarico and Stuart Levine negatives. He has only one opponent with the $$$ to change that: Mr. McKenna.

I expect Mr. McKenna to do just that — go on the attack — unless something funky comes up in the latest polls. But pulling Mr. Ryan back into the pack by elevating his negatives could hurt Mr. McKenna, too, and open the door to another contender, perhaps state Sen. Kirk Dillard.

He doesn’t think that Alexi Giannoulias will lose the primary, and then ponders whether Gov. Pat Quinn will have the resources to hold off Hynes…

“Team Hynes insists it’s making progress, and a poll a few days ago by the Rasmussen organization strongly suggested that Mr. Hynes is more electable than the guv in November and that Mr. Quinn has problems with female voters. But Team Quinn says it will be on TV “pound for pound” in the closing month — in large part due to a contribution from the Service Employees International Union that I hear tops $500,000.

It better be at least that, considering the IFT’s involvement for Hynes.

This will probably be our last roundup for the week. We may have “Morning Shorts” for at least part of next week, but I am taking a break.

So, get your comments in now, campers, because it could be awhile. Happy holidays, merry Christmas and peace be with you all.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Enter your password to view comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

* Predict the winner and his margin of victory in the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Lavin steps in it at Thomson hearing

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

* The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability’s hearing yesterday on selling the Thomson prison to the federal government contained this priceless line

Opponents groaned and hissed when Quinn’s chief operating officer, Jack Levin, said his boss “would never do anything that puts people at risk.”

Yeah, OK. Quinn has two early prison release programs that are both under fire for putting people at risk. The budget is in such bad shape that at-risk citizens aren’t getting much-needed services. But he wouldn’t do anything to put anyone at risk. Sure.

Credibility is a tough thing to regain. I think much of the opposition to Thomson is based on extreme partisanship and bizarre fears

One opponent held a sign criticizing the governor: “Quinn to Jihad: Come on inn!”


“I don’t want terrorists in my backyard,” said Diane Bishop, 52, a real estate appraiser who drove two hours from her suburban Chicago home to attend the hearing. “It’s too close to home. They shouldn’t be in the United States.”


“Terrorists would want to hit us to make a point, here in the Midwest, in the American heartland,” protester Amanda Norms said before the meeting. “Is a little economic gain worth the risk?”


But I don’t blame people for booing Lavin’s line one bit.

* Meanwhile, we’re starting to get more info about who will be sent to the prison

While Guantanamo detainees can get visits only from their attorneys and human rights groups, federal officials opened the door for other terror suspects at Thomson to get outside visits. That is a main concern for opponents — not that prisoners will escape, but that radical sympathizers will be drawn to Thomson.

Lappin said Thomson will be a candidate to jail terrorists convicted in federal court, including those involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Those convicts also could end up in other prisons in Colorado, Indiana and Illinois, but those facilities already face space crunches. And Thomson would be the most secure federal prison, officials said.

Lappin emphasized that any potential visitors would go through background screening and that their interaction with inmates would be monitored.


Harley Lappin, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, gave some indication of the type of federal prisoner who would be brought to Thomson. To date, most of the focus has been on the foreign detainees.

Lappin said there are prisoners in the federal system who have been “difficult and disruptive” who would be candidates for Thomson.

“We’re going to bring in some pretty risky folks,” Lappin said. Many of the inmates, he said, would spend a great deal of their time locked in their cells, but that would facilitate the Defense Department mission.

The administration has said the federal inmates and the Guantanamo Bay detainees would be kept apart, and that the Bureau of Prisons and Defense Department would run separate operations.

And the state police director says he’ll need more cash

Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois State Police, said the only way state authorities can mitigate the risk is if federal authorities enter into a long-term financial arrangement.

Monken estimated that the state police will need at least $1 million up front to manage the risk.


*** UPDATE *** The NY Times reports the Thomson prison can’t be purchased for probably another year or so

The federal Bureau of Prisons does not have enough money to pay Illinois for the center, which would cost about $150 million. Several weeks ago, the White House approached the House Appropriations Committee and floated the idea of adding about $200 million for the project to the military spending bill for the 2010 fiscal year, according to administration and Congressional officials.

But Democratic leaders refused to include the politically charged measure in the legislation. When lawmakers approved the bill on Dec. 19, it contained no financing for Thomson.

The administration will probably not have another opportunity until Congress takes up a supplemental appropriations bill for the Afghanistan war. Lawmakers are not likely to finish that bill until late March or April.

Moreover, the administration now says that the current focus for Thomson financing is the appropriations legislation for the 2011 fiscal year. Congress will not take that measure up until late 2010.

- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      

Illinois Republican Primary Candidate weighs in on social media at

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Illinois’ Republican Primary Candidate weighs in on social media at

Rafael Rivadeneira, Republican Candidate for State Representative of the 41st District, says the new social media site, gives his campaign online leverage.

“ is an opportunity to level the playing field and give all candidates the opportunity to get their message out there,” said Rivadeneira. “With, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. Elections can now be won based on your vision for the people, not money and insider politics.”

Rivadeneira, who recently signed-up for an enhanced profile at, has been using eVoter for extra online communication, search engine optimization, and an added venue to raise support.

“eVoter lets candidates who are not part of the establishment effectively communicate their message to the voters,” he said.

To see how eVoter can help your campaign and to view Rivadeneira’s Candidate Statements, Endorsements, and Video Postings – including “My Republican Story” go to:

- Posted by Capitol Fax Blog Advertising Department   Comments Off      

Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009

* Ex-Board of Elections chief Mike Lavelle dies

* ‘I’m going to fight this as long as I have to:’ Sanchez

* PDF: Court Ruling on Sanchez

* Second Chance for Former Streets and San Commissioner

* Fired city inspector is back at work

A $93,840-a-year Chicago plumbing inspector caught doing a side job with no permit, city license or secondary employment form allowing him to perform the “side job” is back on his main job.

* Unemployment extension helps thousands in Illinois

* Local home sales soar, up for third straight month

* 14 county deputies to be laid off next week

* Panel rules for SIU in dispute with former chancellor

* Two suburban hotels falling victim to economy

* Reality television finds a home at Cook County Jail

* Snow trucks hit the streets, two inches possible

* Most city offices closed Thursday

* North Aurora VA clinic a bridge to Hines

Redesigned facility offers greater comfort to veterans, basic medical services, examinations and consultations

* Nearly all of Illinois’ corn crop finally harvested

* Lessons learned from H1N1 outbreak

A study issued last week and reported on by Daily Herald staff writer Robert McCoppin showed Illinois ranked among the bottom 20 states in health emergency response. The same report said the nation has “serious underlying gaps” in its ability to respond to public health emergencies.

Specifically, vaccine production was sorely lacking. It was difficult to get it to those most vulnerable in an efficient, timely manner.

* Study: CTA Should Prioritize Red Line

* CTA expands bus-tracking service to cell phones

* South Side Irish Parade to become part of family festival

* 10-day fest to replace Irish parade

* Overcrowding at LTHS sinking morale of students, teachers

* LTHS board to rethink staggered shifts schedule

* District 229: Where is the money?

* Board OKs new county offer to buy building for Health Department

* Stevenson crash: Judge scolds Lockport police officer accused of DUI in fatal wreck

Edward Stapinski’s blood-alcohol level was nearly triple the legal limit, officials say

* Most video gambling banned in Arlington Heights

* Maywood village manager gets 1-day suspension for working on mayor’s wife’s campaign during business hours, officials say

Maywood Village Manager Jason Ervin was found reviewing campaign petitions of a rival of state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, the mayor’s wife, officials say

* Police chief nominee receives initial approval

Robert Williams is one step closer to becoming Springfield’s new police chief.

* No. 9 Story of the Decade: Springfield police turmoil

Claims of internal race discrimination, difficulty recruiting minorities, accusations of misconduct and plummeting morale among officers plagued the Springfield Police Department through much of the 2000s.

* News conference on Barmore shooting to be held today

A grand jury could decide as early as today whether two Rockford police officers were justified in using deadly force in the Aug. 24 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Mark Anthony Barmore.

* New Lenox hires retiring administrator as consultant

* Hoffman Estates takes over Sears Centre

- Posted by Mike Murray   3 Comments      

Degrees of surprise

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* Not a surprise…

Gov. Pat Quinn says he decided to spend his day remembering fallen Chicago firefighters and honoring veterans rather than listen to public testimony about a plan to bring terrorism suspects to an Illinois prison.

Quinn says his top staff is at Tuesday’s hearing before the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability in Sterling.

Look, it’s hugely admirable that the governor concerns himself with these ceremonial things. I, for one, appreciate it. But there’s also that governing aspect that he’s missing here. This Thomson sale is his baby. He should be at that hearing.

* Kind of a surprise…

A federal judge today ordered a new trial for former Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Al Sanchez, the highest-ranking Daley administration official convicted in the hiring investigation of City Hall.

Sanchez, convicted by a jury in March for his role in rigging city hiring, had sought a new trial on grounds that authorities failed to disclose one of the prosecution witnesses was a high-ranking gang leader and drug dealer.

U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled the government was obligated to disclose their witness’ prior gang activity and arrest record. Prosecutors and FBI agents have acknowledged that defense lawyers were not made aware of the extent of the witness’ criminal ties but said that wasn’t a sufficient reason for a new trial.

Not sure what I think of that one. I’m sure there will be more than a little gnashing of teeth.

* And a surprise that I probably should’ve expected: The absolutely horrid 3G reception at O’Hare Airport today. I suppose there’s lots of snow-stranded travelers checking their e-mail, etc., but I really thought I could get a connection faster than dial-up. Nope. Heck, at times I can’t even get that.

Consequently, there will be no holiday video today. Post links to your favorite video in comments, but please keep it holiday related and clean. Thanks much.

- Posted by Rich Miller   22 Comments      

Question of the day

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* What’s your favorite holiday season memory?

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Jackson doesn’t know if she’ll be called to testify - And other political distancing attempts

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* Not a good answer

Democratic Senate candidate Cheryle Jackson said Friday she wasn’t sure if she would be called to testify in the upcoming corruption trial of her former boss, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. […]

When asked if she thought there was a possibility of being called to testify in the trial, which could occur before the general election, she said, “I don’t know.”

“I have had no role in any of the issues or political decisions,” she said of her work with Blagojevich. “I didn’t work with the campaign.”

As a former top-level employee in the governor’s office for four years, however, it stands to reason there is a possibility she could be called to testify by either defense attorneys or prosecutors.

Jackson made clear she had no knowledge of any criminal activity in the governor’s office.

* The same question wasn’t asked of Jim Ryan, but he distanced himself a bit better from a Blagojevich crony…

In a Daily Herald editorial board interview Monday, Ryan said he never was aware of Levine’s corruption or secret drug use, which surfaced in Rezko’s trial. Levine has not been accused of wrongdoing on behalf of Jim Ryan.

“Stu Levine gave me a lot of money over my entire career,” said Ryan, who also was DuPage County State’s Attorney for three terms. “I thought he did it because he believed in me. He did a lot for me, I didn’t do anything for him except to be his friend.” […]

When asked if he learned anything from having a close friend like Levine turn out to be corrupt, Ryan said, “I guess the answer is Reagan: trust but verify.”

President Ronald Reagan made the phrase famous in describing his diplomacy with the Soviet Union.

“You can completely trust someone and find out you are wrong,” Ryan said. “You think you know someone and you don’t.”

* Rep. Hamos found herself tied to the Springfield mess

State Rep. Julie Hamos told a debate audience [Sunday] that she’s the best Democrat to win the 10th Congressional District seat because of her experience and ability to woo voters who’ve backed Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk for a decade.

But her two opponents in the Feb. 2 primary scoffed at that notion, suggesting that experience in Springfield might not be so valuable, given state government’s dire straits.

“There are lots of things that are wrong with Washington,” said Dan Seals of Wilmette. “Not being enough like Springfield is not one of them.”

“I’m a nice guy who hasn’t been in Springfield for the past 10 years,” said Elliot Richardson, a Highland Park attorney. “I think that’s a good thing.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Stupid media tricks

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* I’m speechless. The Ron Magers segments with Roe Conn are the one major highlight of daily Chicago commercial radio. And now, Citadel, in all its wisdom, has canceled Magers’ contract

Citadel Broadcasting’s bankruptcy filing claimed its first Chicago casualty Monday: Ron Magers, No. 1 news anchor at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, has been dropped as a daily contributor to Roe Conn’s afternoon show on news/talk WLS-AM (890).

Today will be Magers’ last day after almost 12 years as a commentator and raconteur on Conn’s program. Magers’ in-studio presence (heard from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) consistently was a highlight of the show — and often was the best half-hour of conversation in all of Chicago radio. Yes, he really was that good.

* NBC5 asked me to post a few items every day on the company’s revamped web site last year, but I turned them down for various reasons. First, the money was a joke. But, second, I don’t like working for somebody else. Steve Rhodes found that last part out the hard way

I am no longer contributing to and I feel obliged to tell readers why. It’s also a tale that needs to be told in any case.

I was going to start this column this way:

“Tribune Company never interfered with my work after they bought Chicago magazine when I was working in part as an online media critic there. I had to work for NBC Universal for that to happen.”

But to bend over backwards to be fair to Tribune Company, I’m still not certain whether that happened - despite being told so on two occasions by two people.

Rhodes left after the station removed this post from its website about Tribune Company’s new CEO. Go read the whole thing to see what happened to Rhodes, but it looks like Mother Tribune might have flexed some muscle with Rhodes’ former boss. There’s more at WBEZ’s site.

* This isn’t really about the media, but it involves a web site, so I guess it kinda qualifies, and I wanted to post it anyway

A group of Chicago Bear fans mad at the team’s dismal season isn’t waiting for the head office to review the job of head coach Lovie Smith. Instead they are publicly demanding the coach be fired along with the rest of the Bears staff.

The founder of the new Web site wants the voice of unhappy Bear fans heard and is collecting donations to erect a billboard urging the McCaskey family to “do the right thing and clean house, and hire an entirely new coaching staff.”

Shouldn’t they just hire a new team while they’re at it? And maybe fire the owners as well? Let’s start over. Nuke the whole operation, top to bottom.

* Related…

* A Very Short List: Publishers That Have Actually Told Google to Take a Hike

* 115 Magazine and Media Predictions for 2010

* Angry Kathy & Judy fans get in the holiday spirit

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Adventures in lousy governing

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* I suppose half is better than nothing, but I doubt this will quell the political outrage

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have finally signed off on a $77.25 million settlement for losses in the state’s Bright Start 529 college savings plan.

Families with money in the affected Core Plus bond fund in the period between Jan. 1, 2008, and Jan. 25, 2009, will recoup a substantial portion –but not all — of their losses from OppenheimerFunds, Inc. […]

Overall losses for the plan’s Core Bond fund during that one-year period are estimated at about $150 million. A subsequent market rebound recouped some value. But the settlement restores slightly more than half of the losses shareholders suffered in the mismanaged fund.

I’d still like to see AG Madigan’s report on how this was allowed to happen.

* Sheesh

An initiative by Gov. Quinn to save taxpayers about $5 million annually by letting 1,000 inmates out of prison early is off to a rocky start — with dozens of burglars, repeat drunken drivers and financial criminals all being sent home for the holidays.

When the state Department of Corrections announced the program in September, it said that only “low-level, non-violent” criminals were to be let out and placed on home confinement ahead of their planned parole dates.

This is not the secret “Meritorious Good Time Push” plan that is now being investigated by Quinn’s administration after being enacted by Quinn’s administration. This is the very public early release for nonviolent offenders plan. More…

A Sun-Times analysis of the early-release list showed that, as of last week, there were 40 burglars, 18 felony DUI drivers, 28 financial criminals — including forgers and thieves — and one attempted robber among the inmates sent home early. Most of the other early-release inmates were incarcerated for drug crimes. Some had as much as one year shaved off their prison time.

And here are a few of the released prisoners…


Crime: Financial exploitation of the elderly, disabled in Cook County

Case: Moreno promised to help a disabled person sell a house in the 1900 block of North Natoma in Chicago. The victim gave Moreno $15,000 in earnest money, but no closing date was set, prosecutors said. The victim learned Moreno was not a licensed agent and called police.

Sentence: Seven years

Original release date from prison: Sept. 12, 2010


Crime: Driving under the influence, fourth offense, in Cook County

Sentence: Three years

Original release date from prison: May 20, 2010


Crime: DUI, fourth offense, in Cook County

Sentence: Three years

Original release date from prison: July 22, 2010

That’s a whole lot of political damage to save $5 million.

* Meanwhile, remember WBEZ’s failed attempt to get the Quinn administration to open up the controversy-plagued Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles to reporters? Well, there was a demonstration at the site yesterday

A small group of protesters on Monday vowed to keep pressuring the state to investigate and clean up the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, where a 16-year-old detainee committed suicide in September.

About 20 people from Chicago gathered outside the medium-security male juvenile facility. The group demanded to go inside the center to examine the conditions, and wants Gov. Pat Quinn investigate the facility.

The group ultimately was turned away, but not before airing their concerns.

Protesters said they heard from former inmates that rodents often ate the prisoners’ food and left droppings in shower stalls and other areas.

They said the state needs to improve conditions at the facility, which houses many of the juveniles who enter the state’s justice system, according to its Web site.

* Speaking of criminal justice

Sneed is told the State Police Merit Board, which decides if a bad state cop needs to be fired, is financially impotent.

• To wit: The budget of the five-member board, which is appointed by the governor, “is so far down it’s impossible to conduct the amount of hearings that are needed,” a top source said.

• Translation: So a few state cops, including a handful busted for DUIs — who might otherwise be looking for a new job — are still working.

• The irony: A fully funded merit board, which is paid on a per diem basis, could ultimately save the state money by terminating officers.

* And Mike Lawrence sees nothing but gloom behind and ahead

Now Quinn forecasts a rebirth of responsible governance after the Feb. 2 primary. However, he will emerge from his battle with Dan Hynes as either the Democratic nominee facing Republican assaults for advocating significant tax hikes or a defeated, debilitated chief executive. That means his resolve to press for potent deficit antidotes could well wither in the heat of a general election contest, or lame-duck status could strip him of the influence he needs to muster sufficient support for them.

Meanwhile, we certainly cannot rely on the legislative branch to bear fiscally healthy fruit. Senate President John Cullerton rallied his Democratic troops to support tax increases in May without bringing Republicans to the table — a move that might have produced a bipartisan solution addressing spending issues as well. For his part, House Speaker Michael Madigan flexed his legendary discipline to suppress any good-government instincts that could stall his drive to build an even more muscular Democratic majority in his chamber. For their part, most Republican lawmakers have refused to help solve a problem that reached epic proportions under Democratic reign — never mind the future gets bleaker by the day for the young and old they claim to serve.

* Related…

* State can no longer leave colleges in ‘crisis mode’ : After seven years of steadily cutting the higher education budget, the state on July 1 stopped regular payments altogether. And while there used to be a capital bill every year to pay for new facilities, this year’s was the first capital bill for university facilities in about 10 years, and much of that money has not been released to the universities. Here are some of the numbers: The state is in arrears $445 million to the University of Illinois system, $125 million to Southern Illinois University, $37 million to Northern Illinois University and $28 million to Western Illinois University. The state’s other universities are in similar straits.

* Fight to keep Asian carp out of Great Lakes reaches Supreme Court - Michigan’s attorney general files a lawsuit that seeks to close two shipping locks near Chicago, sealing off the fish’s most direct route to the Great Lakes.

* Group chants outside youth home

* Time for answers to the prison mess: No blue ribbon commissions or panels or thorough reviews. No more hemming and hawing. This can only be seen as a serious mistake and a breach of trust that jeopardizes our safety. It’s time to own it, Governor.

* Payment mess threatens social service agencies

* Plug loophole in new open records law

* Officials say winter road services won’t be affected by budget

* Irony: Post-9/11 economy kept state from opening Thomson prison

* State’s decade memorable, but not always good

* Most corrupt state? Illinois a leader in the competition

* ‘Reform’ the Tammy way

* Durbin: Ill. due for $45 mil in defense spending

* Quinn appoints three to state education board

* Governor names 3 to state school board

- Posted by Rich Miller   56 Comments      

Political oddities and ends

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* If you’re heading for the hearing today on the Thomson prison sale, expect to be subjected to Illinois State Police “security” precautions

* Backpacks or extra large hand bags will not be allowed into the auditorium.
* All purses and hand bags will be searched before entering the auditorium.
* Every person entering the auditorium will pass through a metal detector.
* No posters, signs or visual aids will be allowed into the auditorium.
* No type of voice amplification device will be allowed into the auditorium.

Are they afraid of terrorists or a planned protest by “tea party” types? My guess is it ain’t the terrorists.

* Oopsie

State Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) has been occupying a rent-free Chicago Board of Education building for seven years and owes more than $500,000 in rent, leaseholder taxes and penalties on it, a new report by the schools inspector general indicated Monday. […]

The Board of Ed sent Davis a letter in 2002 saying it expected her to vacate the building by July 1, 2002, Sullivan said Monday. It followed up with more correspondence in August 2006, September 2007, and April and September of 2008, he said. On Nov. 18, it finally filed a legal claim for back rent and eviction.

After her lease expired in 2002, Davis said, she asked then-School Board President Michael Scott to sign a new lease and he said, ” ‘I’ll get back to you.’ . . . The indication was ‘I’ll get this done for you.’ ‘’ Davis said she needed a signed lease so she could submit it to the state and get reimbursed for the cost of operating a district office.

Finally, Davis said, board officials produced a lease this year, but in it they wanted Davis to be responsible for all repairs to the building, as well as property taxes.

* This story has been getting a lot of play on the blogs. Here’s Fox Chicago’s take

Jim Madigan is running for state senate, and about 40 supporters were attending a fundraiser at a North Side gay bar when Leo Smith made a surprise appearance.

“And as I looked, ‘I thought God, that looks like my opponent’s husband,’” Madigan said. “He looked a little disheveled. He took awhile to put sentences together, so that was a little bizarre.”

Madigan said Smith sat quietly at the bar for about an hour… went into the men’s room… and then charged out with fire in his eyes and began bullying him.

“And he said, ‘Well I’m Heather’s husband.’ And I said, ‘I know, thanks for coming to my event.’ And he said, ‘I’m not here to support your event. I know you think you’re going to get famous with all your bull____,’” Madigan recalled.


* Cook County President candidate Dorothy Brown has denied Sneed’s report about a grand jury investigation into her campaign operation…

Dorothy Brown took to the airwaves [last night] to rebut reports of a grand jury investigation into the petitions she filed to run for Cook County Board president.

Appearing on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight”, Brown said information received by her campaign [yesterday] indicated there was no grand jury probe. She called the rumored investigation a “political placement.”

Stay tuned.

* An endorsement from the pro-choice Personal PAC will bring a few bucks, and it may get some media attention, since the Republican Schillerstrom trumpeted the nod in a press release…

Republican Bob Schillerstrom on Monday welcomed the endorsement of Personal PAC, a bi-partisan organization dedicated to electing pro-choice state and local leaders in Illinois.

Schillerstrom noted the support distinguishes him as the only moderate Republican running for Governor, and positions him as a centrist with the best chance of winning the General Election.

“My top priorities as Governor will be to end runaway spending, create an environment for good jobs, and make government more transparent and accountable,” Schillerstrom said. “Those are the most pressing matters facing our state and should be the primary focus of this campaign.”

Apparently, Schillerstrom was the only Republican candidate to return Personal PAC’s questionnaire.

Personal PAC backed Republican George Ryan in 1998. Republican Jim Edgar was endorsed by NARAL in his first bid for governor in 1990. Schillerstrom is just so unknown and so far behind the pack that this probably won’t make much of a difference.

The oddity here is that the campaign sent the press release to the very conservative Illinois Review site, which published it. Oops.

Personal PAC also endorsed Gov. Quinn

Terry Cosgrove, the president and CEO of the group, said Quinn got the backing over Democratic primary rival Dan Hynes because the organization has a policy of “sticking with the incumbent when he’s been 100 percent pro-choice.”

“Had this been an open race,” Cosgrove said, “the results could have been different.” In 2002, the organization endorsed all three Democrats in the open-seat race for governor. Quinn became the unelected incumbent governor last January when the Senate ousted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

* Twice in the past week, state legislators have accidentally published single character posts to their Facebook accounts. Rep. David Miller, a candidate for state comptroller, pocket-posted “$” the other day. Sen. Emil Jones, III posted “p.” Both claimed later on their FB pages that their smart phones were in their pockets at the time. I’ve heard of pocket dialing, but this pocket FB posting is a new one on me.

Let’s be careful out there. And lock your smart phones, for crying out loud.

* As you already know, Dock Walls has dropped out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary after his petitions were challenged by allies of Gov. Pat Quinn. Illinois Public Radio reports that Walls is now considering a run as an independent

Walls said he [dropped out] so he could run as an independent instead.

“I realized I’m not going after the ward organizations, and the Democratic party organizations, because I represent a clean break from the past,” Walls said. “And I can’t align myself with people who are part and parcel of the problem: people who are taking money from special interest groups and big business.”

Yeah, that’s why he dropped out. It had nothing to do with his petitions at all.

* Andy McKenna’s Republican gubernatorial campaign is running Google ads on videos. That can be a pretty random thing. A reader noticed yesterday that a “Very important message from Lady Gaga” was preceded by a McKenna ad. Have a look for yourself.

* Last year, Speaker Madigan provided some late financing to House GOP Leader Tom Cross’ Democratic opponent. Madigan isn’t taking any chances that Cross might fight back in next year’s campaign. Madigan has apparently found his own Republican opponent

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Illinois GOP has launched a public hunt for one Patrick John Ryan, who has filed as a Republican to run against Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan next year.

In a press release Monday entitled “Has anyone seen Patrick John Ryan?” the GOP notes that though Mr. Ryan filed as a Republican, he lives in Mr. Madigan’s home 13th Ward and pulled a Democratic ballot in the past three primary elections.

Yet, the release adds, Mr. Ryan “is now a Republican who believes in less government, lower taxes, true ethics reform and the need to end business as usual” in Illinois.

Given all of that, “Will Patrick John Ryan call (312) 201-9000 to discuss this historic opportunity?” the GOP asks. “We look forward to providing him the necessary support to win this election.”

* A candidate for the Illinois House is continuing a personal tradition that’s now landed him in a spot of trouble

Politician Will McGaughy says he’s been mailing envelopes to voters in his precinct at Christmastime for 30 years, wishing them holiday cheer and including a crisp $2 bill as a “keepsake.”

The 76-year-old said it’s a political style he has developed since the 1960s, when he marched with Martin Luther King in the civil rights struggles in Alabama. […]

McGaughy’s own campaign manager, Matt Hawkins, 42, said he advised his candidate not to send the $2 bills, but he doesn’t believe any law has been broken.

“He has skirted most of, if not all of the legal issues,” Hawkins said. “I questioned it myself, but it’s the battle of old (political style) versus new.”

* Related…

* Legislators must tinker with recently changed window tinting law

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Morning Shorts

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2009

* Daley aide quits for private sector

Mayor Daley on Monday abruptly changed horses in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs at the center of the city hiring scandal.

John Dunn, IGA director since 2005, resigned his $158,364-a-year job to take an unidentified “position in the private sector.” He will be replaced by Joan Coogan, an 11-year veteran IGA employee who has worked to advance the mayor’s agenda in the City Council.

* CPS Inspector General Releases 2009 Report

* Parking meter contractor citing improvements before rate hike

* Some Unemployed CTA Drivers Recruited for 2010 Winter Olympics

* Inspector flags dubious trip to Vegas, unjustified pay raise

Complaints about misconduct, waste and fraud in Chicago Public Schools rose 20 percent last year, to a record high 1,210, the latest annual report by Schools Inspector General James Sullivan indicates.

* Terrence J. O’Brien: Little-known official running for Cook County Board president

* McQuillan gets to stay on 50th House ballot

* Government spending a top issue for GOP hopefuls in 8th District

* With no incumbent, 10th Congressional district up for grabs

* 10th Dist. candidates debate Afghanistan action

* Nygren leans on experience factor in contentious McHenry Co. sheriff race

* Corbett withdraws from Palatine Twp. primary

* Some Chicago parking tickets were written off

* FCC hails Mayor Daley’s plan to bring technology to 5 neighborhoods

* Internet in Chicago: Daley hopes to add access in underserved neighborhoods

* FCC Chairman Visits Chicago to Call for More Technology

* Gas prices down since November, but up about a dollar from 2008

* Busted by the camera

A Tribune analysis of data from 14 suburban intersections found fewer crashes at five of them, little change at two and increases at seven. In Chicago, collisions increased or held steady at nearly 60 percent of camera-equipped intersections, according to figures from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The city’s own figures say crashes were down, but nobody can explain why the numbers don’t match.[…]

As local governments scramble to install more and more cameras, the people paying those fines have begun to question whether this trend is about safety or revenue, especially when cameras are installed at intersections where few crashes have occurred. There have even been scattered reports of towns that were busted for shortening the yellow-light cycle to increase the number of violations.

* Lawsuit contends Illinois inmates get too much soy

* School officials: This year is no worse than previous years

* Is city’s drug possession ordinance a bust?

* Dist. 186 board divided on high school rebuild steps

* Proceed with caution on property tax

* Time to pony up in District 144

* Homer Glen question: Who holds purse strings?

* Tinley Park prepares for downtown redevelopment

* Sheriff’s officer cited with reckless driving for hitting IDOT worker

* Off-duty Lockport cop charged with DUI in fatal Stevenson crash

* Outside-the-box award goes to students of the Southland

Can you imagine if the state’s leaders showed the same creativity toward job creation here?

Sure, a few candidates have offered plans that include some form of “green” initiative. But mostly we’re seeing the same pitch for lower business taxes and new tax incentives to spur job creation - nothing as out-of-the-box as the project under way by our very own Southland students.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

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* Sunday leaders meeting notes: Madigan counts the minutes, Republicans claim "new level of stalling"
* *** UPDATED x1 *** *** LIVE *** Leaders meeting coverage
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Mendoza transition team responds to the Sun-Times' Madigan conspiracy theory
* *** UPDATED x1 - Durkin responds *** Back to the future: Madigan demands "memorandums of understanding"
* Question of the day
* Shimkus loses out on plum post
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Moody's says Rauner veto is just one of many problems facing CPS
* *** UPDATED x4 - Mendoza responds - Munger calls suit "cowardly" *** Lawsuit filed over legislator pay
* The "green energy" side of the Exelon bill
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* Positioning, practicalities and politics weigh heavily against a House override
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* *** UPDATED x2 *** Rauner goes into the lion's den
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