* I could not figure out why I was in a Stevie Ray Vaughan mood all week. But then I came home and realized we kicked off the weekend with all sorts of storm warnings. Perhaps this video is appropriate.
Rich will be back on Monday. Thanks for putting up with the interns today!
Like a train that stops at every station
We all deal with trials and tribulations
Fear hangs the fellow that ties up his years
* Most Senate Democrats were mum on the talking points of this afternoon’s caucus meeting. However, Sen. Louis Viverito said an unspecified amount or type of borrowing is being discussed. Take a look…
* Speaking with Christopher Wills of the Associated Press, Sen. Donne Trotter talked about issuing pension obligation notes. The challenge there, he said, is getting other Democrats on board with the idea…
* Both chambers canceled their weekend sessions and plan to reconvene at noon on Monday.
* The latest Rasmussen poll puts Republican Sen. Bill Brady ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn by seven percentage points. Five percent of the respondents favor another candidate and 11 percent have yet to decide. From Rasmussen…
Brady posted a 47% to 37% lead over Quinn in early March just after the former was officially declared the GOP nominee by a 193-vote margin out of 750,000 cast.
The two are battling most notably these days over an income tax hike the governor has proposed as an alternative to a $1.3 billion cut in education funding.
Forty percent (40%) of voters in the state now approve of Quinn’s handling of the governorship, down three points from the previous survey. Fifty-eight percent (58%) disapprove. This includes seven percent (7%) who Strongly Approve and 28% who Strongly Disapprove.
* Rasmussen also showed Republican Congressman Mark Kirk leading state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in the U.S. Senate race…
Kirk now attracts 46% support in Illinois’ race for the U.S. Senate, up from 41% in early April. Support for Giannoulias is at 38%, virtually unchanged from the previous survey but down from March, when he earned 44% of the vote. Five percent (5%) currently support some other candidate, and 12% are undecided.
Kirk picked up 46% to Giannoulias’ 40% in the first survey after the two won their party primaries in February. But the race was a virtual toss-up by March. Still, despite the Broadway Bank controversy, Kirk has been unable to push past his previous high. Giannoulias got a much-sought-after boost of support from President Obama after the survey was taken, so it’s unclear at this point whether the bank issue has caused the candidate any long-term damage in a state that has trended Democratic in recent years.
Forty-seven percent said their house was worth more than they owe on the mortgage, but 44 percent believed they owed more than their house was worth.
Other polls conducted by Rasmussen included a poll that questioned how the violence in some Illinois neighborhoods should or should not be handled.
It was determined that 37 percent were in favor of using the National Guard to fight crime in violent neighborhoods, while 48 percent were not. Sixteen percent were not sure.
Since the poll was conducted statewide, it was unclear whether those polled actually lived in the violent neighborhoods mentioned.
You may recall earlier this week state Reps. Fritchey and Ford suggested Gov. Quinn deploy the National Guard to Chicago to control violence. The governor said he would only send troops with Mayor Daley’s approval.
*** UPDATE 2 p.m. *** A day after the redistricting plan introduced by Senate Democrats was defeated in the House by two votes, Sen. Kwame Raoul had some harsh words for Gov. Pat Quinn. Raoul, who became chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee last fall, spoke against Quinn for not falling behind the plan. Here’s Raoul speaking with CapFax intern Dan Weber on the Senate floor earlier today….
* Ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s former chief of staff Alonzo Monk entered a new guilty plea in federal court this morning. The Sun-Times reports…
Monk, 51, admitted to attempting to extort a horse-racing businessman for a campaign contribution in exchange for getting a bill signed.
Monk is cooperating with investigators and pleaded guilty again after prosecutors filed new charges, crafted to deal with a possible future ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that experts say could strike down of the federal “honest services” fraud statute.
Monk has agreed to serve 24 months in prison.
Monk is reportedly going to testify against his former employer. The Tribune has more…
Monk is expected to testify that Blagojevich and three of his closest friends - including Monk - schemed from the outset of his administration to enrich themselves by leveraging the powers of Blagojevich’s office.
Monk is expected to tell the jury how the four — a group that also included key fundraisers Christopher Kelly and Antoin “Tony” Rezko — planned to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions they could split up when Blagojevich left office.
The judge overseeing the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has denied a defense motion to issue a subpoena for the testimony of President Barack Obama.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he does not believe Obama’s testimony would be material to the charges.
Zagel said the defense motion fell “very short” of demonstrating a need to subpoena the president.
In Tinley Park, overall costs are down by 20 percent to 25 percent, said Public Works Director Dale Schepers. One bid was 48 percent below the town engineer’s estimate.
A bid for landscaping in Naperville’s Riverwalk reconstruction project came in at $702,000, 46 percent lower than the engineer’s estimate, because of intense competition among eight bidders. Carey Plazak, purchasing manager for Schaumburg, recently accepted two roadwork bids considerably under budget.
In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley recently challenged all city vendors to negotiate a 10 percent cut in spending on their contracts.
Almost a year ago, the company asked to increase what it charges for delivering electricity and natural gas by a total of $226 million. The utility had since changed that request to $162 million and was awarded only $5 million.
The company housed ex-cons in two homes in Aurora, one at 14 S. Lancaster Ave. and the other at 838 N. View St., and the Department of Corrections paid TA Reentry to take parolees once they were released from prison.
* Officials said red-light cameras should be a go, but some in public not so sure
Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin on Thursday morning announced the results of a friendly bet made with Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis over whose city would have a higher percentage of its residents mail in their 2010 U.S. Bureau of the Census forms.
Springfield won, with 77 percent of residents participating to Peoria’s 75 percent.
According to the terms of their competition, Ardis will have to travel to Springfield and buy Davlin dinner. He also has to wear the city’s lapel pin for a week and issue a proclamation acknowledging - in writing - that Springfield is better than Peoria. (Springfield doesn’t have a city pin, so they’re going to find something else for Ardis to wear.)
A few hours after Washington Park Mayor John Thornton was shot to death on April 1, police had his suspected killer in custody.
Then they had to let him go 48 hours later because the overly cautious St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office wasn’t ready to file charges. The police couldn’t legally hold him any longer without charges.
Now a few weeks later, prosecutors have concluded that yes indeed, the police arrested the right guy. On Wednesday, they filed first-degree murder charges against Aaron B. Jackson.
But surprise, Jackson is nowhere to be found. He apparently decided not to sit home and wait for the police to pull up and lead him away in handcuffs.
* Here is Sen. Bill Brady’s reason for telling reporters that they had to travel to Springfield to view his tax returns last Friday afternoon…
“I think we’ve often criticized governors for not living in Springfield, not being in the state capital,” Brady said, referring to complaints raised about disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s avoidance of Springfield. “We picked a location–the state of Illinois’ capital.”
That’s not gonna endear him to Chicago reporters, who are accustomed to getting their way and who often bite back hard, as we’ve seen time and time again.
Frankly, I don’t think the Springfield decision is a big deal. Just about every paper, TV and radio station in the Chicago area belongs to the AP. They could’ve set up something with the wire service in advance to make sure they got as much detail as they could ever want. The huffing from the TV stations is a bit strange, considering this isn’t exactly a “visual” story.
But this is an easy story to write, so we keep getting it over and over again. The much tougher story is figuring out what to do with all the data we’ve collected. I’m still in the planning stages myself. It’s time-consuming and will probably include lots of blind alleys, but there may be a nugget or two therein. The Peoria Journal Star editorial page hinted at one possibility…
Meanwhile, others have noted that the federal income taxes he did pay over the last five years were considerably less than the tax bracket he occupied would suggest.
* A Republican refusal to vote for a budget they’ve been shut out of was expected, but GOP Rep. Mark Beaubien’s statement is ominous for the Democrats, who will need three-fifths majorities in both chambers to borrow money to make billions in pension payments…
“They (Democrats) haven’t come to us, they haven’t asked us for anything, they haven’t informed us of anything,” Beaubien said. “Since we haven’t been included, you’re not going to see any Republican support.”
That budget is gonna be ugly, man. Just ugly. Democratic Rep. Frank Mautino fills in a few blanks…
Democrats are being asked about a series of potential revenue generators, although Mautino said the budget being formulated does not include the income tax hike sought by Quinn. The options do include higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and eliminating some business tax breaks.
For 26 years, the Holy Angels Shelter in East St. Louis has been there to help homeless moms, women and families get off the streets and into their own homes.
But if the state doesn’t come through with an $80,000 grant by the end June, the shelter will have to close.
“We run it bare bones,” said Joe Hubbard, director of Catholic Urban Programs. “We’ve run it that way for 26 years. They can give us a grant, but if they don’t pay us in a timely manner, we can’t pay our bills, and if we can’t pay our bills, we have to close. We need to come up with other funding.”
If the shelter doesn’t find enough money to fill the hole the state is expected to leave, the homeless shelter will be forced to close its doors.
“And that will be a disaster,” said shelter director Pat Lewis. “They’ll be under the bridge with the tent people, and pretty soon, there won’t be room for them, either.”
* Related and a roundup…
* Vouchers for CPS students advances to House floor: The action would give vouchers not only to the schools where students are poorest and lowest performing. But it also would extend vouchers to students from poor families in the most-overcrowded schools, a change from the bill when Meeks won Senate approval.
* Back in 2008, the Illinois League of Women Voters decided to oppose a state constitutional convention. This was one of the big reasons…
The serious problems suggested as a reason for a Con-Con can actually be addressed by legislation or constitutional amendment. Kaszak noted that there have been ten successful amendments since the 1970 Constitution, and the current Lt. Governor has successfully amended the Constitution (the Cutback Amendment of 1980 which reduced the number of members of the House of Representative by 59 and abolished cumulative voting) and could guide individuals through the process;
This year, the League has joined with Republicans and others to support a constitutional amendment on redistricting. They’ve discovered it ain’t as easy to amend our constitution as they thought two years ago. Their proposal went nowhere in the General Assembly and they announced yesterday they were abandoning their petition drive…
In a letter sent Thursday evening to The State Journal-Register’s editorial staff, however, the Illinois League of Women Voters — which coordinated the Fair Map effort — said that coalition had fallen short of the nearly 300,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
“We simply did not have enough time to finish the kind of statewide campaign necessary to meet the constitutional requirements of a citizen initiative,” League executive director Jan Czarnik wrote.
Well, look on the bright side. Maybe the League will favor a con-con the next time it comes around on the ballot, in 2028.
* We have some video of yesterday’s redistricting debate. Rep. Jim Watson gave a passionate speech opposed to the Democratic plan, which fell two votes short of the required three-fifths majority (Democratic Rep. Jack Franks voted with the Republicans). It’s a must-view…
* Rep. Eddie Washington accused the Republicans of excluding minorities in his controversial speech…
* Majority Leader Barbara Currie took questions afterwards…
* Remap fails in the House: “It gives an edge to the majority party. That’s not the way redistricting should be. It should be a level playing field … and it should not be about us taking care of our own districts. These are not ‘our’ districts,” House Minority Leader Tom Cross said after the vote.
* We’ve talked about the subject of my Sun-Times column most of the week. The silliness of the media as they engage in a feeding frenzy on the Giannoulias campaign. But you might want to read it anyway…
Political reporters, columnists and pundits don’t always band together as one, but when they do, watch out, especially when they’ve decided somebody is a bad guy and they’re going to “do something” about it.
Sometimes, it’s justified. The alleged hooker-knifing, wife-abusing Scott Lee Cohen is a case in point. Once we figured out that we had really goofed by not looking into the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee’s background more carefully, we pounced and tore him to shreds. But it was the right thing to do. Our mistake was not doing it earlier.
But it’s almost as if Cohen’s political blood tasted so good that members of the media wolf pack have decided that they just gotta have another kill. The bloodlust is leading some of them to resort to distortions and outright fabrications to achieve their goal.
The Cohen story practically wrote itself. It had just about all the elements of the perfect political scandal: sex, lies, drugs, lawsuits and violence. There was no need to embellish it.
But far too many of the stories being written about U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias are taking embellishment to a whole new level.
The Chicago Tribune published a story earlier this month revealing that Giannoulias’ family bank had loaned two apparently mob-connected criminals $20 million. A banking consultant from Texas handed the Trib this ready-made quote: “Banks are not supposed to be doing business with criminals.”
But I searched Cook County Chancery Court records and found no less than 27 lawsuits, foreclosures, etc. filed by banks, financial service companies and a couple others against the two men over the years. Of those 27, just five were filed by Broadway Bank, which was owned by Giannoulias’ family before it was shut down a week ago by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Deutsche Bank, First American Bank, CitiMortgage, Austin Bank and more have all filed legal actions. Some were dismissed, some are still pending. The point is those two fellows did business with a bunch of different banks and had trouble with quite a few. But you’ll never read about that in the Tribune. The paper’s story was designed to look like Broadway was the exclusive go-to haven for mobsters. Turns out, there was nothing exclusive about it.
Seemingly seconds after the announcement that President Obama had planned a visit to Downstate Quincy, the chattering class speculated whether Obama would invite Giannoulias or throw his old friend and protege under the bus.
When asked last week if he had been invited, Giannoulias said he hadn’t, so the commentariat instantly leapt to the conclusion that “death by Trailways” was in Giannoulias’ immediate future.
Trouble is, no reporters bothered to see if any other Illinois VIPs had been invited. Nobody had been. The official invites didn’t go out until Monday.
That didn’t deter the feeding frenzy. The subject even came up at a White House press conference. Hours before the visit, Giannoulias was taunted by a Chicago reporter who wanted to know whether Giannoulias’ campaign needed “a presidential hug.”
All of the breathless anticipation was for nothing. Obama gave Giannoulias a shout-out from the podium and hugged him after the speech, and his top political adviser, David Axelrod, brought Giannoulias backstage for a friendly meeting.
I recently obtained a letter written by a Chicago reporter begging one of those two above-mentioned alleged mob guys to spill his guts about his dealings with Broadway Bank. He was lured with the promise that he could “change history.”
Instead of trying to “change history,” how about just focusing on telling a full and accurate story once in a while?
Admitting he had no evidence, Sen. John Cornyn, who runs the Senate GOP political operation, suggested Thursday that the White House may try to force Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias out of the race — speculation that was flatly denied by the White House.
When I asked Cornyn, who’s from Texas, why he thought the White House would do that, he said: “I don’t know. Giannoulias is a flawed candidate and they are realizing it and I think they are worried. . . . I hope they respect the choices of Democratic primary voters and don’t engage in some sort of back-room shenanigans.”
A Giannoulias campaign spokeswoman said Cornyn’s comments were “ridiculous.”
Cornyn’s comment came a day after President Obama, in Downstate Quincy, gave a shout-out to Giannoulias, calling him the “soon-to-be senator” in a remark I think was calculated to quiet talk about distancing himself from Giannoulias.
“No one here is trying to ‘muscle’ him from the race. That should have been clear from the president’s comment yesterday,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Thursday. “Kind of ironic that on the day that Gov. [Charlie] Crist was forced out of the Florida Republican primary that Sen. Cornyn would be suggesting we would muscle someone out of a Senate race.”
One intriguing idea being considered: Force Mr. Giannoulias out of the race and replace him with . . . Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel is still popular in Illinois and there was a big push to get him handpicked as the Obama successor back in late 2008. Democrats have used the shaft-and-shift strategy before, as in New Jersey in 2002 when they dumped a walking wounded Bob Torricelli as their Senate candidate a few weeks before Election Day.
The first person to publicly suggest this was Rod Blagojevich, so that gives you an idea of how wonderful it is.
* Chris Kennedy to Don & Roma: “Lexi got in and I didn’t, and he deserves credit”