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The next unanswered question: What is “reasonable”?

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

* It seems pretty clear that the US Supreme Court ruling striking down Chicago’s gun ban will result in lots more lawsuits. The ruling, along with its DC gun ban ruling, claims that “reasonable” gun ownership restrictions are allowed.

“Reasonable,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. In Chicago, reasonable means this

Chicago may severely limit the number of handguns that can be kept in a single home and ban gun dealers within city limits in the wake of Monday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that gutted the city’s handgun ban, City Hall’s top attorney said [yesterday].

The court’s ruling “did not say that a person is entitled to more than one handgun, and one handgun is sufficient for self defense,” Corporation Counsel Mara Georges told aldermen at a City Council committee meeting. “We believe that a limitation on the number of handguns to one per person per residence would be consistent with the Supreme Court’s decisions.”

And this

Earlier [yesterday], Georges said a requirement that handguns must be registered in the city will definitely be in the new ordinance. The city also is considering requirements that gun owners undergo training, submit to a criminal-background check and obtain liability insurance, she said.

Also under consideration are ballistics testing or “stamping” of each weapon so spent ammunition can be traced back to a specific gun. “We’ve looked at an assault weapons ban, that’s something our current ordinance contains,” she added. “I think it makes sense to continue an assault weapons ban, to continue allowing only certain kinds of weapons and prohibiting others, prohibiting certain kinds of ammunition.”

And this

Washington requires gun owners to get five hours of safety training, register their firearms every three years and face criminal background checks every six years.

Gun owners there are further required to submit fingerprints and allow police to perform ballistic tests. They must keep revolvers unloaded and either disassembled or secured with trigger locks unless they have reason to fear a home intruder.

Those provisions apparently don’t go far enough for Daley, who hinted strongly at an insurance component to protect public safety workers and taxpayers.

* On the other hand

But one gun rights supporter said many of Georges’ suggestions all but assure a legal battle, calling them “preposterous” and a violation of gun owners’ civil rights.

Owning a gun, said David Workman of the Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, “is a civil right and you can’t limit a civil right.” He also said it would be illegal to single out gun shops just because the merchandise they sell might poise a danger to residents.

From a Southern Illinoisan editorial

In addition to bolstering our right to possess firearms for self-defense purposes in our homes, the ruling by the Supreme Court offers hope for additional sanity in the ever-ongoing firearms debate. It was a decision hailed by lawmakers from the region, Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion and Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.

Bost suggested the ruling will give new weight to the argument for a concealed carry law in Illinois, which he supports. Such laws are on the books in 48 states, excluding Illinois and Wisconsin, and have been equated with declines in gun crimes elsewhere. Thugs are reluctant to strike those who might shoot back.

It might be an uphill fight, but the concealed carry goal is worth pursuing for law-abiding, thoroughly trained citizens, if only to ensure there is no erosion in the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding our Second Amendment rights. We can’t be confident of keeping a 5-4 ideological split on the nation’s high court, and there always be lawyers willing to pursue new firearm restrictions - and well-heeled clients willing to pay for such limitations.

* So, what’s your definition of reasonable?

- Posted by Rich Miller   98 Comments      

Question of the day

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

* The setup

With her world famous greeting “Hello Pineapples!” and loving heart bigger than her hair, it’s impossible to imagine Chicago without Miss Foozie®. A famed personality and household name in the city’s LGBT community and beyond, she’s consistently voted “Best Female Impersonator”, including nods from the publications Chicago Free Press and New City. She has big plans for expansion and is embarking on a journey to win more hearts across the country.

* The pic…

* The Question: Caption?

Keep it clean, please. I mean it. Don’t test me.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Audit: Sex offenders in day care homes

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

* The biggest problem with state Sen. Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign is Bill Brady, as his embarrassing and logically challenged flip-flop on the minimum wage showed yesterday.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s biggest campaign problem is the government. Whether it’s the budget deficit, early release of prisoners, or whatever, Quinn has a huge albatross around his neck. This story won’t help

The state of Illinois helped pay for day care services in homes where sex offenders live, the auditor general reported Tuesday.

Auditors found 90 cases in which day care providers paid by the Department of Human Services had the same address as someone on the statewide sex-offender registry. The total number might be even higher because the audit only counted cases where addresses matched exactly, down to whether street names were spelled out or abbreviated.

In one case, the person who was paid to care for children was actually on the offender registry. The provider had a conviction for aggravated criminal sexual assault but received two payments totaling $187.69, according to the report by Auditor General William Holland.

The Department of Human Services was only recently given authority to check the backgrounds of the people it pays to provide child care, said spokesman Tom Green.

But Holland said he was unaware of any previous prohibition and was flabbergasted it never had been done.

What a freaking mess that is. The new law required that DHS check the backgrounds, but Holland’s position is apparently that nothing stopped the department from checking those backgrounds before. The audit is here.

* Related…

* State shouldn’t contribute to 401(k)s, Brady says - Candidate for governor retreats on lowering minimum wage: Brady explained his unpopular votes on some bills by saying he looks at issues like a businessman: Why did he vote against state mandates that insurance plans cover pap smears, mammograms and contraceptives? Because he votes against all mandates which he says raise the cost of health insurance.

* Brady Does About-Face On Minimum Wage Stance

* Quinn, Brady clash on minimum wage

* Quinn, Brady spar as minimum wage climbs to $8.25

* Brady says governor’s race won’t be as expensive as Blagojevich’s 2006 run

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      

Countdown to the budget announcement

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

* Doug Finke has a very good article today about the upcoming budget announcement

From the disabled who need help to stay in their homes to school districts trying to balance their own budgets, people who rely on state spending are bracing for Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget scalpel.

Quinn said Monday he’s preparing to deal with the proposed spending plan approved by lawmakers last month and that cuts are coming, although he did not specify where they will land.

Some examples…

“What we’re hearing is the administration is seriously considering cutting the home care program, cutting hours and cutting people off the program,” said SEIU communications director Brynn Siebert. “It costs three times as much to keep a person in an institution as at home.” […]

Don Moss, a lobbyist who works on behalf of mental health and developmental disabilities organizations, said he’s hearing from providers that their contracts with the state to provide services are being cut.

And the teachers’ union isn’t thrilled, either…

“We think this is a budget built on quicksand. Regardless of what numbers they put in the budget book, the funding doesn’t exist to fund education at that level,” Comerford said.

Go read the whole thing. Here’s more from Don Moss

Hints of what Gov. Pat Quinn has in store for budget cuts are coming in paper work for local human services. Don Moss, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Illinois, says providers are returning grant and fee-for-service contract papers for Wednesday’s midnight deadline, and they’re finding that some grants have been wiped out.

Moss says services for the people with developmental disabilities, mental illness and addictions will all be affected, although he says services that are Medicaid-eligible will be in the best shape. He says for grant programs, some services will see a three-to-six month reprieve, while others will receive nothing.

* Meanwhile

Republican lawmakers in Springfield are getting in their “I told you so’s” now that Congress has balked at extending federal stimulus funding.

Including in the sweeping plans in Washington, D.C., was about $700 million which was earmarked in the new state budget for a continuing enhanced Medicaid match. But the so-called FMAP money — Federal Medical Assistance Percentage – is not coming in time for the start of Illinois’ new fiscal year on Thursday. […]

GOP lawmakers say the extra Medicaid money should never have been included in the Democratic written budget.

State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, said Quinn wanted the most optimistic numbers he could find, and now the state is going to have to pay the price.

Keep in mind, however, that the House Republicans did not propose a single appropriations bill or amendment to address this problem.

* And be mindful while reading the following story that the governor and AFSCME negotiated a deferral of half its 2 percent pay hike until July of 2011. They’re getting a one-point bump now

Despite a state budget that is billions of dollars out of whack, more than 46,000 state workers will see bigger paychecks on Thursday.

Judges, prison guards, welfare office workers and mental health specialists will see raises and cost-of-living adjustments worth an estimated $105.6 million.

For some lawmakers, the raises are an example of why the state is in such dire financial straits.

“I just think it shows how Gov. Quinn isn’t serious about getting a handle on this problem,” said state Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth.

* Speaking of the Republicans, House GOP Leader Tom Cross has penned a response to Speaker Madigan’s Daily Southtown op-ed…

Since Democrats took total control of Illinois government in 2003, our credit ratings have been downgraded 11 times, the most in Illinois history. A report released recently by CMA Datavision identified Illinois as one of 10 sovereign governments most at risk of default. We are ahead of California and the nation of Portugal. Our financial woes extend beyond the borders of the U.S.A.

Eleven times? Yikes.

* Related and a roundup…

* ADDED: Senator Dave Syverson Makes Outrageous Budget Blooper

* Ill. to begin new fiscal year with deficit, debt

* A disappointing look behind the curtain

* Advocates push to spare services for disabled from budget ax

* New laws kick in Thursday : Almost 50 new laws will hit the books July 1, and they range from high-profile issues state lawmakers fought over to small changes that you may never notice.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 *** Maybe not, and two new Kirk ads

Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010

* The Sun-Times has now changed the wording of its reporting on yesterday’s testimony by SEIU Illinois honcho Tom Balanoff. Yesterday’s post read

[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.

But that’s now been deleted after the campaign raised a question about its accuracy. Live-blogging is extremely difficult, especially during long, drawn-out events like trials, so these things happen. The story today reads

Balanoff also testified that Giannoulias helped arrange a meeting of Jarrett, Balanoff and Giannoulias to discuss a Blagojevich appointment of Jarrett. Balanoff called Giannoulias to tell him Jarrett was dropping out. “In passing, he said: ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me,’ ” Balanoff testified.

Balanoff testified that he told Giannoulias he would run it by the then-governor.

Blagojevich, in a Nov. 24 meeting, bristled at the thought.

” ‘That motherf - - - - -, I wouldn’t do s - - - for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me,’ ” Blagojevich said of Giannoulias, according to Balanoff.

So, it’s not nearly as bad as I thought yesterday. Time to move on.

* Speaking of moving on, a day after Mark Kirk apologized again for embellishing his record, he has launched two new TV ads. Let’s rate them.

The first is called “Risky.” The Tribune’s description

In the first commercial, titled “Risky,” Kirk’s campaign shows a picture of a young-looking Giannoulias and then notes he is 34 years old. It then goes on to describe controversial loans Broadway Bank made to men with ties to organized crime while Giannoulias worked there, showing black-and-white pictures of the loan recipients. It also criticizes Giannoulias’ performance as treasurer when a college savings program run by the office lost $73 million.

“Alexi Giannoulias: Trust him with your money?” the announcer asks.


The other ad is called “Stand.” From the Sun-Times

“Stand,” portrays Kirk as a more committed environmentalist than Giannoulias because Kirk spoke out against BP’s plan to discharge more into Lake Michigan while Giannoulias has a top aide who worked as a lobbyist for BP.

Environmental groups The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, both have endorsed Giannoulias in this race, saying Kirk exaggerated his role in stopping BP’s proposal to dump more discharge into Lake Michigan.

The new ad buy starts on broadcast television in the Chicago area today and cable television Thursday.


From what I’m hearing so far, these are not huge ad buys. But they are getting wide publicity. WaPo

The commercials are evidence that Kirk is following a “your best defense is a good offense” strategy, seeking to use his press conference and these ads to shift the focus in the race back to Giannoulias after a month of questions about the veracity of his military resume.

Kirk is also trying to exploit his financial edge over Giannoulias by beginning to define the race in the costly Chicago media market over the summer — typically a very quiet time for politics.

* Also, the troubles with posting the full Kirk press conference video continued late yesterday when I posted only his speech and not his media Q&A. Here’s the Q&A

View more news videos at:

*** UPDATE 1 *** Giannoulias is responding with his own ad. So far, this is Internet-only. But the campaign claims they will make a buy. No word on how big that will be. This is a one-minute ad that slams Kirk. Rate it

*** UPDATE 2 *** Today’s “Morning Joe” program was simply brutal. Make sure to watch

*** UPDATE 3 *** From the Giannoulias campaign…



Alexi has taken no money from BP, from its lobbyists or executives. Mark Kirk is paying for this ad with BP money: he has taken more than $120,000 from the firm that is making millions representing BP in the aftermath of the spill, $2,500 directly from BP and its executives, $4,750 from its corporate lobbyists, and another $8000 from Representative Joe Barton, who infamously apologized to BP executives on the House floor last week. [FEC; Center for Responsive Politics; Chicago Tribune, 5/18/10]


Congressman Kirk’s record on the environment has cost him the endorsement of the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. They chose Alexi because Kirk has continually sided with Big Oil by voting to protect tax breaks for big oil companies, to expand drilling throughout America’s coastal waters, and to allow drilling in prohibited areas. He even stood with Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin in 2008 to overturn the moratorium on drilling off the Florida coast. [Chicago Sun-Times, 6/8/10]

KIRK AD LIE 1: The Sun-Times said Kirk, quote, “fought hard to stop BP from dumping more waste into the lake.”

TRUTH: Jack Darin, who heads the Sierra Club’s Illinois chapter, called this claim “another case of Mark Kirk exaggerating his resume… He took a boat trip and held a press conference, but I think for him to say he stopped BP is clearly wrong. Unfortunately, Indiana went ahead gave BP the pollution permit for the pollution we were all so upset about, and still are. So BP in fact has not been stopped.”

KIRK AD LIE 2: Alexi says higher energy taxes are on the table.

TRUTH: Alexi has never pushed for higher energy taxes. He supports a market-based system that puts a price on global warming pollution, reduces our dependence on oil and spurs investment in renewable energy and new clean energy jobs. Numerous independent studies have shown that his transition can occur with minimal cost to consumers, and help make America more competitive in today’s global economy.

KIRK AD LIE 3: Alexi Giannoulias’ top aide was a longtime BP lobbyist.

TRUTH: Alexi’s unpaid advisor was never a lobbyist for BP. He was a real estate attorney who worked on zoning cases for BP-Bovis, the construction and development joint venture that converted existing Amoco stations into BP stations. It is required by the City of Chicago that real estate attorneys handling zoning cases register as lobbyists. He never advocated for BP and has done no work on oil and drilling issues.

KIRK AD LIE 4: Now running for Senate, Alexi supports higher taxes to fund billions more in spending.

TRUTH: Every proposal outlined by Alexi includes a counter-part offset to ensure that it is deficit neutral. Alexi also supports pay-as-you-go federal budgeting rules, which Congressman Kirk voted against. It’s no wonder — Kirk voted for every Bush budget and tax cut for the wealthy that tripled our national debt, took us from record surpluses to record deficits, and put the global economy on the precipice of collapse. [HR2920, Vote 612, 7/22/09; HJR45, Vote 48, 2/4/10; HCR353, Vote 79, 3/20/02; HCR95, Vote 141, 4/11/03; SCR95, Vote 198, 5/19/04; HCR95, Vote 149, 4/28/05,; HR4241, Vote 601, 11/18/05; HCR376, Vote 158, 5/18/06; SCR 21, Vote 377, 5/16/07; HR3, Vote 45, 3/8/01; HR6, Vote 75, 3/29/01; HR8, Vote 84, 4/4/01; HR1836, Vote 118, 5/16/01; HR1836, Vote 149, 5/26/01; HR3090, Vote 404, 10/24/01; HR3529, Vote 509, 12/19/01; HR586, Vote 103, 4/18/02; HR2143, Vote 219, 6/6/02; HR4019, Vote 229, 6/13/2002; HR2, Vote 182, 5/9/03; HR2, Vote 225, 5/23/0 3]

KIRK AD LIE 5: As Treasurer, he made risky investments that cost families $73 million in lost college savings.

TRUTH: Even Congressman Kirk has admitted that the problems experienced in one of Bright Start’s 21 funds was the fault of Oppenheimer, not the Treasurer’s office. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, “Kirk addressed a controversy involving Giannoulias’ stewardship as state treasurer of the Bright Start college savings program-and appeared to take Giannoulias’ side… Kirk went after “a state bureaucrat that has a bad record.” Asked by a reporter who that bureaucrat was, Kirk replied it was the person who ran the Oppenheimer “core plus” fund-who is not a state employee.” [Chicago Tribune, 10/12/09] In fact, under Alexi’s stewardship, the Bright Start program went from one of the worst in the country to one of the top five, according to several independent analysis.

KIRK AD LIE 6: At his father’s bank, Alexi made tens of millions in risky loans to convicted mobsters. Then, the bank collapsed.

TRUTH: Because of banking regulations that were strictly followed by the bank, all of these loans were legal and reviewed by state and federal regulators. Any suggestion that these few loans had any relationship to the bank’s financial problems is a lie.

* Related…

* Kirk fails to set the record straight

* Kirk apologizes, again

* Kirk apologizes for being ‘careless’ on his record

* Kirk apologizes again for embellishing military record

* Mark Kirk holds expansive press conference in wake of embellishment controversy. Entire video of q and a

* Kirk apologizes for military misstatements

* Senate Candidate Mark Kirk Apologizes

* Giannoulias, Schakowsky Respond to Testimony

* Blago’s harsh words for Giannoulias: “That mother f—–“

* Balanoff: Blagojevich wanted job for Senate seat

* Blagojevich on Carol Marin: ‘I hate her’

* Blagojevich trial: Day 17 and recap

* Blagojevich trial: Jury hears ‘I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden’ quote

* Blago’s ‘golden’ comment makes appearance at trial

* Blagojevich trial tape transcripts, text version

* How Explicit Were Blagojevich’s Requests to SEIU?

* Union official: Obama said Jarrett met criteria

- Posted by Rich Miller   83 Comments      

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* Pressure builds on Alvarez, McCarthy
* Final day to file!
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* So long, Kurt!
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* A little bit of what's at stake this week
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* Yesterday's blog posts

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