* After taking heat from Gov. Pat Quinn this week for advocating a one dollar per hour cut in the minimum wage while being a “millionaire who didn’t pay his taxes,” state Sen. Bill Brady backed off today…
[Brady] suggested that the state minimum be frozen until the federal rate rises to Illinois’ level.
“Let’s just say the federal wage should be allowed to catch up with the Illinois rate,” and then the two should move in tandem, he said.
Asked how he would pay the costs of converting to “employee-owned pensions,” as he suggested in his speech, Mr. Brady said the state should switch to a 401(k) system that would be totally funded by workers, not the government.
As long as Illinois pays pensions, political corruption is inevitable, as political insiders try to maneuver for advantage, Mr. Brady said. But that could be avoided if the state just paid a good wage and let employees save for retirement themselves, he continued.
[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.
In a Nov. 24th meeting, Balanoff raises the point.
Blagojevich bristled, he testified.
“That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”
Expect a Mark Kirk/GOP response in 3… 2… 1…
*** UPDATE 1 - 3:35 pm *** From the Illinois GOP….
…Balanoff’s sworn version of events directly contradicts at least three claims made by Alexi Giannoulias.
December 4, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff had reached out to him about a possible appointment to the vacant Senate seat.
Giannoulias also said that staff within Blagojevich’s office have “reached out” to him as a possible candidate to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, though a Blagojevich spokesman said the governor has not contacted Giannoulias directly.
December 4, 2008: In the same interview, Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that he was not “pushing for the seat”
Giannoulias said he’s not pushing for the seat, but if it’s offered he’d have to take a “very, very hard look,” at the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. alongside his close friend Obama.
December 12, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias said that he hadn’t “really thought about” Obama’s Senate seat.
Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he’s been busy sorting through the state’s financial woes following Tuesday’s arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you,” he said during an appearance at Aurora University. “I’ve been focused on trying to do my job and trying to rebuild the public’s trust in us as elected officials.”
*** UPDATE 2 - 4:47 pm *** From the Giannoulias campaign…
“As he has discussed openly, and which was confirmed by today’s testimony, Alexi was a strong advocate for Valerie Jarrett’s appointment to the vacant Senate seat. When Valerie signaled she was no longer a candidate, Alexi half-jokingly raised the idea with his friend Tom Balanoff of being appointed himself, never expecting for the request to be passed along to the former governor. The former governor’s response – an expletive-laced tirade – says all you need to know about the seriousness of this idea and the relationship between the two of them.” - Matt McGrath
After Jarrett publicly took herself out of contention, Balanoff said he had a conversation with State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a protege and basketball buddy of Obama’s, who is now the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat. Of that conversation, Balanoff said: “In passing he said, ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me.’” [Emphasis added.]
Union leader Tom Balanoff just testified that right after the Presidential election, he met with both Valerie Jarrett and Alexi Giannoulias about Jarrett’s possible appointment to the Senate by Rod Blagojevich.
Balanoff said he asked Giannoulias to set up the meeting. The three met at the Aon Center on Nov. 7.
Balanoff said at the meeting he told Valerie Jarrett about his meeting the day before with Blagojevich.
“I said: ‘He said some goofy stuff … he could be Secretary of Health and Human Services.’” Balanoff testified. “I told her I told him that wasn’t going to happen. We both laughed.”
Balanoff said he planned to tell Blagojevich that if he didn’t appoint Jarrett then the governor couldn’t expect future help from the union, a major Democratic contributor.
Eventually, Jarrett’s name was withdrawn because Blagojevich kept insisting on cutting a deal.
The former governor’s defense team just completed the poking and prodding of prosecution witness John Harris in a predictable attempt to undermine potentially damaging testimony about the alleged sale of the Obama Senate seat and some of the other charges in the massive indictment. We got to see two of the defense theories that were mentioned in opening statements and developed more thoroughly as the trial moves along.
One is the so-called “advice of counsel” defense, which says in effect: Blago was sourrounded by attorneys—Lon Monk, Bradley Tusk, John Harris, Bill Quinlan—and if they didn’t tell him anything was illegal, how was he supposed to know? That, however, is an argument that’s been laughed off the legal stage by Richard Posner, the intellectual giant on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago. The second explanation for Blago’s behavior, from his attorneys, is what I call the “braying at the moon defense,” which means the former governor did a lot of yelling, screaming, scheming and threatening because that was his personality—he was a bit of a whack job, not a criminal. Well, the first part was obvious to most of us for years. That was the governor we elected twice—shame on us. The second part, whether or not he’s a criminal, is, thankfully, up to the jury. I’m confident they’ll do the right thing, which is something we can’t say about Blago and his cohorts.
* The judge doesn’t think Tony Rezko would be a great prosecution witness…
One big question hanging over the trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been whether his convicted fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko, would appear at these proceedings to testify against his old friend. Rezko, now imprisoned at a federal facility in Wisconsin, has been cooperating with government agents since shortly after his 2008 conviction.
It’s still not certain whether Rezko will testify, but at a hearing before testimony resumed today, U.S. District Judge James Zagel strongly suggested that Rezko would make a lousy government witness.
Zagel said there was a word to describe witnesses like Rezko who damage whatever side calls them to testify. That, said Zagel, “generally explains why they’re not called.” Zagel refrained from actually saying what the word was, leaving the suggestion it was less than polite.
* Judge James Zagel: New tape won’t be admitted until Rod Blagojevich takes the stand
A new satellite office located at 420 E. Main St.in Collinsville will serve Southwestern Illinois in providing information, education and outreach services the state treasurer’s office offers.
“This area is expanding and becoming increasingly diverse and there is a real need for residents to have consistent access to programs and services from the treasurer’s office,” said Chief of Staff Robin Kelly.
Both Robin Kelly and Alexi Giannoulias are running for statewide office. Metro East Democratic turnout will be hugely important this fall. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this move has political ramifications.
Giannoulias and Kelly have had three and a half years to open that office, and they chose to do it right before an election and, more telling, during a huge state budget crisis. What a stupid move.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the treasurer’s office…
We’ve opened satellite offices gradually around the state each year of this administration. All of the locations are rent free, so taxpayers do not pay for the space.
In fact, the purpose of the satellite offices was to save money. They cut down on travel expenses and give employees more time in the office to work and interact with constituents.
Since the first satellite office opened in 2007, we’ve saved nearly $30,000 in travel/operating costs. We are constantly looking for ways to do more with less.
Also, we’ve introduced more accountability to our staff, as no employees are now allowed to work out of their homes, a practice allowed under the previous administration.
*** UPDATE 2 *** Speaking of botched politics. Daily Kos fired the Research 2000 polling firm after their numbers in a round of elections didn’t match up to reality. And now, DKos is about to sue the firm after research showed it may have made up its numbers…
DailyKos has published a report by “three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk.”
“While the investigation didn’t look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we’ve written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling.”
One item the researches discovered was an odd even/odd correlation in the numbers. First, they showed some poll results…
A combination of random sampling error and systematic difference should make the M results differ a bit from the F results, and in almost every case they do differ. In one respect, however, the numbers for M and F do not differ: if one is even, so is the other, and likewise for odd. Given that the M and F results usually differ, knowing that say 43% of M were favorable (Fav) to Obama gives essentially no clue as to whether say 59% or say 60% of F would be. Thus knowing whether M Fav is even or odd tells us essentially nothing about whether F Fav would be even or odd.
Thus the even-odd property should match about half the time, just like the odds of getting both heads or both tails if you tossed a penny and nickel. If you were to toss the penny and the nickel 18 times (like the 18 entries in the first two columns of the table) you would expect them to show about the same number of heads, but would rightly be shocked if they each showed exactly the same random-looking pattern of heads and tails.
* Suit money goes to low-income maternal health care
* University of Chicago hospital pays $7M to settle suit over NICU crowding
* Analysis: What’s behind the Attorney General’s investigation of Lollapalooza?: Whatever the scope of and motivations behind the investigation, it is clear that all of these questions will hover over the Chicago music scene until Madigan finally says exactly why her office has set its sights on Lollapalooza–or if she takes one of several possible actions ranging from a lawsuit filed on behalf of Chicago residents, to crafting a consent decree whereby Lollapalooza agrees to change the way it does business, to giving the concert a clean bill of health and ultimately doing nothing at all–which sources say is the least likely outcome of all.
The only area Quinn specifically said would be cut is “bureaucracy,” but he provided no details.
“There are serious cuts in the bureaucracy of state government,” Quinn said. “We’re going to have to tighten the belt as tight as it can be.”
Quinn signed an agreement with AFSCME this past January not to close any more state facilities. The agreement also forbade any state employee layoffs until June of 2011 beyond those already announced at the time. We’ll just have to wait and see how he gets around this one if he’s focusing on the “bureaucracy.”
But Quinn did say he’d protect education and human services as much as he could…
Exactly what he will allocate to each area is another question. As he has before, Quinn said he will do what he can to protect education spending, although the State Board of Education last week announced $300 million in cuts to education programs.
“Last year, we had an effort by the General Assembly to cut human services in half. It was heartless,” Quinn added. “I hope we can prevent any kind of severe cuts in human services or any other important services to people.”
* Today, Quinn said he probably won’t announce his budget decisions until Thursday…
Quinn says he’ll sign a budget by midnight Wednesday but may not announce his budget cuts until Thursday morning.
Bomke said he believes the budget details to be released this week are just more of the same game that’s been played at the statehouse for two years. A game he says won’t end until after this fall’s election.
“It’s all politics,” Bomke said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
But Bomke also says he wants cuts…
Bomke said cuts would be more prudent, and are likely what voters expect.
“The general population is having a tough time. People who are not public employees are finding themselves out of a job,” Bomke said. “And I think the general population is saying live within your means.”
That quote won’t go over too well in Bomke’s district. Expect tons of heat on him to switch to a “Yes” vote on pension borrowing.
* Brady: Quinn didn’t fire ‘hacks’ Blagojevich hired: Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady said Monday that Gov. Pat Quinn, who took over the job after the ouster of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, did not remove “political hacks” Blagojevich named to state jobs. He also told the Illinois Society of Association Executives, meeting in Springfield, “I like the director of transportation, but I think that more of an engineering sort ought to be involved” in that post.
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is set to face the press late this morning for a high-stakes question-and-answer session – his first open forum with reporters since acknowledging a month ago that he had misstated his military service during his campaign for Senate.
Kirk, once viewed as a favorite to defeat Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias for President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks as newspaper reports repeatedly unearthed misstatements about his biography – from claiming that he won the Intelligence Officer of the Year award when he did not, to overstating his experience as a teacher.
Last week, Kirk seemed to bottom out: In a scene belying his status as an accomplished and media-savvy member of Congress, he dashed out of a candidate forum with Giannoulias rather than answer reporters’ questions.
Today, though, he’ll take them head-on, and a strategist familiar with his plans said he intended to play offense too.
“Kirk will lay out the contrast in the race and the choice between his record and Alexi Giannoulias’s, speak to the big issues confronting the state of Illinois, announce policy speeches he will deliver over the course of the campaign, and acknowledge mistakes that have been made concerning his record,” the strategist said.
* I talked with a reporter at the presser who said Kirk has “filled the room with children and veterans.”
Cong Mark Kirk has a room full of close supporters at the Northbrook Renaissance Hotel, including Astronaut Jim Lovell and several veterans. The plan is for Kirk to give a short speech and then he’ll take questions from the press.
Outside a handful of young democratic protestors are wearing aprons that say “if you can’t stand heat run thru the kitchen,” referring to his jog away from press a week ago at the Chicago Hyatt.
Update in comments if you can. NBC5 says they’ll have video early this afternoon. Check back for updates.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says he’s sorry for being careless and making mistakes about his accomplishments.
*** UPDATE 1 *** From the Giannoulias campaign…
“In terms of hollow apologies and passive-voice blame-shifting, Congressman Mark Kirk’s acknowledgment of ‘misrememberings’ and ‘carelessness’ sets a new standard. Allow me to be blunt: Congressman Kirk wasn’t careless and he didn’t misremember - he lied. One mistake is careless. Misrepresenting, embellishing or not telling the truth about 10 different phases of your military career over a 10-year period is a pattern of lies, plain and simple. When these mistruths have been repeated on the floor of the House of Representatives, on a taxpayer-funded official website, in campaign television ads and materials, in press releases, on campaign websites, and from his own lips, Congressman Kirk’s web of lies can’t be fixed by one phony press conference.”
Beyond his apology, Mr. Kirk also made it clear he’ll be doing something else different from now on: He released an advance campaign schedule through the July 4 weekend, something his campaign repeatedly refused to do, lest the Dems be tipped off to his plans.
So, will these mea culpas work?
Probably — provided that no other major questions arise about his record. […]
And, for whatever it’s worth, by the time the press conference was over, reporters were asking Mr. Kirk about things other than his résumé. For the moment at least, things have moved on.
I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the end of the embellishment stuff.
Kirk packed the press conference with a “Hallelujah chorus’’ of 100 supporters who heckled reporters and shouted “move on” when reporters pressed Kirk about his numerous mistakes on his military record. One supporter even harassed a Bloomberg news reporter after the conference.
* It’s no great insight to say that this state is pretty divided on the gun issue, with much of Cook County and many of the suburbs mostly objecting to guns on the streets and the rest of the state mostly supporting gun rights.
Because of this, there is a real political danger for gun rights advocates if they move too fast after yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling. I’m particularly talking about early indications that there will be an attempt to push the concealed carry issue here during the campaign. Whatever you think of the issue, it’ll be a while before that concept is accepted in and around the city, or even in some areas that generally support gun rights. From a state Sen. John O. Jones press release issued yesterday…
I am pleased the court has struck down the Chicago gun ban. I look forward to working with lawmakers to move concealed-carry bills through the Illinois General Assembly.
“I believe in the Second Amendment, and I believe the court ruling today is a step in the right direction to afford Illinois citizens including (those in) Chicago their rights,” Brady said.
Brady also reiterated that he would support an Illinois law to allow regular citizens to carry concealed guns, but the right wouldn’t be automatic to all.
“I have said that I support laws which fully embrace Second Amendment rights,” Brady said. “In the case of concealed carry, many states have proven that with the right training, background checks and implementation, it works well.”
Asked about his backing for concealed carry in Illinois, Brady said, “with the right safeguards, absolutely.”
Locally, McHenry County Sportsmen’s Association member Lee Lexow heralded the decision and cast his eyes toward the November election. […]
With Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady supporting concealed carry and incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn opposing it, Lexow said the Illinois governor’s race could provide a referendum of sorts on the concealed carry issue.
“I think it’s going to boil down to how the elections fall out,” Lexow said.
Making this election a “referendum on concealed carry” will not work well for proponents. It’s just too much change, too fast.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, said the high court decision could alter the number of votes needed in the House and Senate need to approve a concealed carry proposal.
Currently, parliamentary rules mean a concealed carry proposal needs 71 votes to be sent to the governor. Mitchell said the ruling could result in a simple majority of lawmakers — 60 in the House — being needed for passage.
“I think that’s achievable,” said Mitchell, who is sponsoring a concealed weapons measure in the House.
Scaring the Democrats’ base in the Chicago region is a really bad idea when the Republicans have a clear enthusiasm and historical advantage right now.
* Schock comments on Supreme Court Decision McDonald v. City of Chicago
* Candidates weigh in on Court ruling on Chicago gun ban
* Court took cheap shot at city’s crime rate, Chicago officials contend
Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Joseph Berrios dropped his challenge of ballot petitions filed by county Commissioner Forrest Claypool on Monday, setting up a four-way race for the assessor’s office in the general election.
“It would be irresponsible to subject either the public authorities or our opponent to the cost, time and effort of litigation, perhaps all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court,” said Berrios spokesman Manuel Galvan. “Instead, the campaign asks Mr. Claypool to set aside the insults and empty rhetoric, and pledge to conduct a spirited, fair and clean campaign. The public deserves nothing less.”
Claypool, running as an independent, called the announcement “a critical victory for taxpayers and a blow to the insiders like Joe Berrios, who have used government to protect the powerful instead of the people.”
“We will take our message of reform to the voters of Cook County,” Claypool added, “and we will give them a chance, on Nov. 2, to declare their independence.”
The Forrest Claypool campaign for assessor has asked Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to look into harassment of its campaign workers by someone impersonating a sheriff’s deputy or other law official.
According to Claypool campaign manager Tom Bowen, one or more people flashing badges visited campaign workers over the weekend — one at 8:30 a.m. Saturday — and asked them to sign false affidavits denying that they’d circulated nominating petitions for Mr. Claypool and/or that they’d used another notary beyond the one on official forms.
One of those with a badge said he was with “the board of elections” and another with “the county Democratic committee,” Mr. Bowen said.
Ms. Alvarez’s spokesman confirmed that the office is reviewing the matter, but said they’ve urged the Claypool camp to first file a police report.
* Mr. Claypool personally deleted 1,301 bad signatures.
* Nearly 53,000 suspect signatures, including many who weren’t registered to vote in Cook County, or didn’t sign the petitions themselves or signed more than once.
* Circulator ineligibility would have reduced the total by another 6,000 signatures.
* Additionally, another 6,000 more alleged valid signatures may have been ineligible on other grounds.
* Short of further legal action in the courts, the Berrios Campaign believes that there would be 30,000 to 32,000 valid signatures remaining, and the law requires 25,000 signatures to file as an independent candidate.
A Fox River Grove-based blogger questioning the citizenship of President Barack Obama lost her bid Wednesday to have a special grand jury empaneled to investigate her claims.
McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather rejected the petition for a grand jury filed by Sharon Ann Meroni, founder of Patriot’s Heart Media Network, saying there is no lawful justification for it. “There is no legal basis for you to do what you’re asking to do,” Prather told Meroni in court.
“The law does not allow it. There are no facts pled in your petition which would require what you’re seeking.”
*** UPDATE *** With a hat tip to a commenter, Meroni has updated her blog with a post about why she filed the objections. It’s all about the birth…
The objection is based on the fact that there is no evidence that any of the candidates fit US and Illinois Constitutional mandates of age and citizenship requirements. For the most part, the age of a candidate is generally easy to discern. Citizenship status is not.
Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he knows people who had been examining signatures filed on behalf of William “Doc” Walls III, whose name was removed from the Democratic primary ballot. Walls has filed as an independent for governor. [..]
The objector is Blake Phillip Sercye of Chicago, who Quinn said Monday he knows.
“I’m sure he was concerned, like I am, in making sure the election law is complied with,” Quinn said. “Several of the people that I know counted the names, and he (Walls) clearly has insufficient signatures.”
Among other candidates facing objections: are Will Boyd Jr., Greenville, an independent for U.S. Senate; former East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer, a Practical Party candidate for U.S. Senate; Corey Dabney of Aurora, independent for U.S. Senate; Shon-Tiyon “Santiago” Horton, Alton, independent for U.S. Senate; Christopher Pedersen, Joliet, various offices including U.S. Senate; Gregg Moore of Chicago, independent for governor; Andy Martin, Illinois Reform party for U.S. Senate; Stephen Estill, Mason City, independent for governor; Michael White, Constitution Party candidate for governor; Mike Labno of Oak Brook, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate; Lex Green of Bloomington, Libertarian for governor.
Atheist Rob Sherman filed an objection against Carl Officer’s US Senate campaign. Four objections were filed against Officer’s petitions by various people. Sherman filed objections to several other candidates as well, including Andy Martin.
In 2006 Chicago cast 18.7 percent of the statewide vote while suburban Cook counted for another 19 percent. A strong Democratic turnout for the Cook County Board president’s race or even the possibility of a highly publicized three-way fight for Cook County assessor could drive the county’s turnout above the 1,350,915 votes in 2006. Assuming Quinn eventually starts campaigning and begins spelling out Brady’s record on controversial social issues, it is highly likely that Quinn’s chances for victory will improve greatly.
Clearly there is nothing Brady can do to stifle Cook County’s turnout. Brady’s best hope in Cook County is to keep social issues off the political table and concentrate on his high cards - Democratic economics and Blagojevich.
In raw numbers if Quinn comes out of Cook County with 500,000-plus votes over Brady - same as in 2006 - the geopolitics of Illinois will become a heavy burden for the downstate Republican. To be sure, Brady as a downstater would have a far better chance to surpass Topinka’s 2006 performance in closing the Cook County gap. Still, it would be a very steep climb. […]
Still looming above all these issues is the math. Unless there is GOP surge in Chicago or a Republican rebound in north and west areas of suburban Cook, the odds are great that Quinn will leave Cook with an enormous lead and a powerful leg up on winning the governorship. Perhaps the ultimate question is whether Quinn will have enough oomph elsewhere in Illinois to take advantage of his party’s favorable geopolitical edge and eke out a victory in an admittedly bad Democratic year.
* Chicago machine fails to eliminate Crenshaw - so far
Burge, 62, showed no emotion, his hands folded, when a federal jury found him guilty Monday afternoon of lying under oath about torturing African-American criminal suspects at the Area 2 police headquarters. The perjury was part of a 2003 civil lawsuit filed by former Death Row inmate Madison Hobley. Burge was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury and could face up to 45 years in prison when he sentenced in November.
There was silence in the courtroom — as U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow ordered — when the jury’s decision was read.
But outside, there were high-fives, celebratory hugs and even tears.
For years it looked as if Burge would escape criminal charges altogether. He was fired from the Police Department in 1993 for torturing a cop killer, but a four-year investigation by special Cook County prosecutors concluded in 2006 that the statute of limitations on the claims of abuse had long passed. It wasn’t until 2008 that federal prosecutors figured out a clever way to indict him — not for the tortures themselves, but lying about them.
Plans to add five kids to the typical CPS high school classroom come as city high school test scores have stagnated, and concerns about student deaths due to violence have triggered a two-year, $60 million anti-violence campaign.
Kelvyn Park High English and social studies teacher Liz Brown said the number of essays she will have to grade would soar from 130 or 140 to 165 under the plan. Writing conferences and classroom discussions will suffer, and violence might well increase, Brown said.[…]
Huberman said the state Board of Education’s decision last week to restore some “categorical” funding in such areas as special education had brought the district an extra $57 million. That, combined with $18 million in new district cuts, was allowing CPS to cancel plans to raise the typical class size to 35, he said.