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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* It’s been a pretty good week. Hope the weekend is even better. The Ditty Bops will play us out


When you stomp your feet you aren’t hurting me

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


And here’s the Vaught video…

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* Yesterday, Gov. Pat Quinn claimed that Bloomberg News had “misconstrued” his budget director David Vaught’s remarks when it ran this story

Lawmakers will likely increase the personal tax to 5 percent from 3 percent, generating $6 billion of new revenue, the budget director, David Vaught, said in an interview. The legislature failed to address the deficit this year because of the pending November election, he said.

“We’re going to pass a tax increase in January,” Vaught said. “We expect it is going to be substantial.”

Bloomberg has posted the video from the interview. I’ve edited it down a bit. Have a look


When asked how he defined “substantial,” Vaught pointed to Gov. Quinn’s latest one-point tax hike plan, but then went on to describe how the Senate had already passed a 67 percent income tax increase and related how the governor himself had testified at a House committee in favor of that very same tax increase.

More importantly, listen closely to what John Sinsheimer, Quinn’s director of capital markets, has to say. He points out that the “deficit” is $6 billion…

“The overseas investors we talked to, when we told them we could balance the budget with a 2 percent increase in individual and corporate income taxes, that pretty much raises $6 billion, slightly less than that.”

So, the Quinn team was also telling foreign investors how they could wipe out the deficit with a 67 percent tax hike.

I’ll leave it to others to judge whether or not Bloomberg “misconstrued” the remarks, but it seems clear from these excerpts, at least, that the two men were pointing heavily at increasing the income tax from 3 to 5 percent come January.

- Posted by Rich Miller   34 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* Every campaign season about this time, I have to begin issuing stern warnings to newcomers and oldtimers alike.

The passions are understandably increasing as election day draws near, and that means the comments are sometimes turning ugly.

If you’re new here, try to keep in mind that this isn’t a newspaper website or a “normal” blog. We thrive on vigorous, healthy debate on this site. We don’t have any tolerance for stupid drive-by comments, Ad Hominem attacks, racism, swearing, bumper sticker slogans, rumor mongering, sock puppetry or the rest of the madness that you’ll find just about everywhere else on the Interwebtubenets. I’ve permanently banned two newbies in the past 12 hours, and I’ll continue doing so. You’re not welcome here if you can’t behave. And if you go too far over the line, I’ll personally track you down at your job or at your home and mete out some real-life punishment. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. Don’t push me.

And to the oldtimers, most of you love this site as much as I do. Don’t blow it by going all nutso on us. Lifetime bans, like diamonds, are forever.

This place is like my tavern. Feel free to come in and enjoy yourself, befriend the other customers, even consider it your second home. I fully believe that this is your place, too. But get too far outta line and you’re gone.

* I received an e-mail early this morning that you should all read…

I love your site! I never participated in blogs before, but found myself at the Tribune trial blog after looking for info on the Blagojevich trial. I must say that this 60 year old woman was shocked at some of the ignorant and stupid comments.

Anyway, your site was mentioned and i have been so pleased. I have learned so much in just 3 days. How refreshing that people can disagree and express opinions without being insulting and calling names. Thank you so much.

Let’s keep it that way, please.

* The Question: What, in your opinion, is the worst Illinois website for ugly, out of control comments? Give examples if you can. But keep it clean.

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


Jurors want trial transcripts, judge says no

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* Rod and Robert Blagojevich’s jurors have asked for transcripts of the entire trial. Judge Zagel said “No,” but left the door open for transcripts from specific witnesses

“Is it permissible to obtain a transcript of the testimony. It would be helpful,” the note read.

And the answer to that question is no.

However, U.S. District Judge James Zagel said, with agreement by the lawyers, he will respond by telling the jurors that the testimony of certain witnesses would be considered.

Zagel noted that if (and when) that requests comes, it will take time to prepare the transcripts.

Blagojevich’s attorneys objected to transcripts of individual testimonies

“The government will have the benefit of presenting its case a whole second time,” said Sorosky, who pointed out that the jury took copious notes.

* Natasha Korecki at the Sun-Times believes the jury note could be “a sign that they’re in this for the long-haul,” which is echoed by Daniel Libit at the Chicago News Cooperative, who writes the request could indicate “that deliberations might be going on for longer than expected.” Jeff Coen at the Tribune writes the jurors “may be settling in for a long haul.” Susan Berger goes deeper

The second jury question “Is it permissible to obtain transcript of testimony. It would be helpful” Lots of speculation about this here at Camp Blago. Does this mean they are entirely lost and don’t know where to begin?

Or could it be that just a couple of jurors need convincing? And that they naively asked for transcript not knowing they could ask for just one witness’ testimony?

* Judge Zagel also denied a mistrial motion today

Zagel denied two defense motions – one for a mistrial and another challenging the jury instructions.

* Master predictor Eric Zorn has some more soothsaying for us

Five things to expect if Blagojevich is convicted

1. As is customary in white-collar crimes, he’ll remain free pending sentencing. He’ll immediately hold a news conference in the courthouse lobby at which he and his attorneys will vow to appeal the “unjust result of an unfair trial.”

2. Legal experts will declare that so many rulings went against his defense team that higher courts might well grant him a new trial. But they won’t. If the George Ryan timetable is any guide, the U.S. Supreme Court will deny his final appeal in the fall of 2012.

3. It will be December, maybe even January until Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing. In addressing the judge he will try – and fail – to sound chastened and remorseful while still not really admitting to anything that might jeopardize his appeal: “I should have been more vigilant. Should have been more watchful. Should have been a lot of things, I guess,” is more or less what he will say, echoing George Ryan’s feeble non-apology at his 2006 sentencing. “My charge in public office was to maintain and instill public confidence in the integrity of the government. I tried to do that, but I obviously failed.”

4. He’ll be ordered to report to prison two to four months after he’s sentenced. Again, this delay is customary. […]

5. He will mellow and lower his sights in prison, fashioning himself as a scapegoat and martyr who admittedly, regrettably did wrong, but did so only in an effort to thrive in a terribly corrupt system. Upon his release he will make a modest living as an inspirational speaker and freelance advocate for political reform.

Zorn also has a list of five things to expect if Blagojevich is acquitted. There’s no prediction for what happens in the event of a hung jury. Maybe later.

* Related…

* Jury asks to see prosecution’s closing argument

* Blagojevich jury seeks ‘road map,’ but left to own devices

* Gov rips gov: The Blago File . . .

* Giving Dan Walker a break

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Nothing to see here, move along

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

*** UPDATE 1 - 1:41 pm *** Oh, for crying out loud. Now Wikipedia has picked up on this bogus “Brady hacked the ILGA website” story. NBC5 and Chicagoist did so as well. Silly people. They posted their stories even though Progress Illinois has now retracted their original piece. Good job by PI, not so good by the others.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Considering the massive weirdness of the Brady campaign hacking Wikipedia the other day, another seemingly related story looked kinda interesting when I saw it this week and then when Progress Illinois picked it up yesterday and ran the ominous headline: “Brady Scrubbing The ILGA Website?“…

Sen. Bill Brady’s campaign caught a considerable amount of flack yesterday for replacing factual policy positions on its candidate’s Wikipedia page with a series of canned talking points. Unfortunately, it seems the online encyclopedia isn’t the only website the Brady campaign is scrubbing. And this new allegation is far more serious.

Mark E. Wojcik, a law professor at the John Marshall Law School, penned a letter to the editor in the Windy City Times yesterday alleging that someone is trying to shield the public from Brady’s position on gay rights. The letter states that someone got the folks who run the Illinois General Assembly’s website to remove Brady’s name as chief co-sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment (SJRCA 95) that would have prohibited the state from recognizing same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnership.

If coordinated, the effort was successful; Brady’s name is listed at the top of the amendment’s “Full Text” as having introduced the measure but does not show up on the “Bill Status” section at all. We called officials from both Illinois’ Legislative Information Services and the Senate Journal, which controls the website. Neither office knew how such a slip-up could happen and both said that the website should reflect his sponsorship. “Oh my, that should not be,” exclaimed one of the women we talked with.

Those are some pretty serious allegations. And, if true, they would warrant a full-scale probe.

In reality, though, this is a complete non-story because it is standard Senate practice on all resolutions, including constitutional amendments.

In the Senate, for whatever reason, they don’t put the original sponsor’s name in the bill actions section. Let’s look at a Senate resolution from 2007 which made Deb Shipley the Secretary of the Senate. Here is the section which lists sponsors…

Sen. Halvorson was the original chief sponsor. But her name appears nowhere in the actions section…

All it says is “Filed with Secretary.” It doesn’t say by whom. So, if Halvorson had withdrawn her sponsorship, her name would’ve disappeared from the sponsors’ section and you’d never know by looking at the actions section that she was part of the resolution’s history.

On constitutional amendments, the full text versions do list the original sponsors. Brady’s SJRCA95 is no exception.

The House does list sponsors on constitutional amendments in the actions section of their pages. But that wasn’t always the case. If you go back to the 92nd General Assembly and look at this proposed HJRCA, you’ll see that Rep. Doug Hoeft is listed as the original sponsor, but his name doesn’t appear in the actions section.

Anyway, that’s a whole lot of info to say that this is a completely bogus story. But I figured that the GA is my bailiwick so I ought to look into it.

* And speaking of vital issues of seemingly great import that turn up nothing, this story about a Smashing Pumpkins charity event piqued my interest as well

The event even attracted the attention of Gov. Pat Quinn, who appeared before the Pumpkins set to read a proclamation, naming Tuesday as Matthew Leone Day in the state of Illinois and calling Leone “a true American hero.” He also presented a check to the fund.

Rod Blagojevich used to love to go to events like that and hand out or promise state checks. So, was taxpayer money donated to the Pumpkins’ designated charity?

“No, not a state check,” responded Quinn press secretary Grant Klinzman. Turns out, Quinn wrote a check out of his own personal account.

* And speaking of Rod Blagojevich, Pat Quinn showed up late to a press conference this week and caught heck from some reporters

“I really don’t have time for this today,” complains one reporter, repeatedly, to no one in particular. “We’ve got stuff to do, and this isn’t it,” grouses another.

Finally, at six minutes to 10 the governor lopes into the room.

“Twenty-four minutes, guy,” a radio reporter chides, quite loudly, a surprising display of disrespect. Then again, any harried public schoolteacher can coax a classroom of 6-year-olds into their bee costumes and giant sun outfits and shepherd them onstage to sing about good nutrition without being this late

There are other things a governor occasionally has to deal with, and Blagojevich was often hours late, so this ain’t much of a big deal. Still, since his media coverage hasn’t been all that great lately, the guv might want to start showing up on time.

…Adding… Let’s call this one “Much ado about little, so far”

Republican newcomer Bobby Schilling is making a real contest out of his bid to unseat Congressman Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, and could yet produce an upset.

The Cook Political Report, which analyzes federal elections, has changed its rating for the 17th Congressional District of Illinois from “Solid D” to “Likely D,” a sign that Schilling’s campaign has gained some momentum. Real Clear Politics, another election analysis provider, has changed the seat from “Safe Dem” to “Likely Dem.”

There’s still a long campaign ahead before the Nov. 2 election and Hare has much more money to spend on the race. Schilling will be hoping he can ride a wave of anti-government feeling to beat Hare, although the odds are still stacked against that happening.

Hare is not a great campaigner and he’s stumbled and bumbled the past year or so. The map favors Democrats in this district, but it’s not overwhelming. Still, for Hare to go down, the Republican wave would have to be extremely large.

…Adding more… See ya

Key Findings from Recent IL CD-13 Survey July 29, 2010

The following outlines the key findings from a survey commissioned by Judy Biggert for Congress. Interviews were conducted July 27-28, 2010. The margin of error for the entire sample (n=400) is +/- 4.9% at the 95% confidence level.

Judy Biggert is in a strong position heading into October, more than doubling Harper’s vote share.
 Biggert leads Scott Harper 61% to 28%, with 10% undecided. 41% of voters are definitely voting for Biggert compared with only 10% definitely voting for Harper.
 Judy’s job approval is stellar, with 57% of voters approving of the job she is doing and only 30% disapproving.
Harper has very little definition and a rather poor favorable to unfavorable ratio.
 Harper’s favorable to unfavorable ratio is only 11% favorable: 8% unfavorable. Conversely, Biggert’s is 62% favorable: 26% unfavorable.
 Even among those who are aware of Harper (46% of the electorate), he still trails Biggert 56%-33%.
As seen in the rest of the country, the political environment has improved significantly since Harper’s previous attempt in 2008.
 In October 2008 the generic Congressional ballot in this district was tied (42%-42%). Today the generic Republican leads 47%-31%.
 Both Kirk and Brady are leading in this district as well, with Kirk leading Giannoulias 49%-37% and Brady leading Quinn 49%-35%.
Judy Biggert is well positioned to be re-elected with Harper facing a difficult political environment as well as an extremely popular and well financed incumbent. It is hard to imagine the Democratic Party and their donors becoming engaged in this race with so many vulnerable incumbents to protect.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Quinn, Brady spar over taxes, education cuts

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* We have the audio files of Gov. Pat Quinn’s fiery press conference yesterday where he slammed Sen. Bill Brady for proposing a $1 billion cut to education funding and fended off questions about his budget director’s comments regarding the likelihood of a large tax hike in January. Part 1


At the beginning of Part 2, Quinn vows to veto any income tax hike that is over one percentage point


* Let’s look at the coverage. Sun-Times

Quinn said he only plans to push what he has publicly proposed previously — a hike to 4 percent, with the extra money to be spent on education. While he still has to convince legislators to support it, that could be easier to do after the Nov. 2 election.

Quinn said the Bloomberg reporter misinterpreted what Vaught said.

“He was asked a question about another plan and the reporter, from Texas, misconstrued his answer,” Quinn said.

Did Quinn admonish Vaught, to whom Quinn recently gave a $30,000 salary increase?

“I don’t think he should philosophize about taxes. I will tell him that,” Quinn said.

Tribune

Quinn said Brady is spouting “fairy tales,” noting his opponent has yet to offer specifics on how to get the state out of the red ink. Quinn said without a tax increase, Brady would have to cut education funding. Quinn said would lead to property tax increases as local governments try to make up the difference.

“You’ve got to be careful with these apostles of no tax,” Quinn said. “When they talk, they have their fingers crossed because they know the local government will raise the property taxes on you for schools and other things. I don’t think that’s the right way to go.”

A Brady spokeswoman dismissed those allegation.

“Pat Quinn will say anything to get elected,” Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said. “He proposes tax increases all year long, but somehow tries to blame someone else.”

The property tax angle was an integral part of Quinn’s pitch yesterday.

ABC7

The governor vowed to convince voters before the election that, if Brady carries through with planned cuts spending for state programs including education, property taxpayers will pay the price.

“If the state doesn’t properly fund school, then local property taxes skyrocket. They’re backbreaking already,” said Quinn.

The Republican was asked about the governor’s charge that local property taxes would increase under a Brady administration.

“Now I’ve made it very clear. We have to cut a dime on every dollar, and we have to focus on waste, fraud, corruption, abuse and mismanagement,” said Brady.

That’s not very clear. Brady was a bit more specific with Crain’s

Asked directly if his plan would cut state aid to schools by 10%, Mr. Brady went out on his own political limb, saying it would. “Sure. It would apply to everything.”

Schools will jsut have to “rood out fraud and abuse” and take other efficiencies, he said. “We cannot afford to raise taxes on families and businesses.”

Fox Chicago

Brady responded that his proposed budget cuts “would not have to” force massive teacher layoffs. When pressed by FOX Chicago News for details of his budget cuts, Brady declined.

His chief spokeswoman said Brady is “working on” a plan with more details. Campaign sources, though, said that identifying specific budget cuts might not be smart politics.

They said it might open Brady up to new attacks from Democrats and special interests.

SJ-R

Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Madigan believes any revenue increase “would have to have a bipartisan coalition to pass,” meaning some votes would have to come from House Republicans.

House GOP Leader Tom Cross issued a statement Thursday that provided no hint that such a coalition is about to form.

“It is shocking to me that Governor Quinn’s administration remains fixated on an income tax increase by 67 percent, and not focused on reforms and streamlining government,” Cross said. “Taxpayers are sick and tired of paying for the Democrats’ flippant behavior when it comes to their money.

* Brady also defended his proposed cut to the gasoline sales tax yesterday

Brady offered a classic supply-side defense of his proposal to cut gasoline taxes. Instead of costing the state treasury, Brady predicted it would eventually bring in more revenue:

“People are travelling to neighboring states to buy their gas, to buy their beverages, to buy their cigarettes, and their bread. Reducing that tax will foster economic activity that will outpace the loss in very short order.”

George Ryan tried that and it didn’t work. In fact, Ryan said that was the biggest mistake of his administration.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


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Friday, Jul 30, 2010

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


This just in… Dem women to demand answers about “cover up”

Friday, Jul 30, 2010

* 12:34 am - From a press release…

MEDIA ADVISORY

WHO: State Senator Iris Martinez, State Representative Karen Yarbrough, State Representative Sarah Feigenholtz, Melissa Widen, PersonalPAC Board of Directors Vice-Chairman

WHAT: PRESS CONFERENCE: WOMEN DEMAND RESPONSE AFTER COVER UP OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS IN ILLINOIS GOP

WHEN: Friday, July 30th at 12:00 p.m.

WHERE: Democratic Party of Cook County, 134 N LaSalle Blvd, 14th Floor, Chicago

SUBJECT: WOMEN DEMAND RESPONSE AFTER COVER UP OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS IN ILLINOIS GOP CHICAGO - Illinois women are demanding the truth from GOP standard-bearer Senator Bill Brady after his party covered up allegations of sexual misconduct by a top GOP leader. After two governors who betrayed the public trust, Illinois cannot afford a repeat of the problems of the past. Women and all voters should be concerned that a cover up of this magnitude was perpetuated by Illinois Republicans. The press conference will be held at the Democratic Party of Cook County offices, 134 N LaSalle Blvd, 14th Floor, Chicago, IL.

The background to this story can be found here. The mainstream Chicago media has completely ignored these allegations. We’ll see what happens after the press conference.

- Posted by Rich Miller   80 Comments      


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