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Question of the day

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* What “super hero” do you think the four “big” statewide candidates (Pat Quinn, Bill Brady, Alexi Giannoulias, Mark Kirk) have patterned themselves after? Explain, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

Quinn now wants to use tax hike for property tax cuts, and furlough program basically canceled

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* Gov. Pat Quinn has had almost as many positions on tax hikes over the past 18 months as the Ricketts have lost games.

And now we have another one

Quinn, speaking to agriculture leaders, said his proposal for an income tax increase would lead to lower local property taxes. Pressed afterward on how that would happen, Quinn said he would seek legislation requiring schools to reduce property tax bills before they could get additional state support.

“I think it should be mandatory,” the Chicago Democrat said. “I think if the state helps local schools with more money … it also means cutting local property taxes.” […]

Quinn said, his tax plan would generate $3 billion for schools and reduce property taxes. Eventually Quinn acknowledged he wants to force schools to cut local taxes. If they have to cut as much as they gain from the state, schools would be left with no increase in available money.

Cutting property taxes is a good issue to run on. The trouble is making people believe he’ll actually do it. And if schools are getting the same amount of money, that means layoffs and cutbacks will continue. The unions won’t like it. The voters might, if they believe it.

* Bill Brady also has a property tax reduction idea

Brady said he’d want to set up a fund to give local homeowners property tax relief. Under Brady’s plan, state money would be put into a fund, sent to local officials, and used to lower property tax rates.

“That fund would build on itself each and every year,” Brady said.

The problem with that, of course, is there is no money. He wants to cut taxes on businesses, get rid of the gasoline sales tax, eliminate the inheritance tax and send money to local governments to lower property taxes? In what parallel dimension does he reside?

* Speaking of Quinn changing his mind

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office has changed the rules about how non-union state workers can take furlough days.

Quinn has ordered about 2,700 non-union state workers to take 24 unpaid days off this budget year because of Illinois’ budget crisis.

Under the new rules, those workers can to use vacation and personal days to fulfill their furlough requirement. The administration on Wednesday said that means workers won’t lose pay if they schedule furlough days to coincide with vacation and personal days off.

And that means

Last Friday, Quinn’s office issued a memo that he was imposing emergency rules that would let those workers take their vacation and personal time, which are paid days off, as furlough days. That means Quinn could still claim that he instituted a furlough program, even though it might not save a dime now.

* Related…

* McQueary: Where Scott Lee Cohen is getting it right

* New jobs from ‘jobs bill’? We’ll believe it when we see it

* Late payments from state threaten aid to immigrants

* Performance-based funding for public colleges gets a look

* Senator skeptical of $2.5 million deal for Metra consultants

* Dan Seals and Robert Dold disclose finances in 10th District House race

* 10th Dist. candidates back stem cell research, oppose injunction

* Foster, Hultgren try to clear up positions on Social Security

* Candidates to address special needs forum

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

Rate Gov. Pat Quinn’s new TV ad

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* “The more we learn about Sen. Bill Brady, the worse it gets.” Rate it

The ad’s tagline which may be repeated over and over before election day is: “Who is this guy?”

The spot is the first one produced by Quinn’s new media firm. As you already know, Quinn fired AKPD last week.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      

This just in… Feds drop case against Robert Blagojevich - January trial date - Robert rejected offer

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* 11:13 am - Sun-Times

Feds drop case against Robert Blagojevich.

More to come.

* 11:17 am -
Chicago News Cooperative

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said Thursday that the federal prosecutors will not pursue Rod Blagojevich‘s brother in the upcoming retrial due to “disparity of charges.”

Schar said the government will absolutely proceed with the retrial of Rod Blagojevich.

“You’re done,” lawyer Michael Ettinger said to Robert Blagojevich on the phone afterwards. “You’re free.”

Ettinger said Robert responded, “Words can’t decribe it.”

* CBS2

At a hearing Thursday before U.S. District Judge James B. Zagel, prosecutors announced they are not planning to proceed with the indictment against Robert Blagojevich, a Nashville businessman.

* Sun-Times

His wife, Julie, cried in the background, according to his lawyer, Michael Ettinger, who said,: “Words can’t describe it.”

Ettinger said Rob Blagojevich screamed when he heard the news by phone.

“He screamed: ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’” Ettinger said. “His wife was hysterical.”

* Tribune

Robert Blagojevich was charged with two counts of extortion conspiracy and one count each of wire fraud and extortion.

* AP

Prosecutors said Thursday they made the decision based on the brother’s less central role in the alleged schemes.

*** 11:37 am *** The Rod Blagojevich retrial won’t start until at least January 4

Federal Judge James Zagel said Thursday that he’ll set a retrial date for early January. Zagel says the trial won’t begin any earlier than Jan. 4. But he didn’t immediately set a specific date.

*** 1:24 pm *** Did the feds offer Robert Blagojevich a deal yesterday? Interesting

[Robert] Blagojevich said that the Feds had come to him yesterday “proposing something we rejected.” He would not elaborate on the discussion.

* Blagojevich news roundup…

* Two Blago Lawyers to Stay On: Rod Blagojevich‘s attorneys Sheldon Sorosky and Aaron Goldstein will stay on the case, according to the lawyer representing the ex-governor’s brother.

* Blago auction included confidential papers: NU

* School: Blago auction boxes contain client files

* Father-son lawyer team pulling out of Blagojevich retrial

* Blagojevich may be Adam-less for retrial

* Blagojevich jury questionnaires destroyed, judge’s clerk says

* Forms Blagojevich jurors filled out destroyed

* The battle of wits redux

* First steps being taken toward Blagojevich retrial

* Blagojevich Hearing: Date for Retrial Could be Scheduled

* Blago may have to live with ‘discount’ defense

- Posted by Rich Miller   40 Comments      

More unanswered questions

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* I have at least three remaining questions about the Jerry Stermer debacle. The first is who illegally leaked the Stermer report to the media. The second is whether former Executive Inspector General James Wright knew/heard/suspected that Gov. Pat Quinn was about to replace him before he turned in his report on Quinn’s chief of staff. There’s some suspicion among Quinn’s partisans - rightly or wrongly - that Wright could’ve kept that report about Stermer’s self-reported three campaign-related e-mails in a desk drawer as a sort of employment insurance (Quinn said he interviewed several replacement candidates this year, so the scuttlebutt around the office was probably intense), and might have leaked it to the media in retaliation for being fired

The state watchdog who was fired after investigating one of Gov. Pat Quinn’s senior aides says he’s surprised the chief of staff resigned over the issue.

Former executive inspector general James Wright tells Chicago’s WLS Radio that he thinks Jerry Stermer is a “stand-up guy.” Wright says he didn’t seek Stermer’s resignation and he thought a verbal reprimand would have been enough.

Awww. That’s so sweet. Seven months investigating somebody who in the end deserved only a verbal reprimand?

My last unanswered question is about Quinn: What the heck was he thinking firing an executive inspector general two months before an election? Is he daft?

* The goo-goos’ reaction to the Wright investigation and Stermer’s resignation is fascinating, by the way

“In this particular situation, you’ve got a man who’s widely thought to be an honest and honorable guy who reports his own mistakes, and then we spend resources and months sorting through 37,000 e-mails.”

Andy Shaw, director of the Better Government Association, called Stermer’s transgressions “the ethics equivalent of jaywalking.” […]

Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political studies at the University of Illinois Springfield, said the incident shows that more transparency is needed regarding what inspectors general are doing. […]

“In Illinois we need to really put things on a scale. I don’t think we need to waste a nickel on this,” Canary said.

But Shaw said the panel should pursue the matter “if they think there is value in coming out with an explanation and a finding that can be used in the future.

Jerry Stermer is a decent guy and I hate to see him go out like this. The OEIG has done some good work in the past, but they appeared to lack perspective on this one. Stermer turned himself in for what Shaw is correct in saying is the “ethics equivalent of jaywalking.” And then Wright claims he spent more than seven months investigating the man. The goo-goos helped write this law, which has so clearly gotten out of hand. They ought to help reform the reform.

* Related…

* Hard to believe coincidence in inspector’s firing

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      

*** UPDATED x1 *** Rate Bill Brady’s new TV ad

Thursday, Aug 26, 2010

* Bill Brady has a new TV ad up and running. Rate it

Make sure you watch it at least once with the sound off.

*** UPDATE *** Tribune

Brady’s campaign is spending about $250,000 to air the ad in the Chicago TV market through Sept 1, according to a source familiar with political television ad buys in the city who was not authorized to speak publicly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      

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