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Emanuel up with new TV ad

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

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John Dudlak: It was difficult to continue manufacturing in the facility we were at and we were approached by WISPARK, which is south of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Boguslaw Duczek: It was terrible. I talked to my wife. I talked to kids. I say, oh, boy. Oh, boy. If they move, what are we going to do?

Dudlak: I get a call from Rahm and he is just irate. He says, ‘I can’t believe that this is going on. How in the world could a 100 year old Chicago company move to WISPARK? You know’

And he said, “I’m going to look into this thing. It’s just not right.”

What he did was he made the city and the state and the developer see the logic of keeping employees in Chicago.

Delfin Perez: It surprise me you know because we’re not talking about 200 and 500 people, just about 30, 30 something people.

And he did a great job, so that we’d be able to stay in Chicago.

Dudlak: It’s just that he wants to do what’s right…

And he will just latch on to it and he’ll pursue it and pursue it and get it done. I wish more people had that kind of tenacity.

* Roundup…

* Poll shows Rahm Emanuel as front-runner: The Chicago Retail Merchants Association poll of 2,255 voters taken Monday — the last day candidates could file to run for mayor —finds Emanuel leading a crowded field with support from 39 percent of respondents. Former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun came in a distant second with support from 12 percent of those polled. Former Chicago schools chief Gery Chico had 9 percent; Congressman Danny Davis, 7 percent; City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Rev. James Meeks, 5 percent each; and outgoing U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, 2 percent.

* Petitions for Mayor Offer First Clues of Campaign: The Chicago News Cooperative’s review of all of the nearly 5,300 petitions for the Emanuel campaign found that a man from Mundelein, which is almost 40 miles from City Hall, circulated more signature pages than any other supporter. The analysis found that 4 of Mr. Emanuel’s top 6 circulators and 7 of his 20 busiest operatives wrote in home addresses for themselves outside Chicago at the bottom of the sworn affidavits that they had asked Chicago voters to sign. Almost 25 percent of the petition pages for Mr. Emanuel were circulated by campaign workers who do not live in Chicago, the analysis found.

* Chico wants ‘yes‘ vote on civil unions

* Veteran election lawyer tries to knock Rahm Emanuel off Chicago mayoral ballot

* Odelson Files Rahm Suit

* Anti-Rahm Text Blitz: “He Must B Stopped”

* Bid to knock Rahm Emanuel off ballot for Chicago mayor: Can it succeed?

* Chicago mayoral contenders fight for attention

* New link between Meeks, Halpin mayoral campaigns

* Shades of ’80 race in Rahm vs. Gery

* Emanuel renter’s last landlord filed suit to evict him: Halpin is also fighting in court here with a Pittsburgh construction company that accused him of fraud in connection with alleged efforts to avoid paying an Allegheny County judgment involving one of Halpin’s developments. Halpin, who builds those sprawling warehouses you see alongside interstate highways, denies the accusation.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      

Bear down!

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* This blog’s preferred sport is baseball. Occasionally, though, we dip our toes into other diversions. And yesterday’s Chicago Bears victory was just too good to pass up. From Rick Morrissey

This had nothing to do with luck or a soft schedule or sidelined adversaries or the possibility that Michael Vick’s body clock was set to Kazakhstan time.

This had everything to do with a Bears team that, finally given an opportunity against a real, live, talented opponent, rose to the occasion and made us naysayers say, in so many words, yea. […]

What we saw against the Eagles was as complete a game as the Bears have played in awhile, perhaps in years.

David Haugh

As expected, a quarterback dictated the outcome with deft running that made him a more dangerous passer. But his name wasn’t Michael Vick.

Cutler upstaged Vick by completing 14 of 21 passes for 247 yards and four TDs for a Tom Brady-like, career-high passer rating of 146.2. It was the Bears’ third-highest rating since 1950. A la Vick, Cutler even scrambled well enough when protection broke down to have to sheepishly answer a question about how the quarterbacks’ running styles compared.

“I don’t know, I do it as a last resort,” Cutler said. “Mike’s a little more savvy with it.'’

Perhaps, but Cutler never has appeared savvier with teammates responding to his brand of leadership. By now Chicagoans have all passed a course studying Cutler’s body language and, whether it was coming out of the huddle or sitting on the sidelines against the Eagles, the intangible message Sunday was, “Follow me.'’

Rick Telander

It’s easy to overlook, for instance, that kicker Robbie Gould has made 58 consecutive field goals inside 40 yards or that all four Bears starting defensive linemen got at least part of a sack Sunday or that Matt Forte ran for 117 yards or that safety Chris Harris picked off that Vick pass that was tipped by teammate, and no relation, Tommie Harris.

It all adds up to wins that nobody predicted.

But you can never do it for long without a great, savvy quarterback.

Right guard Roberto Garza said he was most proud of the third- quarter scoring drive the Bears put together that ate up more than 10 minutes of clock.

‘’What was that, 16 plays?'’ Garza said. Seventeen, if you count Gould’s chip-shot field goal.

Behind it was a quarterback doing what a leader does best. Plowing ahead.

This is a Chicago Bears open thread. Are they for real?

- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Question of the day

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* From Chicago Public Radio

[Bill Brady] said he’s considering running for re-election to the state Senate.

* The Question: Should Bill Brady run for governor a third time in 2014? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   63 Comments      

Chump change

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* We have seen an awful lot of publicity about the seniors ride free program, most of it negative. People love to complain about it. And now there’s a new BGA report

A yet-to-be-released government audit found widespread abuse of a taxpayer-subsidized program that lets senior citizens ride free on the CTA, Pace and Metra – with a number of instances of senior free-ride passes being used on trains and buses after the registered cardholders had died.

The Regional Transportation Authority – which oversees the three agencies and is conducting the audit – isn’t pinning this on the supernatural. Instead, it seems once cardholders die, friends and relatives who are very much alive sometimes use their free-ride passes to illegally ride the system – or even sell them to make a buck, said RTA spokeswoman Diane Palmer.

And they’ve been getting away with it because, RTA officials acknowledged, the oversight hasn’t been great – with no mechanism to automatically deactivate cards once a holder passes away and no consistent method for confirming the identity of the riders carrying them.

The RTA audit aims to get a handle on the abuse, and find ways to stop it, RTA officials said. They also are likely to use the data to help justify ending the senior free-ride program, which was foisted on them two years ago by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in what many regarded as a “political stunt.” (It’s already sucked at least $38 million in revenues from the cash-starved transit systems, a figure that does not take into account any abuses.) […]

As for those “riding while dead,” the RTA audit came across roughly 160 senior free-ride passes still being used after the registered cardholder died. Those passes were used anywhere from a few times to 1,400 after the death, officials said.

Seniors ride free was a Blagojevich program, so it, like AllKids, is naturally suspect. Blagojevich created it using a controversial amendatory veto, so that’s another big strike.

In reality, however, this is chump change when compared to things like the seniors income tax exemption. They pay no state taxes on retirement income, no matter how high those incomes are. They also get some property tax relief.

But nobody ever says “boo” about that.

Seniors vote in high numbers, so politicians have been pandering to them for decades. And while I think this seniors ride free debate is healthy, we ought to be putting it into a much larger context. We’ve created a special class of citizenry, and maybe now the whole thing needs to be refigured, particularly with the baby boomers starting to retire. Can we really afford this?


- Posted by Rich Miller   38 Comments      

Quinn’s Downstate performance becomes a factor

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* My syndicated newspaper column

One of the consequences of Gov. Pat Quinn’s laser-like focus on Chicago and Cook County during this fall’s campaign is that he won just 20-22 of the state’s 59 Senate districts, according to recent estimates by the Illinois Senate Democrats. That’s not even close to half.

There’s been plenty of hand wringing in the Downstate media about the fact that Quinn only won three counties in their region, which comprises the vast majority of the state’s geography. That’s mostly illegitimate as far as statewide races go. A win’s a win. Period.

But it is legitimate to look at the totals when it comes to legislative districts. The lack of public support in a majority of districts can have a major impact on the coming legislative session, especially since Quinn lost quite a few Democratic-held districts by wide margins.

For instance, Quinn lost all but one of the 13 tiny counties that make up Sen. Gary Forby’s district by a total of about 14,000 votes. Forby voted for a tax increase last year. It’s no wonder why Forby says he’s not thrilled about a repeat performance.

It was like that all over Downstate Illinois. Pat Quinn can’t be blamed for all of it, of course. The national trend, anger over Statehouse mismanagement, and the resulting heightened GOP voter interest played a role throughout Downstate and in the suburbs outside Cook.

Democratic Rep. Dan Reitz was up against a guy who barely spent a dime. Reitz walked precincts constantly, spent more than he has in years, and beat his Republican opponent with just 56 percent of the vote. Reitz says he firmly believes that if the House Republicans had targeted him, he would’ve been a goner.

Legislative Democrats as a whole withstood the national GOP wave because the Republicans spent so much time and effort on suburban Cook County. The House and Senate Democrats lost every seriously contested Downstate race outside of Will and Kankakee counties.

The overall Downstate trend in the GOP’s favor was very intense. Bond County Republicans gained control of the county board for the first time in two decades. Christian County Republicans won the sheriff’s office for the first time in 80 years. Republican Ed Motley became the first African-American elected to an Edgar County office and the first black GOP sheriff in the state’s history. Republicans took 7 out of 7 county board seats up for election in Grundy County and seized control of the board. Madison County Republicans won two countywide offices, which is the first time since 1946 they’ve done such a thing. Marion County hasn’t had a Republican county clerk in over 30 years, and Saline hasn’t had one in 60 years. They both have one now. Peoria County elected three new GOP board members. Winnebago Republicans went from a 15-13 county board majority to a 20-8 majority.

Pretty much all of Downstate has become for the Democrats what suburban Cook County has long been for legislative Republicans: A killing field. While President Obama will do wonders for the Democrats in two years in Cook County, he will likely remain unpopular throughout Downstate unless the economy really turns around. The future is definitely not bright for Downstate Democrats.

And with redistricting coming up and the trend of Downstate counties losing population likely to continue, every legislator from that region will have to take on new territory to balance out the districts. New voters mean legislators will have to start from scratch with them. Voters who know you might give you a pass when the going gets tough. Those who don’t know you won’t.

Fortunately for Gov. Quinn, several Downstate legislators are nearing the end of their careers. A job here, a contract there and he might be able to line up the votes over the coming weeks and months to enact at least some of his agenda.

But for those who are running again after the new legislative map is drawn, there’s not a whole lot the governor can do except to promise even more pork projects and pledge to support their bills. Most legislators understand that some really tough votes are needed, including a tax hike and big budget cuts. But after this last election, it’s understandable that they won’t be eagerly lining up to commit political suicide for a guy who is so terribly unpopular back home.


- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Let the law, not our emotions decide Ryan’s fate

Monday, Nov 29, 2010

* My Sun-Times column

‘You can indict a ham sandwich,” went the old saying.

Good prosecutors couldn’t actually do that, but they usually could persuade grand juries to do all sorts of things. Federal prosecutors were the best at this because federal law was far more pro-prosecution than state law.

Federal law eventually became so pro-prosecution, however, that the old saying needed an upgrade. The feds not only could indict a ham sandwich, they could actually convict one.

The reason for this was the federal “honest services fraud” statute. Prosecutors used the law to go after corrupt politicians and business leaders. It was an extremely effective tool because it made their jobs so much easier.

Prosecutors, for instance, didn’t have to prove any quid pro quo to convict their targets. If it walked like a duck and quacked like a duck, then it was a duck under the law.

All that changed last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. The Supremes limited the use of honest services fraud to just bribes and kickbacks, and the justices insisted that prosecutors prove clear quid pro quo behavior.

No longer would “you give me this and somewhere along the line I do that” be automatically a prosecutable offense. The government would now have to prove that the “this” and the “that” were inextricably interrelated. In other words, it actually had to be a duck.

And that wasn’t all. Federal prosecutors could no longer fold state law violations into their honest services cases. They also couldn’t contend that defendants who failed to disclose a conflict of interest were in violation of the honest services statute.

Narrowing the honest services fraud law was, for prosecutors, like losing your expensive set of Snap-On socket wrenches and having to use a pair of Dollar Store pliers instead. You might still be able to get that bolt out, but it wouldn’t be nearly as easy.

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is a good case in point. He originally was indicted under the honest services law, but prosecutors had to re-indict him without it. Blagojevich was convicted on only one count: lying to an FBI agent.

I’ve told you all of this so we can talk about George Ryan. The former governor is in federal prison after being convicted under the old version of honest services. Unlike with Blagojevich, prosecutors never had to prove a Ryan quid pro quo existed. They also could use state laws against Ryan as well as his failure to disclose his financial conflicts of interest. The jury found him guilty on every single count.

This week, Ryan’s lawyers used the Supreme Court’s decision to argue that he should be set free. We’ve been bombarded with emotional pleas from both sides.

Ryan shouldn’t be released from prison just because some feel bad for an old, sick man, and others, including myself, feel sorry for his terminally ill wife. But he shouldn’t be kept in prison because of our emotions, either.

Like many of you, I’m still very angry about what he did. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that no matter how long I live.

The deciding factor here ought to be the law, not passion.

And it’s obvious to anyone but the most emotionally blinded that Ryan’s trial would be radically different if it were held today.

The prosecution claimed over and over back then that they not only didn’t have to prove a quid pro quo involving Ryan, but that they didn’t have to show any evidence of one to convict him, either.

They simply couldn’t get away with that now.

I just hope we can let the judicial system work this out without getting too worked up ourselves.


- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

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* Caption contest!
* Sorry to see him go, happy to see the other guy leave
* "Unclear" on the concept
* A complete leadership stalemate
* Behind the impasse
* Report: Child care more expensive than state university tuition
* We're not exactly Old Faithful here
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