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*** UPDATED x2 *** Still waiting on Rahm Emanuel residency recommendation - Meeks to drop out? Campaign says “No” but word persists

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* 3:22 pm - In case you’re wondering, I checked with the Chicago elections board a little while ago and was told they haven’t yet received hearing officer Joe Morris’ recommendations in the Rahm Emanuel residency case. Morris was originally scheduled to turn in his brief yesterday afternoon, which morphed into last night, which morphed into midday today. Midday has come and gone, of course.

The board will meet tomorrow to decide Emanuel’s fate. Check this post for updates.

From the board…

The members of the Chicago Electoral Board will meet to hear this case and most likely issue a decision at a session that will start at 9 a.m. on Thurs., Dec. 23 at 69 W. Washington St., in the Lower Level Conference Room. This is an open meeting. This is the same room at the base of the escalator where the evidentiary hearing was conducted last week. The attorneys on both sides have already requested a “Rule 20″ hearing to address the Board before the Commissioners vote.

* Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Rev. Sen. James Meeks may drop out of the race

Congressman Danny Davis, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun and State Sen. James Meeks met privately Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to unite behind a consensus black candidate for mayor.

One day before Thursday’s deadline to drop out of the race, the three top African-Americans in the race tried once again to find the unity that has so far eluded them.

The candidates discussed current election poll results and “factors that will contribute most significantly to victory for whoever is running and their chances of being successful,” Davis told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Braun confirmed she met with her opponents, but told reporters she “would not make news” on that topic.

If any of the three major black candidates drop out of the race, it’s most likely to be Meeks. And a source familiar with Wednesday’s discussion said that could happen soon.

*** UPDATE 1 *** I just talked to Meeks’ spokesman. The relevant quotes…

“Meeks is not dropping out… He’s gotten nothing but encouragement from people for speaking out on the minority and women-owned business program… A meeting took place, but he’s not dropping out.”

…Adding… In making some more calls, I’m not sure I totally believe the campaign’s denial. We’ll see soon enough.

*** UPDATE 2 - 9:57 pm *** From James Allen, spokesperson for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners…

We’re told a recommendation in the residency case should be coming in the next hour or so.

Shakespeare in the dark, that guy.

* 12:00 am - From Lynn Sweet’s Twitter page a half an hour ago

Rahm Emanuel residency case hearing officer decision expected soon. Stay up late!

- Posted by Rich Miller   17 Comments      


Question of the day

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* From the Tribune

History will remember Richard J. Daley as Chicago’s greatest mayor, his son said Tuesday as he approached the day he will surpass his father’s record of more than 21 years in office.

Asked about the significance of the fact he will take the crown for mayoral longevity on Dec. 26, Mayor Richard M. Daley pointed out it wouldn’t even be a question if his father had lived to the end of his term.

* The Question: Who was the greatest mayor in Chicago history? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Group: Latinos kept Illinois from losing two seats *** Tribune ignores reapportionment history

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* Illinois lost out on holding onto 19 congressional seats by just 75,046 residents, according to Election Data Services. Our population increased, just not enough. Illinois hasn’t gained a seat in Congress since 1910. The West and the South have been picking up seats for the past 70 years

“The trend is growth in seats for western and southern states, and a tendency to lose seats in the Midwest and Northeastern states. In fact, since 1940 there’s been a net shift of 79 seats to the South and West,” said Robert Groves, director of the Census Bureau.

So, while it sucks that we’re losing a congressional seat due to reapportionment, and while we certainly have more than our share of problems here, the Chicago Tribune editorial today was just downright breathlessly negative

The loss of a congressional seat is a barometer of many things. But most of all it is a barometer of people making decisions — about themselves, their children and the kind of future that Illinois promises.

Would you come to a state that makes national headlines not only for the size of its estimated $15 billion deficit this fiscal year, but also for its political leaders’ inability to dig in and reform how they spend?

Would you come to a state where thousands of kids are doomed to dead-end classrooms, where bright school reforms struggle and the dim status quo often prevails?

Where public corruption investigations provide one of the few employment growth industries? Where too many people around the world now think of Illinois as the chronically corrupt Land of Blago?

Where some $130 billion in unfunded obligations for public employees’ retirement benefits may — unless lawmakers come to their senses — condemn taxpayers and their progeny to decades of tomorrows spent retiring today’s debt from yesterday’s commitments?

Actually, we are gaining population. People are moving here. Yeah, we’re screwed up, but considering how close we came to keeping 19 seats, and considering the historical trends, losing one seat isn’t some Greek tragedy of epic proportions. We lost a seat in 1950 and again in 1960, when we were still pretty darned strong. Back in those days, we had worker shortages all over the place, yet we still lost seats.

Again, losing a seat in Congress is unacceptable. We should definitely use this as a learning, humbling experience. But we lost seats when we were still hitting on all cylinders as well. The Tribune ought to look at a little history to put things into perspective before screaming bloody murder again.

* Meanwhile, MALDEF made some interesting points about population growth via press release yesterday

· The 2010 Census showed the nation grew 9.7% since 2000. Based on the Census Bureau’s 2009 ACS 1-Year Estimates, the Latino population grew 37% from 2000 to 2009, where the non-Latino White population grew less than 3%. Stated otherwise, Latinos made up 51% of the United States total population growth, compared to non-Latino White population contributing 21% of the U.S. total population growth.

· Based on the ACS data, in the following 16 states Latino population growth accounted for more than 60% of the state’s total population growth: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia. Latino population growth represents more than half the state’s population growth in 21 states.

In the eight states that gained Congressional Districts under the 2010 Census, the 2009 ACS data show that, with the exception of Florida and Texas, the Latino population grew more than 55%. In Texas and Florida, the Latino population grew a respective 37.16% and 48.82%. These relatively lower percentages represent large figures, with the states growing by 2,478,390 and 1,309,582 Latinos respectively. [Emphasis added.]

*** UPDATE *** From the Latino Policy Forum

Illinois will be down a seat in the House of Representatives following the 2012 elections, according to yesterday’s US Census Bureau announcement. Analysis from the Latino Policy Forum indicates that two seats would have been stripped from Illinois, had the state’s Latino population not grown as dramatically as it has over the past decade.

“Latinos have made significant, well-documented contributions to the workforce and economy,” said Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum. “But beyond economics, Census data show how Latinos’ sheer numbers are benefiting Illinois.”

Without a Latino population increase of nearly half a million people since 2000, Illinois would have fallen short of the population needed for an 18th House seat, having sufficient population for just 17 seats. This shortfall is estimated at 315,656 to 368,937 people, according to analysis from the Latino Policy Forum.

Based on total apportionment population, each House seat represents 716,767 people, meaning that Illinois’ current 18-seat apportionment requires a population of 12,793,806. But without the Latino growth, Illinois population would have come in at an estimated 12,424,869, good for only 17 House seats.

* Related…

* Democrats in charge of drawing map: How can Illinois be gaining population and still be losing a seat in the U.S. House? The simple answer is that Illinois’ population did not grow enough during the past 10 years compared with other states.

* Illinois loses congressional seat: If the census shows a big Hispanic population increase in Illinois — and if that growth is not scattered across the state —Illinois Democrats may be under pressure to create a second Hispanic district. The first Hispanic district in Illinois was drawn following the 1990 census — a convoluted “C”-shaped district that includes Hispanic neighborhoods on Chicago’s North and South Sides wrapped around a district running from the lakefront to the near western suburbs.

* Remap war begins as census figures roll out: While detailed intrastate population breakdowns won’t be available for at least a few weeks, insiders are suggesting that the figures may well indicate that Chicago and Cook County no longer have enough African-Americans to sustain three super-majority black districts but enough Latinos to force creation of a second majority-Latino district.

* Illinois loses seat in U.S. House: Privately, some Democrats and Republicans agree that potential scenarios could involve merging parts of Schilling’s district with those of the 18th central Illinois district of Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock of Peoria and the northwestern Illinois 16th District of U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo of Leaf River. Schilling, of Colona, lives about 65 miles away from both Schock and from Manzullo, making it easier for mapmakers to set up potential head-to-head matches in a largely rural part of the state. Still, closer to Chicago, elements of Manzullo’s district also could be combined with the North Shore 10th District of Dold and 8th District of Walsh.

* Illinois gains population, but loses a congressman - Costello, Shimkus should be safe in redistricting: On the bubble, however, will be Schilling, a member of the GOP’s conservative Tea Party wing and one of four House freshmen elected last month. Schilling defeated Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island. Cobbled together from other districts a decade ago during the last redistricting, Schilling’s 17th District — which stretches for north of Rock Island, hugs Illinois’ western border and reaches into sections of Madison, Sangamon and Macon counties — makes a logical target for the Democrat leaders to split up among other districts, including Shimkus’, Jackson said.

* How the states rank

* Illinois political parties map strategy: Illinois taxpayers could shell out as much as $3.4 million in the upcoming battle to redraw the state’s political boundaries.

* Teen birthrate at lowest point in seven decades

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Chico makes millions lobbying city hall - No danger for Burnett? - Berrios rapped again

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* We have a new tagline for mayoral candidate Gery Chicago: Millionaire city hall lobbyist

A City Hall insider for decades, Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico has made millions of dollars in the last few years from his law firm that lobbies for clients seeking city business, according to three years of tax returns he released Tuesday.

Chico’s 2009 federal income tax return shows he and his wife, a school consultant, made $2.6 million. The couple paid about $830,000 in federal taxes on their income. They paid more than $900,000 in federal taxes the year before, when they declared $2.9 million in earnings, according to the records. […]

Chico’s law firm, Chico & Nunes, is a registered City Hall lobbyist for more than 40 companies — including large corporations such as Cisco Systems, Exelon Generation and Clear Channel — according to city records.

Chico said that if he is elected mayor, he would sever ties with the law firm but would not ask the firm to give up its business lobbying at City Hall.

I know lots of lobbyists. Almost all are more honest and scrupulous than many people I know outside of politics. The problem is, the common folk don’t think so. To them, lobbyists carry bags of cash around to hand out to crooked politicians. If Chico does start to surge, Rahm Emanuel can use that tagline against him. And it’ll probably be effective. That last statement about refusing to ask his firm to stop lobbying the city just makes it worse.

*** UPDATE *** From the Chico campaign…

- Gery isn’t a lobbyist and hasn’t had that registration since he was appointed to the Park District in 2007.

- Gery’s law firm isn’t primarily a lobbying firm - most revenues come from litigation, federal regulatory law, real estate transactions, construction safety and employment.

- if Gery is elected, he would sever all ties with the firm. As mayor, he would go further and restrict his old firm from being eligible from bidding on any city contracts. (just fyi, as part of his ethics plan, Gery would also abolish no-bid contracts and put everything out to competitive bid, which could save the city millions…)

- A little context here in terms of transparency. The Trib asked for his tax returns about 3 weeks ago, and we provided this openly and transparently as soon as Gery’s accountant prepared it for us. I believe Gery is the only serious competitor who has been working in the private sector, and we released three years of his tax returns…. and others like Rahm Emanuel, Carol Mosely Braun & James Meeks have yet to release their tax returns.

* This could be a case of the headline and the lede not matching the actual substance. “Burnett might lose spot on ballot“…

The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus is in danger of being knocked off the ballot because of outstanding fines stemming from code violations at a pair of Chicago properties he allegedly owns.

But scroll down…

Other sources said Kasper is arguing that at least one of the outstanding fines stem from an eight-year-old citation issued to the “correct address, but the wrong” real estate identification or PIN number.

“His name got dragged into it,” a source said of Burnett. “The citation was for work done without a permit. The property [Burnett] owns is vacant.”

Before filing for re-election, Burnett asked the city to run a “debt check” on him. It came back “clean,” said a source close to the alderman.

* We haven’t heard the last of this one, methinks

Weeks after Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios drew criticism for putting his son and sister on the payroll, a report was sent out by two county watchdogs reminding of ethics rules against hiring kin.

The two-page “advisory,” co-authored by county Inspector General Patrick Blanchard and ethics board chief MaryNic Foster, doesn’t go after Berrios specifically, but tongues are wagging about the timing of its release and the clear reminder of the ethics ordinance, which prohibits county elected officials and other employees from hiring or immediately supervising a relative. […]

Asked whether Berrios might rethink the hires considering he may have violated county ethics law, [spokeswoman Kelley Quinn] said: “Absolutely not. I think because we do have them here, this transition has gone smoothly.”

* Related…

* Springfield’s Education Reforms And The Chicago Mayoral Race

* Coming To Their Consensus - Blacks labored in vain to unite behind a single mayoral candidate. Meanwhile, all but one of the top white contenders have bowed out.

* Inspector General urges City Hall adopt no-gift policy: “This is an area that is fraught with the possibility of bribery at worst and the appearance of impropriety at best…A history of unchecked gift-giving…creates a perception of partiality,” Ferguson wrote.

* Preckwinkle names new aides on county contracts: The county’s new purchasing agent is Maria de Lourdes Coss, a Chicago city official who most recently worked as a purchasing director at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The new contract compliance director is E. LaVerne Hall, most recently at the Chicago Public Schools business diversity office.

* VIDEO: Susana Mendoza - Public Affairs

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


Things are tough all over

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* Oy

Already financially strapped because of lower tax revenues and budget reductions, suburban schools this school year are grappling with new state funding cuts aimed directly at bus transportation.

The state budget last summer cut more than $146 million from the regular transportation budget line item for elementary and secondary education, resulting in a reduction of more than 40 percent from last year, according to the Illinois Association of School Boards.

On top of that, most districts still are waiting to receive state transportation funds from last year, leaving some districts across the state scrambling to keep their transportation budgets afloat. […]

Complicating matters is a state law that, with few exceptions, requires school districts to provide bus service to children living 11/2 miles or more from school. Transportation also is required for those students who live within 11/2 miles but whose route has been deemed a hazard to walk.

Like I’ve been saying for months, the state is one of the greatest drags on Illinois’ economy.

* And people just don’t seem to understand why this is so. Here’s a recent letter to the editor in the Lake County News Sun

Where is all the money from the Illinois Lottery going? I thought this was going the schools? So why are they so broke?

Yeah. The Lottery brings in [said in Karl Sagan’s voice] billions and billions of dollars. Right. Everything is supposed to be so easy. It ain’t.

* Things are just bad all over...

[East St. Louis] Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. said he plans to give up half of his salary to help save some police officers’ jobs.

Parks said Monday that he will give up $25,000 of the $50,000 salary he is paid as mayor. He said it will be effective Jan. 1 for one year.

Parks is hopeful that other city leaders will follow his lead and give up something to help save the officers’ job.

City officials are considering a plan to lay off 19 police officers, four public works workers and one full- and one part-time telecommuicator. Thirteen firefighters are already laid off, and City Manager Deletra Hudson said they will remain off.

* Aurora is having big trouble as well

The $340 million budget approved Tuesday attempts to eliminate an $18 million deficit. It cuts city spending by about $7 million while reducing or eliminating other planned projects. It strips out 98 full-time positions cut through retirements, voluntary separations and layoffs.

It eliminates the Office of Special Events, all historic preservation incentives, and most of the money for historic preservation and public art.

And, like most municipalities, it shows increasing amounts of money going toward health insurance and public pensions.

The budget also relies on concessions from all city employees, or further cuts if unions don’t agree to other cuts. All employees have been asked to take a 10 percent salary cut or the equivalent in concessions. Two of the city’s unions have already reached agreements.

* Angst about the future

The Jonesboro Elementary School Board, meeting Tuesday night at the grade school, heard plenty of comments about a proposed 4.5 percent increase in the tax levy, but ultimately decided unanimously to make no increase at all in the levy.

The move came at the recommendation of Superintendent Gary Hill, who explained that as the equalized assessed valuation of properties in the district increases, more money will be collected even at the same levy rate. […]

Hill said the $350,000 in state aid paid to the district this year came from the state’s use of federal stimulus funds, but questioned where next year’s state aid will come from.

* It ain’t good

By a vote of 4-3 the Carbondale City Council voted to collect a property tax this coming year for the first time in eight years.

* And pension troubles abound

In order to meet those [pension] obligations, which its 2011 budget puts at $1.25 million, the McHenry City Council last July raised its sales tax by 50 percent, or from 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

The 2011 obligation is nearly four times greater than the $327,380 the city paid into its public safety pension fund in 2001. […]

Statewide, the cost of police pensions more than doubled over a 10-year period, from $86 million in 1997 to $215 million in 2008, according to the Illinois Municipal League. Firefighter pensions during that time increased by the same percentage, from $70 million to $176 million. […]

“One cause [of the pension crisis] is the downturn in the market, but another equally important thing is all the pension sweeteners approved over many years that increase the cost for municipalities and the state of Illinois, as well,” Cary’s Davis said.

* Things are so bad that Brookfield wants to charge an entrance tax on its town’s storied zoo. The Sun-Times delivers an appropriate response

In trying to understand why the Village of Brookfield, after decades of peaceful co-existence, wants to stick Brookfield Zoo with a big new tax on admissions, we’re reminded of what Willie Sutton said about why he robbed banks:

“That’s where the money is.”

The Village of Brookfield, like pretty much every suburb and Chicago, is hurting for money and desperate to find ways to increase revenues without hiking property taxes. If you’re the City of Chicago, you resort to half-baked solutions like privatizing parking meters. If you’re the Village of Brookfield, you go after the zoo, slapping a 25-cent amusement tax on every admission ticket, hoping to pull in up to $500,000 a year. […]

Further eroding the village’s argument is the state law, which more than 80 years ago established the zoo on Cook County Forest Preserve District land, to be operated by the non-profit Chicago Zoological Society. That law is widely read in Springfield as requiring that the zoo’s full price of admission be used to run the zoo — and for nothing else. State law also prohibits one government — in this case, the village — from imposing a tax on another government — in this case, the forest preserve district.

* Related…

* Illinois Human Service Cuts Mean Tough Times For Women: The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability predicts human services programs are most at risk. In a new report titled “Gender Disparities In Human Services” (PDF), the center argues that human service programs simply don’t hold the same appeal as other general fund-supported programs. “Not everyone has direct experience, for instance, with mental health, developmental disability, substance abuse or child abuse concerns. In a political system which allocates scarce public financial resources among competing, legitimate public services, those services with the smaller constituencies are most likely to be cut,” the report says. Indeed, CTBA’s report says that over the last 10 years, the state “has cut its real investment in various human service programs collectively by more than $4.4 billion.” No other “core” programming area has faced such a loss of resources.

* Planned layoffs of deputies spurs outrage downstate

* Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs is dismantled as 29 are laid off

* Soup Kitchens, Food Banks Looking For Help: According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) has seen a 36 percent increase in the number of people seeking assistance since 2006. Between July and October of this year, food pantries throughout the Chicago area fed 1.7 million visitors.

* Judge weighs tossing out atheist’s suit over state grant

* Troy schools add in last cent of tax hike: Troy School Board approved a 2010 tax levy of $43.8 million, 7.1 percent higher than last year’s levy.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* Ryan’s son calls judge’s ruling ‘heartless and cruel’

Longtime friend and lawyer, the former Gov. James Thompson, said if an appeal fails, he would make a plea with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to place Ryan on supervised release and allow him to tend to his ill wife.

“The BOP policy would be a last resort if he has no judicial relief,” Thompson said on a phone interview from Paris. He said the Ryan family never held their hopes high.

* Sneed: Dressed in the clothes she was to wear to a Kankakee hospital, she said she talked to George after learning he wouldn’t be released. “He seemed upbeat. He said it wasn’t over. We still had hope.”

* Judge refuses to release George Ryan

* Prison for Will County senior?: Judge Daniel J. Rozak said he will make a decision Dec. 30 on whether 69-year-old Charles Clements should be placed on probation or sentenced to time in prison for killing Joshua Funches during a spat over Clements’ lawn in May.

* Another Cook County Probationer Goes “Off Leash”: Antonio Glasper, of 14437 South Halsted, and five accomplices were charged with armed robbery and other crimes after police say they burst into the business armed with handguns and left with several hundred dollars. Unlike his companions, Glasper was on probation with the Cook County Adult Probation Department.

* Needle Exchange Site Might lose Its Special Use Permit: The zoning board of appeals is looking into whether the needle exchange program should be allowed to operate out of its downtown location. But with a 400-percent increase in direct care services this year alone, the director for total health awareness fears it could put Rockford citizens in danger.

* Equality Illinois to begin search for new public policy director - Rick Garcia fired from state’s largest gay rights group

* Cherkasov: focus not on the personalities, but on full equality

* Amtrak arrival part of broader plan for Tutty’s Crossing, downtown

* Canadian National fined $250,000 - Regulators say railway underreported Chicago-area crossing delays

* Meals on wheels: Chicago City Council should ease limits on food trucks

* Chicago adding in-school health centers: The center, which opened in October and is operated by the nonprofit Heartland International Health Center, serves students at Hibbard and two nearby CPS schools, Albany Park Multicultural Academy and Thomas Edison Regional Gifted Center. It offers comprehensive health services and dental care to students at no cost to families. Next semester it will begin offering mental health services.

* Memorial marks 100-year-old tragedy of Stock Yards disaster

* Madigan: Chicago Man Sentenced for Securities Fraud, Theft

* 6 Businesses Busted For Smoking: The Macon County Health Department issued citations to the following establishments: AIW Hall, Bud’s on Green, Elmer’s O’le Time Inn, Ken’s A-Frame, Rocco’s and the Sundown Lounge.

* Kunz withdraws from interim mayor contest, endorses Mahoney

Ward 3 Ald. Frank Kunz Tuesday night withdrew from the running to be interim [Springfield] mayor and endorsed Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney.

Some aldermen have expressed concern about him finishing the late Mayor Tim Davlin’s term while also running for mayor in the spring, Kunz said. […]

Aldermen took no action on replacing Davlin Tuesday.

Kunz said Mahoney would be the best choice to get the city through the next four months.

Asked if he was interested, Mahoney, who has a full-time job as clerk of the Illinois House, said that is a decision for the rest of the city council.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


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Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* HBO will be filming a new TV series in Chicago this coming spring

Chicago natives and stage/film actors Phil Donlon and Joe Sikora are currently developing “Lords of the Levee,” a series based on the book “Bosses in Lusty Chicago” written by Herman Kogan, father of the Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan. Nick Pileggi (“Goodfellas,” “Casino”) is writing the show with creators Donlon and Sikora (whom you can also check out on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”). The production company is Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Enterprises. Hoping to shoot in Chicago in mid-2011 it’s in, very early stages,

[h/t: Chicagoist]

* The Question: If a movie or series were made about current Illinois politics, which actors would play our major figures?

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Feds can’t bid on Thomson prison

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* Another screwup

The state’s effort to sell the Thomson Correctional Center hit a snag today when no one showed up to bid on the prison located along the Illinois-Iowa border.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons was expected to bid on the facility, but sent a letter saying it could not participate in the auction because of a conflict between state and federal law regarding the sale and purchase of the property.

The agency said it was still “very interested” in buying the prison, but still needed to come up with the necessary funds. By law the state could not sell the prison for less than its appraised value of $219.9 million.

Bureau spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said federal law does not allow for the agency to purchase property through an auction, though state law required the facility to be sold in such a manner. Further, she said Congress has not yet approved funding to buy the prison.

So, what genius came up with the idea of auctioning the prison when the feds can’t buy a property at auction? Sheesh, man. Get it together over there.

…Adding… The state’s surplus property law required an auction. That has been fulfilled. It’s not clear what comes next.

* Meanwhile

The governor is pushing for an income tax increase and a borrowing scheme to make the state’s pension contribution, both controversial. He says he’s not waiting until the New Year to work lawmakers on these concerns. He’s talking to them before they return to the capital.

“It’s time for courage and backbone and people to do the right thing, not the political thing, the right thing,” he said. “And I’m going to be asking legislators of both parties in both houses to put Illinois first, our state, the common good. It’s time to do it.”

Quinn says as the economy improves, so will the state’s financial picture. He says the state public works program is partially responsible for declining unemployment. Illinois unemployment has declined eight months in a row, and is now lower than the national average for the first time in four years.

Quinn just left for Germany and won’t be back until Sunday, December 26th. He’s visiting troops (and paying for his own flight), so that’s fine, but the House reconvenes on January 2nd, so the clock is definitely ticking quite loudly.

* And a spot of good news

SunCoke Energy, a subsidiary of Sunoco Inc., is investing $6.6 million to relocate its corporate headquarters from Knoxville, Tenn., to Arboretum Lakes in Lisle, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office announced Monday. The state is providing a $4.8 million business investment package to support the project, which will create 105 new jobs, a release from Quinn’s office said.

* Related…

* FutureGen narrows potential carbon sites to 4

* Quinn: SunCoke Energy to move headquarters to Ill.

* Governor Quinn attends Winick service and celebration of life

* ISP Trooper Mitchell asks for workers’ comp payment for the injuries he sustained in fatal crash

* Lisa Madigan gives $1.2 million to 8 Ill. food banks

* Internet safety not a lost cause for parents

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


*** UPDATED x4 - No release for Ryan - No decision on Emanuel *** It could be a busy day - George Ryan, Rahm Emanuel rulings expected

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

*** UPDATE 1 *** No release for Ryan

A federal judge has denied Ryan’s early release from prison, despite pleas from his ailing wife, Lura Lynn.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced her decision in a written ruling at noon.

*** UPDATE 2 *** The ruling is here.

…Adding… In reading the opinion, Judge Pallmeyer takes several not so subtle swipes at Jim Thompson, Ryan’s lead attorney. Thompson successfully prosecuted former Gov. Otto Kerner in what is considered the first honest services fraud case and Pallmeyer relies heavily on that case in her opinion.

…Adding More… Ryan’s attorneys argued strenuously that the “Skilling” decision which undermined the honest services fraud statute required an actual quid pro quo. Pallmeyer’s reading of the decision and other cases disagrees…

As the case law cited by the Supreme Court reflects, a showing of bribery need not include direct quid pro quo exchange; two of the three cases cited by the Court as examples of honest services bribery rest on a “stream of benefits” bribery theory.

…Sill More… Pallmeyer concluded that two jury instructions were in error, in light of the Skilling decision. One involved conflict of interest, the other involved violations of state law. However, Pallmeyer wrote she was “satisfied that the instructional errors identified above were harmless”

And in the end…

The court need not dwell on the appropriate standard for release of a convicted prisoner. In today’s ruling, Ryan’s § 2255 petition is dismissed on the merits and his conviction is upheld on all counts. Under any legitimate standard, this context is not appropriate for the “very sparing” exercise of the court’s power to set bail. Ryan’s motion for release is denied.

*** UPDATE 3 *** No surprise here. There will be an appeal

“Obviously we’re very disappointed and we do expect we will appeal,” said attorney Albert Alschuler, who argued on Ryan’s behalf in a recent hearing before Pallmeyer.

Alschuler said he was still reading the ruling, but said the team would have to file a case before the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals before asking for bond.

The 76-year-old former governor has served three years and one month of his 6 1/2-year prison sentence for corruption. Ryan, who is scheduled to be released in 2013, is being held at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind.

[ *** End Of Updates 1-3 *** ]

* Tuesday will probably not be a slow news day. The judge overseeing George Ryan’s motion to be set free will reportedly make her decision known by noon today

Former governor George Ryan will learn Tuesday if he will be released from prison early and get to be with his ailing wife in her final months.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer is expected to issue her ruling George H. Ryan, Sr. v. United States of America, Case No. 10 C 5512, by noon Tuesday. Ryan, 76, has served less than half of his six-and-a-half-year sentence for racketeering, tax fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Ryan’s attorney– former governor Jim Thompson– argues Ryan’s sentence should be reduced to time served due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on the ‘honest services’ law.

Also, Mrs. Ryan claims she has three to six months to live after doctors found cancer. So the attorneys are attempting to use that to at least get the guy sprung on bail for a while.

…Adding… Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s against Ryan’s release

“Personally, I think that Gov. George Ryan should complete his sentence, in prison. I know it’s a very sad situation if his wife is in very poor health,” Quinn said. “You know he was sentenced by a jury, twelve men and women, good and true and they, well, they convicted him of a crime and a judge issued the sentence and it should be carried out. It’s, I think, the way to go.”

Quinn says he will turn down Jesse Jackson’s request to lobby President Obama to free Ryan because Ryan’s wife, Lura Lynn, is dying.

This case is about a whole lot more than Ryan’s wife. It’s about the greatly changed status of the honest services fraud laws by the US Supreme Court. Quinn is just pandering here.

* And the hearing officer in Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago residency case will make his decision sometime today as well

Hearing officer Joe Morris, the bow-tied conservative Republican who presided over marathon hearings in the case, is expected to make his recommendation to the Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners as early as Tuesday.

The three-member election board then will decide Thursday whether to uphold or overturn Morris. That will be followed by a court challenge that’s almost certain to end with the Illinois Supreme Court.

*** UPDATE 4 - 5:30 pm *** The Chicago elections board has just notified reporters that the hearing officer in the Rahm Emanuel residency case won’t turn in his decision until tomorrow, perhaps by midday.

* Related…

* More steps, support for George Ryan release

* Rev. Jackson calls for George Ryan’s release

* Ryan and equity

* The Kankakee Daily Journal: Ryans should be reunited

* Mitchell: Let George Ryan come home

* Sneed: Plea to Obama

* Prosecutor who fought Ryan appeal named federal judge

* ‘Compelling’ points made for ballot spot, Emanuel says

* Rahm Emanuel residency dispute moves forward

* Emanuel confident he’ll survive residency fight

* Friend-of-court brief tossed in Emanuel case

- Posted by Rich Miller   51 Comments      


*** UPDATED x2 - Illinois loses a seat *** Apportionment Day is upon us

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010

* It’s Apportionment Day

December 21st at 11:00am eastern time, the Census Bureau will release the first official data from the 2010 census–the total U.S. population and the population for each state. For redistricting geeks, this is like Christmas Eve to the 10th power (since it only happens once a decade). The Secretary of Commerce, along with the Director of the Census Bureau, will hold a press conference at the National Press Club to release the numbers. These numbers will tell states how many seats they get in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next ten years. Those numbers also correlate to the total electoral college votes each state gets for President.

The Bureau will update their website simultaneously as they release the new data in DC. It’s a cool website that you should check out. The website has an interactive, state-by-state map that allows you to looks at historic population trends by state back to 1900. You can access the snazzy population widget here: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data

If you would like to listen to the Bureau’s announcement live, they will be streaming it on the Internet here: http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=74725

It is widely expeceted, based on projections and estimates data, that southern and western states will be the big winners [today] at the expense of great lakes and northeastern states.

The apportionment data will be here. Illinois has gained congressional seats just once in the past hundred years: 2 seats in 1910. We’ve lost seats after six apportionments, and broke even after three. We’re expecting to lose another seat this year.

* From the AP

Census data so far suggests new Hispanic-dominated districts could emerge, particularly with growth in some Chicago area neighborhoods. States are required under the Voting Rights Act to respect the interests of minority voting blocs.

Other scenarios include a lost seat in downstate Illinois, which has lost population.

“It could be good news for Democrats,” said U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, who lost a former Democratic stronghold to tea party-backed GOP challenger Bobby Schilling in November, but could benefit from redrawn lines if he decides to run again in 2012.

Pat Brady, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, warned that the GOP would push back if the Democrats in Springfield become too “heavy handed” and don’t cooperate in creating new congressional and legislative districts that are competitive for both sides.

* 10:36 am - Illinois was not one of the five states with the slowest growth. New York and Michigan were included in that list. From the Washington Post’s Twitter page

The West is now more populous than midwest for 1st time

A U.S. House district, on average will be 710,767 residents. Up from 646,000 in 2000.

The apportionment results are in. 8 states gained seats in the House of Representatives. 10 states lost seats.

NE grew 3.2 percent; Midwest 3.9 percent; south 14.3 percent and west grew 13.8 percent.

*** 10:46 am *** Illinois has lost a seat. Here is the regional map. Orange means the state lost at least one seat. Grey means no change. Blue indicates seat gains…

* The initial estimate had Illinois missing the cutoff for staying even on its congressional seats by just 75,046 residents.

* National map

*** UPDATE 2 *** David Weigel

This is about as bad as it could get for Democrats, and as good as it could get for Republicans. The next GOP presidential candidate gets six free electoral votes from South Carolina, Texas, Utah. The Democratic caucus in the House is about to see internal warfare in the rust belt and northeast, as their members are forced into Thunderdome battle for the diminished number of seats.

Only in Illinois, I think, will the Democrats be able to create a map that hurts the GOP’s newly elected members and takes back a seat or two.

- Posted by Rich Miller   77 Comments      


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