* The Illinois Republican Party’s lawsuit to declare the tie-breaking provision of the state Constitution as unconstitutional has been denied a hearing by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The lawsuit was essentially a tactic by the Republicans to convince the top court to delay a final vote on the remap bill until after May 31st, when legislation would require a three-fifths, bipartisan majority for passage.
Illinois GOP spokesman John Blessing did tell us, though, that a lawsuit challenging the maps “more than likely” would come from a third-party group, not necessarily straight from the Republican Party.
“There are a lot of entities, including us, that are reviewing those maps,” Blessing said.
* A few days ago, the Chicago Tribune editorial board praised Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor Rahm Emanuel while excoriating Gov. Pat Quinn…
Preckwinkle and Emanuel demand that their respective realms deliver not only for recipients of government spending, but also for the taxpayers who fund it. Both rookie executives plainly are sensitive to what they can, and cannot, ask of citizens battered by job losses, home foreclosures and aggressive taxation. Neither would define governance as the private sector serving the public sector. They talk instead of the public sector serving a private sector that, in return for supplying tax revenues, expects streamlining, value and competence.
Preckwinkle and Emanuel are in touch — with these demanding times, and with the challenges that face individuals and employers.
Then there’s Pat Quinn, a governor whose personal decency and love for his state are givens. Right there, the comparison to his fellow Democratic execs abruptly shifts into uncomfortable, unfavorable contrasts:
The rapid readiness for leadership that Preckwinkle and Emanuel exude is terrible fortune for Quinn. At a time when state government needs a tightly focused agenda and a leader with firm resolve — attributes for which Preckwinkle and Emanuel already are renowned — Quinn in Year Three of his governorship still is all reaction and appeasement. Watching Preckwinkle and Emanuel excel only reinforces a verdict we offered last autumn: Strength, constancy, innovation, iconoclasm, the courage to speak truth to power — by each of these leadership metrics, Quinn stands bent and pale.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ran for the job as a reformer, but on Tuesday she found herself defending a decision to put two former southwest suburban state lawmakers on the county payroll.
Michael Carberry and John O’Sullivan served short stints last year as appointees to the Illinois House, but were out of office in January because they didn’t seek election last fall.
Now Carberry has landed as a nearly $100,000-a-year deputy director job in the county’s facilities management department. And O’Sullivan, the Worth Township Democratic committeeman, is making $85,000 a year as a regional superintendent at the Cook County Forest Preserve District.
Former County Board President Todd Stroger was criticized during his term for hiring the politically-connected. On election night last November, a victorious Preckwinkle told supporters she planned to “clean up county government by ending patronage.”
* The BGA helped do the probe, and the BGA’s director is quoted in the original Fox Chicago story…
Better Government Association Executive Director Andy Shaw said you’d have to be a pretty big believer in coincidences not to see the politics here.
“It sounds like a couple of guys went down to Springfield, did the bidding of the party to pass the tax hike, and as a result they’re awarded with jobs in Cook County,” Shaw said. “This sounds like business as usual and on its face it’s troubling.”
Even more troubling is the fact that O’Sullivan was fired by Cook County after the county’s inspector general found he had been falsifying his time card while working as a laborer at Stroger Hospital. O’Sullivan appealed the firing and got his job back. He said he was framed for not supporting Todd Stroger.
“Retaliation from that administration is what brought upon these bogus charges. Unproved on all the charges. And I received full back pay and benefits,” said O’Sullivan.
But Inspector General Pat Blanchard told us he stands by his finding that O’Sullivan was ripping off taxpayers. Preckwinkle said she never considered that allegation before awarding O’Sullivan with a plum county job.
Preckwinkle has a reputation for “being above politics.” Apparently, she’s not. That doesn’t make her corrupt or venal or anything. It makes her a (gasp!) politician. These things happen.
* Meanwhile, this is from the last part of the spring session and I simply forgot to post it. It’s a very good lesson for legislators in how not to deal with the media…
CPS officials say that even if the 4 percent hike is denied, 75 percent of teachers will still get a pay increase next year. They will qualify for step increases of 3 to 5 percent granted for more years of service.
Newly-seated Chicago School Board members ruled Wednesday that the cash-strapped CPS system does not have the money to cover promised 4 percent raises for teachers and other union workers.
The Chicago Teachers Union now has until the end of the day Monday to decide whether to reopen their contract with the district to negotiate on the issue.
The unanimous decision came after board members were told that nearly three-quarters of the system’s teachers will get some kind of raise — at a cost to the district of $35 million — even if the board refused to cover the 4 percent raises — which cost $80 million. […]
The vote came even after officials said the district’s deficit isn’t as bad as had been thought. During the meeting, new Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley pinned the system’s current shortfall at $712 million, down from the $720 million the district had previously estimated. Still, plugging that budget hole, Cawley said, will be a “daunting challenge.”
“It would make no sense for this brand new board to shortchange the children who need a quality teacher in every classroom by voting down teachers’ raises. In terms of salary, CPS ranks 71st in salary for high school teachers and 38th in salary for elementary school teachers in this state,” said Karen Lewis with the Chicago Teachers’ Union.
“Mr. Brizzard, come to the school that my daughter goes to, without your suit and tie, just come up there unannounced and you’ll see what these teachers go through. So before you say, ‘Well we don’t have that money,’ the money is in that budget. The school has that money. If you go through the fraud and waste, there’s more than $100 million,” said parent Ronald Jackson.
They noticed that not all of them had the same number of pages for one of the phone calls in their transcript binders.
Some jurors noticed that there were nine pages for the phone call but others noticed there were five pages. The jurors all agreed they would not go further with that phone call until they got an answer.
Turns out that they were supposed to only have five pages for that phone call. Court security will go in and remove the pages for those who had the fuller transcript.
It was a good hint of what jurors are up to, however. The phone call in dispute was a Nov. 14, 2008 between the former governor and his brother, Robert. In it, they discuss Dick Durbin as well as fund-raiser Raghu Nayak.
* Maybe three things. First, prosecutors advised jurors to study the transcripts in chronological order. If that’s what they’re doing, then they have a long way to go before the last recordings on December 8th.
Jury consultant and attorney, Mary Griffitts, founder of Trial Consulting Enterprises in Dallas, Texas tells WLS Radio’s Monica DeSantis, “women especially will take the time to make sure that everyone has a voice and everyone has been heard.”
Griffitts says the length of deliberations will take longer as “women are geared that way to listen to each other to talk about issues.”
The jury of 11 women and one male also has the added pressure of being the second trial jury and thus will do all they have to so a hung jury doesn’t occur again.
* And here’s the transcript of what may be the relevant aspect of that particular day’s conversation between Blagojevich and his brother Robert…
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Ah, here just, by, information. I got two faxes that, from Ragu Nayak from various Indian organizations, and I can give you the names if you care, but I guess I assume they’re high-powered Indian organizations that are advocating that you choose Jesse Jr. as the next senator.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah don’t worry about it.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Okay, so I’ll, I’m just, by, by this discussion I’ve passed that information onto you.
BLAGOJEVICH: No. You know what, it’s better if you don’t pass it onto me. Just say no, I didn’t get a chance to send it to him.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Mm’kay.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah, no need to say you gave that to me.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Okay.
BLAGOJEVICH: You don’t…
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Okay.
BLAGOJEVICH: …let him wonder if I saw it or not. Why should I like, a-, assume that I did and now I’m, you know rejecting them. You know what I’m saying?
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH I hear ya. I hear ya.
BLAGOJEVICH: When’s the Indian fundraiser? When is that?
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: It’s, ah, I think it’s December 6th.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah. Okay.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: Which is wh-,…
BLAGOJEVICH: I’m not gonna, you know, here again, that’s another tactical reason for waiting on this decision.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: And let me give you one other and that is the Hispanic event’s the 5th.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: And Gutierrez, I mean, I talked to Juan Ochoa last night. Evidently everybody’s working real hard on this thing, obviously to support you, but also to support Gutierrez. Now I don’t know if it’s to be chosen as senator but they just, it was just supporting Louie and you. Although it’s all, you know it’s all your money.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: So I, I totally agree with you tactically. I think you’re right on.
ROBERT BLAGOJEVICH: That is to drag it out. Not drag it out, but be deliberate.
Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon summed up his opinion of the new Illinois gambling expansion bill this way:
“You can’t make perfume out of a pile of garbage.”
In a prepared statement read at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting in downtown Chicago, Jaffe, a retired state representative from Skokie and Cook County judge, charged that the new gaming bill is vague, massive, “very, very bad constitutionally” and could lead the state into years of litigation.
“This bill is not funded like video gaming is not funded,” added Jaffe. He said that if the bill remains in tact and Gov. Quinn gives his stamp of approval, the gaming board will need to double its manpower to adequately regulate the huge increase in state licensed gambling. […]
“I’d like to know how these areas were selected,” he said. “The board spent months on the 10th license location.” That 10th license is for the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines. Besides Chicago, the other four casinos are slated to be located in Rockford, Danville, Park City and a South suburb. He also questioned the wisdom of permitting Chicago-owned slot machines at O’Hare and Midway without gaming board oversight.
“No one should get a license without being fully vetted,” he said.
[ *** End Of Update *** ]
* The Chicago Crime Commission has a new poll which the group claims shows that Illinoisans oppose the new gaming bill. From a press release…
Voters in Chicago and throughout Illinois strongly oppose the gambling expansion bill recently passed by the Illinois legislature, according to a new survey commissioned by the Chicago Crime Commission. The survey also reveals that Illinoisans would veto the gambling legislation and ask for greater review of future proposals.
“Governor Quinn has said repeatedly that he wants to hear from anyone with an opinion on the gambling expansion issue and today voters from throughout Illinois responded to his request,” according to J.R. Davis, Chairman and President of the Chicago Crime Commission. “If the average voter could sit down with the Governor, they would tell him this legislation is bad for Illinois and that they had little input into the decision making process,” he added.
THE GAMING LEGISLATION THAT PROVIDES FOR MASSIVE EXPANSION OF GAMBLING, SUCH AS NEW CASINOS IN CHICAGO AND THE SUBURBS AS WELL AS SLOT MACHINES AT THE AIRPORTS AND RACETRACKS WILL BE HARMFUL TO THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ILLINOIS RESIDENTS.
Whether it was helping elect a Governor in Maine, a new Congressman in Louisiana or predicting the outcome of the United States Senate race in North Carolina, Tel Opinion Research had another successful year in helping elect Republicans throughout the United States.
Once again, Tel Opinion Research worked with Senate Republicans in North Carolina to help win the largest number of seats in North Carolina history and take control of the State Senate. We helped Illinois House Republicans structure their messages, and were in 66 congressional districts across the country.
I sure hope the Illinois House Republicans got better questions out of the pollster than these…
THE MONEY FROM TAXES ON CASINO GAMBLING THAT WILL END UP IN THE STATE’S TREASURY WILL NOT OFFSET THE HUMAN PROBLEMS AND NEGATIVE IMPACT ON SOCIETY THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH CASINO GAMBLING IN PLACES LIKE LAS VEGAS AND ATLANTIC CITY.
* This result, however, is useful. The question asked for right direction/wrong track in “your area of Illinois”…
* And so is this one. The question asked favorability ratings on the Illinois state legislature…
Leaders from the agricultural community gathered at the Statehouse Tuesday to urge the Governor to sign SB 744, the gaming expansion bill, because of its many benefits to agribusiness.
Supporters said SB 744 includes an agricultural component to the legislation, which includes maximum annual funding in the following areas:
• $5 million for county fairs
• $10 million for soil and water conversation districts
• $4 million for Cooperative Extension – match 100% of local funds
• $1 million for the Forestry Fund for CREP Forestry Assistance Program
• $2.5 million for the State’s historic sites
• $2.5 million Transfers to Parks and Conservation Fund for operations costs
• $100,000 in equine research to Illinois public universities
“The gaming provisions at the at the State Fairgrounds included in SB 744 also establishes the Future of Agriculture Fund, which would direct funding through the Illinois Department of Agriculture to county fairs, the Illinois Association of FFA (formerly Future Farmers of America) and the University of Illinois Extension 4-H programs. These programs are vital to fostering young’s people’s interest in agricultural careers,” explained Margaret Vaughn, Government Affairs Director for the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF), who worked towards the passage of SB 744.
Marvin Perzee lives an hour and a half from Chicago, Danville and the other proposed casinos in Illinois, but as president of the Iroquois County Fair, he is one of the biggest supporters of gambling expansion in the state.
Perzee and a handful of other downstate, county fair officials visited the Capitol on Tuesday to tell Gov. Pat Quinn to sign the recently approved casino legislation.
Perzee said gambling in Chicago would pay for his fair in tiny Watseka.
“Now we’re all in trouble financially, and we need a dedicated source of monies,” said Perzee.
Lawmakers designed the gambling expansion to pump money from the new casinos and other gambling venues into Illinois’ beleaguered horse-racing industry. Money from the horsemen and horse tracks is then pumped back into the state budget and spent on local county fairs.
Perzee said that money is then spent in local communities.
The fair’s address may be Watseka, but it’s closer to the far tinier Crescent City. Going to that fair is like stepping back in time. Anyway, if Perzee is for the gaming bill, then you know that other ag interests are fully on board.
* Steve Brubaker, a lobbyist for the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, has some advice for Gov. Quinn about how to “fix” the gaming bill…
Brubaker did have some logical, if somewhat cynical, strategic advice on how Quinn might use his amendatory veto to reduce the scope of the bill, and still get those changes through the Legislature: By only angering the lawmakers who voted “no” the first time.
Part of the bill would allow the expansion of existing casinos like the Casino Queen. That part was put in there to try to get lawmakers from existing casino communities on board, but it mostly didn’t work. Metro East lawmakers and others representing casino areas mostly voted against the bill, because the existing casinos don’t want competition from new casinos and “racinos” at the horse tracks.
So by gutting the provision that allows existing casinos to expand, Quinn could claim to have scaled back the legislation, and the only lawmakers he’d lose in the approval vote are those were already opposed anyway. As Brubaker put it: “What, are they going to vote, ‘No, no!’?”
* Earlier this month, the Illinois ACLU asked the US Justice Department to investigate “the substantial racial disparate impact cause by consent searches conducted by Illinois State Police troopers of Hispanic and African American motorists.” The ACLU took a look at available data and concluded…
Data demonstrates that almost all motorists – between 94% and 99% — consent to a search when asked by an ISP trooper, suggesting that the coercive nature of the encounter renders the “consent” not truly voluntary. […]
…Hispanic and African American motorists are far more likely than white motorists to be subjected to consent searches by ISP troopers. Hispanic motorists were 2.7 to 4.0 times more likely to be consent searches (in the years between 2004 and 2009), and African Americans motorists were 1.8 to 3.2 times more likely. Remarkably, white motorists who consent to searches by ISP troopers are far more likely to have contraband than compared to Hispanic and African American motorists. [Emphasis added.]
Keep in mind that this is about “consent” searches, not searches based on reasonable cause. Those searches can be done without the driver’s consent.
“These [consent] searches are carried out on a hunch, and it’s clear the Illinois State Police have hunches more frequently with black or brown drivers, and that those hunches turn out to be wrong more frequently for black and brown drivers,” said Harvey Grossman, legal director for the ACLU of Illinois.
Grossman said the group decided to ask the Department of Justice to intervene because it would be quicker than a court case, and because the agency’s civil rights division has taken an active role under Obama.
A spokeswoman for the federal agency says it will review the complaint.
The ACLU’s figures show only 177 state police consent searches produced any contraband, and more than half of it came from white drivers. Mostly what troopers found was alcohol and drug paraphernalia. They found weapons only 14 times and more than 50 grams of drugs only eight times.
“Consent searches are a tool recognized and authorized by the U.S. Supreme Court,” department spokesman Scott Compton said in a statement. “In 2009, ISP requested consent from 2 out of every 1,000 motorists stopped. This statistic demonstrates that troopers … are not abusing the use of consent searches.”
He said state police were less likely than other departments to seek permission to search minority drivers. Overall, 2 percent of minority drivers were asked to allow a search during traffic stops in 2009, but among stops by the state police the figure was only 0.4 percent, down from 1.35 percent in 2005.
* But now the governor is stepping in and wants a review…
Gov. Pat Quinn has asked the head of the Illinois State Police to review allegations of racial bias in the department’s handling of searches during traffic stops.
* In other police-related news, Illinois’ extremely harsh eavesdropping law is racking up more outrageous felony charges against alleged violators, including Michael Allison…
This Robinson, Ill., man is facing four counts of violating the eavesdropping law for the recordings he made of police officers and a judge. Allison was suing the city to challenge a local zoning ordinance that prevented him from enjoying his hobby fixing up old cars: The municipal government was seizing his cars from his property and forcing him to pay to have them returned. Allison believed the local police were harassing him in retaliation for his lawsuit, so he began to record his conversations with them.
When Allison was eventually charged with violating the zoning ordinance, he asked for a court reporter to ensure there would be a record of his trial. He was told that misdemeanor charges didn’t entitle him to a court reporter. So Allison told court officials he’d be recording his trial with a digital recorder.
When Allison walked into the courtroom the day of his trial, the judge had him arrested for allegedly violating her right to privacy. Police then confiscated Allison’s digital recorder, where they also found the recordings he’d made of his conversations with cops.
Allison has no prior criminal record. If convicted, he faces up to 75 years in prison.
* Jody Weis: My unused police plan showed city had enough officers