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Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

* From Carol Marin’s Sun-Times column

State Rep. Deborah Mell (D-Chicago) quietly made Illinois history last week.

She got married.

To a woman.

Mell, 43, is the first high-profile elected official in the state to publicly enter into a same-sex marriage.

But she had to go to Iowa to do it.

It’s one of only six states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is legal. A judge in Davenport performed their civil ceremony last Wednesday. […]

A Gallup poll in May reported that for the first time, a majority of Americans — 53 percent — support the right of same sex couples to marry.

* The Question: Should Illinois amend its new civil union law to allow same-sex marriage? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments.


- Posted by Rich Miller   74 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Schnorf knocks down story *** What they’re not telling you

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

* The Tribune has a new story about corporate sales tax havens

Kankakee Mayor Nina Epstein said Wednesday morning that she hopes the Regional Transportation Authority and the city of Chicago will drop their legal challenges to her city’s sales-tax incentive program, saying the public acrimony could kill what has been a golden goose for her city and for the state.

“I would certainly hope that cooler heads will prevail and that we can handle any issues they may have with the program in the legislative process,” Epstein said at a press conference. “My fear is, as these drag on, regardless of the result, this program will go away because companies do not want to have their names dragged through the front pages of any newspaper.”

The program generates more than $50 million annually for the state, she said. It also provides up to $4 million annually for Kankakee, a significant sum for a city with a general fund budget of $23 million, she said.

I’m not sure why, but nowhere in the article are the adamant claims by Kankakee that these are overwhelmingly out of state companies looking for an Illinois sales tax nexus, not Chicago-area companies looking to avoid high local taxation. From a press release…

Of the 48 companies participating in the program, two-thirds relocated to Illinois from out of state due to this opportunity generated $1,395,380 in Illinois sales tax receipts under the program. Those out-of-state companies produce more than 90% of the total revenue under the program, meaning most of the money brought in through the program comes from companies who wouldn’t have any presence in Illinois — and wouldn’t charge, collect and pay any sales taxes to the state — if not for this program.

An additional 14.5% of the participating companies have multiple locations in Illinois yet none in Chicago generated $87,681 in sales tax receipts. Some of these businesses may have locations within the RTA region.

Remaining Businesses in the Program
12.5% represent procurement companies generating $33,040 in sales tax receipts
6.2% represent brick-and-mortar locations in Kankakee generating $25,308 in sales tax receipts [Emphasis added.]

* This Springfield story also leaves out an important point

Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill this past week that would eliminate the type of skirmish that occurred between the Sangamon County Board and local school districts last year over what the board’s role should be if voters approved a sales tax increase for school construction.

Quinn signed Senate Bill 2170, which eliminates the ability of county boards to block or reduce school construction sales tax levies. From now on, if county school districts put a referendum on the ballot, voters will have the final say, not county boards.

Sangamon County voters turned down a 1 percent sales tax increase for schools in November 2010. On the same ballot was an advisory referendum, put there by the Sangamon County Board, that asked voters if the sales tax had been approved, how involved the county board should have been in its implementation.

At the time, Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter said the board wanted voters to tell it whether it should take into consideration other potential needs in imposing a tax, such as whether more money is needed for law enforcement or infrastructure.

This is the same bill I told you about last week

A bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday expands the duties of regional superintendents of schools. Yes, the same regional superintendents who haven’t been paid since the end of June because Quinn vetoed their salaries out of the state budget.

I kid you not.

SB 2170 takes county boards out of the equation when voters approve a sales tax increase for school construction. Up until now, the law gave county boards the option of imposing the sales tax even if voters approved it, and gave county boards the right to reject putting the questions onto the ballot.

The bill also does this…

For all regular elections held on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, the regional superintendent of schools for the county must, upon receipt of a resolution or resolutions of school district boards that represent more than 50% of the student enrollment within the county, certify the question to the proper election authority for submission to the electors of the county at the next regular election at which the question lawfully may be submitted to the electors, all in accordance with the Election Code. [Emphasis added.]

To date, nobody else has picked up this rather ironic angle.

* From the AP

Gov. Pat Quinn’s Liquor Control Commission has hired a Chicago alderman’s daughter as a part-time secretary for $37,570, making her the latest in a line of politically linked appointees by the administration this year. […]

Quinn has been criticized for several recent appointments of connected Democrats.

He named former Rep. Mike Smith to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board in June, even though Smith isn’t technically qualified for the $94,000 position. He made Jennifer Burke, daughter of Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and Chicago Alderman Edward Burke, a $117,000 member of the Pollution Control Board last month. He also tabbed former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and ex-Senate President Emil Jones for high-profile though unpaid positions this summer.

Are we gonna see stories every time Quinn uses his legal prerogative on patronage jobs? I mean, if that was the case, newspapers would’ve been doing nothing but this under pretty much all of his predecessors. In the grand scheme of things, Quinn’s patronage hires have not been all that egregious. A little perspective might be in order here.

*** UPDATE *** I just talked to Steve Schnorf, the chairman of the Liquor Control Commission.

This woman is not just a “secretary,” she has an official state position requiring a gubernatorial appointment. She’s the “board secretary” and her compensation is set by statute. Quinn sent over three names as a courtesy to the commission, which Schnorf said was “a first class” act on Quinn’s part.

The amount left out of these stories is quite disturbing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   52 Comments      


Some progress with Sears, but doubts remain

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

* Greg Hinz reports that a meeting yesterday between Sears CEO Lou D’Ambrosio and Senate President John Cullerton showed a bit of progress on attempts to keep the company’s corporate headquarters in Illinois

“We certainly want to encourage them to stay in Illinois,” Mr. Cullerton said in a brief phone conversation afterward. “We discussed all of the factors determining where a company should locate.”

Mr. Cullerton said Mr. D’Ambrosio specifically asked for help in passing a bill, which already has cleared the House, that would allow Hoffman Estates to extend the life of a special taxing district that subsidizes Sears’ headquarters complex. Mr. Cullerton said he agreed “to facilitate a vote on that bill” when the Legislature meets for its veto session in October.

Mr. Cullerton said the company promised to give a somewhat longer request list later. He said he’s inclined to help, “but it depends on the details.”

Sears released a statement saying it has “begun to have conversations with elected officials in Illinois and elsewhere” and thanking Mr. Cullerton “and other Illinois lawmakers (who) have taken the time to visit our campus and talk about Sears Holdings’ significance to the state.”

* But there’s a problem in Cullerton’s caucus. Democratic state Sen. Mike Noland, who represents the area, is against that bill

A tax-incentive district created for Sears expires in 2012, and Sears is rumored to be considering moving when that deal is up.

For the record, the Elgin Democrat says he’s against extending that tax-incentive deal. The reason: Carpentersville District 300 wants the property tax money the company would have to pay should the deal lapse.

“That’s $13 million a year the school district has been doing without,” Noland said.

He said he’s a “big fan” of Sears and could favor helping the company out through perhaps a different incentive in order to try to keep it in Hoffman Estates. But the school money, Noland says, is critical.

* Yet Rep. Fred Crespo remains optimistic

State Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, said legislation that could address Sears’ tax concerns could be debated when lawmakers return to Springfield in late October and November.

“I hope this veto session, we can get close to closing a deal,” Crespo said.

* Meanwhile, I’m not sure if this is a totally fair comparison, but The Atlantic has a story today about 25 corporate CEOs who were paid more than their company paid in taxes. Some bigtime Illinois CEOs are listed as well

Aon
CEO: Gregory Case
Executive Compensation, 2010: $20,783,301
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $16 million

Boeing
CEO: Jim McNerney
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,768,019
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $13 million

Motorola Mobility
CEO: Sanjay Jha
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,016,126
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $12 million

Motorola Systems
CEO: Gregory Q. Brown
Executive Compensation, 2010: $13,732,802
U.S. Corporate Income Taxes Paid, 2010: $7 million

Motorola Mobility received a ten-year, $100 million state subsidy this year. Boeing got some public incentives to move its headquarters to Chicago. Aon’s Greg Case and Motorola Solutions’ Greg Brown both sit on the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. The group has railed against the high cost of pensions for public employees.

* Related…

* ADDED: Buffett Widens Rift With Republicans by Faulting Tea Party: “I think Mr. Buffett needs a day job,” Representative Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican elected with Tea Party support, said today in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track.” “These millionaires and billionaires are the folks that try to create jobs and grow the economy. The last thing we want to do is increase taxes on them right now.”

* Joe Walsh Attacks Buffett For Supporting Tax Hike On The Rich: The controversial politician went on to call Buffett “coddled” and “disingenuous”, adding that he believes Buffett is “heating up his rhetoric because his support for the president is so desperate.”

* VIDEO: Walsh: Buffett needs a day job

* Supt. Garry McCarthy to cut $190M from police budget

* Daley officials’ unused vacation costs taxpayers $9.5M

* Family connections in Rosemont net $2 million in pay

* Illinois farmland prices reach $10,000 an acre for first time

* Investors pitch data center beneath Grant Park

* ComEd not on hot seat at Lincolnshire meeting

* More utility ratepayers sidestepping ComEd, buying in bulk - Growing number of Illinois communities are negotiating for cheaper, and sometimes greener, electricity

* Naperville show puts spotlight on green vehicles

* Zipcar brings its fleet to local colleges

* GoChicago, which helps users organize trips, wins app award

* Justice Department blocks AT&T-T-Mobile merger

* Daily Herald to charge for online subscriptions

* Chicago Tribune drops tabloid edition of paper

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


Caption contest!

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

* Gov. Pat Quinn at the Farm Progress show…

Winner can come to my house for some perfectly grilled sweet corn.

And I know I don’t have to say this, but I will anyway: Keep it clean, people. Thanks. Nobody wants to get banned for life over a silly photo, right?

- Posted by Rich Miller   108 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Today’s quota of “Quinn Quotables”

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* Yesterday, the AP ran this quote from Gov. Pat Quinn about the ComEd bill, which had been held in the Senate via a parliamentary maneuver for almost two months

“I think we’re going to veto the [ComEd] bill as soon as it arrives,” Quinn said.

Now that the bill is officially on his desk, Quinn was asked when he would veto it…

“Yeah, I have to officially do that. We’ll find the right moment to do that.”

First, though, he went through one of his trademark long, rambling responses…

“Well, that just arrived yesterday. That’s a bill to raise utility rates on people who are Ameren customers and ComEd customers. I’m not sure anybody in Illinois is for higher utility rates, whether you’re in agriculture, or business or you’re a consumer in your household. I don’t think we should be raising utility rates. I started the Citizens Utility Board about 30 years ago and we’re going to fight hard to make sure customers and consumers and businesses get first [unintelligible].”

There’s lots more, but I have other things to do today. If you don’t, listen to the full audio…

* And here’s Gov. Quinn responding not long ago to a question about expanding gaming to the State Fairgrounds

“Harness racing has been at the fair for a long time but when you put in slot machines, that’s a wholly different situation. I was never excited about that. We’ve got Lady Antebellum coming on Sunday. Can’t go wrong with that. I think that’s enough. Who needs slot machines when you have MC Hammer?”

Attendance at the MC Hammer show: 3,618.

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Afternoon campaign updates

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* The setup

…as September draws near, there’s growing suspicion the curtain is about to close on either manager Ozzie Guillen or general manager Ken Williams — or maybe both.

A major-league source told the Sun-Times that the fragile relationship between Guillen and Williams is now beyond repair.

Not that the Guillen-Williams saga is anything new.

What is new? Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the Sox are feeling pain in the pocketbook during this frustrating season. Whether it’s because of the drama doesn’t matter anymore. Lost money is lost money.

A year ago, Reinsdorf was willing to play peacemaker, put a Band-Aid on the wound and let it heal over time. It seemed like it did when Williams announced at SoxFest that Guillen’s 2012 club option was picked up. Hugs and kisses for everyone.

That was almost seven months ago, but it feels more like seven years.

There have been at least two known heated blowups between Guillen and Williams, according to sources. But even more significant is the recent talk in baseball circles that the White Sox have been getting a feel for managerial candidates. Sources said that also included renewing talks with the Florida Marlins about compensation for Guillen with the team set to open its new stadium next season.

* The Question: Should Guillen be fired, or Williams, or both? Or neither? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please. Thanks.


- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Meanwhile, in other states

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* Here in Illinois, the Republicans are bitterly complaining about the Democrats’ new state and congressional district maps. Elsewhere, though, the GOP is crowing about its wins

Republicans romped last November, gaining 63 House seats to secure the majority, winning 11 governorships, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, and seizing control of the most state legislative seats they’ve held since 1928. The GOP is capitalizing on its across-the-board control in 26 states — governorship plus legislature — in the census-based drawing of a new political map that will be a decisive factor in the 2012 elections and beyond.

“Republican freshmen are finding the ground harden beneath them as their current swing districts become less competitive for Democrats,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee. “Even seemingly small changes in district political leanings can mean big returns at the ballot box.”

Nearly half of the states have finished redrawing House lines based on population changes, although lawsuits and Justice Department reviews loom. The immediate post-election claims that the GOP could add 15 to 30 seats in the U.S. House through redistricting have proved unfounded, in large part because Republicans captured so many seats last November. Instead, the GOP has used the redistricting process to shore up its most vulnerable lawmakers, people such as Ellmers and Farenthold.

“Redistricting starts with Republicans at a peak,” said Tim Storey, an elections analyst with the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. “They hold a solid majority of seats in the House. It’s hard to gain much more.”

* Illinois has no school voucher program. Indiana does, however, and it’s starting to take off

Weeks after Indiana began the nation’s broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were only recently on the brink of closing for lack of pupils.

It’s a scenario public school advocates have long feared: Students fleeing local districts in large numbers, taking with them vital tax dollars that often end up at parochial schools. Opponents say the practice violates the separation of church and state.

In at least one district, public school principals have been pleading with parents not to move their children.

* A new report from Moody’s could presage what might happen here in Illinois if Chicago and several areas near our borders are given riverboat casino licenses

Massachusetts leaders have ended more than a year of negotiating over proposed gambling legislation by agreeing to open three casinos and a slots parlor in the Commonwealth. Even before the plan is voted on by rank-and-file lawmakers, however, it is causing anxiety for adjoining states.

A new report by Moody’s Investors Service confirms what many state officials in Connecticut and Rhode Island feared: The opening of four gambling venues in Massachusetts will drive business away from their own casinos. That, in turn, could hurt tax collections in both states.

* In Illinois, our Democratic governor has focused mainly on tax hikes and some minor union concessions. He’s had to implement cuts only because of the Democratic General Assembly. Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has taken a far more balanced approach

$2.8 billion in increased taxes. Malloy’s changes added three brackets to the state income tax and raised the top rate from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent, while adding an Earned Income Tax Credit for those with lower incomes. The sales tax also rose from 6 percent to 6.35 percent, with many sales-tax exemptions eliminated.

$1.8 billion in budget cuts. These cuts involve items that are required to be paid for by law or contract and are expected to grow based on caseload increases. The cuts would hit, among other things, Medicaid dental and vision benefits, as well as cost-sharing increases for seniors receiving home care.

$1.5 billion in labor-union concessions. Most unions agreed to a two-year wage freeze, plus changes to health-care and pension benefits, in exchange for protection from layoffs for four years.

When state troopers refused to accept a pay freeze, he laid off 56 acadamy grads

In a step avoided by governors and legislators for the past two decades, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that he will lay off state troopers to cut costs and help balance the state budget.

The decision to lay off the 56 rookie troopers marks the first trooper layoffs since the state’s fiscal crisis in 1991 under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. The state has suffered through recessions, budget deficits, Wall Street losses and economic ups and downs during the 20 years since then, but troopers had always been treated as a specialized class in the state workforce and not subject to reductions.

* Tight state budgets are also a topic of discussion in the wake of Hurricane Irene

The recession hit states’ budgets hard, leaving them fewer funds to respond to emergencies and in fiscal 2010, the latest year data is available, the median budget for crisis response fell to $3.3 million from $3.41 million the year before, according to the National Emergency Management Association.

North Carolina, for example, pulled money from its disaster relief funds and other reserves to patch a budget this fiscal year. To save money last year, New York consolidated its homeland security, emergency management, fire control and infrastructure offices. And New Jersey has implemented spending cuts of 10 percent and cut aid to local governments.

…Adding… From a recent Tribune story

Frustrated, Tiawanda Moore quietly flipped on the recorder on her BlackBerry as she believed that two Chicago police internal affairs investigators were trying to talk her into dropping her sexual harassment complaint against a patrol officer.

But Moore was the one who ended up in trouble — criminally charged with violating an obscure state eavesdropping law that makes audio recording of police officers without their consent a felony offense. […]

The case against Moore as well as pending charges against a Chicago artist have drawn the attention of civil libertarians who argue that the state’s eavesdropping law is unconstitutional.

Illinois is one of only a handful of states that make it illegal to record audio of public conversations without the permission of everyone involved. Laws in Massachusetts and Oregon are similarly strict but not as broad, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Because the alleged victims in this case were the two police officers, Moore had faced a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for the alleged felony.

* That Massachusetts law may be about to end. From a federal appellate court decision this week in Boston

In summary, though not unqualified, a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.

* An Illinois roundup…

* ADDED: Judge gives preliminary nod to disabilities deal: Illinois could save $2,320 per person annually by providing low-income disabled people with services in their own homes instead of in nursing homes.

* Townships begin measuring value of road commissioners: Cook County township officials can soon start deciding if they want to do away with their road districts and highway commissioners, now that Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to let them.

* New Illinois Law Mandates Insurance Coverage for Quitting Smoking

* COGFA override would cost taxpayers, lawmaker says

* SJ-R: Opinion: Confusion still part of health deal

* Joliet woman tormented by ex inspires new law to help others

* Records Broken at 2011 Illinois State Fair

* Alderman’s daughter gets state job

* New chief of schools looks forward to job, even though paycheck remains uncertain

* Sex offenders kept from children conceived through abuse

* Righter bill providing additional newborn screenings

* Cronin to lay down law to DuPage boards

* Quincy School District faces financial difficulty status, must create deficit reduction plan

* Interim East St. Louis schools chief sees hope for turnaround

* Cicero spends $120,000 at hot dog stand linked to board member

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      


Catholic Charities plans appeal

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* After losing a case when the judge declared that it had no “property rights” to a state contract, Catholic Charities plans an appeal that will focus on religious rights to continue to refuse to handle adoptions and foster-care placements involving couples joined under the civil unions law

Peter Breen said the group will ask for a stay of Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt’s Aug. 18 ruling that sided with the state, which severed work with Catholic Charities after the agency refused to recognize Illinois’ civil union law. Breen said the charity also will ask the judge to reconsider, then take the matter to a state appellate court if Schmidt declines. […]

Illinois authorities had said they were canceling the contracts because Catholic Charities’ practice of referring unmarried couples to other agencies was discriminatory, a violation of the state’s civil union law. Catholic Charities argued that it was exempt under a provision in the civil unions law that protects religious practices.

Breen said Monday that Catholic Charities will seek a stay to give it time to appeal, believing “the financial impact on the charities of not receiving (such a reprieve) would be catastrophic.” Breen added that the not-for-profit agency’s “main thrust (on appeal) would be that you do not need to hold property in order to exercise religious rights.”

Catholic Charities hopes Schmidt reconsiders his ruling, “particularly on the issue of religious freedom,” Breen said.

* Springfield’s Bishop Thomas John Paprocki pretty well summed up the position of the church

The message from the state of Illinois is simple: Organizations that only place children in accord with their religious beliefs are barred from state contracts – Catholics need not apply.

* A columnist at Catholic Online was far more blunt

[I]f the state of Illinois wanted, it could easily pursue its secularist agenda without forcing Catholic Charities to violate its beliefs or shut down it services.

But the state clearly refuses to do this: the pattern of lies, manipulation, and abuse by the state, reveals an extreme level of intolerance and malevolence toward the Catholic Church and an utter disregard for the children. We need to pray for the welfare of children and religious freedom in our country.

* The Belleville News-Democrat wants the focus put back on the kids

However, just because the state can legally cancel its contract with Catholic Charities doesn’t mean it should.

Catholic Charities has a decades-long track record of providing high-quality services for the children of Illinois at a reasonable price for taxpayers. These agencies combined handle about 20 percent of adoptions and foster care placements in Illinois; more than 600 children are served by Catholic Charities based in Belleville.

Why won’t the Department of Children and Family Services allow a religious exemption? Some other states with same-sex laws including New York do. Gov. Pat Quinn just signed into a law a bill that could allow Amish people to not have their photograph on state IDs, but Illinois can’t accommodate a Catholic group on the issue of civil unions?

Everyone in state government keeps talking about acting in the best interest of the children. Well, it’s in children’s best interest to keep this proven social services network in place.

* And what about those children?

The battle between the Catholic Church and state of Illinois over foster care and adoption services has real-life ramifications for more than 250 East Central Illinois children.

Currently, about 135 children in Champaign County are in foster care homes managed by Catholic Charities, according to state figures. In Vermilion County, the agency oversees 125 foster cases. […]

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, the other major provider in this region, has a caseload of 131 in Champaign County and 48 in Vermilion. The remaining cases are handled by DCFS caseworkers directly or other agencies where families may have moved to another county. […]

DCFS will send a team from its licensing division to review the status of every child’s case. At the same time, it will review the capacity and performance of other agencies that may be interested, he said.

“If we get asked, yes we’re interested,” said John Schnier, executive director of Lutheran’s Children’s Community Services. “At this point, nobody’s heard anything from DCFS.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Forwarded e-mail lands employee in hot water

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* I don’t think the question here is whether the penalty was too stiff. A verbal reprimand to an employee with no record of trouble seems appropriate. What is in question, though, is whether the case warranted being placed on the Executive Ethics Commission’s website. The Commission doesn’t have to publish any case unless an employee discipline results in a suspension

An investigator for Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s human rights agency got a slap on the wrist for forwarding an e-mail before last November’s election that contended the Republican Party had been hijacked by “dangerous, radical hate mongers called the ‘Tea Party.’ “

The e-mail, sent on a state computer, claimed talk show host Glenn Beck and former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin led the tea party effort to “take down President Obama and the government.”

* The employee is upset about the reprimand, but seems regretful about the forwarded e-mail in question

Forbes, 56, of Chicago, said in an interview that the case against him was “petty as hell.” He called the reprimand “bogus,” saying he sent the e-mail accidentally to some of his co-workers. He said his sister had sent it to him.

“I didn’t endorse it at all,” Forbes said. “It was just something I inadvertently sent. Had I thought a little more about it and were able to perceive the ramifications that I would have experienced, I would have just eliminated that e-mail altogether.”

That would have been the better course for Forbes. But I still wonder why the Executive Ethics Commission decided to publicly humiliate the guy. Your thoughts?

* Meanwhile

Polls have been showing a drop in [the tea party’s] approval, and a new AP/GfK poll shows that its unfavorable rating has seen a sharp rise. 46 percent of those surveyed said they have a negative view of the Tea Party movement, versus 28 who say they view it favorably.

The last time the AP conducted a national poll on Americans’ favorability of Tea Partiers was in their pre-governing period: throughout 2010 the conservative movement was viewed slightly unfavorably but the splits were close. In June of 2010 it even earned a positive rating, with 33 percent of over 1,000 adults surveyed finding the movement favorable against 30 percent. In the last AP rating, taken Nov. 3-8, 2010, directly after the 2010 election, the split stood at a slim negative rating of 32 percent favorable against 36 unfavorable.

The jump of ten points in the negative number is all in the “very unfavorable” category. In November of 2010 there were 22 percent who viewed the Tea Party that way, which has risen to 32 percent. The “somewhat unfavorable” number remains unchanged in the last nine months, steady at 14 percent.

The most recent CNN/ORC poll had tea party favorability at 31 percent, with 51 percent viewing it unfavorably. USA Today/Gallup’s poll found that a plurality of 42 percent would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate with tea party support.

* By the way, remember when I wrote yesterday about what some call the “Cold Civil War” that strengthened during the fight over the debt ceiling? Well, back in March, Republican Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger compared the coming battle to an actual shooting war

Just wait, said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, for the fireworks over next year’s budget, as well as a must-pass bill to allow the government to borrow more money to meet its commitments. Republicans hope to use that measure to force further spending cuts on the president.

“What I tell folks is: This is like Fort Sumter in the Civil War,” the Illinois Republican said Wednesday. “This is the first fight. The big battle is still ahead of us.”

Did he really compare his compatriots to the Confederacy? Perhaps he should check to see which state he represents before making more comments like that.

Oy.

* Other stuff…

* Job Fair Draws Demonstrators - Congresswoman Judy Biggert hosted a jobs event in Romeoville Monday.

* Schock draws a crowd to Elmwood town hall meeting

* Editorial: Regional primaries make sense

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      


SB 1652 Highlights Electric Utility Accountability for Performance

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

System Investments Mean Better Reliability for Customers; Performance Standards Provide Accountability

If enacted into law, the Illinois Electric Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (SB 1652), which passed the Illinois House and Senate in May, would put in place more stringent performance standards for Illinois electric utilities.

Utilities would be held accountable for their performance on a range of issues that matter most to customers. And if the utilities don’t meet these standards, it gets taken out of their bottom line.

Among the performance standards in SB 1652, utilities must…

    • Improve outage duration by 15 percent over a 10-year period
    • Improve outage frequency by 20 percent
    • Improve estimated bills by 90 percent

Utilities could stand to lose tens of millions of dollars each year if they fail to deliver benefits from investment in grid modernization. There is no symmetrical upside – utilities are penalized for failure to perform but they don’t receive bonuses for achieving goals.

For more information on the other benefits of grid modernization, visit www.smartenergyil.com.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x1 *** More strong poll numbers for Emanuel

Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011

* As I already told you, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s own poll shows his job approval at 79 percent. His operation released more poll numbers late yesterday

[B]y a 48%-to-41% margin, Chicagoans now believe the city is headed in the right direction — a lousy economy notwithstanding. That’s up from a 31%-55% split in a similar survey taken in September.

On key issues, about seven in 10 Chicagoans approve of Mr. Emanuel’s handling of budget matters, crime, schools and the economy.

A total of 82% find him to be a “strong leader” compared to “just” 70% who say he’s honest.

You gotta wonder how many Chicagoans feel the same about Illinois’ direction and Gov. Pat Quinn.

*** UPDATE *** Lynn Sweet ran the actual polling memo

Voters have tremendous confidence in Emanuel’s ability to handle the most pressing issues facing Chicago, especially tackling the budget crisis. By a 73-23 margin, they approve of his job performance on this key issue.

The Mayor also receives high marks on fighting crime, improving education, and strengthening the economy. The support for Emanuel’s performance on these issues cuts across racial and neighborhood lines.

Table 2: Mayor Emanuel’s Approval Rating on Key Issues
Approve - Disapprove
Addressing the budget crisis 73 - 23
Fighting crime and keeping your neighborhood safe 72 - 24
Improving education in the city 69 - 24
Strengthening Chicago’s economy 70 - 25
Voters have a well-formed impression of the Mayor and give him very high marks on key personal attributes, including leadership, conviction, management, and honesty.
Table 3: Mayor Emanuel’s Personal Attributes

Total Describes Well
Is a strong leader 82
Fights for what’s right for Chicago 76
Is an effective manager 79
Honest 70

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* He’s certainly doing many of the right things. For instance, Gov. Quinn hasn’t yet really addressed the state’s huge number of paid boards and commissions. From an Emanuel press release…

Mayor Rahm Emanuel [yesterday] announced a 50% reduction of compensation received by members of City boards and commissions, saving taxpayers over $314,000 a year.

“Those chosen to represent the interests of the people of Chicago lend their time and expertise to serve the public,” said Mayor Emanuel. “My administration is committed to using taxpayer funds wisely and responsibly to deliver the highest-quality services in the most efficient way possible.”

In July, the Mayor set the goal of cutting City board and commission compensation in half and tasked his Chief of Staff with conducting an extensive review of these stipends. Today, the Mayor also implemented a new compensation policy, which goes into effect immediately, tying stipend payments to meeting attendance.

The boards impacted by this reduction in compensation are the Building Board of Appeals; the Human Resources Board; the Chicago Police Board; the Zoning Board of Appeals and the License Appeal Commission. Prior to this review, the Mayor eliminated the stipends paid to members of the City’s Cable Commission and Board of Local Improvements.

* Emanuel announced a series of TIF district reforms yesterday as well

Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it clear Monday that the city will continue to rely on special taxing districts as an economic development tool, even as he tries to wash away the stain of public criticism that marred them in recent years.

The mayor plans to establish specific benchmarks that tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, must meet to continue receiving the same level of property tax dollars — or any at all.

The standards will be crafted to help meet the goals of a 5- to 10-year citywide economic development plan, Emanuel said. Now the hard work begins: The city has to draw up both the economic plan and the benchmarks for goals like job creation, private investment, property value increases, worker training and new affordable housing.

* Mark Brown is a bit skeptical, however

Chicago now has 165 TIF districts encompassing 10 percent of the city’s property tax base and 30 percent of its geographic area.

That’s one reason I’m not as impressed about Emanuel slowing the growth of TIFs. There aren’t many places left to put them.

* Congressman Quigley was far more impressed

Congressman Mike Quigley, who as a county board member criticized Daley’s use of TIFs, called Emanuel’s report a move away from abuses of the program.

“It’s a good day,” Quigley said. “I’m not after Rich at this point in time, but this report is in such sharp contrast with past TIF policy.”

* Kind of a misleading lede

Mayor Rahm Emanuel faced a boisterous and sometimes angry crowd Monday night during the first of two “Town Hall” meetings to discuss ways to plug the city’s $635 million 2012 budget shortfall.

* The anger, as it turns out, came from a few people whose ox had been gored

Mental health advocates questioned the new mayor about his decision to privatize seven primary health clinics. And traffic aides who were laid off last month greeted Emanuel with boos, with one man in the audience even calling the mayor a “liar.”

It wasn’t just “mental health advocates” who were upset about the privatization

“I wonder where you got the idea it would be a good idea to privatize health services,” said Maria Randazzo, a laid off traffic control aide.

* Interesting nugget

“Can you stop printing the mayor and elected officials’ names on doors, buildings, etc.?” read City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, who acted as the moderator of the event.

The mayor replied ‘yeah’ to that suggestion, but sounded skeptical it would make a dent in the city’s financial problems.

Gov. Quinn criticized Emanuel for this practice last week.

* The strength of public criticism, however, is likely to ramp up..

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s not giving up on getting a longer school day this school year even though the teachers union has said no to a two percent cost of living raise to do it.

Emanuel is not taking ‘thanks but no thanks’ for an answer from the teachers union. He’s vowing to keep trying because he thinks the public is behind him. [..]

Meaning, his school board will impose a longer school day and year if the teachers don’t come around.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


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